93. Gigantic

Another one of the solid cast/relatively weak script films that seem to keep popping up around here.  In case you missed it, in this one, Paul Dano plays a mattress salesman ferociously intent on adopting a Chinese baby.  Ed Asner is his dad, Zooey Deschanel plays the absolute exact character you’d expect her to, and John Goodman is her dad.  Oh, and Zach Galifianakis is in a few scenes as…well…he’s listed as “Homeless guy”, but his character kinda tries to attack Paul Dano’s on multiple occasions.  For reasons still not entirely clear to me.  A decent enough, mostly forgettable flick.

92. Old Dogs

So, yeah.  Saw this one in theaters with most of my family after a particularly vicious fight over what movie to see.  There’s not really much to say.  You know pretty much exactly what you are getting going into the film, so you’ll probably like it exactly as much as you think you will.

91. The Lovely Bones

I’m probably going to be ripped by my fellow Grouches for placing the film this high, to be honest .  One of 2009’s most interesting tumbles, both at the box office and at Oscar time, the film was a presumed contender in nearly every single category, but was left with a solitary nomination – Stanley Tucci for supporting actor.  I’m not going to defend the film, I mean, I do have it sandwiched between movies that were nominated by the Razzies for worst film of the year.  I just never found it aggressively awful, I guess.  The pacing was definitely off, and there are stretches where it got kinda boring.

90. All About Steve

In my opinion, one of the most mis-marketed films of the year.  I mean, you might have noticed, Sandra Bullock had a pretty decent year, and yet this film still flopped something fierce (and garnered her a couple of Razzies).  The problem, I think, is that this film should never have been pitched as a romantic comedy, because it doesn’t play out like one.  It is way more character-driven than relationship-driven.  And it  is more about Sandra Bullock’s character growing and experiencing the real world.  Yes, it is a broad comedy where the humor doesn’t always hit its mark.  But it is also something approaching touching, at times.  I’m not necessarily suggesting people go out and see the film, even if it does boast a stellar supporting cast, including Beth Grant, M.C. Gainey, Keith David, and Ken Jeong.  But I think Sandra Bullock was right: people judged this film on the trailer (which does a very poor job of establishing how Bullock’s character could be likable), not the movie itself.

89. Good Dick

The film pushs Woody Allen-like neurotic romantic comedy to a whole new level.  I’m not a huge fan of the trailer above, I think it paints the movie in too cutesy a light.  I wrote about this one a little bit ago (nice joke, past Jared!) and I’ll stand by what I wrote.  The film can be a bit tough to watch at times, because of just how awkward things can get.  But the movie can also feel at times like a breath of fresh, if postmodern, air.  In a lot of ways, I think this this the 2009 indie response to traditional romantic comedies, because so often in those you get these completely outgoing characters who never hesitate to interact with anyone and everyone in the outside world.  In Good Dick, other people are scary, figuring out how to interact with them even scarier.

88. What Goes Up

Steve Coogan keeps getting lead roles like this one, and I keep just not seeing it.  That Molly Shannon was also cast might make you think there was an issue with casting.  But the other main roles are filled by Hilary Duff, Olivia Thirlby, and Josh Peck, plus imdb trivia (and the end credits) make it seem like most other young actresses I like were in those first two roles.  So I don’t know.  The film itself, like the students it portrays, is a misfit.  The choice of time period is kinda odd and I’m not sure it is ever quite justified.  There’s lots of potential here, it just gets blocked some by the film’s moralizing and devotion to being offbeat.

87. The Great Buck Howard

John Malkovich is great as a middle-aged magician who still living in a world where his appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson were the stuff of, well, magic.  Colin Hanks is, as his wont, the straight man, playing Buck’s traveling assistant.  The film has a pretty interesting premise, its fundamental flaw is that it can’t quite figure out if it wants to tell Buck Howard’s story through the eyes of Colin Hanks, or Colin Hanks’s story, in which Buck Howard is a prominent player.  Also, the subplot with Emily Blunt seems shoehorned in.  Though it does get us Emily Blunt, so it can’t be all bad.  Don’t let the trailer fool you, Ricky Jay and Tom Hanks have glorified cameos.

86. Crazy Heart

I rag on John a lot, but honestly, that’s only for the five to ten percent of the time where we disagree.  We see eye to eye much of the time.  Like here, where I don’t think I could sum up my thoughts any better than John did.  The movie is very flat.  There aren’t really ever any consequences and the stakes are never raised.  Like John says, the music tails off badly after “The Weary Kind”, not a good thing for a movie like this one.  I’m a fan of Maggie Gyllenhaal, but her nomination here was off.  The most surprising thing about the movie was casting Colin Farrell as a country singer.  It worked, somehow.

85. Somers Town

Absolutely no clue how I ended up watching this one.  Falls on the arthouse side of the spectrum, but there’s nothing inherently “arty” about it, I think.  Was a little slow at times, and I wouldn’t have complained if more stuff happened.  I imagine I’d appreciate the film more if I lived in England.  But it often was an interesting look at the relationship between two outcast teenage boys.

84. Humpday

My first real introduction into mumblecore, and I gotta say, I’m not particularly impressed.  The biggest stumbling block to me may be the improvised feel of the dialogue.  Improv can obviously work in the hands of a comedy troupe, like in the Christopher Guest movies, for example.  But here, it sometimes felt like people talking just for the sake of talking.  Basically, it wasn’t as interesting as it thought it was.  Don’t get me wrong, wasn’t a bad movie, just not really deserving of all the buzz it seemed to receive.

Coming up next time: another Oscar film, an animated flick, and possible the most badass prisoner I’ve ever seen.