The Golden Age of Adam Sandler

Seven Adam Sandler movies which are actually worth watching.

Adam Sandler has become, for many, a name associated with atrocious film making. From his lackluster Grown Ups films to the wretched Jack and Jill, Sandler’s films have consistently fallen short. However, believe it or not, there was a time when Sandler was considered to be one of the funniest men in Hollywood. And if you look way (waaaaaay) back, there are a plethora of rather enjoyable films which have aged quite well.

1. Airheads (1994)

“We’re down, man, Hendrix was God.”


While this can’t really be considered an “Adam Sandler movie,” Sandler certainly shines as the bumbling, ignorant sidekick, Pip, alongside leading man Brendan Fraser and the always spectacular Steve Buscemi. Airheads tells the story of three aspiring musicians who hold a radio station hostage with squirt guns. This is a wildly entertaining movie and a hilarious window into ’90’s pop culture.

2. Billy Madison (1995)

“Chlorophyll? More like BOREophyll!”


While I have my quarrels with this film, and I believe it to be the weakest on this list, there is no denying the iconography Billy Madison has had on Sandler’s career. It tells the story of a rich high school dropout who attempts to return to grade school in order to prove to his father that he has what it takes to run the family company. This was, without a doubt, the film that launched Sandler’s career. It is full of great one-liners and classic Sandler stupid comedy. However, glimmers of his demise are definitely evident in this movie.

3. Happy Gilmore (1996)

“You eat pieces of shit for breakfast?”


Perhaps the most beloved film on this list is Sandler’s golfing extravaganza, Happy Gilmore. A failed hockey player tries his hand at golf and finds great success, despite his unprofessional demeanor and the unconventional crowds he draws as he rises to fame. This is Sandler’s funniest movie. To this day I still find myself quoting it with my friends. Sandler’s brewing rage is a stroke of comedic genius opposite a fantastic supporting cast which includes Carl Weathers, Julie Bowen, and the fantastic Christopher McDonald as Shooter McGavin. A must see.

4. The Wedding Singer (1998)

“Sir, one more outburst, I will strangle you with my microphone wire.”


Sandler’s first attempt at a Romantic Comedy opposite Drew Barrymore is a hilariously refreshing entry into a sorry and unoriginal genre. A Wedding Singer falls in love with a beautiful bride-to-be. As he helps her plan her wedding to her typically douchebag fiancé, she discovers she might be marrying the wrong man. Despite all of its clichés, Sandler brings a charming comedic performance to this romantic ’80’s homage. 

5. Big Daddy (1999)

“I had a mother lined up for him but she’s banging the Pepperidge farm guy and the kid won’t stop peeing or throwing up. He’s like a cocker spaniel.”


A personal favorite of mine is Sandler’s Big Daddy. While his roommate is away on business, a small child is delivered to Sonny’s apartment. It is, in fact, his roommate’s illegitimate son. In an effort to prove his responsibility to his girlfriend, and perhaps find some self worth, Sonny decides to keep the kid, but will soon discover that raising a child is no easy task. I seriously love this movie. It’s as heartfelt as it is funny, and Sandler’s performance is tender and adequately realized. 

6. Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

“I have to get more pudding for this trip to Hawaii. As I just said that out loud I realized it sounded a little strange, but it’s not.”


Punch-Drunk Love tells the story of a psychologically ill man who falls in love with a quiet and humble woman played by the ever-talented Emily Watson. He attempts to explore this romance while he battles off a phone sex line extortionist, buys large quantities of pudding to gain free airline miles, and deals with his irreverent and judgmental family. I believe this film is unquestionably the best on this list. While that is mostly due to director, Paul Thomas Anderson, Sandler is still utilized to his greatest capacity. This is his most sincere performance to date, and it is a humble and powerful entry to his resumé.

7. Mr. Deeds (2002)

“I promise to love you for fifty years more, even when your bosoms sag down to the floor.”


The final film in the Golden Years of Sandler and co., Mr. Deeds tells the story of a humble man named Longfellow Deeds from a small town, whose billionaire Uncle passes away and leaves Deeds his entire fortune. As Deeds travels to New York, he discovers what life in the big apple is really like as he falls in love with an undercover reporter played by the wonderful Winona Ryder. This film definitely walks the line between quality Sandler and the Sandler we’ve come to know today. It’s redemption is in its quotability and in its rich cast of unconventional characters. It is a very funny film which I believe you will, at the very least, giggle profusely throughout.

