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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One month til Unstreamable swings through NWFF: Save your seat!
USA, 1992, 118 min, Dir. Barry Levinson
People hate Toys. Thirty years after it debuted in 1992, people are still talking shit about it. Someone wrote a blog about Toys last year with the headline: “Robin Williams Film Shot in Idaho Considered One of Worst Ever.” And I guess the hate is deserved, if you only focus on the direction or script or very mid performances from all of its leads: Robin Williams, Michael Gambon, Joan Cusack, Robin Wright, LL Cool J. (It’s also Jamie Foxx’s debut feature film.)
But I’m a Toys apologist. The costumes and sets save it for me, just like how one actor’s good performance can lift a bad movie from rotten to fresh. Pulling from Dadaism and Surrealist artists, especially René Magritte, Toys’ interpolative style, thrown against the lush Idaho part of the Palouse region, is a full lookbook. Ferdinando Scarfiotti (production designer), Albert Wolsky (costume designer), and Linda DeScenna (set decorator) all deserved the Academy Award nominations they got for this movie. Put the blame on director and writer Barry Levinson (Rain Man, Good Morning Vietnam; dad of Sam Levinson, the creator of Euphoria), who should’ve made this story with more bite. CHASE BURNS
Find it in the Comedy section.
US, 1999, 89 min, Dir. Jim Fall
You may think Jim Fall’s Trick is a sophisticated romcom about two gays who fall in deep like in an unexpected fashion. Well, you would be wrong. What this sweet independent film is REALLY about is the housing affordability crisis, as unsexy as it may seem.
Gabriel (Christian Campbell) is an office admin-cum-composer who has to split a cramped studio in Manhattan with a boneheaded, randy-ass straight guy. Mark (John Paul Pitoc) is a loveable and kinda slutty go-go boy who lives with an old lady in Brooklyn to make rent. Their unique living situations and the general lack of comfortable public restrooms makes their meet-cute difficult to consummate as the Big Apple isn’t big enough to accommodate the artists and nightlife workers who need a Room of Their Own. Even Gabriel’s elder queer friend can’t spare a futon for the young lovers to bone on because his ex is housing unstable. It’s a veritable game of musical mattresses!
In any case, Trick is a smart comedy that doesn’t lean into too many stereotypes when depicting its central couple. They are just two guys from different corners of the queer community trying to find a quiet, intimate room they can fuck in without Tori Spelling or Miss Coco Peru bursting in. A few years ago, there were rumors of a sequel that have yet to materialize (probably thanks to the pandemic). I’d certainly watch as housing prices have gotten even more ridiculous. Though I bet any conference room in a semi-abandoned WeWork might do the trick… JAS KEIMIG
Find it in the Drama section, under LGBT. Get it? Because gays are dramatic.
USA, 1968-1970, half-hour sitcom, created by Jean Holloway
An adaptation of the 1947 film (which was itself an adaptation of the 1945 book), this ‘60s-era sitcom leans more heavily on wackiness than the previous installments, which tended toward supernatural romance long before that genre became the juggernaut it is today. The premise: A widowed mom, two kids, a housekeeper, and a dog all move into an old mansion that is haunted by a curmudgeonly sea captain’s ghost.
There are five mildly interesting facts about the show:
The show itself is … you know, just fine. It was programmed in the vicinity of Get Smart, That Girl, and Bewitched, all of which are sitcoms of approximately comparable quality. (Good comfort-noise to have in the background while you polish the silver.) MATT BAUME
Every week, we feature one formerly unstreamable title that’s now available to watch online. This week it’s….
USA | Germany, 2007, 85 minutes, Dir. Gregg Araki
In the pantheon of Media Representation Of Girl Stoners, Abbi and Ilana from Broad City cast a tall shadow—for me anyway. Their antics of shoving weed up their puss, getting baked on rooftops, and doing dumb shit resonated with me in my late teens/early twenties as a nascent stoner myself. But, especially in the later seasons, their Girl Boss™-twinged construction as characters (That Hillary episode! What the fuck!) made me feel like I misunderstood the whole show.
I had Abbi and Ilana on my mind as I watched Smiley Face. And I’m not saying Anna Faris as Jane, an actress and pothead who gets epically stoned one day after eating a whole batch of weed cupcakes, is the pinnacle of Girl Stoners, but watching her zany, surreal Arakian adventure unfold makes a lot of stoner sense. When I first watched the film as teen, I thought it was candy cotton fluff that just melted in your mouth—and it is—but watching it again as a jaded Late Twenties Stoner I didn’t realize how STRESSFULLY accurate it was. The panic of getting waaay too high and having tasks? Using public transportation? Paying back your drug dealer? Going to an audition? Dealing with your “skull-fucker” of a roommate? The Worst. This film—jam-packed with guest appearances—is a sweet, surreal nugget of hash sprinkled on top of your bowl. And there’s not a Girl Boss™ in sight. JAS KEIMIG
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.