Bruce Almighty (2003)

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A guy who complains about God too often is given almighty powers to teach him how difficult it is to run the world. (IMDb)
Though Carrey as Bruce is charming throughout, after a compelling first act set-up culminating in him cursing God, the second act has a little too much fun with his newfound powers, lazily letting some inconsistencies pop up (power corrupts, but Bruce’s transformation to douche was very sudden; wouldn’t his tampering with Evan be considered interfering with his free will?). A sentimental third act borders on mawkish at times but ultimately wraps things up with a nice “be the miracle” message.
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

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The Waterboy (1998)

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A waterboy for a college football team discovers he has a unique tackling ability and becomes a member of the team. (IMDb)
Mostly just really juvenile and unfunny, from Sandler’s annoying schtick (though his extravagant water obsession as a “water distribution engineer” brought lots of laughs) to the childish “bayou bumpkin” stereotypes to the eye-rolling talking heads gag. The sports storyline is also completely predictable, of course, though the requisite climactic game is admittedly done quite well, from the halftime turnaround (“Remember the time Bobby Boucher showed up at halftime?”) to the goofy announcers.
5.5/10 (Poor)

 

True Grit (2010)

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A stubborn teenager enlists the help of a tough U.S. Marshal to track down her father’s murderer. (IMDb)
Beautiful bleak landscapes, memorable old English banter between a bevy of colourful characters, and a straight-forward engaging adventure plot (with admittedly unnecessary flash-forward bookends) are topped off with a simple piano theme and crossfade scene transitions. Throw in some gunfights, horse riding, and beans cooked over a fire and you have the perfect Western, with the fiery Mattie (loved that water-crossing scene) adding just the right amount of new spice as the atypical protagonist.
8/10 (Great)

 

Barton Fink (1991)

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A renowned New York playwright is enticed to California to write for the movies and discovers the hellish truth of Hollywood. (IMDb)
Call me a “common man,” but I found the surreal third act a bit jarring in its offloading of abstract symbolism (which was a bit too much so), as artistically affecting as it was, and despite the underlying meta narrative. Still, the great turns, quirky characters, moody atmosphere, and memorable dialogue throughout (Jack’s monologues are hilarious; Barton and Charlie have a great dynamic: “I could tell you some stories-” “Sure you could!”) make for a highly engaging Hollywood satire regardless.
7.5/10 (Really Good)

 

Miller’s Crossing (1990)

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Tom Regan, an advisor to a Prohibition-era crime boss, tries to keep the peace between warring mobs but gets caught in divided loyalties. (IMDb)
A really cool classic film noir feel saturates this cohesive slow burn of a crime drama, with its drab 40s sets and suits, niche dialogue (“What’s the rumpus?”), fiery character melodrama (see the climax of Tom’s arc: “Look in your heart!” “What heart?”), and twisting plot (see Dane’s rise to prominence). It’s maybe a touch hard to follow at points, but it’s so solidly acted (Turturro might be the highlight; see his pleading in the forest) and directed that that can be easily forgiven.
8/10 (Great)

 

Raising Arizona (1987)

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When a childless couple of an ex-con and an ex-cop decide to help themselves to one of another family’s quintuplets, their lives become more complicated than they anticipated. (IMDb)
Bursting with a brilliant and bizarre sort of energy right from its fast-forwarded how-we-met-story intro to its surprisingly touching final montage (both which star Cage’s excellent narration), with a wonderfully wacky premise serving as the foundation for some gut-busting slapstick (see the post-diaper heist chase with the dogs; the final baby bonanza) and outrageous secondary characters (see the obnoxious escapees Gale and Evelle; the redneck Glen and Dot and their destructive children).
8.5/10 (Amazing)

 

Jurassic Park III (2001)

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A decidedly odd couple with ulterior motives convince Dr. Alan Grant to go to Isla Sorna (the second InGen dinosaur lab.), resulting in an unexpected landing…and unexpected new inhabitants on the island. (IMDb)
Surpasses the second installment largely thanks to its shorter run time, the return of Neill as the steady Indy-like wry lead Dr. Grant, and the addition of the always-good Macy. A couple of interesting new settings (see the “bird cage”) also help keep this installment of dinosaur escapes fresh and popcorn-munching fun until the end in spite of another contrived plot. It’s campy (see the dino dung digging), but it seems to know it, unlike the cheesy “bigger/more is better” sequel before it.
6.5/10 (Alright)