Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Summer Movie Roundup

I saw many, many movies in the theater this summer.   I'm not counting in- home viewing.  I'm talking theater experience summer movies.  And I saw quite a few - with varying enjoyment.  From The Double Whammies (so good, I paid twice) to the ones I wish I had been patient enough to view on Cable with commercials - Summer 2014 had some interesting movie madness.  And, believe it or not, I still have a lengthy list of movies I didn't fit in, that I will try to catch Red Box or Cable or years from now on network TV.

Guardians of the Galaxy - The mighty and so very funny Chris Pratt as Star-Lord makes this quirky super hero/comic incarnation work.  The 70s music didn't hurt either.    The Best of the Big Summer Popcorn Flicks. Out of This World.

The Hundred Foot Journey - I want to live in a little town in France and eat sea urchin and other fancy things thanks to this heart warming movie.  Oprah, Steven Spielberg, Helen Mirren and Om Puri should team up again.  The great cast and beautiful food make this one very palatable.  Three Michelin Stars 

Edge of Tomorrow - I'm rarely as surprised by a movie as I was with this one.  Unexpectedly funny and interesting with great special effects.  Cruise and Blunt - awesome.  Groundhog Day meets Transformers meets Terminator meets Inception.  Repeat Goodness.

Chef  - Food had a good summer.  I loved this little film about a food truck owner and his son.  Jon Favreau - writer, director, star - even called in a favor from his Iron Man buddy - with an amusing Robert Downey, Jr cameo.  Greasy food truck food never looked so good.  Delectable.

Begin Again - As an actor, Adam Levine is a really good singer, but this lovely movie about starting over through music was terrific.  Mark Ruffalo,  Kiera Knightley and New York City - amazing.  Perfect Harmony.

Blended - This movie was critically panned, and devoured at the box office, but I loved it.  It was exactly what I expected from Drew and Adam - a little ridiculous crassness, a lot of sweetness, very specific Sandler humor, and perfectly predictable.  Terry Crews silly singing aside, I really enjoyed this family film and the African back drop.  Well Mixed.

X-Men: Days of Future Past - Oscar Winners (at least 3), Oscar Nominees, Emmy winners and Nominees, Tony Winner and Nominees, Countless Golden Globe nominees and an Oscar Host.  These X-Men are a stellar cast.  And the cast sells it, with wit and greatness.  X-cellent.

The Fault in Our Stars - I meant to read this book, but I didn't.  I could still tell in the first 15 minutes which characters would meet their end and which wouldn't.   I like the irreverent frankness of the tone - I would guess it stayed pretty true to the book and captured the words well - because the words in the film are good.  Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley do well as the sick, star-crossed teenagers.  It is a cancer story.  It is a sad story, but also a hopeful one.  Bring the Kleenex.  Weepily Wonderful.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 - My 9 year old niece was so distraught by one of the main characters dying in this sequel, that I may have missed some of the middle.  I loved the original film, and this sequel captures everything that was great about the original.   Satisfying Sequel. 

When the Game Stands Tall - A high School football team with a 151 consecutive wins and then a loss and the coach that led it all is the back drop for this true-life story.  Jim Caviezel is great as Coach Ladouceur.  For a true story - this movie is every football movie cliche brought to life.  A little Blind Side, a little Rudy, a little Remember the Titans, a little We Are Marshall, a little Friday Night Lights - all wrapped into one.  If you like football (there is a lot of actual football in it) and football movies you will like this, and might get a little misty at the end.   A Perfect Effort.  

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles -   If you watched the turtles growing up - you will get this.  If you didn't watch them, you won't.  The turtles looked great - achieved via motion capture.  The teenage humor was right on - for teenagers in the 90s, and Megan Fox as April - sure.  Will Arnett being very Will Arnett.  90s Nostalgia.

Maleficient - I don't particularly love fantasy movies.  This one was very fantasy-y.  Angelina Jolie was fan-freaking-tastic as Maleficient though, and the 'new spin' on Sleeping Beauty was intriguing.  It was scarier than I expected (for small children - scary) - but still fun.  Though, I have no desire to sit through it again.  Fantasy Fun.

Mom's Night Out - Sarah Drew is likable in about everything she does.  (As I write that, I'm remembering how her character on Greys Anatomy was grating and unliked at the beginning of her run on that show - and her character is still polarizing, but somewhat redeemed.  I just like her because I loved Everwood and I loved her with Chris Pratt on it.) A crazy night out on the town, with incredibly unbelievable happenings including a missing baby, Trace Adkins as the head of a biker gang, mixed up dinner reservations and bowling - but a little funny none-the-less.  Patricia Heaton was enjoyable as well.  Though, it was overly earnest in trying to wrap it up with a beautiful Mom message.  This is Date Night's kid sister, if only Fey and Carrell had shown up in end.  Maybe Moms Night IN.

Wish I Was Here  - Zach Braffs follow up writing, directing starring effort to Garden State had mixed reviews.  I like Braff, I loved Garden State.  I like that a lot of this movie plays like a music video, and the music is so good.  The cast is great (though, Kate Hudson is miscast) - especially the kids, Joey King and Pierce Gagnon.  Oh, yeah Mandy Patinkin and Josh Gad are phenomenal as well. If you liked his first one, you'll likely like the second one - as many have pointed out - they are largely the same movie - dealing with the same themes and perspective, but I found this one to be less enjoyable.  Its one thing for a twenty something to be finding his way, its another to have a thirty something with a wife and two kids, acting (mostly irresponsibly) by refusing to give up his 'dream' of acting and take a real job.  The main character seemed so selfish to me, it was hard to ignore.  Overall though, the music, the cast and enough clever gems of wisdom won me over.  Wish Fulfilled.

And So It Goes -   It is so unfortunate that this movie shares a name with an incredible Billy Joel tune. It certainly isn't worthy of any mix ups.  Diane Keaton and Michael Douglas - oh, dear.  Rob Reiner directed this sad, sad excuse for a Something's Gotta Give wannabe older generation rom-com.  I expected it to be...better -in about every way.  Ho-Hum.

What If  -  I am the target audience for this cutesy-poo flick - I should have liked it, but I didn't.  I also didn't hate it.   Zoe Kazan is lovely  and Daniel Radcliffe is so charming in this.  Charming, charming, charming, charming -  but there was just too much potty and grotesque humor for my liking - and no one needs to see Harry Potters bare back side - even if he seems to really want everyone to.   What If...Not?

Missed Summer Movies Still to See

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Words & Pictures
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Magic In the Moonlight
The Giver
Get on Up
Jersey Boys
Step Up: All In

What should I see first?


  1. See Boyhood! Its soooo good! And I know you like Richard Linklater. Fun reviews!

  2. Don't see Jersey Boys. Just don't.