Friday, April 10, 2009

The Hulu Top Twenty

There were only 3 new entries to our list this week, which either means that the list is getting tougher to break into, or that there are just not that many new offerings over at Hulu. Judging by what DID make it in, I'm going with the latter.

1. Anastasia (1997)

Last Week's Ranking: 1
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: This animated Disney flick will be remembered as a good representative of the last vanguard of 2D animation. The voice talent is strictly all-star, with Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Kirsten Dunst, Kelsey Grammer, Christopher Lloyd, Hank Azaria, Bernadette Peters, and Angela Lansbury. A historic setting provides an educational component, the romance is light and believable, and the disintegrating Rasputin is the best villain since the Lion King's Scar.

2. Cheech and Chong's Next Movie (1980)
Last Week's Ranking: 2
Weeks on List: 2
This one is definitely on the downswing of Cheech and Chong 's storied stonerific career. While their earlier movies reveled in the goofy abuses of freedom that ran rampant in the seventies, this one can't escape the encroaching onset of Reagan's war on drugs. Still, stoner movies have their niche in moviedom, and that niche is bigger at Hulu than in the world at large.

3. Revenge of the Nerds (1984)
Last Week's Ranking: 3
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: This is the seminal entry in a bottom of the barrel comedy series that inspired a whole horrific genre. There are some funny moments, both intentional and unintentional, but the movie generally just alternates between three stereotypes: nerds, fraternity jocks, and naked bimbos. I believe this has the original "impossibly long urination sound" joke that has since made the rounds in such notable flicks as Austin Powers.

4. Cliffhanger (1993)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: Sly Stallone proves that he still has some guns (the muscley bicep kind, not the commie death-dealing kind) in this well-paced actioner about a group of high-altitude hikers facing down some gunmen on the unforgiving Alps. A decent movie for what it is, although there is a silly conceit we're supposed to swallow: Dex is the most important thing you can have to stave off hypothermia and certain death, yet no one carries it in adequate supplies. John Lithgow is the villainous foil. Hulu has it mismarked as coming from 2003-- nice attempt to modernize your listings, Hulu!

5. Confessions of a Superhero (2007)
Last Week's Ranking: 5
Weeks on List: 3
Notes: This is a great little human interest documentary, with a spotlight on four different people who make their living by dressing up as superheroes and posing for pictures with tourists. When we see a man dressed like Superman trying to help other street performers, we're tempted to give him props as a real-life version of the comic hero. But the film keeps adding layers of humanity, evoking both pity and contempt for him by the time the credits roll. Also features Wonder Woman, Batman, and the Incredible Hulk.

6. The Bad Girls From Valley High (2000)
Last Week's Ranking: 6
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: The teen horror-comedy just can't seem to get any respect, and this terrible entry may be one of the reasons why
. Teenage girls, murder, and lots of valley girl speak are the main selling points, if you can call them that.

7. Breezy (1973)
Last Week's Ranking: 4
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: Before Clint Eastwood directed Oscar-winners, he directed Breezy, a movie about a hippie who finds herself living in the home of a gruff conservative (William Holden). The best reason to see this is to appreciate how far Eastwood has come.

8. Shira: The Vampire Samurai (2005)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: Well, the title says it all. It's a movie about a samurai who is also a vampire who is also a beautiful woman (funny how that happens). Features Chona Jason in the titular role. She's a stuntwoman-turned-playboy model-turned terrible actress. It's also funny how THAT happens.

9. Super Size Me (2004)
Last Week's Ranking: 9
Weeks on List: 4
Notes: Just weeks after documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock was nominated for a Hulu Award for his reality series "30 Days," his hit documentary film takes the number one spot on the Top Twenty for the week. Could this be a sign that Hulu viewers are brainier and more health conscious than the country at large? Maybe. At any rate, if you haven't seen this fantastic movie, you should. Spurlock uses himself as a guinea pig to answer the question: What will happen when an otherwise-healthy man eats nothing but McDonalds for a month? The answer to that question is probably somewhat obvious, but the film gets us to think about the factors that go into the decision to pull into that drive-thru.

10. Johnny Dangerously (1984)
Last Week's Ranking: 8
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: This is one of the comedies that defines Michael Keaton's early career, and I was shocked to see that it received a ho-hum 47% approval rating over at Rotten Tomatoes. It features a rapid-fire sequence of spoof comedy jokes in the vein of the Airplane movies, with a Depression-era gangster setting. Little jokes like Keaton using a price gun to put labels on puppies for sale in a pet shop keep it light and amusing, even when some of the more overstated jokes fall flat.

