James Franco and Seth Rogen ride the ‘Pineapple Express’ on Netflix

The Judd Apatow factory refreshed the coming-of-age comedy (for all ages of adolescent men) in comedies like Knocked Up, Superbad, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall before stretching itself thin (that’s my best explanation for Drillbit Taylor and Step Brothers). One of the smartest things he did was to seek out directors not normally associated with his […]

George Clooney, Anna Kendrick, and Vera Farmiga in Jason Reitman's 'Up in the Air.'

‘Up in the Air’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

“To know me is to fly with me,” proclaims philosopher-in-flight Ryan Bingham. “This is where I live.” And it’s clear in the opening moments of Up in the Air (2009) as Ryan—as played by George Clooney—walks through the airport, perfectly at home as checks in to the preferred customer counter and eases through security with […]

‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ – Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell on VOD and Blu-ray/DVD

Howard Hawks discovered one of the great female screen teams in bubbly gold digger Lorelei Lee (Marilyn Monroe) and wry, unapologetically man-hungry Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell) in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), a musical take on the Jazz Age novel by screenwriting great Anita Loos. Lorelei and Dorothy are showgirls and best friends on a luxury […]

Gene Wilder is Willy Wonka in the musical adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel

The original ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ on Amazon Prime Video

“Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.” Gene Wilder is the weird, wonderful, slightly sinister candy bar king who invites five children into his factory kingdom in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), a musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s fantasy. It is a rare breed: an imaginative live-action […]

Stephen Chow in Kung Fu Hustle

Kung Fu Comedy: ‘Shaolin Soccer’ and ‘Kung Fu Hustle’ on Netflix

In the early 2000s, Hong Kong comedy star Stephen Chow stole Jackie Chan’s crown as Hong Kong’s clown prince of kung fu comedy. He was dubbed the Jim Carrey of Hong Kong by American critics, but that completely misses his appeal. Sure, Chow is a brilliant physical comedian with an unpredictable streak, but he also […]

P.J. Soles and The Ramones

‘Rock ‘n’ Roll High School’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

“Do your parents know you’re Ramones?” If Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979) isn’t the greatest rock and rebellion film of all time it is certainly on the short list, a pure, cheerfully juvenile blast of blitzkrieg guitar rock, Looney Tunes sight gags, teenage hormones, and rebellion against authority because it’s there. They aren’t exactly […]

Richard Linklater's 'Dazed and Confused

‘Dazed and Confused’ on Hulu

Dazed and Confused (1993) – Cinema has the unique ability to create a sensory experience vivid enough to make the past suddenly present and alive. Richard Linklater’s cinematic flashback Dazed and Confused captures a rich pageant of high-school life, circa 1976, in a mere 100 minutes, leaning on nostalgia without wallowing in it. Jason London […]

Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, and Bill Murray star, Harold Ramis directs

‘Caddyshack’ – Slobs vs. snobs on Hulu

Caddyshack (1980), the definitive slobs versus snobs comedy, is ostensibly the story of a working-class golf caddy (Michael O’Keefe) at an exclusive country club trying to land a scholarship and plan his future, but his coming-of-age story becomes just another thread in the comic chaos. Chevy Chase, fresh off Saturday Night Live, takes top billing […]

‘Get Low’ with Robert Duvall and Bill Murray on Netflix

A lovely film about regret, self-punishment and redemption on a scale both human and mythic (or at least American folkloric), Get Low (2009) is a feature film with the personality of a short story, filled with quietly offbeat characters and directed with a deft balance of comedy and tragedy. Which is why it had a […]