Shorts

One sentence movie reviews limited to a maximum of 20 words. Movie’s rating (based on 4 star max) and date of review included.

THE REVIEWS

10 Things I Hate About You (1999) – Teen dramedy satisfies like an entrée of cotton candy. (2½) – 3/10/15

11:14 (2003) – Clever morality tale follows multiple story threads all culminating one night at 11:14. (3½) – 10/6/12

12 Angry Men (1957) – Ignoring the procedural impossibilities, this drama ultimately delivers a tense and engrossing verdict. (3½) – 10/6/12

30: Minutes or Less (2011) – From pizza deliverer to bank robber and all I see looking at Jesse Eisenberg is Facebook. (3) – 5/23/12

50 First Dates (2004) – More likable than it has any right to be this fantasy romance wraps you in tropical breezes. (3) – 5/23/12

300 (2007) – Glaring example of style not triumphing over substance. (1½) – 7/8/12

Age of Adaline, The (2015) – Harmless fluff about a woman who doesn’t age due to a freak accident and, consequently, continually rejects love. (2½) – 11/20/16

Air Force One (1997) – Fanatical Russian nationalists hijack the President’s airplane allowing Harrison Ford to display full range of angry and confused expressions. (3) – 10/6/12

Airport ’77 (1977) – Disaster film in more ways than one with lots of old movie stars trying to chew non-existent scenery. (1½) – 12/11/11

Almost Famous (2000) – Aspiring 15 year old rock music journalist’s adventures with B-level rock band and pitch-perfect “Band Aid” Kate Hudson. (4) – 12/11/11

American Hustle (2013) – Relentlessly paced, cleverly plotted, endlessly layered, and beautifully acted tale of high-stakes greed sizzles and seduces. (4) – 4/10/14

Animal House (1978) – Otter, Boone, Bluto, et al. raunch their way through college, sororities and road trips in this seminal 70’s laugher. (3½) – 7/8/12

Artist, The (2011) – A powerful reminder that saying so little can say so much. (4) – 3/7/12

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958) – Mercifully short film about extra tall woman’s anger spurred by hubby’s unfaithful diddling doesn’t even deliver on huge camp potential. (1) – 3/7/12

Auntie Mame (1958) – Larger-than-life socialite is suddenly saddled with raising her nephew in dated, yet entertaining tale. (3) – 8/2/13

Babes in Toyland (1934) – Incredibly dated Laurel and Hardy offering still pops up on the small screen every December. (2) – 12/21/12

Baby Boom (1987) – Guilty pleasure finds discarded NYC executive unexpectedly raising a child in rural Vermont. (3) – 12/11/11

Big Chill, The (1983) – This pretentious bore examines the lives of 30 somethings reunited after the death of a college friend. (1½) – 7/8/12

Big Fish (2003) – Off the wall story of a man’s life which makes my eyes leak every time because of allergies. (4) – 11/14/11

Big Heat, The (1953) – Atmospheric delight with revenge-fueled detective and spurned moll trying to take down insidious syndicate remains highly engrossing. (3½) – 4/10/14

Big Lebowski, The (1998) – Classic dude tale is not to everyone’s tastes, but there is no denying it ties the room together. (4) – 8/2/13

Big Short, The (2015) – Based on real events, greed fills every scene as a maverick hedge fund manager bets against the big banks. (3½) – 08/31/16

Big Year, The (2011) – Erroneously promoted as a LOL comedy this gentle tale follows three birders on the wings of a dream. (3) – 7/8/12

Billy Jack (1971) – Main character spends entire movie kicking ass as his way to promote peace as answer to society’s ills. (1½) – 11/14/11

Bling Ring, The (2013) – Criminal indiscretions of fame obsessed teens in Los Angeles is more of a misdemeanor than a felony. (2) – 08/31/16

Bolt (2008) – C’mon, how can a loveable, animated dog coming of age be anything but huge fun? (3½) – 08/31/16

Bottle Shock (2008) – A pleasing, if slight, varietal showcases California’s 1976 emergence as an international viniculture force. (3) – 11/20/16

Captain Phillips (2013) – Hanks confidently steers this powerful and tense, if a bit long, true story of a hijacked cargo ship. (3½) – 3/10/15

Casablanca (1942) – All movies try, but only a handful succeed like this. (4) – 3/10/15

