Blogathon: AEOS’s Guilty Pleasure Movies

Jenna and Allie over at Chick Flicks decided to start their own blogathon about guilty pleasure movies. I learned about it from Caz over at Let’s Go to the Movies, who included some great guilty pleasure movies in his list. Be sure to check out his post.

The rules were simple (check them out here!), and the only one I broke (but with permission), is that I missed the deadline. Thanks to Jenna and Allie for still letting me participate! 🙂

Most of my guilty pleasure favorites, I must admit, are comedies, many involving romance. The intelligent movie-viewer inside me always seems to poke when I want to watch of these films, exacting that balance of guilt and pleasure that I enjoy indulging every now and then. Without further ado, here are five guilty pleasures movies I occasionally enjoy:

1) The Wedding Date (2005)

The Wedding Date

Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney in The Wedding Date.

Critical Consensus: It’s not a great movie. The plot is thin, the protagonist has security issues, and the overall storyline fails. But no one needs a rehash of what 90% of the Rotten Tomatoes critics thought.

Guilty Pleasure reasoning: I loved the chemistry between Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney. The latter is hunky and confident in the film, making him a good lead. Messing plays a somewhat frustrating character at times, but nonetheless, relatable. Outshined by her over-the-top younger sister (played by Amy Adams), Messing’s character struggles with accepting her current status. The story takes place over in London, which was a nice switch from the typical rom-com in New York. The father figure is strong and funny (Peter Egan), and perhaps more than all the above reasons, I loved the soundtrack, which featured 90s Maroon Five and some Michael Buble hits.

Movie Fun Fact: The film score’s composer, Blake Neely, stretched his rookie composing muscles on The Wedding Date, the film being his first solo feature film assignment. The score was first released as a limited edition CD that quickly sold out, but has been repeatedly asked for after its success and popularity.

2) 13 Going on 30 (2004)

Jennifer Garner and Andy Serkis doing the Thriller in 13 Going on 30.

Critical Consensus: Same formula we’ve seen over again, but Jennifer Garner shines as the leading lady.

Guilty Pleasure reasoning: The scene when Garner and Mark Ruffalo dance the Thriller. Lord of the Ring‘s (2001) Andy Serkis plays a fashion editor, Judy Greer is the villainous best friend, and Mark Ruffalo is the lovable guy that got away. I always thought Jennifer Garner played her best character as Jenna Rink in 13 Going on 30. It’s a movie with a lot of sweet moments, both romantic and also hilarious.

Movie Fun Fact: Behind the Scenes footage on the DVD includes interviews with the main cast who talk about their younger self-portrayal counterparts. It’s always interesting to see who gets cast as the young version of an older, popular actor.

3) Jingle All the Way (1996)

Sinbad and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Jingle All the Way.

Critical ConsensusJingle All the Way received mixed reviews, some scathing, and some hopeful that the movie made the OK mark.

Guilty Pleasure reasoning: I grew up watching this movie as a kid, cracking up. It became a family tradition at my parents’ home to watch this movie around Christmas every year, and somehow, we have continued on with this tradition in more recent years. Sinbad’s character, Myron, is so beyond insane at times, that you can’t help but laugh at the guy. Jingle All the Way makes people either laugh or shake their heads. I’m in the former group.

Movie Fun Fact: As of February of 2014, a sequel has gone into production, featuring none of the original cast. Instead, Larry the Cable plays the lead in the project.

4) Happy Gilmore (1996)

Christopher McDonald and Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore.

Critical Consensus: Dividng the critics, Happy Gilmore still managed to receive a fresh tomato on the Tomatometer, and even scored a 7 out of 10 on IMDB.

Guilty Pleasure reasoning: Back in the day when Adam Sandler knew how to make people laugh in his movies, the comedian seemed to have a bright future ahead of him. Happy Gilmore is one of those funny entries that make it onto Sandler’s list of “funny movies from ‘back in the day,'” and it remains one of my favorite quotable comedies that I will continue watching if I catch it on TV in the afternoon. His humor isn’t for everyone, but Sandler gave new meaning to the game of golf, and the hilarious work of the supporting cast (Ben Stiller, Christopher McDonald) won me over.

Movie Fun Fact: MTV awarded Happy Gilmore an award for the Best Fight between Adam Sandler and Bob Barker.

5) The Holiday (2006)

The Holiday

Kate Winslet and Jack Black in The Holiday

Critical ConsensusThe Holiday is yet another one of my guilty pleasures that received overall mediocre scores with critics, despite its well-known cast.

