Parenthood… You fear you will never get out of the house to watch a movie again. Sure you can plan for a date night and schedule a babysitter. But if you’re having a bite to eat after the flick, you’ve usually got to pay attention to your watch to relieve the sitter by a certain time.
(And how relaxing is that?)
Date Night at Home
Catching a movie on your dormant TV monitor after the kids have drifted off is logistically so much easier. That said, my wife and I also don’t always find the time to do that either. Our boy goes to bed close to 8pm. Then, it’s time for our family schedule coordination, taking out the garbage, email catch up, and then sleep. I know this is not unusual, but I honestly don’t know where the ‘average’ family finds the time to consume hours of TV a day. The math just doesn’t add up.
My truth is… there’s usually just one opportunity a week for my wife and me to sit down on the couch for two hours and watch a film.
And I want to be ready to offer a few movie choices if she doesn’t bring any ideas.
Mars and Venus at the Movies
I should admit that my wife and I fall into gender stereotyping when it comes to our movie preferences. Yes, I can sometimes cross over to watch a sad film that’s also winning all of the awards, but she usually isn’t into explosions and mayhem.
(There are, of course, numerous exceptions… We both recently enjoyed “Aquaman” and “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” together.)
When it’s time to talk about watching a film at home, I focus on selecting my options with both of our interests in mind.
(Good comedies are always a solid choice.)
If you’re finding yourself in the same situation, here is my strategy to quickly identify the right flicks. It boils down to reviewing several movie streaming options and one process rule.
Here are the four steps I take…
Step 1 – YouTube TV
The odds of finding the perfect ‘live’ movie on cable just as you’re turning on your TV will never be in your favor. Your only real chance is to prerecord a film (I use YouTube TV’s cloud DVR) and offer it up as an option. But that takes some planning, just like we did in the old days of VCRs.
Step 2 – Netflix
Even though there are lots of great movies on Netflix, they are often difficult to find among all of the horrible options. Unless you’re good with the top 10-20 flicks that populate the main screen, you’re in trouble.
I’ve never successfully identified a movie spontaneously via Netflix for the two of us. And after trying that maneuver a few times with another pair of eyes growing weary, I’ve vowed not to fall into that Netflix trap again.
The only solution is to do your Netflix research in advance and put your movie choices in your ‘List.’
(Hearing a theme here?)
Step 3 – Amazon Video
I pay for Amazon Prime. So, it’s always worth checking Amazon Video to see what Prime movies are available for free. And of course, you can always pay for other movie options that don’t fall into the free bucket.
Again, as with Netflix, you should take a peek in advance before it’s movie time.
Step 4 – iTunes Movies App on Apple TV
If all else fails, I usually turn to the iTunes Store to access the pay-per-view model. Recent movies are all there, and I’ve got to admit that I’m usually more partial to catching up on must-see flicks we just missed in theatrical release. If you’re committed to this path, you’ve got a pretty good chance of finding ‘your’ movie in the moment.
Not every movie is available for rental, and you may not want to double down by actually buying the flick.
But here’s a thought…
If you’ve exhausted every other option, and you’re staring at the perfect movie option, should you spend the extra ten or fifteen bucks to buy a movie you may never watch again? It can make the difference between a great movie night or just turning off the TV in defeat.
There’s no right answer, and I’m the first to flinch at paying more for a movie when we’re already paying monthly for YouTube TV and Netflix. But you’ve also got to consider the value of preserving your movie night experience…
Instant Access Doesn’t Always Provide Obvious Choice
It’s ironic that the magic ingredient to finding the right choice for both you and your spouse is still doing your homework ahead of time. It’s not that much different an equation compared to the old Netflix model of DVDs in red envelopes, which forced you to do the same thing.
The evolution into instant access streaming seemed magical with almost every movie you could possibly want at your fingertips. But the reality became too much choice with the gems buried in a sea of digital mediocrity.
It just takes too much time to review this endless supply of possibility to find your front runners… Time that you don’t have when your movie-watching window opens up.
Don’t Lose Sight of Your Goal
Remember, you’re working with two brains. Different brains. You both sit down to dinner on the couch with remote in hand.
If it’s fifteen minutes later, and you haven’t agreed on a flick yet, and most of your meal is already gone… the odds of actually starting a movie go down exponentially.
The good news is you’ve always got your backup plan of throwing a little money at the problem. If you’re willing to pay for it, you can usually quickly find and watch a particular movie as long as it’s available.
WARNING: Don’t fall for the worse-case scenario of paying for a flick that’s also available on Netflix. (Guilty)
And the secret ingredient is almost always doing your research in advance.
Any other best practices out there?