Sunday, March 11, 2012

Movie List 2012: January

Because apparently I'm a glutton for punishment I've decided that in addition to recording all the books I read this year I'm also going to record all the movies I watch. I figure I'll put them out at the end of every month. As you can tell I've got some catching up to do. Anyways, let's get started.

* = rewatched



Get Smart

Maxwell Smart is an analyst at a top-secret government intelligence agency who dreams of being an agent. But when an attack compromises the secrecy of the agency's agents, Max is the only one who can get to the bottom of it. Based on the old TV show of the same name.

Genre: Action-Comedy

You know what? I like this movie. It makes me laugh. Maybe it isn't the most intelligent comedy around, but who cares. I like it. Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway are a surprisingly good comedy team. There's a fair amount of references to the old show, so if you're not familiar with it you might miss out on a fair amount of references. I am familiar with the old show so I understood and loved the references. Thanks, Grandma!


Lemony Snicket's
A Series of Unfortunate Events

Based on the book series by the same name, it tells the story of the Bouldelaire children who become orphans and are sent to live with their mysterious Count Olaf. However, it turns out that he's out to get their sizeable inheritance and he's willing to go to any lengths to get it.

Genre: Family friendly comedic adventure.

I adore this movie. I also feel that, because it's a movie for a younger audience and because it's based on a children's book series, it is highly underrated. As a fan of children's books I can tell you that this movie is one of the greatest film adaptations of a book that I have ever seen.

The book series is quirky to say the least, and creates a fantastical world that is like our own but seen through the eyes of a child. Things are bigger, more menacing, more wondrous. The film actually manages to capture the feeling of the book. The costumes, the sets, the performances! They all work at creating this storybook world that is completely consistent with the source material. And it does what I feel that most adaptations are afraid to do: make cuts. The movie condenses the first three books of the series into one story, and it is done rather brilliantly.

I've already said too much, but I have to mention that the performances are amazing. There are a number of big name actors and they all do an outstanding job. I mean, jeez, look at the actors they have: Jim Carry, Jude Law, Billy Connolly, Craig Ferguson, Catherine O'Hara, Meryl Streep, Dustin Hoffman, and more! Jim Carrey, however, deserves special praise. He delivers his lines in such a uniquely brilliant manner that I can't ever seem to quote them right. In fact, in my opinion, this is one of his best roles. Having him play the role of Count Olaf is one of the greatest casting matches ever.


Deep Blue Sea

In order to discover a way to revive dead neurons and cure Alzheimer's Disease, a group of scientists on an underwater base are using sharks as test subjects. But when their test inadvertently make the sharks super intelligent they're suddenly going to have to fight for their lives.

Genre: We're being attacked by animals! EXPLOSION!

It's hard to describe why this movie is so great. In so many ways it is just the epitome of the dumb giant-animals-are-attacking-us genre. "Oh, no! We turned these sharks into super intelligent killers and now they want us dead! Watch our adventures in a world where the laws of physics are flexible and the science is highly questionable." And yet it seems to know that about itself. It realizes the kind of movie it is and just decides to embrace it and have some fun. It's hard to not enjoy something like that. Plus while it does follow a fair number of stereotypes of the genre, it also is constantly defying others. So you never quite know what to expect.

Did I mention that LL Cool J is in the movie and does a rap about sharks? Because he is. And he does.


Lilo & Stitch

The story of a biological weapon who no longer has a purpose, and of a broken family that is trying desperately to stay together.

Genre: Amazing.

Not only is this my favorite Disney movie, this is also one of my favorite movies period. I love how the animation style is different from normal Disney movies, I love how deep the characters are, I love bizarre and darkly quirky the jokes are, I love it all. There isn't anything about it that I don't love. It makes me laugh so very hard. And, yes, there are a couple parts that never fail to get me to tear up as well.



After an outbreak of zombies swept across the world, only a few people remain alive. But can a motley crew of survivors retain their ability to live, love, and have fun while always on the run from zombies?

Genre: Zombie Comedy.

