It’s 2023, and everyone seems to be signed up for every streaming service imaginable. Yet the same problem from the cable TV era (“99 channels and nothing on”) remains: there doesn’t seem to be any good movie streaming. Who really wants to watch Gal Gadot’s lifeless Netflix action movie, Heart of Stone? Or the latest Transformers movie on Paramount+ that offers more of the same?
Never fear; Freevee is here to save the day. Wait, Freevee? Yes, Freevee, that ad-supported free-to-watch option from Amazon, offers a plethora of top-tier movies and shows, including action movies like Escape from New York with Kurt Russell, modern TV shows like Everwood, and classic films like In the Heat of the Night. The following three movies cross different genres — comedy, horror, drama — but are all equally worthy of a watch or two as summer begins to wind down in late August.
Meryl Streep may best be known today as a master thespian capable of tacking any role and accent, but she’s also an excellent comedienne, and this 1992 movie shows her at the height of her funny lady powers. Death Becomes Her has Streep playing an exaggerated, worst-case-scenario version of herself, a washed-up Hollywood star locked in a dead marriage with a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon (Bruce Willis) and a fruitless attempt to stay young. When a rival (Goldie Hawn) suddenly appears and threatens her miserable existence, Streep does the only thing an aging, desperate actress can do: drink a fountain of youth potion and blow a hole through her rival’s stomach with a shotgun.
Yeah, it gets even more absurd from there. Directed by Robert Zemeckis, Death Becomes Her is an odd blend of special effects extravaganza (the movie won an Oscar for visual effects that year), social satire about Hollywood’s obsession with youth, and a camp comedy pitting two catty women against each other. Streep, Hawn, and Willis have never been funnier or more biting, and supporting players Isabella Rossellini and Sydney Pollack take full advantage of the juicy bit parts they are given. The movie even features a lavish, deliberately awful opening musical number, with Streep hamming it up in a disco getup that has to be seen to be believed.
Freaky Friday meets Friday the 13th; that’s the far-out premise behind the aptly titles Freaky, a body switch comedy that’s also a gory horror movie. Vince Vaughn stars as the Blissfield Butcher, a serial killer who, through the use of an ancient dagger on his latest would-be murder victim, high school nerd Millie Kessler (Kathryn Newton, before she was swallowed up by the MCU in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania), switches bodies with her, giving him a new playground (literally!) to murder in. Millie, now in the body of the older male killer, must prove to her friends who she is so she can get her identity back and stop the Blissfield Butcher from slaughtering the student body.
Yeah, Freaky doesn’t make much sense, but it doesn’t need to; all it should do is produce plenty of laughs and bloodshed, and it does that in spades. Vaughn and Newton are clearly having fun playing these dual roles, and it’s entertaining to see Newton act like a gruff psychopath enacting revenge on lame high school teachers. Freaky is fun and stupid; in other words, it’s the perfect Freevee movie to watch just before school starts and summer ends.
Ron Howard’s Parenthood is the kind of big, sappy, dare I say wholesome movie that Hollywood just doesn’t make anymore. That’s a shame because this movie has loads of charm without ever sacrificing on honing in on the painful realities of familial life. The movie centers on the Buckmans, a sprawling, bickering, multi-generational family that Steve Martin’s character, Gil, is reluctantly a part of. He’s trying to navigate being a father of three while also supporting a divorced sister, another sister stuck in a cold marriage, and a wayward brother who pops up.
Parenthood doesn’t have much of a plot, but it doesn’t need one; the pleasure is just sitting back and watching this family interact with one another, and finding similarities between their problems and your own. In addition to Martin, the impressive cast includes Diane Wiest (who scored a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination), Rick Moranis, Jason Robards, Mary Steenburgen, Martha Plimpton, Tom Hulce, a pre-action movie guru Keanu Reeves, and in an early role, Joaquin Phoenix. The ending is a little sappy (every problem is solved by babies), but Parenthood, like its characters, is flawed but still likable enough to warrant a first-time look or a rewatch.
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