One of my favorite things about Netflix (other than the fact that I can rent 100 DVDs over the summer for about $68 total) is that you can rate the movies you’ve seen and it keeps a running tally. Because of this, I know that I just watched my thousandth movie of all time (give or take a few). This means I’ve watched about 40 movies a year for the past 25 years. I’m genuinely not sure if I should take pride in this or hang my head in shame. Whatever the case, here are mini reviews for exactly .3% of the movies I’ve ever seen.
PG, 2007, 87%
General Thoughts: Though I wasn’t expecting a lot out of this one, it really got me. Maybe it’s just that sports movies based on true stories have my number, but I was thoroughly engaged in this story from the first second. It’s the story of an inner city Philadelphia recreational swim team that finds purpose and their coach who finds redemption. It deals honestly and dramatically with issues of race, perseverance, making mistakes, and integrity. The swim meets (a sport which I have never found compelling) are genuinely exciting and the characters are each unique and well drawn. Terrence Howard is amazing as expected, but the surprise is that Bernie Mac has a wonderfully touching impact as well. Tom Arnold even shows up to play as the inevitable rival’s coach. Which brings me to the only place this film loses points, predictability. There aren’t many twist and turns here, and if you’ve seen Rudy, Hoosiers, or any other underdog sports movies you know exactly where this is headed, but boy does it feel good when you get there.
Overall Grade: B+ (87%)
PG-13, 2006, 83%
General Thoughts: I can’t believe I kind of liked a movie staring the guy who played Robin Hood, a professional golfer, and a post apocalyptic mariner the exact same way along with the stoner from “That 70’s Show” and “Punk’d”. It kills me, but I have to be honest, this… movie… (takes breath, attempts to finish) didn’t…. stink. It’s the story of a Coast Guard rescue swimmer (Kevin Costner) who teaches a tortured swimming prodigy (Ashton Kutcher) to follow in his footsteps. Of course eventually the student has some lessons for the teacher (Sheesh, even the plot summary sounds horrible). Somehow, they made a decent movie out of this and I found myself invested fully in the outcome. My guess is that they played to my deep need for meaning in media, by putting on screen some of the clearest examples of selfless love I’ve ever seen. OK, fine, Costner and Kutcher were good too. The world must seriously be coming to an end, soon.
Overall Grade: B- (83%)
PG-13, 2006, 89%
General Thoughts: If I weren’t such a stickler for time travel philosophical accuracy (12 Monkeys remains the only movie that gets it right in my opinion) and plot holes this would have been an “A” movie. The performances are incredible all around (even a suddenly fat Val Kilmer is good) with Denzel giving another power house that gives this movie a real sense of life, urgency, and joy. I don’t want to give too much away so I won’t get deep in the plot, but sufficed to say, this is a head scratcher. It only works if you ignore some fairly obvious inconsistencies in the mechanics of the plot, but it’s one of those movies that the action and performances make it a worthwhile endeavor to accept the film’s version of reality. Lot’s to think about here, including some great thoughts on action and consequence.
Overall Grade: B+ (89%)