I am a passionate fan of 80's kids’ movies. Goonies, Stand By Me, Explorers, Space Camp, Monster Squad, Cloak and Dagger, Labyrinth, and several others occupy coveted slots on my all-time list. While I enjoyed recent kids’ movies such as Harry Potter, Super 8, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, they never captured the magic of those older films.
Is it just me? There's a certain hollowness in the modern kid flick. Something missing. The movies follow all the formulas. However, like recreating your grandparents' heirloom recipes, an intangible quality is always missing. Is it the uber slickness that comes with an astronomical major motion picture budget? The high def, count-the-zits image quality? The computer generated effects? I really don’t know the cause. But the result is the notably absent charm that once oozed from the movies of my childhood.
"They just don't make movies like they used to.” Nooooooo! Am I becoming Granddad? If for nothing else, I search for the illusive, magical, modern kid flick to stave off my inevitable transformation into a jaded, grumpy old man. Netflix's insidious AI is well aware of my quest. And it is always happy to guide me through the harrowing wilderness of its immense catalog towards possible holy grails.
This morning I was distracted by a little, 2005 independent film called Twelve and Holding. Yep, fucking Netflix debo'd my free-time once again. Curses. Twelve and Holding, however, was just good enough—just awkward and quirky enough—to compel me to throw it out there: Is this the Great White Buffalo?
Recently, a strange game evolved from a combination of Netflix’s Instant Watch and my own comatose state of couch-potato boredom. I call it Netflix Randomness. Not that this game is at all random—the name just rolls off the tongue a little easier than Solitaire Movie-Geek Chicken.
Here are the rules to Netflix Randomness. You browse the Instant Watch listings until you find something that grabs your attention. It can be anything. The swerve is that this movie (or television show) must be one that you have never seen, never heard of, and would never watch under any other circumstance. Beyond that, every title is fair game. Once you have located a suitable target, the game is set and you’re in for the duration. And before you probe for loopholes, you have to pause the movie when you leave the room and you cannot play on your cell phone or laptop during the movie. Choose wisely.
This is all merely how I internally justify wasting hours of potential productivity by vegging in front of Netflix. The next evolution of this game will have to include stakes because there’s just not much incentive to sit through a real turd other than groaning about it on the internet.