Netflix’s dry season has finally come to a close. September brings us a few wonderful Robin Williams classics, factually questionable National Geographic programming (the best kind of National Geographic programming), and the incomparable Cool Runnings (YAH MAHN). Go ahead and use this list as an excuse to embrace the coming of Autumn. We promise not to judge you for it.
Available September 1:
1. A Simple Plan (1998)
Two brothers (Billy Bob Thornton and Bill Paxton) are wandering around the woods in rural Minnesota when they stumble upon a dead body, a plane, and millions of dollars. They devise a scheme to split up the cash and keep it. But once federal investigators visit their small town to investigate the missing haul, the pair’s greed, paranoia, and mistrust begin to split them apart — further supporting The Notorious B.I.G.’s hypothesis that mo’ money equals mo’ problems.
David Duchovny plays best-selling novelist Hank Moody, who is driven to L.A.’s bounty of sex, drugs, and alcohol by his general boredom. His girlfriend and their teenage daughter are not amused.
All I can say is if you don’t already hate David Duchovny, this show will probably get you there. But it has its moments.
3. Chasing UFOs: Season 1
Searching for extraterrestrial life may not be the most scholarly pursuit in the world, but the increasingly reality-TV-friendly National Geographic doesn’t seem to mind! This show follows around a group of investigators who visit the sites of UFO sightings. In Season 1, they supposedly discover a “possible alien farm.” I haven’t completed the series, but since there have been no front-page headlines about man’s first discovery of advanced extraterrestrial life, I will go ahead and assume it was only a normal humans-and-barnyard-animals farm.
Either way, this is prime crazy-people watching.
4. Cool Runnings (1993)
Cool Runnings is an example of what Disney does best: Create an uplifting story from a real-life event that was much less awesome. Based on the Jamaican national bobsled team’s 1998 debut at the Winter Olympics, the film follows a group of amiable Jamaican athletes who seek the advice and training of washed-up gold medalist Irv Blitzer (John Candy). Great liberties are taken with both plot details and islander slang.
Most recently, the film came back into the limelight when a Jamaican team that self-identified as “Cool Runnings: The Second Generation” qualified for the 2014 Winter Olympics. People remembered the film so fondly that the team received an outpouring of financial support, some of which came in the form of Dogecoin.
5. Crocodile Dundee (1986)
It’s your classic country man versus New York tale: After meeting a pretty journalist, crocodile hunter Dundee (Paul Hogan) leaves his home in the Australian outback to brave the streets of Manhattan. Though first taken aback by the fast-paced, competitive culture, he soon learns that his wildlife skills easily apply to the the city’s metaphorical snakes, too. Moral of the story: People are animals!
6. Doomsday Preppers: Seasons 1–3
For those of you who can’t get enough of Pinterest’s disturbingly active apocalypse prep boards, there’s this far more upsetting reality-TV series. National Geographic follows around individuals who are obsessed with being prepared for massive national emergency, such as disease outbreak, natural disasters, or nuclear warfare. The amount of time and money these people put into disaster plans puts my one-can-of-beans hurricane survival kit to shame. That being said, the show does make me feel better about the state of my own mental health.
In this remake of 1961’s The Absent-Minded Professor, Robin Williams plays a smart-yet-disorganized college professor who — after sneezing on an experiment — stumbles upon the invention of a resilient substance he calls flubber. Though the green slime has a mind of its own, it may be just the stuff to help him save his crumbling romantic life and failing college. Not to mention, it can dance the conga pretty well, too.
It’s nice to see that Netflix has expanded its Williams catalog since last time I checked in. I’m gunning for Death to Smoochy in the next round.
8. Girlfight (2000)
This 2000 Cannes Film Festival winner tells the story of a troubled Brooklyn high-schooler from a poor family (Michelle Rodriguez), who finds herself in one too many fights with her classmates. She picks up boxing to let off some extra steam and soon discovers a new sense of discipline within herself, not to mention a hunky boxer boyfriend.
9. Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
I mentioned Good Morning, Vietnam in my Robin Williams streaming guide earlier this month, but you no longer need to pay $2.99 to rent it. Yay!
To recap: DJ Adrian Cronauer (Williams) aims to bring joy to American troops in Vietnam via his morning radio broadcast, but clashes with his superior Lt. Hauk (Bruno Kirby), who may be a wee bit jealous of Cronauer’s wit. The jovial tone changes, however, when Cronauer experiences the war firsthand in the field.
10. School of Rock (2003)
After being dropped by his beloved band, sad-sack musician Dewey Finn (Jack Black) scores a substitute teacher gig at a private school. But when he realizes he’s stumbled upon a musically gifted group of youngsters, he secretly begins imparting the musical teachings of Led Zeppelin and AC/DC to his class.
This is Jack Black at his best. And aside from a great, classic-rock-heavy soundtrack, there are also wonderful bits from Joan Cusack and Sarah Silverman. Heck, the idea of a kid rock band was so cute that it even inspired real-life copycats.
11. Swiss Family Robinson (1960)
You probably know this classic Disney story, but allow me to refresh your memory. Lovely family gets shipwrecked, says “screw it,” and builds a lovely paradise home. Along the way they discover a girl who’s stranded on her own, a bunch of awesome pets, and a rival tribe that wants to kill them. At one point in the story there’s a memorable race between a donkey, a zebra, an ostrich, and an amazing baby elephant. Good times are had by all.
If you want the soft-core porn version of this story, go ahead and check out The Blue Lagoon, also out this month on Netflix!