Friday, January 23, 2009

The Hulu Top Twenty

Here are the 20 most popular movies on Hulu this week. There weren't too many new offerings of consequence on Hulu, so lots of older offerings are posting strong numbers.

1. Picture Perfect
Last Week's Ranking: 2
Weeks on List: 4
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.

2. Kung Pow: Enter the Fist
Last Week's Ranking: 4
Weeks on List: 4
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.

3. Black Knight
Last Week's Ranking: 11
Weeks on List: 5
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. After five weeks, it's ranking third? What's wrong with you people?

4. The Manhattan Project
Last Week's Ranking: 1
Weeks on List: 3
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.

5. The Fifth Element
Last Week's Ranking: 9
Weeks on List: 8 (12)
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. Someone Like You
Last Week's Ranking: 3
Weeks on List: 3
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.

Last Week's Ranking: 12
Weeks on List: 11
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 nearly 3 months in the top 20, this is showing some serious legs.

8. A Dog's Breakfast (2007)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
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.

9. Crawford (2008)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1 (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. It makes a triumphant return to our list, presumably because people are now wondering where Bush is now that he's done trashing the nation.

10. Jumanji (1995)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1
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?

11. Waking Ned Devine (1998)
Last Week's Ranking: 6
Weeks on List: 2
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.

12. The Family Man
Last Week's Ranking: 13
Weeks on List: 4
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.

13. Wrong Turn (2003)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1
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.

14. Basic Instinct
Last Week's Ranking: 17
Weeks on List: 10
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. They should make a sequel. Oh, they did? It must have done really well.

15.Men In Black (1997)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1 (4)
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.

16. American Virgin (2000)
Last Week's Ranking: 18
Weeks on List: 2 (5)
Notes: Bob Hoskins and Mena Suvari star in the lowly-regarded 2000 comedy.

17. St Elmo's Fire (1985)
Last Week's Ranking: 5
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). Last week, I said that if it moved up the rankings this week, we could draw conclusions about the Hulu viewer. Well it did, and we can--
welcome to Hulu, children of the 80s. You will find many crappy 80s flicks to keep you entertained during your visit!

18. Go (1999)
Last Week's Ranking: 15
Weeks on List: 6
Notes: I love this movie and everyone in it. There, I said it. Taye Diggs, Sarah Polley, William Fichtner, Timothy Olyphant, Scott Wolf, Jay Mohr, and a just-starting-out Katie Holmes are part of the ensemble cast that Director Doug Liman brings together in a fantastic blend of youth culture and Pulp Fiction. Other movies try to shock us by increasing the amount of money that's been stolen, or demanded in ransom, or whatever. Go shows us that, in certain circles, just a couple of hundred dollars can make the world go round. There are some great performances, a real sense of style, and a fun, fast-paced storyline that plays with the chronology in just the right way.

19. Saints and Soldiers (2005)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1 (5)
Notes: A Mormon sniper and an atheist medic clash as their platoon struggles to survive behind Nazi lines in this 2005 actioner. It makes a somewhat surprising return to the list.

20. Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
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.

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

Last Week's Ranking: 7
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: When this came out, it seemed like an epic flop of Hudson Hawkish proportions, but the 25% approval rating from the critics of Rotten Tomatoes mean that it is simply, banally bad. It has all of the eccentricity of Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka movie, but none of the cleverness. Or maybe it's too much cleverness. I'm not sure, but look for this one to slip off the Top Twenty as if it were coated with teflon. L.L. Cool J and Robin Wright also star.

Look Who's Talking (1989)
Last Week's Ranking: 8
Weeks on List: 1
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.

Wolf (1994)
Last Week's Ranking: 10
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: I have to admit that when this movie came out, I thought it was the definitive werewolf movie, featuring Jack Nicholson as a bone-crunching lycanthrope, and Michelle Pfeiffer. The dramatics and revelations don't really hold up to a more seasoned viewer, although it's always fn to see Nicholson sinking his teeth into a decent line. And now, 15 years later, I know that the definitive werewolf movie is Teen Wolf. Older and wiser, that's what I am.

Speed 2: Cruise Control(1997)
Last Week's Ranking: 14
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: This is what the guy from the Matrix was known for before the Matrix and after the Bill and Ted movies. Reeves and costar Sandra Bullock milk every last drop out of the rehashed concept-- we're in a vehicle! And we! Can't! Stop!

The Siege
Last Week's Ranking: 16
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: A pre 911 movie about Muslim terrorists attacking NYC starring Denzel Washington, who seems to continually evade the stink of the many, many bad movies he's made. This one is decent enough, with supporting roles by action movie icon Bruce Willis and Annette Benning.

The Times of Harvey Milk
Last Week's Ranking: 19
Weeks on List: 3
Notes: Hulu is showing some savvy by timing their premiere of this 1984 Harvey Milk documentary with the Hollywood release, which stars Sean Penn as the gay rights activist turned mayor. That's not to suggest that this isn't a good movie, as it boasts an Academy Award for Best Documentary and a 100% approval rating over at Rotten Tomatoes.

21 Grams
Last Week's Ranking: 20
Weeks on List: 5
Notes: Benicio Del Toro, Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, and Charlotte Gainsbourg star in this strangely-structured drama that warms the cockles of our cold, dead hearts. The critics give it high praise, but always with a hint of frustration that this good movie fell short of being a great one.

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. Reappears on the list after a hiatus, but hurry up and watch! It has an expiration notice that should kick in tomorrow.

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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