I didn’t realize doing another Movie Time Capsule on the last day of April was going to happen again, but it looks like I’m putting in a bit more time in talking about these movies as opposed to last year. So, with that said, I’m back to talking about the films that came to theaters ten years ago. And today, we’re looking at what springtime in April provided us before getting the bigger hits. How did I only see two movies in theaters out of the month?
Looking back to what happened in April, this was when I was really getting into Community. I checked out the first season on DVD at the library and binged through it during my spring break. Most probably forgot Kate McKinnon joined Saturday Night Live later in Season 37 and has become one of the funniest cast members today. Also, on television, Veep, starring Emmy-winner Julia-Louis Dreyfus, premiered on HBO (which I need to watch).
Other than that, your pretty typical April had us waiting for the next month. The only movies that were a part of the release calendar I didn’t see were Titanic 3D, The Raven, and Safe. Safe, the Jason Statham action vehicle, wasn’t too bad by most critics, while there needs to be another movie with Edgar Allan Poe that isn’t The Raven. But we’re discussing these nine down below that I loved to be downright terrible. Which ones do I mean? Let’s take a look back ten years ago…
April 6: ‘American Reunion’
Cast: Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Chris Klein, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Seann William Scott, Tara Reid, Mean Suvari, Eddie Kaye Thomas, John Cho, Jennifer Coolidge, and Eugene Levy
Directed By: Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg
Synopsis: In the summer of 1999, four small-town Michigan boys began a quest to lose their virginity. In the ensuing years, Jim (Jason Biggs) has married Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), though Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas) has left Vicky (Tara Reid). Oz (Chris Klein) has grown apart from Heather (Mena Suvari), but Finch still has the hots for Stiffler’s (Seann William Scott) mom (Jennifer Coolidge). These lifelong friends have come home to reminisce about — and become inspired by — their former teen selves.
Domestic Box Office: $57.01 Million/ Worldwide: $234.9 Million
RT Score: 45%
My Thoughts: The original American Pie was one of the most popular teen movies of the late ’90s and has since had teenage boys do unpleasant things to deserts. Now 13 years later, the original cast is finally back together again with American Reunion. I was already a fan of the first three movies in the franchise and didn’t want to acknowledge those awful direct-to-DVD spin-offs that lost what made the other relatable. At first, I was a little underwhelmed with the fourth installment because it wasn’t as funny as I thought it would be. But when I give it another go two years ago, it’s a decent sequel. Seeing all our favorite characters again remembering the good times was nice to know since they haven’t been together in 11 years, and it’s not like some of the actors were working a lot of roles anyway. Bringing them back for a high school reunion was the best excuse that needed to be simple to have fans enjoy, and it didn’t disappoint.
Everybody does a good job recapturing their roles since we last saw them: Jason Biggs as Jim, Seann William Scott as Stiffler, Alyson Hannigan as Michelle, Chris Klein as Oz, and the rest. Nobody should’ve been expecting Tara Reid to give a spectacular performance in reprising her role as Vicky, but it’s what we got. However, Eugene Levy steals the movie as Jim’s dad. Levy is always the bright spot whenever he appears, and I love how he gets more to do and gets the best laughs when sharing scenes with Jennifer Coolidge as Stiffler’s mom. The movie tends to rely on nostalgia that I couldn’t buy at first, but since I was only a freshman in high school, now I know it’s hard to relive the glory days of high school when we grow up since some of us has a successful career or a family. And while the drama puts a pin when it needs to close ou the second act, things are handled better for the storylines. So though American Reunion is the weakest of the four, it still offers a good time to revisit old pals all over again, even if it’s not the greatest.
April 13: ‘The Three Stooges’
Cast: Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes, Will Sasso, Jane Lynch, Sofia Vergara, Jennifer Hudson, Craig Bierko, and Larry David
Directed By: Peter and Bobby Farrelly
Synopsis: Left on the doorstep of an orphanage run by nuns, three newborn knuckleheads grow up to be finger-poking, nyuk-nyuking janitors named Larry (Sean Hayes), Curly (Will Sasso) and Moe (Chris Diamantopoulos). When they learn that financial problems will soon force the only home they’ve ever known to close, the trio sets out to raise $830,000 in one month. Out in the world for the very first time, the three innocent bumblers become embroiled in a murder plot and find stardom on a TV reality show.