Guilty Pleasure reasoning: Hans Zimmer’s score is captivating in this film, so much so that I listen to it every year, especially around the holidays. I love the cast, although I enjoy the scenes with Kate Winslet and Jack Black over Cameron Diaz and Jude Law. Perhaps one of the greatest pleasures of viewing this film is the small part Eli Wallach (RIP) plays as the old, but not forgotten Hollywood screenwriter Arthur Abbott.

Movie Fun Fact: When watching The Holiday, I just assumed Kate Winslet was older than Cameron Diaz, given Winslet’s established filmography and graceful personality (perhaps her accent had something to do with it too?). I was shocked to discover that Cameron Diaz is actually three years older than the Brit!

It’s your turn now. What are some of your guilty pleasure films? Please join the discussion below, because I would love to know your thoughts.

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Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2012

Categorizing my favorite moves in 2012 was so much more difficult for me than it was in 2011. I had obvious, definite picks to close out 2011, and I have found myself nitpicking over which movies ought to make my top 1o favorites list this year. If you remember from last year, I picked up a movie for the tenth spot that performed horribly for critics and audiences alike, but I stuck to it, just as easily as it was for me to say that The Artist and 50/50 were the obvious stand-out movies of 2011 for me.

I haven’t finished seeing all the movies I want to see yet, including Flight and Beasts of the Southern Wild, which I can imagine will most likely alter this list. My assurance comes from being a big fan of Robert Zemeckis films, and I keep hearing great things for Beasts. So there’s a good chance a couple of these movies may be bumped off to make room! Other movies I think could possibly make it onto this list are Amour and Life of Pi, but my hopes aren’t as high for these as they are for the former two films I mentioned.

And a disclaimer before the list: I really enjoyed both The Impossible and Zero Dark Thirty, but they’re both the kind of movie that won’t get repeated viewings from me because of the subject matter. While both feats of their own, I really don’t care to watch either again with how rough and gritty it was. Another honorable mention that didn’t make my list was Lincoln. I enjoyed it immensely, but it’s running time had me looking at my watch a few times. The performances were incredible under Steven Spielberg’s direction, and I’m rooting for John Williams’s score to win the Oscar.

As of now, here are my top ten favorite films of 2012!

10) Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

As of June last year, Seeking a Friend was my favorite film I had seen so far. It was a very different film and it struck a chord with me that no other end-of-the-world flick ever had. Steve Carell shined in his performance, and Lorene Scafaria’s directorial debut was promising. More than anything, I appreciated the music and tone of this film. Scafaria stuck to her ending and I’m happy to add this movie to my top ten list of 2012.

9) Celeste and Jesse Forever

Another film I haven’t seen on anyone else’s favorites or top lists is Celeste and Jesse Forever, which made its first appearance at Sundance. Rashinda Jones both writes and stars in this film that offers an entirely different take on relationships. It’s complicated, but it’s a well-written, thoughtful screenplay that poses questions that are difficult to answer. Any Samberg shows more range than one would expect. I really enjoyed this movie and hope that it gets more exposed!

8) The Hobbit

After reading The Hobbit in January of last year, I grew more excited for the first film of three to be released in December. While there were disappointments, such as extended scenes and added parts that I believe took away from the film, I still really enjoyed it. Where The Hobbit didn’t lack was in the acting. It was great getting to see Sherlock‘s Martin Freeman star as Bilbo, and one of the strongest and best scenes of the film was the riddle scene with Bilbo and Andy Serkis’s Gollum.

7) Skyfall

For not being a huge James Bond fan, I really enjoyed Skyfall. I was hoping for something great after enjoying Casino Royale, and Skyfall does not disappoint at all. Daniel Craig does some of his best work here, and Javier Bardem makes for a great villain. The pacing and script are great and it gives a very satisfying end to the film.

6) Django Unchained

I wasn’t sure whether I’d love or hate Django going in, but it ended up being the former. For clocking in close to three hours, Django didn’t feel nearly as long as films like Lincoln or Zero Dark Thirty, for me. It’s chocked full of Quentin Tarantino humor, and both Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio offer great supporting performances.

5) The Avengers

Earlier in 2012, I had seen The Avengers four times in theaters. If you had asked me in 2011 what movie I was planning to see the most in 2012, my answer would certainly not be The Avengers. But I’m completely won over, having seen Captain AmericaThor, and both Iron Man films multiple times before seeing The Avengers. It’s a solid film that delivers on multiple fronts, not only entertaining, but also works as an excellent inclusion of multiple characters to make one grand superhero film fit together.

