Friday, January 30, 2009

The Hulu Top Twenty

Here are the 20 most popular movies on Hulu this week. With only 1 new notable movie hitting the charts, lots of old favorites stormed back onto the list.

1. Black Knight
Last Week's Ranking: 3
Weeks on List: 6
Notes: Martin Lawrence stars in this godawful stinker of a movie about a man who travels back through time to the days of King Arthur. Lame jokes, shameless mugging, and a general shredding of the comedic movie genre are the hallmarks of this effort, although calling it an effort may be too kind. I present its placement at the top of our list as proof positive that there is no God.

2. Swimfan (2002)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1 (2)
Jesse Bradford and Erika Christensen in bathing suits? That seems to be the pitch that sold this humdrum Fatal Attraction redux, in which Christensen stalks Bradford after becoming romantically obsessed with him. My then-girlfriend had a policy of seeing all Jesse Bradford releases, so I actually plunked down box office cash for this one.

3. Picture Perfect
Last Week's Ranking: 1
Weeks on List: 5
Notes: This romantic comedy is a predictable trifle, but critics were pacified by the sweet match up of Jennifer Aniston and Jay Mohr. The plot involves Aniston inventing a fictional fiancee in an effort to get ahead at work. To hold the top slot after 4 weeks is completely unprecedented. People must love Jay Mohr or something.

4. Wrong Turn (2003)
Last Week's Ranking: 13
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: Eliza Dushku is about to become a hot commodity (if you believe that Joss Whedon can make a Friday night time slot work for Dushku's "Dollhouse," that is). But this by-the-numbers slasher flick is always going to be a black mark on her resume. It plays like an unofficial sequel to any number of unispired movies, from "The Hills Have Eyes" to the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" remake.

5. The Fifth Element
Last Week's Ranking: 5
Weeks on List: 9 (13)
Notes: Bruce Willis is a cab the future! Kind of. He and Milla Jovovich tear it up in this pure action adventure that keeps drawing in the Hulu viewers. With "The Girl Next Door" gone for good, this is the most popular movie of all time on Hulu. Strange, innit? I chalk it up to the promo picture on Hulu, which features Jovovich in a skimpy white costume. I think it's utterly unflattering, but I recognize that it will appeal to a certain group of people.

6. Kung Pow: Enter the Fist
Last Week's Ranking: 2
Weeks on List: 5
Notes: A goofy spoof of kung fu films in which director Steve Oedekerk digitally inserts himself into an already-laughable action flick. Critics largely hated the comedic effort, with the main criticism being that it's a 2-minute joke stretched out to an excruciating 80 minutes. It's holding strong on our list.

7. Jumanji (1995)
Last Week's Ranking: 10
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: This family-friendly Robin Williams vehicle has earned a place in the heart of many a child of the 90s, as is evidenced by the sequel, animated series, and assorted spawn. Did you remember that the girl in the movie is Kirsten Dunst?

8. Less Than Zero (1987)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: This 80s drama headlined Andrew McCarthy, but modern movie-goers will be more interested in Robery Downey Jr.'s role as an out of control drug addict. Loosely based on the soul-deadening novel by Brett Easton Ellis, it also features Jami Gertz and James Spader. The storyline revolves around dating college students who discover their friend's addiction and try to help him. This is the only new offering on Hulu that made the top 20.

9. Waking Ned Devine (1998)
Last Week's Ranking: 11
Weeks on List: 3
Notes: What if "Weekend at Bernies" was a decent movie? It would be "Waking Ned Devine", that's what. An Irish indie film about the requisite ragtag group of local oddballs who must pretend that the recently deceased Ned Devine is alive and well, so that they can collect his multi-million lottery winnings.

10. The Manhattan Project
Last Week's Ranking: 4
Weeks on List: 4
Notes: This 1986 effort by Director Marshall Brickman (best known for writing Annie Hall) is about a high school student who builds an A Bomb for his school's science fair, after which he is branded a terrorist by the government. John Lithgow stars, alongside a pre-Sex And The City Cynthia Nixon. Critics gave it a tepid reaction.

Last Week's Ranking: 7
Weeks on List: 12
Notes: Jim Carrey goofs it up in a decent comedy that puts all of his face-stretching talents on display. If you can get through his current offering, "Yes Man," without puking, then this will give you paroxysms of delight. With 3 months in the top 20, this is showing some serious legs.

12. Basic Instinct
Last Week's Ranking: 14
Weeks on List: 11
Notes: Sixteen years on, Sharon Stone's hoohoo is still drawing eyeballs in massive numbers. I hope she has that thing insured! At any rate, this is showing some serious staying power on the list. I guess vagina never really goes out of style.

13.Men In Black (1997)
Last Week's Ranking: 15
Weeks on List: 2 (5)
Notes: Pairing Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as government agents who round up aliens must have sounded like crappy gimmickry, but this feature had enough wits and charm to transport us. The sequel? Now that was crappy gimmickry.

