Friday, September 4, 2009

Summer movie wrap

Posted By on Fri, Sep 4, 2009 at 11:45 AM

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By Matt Brunson

Best Cameo: Harrison Ford. Bet you didn't know Ford appeared in two movies this summer. Bet even Ford doesn't know he appeared in two movies this summer. Yet his split-second appearances in Bruno (ambushed on the street by the title character) and (500) Days of Summer (appearing in a Star Wars clip) resulted in two of the season's most hilarious moments. Runner-up: Arnold Schwarzenegger (sort of) in Terminator Salvation.

Worst Cameo: Will Ferrell in The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard. The Idiotic Man-Child strikes again. Runner-up: Mike Tyson in The Hangover.

Best Musical Accompaniment: David Bowie. The rock legend made his presence known at the multiplexes this summer. His theme from the Cat People remake, "Putting Out Fire," was employed in its entirety in an imaginatively filmed sequence in Inglourious Basterds, while his song "Heroes" functioned as a call to arms during the closing credits of the environmental documentary The Cove. He also served as the musical inspiration to one of the teen protagonists in Bandslam and even appeared in a climactic cameo. And making Papa Bowie proud during this period was his son Duncan Jones, who earned critical kudos for his directorial debut with the art-house film Moon.

Breakthrough Male Star of the Summer: Ryan Reynolds. Not only did Reynolds co-star with Sandra Bullock in the smash rom-com The Proposal, but his supporting turn as Wade Wilson/Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (another box office hit, despite the negative buzz) has led to the starring role in the proposed follow-up, Deadpool. Also on tap: the title role in another superhero adaptation, Green Lantern (like Deadpool, it's due in 2011).

Breakthrough Female Star of the Summer: Zooey Deschanel. Usually seen in independent films, Deschanel ventured into the mainstream waters last year with mixed results (the hit Yes Man, the flop The Happening). Returning to the indie pool, she co-starred in the sleeper hit (500) Days of Summer, earning rave reviews as well as a new legion of smitten fans.

Best Counterprogramming: The Proposal. Sandra Bullock's reign as a box office queen has been over for quite some time, so the spectacular $160 million gross for this charming if predictable comedy caught many box office prognosticators by surprise.

Worst Counterprogramming: My Life in Ruins. Leading lady Nia Vardalos doubtless hoped for another success along the lines of her $241 million earner My Big Fat Greek Wedding; instead, this dud's paltry $8 million take — coming after the paltry $8 million take for her 2004 flop Connie and Carla — potentially signals a career in ruins.

Summer Movie I'm Most Sorry To Have Missed: The Brothers Bloom, starring Rachel Weisz and Adrien Brody.

Summer Movie I'm Most Grateful To Have Missed: G-Force, starring talking CGI hamsters.


Best Marketing Tie-In: The "Restrooms For Humans Only" signs posted on bathroom doors at movie theaters showing District 9. In fact, the entire marketing campaign for this film was brilliant, turning a dubious late-summer entry into a sleeper hit that's about to cross the $100 million mark.


Worst Marketing Tie-In: The Mudflap and Skids action figures from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Kids, now you too can promote racial stereotypes in your own living room!

Most Unexpected Mini-Trend: Vets for Viagra. Or, more specifically, veteran actors playing characters who, uh, get a rise out of taking Viagra (Richard Dreyfuss in My Life in Ruins; Andy Griffith in Play the Game).

Movie That Generated The Best Reader Response: The Hangover. While it's nice to receive complimentary mail (such as the missives thanking me for championing the underrated Terminator Salvation), nothing beats the nasty stuff. And my pan of this inexplicable summer smash led to the most vicious feedback I'd received since I trashed Lady in the Water (yes, who knew that M. Night Shyamalan bomb had such a fervent following?). As expected, most of the posts and e-mails from fans of this frat-house favorite were full of typos, and most were monosyllabic variations on "You suck!" I still chuckle, though, over the one asking me how many professors I had to blow to earn my English degree.

Most Pleasant Surprise: (tie) Inglourious Basterds and A Perfect Getaway. Quentin Tarantino is such an erratic filmmaker that it's impossible to predict what we'll get from him. Happily, this World War II romp — and film buff's delight — proved to be both a critical and commercial hit. A Perfect Getaway, on the other hand, arrived on the scene with little fanfare and disappeared just as quickly, but it's a nifty "B movie"-style thriller worth catching on DVD. Runner-up: My Sister's Keeper, a weepie that works.

Biggest Disappointment: Public Enemies. Not a bad movie, but given its credentials (director Michael Mann, stars Johnny Depp and Christian Bale) and lofty expectations for Oscar gold and box office riches, this turned out to be a massive letdown. Runners-up: Taking Woodstock, a rare fizzle from director Ang Lee; the not-so-Funny People.


Most Endearing Couple: Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci in Julie & Julia. Runner-up: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel in (500) Days of Summer.

Most Obnoxious Couple: Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler in The Ugly Truth. Runner-up: Kevin Dunn and Julie White (Sam Witwicky's parents) in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Best Male Performance: Christoph Waltz as a cunning Nazi officer in Inglourious Basterds.

Best Female Performance: Meryl Streep as Julia Child in Julie & Julia.

Worst Male Performance: David Cross as Cain in Year One.

Worst Female Performance: Katherine Heigl as the typical Katherine Heigl character in The Ugly Truth.

Worst Film: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Last year, both reviewers and audiences agreed that The Dark Knight was the best film of the summer. This time around, the two camps couldn't be more at odds, as this critically reviled sequel nevertheless has emerged as the biggest moneymaker of 2009. Runners-up: My Life in Ruins; The Ugly Truth; Year One; Cheri; G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

Best Film: Up. Before the close of the year, Up and (500) Days of Summer might end up swapping positions. But for now, no summer film has remained on my mind — for its bittersweet moments as much as for its comedic ones — quite like this Pixar delight. Runners-up: (500) Days of Summer; Julie & Julia; Star Trek; Moon; In the Loop.

Top 15 Moneymakers

1. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - $399 million

2. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - $294 million

3. Up - $289 million

4. The Hangover - $270 million

5. Star Trek - $256 million

6. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs - $193 million

7. X-Men Origins: Wolverine - $179 million

8. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian - $176 million

9. The Proposal - $160 million

10. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra - $133 million

11. Angels & Demons - $133 million

12. Terminator Salvation - $125 million

13. G-Force - $112 million

14. Public Enemies - $97 million

15. District 9 - $92 million

(Through Sept. 1. Source:

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