Category Archives: Lists

Top 6 Movies Related to College

As promised with last month’s list, this month’s list is dedicated to my favorite college-oriented movies.

So without delay, here it is:

National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)

The public’s introduction to John Belushi and Kevin Bacon, this movie gives a comedic look of college life.  While some hate how it depicts Fraternity life, I can look past the boozing and see the brotherhood truly exhibited at Delta house….And yes, that is a pledge pin on my uniform…

Revenge of the Nerds (1984)

Continuing the “us vs. them” theme from Animal House, this movie showed us nerds could be funny.

PCU (1994)

David Spade and Jeremy Piven turn in great performances in this movie that pokes fun at how we as a society try to cater to every little group.  Sadly, nothing has changed in 14 years.  Look for Jon Favreau as a pothead…

American Pie 2 (2001)

What the first one did for high school, this one does for showing us how life changes after that first year of college.  This is probably the strongest of the three movies and has a really good soundtrack.

National Lampoon’s Van Wilder (2002)

Ryan Reynolds and Kal Penn form a fun team to watch.  It almost feels like watching Ferris Bueller at college, with a little more gross-out humor.

Old School (2003)

This one hits home for me in many ways.  I do like Jeremy Piven switching teams 10 years after PCU by playing the dean.

Top 12 Movies Related to High School

With the onset of August, we get college football, NFL, baseball playoffs, hurricanes, and people going back to school.  So what better time to list my favorite school-related movies than now?  August’s list is dedicated to High School; September’s will be dedicated to College.  As always, I must have seen the movie; so there will be no listing of Pretty in Pink.  I do want to give honorable mentions to five movies that involved some school, but it was not the primary focus:  The Goonies, Gotcha!, The Freshman, The Sure Thing, and South Park.

Now, before the teacher docks points for not being posted in August:

Grease (1978)

Everyone knows this one — it is the word that you heard.  Sure the actors were in their 30’s, but who cared.  We wanted to harken back to an era of greasers and bobby soxers.  Most women I know prefer this one over Titanic for true love.

Sixteen Candles (1984)

The start of the John Hughes legacy.  Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, John Cusack all were launched from this movie.  The fact that nearly 25 years later that it is still considered one of the benchmarks movies are measured against with regards to teenagers and life speaks volumes.

Footloose (1984)

An outsider trying to fit in; kids wanting to be kids; and a battle over morality.  While dismissed as fluff by most, this movie, with John Hughes’s library, helped define movies for a generation.

The Breakfast Club (1985)

Another iconic film still used for inspiration today (see JC Penney’s latest ad campaign), it was one that sparked discussion in the Cross household.  Having watched it just a few weeks ago,, I am amazed how it is truly a timeless piece, with the only pop-culture references being the music.

Better Off Dead (1985)

We have all been Lane Meyer; heck, I identify with him a lot, except for the dead part.  While initially lost amidst the John Hughes shuffle, it gained footing on video and cable.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

This is Matthew Broderick’s signature movie.  We have all wanted one crazy day like this in high school.  This one holds even more nostalgia for me:  it is the movie I saw on my first date, ever.

Heathers (1989)

A very dark comedy, but an interesting study of social circles.  Winona Ryder and Christian Slater played a very odd, violent couple.

Pump Up The Volume (1990)

Another movie about trying to find one’s place, Christian Slater did a great job with the role.  It highlights some of the pressures we all face from all facets of life.

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)

Released at a time when everyone was ripping off the Bard for teen-oriented movies, this retelling of The Taming of the Shrew launched two careers: Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger.  It also produced one of the better overall soundtracks.

American Pie (1999)

Viewed as the relaunch of the gross-out teen-oriented comedies, it really is a good story about the awkwardness of being a teenage guy — something not always addressed in movies.

Not Just Another Teen Movie (2001)

One of the best parodies of teen movies, this one runs the gamut of John Hughes to Varsity Blues.  It does use She’s All That as the framework to hang all of the comedy on.

Mean Girls (2004)

Lindsay Lohan’s last movie before all of the real-life drama started affecting her work.  Written by Tina Fey, one can see influences of Heathers in it.

Top 10 Superhero Movies of All Time: A Bonus List

Since July is my birthday month, I have decided to give all of you the gift of an extra list.  Usual rules apply…

To the Bat-List, Robin:

10.  Sky High (2005)

A Disney movie targeted at kids, but a fun ride.  Never takes itself too seriously, but keeps all of the rules in place that it sets up.  Imaginative with great supporting actor stars.  Sit back and have fun…

9.  Batman (1966)

Yes it is cheesy and campy, but we all secretly love it.  Besides, it mirrors the Batman of the comic books of that timeframe.

8.  Batman (1989)

Tim Burton did a great job with this version.  When I was originally composing this list, I thought I would have it in the top 5.  Again, it reflects the mood of the comics at the time…

7.  The Rocketeer (1991)

A great period piece.  Visually grand and fun.

6.  Iron-Man (2008)

This one is the fun, bright movie of 2008.  Robert Downey, Jr., did a great job as Tony Stark.

5.  The Dark Knight (2008)

Phenomenal movie.  Easily one of the best of all time.  Just could not beat out some of my other favorites.

4.  The Incredibles (2004)

Pixar let Brad Bird have free reign with this one and the dividends paid off.  A great cartoon take on the hero world with no vested interest in Marvel or DC.

3.  Batman: The Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

The best animated version of the Caped crusader and the only one released to theaters.  Done before computers became too prevelant in animation.

