Sunday, January 01, 2012

movie reviews 2012

Just like the mini book reviews, I started keeping track of all the movies I watched in 2009, and it carried through 2010, 2011, and now we're into 2012. Oh, how the time flies when you're passing the popcorn.

22. 12/24/12
Dark Shadows
I'm not sure what I expected from this movie, but if I had a straight-forward comedy in mind, I would have been disappointed. Thankfully, I knew this was from the whack mind of Tim Burton, so though there were some laughs, they were mostly sardonic, but still fun. I don't think I can ever dislike Johnny Depp's performance in anything, he's just so interesting. Hubby and I were quite entertained by this flick while wrapping presents this year.  

21. 12/23/12
The Campaign
Oh dear, this was too funny, though also bordering on depressing at times when it seemed not-too-farcical about real-life politics. Will and Zach looked like they were having a grand time in these characters, and hubby and I laughed and laughed. Though, I have to say, that I was so disappointed that a line that they had in all the trailers did not actually make the movie-- "He just punched a baby."

20. 12/10/12, 12/31/12
Les Misérables
(pre-release screening, private screening room Universal Studios) (theater)
This was amazing, and if you know me, it takes a lot to WOW me with a movie adaptation of an adored book. Les Misérables is in my top three favorite books of all time, and I've seen the play several times, as well. Other than Russell Crowe's singing (who thought that was a good idea?), this was an incredible portrayal of Hugo's story, and the actors all got the characters down beautifully.
I had lots more to say about the movie in a passionate blog post here.
I have to note here that the second time I saw this was in the theater with hubby and 12-year-old JAM, marking his first real "grown-up" movie at the theater. He was blown away and talked about the film for days. Every time I hear him humming the music while he's walking around or at play, my heart swells. 

19. 12/9/12
This is 40
(pre-release screening, theater) 
Okay, this would have been perfectly relatable for me if the main characters were fatter and poorer, but otherwise, it was both hilarious and tender at times. My impressions of the movie were only made more positive after participating in a group interview with the writer/director Judd Apatow and actors Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann. For more of my take on the movie and the interviews check out my posts:
This is Real Life: Judd Apatow on This is 40
Marriage and Parenthood at 40: Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd Get Real

18. 12/9/12
Knocked Up
I rewatched this flick while flying toward California to take part in a blogger junket for the "sort of sequel" This is 40. I hadn't remembered a ton about it, but in this second viewing, I was struck by how much tenderness and real emotion there is among the crude jokes and profanity. I do so enjoy a Judd Apatow film for this exact reason... both profanity and emotion are two big themes in my own life!

17. 11/23/12
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
(Amazon Prime instant streaming)
It was a milestone of a Thanksgiving when we showed this to JAM this year. I laughed through the whole damn movie, mostly in anticipation of each hilarious scene after scene. Late 80s Chevy Chase was a master of physical comedy, and his facial expressiveness alone slays me. I remember seeing this in the theater with two friends when I was in 8th grade, and all these years later, it still got me laughing! 

Yeah, this gave me an icky feeling just watching it. It glorified an unrealistic and improper way of caring for and respecting wildlife. And, the true story of the woman depicted here and the real ways she dealt with her pet gorillas when they got too big were much less "happy ending" than the movie portrayed. Bad family movie night pick!!

15. 9/14/12
Jeff Who Lives at Home
Strangely lovely. Neatly weird. A quiet movie that has moments of big, surprising laughs, this one was enjoyable in a not-a-whole-lot-of-action, indie film kind of way. I really liked the characters (and the actors, both who I love!), and there were moments that encouraged some personal reflection, that's for sure.

14. 9/1/12
Dolphin Tale
Okay, the movie itself was definitely entertaining, even when it tugged at the heartstrings. The cast did a great job bringing this amazing story about the dolphin named Winter who was found caught in some fishing nets in 2005, went on to lose her tail but gain the love of the world as she recovered and eventually was fitted with a prosthetic! But, as it goes in Hollywood, the important line to notice is that this movie is "inspired" by the true story of Winter. And in their "inspiration," the movie makers took a whole lot of liberties with reality. I would highly recommend Craig Hatkoff's Winter's Tail: How One Little Dolphin Learned to Swim Again as a companion read to a viewing of this film, so that you and your kids can learn the actual story!

