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Top 5 Movies On Earth (that I’ve seen so far)…(this year)
Thus far, only Jared and John have put up their misguided lists, so I will confine my derogatory comments to their choices and assume that Brian’s picks will be typically horrific.  That being said, both John and Jared should correct their post names to “How Many Mediocre Movies Can We Pick?”.  The answer in both cases is at least two.  Unfortunately, at this time I can’t comment on District 9, nor Moon.  But I will give each of them the benefit of the doubt, as those are two movies I am looking forward to seeing.
However, before I repudiate their claims of greatness (for some of their movie picks…not themselves…that would be ridiculous even for them), I’ll give mine:
1.  Inglourious Basterds
I love me some Quentin Tarantino.  That being said, while I really enjoyed this movie (even more after thinking about it for a while), I wish there would have been more of the actual Basterds.  I can’t wait to see the uncut version.
2.  The Hangover
Best bachelor-party-in-Vegas movie of the year.  And easily the funniest movie of the year thus far.  Zach Galifianakis was hilarious and I’m thrilled that this movie has caused him to be recognized and signed on a variety of new films.  I still think the film trailed off at the end, and I still wish Heather Grahms’ character was better developed, but it was a good movie.
3.  (500) Days of Summer
I really enjoyed this movie.  It was slightly less funny than I expected, but the story more than made up for it.  The only real problem I had with it was that some of the cool pieces of the movie went just a little…longer than they should have.  They were stretched too much.  For example, the dancing scene.  Excellent scene, great device, but it went just far enough with the blue bird to over stay it’s welcome.
4.  Sunshine Cleaning
Fun, quirky, and Amy Adams…what more do you need?
5.  Star Trek
I hate that I like this movie.  I’m looking forward to it getting bumped off the list.  Please Hollywood, put out some good movies in the next month or two.
Honorable Mentions:  Taken & Coraline
Now, on to the Why I Am The Only Grouch To Have Any Taste segment of our show.  As all of you readers out there (so, pretty much my fellow Grouches) have noticed by now, my colleagues (and I use that term loosely) have been proclaiming the merits of Up and I Love You, Man.  Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.  Both of these were OK movies that completely underwhelmed.
After all their hype, I couldn’t believe the lack of humor in I Love You, Man.   It actually reminded me of Death at a Funeral – short bursts of hilarity sparsely spread throughout a plodding, unfunny plot populated with actually decent characters.  Some thoughts:
The Good
Paul Rudd:  I agree with my fellow Grouches that Paul Rudd has really impressed me in his leading man roles.  I hope to see more of him – just in better movies.  I actually liked him better in Role Models than in this.
Jaime Presley:  I thought she nailed this part.  Every scene with her in it was improved because of her.  One of the few comedic elements in the movie that was actually under-utilized.
Jason Seagal: He has really impressed me in his last couple of outings.  Forgetting Sarah Marshall was one of my favorite movies last year and held up under repeat viewings – no small feat in itself.
Rush montage
The wedding party
Paul Rudd’s constant, horrible nicknames.
The Bad
Paul Rudd’s constant weird accents:  What was up with that?  It was sort of funny once.  The rest of the times it was worse than boring.
The constant abbreviations and “slang” terms:  Never-ending.  Never funny.
Extremely slow to develop.  It’s actually surprising how long they took on developing unnecessary elements and how little they took in developing more interesting aspects.
The Ugly
The lack of chemistry between characters, the lack of plot development, and the inharmonious/cobbled together feel of the entire movie.
Conclusions
Just looking over the past thoughts, one might question why I have such animosity towards the film.  And my response is: I don’t.  I did like the film.  It was fine.  Fine.  There were some good/great characters and a couple of laughs, but it never really came together for me.  How do you not hit it out of the park when you have Rush figured so prominently and you cast The Hulk?
Jared, John, and Brian need to re-examine their definitions of “comedy.”
As for Up, it unfortunately falls into the same category as the other recent Pixar movie – decent movie, but fails to live up to the bar of The Incredibles and Finding Nemo.  Not only that, because it’s Pixar, it developed an enormous amount of undeserved hype.  By far the best part of the movie was the talking dog and squirrel jokes.  Unfortunately, that lasts all of 5 minutes.
All in all, two decent movies that should only be in someone’s Top 5 if they’ve only seen 5 movies this year.

Thus far, only Jared and John have put up their misguided lists, so I will confine my derogatory comments to their choices and assume that Brian’s picks will be typically horrific.  That being said, both John and Jared should correct their post names to “How Many Mediocre Movies Can We Pick?”.  The answer in both cases is at least two.  Unfortunately, at this time, I can’t comment on District 9, nor Moon.  But I will give each of them the benefit of the doubt, as those are two movies I am looking forward to seeing.

However, before I repudiate their claims of greatness (for some of their movie picks…not themselves…that would be ridiculous even for them), I’ll give mine:

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As I have yet to see more than 10 movies that have been released this year, this list may not be the most well informed.  However, since I have excellent taste in movies – much better than my fellow Grouches – you can be sure that the movies I have chosen are excellent and you should immediately go see them.  So, without further ado, my current top 5:

1. The Hangover

I agree with Jared about the film trailing off towards the end and Heather Grahms’ character’s lack of development, but overall this was easily the funniest movie I’ve seen all year (and possibly last year).  Zach Galifianakis was absolutely hilarious as the awkward brother-in-law to be and really made the movie for me – though Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper were great as well.  (Ed. Note: I have yet to see I Love You, Man so “funniest movie I’ve seen all year” does not include this apparent gem – at least, according to Jared.)