When I first saw trailers for this movie I thought it was just going to be a lame Shaun of the Dead ripoff. Maybe it is ripping off the idea of a zombie comedy, but even so, it is extremely well done. While Shaun made a statement about how zombie-like life can be sometimes, it also had a hopeful attitude. Zombieland, on the other hand, makes a statement about how unzombie-like life is, and had a slightly less hopeful attitude. It makes it pretty clear that eventually everyone is going to die. But that's life. Through the course of the movie we learn that you can't just survive, but you've also gotta live. You gotta enjoy the little things. Thus it manages to paint a unique vision of the zombie story.

Not to mention, of course, that the movie is just a lot of fun. The cast is outstanding. The movie's style is really creative. And it features one of the best cameos I've ever seen.


The Wedding Date

A romantic comedy about a woman who hires a male escort to go with her to her sister's wedding.

Genre: It's a Romantic Comedy...try to keep up.

You know what? It just wasn't for me. I thought the whole thing could have been plotted a lot better and the motivations behind the characters better developed. But you know what? That's just my opinion. I can see the elements of the movie that people would enjoy. I think I should see more stuff with Debra Messing in it. She's pretty fun. But I hate when Amy Adams plays mean characters. It just doesn't work. She's just too good at playing nice people. And it creeps me out when movies make her blonde.


National Lampoon's
Christmas Vacation

Clark Griswald wants to have the perfect family Christmas. However, nothing is going to be perfect when family is involved.

Genre: Christmas comedy classic

I watch this movie every year. I've seen it so many times and I still find it hilarious. Not to mention that despite the hyperbolic situations, it really does portray family interactions in a very true-to-life way that few films ever do.

Fun Fact: So far every movie on this list is one I made my friend Sarah watch! That poor, poor girl...



In the future robots have started a war and are out to kill all of humanity. The human resistance is led by a man named John Conners. In order to destroy the humans once and for all the robots have sent a killing machine into the past to destroy Conners' mother before she can give birth to John.

Genre: We're being attacked by a gun-toting robot! EXPLOSION!

I really do like Terminator, but I can't see it without it reminding me about how much I prefer Terminator 2 and Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles. I just like how in those ones Sarah Conner is a badass and in this one she's still just a scared lady. The movie, however, is still a classic.


Napoleon Dynamite

Bizarrely awkward teenagers try to get by.

Genre: Extremely quirky comedy

If someone were to ask me why I like this movie so much, I wouldn't be able to explain it. It is just so bizarre that it's quite endearing.



A murderer goes on a killing spree in a quiet town.

Genre: Slasher

I had never seen this movie until now. Surprisingly it was a lot better than I was expecting. A lot of it is quite ridiculous, but it's ridiculous in a fun way. My biggest problem with it is that the main girl's boyfriend is the world's most douchey guy ever and she doesn't seem to notice. I mean, if your mother was raped and brutally murdered and your boyfriend tells you that you need to get over it because it happened almost an entire year ago? You need to break up with him. You need to slap him in the face and then break up with him. A knee to the groin would be perfectly acceptable as well. What you shouldn't do is get mad, go off in a huff, then later apologize for overreacting, and then lose your virginity to him. Because, holy shit. Are you all on the drugs!? Kids these days, amiright? Anyways, I've totally lost my train of thought. It's a fun movie, despite the many parts that are completely ridiculous.


Whisper of the Heart

A young girl meets a boy with a dream and is inspired to try and reach for her dream as well.

Genre: Lazy Sunday family movie.

I always remember this movie being better than it is. Not to say that it's bad, it's just to say that some parts of it are much better than others. There's a number of scenes that are truly cheesy and overly sentimental. And yet the majority of the film is really good. It's a Studio Ghibli film, but it is completely different from all the other ones. It's very realistic, has a very slow pace, and has a look to it that always makes me think it must've been one of the first Ghibli movies. As it turns out it was the 9th Ghibli movie, and the first one to be directed by someone other than the two main Ghibli guys (Miyazaki and Takahata). Not the greatest Ghibli film ever made by any means, but it definitely isn't the worst one either. It's got a subtle charm that I rather enjoy.


While You Were Sleeping

When the man she has a crush on falls onto the train tracks, Lucy Moderatz jumps to his rescue and saves his life. Not a bad way to introduce yourself, huh? Well, too bad he's in a coma now. Also too bad that due to some misunderstandings his family thinks that she's his fiancee.

