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10 cult favorite movies streaming on Hulu Plus

Jeffrey M. Anderson | May 20, 2013
This week I take a peek at Hulu Plus, another paid online streaming service that charges $8 a month for access to new and old TV shows, but also a decent collection of movies--ranging from extremely highbrow to extremely lowbrow. A huge bonus is that service hosts many movies from the Criterion Collection, which is perhaps the most respected of all American DVD and Blu-ray distributors. Like Netflix, Hulu's content depends on complex contracts with various studios, and sometimes videos will "expire." But for now I'll be concentrating on several titles from its "new" list, starting with some cult favorites.

40 Days and 40 Nights
Not everything on Hulu Plus is high art. Shot mainly in San Francisco, 40 Days and 40 Nights (2002) was lambasted by critics, but it's really a darkly funny look at sex, a taboo topic that most writers were probably eager to avoid. Directed by Michael Lehmann (Heathers), the movie takes a simple, ridiculous premise--ladies' man Matt (Josh Hartnett) gives up sex (and masturbation) for lent--and runs with it. Lehmann understands that by avoiding sex, it simply starts coming up everywhere; Hartnett responds with a kind of pale, twitchy edginess, as if he's ready to explode. Of course, the movie turns romantic when Matt meets the girl of his dreams (Shannyn Sossamon), but until then it's hilarious, titillating, and revealing.

Hot Shots! Part Deux
In 1980, three funny guys, Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and David Zucker created one of the funniest movies ever, Airplane!, by combining a spoof with ultra-deadpan humor. Thirteen years later, their reign reached its last gasp. Now, movies like Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult and Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993) were not quite so deadpan and were getting dumber, but they were still funny. In the latter, Charlie Sheen returns as Topper Harley, who has moved from parodying Tom Cruise in Top Gun to parodying Rambo. His mission is to go into Iraq to rescue a whole bunch of people, including previous rescue missions.

The Jackie Robinson Story
Finally, here's a low-effort, low-budget charmer. Now that 42 has become a hit, fans may want to go back and watch the earlier The Jackie Robinson Story (1950). It's very cheap-looking, takes great liberties with the facts, and crams the entire story into a scant 76 minutes, but it has something that no other Jackie Robinson movie has: Jackie Robinson playing himself. Ruby Dee (Do the Right Thing, American Gangster) plays Jackie's wife. Hulu Plus has this movie available both in its original black-and-white, as well as colorized.


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