Domestic Box Office: $44.3 Million/ Worldwide: $54.8 Million
RT Score: 51%
My Thoughts: No group had a heavy influence on comedy than The Three Stooges. Everybody grew up watching the classic shorts of the trio getting into wacky shenanigans. A prime example of slapstick humor working. Decades later, the Farrelly brothers have brought them into the modern world. But the question needs to be asked, “Can a Three Stooges movie work in 2012?” Unfortunately, that’s still a conflicting thing to answer. It didn’t look good from how bad the trailers looked and how Fox marketed it. But it’s not the worst movie to come from the directors, but it’s not a good adaptation either. For a comedy like this to come out is strange because this would’ve attracted attention less to kids and more to adults who watched them. So in a way, it pays tribute to keeping up with the dumb humor, but the problems come with a consulted plot and barely any good laughs. The Three Stooges had all the potential in the world to be comedic gold, yet following the mischief adventures of Moe, Larry, and Curly failed to be clever. The problem was that there are too many unbelievable slapstick to handle, especially in modern days right now that people in real life will probably get annoyed by.
To their credit, Chris Diamantopoulos, Sean Hayes, and Will Sasso did a great job committing to these characters enough that I wouldn’t put them in the cons. Can you imagine if we’ve seen Sean Penn, Jim Carrey, and Benecio del Toro playing them in another reality? Though I’m happy they didn’t sign up. The supporting cast from Jane Lynch, Jennifer Hudson, and Sofia Vergara were wasted to have these big names included, especially a dated cameo from the cast of Jersey Shore. From my perspective, it’s more forgotten about because it wasn’t big enough to impact work today when it worked better in their time. Did I hate it? No, but it’s a C+ at best. Two of my friends from choir from high school were die-hard fans and loved it, though I remembered Jeremy Jahns and Chris Stuckmann had this in their respective worst of 2012 lists, which I can’t blame. The Three Stooges tries to rely faithfully on the comedy trio, but it wasn’t good enough to be funny to make fans happy, feeling more disappointed.
‘The Cabin in the Woods’
Cast: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, and Bradley Whitford
Directed By: Drew Goddard
Synopsis: When five college friends (Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams) arrive at a remote forest cabin for a little vacation, little do they expect the horrors that await them. One by one, the youths fall victim to backwoods zombies, but there is another factor at play. Two scientists (Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford) are manipulating the ghoulish goings-on, but even as the body count rises, there is yet more at work than meets the eye.
Domestic Box Office: $42 Million/ Worldwide: $69.9 Million
RT Score: 92%
My Thoughts: The Cabin in the Woods is another film I stupidly decided not to see in theaters. Despite the positive buzz it has been gaining in the months leading up to it, I wasn’t excited not just because the trailer made it a dumb slasher, but it was supposed to come out two years prior under MGM before Lionsgate was the distributor. I was expecting to hate it when I finally watched it near the end of the year, only to be surprised with ultimately Drew Goddard’s impressive directorial debut. The Cabin in the Woods is for those who appreciate what’s going on rather than appealing to anyone I went to high school with who thought it was lame. For a horror-comedy, this reminded me of Scream and The Evil Dead, too, where it follows the typical story of friends involved in weird turns in a cabin while giving us a clever nod to the genre in ways you can’t even think of as they aren’t what they seem. The opening scene with Goddard and Joss Wheaton’s writing sets things up nicely. However, once it starts with the cliche characters you’ve seen in any other horror movie, it then switches into uncharted, exciting territory. It’s a credit to the direction and writing since I didn’t know where the story was heading, and the unpredictable nature of the film grabbed me. Sometimes it can be scary, but I didn’t go in assuming this was a comedy either. One moment, in particular, got me bursting out laughing due to seeing it coming. It was cool to see a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth since this was shot before he starred in his most famous role yet. I also liked Kristen Connolly and future Mass director Fran Kranz. But when it got to the third act, without spoiling if you haven’t seen it, that was when I loved it more. You can go into this blind without watching the trailer (that does show a bit too much) or reading the premise. The Cabin in the Woods is one of the craziest and most original horror/comedies I’ve seen in a long time that hit every note right setting upon the outcome.
Cast: Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, Vincent Regan, Joe Gilgun, Lennie James, and Peter Stormare
Directed By: James Mather and Stephen Saint Leger
Synopsis: Emilie Warnock (Maggie Grace), the daughter of the American president, leads a humanitarian mission to MS One, an outer-space prison in which the 500 most dangerous criminals from Earth are kept in a state of artificial sleep. Just as Emilie arrives, the now-awakened prisoners stage a violent rebellion, and she and the MS One crew are taken hostage. Emilie’s only chance for salvation lies with Snow (Guy Pearce), a wrongly convicted agent who has been promised his freedom if he saves her.
