What Summer at the Movies Taught AEOS

This past summer passed by so quickly, I hardly saw as many movies at the theater as I would have liked. I did, however, manage to cram a state move, job change, wedding, and bridesmaid duty into the summer, so I tried not to skimp half-heartedly.

A few weeks ago, I read a simple, yet beautiful post by Ryan at The Matinee. Now that autumn has reared its head and summer has ceased, Ryan used one line per movie he saw over the summer months to sum up lessons the movies taught him. I decided to follow suit, so here are what the movies of summer 2014 taught AEOS:

I learned that a reboot with better lead actors doesn’t make it better than the original franchise.

I learned that even Seth Rogen can get away with playing the “responsible” character.

I learned that a movie can deliver on all of its promises when Bryan Singer is at the helm.

I learned that there’s no shame in crying at the theater when I’ve witnessed an actress’s best performance yet.

I learned that while poor marketing can prevent people from attending, a great movie will still perform well from good word-of-mouth.

I learned that funny sequels do exist, but I especially appreciate that they realize it’s time to stop making sequels.

I learned that forcing robot machines to take a backseat to inconsequential and uninteresting humans in a movie about robot machines doesn’t work.

I learned that getting lost in a great movie is the best possible feeling a summer day at the movies can bring.

I learned that heart can be found in the most unlikely of movies.

I learned that a plot works well only when you have good writing to back it up.

I learned that a movie does exist where no one except Chris Pratt should play the lead role.

I learned that Harry and Sally weren’t the only ones trying to figure out this whole opposite sex friends thing, and making a charming movie about it for this generation is certainly worth it.

I learned that sometimes stupid comedies shouldn’t be anything more than stupid comedies. And that’s okay.

I learned that even the best of intentions to adapt a novel to film can leave you disappointed and wanting.

[All images were found via Google Images.]

It’s your turn now. What did summer at the movies teach you? Please join the discussion below, because I would love to know your thoughts.

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The 5 Worst Movies I Saw in 2011

While unfortunately, I can’t include the latest Twilight, Nic Cage’s most recent debacle Trespass, or the Adam Sandler slip-up Jack and Jill because I didn’t bother seeing any one of those, there were five shining, terrible gems that worked hard to make this list.

5. Abduction/ The Hangover Pt. 2

Two movies tie for this spot because while both had their entertaining moments, both were pretty bad. Abduction had as many laughable moments as the second Hangover, while Taylor Lautner tried far too hard to be a young Jason Bourne. I will admit that some of the fight sequences were impressive on Lautner’s end, but between the over-dramatic dialogue and failed attempt to issue a sort of suspense that wasn’t quickly followed by a laugh, the script, Lautner, and the poorly used supporting cast made this movie all the more a mess and even painful to watch at times.

The Hangover Pt. 2 reigns as the biggest disappointment for a sequel for me.  Director Todd Philips took the formula that made the original a great hit and decided to repeat it action for action rather than employ any form of originality in this movie. For having such a hilarious leading cast under his belt, Philips really blew this great opportunity to make a hilarious sequel.

4) Bad Teacher

Bad Teacher was just a bad movie. It’s a great example of how to bring movie-goers in on opening weekend, and then allow bad word-of-mouth to drive any other potential viewers away. From the looks of the trailer, Jason Segel, Justin Timberlake, and Cameron Diaz were going to make us crack up throughout the movie. I can’t recall laughing one time the entire movie. Every one of Segel’s few scenes were shown in the trailer, leaving no possibility of surprise or laughs. Diaz played an entirely unlikable character that never felt like bringing you over to her side the entirety of the movie.

3) Transformers: Dark of the Moon

I'm as scared as Shia in this picture.

This was the movie I wasted the most money on in 2011. Michael Bay successfully made one of the worst movies of the year without batting an eye. Shia Labeouf must have been coming off his latest run-in with the police or argument with a random bar-hopper, because his bad attitude was the only visible emotion he displayed on screen throughout the long, laborious three hour-length movie–1 1/2 hours too long. Then, in steps Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, the Victoria’s Secret model that has never acted before, and lets us know within five minutes that that‘s the case. I had to even laugh at Bay’s attempt at jabbing Megan Fox with a line from one of the characters that was something like, “I HATED your old girlfriend. She’s so *insert negative remark here*. Scene after scene of unexplained phenomena continued while I stepped out of the theater to get a break from the madness and go to the bathroom.

