Top 5 Pleasant Surprises Lurking on Netflix Right Now

Netflix viewers can watch “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” later this month. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

The first standalone “Star Wars” movie kept the franchise’s DNA intact while adding texture to an already impressive saga.


Netflix subscribers have other, less obvious choices available right now. The following five titles didn’t get a fraction of the media coverage “Rogue One” received. Each is still worth your time.

1. Suntan

Do we really need another variation on “Lolita”? Apparently so, says this fascinating Greek import. The story follows Kostis (Makis Papadimitriou), a portly, middle-aged doctor tasked with tending to the sick on a lovely island. He soon meets Anna (Elli Tringou), a beautiful young woman who flirts with him while he tends to her wounds. She and her friends invite Kostis into their hard-partying circle.

Suddenly, his boring existence is filled with drinking, dancing and … other activities.

What happens next will surprise and scare you in different intervals. It’s always intriguing, though, and the sense of surprise never lets up.

2. Mike Birbiglia: Thank God for Jokes

Love standup comedy? Here’s a master class in session. Birbiglia occasionally embraces his liberal default positions in this special, but the religious ribbing is generally mild. The laughs, however, are strong, consistent and on point. And you’ll marvel at how he sets up each scenario using a combination of creative license and true-life experiences.


3. No Escape

Talk about tense! This tale of two parents (Owen Wilson, Lake Bell) trying to save their family from a political uprising got hit hard by the PC police. The action takes place in a third-world country, so the villains are therefore people of color. That premise similarly tripped up “Snatched” with modern critics.

Ignore that pearl clutching. This is first-class tension with a few silly subplots failing to ruin the experience. You might complain that Wilson is no one’s idea of an action hero. That’s the point. The casting makes his EveryParent action all the more credible.

4. Don’t Think Twice

It’s Birbiglia, again, but this time he’s the co-star in an improv dramedy with teeth. He plays one of several comedians desperate for a chance at the improv Olympics — here, a “Saturday Night Live” clone. Will his character make it? Or might one of his colleagues get called up to play in The Show?

It’s never fall down funny, but the humor stings whenever it examines how we react to our friends’ success. There’s little funny about the on-the-nose fallout.


5. Max Rose

Jerry Lewis’s first major film role in two decades got little love from movie critics. Its commercial fate proved equally disappointing. And yes, watching a film about an elderly man looking back at his life isn’t the kind of story you stream on a Saturday night.

Yet “Max Rose” deserved a better initial fate. Lewis is excellent here, flashing his signature humor in ways younger stars couldn’t pull off. It’s introspective and raw, the kind of movie you watch, enjoy and think about long after the end credits roll.

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