Monday, August 27, 2007

Summer At The Movies

This summer offered a wide range of fantastic movies. I know this because making a top 5 actually become a bit of a chore. Imagine that? We're talking the summer here. The same summer that brought us I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry and Transformers. Even the once excellent fun Spiderman movies dipped into terrible territory this summer. And yet somehow a few documentaries, a couple of amazing cartoons, and an incredible showing from Judd Apatow and his ilk have made this the best summer movie season in recent memory.

Top 5 of the Summer:

5. King of Kong: A Fistfull of Quarters: Sicko and No End in Site are amazingly powerful films that show the way that documentaries can get to the heart of an important issue and display a perspective that is usually only available after time has turned around an issue. King of Kong is not that kind of documentary. It is however a great analysis of the nature of power and accomplishment, as well as obsession with perfection. The movie and it's characters would be totally unrealistic if it weren't so clearly a documentary. This is one of the smaller charms this summer and it's a movie that deserves big tent consideration.

4. The Simpsons Movie: This could have gone horribly wrong. I had curbed my expectations for months but the mania surrounding the release of this movie hit my brain like a ton of bricks around May. I was tense with anticipation. Lucky for me the movie did not disappoint. The movie uses the length and scope of film in all the ways that it should, playing the crude card (offered by a PG-13 rating) only a handful of times and always in wonderfully shocking ways. Here's hoping this film infuses the writers of the show with new focus and a new emphasis on keeping the show inventive.

3. Ratatouille: Perhaps Pixar's most fully realized film. That's no small praise, the staff at the media giant have taken great care to make each of their movies a special blend of heart, brains, and genuine block buster movie thrills. Ratatouille is also notable for it's decision to go for smaller names in casting (Patton Oswalt's lead performance in particular) allowing the movie to stand on the merits of the performances not their immediate recognition. On top of that it is the best looking movie of the summer by far.

2. Knocked Up: Judd Apatow's greatest achievement as a filmmaker is in the balance between real world emotion and real world humor. The jokes in Knocked Up are not caddy sitcom patter or out of no where gross out gags. They are the things that make you laugh everyday and that make you laugh way harder than anything you tend to see on a screen. This movie digs deep in to my mid-twenties heart by addressing my concerns in an honest and direct way. This movie is smart enough to not step too far outside of the realm of possibility. Sure, the happily ever after ending might seem a touch too hopeful, but the road there is paved with the same gaffs and good intentions that might lead me or about 75% of the people I know down the same path.

1. Superbad: This was obviously a tight race for my top spot. Perhaps time will make Knocked Up the preferred document of the summer of '07. But maybe the thrill and pace of Superbad will allow it to sustain more repeat viewings. Once again though the movie's true thrill is realism and relatability. That they were able to squeeze those things in spades into a sex comedy about perpetual virgins' sense of self and social acceptance seems like a miracle, but is actually probably about 4 decades over due. The movie should (if there is a god) end (at least commercially for a while) the American Pie school of teen comedy. If for nothing else we owe Seth Rogen and Judd Apatow for that one.

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