Viral Videos: Netflix Ups its Game

Published on May 28, 2020

This week, Netflix has stepped up its movie game and premiered two high-profile movies that have garnered lots of eyeballs. “The Lovebirds” was sold by Paramount Pictures to the streaming giant after the COVID-19 pandemic ruined its planned April 3 theatrical release and made its worldwide debut there last Friday.

Meanwhile, the critically acclaimed Adam Sandler thriller “Uncut Gems” made $50 million upon its Christmas release but skipped the top cable channels like HBO to make its home-viewing premiere on Netflix on Monday. One is absolutely atrocious, the other a riveting watch with some major caveats. And to wrap things up, I’m spotlighting the documentary “Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru,” which might make for surprisingly timely viewing amid our long national quarantine malaise.

“The Lovebirds” is an attempt at comedy that’s so bad it’ll make you want to cry! In it, a bickering couple – Leilani (Issa Rae, star of HBO’s “Insecure”) and Jibran (Kumail Nanjiani of “The Big Sick”) – accidentally smack their car into a bicyclist, and then are horror-struck as a guy pretending to be a cop carjacks them and proceeds to kill the cyclist by backing up over his body repeatedly. Witnesses think the couple are responsible for the death, and the pair have to dash off on an overnight quest to clear their names and find out why the bicyclist was killed in the first place.

This sounds way better than it is. Rae and Nanjiani play a couple who have lived together for four years, yet have the chemistry of two strangers locked into a room together who discover a camera is filming them. Throughout, they take actions that defy any sense of even comedic logic, spew jokes that aren’t funny and leave viewers wanting to kill the couple themselves instead of rooting for them. The whole film suffers from trying way too hard to be “woke,” but this is one movie I wish I could have slept through.

You can tell that “Uncut Gems” is one of Adam Sandler’s serious adult movies, because instead of his usual Netflix stupidity, it has a plot that you don’t have to be mentally challenged to enjoy. In it, he plays Howard Ratner, a New York City jeweler and hopeless gambling addict who spends a week trying to stay one step ahead of his bookies. Real-life former NBA star Kevin Garnett plays himself, as the focus of Howard’s insane betting who drives him crazy by borrowing a rock filled with uncut gems as a good luck charm and then makes Howard jump through constant hoops to get it back in time for an auction.

The movie is totally frantic as it places viewers squarely in the mindset of Howard’s constant mania, and you better get used to 2 hours and 15 minutes of Sandler screaming at lowlifes. Yet somehow it worked for me, even though this literally almost set the record for most F bombs in a movie by having over 500 in just 135 minutes. I didn’t even know that was possible!

Don’t watch it with your mom, is all I’m saying. It does grab your attention while waiting to see if he gets away with it all, but the crazy ending will make you scream F bombs yourself.

If you’re feeling down in the dumps by the Coronavirus quarantine, one way to pump yourself up is by checking out “Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru,” a 2016 documentary by top doc filmmaker Joe Berlinger, who made his name as the director of the three “Paradise Lost” docs about the West Memphis Three murder trial. His presence at the helm lends a great deal of credibility to the film, which is the first time the famed self-help kingpin has ever allowed cameras to fully capture one of his events, including extensive behind the scenes footage.

The doc covers a six-day “Date With Destiny” event at which 2500 people from 71 countries gathered at a whopping cost of $4,995 apiece to seek life transformation. Mixed in between examples of how Robbins conducts “interventions” on his participants are plenty of brief nuggets of wisdom and advice that can likely help anyone feel better about their lives or start the process to doing so. Regardless, it’s a fascinating glimpse behind the curtain at a modern-day Wizard of Oz.

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