Another month, another Throwback Session- Remember These Movies? to talk about remembering the good times of going to the theater. We’re already nearing the end of July 2020, and it’s still a year where it’s a pain in the ass. I turned a year older at the beginning of the month, yet not everyone will take notice when you share a birthday on a holiday that means nothing this year. Not only did I miss movies like Tenet, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and Mulan, but the unfortunate news of my commencement ceremony got canceled next month. Depressed as I am about this, it’s a good decision, but I’m sad about not seeing my family and friends once again.
Back ten years ago, though, I was already enjoying my summer vacation, where we only had the entire month off before walking into eighth grade. The best thing about that time was when I visited the Mall of America in Minnesota around this time. I hope to return someday. The summer movie season still wasn’t considered great by anybody, but not only gave us my favorite movie of the entire year, but the absolute worst in the same month. What came out? Let’s try to recall at a time where wonderful things were going on in the world.
July 1: ‘The Last Airbender’
Cast: Noah Ringer, Nicola Peltz, Jackson Rathbone, Dev Patel, Shaun Toub, Aasif Mandvi, Cliff Curtis, and Seychelle Gabriel
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Synopsis: The four nations of Air, Water, Earth and Fire lived in harmony until the Fire Nation declared war. A century later, there is still no end in sight to the destruction, then, an Avatar named Aang (Noah Ringer) discovers that he has the power to control the four elements. He joins forces with Katara (Nicola Peltz), a Waterbender, and her brother, Sokka (Jackson Rathbone), to restore balance and harmony to their world.
Domestic Box Office: $131,772,187
RT Score: 5%
My Thoughts: What hasn’t been said about The Last Airbender that hasn’t been talked about already for the last ten years? It’s one of the worst movies of all-time, second if you read my Top 10 Worst Movies of the Decade list. Being how this was a live-action adaptation of the very popular Nickelodeon series, Avatar: The Last Airbender, this should’ve been one amazing fantasy. The trailers were decent enough to feel like it would be exciting. But M. Night Shyamalan ruined everything in a two-hour piece of crap. I haven’t watched the show, and even I knew this felt like they crammed in an entire first season into a rushed storyline that has nothing positive to say about it. I didn’t like it when I walked out of it the first time, but the hatred grew stronger within me months later.
What’s horrible about the film, you may ask? Shyamalan’s direction, writing, boring, wooden performances from everybody, including Noah Ringer as Aang (stupidly mispronounced), the visual effects, unexpressive action sequences (six airbenders moving a freakin’ rock), and worse of all, having no essence of fun found throughout, making the tone depressing. I saw this in theaters with my sister on my 14th birthday, so it wasn’t the best movie I’ve ever gone to see on my b-day. Thankfully, I didn’t pay to see it in the crappy post-converted 3D the studio shelled out months before they released it. There’s literally nobody on this Earth who likes The Last Airbender. Also considered by many as one of the worst-reviewed films ever, Shyamalan’s career took a nosedive more so after this as it won four Razzies, including Worst Picture, Director, Supporting Actor for Jackson Rathbone (along with The Twilight Saga: Eclipse), and Worst Eye-Grouging Mis-Use of 3D. Every breathing minute of this, I truly hated.
July 9: ‘Despicable Me’
Cast: Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgrove, Will Arnett, and Julie Andrews.
Director: Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud
Synopsis: A man who delights in all things wicked, supervillain Gru (Steve Carell) hatches a plan to steal the moon. Surrounded by an army of little yellow minions and his impenetrable arsenal of weapons and war machines, Gru makes ready to vanquish all who stand in his way. But nothing in his calculations and groundwork has prepared him for his greatest challenge: three adorable orphan girls (Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier, Elsie Fisher) who want to make him their dad.
Domestic Box Office: $251,513,985
RT Score: 81%
My Thoughts: Illumination’s track record has been pretty spotty over the years with their filmography solely being made for children, but we can all agree the original Despicable Me is the best in the entire franchise. Seeing a movie where its focus is the villain and not the hero, it’s both surprisingly funny and charming all the way through. They hyped this up for over a year, and the positive outlook on this animated first installment is a lot of fun. I didn’t expect this to be about this guy rising these three girls, but it turned out to be a cute turning point. The movie was also the world’s introduction to the small, yellow bastards working for Gru: the Minions, which were honestly funny in the beginning and then turned annoying right when the spin-off came out.
