Wondering which movie to go see in theaters?
Here are the ten best movies playing in theaters and my quick, spoiler-free advice:
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 – See-it – If it’s not the best, it’s definitely the second best – and darkest – Harry Potter film (behind Goblet of Fire). HP7.2 is the perfect ending to the magical story about the young wizard and his lifelong antagonist Voldermort, who finally gets enough screen-time to be worthy of an Oscar nom-nod. And don’t be surprised if the film makes its way into the Academy’s top 10 this year as well.
- Rise of the Planet of the Apes – See-it – This film with a ridiculously long title from an even longer running franchise was made by the same special effects team that created Avatar and Lord of the Rings, and is a surprisingly emotional story thanks to the leading performance from Andy Serkis as Caesar the motion-captured CGI ape.
- Midnight in Paris – Rent-it – It’s a typical Woody Allen film starring Owen Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates, and Adrien Brody about an engaged couple who travels to Paris where their lives are – individually – changed forever. Fans will embrace it, millennials will be bored.
- Winnie the Pooh – See-it – I’m not just saying this because my sister read every Winnie the Pooh story to me as a kid, Winnie the Pooh truly is a sweet and nostalgic family treat – it is a perfectly short family film for children (which Harry Potter is not!)
- Attack the Block – See-it if you can – If you liked Hot Fuzz or Shaun of the Dead you will love this British sci-fi spoof about a group of inner-city kids who go to war with aliens.
- Captain America: The First Avenger – See-it – Marvel comics has a third great superhero film of the year with this pleasantly nostalgic, good-ole-fashioned, action adventure film.
- The Guard – See-it if you can – Brendan Gleeson (the recognizable beefy Irish actor from countless great films) stars in this hilarious dark comedy about sex, drugs and blackmail.
- The Tree of Life – See-it if you can – Brad Pitt and Sean Penn somehow managed to star in a film that you’ve never heard of – which is a shame – because this story about a Midwestern family in the 1950’s is a splendid, emotional, rewarding, insightful, visual treat. Just be patient.
- Horrible Bosses – See-it – This film about a psycho, a man-eater, and a tool is far from fresh but the ensemble cast of Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx make it altogether funny.
- Cowboys and Aliens – Rent-it – Director Jon Favreau actually fails us here, despite Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford’s best efforts to carry this sci-fi western where nothing exciting ever really happens – despite a name like Cowboys & Aliens. However, if you like Olivia Wilde, and old-fashioned westerns (not to be confused with the new hip Oscar-worthy westerns), you might mildly (and Wildely) enjoy this.
Ten other films in theaters that didn’t make the top ten…
- The Help – See-it – New This Week – This racially hyper film about some extraordinary women in Mississippi during the 1960s is carried by its talented cast who make it a touching and satisfactory drama.
- Final Destination 5 – See-it – New This Week – If you loved the first two films in this gory franchise, you will be pleasantly surprised at this return to form. The creatively complex deaths in 3-D are reason enough to see-it in theaters, if you wait-for-it at home the lacking story between deaths might leave you wishing you were one of the ill-fated characters from the first act.
- Crazy, Stupid, Love – Rent-it – This typical romcom hodgepodge of a guy losing his perfect life but then bumping into her high school sweetheart is anything but typical and truly a hodgepodge of talented actors.
- Friends with Benefits – Rent-it – Now we know why Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz broke up, and why Bad Teacher stunk, because JT and co-star Mila Kunis’s chemistry carries this formulaic yet hip romcom just enough the nearly recommend seeing it in theaters – if you’re into that sort of thing.
- The Whistleblower – Wait-for-it – Rent the much better docudrama also starring a smoldering Rachel Weisz The Constant Gardener and wait for this film about a Nebraskan police officer in post-war Bosnia to hit HBO or Netflix Instant.
- Larry Crowne – Wait-for-it – This rom-com is neither funny nor romantic, but the chemistry between Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts is believable and there is some post-retirement life lesson here… somewhere. So watch it on ABC in 10 years or show it to your dad on Netflix in a few months.
- Bad Teacher – Wait-for-it – Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake, and Jason Segel star in the completely wrong comedy about three high school teachers. If you’re interested in romantic comedy parody or just want to see Diaz’s charity car wash scene – this film is probably for you.
- Last Night – Wait-for-it – Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington are a happily married couple in NYC until 7 years into their marriage the wife meets the husband’s gorgeous colleague Eva Mendes who he’s never mentioned before. Yadda, yadda, yadda, a drunken business trip ensues.
- 30 Minutes or Less – Wait-for-it – New This Week – Don’t fall for the advertisements on TV stating every scene is hilarious, unless you care for crude lowbrow comedy, because this film about a small town pizza delivery guy’s plan to rob a bank is rarely smart and only occasionally funny.
- Love Wedding Marriage – Skip-it – Mandy Moore and Kellan Lutz (one of the Cullen vampires from Twilight) might sweep the Razzies with this “comedy” that will actually leave you awkwardly waiting for a pity laugh you feel so bad for it.
…and the five worst films in theaters:
- Glee: The 3D Concert Movie – See-it if you are a Gleek – New This Gleek – Otherwise, you will remain as confused as ever as to why this dramedy is such a pup-culture phenomenon.
- The Undefeated – Skip-it – This documentary is just a 2-hour, back-patting Sarah Palin infomercial.
- The Smurfs – Skip-it – The Smurfs visiting New York is nothing more than a handful of recognizable voices buried beneath a heaping pile of boring blue baby junk.
- The Change-Up – Skip-it – Honestly, the only reason to see this comedy where Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman switch bodies (and typecasts) is to see Olivia Wilde’s nude scene with CGI nipples.
- The Perfect Host – Skip-it – David Hyde Pierce (Dr. Niles Crane from TV’s Frasier) is the perfect host of this dinner party that goes 90 minutes too long. The intriguing twist in the plot would have made a better short than a feature film. You could rent-it and quickly “drive-thru” but I’d say skip it altogether.
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