Domestic Box Office: $14.3 Million/ Worldwide: $32.9 Million
RT Score: 37%
My Thoughts: Does anybody remember Lockout? Parts of it though, we were given nothing but an attempt to make the Luc Besson-produced movie the coolest sci-fi in the world, only to be uninspiring at every corner. Prison in space? That probably hasn’t been done before, but what could’ve been bought as a cheesy B-movie is one of the paths of awfulness people watch on the SYFY channel at night. I’ll give credit to Guy Pearce because he did look like he was having fun in the role of Snow, and his performance was good as the less-than-developed protagonist. However, watching this still makes me want to see him in more leading parts that aren’t this. If only he were working with a better co-star that isn’t Maggie Grace, who continues to not improve her acting skills one bit after Taken. But the movie ultimately fails at having a fun concept when it looks cheap and has nothing short of awful dialogue. Early on, there’s this motorcycle chase scene that has got to be the most horrendous chase ever done for a movie. This was a total rip-off of John Carpenter’s Escape from New York. and it shows badly. The coincidence wasn’t all thought out when you look at and not imagine how they got away with it. Carpenter actually sued the filmmakers in the French court. Lockout deals with nothing but a poorly done shoddy direction and writing in a Sci-Fi action movie that is unmemorable and terrible.
April 20: ‘Think Like a Man’
Cast: Michael Ealy, Jerry Ferrara, Meagan Good, Regina Hall, Kevin Hart, Terrence J, Taraji P. Henson, Romany Malco, and Gabrielle Union
Directed By: Tim Story
Synopsis: For one reason or another, friends Dominic (Michael Ealy), Jeremy (Jerry Ferrara), Michael (Terrence J) and Zeke (Romany Malco) just can’t seem to seal the deal with the women in their lives. When their lovely ladies buy a book by comic Steve Harvey and start to apply its advice to their relationships, this band of brothers gets all shook up. Learning that they have been betrayed by one of their own, Dominic and his friends conspire to use the book’s teachings to turn the tables.
Domestic Box Office: $91.5 Million/ Worldwide: $96.07 Million
RT Score: 54%
My Thoughts: Think Like a Man was the box office surprise nobody expected in April. Holding the #1 spot at the box office for two weeks straight, it’s your pretty typical romantic comedy that happens to be based on Steve Harvey’s best-selling book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, though not one you’ll find yourself hating. It’s relatable to those who’s been a part of the relationship types depicted here, and with so many couples to maintain our attention, we’re primarily interested in how they’ll turn out when it’s through. It’s a classic battle of the sexes of seeing who can outsmart who. The script could’ve not relied too much on the book to make this another formulaic comedy, except it’s more passable than most ensemble comedies around this time. What does keep Think like a Man afloat is the cast themselves because they all look like they had fun working with each other. I think this was Kevin Hart’s big break from being a comedian to a bankable star in Hollywood as the divorced Cedric. Megan Good and Romany Malaco were also surprising standouts out of everybody, while Jerry Ferrara felt the weakest. Is it wise to get the best advice from someone like Steve Harvey of all people? That’s up to you. With its sprinkling of good humor and a bit of heart between the characters, I didn’t mind Think Like a Man too much.
‘The Lucky One’
Cast: Zac Efron, Taylor Schilling, Jay R. Ferguson, Riley Thomas Stewart, and Blythe Danner
Directed By: Scott Hicks
Synopsis: U.S. Marine Sgt. Logan Thibault (Zac Efron) returns home from his third tour of duty in Iraq with the one thing he believes kept him alive: a photograph of a woman he doesn’t even know. He learns the woman’s name is Beth (Taylor Schilling) and goes to meet her, eventually taking a job at her family-run kennel. Though Beth is full of mistrust and leads a complicated life, a romance blooms, giving Logan hope that Beth could become more than just his good-luck charm.
Domestic Box Office: $60.4 Million/ Worldwide: $99.3 Million
RT Score: 20%
My Thoughts: When Nicholas Sparks adaptations were a popular form of entertainment for the poor boyfriends getting dragged to see, The Lucky One is nothing but another bad romance that gives false hope to the loveless human beings. Once I put this on, it was erased from my memory a day later. Get this. Zac Efron and his dog walked from Colorado to Louisiana to hook up with this girl in a photo. Very unrealistic and probably creepy? This was at a time when I didn’t hate Efron, but he needed to be in better movies if he wanted to still be in the business. Nobody saw his last drama, Charlie St. Cloud; the only next solution was to be the one-dimensional lead in an uncharming performance. His chemistry with Taylor Schilling was passable in some parts, but it’s just that you’re wanting him to tell her the truth, proving communication doesn’t exist. That’s because the movie wouldn’t exist, of course. In reality, the romance or the subplot with her over-the-top ex-husband doesn’t help make matters better. Ultimately just a two-hour-long non-moving romance with the most predictable ending to any movie based on Sparks’ work. The Lucky One is the kind worth winning a Teen Choice Award, and it won three.