And the 3D wasn’t a wasted experience to see it through, and that’s because it works well with animated movies. Between this and Megamind, both are memorable animated films that should’ve gotten nominated for Best Animated Feature, but this edges out the other to a slight edge. Despicable Me has beautiful animation, a talented voice cast, and it’s hilarious, albeit predictable. Something will make any family night enjoyable for the children and adults.
Cast: Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Walton Goggins, Oleg Taktarov, Mahershala Ali, Laurence Fishburne, and Danny Trejo
Director: Nimród Antal
Synopsis: Brought together on a mysterious planet, a mercenary (Adrien Brody) and a group of coldblooded killers now become the prey. A new breed of aliens pursues the ragtag humans through dense jungle. The group must work together to survive, or become the latest trophies of the fearsome intergalactic hunters.
Domestic Box Office: $52,000,688
RT Score: 65%
My Thoughts: It’s a shame I didn’t watch the original Predator before this since that is a classic ’80s action movie, but I’m one of the few people who thought Predators is decent, better than what Shane Black brought to the franchise a couple years back. Does it even compare to the original? It doesn’t. The Robert Rodriguez- produced sci-fi is fun enough to enjoy the action taken place as these people are being hunted by multiple predators in the jungle. While some characters I didn’t care for since they weren’t capturing the spirit of the team we followed from before, you still get a little excitement when it gets to something exciting.
Though I will say Topher Grace was the odd one out in the entire thing since he didn’t fit in based solely on why he’s there in the first place, and it was a waste of Laurence Fishburne since they could’ve given him more to do. But overall, fans of the original might get a kick out of the third movie, though it exists for nostalgia purposes.
‘The Kids Are All Right’
Cast: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska, and Josh Hutcherson
Director: Lisa Cholodenko
Synopsis: Lesbian couple Nic and Jules have been together for twenty years, bringing up two children thanks to the contributions of a anonymous sperm donor. As 18-year-old daughter Joni prepares to leave for college, she and younger brother Laser get curious about their heritage. Making contact with Paul, the laid-back restaurateur whose sperm bank deposit helped bring them into the world, the two set off a chain reaction.
Domestic Box Office: $20,811,365
RT Score: 92%
My Thoughts: I just watched The Kids Are All Right for the first time recently because I wanted to see what everybody has been talking about. Verdict: It’s a pleasant surprise about an unconventional family dynamic. Becoming the first major release to feature a same-sex couple raising teenagers, Lisa Cholodenko’s comedy-drama felt authentic with its exceptional performances from everybody and a fantastic screenplay genuine in almost every moment. For all I know, I thought it would not be for me about a lesbian couple (Annette Bening, Julianne Moore) and this laid-back sperm donor (Mark Ruffalo), but it ended up being funny with its subtle humor and getting easily attached to these characters by the end. It received critical acclaim, as it won two Golden Globes (Benning for Best Actress-Musical or Comedy and Best Motion Picture-Musical or Comedy), and was nominated for four Academy Awards (Best Picture, Benning for Best Actress, Ruffalo for Best Supporting Actor, and Best Original Screenplay). It’s on HBO Max if you’re curious to check it out.
July 14: ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Alfred Molina, Teresa Palmer, and Monica Bellucci
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Synopsis: Dave Stutler (Jay Baruchel) is just an average guy, but the wizard Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage) sees in him a hidden talent for sorcery. He becomes Balthazar’s reluctant protege, getting a crash course in the art of magic. As Dave prepares to help his mentor defend Manhattan from a powerful adversary (Alfred Molina), he wonders if he can survive the training, save the city and find his true love.
Domestic Box Office: $63,150,991
RT Score: 40%
My Thoughts: The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was a Disney/ Jerry Bruckheimer produced fantasy I was low key looking forward to since it starred Nicolas Cage, and it’s seen as an adaptation on the iconic segment from Fantasia with Mickey Mouse. The more I thought about this years later, it wasn’t anything special to remember this. I thought some of the visual effects were cool when it involves sorcery and the performances were fine, but it didn’t have that magic touch I was hoping for. It was just a predictable story to not lean heavily into for two hours. For all we know, this could’ve been the start of a live-action Fantasia universe if there was a better movie hidden somewhere in here. We still had OneRepublic’s “Secrets” played in it.
