Recommended: Lightweights, Tier 2
Submitted by jim on Thu, 05/24/2001 - 12:18
- Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery (1997) ... Viewed as a standalone comedy, this would do nothing for me. As a Bond spoof, it's wonderful.
- Blast From the Past (1999) ...
- The Borrowers (1997) ... Solidly in the camp of kids-movies-you-can-watch-without-any-kids-around without shame. Quirky and fun. John Goodman was terrific, and The Borrowers were quite endearing.
- Brain Donors (1992) ... "One of these things is not like the others..." Okay, maybe this one is a cut below the other offerings here, but I laughed out loud from beginning to end.
- Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) ... Renee Zellweger continues to impress. A fine romantic comedy. While our heroine is beset by embarrassments, the movie never crosses over the line into what I call "cringe humor" territory. She keeps her dignity, and our admiration. Both our cad and our hero are characters, not caricatures. In all, a good cast, and a good cast of characters.
- Charade (1963) ... I believe this was my first Audrey Hepburn movie, and of course I'm hooked. I'll definitely have to see more. As for this one, good script, good story, good performances, but most of all good entrances! Hepburn arrives and is immediately shot (I won't say more than that), Grant arrives and they have a brilliantly written and delivered conversation. Coburn and Kennedy have even better entrances, with Kennedy's entrance being one of the best I've seen. Fun from beginning to end.
- Diner (1982) ... Great fun to watch this case of then up-and-comers work with a good script. Like High Fidelity, this is a "guy" movie that didn't really resonate with me personally, but I found it much more enjoyable.
- Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) ... Awaiting a rewatch.
- Full Monty, The (1997) ... About halfway through this movie I remember thinking that it was kinda slow (I saw it after hearing all the hype), but it finishes so strongly that it's definitely worth seeing. Actually, I feel this way about lots of recent UK films (Waking Ned Divine, Billy Elliot) - slow starters, strong finishers.
- Happy Accidents (2000) ... Until now, Vincent D'Onofrio has always turned in the best performance of whatever movie he's been in. He's great here as well, but not as great as Marisa Tomei, who is hopefully rising out of the "woefully underrated and underused" pit she's been living in since the "Best Supporting Actress" kiss of death was bestowed upon her for My Cousin Vinnie. Thank goodness her nomination for the same award for In the Bedroom didn't result in victory; such a blow would have surely finished off her career. Anyway, she soars in this underrated and little-seen low-budget romantic comedy. The plot gets a little repetitive at times, but it kept me wondering about Sam's sanity--and the outcome--right up to the end.
- The Lady Eve (1941) ... Well that tears it, I'm definitely going to have to see more of Preston Sturges and Barbara Stanwyck. The former was terrific behind the camera, and the latter in front of it. Henry Fonda's no slouch either, but I already knew that. Stanwyck in particular grabbed me. Her Eve just might vie with Myrna Loy's Nora Charles for my favorite female character from this era. A rare example of a classic screwball comedy that worked for me from beginning to end.
- Our Hospitality (1923) ... While this is a Buster Keaton movie and thus quite funny, I was more impressed by the stunts, and the most palpable sense of vertigo I've ever had watching a movie. Watching Keaton on the cliff edge and face gave me that same trembly feeling in the pit of my stomach I get wheneven I find myself near a precipice. Keaton was a genius - I really must see more of his films.
- The Philadelphia Story (1940) ... I really enjoyed seeing Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart all together. Grant and Stewart in particular have some great scenes together (like the verbal sparring they do when Stewart is drinking and Grant is not). Some of the Taming of the Shrew elements grated on my modern day sensibilities, but rarely and forgiveably. The women are strong, the men are charming, the the script is excellent. And they tell me George Cukor was no slouch as a director either. Can't argue with that so far!
- Pleasantville (1998) ... A good concept well-executed. Take two modern teenagers and teleport them into a Leave It To Beaveresque TV show. Reese Witherspoon and Joan Allen are particularly strong, which is saying something as Tobey Maguire and William H. Macy also performed admirably. And of course this is the kind of role JT Walsh excelled at before his untimely death. So often special effects are mere eye candy, but here they are integral to the story and they are beautifully done. The final third is a bit heavy-handed, but I can easily forgive that in this case.
- The Santa Clause (1994) ... I think Tim Allen is an under-rated comedian-turned-actor (perhaps because of Jungle Boy or whatever that movie was called). Anybody that can steal the show from Tom Hanks (i.e. Toy Story) has got some chops. I love the scene where he's trying to explain to his son why they should keep the whole Santa-thing a secret ("because other people will think . . . oh, it doesn't matter what they think"). A fine Christmas story, one that I'll watch year after year.
- Splash (1984) ... I'm going to have to see this again before commenting.
- Spy Kids (2001) ... I can't wait until my daughter is old enough for this one. From his previous work, I never would have guessed Robert Rodriquez had such a light-hearted and exuberant family movie in him. But now having watched Spy Kids, it seems completely natural. Good messages, role models, action scenes, gadgets, story, pacing, etc. The nicest surprise of 2001.
- Star Wars (1977) ... Shallow but still iconic, and a landmark of my childhood. What can I say, for all its flaws I'll always watch this when it's on.
- State and Main (2000) ... For me, Mamet is like onion rings. I see them on the menu and they sound great but I'm inevitably dissapointed when they arrive at the table. And yet I keep ordering them. So this movie was a pleasant surprise. Very funny, great dialog (I finally understand the Mamet/dialog raves), and a fun ensemble cast.
If you're going to use these lists for recommendations, you really should read how they're organized.