Movies of 2007
This is probably incomplete, I'm basically going off the top of my head and skimming through IMDB, but here's all the 2007 movies I've seen so far:
Starring: Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Dax Shepard
One sentence plot summary: Average man and prostitute are put in a sleep chamber for 500 years, and awaken to find America so dumbed down and devolved that they are the smartest people on the planet.
Review/Comments: IMDB suggests that this was actually released in late 2006, but I only watched it this year and I've already thought out my opinion on it, so such is my commitment to accuracy that I am going to throw away my one rule for this post and just put this in anyways. This was a reasonably funny movie. It wasn't as funny as some of the reviews I've read have made it out to be, but it is one of the better comedies of this decade, particularly considering how little I typically enjoy current (non-romantic) comedies. I really did not see this as some kind of highbrow biting cultural satire or whatever, as the subjects of the satire seem to be very, very broad, but there were some good visual jokes. I didn't care for the lowbrow genital jokes and fart jokes and whatnot. In any event, if as Kogan says, Hero Story Variant 7(b) is "Everybody is being snookered but me", then most of the reviews of this movie I've seen fit squarely into Hero Story Variant 7(c): "Society (not including me OR my readers) are being snookered and we are above that". Which is to say: "Oh man, how true, people DO watch stupid TV and stupid movies and people like Paris Hilton are more famous than smart people who contribute more to society, etc. etc." But unlike in the other hero story, people here aren't trying to convince their readers, who are implicitly assumed to be as smart and informed as the author, but just attacking a strawman. And so it goes...
Rating: B MINUS
Starring: Corbin Bleu, Keke Palmer
One Sentence Plot Review: Boxer learns to jump rope, much to the chagrin of overbearing father.
Comments/Review: Semi-review previously published here.
Rating: C PLUS
Catch and Release
Starring: Jennifer Garner, Timothy Olyphant, Kevin Smith, Juliette Lewis
One Sentence Plot Review: Woman's fiancee dies and she falls in love with his best friend who she previously considered loathsome.
Comments/Review: Nobody seemed to care too much about this movie, it got generally lukewarmly positive reviews, and faded out of the theaters very quickly. All of this is understandable, because it is a very slight movie, and I suppose not for everybody, and it breaks no new ground, but I really enjoyed it. The acting is uniformly excellent, the characters are real and well rounded, the dialogue is crisp, and the emotional scenes pack a real heft. Not to mention, some of the comedy is actually pretty funny. The movie made me cry, which is becoming progressively easier and easier to make me do. There's a real warmth and heart to this little movie, and that's enough to take me above all of it's faults and cliches. Congrats to Susannah Grant, whose In Her Shoes I really wanna see now, after being put off by the mediocre reviews.
Rating: A MINUS
Music and Lyrics
Starring: Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore
One Sentence Plot Review: Washed up pop star hires plant waterer to write a song with him for a big pop star and in the process they fall in love.
Review/Comments: This was the second of the romantic comedies released earlier this year that I really wanted to see (after Catch and Release), but the movies, though I tend to lump them together for that reason, are in fact quite different. Catch and Release is all about the emotional core and more about the drama, whereas Music and Lyrics is your pretty standard silly romantic comedy. It won't surprise careful readers of this blog to know that I loved it. This movie was written and directed by Marc Lawrence, whose previous Two Weeks Notice and Miss Congeniality I really disliked, so I'm perfectly content to attribute the success of this film to the wit and charm of Hugh and Drew and to the awesome music. Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore are two of the best romantic comedy actors, and seeing them together is great! They have really good chemistry and are both really funny throughout, and the movie is genuinely romantic. And the Wham! style 80s pop hits for Hugh Grant's character are genuinely really good. 'Tis completely fluffy, escapist fare, a cotton candy movie, but to me fluffy, escapist fare is one of the best uses of the film genre. Probably one of the 5 best traditional romantic comedies of this decade.
Rating: B PLUS
Okay, Okay, So What ARE the 5 Best RomComs of This Decade: Bridget Jones, Love Actually, Just Like Heaven, Down With Love, and this movie.
Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Al Pacino and a bunch of other people.
One Sentence Plot Summary: A bunch of people rob a casino
Review/Comments: Yeah, it was basically the same as the first movie, but all of the actors have so much fun with it, and the plotting/pacing is so tight that it makes a really compelling watch. Way better than Ocean's Twelve at any rate.
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace
One Sentence Plot Summary: MAN HAS POWERS OF SPIDER.
Review/Comments: I apparently enjoyed this movie a lot better than most reviewers. The balance between ridiculous soap opera-esque drama and superhero action was very true to the comics, all the characterizations and acting were a hoot as always, and I thought emo-Peter was really funny. Calling the female temptress Gwen Stacy was a nice callback to the character in the comics, though clearly this character wasn't intended to be a straight adaptation of the Gwen I know and love. Sandman backstory was kinda pointless but not too distracting and at least they tried to make a character out of him. All in all a fun little romp and, I suppose, not as good as Spiderman 2 or the other great superhero movies of modern era, but better than the first Spiderman for sure and a worthy view.
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Starring: A bunch of people I never heard of and Jessica Alba
One Sentence Plot Summary: The four superheroes save the world from Silver Surfer and Galactus.
Review/Comments: Silver Surfer is so badass. It's pretty hard to screw him up too bad, although the 90's cartoon certainly pulled it off. They do a good job of adapting him here, and it makes for some exciting action scenes and pretty visual effects. The characters are all one-dimensional and silly, but then again so are the comics characters so I guess that's OK. The Johnny Storm/Super Skrull attack on Surfered up Dr. Doom was really enjoyable, and by far the best action sequence yet in these movies. The plotting was all sorts of screwed up though, Galactus sucked, and Dr. Doom continues to be really underwhelming. And you don't need an Oscar caliber performance in a movie like this, but come on a little bit can't hurt here. Better than the first, but this is still a second tier action franchise
Rating: C MINUS
Starring: Emma Roberts
One Sentence Plot Summary: The teen detective goes to LA and solves a mystery involving a disappeared actress
Review/Comments: Back when I thought Kay Panabaker (still the Official Actress of the TCR) was going to have a more substantial role in this film (i.e. more than one minute of screen time), this was my most anticipated film of the year. Even once I learned the truth of KPB's involvement, the presence of Emma Robers had me really pumped. And it didn't let me down! The only problem I had with this movie was that the kid Emma meets up with and befriends in L.A. is really annoying, but that's a fairly minor concern. I liked how they attempted to integrate the fish-out-of-water stuff with the mystery stuff, though I wish they had spent more time on the social aspect of Nancy's time and less on the not-so-interesting mystery itself. What I liked was that they made Nancy's character a real standout original and didn't try to make her over or make her change to fit in. She knew who she was and she never wavered and that was that. Emma's performance in this was truly outstanding, she's still got the most charm and screen presence of any young non-Panabaker actress out there.
Rating: B PLUS
Live Free or Die Hard
Starring: Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Review/Comments: I actually had no idea Mary Elizabeth Winstead was in this film and it was a really nice surprise to see her. I loved her in Sky High, she was OK in Final Destination 3, and she's one of my big celebrity crushes. She was pretty good in this film, though that's mostly beside the point. The point is that Bruce Willis still kicks ass, and this was basically an 80's action movie. Very ridiculous, and the computer stuff is embarrasing, and the plot veers wildly out of control about halfway through, but so much fun that it doesn't even really matter. Just sit back eat your popcorn and enjoy it.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and whoever plays Ron Weasley (research!)
Review/Comments: Harry Potter movies are Harry Potter movies, enjoyable fare without much depth. I never read the books and probably never will, but the movies are enjoyable if slight. This was, as reported elsewhere, much darker than the previous movies, but it's exactly the same quality.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, a pretty narrow range of ratings, but I tend to only watch movies I think I'm gonna like and haven't really loved too much I've seen this year.