Pet Peeve #50: Netflix Movies That Are Too Good to Watch

The IntouchablesA while ago I read about a phenomenon on Netflix involving movies with really high ratings. Biopics, documentaries, foreign films, Oscar-winning independent films…those kinds of movies.

Apparently Netflix discovered two things about peoples’ behavior when adding those types of movies to their queue. People are quick to add those 4.5-star movies to their queue, but very rarely do they actually receive those movies. And when they do, they’re much more likely than cheesy 2-star movies to sit on a person’s coffee table for months at a time while Netflix cashes in.

When I read that article, I scoffed and turned up my nose at the idea. Perhaps the commoners would choose a 2-star movie over a critically acclaimed 4.5-star film, but not me. Not a Harvard-educated (well, technically speaking, “Harvard of the Midwest”), nightly flossing, two-cat-owning elitist like me.

Flashforward to yesterday.

For the past month, I’ve had The Intouchables (4.4 stars, French with English subtitles) sitting on my coffee table. I get two DVDs at a time, so while The Intouchables was gathering dust, I watched Grown Ups, For a Good Time Call, 27 Dresses, and Olympus Has Fallen.

I should be disgusted with myself. Especially since I finally watched The Intouchables, and not only was it quite good, but it was also very entertaining.

But I’m fine with my selections. Yes, the realization took me down a few notches. But I think I’ve now know that sometimes a little mindless entertainment is exactly what I need. A movie doesn’t need 5 stars to be wildly entertaining.

Or, in the case of Grown Ups, a complete waste of time.

Please, please choose The Intouchables over Grown Ups.

I’m reticent to admit that I fall into Netflix’s first category as well: A number of acclaimed films have sat on my queue, never making it to the top, for years and years. I actually cleaned out the queue a while ago, but a few such films still remain. If you’ve seen any of these, would you recommend I finally move them to the top of the queue?

  • The Two Escobars
  • The Cove
  • The Outsiders
  • Gomorrah

Or should I just watch There’s Something About Mary again and love every minute of it?

12 thoughts on “Pet Peeve #50: Netflix Movies That Are Too Good to Watch”

  1. I too fall into this category, and I would add another point to this line of thinking as well. One thing I’ve been aware of for years now is that there are some movies I watch once and love, but cannot bring myself to watch again because they were too sad (Life is Beautiful), mentally taxing (Waking Life), or both (The Life of David Gale). Apparently, I also make a habit of only watching movies containing the word “Life” once.

    • Odd that all of those movies include the word “life.” I completely understand–there are lots of movies like that on my list. Movies I love and appreciate but don’t want to watch again.

  2. In my college days, I watched a ton of Oscar films and indie arthouse stuff. After a while, I realized that I was watching them mostly b/c I liked to think of myself as as film aficionado.

    In college I read an interesting book called “Amusing Ourselves to Death” by Neil Postman. One of his arguments in the book is that entertainment is harmless when it is viewed as such, but when we begin to attribute gravitas to something as trivial as a film, then it has usurped its intended place in our lives. In other words, a popcorn flick allows us to disconnect from real life for a bit and be entertained, but serious films, by nature of trying to mimic real life, fool us into thinking that they are more important than they really are. An extreme view? Probably, but it certainly got me thinking.

    Married life and a full-time job (and a boardgaming hobby) now mean that I don’t watch many movies, but when I do, I prefer stuff of the “disconnect and enjoy” variety, including releases from the major 3D animation studios, sci-fi, and good actioners.

    • That’s really interesting about escapism versus reality and the importance we assign to the latter. I actually encountered this last night. I sat down for dinner and had the choice to watch two shows I really like on my TiVo: The Newsroom (an intense show based on real-life events) or The Great Food Truck Race (a competitive reality show involving food trucks). The Newsroom seems like the more important show to watch, but after a long day, I really just wanted to watch people try to sell a lot of food out of trucks.

      I guess that doesn’t completely fit Postman’s theory since The Great Food Truck Race is a reality show, but it’s far from my reality.

  3. Dude, the Two Escobars is one of the best sports documentaries I’ve ever seen. And you love soccer. It’s fast-paced and entertaining, no reason not to watch that one.

  4. Definitely ‘The Cove’. It is quite shocking and depressing at moments, but is a real eye-opener. We’re considering showing it as part of a film unit for an undergraduate Society & the Environment course at College of Western Idaho this fall. Let me know your impressions of the film! Especially the technique they use to tell the story: i.e. the film is all about how they get the footage from ‘The Cove’.


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