Casino (1995) – Fair-to-middling Scorsese retread combining elements of several of his past films set in a different location. (2½) – 12/11/11

Catwoman (2004) – Things are bleak when Halle Berry in a skin-tight cat suit cannot forgive a movie’s multitude of sins. (1) – 10/6/12

Cedar Rapids (2011) – Quiet slice of life movie about regular guy thrust into unusual circumstances I generally find very appealing. (3½) – 12/11/11

Christmas Story, A (1983) – A generous present wrapped in crinkly feel good nostalgia as a young boy plots to get the perfect Christmas gift. (4) – 12/21/12

Christmas Too Many, A (2007) – It will make you laugh and it will make you cry for exactly the opposite reasons the filmmakers intended. (1) – 12/21/12

Coal Miner’s Daughter (1980) – Sissy Spacek is eerily spot-on as Loretta Lynn in biopic that should have been an EP, not an LP. (3) – 08/31/16

Coffee and Cigarettes (2003) – Fascinating and frustrating series of vignettes manages to hold attention even through the smokey low moments. (3) – 3/7/12

Cop Land (1997) – Every now and then Stallone demonstrates nuanced acting chops. (3) – 7/18/16

Cops and Robbers (1973) – I love Donald Westlake’s books, but their humor gets stolen whenever translated to film. (1½) – 4/3/12

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011) – Surprisingly effective comedy gently sneaks into your heart between the laughs. (3½) – 8/2/13

Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) – Insightful, hard-eyed look at the vagrancies of love and lust finds Woody Allen in top form. (4) – 1/18/12

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) – Much more than a martial arts exercise, this wonderful film glides along on a sense of duty and suppressed emotions. (4) – 12/11/11

Dark Knight, The (2008) – From start to end the relentless pulse hammers your body in this greatest of all “superhero” movies. (4) – 7/18/16

Dick (1999) – Overlooked and sublime comic gem about two teenage girls, Richard Nixon and Watergate. (3½) – 1/18/12

Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974) – An unmistakable 1970’s aesthetic is pervasive as two felonious gearheads and a stubborn blonde outrace police to the checkered flag. (2) – 11/20/16

Dodgeball: An Underdog’s Story (2004) – Modern comedy mini-classic which demonstrates novel uses for wrenches. (3½) – 11/14/11

Don’t Think Twice (2016) – Very funny glimpse into the world of improv comedy never appears forced or rehearsed. (4) – 11/20/16

Double Indemnity (1944) – Murder “always comes apart sooner or later, and when two people are involved it’s usually sooner.” (4) – 7/18/16

Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story (1993) – Typical, unimaginative bio-pic of martial arts god fails to lend a kick to Lee’s brief, interesting life. (1½) – 3/7/12

Duck Soup (1933) – I guess you had to be there to understand why this was considered funny. (2) – 4/3/12

Earthquake (1974) – Disaster film in every way possible. (1) – 5/23/12

Easy A (2010) – Man, that Emma Stone is some kind of actress. (3) – 12/11/11

Ed Wood (1994) – The perfect merging of Burton’s singular vision and Depp’s endless ability results in their finest film together. (4) – 5/23/12

Elf (2003) – Goofy and irreverent, it eventually sneaks its way down the chimney of your heart. (3) – 12/21/12

Everything Must Go (2010) – Everything can stay except for an unnecessary and distasteful plot twist. (3) – 08/31/16

Ex Machina (2015) – Tonight’s menu includes refined megalomania sautéed with spicy technological marvels accompanied by a generous portion of hormonal distraction. (3½) – 7/18/16

Exorcist, The (1973) – Even after four decades of imitators this film remains the touchstone for heart-stopping jolts and supernatural creepiness. (4) – 4/10/14

Florence Foster Jenkins (2016) – Not one false note in this compelling and melancholy story of a woman who can’t sing eventually playing Carnegie Hall. (3½) – 08/31/16

Foreign Correspondent (1940) – American journalist is sent to warring Europe where he finds intrigue, spies, and love in this superior Hitchcock film. (4) – 3/10/15

Freshman, The (1990) – Like a rare delicacy, every taste of this finely sautéed film is worth savoring. (4) – 11/20/16

Frost/Nixon (2008) – Interesting take on the famous 1977 interviews by fluff British personality David Frost with disgraced ex-President Nixon. (3½) – 10/6/12

