So there’s a podcast I love called The Rewatchables. In each episode, the hosts analyze a movie they’ve designated as particularly “rewatchable.”
Though it’s hard to pin down exactly what makes a movie rewatchable, you know it when you see it. These are movies that, when you find them playing, you watch them, even if you’ve seen them multiple times. It doesn’t matter if you catch them at the beginning, the middle, or five minutes from the end. You see them through. You can’t help yourself.
These aren’t always great movies. Schindler’s List is a cinematic achievement that impacted me profoundly, but I don’t ever want to see it again.
A rewatchable needs a bonafide movie star at work. If you find this movie channel surfing, you need someone who’s going to pull you in enough that you’ll stick around through a commercial. You’re not going to change the channel and miss Meryl Streep chewing up her assistant in The Devil Wears Prada, Bruce Willis running barefoot through broken glass in Die Hard, or Julia Roberts telling a snooty sales associate that she’s made a big mistake in Pretty Woman. Big! Huge!
Rewatchables have easy to follow plots. You need to know what’s going on even if you missed the first twenty minutes or are only half paying attention while you’re cooking dinner. Think Clueless, not Inception.
They don’t have to have happy endings, per se, but they need to be satisfying. There’s a big difference between dying at the end of The Notebook (eminently rewatchable) and American Beauty (less so).
Violence is good, but it shouldn’t be oppressively graphic. Mission Impossible, not Joker.
Romance (The Notebook) over sex. Actually, scratch that. Fatal Attraction is a classic rewatchable all about sex.
Another clue that you’ve got a rewatchable on your hands is that the actors involved never received an Oscar for the movie even though it’s likely their most beloved work.
Be honest…when I say Reese Witherspoon, do you think of Legally Blonde or Walk The Line?
Kate Winslet…Titanic or The Reader?
Morgan Freeman…Shawshank Redemption or Million Dollar Baby?
We could play this game all night.
And it should go without saying that all your favorite movie quotes come from rewatchables.
In the old, pre-streaming days, there was an element of serendipity to rewatching. You’d find something on cable, or an old favorite on the Blockbuster shelf (kids, ask you parents.)
Now we have Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Disney+. The movies don’t choose us, we choose them. We can finally, easily, watch all the IMPORTANT films that won Oscars for Best Picture, thoughtful subtitled foreign films, or documentaries that will change the way we see the world.
Or we could watch Mean Girls for the seventeenth time. I vote for Lindsay Lohan before the fall.
Check out The Ringer’s podcast The Rewatchables, where they discuss all the Rewatchable movies mentioned in this post.