157. Conan the Barbarian

Like any right-thinking human being, I’m a fan of the original Conan the Barbarian.  And I don’t subscribe to the philosophy that remakes are inherently bad, so I was looking forward to this one.  And I think I may have put it in my predicted top 20 summer box office list.  Whoops!  In retrospect, maybe we should have seen this coming.  The original is fun in large part due to its campiness, which is really difficult to duplicate, so instead this version took itself super seriously, with self-evident results.  As an aside, the reported budget for this film was $90 million dollars.  Two comments there.  First, the movie does not look like $90 million went into it.  Second, a movie about a barbarian probably could have figured out a way to have been done a little more frugally.

156.  Hugo

I honestly cannot understand what anyone sees in Hugo.   The script is populated by terribly uninteresting characters, almost none of whom have any discernible arc, and filled with unmemorable dialogue.  Not to mention the entirely superfluous ode to Georges Melies.  Hey, I love film and I’m all for celebrating its heritage.  But tacking on a half hour subplot to end the movie because the characters weren’t doing anything anyway?  That’s inexcusable.

155.  Your Highness

Danny McBride is the worst.  I cannot stand the guy as an actor.  As co-writer and co-star here, he makes a fantastic premise: medieval adventure comedy and an absurdly stellar cast: Zooey Deschanel, James Franco as the dashing hero, Justin Theroux as the archvillain,  Natalie Portman as a warrior (this is the film with her infamous thong shot), and Damian Lewis as a bad guy, and noted indie/Pineapple Express director David Gordon Green, just miss completely.  Unfunny and poorly plotted, the movie is a waste of everything.

154.  The Bang Bang Club

I fell asleep during two separate attempts to watch this film about a group of professional photographers in South Africa capturing the country as apartheid drew to a close.  I think Ryan Phillippe was a little miscast as the lead here.  I mean, it is based on real life events, maybe he did a good job capturing the guy, but to me, Phillippe always seems just a little bit sinister and douchey, and I think he’s a much better fit as a bad guy.  Malin Akerman and Taylor Kitsch are both not nearly in the movie enough.

153.  The Iron Lady

I’m not expert on British history, and I don’t even play one on TV.  But my understanding is that during the decade she served as prime minister, Margaret Thatcher did stuff.  Probably stuff that, I don’t know, significantly affected England and maybe even the world.  Screenwriter Abi Morgan decided the most interesting and relevant part of Thatcher’s life is as an elderly woman apparently battling dementia.  Which is a choice seemingly meant to give Streep the Oscar and bore everyone else out of their minds.

152. Love, Wedding, Marriage

Mandy Moore plays a newly married marriage counselor who finds out that her parents (James Brolin and Jane Seymour) are planning on getting a divorce.  It’s a shame the script is so amateurish because the cast is a lot of fun.  I’m a huge Mandy Moore fan, and I think the first network that can pair her with a halfway decent writing staff is going to have a hit on their hands.  Brolin goes all out as his character rediscovers his Jewish roots while trying to relieve his bachelor days.  And Seymour matches him step for step.  Plus there’s Christopher Lloyd in a bit part as a crazy marriage counselor and the extremely lovely Jessica Szohr as Moore’s sister.  Alyson Hannigan has a cameo, but that pales in comparison to the voice cameo by director Dermot Mulroney’s My Best Friend Wedding co-star, Julia Roberts.  I’m a little surprised the publicity staff couldn’t built more buzz around that.  Mulroney, incidentally, seems to have an unsurprisingly deft touch with romantic comedy conventions, and I’d be interested to see him tackle a better-written script.

151.  The Dynamiter

The Dynamiter was up for a couple of Spirit Awards: The Cassavetes award and Cinematography.  The film wasn’t included in the screeners sent out, and it is tough for us to get to New York or LA for the screening, so the filmmakers were kind enough to send us a copy.  Because I’m easily bought, I’m not going to say anything negative about the film.  It was a somewhat depressing look at growing up without parents, and I think the film conveyed that emotion very well.  And I liked the main actor, thought he did a good job.

150.  The Chateux Moreaux

Would you believe this is the second romantic comedy centered around a vineyard featuring Christopher Lloyd in a supporting role that made this post?  Madness.  Anyway, as long as people keep casting Marla Sokoloff as the lead in romcoms, I’m going to keep watching.  Which probably isn’t the most sane statement I’ve made in my life.  Not caring about wine probably didn’t help me like this movie, but based on everything else in the script, I’m guessing wine connoisseurs wouldn’t exactly say the film depicted anything close to reality.  Sokoloff inherits a failing vineyard that she has to turn around make profitble, Barry Watson is the love interest/winemaker/son of the bad guy (Christopher Lloyd), Amanda Righetti is the best friend and That Guy Taylor Negron shows up. The script is just unspeakably bad.  I don’t know if that’s on the screenwriters, people not telling the screenwriters the draft was crappy, the director going out on his own, or what.  But the continuity is poor, character motivations inconsistent and development nearly random.

149.  Cracks

This film from Ridley Scott’s kid stars Eva Green as a teacher in a 1930s English boarding school with Juno Temple as head girl in the class, along with Imogen Poots, among others.  I like those three actresses a lot, I just wish there was a better story to serve them.  There’s not really much that happens, save for a few audacious reveals near the end that the film seemingly spent forever building to.  It is a shame, because it felt like there was an interesting story there, with the teacher whose stories of faraway travel hide a weakness and the impact a new girl has on a tightly-formed clique.

148.  Terri

Garnered a Spirit Award nomination for First Screenplay, though it certainly wouldn’t have if I were on the committee.  It is too simple to say this film about an overweight, struggling high schooler (Jacob Wysocki) who lives with an uncle (Creed Bratton!) flickering in and out of mental clarity and a guidance counselor (John C. Reilly) trying to get him down a better path is the shoegazing answer to Precious, but, I mean, you can’t just pretend the similarities aren’t there.  The movie felt too slight to me and while I don’t need a film to have complete closure, necessarily, I prefer feeling like a complete story was told, which I’m not sure was the case here.

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