What do you think? Are there any other Adam Sandler films worth watching? Or are all of his films giant piles of dog crap? Let me know what you think in the comments section below! 

Suicide Squad Review

The long anticipated entry into the DC Expanded Universe has finally arrived, and in traditional DC fashion, it has fans and critics split.

My Rating: 6/10 RENT IT

It pains me to say it, but this was a truly disappointing film. Strap yourselves in because this will be a predominately negative review. To all DC fans, please refrain from petitioning to have my blog shut down and please listen to what I have to say.

Suicide Squad has all of the ingredients of a great movie, however it is clear that there were far too many cooks in the kitchen. I had high hopes for director David Ayer (End of Watch, Fury), but it seems that the end result of Suicide Squad is a combination of studio interference and an incapacitating identity crisis. While it has some solid performances, it is too focused on Universe Building and lacks any sort of dynamic villain or any real character development.

Ayer’s films are typically dark and compelling- which you would assume would fit right in with the current tone of the DC Universe. However after the backlash of that mess of a film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it seems that DC is attempting to lighten up a bit. This is apparent in the extremely bipolar tone of Suicide Squad. The film jumps around from somber and angsty to lighthearted fun in such a way that only a true sociopath could be entertained.

But its not all bad. Ayer, being the talented director he is, was still able to churn out some truly entertaining performances- which are the highlights of the film.

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn

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Margot Robbie stole the show with her rendition of Harley Quinn. She was quirky, violent and unpredictable. Everything we could ask for in a Harley Quinn. Along with Will Smith’s Deadshot (who we will get to in a minute), she was one of the only truly dynamic characters. While her motivations and convictions are presented to us in one of the laziest forms of storytelling imaginable (Flashbacks), she still managed to be a compelling and hilarious aspect of an otherwise arduous watch.

Will Smith as Deadshot

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I must confess that I have been a little less than impressed with Will Smith as of late. His performances always seem to be either too serious, otherwise he just simply phones it in. It pleases me to say that Suicide Squad gave us back the Will Smith we’ve missed and loved. Smith gives us one of the most charming, witty and human performances he’s delivered in years. The entire time I was watching this movie, I wished I was just watching a Deadshot standalone film.

Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang

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When I first heard Jai Courtney was going to play Captain Boomerang, it was the first cause for concern I felt going in to this movie. Firstly, how in the hell could they make Captain Boomerang work, and secondly, why would they hire franchise killer Jai Courtney? However, aside from the quirks of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, Courtney’s Boomerang was one of the only bits of humor added to this film which really worked. He had great chemistry with the rest of his cast-mates, and he was using his regular Aussie accent, so we didn’t have to listen to that god-awful American accent he just simply can’t seem to get down.

Viola Davis as Amanda Waller (DUH)

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Perhaps the most obvious casting decision made in this movie was Viola Davis as the mastermind Amanda Waller… Anyone who has ever read a DC comic, or seen the old Justice League cartoons could have anticipated that this would be the best casting decision imaginable. She was straightforwardly good, but remained in the background for most of the film.

Now, on to the bad…

Jared Leto as The Joker

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I really really really really really really really wanted to love Jared Leto’s Joker. But I honestly have no idea what the hell he was going for. My issues with his rendition of Joker are similar to the issues I had with Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor. It was a completely new and original take on the character- one we had never seen put to screen- however it completely lacked the spirit of the character to the point that it is completely unrecognizable. I can say with complete confidence that Leto’s Joker is the worst Joker we’ve seen thus far.

Cara Delevingne as Enchantress

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SPOILERS!!! Enchantress is the main antagonist of the film and her threat lacks any originality. The entire third act commits itself to the standard apocalyptic, sky beam finale we see in every modern blockbuster. None of this is Delevingne’s fault, as I’m sure she did the best with what she was given. Similar to Leto’s portrayal of the Joker, I have no idea what they were thinking when they brought Enchantress to life. Weird mannerisms, strange hula dancing, and a horrible overdubbed voice made Enchantress a joke and severely lowered the stakes of the finale.

Overall Suicide Squad is a lazily written, semi-entertaining action flick which feels like it was edited by a ten year old. It is not quite as bad as Batman v Superman, and it does a decent job introducing some of its characters into the Universe. Unfortunately, lacking any discernible plot, I’m gonna have to retain my opinion that Man of Steel is still the best film on DC’s belt… And that isn’t necessarily a good thing.

