Four Christmases (2008)

One of the more objectionable modern Christmas movies is the 2008 endeavour Four Christmases. This Yuletide rom-com is directed by Seth Gordon from a screenplay Matt R. Allen, Caleb Wilson, Jon Lucas, and Scott Moore. It is a vehicle for the homespun services of stars Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn and it has a lot […]

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Sugar Kisses (2013)

Carlos Cuarón’s 2013 film Sugar Kisses is part street fable and part Shakespearean tragedy. The screenplay by Cuarón and Luis Usabiaga brims with the clarity of young love and juxtaposes it against the darkness of crime and domestic punishment. It’s a familiar tale and at times Cuarón’s affection for clichés gets in the way, but […]

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Trainwreck (2015)

Judd Apatow returns to the well with Trainwreck, a 2015 romantic comedy with a foundation as traditional as it gets. The screenplay by Amy Schumer toys with the frayed edges of comedy, with plenty of raunchy sex stuff to pad out the bizarre 124-minute runtime. But at the core, it’s an astoundingly conservative piece of […]

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A Promise (2013)

Based on Stefan Zweig’s Journey into the Past, Patrice Leconte’s 2013 film A Promise is an unfortunate mess. The French filmmaker attempts to set the German novel in a decidedly English sensibility and winds up crafting a motion picture that is somehow both inert and on the nose. There are few threads of delicacy, which […]

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Cinderella (2015)

Disney’s live action update of Cinderella is so powdered in magic and fairy dust it might produce coughing fits. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, this 2015 take on the 1960 animated feature and the Charles Perreault fairy tale is awash in whimsy and wonder. It looks the part, transporting the audience to a land of exquisite […]

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Romancing the Stone (1984)

A brisk, almost impossibly fun adventure film, Romancing the Stone is a treat. The 1984 motion picture is directed by Robert Zemeckis with a screenplay by Diane Thomas. This was Thomas’ only script. She was a Malibu waitress and she unfortunately died in a car crash just a little while after the movie’s release. She […]

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Calendar Girl (1947)

In no way is Allan Dwan’s Calendar Girl a musical classic. This 1947 picture was reissued as Star Dust and Sweet Music and remains kind of a curiosity suitable only for Dwan fans and musical fanatics. For the Toronto-born director, this is certainly no Robin Hood or Heidi. It’s kind of an overlooked entry in […]

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Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)

Francis Ford Coppola’s Gothic vision of Bram Stoker’s Dracula is masterful in terms of cinematic craft but a bit of a mess in terms of everything else. This 1992 picture is the stuff of operatic hallucinations, a flowing and bloody epic that ranges from the superb to the absurd without much rhyme or reason. It’s […]

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The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

While it’s based on John Green’s novel of the same name, The Fault in Our Stars feels a lot like a Tumblr account come to cinematic life. The dialogue is constructed of piles of clichés and cloying sentiment, with characters sputtering lines like “And I know that love is just a shout into the void, […]

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The Nutty Professor (1996)

Without Eddie Murphy, it’s impossible to imagine The Nutty Professor working as well as it does. The 1996 remake of the 1963 Jerry Lewis vehicle is directed by Tom Shadyac and has a certain zany spirit, but it’s the performance(s) of its star that really sends it over the top. Murphy is enjoying himself almost […]

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Jerry Maguire (1996)

While it’s kind of overcrowded and tends to drown in its own clichés, there’s still something special about Cameron Crowe’s Jerry Maguire. This is the sort of romantic picture that is quoted and remembered. It’s the sort of movie that offers iconic images and seems designed like an advertisement for its own great moments.

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Oklahoma! (1955)

Based on the 1943 stage musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Oklahoma! really is a compelling film for a number of reasons. It’s helmed by Fred Zinnemann, who directed High Noon and From Here to Eternity, and is the first movie filmed in Todd-AO 70mm, which is a widescreen high resolution process.

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The Other Woman (2014)

A repetitive, meandering attempt at screwball comedy, The Other Woman is an exercise in endurance. It’s directed by Nick Cassavetes with a screenplay by Melissa Stack and production by Julie Yorn. It features Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton in lead roles, but somehow it still manages to operate as a male fantasy revenge […]

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Blended (2014)

Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore pair up for the third time with 2014’s Blended, an antiquated comedy that mines the broad appeal of the former and relies on the warmth of the latter to get by. This picture is directed by Frank Coraci, who worked with Barrymore and Sandler on the delightful 1998 rom-com The […]

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That Awkward Moment (2014)

Written and directed by Tom Gormican, That Awkward Moment is a formulaic romantic comedy with one foot in lavish, gesture-heavy sap and the other in raunchy, “boys will be boys” truisms. This 2014 picture plays like it’s trying to be revelatory, creating a world in which three red-blooded American men finally figure out what it […]

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Pocahontas (1995)

Another entry in Disney’s Renaissance period is Pocahontas. This 1995 motion picture is one of the most beautifully animated features in the House of Mouse’s catalogue, with the design of the titular character alone requiring a small army of animators. The music is also terrific, especially the insightful “Colors of the Wind” as written by […]

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The Stork Club (1945)

Hal Walker is perhaps most famous for directing a few Martin and Lewis pictures and a few Crosby and Hope films, but he also helms The Stork Club. This 1945 movie is essentially a vehicle for Betty Hutton and it features no shortage of her musical and comedic displays. The plot is fairly typical, but […]

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Pretty in Pink (1986)

Written by John Hughes and directed by Howard Deutch, Pretty in Pink is a Molly Ringwald vehicle through and through. Its soundtrack is also the stuff dreams in the 1980s were made of, with plenty of New Wave. It features many of Hughes’ hallmarks, from genuine characters to plenty of drama going on at home.

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