With so many titles to choose from, Netflix Instant's library can be overwhelming. So we bring you this biweekly column as a tool to cut through the clutter by highlighting some now streaming titles that pair well with the latest theatrical releases.
Looking to The To Do List, 2 Guns, and Smurfs 2, for inspiration, we've pulled together a selection of summer-set coming-of-age comedies, unconventional cop dramas, and cartoons filled with ‘80s appeal.
The To Do List
It’s 1993 and Brandy Klark is a great student. So when she learns she’s behind the curve when it comes to sex, this high school graduate puts herself on a crash course to have all sorts of experience before college in the fall. Aubrey Plaza, Bill Hader, Alia Shawkat star; Maggie Carey directs.
Freed from the tyranny of school and homework, the summer is often the perfect time to set a coming-of-age comedy. The three films below revel in the freedom of summer, while unraveling hilarious and sometimes painfully awkward stories of love and sex.
Can't Hardly Wait (1998) A totally ‘90s classic, this ensemble comedy centers on a batch of newly graduated high schoolers who meet up at a life-changing house party. Whether it’s a spaz looking to lose his V-card, a dreamer hoping to win his dream girl, or a nerd seeking revenge against the jock who made high school hell, tonight is the night to go big or go home. Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ethan Embry, Lauren Ambrose, and Seth Green co-star; Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan direct.
Adventureland (2009) Set in the summer of 1987, this coming-of-age comedy focuses on a college graduate (Jesse Eisenberg) forced to take a crummy summer job at an amusement park. He finds a bright spot in a promising flirtation with a beautiful girl (Kristen Stewart). But his journey to win her over proves a real education. Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, and Martin Starr co-star; Greg Mottola writes and directs.
Slums of Beverly Hills (1998) Set in the 1970s, this semi-autobiographical comedy follows the flat-broke Ambromowitz family, who doesn’t let their lack of funds keep them from calling Hollywood home. Vivian (Natasha Lyonne) is becoming a woman. It’s time to learn about puberty, sex, bras, and menstruation…and her single father’s not ready to handle any of it. Alan Arkin, Marisa Tomei and David Krumholtz co-star; Tamara Jenkins directs.
Bobby and Stig are a duplicitous pair. When a deal with a drug cartel goes south, both are forced to flee. And only then do they discover that they are both agents undercover, one from naval intelligence, the other from the DEA. Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg star; Baltasar Kormakur directs. (Read our full review here.)
Good cop, bad cop. By the book, wild card. We love a good buddy cop tale. For some surprising explorations of the cop drama genre, check out the titles below. Set all around the world, and in different times, each offers action and mystery but with its own unique take on odd couple cops.
Ripper Street (2013) This crime series out of England is set in East London in April 1889, six months after the last Jack the Ripper killing. Detective Inspector Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfayden) is haunted by the unsolved case, but must confront the city’s new murders with a dedication that could be the death of his marriage. His partners in this noble but dangerous quest are a bare-knuckle boxer (Jerome Flynn) and an American ex-Pinkerton with a dark secret (Adam Rothenberg). Game of Thrones’ fans will get a special treat in this series as one ep features Bronn (Flynn) facing off against Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen)! Also, keep an eye out for Hodor (Kristian Nairn).
Sleepless Night (2011) Personally, I’d count this French thriller as one of the best action movies ever made. It centers on Vincent, a single father whose dealings with a drug cartel that puts his teen son at risk. Little do they know Vincent’s not the dealer they think he is, he and his partner are undercover cops. But with his boy at risk he dare not involve his fellow officers. So, one night, one nightclub—he’s forced to juggle these dual identities while evading cops and killers and fighting with all he’s got to get his son back! Tomer Sisley stars. Frederic Jardin directs.
Durham County (2007) This Canadian crime series follows brooding homicide detective Mike Sweeney, whose partner is basically his crime-solving obsessed teen daughter. While they are an intriguing pair on their own, this show plays out like a mix of Veronica Mars and American Horror Story unfolding deeply disturbing and fascinating stories of murder and those haunted by the ghosts it creates. Be warned: this one is totally twisted, and deeply addictive. Hugh Dillon, Helene Joy, and Laurence Laboeuf star.
The Smurfs 2
In their second big screen adventure, the Smurfs demand the help of their human friends (Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays) when Gargamel abducts Smurfette. With her in his grasps, he hopes to turn his newest creations, Naughties, into actual Smurfs like her. Hank Azaria, Brendan Gleeson, and Christina Ricci co-star; Raja Gosnell directs. (Read our full review here.)
The Smurfs are a hallmark of ‘80s childhood. If you want to revisit the cartoons you long ago adored, check out these other ‘80s classics, full of color, life lessons and none-too-subtle merchandizing opportunities!
The Care Bears Movie (1985) Inspired by the popular teddy bear line, this animated adventure has the titular heroes doing their best to save children from perilous predicaments. In this case, the Care Bears set out to save an aspiring magician from an evil influence, and teach a pair of angry twins to trust again. Jackie Burroughs, Mickey Rooney, and Cree Summer lend their voices; Arna Selznick directs.
He-Man and She-Ra: The Secret of the Sword (1985) Both of these blond heroes has series of their own, but this feature-length adventure explores the origins of Adora, A.K.A. She-ra Princess of Power. Jon Erwin, Melendy Britt, Alan Oppenheimer and Linda Gary lend their voices.
Jem and the Holograms (1985) By day Jerrica Benton is a business woman and operator a foster home for girls, but with the help of a holographic computer she is by night Jem, the biggest rock star the world has ever known! She’s truly, truly, truly outrageous. And so are her adventures, whether she’s engaged in a battle of the bands with The Misfits, finding love and friendship, or fighting for the future of her foster home Starlight House. Samantha Newark, Cathianne Biore, and Cindy McGee lend their voices.