What do you guys think? Am I being too harsh? Did you enjoy Suicide Squad, or do you think DC should just commit franchise suicide? (ZING!!!) Let me know what you think in the comments below! And don’t forget to ‘like’ and ‘share’!

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

My Rating: 7/10 SEE IT

Quentin Tarantino’s highly anticipated Western thriller hit theaters this holiday weekend and delivered ruthless violence and the quintessential Tarantino dialogue we’ve all come to love. While the film is layered with suspense and intrigue it admittedly takes quite a bit of time to push the plot forward.

FotorCreatedThe Hateful Eight follows a similar fashion established by Tarantino’s last two films, Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained. If this were the third part of a trilogy however, it would be a very weak finale. The first act is slow and somewhat boring (I never thought I would say that about a Tarantino flick). The expository techniques come across as lazy and (dare I say it) pretentious. But it is not without its charm.

The Hateful Eight feels like a homage to all of Tarantino’s past installments at times. Borrowing from films like Reservoir Dogs as it unfurls its mystery through conversations and infrequent, yet impactful acts of violence. Its setting is remarkably similar to Django Unchained and the auteur director resurrects the same cast he’s been using for the last twenty years- who are perhaps the highlight of the entire feature.

Kurt Russel (Deathproof), Tim Roth (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction), and Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill) star in this murder mystery. But all of them are outshined by the masterful Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained).

THE HATEFUL EIGHT

I don’t believe there is an actor alive who can spit out Tarantino’s writing better than Jackson. He is the saving grace of this film. After spending an hour and a half of slow, drawn out character introductions, Jackson delivers a monologue with such tenacity and unmatched charisma it will cause you to question why, in his 43 years of acting, he has not won a single Academy Award.

Article Lead - wide1002418115gktaz8image.related.articleLeadwide.729x410.gktarn.png1446905993042.jpg-620x349Alongside Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh gives one of the best performances of her career as the captive prisoner Daisy Domergue. She brings an almost childlike ferocity to the character which plays out well across from Kurt Russel’s hard ass demeanor. Tim Roth is exceptionally good, although it seems as though his soul purpose was to fill in for the absence of Christoph Waltz (who won two separate Oscars for starring in Tarantino’s films, Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained). Channing Tatum’s brief role is well executed. I’m discovering new respect for him with each film (so long as I ignore his infrequent missteps- i.e. White House Down).
The final act of the film ties everything together in a very pleasing way. Although – and I don’t mean to be too critical as I am a huge Tarantino fan – I feel as if some of his more over-the-top violent scenes are done purely out of an effort to be edgy. I had a similar issue with Django Unchained. There is rarely any merit or repercussions for the violence portrayed on screen. The result is violence for the sake of violence. Little meaning, and, in turn, forgettable.

This is a relatively short review, but that is simply because I didn’t walk out of this film feeling passionately for it or against it. It just kind of is what it is. A well-executed suspense-driven film which doesn’t offer anything beyond its mystery, and I in no way feel compelled to see it a second time… But let’s be real: I probably will.

What did you think of The Hateful Eight? Was I hating on it too much? Let me know what you think in the comments. And don’t forget to “like” and “share”! Thanks for reading!

The Light Side and the Dark- The Best and Worst of the Star Wars Prequels

Star Wars is one of the most beloved movie franchises of all time. The classic trilogy is a historical landmark in film. But when George Lucas decided to return to his sci-fi saga in 1999 we received a few movies that were…. Well… Absolutely terrible.

Before you brush off my claims, I beg you to search your feelings. You know it to be true: the Star Wars Prequels are awful. And yet we feel compelled to watch them (especially in the wake of Episode VII) because they are a part of the franchise.

But even a man in prison smiles every now and then. So I wanted to take some time to acknowledge the best parts about the Prequels along with the worst.

So here we go, these are the highlights of the Star Wars Prequels… Wish me luck.

The Senate Meetings

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Lucas allows us to escape from the dull mindless fighting for extended sequences of people sitting in chairs talking about a bunch of political nonsense. I had never realized how rich the political intrigue of Star Wars could be. This is easily one of the highlights of the trilogy.

