Unstreamable is a column that recommends movies and TV shows you can’t watch on major streaming services in the United States. We publish every Wednesday!
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USA, 1995, 92 minutes, Directed by Jonathan R. Betuel
Our obsession with dinosaurs goes back centuries (the Victorian era loved them), but our attention really crystallized around dinos in the 1990s thanks to all the stuff we learned during the dinosaur renaissance and a little 1988 movie called The Land Before Time. The first half of the ‘90s birthed the Dinosaurs sitcom, The Flintstones, and, of course, Jurassic Park—and, less of course, Theodore Rex, a buddy cop comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg alongside an animatronic dinosaur. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s likely because nearly everyone involved in making the movie would like to ensure it stays dead and buried.
In Theodore Rex, Whoopi plays Kate Coltrane, a tough cop living in a futuristic society that looks like a cross between Blade Runner and the live-action Super Mario Bros, but she doesn’t play Kate very well. Her performance comes off stiff, maybe a bit underrehearsed, which makes sense when you dig into the film’s backstory. Producers sued Whoopi into committing to the project, and then she worked hard so that no one would ever see it. (After getting delayed for years, the movie went straight to video… with a 33.5 million dollar budget.) The whole thing was drama. Lawsuits abounded. An Italian financier with the last name Ferrari used his family’s pharmaceutical fortune to fund the movie. Whoopi seemed to perform in protest. It’s all extraordinarily bad, but it’s a funny footnote to the ’90s dino-mania, and its costumes are good. Mary E. Vogt designed them, and she did Crazy Rich Asians, Men in Black, Hocus Pocus, and Batman Returns. So, good job, Mary. CHASE BURNS
You can find this one in the Kid’s Section, under Live Action.
USA, 1989-1996, a mix of shorts and half-hour episodes, created by Will McRobb & Chris Viscardi
The thing that made The Adventures of Pete & Pete so intoxicating, if you were fortunate enough to watch it as a kid, was that it felt like the sort of show you were absolutely not supposed to see. A strange mix of Twin Peaks and Wes Anderson with a bit of wistful Roald Dahl, the show began as a series of brief interstitials meant to pad the mercurial running times of Nickelodeon’s early programming; those shorts proved popular enough to support a series that ran intermittently through Nick’s golden years of the early ‘90s. The show captures a kind of childhood wonder and independence that stopped existing when the Internet took over our lives; it takes the form of strange funny fables about two brothers and an absurdly vast universe of townspeople. Some of the stories are heartfelt and touching, like when the kids make it their mission to befriend an elusive ice cream vendor; others are cartoonish, like the time the dad waves a metal detector around on a beach and digs up an entire working Oldsmobile. Also worth noting is the jaw-dropping roster of guests, including Iggy Pop, Patty Hearst, LL Cool J, Michael Stipe, and Debbie Harry — oh to be a fly on the dressing room wall. Like the best Calvin & Hobbes strips, The Adventures of Pete & Pete is one of those rare storytelling artifacts infused with a perfect blend of childhood sophistication and chaos. MATT BAUME
Find this in the Kid’s Section, under Nickelodeon Live Action.
USA, 1971, 97 minutes, Directed by Paul Morrissey
During the middle of his career, Andy Warhol made some of the most interesting experimental films of the time. A lot of his work was durational (Empire, just one long shot of the Empire State Building), erotic (Blow Job which is about just that), and ego-boosting (Chelsea Girls is stuffed with several of the so-called Warhol superstars). And the Warhol-produced 1971 satire Women in Revolt falls mostly in the final category. It features Factory regulars Candy Darling, Jackie Curtis, and Holly Woodlawn as three women caught up in the big scary ol’ Women’s Liberation movement. Filmed just a few years after radfem Valerie Solanas shot Warhol right in the gallbladder and directed by noted right-winger Paul Morrissey, both men meant for the movie to take the air out of those annoying militant feminists. However, they left it up to Candy, Jackie, and Holly to improvise their lines which low-key hit on a lot of the emotions around women’s liberation at the time, as co-star Penny Arcade noted in a 2019 interview. While it’s cool to see three trans women fight for the cause, Women in Revolt ultimately ends up being a chaotic, ironic, and deeply weird watch. I’d expect nothing less from Warhol. JAS KEIMIG
Available on DVD at Scarecrow in the Director’s section under Morrissey, Paul.
Every week, we feature one formerly unstreamable title that’s now available to watch online. This week it’s….
UK, 1998, 94 min, Dir. Mike Hodges
Croupier introduced the brooding young Clive Owen to an American audience, as a tuxedoed croupier (card dealer) in a casino in London. Day is hard to come by in this film; most of the action takes place at night or in the windowless, underground casino. The walls are covered in warped mirrors that resemble molten silver. The felt on the card tables is an unsettlingly purple-blue. Owen as Jack, a down-on-his-luck writer with a preternatural gift for dealing, is cool and immutable; a bit misshapen but attractive, observant, and deeply self-involved. He’s a Gemini so he’s charming, the type of dude where women just appear naked before him. The seediness of the punters (gamblers) and a life lived at night are all fodder for his book, which is encapsulated as voiceovers in the film. My favorite thing about Croupier is the sound of the different games: the chips stacked on the tables, the rattling of the marble ball spinning in the roulette wheel; the clip of the cards dealt in front of players. A classic Clive Owen watch! JAS KEIMIG
Available for rental on DVD at Scarecrow Video in the British Drama section. You can stream it literally everywhere.
Looking for more? Browse our big list of 350+ hard-to-find movies over on The Stranger.
The fine print: Unstreamable means we couldn’t find it on Netflix, Hulu, Shudder, Disney+, or any of the other hundreds of streaming services available in the United States. We also couldn’t find it available for rent or purchase through platforms like Prime Video or iTunes. Yes, we know you can find many things online illegally, but we don’t consider user-generated videos, like unauthorized YouTube uploads, to be streamable.