Yes, it’s that time again, the weekend, and time to review the best new movies and television shows added online this week, to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. And there are some exciting adds this week, so let’s get started!
Hulu’s most notable add this week, unfortunately, is Vacation Friends, a 2021 comedy. Lil Rel Howery and Yvonne Orji star as Marcus and Emily, prosperous, proper and on the brink of marriage, when they meet the couple from Hell, Ron(John Cena) and Kyla(Meredith Hagner), on a vacation in Mexico, and end up going wild with them, racing Jet skis, drinking heavily, suing drugs and getting into a bar fight. Which is bad enough, but when the rowdy couple show up uninvited at the Marcus and Emily’s wedding, things could go off the rails. Robert Wisdom and Lynn Whitfield star as Emily‘s uptight parents, and Tawny Newsome, Anna Maria Horsford, Denise Burse and Barry Rothbart also star, with Clay Tarver directing. But even a good cast can’t make up for bad script, and material that’s been put off for production for years. And now we see why. And it gets a unimpressive 66% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Christy Lemire of RogerEbert.com saying “all four actors are trapped in one-note roles in repetitive scenarios that become increasingly tedious.” Don’t bother. I know I won’t. But Hulu has also added Love and Monsters, the 2020 sci-fi romance. Dylan O’Brien stars as Joel, here, a young man separated from his one true love, Aimee(Jessica Henwick)shortly after the Monsterpocalypse seven years ago. Since then, everyone has gone underground, and he has searched for her constantly, so when he finally finds her on a ham radio, 80 miles away, he sets out on a perilous journey to reach her, with the help of survivor Clyde (Michael Rooker) and his daughter Minnow(Ariana Greenblatt). Dan Ewing, Amali Golden, Melanie Zanetti and Tandi Wright also star, and Michael Matthews directed. It’s some fun, and has great monsters, too. And it gets an impressive 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, with Ian Freer of Empire Magazine calling it “a blast, an unassuming, immensely winning monster movie filled with great lo-fi creatures and a likeable cast. As a template for making a leaner, less bloated summer movie, Hollywood could do a lot worse.” I’m definitely watching. Hulu also offers Chaos Walking a 2021 sci-fi adventure. Tom Holland stars as Todd Hewitt, a young colonist living on the planet of New World in 2257 A.D., a world with no women, after the native humanoid species, The Spackle, killed all the female colonists, so when Viola Eade(Daisy Ridley) lands there and needs help, he is shocked and perplexed. Especially since Viola doesn’t have the Noise, a condition all colonists have to see and hear each others thoughts. Mads Mikkelson(!), Cynthia Erivo(!), Nick Jonas and David Oyelowo(!) also star, while Doug Liman(Swingers, Jumper) directs. That’s a spectacular cast, so even though Chaos Walking gets a dismal 22% on Rotten Tomatoes, I’ll tune in. I love sci-fi. But Clarisse Loughrey of the Independent(UK) said its “a semi-competent sci-fi yarn that suffers, if anything, from being too simple in its execution.” So you decide. And, finally, Hulu has added Four Good Days, the 2020 drama starring Glenn Close. Here, Close plays Deb, the harried mother of Molly(Mila Kunis) a meth addict who pleads for Deb’s help just one last time, while she detoxes for the four days required to get a new shot that will block her constant cravings. Deb warily agrees, and with the support of her present husband Chris(Stephen Root). Joshua Leonard plays Molly‘s ex Sean, and Rebecca Field, Chad Lindberg, Michael Hyatt and Gabriela Flores also star, while Rodrigo Garcia(the son of Gabriel Garcia Marquez!) directed. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2020, and gets only a 52% on Rotten Tomatoes. But I agree with Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times when he wrote “Mila Kunis does her finest acting work alongside Glenn Close…” So I’ll be watching.
One of the buzziest adds on Netflix this week has to be Clickbait, a 2021 thriller series. Adrian Grenier stars as Nick Brewer, a seemingly normal husband and family man who suddenly appears in a viral video, beaten and bruised and holding a sign saying “AT 5 MILLION VIEWS I DIE,” as well as one saying “I ABUSE WOMEN.” His shocked sister Pia(Zoe Kazan) sets out to investigate on her own, with the help of a hacker friend, Vince (Jack Walton) and Detective Roshan Amiri (Phoenix Raei). But as they dig, they soon find things are not as they seem, and Nick may not be as squeaky clean as they thought. Elizabeth Alexander, Betty Gabriel, Camaron Engels, Jaylin Fletcher and Abraham Lim also star, and there are 8 episodes available to binge now. And yes, it gets only a 44% on Rotten Tomatoes, but a 7.1/10 on IMDb. Tom Long of the Detroit News says “obviously Clickbait has things to say about internet technology, misinformation and the alarming, potentially dangerous speed of modern media. But mostly it’s just an elaborate whodunit.” And I do love a mystery. So I’m tuning in. But Netflix also offers Post Mortem: No One Dies in Skarnes, a 2021 Norwegian horror series. Live Hallangen, played by Kathrine Thorborg Johansen(Ragnarok), wakes up in a coroner’s office, after having been declared dead, and going home, finds she’s fundamentally changed, unable to sleep at all, and strangely able to hear everything, even people’s pulses. Oh, and she has an unusual taste for blood. All of this is accepted with deadpan reaction from both the townspeople and the local police detectives, Judith (played by wonderful Kim Fairchild) and Reinert(André Sørum). And that’s what makes this series delightful, the humor and sarcasm. Elias Holmsen Sørensen, Sarah Khorami, Terje Strømdahl and Øystein Røger also star, and there are 6 episodes available to devour now. And it gets a 6.8/10 on