Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986, Directed by John Hughes) English 8

Starring Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Mia Sara, Jeffrey Jones, Jennifer Grey, Ben Stein, Charlie Sheen

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(8-Exceptional Film)

Funny. Memorable. Spirited.

Ferris Bueller is slightly arrogant and spoiled. He complains at one point that he asked his parents for a car, and instead received a computer. If this film was solely about him skipping school, and gallivanting in the great city of Chicago, I’m not sure anybody would care. It might still work as a light comedy, but I doubt it would resonate beyond that, or endure as it has, now 32 years later. Ferris Bueller is about a free spirit helping his friend enjoy life. The free spirit is obviously Ferris, played wonderfully by Broderick, and the uptight, hypochondriac friend, Cameron, is played by Alan Ruck. They, along with Ferris Bueller’s girlfriend, Sloane, have a spectacular day, while the authority figures, led by Principal Rooney (Jones), and forces of banality, led by Ferris’ sister (Grey), attempt to thwart him. So many memorable, funny moments, but the standout is, of course, Ben Stein’s painfully boring lecture. Jeffrey Jones, resembling an old Wile E. Coyote cartoon, with Ferris being the Road Runner, is excellent.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


The Hangover (2009, Directed by Todd Phillips) English 7

Starring Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Jeffrey Tambor, Ken Jeong, Justin Bartha, Mike Epps

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(7-Very Good Film)

Chracter-driven. Fresh. Inspired.

The Hangover felt like a real original, introducing Bradley Cooper as a star and Galifianakis as a comedic talent. It remains a fast-paced, funny film built around putting three strongly developed characters in a series of bizarre situations. Phil (Cooper), Stu (Helms), and Alan (Galifianakis) are the best friends of Doug Phillips, or in Alan’s case, the soon-to-be brother-in-law, who’s getting married. They go to Vegas for their bachelor party, but things seem to get out of hand, as they wake up the following morning to several surprises, the most important of which being that Doug is missing, and they have no memory of the night. Alan, the oddball, Stu, the overly anxious dentist, and Phil, the always cool leader, are memorable characters, and much fun to watch. Then there’s the host of side characters: Black Doug, Leslie Chow, Mike Tyson (as himself, obviously), Jade, and the police officers. They make The Hangover more than just an interesting premise, and into a modern comedy classic.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


The Watch (2012, Directed by Akiva Schaffer) English 5

Starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill, Richard Ayoade, Rosemary DeWitt, Billy Crudup, Will Forte

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(5-Okay Film)

Inconsistent. Erratic. Funny.

The Watch is too inconsistent in tone to be a good film; too light on laughs. Ben Stiller plays an uptight Costco manager, who starts a neighborhood watch after one of his coworkers is murdered. To his agitation, the only people who sign up for his neighborhood watch are a trio of goofballs and weirdos: loudmouth Bob (Vaughn), maladjusted Franklin (Hill), and geeky Jamarcus (Ayoade). The watch soon find themselves to be in way over their heads when it looks like aliens are involved. This isn’t a horrible movie, and its cast is quite funny at times. I’m just not sure it’s a necessary viewing, and I strongly doubt anyone will choose to watch it twice.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


The Truman Show (1998, Directed by Peter Weir) English 9

Starring Jim Carrey, Laura Linney,  Ed Harris, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Paul Giamatti

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(9-Great Film)

Thoughtful. Relevant. Poignant.

Thoughtful, prescient film about a man, Truman (Carrey), who lives his life in a fish tank, unwittingly the star of an elaborate reality television series. The film follows his slow realization that nothing-not his wife, not his family, nor his friends-in his life is real and his subsequent attempts to escape.An interesting premise, in this case, yields a film that seems more relevant today than when it was released twenty years ago. Jim Carrey showcases his dramatic chops, and makes a wonderful hero.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Hitch (2005, Directed by Andy Tennant) English 7

Starring Will Smith, Kevin James, Eva Mendes, Amber Valletta, Michael Rapaport, Adam Arkin, Jeffrey Donovan

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(7-Very Good Film)

Light. Charming. Fun.

Alex Hitchens (Smith), a dating consultant, attempts his boldest job yet: setting the clumsy, overweight Albert Brennaman (James) up with dream girl, model, entrepreneur, Allegra Cole (Valletta). At the same time, all of his smooth tactics seem to fail him in his own pursuit of beautiful gossip reporter, Sara (Mendes). Will Smith had the Midas touch at the time. His charisma and star presence, as well as his chemistry with James, elevate this standard romantic comedy to a fun diversion that warrants repeat viewings if you need something pleasant to watch.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-


Bumblebee (2018, Directed by Travis Knight) English 7

Starring Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Pamela Adlon, John Ortiz Voices of Angela Bassett, Justin Theroux, Dylan O’Brien

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(7-Very Good Film)

Nostalgic. Fun. Spirited.

I was pleasantly surprised. It’s possible that I’ve never been more surprised to find myself enjoying a movie, as I did with Bumblebee, the newest installment of the Transformers series, a franchise I’d long since stopped caring about. Set in the 1980s, a source of much fun for the film, Charlie Watson (played wonderfully by the engaging Steinfeld) is still grieving the death of her father when young autobot, B-127, enters her life. B-127’s mission is to scout out Earth for the Autobots as they attempt to regroup and fight back against the evil Decepticons. I don’t especially care about the grand plot involving the Transformers. Fortunately, this film plays more like an ’80s monster friendship comedy. Think E.T or Little Monster or even ’90s classic The Iron Giant. Bumblebee belongs in their company. It’s a fantastic flick, directed by Travis Knight, who’d previously worked in animation for Laika studios.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-



It’s a Wonderful Life (1946, Directed by Frank Capra) English 10

Starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, Thomas Mitchell, Henry Travers, Lionel Barrymore, Beulah Bondi, Gloria Grahame, Ward Bond

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Classic. Immortal. Moving.

Clarence (Travers), an angel 2nd class, is given an awfully tough assignment: selfless, devoted family man, George Bailey (Stewart) of Bedford Falls, wonders if the world would be a better place if he was never born. Clarence gives George a glimpse of what that would look like. The quintessential Christmas standard, It’s a Wonderful Life is the best of Christmas movies for any lover of classic Hollywoood. James Stewart and Frank Capra were an awesome pair, and I’m not sure any one has looked more beautiful in a film than Donna Reed when she and Stewart huddle around a phone, trying to stay angry at one another. I’ve mentioned before people’s tendency to forgive overt sentimentality in older films. In fact, it’s what people love most about films like It’s a Wonderful Life. George Bailey’s life isn’t easy, or what he dreamed for himself, but in the end, he’s given the gift of seeing that he has a purpose. Aside: Like any true traditionalist, I prefer this film in black and white.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-