4) Argo

Early in 2012 I had caught wind of a little movie called Argo to be directed by Ben Affleck. It was one of my most anticipated films of the year, and I consider it one of the best films to come out in 2012. It’s unfortunate that the Academy did not nomimate Affleck for Best Director as he brought to film one of the most interesting and thrilling political stories. I’m rooting for Argo to perform well at the awards!

3) The Dark Knight Rises

I wasn’t expecting to place DKR so high on my list, but in conjuction with everything I’ve seen in 2012, I can’t not put it so high. Even with its many critiques by fanboys and critics alike, Christopher Nolan’s epic end to his Batman trilogy is so good that people really have to fight a bit to be critical about it. While Batman Begins is still probably my favorite of the trilogy, it’s a great problem to have to be able to pick the “worst” of the three when all were solid films. Nolan set a foundation for character films to follow by placing the bar high enough for critics to like and modest enough for audiences to really enjoy.

2) The Perks of Being a Wallflower

When I first saw the trailer for Perks, I was convinced that it would be one of my favorite movies of the year. And while I’m usually wrong and set my expectations too high going in, Stephen Chbosky’s book and now film (which he also directed and wrote the screenplay for) won me over. It’s a coming of age story, but it’s written and acted out so beautifully, that I had a difficult time pinpointing what exactly it was about Perks that made it so likeable for me. The actors actually looked more of the ages they were playing rather than mid- to late-twenties adults playing high schoolers, as they do in most teen-based movies.

1) Silver Linings Playbook

And my top favorite film of the year is Silver Linings Playbook. It’s my favorite film of 2012 because it has the two qualities that attract me most to any film: strong writing and interesting characters. Based off the novel by Matthew Quick, Silver Linings tells the story of a man who is blissfully unaware he has issues. Bradley Cooper gives a stunning and turning performance which will hopefully afford him better roles in the future. Again, Jennifer Lawrence gets nominated for an Oscar, and rightfully so. It’s an interesting and different film, directed by David O. Russell, who’s known to like telling stories of dysfunctional families, his latest film being The Fighter. Even De Niro gives an unforgettable and entertaining performance in this movie. Moving, endearing, and performance strong, Silver Linings Playbook was my favorite movie of the year.

New Production Video Released for The Hobbit

Having finally caught up on all of Peter Jackson’s production videos for The Hobbit, I was pleasantly surprised to watch a new one that was released just yesterday. I read the book last month, so it’s nice to have that extra insight into the film, especially while watching these early videos.

For those of you have read the book, maybe you too wonder how on earth Jackson is going to bring some of the creatures and “barriers” to Middle-earth and have it not look crazy. With the little footage here and there that I’ve caught throughout the production videos, I’m getting more and more excited to see it on the big screen. I’m also happy to noticed that while he’s using some green screen in the film, that after scouting locations for a while, he’s found several beautiful parts of New Zealand that were not in Lord of the Rings to shoot The Hobbit.

Despite all the new information I can glean from the videos, my biggest question has yet to be answered–where will they be cutting the first half of The Hobbit for the first film? There’s some key scenes early on in the book, as well as the most famous that happens to include the devious character, Gollum. I won’t say anything more so I don’t spoil the fun for those of you who haven’t read the book. But I’d highly recommend reading it if you have time! While the Lord of the Rings series is long and in parts heavy to read, The Hobbit is under 300 pages and a relatively easy read. Read the first chapter on Amazon.com–you might decide that you need to read the book now!

This latest production video features a lot of the on-location shooting with both Jackson and his 2nd unit director Andy Serkis. Check out the video below! You can view the previous five production videos in a row here, or you can head over to The Hobbit website for all upcoming news on the film. And if you’re really into getting info on The Hobbit, then you can bookmark Peter Jackson’s Facebook page, because it seems like that’s the first place new information on the film lands.

No doubt this is not the last video we’ll be seeing from Jackson. The Hobbit parts 1 and 2, while filmed together, have been filmed in three separate stages, or blocks. I’m pretty sure this video ends the diary of block 2. That leaves block 3, which will probably be either in a new location or back on set. In the mean time, I will be finishing reading the “Two Towers,” and then watching the extended versions of the three films for a book/film comparison. See you guys next week!

