This List is Not All-Inclusive!

Remember that you’re getting movie & TV advice from regular guys with regular lives.  The fact that we’re not sitting in front of our computers and TVs all day also means that we don’t have time to review every movie ever made.  While this list will continue to grow as fast as we can continue to watch and review movies & TV, we apologize in advance for those we did not get to yet.  Rather than relying on it as an exhaustive encyclopedia of movies & TV, though, we hope that you will simply use this list as a source for good suggestions of what to watch or stay away from.

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Reviews are organized in reverse chronological order by the date the review was created.  However, you can also check out reviews for particular genres by using the “Categories” drop-down box at the bottom of the page.  Also, you can use the “Search” box (also at the bottom of the page) to find a particular movie/show.

Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)

(R) 102 mins

(R) 102 mins

Plot Summary: In 1948 Los Angeles, a stranger asks war veteran “Easy” Rawlins to help locate a missing woman–a task that gets him embroiled in a murder mystery.

Director: Carl Franklin

Writers: Walter Mosley (book), Franklin (screenplay)

Stars: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals

Serious Jest: animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd) (Worth Watching)  Unlike too many 1990s blockbusters, this film is timeless because it did not rely on big explosions, hoky effects, or the general ignorance of audiences in the pre-Google age.  Instead, it showcased a captivating story, interesting characters, a cool setting, and good acting (Don Cheadle & Sizemore are especially badass).  In sum, it is a very solid film noir, well worth dedicating a couple of hours to watch it, but it is not so unique that it’s a Must See.

Stir Crazy (1980)

Stir Crazy

(R) 111 mins

Plot Summary: Skip and Harry are framed for a bank robbery and end up in a western prison.  The two Eastern boys are having difficulty adjusting to the new life until the warden finds that Skip has a natural talent for riding broncos with the inter-prison rodeo coming up.

Director: Sidney Poitier

Writer: Bruce Jay Friedman

Stars: Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, Georg Stanford Brown

Serious Jest: animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd) (Don’t Bother)  Don’t get me wrong, I love the bromance between Wilder and Pryor.  They were both very charismatic in their films together, their comedic chemistry was synced up like the periods in a women’s barracks, and they didn’t rely on their differences in race to establish a masterfully balanced contrast.  But, over time, the jokes that used to kill back in the 70s and 80s just don’t have the same impact anymore.

Also, is it just me, or is it a little unbelievable that a prison rodeo would draw the huge crowd seen in this film?  I had similar thoughts during The Longest Yard, and I love football.

This movie is amusing, and it’s not bad background, but it’s not worth dedicating an exclusive 2 hours to.  On the other hand, I’m definitely going to try to incorporate “kiss the baby” into a future conversation.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

(Approved) 179 mins

(Approved) 179 mins

Plot Summary: A bounty hunting scam joins two men in an uneasy alliance against a third in a race to find a fortune in gold buried in a remote cemetery.

Director: Sergio Leone

Writers: Luciano Vincenzoni (story & screenplay), Sergio Leone (story & screenplay), Agenore Incrocci (screenplay, as Age), Furio Scarpelli (screenplay, as Scarpelli), Mickey Knox (English version by)

Stars: Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef

Serious Jest: animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd) (Must Own)  Unless you hate spaghetti Westerns, this film needs to be in your collection.  It’s a classic tale of greed, backstabbing, strategy, and dumb luck.  If you ever want to really understand a director like Quentin Tarantino, you need to watch at least one Leone film.  Leone was a visionary!  This is my favorite of the “Dollars Trilogy” thematic series.  Eastwood and Van Cleef are completely badass in this one, but Wallach steals the show as Tuco!  The cinematography is awesome, Ennio Morricone‘s score enhances the action and tension, and this film starts and ends epicly.

Orgazmo (1997)

(TV-MA) 92 mins

(TV-MA) 92 mins

Plot Summary: Naive young Mormon Joe Young is recruited to act in porn movies.