2) The Green Hornet

Luckily, the movie theater’s credit card machines were down and I was able to see this movie for free, because only my time was wasted in this case. Perhaps some of the failure of this movie is due to it not finding it’s direction under Marvel, which has made many successful action/superhero movies. Seth Rogen blows in this movie more than other flops he has turned in year after year. Christopher Waltz fills the role of the worst villain I have ever seen in a movie. I have no clue what Cameron Diaz was doing in this movie, because she didn’t fit at all, and the bromanship between Rogen and Jay Chou quickly plummeted as they both attempted to over-induce the audience with their version of being dramatic. James Franco made an odd, but interesting cameo in the beginning, and he is the luckiest of them all because he got killed off so early. I wish Rogen and Chou would have followed in his footsteps, or better yet, not made this horrible movie.

1) Beastly

Beastly holds the number spot for worst movie I saw in 2011, because I couldn’t think of any other movie that was as bad as this one. There are so many problems with this movie, I don’t even know where to begin. Writer-director Daniel Barnz wrote one of the worst screenplays to make it on the big screen. It has to be the poorest attempt at taking a story/movie gem like Beauty and the Beast and trying to make a spiff off it. While Vanessa Hudgens could be a believable Beauty, every last one of her lines were oozing with sap, refusing to let her portray a normal, actual person who talks like a normal, actual person. Alex Pettyfer plays the “beast” character, that instead of losing his six-pack, gains a new set of tattoos and goes bald. “Pretty gruesome,” his character refers to his new look, but Hudgens declares that she’s seen worse, and now we all know that somehow in this pile of sloppy, self-indulgent, pretentious script, Beauty will wind up with the Beast. Which leads me to question many of the movie’s plotholes: Why would her father allow a complete stranger to hole her up in a house? Why does Pettyfer think gifts such as a designer purse  or wearing a mask will “woo” a girl downstairs? Which leads me to the biggest question of sorts, why did I sit through this entire movie? Or even more so, how did I not vomit throughout the movie?

What were the worst movies you saw in 2011? Did you like any of the ones that I couldn’t stand, or would you put them on your worst list too?

Top Ten Favorite Movies of 2011

The time has come for me to finally make this list. I haven’t seen Tree of Life or Drive yet, so I feel like this list could possibly be adjusted after a viewing of either, but despite those exceptions, I still had a difficult time compiling this list. Without further ado, here are my top 10 favorite movies of 2011:

10) Something Borrowed

Of course I’m the only person out there who will be putting Something Borrowed on my list. It rated 14% on Rotten Tomatoes and received poor reviews all around. HOWEVER, this is my “dud” on the list. There’s a reason Something Borrowed makes my favorites list (as I not so subtly bolded the word favorite earlier), and not the list I consider to be the BEST movies of the year. I know it’s not going to be other people’s favorite, but that’s the point, right? This film resonated with me. I enjoyed the story (and the book it was based off), and maybe part of my problem is that I have this thing for John Krasinski. I don’t know.

9) The Muppets

And now to hit the movies that are on other people’s lists. I ended up seeing The Muppets twice. This is one of the most fun films to come out this year. Jason Segel did an excellent job reincarnating this group of lovable puppets that stole many hearts of earlier generations. From the screenplay to the original music, The Muppets won me over almost without trying.

8) Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

I found this newest edition to the franchise to be the most adrenaline-pumping of them all. Nonstop action, and some of the craziest stunts I’ve seen take place in a movie. There was great chemistry between Simon Pegg, Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, and Jeremy Renner for the latest IMF team. I really enjoyed the craziness of this movie and am happy to see Tom Cruise phoning in another good performance.

7) X-Men: First Class

This is one of the most exciting movies that came out this summer as well as the best one of the franchise by miles. Originally, I had never seen any of the X-Men movies, but on just a single viewing of  First Class, I was interested in the series. When a prequel can draw a non-fan in without annoying fanboys/girls with excessive detail or repetition (or really, just treating them like they’re stupid), then it can really be a great thing. I really enjoyed being introduced to the awesome Michael Fassbender as well as seeing James McAvoy play a young Professor X. And to top it off, a great soundtrack by Henry Jackman served as background.

6) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. II

I was one of the people who waited in line to see Deathly Hallows Pt. II and left feeling exceptionally underwhelmed, most likely due to steep expectations. After a second viewing of it, I came around and started thinking more about it. Deathly Hallows Pt. II was a great end to such a successful movie franchise. Although many fans of the books were left wanting with having many scenes changed or completely left out of this movie, it’s hard to argue that this movie didn’t move you in some way if you’re a Harry Potter fan. I was especially fond of the epilogue and the tone it left viewers with. There were so many great performances, that it’s hard to pick just one or two standouts. For me, it was exceptionally nice to see Daniel Radcliffe give all that he could to his Harry Potter role throughout the series, and then watch it all come together as he gave his life in Deathly Hallows Pt. II.

5) Midnight in Paris

I’m so happy to see all the critical chatter Midnight in Paris is drawing. I had heard almost nothing about it before I saw it, but I read a nice review by Roger Ebert. In the middle of a summer filled with lots of action, superheroes, and monsters comes this beautiful and creative stand-alone movie from Woody Allen. All the locations filmed in Paris alone serve as a great backdrop and historical picture of past and present Paris. I really enjoyed seeing Owen Wilson shine in a newer type of role for him alongside the gorgeous Marion Cotillard. From the music to the costumes to the humble, but smart screenplay, Midnight in Paris was easily one of my favorite movies of the year.

4) The Descendants

Since I first saw a trailer for The Descendants in theaters, I knew I would want to see the movie. I really enjoyed George Clooney’s previous Up in the Air, and I was excited to see him in an indie-styled film. Coming across as very grassroots, The Descendants takes a family that is seriously messed up and lets us journey with them through an especially harrowing time for George Clooney’s character, Matt King. What I enjoyed most about this movie was the realistic touch. Shailene Woodley gives her all in a dramatic role of playing a rebellious, but hurting teenager. It’s a story about family, making decisions, grieving, and dealing with unpleasant situations, and at the same time, it gives the audience a sense of realism. That pain and frustration and arguing and death is a real thing that happens every day, and shapes you as person as you deal with those times by your reactions to certain situations and interactions with the people close to you in life.

3) The Help

Based off the novel by Kathryn Stockett, the story of The Help is both moving and inspirational. This movie was able to accomplish both of those tasks–move and inspire viewers–without the unnecessary pizzazz or cheesiness that tends to accompany many films of the same genre today. Stripped of all the colors from the costumes, The Help makes you think beyond the movie theater and the book. Some of the best performances of the year took place in this movie, from Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer to Emma Stone. Jessica Chastain was hilarious in her supporting role as well. Although there’s still controversy over this movie, The Help is no doubt one of the best movies to come out in 2011.

2) 50/50

Barely missing the top spot for my favorite film of the year, 50/50 made me cry and laugh and walk away very thankful for life by the movie’s end. Perhaps because the story was written by the guy (Will Reiser) who was actually diagnosed with cancer–and has now survived it and is in remission–50/50 offers the most realistic look at a young person dealing with a rare form of cancer. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is both brilliant and endearing in this role, seeming to act the part from the inside out. A great supporting cast of Anna Kendrick, Anjelica Huston, and even Seth Rogen ties this dubbed “bromance comedy” together. Both moving and hilarious to watch, 50/50 was one of my favorite movies of the year.

1) The Artist

Until this past Sunday, 50/50 held the number one spot in my list of favorite movies for 2011. And then I saw The Artist and couldn’t shake the feeling that I had seen one of the greatest films to come out in a long while. I walked in with low expectations, assuming I would be bored or disinterested, but found myself unbelievably surprised and thankful for the opportunity to see this movie gem. Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo are flawless in this Michel Hazanavicius film filled with great performances, a great score, great writing, and great cinematography. It’s difficult to restrain from overpraising The Artist, not only because was it that good, but also because nothing else remotely similar has come out in ages, much less would be comparable to it. The Artist will probably hit it big at every awards ceremony this year, and rightfully so. If you haven’t seen this movie yet, please do so. It’s definitely my favorite of 2011.

What was your favorite movie of 2011? Did you like any of the ones on my list? What was missing from my list, and what do you think I should see still? I missed out on just about all documentaries in 2011, so I’m definitely looking for suggestions!

Ten Facts about Joseph Gordon-Levitt

It’s no surprise that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is hitting the spotlight more than ever in the past couple years. He’s played roles in some big films as well as taken part in smaller projects that mean a lot to him. Instead of giving another biography about the dude, here’s a list of 10 facts (generated from various websites) that I found interesting.

10) JGL owes a warm thanks to James Franco. Why? Because of Franco’s scheduling conflicts, JGL replaced him in his supporting role as Arthur in Inception. His role in the thriller connected him to director Christopher Nolan, who now cast him in his up and coming batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.

