January 8th 2005 Movies of 2004

I keep the ticket stubs from all the movies I go to. I’ve been collecting since December 8, 2000, and my collection goes right up to my latest movie viewing on January 4. The stubs range from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas to Ocean’s Twelve. In that period of time, I have seen thirty-eight films (one in 2000, four in 2001, eleven in 2002, nine in 2003, and thirteen in 2004—I’ve had quite the social life the past three years!). It might seem strange to keep movie stubs, but I’m a sentimental person, and it’s cool to look back on the films I have seen. Strangely enough, I can tell you exactly with whom I went to see each movie, and I can probably remember an anecdote about the evening as well. The stubs are quite valuable to me as memorabilia from days gone by. I know I’m not the only person who keeps stubs; in fact, last summer, a friend of mine lost his wallet, and even though he lost his college ID, the thing that worried him most was his collection of movie stubs!

Anyway, I’m going to go through the movies I’ve seen in 2004, in chronological order, and review each film I saw, as well as assigning a number of stars from 1 to 5. Hopefully you can find some of the gems—and avoid some of the cinematic mistakes—that I found in 2004.

January 17: Cheaper By the Dozen   ★★
My mom loved the book, and wanted desperately to see the movie, so of course I went with her to see it. Honestly, I was skeptical how the film would turn out, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the film was actually pretty entertaining. Granted, it was stereotypical children’s fare, but I enjoyed watching this film. Would I buy it for myself? No. Would I rent it? Probably not. But it was worth it to go see it (and besides, my dad paid for the ticket). My only beef: Hilary Duff should’ve had more screen time!
April 2: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind   ★★★★★
My vote for best film of 2004 goes to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. For once, Hollywood has turned out a well-made, well-constructed film that’s actually pretty original. I saw this with my friend Abbey, and it was quite the joyride, a psychological film that really made you think. As an aspiring filmmaker, Eternal Sunshine is the type of film I look to as a model for how to make a good film. Jim Carrey was pretty good in it, too! I’m not the biggest Jim Carrey fan, as I realized after a few of his films in the early and mid 1990s that he could only play a certain type of character, but I’ve had to retract my opinion on him. He’s most certainly developing into a well-rounded actor. I only hope to see him in more films like this!
April 25: Thirteen Going on Thirty   ★★★
My brother and I are huge fans of Big, so we had to go see this “Big from a woman’s perspective” film. Besides, it had Alias star Jennifer Garner in it, so what did we have to lose? I really enjoyed this film. Yes, it was stereotypical and clichéd and had a predictable ending, but who cares—it was fun! Jennifer Garner also did an amazing job acting as a young girl in a grown-up’s body. I’m not sure I’d buy this film, but it’s definitely a good one to rent if you’re with a bunch of friends and want to have a good time watching a good movie that you don’t have to follow too closely.
May 21: Shrek 2   ★★★★★
Shrek 2 would definitely be my choice for top movie of 2004, if Eternal Sunshine hadn’t knocked it out of this spot. Forget what you hear about sequels—in my opinion, Shrek 2 is just as good as the original! Who can’t love the big ogre Shrek, especially when he has to meet the parents of his bride-to-be? The thing I love about Shrek is that it takes the classic fairy tale storyline and puts a new spin on it. More creativity like this needs to come out of Hollywood!
May 28: The Day After Tomorrow   ★
The Day After Tomorrow is a real loser of a film. While it doesn’t fall quite as far into the pits of suckdom as other disaster movies such as the Airport series of films, it comes pretty close. First of all, the entire premise of the movie is completely laughable and far-fetched. I can’t enjoy a movie unless the writers and directors really convince me that what is happening is plausible, and in this regard, The Day After Tomorrow falls flat on its face. Unlike many of the disaster epics of the 1970s, The Day After Tomorrow sports excellent special effects and decent acting from such stars as Dennis Quaid. Unfortunately, this is a script that Dennis should’ve thrown in the trash as soon as he got it. It’s fairly clear he was just looking for a paycheck when he made this one. Maybe that’s a bit harsh, but Quaid has to be careful—this is the sort of film that could tarnish, or even torpedo, an otherwise successful career. If he keeps this up, you’ll soon see him doing commercials for car insurance. I guess I shouldn’t be so harsh, seeing as how some twelve-year-old clearly took a lot of time and effort to write this script, but file this one under “Films That Should’ve Never Been Made” (and cross-list it under “Waste of Precious Celluloid”). The only real highlight of this film is Emmy Rossum as Laura Chapman. This is one of those rare films that I definitely thought about walking out of; the only thing that kept me in the theater was the fun my friend Corey and I had making fun of the ridiculousness of the film.
June 19: Mean Girls   ★★★★