IMDb, and HeavenOfHorror calls it “truly a gem.” I’m definitely watching. Also notable on Netflix is Bob Ross: Happy Accidents, Betrayal & Greed, a 2021 documentary. Here, director Joshua Rofé(Sasquatch) visits the battle over legacy of Bob Ross, the every cheery host of The Joy of Painting on PBS from 1983 to 1994, after his death in 1995 of lymphoma, and the fight between Ross‘ business partners, Annette and Walt Kowalski, and Ross‘ son, Steve. It seems the Kowalski’s went out of their way to get possession of Ross‘ name and his brand, taking control of Bob Ross Inc., and defying his last wishes. And indeed, we get more complaints from artists, Gary and Cathwren Jenkins, who claim the Kowalskis, too, ripped them off. And this movie gets a respectable 72% on Rotten Tomatoes. And Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com writes its “relatively enlightening documentary that humanizes a figure lazily written off as a novelty, sometimes by using salacious chapters in Ross’ legacy not well known.” It’s on my list. Netflix also has Open Your Eyes, a 2021 Polish sci-fi thriller. Based on the novel Second Chance by Katarzyna Berenika Miszczuk, this follows Julia(Maria Wawreniuk), a teen with amnesia who finds herself at the prestigious Second Chance memory center, supposedly the best in the country. But as she tries to find her talent, as a pianist, as the doctors encourage, she finds that things are not as they seem, and that the center may not be trying to cure it’s patients, but instead to use them as blank slates, who can be convinced to do anything they want. Michal Sikorski, Klaudia Koscista, Wojciech Dolatowski, Sara Celler-Jezierska and Marta Nieradkiewicz also star, and there are 6 episodes available for viewing now. And this series gets a 6.4/10 on IMDb, and GizmoStory calls it “suspenseful and impacting.” I’m watching. And finally, Netflix offers Really Love, the 2020 romantic drama. Kofi Siriboe plays a young and promising, though struggling artist, Isaiah, who meets law student Stevie (Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing) at a gallery showing, and is knocked off his feet. But as their romance progresses, the disparities in their background strain their relationship, with Stevie‘s mother (Suzzanne Douglas) and father Jerome (Blair Underwood) disapproving of Isiah’s working class background. Uzo Aduba(Orange Is the New Black!), Mack Wilds, Naturi Naughton, and Michael Ealy also star, and Angel Kristi Williams makes her directoral debut here. And this film won the Special Jury Award at the 2020 SXSW Film Festival, and was nominated for the SXSW Grand Jury Award, as well. And it gets a 6/10 on IMDb, with Robert Daniels of The Playlist writing “a timeless black romance…..that drips with passion. Featuring a breakout performance from an enrapturing Wong-Loi-Sing, and a beguiling turn from Siriboe.” I’m tuning in.
Amazon has one huge add this week, with The Courier, the 2021 Benedict Cumberbatch drama. Here, Cumberbatch stars as Greville Wynne, in the true story of the businessman(Wynne) recruited by British MI6 in the 1960‘s to deliver messages to secret agent Oleg Penkovsky(Merab Ninidze), which possibly helped to end the Cuban Missile Crisis. Unfortunately, both were caught by Russia, and Penkovsky was executed. Rachel Brosnahan(!) stars as CIA officer Emily Donovan, and Jessie Buckley, Angus Wright, Kiril Pirogov, Keir Hills and Maria Mironova also star, with Dominic Cooke(On Chesil Beach) directed. Merab Ninidze was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the 2021 British Independent Film Awards for his work here, and the film gets an 86% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7/10(!) on IMDb. Deborah Ross of the Spectator saying its “a damn good, explosively tense story that focuses on the friendship that develops between two men on opposite sides. And it is plainly wonderful.” I’m definitely watching. Amazon also offers Dead Lucky, the 2018 Australian crime drama. here, Rachel Griffiths(Muriel’s Wedding) plays Detective Grace Gibbs searches for killer Corey Baxter (Ian Meadows) who is on the rampage again, while she herself is feeling pressure for anger issues and responsibility for death of her colleague Lincoln, at the hands of Baxter, himself. Her partner, junior detective, Charlie Fung (Yoson An) holds her responsible as well, but they carry on and investigate the ongoing violence in Sydney. Brooke Satchwell, Xana Tang, Simon Burke, Mojean Aria and Rhys Muldoon also star, and there are 4 episodes available to enjoy now. And yes, it’s not perfect- it gets a mere 40% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it gets a 6.8/10 on IMDb, and Rachel Griffiths can make anything fascinating. Karl Quinn of the Age(Australia) said “it’s thoughtful, considered, twisty and pacey enough to warrant not just being seen but being granted a second season, to see how far these characters, and this take on contemporary Australia, can go.” And did I mention it was nominated at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards for best Telefeature or Miniseries? I’m tuning in. And, finally, if you hurry, you can still catch a free Season 1 of The French Chef with Julia Child, from PBS Living. This gives you access to 25 episodes(!) of the first year, 1963, of Julia Child’s epic cooking series, one of the most informative ever(and my favorite) where you can learn to cook everything from Scallops, Quiche Lorraine and Fruit Tarts, to Lobster a l’Americaine and Roast Duck a l’Orange. So if you want a high quality cooking lessons without paying a high price, this is your ticket. And it gets a stupendous 8.7/10 on IMDb. And there are 4 days left in August to binge, so start now! Afterward, you’ll have to pay the PBS Living premium of $2.99 a month(not bad) to see them. I’m watching again.
So sit back and binge this weekend, on classics, old and new, on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Enjoy!