Welcome to Take Five, your weekly list of five random movie recommendations. Most people don't have time to watch five movies in a week. Most people don't even have five minutes to take a break and relax. Take Five is here to quicken your search for reliable entertainment (or at least movies that I deem entertaining) so you can enjoy what little free time you have. And really, who reading this article doesn't want to spend their free time watching movies? It's not like you're on sports Web site.
By George Rose
November 18, 2009
If you were, you'd be looking up football statistics because baseball is over. Basically, sports are lame again and it's time to concentrate on Hollywood. And what wonderful timing! The holiday season is now in full swing after a soft debut from A Christmas Carol. 2012 was released this past weekend and, big shock, it made a lot of money. Did it blow the lid off the box office? No, but $65 million sure is enough to say people are interested in going to the movies again. It's really not that impressive, though, since Roland Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow made just as much several years ago, but it's enough to remind everyone that the wasteland known as Fall is over.
If 2012 isn't enough to prove that, then give it a few more days. In case you haven't heard (and really, you should walk into traffic right now if you haven't), The Twilight Saga's New Moon comes out this weekend. 2012 was a great way to break into winter, but New Moon is going to be the blockbuster event of the season. Oh, you think that title belongs to Avatar? If the well-known story of A Christmas Carol can't bring in the big bucks with 3-D motion capture technology on an IMAX screen, and names like Robert Zemeckis and Jim Carrey attached, why is anyone expecting massive breakout success for the unknown property of Avatar? James Cameron really isn't Hollywood's savior. Sure, Titanic is the "#1 movie of all time, but that title really belongs to Gone With the Wind when you factor in inflation. Also, James Cameron is a douchebag. Karma will catch up to him. He's due for a relative failure at some point. Are people forgetting the real Hollywood savior? Stephen Spielberg has countless more hits than Cameron, and even Spielberg has a few tanks under his belt. Nobody is guaranteed a hit and, aside from Cameron's name, there really isn't much to sell Avatar on. Frankly, I'm more excited for its video game.
It doesn't matter, though. Avatar is a month away from release. The focus should return to, and remain on, New Moon for the next two weeks, at least. I don't know about you but I sure plan on being at the midnight release. Then again, I see most event films at the midnight screening if one is offered. It doesn't matter how awful the movie could be; simply put, midnight shows bring out the best in the audience. If the audience is having fun, the experience will be fun. I'll have just as much fun making fun of how bad Avatar is at the midnight show as I will cheering with Team Edward (that's right, I went there) this Thursday at New Moon's premiere.
But with all these movies coming out and the little free time we have, who's staying in the house to watch movies? Oh wait, we're in a recession. Not everyone can afford to see tons of movies. Heck, even I can't afford to see all the movies I want to see. Normally, I'd see a movie like New two to four times in theaters (I'm a super fan like that), but because of this annoying recession I will only see it once. That, in turn, frees up some of my time for an enjoyable at-home movie-watching experience. I'm sure I'm not the only one, so if you need a few suggestions you should check these five films out.
Little Giants (1994)
In honor of the end of the baseball season and attention being diverted to football, I figured I'd recommend one of the few football movies I can tolerate. I have so much fun ragging on sports and sports movies, but I'd be lying if I said I NEVER enjoy them. Honestly, I'd rather have my wisdom teeth taken out again then watch months and months of the same nonsense, but that doesn't mean I don't enjoy the World Series or the Super Bowl. That also doesn't mean I don't like the occasional feel-good sport movie. You know the kind, where the absolute worst team possible with the worst odds imaginable somehow wins the big title. Is it predictable? Yes. Is it cheesy? Yes. Does it still make the fat boy in me who got picked last every time in gym class cry like a little baby? You bet.
It pains me a little to pick this movie, because now that I've grown up I've come to realize how annoying New York sports team fans are. I'm not just saying that because the Yankees won the series. I could care less who wins, but Yankee fans sure take all the fun out of sports. The same can be said of Giants fans. Maybe it's because New York is the biggest city in the country and, therefore, has the most amount of fans, and the most funding for buying team players and affording an evil marketing empire. While New York sports teams and their fans suck donkey balls, Little Giants is one of those children-led sports movies I loved growing up.
