Since its inception, Dreamworks, as an animation studio, has trailed behind its primary competitor, Pixar. In pair-up after pair-up, Pixar’s are always the funny, warm-hearted, timeless classics, and Dreamworks’ are the pop-culture hobbled toilet humor fests with the depth of a teaspoon. Dreamworks has collaborated with other studios to produce Pixar-comparable films (such as Chicken Run and Flushed Away, which were done in conjunction with British animation studio Aardman.) But it’s not until now that I’ve really felt Dreamworks has made a truly stellar film all on its own.
How to Train Your Dragon is that film. It’s rare find among family films: a movie that kids will love but that parents won’t want to drill through their own heads to escape (as if you need an example, but: Chipmunks 2: The Squeakuel). In fact, there were plenty of adults in the theater, myself included, that had come out to see it on our own, without even using a young cousin as an excuse. The story goes something like this:
When Hiccup, a young Viking without much skill for fighting, brings down a type of dragon so rare that no one’s ever seen one, he finds himself making friends with it rather than fighting to the death with it in the Viking tradition.
If you love romantic movies, there are about ten million possibilities if you want to watch a film on Valentine’s Day, most of which are helpfully packaged in pink and red at Wal-Mart to help menfolk who are out shopping for their ladies. Romantic movies run the gamut from tearjerking same-sex epics to wholesome teen musicals in an attempt to hit every possible demographic.
But what about the rest of us, who don’t like romantic movies? We who gag at the mention of Nicholas Sparks and have had to have our eyeballs surgically removed from the backs of our heads after watching Another Cinderella Story? What is there for us to watch on Valentine’s Day? Believe it or not, whether you’re a misanthrope or a serial killer, there’s a love story out there for you.
First let me say that I’m not a professional movie critic. I actually have to PAY for all of my tickets, so naturally I haven’t seen everything, and I’m not putting movies on my list that I haven’t seen.
I was going to do Top 10 and Bottom 10 in separate articles, but then I realized that nearly half of the movies I’d seen would have to be on one list or the other (I counted, I’ve seen 42 movies this year, five of them more than once), so I pared it down to 5 of each.
There are some films (Hurt Locker and Bright Star in particular) that might have been on the “top” list if I’d seen them, but they never came to Sydney. I also tend to avoid movies if I think they’re going to be bad, so the ones on this list are the ones that slipped through my filters and/or I was dragged to by friends.
That said, on with the best and worst films I’ve seen in theaters in 2009.