2.  Sunshine Cleaning

Once in awhile a movie comes along that warms even my cold heart (i.e. Juno) and this was another one.  It doesn’t hurt your chances if you cast Amy Adams, though.  I actually really liked the plot of this movie.  A struggling, single mother with man issues is trying to make ends meet so that she can afford to provide for her son.  Sound familiar?  Basically this movie took the scenario from Frozen River and made a MUCH better movie.  Instead of turning to crime, Adams starts her own business in the crime scene cleaning industry with her “loser” sister (Emily Blunt).  Hilarity ensues.

3.  Star Trek

Surprisingly enough, Jared and I agree that John is wrong.  I really wanted to dislike this movie.  J.J. Abrams is highly over-rated and, at best, I’ve only decently liked some of his stuff.  However, Star Trek turned out to be a very enjoyable summer action/adventure film.  There were a number of things wrong with the plot and handling of some things, but overall the movie worked.   I was also really impressed with the casting.  Karl Urban as “Bones” McCoy was fantastic – I can’t think of anyone who could have pulled it off better.  Zoe Saldana….excellent choice….she should be in more movies…  I’m a huge Simon Pegg fan, so his appearance as Scotty was welcome, as was Anton Yelchin as Chekov.  All-in-all, a surprisingly fun and fairly well done summer blockbuster a la Iron Man last year.

4. Taken

Liam Neeson is great.  I was recently discussing this movie with a friend and neither of us were able to come up with a movie in which Liam Neeson was not great.  This movie was no exception and had him in a different type of role than I am used to seeing him in.  I really like the plot, the scene flow, the tempo, and most of the action sequences.  A great movie that was suprising released in the doldrums of new movies.  Oh well, that just means it’s already out on DVD for your viewing pleasure.

5. Up

I am sure to be the only Grouch with this at the bottom of my top 5, but I stand by my decision.  I did like this movie (especially the talking dogs, which were easily the best thing about the film), but I think Pixar screwed themselves.  Finding Nemo and The Incredibles set the bar way too high.  Both Wall-E and Up, while very good movies, have been unable to live up to their predecessors’ greatness.  While very enjoyable, and recommended, I find it unlikely that this movie will be able to hold on in my top 5 movies of the year.  “SQUIRREL!!”

Stars:                  Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight

Directed By:  Andrew Stanton

Written By:    Andrew Stanton & Pete Docter

 

Grouches Ratings: 

Adam:             8

Brian:              7.5

Jared:              9.5

John:                7.5

 

Overall:          8.13

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Stars:              Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal

Directed By:  Christopher Nolan

Written By:    Christopher & Jonathan Nolan

 

Grouches Ratings: 

Adam:             9.5

Brian:              9

Jared:              8

John:                9

 

Overall:          8.88

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Jared. Jared. Jared. How are you wrong? Let me count the ways.

First, since we’re talking about how “great” Michael Bay is, I think it would be prudent to actually define the word great. Dictonary.com defines great (as it relates to people) as “of extraordinary powers; having unusual merit; very admirable.” Let’s see if Mr. Bay can measure up.

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This was a great movie.  I had no idea what to expect going in, but I came out thoroughly enjoying this film.  Brian actually had the same sentiment as I did leaving the theater, namely, for what it set out to accomplish it was nearly flawless in its execution.  In fact, Brian does a very good job in his review of the piece, so I’ll just jot down a couple of things I also noted during the movie.  (Note to self: In future, pick people you disagree with more when writing a blog.  Agreeing with people is much less satisfying than criticizing them.)

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Much as it pains me to admit it, I agree with Jared on this one.  I was a big fan of the last Cronenberg/Mortensen outing A History of Violence, but this one was lacking.  As Jared stated, I don’t think it was a question of bad acting or directing, the screenplay was too weak to allow anyone to shine.  There were a couple of good scenes that were like bright lights in an otherwise dismal night, but these were too few to be able to make me highly recommend the movie. 

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Best movie of the year. Period. Granted, this statement is made without seeing every movie (or even every movie up for Best Picture) but I feel pretty confident. It would take quite a feat of film making to make me recant. In fact, in our little behind-the-scenes ranking, I gave Juno a perfect 10 – and I stand by that grade. As a testament to this movie’s prowess, I went into the theater with very high expectations (which you should never do) and not only were they met, they were exceeded. So, you might as well prepare yourself because if you plan on reading any further, the rest of this post will exclusively deal with how awesome this movie is.

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After throwing John a bone with Talk to Me, I can now criticize his opinions to my heart’s content (that’s how it works, right?). I really liked this movie. In fact, if you have been reading religiously to all the posts (so, really I’m talking to the three other guys who right for this), you’ll notice that it was in my original top 5 movies of the year. I thought it was a great character study with some very memorable performances. And, this is where John and my opinions diverge.
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Talk To Me is a decent movie and interesting to watch, but not necessarily anything special.  I honestly don’t think it should be in the running for any award.  That is not to say it is a bad movie, or that the acting in it isn’t good.  Both Don Cheadle and Chiwetel Ejiofor do terrific jobs – as usual.  I think that both of them are two of the most consistent actors in Hollywood.  Their performances are constantly top-notch.  I was also a fan of Taraji Henson’s performance.

For a brief synopsis of the movie, you can check out John’s post.  I also agree with the points John makes in regards to this movie (and only this movie, unless otherwise noted).  In fact, I would recommend you just read John’s post and forget about this one.

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