On a weekday afternoon, my editor sent me a link to the Movies page on YouTube. I had to check it out.
Browsing the available titles at youtube.com/movies reminded me of the time when, at about 10 years of age and living in Washington, I discovered that our local public library let people check out VHS tapes--for free. "Lucky me," I remember thinking. "I'm going to watch so many movies, and it won't cost me a dime."
But after leaving the building that day, I had learned a valuable lesson: Free doesn't necessarily mean good. A library's typical selection of videocassettes, at least in the late 1980s, consisted of something like a Jacques Cousteau underwater adventure and a couple of after-school specials. The reason they were free is that nobody wanted them in the first place.
Enter YouTube's film library. On the first page I visited, I found nary a single title I recognized. I made it to the bottom of the second page before I found a selection I'd seen before. And it was Going Overboard, the first—and worst—movie of Adam Sandler's career. Wait, I forgot about Zohan.
So I found the second worst. Mixed in with a potpourri of B-movies from the '60s and '70s, subsequent pages revealed Single White Female and Cliffhanger. I hadn't seen those in years, but at least I was getting somewhere. And some of the documentaries didn't look too bad; maybe I spoke too ... Wait. Ugh. I found Raw Spice: The Unofficial Story of the Making of the Spice Girls. It was the Pierce County Library all over again. A 29-year-old man had relearned a lesson.
Despite the lack of stimulating titles by list's end, I maneuvered back several pages and dove into a mindless action movie I remembered enjoying in my youth: Double Impact, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme.
Twin boys, whose father is double-crossed and killed by his business partner, are separated as infants, rediscover one another's existence and team up to seek revenge by beating the crap out of everybody. Or at least I think that's what happens. I only made it to the teaming-up part while still at work, expecting to resume the film when I got home. Sadly, YouTube refused to buffer properly on my laptop, leaving me to re-create the film's ending in my head. Hence, I pass on this advice: In addition to needing an open mind when selecting a movie from YouTube, you may also want to be equipped with plenty of bandwidth.
For a comparable experience, you can always visit the used VHS section at Saver's thrift store on Fairview Avenue. While the selection is similar, the only buffering issue you should encounter is trying to keep the lady with whooping cough who's browsing through badly mangled board games out of your personal bubble.