The Fault In Our Stars (2014) vs. The Spectacular Now (2013)

June 5, 2014 Arthur Tiersky

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?

(Sorry.)
[…]

Don Jon (2013) vs. (500) Days of Summer (2009)

September 26, 2013 Arthur Tiersky

So adorable little Tommy Solomon from 3rd Rock from the Sun is all grown up and is now not only a major movie star but a writing/directing/acting triple threat! This can mean only one thing:

I’m very, very old.

Okay, it can mean more than one thing, such as that the intrepid Joseph Gordon-Levitt is once again stretching his boundaries, bringing him yet another step closer to being King of the Universe. I’ve been a fan of his film work from early on, after he delivered one fearless, commanding and utterly diverse performance after another in the likes of Mysterious Skin (2004), Brick (2005) and The Lookout (2007). Terrific films all, incidentally, which reflects another aspect of JGL that can’t be overstated: The guy has good taste in scripts. Even his more mainstream, bigger-budget projects are a cut above average: He lent valuable support to Inception (2009) and Lincoln (2012), held the center of Looper, one of last year’s highlights, and even his goofy bike-messenger thriller Premium Rush (2012) was way more fun than it had any right to be. […]

The Vow (2012) -vs- 50 First Dates (2004)

February 9, 2012 Jackie Zabel

Artistic women with memory loss and the men who love them — that’s the premise of both The Vow, out this weekend with Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum in the lead roles, and 50 First Dates (2004), starring Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler. These films play against the standard boy-girl movie cliché, in that it’s the guys who know they’ve found their true romantic matches, and the women who, after seemingly falling in love, treat them like they’ve never seen them before. Of course, there’s a reason for that, and it has to do, in both cases, with brain trauma. Love may conquer all, but only if you can remember you’re in love. […]

In Praise of… 50/50

January 11, 2012 Bryce Zabel

50/50 deserves every bit as much Oscar love as The Descendants which is going to get its share. Both films are about dealing with terrible news and living through those stages of grief and 50/50 more than holds its own in that comparison.

Instead Academy members will probably see 50/50 as a diversion for people in their 20s, as light and comedic, and as another Seth Rogen getting stoned kind of movie. Well, it is actually those things within its frames, but it is so much more. […]

One Day (2011) -vs- Same Time, Next Year (1978)

August 17, 2011 Eric Volkman

Warning: this Smackdown is not your typical 15-rounder, with a decision coming after only a few hours of fighting. No, this stretches far, far longer… several decades, in fact. That’s because both our contenders span over 20 years in the lives of their central couples. Two long-term relationships outside marriage, each lasting a day at a time, annually, over the decades. Both survive personal shakeups and societal upheaval, but only one can survive this Smackdown. […]

Crazy, Stupid, Love. (2011) -vs- Dan in Real Life (2007)

July 28, 2011 Jackie Zabel

Is it better to give than receive? Before you answer, the question’s not asking about sex or birthday gifts but relationship advice. Newly liberated Office-mate Steve Carell finds himself on both sides of that equation in our Smackdown between a couple of romantic dramedies, Crazy, Stupid, Love., opening this weekend, and 2007’s Dan in Real Life.

Crazy, Stupid, Love., with its period at the end that causes my auto-correct fits, is probably the most grammatically irritating film title since Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire. Carell portrays boring, straight-laced Cal Weaver, who gets dumped by his wife and taken in as a charity project by Ryan Gosling’s barfly/man/god, Jacob Palmer. In Dan in Real Life, it’s Carell’s Dan Burns dispensing the advice in a newspaper column with the same name as the film, while trying to raise three daughters in various stages of meltdown after the death of their mom and Dan’s wife a few years earlier.

Two depressed guys, two lost wives, two sets of three quirky kids, and two comedies based on a Steve Carell character’s ability to roll with the romantic punches. So it comes down to Cal versus Dan, and it should come as no surprise that no matter who’s giving the advice, love makes a fool of them both. […]

Something Borrowed (2011) -vs- He’s Just Not That Into You (2009)

May 8, 2011 Mark Sanchez

Given that most single guys would be thrilled to have Ginnifer Goodwin as their girlfriend, you have to wonder why Hollywood keeps casting her as the woman who has a hard time finding a decent relationship. She got famous as the immature “sister-wife” Margene in the creepy HBO polygamy series, Big Love. Then she played the girl who can’t find love no matter how desperately she dates around in 2009’s He’s Just Not That Into You. And now she’s back in Something Borrowed as the third corner in a romantic triangle. I have no idea what her personal life is like but we can only hope it’s better than the parts she plays.

Both our films are ensemble rom-coms, chock-full of familiar character traits: earnest, self-absorbed, scoundrel, ironic, clueless, and so on. Some of these are main characters and some are the obligatory wacky friends. There are enough people running around in both films coupling and uncoupling that there seems to be a lot going on even when there isn’t. The idea is to cut from one storyline to another, keep the pace up, get some laughs, find some sympathetic moments, get a few more laughs, and tie up things more or less neatly before they run the credits. Everybody seems to have jobs that don’t really interfere with their pursuit of love and sex. Ah, paradise… […]

1 2 3