Category: Year in review 2011


This year saw a large number of R-rated comedies attempt to find some big success at the box office. How was this year for comedies?

The Good: For the record, I’m going to not include children/family comedies in this genre, especially since I did one on just their films. So, here we go. “Crazy, Stupid Love” which starred Steve Carrel was one of the stronger comedies, and a big surprise for me. All of the performances were great, and I was definitely not expecting the quality. Would have been my pick for best comedy of the summer and the biggest surprise had it not been for “Bridesmaids”. In the vein of “40-Year Old Virgin” it had the dirty humor, heart, a sweetness and a crudeness to it that just worked. It’s what people hoped “The Hangover: Part II” was going to be. “50/50” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen (Man, he really likes these kinds of dramedies doesn’t he) was also a very strong film.

The Bad: Unfortunately, there were a lot more misses for me this year than hits. The year started with one of the more intriguing films for me, “The Dilemma” starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James. Unfortunately, I thought it wasted a fun premise, never fully deciding if it wanted to be a dramedy or more silly comedy. “No Strings Attached”, the first of two FWB comedies to be released, was also the weaker of the two films, despite having Natalie Portman in it. That being said, and I know I’m in the minority here, I didn’t enjoy “Friends with Benefits” either. Just didn’t feel it.

The “R-rated” comedy craze fizzled for the most part for me. The second “Hangover” was…ok at times, repetitive and unimaginative at others, and just plain stupidly boring during the rest. “Bad Teacher”, “Horrible Bosses” and “The Change Up” all seemed to have the parts for a great time, but not took advantage of their potentially fun premises. “Tower Heist” was ok, but didn’t taken advantage of the talent involved. “Jack and Jill”…no comment on that Adam Sandler.

I didn’t see “Young Adult” yet, though I have high hopes. But, these are my picks. What do you think?

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

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The year started with “The Green Hornet”. How did this year fare for the lucrative comic book films?

The Good

Well, on the bright side, I was surprised with both of Marvel Studios’ efforts this summer. Wasn’t really feeling “Thor” but it was good summer entertainment. It was surprisingly funny, had some action, some special effects and Chris Hemsworth was entertaining, as was Natalie Portman. “Captain America: The First Avenger” was a good film as well. Chris Evans really showed he has star potential. I’m always a Hugo Weaving fan and it wasn’t the disaster I feared after director Joe Johnston (Who directed the terrible Wolfman movie) was signed on to direct.

Also, “X-Men: First Class” was entertaining as well. Nice to see some new actors take on some well-established roles. Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) shows he has knack for action films. However, I wouldn’t say any of these films are great. In fact, I’m not sure there was a great comic book film released this year. Especially when compared to past films like “Spider-man 2”, “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight”. Most of the efforts seem pretty pedestrian when compared to how high the bar has been raised in recent years.

The  Bad

Unfortunately, if you weren’t a Marvel comic book, chances are your movie sucked. “The Green Hornet” wasn’t very good at all. Seth Rogen wasn’t entertaining or very funny and was sorely miscast. “The Green Lantern” starring Ryan Reynolds was one of the worst films of the year. At least Reynolds wasn’t alone. “Priest” was nearly as bad, and not nearly as enjoyable because at least with “Lantern” I could laugh at it. “Priest” was just plain stupid. “Cowboys and Aliens” wasn’t a terrible film. But it wasn’t nearly as much fun as it should have been.

Not sure why they decided to try and reboot “Conan”, but “Conan the Barbarian” was um…interesting. Lots of action, which was cool. But not much else. And, if you want to throw “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” into this category because there have been comic books go ahead. It may have been better than “ROTF”, but come on.

The Final Word

Overall, a disappointing year for comic book films. There were a couple good ones, no great ones and a lot of bad ones.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

For the first time in a long long time, Pixar didn’t make the best family film this year. And, in a landscape that has become dominated by computer animated films, it was refreshing to see some of the best family films be live-action.

The Good

Well, two of the last family films to be released are also my two favorites. “Hugo” directed by Oscar-winner Martin Scorsese (The Departed, Shutter Island) is easily my favorite of the year. You can read my review on this site. But, in short, it’s a magical experience. It’s filled with wonder, imagination, spectacle, and the stuff dreams are made of. Movie lovers will especially like this film. Both children and adults will too. All the performances, from Asa Butterfield to Chloe Grace-Moretz to Ben Kingsley are beyond great. They’re perfect.

“The Muppets” starring Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Jason Segal, Amy Adams and the rest of the muppets gang, was one of the biggest surprises for me. From the self-deprecating humor, to the fun sing-along songs to the positive, sweet messages, this was one heck of a film. It’s great to see the muppets make a comeback.

“Rango” was probably the best animated film of the year. Johnny Depp is good as always, and it was an original, fun film. However, I wasn’t as in love with it as a lot of people and had this been a normal year (meaning if Pixar had released a normally good film) this wouldn’t be my pick for best animated film.

The Bad

Unfortunately, overall, this was a pretty bad year for family films, particularly in the animated film category. Pixar’s “Cars 2” was a sequel few people wanted to see. But that was just the beginning. “Kung Fu Panda 2” was more of the same as the original, except less fresh and charming. “Alvin and the Chipmunks”….well I’m just going to stop there. And by all accounts “Happy Feet 2″ fell into the same boat.”

Full disclosure: I did not see “Gnomeo and Juliet” or “The Smurfs”. But, though they were successful, at least with “The Smurfs”, it didn’t exactly get rave reviews.

The Final Word

It was an overall disappointing year for family films, with two very bright spots. For my money, “Hugo” should be a Best Picture contender, but we’ll see what happens.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.