by Adam Thas
I watch a lot of Netflix. I mean A LOT of Netflix. Here at the beginning of 2016 I decided to take a few minutes and look back on my 2015 year in Netflix.
While I contribute every week to Netflix This Movie!, there are some movies that I enjoyed parts of them, but didn’t quite make the cut. So here are a few of them.
For a Good Time Call (2012, dir. Jamie Travis) There are some things to like in this one. The movie follows two “enemies” in college who graduate and start a phone sex line to pay the rent . It’s fun, and nice to see a movie that isn’t mean spirited in general, but it wasn’t very good. There were plenty of parts that I laughed in it, and Lauren Miller and Ari Graynor were fine giving it their all in some scenes that I found amusing. The problem is that in a comedy, I don’t think that I laughed out loud once. There are a ton of guest stars like Kevin Smith and Seth Rogan playing customers, but I just can’t get past the fact that it was 2012 when this was made and it’s about a phone sex line. It’s only 88 minutes long, so if you are looking for the Netflix equivalent of the Best Buy $5 Blu-ray bin, you might enjoy it.
Guns, Girls and Gambling (2012 dir. Michael Winnick) Guns, Girls and Gambling is of those action comedies that has a still frame introduction for every character to the point of nausea. It feels a lot like Cat Run without the amazing performance from Janet McTeer to make it tolerable. Yes, it does have Christian Slater in it and Gary Oldman playing Elvis, but it’s not a very interesting plot with a lot of characters that are pretty damn annoying. Much like For a Good Time Call, it’s extremely short at just 90 minutes and usually I wouldn’t mind spending that time with Christian Slater, but I figured you might, so I never recommended it.
4 Minute Mile (2014, dir. Charles-Olivier Michaud) For those of you who don’t know, I am a track and cross country coach. A movie about a runner trying to break four minutes in the mile seemed made for me. For the most part, 4 Minute Mile delivers on a lot of levels: it has good characters and a fairly good plot, with Richard Jenkins playing a convincing coach. The problem came in when I was a little more than half way through I realized I was watching Karate Kid on a track. It has a lot of the same beats, the same plot points, and tries to get us emotional in the same ways. For me, it worked. However, I’m a track coach and former runner so I was into it. I assumed that many of you reading this were not runners so I didn’t know if it was good enough for you.
Staten Island Summer (2015, dir. Rhys Thomas) A movie about a lifeguard trying to throw an amazing pool party starring a bunch of former and current SNL members seemed like a movie that I would love, but I didn’t. There are so many things right with this movie on paper, from Gina Gershon to one of my celebrity crushes, Cecily Strong. Even that couldn’t save this one -- sorry, Cecily. Staten Island Summer wants desperately to be a throwback '80s camp movie with a little bit of late '90s teenage movie vibe, but it just didn’t work. It’s not funny most of the time, and the only real laughs I gave it were from a bit part by Fred Armisen. If you’re an SNL fan you may like it, but even though the movie’s heart is in the right place, I didn’t recommend it.
See You in Valhalla (2015, dir. Jarret Tarnol) See You in Valhalla is influenced by Little Miss Sunshine but mostly feels like a cheap knockoff. It follows a family that has been estranged and comes back together for the funeral of one of their brothers who believed he was a Viking. Yeah, I don’t know why I clicked on it either. I wanted to see how Sarah Hyland from Modern Family was in a more serious role, and spoilers: she’s not very good. The plot is rather boring and the comedy beats seem to come out of nowhere so that the entire movie just feels off. With all of that said, some of the characters were interesting enough that I managed to be moderately invested in it. This one didn’t make a recommendation, and barely made it to this list. Enter at your own risk.
With all the movies I did recommend in 2015 I figured I’d give you a list of a few of my favorites:
Favorite Documentary: I would have to say by far it was Winnebago Man. I was so happy watching this one and completely invested in it because it has one of the greatest non-fictional characters of all time. I really love this movie.
Favorite Sci-Fi: In a landslide it would have to be Automata. I loved Automata enough that I went out and bought the Blu-ray. This one is a HARD sci-fi that is very smart and moves slowly, but totally delivered on everything I want from the genre.
Favorite Drama: I have to go with Tracks. I think I am just absolutely amazed that they managed to pull off a pretty good movie about a girl walking across Australia for nearly two hours, but it’s pretty good and I loved it.
Movie I wish I never watched: Hands down it's got to be Tank Girl. Just a complete waste of time with a plot and style choices that make no sense at all. It makes me appreciate modern comic book movies more...even the bad ones.