Valentine’s Day Special: Ten Favorite Romantic Movies

Welcome to Love Week at All Eyes on Screen! Each day I’ll have a post about something that I love. Valentine’s Day is here, so I’ll be listing off my top ten favorite romantic movies that I love.

But first, I must ask, Why are they called “romantic comedies”?  Many of them are not funny, and there’s certainly plenty of comedies that are low on the romance.

Wikipedia defines a romantic comedy as the following:

a film that includes “light-hearted, humorous plotlines, centered on romantic ideals such as that true love is able to surmount most obstacles.”

Even as a chick, that definition rubs me the wrong way. There’s something annoying about the idea that everything can go wrong, but “true love” will make it all go away. It’s not that I don’t believe in true love or its power to overcome difficult times. But it seems to painted in such a pretty way that we always see that physical infatuation, that two-month period in the relationship filled with butterflies and roses. Great film rides off drama. Drama’s a natural ingredient that must be placed in film in order get the protagonist from point A to point B. And such is the job of all storytelling, regardless of the format or channel.

Perhaps the genre “romantic comedy” receives the great beating in film today. Maybe it’s the lack of good drama that drags it down. We have all of these unrealistic situations occurring, such as the film Life as We Know It (2010). Really? A romantic plot born from a couple dying and willing the care of their child to two complete strangers who dislike each other? (Sorry – I’m not much of a Katherine Heigl fan, all.)

Yes, some romantic films work well in a more dreamy-like state, such as 13 Going on 30. But perhaps that success lies in that the movie doesn’t attempt to take itself seriously like Life as We Know It. Romantic films like My Best Friend’s Wedding set the bar for more realistic romantic flicks. Or maybe the idea of an ending that didn’t end happily became more accepted because we deem happy endings as unrealistic.

Regardless, there’s not a more popular genre to receive low scores from critics than romantic comedies. Speaking for myself, I don’t care to watch romantic films for their critical acclaim; I’ll admit wholeheartedly that I watch them for that feel-good feeling, even if they have (multiple) fluff moments.

Honorable Mention: A Walk to Remember (2002)

This movie almost made my top 1o list. Mandy Moore and Shane West are probably each credited most for this film. Neither have made as successful films since, although West stepped it up when he joined the main cast of the TV show remake, Nikita. Moore also has upcoming television plans. Regardless, this film is typical Nicholas Sparks crap. And I enjoyed it. It’s almost painful to admit since I abhor Nicholas Sparks’s obsession with pairing characters together and then ripping them apart for unrequited love, death, mean relatives, war, the list goes on and on. I did love Mandy Moore in this film, though. She has a great singing voice and gets to showcase some of her vocal talents on screen as well as on the soundtrack.

10. The Wedding Singer (1998)

The Wedding Singer is one of my favorite Adam Sandler films. He’s absolutely hilarious, especially in some of his older movies like The Longest Yard (2005), Mr. Deeds (2002), and Happy Gilmore (1996), but I think he hits his stride in this film. He helms this obnoxious humor while still earning some sympathy from viewers. He and Drew Barrymore work great against one another, although I much prefer The Wedding Singer over their second attempt 50 First Dates (2004). This scene is one of my favorites; the Billy Idol character really adds to the humor of it all.

9. The Wedding Date (2005)

The majority of critiques on The Wedding Date is negative. I know, I know. I would call The Wedding Date a guilty pleasure, but I guess it doesn’t add up much to the idea of “guilty pleasure” when people are calling Jersey Shore and all shows Kardashian “guilty pleasures.” Why do I like this film? It’s hard to say. I guess I just love Debra Messing and Dermot Mulroney together in it. I like that it takes place in London, and I love the score by Blake Neely. Not to mention, Michael Buble and Maroon 5 make up much of the film’s soundtrack. If you’re a fan of this movie, you might want to check out the new TV show Smash, starring both of The Wedding Date‘s Debra Messing and Jack Davenport.

8. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)

Kate Hudson is hysterical in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey are another one of those duos that play great against one another, although their second attempt Fool’s Gold (2008), fades in comparison. Hudson puts McConaughey through hell, and it’s only fitting for us to watch him suffer. The video is one of the funniest scenes in the film.

“You killed our love fern!”

