Critics and audiences seem to agree in large numbers that the greatest continuing one-hour series ever to air on American television is either the recently departed masterwork Breaking Bad or the groundbreaking show that aired in the previous decade, The Sopranos. Both are gruelingly suspenseful and violent neo-noir crime stories interwoven with searing family drama, intense action and bizarre black comedy. Between them they’ve garnered numerous Emmy awards for their incredible casts, directors and writers. […]
You fell in love with her in The Descendants (2011), and then you blinked, and suddenly Shailene Woodley was everywhere.
Just in the past nine months alone, she’s been in two horribly titled romances made from best-selling young-adult novels, both adapted, in fact, by the same writing team, best known for previous Smackdown challenger (500) Days of Summer starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who was also the star of 50/50, which shares a theme with…
Well, I’m getting ahead of myself. So let’s get on with this week’s bout, as we pit last fall’s The Spectacular Now against current release The Fault in Our Stars. Because if Movie Smackdown didn’t do it, who Woodley?
There are few conflicts more dramatic than the battle for racial integration, particularly during the turbulent years of the mid-twentieth century America. 42’s Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman), the first player of color in Major League Baseball, is a ferociously talented athlete who struggles to overcome the rampant bigotry of the game in the post-WWII era. A quarter-century later, Remember the Titans’ ace football coach Herman Boone (Denzel Washington) faces the unenviable task of integrating two racially separated high school football squads in Virginia, the cradle of the Confederacy.
Both of these characters are resilient, heroic fighters who triumphed over the narrow-mindedness of their times. Each overcame long odds and passionate opposition to push his country in the right direction and his team to glory. And without them both, who knows, we might not have anything more fun to watch on weekends than NASCAR and golf.
Clearly, both these contenders have got an incredible will to win, but only one can be Smackdown champion. Batter up! […]
Just in time for fall, we are reminded, thanks to Hollywood, of everything we loved and hated about high school. Twenty-seven years after The Breakfast Club, the coming-of-age story of ﬁve students locked together in high school detention, The Perks of Being a Wallﬂower introduces us to Charlie, a freshman boy in dire need of friends. Both films use humor to examine the pain of being a high school misfit, an immutable movie (and real-life) trope since before James Dean played chicken in Rebel Without a Cause.
Charlie’s group, like the various Breakfast Club miscreants before them, break through seemingly impossible barriers to get to know each other and themselves, without even having to worry so much about being dateless for prom or being given a “swirly” — having their heads shoved into a flushing toilet — by the school bully. What is this madness! […]
We’ve know it’s coming all year — a super heavyweight championship — and now it’s finally here in the beat-down heat of summer.
Fresh off the super-fan orgy at San Diego Comic-Con, we have the Sony 3D reboot of The Amazing Spider-Man against the third and final installment of Warner Bros.’ The Dark Knight Rises (July 20).
It’s Ali and Frazier. Well, technically, it’s DC and Marvel and Sony and Warner Bros. Oh, and Batman and Spider-Man.
These two awesome franchises — both successful with critics and hugely so at the box office — mean to fight it out in the cool, air-conditioned movie palaces of our globally warmed summer. […]
What a difference a decade makes. Why, in that period of time, it’s possible to forget you’ve ever seen a specific movie, almost like it never existed.
Well, no, it’s not like that all, of course. Those of us over the age of thirteen do clearly remember the blockbuster films we saw just ten years ago. The question Columbia Pictures seems to be asking with the release of The Amazing Spider-Man is whether or not it matters. […]
In this matchup, the Movie Smackdown Arena has been converted into something that resembles the Iron Chefs’ Kitchen Stadium because we’re comparing an American culinary classic: Apple pie. Everyone loves a slice of warm, homemade apple pie, but which one is the best piece: the first or the last? If you ask Jim Levenstein, I think he’d say to just jump in headfirst and enjoy, but I wouldn’t recommend using the head that he did. […]
Smart women are as rare on film as they are in life. Rarer even. Smart high school girls might be the rarest cinematic species of all. You can count them on your two hands. Cooler and wittier than any real girl in any real high school, they’re who we wish we could have been. The girls who say what we wish we had said. Smart girls who use their smart mouths to get into (and out of) considerable trouble. The adults in these films are unspeakably cool too; perhaps this whole smart high school girl genre is for us grown-up girls (and guys) who revisit our high school hallways every night in our dreams and nightmares, still trying to dot those old i’s and cross those uncrossed t’s, to redress grievances and beat down those bullies that haunt us still.
Listen up, ‘rents. Being a father is never easy, but being the father of a teenage girl, and trying to get that one right is a true challenge. Both of these films — two decades apart in production dates and period settings — show fathers who, with the best of intentions, get it all wrong, but they get it wrong in exactly opposite ways.
You can care too little and you can care too much. When you’re in the middle of things, it’s not always so easy to see which is which. Believe me, as a father of girl who has just left her teenage years behind, these are matters I’ve thought a little bit about. I keep thinking of the famous Kenny Rogers’ song (“The Gambler,” written by Don Schlitz) that you gotta know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em. Like that’s easy. Still, what we have here to consider are a couple of fathers who don’t know best, not by a long shot… […]