July has come and gone, the long days of August are still in front of us. We have likely seen the last of the big blockbusters, but will probably see a few sleeper hits ahead of us in the next month as we move closer to the traditional Oscar season of the Fall. This month just past and so did the high and lows of perceived expectations. Want to know what I thought of it? Read on.
The month started off strong with the surprising The Devil Wears Prada. This one looked good from the trailers, but has proven to be high quality and have strong legs at the box office, outlasting Superman Returns in the top ten. A week later, the Pirates of the Caribbean sequel opened and started mowing down all the box office records in its path to become the biggest hit, so far, of the year.
July also featured a pair of brothers battling it out in a pair of mediocre comedies. Owen and Luke Wilson, starred in You, Me, and Dupree and My Super Ex-Girlfriend, respectively. Neither one came out swinging, but I think Owen wins the brother battle. There was also a pair of computer animated titles to hit the screens, the excellent Monster House and the mediocre The Ant Bully.
The month also brought with it the latest from M. Night Shyamalan, in hopes of erasing the memory of The Village. Unfortunately, his comeback was cut short when people got an eyeful of narfs and scrunts in Lady in the Water. We also got another TV to feature translation in Michael Mann's good, but not great, Miami Vice.
The movie to take the top spot for me is Clerks II. Kevin Smith successfully brings heart and f-bombs back to the big screen comedy. It is the most fun film of the year, hands down. It was a close call between it and the entertainment that was Dead Man's Chest.
By the Numbers
Films opening in wide release in July: 10
How many I saw overall: 11
How many trips to the cinema: 13
Best of the Month: Clerks II
Worst of the Month: RV
Here are the films I saw this month, in chronological order:
- The Devil Wears Prada. Deliciously subversive movie with wonderful performances all around, including a scene stealing performance from Meryl Streep. This movie shows how you can get a character and the audience by extension, to drink the Kool-Aid without even realizing it.
- RV. When did Robin Williams become a pale imitation of Chevy Chase? Also, when did they start making pale imitation Vacation movies? Well, here it is. This is not a good movie.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. The box office domination this film has had is a sight to behold. The film is a lot of fun as well, perhaps not up to the original, but it delivers in pure entertainment. The only problem I had with it was that it did not wrap anything up.
- Superman Returns. Second time I saw this, and it was even better the second time. Smaller details became more evident, and it was overall more entertaining. I hope to see a second outing from Singer and crew.
- Friends with Money. This was a pretty good film, although the story never really took off. It gives some insight into the relationships between the haves and the have-nots. The best thing to come out of it was Jennifer Aniston stretching beyond the typical Friends-type character.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Second time I saw this, and much like my second viewing of Superman Returns, this was also better the second time. I was able to see more details that pay off later in the movie. Johnny Depp is phenomenal.
- You, Me, and Dupree. Mediocre comedy that coasts on the likeability of Owen Wilson. The story lacked focus; therefore, the movie was all over the place, never settling on who or what the story was about.
- Clerks II. I do not remember the last time I laughed so hard in the theater. I was a little skeptical if Smith could recapture the magic of the original classic. I was happy to see that he could and did. The film successfully melds the vulgar with considerable heart. Quite the achievement.
- My Super Ex-Girlfriend. It was interesting in concept but horrible in execution. It could have been turned into something on par with The Devil Wears Prada in terms of quality. However, this was turned into a series of skits that lack depth and heart. You aren't given much to really care about.
- Lady in the Water. Welcome to a journey into frustrating filmmaking. This is a movie that has much to like, but there is more that drags it down. The character motivations are non-existent, which really sinks it.
- Monster House. Wonderful. A horror film for kids. This tells the story of that one house that the kids won't go near. For all you parents, this is reason the kids don't go near it.
- Miami Vice. Michael Mann's exercise in style over substance is mostly successful. What it lacks in characters and dialogue, it more than makes up for in plot complexity, look, and action. It features one of the best shootouts of the year. ***
- The Ant Bully. Nice animation and some neat action sequences cannot make up for a lackluster story and an unlikable lead character. The story never seems to go anywhere and preaches conformity as a problem solver. It doesn't hold a candle to Monster House.
So, how did July find you?