13. 8/18/12
Wrath of the Titans
Hubby put this on, and while I was trying to blog, I couldn't help but look up at the movie's action. I don't know a ton about mythology, but I'm fairly certain that these movie makers didn't care much about established stories as they made their own wild tale. It's times like these that I wish we had a second family/living room.

12. 8/18/12
Big Miracle 
The whole family sat down together to watch this one, and it was entertaining and touching for all of us. (Okay, Pudge definitely got bored during it, but that's to be expected.) It was interesting to read about the real events and to see the Hollywood effect in making an unquestionable happy ending when in real life things weren't so clearly successful.

11. 8/16/12
Blue Valentine
Wow. That was a fucking downer. Beautifully acted, in both talent and simply in Ryan Gosling. But, even though I consider myself a realist and often much more pessimistic than your average Joe, I kept hoping for some positive resolution, some even indie movie version of a happy ending. Instead, my heart ached as the credits rolled.

10. 7/24/12
Ruby Sparks
(pre-release screening, theater)
As I was invited as "press" to a sneak preview of this film, I thought it wise to give it more than a little mini-review. So click here for my ultra-wordy breakdown of this flick.

9. 7/21/12
Oh man, not much I can say about this one. It was EdFest, and this was on the big TV, and I sat down and watched it. Not something I'm proud of, trust me. 

8. 7/14/12
Yeah, he's a teddy bear that talks, curses, farts, and smokes pot. Yes, this movie revolves around him as a main character. And yup, I'm a thirty-something year old suburban mom who thought this was a hilarious movie. Obnoxious laughter was provoked by this flick, I couldn't help myself. Though I've never felt compelled to watch McFarlane's television shows, I was completely taken in by this ridiculous film.

7. 7/7/12
SPOILER ALERT: this movie may be filmed in nature, but somehow, and I'm assuming because Disney was the production company, the mother dies, of course. The visuals were incredible, and there was some clever splicing of the footage to match song lyrics near the beginning and end of the film. Overall, the storyline is dramatized in a way that makes some chimps "the bad guys" and others "the good guys," which irked me. I tried explaining that to Red as she sat with me, that both groups of chimps were just trying to find food to survive, but I think the power of the Disney touch was too much to overcome. I guess I had hoped for more of a documentary feeling than a dramatized movie with a story arc and stereotypical characterizations.    

6. 6/2/12
Never Let Me Go
Wow. I knew the basics of the plot before watching this film, but the emotional toll it took still surprised me. Superbly acted and "artsy" in that way that serious films can often be, I was blown away by this movie. The supposed far-fetched plot was rendered plausible in a quiet and unsettling way. Though I highly recommend it, if you do watch this movie, be prepared for a heavy feeling to cover you the entire time and beyond.

5. 6/2/12
Pippi on the Run
I don't remember seeing this as a child, but I know I would have loved it as much as my kids did when we borrowed it from the library. Red's class recently read Pippi Longstocking, so she knew what to expect from this wacky character, but the boys loved it, too. So silly, so adventurous, and absolutely "free-range."  I have a feeling we'll be watching this again.

4. 3/23/12
The Hunger Games
I have just a little bit to say about this movie. You can read my concise review here. (Ha.) 

3. 3/12/12
Oh dear god, how beautiful is this film?? JAM and I watched together, trying to remember small details from the book, and simply enjoying the beauty of the images and the story. Yes, I cried, for there's an emotion in this story that is undeniable. Absolute brilliance in a film!

2. 2/4/12 and 3/3/12
The Lorax
(pre-release screening at Universal Studios and theater)
Yeah, I loved this. I wrote about the movie over the course of several posts, but this one is the best one to represent how I felt about the movie adaptation of my favorite Dr. Seuss book of all time-- Books on Screen: Dr. Seuss' The Lorax

1. 2/4/12
The Help
Have I ever told you how much I love Emma Stone? Well, I do, and I think she nailed the role of Skeeter in this movie. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer steal the show, though, and they brought these beloved literary characters to life on the screen. I've heard some interesting perspectives and critiques of this story, and while I can see where some people are coming from with their negative feelings about it, I have to admit that I found it entirely inspiring and beautiful. I felt the very same emotions as I watched this movie as I did when I devoured the book. Not comfortable in any way, but definitely important.