Netflix: you gotta be kidding

I’ve been hearing about how great Netflix is, and I’ve resisted for a long time, but tonight I decided to give it a shot.  The wife said she wanted to rent the move “17 Miracles“, and I’m pretty sure whatever rental stores are still left won’t carry it (haven’t actually checked), and it seemed like possibly Netflix might have it available.  So I went to their site and checked, and sure enough a search came up with the movie.  I anticipated that this might be an indication that 17 Miracles was available from Netflix, so I went and signed up for a 30-day trial.

17 Miracles?  No.  It apparently would take a miracle

After jumping through some hoops I got to the point where I could try to find and view a movie, and entered “17 Miracles” in the search box.  Would you think that if I entered an exact movie title that perhaps that movie might be the first or among the first of the results?  That is what I would have expected, but no.  The first page of results had the following on it:

  • Miracles
  • Mrs. Miracle
  • 17 Kids and Counting
  • Miracle on 34th Street (1994 remake)
  • Mirage
  • Miracle on 34th Street (original B&W)
  • Number 17 (a Hitchcock classic)
  • The Last Song
  • Baby Miracle: Jonah and the Whale (??)
  • Malcolm in the Middle

I wondered about this, figuring that perhaps it was in the second or third page of results.  Nope!  I got to the sixth page of results and never found it.  I am perhaps lazy; I didn’t check further.

300?  I don’t think it counts that high…

After this, I wondered about whether 17 Miracles was actually available from Netflix, and decided to try searching for some movies that surely would be available.  Exact titles, I thought.  So I tried the muscle flick, 300.  This is Sparta!!  Surely that would be there?

Ah, no.

The first result was Skyline.  The second was Tigers in the Snow (a documentary about, you guessed it, the Siberian tiger), and it went downhill from there.

Avatar?  You know, James Cameron’s blue people movie that made nearly three billion dollars worldwide?

Nope.  The search brought up Avatar: the Last Airbender (some anime thing) and The Last Airbender.  The word “Avatar” only occurred once in the first page of results.  Other results included Skyline and a couple of Agatha Christie mystery movies, which aren’t even anagrams of “avatar”.  What is there about Skyline that could suggest “avatar”?  The word doesn’t even occur in the movie description.  How weird.

Apparently, Netflix doesn’t carry these films.  I could also find no way to get a complete listing of all the movies they do carry.

And their search function is completely useless and returns results that seem to bear little or no relationship to the search terms entered.  Here is a list of movies that I could not get positive search results for:

  • District 9
  • Predator (Arnold Schwartzenegger)
  • The Black Hole (the Disney sci-fi flick)
  • Kindergarten Cop (another Schwartzenegger flick)

Netflix either doesn’t have them, or can’t find them in search.

In fairness, I tried Silent Running, a somewhat obscure 1972 Bruce Dern sci-fi flick, and Netflix actually found it and displayed it first.

I tried to see if there was a FAQ page that could explain the search results (or lack thereof), and found that the FAQ was horribly spare.  Very few questions are apparently ever asked frequently, I gather.  This actually made me laugh (a little):

If you’re looking for a specific title use the Search tool that’s on almost every page of the website to finds films by title, actor or director. Just type in what you’re looking for, click the Search button and we’ll do the rest. Not sure of the spelling? No problem: Our search engine can recognize misspelled titles or names.

Looking for famous director Jame Cameron?  He almost AWOL on Netflix.

On a whim I tried to see how many James Cameron movies the search function could find.  All it found was The Terminator.  Even more famous flicks made by James Cameron, like  Rambo: First Blood Part II (1985), Aliens (1986), The Abyss (1989), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), True Lies (1994), Titanic (1997) and Avatar (2009) aren’t available.

This is just plain nuts.

I do believe I will be discontinuing my Netflix subscription before they actually charge me anything.

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