Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2011 Recap - Motion Pictures

I didn’t see a ton of new movies this year. I had cancer.

Seriously, though, the cancer-related pain in my tailbone area made it hard to sit in theaters for a chunk of the year. Several movies I wanted to see are still not available for rent, so please settle for this incomplete list. As in years past, I have divided the films into appropriate genres, because there is no point in comparing “Thor” or “Win Win” to “The Muppets”. Just because they are all shown in theaters doesn’t mean they were made with the same goal in mind. So, within each genre, from most enjoyable to least enjoyable - an asterisk (*) denotes theater viewing, and the increased expectations that accompany those outings:


Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol* 
As mentioned on a recent “Doug Loves Movies” podcast, this movie has far too many Apple product placements. It’s funny how Hollywood used to try to make certain characters’ cell phones futuristic - think about the slide-out Nokia 8110 phones in “The Matrix”, for example - and now they’ve given up. “You’d think our operatives would have a sophisticated satellite phone, but they have the same phone as your mom. We got them an unlimited data plan, though, and they aren’t weighed down by that at&t contract.” There is one scene where Jeremy Renner goes into his backstory, and for a second I was worried they were going to ruin this fun movie with emotional hubris. But they got back to jumping off things and fighting villains pretty quick. A nonstop thrill ride, I’d say.

Fast Five*
The most fun I had in a theater this year was at “Fast Five”. My wife (“Borat”, 2006) and I were laughing a lot more than the general viewing public, and I was a bit self conscious wondering if everyone else found it such a winning combination of absurdity and homo-eroticism. Another bonus of paying for this fantastic piece of trash was enjoying the podcasts dedicated to its ridiculousness. “How Did This Get Made” and “The B.S. Report” both covered it.

Much more enjoyable than I thought it would be, even a little better than
Captain America,
which was also pretty good for a popcorn movie.

Attack the Block
When aliens invade planets or buildings, and the SyFy network is not involved, it usually makes for good viewing. I expected more comedy, given the involvement Edgar Wright and Nick Frost, but was still pleased with this mostly straightforward thriller.

This was an action/comedy/drama, according to IMDB, but according to me it wasn’t funny enough or dramatic enough to fit anywhere but here. Not bad, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have a fetish for Ellen Page dressed as a superhero. And it’s fun to see Kevin Bacon as a villain who is not invisible for a change.


Another Earth
For the first 30 minutes, I was sure I’d love it. For the next 30, I was afraid I’d hate it. By the end, I was relieved. It very successfully mixes mumbling indie drama with science fiction. The ending is possibly ambiguous, but also immensely satisfying.

Win Win
My oncology nurse and I both thought this was a sweet movie. This Paul Giamatti guy can really act. I expect big things from him.

John C. Reilly as an assistant principal? Of course I’m going to watch it - that guy is the best! If you are interested in seeing him briefly yell at a few kids, or if you want to watch him mentor a troubled youth as he comes of age, see this movie.


Cedar Rapids
John C. Reilly as an obnoxious insurance salesman? That guy is THE BEST! I’m not a huge Ed Helms guy, but he fit well with the cast. Low expectations, good execution.

I need to see this again, but for the best-reviewed comedy of the year, weren’t there several scenes that fell very flat? Anything with Wendi McLendon-Covey (blonde from “Reno 911”) and Ellie Kemper (Erin from “The Office”), was underdeveloped and could have been cut, for example. Any scene involving diarrhea can be cut from every movie from now until the end of time, for example.

I don’t remember a single joke from this movie, but I associate a general sense of happiness to it.

The Muppets*
The next time I see a Disney movie I’ll know not to take a seat in the theater until 30 minutes after the posted showtime. (I’ll hang out in the lobby and play Time Crisis, the arcade game that sits in every theater lobby and bowling alley game room.) If I want to see Buzz Lightyear making jokes I’ll invent a time machine or create a child. Or maybe rent a DVD. Just show me the muppets, please, and save your interminably long animated trailer about tiny beings that are discovered by regular-sized beings. But okay, the movie itself: this was the most meta movie since Wet Hot American Summer, right? Chris Cooper saying “Maniacal laugh” instead of laughing? Travel by map? Was this a movie for adults with stuff thrown in for the kids, or the other way around? I guess it tried to be both. I’d say it was 75% successful, but I’d have to ask a child if I’m correct.

Conan O'Brien Can't Stop
The documentary itself was good. I recommend watching all of the DVD extras and the director’s commentary (with Andy and Conan) to get your full quota of laughs. Lots of good stuff hidden in there.

30 Minutes or Less*
If you like seeing Danny McBride do his schtick, I recommend it. If you don’t love him or Aziz or Eisenberg, you will be disappointed. One side note: Nick Swardson is not terrible in this, regardless of how you feel about his sketch show or those “Bucky Larson” commercials (I say commercials because I know you didn’t watch the movie).

Horrible Bosses
This was fine, I guess. Charlie Day shouting lyrics to “That’s Not My Name” was the best.

Hall Pass
If I wasn’t on a plane, I wouldn’t have bothered. A little better than I feared. Go ahead leave it on while you dick around on your laptop when it's on TBS every Friday of November 2012.


Adrienne said...

The very first line of this post sounds like the first sentence of a great memoir. . . or a Nick Hornby book?

I agree with you on Fast Five. I was captivated by the homoeroticism and also how The Rock's neck forms the base of a perfect equilateral triangle in relation to his head.

I really liked Ides of March this year. And Midnight in Paris. That was about it.

dn said...

No one believes me when I tell them Fast Five is worth watching! Maybe they'll believe you.

Thanks for the Ides recommendation. I think I was just waiting to hear someone compliment it before I took a look.

Midnight in Paris, though - I learned a while back that Woody and I don't get along, and I'm sad I know I'll hate it because I do love the Wilson brothers.