Game, The (1997) – Extremely engrossing, well-acted puzzle continually stretches, before finally snapping, any reasonable measure of plausibility. (2½) – 08/31/16

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The (2011) – Riveting, dark and somewhat overlong entry that brings a new dimension to “girl power.” (3½) – 1/18/12

Glitter (2001) – Amazingly, an unbelievable story, terrible script, bad direction and wooden chipmunk-cheeked Mariah Carey does not achieve “camp” gold. (½) – 12/11/11

Good Will Hunting (1997) – Must see complex and moving deal about a reluctant, troubled genius and a psychiatrist who’s dead inside. (4) – 11/14/11

Graduate, The (1967) – Forty-five years down the road and this Mike Nichols gem is as fresh today as ever. (4) – 7/8/12

Grand Budapest Hotel, The (2014) – As “Wes Andersony” as anything he has directed this affectionate nod to Old World Europe is both exquisite and plodding. (3) – 4/10/14

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – Hugely entertaining slice of the Marvel Universe is nothing if not grootilious. (3½) – 3/10/15

Happy Feet (2006) – Box office animated smash left me cold. (2) – 5/23/12

Heaven Can Wait (1978) – Comedic gold abounds when an athlete is prematurely “removed” from his body before dying, then returned to a different body. (4) – 10/6/12

Her (2013) – In a refreshingly non-dystopian future, love between a lonely man and an evolving OS (operating system) is masterfully rendered. (4) – 08/31/16

Hindenburg, The (1975) – Bloated offering explodes all over the screen. (1½) – 8/2/13

Hookwinked! (2005) – Clever animated retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood story appeals to all ages. (3½) – 1/18/12

I, Robot (2004) – Will Smith in the future outsmarting, outpacing, and outbuffing technology gone wild. (3) – 3/10/15

I Love You, Man (2009) – Consistent laughs and a surprising sweetness give this guy movie wide appeal, despite its casual crudeness. (3½) – 7/18/16

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) – It took Spielberg and Lucas 19 years to come up with this??? (1½) – 1/18/12

It Happened One Night (1934) – Classic road comedy with crackling wit and energy between Gable and Colbert. (4) – 1/18/12

It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) – Corny, yet still moving, is this story of one man’s unexpected journey to understand what his life is worth. (4) – 12/21/12

Jaws (1975) – Seminal shark tale still clamps on tight and never lets go. (4) – 8/2/13

Jules and Jim (1962) – Heartbreaking love triangle beautifully rendered by Truffaut still shines 50 years later. (3½) – 4/3/12

Key Largo (1948) – Bogie and Bacall light it up as hostages dealing with murder, gangsters, Seminoles, and a hurricane in this noir thriller. (3½) – 4/10/14

King and I, The (1956) – A commanding turn by Yul Brynner guides this dated musical through culture clashes, melodramatic twists, etc. etc. etc. (3) – 4/10/14

Knowing (2009) – Nicolas Cage’s warning to all actors to avoid financial difficulty so they can avoid making movies like this. (1) – 1/18/12

Leaves of Grass (2009) – This story of twin brothers turns from comedy to drama in a way that would make the Coen Brothers proud. (3½) – 1/18/12

Liar Liar (1997) – Hilarious (board room), ludicrous (court room), ultimately unbelievable (dad/family behavior) Carrey offering – like every one of his comedies. (2½) – 11/14/11

Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The (2004) – Quirky, stylistic and mildly uneven Wes Anderson film about…well, the life aquatic. (3) – 3/10/15

Long Way Down, A (2014) – The title aptly describes the trajectory of this film compared with its source material, Nick Hornby’s fine novel. (1½) – 7/18/16

Longest Yard, The (1974) – Burt Reynolds’s rakish charm has emerged as the only reason to endure his hugely popular 1970’s movies. (2) – 7/18/16

Lost in Translation (2003) – “We’ll start a jazz band” encapsulates middle age man’s angst and young female’s quest for meaning amid Toyko’s neon paradise. (4) – 3/7/12

Love Actually (2003) – Christmas for the hopeless romantics among us. (2½) – 12/21/12

Love and Death (1975) – Witty dialogue and Rimsky-Korsakov music carry this story of a neurotic serf and his cousin’s plot to assassinate Napoleon. (3½) – 08/31/16

