Ten Films I’m Excited to See In 2010

The payoff for sitting through a dozen craptacular releases is that one movie where you actually say, “Damn, that was worth the $11.50 and the kidney I spent to see it.” As a modern moviegoer, you must be an eternal optimist. You must hope against hope that the trailer you liked didn’t contain every single good scene and funny joke in the movie, and that the reviewer who raved isn’t covering up some pinko agenda that’ll make you choke out on your Goobers.

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You have to believe that out there somewhere is an action movie director who knows what a tripod is. That there is a young lead actor who has never starred in a CW television series about beautiful but sensitive teenage male models with supernatural powers. That there is a comedy screenwriter who can imagine a “funny” situation not involving a bodily fluid. That Michael Cera will one day play a different character.

In that spirit, a spirit of Pollyannaish hope in the face of overwhelming evidence indicating that Hollywood’s product will almost certainly continue to demonstrate that evolution is a two-way street, I present ten movies that are coming within the next six months that might actually be good – or at least not make me throw things at the screen and slap around the ushers.

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1. The Wolfman (This Weekend): I’m digging the idea of this remake of the classic Universal horror flick. The super cool trailer got me, as did the presence of Anthony Hopkins. Now, let’s talk about the baggy-eyed, mumbly elephant in the room. Yeah, it’s got Benicio Del Toro, but on the bright side he’ll probably spend most of the movie howling. Sure, I’m still steamed about his commie suck-up fests Che Part I and Part II, but at least the second one has a deliriously happy ending.

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2. Shutter Island (February 29, 2010): I’ve taken some grief lately about my view that Leonardo DiCaprio is to acting what herpes is to romance. Not Ben Shapiro-level grief, but grief nonetheless. In my own defense, DiCaprio is terrible. And that brings us to this bizarre Scorsese flick that I had zero interest in until I watched the mind-blowing trailer. Apparently DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo are government agents and they go to some mental hospital for the criminally insane and everything works out swimmingly. Not. It looks awesome, even with Leo. Freaky. Creepy. I am so there.

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3. The Crazies (February 26, 2010): I love zombie movies. I even wrote one once. The producers who optioned it hired a script consultant who wanted me to build up the characters’ back stories. I observed that perhaps they had forgotten that it was a zombie movie. Hence my career in law. But I digress. This flick, a remake of George Romero’s little-seen original – little-seen because it stinks – at least seems to have the potential for some old-fashioned B-movie thrills. It’s regular folks turning into homicidal maniacs - classic. Sure, there seems a slight anti-military vibe to the trailer with the implication that our troops are a bit trigger-happy, but hey – when the zombie apocalypse starts, bro, it’s shoot first and ask questions later.

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4. Cop Out (February 26, 2010): Yes, it looks idiotic, but it’s Kevin Smith directing Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan in a cop movie. Oh, and that Stifler guy is in it too. How can that go wrong? Actually, how will I know if it goes wrong, because I’m not seeing it without first having a Dos Equis or four to get my mind right. This will be perfect for those nights when you don’t want to challenge yourself with more cerebral fare – like The Crazies.

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5. Greenberg (March 26, 2010): This new Ben Stiller film, directed by Noah Baumbach, looks like some kind of art house slacker-comedy. Still, it seems amusing, and it also features the return of Jennifer Jason Leigh. From the trailer, she’s gotten even cuter. It’s worth a shot.

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6. Hot Tub Time Machine (March 26, 2010): Let me just say it again, because if you are wondering why this movie must not be missed then you obviously did not read and appreciate the title: Hot Tub Time Machine. Witness the magic. John Cusak. Rob Corddry. Craig Robinson. The chubby guy who turned Amish in Sex Drive. With unharnessed star power like that, you’re guaranteed at least a mildly amusing time at the theater.

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7. Robin Hood (May 14, 2010): This is the reunion of Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott, and we can only hope it is a tenth as indisputably badass as Gladiator. The trailer looks interesting, with lots of hacking and smiting. Still, I’m worried. I never liked the whole “steal from the rich and give to the poor thing” – I always thought maybe the poor should get off their collective butts and get to work instead of waiting for handouts. Those barges and bales aren’t going to tote and lift themselves. But again I digress. Let’s just keep our fingers crossed on this one.

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8. The Last Airbender (July 2, 2010): Who knows – maybe director’s M. Night Shyamalan’s latest surprise twist will be to make a movie that doesn’t suck. After watching the baffling trailer, I still have no idea in hell what this is about. My wife says this is somehow related to a cartoon series, and the kids want to see it. Whatever – I’m just happy about being able to take the kids to the movies and not ending up having to explain where babies come from.

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9. Cyrus (July 9, 2010): I’m a sucker for comedies of acute discomfort, and this one seems appallingly uncomfortable. John C. Reilly, who was incredibly moving as the loser cop in Magnolia, is the anti-hero. He meets up with Marissa Tomei, who has a really creepy son in the form of the bulbous Jonah Hill. Antics ensue. I can’t wait.

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10. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (June 30, 2010): I’m thoroughly excited about this latest entry in the emo-vampire sweepstakes. Sorry there’s no trailer, but I’m sure the filmmakers will be branching off in surprising, challenging new directions. It goes without saying that the first two films were awesome. Kristen Stewart’s trademark lip-bite can convey an astonishing range of emotions, from anger to fear to joy to unrequited horniness. That skinny pale boy is dreamy too. I think that these films get a bad rap, what with most people mocking them instead of approaching the films as the powerful stand-alone artistic statements that they are. Yes, I am truly looking forward to Twilight III – mostly because it will mean that for a while the kind of people who like these films will be sitting in movie theaters far the hell away from me.

Looking back over this list, it’s pretty clear that the studios are not exactly front-loading the 2011 Oscar contenders. But not every movie has to be great. Sometimes you just want to have fun, and for the next six months that’s where the bar is going to be set – at “Fun,” right below “That Really Made Me Think,” but a notch above “I Shoulda Smuggled in Some More Beers.”

Maybe next fall there’ll be a few more mature entries. Until then, just remember that for every Casablanca, there are a thousand MacGrubers.

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