Everybody relax, Kurt Russell’s here.
Look, it’s been a rough few days weeks months, so any opportunity to breathe normally and feel good again should be grasped with both hands (and maybe both feet if you’re good with your toes). Go on a hike, play with a dog, enjoy some consensual sex with another adult human… do what you need to do to recharge your batteries and stay positive.
Movies are always a great option too, and while everyone has their personal favorites — the films that never fail to lift our spirits — we can probably all agree on at least one guaranteed cinematic pick-me-up. That’s right, I’m referring to the filmography of Kurt Russell.
If you’re like me you probably have several of Russell’s best films on Blu-ray/DVD — physical media forever y’all — but even if you don’t there are dozens of titles available across the various streaming platforms that you can watch right now. Keep reading for a look at what’s currently available to stream with subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime (and what’s available to rent on Amazon as well).
The Art of the Steal (Amazon Prime)
Russell plays an art thief named Crunch Calhoun. Do you really need to know anything else about it?
The Battered Bastards of Baseball (Netflix)
I’m not typically interested in sports, and documentaries about them are somehow even less appealing, but this look at Bing “Kurt’s dad” Russell and the independent baseball team he created in Portland, OR is a wildly entertaining ride.
Bone Tomahawk (Amazon Prime)
I’m not the biggest fan of this one — a strong start and a fantastic cast are wasted on a pretty awful script — but I also know I’m in the minority with that opinion, so consider this a heads up for the rest of you.
Breakdown (Amazon Prime)
Hollywood too often thinks action/thrillers need to go big or go home, but this Russell vehicle keeps things modest, practical, and terrifically entertaining and suspenseful. Plus J.T. Walsh!
Dark Blue (Amazon Prime)
The L.A. riots serve as backdrop to a story involving murder, police brutality, corruption, and a belated sense of honor making for a more serious Street Kings. (I love Street Kings.)
Sky High (Netflix)
A teen navigates the minefield of growing up with the added pressure of having world-renowned superheroes as parents. I’ve never seen this one for some reason.
Unlawful Entry (Hulu)
A happy couple enters into a fight for their lives with an overly friendly police officer whose kindness masks cruelty, obsession, and worse. Ray Liotta plays gleefully threatening better than just about anyone else.
Vanilla Sky (Hulu)
Haters can suck it — this re-teaming of Cameron Crowe and Tom Cruise delivers a fantastically engrossing tale of fate, vanity, and introspection, and while Russell’s only a supporting player he’s brilliant all the same.
Also available to stream via Amazon, but will cost you a couple bucks for the rental:
Backdraft (rent from Amazon)
Sibling rivalry, fire engine sex, and deadly acts of arson collide in Ron Howard’s exciting and strongly cast drama that finally recognizes firefighters as the heroes they are.
The Barefoot Executive (rent from Amazon)
A network nobody finds a secret to success in a chimpanzee who can pick successful TV shows. A teenage-ish Russell made several films with Walt Disney, and this is one of them.
Best of Times (rent from Amazon)
Russell and Robin Williams play old highschool classmates roped into a long overdue rematch with a competing football team. It’s a sweet, funny, sad little movie that belongs in everyone’s list of the best underdog sports films.
Big Trouble in Little China (rent from Amazon)
Action, comedy, martial arts, fantasy — this John Carpenter/Russell team-up has it all. It was the pair’s third and final feature film, and it’s once again a slice of genre perfection.
Captain Ron (rent from Amazon)
A family on a sailboat vacation sees their lives changed forever more by sharing the adventure with a guy in a Speedo and an eye patch. Russell hasn’t done a lot of pure comedies as an adult, but this is proof that he should probably do more.
Charley and the Angel (rent from Amazon)
A workaholic is tipped off by an angel that he’ll be dying soon so he tries to be a better man before it’s too late. I’ve never seen (or even heard of) this one before, but it’s one of Russell’s early Disney flicks.
The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (rent from Amazon)
The first of three Dexter Riley movies on this list, here the lovable troublemaker is turned into a walking computer after receiving an electrical shock. These movies are slight but pure joy all the same.
Death Proof (rent from Amazon)
A Hollywood stuntman turned automotively-inclined serial killer targets the wrong quartet of young ladies. Don’t blink and you may also catch some bare feet too. (Not his.)
