I saw two movies over the weekend. They were very different from each other, but I enjoyed them both.
First, The Visitor, which is a small film about a lonely professor who, through a variation on the typical romantic comedy meet-cute, ends up befriending a pair of illegal immigrants who add excitement and meaning to his empty life. Cribbing from this excellent review of the movie, yes, this sounds like the premise of a terrible, cliched, trite, unwatchable film. But it's not. It's not at all. The characters feel so real, the emotions feel so genuine... the movie works. Last year I saw a bunch of movies that tried to be this one -- Starting Out In The Evening, The Savages, Grace Is Gone -- they all ended up at the bottom of my rankings of what I saw. They were all character pieces about characters I didn't want to spend any time with and didn't enjoy watching. This movie was different. This movie was gentle and captivating and reminded me that watching a movie can be an enjoyable thing to do. I haven't seen too many good movies this year. I haven't seen too many movies this year at all, relative to what I saw last year. I did a quick count -- last year I saw 33, this year I've seen about half that. And a bunch of those were in January, when I was still getting to see free screenings because of the Writers Guild. I expect this movie will end up ranking as the best one I've seen all year. Watching it made me think about my own life, and think about how to find more joy in the little things. What more can we ask a movie to do than that? Read the review I linked to. And go see this film if you can -- it's worth it.
Second, Role Models, which I was very excited to see, even though the premise -- two guys forced to be Big Brothers to two wacky, maladjusted kids -- again sounds unwatchable. But the preview was funny, and I'm a David Wain fan -- Wet Hot American Summer is a very, very funny movie. This is a Judd Apatow movie without Judd Apatow, in a lot of ways. The cast is from the same world -- Paul Rudd, McLovin from SuperBad, etc. And a lot of it is very funny. The story gets predictable, and there aren't as many laugh-out-loud moments as I might have wished for, but there's a very watchable, very enjoyable light tone to the whole thing, the characters are all likeable, Jane Lynch does an especially funny job as the head of the Big Brothers program, and I really liked it. A lot of little touches in the background that I noticed, that were amusing on their own but not necessarily called out by the script. I hope this very commercial film gives David Wain the credibility to get more stuff made.