Friday, March 6, 2009

The Hulu Top Twenty

Here are the 20 most popular movies on Hulu this week. For the first time ever, the top four movies have all stayed the same, marking a period of calm in the usual movie-adding frenzy.

Last Week's Ranking: 1
Weeks on List: 17
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 over 4 months in the top 20, this is probably going to be the most popular Top Twenty selection of all time.

2. Kung Pow: Enter the Fist (2002)
Last Week's Ranking: 2
Weeks on List: 10
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. Picture Perfect (1997)
Last Week's Ranking: 3
Weeks on List: 10
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. Six weeks in, it's holding strong.

4. Saints and Soldiers (2005)
Last Week's Ranking: 4
Weeks on List: 4 (10)
Notes: A Mormon sniper and an atheist medic clash as their platoon struggles to survive behind Nazi lines in this 2005 actioner. Stars Corbin Allred and Peter Holden. This one keeps jumping on and off the list. It looks decent, but I'm not sure what the lasting appeal is.

5. Robot Holocaust (1986)
Last Week's Ranking: 14
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: Basically got to the storyline of Terminator: Salvation 20 years before the franchise caught up. It's the robot-dominated future, and a ragtag group of humans is trying to throw off the shackles of machine-based slavery. This one does not look good. It storms the #5 slot, probably riding the wave of the Terminator movie's marketing campaign.

6. Wilby Wonderful (2004)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: An independent drama about human relationships in a quiet Canadian town, this movie received generally favorable reviews over at Rotten Tomatoes. It's supposed to be smartly written, with solid dialogue, but the lack of name stars probably means that it will slip from the list next week.

7. Long Life, Happiness, and Prosperity (2002)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1
Sandra Oh headlines this schmaltzy comedy, playing a young, single mother whose daughter tries to find her a new boyfriend. But rather than using Facebook like any normal daughter, this one employs ancient Chinese magic to make it happen.

8. The Times of Harvey Milk (1984)
Last Week's Ranking: 5
Weeks on List: 3 (6)
Hulu initially showed 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. Now it comes back to the list after the fictional counterpart makes a strong showing at the Academy Awards. That's not to suggest that this doc isn't a good movie, as it boasts an Academy Award for Best Documentary and a 100% approval rating over at Rotten Tomatoes.

9. Dragonheart (1996)
Last Week's Ranking: 15
Weeks on List: 5 (7)
Notes: Dennis Quaid is a dragonslayer. But Sean Connery is Draco, his secret dragon pal. How can the two of them pull off a revolt against the evil king? After a 3-month-long hiatus, it makes a surprising return to the top 20 list.

10. American Virgin (2000)
Last Week's Ranking: 8
Weeks on List: 8 (11)
Notes: Bob Hoskins and Mena Suvari star in the lowly-regarded 2000 comedy. Why is it doing so well? I'm guessing it's PSMSBs (People Seeking Mena Suvari's Boobs). You can see them in American Beauty, folks. They weren't anything special then. What, you think she retrofitted them with subsonic woofers or something?

11. The Family Man (2000)
Last Week's Ranking: 10
Weeks on List: 10
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.

12. National Lampoon's Spring Break (2007)
Last Week's Ranking: 11
Weeks on List: 5 (9)
Can you really call a 53 minute comedy a movie? Hulu has longer clips. The boobs of the hour belong to Nikki Ziering. Be sure to consider this one for the "Worst Movie" in the Hulu Awards, where it has been recognized as a finalist.

13. Eddie Murphy: Raw (1987)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: This stand-up comedy classic received some heat when it was nominated for the Hulu Award for Best Movie Comedy, and now it's finally broken into the top twenty for the first time ever. That might be because Eddie Murphy was in the trade publication news this week (it seems he might play Richard Pryor in a biopic of that great comedian), but it's more likely because the movie is going to expire in less than a month.

14. Grease 2 (1982)
Last Week's Ranking: 6
Weeks on List: 3
Notes: Grease was an unexpected campy hit, and this follow-up tried hard to recapture the quirky magic with mixed results. They traded off Travolta and Newton-John for Maxwell Caulfield and Michelle Pfieffer. It's about to expire from Hulu, so get it while it's hot!

15. Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Last Week's Ranking: 17
Weeks on List: 6 (8)
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.

16. Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag (2004)
Last Week's Ranking: 9
Weeks on List: 2 (10)
Notes: Over the months, I've come to just accept that this Imax doc about military fighter pilots is a mysterious powerhouse for Hulu. It's already in the Hall of Fame, but it just keeps piling up the weeks on our Top Twenty.

17. American Psycho 2 (2002)
Last Week's Ranking: 18
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: William Shatner and Mila Kunis are the unlikely stars of this sequel to the movie-based-on-abook-starring-Christian-Bale. The storyline is mildly intriguing-- Kunis survived the bloodletting of the first movie, and is now traveling the path from killer-obsessed victim to a murderer herself. Critics didn't like it, so I suppose the execution must have left a lot to be desired.

18. Bad Girls From Mars (1990)
Last Week's Ranking: 16
Weeks on List: 5
Oh, you naughty, naughty Mars girls! Why must you constantly fail in ways that cry out for corporal punishment? Actually, this movie takes place in Hollywood, with a movie-within-the-movie having the ridiculous titular premise.

19. Someone Like You (2001)
Last Week's Ranking: 13
Weeks on List: 2 (6)
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.

20. Black Knight (2001)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1 (10)
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. Now it's going to make the Hall of Fame. Boo.

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

Robocop (1987)
Last Week's Ranking: 7
Weeks on List: 4
Notes: Expiration robbed this sci-fi fave of it's full run on Hulu. A satire, a gorefest, and a revenge flick all in one, this is one of those movies that sticks in your mind, even if you last saw it in theaters 22 years ago (like me).

Johnny Appleweed (2008)
Last Week's Ranking: 12
Weeks on List: 1
John Cotugno took on more credits with this flicks than Robert Rodriguez-- he's a writer/director/animator/star/producer in this stoner comedy about a guy who's instructed to spread cannabis seeds by Johnny Appleseed. It's actually not violating Appleseed's spirit, given that the best use for apples in his day was for making alcoholic beverages. But that doesn't change the fact that this is going to be tough to sit through, even for stoners. Not surprisingly, this one has dropped right off the list.

Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project (2007)
Last Week's Ranking: 19
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: This critically acclaimed homage to Don Rickles has lots of great moments. He may not be the oldest comedian, or the most notorious comedian, but surely he's the oldest notorious comedian out there.

Robocop 2 (1990)
Last Week's Ranking: 20
Weeks on List: 3
Notes: Robocop 2 is even Robocopier than the first one, with more blood, more gore, and a darker dystopian future than ever. Unfortunately, it seems to have overshot the sweet spot, and it received none of the acclaim of the original. It still has some clips up, but the movie has expired.

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.

The Fifth Element
Weeks on List: 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. Even with an expiration date stealing this movie from Hulu viewers before they were done watching it in droves, it will live on in the Hall of Fame.

Basic Instinct (1992)
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.

Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag
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.

Crawford (2008)
Last Week's Ranking: 9
Weeks on List: 6
Notes: Crawford is Hulu's first movie premiere, so it's appropriate that this Bush-hometown documentary has squeaked into the Hall of Fame.

The Professional (1994)
Last Week's Ranking: 18
Weeks on List: 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.

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