Knocked Up (2007, Directed by Judd Apatow) English 7

Starring Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Leslie Mann, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Martin Starr, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Harold Ramis, Craig Robinson, Ken Jeong

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(7-Very Good Film)

Funny. Appealing. Overlong.

Kind intelligent television journalist, Alison (Heigl), becomes pregnant after a one-night stand with ultra-slacker, Ben (Rogen). Giving him a chance to be a part of the process, she finds that she actually likes him, but he’s too immature to trust. Heigl and Rogen are likable if improbable pair, but the film’s really made by the extensive supporting cast, each with their moments, all the way down to Craig Robinson in a 2-minute scene as a discerning doorman. Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd play Alison’s sister and brother-in-law, and Jason Segel, Martin Starr, Jonah Hill, and Jay Baruchel play Ben’s hilarious crew of slacker roommates. Despite a heavy dose of crude humor, Knocked Up is ultimately a very sweet film.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(549)

Sense and Sensibility (1995, Directed by Ang Lee) English 9

Starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Greg Wise, Hugh Grant, Hugh Laurie, Tom Wilkinson, Imogen Stubbs, Imelda Staunton, Gemma Jones

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(9-Great Film)

Warm. Endearing. First-rate.

The death of Henry Dashwood (Wilkinson) and selfishness of his son, John, his heir, leaves his widow and three daughters, prudent Elinor (Thompson), emotional Marianne (Winslet), and the much younger Margaret in dire straits. Fortunately, a cousin, Sir John Middleton takes them in, offering them a cottage, and the two older sisters’ romantic lives play out in that grand Jane Austen style that’s as popular now as it was when the novel was first published over 200 years ago. Emma Thompson wrote this adaptation herself, doing a sterling job all-around. Her Elinor is a worthy and endearing heroine. Winslet’s Marianne is a bit of a brat for much of the film, but the actress fleshes her out so that we recognize it as a symptom of being young and foolish and not an eternal character flaw. Her eventual humbling and subsequent redemption is nearly as satisfying as Elinor’s soulmate finally coming through-at the last minute, of course. Masterfully done by the director, Ang Lee, thought to be an odd choice for the job at the time. Excellent supporting performances. Robert Hardy and Elizabeth Spriggs as the meddling, but lovable cousins, Sir John Middleton, and Mrs. Jennings are especially funny.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(548)

Never Been Kissed (1999, Directed by Raja Gosnell) English 5

Starring Drew Barrymore, David Arquette, Michael Vartan, Leelee Sobieski, Jessica Alba, John C. Reilly, Garry Marshall, James Franco

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(5-Okay Film)

Pleasant. Silly. Likable.

In the vein of superior ’90s teen comedy, Clueless, Never Been Kissed is a sweet, romantic, over-the-top comedy. It stars the always endearing Drew Barrymore as Josie Geller, a marginalized copy editor at the Chicago Sun-Times, hoping for her chance to be a reporter. It comes when she’s given an undercover job pretending to be a high school student to fish out a story. As high school was a nightmare last go around, Josie, who’s never had a boyfriend, is not real keen on the assignment. It’s all fine and mostly amusing if you’re in the mood for a light diversion, but it’s pretty forgettable even with its cast of up-and-comers.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(546)

Heaven Can Wait (1943, Directed by Ernst Lubitsch) English 6

Starring Don Ameche, Gene Tierney, Charles Coburn, Eugene Palette, Marjorie Main

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(6-Good Film)

Outlandish. Witty. Lavish.

Not to be confused with Warren Beatty’s ’70s film, this comedy starts with Henry Van Cleve (Ameche) descending to hell where he must explain to the head honcho why he belongs there. The film then flashes back as he tells his life story from his days as a precocious kid to meeting his wife to his tenth wedding anniversary when she walks out and he has to win her back. It’s a unique comedy, and a perfect example of the “Lubitsch touch,” the quality this film’s director gives his comedies that make even the darkest of material seem light and charming. Don Ameche, remarkable for the matinee idol type, has an incredible comedic range and a very expressive face. He’s fantastic, and the aging process he goes throughout his story is rendered better than many modern films.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(544)

Beetlejuice (1988, Directed by Tim Burton) English 8

Starring Michael Keaton, Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin, Winona Ryder, Jeffrey Jones, Catherine O’Hara, Sylvia Sidney, Glen Shadix

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(8-Exceptional Film)

Fun. Original. Eccentric.

A straight-laced, small-town couple, Barbara and Adam Maitland (Davis and Baldwin), die suddenly and randomly one idle day, and find their afterlife is an indefinite amount of time stuck in their house, now occupied by a family from the city. Wanting to get rid of the newcomers, Barbara and Adam get mixed up with a shady character named Betelgeuse (played hilariously by Keaton) as they do what they can to scare the family out of the house. Several odd, surprising, wonderful moments (the impromptu “Banana Boat Song” scene is a classic) all built around terrific characters. Great small supporting turns from Sylvia Sidney, Glen Shadix, and Robert Goulet and the claymation, as opposed to most special effects, gets more charming with age.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(542)

Juno (2007, Directed by Jason Reitman) English 9

Starring Ellen Page, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, J.K Simmons, Allison Janney, Rainn Wilson

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(9-Great Film)

Fresh. Quirky. Endearing.

The first five minutes watching Juno, I’m always afraid that my love for this film has faded and that I would now find its quirkiness relentless and irritating. But then, the story sets in, and once again I’m drawn to the young heroine, Juno MacGuff (Page), a pregnant high school student preparing to give up her child to a seemingly perfect couple, Mark and Vanessa Loring (Bateman and Garner). Unlike many teen films, the parents here are lovable and not just complete fools used as comedic devices, though they provide plenty of laughs. The entire cast is terrific, Ellen Page, in the titular role first and foremost, is perfect. Wonderful script, wonderful movie.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(535)

Deadpool 2 (2018, Directed by David Leitch) English 6

Starring Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Zazie Beets, Morena Baccarin, Julian Dennison, Terry Crews

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(6-Good Film)

Funny. Satisfying. Irreverent.

Being both blessed and cursed, Wade Wilson (Reynolds) is back, and so is his zany alter-ego, Deadpool. This time, after a significant tragedy, Wade reevaluates his life and seeks redemption in saving a delinquent mutant kid from a mysterious time traveler, Cable (Brolin). Needing help for his new purpose in life, Wade recruits a group of mutants to be a part of his team, the X-Force (which he acknowledges is pretty derivative). Reynolds is a perfect Deadpool. He carries off the joke a minute, rogue hero with ease, with this outing providing better action sequences and a more engaging plot. That being said, the meta-humor isn’t as fresh as it was first go-around and that’s to be expected, but there’s still enough juice to be consistently funny, clever, and exciting. The non-stop references are a blast as well.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(533)