If you’re looking for an interesting movie or three to check out this weekend on Prime, you have an eclectic set of options that include watching Snoop Dogg smoke weed and coach pee wee football in The Underdoggs, examining the meaning of cultural identity in Return to Seoul, or traveling back in time with The Taking of Pelham 123.
The Underdoggs (2024)
Rapper Snoop Dogg makes his leading man debut in this sports-and-kids underdog comedy that owes a big debt to 1976’s The Bad News Bears. Dogg plays Jaycen Jennings, a talented-but-incorrigible former NFL wide receiver who has fallen on hard times. He ends up coaching a Pop Warner football team of foulmouthed kids with way more attitude than discipline, and comedy-plus-growing-and-learning ensues. Underdoggs tries to un-cheese the schmaltzy premise with a little meta-commentary (Jennings’ initial motivation for taking the coaching gig is to sell the movie rights) and a lot of cursing and weed-smoking.
Astro Kid (2019)
Astro Kid proves that great CGI films can come from places other than Pixar or Illumination. This charming film comes from France, and its quieter style is nice contrast to over-amped American animation. The titular Astro Kid is Willy, a resourceful 10-year-old who is marooned on a distant planet with only a robot to keep him company. While it’s aimed at kids, parents will be delighted (or at least entertained) as well.
Streaming on FreeVee, Prime’s free sister-service.
The Other Zoey (2023)
A romantic comedy doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel, and The Other Zoey doesn’t try to. Instead, it focuses on hitting beats that have worked since Shakespeare did them (a meet-cute, mistaken identity, nothing-in-common-lovers, etc.) especially well. Genuinely witty dialogue, charismatic performances, and a breezy plot add up to a better-than-average rom-com.
Return to Seoul (2023)
Cambodian-French director Davy Chou explores and explodes widespread myths about identity and culture through main character Frédérique Benoît’s journey to Korea. Freddie (as she’s called) was born in Korea and adopted by a French family, and now she’s a 25-year-old traveler who casually ends up in a “homeland” she has little connection to. If you’re hoping for a standard “finding cultural and personal identity” story, this isn’t it; it’s way more nuanced and complex than that.
The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974)
I’m throwing this 1970s classic into the mix for anyone who wants to use Prime as a time machine. The old, gritty version of New York City is practically a supporting character in this heist comedy in which an audacious gang of criminals take an entire subway car hostage. They want one million dollars (cue Dr. Evil) and promise to start throwing bodies out of the train if they don’t get it quick. The man in charge of stopping their evil scheme is Walter Matthau. Because it was the 1970s and movies were like that then.
Baby Driver (2018)
Baby Driver features car chases and heists that are twice as exciting as anything in any Fast and Furious movie and it’s smart and stylish, too. The Baby of the title is a savant at one thing: Driving. He works as the getaway driver for a gang of thieves, but Baby wants out. All that stands behind him and freedom is one last job. Spoiler: it doesn’t go smoothly.
Streaming on Prime’s free sister-streamer, FreeVee