July 16: ‘Inception’
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, and Michael Caine
Director: Christopher Nolan
Synopsis: Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a thief with the rare ability to enter people’s dreams and steal their secrets from their subconscious. His skill has made him a hot commodity in the world of corporate espionage but has also cost him everything he loves. Cobb gets a chance at redemption when he is offered a seemingly impossible task: Plant an idea in someone’s mind. If he succeeds, it will be the perfect crime, but a dangerous enemy anticipates Cobb’s every move.
Domestic Box Office: $292,576,195
RT Score: 87%
My Thoughts: Who doesn’t love this masterpiece? Seriously, explain to me why? Inception is one of my favorite films of all-time, and I honestly believe it’s the greatest film of the last decade. After The Dark Knight, I didn’t know what to expect will come out from the sleeve of Christopher Nolan. The plot was intriguing, the trailer is outstanding, and the cast is enough for me to easily figure out something amazing will come out of this. Inception is just a groundbreaking piece of original sci-fi I couldn’t stop thinking about, and it’s a film that’s still talked about a decade later.
Nolan has made a cool mind-bender that had shades of The Matrix and Casino Royale with a story that wasn’t complex to figure out, people going inside dreams inside a dream. Never once did it become confusing, and it has every right to have the viewer pay attention to what’s happening. The ensemble is amazing (Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Ellen Page, etc.), Hans Zimmer’s score I still listen to on occasion, every action sequence is pulse-pounding, especially the incredible hallway fight scene with Joseph Gordon-Levitt that blew my mind. I love Inception, and there’s nothing to change that opinion. I have a throwback review from three years ago for a little in-depth discussion.
July 23: ‘Salt’
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Liev Schreiber, Daniel Olbrychski, August Diehl, and Chiwetel Ejiofor
Director: Phillip Noyce
Synopsis: When Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) became a CIA officer, she swore an oath to duty, honor and country. But, when a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy, Salt’s oath is put to the test. Now a fugitive, Salt must use every skill gained from years of training and experience to evade capture, but the more she tries to prove her innocence, the more guilty she seems.
Domestic Box Office: $118,311,368
RT Score: 62%
My Thoughts: Angelina Jolie as the lead an action movie sounds good enough to check out, but I was very disappointed with how Salt turned out. It turns into a boring take on The Bourne Identity or The Fugitive without the excitement when talking about the unrealistic action sequences. Jolie gave it her all with her performance, but if Tom Cruise, who was in early talks to star in this, took over the role, even he would’ve saved it. This managed to be predictable but has a story that doesn’t make a ton of sense for plot holes. Is she supposed to be good or bad? We don’t know because the script couldn’t make it clear enough to give us the answer. I watched it again months later to see if I was being too harsh on it, yet I disliked it more.
‘Ramona and Beezus’
Cast: Joey King, Selena Gomez, Bridget Moynahan, John Corbett, Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Duhamel, and Sandra Oh
Director: Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum
Synopsis: Ramona Quimby (Joey King) is a plucky youngster with an irrepressible sense of fun and mischief — a fact that keeps her big sister, Beezus, on her toes. Ramona’s vivid imagination and boundless energy serve her well when the two girls must help save their family’s home on Klickitat Street.
Domestic Box Office: $26,167,002
RT Score: 70%
My Thoughts: I’m familiar with the book series from Beverly Cleary. But I never had an interest in seeing Ramona and Beezus, even though I believed to have a minor crush on Selena Gomez back in the day as a teenager. I can’t tell if this would’ve suited better as an original movie you see on Disney Channel, but from what I heard, it’s cute and fun enough for kids to sit through, especially for those who have sisters. This was also Joey King’s first big movie role from her as the Ramona, years before she starred in Netflix’s The Kissing Booth.