2.  Superman and Superman II (1978, 1980)

These can not be separated; they are bookends of a story.  The origin story of stories and brilliantly filmed.  The amazing thing is that it was done in the late 70’s, without CGI and other computer aids.

1.  Unbreakable (2000)

Probably the most interesting film made within this genre.  An ordinary man becomes extraordinary and deals with the effects of it.  No costumes, no flash — just simple, good story-telling….

Worst Superhero Movies Made

Time for another list.  Given the release of so many superhero movies this summer, I have decided to make this month’s list about the worst superhero movies released to the big screen.  Not included are movies I have not seen or movies released only to TV and video — that means movies like Underdog escaped my wrath…

Run away from the following:

6.  X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

Probably the least offensive in this group.  Fox drove this franchise into the ground by not letting Singer complete his vision.  Instead, Singer leaves to do a mediocre Superman movie, and all of the good things the series produced is wiped away.  One can only hope that the Wolverine movie is treated better…

5.  Superman III (1983)

Spaldy is already shaking her head since this is one of her favorite Superman movies.  It does have some enjoyable moments, but overall, it was a big dropoff from what was delivered in the first two Superman movies…

4.  Elektra (2005)

What a waste of actors.  Basically, it wa as if a bunch of executives said, “How can we get Jennifer Garner to wear skin tight clothes for two hours?  Story?  We don’t need no stinking story…”

3.  Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)

Poor Christopher Reeve — he wanted to make a movie with Superman that showed how we all could be super.  Unfortunately we got a mess of celluloid that is painful to watch…

2.  Zoom (2006)

A Tim Allen vehicle about an aging superhero brought in to train a new team.  Awful, even for kids.

1.  Batman and Robin (1997)

Joel Schumaker, how I loathe thee.  Your destruction of this version of the franchise was complete with the release of this movie.  Bane, one of the greatest print villains, reduced to DUMB SIDE KICK?!??!?!? This is the best example of what happens when a genre-specific movie is made by someone with no understanding or love of the genre is put in charge.

Dads & Movies: June’s List

As I sit here on Father’s Day, it is only natural that this month’s list selection deal with movie dads.  As I started working on the list, though, I found that I was not looking for the “best” movie dad; rather, I started seeing movies that dealt with the relationship of the father.  Some of these I have had the privilege of sharing with my dad and I hope to share the rest of them with him.

Now, before he makes me go mow the yard, here is my list of movies:

11.  Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

This is probably the weakest entry in the field, but still worth mentioning.  Halfway through the movie, Dr. Jones, Sr., actually makes the case that he was a good father for allowing Indy to become self-reliant.  In reality, Indy just wanted someone to talk to at times…

10.  The Empire Strikes Back (1980) / Return of the Jedi (1983)

Before Lucas hit us over the head repeatedly with the newer trilogy about how Star Wars was really Anakin’s story, we viewed the original trilogy as Luke’s journey from simple farm boy to grown man.  Part of this growth dealt with learning who his father was: Darth Vader.  Despite what he may have done to the Star Wars galaxy, Vader only ever cared about his son.  In the end, that meant sacrificing himself to save his son; something all fathers would gladly do.

9.  Superman (1978)

Ignore the “messaich” angles of the story; Jor-El is just a father looking for the best home for his infant son.  What he asks of Kal-El in taking care of Earth can also be viewed as a repayment for Earth becoming Kal-El’s new home.  Again, a father ensuring the safety of his son before himself.

8.  The Patriot (2000)

The first of two Mel Gibson entries in this list, The Patriot deals with that eternal struggle between fathers and sons as the son reaches adulthood.  In the movie, Gibson’s character is forced to realize that he can not protect his son from the world or love….or even death.

7.  Ransom (1996)

How could a list like this leave off the movie that left us with the memorable quote, “GIVE ME BACK MY SON!!!!!”?  An average thriller with predictable plot points, it still shows us the length a father will go to protect his son.

6.  American Pie (1999) / American Pie 2 (2001) / American Wedding (2003)

Jim’s Dad.  Those two words say a lot to many movie goers over the past 9 years.  Sure, just like all of our dads, Jim’s embarrassed him many times.  Yet, also like all of our dads, Jim’s was always there with help and love when we needed it.  And, yes, just like Jim’s dad, mine often said to me, “Let’s not tell your mother about this…”

5.  The Lion King (1994)

Ironically, this is the second dad on this list voiced by the great James Earl Jones.  Mufasa ends up dying saving Simba’s life, but it is the advice he gives a grown Simba that shows the eternal passing of knowledge from father to son.

4.  Finding Nemo (2003)

While not one of my favorite Pixar movies, this movie is all about the relationship of father and son.  Like Ransom and American Pie, it shows the lengths a father will go to find his son and bring him home safely.

3.  Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995)

A great movie that focuses on three major stories at different parts of Holland’s life as he struggles to finish his composition.  The third story deals with his relationship with his deaf son.  This is the movie that shows what the son can teach the father.

2.  The Godfather (1972) / The Godfather II (1974) / The Godfather III (1990)

The ultimate trilogy about family, it is the second entry featuring Marlon Brando as a father.  The trilogy gives us not one, but two, storylines of fathers doing what they can to protect and provide for their families.  Even the third movie, hated by a lot of people, reinforces this theme as Michael Corleone continues to make difficult choices for what he thinks is best for his family.

1.  Field of Dreams (1989)

A father who was never around; a son who resented it.  Probably Kevin Costner’s best role as a son who is guided by voices to build a baseball field, then to search out certain people.  In the end, all of the tasks were designed to create that reunion all of us wanted to see.  Like Ol’ Yeller, this is the one movie that will create a lump in most men’s throats…