Racial Stereotypes

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Throughout these films we are exposed to a large number of, albeit racist and offensive, brilliantly written characters who make a mockery of real people in our real world. Like Watto- the cheap Jewish alien on Tatooine! Haha he’s funny because he’s greedy and Jewish people are greedy.

Hayden Christensen’s Acting

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While Ewan McGregor attempts a cheap imitation of his Genuinely Classy predecessor, Hayden Christensen delivers one of the most fascinating performances to date! His whiney attitude brings the character to life in the way we all hoped to see. Who needs the standard three-dimensional lead character when you can settle for an annoying one-dimensional cry baby. I always knew that before he became Vader, Anakin Skywalker was probably an emo little bitch.

Natalie Portman Phoning It In

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If there is one thing I love to see more than great acting, it is great actors who stop trying. True to her character, Natalie Portman had lost the will to act. She spits out George Lucas’s terribly written dialogue with such irreverence that audiences were blessed with 30+ minutes of screentime of the most robotic performance in the film. Seriously, Portman gave R2-D2 a run for his money… Wait a second- is R2-D2 a dude? Can robots even have genders? Eh, who cares… moving on!

CGI instead of Practical Effects

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One of the reasons the classic trilogy has aged so well is due to its use of practical effects. The Prequels on the other hand rely so heavily on CGI that they have swiftly become outdated. I for one love seeing the best possible CGI the late ’90’s and early ’00’s had to offer. It feels like I’m looking through a window in time- to a time where movies look like PlayStation 2 games.

Midichlorians

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There’s nothing quite like your hopes and dreams of one day become a Jedi if you only learned how to harness the powers of the force being crushed by the revelation that there is absolutely nothing Supernatural about the Force or being a Jedi. It is just a bunch of mutated cells which totally cheapens the religious undertones of the film. Because f**k you, I’m George Lucas… I do what I want.

Jar-Jar Binks

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You know him, you love him! Jar-Jar is one of the funniest characters to ever be introduced to the Star Wars universe. He brings out the child in me every time I watch these films. He’s loud and he’s obnoxious and he is one of the highlights of Episode I.

Now that I’ve gotten all the things I love out of the way, here are the worst things about these movies:

Ewan McGregor

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Seriously? What the hell were you thinking, Lucas??? McGregor was the worst possible choice for Obi-Wan Kenobi. Instead of trying to actually act, he tried to replicate Alec Guiness’s original portrayal of the character, while also bringing the Jedi to life in his own refreshing take… Like wtf???

John Williams’ Score

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John Williams is a master of his craft, but I honestly don’t know what he was thinking when he wrote the score for the Prequels. It is seriously so unbearable. During some awkward love scenes between Anakin and Padme, when the viewer would rather focus on the forced chemistry between the actors, John Williams throws his stupid music in to kill the entire scene. Ugh, and don’t even get me started on Duel of the Fates. Who uses a friggin choir in their score? So amateurish.

Darth Maul

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Darth Maul is the stupidest villain in history. He doesn’t even talk. AND his lightsaber is so impractical. And that stupid fight scene between him and Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon… So dumb. Yeah, he’s pretty lame and not cool looking at all.

F*cking Samuel L. Jackson

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F*ck Samuel L. Jackson! He didn’t even say any f*cking swear words. That stupid f*cking bald-headed mother-f*cker. He’s totally not even a f*cking badass. And his stupid f*cking purple lightsaber looks gay as f*ck.

That concludes my praise and criticisms of the Star Wars Prequels. Do you disagree with me? What are your favorite/least favorite moments in the new trilogy? Let me know in the comments.

DISCLAIMER! For those of you who are not familiar with sarcasm, the above statements are a joke and were, in actuality, very painful to write.

P.S. If you would like to see my views on anything specific, let me know in the comments and maybe I’ll write a blog about it.

The 10 Best Christmas Movies of ALL TIME

If you are like me , you become a little exhausted by the endless intake of holiday movies which ironically lack any sort of heart, and fail to grasp the Christmas spirit. It saddens me that Christmas movies usually tend to be little more than gimmicks made to take advantage of consumers who year after year desperately spend away their money in pursuit of a long lost feeling from their childhood. That being said, some of these gimmicks are actually really good movies. So without further ado, here are my top 10 Christmas movies.

FYI- I have chosen and ranked these movies based on my own personally feelings of nostalgia, and on their ability to capture the Christmas spirit.

