Movies and TV

Cinematic Surprises

Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell in "The Other Guys" (2010), courtesy of Columbia Pictures

Have you ever arrived at a packed box office and been forced to see your third-choice movie? Have you ever groaned, whined and stomped your feet at this unfortunate turn of events and then proceeded to walk out of the theater two hours later wearing a big grin? This has happened to me more than once, and I think it’s all due to the fact that abysmal expectations can make mediocrity seem fabulous. Ah, the odes I could write to the god of pleasant surprises and subverted expectations. If only you could turn to this god for help, however, when trying to conceal the good time you had and recommending this unlikely movie to friends. You don’t want to raise their hopes and rob them of your great viewing experience, but how the heck are you supposed to convince them to see the movie otherwise? I know I fail to set realistic expectations in this sense all the time, but let’s see if I can make it up to you on your next trip to the video store…Here are some no good, terrible, horrible, very bad flicks from 2010 that just might surprise you if you have absolutely nothing better to do:

  • “The Other Guys” – I didn’t think this movie would have a story at all, but it does – please try to forget I said this. Another thing you should definitely wipe from your mind is the fact that it features a star-studded cast that genuinely gets into their characters even though they know they won’t be earning Oscar nods from them. You will be annoyed by the infrequent (but still present) use of lowbrow sexual humor, but push this out of your mind and I bet you’ll forget it’s a Will Ferrell movie. If you simply can’t get over the Will Ferrellness of it all, remind yourself that this is an innocent comedy, then zero in on Marky Mark’s beguiling mug and down a couple beers.
  • “Salt” – Angelina Jolie will drive you crazy. You’ll hate the way she looks with blonde hair and you’ll even get the suspicion that she’s stalking you (first in the supermarket checkout, now on your TV screen). Ugh. But, I implore you to just sit back and enjoy all the spectacles this unabashed action movie has to offer. Watch it for the stunts and the intriguing fact that the main character was originally written as a male, and you should be in good standing for an entertaining evening.
  • “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” – You won’t be blown away by the story, and you’ll wonder why in the wide world of Harry Potter anyone ever thought another tale about wizards was necessary. To top this off, you’ll either love or hate Nicolas Cage and there’s nothing this movie or I can do about it (this factor is unchangeable and encoded in our genetics). No matter how you feel about Mr. Cage and wizards, though, you’ll be delighted with the special-effects bonanza of this film. It is a solidly gripping ride, and memorable visuals couple with engaging plot twists to make it well worth a viewing.
  • “Easy A” – This is a teen movie. Go into it expecting as much and prepare to laugh a little (mind you, no more than just a smidgen), and you’re bound to have a great time. If you want to get your expectations all out of whack, you can read more about this flick in a recent post I wrote about the glories of high school movies.
  • “Green Zone” – Forget “Hurt Locker.” For me, it was a film with phenomenal editing that failed to live up to its massive hype in any other way. A flick about the Iraq War that exceeded my expectations, however, was this far-less acclaimed sleeper starring Matt Damon. “Green Zone” is not perfect by any means and it gets a little more political than some people might be comfortable with, but isn’t that the point? War is a big deal, and this movie does a commendable job of depicting actual conflicts from recent history while capturing unique footage of the Iraqi landscape. Expect lots of explosions, Matt Damon running like hell, and the sudden urge to rewatch the documentary “No End In Sight” (2007) for a refresher course on the events you see in the film.

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3 Comments

  • Reply Tony January 7, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    Enter The Void. It’s 2 & 3/4 hours of first person cinema, with the most insane visuals I’ve seen in years. The story is paced like Kubrick’s 2001 and shot like Requiem For a Dream, there’s pop-Freud and copious drug use, it’s terrifying and pretentious, and it’s the most interesting, mind blowing film I’ve seen in years.

  • Reply Pat Oey January 7, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    As a DJ I of course enjoy the scene in “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” where the guy uses the Tessla wires to go along with the music.

  • Reply J. R. Coté January 9, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    That sounds mesmerizingly horrible, Tony. Given my apprehensive expectations and your trustworthy recommendation, however, I just might love it. Thanks for sharing!

    And, Pat…Yes! I had a feeling you’d get a kick out of that scene with the big Tessla devices.

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