Because last year’s “Music 2007” post (on myspace) got such a rousing reaction I am going to expand my “Best/Worst of 2008” from a single essay to a series of posts examining the past year. The first category for this retrospective is going to be movies, I am not a “big movie guy,” I often fall asleep in the theatre and drive home cursing my contact lenses, but this is the year in movies as I saw it. Also, because I don’t see many movies these are the best or worst movies I SAW, I’m sure there were better and worse, but obviously I am unqualified to comment on those, although I will anyway.
Top 5 Movies of 2008
Five: Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show- Vince Vaughn and the creepy guy from Wedding Crashers bring a bunch of young stand-up comedians on the road and film the shows and travel documentary-style. Extremely entertaining, funny and a glimpse into the world of stand-up, absolutely one to check out.
Four: TIE: Role Models and Four Christmases- Both of these fall into the “pretty funny” category, but they come out as a tie because of the large number of my friends and acquaintances that described them to me as either “Right up my ally” or “Exactly my sense of humor.” I am still trying to figure out why people I see everyday think my sense of humor involves Dungeon & Dragon-style role playing games, profane youngsters, recovering drug addicts, energy drinks, dysfunctional families, projectile vomiting babies, cage fighting and “happily ever after”-style endings.
Three: Tropic Thunder-A bunch of A-list actors get together and mock Hollywood in a celebration of graphic violence and profane language and it’s actually funny.
Two: Iron Man-Marvel hit a home run with the origin story of Tony Stark becoming the armor-clad, womanizing, heavy drinking, brilliant-but-flawed Iron Man. Robert Downy Jr. was legit as Tony Stark, Terrance Howard was acceptable (largely due to a lack of “Hustle and Flow” style hair) and Gwenath Paltrow was cool as Pepper Potts (although I personally feel that Pepa from Salt-n-Pepa would have been a better choice). Throw in sick action sequences, a cameo by Ghostface Killah and a subplot introducing the upcoming Avengers movie and you have about as much fun as you can have for $10.
One: The Dark Knight: Christopher Nolan finally realizes the greatness hinted at in “Batman Begins” as he portrays Batman and The Joker as two sides of the same coin. Both hero and villain are fully realized characters and their “dance” is so expertly portrayed that the viewer is pulled into Gotham City for close to three hours without ever being bored or losing focus. This version of Gotham City is similar to the interpretations presented in graphic novels like “The Killing Joke” and “The Long Halloween” and has almost nothing in common with the campy ’60’s TV Show or the Late-90’s Clooney/Arnold version.
All of the action sequences are amazing, but it is truly the dialogue that separates this from other comic book movies and places it in the same category as sweeping crime epics like “The Godfather” and “Heat” or psychological thrillers like “The Silence of the Lambs” and “A Clockwork Orange.” This is the movie Batman fans had been waiting for and it delivers on all fronts. Seeing this in IMAX was more like going to a concert than a movie as I walked out physically, mentally and emotionally drained by the experience.
Worst 5 Movies of 2008 (you knew something had to get hated on)
Five: Forgetting Sarah Marshall-Some whiny guy breaks up with his girlfriend and it’s not funny.
Four: Semi-Pro-Will Farrell plays a clueless guy with big heart that ends up yelling a lot, sounds familiar except this time he plays basketball and it’s not funny.
Three: You Don’t Mess With The Zohan-Adam Sandler plays a super-assassin that wants to be a hair dresser and it’s not funny.
Two: The Happening-I did not see this because every review said it was the worst movie ever and my friends and family told me I was a jackass for even having a passing interest.
One: Star Wars: The Clone Wars-They took arguably the coolest “universe” of the last thirty years and made an asinine kids’ movie that kid’s didn’t even like. This was the worst movie of the summer and offered nothing to longtime fans or newcomers. If you are thinking about seeing this you should come to your senses, watch the original trilogy and then sit there with a look of smug satisfaction on your face because you did not waste time or money on this putrid excuse for entertainment.
Movies that I could not see based on concept alone:
Sex and the City: I wouldn’t watch this movie if it was being shown in a theatre with a free chinese buffet and the king crab legs were included.
Hancock: I really wish The Fresh Prince would stop making idiotic blockbuster movies and go back to making idiotic family-friendly rap songs (I never thought I would say that).
The Love Guru: COME ON!
Mamma Mia: A musical about a woman that can’t identify the father of her child set to ABBA songs, sounds like a winner.
Baby Mama: This is an example of two funny people making a bad movie, for similar examples look to Ishtar, Rush Hour 3 or Blue Streak.
Yes Man: Hasn’t Jim Carey learned enough life lessons yet?
Mummy # whatever: How the hell do enough people go and see these movies to warrant this many sequels?
Speed Racer: Turning good cartoons into movies is questionable at best, turning a bad one into a major motion picture is just stupid.