By Samantha Reid
With so many choices of movies and television shows on Netflix, it can be overwhelming to sift through all the options to find something worth watching, but there is something for everyone among all the titles. This week, the Torch has done most of the legwork and picked five film recommendations, all streaming on Netflix Instant.
Drinking Buddies (2013)
This indie comedy directed by Joe Swanberg didn’t make a splash at the box office, but it has gained a following since its release on Netflix. The film includes an all-star comedic cast, including Jake Johnson from “New Girl,” Anna Kendrick from “Pitch Perfect” and Olivia Wilde of “House,” and centers around the tumultuous love triangle between the trio.
The movie is set in Chicago, and much of it is filmed at Logan Square’s Revolution Brewery. While the movie is definitely funny, most of its charm comes from the emotion captured by the actors within the relationships. It’s not your traditional romantic comedy — it strikes a chord much more reminiscent of real life.
Friends With Kids (2011)
Jennifer Westfeldt wrote, directed and stars in this ensemble comedy, alongside husband Jon Hamm and comedy heavy-hitters Maya Rudolph, Adam Scott and Kristen Wiig. The movie follows a group of friends as they couple up, get married and have kids. There is one glaring exception: Scott’s and Westfeldt’s characters. These two play best friends who decide to circumvent the traditional route of marriage-then-kids by platonically conceiving and raising a child together. Things don’t go as smoothly as planned.
The movie manages to cover all the bases of human emotion, from love, to jealousy, to the desperation of growing up. It tackles anxieties felt by almost anyone in their 20s and 30s as they face the unknown of adulthood and what happens when life doesn’t fit the mold we think it should.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
While this movie came out more than 20 years ago, watching it is the perfect way for Leonardo DiCaprio fans to prepare for Oscar season. The drama was DiCaprio’s first major movie role, where he co-stars as Johnny Depp’s mentally disabled younger brother, a role many have argued he deserved Oscar recognition for. The film follows the pair’s family as they struggle to make ends meet in a tiny midwestern town.
Gilbert, Depp’s character, doesn’t look much beyond his small-town circumstances until he meets a girl who opens his eyes to the possibility of life beyond providing for his struggling family. The movie is very much a tearjerker, but the performances are so powerful that it makes it a must-watch for any fans of DiCaprio or Depp.
The Kids Are All Right (2010)
“The Kids Are All Right” might seem like your traditional comedy on the surface, but the premise is actually much more original. The movie centers around a lesbian couple’s two teenage children and their quest to find out who their donor father is. Complications arise for everyone involved when their biological father becomes part of the lives of both his children and their mothers.
The plot is enough to make the film interesting, but what really pushes this into classic movie territory is the cast. Julianne Moore and Annette Bening play the loving but dysfunctional married couple, and Mark Ruffalo is a scene stealer as the family’s sperm donor. Mia Wasikowska of Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” plays the precocious daughter Joni, while Josh Hutcherson from “The Hunger Games” rounds out the family as the sweet but naive son, Laser. Each character brings a unique facet to the complications of family life, making their strife feel all the more personal to viewers.
Not to be confused with the reality show by a similar name, “Bachelorette” is much darker and funnier than anything safe for network television. Anyone with a soft spot for Rebel Wilson, the scene-stealing star of both “Bridesmaids” and “Pitch Perfect,” will love to see her in another female ensemble comedy, this one including Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan and Isla Fisher.
The movie follows Wilson’s bridal party as they navigate the often-turbulent world of a best friend’s wedding, from the hectic rehearsal dinner to the downright disastrous bachelorette party. The characters are crude and selfish, but their antics definitely get laughs, and it keeps viewers on edge, wondering how everything will come together.