10. The Santa Clause (1994)

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The first of Tim Allen’s Christmas trilogy is a classic. Capturing the wit and charm of our leading man, while also adressing some frequently asked questions regarding the existence of Santa Claus by doubting children, this film is a must see. Magical, funny and heartfelt, it is without a doubt one of the best Christmas movies of all time. While some of its jokes may be a little dated, it is still an entertaining film which I believe, as a whole, still holds up. Can we all take a second to acknowledge the fact that David Krumholtz has not aged in the last 21 years? I think he might be a real elf.

9. Gremlins (1984)

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While everyone else was praising A Nightmare Before Christmas for its ability to blend genres, I was busy watching Gremlins. More than any other Holiday movie, Gremlins succeeds in bridging the gap between campy horror and Christmas magic. This unique creature feature is a tale of romance, intrigue and humor. It is able to be ridiculous and over the top with its action and horror, while remaining rooted in its Christmas backdrop. Let’s be honest… Furbies totally copied Gremlins, right?

8. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

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I don’t believe there is a soul on this Earth who has never seen Charlie Brown’s Christmas special. It is a fun and witty story about Charlie Brown’s search for the true meaning of Christmas. It is a great commentary on the consumer culture of Christmas. This film is a great Holiday movie for the whole family and conveys a very significant message. So for those of you who loved this year’s Peanuts Movie, take your kids on a walk down memory lane to experience one of Charlie Brown’s most memorable tales.

7. A Christmas Story (1983)

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Now, I am sure I will receive a lot of backlash for placing this film so low on the list. Honestly I’m just not as big of a fan of this movie as most people. However, there is no denying that it is one of the funniest Christmas movies ever made. Without giving in to the temptation to indulge in the inevitable cheese that accompanies most holiday movies, A Christmas Story manages to reel audiences in with its relatable and witty gags which have remained hilarious even after all these years. Is it weird that the dad was basically feeling up a lamp?

6. Die Hard (1988)

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Yes, Die Hard IS a Christmas movie! Don’t even try to argue with me. Die Hard is one of the greatest action movies of all time and it introduced us to one of the greatest action heroes of all time who would eventually become a joke as the franchise took an unfortunate turn for the worse by filmmakers who wiped their own asses with the source material… Anyway, Die Hard rocks. John McClane is a badass. Hans Gruber is a tremendous and memorable villain. It is a tale of redemption and reconciliation. F*** you, it is a Christmas movie.

5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

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It’s campy, it’s over-the-top, it’s heartfelt and it’s Jim Carrey dressed as a green wookie. The Grinch makes this list because of its sheer irreverence. It is a hilarious and meaningful tale of love and forgiveness. Jim Carrey overacts the hell out of his character and we love every minute of it. The film also features delightful performances from actors like Jeffrey Tambor and Molly Shannon. Let’s not forget Anthony Hopkins’ narration which gives Morgan Freeman a run for his money. This is a wonderful film and I protest all of the negative reviews it received from critics.

4. Home Alone (1990)

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Before John Hughes and John Candy kicked the bucket, before Joe Pesci cussed his way to an Oscar with Goodfellas, before Chris Columbus gave us the god-awful Pixels, and before Macaulay Culkin became a freaky weirdo, audiences were blessed with the whimsical tale of two convicts trying to kill(?) an 8-year-old MacGyver who was left at home by his sh*tty neglective parents which captured the true meaning of Christmas in the 1990 classic, Home Alone. (Was that a run-on sentence? I don’t care.) This is a marvelous movie with an excellent cast which brings out the Christmas spirit in me every time I watch it.

3. Elf (2003)

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Perhaps the most quotable Christmas movie ever made, Elf pioneered the man-child Will Ferrell character we have come to know and love. Yes, before telling San Diego to “stay classy,” before sprinting around a NASCAR racetrack in his undies, and even before engaging in a petty feud with his step-brother, Will Ferrell- a human boy raised by elves at the North Pole must strap on his yellow tights and green elf suit to engage in an epic quest to find his estranged father in the heart of New York City. This movie is spectacular. It is funny, romantic and heartfelt. Plus, it contains one of the greatest movie duets between Ferrell and the lovely Zooey Deschanel. Let me clarify; it is not my favorite movie duet JUST because she is naked. That is just a happy coincidence.

2. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

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Let’s get serious for a minute. This movie is not only one of my favorite Christmas movies, but it is also just one of the greatest movies ever made. In one of James Stewart’s most memorable performances, we meet George Bailey: A businessman whose heart has become filled with despair who, with the assistance of an angel, is shown what life would be like if he never existed. This is a great story of love and selflessness and it gives me the feels every time I watch it. Please, please, please! If you have never seen this movie, rent it or buy it. It’s a wonderful film. (no pun intended… Just kidding, it was intended.)

1. Christmas Vacation (1989)

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The third and best installment of the Vacation franchise proves be the exception of two common claims: 1. Comedy Sequels always suck and 2. Christmas spinoffs never work. Chevy Chase gives one of his most hilarious performances as Clark Griswold alongside Beverly D’Angelo as his wife, Ellen. When I turn this movie on I literally giggle throughout its entire 97 minute runtime. It is a hilarious commentary on family life and the madness which accompanies having your relatives over for the Holidays. With some of the most memorable gags and a charming, albeit cheesey conclusion, Christmas Vacation is my all time favorite Christmas movie.

Don’t agree with my list? Did I leave out anything you think should have been included? Let me know what you think in the comments section below! Don’t forget to hit that “Like” button!

 

My Top 10… So Far- 2015

As we head into Oscar season, we anticipate films such as The Revanent or The Hateful Eight which are sure to receive plenty of attention at the Oscars. In light of this I believe it is necessary for us to look back in appreciation towards the great films which have been released thus far which are less likely to receive any credit this award season. These are my top ten films of the year so far…

1the-gift-Giftfinal_rgb0. The Gift

My rating: 8/10

Written and Directed by Joel Edgerton

Starring Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall and Joel Edgerton

Rated R for language

In Joel Edgerton’s directorial debut we receive a worthy preview of the greatness to come from this actor-turned-director. This grounded thriller conveys a heartfelt message to its audience to be mindful of our actions. It plays out quite differently than one would expect and commands respect as a very original suspense-driven film which pulls great performances out of its cast.

137810_ab9. Kingsman: The Secret Service

My Rating: 8/10

Directed by Matthew Vaughn

Written by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn, based on the comic book “The Secret Service” by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons

Starring Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong and Michael Caine

Rated R for sequences of strong violence, language and some sexual content

I must admit I had very little expectations going into this film. Vaughn continues to impress audiences with his bold vision and outstanding execution. Kingsman is a breathe of fresh air in the comic book movie industry. Violent, irreverent, sexy and yet still maintaining relevancy, this action packed-spy thriller is easily one of the most original comic book movies of all time. It acts as a commentary on both our social structure and on cinema realism. In an age where everything must become more grounded in reality, Kingsman reminds us that we can still have fun blowing up people’s heads in the most grandiose way imaginable.

 

Love_&_Mercy_(poster)8. Love & Mercy

My Rating: 8/10

Directed by Bill Pohlad

Written by Oren Moverman and Michael Alan Lerner

Starring John Cusack, Paul Dano, Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, drug content and language

Based on the true story of Brian Wilson, the brilliant mind behind the Beach Boys, Love & Mercy tells an outstanding tale of loyalty. John Cusack reignites the spark within himself we have all sorely missed. Alongside Paul Dano, a beautiful image is painted of the brilliance, fragility and love Brian Wilson maintained while being abused and over-medicated by his controlling doctor, Eugene Landy (played by the great Paul Giamatti) until he met his eventual love, Melinda Ledbetter. Elizabeth Banks delivers an Osar-worthy performance as Ledbetter, who brought Wilson back to life- as it were, and fanned the flame of artistry within the former Beach Boy. It is a beautiful movie which reminds us why we love the Beach Boys so much.

creedpostersmall7. Creed

My Rating: 8/10

Directed by Ryan Coogler

Written by Ryan Coogler and Aaron Covington, based on characters created by Sylvester Stallone

Starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone

Rated PG-13 for violence, language and some sensuality

This spinoff from the beloved Rocky franchise demands respect as it manages to stand on its own two legs while paying due homage to its predecessors. While this film is very reminiscent of the first Academy Award Winning Rocky, its biggest difference can be found in its leading character. Adonis Johnson is a very different man than Rocky Balboa, with different motives which are both grounded and relatable. Coogler directs the hell out of this movie. The cinematography is beautiful, the score is inspired and the chemistry between Jordan and Stallone is eccentric. Overall, Creed pushes the Rocky franchise to new limits and will surely inspire future sequels.

