I received my first Rubik’s Cube when I was about 10. The U.S. was still in the midst of the “cube craze,” and children from coast to coast were wanting one, even if they knew they’d probably never solve it.
That was me. I played with my Rubik’s Cube for several days, realized I wasn’t a genius, and then went back to playing with my Millennium Falcon.
After all, everyone knows it takes hours upon hours to solve a Rubik’s Cube. Right?
Well, no. In fact, a new Netflix documentary spotlights a unique group of talented people who can solve a Rubik’s Cube in not hours, or minutes, but seconds.
Called The Speed Cubers (TV-PG), the 40-minute film will make you question everything you assumed about the Rubik’s Cube and even the human brain. Consider: The current world record for solving a basic Rubik’s Cube (which cubers call a “3×3”) is 3.47 seconds — roughly the time it will take you to read a couple of sentences. Of note: A Rubik’s Cube has 43 quintillion combinations. That’s crazy, yes, but it’s even crazier to watch it.
The film focuses on Australia’s Feliks Zemdegs and the United States’ Max Park, two of the best cubers in the world. Zemdegs mastered the cube as a child and gained worldwide fame for setting multiple world records. Park, who is autistic, is the younger of the two and admired Zemdegs while growing up.
Park first gained worldwide attention thanks to a YouTube video showing him solving a 4×4 cube, one-handed, in 47 seconds.
Speed Cubers is mind-blowing but also inspiring. That’s partially because cubers are performing feats no one in the 1980s thought possible. (The world championship time in 1982 was 22 seconds — 18 seconds slower than today.)
Mostly, though, the film is inspiring because of its focus on the friendship between Zemdegs and Park — two very-different men who have bonded because of their common hobby. Cubing made Zemdegs world famous and opened multiple doors, yet he remains humble. Each time Park sets a new record, Zemdegs contacts him to offer congratulations. For Park, cubing offered a much-needed outlet to improve his social skills, his parents say.
“Without a doubt, Feliks is going to be Max’s hero forever,” Park’s father says.
It’s rated TV-PG for minor language.
Also streaming this month:
Les Miserables (Netflix) — It’s the 2012 musical about a former inmate who turns his life around after a Catholic priest shows him grace and mercy. The story is filled with Christian themes, although it also has some sensual content. (ClearPlay offers a filtered version.) Rated PG-13 for suggestive and sexual material, violence and thematic elements. Aug. 16.
Tiny Creatures (Netflix) — Squirrels, mice, hamsters and other small creatures of the wild are followed in this Netflix original documentary series, which takes place in eight distinct American ecosystems. It’s a fascinating look at some of the often-overlooked parts of God’s creation. Rated TV-PG (for fear). Aug. 7.
E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (Peacock TV) — A young boy befriends an alien and then helps him return home in this classic Steven Spielberg film about friendship and the wonders of childhood. (ClearPlay and VidAngel each offer filtered versions.) Rated PG for language and mild thematic elements. Aug. 1.
Jurassic Park trilogy (Netflix) — These ground-breaking films from 1993, 1997 and 2001 raised an interesting question: What would happen if dinosaurs were reintroduced in the modern world? After watching them, you’ll hope it never happens. (ClearPlay and VidAngel each offer filtered versions.) All are rated PG-13 for science fiction terror, violence and language. Aug. 1.
The Greatest Showman (Disney Plus) — P.T. Barnum brings together society’s outcast for a never-before-seen troupe show at the circus. This popular musical includes great lessons for the church about family, friendship and reaching out to the downtrodden. (ClearPlay offers a filtered version.) Rated PG for thematic elements including a brawl. Aug. 14.
The Magic School Bus Rides Again Kids In Space (Netflix) — Ms. Frizzle and her class visit the International Space Station to learn about space. They also get chased by a giant tardigrade. Aug. 7.
The One and Only Ivan (Disney Plus) — A gorilla named Ivan befriends a baby elephant, Stella. Together, they try to escape. This film, based on a popular book, was scheduled to release in theaters but went straight to Disney Plus due to the pandemic. Rated PG for mild thematic elements. Aug. 14.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman (Netflix) — A time-traveling anthropomorphic dog, Mr. Peabody, adopts and raises a young boy, Sherman. It’s an animated film filled with adoption themes. Rated PG for some mild action and brief rude humor. Aug. 11.
Also of note for children: The Peanuts Movie (Disney Plus, Aug. 7), Dora and the Lost City of Gold (Prime and Hulu, Aug. 3), Dolphin Tale (Peacock TV, Aug. 1), Beauty and the Beast (Disney Plus, Aug. 21).
–Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and entertainment for more than 15 years. He is the husband of a wife, Julie, and the father of four small children.