The movie's biggest name is Rick Moranis, who is no amateur to the family film genre. Here he stars as Danny O'Shea, the un-athletic, unsuccessful brother of the town legend Kevin O'Shea, played by Ed O'Neill (whose new ABC comedy Modern Family is AMAZING). After making a bet over whose pee-wee football team will win the little league title, it's up to Danny to form an all-star roster of loveable losers. There's the hypoallergenic nerd with oversized glasses, the fat kid, the token minority, a girl (the coach's daughter), and the pretty boy (the girl's love interest). There is no reason they should win, but the fat kid in me doesn't love the movie because they didn't. Everyone wins watching Little Giants, even Eagles fans.
Did you really think I would let the opening weekend of Twilight 2 come and go without recommending you see the first film beforehand? I don't think you understand how serious the release of this film is going to be. I haven't been this pumped for a movie since J.J. Abrams' Star Trek (since I was in Greece when Harry Potter 6 was released and couldn't see it). New Moon has fanboy/girl written all over it. Who cares how much it makes in the long run? Its opening weekend is going to be huge. This one has twice the mythological creatures, twice the eye candy, twice the sexual tension and – as far as I'm concerned, this is the most important selling point – DAKOTA FANNING!
It was only because of my sick vampire fetish that resulted from watching season one of True Blood last summer that I even bothered to go see Twilight. That's right, I thought the movie looked like crap, like a True Blood knock-off for teens. Boy, was I wrong. For all the instant gratification and enjoyment that comes with watching the near-pornographic True Blood, there is equal entertainment to be found in the restraint and tension shown in Twilight. The man-whore in me WANTS True Blood, but the one-time believer of everlasting first love in me NEEDS Twilight. I don't necessarily need to be in some fairy tale blah blah blah romance, but it sure is nice to know the concept exists, and not since Romeo and Juliette have unable lovers been so intriguing.
Bella (Kristen Stewart) moves to a small town, so small that high school cliques don't exist and everyone is friendly. Then she meets one of the only five outcasts in the school, Edward (Robert Pattinson), who just happens to be a vampire. First they hate each other, then they like each other, then they love each other, then action and drama take the movie to a-whole-nother level that has me aching for the sequel. Just when I didn't think things could get better, that awkward Native American character, Jacob (Taylor Lautner), is bringing the werewolf clan front and center. That's not a cool enough reason to see New Moon? Okay, what about getting to see the vampire lawmakers and whatnot? Still not enough? Let me repeat myself from earlier... DAKOTA FANNING.
Center Stage (2000)
You know, there is one saving grace to the aforementioned Avatar: Zoe Saldana. It's sad how few people actually recognize that name, though. Only after this year might people start to acknowledge the supreme talent that is Ms. Saldana. Going into Avatar, you should at least know she was in this year's best movie, Star Trek (and I say that as someone who has always hated Star Trek and preferred Star Wars). If you don't know her after this year, you'll probably never catch on. She's sassy, unbelievably sexy and hasn't aged a day in the last ten years. My fingers are crossed that her 2009 blockbusters put her center stage on the A-list. If nothing else, she better keep those supporting roles coming.
Speaking of Center Stage, she starred in the ballerina saga alongside a bunch of nobodies. Granted, she was a nobody back then too, but the movie's only stars at the time were Peter Gallagher (oh, how I miss The O.C.) and Mandy Moore (who only performs on the soundtrack). Considering this is a professional dance movie, and not the kind that only requires gyrating and hip-hop beats (Step Up, You Got Served, etc), very few recognizable faces could be used. I'm sure it was super duper hard for Channing Tatum to learn how to shake his hips to some rap music in Step Up (which any white boy can do with moderate effort and no inhibitions), but try inching across an entire stage on your tippy-toes while still dancing gracefully from the waist up. Zoe did it. Or at least her stunt double did. Regardless, she does some of her own dancing and it's darn impressive. Half angel, half devil; Zoe brings elegance and a red-hot attitude to her role as Eva, best friend and roommate to the real main character (some emo white girl, but who cares).
The movie is really just a dramatization (or not) of what goes on behind the scenes at a prestigious dance academy. There's girls whose feet aren't the idea of perfection, there's eating disorders, sprained ankles, romances, rebelling, sadness, crying, the grand finale performance, and then a happily ever after. Unless you're a 12-year-old girl or a gay guy, you probably won't like the film (and will probably opt to go see New Moon this week instead, anyway). But if you want to see a rising actress in her early work that shows how naturally gifted she is, rent Center Stage. She was one of three reasons I saw Star Trek (since I hated the franchise growing up, it took J.J. Abrams, Zachary Quinto and Zoe to get me into the theater) and is one of the few reasons I'll pay to see Avatar (I'm a sucker for 3-D IMAX). Since Center Stage, she's also starred in Crossroads, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Terminal, Guess Who, and Vantage Point. Seriously, check her out.