Mama (2013) – Compelling premise and promising start make the last half of this film that much more disappointing. (2) – 4/10/14

Martian, The (2015) – The story of an astronaut stranded so far away often hits so very close to home. (3½) – 7/18/16

Meet the Parents (2000) – Further proof you can wring all the good comedy out of a premise in one movie. (3½) – 4/3/12

Midnight in Paris (2011) – Paris glows golden in this fantasy about a writer who gets to experience his romantic notions about the past. (3½) – 4/3/12

Miracle on 34th Street (1947) – The word “precocious” was probably coined after 8 year old Natalie Wood lit up the screen in this enduring favorite. (3) – 12/21/12

Moneyball (2011) – Better than expected story about underdogs playing the percentages touches all the bases. (3½) – 5/23/12

Money Pit, The (1986) – Alleged comedy finds married yuppies sinking their life savings, and the audience’s patience, into a bloated house. (1) – 10/6/12

Moscow on the Hudson (1984) – Robin Williams’ remarkable gift for portraying empathic characters will be, perhaps, his most enduring legacy. (3) – 7/18/16

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) – It’s corny, dated and idealistic, but still appeals to our dim hope for a just legislative government. (4) – 12/11/11

Naked City, The (1948) – Dismissing the leprechaun images conjured by Barry Fitzgerald’s voice helps elevate this enjoyable “one in eight million” crime story. (3) – 4/10/14

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) – Dumb, with moments of laughter despite your better instincts. (2) – 12/21/12

Nebraska (2013) – This wonderful, sublime film may be monochrome and monotone in delivery, but is complex and powerful in impact. (4) – 4/10/14

Oklahoma! (1955) – If you can abide the baffling tendency of folks suddenly breaking into song and dance this musical classic will entertain. (3) – 10/6/12

One for the Money (2012) – After years of anticipation Janet Evanovich’s bounty hunter comes to the big screen and is not a plum worth picking. (2) – 5/23/12

Paper Moon (1973) – Drags a bit, but still cons its way into your consciousness thanks to a young Tatum O’Neill. (3) – 4/3/12

Paths of Glory (1957) – Emotionally devastating anti-war film from a young Kubrick. (4) – 11/14/11

Paul (2011) – Brilliant, funny, smart, crude with lots of “F” bombs for the kids. (4) – 11/14/11

People Will Talk (1951) – The unorthodox Dr. Praetorius defends a single mother-to-be and a mysterious man-servant against the narrow minded. (2½) – 11/20/16

Petrified Forest, The (1936) – A small morality tale set in the Arizona desert takes no prisoners. (3½) – 7/8/12

Planet of the Apes (1968) – Timeless, effective and still eerie sci-fi classic allows Heston to chew the scenery like a true Shatner. (3½) – 3/7/12

Portrait of Jennie (1948) – As ripe for a remake as any 60 year old, totally off-center movie can be. (3) – 1/18/12

Poseidon Adventure, The (1972) – First of the 1970’s large ensemble disaster flicks features a topsy-turvy world and wildly emoting Gene Hackman. (2½) – 08/31/16

Pride of the Yankees (1942) – Love letter to recently deceased Yankee slugger Gehrig is safe at home thanks to solid performances by Cooper and Wright. (3) – 3/7/12

Quick Change (1990) – Despite Bill Murray’s excessive snarkiness and Randy Quaid’s nerve-grating wussiness, this bank robbery comedy somehow does not suck. (2½) – 10/6/12

Radio Days (1987) – Despite no central narrative this warm remembrance of 1940’s life in Rockaway tops the hit parade. (4) – 5/23/12

Rising Sun (1993) – Study of cultural differences illustrated through a murder investigation doesn’t quite bridge the gap between good and bad. (2) – 7/8/12

Rock, The (1996) – Assault on Alcatraz to capture renegade Marines is a headache-inducing assault on logic and common sense. (2) – 8/2/13

Rocky Horror Picture Show, The (1975) – The ONLY way to be able to sit through this thing is at a midnight show with crazed devotees. (3½ – midnight show in theater) (1 – anywhere else) – 12/11/11

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) – Quirky tale of accidental journalist pursuing a story of man who places want ad seeking a time travel partner. (3) – 10/6/12

