My Year in Movies – Part 3

The third quarter of the year signaled my temporary six month move to Virginia, which ultimately led to at least one movie a week for most weeks. I would simply look at Rotten Tomatoes on Friday afternoon and pick a movie, unless there was something that I truly wanted to see. Most of the movies that I saw were “fresh,” or at least had semi-favorable reviews on the site. When there wasn’t a new movie that had a good review that week, I simply watched something that I thought would be good. Usually Rotten Tomatoes knew what it was talking about. However, I start first with a movie I saw on demand recently since I didn’t really want to watch it in theaters.

Larry Crowne (7/1/2011) – What’s not to like about a movie starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts? A lot actually. Why they wouldn’t let Larry Crowne continue at the bog box store without a degree didn’t make much sense to me. What if he didn’t want to get promoted? Why not let him go to school while working pat-time? Once he starts going to school, I thought he was taking three classes. Why not eliminate the stupid motor scooter gang part and show him in Writing Composition? I was disappointed in this movie.

Horrible Bosses (7/8/2011) – I thought this would be funnier, but it was still an “enjoyable romp” as critics would say. The premise is a bit weird, as I don’t think a group of friends would get together to plot the murder of their bosses, but I suppose that’s why it’s a movie and not real life. But it does have Jason Bateman in it, an actor I am beginning to appreciate more, especially after going back and watching all of “Arrested Development,” one of the best television shows ever made.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 (7/15/2011) –  I spent a lot of time watching the first six movies in the series prior to watching the last two, and was rewarded with two great movies. The books are still on my short list of things to read, but I really enjoyed the movies, especially the last one. All sorts of magic and stuff. Good times. I was sad to see it end, though it J.K. Rowling could find an antagonist for a series about the next generation, she’d become a multi-billionaire, even richer than she is right now.

Captain America: The First Avenger (7/22/2011) – This movie was genuinely good, and my favorite of the comic book movies this year. It probably would have been my favorite movie of the year if some others hadn’t come along. Not knowing the Captain America story, it was a great was to introduce him ahead of “The Avengers” next year, and keep the Marvel movie machine humming with anticipation.

Friends With Benefits (7/22/2011) – Exact same premise from “No Strings Attached” from earlier in the year but executed better. I feel that if you swapped either of the female leads, they would still stay the same, since it is really a battle between Ashton Kutcher and Justin Timberlake. If I could tell you exactly what it was about this movie that made it better, I would, but I honestly can’t differentiate the two other than the leads, and JT wins over AplusK.

Cowboys & Aliens (7/29/2011) – I really thought this movie was going to be better. It had an interesting premise, but the execution was lacking in the end, despite having Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford. I thought it was something that could restart a new version of westerns, and it is always nice to see movies that aren’t sequels or reboots or adaptations of books. Nobody really does that anymore with big studio movies and it’s unfortunate.

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (7/29/2011) – Ryan Gosling. Steve Carell. But most importantly… EMMA STONE! I really enjoyed this movie. I usually don’t see movies like this in theaters, reserving dramas and the like to home viewing since you don’t need to see them on large screens to enjoy them. That said, it was worth seeing in theaters if only for all the great performances of all involved, and the crazy twist ending. Do yourself a favor and watch this movie.

Rise of Planet of the Apes (8/5/2011) – Not to spoil anything, but the apes ultimately win. And I would have to say that this was probably my favorite movie of the year thus far, though I reserve judgement for “Dragon Tattoo” when it comes out this week. I can’t think of any other movie that was better, and they set it up beautifully for some sequels, and as long as they don’t make them like the originals, they will be worth watching. James Franco follows up “127 Hours” with a fine performance here, and Andy Serkis as Caesar the ape is Oscar-worthy, though he probably won’t get it because people are stupid.

The Change-Up (8/5/2011) – Another movie that I thought would be better, but it was ultimately the worst movie that I saw of this group. The premise is a bit overdone, but I thought that Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds could pull it together and make it likable. Alas, they could not. One redeeming piece would be Olivia Wilde, but even the nipples she shows aren’t even hers.

30 Minutes or Less (8/12/2011) – I was surprised by this movie. I went in expecting the only funny moments to be the ones that were shown in the trailers, but I left more surprised than that. Jesse Eisenberg continues to show that he is a decent actor, and Danny McBride and Nick Swardson were very funny as the “bad guys.” But stealing the show was Aziz Ansari, who has probably the best line in the movie about bringing a bomb to a school. Enjoyable enough and better than expected.

Our Idiot Brother (8/26/2011) – I like Paul Rudd. Last year, it felt like he was in every other movie, but he doesn’t get the same recognition as others. This movie was no different. The sisters try to steal the show, and despite them blaming him for their problems, he wins out in the end. I think if we all tried to live our lives like Ned, aside from being a hippy and doing drugs, and let the world come to us, we would have less problems in the world. Instead, nobody takes accountability for their own actions, instead blaming it on the nearest scapegoat. (looking at you, Occupy protestors!)

Drive (9/16/2011) – No dialogue wasted in this movie, which help Ryan Gosling dominate every scene that he is in, which is pretty much every scene. He drives people to crimes, and apparently he’s really good at it, and then he gets mixed up in some stuff and ends up with the girl in the end. Or not. Can’t really remember. But a great movie nonetheless.

Lion King in 3D (9/16/2011) – Technically, this movie was released in 1994, but the re-release in 3D was worth seeing in theaters. I don’t know if I will see the other Disney movies they plan on giving the 3D treatment over the next few years, but “Lion King” has always resonated with me as one of my favorite Disney movies. One of the better decisions I made this year was to see it again in 3D. Still a great movie, and I don’t remember the last time I saw it before this.

Moneyball (9/23/2011) – As with most book adaptations, the book was better, though in this case, Brad Pitt gives an Oscar-worthy performance and helps tell the story a bit better than the book does. I grew up as an A’s fan in the ’80s and ’90s, and I still follow them even though they aren’t very good. The way they do things is very interesting to me, and while they may not ever win a World Series while playing in that horrible stadium, as long as Billy Beane is around to spend money in the right way, they will be semi-competitive about every other year. I am even more excited that Brad Pitt is working on an adaptation to another Micheal Lewis book called “The Big Short.” If it is half as good as this one, Pitt will continue to rule the world.

50/50 (9/30/2011) – Cancer is not very funny regardless of how you spin it. This movie tried hard to do so and almost succeeded. That said, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen show how important it is to have friends in your life. If you were diagnosed with cancer tomorrow, do you think you have one friend that would be there for you? It’s hard to say. I would imagine a cancer diagnosis is a big deal, primarily for the person with cancer, but also very hard for the people around them. I think we would ultimately do what his girlfriend does in the movie: stick with him because you don’t want to dump a cancer patient, but ultimately move on because it’s too hard for us. But cancer is harder on the person with it, or at least I imagine. Stop being a bunch of jerks people!

That’s all she wrote. Until next time…

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