Best of Movies: A Summer to Watch

Anna Reagan

Whether your summer was jam-packed with boring jobs and parties, or you were just sitting around watching the latest episodes of Entourage, there is one thing for sure: there were tons of movies to be seen – mostly sequels and blockbusters. But the question is: Were they any good?

HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma WatsonDirected by: David YatesReleased: July 11, 2007

A die-hard Harry Potter fan must never expect to be wholly satisfied with the movies that are, at best, a rough rendition of the books. And this one had the usual tricks: dazzling special effects, breathtaking cinematography and the playful charm brought by the tight-knit ensemble cast of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint.

There were parts of the story that the movie did as well as J.K. Rowling herself. The evil of Professor Umbridge is spine-tingly due to the pitch-perfect performance of Imelda Staunton. And when Dumbledore is trying to reach out to Harry, who is being possessed by Lord Voldemort, he reminds Potter that, “It’s not how you are alike. It’s how you are not.” This theme is a favorite of Rowling’s and quite nicely tucked into this scene.

There was one overarching problem that the movie could not escape, demonstrated in a few of Radcliffe’s lines and the overall pace of the film: the film seemed rushed. Phoenix is the longest book with the U.S. edition coming in at eight hundred and seventy pages. But Director David Yates chose to make it the shortest film to date with a running time of one hundred and thirty-eight minutes. The build-up to the final battle is all there. Harry, Ron and Hermione are constantly on edge and aware of the rising tension among the school, their peers and the ministry of magic. But once we get there, once we are at the point of climax, the movie seems to hit fast forward. The death of Sirius Black, Harry’s beloved godfather, is almost put in as an afterthought. Harry is seen fiddling with a sweatshirt later on to signify some loss, but how is that accurate or meaningful? And the discussion of the prophecy — the thing that Albus Dumbledore has been waiting and yearning to tell Harry for five years — is nothing more than a conversation that takes place in an awkwardly spaced and creepily lit nook.

If one didn’t know that it was so important, one might not take notice of it at all. The magic is still alive and well in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; it just seems that the spell was cast a little hastily. Yates should take a cue from Miss Hermione Granger: you must take your time to cast the spell right with a proper swish and flick.

THE SIMPSONS MOVIE

Starring: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy CartwrightDirected by: David SilvermanReleased: July 27, 2007

The magic formula that has always kept The Simpsons afloat was apparently abandoned for the movie, and therefore the transition from the small screen to the big one does not go as smoothly as hoped.

The Simpsons is obviously about the Simpson family, but they are only the core of the Simpson universe. There are countless memorable characters, from Apu to Moe to Chief Wiggum to Mister Burns that do not get the limelight they deserve. The show has lasted so long because the brilliant writers don’t give anyone a chance to get sick of any one character. The movie, however, focused only on the nuclear family. We were never given the chance to be entertained by the other nutcases who roam Springfield.

Further damaging to the movie was its unbelievable plot. The whole town being thrown into a bubble by the U.S. government and left to fend for itself seems even more ridiculous than anything the writers and creators have dealt with in the past. The show is renowned for its equal opportunity policy for making fun of everyone, but the writers wind up preaching the global warming issue.

A much more accessible plot would have been to revert to the villain-that-never-fails: Mr. Burns. He is the billionaire that everyone loves to hate (or just plain loves).

A further fumble for the Simpsons was Bart’s sudden attraction and desire to be with Flanders is just plain bizarre. Homer may be one lousy father, but if there is one thing he taught Bart to do well, it is to hate Flanders and the lifestyle that he leads.

Finally, moving the family to Alaska was the last of the big blunders. It didn’t work.

The yellow faces are all there and the shenanigans, too, but it still feels lackluster – almost like the creators knew they wanted to do a movie but didn’t take the time to make it a good one.

Fans of The Simpsons do know what they want and this time it wasn’t delivered.

SUPERBAD

Starring: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Christopher Mintz- Plasse Directed by: Greg MottolaReleased: August 17th, 2007

Seth and Evan love each other. They just do. That is what makes the wacky plot, the more-than-vulgar language and the all too familiar high school parties work. You feel as if you have met a Seth or an Evan in your past and you would do anything to go back to that moment and screw around with those goofs. Superbad is more than funny; it’s real.

The script is wildly comical and is based on the real life of Seth Rogen (Knocked Up) and his best friend Evan Goldberg. The two started the movie when they were just thirteen. The blend of what was written then and what was added now keeps the dialogue real, fresh and familiar. This in turn makes the actors’ jobs much easier. Their characters are ones you can fall deeply in love with.

McLovin is the man. There is no other way to say it. His character quirks shine from the way he is so clueless about the “proper” way to get a fake ID to the valiant way he takes the blows from the caustically verbal Seth. Seth himself is the chubby powerhouse that you want to tag along with. He has no idea what he is doing but he’ll fool you and himself into thinking that he does. And then there’s Evan, who is so sweet and mild that you want to envelop him in your arms. He even turns out to be a gentleman in the end, making him all the more adorable.

The chaos that ensues on one particular night for these three is by no means believable, but in the subtlest of ways, the cast and creators have let you know that you’re in on this particular joke from the start.