Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, I watched several movies – some funny, some exciting, some nostalgic. From Chevy Chase to Robert Downey, Jr., from Christmas miracles to mastermind detectives, I enjoyed all of these movies:
- Yes Man – I enjoyed this Jim Carrey comedy more than I expected to. It had some hilarious moments, particularly those involving John Michael Higgins (Best in Show) as Carrey’s friend who had been transformed by the “Yes” program, and Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords) as Carrey’s hopelessly awkward boss. It was also nice to see Bradley Cooper play a nice guy for once (he is also the reason that I will go see The A-Team this summer). The basic premise is that Carl (Carrey) has been living a pointless, lonely life, in which he makes excuses all the time in an effort to not have to do anything or spend time with anyone. After encountering an old co-worker, Nick (Higgins), who has been transformed into a Yes Man, he finds himself learning to leap into new possibilities. The story takes many interesting turns as a result of Carl’s newfound willingness to say “yes.” As with most male-centric comedies these days, there were a few unnecessarily crude moments, but aside from that, my only complaint is the age difference between Carrey and his love interet co-star, Zoey Deschanel. He is 18 years older than she is – practically old enough to be her father! Maybe Carrey was playing someone younger than his real life age of 47, but the age difference just made the pairing seem “off” to me. Despite this flaw with the casting, this is an amusing movie that’s worth renting.
- National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – I watch this movie every year during the holidays. It is definitely my favorite Christmas movie, and I consider it a classic (as do many children of the 80s). Cousin Eddie’s words of “wisdom,” a pre-Seinfeld Julia Louis-Dreyfuss playing the yuppy next door neighbor, the grandmother reciting the national anthem during the family’s mealtime prayer… What’s not to love? And as crazy and over the top as Clark’s lights display is (the entire house is covered in lights), it seems like these days people really do go to such lengths in an effort to outdo the neighbors. I hope no one ever tries to do a remake of this movie, because it needs to stand alone in all its comic glory.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – I’ve read all the books twice, and have seen all the movies, so it drove me crazy that I had to wait so long to watch this sixth installment in the film series. (We never got around to seeing it in the theater, for various reasons.) Well, it was worth the wait. I thought it was fantastic. The special effects, the adaptation from book to film, the acting… I was especially touched by the deepening friendship between Harry and Hermione, and the beginnings of romance between Ron and Hermione. These relationships worked because of good chemistry between the actors, and a good script for them to work with. I was also impressed by Draco Malfoy’s turmoil over the dark task he was assigned by Voldemort. It’s interesting to see these actors growing up on screen, and for the most part, their acting improves with each film as well. I look forward to the next installment!
- Sherlock Holmes – Color me impressed by Guy Ritchie. I haven’t always been a fan of his work, but his distinctive directing style worked very well for this fun update on the classic detective. Of course, all the credit can’t go to him. Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law were perfectly cast (and looked great!) as Holmes and Watson. It was fun to see a buffer, more rugged Holmes than the traditionally more subdued and proper one. The ending left things open for a sequel – I’ll go see it if it happens.
- Avatar – We had hoped to see the movie that everyone’s talking about at the IMAX, but when we got there it was sold out. We “settled” for regular old digital 3D, and we weren’t disappointed. While the story didn’t wow me (it’s been called a rip off of Dances with Wolves or Pocahontas – check out this amusing comparison), the special effects and 3D amazed me. The picture was so clear, and the world of Pandora so richly and completely imagined, that I was mesmerized from beginning to end. I especially loved the night scenes, when all the plant life was glowing, and with the 3D effects, I felt like I was right in the middle of it all. This is definitely a movie that should be seen in the theater, and in 3D, to be fully appreciated. While I liked it, I don’t think it deserves the Oscar for Best Picture. Let’s not have another Titanic on our hands, where a movie is given the top honor because of great special effects, while ignoring some pretty big problems with other aspects of it.
- Daybreakers – I actually just watched this movie last weekend. In case you aren’t familiar with it, it stars Ethan Hawke and is a vampire/science fiction movie. It’s set in the near future, at a time when vampires have become the majority in society. They control the government, they are news anchors, they run corporations; children go to school and the cities come to life during the night, while everyone sleeps during the day. The problem is that with the human race nearly extinct, the vampires are running out of their blood (aka food) supply. Thus begins a race to find a blood substitute, but Ethan Hawke and some other rebels hope to find a cure to restore the human race. The movie was entertaining, and the vision of a world run by vampires was interesting. It was much gorier than I had expected (lots of exploding bodies, spurting blood, flailing limbs, etc.), and the end of the movie was a bit too campy for my taste – not to mention that the plot kind of fell apart. So, if you are interested in the vampire/sci-fi genres, you should check this one out, but perhaps you should add it to your rental list instead of going to the theater.
What movies have you seen recently? Any thoughts on the ones mentioned here?