11. Inside Special Forces (2003)
Last Week's Ranking: 7
Weeks on List: 4
Notes: Military geeks will enjoy pretending they're alongside the US Special Military forces spotlighted in this movie.
It's a lot closer to gun porn than you might expect from a classy outfit like National Geographic, but they do bring their signature awesome videography skills to the table.

12. Saints and Soldiers (2005)
Last Week's Ranking: 16
Weeks on List: 9 (15)
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. It looks decent, but I'm not sure what the lasting appeal is.

13. The Blue Lagoon (1980)
Last Week's Ranking: 12
Weeks on List: 5
Notes: This movie has become notorious for two things: naked young people in the titular lagoon, and being very, very bad. Christopher Atkin's curly blond locks make him the iconic surfer boy, while Brooke Shields shows us why, after a quarter century,she still fails to engage the audience in any way that is not sexual.

14. Origin: Spirits of the Past (2006)
Last Week's Ranking: 11
Weeks on List: 4
Notes: This massive 2.5 hour anime feature didn't receive much attention outside of the target genre audience. It's nice to see that Hulu is adding this to the rolls, but if you're new to anime, you probably won't want to cut your teeth on this behemoth.

15. National Lampoon's Spring Break (2007)
Last Week's Ranking: 15
Weeks on List: 10 (11)
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.

16. Jewel of the Nile (1985)
Last Week's Ranking: 18
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: Younger moviegoers may wonder how in hell Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner ever got famous in the first place. The Jewel of the Nile has all the answers you need-- a well-paced action comedy that shows off both actors to their best entertaining potential. It may not have aged particularly well, but it is a nice little representative of the era in which it was made.

17. Body Count (1992)
Last Week's Ranking: 13
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: We've got an interesting, talented cast here, including Ving Rhames, Linda Fiorentino, Forest Whittaker, Donnie Wahlberg, David Caruso, and
John Leguizamo. The plot sounds perfect for the talent, involving a heist at a museum gone wrong. Ving Rhames and criminal capers go together like peas and carrots. In this case, however, a weak script and weaker direction cause a major misfire.

18. Sexy Beast (2000)
Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: This is a bizarre little independent movie that was noticed when Ben Kingsley received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The gist of the movie is that Ray Winstone is a retired safecracker who is roped back in by his old gangster boss (Kingsley) to do another job. Kingsley's brutality works because Winstone does such a fantastic job of being afraid of him.

19. Air Force One (2001)
Last Week's Ranking: 10
Weeks on List: 3
Hulu has really been blurring the line between movies and television program episodes lately. This "movie" debuted on National Geographic television not too long ago, and I don't see what differentiates it from any other hour long episode of one of their flagship documentary series. At any rate, this spotlights the titular presidential plane from the days of FDR to the days of GWB.

20. All Dogs Go to Heaven 2 (1996)
Last Week's Ranking: 17
Weeks on List: 2
Notes: A limp, uninspired effort to wring a few extra dollars out of a moderately successful animated movie. Ernest Borgnine, Charlie Sheen, and Bebe Neuwirth (Lilith from Cheers) provide some voice talent.

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

In the Line of Fire (1993)
Last Week's Ranking: 14
Weeks on List: 3
Notes: Sixteen years ago, people were already saying that Clint Eastwood was getting too old to be an action star. But "In the Line of Fire" was the presidential assassination thriller that shut all of those critics up. Eastwood plays a secret service agent who was on hand when JFK was shot. Now, decades later, he faces another threat to another president, this time from ace crackpot John Malkovich. Rene Russo and Dylan McDermott give supporting roles in this extremely well-done genre exercise.

Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag (2004)
Last Week's Ranking: 19
Weeks on List: 2 (10)
Notes: There must be something I'm not getting about this I-Max documentary featuring fighter pilots. It keeps coming back to our Top Twenty list, like a bad case of herpes. The message board for the movie has a lot of military folks chatting it up, so that may have something to do with it.

The Pleasure Seekers (1964)
Last Week's Ranking: 20
Weeks on List: 1
Notes: This remake came only 10 years after the original "Three Coins in the Fountain," and features the same storyline of three american beauties visiting Italy for a shot at romance. Each one winds up with what seems like the wrong guy. Weirdly, both this remake and the original were directed by the same person, Jean Negulesco.

The Hall of Fame has moved! If you're interested in seeing which movies have had the most long term success on this list, check it out here.

1 comment:

catwhowalksbyhimself said...

Anastasia was not made by Disney. Instead, this is a Fox Animation product. This glaring factual error in what otherwise seems to be a well written blog should be corrected.