I guess anything compared to the last film I viewed would’ve been gold, but Mean Girls is definitely a diamond in the rough. As with Cheaper By the Dozen, I went to this film expecting it to be a waste of time; I was happily surprised to find that it was actually a darn good movie. I expected more of the lame celluloid crack that Disney shamelessly peddles to middle-schoolers, but Mean Girls had a mature and refined sense of humor that appealed even to old high school graduates such as me. I genuinely enjoyed this film and would recommend it for rent to anyone who wants to have a good time watching a great film—on perhaps just wants to have a great time watching Lindsay Lohan. Either way, this film fits the bill nicely.
July 4: Fahrenheit 9/11   ★★★★
I’m sure many Republicans will have my head for saying this, but Fahrenheit 9/11 is a great film to watch whether you’re a radical left-winger who worships Michael Moore as Jesus Christ, or a staunch right-winger who wants to throw Moore into Camp X-Ray and make him eat the key. Why such a great film? Because it makes you think. It makes you look at the world differently. Yes, it’s definitely a vehicle for propaganda, but then again, so is Scott McClellan—he just doesn’t have as much salacious material with which to work. Certainly some parts are exaggerated or misleading; but like it or not, there are some truths in Fahrenheit 9/11 which all Americans should take into consideration before voting on Novem—ah, wait, I’m about two months too late. Ah, well. Fahrenheit 9/11 isn’t really an entertaining sort of film (although the Bloodhound Gang does appear on the soundtrack) but it’s a great film to watch when you’re in a mood to actually learn something. Propaganda tool or not, it does expose some ugly truths. Evidently it wasn’t enough to wake Americans up to reality, though; maybe Moore’s upcoming Fahrenheit 9/11½ will knock some sense into people. We can only hope.
July 18: I, Robot   ★★★
Isaac Asimov must be rolling in his grave. He specifically said he wished for his books to not be made into movies, and look what happens: you get Will Smith kicking some serious robot ass. All in all, I liked this film. It was fun. It had a lot of twists. It kept you guessing. It had Will Smith, who proved he can beat up both aliens and evil robots. It had guns that evidently never needed to be reloaded on-screen. How can you not like such a film? The special effects were good, the acting was decent, the script was cool. Maybe I’m just a sci-fi nerd, but I definitely recommend seeing I, Robot if you haven’t already. However, like another futuristic film, A.I., one viewing was probably enough for me. I wouldn’t object to seeing I, Robot again if I was with someone who really wanted to watch it, but I doubt I’d buy or rent it myself. Still, I had to surviving a harrowing car ride with my cousin Paul to get to the theater, and it definitely turned out to be worth nearly flipping his SUV.
August 15: The Princess Diaries 2   ★★★
No one would see this film with me, so I had to go see it with my loyal friend Abbey. I’m glad she did, because like the first film, this one was, simply put, fun! As you can imagine, there’s no complex plot points—even the preteen girls this film is marketed at can easily follow (and guess) this one. But Anne Hathaway does a good job acting the party of a single princess looking for love in all the wrong places, and Julie Andrews is refined and elegant as the Queen. A great film for the whole family, or even a bunch of friends who have seen all the other good films at West Coast. I’d definitely watch this one again, and might even consider buying it! Of course, I can only give it three stars, because, let’s be honest—it’s fun, but it’s not exactly top-notch American cinema. At best, it’s typical Disney fare with little creativity but a boat-load of fun.
August 18: Super-Size Me   ★★★★
A documentary that manages to be both fun and educational! Nutrition is usually a fairly dry subject, but Morgan Spurlock manages to inject a whole lot of fun into his study of fast food. It really made me want to stop eating that junk, if only because it might cause my sexual prowess with my attractive girlfriend to decline (and also have the unfortunate side effect of making her speak candidly about that fact). Seriously, though, folks: Super-Size Me is an excellent look at the ills of the fast food industry and the lack of responsibility in corporate America. A must-see for anyone who has ever wondered what exactly that Big Mac is doing to your body.
October 25: Team America   ★★★★
America, fuck yeah! In terms of politically-oriented films of 2004, Team America definitely takes the cake. In many ways, it provides more insight into our current political situation than Fahrenheit 9/11; and Trey Parker and Matt Stone hold back nothing in making fun of everyone, from snide comments about our political leaders to the anti-war antics of radical actors such as Alec Baldwin. For all its fun and games, Team America still manages to make anyone with half a brain scrutinize the US’s foreign policy. Even if you’re not into politics, Team America is still a fun and entertaining film to watch. Durkur durkur muhammad jihad!
November 24: Christmas with the Kranks   ★★
While not amazing, Christmas with the Kranks was bearable to watch—once, at least. It’s a typical Christmas film, and not very amazing at that. Even with stars Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis, the movie lacked noteworthy qualities, but it was still fun to watch to get into the Christmas spirit. Take my review with a grain of salt, though; I’m typically not a fan of Christmas films.
November 25: Saw   ★★★★
Even though Saw lacked actors with talent, it was still one of my favorite films of 2004. It was not the typical horror film; more of a psychological thriller, it had several big twists that kept me guessing throughout the film. The scenery and other visual effects were very well done, too. The dialogue wasn’t amazing, but the pacing of the movie was right on. I definitely recommend this film as a late-night Friday horror fest.