The year is halfway over, and I've done a pretty good job of seeing films in the theater. A few slipped by that I wanted to check out, and there are a few still in theaters that I hope to catch soon. But here's a list of my favorites so far.
It's hard to make a good horror-comedy. I've previously mentioned my affinity for Tremors, but being PG-13, it goes fairly light on the gore. And ultra-bloodfests such as Dead Alive, while enjoyable in their own right, stop being realistic once...well, they never START being realistic.
Teeth stays as realistic as a film about vagina dentata possibly can. That's right. This movie is about a girl who has teeth in her woo-hoo.
She's a high schooler dedicated to purity, so much so that she speaks at events promoting chastity. But when one of her fellow group members takes things past the making out stage, her secret is discovered.
Luckily (well, not for him), it wasn't something she wanted. It's scarring enough for your first sexual experience to result in a severed penis; just imagine how bad it would be if she had actually wanted to have sex with him.
Jess Weixler's performance is what really makes this film work. She has to play frightened believably, but if it's too intense, it ceases to be funny. She walks the line perfectly.
I'd only recommend it to certain types of people, but if you laughed while you read this, then you are one of those people.
#4: SON OF RAMBOW
I debated whether to include this or Be Kind Rewind, since they both have a very similar concept. This one wins out because it actually has a plot. (While that's a slight knock on Be Kind Rewind, I still enjoyed that film. It was refreshing to see a movie about people being happy.)
Two British kids from very different walks of life become friends while attempting to make a "sequel" to Rambo. Other students soon become involved with the project, and the results wind up changing the family dynamic of both boys as well as teaching them about true friendship.
Sure, it gets a little cheesy at times, but it doesn't feel as heavy-handed as most children films for one simple reason: British accents.
#3: IRON MAN
In general, Hollywood has always put "stars" in its superhero movies. Sometimes those stars look the part but aren't good actors. And even when they are good actors, they often think there's no need to act in this type of film (at least, that's how it seems).
To be fair to them, a lot of superhero roles aren't well written, giving the actors nothing to work with. But that trend has been bucked a lot lately, casting great actors into superhero films and giving them the chance to strut their stuff.
One could argue that three of the four great actors in Iron Man are wasted (an argument I'd mostly agree with), but there's no denying the power of the presence of Robert Downey Jr. He's so much fun to watch as Tony Stark.
It's not necessarily the most well plotted superhero movie, but I enjoyed every minute of it.
#2: FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL
Sure it's raunchy and vulgar (but not, I would argue, gratuitous), but it's also hilarious. More importantly, it's realistic. Okay, not in the sense that everything would likely happen. I'm going on a Hawaiian vacation by myself in a couple of months, and while I think it would be awesome to make friends with all of the staff, I know this won't happen.
However, if I did take the time to actually meet the staff, I'd learn that they are real people and not just workers. And this film does a great job of fleshing out each and every character, making them feel like people you know (or wished you knew).
In addition, the love story is believable because it's so messed up. A lot of the time characters don't know what they want, and while they'd tell you in Screenwriting 101 that that's a terrible thing to put in a script, it's the very thing that makes you relate to them.
While there is other stuff going on in the movie, at its core, it's a love story. It just happens to be between a garbage collecting robot and a probe robot. That said, it's an AMAZING love story. The greatest cinematic love story of all-time? I won't give it that distinction just yet, but here's an argument for why it might be.
The film isn't just a love story. It's a story about learning to love. And I don't mean that in the sense of learning the best way to love someone. I mean that it's LITERALLY about learning what love is. WALL-E was built to collect trash, but 700 years spent alone (save for a friendly cockroach) observing various things humans left behind (including Hello, Dolly!) has shown him the joy of having others around. And while he might not have the deepest philosophical understanding of love, I think he exemplifies it in its purest form better than most people do (sadly).
They have been countless stories about people forbidden to love each other, for whatever reason. But this film goes a step further. It's not just going against the rules handed down to them and loving anyway. It's going against rules PROGRAMMED into them. In a way, it shows that love is more powerful than anything, including technology. (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, another of my favorite love stories, showed a similar thing.)
And such a powerful love story is told with characters that say less than 10 different words combined. It just proves the old saying: "Love isn't something you say. It's something you do."