March 30, 2009

Netflix: Our Longest Rentals 2001-2008

The New York Times published one of their cultural anecdotal news stories today about couples whose Netflix queue causes strife. The article highlights a common Netflix problem: you add a movie to your list, but once you receive it, you never watch it. Weeks and months go by, but you and/or your spouse just let it sit there. In my experience, this happens most often with serious dramas. In fact, this morning, I logged onto Netflix.com, clicked My Account, and viewed my complete rental history from the day I joined in 2001 through 2008. The report lists the ship and return dates for all the DVDs. For your edification, here's the titles we kept out the longest:
  1. Children Of Men: 208 days - The irony is rich: I received Children Of Men in April 2007, but I didn't watch it until November. It turns out it was one of the best movies I saw that year. Regardless of its quality, Children Of Men is Netflix Kryptonite: a movie which is notoriously depressing, it took me over six months to work up the courage to watch it. The good news is, I loved it.
  2. The TV Set: 105 days-- I like "Inside Hollywood" movies, and this feature film about the making of a sitcom pilot has some good parts, but this 88 minute dud was missing a third act and was wayyy underbaked. I think it took 105 days to watch it because my wife and I both wanted to see it, but never at the same time?
  3. Freaks & Geeks Disc 2: 91 days -- I watched the episodes on disc 1, but I wasn't overwhelmed by them. As a result, when Disc 2 arrived, I had zero motivation to watch more.
  4. Charlie Wilson's War: 90 days -- This movie felt like it was going to taste like medicine, and it did. That's why I sat on this animated history lesson for 3 months. The most memorable part is Julia Roberts in a bikini for the first time ever.
  5. American Splendor: 77 days -- I don't know what took so long? I guess I didn't know what to expect from this movie, but it had been recommended to me. I ended up liking it very much.
  6. After that there's eleven DVDs we kept out between 40 and 70 days, including downers like Munich (56 days) and American Gangster (55 days); plus subtitled films Nine Queens (53 days) and With A Friend Like Harry (42 days).
What have I learned from these experiences which I may pass along to you, my fellow Netflix users?
  • Load up your Queue with comedies
  • Don't put more than one disc of a TV show in your Queue unless you know you like it already
  • Subtitled films are hard to watch at home, because you can't read the Sunday paper while watching. They demand your attention!
  • If your subscription sends you more than 1 movie at a time, alternate comedies with those Important dramas, so at least you can continue to receive DVDs while Gandhi or The English Patient gathers dust next to the TV.
  • Don't wait for your wife- watch those movies without them!