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The Savages falls squarely into the second tier of the list of my favorite movies from 2007. I disclose this fact just because I need to rag on the movie a bit. You see, The Savages really should have made its way into the top tier. So, in a sense, it is a disappointment.

Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman are great, as usual. My thoughts on acting aside, if you have a character-driven movie about middle-aged people, I have to imagine these two will be at the top of your wish list. It almost isn’t even noteworthy at this point to remark on their performances. I won’t be heartbroken if Philip Seymour Hoffman doesn’t get a nomination this year, for two reasons. First, having won so recently for Capote, the Academy is reluctant to give him another nod so soon, by their warped, if relatively consistent, logic. Second, while PHS’s three performances this year may combined be worthy of a nod, there isn’t one that absolutely cries out for a nomination.
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I write this in mid-January. We’re in the midst of a hot Oscar season after a terrific year for film. Quirky comedies, British period pieces, and foreign imports are slaying critics and cleaning up at the arthouses while new works by major directors are being hailed as masterpieces. And yet I am here to proclaim that a summer sex comedy is still (thus far) my favorite film of the year.

Knocked Up wears many hats. It’s a sex comedy, a buddy movie, a stoner comedy, a chick flick, and a marriage comedy, but it is wonderful in all its forms. Knocked Up is the type of film that I have several specific problems with but I love all the parts that I love so much that I can easily gloss over its deficiencies. Under a veneer of pop culture references and potty humor (all funny on its own) is a story with a lot of heart containing characters we really grow to love.

We are introduced to Seth Rogen’s stoner/slacker Ben and Katherine Heigl’s career-minded Alison, who meet under alcohol-influenced circumstances and have a one night stand (with Rock Lobster playing in the background). Long story short, she calls him weeks later with a little surprise – she’s preggo! – and Ben and Alison see if they can make a relationship work. He’s an unemployed stoner living off an accident settlement! She’s a hard-working, practical, rising TV star! They’re an odd couple!

Okay so this is all pretty standard movie fare. In fact, Alison and Ben’s courtship – and inevitable dramatic split – is very much a straightforward romantic comedy. A top-notch romantic comedy for sure, but not the type of thing that’s going to top any favorites list.

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January 2008
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