Hollywood is becoming increasingly lazy and unoriginal by flooding our TVs and theaters with sequels and remakes of franchises we no longer care about or ask for. Sure, some of them are beyond decent but this influx of sub par movies tends to push out of the spotlight and out of our memory fantastic movies that are unfairly looked over and forgotten. This week, Eliot joins me as we continue to fight for these movies and give them the recognition they deserve.
Chris had everything. He was the most popular guy in school, had a hot girlfriend and was a star hockey player; then came the night of the accident. We pick up four years later and learn that he suffered a brain injury which affects his memory. He is reculsive, working at a bank as a janitor when he falls in with a seemingly nice group, but soon learns they have ulterior motives. This will more than satisfy your Joseph Gordon-Levitt desires (which we all have). Oh yeah, blind Jeff Daniels is pretty hilarious too.
Michel is the headmaster of a boarding school. Tired of his shit, his wife and mistress (yeah, that’s the kind of guy he is) conspire to kill him. After drowning him in a bathtub, they drop his body off in the school’s swimming pool to make it appear that he drowned there. Shit hits the fan when the body disappears and questions start swirling. A combination of clever plotting, chilling suspense and a crazy good ending, this stands up to even Hitchcock’s best mystery thrillers.
Three intersecting stories featuring a girl trying to pay rent, a group of guys looking to score in Vegas, and two dudes trying to score some drugs, this movie gets better and better as each story evolves. Sporting a fantastic cast, hilariously random scenes and a serious warning against buffet shrimp, Go is so unrelenting you will feel like you have taken some of the many drugs that are oh so present in the film (don’t worry that’s a good thing).
Struggling to live among the racial tensions and aggressive authorities that plague their Parisian ghetto, Vinz, Said and Hubert spend the day trying to avoiding trouble. As their friend Abdel fights for his life after an altercation with the police during a riot, Vinz becomes increasingly more reckless and violent. Showing that France is more than a romantic travel destination, this view of the harsh realities that many people face is enhanced by the countless movie references.
If you could imagine a collaboration between 80’s teen movie god John Hughes (RIP) and torture porn aficionado Eli Roth, this is what you would end up with. After troubled teen Brent turns down shy Lola’s prom invitation, he soon learns that Lola is more troubled than he is. Cannibalism, creepy old ladies and awkward kids hooking up with hot emo girls are just some of the highlights of this genre melding Australian powerhouse.
This movie brings together an ass-kicking Meryl Streep, a kind-of-wussy David Straitharn, a psycho Kevin Bacon, and a pre-fame John C. Reilly and puts them all in a boat together. Sure, it’s got a goofy only-in-the-90’s premise (family encounters murderous fugitives on a whitewater rafting trip and must survive against all odds) but that cast is awesome and it’s an all-around good time. If I notice this is on TV, I will always get distracted and end up watching to the end. Highly recommend (even if it’s just on cable.)
Adapted from a French stage production and starring Robin Williams, Nathan Lane, and Gene Hackman (among many other recognizable, hilarious faces), The Birdcage is a laugh-out-loud farce set in a Miami Beach drag club. The premise is simple: Williams is the gay owner of the aforementioned nightclub and Gene Hackman is a conservative politician seeking to boost the strength of his family values platform in the wake of a political scandal. Through a series of well-intentioned lies and downright Shakespearean misunderstandings, these two worlds are brought together for a comedic climax that is hilarious and heartfelt. Some of the plot devices may seem contrived, but it is so well acted and genuine that I forgave some of its more egregious leaps in logic.
When you think 80’s action movies, you might think of Die Hard or Lethal Weapon. When you think 80’s Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, you might think Terminator or Predator. The thing is, when you think of both these things, you really SHOULD be thinking of Commando. It is without a doubt, one of the most ridiculous, over-the-top, fun viewing experiences you can have. I don’t care how you watch this (in a group, on a plane, on TV with commercial interruptions, while drinking heavily, etc.), but when you watch Ah-nold solve the problem of a too-small passenger seat by physically ripping the entire seat out of the car and tossing it aside, you will understand why this movie is so awesome. Available streaming on Netflix as we speak. Call your friends. Watch this movie.
Michael Douglas stars as William Foster, an unemployed defense worker who snaps on a sweltering summer day in the middle of Los Angeles gridlock and proceeds to wreak senseless havoc on every bit of society that he disapproves of. It is an incredible performance from Douglas, who infuses this sad man’s mental breakdown with humor, fury, and surprising amount of soul. Robert Duvall also stars as an LA detective on the brink of retirement, hunting Foster across the city. Falling Down is a powerful, tragic story, full of memorable lines and brilliant performances.
Adapted from the Nick Hornby novel of the same name, About A Boy stars Hugh Grant as a selfish, maladjusted man-child (“in a role he was born to play,” adds the hacky jokester deep inside me) alongside Toni Collette and Rachel Wiesz. The film follows the dual storylines of Will Freeman (Grant), a middle-aged London bachelor with zero attachment to anyone or anything, and socially inept 12-year-old Marcus (Nicholas Hoult, suddenly popping up everywhere the past two months with Warm Bodies and Jack the Giant Slayer). When Will realizes that single mothers are prime targets for relationships in which he seems like a better man than he really is, he creates an imaginary child and begins attending support groups for single parents “just like him.” These not-so-well-intentioned lies put him on a collision course for Marcus and his not-so-emotionally-stable mother, played brilliantly by Toni Collette. I feel like I’ve already said too much, but this is an all-around enjoyable movie and definitely one of my favorite “chick flicks.” [Important note: I hesitate to give it the “chick flick” label because I feel that it sells it short, despite its association with Hugh Grant. It truly is less of a romantic comedy than it is a movie about a man struggling to come to terms with all his myriad faults and shortcomings.] Anyway guys, I suggest that if you want to play up the “chick flick” angle, you can propose this next time your girlfriend wants to watch a movie. Go ahead, you can even pretend you’re not going to enjoy it; but just know, deep down, you will probably will. About a Boy is touching in its poignant, heartfelt depiction of struggling single-parent families, the emptiness of the perma-bachelor lifestyle, and the joy of Mistikal’s smash hit “Shake Ya Ass.”
As always, thanks for reading! I’ll give you a few minutes to rest after reading Eliot’s novel about About A Boy but after that, please share, like and comment. We can still be found at Twitter (@smackmyflickup), but we also have a Smack My Flick Up Facebook page for people who aren’t into the whole Twitter scene. We’d love it if you followed us and/or “liked” us, as we continue working, watching, and listing our way through the movie world.