2014 movies that won’t make my list – Comedy makes everything better

12.10.14 2 years ago

My schedule is frantic this week. That's the best word for it. I feel like I'm constantly in motion.

You'll start to benefit from that in these next couple of days. I have some great “Inherent Vice” stuff going up, I've got a piece about the “Community” 100th episode celebration at the CBS Radford Studios, and my ten best video goes up on Thursday.

So that means I've got to also finish the preamble, which continues with the next five titles on my list of the fifty films that were part of my thinking as I put that top ten list together. It's interesting how there seem to be things that unify each of these groups of titles. In this case, these five films are all movies that are very funny, but they cover a pretty broad range of subject matter.

“The LEGO Movie,” for example, was a pleasant surprise. I think this should be the last time any of us act surprised when Lord and Miller make a good film out of unlikely source material. I think what makes the film genuinely great is the way it breaks into live action at the end and makes a point that I hope is internalized by guys my age who think their toy collections belong on a shelf and preserved like fine art.

Jason Bateman has had one of the loveliest careers of any child actor in Hollywood, and “Bad Words” seems like a perfect match of star and subject matter. As a director, he sets the stage for his entire ensemble cast to shine, and I love that the film never pulls a punch. He is not a curmudgeon with a heart of gold, and the film's better for it.

I wrote just the other day about Jenny Slate and her lovely work in “Obvious Child.” She's always been a strong comic performer, but this makes a real case for her as the complete package. When you hear something described as “a romantic comedy about abortion,” it sounds like it's going to be some strident thing more concerned with shock than substance. Not the case at all, and I hope this is the start of a long and interesting starring career for Slate.

Two of the films I adored that I saw at festivals this year basically headed straight to VOD, but that's no longer about the quality of the movies. Instead, it seems to be the way things work when companies feel that the amount of money it takes to market even a moderately-scaled theatrical release just doesn't make sense. I loved both “The Mule” and “Housebound,” but I'm not sure that either one would be what I considered an easy mainstream sale. “The Mule” is about a battle-of-wills between a guy smuggling heroin balloons up his ass and the cops who are sure he's guilty, with all of them forced to spend ten days in a hotel waiting to see if the guy will shit or not. “Housebound” is about a woman who is sent to live with her mom for house arrest, only to realize that her house may be haunted. Both of those seem to me like really easy and smart hooks, and the films more than deliver on that promise. But without recognizable stars, neither one of them feels like a slam-dunk in terms of US box-office, and that is what drives these decisions. No matter. I can at least still steer you to seeing the films, no matter if it's on a big screen or a small one.

For those keeping score, here's the full list so far:

31. “The LEGO Movie”

32. “Bad Words”

33. “Obvious Child”

34. “The Mule”

35. “Housebound”

36. “We Are The Best!”

37. “Misunderstood”

38. “Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me”

39. “The Guest”

40. “Tokyo Tribe”

41. “Edge Of Tomorrow”

42. “How To Train Your Dragon 2”

43. “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes”

44. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”

45. “The Overnighters”

46. “The Theory Of Everything”

47. “Goodnight Mommy”

48. “Shrew's Nest”

49. “St Vincent”

50. “The Imitation Game”

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