Thursday, March 11, 2004

Insulted by Netflix

I started up a free trial of Netflix last week (mostly as the quickest way for the wife and I to see Lost In Translation - watched it last night; damn, damn fine movie). I used to be a Netflix customer a few years ago and aside from Webvan (R.I.P.), it's my all-time favorite Internet service.

We dropped Netflix a couple of years ago after getting the PVR and after having Eyes Wide Shut around for about 8 weeks before we watched it. The anger we felt after finally watching that P.O.S. is what prompted us to get rid of Netflix.

But now we're back in our trial. I'm going to cancel the trial, but only to trigger the special, super-secret offer they throw at you once you cancel your $20 a month service (brilliant tactic on their part).

Anyway, the night I signed up for the trial, I got sucked in to rating movies in order to build my "recommendations" list. Netflix uses your own ratings of different movies to come up with recommendations of other movies you may like. After rating 148 movies, the film Netflix most thinks I would enjoy is:

Wet Hot American Summer

I've never heard of this movie, but it shows up as 4 1/2 stars (out of 5) as a recommendation for me - the single highest-rated film on my list.

According to Netflix, W.H.A.S. is recommended to me because I gave 4 stars to The Royal Tenenbaums and 5 stars to The Big Lebowski. I'm not sure how they draw that association, since these three films share no actors, writers or directors.

And here's a sampling of critic reviews of W.H.A.S. posted on Netflix:

"I want to escape, / Oh, Muddah Faddah-- / Life's too short for cinematic torture." ... Roger Ebert (1 star)

"The writing here is rarely funny, and often trite and predictable." ... Claudia Puig (2 stars)

"Most of the scenes fall flatter than a lead souffle." ... Maitland McDonagh (1 star)

So what gives? The member reviews are much more favorable, but keep in mind that 78% of the American public is incompetently stupid.

I sent the link above to the wife, who replied "that's not on its way to our house, is it?"

No, she need not worry about that. But it is my life's goal now to rate enough movies to drop W.H.A.S. to no more than two stars.

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