Recommended: Lightweights, Tier 2

  • 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.
Author Comments: 

If you're going to use these lists for recommendations, you really should read how they're organized.

You should write a few comments about Blast From The Past. Wasn't Walken hilarious?

Yeah, he was great. I will definitely get around to commenting on everything. I've kinda been fleshing these out as I go, and it's taking me awhile. But I think I finally have an offline editing approach that I like for managing these lists, so hopefully I'll be able to dedicate more time to the actual content.

It is always a pleasure to be reminded that, despite the dark shadow cast about the film by numerous critics, I am not the only one who enjoyed A Life Less Ordinary.

I love your lists, Jim, especially your excellent comments on each film.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Thanks! Just when I think my commentary is only interesting to me, you and AAA compliment me on the same day! As I said to AAA, I'm just trying to keep up. :-) My lists used to be comment free, but you and the other comment-rich regulars inpire me.

Hey, Jim! I'm glad to see you took a gander at Man of the Century. Wasn't it gleefully bizarre?

I especially liked...

Twennies constant riffing on the name Tim.

The spontaneous musical number at the sheet music shop.

The appearance of Frank Gorshin, whom I identified soon after he made his appearance.

The way in which Twennies didn't seem to notice the constant vulgarities being used around him.

The strange segue into a different movie where Twennies was a sailor.

The two (I think?) dance numbers with Twennies and his girlfriend, played by Susan Egan (who also played the voice of Megara is Disney's Hercules.)

Everything is this movie seemed to be played with such exuberance. It makes me smile just thinking about it.

Agreed on all counts, and thanks very much for the recommendation! I loved the Tim stuff, and the way Twennies just plowed ahead with his lifestyle and that everything that should have jarred him out of his world didn't even register as a blip on his radar. Oh, and I loved the "who's your girlfriend/well then who's this" scene.

Thanks again! Good stuff.

Great comments. I'll have to catch The Rookie and Our Hospitality, oddly enough one of the few Buster films I don't remember seeing. Did I miss it, or did I see it far back enough in my teen years to not make the connection now? Not sure. I'll find out!

I love your lists and your unique categories. The categories play out very well in practice and provide lots of room to acknowlege good films that may not quite hit a straight top ten list.

Great fun!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Thanks very much! I have to admit that I'm pretty happy to have found an organizational system for my lists. My first attempts, which are still available but archived, were pretty haphazard. I am afraid that these lists are going to get too long eventually, but I can't decide if that's because there are so many good movie or because I'm not discriminating enough. :-)

Our Hospitality is the one where Keaton is the last surviving son of a family involved in a generations-spanning feud. After being raised elseswhere he returns to town (via a very funny train ride) and becomes embroiled in the feud again. His situation is complicated by not initially knowing who his enemies are, and courting a daughter of the enemy. Netflix rents Our Hospitality and Sherlock Jr. on the same DVD, which made for two very enjoyable evenings.

Jim, I haven't seen the 2002 version of "The Importance of Being Earnest", but I do love the 1952 version, so I might check out the remake. And I'd recommend the older version to you. It lacks the recognizable stars that the 2002 version has, but I'm sure the performances are just as good.

Thanks AJ, I'll check it out!