Cable On Demand
Cable offers VOD programming (same-day-as-disc releases, older titles and pre-theatrical exclusives) for rent, usually for 24- or 48-hour periods at prices from about $2.99 for older titles to $9.99 for new or exclusive releases. Since cable offers a direct connection from your cable provider, its VOD offerings are usually less prone to outside interference and can be streamed with surround sound and 3D when available.
Saddle up with Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford in Jon Favreau's Cowboys and Aliens, a sci-fi twist on a Wild West adventure in which hostile aliens are snatching up the denizens of a dusty town. Like the Blu-ray and DVD, which contain both the theatrical and extended versions, cable On Demand has both versions available for streaming.
With its story about a forward-thinking young Southern woman (Emma Stone) who exposes the extreme prejudices directed at the African-American maids in her community by interviewing them and writing a book about their woes, The Help should clean up on Oscar night and here on On Demand. Viola Davis stars as the first maid to break the silence about the abuse and dehumanizing working conditions, such as a petition presented by prissy Bryce Dallas Howard to have the help use separate bathrooms.
If you loved The Hangover, you might be game for another round of mayhem in The Hangover Part II as Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianikis head off to Thailand for Stu's wedding only to wake up in a sleazy Bangkok hotel with the bride's brother missing, Stu's face tattooed like Mike Tyson, a monkey in the room and no memory of the night before. Like the first round, the guys try to piece together what happened and are shocked to discover how hard they all hit the wall.
Helen Mirren stars as a retired Mossad agent who has been hiding the secret of what really happened to a Nazi doctor for decades in The Debt. When it is discovered that the Jew killer still lives, Mirren sets out to kill him and correct the mistake she made 30 years earlier.
These four services stream movies to your TV via computer, Blu-ray player, game console or other compatible connected device. Like cable VOD, they offer new titles for rent from about $3.99 to $6.99, but, unlike cable, they also offer the option of downloading the movie to own from about $14.99 to $19.99. Usually movies presented in HD cost a bit more than streaming a SD version.
Of all the new releases listed above for cable On Demand, iTunes and Vudu have the four movies available for rent or purchase, Amazon has them all except The Debt, and Blockbuster has them all except The Help.
The little blue people that stand three apples high make their big-screen debut and take Manhattan in The Smurfs, which stars Hank Azaria and Neil Patrick Harris. The supposed family flick is available to rent or buy on all four services, although you're going to have to buy the Blu-ray 3D if you are interested in the 3D version at home.
All four services also have Friends with Benefits, the new rom-com starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis that just came out on disc this past Friday. If you're not sure whether or not these two can generate sparks on-screen, Vudu offers a free 10-minute preview of the movie so you can check it out before you pay for the whole shebang.
Jim Carrey finds his home inundated with flightless Arctic birds in the family flick Mr. Popper's Penguins, which is available on all four services.
You can still find the dysfunctional-family black comedy Another Happy Day starring Ellen Barkin, Thomas Hayden Church, Ellen Burstyn, Demi Moore, Kate Bosworth and many more in theaters, but why leave your couch when you can rent it right now on iTunes, Blockbuster and Vudu?
Netflix's all-you-can-stream buffet costs $7.99 per month and gives instant access to thousands of movies and television shows via a computer, Blu-ray player, game console or other compatible device. Don't depend on Netflix streaming for same-day-as-disc releases, however. Instead, Netflix offers catalog titles, vintage movies, indie flicks and TV episodes with unlimited access for one monthly price.
Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Bam Margera and the late Ryan Dunn return for more pranks and stomach-turning stunts in Jackass 3. Also stripped of its 3D for Netflix this week is Werner Herzog's fascinating documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams, which explores France's Chauvet caves and the oldest human paintings ever discovered.
"Real life sucks losers dry. If you want to f**k with the eagles, you'd better learn how to fly." The same applies to coming-of-age teen dark comedies, of which Heathers—starring Winona Ryder, Christian Slater and Shannen Doherty—remains at the head of the class.
Got cult? In 1984's C.H.U.D., Manhattan's homeless mutate into exactly what you always expected—crazed "cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers."
If you haven't yet OD'd on all the holiday cheer being shot into your eyes and ears from retailers, Netflix has added a sleigh's worth of Christmas flicks for streaming, including A Golden Christmas: The Second Tail, The Christmas Toy, Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, Jingle Bells, O' Christmas Tree, We Wish You a Merry Christmas, Christmas Bunny, Yes Virginia and the black-and-white version of 1947's Miracle on 34th Street.