I’m counting down all the movies released in 2012.  The ones I’ve seen, at any rate.  In what is unquestionably a timely manner.

#60.  The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Was nominated for Best Animated Film at the Oscars.  I thought the film actually had a pretty clever sense of humor at times, but the witty dialogue was too sparsely interspersed with the underdeveloped plot.  Which included Charles Darwin mooning over Queen Victoria, so in retrospect, maybe I’m being a little bit too harsh.

#59.  The Decoy Bride

Like I wasn’t going to watch a romantic comedy starring Alice Eve, Kelly MacDonald, and David Tennant.  The story, on the very slight chance you don’t know, is that Alice Eve is a famous actress (from the film: “You know, they asked 10,000 men to name their ideal partner and 9,800 said Lara [Eve’s character]. Statistically that includes at least 800 gay men. If you’re male and Lara Tyler’s interested in you, she’s the one; it’s kind of a rule. You can’t be happy with Lara Tyler, you can’t be happy with anyone.”) who is marrying David Tennant, a well-known author.  Tennant had set his book on a tiny island in Scotland, so they decide to get married there.  With the slight problem that Tennant never actually bothered to go there to research what the island is like.  Kelly MacDonald plays a local girl, desperate to get out, who, through a totally realistic series of events ends up being a decoy bride to fool the paparazzi, but accidentally gets married.  MacDonald shines in the role, not unexpectedly.  As I think I mentioned earlier in this series, I really hope Eve can break out of playing the incredibly hot love interest, because I’m convinced she can do more.  That said, it isn’t like she’s miscast in the role, and her come hither look is out of this world.  The film felt like it had been chopped up a little too much and (spoiler alert) MacDonald and Tennant maybe fall in love a little too quickly.  And I do think there’s some fascinating ideas in here.

#58.  Bernie

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I felt like this film had a very consistent sense of humor, unfortunately that sense of humor didn’t exactly overlap with mine.  Though it did with John, so consider yourself warned.  We talked about the movie some in our Spirit Awards wrap, so feel free to check that out.  Both of us chose the movie for film of the year, though for me that was more due to the weakness of the other nominees.  I liked Jack Black in the role, it was similar to his other characters, but with a little more depth.  And MacLaine and McConaughey were both pretty solid as well.

#57.  The Hunger Games

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I’m sure other people have mentioned this, but Jennifer Lawrence is an incredibly beautiful woman, so why the need to turn her into plastic on the posters?  I haven’t read any of the books in the series for whatever that is worth.  And I have seen Battle Royale.  Multiple times.  Actually, I think as an Orientation aide one year at college, I may have forced some first-years (or “freshmen”) to watch the movie.  The comparisons are obvious, of course, and while Battle Royale is the better movie, I think it is also important to keep in mind that the two have some significant differences.  Anyway, again, not having read the books, it felt like the movie bit off more than it could chew.  It introduced a number of different story points which all sounded pretty interesting, but the film just couldn’t adequately explain all of them.  I mean, I love me some The Running Man, so I’m all for movies about dystopian game shows where people have to kill each other.  Having kids kill each other on screen is naturally going to be very difficult to pull off, so while I definitely don’t want to call the film a cop out, I am not certain I loved how Katniss performed in the games.

#56.  Trouble with the Curve

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I think I spent three innings at a Potomac Nationals game going over this movie with a friend in quite explicit detail, so sorry, any people sitting around me who hadn’t yet seen the movie and who will never read this blog.  It is too simple to call this film a response to Moneyball, but it wouldn’t be entirely inaccurate.  I won’t go into every single problem I had with the movie, as someone who knows a little bit about this stuff, but let me bring up three points.  First, there is no serious person high up in any major league team who would advocate for taking the #2 overall pick in the draft solely based on what his computer tells him.  Second, any team with the #2 overall pick would have extensively scouted prime candidates for the pick prior to two months before the draft.  And third, the odds of someone being considered that high in the draft having  trouble with the curve but no other scout picking up on it AND that player not being exposed to top quality pitching talents at various high school tournaments is extremely small.  That said, I’ll watch the heck out of any baseball movie, and if the movie is about Clint Eastwood being a curmudgeonly scout, with Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake flirting and spouting Orioles trivia, well, it can’t be all bad.  The subplots surrounding Amy Adams (her strained relationship with her dad and her burgeoning relationship with Timberlake) weren’t terribly well-developed, which really is what is holding this movie back more than any issues I had with the depiction of baseball.

#55.  Paranorman

paranorman

My notes on this Best Animated Film nominee read: “Got deep at times, except for story.”  Hm.  I think what I was trying to say is that the plot isn’t really anything to write home about.  Which isn’t necessarily a mortal sin for a film targeted at a wide audience.  But I found the subject matter rather thought-provoking.  The film takes a nuanced look at what it means to be an outcast.  And not just the superficial “oh he wears glasses and likes sci-fi” kind of “nerd” outcast.  I was pretty surprised.  If the story was more interesting, this really could have been a knockout of a movie.

#54.  This Is 40

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I mean, sure, I’ll keep watching anything Judd Apatow makes.  But it sure seems like there’s been a steady decline in the quality of his films.  I’ve got a few theories why his past two movies haven’t been as good as his earlier output, but I’m not really satisfied with them, and it is a small sample size anyway.  But this one is probably only memorable for Megan Fox being in it (and not being half bad).  I don’t want to say that Apatow has lost his sense of humor, but it seems like maybe in an attempt to make us sympathize with his main characters, he’s lost sight a little bit of what made his TV and films so good.

#53.  The Man with the Iron Fists

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The first five actors billed in this one are: RZA, Rick Yune, Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, and Dave Bautista.  Which is probably all you need to know.  I want to make sure to give credit to RZA for his direction.  Many of the fight scenes were strikingly bold and showy without being distracting, a fine line to hold when making a martial arts film like this one.  The screenplay from RZA and Eli Roth was…well…it got us to the fight sequences, so it had that.  The problem, of course, is figuring out how to develop a sensical screenplay while devoting so much time to the fights and to setting up the fights.

#52.  The Impossible

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I was really dreading seeing this movie.  Bad on you, publicity department.  But I ended up seeing the film and liking it more than I expected.  Good on you, publicity department.  I think the subject matter is just tough to watch.  I have no idea, for example, to whom I would recommend the film.  It is kind of depressing and vaguely uplifting.  Naomi Watts was good, but it was clearly a supporting actress performance, in my humble opinion.

#51.  Gayby

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A Spirit Award nominee.  Maybe gets lost a little bit among all the unorthodox ways people are raising kids movies.  But it was actually pretty funny at times.  The character, in particular, were amusing, and I enjoyed spending time with them.  I almost want to argue this set up would have been better as a TV show.  I mean, the characters were better-developed and the writing sharper than the vast majority of first-season sitcoms.  I think it would be pretty doable as a TV show.  Just not sure anyone would watch.

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