5 Movies That Deserve More Love
Sometimes it’s hard to predict which movies will catch on at the box office and which ones will languish. Franchises like the Harry Potter films are a safe bet, but little movies with no built in fanbase (or one too tiny to add up to millions of dollars worth of revenue) are on their own. Add in mixed reviews and you’ve got the perfect recipe for movie obscurity.
Just like with people, sometimes bad things happen to good movies. Maybe they were done in by a bad release date, movie viewer apathy or cranky critics–or maybe it was a little of all three, whatever the case was these movies deserve more love than they’ve received. They’re all quirky, inventive and more fun than an explosion-heavy blockbuster. A couple of them have achieved a much deserved cult following, but I’ve never been one to listen to Bette Davis’s advice (even if I do adore her), I want the moon and the stars for my underappreciated favorites.
I must confess I am not a fan of Will Ferrell movies. They tend to be too broad for my liking, but his work in Stranger Than Fiction made me reevaluate that stance. He’s brilliant as the boring and punctual Harold Crick. His performance is subdued and sweet, but still incredibly funny. The same thing could be said for the entire film.
One day, Harold begins to hear a disembodied voice narrating his life. That voice informs him (indirectly, of course) that he is going to die. Everything that follows is a deliciously meta romp that is as concerned with dissecting literary construction as it is with pushing Harold out of his comfort zone.
The movie also boasts a trio of excellent supporting performances from Emma Thompson, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Dustin Hoffman. In fact, Dustin Hoffman’s role as the professor who tries to help Harold figure out if he’s in a comedy or a tragedy is the best role he’s had in years.
For the record, Stranger Than Fiction is a comedy (of sorts), but it’s also a movie about how even the most ordinary life can be extraordinary.
Everything I love about it can be summed up in this exchange between Harold and Dr. Hilbert (Hoffman’s character):
Harold: Who in their right mind in a choice between pancakes and living chooses pancakes?
Dr. Hilbert: Harold, if you pause to think, you’d realize that that answer is inextricably contingent upon the type of life being led… and, of course, the quality of the pancakes.
Away We Go tells the story of a young couple expecting their first child who set out to find themselves a home. Their travels take them to places as disparate as Montreal and Tucson, and along the way they realize that even their friends and family don’t have the whole child-rearing thing figured out.
Plot aside, what makes this movie special is the chemistry between Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski. Sometimes movie couples can come off as unbelievable or forced and playing an established couple that is supposed to have a wealth of history between them is even trickier, but Rudolph and Krasinski make the relationship feel real and lived in. There is an irresistible ease between them that makes their journey a joy to watch.
I don’t understand how we live in a world where Edgar Wright isn’t everyone’s favorite director, but here we are. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is based on the comic book of the same name and it features Michael Cera as the titular Scott who has to face off with his dream girl’s seven evil exes before he can date her.
In typical Wright fashion, the movie is teaming with frenetic energy. Watching it is like consuming a whole package of Pixy Stix and then chasing it with a liter of soda. The movie is styled like a video game and the effect is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. It really shouldn’t work having your main character power up mid-scene, but this is Edgar Wright we’re talking about here, so it most certainly does.
If you like your movies to have the same wonderfully dizzying effect as a day spent at an amusement park then you need to see Scott Pilgrim vs. the World immediately.
Cool as Iron Man is, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is the movie that brought Robert Downey Jr. back into our lives. It may have floundered in theaters, but it caught the attention of the critics who then began heralding the triumphant return of Downey.
It’s easy to see why they were so excited once you watch this modern send-up of the noir genre. It’s a buddy comedy, a hard-boiled detective story, a romance and a tongue-in-cheek meta commentary on movies with dialogue so good it will make you want to weep from happiness. And Downey is right at the center of it, quipping his way back into our hearts.
Also wonderful in this movie is Val Kilmer as the detective saddled with showing Downey’s criminal turned potential movie star the tricks of his trade. It’s a stellar movie for everyone involved and it’s infinitely quotable to boot.
The minute I heard Steve Carrell and Tina Fey were making a comedy together I fell in love with it sight unseen, then I actually watched it and fell even harder. The tale of the Fosters’ hellish night spent fleeing criminals in New York City is a hilarious, mild romp. It lacks the kind of sharp humor that characterizes Carrell and Fey’s excellent NBC shows, but it makes up for that by being pure movie comfort food.
It’s a fun, silly movie with madcap car chases and incredibly unsexy pole dancing. In other words fun for the whole family!
Those are five of my favorite movies that never get enough love, but there is an epidemic of underappreciated films. Tell me all about your neglected favorites in the comments!
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