One of my New Year’s resolutions was to write down every single movie I watched that year. Sort it by month, rank them, and then at the end of the year compile a list of my favorites. During January, my family was snowed in. We watched the movies that we got for Christmas, but soon we had run out of those, and no one felt good enough to venture out to rent something. And that is when Netflix’s free 30-day trail came in handy. Some of these on this list are not movies per se. There is a 90 minute TV episode and a stand up special, but this is my blog, and under my definition, they count. So, as we head into February, here are the eleven movies I watched in January.
1. The Little Prince.
This little gem of a movie really made my day. Half of the story is told in gorgeous stop motion animation, while the other is CGI. It is a touching, heartfelt tale about a young girl’s friendship with an eccentric elderly neighbor who teaches her the value of childhood before she grows up too fast. This story reminded me of the themes in the classic Peter Pan tale. However, in this movie the elderly man tells the girl that growing up isn’t the problem. “Forgetting is.” I loved the concept of that, as I have personally seen childhood friends want to forget about their adolescence. The quality of this movie holds up well to Pixar’s sub-par movies. Fair warning to parents: this movie deals with children coping with the possibility of someone dying. And that is where this movie adds depth which I did not expect. It made me think my Great Grandma who died when I was young. It made me think of Mr. Mackenzie, an AWANA leader who died of lung cancer in my last year in Truth and Training. I could go on and on about this movie, but the point is, if you have Netflix, watch it.
2. The Jungle book.
Coming in at number two, is Jungle Book. While I had seen it earlier last year, my Brother and Dad had not. The Jungle Book is one of those movies where you see the trailer, and immediately have high expectations for it. From the get go this movie looked amazing. But it had to be more than just visually stunning. It had to have story. And that is where I think they outdid themselves. To take Rudyard Kipling’s nonsensical short story musings, and weave them together to make a three-act plot about Mowgli’s place in the world is something to applaud. The balance of fun, upbeat jazzy throwbacks to the animation movie, as well as the Shakespearean characters of the animals was everything you always wanted it to be. This movie delivered, end of discussion, move on to the next.
3. Sherlock: The Six Thatcher’s.
Yes, I know it’s not a movie. But it feels like one. Sherlock Season 4 returned with all the dazzle and sparkle that had made me a fan from the beginning. And even though the second episode of this season was awful, and so demented that I stopped watching it, The Six Thatcher’s made me fall in love again with the whole idea. It was fun to see Sherlock and John back to doing what they do best, with Moriarty in the far background, looming over every evil deed. The plot was creative, well adapted from the original story, and gave John and Mary a great adventure together. Yes, it was violent and shocking, but the story was one worth watching.
4. True Memoirs of an International Assassin.
Speaking of violent…True Memoirs of an International Assassin. This was the second Netflix movie I wanted to see while my family had the free trial (the other being the “Little Prince”.) This Kevin James vehicle was a change from his recent formula of family friendly comedies. And while there was no boundary pushing innuendoes, the violence of this movie was shocking for a comedy. Most of the reviews I can find online agree that there were about 7-8 too many head shots. Besides that, the film was a great adventure filled with a lot of humor and Kevin James doing what he does best. My favorite parts of this movie were easily the sequences where Kevin James is trying to write the ending to his novel. It even inspired me to resurrect my own novel and look over some chapters before my class started. In the end, if this movie had been less violent and just a little more character development from the female lead, I think this would have been higher on the list. But hey, kudos for not making the young female character fall for the inept Kevin James character. Even if the audience does.
5. Mullets on fire: Bob Smiley stand up special.
I have known about Christian Comedian Bob Smiley for years. I used to read the “Adventures of Average Boy” in a Christian magazine for kids. Then a few years later, I saw him on a Bananas special and I’ve been a fan ever since. This was one of the DVD’s that I asked for Christmas, and Mr. Smiley once again brought laughter to our family room. It was nice to see him back at it, though the jokes about his wife were sad, considering their situation. But if you haven’t seen Bob Smiley yet, check him out. He’s random, lots of throw away jokes and really packs a lot of heart behind his message.