Genre: Romantic comedy

I don't know. It's not the greatest romantic comedy out there, but it does have a number of things going for it. There's a number of actors in it that I quite like and don't get to see very often. It's got the feel of the 90s to it. The premise is pretty fun. But I guess the thing I really like about it is just how awkward it all is. I mean here's this girl and she's accidentally getting everything she's ever wanted, but is doing it all under false pretenses. And while she wants to set things right she can't quite figure out how to fix the situation. What can I say? I like the humor that arises from awkward situations.


Hot Rod

Rod Kimble wants to be a stunt man. Too bad he's not very good at it. Also too bad that his dad just got sick and doesn't have the money for the operation he needs. But Rod's not about to give up on him and decides he's gonna do whatever he can to raise the money.

Genre: Ever-so-Silly Comedy

You know, I would understand if someone told me they didn't like this movie. It is, after all, pretty ridiculous. However, I love it. It is like it was tailor made for me. It's goofy and off the wall and is just so much fun. I laugh the whole way through and a couple parts have made me laugh so hard that it hurts and my eyes tear up.


Scream 2

A copycat murderer is going after the people who survived the events of the first movie.

Genre: Slasher Sequel

Once again this woman has a ridiculous boyfriend! Is that her type? But to his credit he never tells her to get over her murdered mom, so I guess he's a step up from the last one.

Anyways, that's not really a crucial part of the plot or anything. Ummm...the movie isn't as good as the first one, but it's alright. It's pretty much impossible to predict the killer in these movies because their rationale is always pretty forced and ridiculous, so the reveals aren't always that much fun. "It's you! But why did you do it? You just felt like it? Fair enough." But there are some good moments, and there are some scenes that were kind of scary. There's also a lot of scenes where you just want to throttle the people in them and yell, "What is the matter with you! Do you have no common sense! AGGHHH!".



Scream 3

Once again someone is copying the original murderer and going after the people involved.

Genre: A Let's-make-some-more-money Sequel-to-a-sequel.

Fun Fact: I watched Hot Rod, Scream 2, and Scream 3 in a marathon session at my friend Rusty's house.

This series just keeps getting worse. There are still a number of elements that make it fun to watch, but I've gotta admit they just get dumber and dumber. I mean, a machine that can perfectly replicate anyone's voice? That is ridiculous. That is utter Science Fiction. And yet that is a substantial plot element of this movie. Once again they make some stuff up to give the killer a motive, but it's never really about that. I must concede though that the movies are fun because they do have things popping up, and people are getting stabbed, and you're all like, "Get the fuck out of the house! That dude's gonna stab you!". If you're watching them for any other reason than that, then you're gonna be disappointed.


Wedding Crashers

Two best friends love crashing weddings. However, when they decide to crash the biggest wedding of the year...well, let's just say that things get a little out of hand.

Genre: Buddy comedy

Another movie I always seem to remember being better than it is. Sure the set-up is rushed and ridiculous. And yes the ending is horribly forced. And yeah, I'll admit that all the romance bits are so very dumb and cliche. But you know what? It still has some hilarious scenes and some interesting characters. And those are the things I inevitably remember. In fact, I would argue that those scenes make it all worth it.


A True Underdog Story

In order to save their local gym from being destroyed, a group of lovable losers have to enter a dodgeball tournament to raise the money they need.

Genre: Wacky comedy

I don't really care for the last 3rd of this movie. However, I really like the rest of it. Pretty much everything up until they get to Las Vegas is gold. There are just so many big names in this movie and they're all playing such funny and ridiculous roles. Plus the scene wear Rip Thorn is throwing wrenches at everyone has me on the floor laughing every time.


Scream 4

Jeez, do I really have to write this again? I do? Fine.

A copycat killer is once again murdering people related to the people related to the original killings.

Genre: I'm-out-of-ideas-let's-revive-an-old-franchise Slasher

Remember what I said about these movies getting dumber? Anyways, the things I said about the other ones generally hold true for this one as well. At the very least it didn't have any stupid Science Fiction gadgets, so it had that going for it. Plus one of those Culkin kids was in it. How many of those kids are in the movie business anyways?


Paranormal Activity 2

A demonic presence is haunting a family's house.

Genre: Found-footage styled haunted-house Horror.

