Friday, June 28, 2013

5 Picks for Summertime Flicks

5 Picks for Summertime Flicks
by Andy Petty

Hello, Lake Wedowee Life Readers! My name is Andy and I am a movie cinephile. I've been watching movies since I can remember and my goal is to see as many films as my schedule will allow. For me, to watch a film again, especially more than twice, it needs to have all the goods that keep me coming back for more. These goods can include the technical aspects of a film (how they were able to construct a world), the imagination one requires to write the script and other times there is just a feeling there was a complete collaboration with everyone involved in bringing something together that puts a smile on my face. The summer months are my favorite time of the year. It's a time to enjoy life from outside your home on an everyday basis. A time when the smell of honeysuckle and a BBQ grill throw the senses into a whirlwind, when fireworks light up the night sky to celebrate this great country and when a sense of outdoor wonder that only comes during those dog days us Southerners know oh too well. So, is it possible to take a break for a movie during any of these amazing events this summer? Of course! Lights, DVD player and microwave popcorn…action!

The Great Outdoors
 I have asked a few random people around my neighborhood about what they think of my all-time favorite summer comedy "The Great Outdoors" - and despite it being a John Candy/Dan Aykroyd comedy produced by legendary icon John (Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles) Hughes, I get a question mark stare. The perfect blend of summer vacation and every household in America can relate to their own family's experience of life in the great outdoors. We all have that memory of being on the lake, un-expected wildlife encounters and family feuds; so cue the agreeable nod now. The Ripley's are ordinary Chicago suburbanites heading outside of their comfort zone to the lake life for a week of relaxation and family bonding. Unfortunately, this vacation can't escape unexpected family members. That pretty much sums up the entire plot, but two comedy legends playing off one another leads to an on-screen chemistry that is made of Hollywood legend. Our two leads here dislike one another so much that even horse-back riding is a competitive sport - and boating and go-karts and fishing… But despite the on-screen duels, we still have excellent opportunities to get to know the rest of the family. That is where John Hughes’ excellent screenwriting skills come in to play. I never felt like this film needed a sequel or re-imagining because it was done right the first time. This is a family I grew up with and love despite their minor flaws. You can see your family in these characters and not feel guilty laughing at all their shenanigans. Oh and despite a dated cell phone and video camcorder - it's a timeless classic that deserves to be seen every time the cicadas sing their summer tunes.

 I was born in 1983 so I missed the box office madness that dominated the summer of 1975 with Jaws. I was told by my parents, however, about how their experience with one of the most terrifying creatures ever filmed that kept an entire country out of the water that summer. I absolutely love this film. It’s one flaw is that there aren't any - and that makes no sense I know, but with Oscar worthy performances and a style that only the master of cinema today could have come up with, it works in 2013. Steven Spielberg didn't have the budget or a cooperative mechanical shark to use throughout this two-hour movie and instead decided to use the camera (also the audience in some respects) as the great white demon. That resulted in an amazing trick that movie-going audiences today miss. No matter how advance computer graphics get these days, we still want to be surprised. To this day we've only had a handful of true Hollywood produced films come out about sharks (and that includes the 3 Jaws sequels) and nothing has compared to this monster. With its popularity still ranking it one of the greatest films of all time, Universal Pictures and Spielberg have meticulously restored every scene to a look that appears to have been filmed yesterday. So assure the children of today that this is only a movie and let them experience what their parents thought in 1975 was the scariest film of all time.

Dirty Dancing
I don't care how old you are or what your sex is - we've all hit that age where you love who you love. Step aside mom or dad because it's my time to blossom into adulthood. The summer belongs to Frances 'Baby' Houseman while she's on vacation with her family in the Catskill's circa 1963. The period between high school and college where a rather mundane summer can't end fast enough - but who wants the summer to end when Patrick Swayze, oh I mean 'Johnny Castle' has just entered your life. So, what makes this film still relevant today? Why am I voting this one of the best summer films of all time? I feel it's a timeless coming of age story that the generations today can still relate to. For one thing, I feel like a 1987 film taking place in 1963 was a smart move. The 60’s (to a child of the 80's) represents a decade in constant transition. A nation that collectively looked at their neighbors without judgment and said they wanted a change. The music, the message, the romance - it's a love story that crosses all boundaries. They can try and give it sequels or even remakes (yes it's scheduled for your multiplex in the next year or two), but nothing will replace this summer romance. Are you humming "She's like the Wind" right now?

The Avengers
It's definitely deserving of being one of the best summer films because it is the highest grossing summer film of all time. Marvel Comics hasn't had a paved road to Hollywood from its conception. Speaking solely on the film side of things, Captain America to The Punisher to The Fantastic Four, they went through some major screen disasters in the past - but since The X-Men hit the screen in 2000, Hollywood has rode the comic book adaptation to the moon and back (for better or worse). All the major studios started bidding over any and every superhero they could get their hands on and in the meantime Marvel Studios became an entity to be reckoned with. Who would have thought that Robert Downey, Jr.'s role of Iron Man would have changed the face of the action hero's standard? So, Marvel got to work on creating a intertwining franchise that has never been seen before. Bring in director Joss Whedon who has become the underground superhero in his own right and we have a perfect storm of comic amazement. I remember sitting in my seat in a sold-out auditorium on opening weekend thinking how mediocre this experience could be. Boy, was I wrong! It is perfectly edited to give every character a chance to shine, superbly acted from every star and the special effects are at their finest. It's only been a year since the blockbuster that rivaled the grosses of "Titanic" and "Avatar" was released but it has staked its claim in summer movie history. Admit it, you loved it.

The Lion King
 Walt Disney understood nature. He wanted his animators to experience everything they were creating by having them in the wild to seek out whatever species they were about to bring to life. The studio carried on this tradition for future animators, as the tiniest details of the animals we share on this planet have personalities just waiting to be discovered. Disney, I believe, would have agreed with the masses in naming this the best film from the Walt Disney Animation Company. However, is it also a great “Summer Film?” Yes, it was released in June of 1994, but there is a sense of warmth that reminds me of the spirit of these couple of months. You don't have to be the king of the African plains to experience being a kid/teen in this world. Hakuna Matata means no worries - and between May-September I do just that. Probably one of the most controversial family films ever made, it defies all criticism and unites us all. We are all in this circle of life. Enjoy this film with your kids today so that tomorrow - when they are adults - you will cherish it together in a whole new way. "Long live The King."
Five films that barely scratch the surface of flicks that depict these summer months, but those are my favorites that you can all enjoy, respectively. Adventure, thrills, romance, action and drama - have a great summer!


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