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Literary(ish) films to stream on 4/20.

Eliza Smith

April 20, 2022, 3:51pm

I live in the lovely state of Montana, where every day is 4/20 if you want it to be. But if you’re celebrating today in particular, here’s a very non-exhaustive list of adaptations and literary-adjacent films I’d recommend, based on my own highly specific preferences, which tend toward goofy practical effects and absurdist humor, with the occasional Actually Good Film tossed in for good measure. Share your own favorites in the comments if you so wish!

extra ordinary

Extra Ordinary (2019)
Streaming on: Amazon Prime, AMC+

Starring author Maeve Higgins (!) as a paranormally talented driving instructor, this one’s a total delight that I can’t recommend enough.

Blade Runner (1982)
Based on: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
Streaming on: Netflix and HBO Max

The king of all sci-fi films, some might say.

hook

Hook (1991)
Based on: Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Streaming on: Amazon Prime

Play the can-you-spot-Glenn-Close game. Also, the can-you-create-a-better-feast-than-the-Lost-Boys game.

la belle et la bete

La Belle et la Bête (1946)
Based on: Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont
Streaming on: HBO Max, Amazon Prime

If you’d like to still feel a little refined, this 1946 Jean Cocteau classic is for you.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016) 
Based on: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
Streaming on: Tubi, Amazon Prime

Just some swashbuckling fun.

Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
Based on: Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
Streaming on: Amazon Prime

I will never not find a reason to recommend this one. Though to be fair, watching while indulging did require the use of captions.

Johnny Mnemonic

Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
Based on: “Johnny Mnemonic” by William Gibson
Streaming on: Netflix, Amazon Prime

One can never have too much Keanu in their lives, especially today of all days.

The-Witches-Of-Eastwick

The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
Based on: The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike
Streaming on: HBO Max, Amazon Prime

Cher, Susan Sarandon, and Michelle Pfeiffer are in a polyamorous relationship with Jack-Nicholson-as-the-devil. Things get weird.

The Green Knight

The Green Knight (2021)
Based on: “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” by Anonymous
Streaming on: Showtime

It’s just so beautiful.

Benedetta (2021)
Based on: Immodest Acts by Judith C. Brown
Stream it on: Hulu, Amazon Prime

All I’ll say is “lesbian nuns” and “directed by Paul Verhoeven.”

total recall

Total Recall (1990)
Based on: “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick
Stream it on: Amazon Prime

More goofy practical effects, because you can really never have enough.

Labyrinth (1986)
Stream it on: Showtime, Amazon Prime

Melissa Febos recommended it on the Open Form podcast, which makes it literary enough for me.

Prince in Purple Rain

Purple Rain (1984)
Stream it on: HBO Max, Amazon Prime

Ditto this one and Eula Biss.

Wonder Boys (2000)
Based on: Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
Streaming on: HBO Max

I haven’t actually watched this one yet, but it gets a lot of love at Lit Hub and stars Michael Douglas as a frustrated novelist/creative writing professor who smokes a lot of weed.

The Beach

The Beach (2000)
Based on: Alex Garland’s The Beach
Streaming on: Amazon Prime

For the more literal revelers: an island paradise is soured when a young Leo and his puka shell necklace run afoul of local cannabis farmers.

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