If you only read one book in your life, read To Kill a Mockingbird. The same goes for the equally extraordinary movie. I (like most people my age) first read To Kill a Mockingbird when I was a Freshmen in High School. It’s one of the those books that you’re required to read in school. After reading the book, we watched the movie. I always like watching old black & white movies with a class, because it’s nice to see “regular” teenagers watch movies that I see on a normal basis. In case you’re unfamiliar, To Kill a Mockingbird is a coming-of-age/courtroom drama about kids growing up in an unforgiving world. Scout and her brother Jem live with their father who’s a lawyer named Atticus Finch. A lot happens, but the most important thing is the court case for Tom Robinson. A scene so powerful that Atticus Finch was named the greatest movie hero of all time. Gregory Peck crafts a character who is stern, but also very compassionate. Another important plot point involves a shut-in named Boo Radley that the children befriend. I guess you could say that the central themes are not to judge a person by what you see on the surface. “It would be like killing a mockingbird.” To Kill a Mockingbird is a movie that will always be relevant no matter how old it gets. If you haven’t seen it yet, then why are you still reading this review? Go watch it right now!
Kiki’s Delivery Service is probably the second easiest Hayao Miyazaki movie to watch. I think it might even be the first one I saw. Kiki’s Delivery Service tells the story of a young witch who moves to a seaside village and gets a job delivering bread. The movie deals with issues such as self doubt and confidence. The movie is about a witch, but it’s not dark and sinister or anything like that. More like Sabrina the Teenage Witch. It’s probably also the most recognizable Studio Ghibli movie. Regardless of what I said in any of my other anime reviews, Kiki’s Delivery Service is the movie I’d most recommend watching.
Tropic Thunder represents everything that’s annoying about Hollywood. Its goal is to mock the different types of actors that exist in Hollywood. Ben Stiller plays the aging action franchise star who’s finally ready to win an Oscar. Robert Downey Jr. plays the five time award winning method actor who’s really serious about his craft. Jack Black plays the pudgy comedian who somehow has a career despite making awful comedies. And Brandon T. Jackson play the rapper turned actor. With Jay Baruchel playing the first time actor in a major production. All these actors are cast in the movie within a movie, Tropic Thunder. That movie that always has problems and usually goes over budget. Everything goes wrong when they blow the budget and have to film deeper in the war torn country they’re in. Tropic Thunder is hilarious, especially if you’re familiar with the types of actors the actors are portraying. Yes, Robert Downey Jr. is wearing blackface, but there’s a perfectly good reason for it. Plus he got an Oscar nomination. As an added bonus, Tom Cruise plays an ugly, foul mouthed, short tempered executive producer. So if you’re at all familiar with Hollywood, Tropic Thunder is a must see.
I had no idea what Moonrise Kingdom was about before watching it. I figured it was some kind of fantasy movie. I was wrong. Moonrise Kingdom is actually a Wes Anderson movie about camping. Specifically when two twelve year olds (one being a camper) decide to run off together. I’ve never really been a huge fan of camping (kinda dorky in my opinion). However, Moonrise Kingdom did make camping seem pretty cool, especially if you’re trying to survive in the wild. The thing I like most about the movie was the romance. I always like to see kid couples in movies or TV. Being a Wes Anderson movie means lots of familiar faces and symmetricality. With a quirky sense of humor. If you’ve never seen or heard of it, I would recommend checking it out.
Clockstoppers is another frequently watched movie in my Vhs collection. I actually forgot that I saw it in theaters, but I did. I was six when I saw the movie. Looking at it from an adult’s perspective, it doesn’t really hold up. Clockstoppers had early 2000s written all over it. Being a live action Nickelodeon movie doesn’t help much either. The concept of the movie is actually really good. The idea of stopping time hadn’t really been done as a full length movie before. I think I always liked the first act more than the rest of the movie. The parts of the movie where they stop time are way more interesting then whatever was actually at stake. I guess Clockstoppers is just one of those movies that I neither hate nor love. If anything, I still wish I could stop time.
Like many other Stephen King movies, Cujo follows a particular formula. In this case, having an uncommon type of monster as the antagonist. Cujo is a St. Bernard (one of the biggest dogs on earth) and the monster in question. Why is he so vicious? He was bitten by a rabid animal and contracted rabies. What makes him terrifying is the fact that a mother and her son are stranded in a car that won’t run. Though Cujo isn’t one of the better Stephen King adaptations, it’s still one of the more recognizable. Especially if you have a fear of dogs.
Bicentennial Man is one of a few movies that I can genuinely say that the critics got wrong. Bicentennial Man has only a 37% on “Rotten Tomatoes.” Which means its reviews were mostly negative, but the movie has gained a cult following. Bicentennial Man is one of those movies that you really have to watch before deciding its bad. Let’s look at the story. Apparently we were supposed to have robot servants by the year 2005. One robot in particular named Andrew, is recently acquired by a family. Over time they discover that Andrew might be capable of a lot more than what he was programed for. The movie then proceeds to jump ahead in time over the course of 200 years. A lot of people have a problem with this, but I think works great. Other people found the robots to be creepy looking. I thought they looked fine (even earning an “Oscar” nom for make up). The fact that Robin Williams passed away only makes his performance here feel a lot more special. I’m sure if you give it a chance, Bicentennial Man might just grow on you. I liked it as a kid and I still like it now.
127 Hours is the true story of one man’s fight for survival. In 2003, Aron Ralston’s arm became lodged between a boulder after attempting to climb down a canyon. Eventually he had to cut off his own arm in order to survive. This is the subject of the 2010 movie 127 Hours based on the book Between a Rock and a Hard Place. When I first heard of this movie I was skeptical. James Franco is pretty much the only actor in the whole movie for about an hour. Since I only knew Franco for less than serious roles, I wasn’t sure what to think. But he totally nails it. Even going through long periods without dialogue doing nothing but expressing emotions. From attempting to entertain himself to losing all hope of survival. When it finally gets to the “amputation scene” (I’m not gonna lie) it feels extremely realistic. I was practically watching through my hands and I’m not usually one to shy away from blood. 127 Hours has a story to tell, and it tells it very well.
What Lies Beneath is the movie you watch if you’ve ever had a fear of the water. I actually watched this movie when I was in my Sophomore English class. Watching a horror movie with a class is a strange experience to say the least. The girls in my class couldn’t stop screaming. What Lies Beneath is almost completely reliant on jump scares. Leading to a mostly average ghost story. While acclaimed director Robert Zemeckis did make this movie, it’s one of his more forgettable films. Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford star, but it’s not enough to elevate the film. Though I will say that the scares in the movie do get the job done. The “bathtub scene” is a particularly terrifying scene. Likely leaving you gasping for air.
An Officer and a Gentleman is the story of a recently enlisted Navy officer named Zack Mayo, trying to make his way in the world. Along the way he meets and starts dating a local woman named Paula. The movie’s main theme is whether or not an officer can live up to predetermined expectations. As well as whether or not women who date officers are really looking for love or just using them. The struggle of training for the military is very accurately portrayed here. Louis Gossett Jr. actually won an “Oscar” for playing a drill sergeant (making him the third black actor to win an “Oscar”). Personally, I think more african americans should win for playing race neutral roles like this. The romance in the movie feels very real. And it ends with one of the greatest “grand romantic gestures” in the history of film. It also won for “Best original song.” An Officer and a Gentleman is one of those movies that can make two different genres work flawlessly together.