Dreamer (rent from Amazon)
A talented horse-trainer is inspired by his daughter’s optimism to take a chance on an injured horse. One of the best horse movies that isn’t The Black Stallion.
Escape from New York (rent from Amazon)
Snake Plissken is forced to enter dangerous territory to rescue someone and something, neither of which mean squat to him. Russell’s first feature film collaboration with John Carpenter remains a fun, fresh piece of sci-fi/action.
Escape from L.A. (rent from Amazon)
Plissken is once again forced to enter dangerous territory to rescue someone and something, neither of which mean squat to him. Carpenter rips himself off with rough results, but if nothing else Russell is still having a ton of fun.
Executive Decision (rent from Amazon)
It’s Passenger 57 meets Psycho as an elite soldier played by an action star is tasked with stopping terrorists on a plane but is instead killed off before the halfway point. Luckily Russell is on-board too.
Follow Me Boys (rent from Amazon)
Never heard of this one either, but Russell once again stars with Fred MacMurray in a Disney production. And who doesn’t like Fred MacMurray?!
The Fox and the Hound (rent from Amazon)
Can members of two different species become friends? Obviously, it’s 2017 for goodness sake.
The Mean Season (rent from Amazon)
A reporter is contacted by a serial killer, and his quest for a great story becomes a reckless and dangerous endeavor for those around him. This is a solidly enjoyable thriller for fans of sunshine and sadism.
Miracle (rent from Amazon)
The true story about an underdog sports team hoping to bring home Olympic gold against bigger, tougher, and far more successful competition. It’s rousing and cheer-worthy, but its greatest moments come in Russell’s silence.
Now You See Him Now You Don’t (rent from Amazon)
Everyone’s favorite college student, Dexter Riley, discovers an invisibility formula leading to some fun campus hijinx. I should clarify… some fun Disney-approved campus hijinx.
Overboard (rent from Amazon)
A handyman tricks an amnesiac into thinking they’re married. I know this one is deemed “problematic” now, but dammit it’s still a blast seeing Russell and Goldie Hawn having fun together on screen.
Poseidon (rent from Amazon)
A luxury ocean liner capsizes after being hit by an enormous wave, and the survivors must struggle to keep on surviving. Some of them don’t.
Soldier (rent from Amazon)
A veteran soldier defends his adopted home against genetically-modified super-soldiers tasked with murder. This synopsis is roughly the same amount of words as Russell speaks here.
The Strongest Man in the World (rent from Amazon)
That Dexter Riley prankster is at it again as this time he discovers a formula for superhuman strength. Again, I can’t recommend these movies enough for Russell fans. They’re just casual delights.
Superdad (rent from Amazon)
A father cringes at the thought of his daughter growing up, but his attempts to shape her life as she heads off to college backfire. He shouldn’t worry though as Russell is taking real good care of her.
Swing Shift (rent from Amazon)
Jonathan Demme’s sweet drama about a woman who takes a factory job while her husband’s off fighting World War II and finds more than a paycheck in the process. It’s Russell. She finds Kurt Russell.
Tango & Cash (rent from Amazon)
Two cops from different gene pools must team up to take down a criminal. Sure it rips off Jackie Chan’s Police Story, and yes it is ridiculous from start to finish, but there’s something stupidly appealing about Russell’s broadly comic pairing opposite Sylvester Stallone.
Tequila Sunrise (rent from Amazon)
A dramatic thriller featuring a love triangle between Russell, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Mel Gibson. Of course you should watch it.
The Thing (rent from Amazon)
Best sci-fi/horror film ever made. Full stop.
Tombstone (rent from Amazon)
A highly entertaining western with a tremendous cast, this was a labor of love for Russell and it shows in the finished product even if Val Kilmer does steal every scene he’s in.
Touchback (rent from Amazon)
A man’s given a second chance at life when he’s transported back to high school and the opportunity to avoid a career-ending injury on the football field. You can tell it’s a fantasy because he actually has trouble choosing between playing football or being with Melanie Lynskey.
Used Cars (rent from Amazon)
Before Robert Zemeckis hit the big leagues with Back to the Future he made this wild, foul-mouthed gem of a comedy that was Russell first real break away from being Disney’s golden boy.
Winter People (rent from Amazon)
A widower tries to make a life for himself, his daughter, and the woman he loves in 1930’s North Carolina. I’ve actively avoided this one because it looks fairly dry and bleak, but I expect I’ll get to it eventually.