Movies That Surprised You

Anyone ever rent a movie or get dragged by friends to the theater only to walk out of a movie surprised that you actually enjoyed it? Two films that did that for me were Into the Blue and Mean Girls.

Stop laughing.

Fun In the Sun!

When I saw the ads, I wrote this one off. Then a friend said they thought it was actually pretty good. And so after it became available on the Hollywood Video MVP plan, I rented it (at least if I hated it, I would not have been out a few dollars).

And while there were things that bugged me, I still enjoyed the overall film. Part of the generosity probably came from the fact that the film spent a lot of time underwater, and I am fascinated by the oceans. If I had more courage, I would likely have gone into marine biology. Most of my favorite JamesBond moments are the undersea moments.

And the film has a mildly compelling plot. Young treasure hunters in a tropical location stumble on a crashed plane filled with drugs on the bottom of the ocean. While two of the characters (Jared played by Paul Walker and Sam played by Jessica Alba) are quick to believe they need to alert the authorities, their friends ( Bryce played by Scott Caan and Amanda played by Ashley Scott) are more grey and suggest not reporting it. They tempt Jared and Sam away by noting that the bits of undersea treasure they may have found may lead to bigger bounty, and that will never happen once they report it to the police. Bryce (a big city lawyer) convinces both Jared and Sam to wait until they can find a ship and then report it after they stake their claim.

Bryce and Amanda are far more tempted by riches, while Jared wants the better life for him and Sam…and Sam just likes being with Jared(she doesn’t need to be rich to be happy-though Bryce works hard to undermine this truth in Jared, trying to convince him that Sam won’t love him poor forever). In an attempt to get money for the equipment they need in their treasure hunt, Bryce tries to move some of the drugs they have found, which leads them to extreme hot water with the local drug lords. Mayhem ensues.

The ethical questions the film raises are simple, but good ones. The film definitely takes advantage of it’s location to show as much of both Alba and Ashley Scott as possible. Though most of the men spend the entire film shirtless as well. But the director lingers longingly on it’s female leads far more than is necessary, and takes away from what could have been a more serious film.On the other hand, Alba is no helpless victim. She does not sit by idly waiting for Walker to storm in and save her, she fights back. And does so with skill.

Again, this film surprised me, presenting an understandable moral quandary. I wascaught off guard that there was any depth to it at all. The film also never asks the actors to go beyond their range. So you don’t suddenly find yourself cringing at wooden deliveries.

So Mean!

I am just going to reprint what I wrote from 2004 when I went to a preview of the film.

I got an invite to a viewing of Mean Girls followed by a Q&A with the director (Mark Waters) and writer(Tina Fey-I have friends who will be jealous that I was a mere twenty feet or so from her ). I was a bit nervous, because I expected bad things…the previews are indistinguishable from the *last* Lindsey Lohan flick (Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen). It looked like a bad teen film.

The trailers do NOT do this film justice at all. This is a fun film with a great sense of humor. It got some nice “poignant” moments and avoids falling into it’s cliches. It uses those points to it’s advantage. It’s closer in tone to Heathers then say, Confessions. It’s a bit dark humored at times. It’s also I think, a bit over the heads of kids…more aimed at teens and adults. There some political messages about the sexualization of young girls by television and movies, though it’s a tad lost when you see every major girl role (Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert and Amanda Seyfried) except one (Lizzy Caplan as the arty girl who befriends Lohan) are often outfitted it tight cleavage accentuating tops. The story and humor rule the film though, at least for me. And the language is pretty safe, there was no nudity and the film was not a raunchy teen film (according to Fey, the author of the book made that one request-and apparently she was satisfied with the end result). What’s surprising is that it’s based on a book…that has no storyline. It’s an advice book, Fey created all the characters.

Fey mentioned that it was hard to write a feature, because when it comes to writing for SNL, and sketch comedy in general…story is the enemy. Fey was asked about writing dialog for teen girls, and she admitted she would have just screwed up the slang, so she made it up (there is a running joke in which Chabert’s character tries to get the word “fetch” to catch on as school slang). The Q&A was pretty interesting as well. Hope I get to see more of these screenings. It was noted that Mark Waters (the director of Mean Girls, as well as the director of the Jamie Lee Curtis version Freaky Friday) is the brother of the guy who wrote Heathers.

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So, what are movies that surprised you?

Posted in: Movies

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