By George Rose
November 10, 2009
A League of Their Own (1992)
In honor of the recent World Series, I thought it would be a good idea to recommend a sports film. Typically I'm not a fan of these types of movies, but every now and then one comes along that focuses more on the characters than the sport itself, allowing the story and message of the movie to become a bit more universally appealing. And what better way to broaden the typically male audience of a sports film than by making the central team in question that of a women's sports league?
It also helps that A League of Their Own has an amazing, all-star cast. Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Jon Lovitz, Garry Marshall, Bill Pullman and Rosie O'Donnell, among others, headline this team of actors in a story about two baseball loving sisters who join the All American Pro Girls League, which was created after World War II sent most of the men that played the sport overseas. As the sport grows more popular, the two sisters grow further apart, eventually ending up as competitors. It may seem simple, but Hanks' alcoholic coach and Davis' always understanding demeanor knock this surprisingly funny film out of the park, helping it reach heights that so many in the genre fall short of. If nothing else, it's one of the few films that Madonna or Rosie have starred in that will remind you why they are paid actors to begin with. Any movie that can make me enjoy baseball and Madonna is worth an Academy Award, though A League of Their Own will have to settle for its two Golden Globe nominations it received instead.
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
Jim Carrey has been a big holiday release player in the last decade, with many of his movies crossing the $100 million threshold. The second weekend take of A Christmas Carol will determine whether or not it can reach those heights, since its $30 million opening weekend doesn't guarantee it at all. A few of his past holiday hits include How the Grinch Stole Christmas (as mentioned earlier) and Fun With Dick and Jane. My favorite, however, is one of his less successful endeavors, A Series of Unfortunate Events, based off the children's book series. Aside from being one of his more adventurous tales, it was a movie that an ex and I enjoyed thoroughly together. We'd watch it during many of our attempts to get back together, in hopes that a common connection to a movie was enough to sustain a fleeting love. In case you were wondering, it wasn't enough. But the movie remains a fun treat upon viewing and is a good reminder of the talent Carrey can bring to such an extreme character.
Also starring Jude Law and Meryl Streep, the story revolves around the three orphaned Baudelaire children, who are left in the care of their creepy uncle Count Olaf. As told through narration by the writer Lemony Snicket, the children find themselves on many misadventures that stem from unfortunate events, which are suspected to be caused by the Count in an attempt to acquire the substantial family fortune left behind. There are many books in the series, but the movie focuses only a few of the unfortunate events. The formula is obvious – the children find themselves in the hands of several new guardians, only to find Olaf behind every failed attempt at living in a new household – but is always funny and somehow original. The kids are clever and witty, creating new gadgets and schemes to save their own day, and Olaf, while haunting, is a refreshing new take on the comic villain. Considering I had never heard of the books prior to the film's release, the story packs enough action and interest at every turn that will have you begging for a sequel, or at least a trip to the local library. Unfortunately, one doesn't seem to be in the works so the only option is to read the rest of the series (Reading? What's that?), but if it's Carrey you want to see acting like a caricature fool, well, there's always A Christmas Carol.