Halfway through the movie year, film reviewer Bob Grimm picks the best and the worst so far.
Man, there have been some epically bad movies this year, and we’re only just past the halfway point. For this mid-year report card, I had a hard time assembling the best films thus far because we’ve only had a few great ones. As for stinkers, the problem was deciding what to cut from an ever-growing list of garbage. Seriously, this year is on pace for more atrocious garbage than any other year of recent memory.
Hollywood is going to need the little WALL-E robot trash compactor to tidy everything up when it’s all through. Mike Myers and M. Night Shyamalan will end up forever fused in one of those little WALL-E trash cubes.
The A students
Here’s a list of the best movies so far. I would only categorize the first three as “excellent” with the rest being “very good.” Expect things to change in a major way for the year-end wrap up. For God’s sake … they’d better.
1. In Bruges: My favorite of the year at this point, containing a killer performance courtesy of Colin Farrell. Now, until this film, I wasn’t the biggest Farrell fan. With this quirky movie from writer-director Martin McDonagh (a playwright making an impressive movie-directing debut), Farrell shows he’s far more than a pretty boy. He plays an emotionally conflicted hitman sent to Bruges by his crazy boss (Ralph Fiennes), and the dialogue in the picture is easily the year’s best so far. A masterpiece.
2. The Dark Knight: You can read why I liked this movie so darned much in the full review printed in this issue. The Batman films are setting the new high watermark for superhero movies. Actually, calling this a superhero movie is almost an insult because it’s so damned good.
3. WALL-E: This is one warped cartoon. Pixar delivers another delight, this time about a little robot left to clean up the Earth after we’ve left because it’s too stinky. In the future, we’ve become obese and dependent on hover chairs. Pretty standard for a G-rated movie, don’t you think?
4. Iron Man: Robert Downey, Jr. steps into the role of Tony Stark, billionaire weapon’s developer with a penchant for iron suits. Downey is great, as is Jeff Bridges as his eventual nemesis. Should be the first in a long line of great Iron Man films. Let’s hope all that hubbub about cutting budgetary corners and rushing the next installment into production was just internet geeks causing trouble.
5. The Visitor: Richard Jenkins is excellent as a widower who takes up the drums. Jenkins, a terrific supporting actor in the past, finally gets a chance to really shine.
6. Forgetting Sarah Marshall: Jason Segel gets this year’s Seth Rogen Award for breakout comedy star. There are more laughs in this film than the rest of the year’s comedies combined.
7. Son of Rambow: Two English kids in the early 1980s pass the time by making their own Rambo film. Hey, the Rambo film they made was better than the one Sylvester Stallone put out this year.
8. The Spiderwick Chronicles: Nobody went to see this, and that’s too bad. Freddie Highmore played twin brothers in a house getting attacked by goblins. The CGI is incredible and should get some notice with the year-end awards. Seriously, it’d better get some notice. If this film doesn’t get some notice for its fine effects work, I will file a formal complaint at the local DMV. Then, I will get my ass kicked by DMV employees, for they have nothing to do with movie production.
9. Cloverfield: Sure, this one made some people barf from motion sickness. That makes me like it all the more. As for scares this year, this one—and the less-consistent-but-still-creepy The Strangers—had me going good. I think the monster was cool-looking. Loved those breathing sack things
10. U2-3D: Hell yeah, this is the best rock concert film in ages. It’s all the cooler because various parts of Bono wind up in your lap thanks to magnificent 3-D effects.
As for the worst movie of the year so far, there’s a stiff competition going on for the title. Crap like The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan sucked for sure, but they didn’t even place in the top 10 for badness.
Here’s the list so far in what promises to be a record-breaking year when it comes to cinematic shit piles.
1. 88 Minutes: Holy hell, this is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. Al Pacino is way past his glory days in this bizarre murder caper. Scary news for Pacino and Robert De Niro: There’s another movie coming out this year pairing the two with this film’s awful director, Jon Avnet.
2. 10,000 B.C.: Holy hell, this is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. (Didn’t I just say that?) A prehistoric man hunts woolly mammoths, and you definitely root for the mammoths. Director Roland Emmerich has a lot of explaining to do for this one.
3. The Happening: M. Night Shyamalan continues his violent spiral into the film abyss with this, his worst movie yet—and this is the guy who made Lady in the Water and The Village. Plants rebel against humans, and Mark Wahlberg looks lost in this colossal embarrassment. The opening sequence is good stuff, and then it all goes to blazes.
4. The Love Guru: Mike Myers returns to live action comedy and makes us wish he had stayed far, far away in Shrek land.
5. Speed Racer: Some people are calling this a cinematic breakthrough. Some people also sniff glue.
6. Made of Honor: When I was in college, Patrick Dempsey was considered to be a major dick, thanks to Can’t Buy Me Love. Now, that film is considered to be some sort of genre classic, and Dempsey is McDreamy on Grey’s Anatomy. I feel like I got in a time machine, went back to look at the dinosaurs, wandered off the path and stepped on a moth.
7. Superhero Movie: From one of the fellas behind the Scary Movies comes this atrocious spoof movie that further proves Leslie Nielsen needs to retire.
8. Strange Wilderness: We all thought this one was going to be funny, didn’t we? Previews looked great, Steve Zahn is certainly capable of laugh-getting, and Jonah Hill of Superbad costars. As it turns out, this movie hurt me. It hurt me in ways that can only be addressed with deep therapy and hooch.
9. Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins: Martin Lawrence made me long for another Big Mama movie while watching this one, and I hate Big Mama.
10. One Missed Call: Oh, I was there for the call all right. I didn’t screen the bastard. I just picked up and got caught in one long, dreary cinematic conversation. Should’ve used call waiting!