eott_web6. The End of the Tour

My Rating: 9/10

Directed by James Ponsoldt

Written by Donald Margulies, based on the book “Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself” by David Lipsky

Starring Jason Segel and Jesse Eisenberg

Rated R for language including some sexual references

Based on the true story of journalist David Lipsky’s interview of renown author David Foster Wallace, The End of the Tour basically plays out like a two hour long conversation. That being said, it is perhaps one of the most compelling conversations I have ever heard. The film is heavily critical of American consumerism and exposes the weight of unnoticed addictions like junk food or television. Jason Segel stands out as he delivers the performance of his career in Wallace. The tension between the two leads is fully realized and audiences are forced to the edge of their seats as they are both inspired and convicted by Wallace’s insight. The film is very emotional without being cliche. It is one of the most impactful films of the year.

Mr.-Holmes5. Mr. Holmes

My Rating: 9/10

Directed by Bill Condon

Written by Jeffrey Hatcher, based on the novel “A Slight Trick of the Mind” by Mitch Cullin, based on characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Starring Sir Ian McKellen and Laura Linney

Rated PG for thematic elements, some disturbing images and incidental smoking

Mr. Holmes is an incredibly fascinating and original take on the beloved character, Sherlock Holmes. Set in the 1940’s, an aged and retired Sherlock Holmes (played by the majestic Ian McKellen) struggles to recall his most significant case which sent him into retirement. This is a beautiful film. Set in the vast countryside, the cinematography takes advantage of the set’s breathtaking landscape. McKellen plays the role with a remarkable charm and wit, creating my personal favorite rendition of the character to date. Carter Burwell’s soothing score compliments the film’s antique and magical tone. Mr. Holmes is as inspiring as it is intriguing and if Ian McKellen does not receive a nomination for his work in this film, I will personally start a riot in the streets.

ex-machina-official-poster.jpg4. Ex Machina

My Rating: 9/10

Written and Directed by Alex Garland

Starring Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander and Oscar Isaac

Rated R for graphic nudity, language, sexual references and some violence

Alex Garland’s directorial debut is an astounding psychological thriller with amazing performances by its three leads. I don’t want to reveal too much of the film’s plot, so I will simply say; GO SEE THIS MOVIE. Alicia Vikander is breathtaking as the robot, Ava against her seemingly abusive and controlling creator, Nathan (played by Oscar Isaac). Domhnall Gleeson continues on his path to stardom as he portrays the leading role of Caleb, caught between Ava and Nathan, filtering through the truth and the lies. The film is profound and beautiful and deserves all due recognition.

It-Follows-poster_WA_edited-33. It Follows

My Rating: 9/10

Written and Directed by David Robert Mitchell

Starring Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Lili Sepe and Jake Weary

Rated R for disturbing violent and sexual content including graphic nudity, and language

This film really took me by surprise. It Follows is a very unique and profound horror film which pays homage to the classics of its genre. After having sex with her boyfriend, Jay (Maika Monroe) is followed by a strange supernatural being who can take the form of anyone and will not stop hunting her until she ‘passes it along’ to someone else. The film acts as a metaphor for sexual abuse and the baggage which comes with it. It is an aesthetically pleasing masterpiece and is one of my favorite horror films of all time.

tumblr_nrasg7uTiz1qbcjkmo1_12802. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

My Rating: 9/10

Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Written by Jesse Andrews, based on his novel

Starring Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler, Nick Offerman, Molly Shannon, with Jon Bernthal and Connie Britton

Rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug material, language and some thematic elements

I was exceptionally amazed by this movie. Its characters are fully human and so vulnerable in such a realistic, yet grandiose way. It forms an authentic relationship between the audience and its characters through the use of both comedy and despair. It is everything The Fault in Our Stars wishes it would have been. It is a deeply moving and profound tale of friendship. There is not a single misstep in this film, be it acting, editing, etc. It is almost perfect in its ability to make even the most apathetic individual reach for their tissues. I walked out of the theater feeling inspired and challenged. If you haven’t seen this movie, go and see it. It is a romantic and gripping tale of two friends facing the overwhelming battle against falling to despair. It provokes the reality of the fear which accompanies cancer and bypasses all cliches.

