With so many titles to choose from, Netflix Instant's library can be overwhelming. So we offer this biweekly column as a tool to cut through the clutter by highlighting some now streaming titles that pair nicely with the latest theatrical releases.
Looking to Identity Thief, Side Effects and Beautiful Creatures for inspiration, we've pulled together a selection of road trip comedies, psychological thrillers and fantasy-fueled romances.
Bridesmaids' Melissa McCarthy fronts this road trip comedy as the titular thief whose series of scams threatens the life and livelihood of a straight-laced accountant played by Jason Bateman. To get his life back on track, he must track her down and bring her to justice. Of course, it's a wild ride. John Cho and Amanda Peet co-star; Seth Gordon directs.
A great road trip comedy includes co-stars with great timing and electric chemistry, scads of slapstick and some truly outlandish bits. And the trio below boasts all of the above.
The Sweetest Thing (2002) Cameron Diaz stars as a dedicated heartbreaker whose head spins when she meets the man of her (sex) dreams. Fearing their brief encounter might go nowhere, she and her best gal pal (Christina Applegate) take to the road to reconnect with her missed connection Mr. Right. The humor in this underrated comedy is raunchy and wild. Check it out, and be sure to stay through the credits for Jason Bateman's heartfelt rendition of the Bangles' "Eternal Flame." Selma Blair and Thomas Jane co-star; Roger Kumble directs.
Tommy Boy (1995) Chris Farley fronts this beloved buddy comedy as the titular Tommy Boy, a sweet but deeply dopey young man who has to grow up fast to run his father's business that is on the brink of folding. A snooty numbers cruncher named Richard is tasked with taking him on the road and teaching him the art of the sale. Along the way this odd couple runs into tons of hilarious trouble and learns about bromance. Brian Dennehy, Bo Derek and Dan Aykroyd co-star; Peter Segal directs.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) In this comedy classic Steve Martin plays a harried marketing exec hellbent on getting home in time for Thanksgiving, but at every turn he's running into delays, obstacles and a loudmouthed buffoon played by John Candy. Can they make it to Chicago without killing each other? John Hughes directs.
In the wake of her husband's release from prison following a stint for white-collar crime, Emily shows signs of anxiety and depression. So, her therapist recommends a new drug that should help. But no one expected its radical side effects. Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum and Jude Law star; Steven Soderbergh directs.
Nothing is what it seems in this twisted psychological thriller. And if you can't get enough of mind-bending movies with pulse-racing plot lines, you'll revel in this threesome that involve deception, revenge, murder and more.
Silent House (2011) Starring up-and-coming indie ingénue Elizabeth Olsen, this chilling remake of the Uruguayan film La Casa Muda centers on a young woman who is plagued by malevolent intruders when she tries to help her father and uncle renovate their old lake house. Who is it that lurks in the dark and what do they want? The final reveal is as harrowing as the filmmakers' technique of affecting a real-time, one-shot look. It keeps you locked to this terrified heroine in an ordeal that is completely spine-tingling. Adam Trese and Eric Sheffer Stevens co-star; Chris Kentis and Laura Lau direct.
The Game (1997) Michael Douglas stars as a financier so wealthy he's desperately bored by his surroundings. But that all changes when his brother (Sean Penn) gives him a birthday gift unlike any other. What do you get the guy who has everything? A live-action game that will throw his whole life into spin. Obviously. Deborah Kara Unger co-stars; David Fincher directs.
Fatal Attraction (1987) Michael Douglas plays a family man who tries to take a vacation from his marriage with a one-night stand. Unfortunately for him, he chooses a woman for this fling who refuses to be ignored. Glenn Close became a cinema icon as the enraged woman scorned in this terrifying and erotic thriller. Anne Archer co-stars; Adrian Lyne directs. (Cinephiles, be sure to watch, then do the research on the film's original ending, which proved too troubling to audiences.)
Based on the popular YA novel by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, this teen romance centers on the love that brews between Ethan and Lena, the new girl at school who is on the verge of making a major decision. As a Caster (read: witch), she'll have to choose a side: light or dark. And it's a decision that could impact the entirety of their small Southern town. Alden Ehrenreich, Alice Englert, Jeremy Irons, Viola Davis, and Emma Thompson co-star; Richard LaGravenese directs.
Romance can hit new heights when mixed with elements of fantasy. From fairies to furies, wizards to werewolves, and a crime-fighting succubus, these titles offer fantastical characters engaged in fascinating tales of romance, and inner struggles that's results could rattle the world.
Lost Girl (2010) This Canadian TV series follows a young woman named Bo who has a thirst she doesn’t understand and cannot quench. She craves sex, but feeds on her partner's essence until they die. After saving the life of a quirky con artist from a sexual predator, Bo discovers she's a real-life succubus and so enters the world of the Fae, where werewolves, sirens, furies, vampires and demons lurk. In each episode she is urged to pick a side (light or dark) as she uses her powers of persuasion to solve mysteries. It's basically like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but with more nudity than American TV typically allows. Anna Silk, Kris Holden-Ried, Ksenia Solo, and Richard Howland co-star. Seasons 1 & 2 are now streaming.
Merlin (1998) This magical mini-series centers on the story of the mythic Merlin. Created by a dark fairy angling to bring worshippers back to the old ways, Merlin is born to be a powerful sorcerer. But as he grows, he begins to resent his creator and vows to do only good with his new powers. But can he keep up his pledge when the life of his beloved is threatened? Sam Neill, Miranda Richardson star; Isabella Rossellini, Helena Bonham Carter and Martin Short co-star.
Jack & Diane (2012) Bradley Rust Gray's grungy and graphic follow-up to his acclaimed indie drama The Exploding Girl centers on the troubled love story between two girls who meet by chance in New York City. Diane is girly and waifish; Jack is a tomboy with a tough exterior. But when fate seems dedicated to prying them apart, Diane's torment transforms her into something monstrous. Juno Temple and Riley Keough star.