7. (500) Days of Summer (2009)

Many people do not consider (500) Days of Summer to be romantic, but it just happens to be one of my favorite romantic movies. Yes, I know it follows the same pattern as My Best Friend’s Wedding, which I’ll get to soon. But Marc Webb’s creation is wholly original and altogether enjoyable and romantic in many scenes. I love his storytelling method in the film, and one of my favorite scenes is of Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt walking through IKEA, as well as the dance sequence to the tune of Hall and Oates I included. The scene I’m most moved by though is one of the scenes near the end, when Gordon-Levitt gives a little speech about love in the middle of a work meeting. He’s clearly lovesick and brings a hint of irony about how as greeting card writers, they tell people’s loved ones that they love them for them. And what is the specialty in that when you can tell a person yourself how you feel?

6.  My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)

The first time I saw My Best Friend’s Wedding, I had no idea that Julia Roberts and Dermot Mulroney would not end up together. In fact, I was stunned to see Cameron Diaz whisk Mulroney away at the end. I love the idea that two people, who happen to be best friends, made plans to someday marry if they never found another person. And then off goes Mulroney and finds the youngest, most naive girl to fill the shows Roberts decided that she should have filled instead. She hatches a plan to steal the soon-to-be groom, and it makes sense. They have this brilliant chemistry, and of course they ought to end up together. But they don’t; such is life. The end leaves a bittersweet taste in your mouth, because the fight is finally over, despite her losing it. I love the use of Union Station and the old Comiskey Park (home of the White Sox, yo!)  in this film. It’s nice to see some Chicago scenery be taken advantage of! Check out the video for what I think is one of the best scenes in a romantic movie.

5. It’s Complicated (2009)

On Christmas Day in 2009, a few friends and I planned to see the first Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes. We were pumped until we found out that it was sold out and that we had to settle for It’s Complicated, the rom com starring Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, and Alec Baldwin. The unfortunate affair turned out to be a fantastic film after all. It’s Complicated is proof that Meryl Streep is capable of playing normal, every day people. There are so many hilarious scenes in this film, that it’s one of the few rightly dubbed “romantic comedy.” From Steve Martin and his divorce tapes, to John Krasinski playing the lovable son-in-law, It’s Complicated has become one of my favorite go-to romantic movies.

4. You’ve Got Mail (1998)

You’ve God Mail is a classic romantic movie in most people’s books, and it’s definitely one in mine. It’s one of three films that Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan star in together, and they do so with a perfect connection. It brings me back to the time when AOL was the big thing around the Internet, and we had to listen and wait for the dial connection before we could use AIM or send an email. It’s the recycled story of two people who hate each other, and later learn to like one another as they start to learn and understand more. Meg Ryan has done her share of these films, and Hanks really isn’t a stranger to the genre either. The end scene is pitch perfect. Enjoy it!

3. Notting Hill (1999)

Notting Hill is another romantic movie with Julia Roberts that I love, and my first one including Hugh Grant that makes the list. I really like both in the genre, although I’m of the belief that both made their best romantic films in the 90s or early 2000s as opposed to more recent times. I love this film. It’s completely a dream gone reality, bringing everyman Hugh Grant into the movie star sphere of Julia Roberts, where an unlikely connection is formed. She experiences time around his humble friends and family, while he starts to wonder if she’s stringing him along or truly into him. She brings her world into his when she says the famous line, “I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”

2. 13 Going on 30 (2004)

Jennifer Garner seems to be more accepted acting in rom coms these days, and one of her best ones I think is 13 Going on 30. She bears all the youthful innocence necessary for her character, and the very underrated Mark Ruffalo does a nice job playing opposite her. It’s also pretty hilarious to watch Andy Serkis actually play a human on screen, much less his giddy character in this movie. The film does a nice job of putting life in perspective. Although must of us probably won’t have our futures defined by the friends we had in high school, we will have memories of that time that will stay long with us. It also does a nice job of showing us that who we pick as friends often influences our behavior and changes us in the future. Overall, 13 Going on 30 fits the description of being light-hearted and sweet. Oh well.

1. Never Been Kissed (1999)

Never Been Kissed is my favorite romantic movie. It’s about a dork who returns to high school on an undercover assignment to find out about today’s teenagers. Drew Barrymore blossoms at this geeky character who desperately seeks to fit in. I haven’t seen another movie similar enough that showcases a character quite like the one Barrymore creates in Never Been Kissed. My favorite scene is when she tells her story via voice over. It’s a great way to wrap up the film. I included the final scene of the film because it’s all I could find on YouTube. It’s also one of my favorite film kisses.

OK, your turnWhat is your favorite romantic movie? Or what is one of your favorite scenes from a romantic movie? Don’t be shy . . .