6. Robin and the 7 Hoods.
A classic gangster musical comedy, (yes, it’s a thing) this movie has a lot of laughs. The big scene stealers in this rat pack movie being Bing Crosby in a rare moment where he was not the laid-back crooner. Instead, Crosby is an insecure, vocabulary spouting man who turns Frank Sinatra’s mobster character into a modern “Robin Hood.” Peter Falk kills it as the villain, being equal parts intimidating and hysterically sarcastic. This movie is a little on the long side, but it has some great characters, and a fun style. Plus a musical number by Sammy Davis Jr. about the glorious sound of gunfire. In my opinion it is just a step above…
7. Ocean’s eleven (Original version.)
Is it better than George Clooney’s version? Probably not. But it is cleaner, and more family friendly. The plot also seems to be less far-fetched and achievable since security wasn’t as good as it was by the time Clooney ‘s remake rolled around. This movie is a forget-about-your-cares kind of movie with some great sarcastic one liners, Dean Martin being his usual cool self, and a surprise ending. It’s worth checking out if you haven’t seen it. Personally, I’ve seen it twice. But some movies are worth watching more than once. Cue the next movie…
Sahara is one of my favorite movies. It is an adventure film with a fantastic plot, lovable characters, and just enough content restraint to get a thumbs up from me. Steve Zahn is clearly the bright spot in this movie, stealing basically every scene he is in. But there is something slick, and neat about this picture. The woman is not objectified. On the contrary, she is a smart doctor who is trying to stop a plague. In fact, Matthew McConaughey is almost the character who is just along for the ride. In his usual laid back attitude as Dirk Pitt, McConaughey is a worthy lead to the movie. There is self-sacrifice, bonds of friendship, a want to rid the world of evil, and a in-your-face American attitude that is just plain fun. It is a movie I have seen multiple times and will likely watch again in the future. Unlike the next movie on this list….
9. Iron man.
I don’t know if it is because I had seen it before, or if I wasn’t feeling well, but Iron Man just didn’t work for me as much this time around. I still liked the characters, and the pace is great, but this movie seems to lose its luster after a while. I think one thing to point out is that Marvel Studios has just gotten better at making movies. One major thing I noticed is how this movie seems old already. From the flip phones, to a boom box in the Humvee, it is surprising to see how the world has changed since Iron Man first saved the world.
10. Leap Year.
Let me just say that Rom-Coms are not my favorite type of movie. Except for the classics of the 1930s and 40s I usually steer clear from them. But Leap Year got my attention for a couple reasons. It was rated Pg, it had Amy Adams in it, and I wasn’t feeling good enough for an intense movie. Some things really worked for Leap Year. The premise was lighthearted and funny. The locations were amazing and beautiful and for the most part, the accents didn’t sound fakey. But some things did not work for me. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen Matthew Goode knock it out of the park as the smooth villain Mr. Wickham on “Death comes to Pemberley”, and as Mary’s second husband on the last season of Downton Abbey, but for whatever reason, Matthew Goode’s performance on Leap Year was…unimpressive. He was obnoxious, his backstory wasn’t sad enough. Amy Adams never really proposes, despite that being the premise. All in all, it wasn’t a bad film. The best part being Amy Adams puking just when you think there is going to be a cliché kiss. And finally, …
11. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2.
This is a movie that is very dear to my heart. My friends and I went to see it in the cheap theaters and we all had a blast. This movie is random, absolutely silly and almost void of anything deep or meaningful. It is a great “Sick” movie (one of those movies that you watch when you’re sick.) Never the less, there are parts of this movie that still bring a smile to my face and I think that’s what the filmmakers were going for.
So, in conclusion. I will be picking a few of these movies to go forward to be put in a “best movies I saw in 2017” list. I’ll do the same for February, and so on. The movies I am picking this month are:
The Little Prince
True Memoirs of an International Assassin.
So what movies did you watch in January?