Posted by Nick Poyner on August 30, 2011 at 12:21 pm
Summer 2011 had some gems in it. Although they may have been extremely hard to find this is what we have come up with.
5. Captain America
If there was one movie I did not want to see this summer it would have been Transformers: Dark of the Moon. If you go down that list I made, Captain America: The First Avenger would have been somewhere on there. But, alas, I trekked to the theater on opening weekend ready to shrug it off. NAY! Captain America was actually a blast. The charm of Chris Evans, I was expecting. The charisma, out of this world. Evans has good comedic timing and his good looks probably get him most places (namely the title role in this America-centric film). He can make even the biggest fan boys and girls swoon. But the film has more working for it than just Evans. I won’t lie to you. The story is straight Comic Book 101. It is just as much of an origin story as every other. We see measly Steve Rogers morph into the giant and powerful Captain, which is why I think, we connect here more than the muscular godliness of Thor. Everyone can relate to struggle, so once Rogers perseveres and overcomes his struggles, everyone rejoices. Between that and going to war with his childhood BFF-for life, he really is an American hero. Throw in a love story with a British military official, for get about it; our heart’s melting. Hugo Weaving does a great job as Red Skull and does not deserve to be forgotten for that. As does director Joe Johnston (who has experience with other big, fun movies) but when it really comes down to it, the movie is Evans’. Opening up hundreds of opportunities with it’s box office and critical acclaim, he proves that he can take the lead, and does not have to be stuck playing fourth banana to a no name and Jessica Alba the rest of his life.
4. Horrible Bosses
I am so happy to report that Seth Gordon’s Horrible Bosses was one of the funniest comedies I have seen all summer. There was nary a moment when I wasn’t buckled over in my seat gasping for air from all the laughter that came from watching three men attempt to kill each one of their terrible, terrible bosses. It caught me off guard, for sure. After all, I’d venture to say that it has been a long time since any one of us laughed heartily at a movie Jennifer Aniston was in. So, it’s also been a long time coming, and laugh I did along with everyone else in the packed theater. While the movie was ripe with quick wit and a more-than-not original comedic plot, a testament to screenwriters Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley, and Jonathan M. Goldstein, the screenplay’s quick wit and plethora of jokes wouldn’t have gone nearly as far without the charisma and chemistry shared between Jason Sudeikis, Jason Bateman and Charlie Day, the film’s three leads. The movie’s supporting cast should not be overlooked either. Kevin Spacey, Collin Farrell, Donald Sutherland, Jamie Foxx and the aforementioned Aniston also excelled in the comedy department. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, skeptics be turned: Horrible Bosses was a great summer comedy, and one that I’d be happy to watch year round.
I think all the hype around Bridesmaids has been a shame. Most of it being based on the fact that ‘women can be funny too!” Of course women can be funny. This is not a “female Hangover.” This is a laugh-out-loud comedy for anyone who likes humor whether they’re women, men or dogs. Kristen Wiig leads a hysterical cast rounded out by Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, and Rose Byrne. Whether it’s getting drunk on an airplane or being grossed out by what bad Brazilian food can do to you in the middle of the street, the film has exactly what your average Judd Apatow-produced comedy requires. Another necessity: heart. Wiig, who proves she can lead a cast to superstardom, is the emotional backbone. From a script writer by herself and Annie Mumolo, Wiig gives her character heart and makes those who surround her just as emotionally valuable. Maybe it’s director Paul Feig (creator of fan favorite Freak & Geeks) who is able to take all these wonderful pieces and put them together for a coherent yet flat out hilarious great summer movie. Women can damn sure be as funny as men, and this movie sure as hell proves it. Here’s to more universal, female-centric comedies in the years to come and less Hangover sequels!
2. Crazy, Stupid, Love
I am not going to lie to you. I was a little bit embarrassed to see Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s Crazy, Stupid, Love. So embarrassed that it took me three weeks from when it came out to bite the bullet and see it. Boy was I surprised and so relieved to find out it was actually a really entertaining film. Gone is the guilty pleasure of watching a so-called chick flick with bad acting, chemistry, and dialogue and in its place comes Crazy, Stupid, Love: a probably not so realistic but nevertheless enjoyable representation of what it is like to find love at any age nowadays. Like Horrible Bosses, Crazy, Stupid, Love had the benefit of having a solid cast. I mean, come on, Julianne Moore, Steve Carell, Ryan Gossling, Emma Stone, Marissa Tomei and Kevin Bacon round out a dream cast, and this dream cast sure did produce, acting-wise that is. The script achieved the perfect balance between romantic comedy and drama, a balance which is hard to come by this genre. So there’s all of that, plus Ryan Gossling does take his shirt off, which definitely adds a certain something to the movie. Every summer has a great feel-good-movie and this was definitely this summer’s. I left the theater feeling warm, fuzzy and believing in love, which probably all isn’t attributed to seeing Ryan Gossling topless, but let’s be honest, it couldn’t have hurt.
1. Super 8
The J.J. Abram’s directed and the Steven Spielberg produced there’s-an-alien-among-us movie, Super 8, came out in the beginning of the summer. And thank God it did, because I had been waiting patiently for months. I was so excited that I saw a midnight showing of it on the opening day, which always gets a little tricky because, you see, expectations were high. And I am happy to say that the movie did indeed produce to my expectations. It was very clear throughout the whole movie that Steven Spielberg was the producer. This isn’t a bad thing, just that where Abrams, if working alone, may have been inclined to include scenes of cheap thrills, it was like Spielberg kept reminding him of the importance of a good, heartwarming scene as well (think E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, or Jurassic Park). And while it did manage to come off a little cheesy, especially at the end, I’m not sure that that took away from the movie at all. Rather, this so-called “cheesiness” kind of added to the film’s campy-feel (it does take place in 1979, after all). Another plus was how much credit the movie gave to children. The children in this movie, led by Elle Fanning and Joel Courtney, are the true stars as they are the ones that discover said alien and the reasons behind his existence on earth. Abrams handled the children in the film well, really giving them the authority and leading roles they deserved. Additionally, and very importantly I might add, the alien was a good-looking one. What do I mean? Well, it seemed Abrams put a lot of thought into what the alien should actually look like and I wasn’t disappointed to finally catch a glimpse of the creature, which is always a huge plus in a movie involving any alien. After all, I maintain that the viewing of the actual alien is what ruined M. Night Shymalan’s Signs. No, this one was a good looking one. So, thank you Abrams for giving us a great alien, family flick (because really, we don’t have enough of those) perfect for warm summer nights.
And for some Honorable Mentions:
Also a comic book adaptation better than expectation, Thor showed Chris Hemsworth proving not only is he a massive Thor but also funnier and more likable than we ever imagined. With a supporting cast of Natalie Portman Anthony Hopkins, and Stringer Bell, a film directed by Kenneth Branagh could hardly be anything but good.
Midnight in Paris
Woody hits his mark again. With recent success of films like Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Match Point, Woody is making sure he stays relevant through the new millennium. In his most successful film yet, Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams star as two lovers turned upside-down by the beautiful city and prestigious director.
X-Men: First Class
An “indie” superhero movie of sorts, X-Men: First Class rode on the talent of James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, playing Professor X and Magneto, respectively. The two proved that superheroes can be just as engaging and important when they’re British, young, and talented.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
How could anyone NOT love the final chapter in this eight-part series. With incredible reviews across the board, the final Potter grossed well over a billion dollars worldwide. That and it wraps up most of its 20+ year old fans’ childhoods.
(Much thanks to fellow banterer Alia for help on this post.)