It's been several years since I had a Netflix account and I recently got back into it. Having a massive queue of movies that get delivered to your home weekly creates an intriguing shift in the way people consume cinema. I had all but forgotten about that effect, that willingness to rent sub-par movies from an online purveyor that never would have otherwise made it into your DVD player and certainly never would have even be considered a possibility for a visit to a honest movie theater. While the idealistic cinophile in me wants to believe that I would use the extensive Netflix library to catch up on old classics or take in the endless stream of limited-run foreign movies that come out every year, more often than not I find that Netflix users fill their queues with forgettable fare to fill in another weeknight. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Here are three movies seemingly tailor-made for microwave popcorn and snarky comments at home.
Paul McGuigan is an interesting director in that he helms ill-conceived projects with a surprising flare for atmosphere. He directed the misunderstood Lucky Number Slevin before picking up the script for Push, a middling sci-fi/action movie that came out earlier this year. The plot is riddled with holes and many major elements of the story go completely unexplained, but if you're watching something like Push, chances are you came for the snazzy action set pieces more than a compelling drama. Most of the cast is a bit bland, but a teenage Dakota Fanning does a pretty good job as a precocious girl who can see the future. You couldn't have dragged me to theater to see Push but I'm still glad I got to see it on a friend's Netflix whim. McGuigan has an eye for ambiance, if not worthwhile scripts.
It takes flashy duds like Paul Liman's 2008 Hayden Christensen vehicle Jumper to make me realize that is an entire market for badly written but imaginative novels. Steven Gould's book series wants to be a movie franchise but I doubt we'll actually see a sequel. The critical reception was lukewarm and the box office was merely adequate. That's not to say that Jumper isn't a very pretty bit of popcorn worth a lazy Wednesday night. If you liked the version of Nightcrawler appearing in X2: X-Men United then Jumper will be your kind of movie. Of course, Hayden Christensen is no Alan Cumming. A particularly hammy Samuel L. Jackson and a kooky Scottish sidekick are some of the worst elements of the movie, but deliriously over-the-top moments like the teleportation of a bus to the middle of the desert make up for any wanton silliness.
I Love You, Man
I'd like to think that cinema comedy has evolved beyond the buddy picture, or at least the formulaic version of the buddy picture. That said, Jason Segel and Paul Rudd deserve top billing in something after years of scene-stealing. I can't say that I Love You, Man is full-on funny, but it is amusing. The same can be said about Segel's first feature as the lead, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. The difference is that Forgetting didn't get the attention it deserved and I Love You, Man got a little too much attention.