Director & Writer: Trey Parker

Stars: Parker, Dian Bachar, Robyn Lynne Raab

Serious Jest: animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd) (Don’t BotherJeez, these South Park guys really love to go after the Mormons!  To be fair, though, they often portray them as happy and good people, despite their wack-job religion.  Parker & Matt Stone often seem to be on the same wavelength as my funny bone (no pun intended), so although this movie was silly and came off as thrown together with little effort, I couldn’t help but keep a smirk through most of it.  The acting of Parker and Bachar in this film was very good, especially in their expressions.

Also, the women in this film were hot (except for the ones that weren’t meant to be)!  IMDB reflects that an unrated version of this film exists.  If any of you have seen that version, please weigh in here.  I suspect that I would have given that version 3 mugs!

 

Les Miserables (2012)

(PG-13) 158 mins

(PG-13) 158 mins

Plot Summary: In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after breaking parole, agrees to care for a factory worker’s daughter. The decision changes their lives for ever.

Director: Tom Hooper

Writers: William Nicholson (screenplay), Alain Boublil (screenplay), Claude-Michel Schönberg (screenplay), Herbert Kretzmer (screenplay), Alain Boublil (stage musical “Les Miserables”), Claude-Michel Schönberg (stage musical “Les Miserables”)

Stars: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway

Serious Jest: animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd) (Don’t Bother)  A compelling story with visually pleasing cinematography and a top-notch acting cast…however, I generally don’t favor musicals, unless they’re able to break into the songs somewhat organically, as Moulin Rouge! did.  But this movie sang. just. about. every. word…this dragged the film into the unnecessary territory of 2 1/2 hours.  I heard there’s a non-musical version.  Gonna try that one after a reasonable “cooling off” period.

Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000)

(R) 98 mins

(R) 98 mins

Plot Summary: Urban legend-style killings begin to occur on a movie set, in this non-sequel sequel to “Urban Legend”.

Director: John Ottman

Writers: Silvio Horta (characters), Paul Harris Boardman (written by), Scott Derrickson (written by)

Stars: Jennifer Morrison, Matthew Davis, Hart Bochner

Serious Jest: animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd) (Don’t Bother)  You may be flipping through your cable channels and come across this movie.  Parts of it may seem entertaining, especially if you’re a fan of urban legends, like myself.  If you continue about your business with this film on in the background and occasionally stop to watch a couple of scenes, you may not be disappointed…but do not waste your time by dedicating over an hour and a half to watch a collection of half-interesting urban legends executed with unconvincing special effects.  While the plot twist isn’t bad, the ending is otherwise hokey and ruins what was a mediocre movie featuring some recognizable actors like Anthony Anderson, Eva Mendes, and Joseph Lawrence…and Loretta Devine, shame on you for playing this role…you know what I’m talmmbout.  In sum, this flick is bad enough so that its homage to Alfred Hitchcock is a little insulting, but it’s not bad background if you keep your expectations low.

 

Cheers (1982-1993)

(TV-PG)

(TV-PG)

Plot Summary: The regulars of the Boston bar Cheers share their experiences and lives with each other while drinking or working at the bar where everybody knows your name.

Creators: James Burrows, Glen Charles, Les Charles

Stars: Ted Danson, Rhea Perlman, John Ratzenberger

Serious Jest: animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd) (Queue it)  Not only was this show good enough to run a full eleven seasons, but, over twenty years after the last episode, it still holds up! The topics are still relevant, the dialogue is still funny, and you can still see real-life versions of these scenarios play out in your local favorite watering hole.  I’ve already called out a few Cliff Clavins!

Whereas most shows that start out hot eventually lose their steam and fizzle out, this series changed characters, tweaked plot lines, and kept just enough of its essence true to execute a strong run throughout (I think the show got better when Woody came aboard!).  I normally hate sitcoms, but this is one of the best ones I’ve ever watched.  Queue up the complete series on Netflix, and watch every last episode.

