The Bucket List (2007)

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Two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die. (IMDb)
With the bucket list plot failing to stand out (cue the typical tourist spots–Western Europe, the pyramids, etc.–and old people skydiving), all you’re left with is predictable growing-friendship fodder made up of trite sentimental dialogue that fails to ever really catch your interest. However, a moving finale (with a nice little twist at the top of the mountain) proves that there was some good character work done throughout the formulaic script, helped along by solid turns from the two leads.
6/10 (Mediocre)

This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

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Spinal Tap, one of England’s loudest bands, is chronicled by film director Marty DeBergi on what proves to be a fateful tour. (IMDb)
Perfectly crafted comedic mockumentary fare: Smartly added to the expected deadpan ridiculousness (dying drummers; “This goes to 11”) is an ultra-serious filmmaker (Reiner’s straight-face in the sit-down band interview is perfect) and an ample amount of expertly acted mundane-day-in-the-life scenes that cements the film’s realistic atmosphere and just makes the band’s outlandish stage antics, delightfully dumb Brit-accented dialogue, and past-their-prime misfortune all the more hilarious.
8/10 (Great)

 

The Princess Bride (1987)

While home sick in bed, a young boy’s grandfather reads him a story called The Princess Bride. (IMDb)
A hammed-up fairy tale with all the fixings: Giant rats and madcap magicians, true love and impassioned revenge, kisses and torture, quicksand and castles, and at the core, a romantic tale of a fair and tragic princess kidnapped and her fearless lover (played brilliantly by Elwes) overcoming all odds to fetch her back. Slathered on top of it all is a thick layer of uninhibited silliness that produces a plethora of hilarious quips and mirthful moments throughout. It’s a story for the ages!
8/10 (Great)

 

Stand By Me (1986)

After the death of a friend, a writer recounts a boyhood journey to find the body of a missing boy. (IMDb)
A gorgeous nostalgia-drenched boyhood adventure tale that’s more than just loveable characters, slapstick mishaps, and funny one-liners: A remarkable young cast (with a strong supporting turn by a greasy Sutherland) delivering effortlessly natural performances (their retro middle-school banter is golden) brings to life a superb script that puts childhood wonder and imagination next to the adult themes of death and tragedy to create a truly authentic and affecting adolescent character study.
8/10 (Great)