My Year in Movies – Part 1

At my most recent count, I have seen exactly 50 of the major movie releases that were released this year. By major release, I mean movies that either garnered a lot of critical praise or those that have been relentlessly advertised. Some movies on the list, i.e. Red State, were not major studio releases but were kind of a big deal, at least in my opinion. Over the next couple of posts, I plan on talking briefly on the movies that I have seen this year. At the end of the year, or when I have seen all 66 movies that are currently on my list, I will try to provide a ranking of the best movies that I saw this year. When Academy Award nominations are handed out in February, I am going to try and see the most interesting movies that I haven’t seen, but I hope my choices this year will cover most of the nominated movies this year.

I think the easiest way to break down the movies that I have seen will be to talk about them based on the theatrical release date, regardless of when I may have actually seen the movie. Most of the movies from the first half of the year I later caught on video, but once I moved to Virginia, I was watching about one movie a week in theaters, which I chose based on Rotten Tomatoes scores of new movies out that week. If there wasn’t a “fresh” movie that week, I would watch one of the lesser performing movies from weeks prior. On with the show…

No Strings Attached (1/21/2011) – This was not the first movie I saw this year, just the only one released. Though in development at the same time as “Friends With Benefits,” NSA was released in the dead space for movies that is the first quarter of the year. The movie was lucky to feature Natalie Portman, who was fresh off her Oscar win for Black Swan. That’s about where the greatness ends. Ashton Kutcher played the same version of Michael Kelso that he plays in every role since “That ’70s Show,” not including the dark turn he took in “Butterfly Effect.” Not a great movie, but not as bad as others.

Cedar Rapids (2/11/2011) – Ed Helms was the primary star in this fish-out-of-water tale of an insurance salesman that finally gets to go to the “big city” of Cedar Rapids for an insurance conference after his predecessor dies. A lot of great performances from nearly everyone involved, but Helms steals the show. Highly recommended if you like comedies that don’t try to beat you over the head with laughs. Plus, Alia Shawkat as a “big city” prostitute was a nice surprise.

Just Go With It (2/11/2011) – Probably the worst movie that I saw this year, and I have learned my lesson about Adam Sandler comedies. Sandler is only good for quirky stuff like “Punch-Drunk Love” and “Funny People,” not crap like this and “Little Nicky.” Can’t think of one redeeming thing about this movie.

I Am Number Four (2/18/2011) – Another enjoyable movie, but not anything great. I’ve been a fan of Timothy Olyphant for a while, but he is kind of pushed to the background in this movie, which is understandable but unfortunate. The book that the sequel would be based on was recently released, so the plans for a movie sequel are on hold, but it would probably be something that I would watch on video if it ever came out.

Unknown (2/18/2011) – This movie tries to hard to be like “Taken,” one of Liam Neeson‘s better recent movies. That said, I thought the movie was a jumbled mess, though the premise was intriguing enough had it been executed better. January Jones shows up and proves that she is pretty much just a pretty face, as she essentially plays the bored housewife character that she plays in both “Mad Men” and later this year as Emma Frost in “X-Men: First Class.” At least she is good looking.

Hall Pass (2/25/2011) – Another R-rated comedy that tries to push the bounds of what is funny. A decent premise but failed to live up to it in the end. While the stars are ultimately likable, I personally find it hard to believe that any man would grow tired of either Jenna Fischer or Christina Applegate, which in my mind causes the premise to fail a bit.

Adjustment Bureau (3/4/2011) – Why I missed this one in theaters I don’t remember, but it could be because I thought it looked like a forgotten “Bourne” script. However, after actually watching it, I thought it was an enjoyable movie. Matt Damon is as good as ever, moving into the top ten of guys I would watch in almost anything (except “We Bought a Zoo”). Emily Blunt is very good, and super hot, as a dancer, and John Slattery and Terence Stamp play great “bad guys.” Definitely worth a watch.

Rango (3/4/2011) – The first of these movies that I saw in theaters, I thought it was a pretty good story for an animated film. Critics agree with me, as it was the highest rated movie that I saw during the first quarter, narrowly beating “Cedar Rapids” and “The Lincoln Lawyer.” I only watched this movie because I saw it with people that had children, and I wouldn’t see myself watching it otherwise. Nevertheless, it was a good movie.

Take Me Home Tonight (3/4/2011) – Another “That ’70s Show” alum has a movie, and I thought Topher Grace was better in this than Kutcher was in NSA. That said, this movie is probably only good in the future if you are killing time and it comes on Comedy Central or something. Even edited, I don’t think you would miss much. Unless I am forgetting major parts of the movie, which is very possible.

The Lincoln Lawyer (3/10/2011) – Matthew “Don’t Call Me Matt” McConaughey stars as a lawyer who works out of his Lincoln Continental. At first, I thought the title was a reference to something about Abraham Lincoln. Only later did I realize it was based on a book and not about that Lincoln. Procedural law drama, but a lot of critics liked it for some reason. I honestly don’t remember enough about it, and I just watched it three months ago.

Battle: Los Angeles (3/11/2011) – What would happen if a bunch of aliens invaded LA? They’d probably make a better movie out of it than this crap. Even the trailers screamed “I’m gonna suck; stay home!” Luckily for me, I resisted the temptation to see a big action movie on a big screen and waited for it on video, which wasn’t that long anyway. A very Michael Bay-esque explosion-a-rama, but with aliens instead of alien robots.

Paul (3/18/2011) – I’m a little ashamed that I waited so long to watch this movie. Pretty much everyone involved with the movie are people that I enjoy: Simon PeggNick FrostSeth RogenJason Bateman, and Kristen Wiig to name the primaries. The movie was enjoyable and used the cast well, especially Rogen as the alien. Bateman was also great as Agent Zoil, and though the twist ending was slightly expected, it was still a nice payoff. Special bonus watching Wiig’s character learn how to swear after growing up in a religious household at a RV park in Utah.

Limitless (3/18/2011) – By my quick count, this was the first of 17 movies that Bradley Cooper starred in this year, and they were all pretty much the same. While we all wish we could take a magic pill that would make us super geniuses and able to do a whole bunch of sit-ups, I don’t think we want to watch a movie about an already good-looking guy taking over the world before getting addicted to the smack. If it would have been fat Jonah Hill morphing into skinny Jonah Hill, that would have been better.

Sucker Punch (3/25/2011) – Another one of the stinkers from the first quarter. While visually stunning (kinda) in some parts, the hard to follow story line ruins the movie; are they in a mental institution or an orphanage? What’s really going on while Baby Doll is “dancing?” If you can explain that, you are truly a master at understanding crappy movies.

One quarter down, three to go. Until next time…

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