Inspired by the Martha of it all, if Netflix’s most recent tsunami of original films Voltron-ed into just one movie, I’d call it Quantity v Quality: The Dawn of Just Okay. If you’re hungry enough, anything looks like food. After binging all the good stuff, our streaming overlords are hoping a few good ingredients are enough to encourage you to gobble some soylent green. Here’s a roundup of five Netflix original movies that merit a mention but not a full review:
This is how they get you: Am I not going to watch a movie with Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch and Tina Fey in it? I am certain I watched the entirety of Wine Country. I am uncertain whether Tommy Lee Jones popped up behind my couch to Men in Black mind-erase the experience. This is a reminder to always check behind your couch for Tommy Lee Jones before watching anything. At any rate, this comedy with a feast of funny people and a famine of laughs follows a group of women who go through wine country to celebrate the first of the group to turn 50. There are lots of paella jokes, if that helps temper your expectations.
Grade = C
Did you like A Quiet Place? Would you like it with 100% more Stanley Tucci? This “stay silent or die” end-of-the-world jam is vastly less pretentious than John Krasinski’s debut, which is good. It also trades Emily Blunt for Kiernan Shipka, which is not an even trade, even with rabid bat-dinosaurs thrown in to sweeten the deal. Honestly, like so many of these Netflix movies, this is disturbingly average. Its palpable mediocrity whispers “It’s not bad enough to actually stop watching, right?” “No, Master Netflix,” you respond. “More please.”
Grade = C+
See You Yesterday
Welding a Black Lives Matter message onto a time-travel movie with a tone somewhere between Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Do the Right Thing makes this the most ambitious flick in the bunch. Featuring two great lead performances from young actors, a savvy social message and a heart-warming early cameo, See You Yesterday not only fails to stick the landing, it fails to have one. Honestly, it broke my heart. I was ready to heap unabashed praise on the film, but instead of coalescing a series of complex themes into a synthesized thesis, it just kinda stops. It was so abrupt, I had to check if something was wrong with my internet… Are we officially at the point where we call things that were great until the very end “Gaming the Throne” yet?
Grade = B-
Rim of the World
We’ve long heard of “director jail.” Is Netflix “director purgatory” then? Because McG directed this stack of cliches in a trenchcoat pretending to be a movie. Rim of the World is a spectacular failure at being the kind of early teen sci-fi adventure jaunt they just don’t make anymore. Kids at a summer camp have to save the world from an alien invasion while making distractingly out-of-place references. Seriously, at one point, we are supposed to accept that multiple current 13-year-olds have watched a Werner Herzog documentary released before they were born. Then again, pre-K Herzog viewing may help truly prepare young people these days…
Grade = D
This Allison Williams vehicle teeters on the precipice of dementedly inappropriate camp. Unfortunately, it revels too much in a vile plot twist reminiscent of too many real-life, horrific stories. Had it not been for that, the reckless abandon with which the film sells its salacious soapy secrets would have made the gibberish into decadent nonsense. If you see only one movie this year with body mutilation and cello playing as central plot points, Netflix wins.
Grade = F+