9) So far, Gordon-Levitt has received only one high awards nomination for a film: Golden Globe for Best Actor in (500) Days of Summer.

8) Despite his growth and up and comingness (like that word I just made up?) in film, JGL never received credit for a silent and momentary cameo in the Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody 2008 mediocre flick, The Brothers Bloom.

7) Back in a 1998 interview with Conan O’Brien, JGL explains that he has “two” last names because his parents were hippies, and they figured, why should a woman lose her last name? His mom’s last name is Gordon and his dad’s last name is Levitt.

6) After starring in The Lookout, a film reviewer from the San Francisco Chronicler said that Gordon-Levitt “embodies, more than performs, a character’s inner life.” I think his role in this year’s 50/50 only further proves that insight.

5) It’s been said that JGL has an uncanny resemblance to former 10 Things I Hate about You co-star Heath Ledger.

4) Prepare yourself for a very Joseph Gordon-Levitt 2012. So far he is slated to star in five films: The Dark Knight Rises, Premium Rush, Looper, Lincoln, and the Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained.

3) JGL is one humble dude. He is quoted saying,

“The whole concept of celebrity pisses me off. While I’m not a celebrity, it’s such a weird concept that society has cooked up for us. Astronauts and teachers are much more amazing than actors.”

2) Gordon-Levitt’s brother, Daniel, died at age 36 of drug overdose, just in October of last year.

1) JGL was also not the first pick to play the real life character Will in 50/50. James McAvoy, the original pick, had to leave after just a few days of filming due to a family emergency. Seth Rogen and Will Reiser, who were currently living together at the time, thought first of Gordon-Levitt for the role after McAvoy’s departure.

50/50 . . . more like 90/10

50/50 is easily one of the best movies to come out in 2011. And if you think I’m making more of it than what it was, 93% of our nation’s critics agree with me. Out of 16,000 Rotten Tomatoes users, 94% of them agree with me. See what I mean? It’s far more 90/10 than a 50/50 odds that this movie was stellar.

Here’s why

  • Will Reiser’s screenplay

Will Reiser’s main character in 50/50, Adam, is not only a reflection, but also an autobiographical representation of himself. Reiser was actually diagnosed with spinal cancer and did survive it. Although inspiration can work great as the foundation for a screenplay, I believe human experience trumps inspiration. As Richard Roeper mentioned in his review of the film, 50/50 gives a little more of a real and accurate account of a person who has cancer. Even though many people knew the ending of the film, Reiser’s screenplay drove viewers into the heart of the story and made us feel not only for Adam, but also for the other cancer patients he befriended. It was easy to get caught up in the story. My first thought when the credits rolled was, “Wow, that felt real.”

  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt

I’m convinced this was Gordon-Levitt’s best performance to date. He continues to carefully choose creative and interesting roles to fill his resume, and 50/50 couldn’t have been a better choice. The role that’s most closely associated with his in 50/50 might have been The Lookout. Unlike that film, however, Gordon-Levitt was able to better capture the feeling of dealing with a deadly disease.

  • Supporting cast

Seth Rogen might typically play this kind of character, but he still succeeded in fulfilling his role. Anna Kendrick took on an interesting role again (Up in the Air, anybody?) and brought it to life. Even Anjelica Huston connected with her role in a way that made you care for her. Although Bryce Dallas Howard hasn’t received the best reviews from critics, she was able to play her part. She played a role considered cliche for the situation, but she was believable.

  • Better than the trailer

This might not sound like a legitimate reason, but many people will agree that movie trailers  are often better than the movie they’re promoting. In the case of 50/50, I think the complete opposite is true.* What sets the movie up as bromantic comedy turned out to be not only a hilarious film, but also a heart-wrenching, touching, and moving drama based on the story of a real person who had a 50/50 odds of beating cancer.

*This particular 50/50 trailer, which was not aired as often as the shorter trailers, is the exception. Also, today is the first time I ever saw this trailer. I don’t believe it is the theatrical one or one of those aired on television. Regardless, watch this trailer before seeing it. It’s the best one.

I don’t typically review movies, but when I get the chance, I like to write about what I thought of them. 50/50 would get a high score from me. Maybe in the near future I’ll consider reviewing movies on here more often. Until then, go out and see 50/50. I promise you won’t regret it, even if movie theaters steal way too much of our money!