Cast: Tim Allen (Narrator)
Directed By: Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield
Synopsis: Deep in an African forest lives a family of chimpanzees, including a baby named Oscar. Displaying the playful curiosity and ingenuity of fellow primates, Oscar and his family navigate the forest’s complex territory with relative ease. Usually, the world is a playground for Oscar and his young comrades, but when his family encounters a rival band of chimps, he is left to fend for himself. However, a surprising ally steps in and changes Oscar’s life forever.
Domestic Box Office: $28.9 Million/ Worldwide: $34.8 Million
RT Score: 76%
My Thoughts: Chimpanzee was the fourth movie from DisneyNature released around Earth Day and it was the last I watched of these animal documentaries that wasn’t a requirement for school. Like with their previous outings, it’s all about falling for the cuteness of the main character, Oscar, and now he’s to be under the wing of Freddy. Even when these movies aren’t exactly go-to’s, it’s fascinating learning so much about the chimpanzee community outside of cracking nuts or checking for ticks. While it’s slow for 77 minutes, this is a pretty educational and harmless film for animal lovers. I’m always amazed by how the filmmakers shoot this in the rainforest, especially when we see the chimps fighting; that would give me anxiety if I was them.
April 27: ‘The Five-Year Engagement’
Cast: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Rhys Ifans, Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Mimi Kennedy, David Paymer, and Jacki Weaver
Directed By: Nicholas Stoller
Synopsis: On their one-year anniversary, sous chef Tom Solomon (Jason Segel) plans to surprise his girlfriend, Violet Barnes (Emily Blunt), with an engagement ring. The lovers do end up engaged, but the fact that the proposal does not go exactly as planned proves to be a harbinger of things to come. Each time they try to set a date, various obstacles stand in their way. As more and more time passes, Tom and Violet begin to wonder if perhaps their marriage is not meant to be.
Domestic Box Office: $28.8 Million/ Worldwide: $54.1 Million
RT Score: 64%
My Thoughts: The usual sucker I am for romcoms didn’t hide the fact I was looking forward to The Five-Year Engagement mainly because I’m a fan of Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, with the former reteaming with director Nicholas Stoller after Forgetting Sarah Marshall. And while this isn’t remembered much now compared to their other work, this was a cute and ultimately funny time. For one, Segel and Blunt had terrific chemistry with each other. Blunt, in particular, always works great with her male costars. Thankfully, she and Segel are better here than in Gulliver’s Travels (trash). Anyone who saw this must’ve found it relatable to postpone a wedding for a reason (my sister went through that only twice in the past two years). There are a lot of funny moments throughout that had me laughing in the theater, which in parts from the supporting cast, Chris Pratt and Alison Brie. Unfortunately, it does drag too long while dealing with taking too many shifts in tone towards the middle that lessened the emotional weight. All in all, though, it might not be for everybody, but there’s enjoyment to be found here.
‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’
Cast: Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, Imelda Staunton, David Tennant, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Lenny Henry, and Brian Blessed
Directed By: Peter Lord
Synopsis: Accompanied by his ragtag crew, an enthusiastic pirate captain (Hugh Grant) sails the high seas and dreams of besting his bitter rivals, Black Bellamy (Jeremy Piven) and Cutlass Liz (Salma Hayek), in a quest to win the coveted title of Pirate of the Year. The captain’s quest takes him and his comrades from the exotic shores of Blood Island to Victorian London’s foggy streets. Along the way, they battle a clever queen and join forces with a young scientist named Charles Darwin (David Tennant).
Domestic Box Office: $31.05 Million/ Worldwide: $123.05 Million
RT Score: 86%
My Thoughts: After Sony Pictures Animation and Aardman Animation joined forces with Arthur Christmas, their follow-up collaboration would bring the stop-motion fans with the somewhat unrecognized The Pirates!: Band of Misfits (or The Pirates!: In an Adventures with Scientist in the U.K.), based upon the novel by Gideon Defoe. So many movies I missed in theaters this month, and this is another one I would’ve gladly given my money to. You can look a this and quickly call it a silly pirate movie for kids with a simple plot. Sure, however, that’s the sort of weirdness I had to expect from Aardman, even when it is not the best thing they’ve done. Compared to the other stop-motion movies of 2012, this would be the second-best behind ParaNorman, but it’s so funny and well-crafted with how the crew make it come to live. Whether it’s the obvious woman with a beard in the crew or someone trying to solve a Rubix cube behind closed doors, it too makes good use of humor. Is it Aardman’s best? It isn’t, but those saying it is are wrong. Nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature, The Pirates!: Band of Misfits is clever, innovative, and a high-octane good time for animation deserving of more attention.