Monday, August 31, 2009

My favorites of summer 2009

Fall movies are just around the corner.  For the most part I had a good summer at the movies. I still haven't gotten through the entire list of movies I hoped to see over the summer. In some cases movies (In the Loop, Adam, Paper Heart) are shown in limited release so it's more difficult to get to the movie theaters that are showing them. Here are my favorites from what I saw during summer 2009. What were your favorites?

Favorite Movie: (500) Days of Summer
At the beginning of the movie the narrator tells us, "This is a story of boy meets girl.  But you should know up front, this is not a love story." Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) believes in love and Summer (Zooey Deschanel) does not; the movie jumps and skips to different days over the course of their relationship. A "rom-com" with a soul. Gordon-Levitt gives another wonderfully genuine performance.

Favorite Comedy: The Hangover
We see the aftermath of an out-of-control bachelor party in Las Vegas and then watch as the three friends Phil, Stu, and Alan (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis) retrace their steps to find out what happened and how they lost the best man, Doug (Justin Bartha). Featuring a hilarious, stand-out performance from Galifianakis as Alan ("a lone wolf").

Best Music (1): (500) Days of Summer
I love everything about this movie, especially the way music is used. The characters do some karaoke and Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) breaks out into a dance set to "You Make My Dreams" by Hall & Oates.

Best Music (2): Away We Go
This soundtrack is dominated by cuts from Alexi Murdoch.  Murdoch's songs act as a perfect backdrop as main characters Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) travel to different cities looking for the perfect place to raise their child.

Funniest Song Choices: The Proposal
Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds attempt "It Takes Two" by Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock. Oscar Nuñez strips to "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. And, my personal favorite, Bullock chants "Get Low" from Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz and Ying Yang Twins while she dances around a tribal fire in front of Betty White. 

Most Attractive Neck: Chris Pine, Star Trek
As James (Jim) Kirk, Pine sure knows how to push people's buttons. As a result, Pine is strangled again and again. This leaves audience members such as myself leaving the theater saying, "Hm. Chris Pine really has a nice neck, doesn't he?"

Cutest Dog: The Proposal
The little white puppy was almost taken away by an eagle; luckily eagles prefer cell phones to dogs.

Funniest Dog(s): Up
The dogs wear collars that allow people to hear their thoughts: "Squirrel!"

Best Wardrobe, Zooey Deschanel, (500) Days of Summer
Deschanel can rock a vintage dress like it's nobody's business.

Best Cameo: Bill Hader, Year One
While Mike Tyson showed up in The Hangover, Guy Pierce and Ralph Fiennes appeared in The Hurt Locker, and too many celebrities to count popped into Funny People, my favorite cameo was one that wasn't even in the movie itself but played over the credits. As a witch doctor in Year One, Bill Hader goes into his Daniel Plainview impression from There Will Be Blood: "I... am an oil man!" Hands down, best part of going to see Year One.

Best Chemistry (1): John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph, Away We Go
As a couple expecting their first child together, Krasinksi and Rudolph are magnificent. At one point Verona (Rudolph) tells Burt (Krasinski) he has to stop being so calm all the time so the baby's heart rate will rise; Burt then finds unique ways to accomplish this.

Best Chemistry (2): Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci, Julie & Julia
As Julia Child and Paul Child, Streep and Tucci are happy in love, full of life, and supportive of each other every step of the way. 

Pushed Me All the Way to the Edge of My Seat: The Hurt Locker
In Iraq, Sergeant James joins the Bravo Company team that dismantles bombs.  James (Jeremy Renner) knows no fear in the most extreme sense and his team members Sanborn and Eldridge don't think much of his reckless behavior.  The team has 39 days left on its deployment; are they going to make it out of Iraq alive?

Most Under-Used Actor: Jonah Hill, Funny People
In Funny People struggling comic Ira (Seth Rogen) gets a gig writing jokes for big-time comedian George Simmons (Adam Sandler).  The first part of the movie hilariously deals with the life of a stand-up comedian (featuring young comics played by Jonah Hill and Aubrey Plaza). But the last part feels like we are under house arrest with Sandler and Rogen as Sandler hopes to win back ex-girlfriend Leslie Mann from her husband (Eric Bana). This section was quite devoid of laughs and dragged on forever; I needed more Jonah Hill!