14. The Family Man
Last Week's Ranking: 12
Weeks on List: 5
Notes: Studio workhorse Brett Ratner directs this Nicolas Cage vehicle to predictable results. It's a Christmas story in which the financially successful but morally bankrupt Cage gets an opportunity to live an alternate version of his own life, one in which he is an average schmo happily married to Tea Leoni. The movie is well done, but brings nothing new to the table, and we know the outcome of the movie before our asses hit the theater seats (or, in this case, our computer chairs). Don Cheadle has a role as the mystic author of Cage's personal journey.

15. Someone Like You
Last Week's Ranking: 6
Weeks on List: 4
Notes: Ashley Judd and Hugh Jackman star in this 2001 romantic comedy, which features the requisite setting of a high-powered magazine company, and lots of schmaltz. It's nothing special, but the leads, along with Greg Kinnear and Marisa Tomei, are always fun to watch.

16. Gattaca (1997)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1 (5)
This 1997 Jude Law/Ethan Hawke vehicle is a true sci-fi film. It gives us a complete and compelling portrait of a dystopian future in which an intrusive government controls the very genes of its citizens. The romance between Hawke and Uma Thurman is just prevalent enough to give it an appealing, soft edge. It comes back into the top 20 on the eve of it's Hulu expiration date, probably because people are taking advantage of their last chance to download a clean, complete copy.

17. Look Who's Talking (1989)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1 (2)
Notes: Meet John Travolta 2.0. In between being cool as Vinnie Babarino, and cool as a Pulp Fiction gangster, he was known as a lovable blue collar schmoe who had a certain way with the ladies. Pair him with a still-somewhat-sexy Kirstie Alley, throw a baby into the mix, and you have a bona fide franchise. The fact that the franchise could only devolve into a limp mishmash of talking animals doesn't detract from the fact that it made serious money.

18. The Professional (1994)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1 (6)
Notes: Natalie Portman debuts her acting chops alongside a career-best performance by Jean Reno. One of the few quality Hulu offerings that is ranking consistently among the most popular. If you haven't seen it, I strongly recommend that you invest the time to watch this one. It surged in popularity on Hulu on the eve of its expiration.

19. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1 (3)
Notes: Do we give points to movies for excelling at depressing us? I'm not sure. But Ellen Burstyn in a downward spiral is too horrific to turn away from. Also: how about that arm? Features Jennifer Connelly, Jared Leto, and one of those Wayanses.

20. American Virgin (2000)
Last Week's Ranking: 16
Weeks on List: 3 (6)
Notes: Bob Hoskins and Mena Suvari star in the lowly-regarded 2000 comedy.

Notably Absent:
These movies have dropped off the list this week.

A Dog's Breakfast (2007)
Last Week's Ranking: 8
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: A mentally unstable brother may come undone when he discovers that his sister's fiancee may be certifiably insane. This black comedy is directed by David Hewlett (no apparent relation to the printer), and stars David and his real life sister, Kate Hewlett.

Crawford (2008)
Last Week's Ranking: 9
Weeks on List: 6
Notes: Crawford is Hulu's first movie premiere, but it didn't make the short list of feature-length docs in the Hulu Awards. Last week, it made a triumphant return to our list, presumably because people were wondering where Bush is now that he's done trashing the nation.

St Elmo's Fire (1985)
Last Week's Ranking: 17
Weeks on List: 3
An iconic movie of the 80s featuring all of your favorites, such as Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, and Molly Ringwald (among others).

Saints and Soldiers (2005)
Last Week's Ranking: 19
Weeks on List: 5
Notes: A Mormon sniper and an atheist medic clash as their platoon struggles to survive behind Nazi lines in this 2005 actioner.

Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971)
Last Week's Ranking: 20
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: James Garner and Suzanne Pleshette vehicle featuring a rascally conman posing as a gunfighter. In this guise, he tangles with the law and the outlaws. A lighthearted western in the tradition of Maverick.

Hall of Fame:
These are the movies that have had the longest run on the list in the past. Right now, the threshold for inclusion is 6 weeks, but I anticipate that it will go up over time. No new inductees this week.

Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag
Last Week's Ranking: 20
Weeks on List: 8
Notes: There must be something I'm not getting about this I-Max documentary featuring fighter pilots. The message board for the movie has a lot of military folks chatting it up, so that may have something to do with it. After weeks near the top of this chart, it finally lost its lift.

Underworld: Evolution
Weeks on List: 6
Notes: Kate Beckinsale as a goth-boy's wet dream can't save this dark and dreary action flick from the weight of its futuristic vampire world.

Weeks on List: 6
Notes: Ashton Kutcher and Jennifer Garner teamed up in this stoner flick just before they became breakout stars.
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