1. What Maisie Knew - This movie broke my heart on so many levels. The story is about a little girl, Maisie, who is forced into the middle of a custody battle amid her parents divorce. I was expecting courtroom drama etc., but instead it's really about Maisie and the information that she absorbs around her. I can relate to all of it. Not necessarily the divorce aspect (I think a lot of people can relate to that), but the need to understand something that is incomprehensible for someone so young. I think adults forget how much information children retain, and how even the littlest moment can shape their life. The movie has a somewhat happy ending, which is slightly disappointing because it's not really true to life. However, even with this ending, it is clear that the psychological damage is already done - this girl will grow up with deep abandonment issues and I think that's the part that really gets under my skin. The aftermath of this movie is soul crushing. The little girl who plays Maisie (her name is Onata Aprile) is stunning. Julianne Moore is also fantastic; probably the best I've ever seen from her. This movie makes me really want to read the novel that it is based on, by Henry James. Several of his novels have been made into movies (The American, The Wings of the Dove, The Portrait of a Lady), and none of them have made me want to refer to the original source. I think that says a lot.
2. The Internship - Mediocre and dull, with very little laugh-out-loud moments which is pretty much what I expected with the reviews that it received. I think the only time I laughed is in the beginning when they are loudly singing along to Alanis Morissette's "Ironic" in the car. I love Rose Byrne and I didn't realize she was even in this, so that was a nice surprise (plus she gets to keep her Australian accent - double win!). The character of Lyle was entertaining; his rhymes made me smile. Other than that, everything else was kind of annoying. It seemed really outdated and repetitive. There is a whole scene with the Harry Potter broomstick game, so there was a whole scene in which I had no idea what was happening. Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson have great chemistry together, but I don't think they took full advantage of that.
3. The To Do List - If you are seeking some 90's nostalgia, then this movie will please you. That's the only positive thing I can say about it. There are references to Marky Mark, Phish, "Free Tibet", Hypercolor T-shirts, plus the music included "Let's Talk About Sex" and "Fade Into You" and the absolute best part of the movie is Rachel Bilson doing the Roger Rabbit! The movie, however, is really terrible. I'll be really surprised if it doesn't win a spot on my worst movies of 2013 list. I adore Aubrey Plaza on Parks and Recreation, but her acting in this movie was one of the worst performances ever. It makes me question her acting ability, as a whole, because she is perfect on Parks and Recreation, but she seems to play a characterized version of herself (and she played the same character in Safety Not Guaranteed). This was something different, and she really failed. It doesn't help that her character is super annoying and stupid (especially for someone who is supposed to be smart). She doesn't really pass for a teenager, either. Actually, none of them did. I appreciate that the story is about young women exploring their sexuality, especially among the hordes of movies with the same topic featuring young guys. I was just expecting something funnier and wittier.
4. The Way Way Back - I love this movie! The more I think about it, the more I love it. I think it's one of the few movies from this year that I actually want to own and watch over, and over again. It's such a simple story, but it's just written so well that I instantly fell in love with the characters. Nat Faxon and Jim Rash prove to be a fantastic writing team (they also wrote The Descendants, which won the Oscar for adapted screenplay. I wasn't a huge fan of that movie. I liked it; but I wasn't in love with it like I am with this one. However, I can't argue the fact that it was written extremely well). I was a Production Intern on a movie that co-starred Nat Faxon (waaaay back when), he was a very sweet guy (and I felt really bad for him because 90% of his part was cut from the movie). It's nice to see decent people "make it" in such a cutthroat industry. Aside from the writing, the cast is the best part of the movie. Toni Collette is one of my favorite actresses; she plays the grounded character here, while everyone else is more intense. Allison Janney and Sam Rockwell are the real standout performances. Janney nails the boozy, loud-mouthed, gossipy neighbor ("They called me a c-u-next Thursday to my face!" - hilarious). Sam Rockwell plays one of my favorite type of people - the kind that do whatever it takes to make other people smile and instantly gives someone a boost of confidence. Rockwell is consistently good; but here he excels (he was also the best part of my favorite movie of last year, Seven Psychopaths). I would love to see a Supporting Actor nomination come Oscar time. Steve Carell is also really good as a complete insecure asshole. Again, the writing is brilliant because the audience will instantly hate him ("I think you're a 3." I wanted to punch him in the face). The whole movie is just charming, funny and downright irresistible.
5. R.I.P.D - I was prepared for the worst and that is pretty much what I got. As you can tell from the trailer, it is a direct copy of Men in Black (and as my friend pointed out, a little bit of the brilliant show Dead Like Me), but the plot was actually identical to the movie Ghost. It's disgusting that this passes as an "original" tale, while blatantly ripping other movies. I get that most stories are inspired by other stories, etc., but there is a point when it is just too much and this movie goes beyond that point. It's a shame that they got decent actors to be a part of such trash. Mary-Louise Parker, Kevin Bacon, Jeff Bridges...how could any of them willingly participate in this movie? I would be embarrassed. Even the special effects and makeup were horribly bad. It's definitely at the bottom of the barrel of worst movies this year (although I don't think it's as bad as After Earth or Movie 43).