July 30: ‘Dinners for Schmucks’
Cast: Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Stéphanie Szostak, Jemaine Clement, Lucy Punch, Zach Galifianakis, Bruce Greenwood, and Ron Livingston
Director: Jay Roach
Synopsis: Tim (Paul Rudd) a rising executive, works for a boss who hosts a monthly event in which the guest who brings the biggest buffoon gets a career boost. Though he declines the invitation at first, he changes his mind when he meets Barry (Steve Carell), a man who builds dioramas using stuffed mice. The scheme backfires when Barry’s blundering good intentions send Tim’s life into a downward spiral, threatening a major business deal and possibly scuttling Tim’s romantic relationship.
Domestic Box Office: $73,026,337
RT Score: 41%
My Thoughts: I was looking forward to Dinner for Schmucks since both Paul Rudd and Steve Carell were two of my favorite comedic stars and I could see this being a soft mix of What About Bob? and I Love You, Man together. Sadly, I didn’t find it that funny. This proves once again that we shouldn’t remake with foreign movies, because they will most likely not be good. What I didn’t know before was that is an American remake of French comedy called Le Dîner de Cons, and it needed to stay that way. I know people who hate this since it came off as unfunny and a perfect waste of its comedic talents. Rudd and Carell didn’t have the chemistry I was hoping for. Probably the only thing I remembered was the entire scene with them meeting with Zach Galifianakis as this IRS agent, and his laugh got me to chuckle.
‘Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore’
Cast: James Marsden, Nick Nolte, Chris O’Donnell, Jack McBrayer, Christina Applegate, Bette Midler, Katt Williams, Neil Patrick Harris, Sean Hayes, and Roger Moore.
Director: Brad Peyton
Synopsis: In the age-old battle between felines and canines, one rogue kitty is stepping up the fight. Kitty Galore, former operative for MEOWS, is executing a diabolical plan against her sworn enemies, the dogs, as well as her cat comrades. In order to save themselves and their humans, both species must unite in an unprecedented alliance to stop Kitty Galore from making the world her scratching post.
Domestic Box Office: $43,585,753
RT Score: 13%
My Thoughts: Look, the original Cats & Dogs from 2001 isn’t what you call high art, but it’s not the worst family comedy to sit down to. However, there weren’t any petitions for the studio to release the sequel, Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, nine years later. A Bonds spoof, how original? Seriously, I was ashamed to watch all 82-minutes of this to have this blank look on my face with every awful joke said and feeling sorry for those who lent their voices to these animals. Was Nick Nolte high and needed a paycheck? I was wondering why this was put in theaters and not direct-to-DVD. And I just found out recently there’s a third movie that will be direct-to-DVD with the voices of Max Greenfield and Melissa Rauch. Worse than Marmaduke.
‘Charlie St. Cloud’
Cast: Zac Efron, Amanda Crew, Charlie Tahan, Ray Liotta, and Kim Basinger
Director: Burr Steers
Synopsis: Charlie’s brother, Sam, dies in a car crash that Charlie survives. Charlie is given the gift of seeing his dead brother and others who he has lost such as his friend who died in the military, but when the girl he falls in love with’s life is at risk, he must choose between his girlfriend and his brother.
Domestic Box Office: $31,162,545
RT Score: 27%
My Thoughts: The trailer almost persuades me to see it since they used Snow Patrol’s “Run” to convince me to pay money to waste my two hours on Charlie St. Cloud. But I didn’t. It came out when Zac Efron’s movie career was still shaky. Why I still remember this movie is because, on the show Community, the character of Annie had a poster on her wall. If I wanted to watch somebody play catch with a ghost that’ll make me cry, I’ll stick with Field of Dreams, thank you very much.
- THROWBACK SESSION- REMEMBER THESE MOVIES?: JANUARY 2010
- THROWBACK SESSION- REMEMBER THESE MOVIES?: FEBRUARY 2010
- THROWBACK SESSION- REMEMBER THESE MOVIES?: MARCH 2010
- THROWBACK SESSION- REMEMBER THESE MOVIES?: APRIL 2010
- THROWBACK SESSION- REMEMBER THESE MOVIES?: MAY 2010
- THROWBACK SESSION- REMEMBER THESE MOVIES?: June 2010