Idle Hands (1999)
The future success of all actresses can't be determined by their earlier work. Zoe Saldana's work had me predicting her breakout year would come much sooner than 2009, because she's gorgeous and talented. The opposite has also been known to happen; the early work of Jessica Alba had me predicting a fate similar to Tara Reid. You know, when a super hottie known for skanky roles as the popular girl in high school goes on to do nothing acclaimed and her career ends before she hits 30. But that didn't happen to Alba. She took her trashy roles in earlier films, got the entire population of prepubescent boys to stop in their tracks and somehow leveraged her popularity into more future roles. Yeah, I'm probably just being cynical. I'm sure she worked really hard for those parts. I just hope she wore knee pads (wink wink).
One of those super skanky roles was actually in a very funny movie, Idle Hands, though the reason I'm recommending it is not because of her or to showcase her career. After she decided to pretend she's a blond white woman in Fantastic Four (I'm not sure how the half-Mexican actress pulled that off after headlining the urban-themed Honey), which contributed to destroying one of my beloved Marvel franchises, I pretty much wrote her off. That was, until a few days ago. My buddy was playing an Offspring song on his computer and wanted to see if I knew who it was. I could picture the band but I couldn't remember their name. It was on the tip of my tongue but my friend, being the ever so lovable jerk he always is, made me feel like an idiot, claiming I had no idea who Offspring was. Music is his forte and movies are mine, so to prove him wrong I told him I definitely knew the song and band from a specific movie (they weren't famous for very long, so it's not as if there are endless options) and that if he could guess it I would admit to being the stupider of the two of us. He couldn't. Can you? Well, I'm not recommending Idle Hands right now because it's good for my health.
The movie stars Devon Sawa as Anton, a teenager whose right hand becomes possessed and uncontrollably starts killing his family and friends, though it's not sad attempt at a horror movie. The concept is given the comedy treatment, turning the hand's victims into the hilarious walking dead. His two friends, Pnub (Elden Henson) and Mick (Seth Green) provide the most laughs by exploiting the eccentricities of death. With their help and that of his neighborly love interest (Alba), they must stop Anton's severed hand from killing anyone else. Did I mention it's on prom night? Yeah, it's definitely a B-list high school comedy but it's extremely funny, especially if you're into horror movies or clever death sequences. If nothing else, it's a good way to remember Offspring.
Clash of the Titans (1981)
On a final note, I saw two wonderful things this week. One was Star Trek on Blu-Ray, which you should all go purchase immediately, and the other was the new trailer for the Clash of the Titans remake. Holy crap, does that movie look awesome. Anyone who has seen the original is sure to be blown away by the updated special effects and overall scale of the production, while anyone who has not seen the original is sure to take notice. The rock music in the background may dumb down the story a notch and position the movie for teenage boys, but the story is one that many will find interesting.
Clash of the Titans tells the Greek myth of Perseus (Harry Hamlin), son of Zeus, and how the hero advances through a series of quests in order to be with his love, Andromeda. Hindering his plans is Thetis, the ocean goddess whose son was once engaged to Andromeda. Thetis is in control of the Kraken, the ocean creature that will not be released should Andromeda be sacrificed. Because Perseus doesn't want his hot lady friend to be killed, he must decapitate Medusa and use her head to turn the Kracken into stone. Oh, the things people used to do for love. Now people are just lucky to get a "poke" on Facebook.
The film also stars Laurence Olivier, Claire Bloom, Maggie Smith, Ursula Andress, Judi Bowker and Susan Fleetwood. Most of those names don't mean much in today's Hollywood gossip world, but that shouldn't suggest it wasn't a great movie. Sure, the special effects are ancient but that's part of the camp-factor fun. Greek mythology tells the kinds of stories that are both deep enough to learn from and epic enough to enjoy. Who doesn't love watching titans battle super-powered beasts? I know I do, but that might be my blind devotion to all things mythological. My opinion might be skewed, as displayed by my unquestionable yet completely unreasonable love for the upcoming New Moon. It won't be the best movie ever but I'll still enjoy it immensely. The same goes for Clash of the Titans; it wasn't nominated for any Academy Awards, but it was a movie I happily remember watching several times with my family.