Salt (2010) – Standard spy thriller is far more entertaining than could be reasonably expected. (3) – 3/10/15

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010) – Graphic novel sensation translates to quirky, extremely likeable film with Cera battling Winstead’s seven evil exes. (3½) – 7/8/12

Scrooge (1970) – Ebenezer Scrooge, in the person of Albert Finney, sings! (3) – 12/21/12

Silence of the Lambs, The (1991) – Exceptionally chilling story catapulted Hannibal Lecter into the pantheon of unforgettable film characters/food connoisseurs. (4) – 4/3/12

Smokey and the Bandit (1977) – Reynolds was at the height of his fame in this badly aged comedy about beer runners down south. (1½) – 4/3/12

Snowpiercer (2013) – Train keeps a-rollin’ through post-apocalyptic tundra and in your face class warfare. (3½) – 3/10/15

Social Network, The (2010) – Fincher’s take on Facebook founder Zuckerberg becomes more addictive each time you log in. (4) – 4/3/12

Something’s Gotta Give (2003) – Harmless fluff about an old Lothario finding love with a woman several decades closer to his age. (3) – 8/2/13

Sound of Music, The (1965) – Angelic Andrews singing tunes you’ve known forever is too long on fluff considering family is fleeing for life from Nazis. (3) – 3/7/12

Star Trek (2009) – How Kirk and gang first got together is entertaining, but was unbelievably loud in the theater. (3) – 11/14/11

Stories We Tell (2012) – Engrossing multi-layered documentary illustrates there is often more than people realize in any family story. (4) – 8/2/13

Stranger Than Fiction (2006) – Will Ferrell shines in this quiet gem exploring the weird cosmic connection between an everyman and neurotic novelist. (4) – 11/20/16

Sunset Blvd. (1950) – Oh, the power of brilliant writing! (4) – 8/2/13

Taking of Pelham One Two Three, The (1974) – Film captures 1970’s grit, but also detracts from the execution of the story line. (2½) – 3/7/12

That Thing You Do! (1996) –Pitch perfect time capsule of one fictional band’s rise to the top of the pop charts in mid 60’s. (4) – 3/7/12

They Were So Young (1954) – High class modeling opportunities in Rio merely a front for low-fi call girl shenanigans in this wink-wink offering. (2½) – 3/10/15

Thrill of It All, The (1963) – Harmless sudsy comedy follows Day’s journey from housewife to commercial spokeswoman sensation. (3) – 7/8/12

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) – If you want to know about dignity all you have to do is watch the grace of Attikus Finch. (4) – 5/23/12

Tree of Life, The (2011) – Unlike any movie well, ever, this complex fable demands attention and work from its audience. (4) – 1/18/12

Unstoppable (2010) – Surprisingly fun action yarn which is more exciting than it has a right to be. (3) – 11/14/11

Up (2009) – Seriously, has there ever been a more moving and emotional opening sequence in a movie? (3½) – 4/3/12

Up in the Air (2009) – The messy intersection between heartless corporate downsizing, personal loss, and emotional vacancy is powerful and poignant. (4) – 11/20/16

Very Brady Christmas, A (1988) – What can be more awesome than the Brady clan warbling “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” at a building collapse? (2½) – 12/21/12

Walk on the Moon, A (1999) – Strong performances bolster this ordinary story of a housewife’s misguided affair during the summer of Woodstock and Neil Armstrong. (2½) – 7/18/16

Wall Street (1987) – Sure this 80’s morality tale wears thin, but Douglas’ signature performance ultimately results in a bull market. (3) – 5/23/12

What’s Up, Doc? (1972) – Popular comedy when released and painful to watch today, especially Ryan O’Neal’s “acting.” (1) – 11/14/11

What Women Want (2000) – As time marches along we continue to realize Mel Gibson always played a version of Mel Gibson. (2) – 7/8/12

Words, The (2012) – This mildly interesting tale of plagiarism gone horribly wrong is unnecessarily multi-layered. (2) – 11/20/16

Wrestler, The (2008) – Rourke’s singular turn as a fading professional wrestler slams through all defenses. (4) – 8/2/13

Zombieland (2009) – A deadly funny journey through a post-zomblistic world is brought to life by stellar performances and Twinkies lust. (3½) – 4/10/14

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