You know what? I've never seen the first one. Also I thought this movie would suck, because it looked like another Blair Witch Project and I didn't care for that movie at all. However, I quite enjoyed this one. The only thing I didn't like was the dad's character because he was a total asshole and no one ever told him to cut it out. For instance he chews out his daughter for getting locked out of the house while she was supposed to be babysitting her baby brother. Even though the security cameras clearly show her going to the door and having the door slam shut, as if caused by some unseen force. "It was the wind" says the dad. The wind? Really, dad? The wind blew the door shut? Did the wind blow the door locked as well? What? That isn't actually possible? Oh, well then maybe you should go apologize.



You know, for some of these movies you really don't need me to describe their plots. It's kind of self explanatory.

It's about a poltergeist.

Oh, and it kidnaps a little girl.

Genre: Classic haunted-house Horror

Fun Fact: Scream 4, Paranormal Activity 2, and Poltergeist were all watched on the same night. Once again part of a marathon of movies at Rusty's house. I don't often see horror movies, so there are some pretty big gaps in my knowledge of the classics of the genre. Rusty's decided to try and rectify that.

What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, Poltergeist. I dunno, I liked it because it explains a lot of stuff. Parts of certain Simpson's episodes, bits of other horror movies, all sorts of stuff. They've all been making references to this movie and I didn't even know it. The movie itself isn't really my kind of thing, but I'm glad I saw it.

Oh, and the effects were pretty great. I love great pre-CGI effects.


One For the Money

Stephanie Plum is out of money and looking for work. So when she sees an opportunity to make a bundle by becoming a bounty hunter and bringing in her love-hate adversary, Joe Morelli, how can she say no? But it turns out this bounty hunting thing ain't as easy as she thought.

Genre: Comedy that thinks it's more Actiony than it really is.

Going to see a movie that's based on a book you love, and seeing it with high expectations is a recipe for disaster. I don't recommend seeing anything in that state. Needless to say, I was disappointed. But I wasn't disappointed because it was bad, I was disappointed because it could have been amazing.

Overall the casting was great and they did a great job. But the whole thing lacked edge. The thing I loved about the book was that sure it had a lot of great laughs and humor, but it was also pretty scary. You really begin to see that Stephanie is out of her depth and in very real danger. She's in danger of being beaten, she's in danger of being raped, and she's in danger of being killed. All of it linked to the mystery she's got to solve. But she can't quit because she needs the money and she needs to do it for herself. Her life is going crazy and she just needs to prove to herself that she can do it.

The humor works as a device to humanize the characters so that you really do care about them, which then makes the mystery and the action all the more exciting. The movie contains all the big bits of humor, but completely glosses over and rushes the mystery and the danger. Thus the film has the seasonings right, but is missing the real meat.

I also wasn't a big fan of the narrating device used in the film that tried to mimic the inner dialogue you got with the books. In most of the scenes the actors are doing a great job conveying things and you really don't need to have anyone say it all out loud.


I Saw the Devil

A special agent's fiancee is killed in a gruesome fashion. He manages to track down the killer and decides to make it his mission to make that man's life a living hell. But trying to keep a dangerous murderer on a leash is a very dangerous game.

Genre: Korean Slasher

I find Korean movies to be really interesting. They always go at things in a way I wouldn't have expected. I'm not sure how I feel about this movie. It's dark and gritty and at the end you're left feeling a little sad. Definitely an interesting movie though. I feel that most movies would have gone at this plot in a completely different way. Instead of developing the characters or humanizing them, the movie just stands a grim portrayal of the consequences of abandoning your humanity.

There are some pretty gory scenes too, so watch out for that.

Fun Fact: This movie is an example of how much gore I can handle. So if you watch it you can find out how much that is. I can't handle anything more than this. Actually, that's a lie. To be honest, 2 scenes in this one briefly went just over the border of things I can handle before dipping back down again. But generally this is a good example of my limits.


  1. First comment! :D
    I've seen most of these except for some of the horror ones, and Hot Rod, which I feel like I need to see now. Wow, we watched 6 movies in like, 3 days. This says something about us...something good.

  2. Since no one comments, getting the first one is normally quite easy.

    Well, you know what they say, "2 movies a day keeps the boredom at bay."

    And the only things that could be said about us are good things, because we are the kind of team that good things are said about.