Jawbreaker (1999)

(R) 87 mins

(R) 87 mins

Plot Summary: A practical joke goes murderously awry for a trio of teen queens who are desperate to cover up their crime.

Director & Writer: Darren Stein

Stars: Rose McGowan, Rebecca Gayheart, Julie Benz

Serious Jest: animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd) (Don’t Bother)  Not bad for what it is: a tongue-in-cheek high school story about privileged teen white girls.  While I couldn’t relate, it wasn’t boring.  The editing and cinematography were key.  Too much overacting, though, especially from McGowan.  Love that Noxzema girl, though!

Lone Survivor (2013)

(R) 121 mins

(R) 121 mins

Plot Summary: Based on the failed June 28, 2005, mission “Operation Red Wings.”  Four members of SEAL Team 10 were tasked with the mission to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shahd.

Director: Peter Berg

Writers: Peter Berg, Marcus Luttrell (book), Patrick Robinson (book)

Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch

Serious Jest: animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd) (Must Own)  When I was still on active duty in the Marine Corps, a situation involving a recon team, an isolated mountaintop, a targeted Afghani warlord, and a couple of innocent goatherders was posed to us as the perfect ethical dilemma.  A room full of officers wrestled with the theoretical frying pan and fire…self-preservation (or, more importantly, the safety of their Marines) vs. morality.  I knew then that I had to read Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10.  I was not disappointed.  I couldn’t put that book down, and I recommended it to anyone who would listen.

I’ve said this before many times, and I’ll say it again: I love sports and movies, but my heroes aren’t athletes or actors.  I was fortunate enough to serve this great Country alongside my heroes.  When I heard that this movie was being made, I couldn’t wait to see what a team of talented filmmakers dedicated to bringing proper glory to the brave men of Operation Red Wings could do with this amazing story.

Again, I was not disappointed.  As a pure action flick, this film is top-notch.  But it’s more than that.  It’s a glimpse at what some patriotic, determined men and women do for other Americans (and, more importantly, for each other), in far off lands, under uncomfortable conditions, for a mediocre paycheck and little recognition.

It took some effort for me not to get choked up during this film.  Afterwards, my girlfriend marveled, “It’s amazing how much the human body can take.”  I agreed, and added, “Even moreso, the human mind.”  Make this the next film you watch, especially if you need to get motivated to do anything remotely tough.

What would you do in the situation involving the goat herders?  I always say that if the first time you consider an ethical scenario is the moment that you’re facing it, you’re much more likely to compromise your moral code.

Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993)

(PG-13) 88 mins

(PG-13) 88 mins

Plot Summary: Rambo parody in which Topper Harley leads a rescue team into Iraq to save Iraqi war prisoners and all of their previous rescue teams.

Director: Jim Abrahams

Stars: Charlie Sheen, Lloyd Bridges, Valeria Golino

Serious Jest: animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd)animated beer mug 25% (transparent bkgrd) (Don’t Bother)  Boy, some movies really seemed better when I was younger.  I was a teenager when I first saw this film.  I mean, I can still appreciate a slapstick, stream-of-consciousness flick like the next guy, but I’m mature enough now to see that the jokes in this one were often lazy and mediocre.  Then again, some of them may have been more relevant in the 90s, like when Saddam Hussein has a clapper installed in his bedroom.  By the way, tell me Jerry Haleva isn’t a dead ringer (Why yes, that is a pun!) for Hussein!

Jerry Haleva Saddam Hussein

On the other hand, this movie is also a reminder that Sheen really was a wizard-king who drank tiger blood. I found myself cheering for him to finish with both of his leading ladies in the end (Another pun!  How fun!), at the same time…now that’s bi-WINNING!  However, if I had to pick only one of the two to receive the Adonis DNA, I’d have to go with Brenda Bakke.  Wow, was she hot!

BrendaBakke