MV5BMTUyMTE0ODcxNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODE4NDQzNTE@._V1_SX640_SY720_1. Mad Max: Fury Road

My Rating: 10/10

Directed by George Miller

Written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy and Nico Lathouris

Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult

Rated R for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images

This is the only film released this year which received a perfect score from me, because it is the only perfect movie. George Miller emerges from retirement to deliver his passion project which has become the greatest action movie of all time. In the day of mindless CGI induced monster romps and superhero flicks, Miller reignites his classic Mad Max franchise for its most profound cinematic experience yet. Tom Hardy stars as Max Rockatansky alongside Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa as they together attempt to rescue a group of sex slaves from the overlord Immortan Joe. This film is a breathtaking spectacle which demands multiple viewings and further solidifies Hardy as the greatest action hero of our generation. It gives me hope that Blockbusters can also be great films once again.

Spectre Movie Review

My Rating: 7/10 SEE IT

Sam Mendes’s Spectre is a beautifully directed follow up to the 2012 sensation that was Skyfall, which unfortunately devotes more time to connecting a disjointed franchise than developing its characters or plot. However, what it lacks in narrative, it makes up for in originality.

daniel-craig-james-bond-spectreAs far as Bond films go, even when they are bad, they are still wildly entertaining. The trouble with most installments in the franchise is they tend to lean heavily on nostalgia to dictate their success. If you have seen one Bond film, you have seen them all. 007’s adventures tend to follow a strict formula, and even the high points in the franchise (i.e. Goldfinger, Goldeneye, Casino Royale, Skyfall) are restricted to a more formulaic approach.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

A valid argument, along with films like Avengers or Transformers, though Bond sticks to its formula, it rakes in millions with every installment. While these films are a success monetarily, we start to become desensitized to their themes, and the result is boredom. Which is why Spectre was a bit of a breath of fresh air. We see Bond go ‘off the radar’ in this entry, and while that is nothing new (see License to Kill or Quantum of Solace), it manages to push our hero to a more relatable and tangible state.

Each of the modern Bond films thus far have attempted to delve deeper into the psyche of 007. They push him to his limit, NEBwyRs5ECHmFD_1_bnot only physically, but emotionally. While Spectre may not be as powerful as some of its predecessors, it certainly follows the trend.

Bond is forced to face the Specters of his past, coming to terms with the fact that everyone he loves tends to die. As the story progresses, he is forced to confront the possibility that his days of espionage should be left behind.

The name of the game is suspense. More so than any other Bond in the past, Spectre manages to push its audience to the edge of their seats. 007’s devotion to his late and former boss, M (played by Judi Dench), pushes him to chase ghosts, as it were, with no clear end game in sight.
Although Bond’s motivations make the film more original, there are definitely some issues with this film. The most obvious one is the lack of chemspectre-lea-seydoux-1280jpg-73e5f9_1280wistry between Bond and his new love interest, Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux). Now don’t get me wrong, Daniel Craig and Seydoux definitely have a natural chemistry with one another, it is just that the script does not afford them the opportunity to allow it to flourish to its full potential. The result is an unbelievable love story which jumps from 0-60 in 2 seconds- which is faster than 007’s Aston Martin. So it is a little hard for us to buy it when (SPOILER) Bond quits his job to spend the rest of his life with her.

Also, the new villain, Oberhauser, though beautifully portrayed by sprectre-christoph-waltzChristoph Waltz, receives very little screen time, and after his unmasking, loses a great deal of intimidation. Yes, the build up to his inevitable reveal is suspenseful and reminiscent of the mysterious Blofeld in the early Bond films, but ultimately his character just felt wasted. I am sure the writer’s intentions were to prep Oberhauser for his epic return in Bond 25.

The film also contains a severely under-utilized cast which include Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Dave Bautista and Monica Belucci. With most of our attention on Bond, it is natural for his castmates to fall by the wayside.

While the film is lacking in narrative and character development, it still manages to keep its audience both entertained and in a state of suspense throughout. With some of the most original and entertaining action sequences in any 007 film to date, such as the opening Helicopter scene or the train fight with Hinx (Dave Bautista), Spectre leaves its mark as a noble and strong James Bond installment which is definitely worth seeing in theaters.

What do you think? Do you disagree with me completely? Was it the greatest 007 adventure of all time, or an embarrassment to the franchise? Let me know what you think in the comments!