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I’m back at it with the 2009  movies I ranked 133-124.  We are now segueing from the movies I despised to the ones I merely disliked.

133. It’s Complicated

If Adam refuses to come back and watch this year’s Oscar movies it is because I dragged him to go see this one, on the chance it snagged a nomination.  He’s still pretty angry about that one.  Between this and The Holiday, I’m kinda worried that Something’s Gotta Give was the exception and not the rule for Nancy Meyers.  Again, she has a solid cast and a good premise, but fails to come up with anything entertaining.  The film’s sense of humor apparently exists, though it can only be seen by middle aged women, John, and Brian.  Well, OK, save for the infamous pot smoking scene, which inexplicably bumped the film’s rating up to an R.

132. Bob Funk

I blogged about this one nearly a year ago.  It is difficult to create an engaging film featuring a main character without redeeming qualities.  I initially wrote “an unlikeable main character” there, but I got rid of it, because  I could see how someone would argue a character like House is unlikeable.  To reiterate my main point, the movie is a bit of a mess.  I don’t know if it was rushed into production or what, but the script could have used another draft or three.  But hey, probably the best movie about a futon salesman I can think of.  As I mentioned, worth watching if you are an Amy Ryan or Rachael Leigh Cook completist.

131. Rudo y Cursi

Not exactly a worthy addition to the soccer movie canon, sadly.  I love Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal, but this movie had absolutely no idea what it wanted to be.  It careened from from cliche to cliche, never stopping to establish any sort of consistent tone.  That said, Garcia Bernal’s version of “I Want You To Want Me” and accompanying music video alone may make the movie worth seeing.

130. An American Affair

A Catholic schoolboy befriends an older neighbor, who happens to be having an affair with JFK.  No really, that’s the plot of this movie.  Ostensibly it is a coming of age film, but I have to imagine the JFK connection is one of the strangest plot devices used to get there. Especially because it really isn’t a necessary element.  Like, at all.  The high schooler is played by the kid from Thank You For Smoking, for whatever that is worth.   The neighbor is Gretchen Mol (you might remember seeing the film’s poster, where she’s wrapped in nothing an American flag.  There was one by my old apartment for a month).  She holds a special place in the hearts of two Grouches, excelling as the horrible wet blanket girlfriend in Rounders.  I think she could have carved out a better career playing those type of characters, even if I’m not sold on her leading this film.  The ending, by the way, is pretty terrible.

129. The Last Station

Not sure I could sum it up any better than John did recently.  I refuse to believe Oscar voters actually saw this film.  Maybe they watched the trailer.  But a hearty congratulations to the publicity crew and whoever decided to do an extremely limited release in 2009, you all worked magic in getting two nominations out of the film (which grossed less than $10 million worldwide).  One note I had is that every actor in the film spoke with a different accent.  Now, I personally don’t really care if a film sees its actors all put on accents.  But it was kinda off-putting.  Also off-putting?  Finding out that James McAvoy is married to one of his co-stars, but not the one with whom he hooks up in the film.  I cannot possibly fathom the negotiations that went on in order for him to pull that off.

128. My Life In Ruins

The Nia Vardalos movie that wasn’t I Hate Valentine’s Day.  When Rachel Dratch is your third lead, your comedy is going to have some problems.  The word “hackneyed” comes to mind.  I do think Vardalos has the comedic chops to be more than a one hit wonder, but goodness does she need to find some halfway decent material.  In this one, her love interest’s nickname is “Poupi”.  Pronounced “poopy”.  Yup.

127. The Messenger

The other reason Adam may never want to see a movie with me again.  I was fine with the Harrelson nomination because, hey, Woody Harrelson.  But the screenwriting nomination is inexcusable.  It is absolutely right that this story was told and fantastic that they got such great actors to tell it.  I think, though, that people are confusing a harrowing concept with a well-told story.  Because there really isn’t a story here.  Of course, major bonus points for the Gaius Charles sighting.

126. Two Lovers

Joaquin Phoenix went crazy because of this movie?  I don’t get it.  Also don’t get the early year love for this movie.  A rather humdrum tale of a depressed guy living with his parents in New York lusting after a wild and crazy unavailable girl while going out with a more down to earth one.  Someone told me they heard the Jewish aspect was played up in the film, but that’s really not the case at all, not much more than a passing reference and some accents.  The movie is generally dull and muted.  Those commercials that played nonstop last year showing clips of classic films with scenes from this one (and a few other recent ones) always cracked me up.

125. Cold Souls

The simple description is Being John Malkovich, but with Paul Giamatti.  It’d be wrong, but comes closer than any single sentence I could come up with.  The film’s concept (souls can extracted from a body) is plenty fascinating.  As are some of the resulting issues it deals with, like the effect on a person of transporting souls, or how having a soul affects the rest of life, or how having a different soul changes a person.  But the film gets lots in a tale of Russians and smuggling that is just distracting.  It never gets as weird as Being John Malkovich, but it never gets as interesting either.  Though it is always great to see Paul Giamatti play a lead role.  David Strathairn and Lauren Ambrose are criminally underused.

124. The Graduates

Wrote about this one a few months back.  Great movie name to drop if you are trying to impress people with your vast knowledge of Animal House-style comedies.  As I mentioned, major props for the Ocean City, MD location.  But it ultimately felt like an unfinished work.  There’s a lot of potential here, as some scenes were set up very nicely, and I could see how the film was trying to dig a little deeper than your typical sex comedy.  But as is, just doesn’t hold up very well.

Thanks for tuning in.  Up next: We continue to learn that attractive women does not a movie make, one Oscar nominee, and the second Morgan Freeman sighting.

May 2010
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