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The Best Years (2007)
Writers should steal from this show...but then you'd have to watch it.
I bought this series at a DVD blowout for (cheap), for two seasons. I was hyped! Something new and I love getting quirky cancelled shows for my collection of failed series.
Then I watched the first episode. I sat back and thought "Just my luck: I never would have watched the second episode if I had seen this on T.V." Unfortunately, I had opened the DVDs so no returns. I was determined to get hours of entertainment for my money! I stuck through the bad all the way to the end, and actually found some good.
I think the really good part of the show was lost on its audience: the changes from, shall we say, Santa's Nice to Naughty List and back. Sure, everyone appreciates some of the witty lines (not many, but the ones in there have made their way into my conversations... it's not like anyone has seen the show so no one knows I'm stealing). However, the real intelligence of the series lies in how the heroes and heroines would be the put-out or even victims one week, then the next week even deserve the observations from their comrades in story lines over fluid refreshment: "you do know you're the @$$h0le in your story, right?" (pretty sure that was a direct quote; if not, it is definitely something everyone with real friends will hear after a 'debriefing' at some point in life.) Yes, the "evil" trouble-makers would have reasons, and the saints proved to be less than saintly; we know this. More importantly, the protagonists would be honourable one week and downright mean or selfish the next, making all sorts of wrong decisions. That is people, that is life and that is certainly university. It is a lesson the younger people could have used and us older people could have used a reminder. Mostly, I just like how it actually reflects life.
However, this show should have been cancelled. It was overly dramatic from the beginning. That can be okay, if you just commit to the idea that sometimes people end up in extreme circumstances, but then humongous events would just drop from consciousness where they would, in reality, form the basis for very different behaviours. I found myself wanting to scream at the screen (because writers and producers can hear you through the television) "you just established why that character wouldn't do that!" Also, the characters they lost from the first season to the second took away from the show; I hope they lost the actors to other projects, because they were seriously wrong if they thought that was a good writing decision.
Bottom line: the show had a lot of potential but decided to never live up to it. Oh, wait, maybe that is many university students... nah, the show was written by adults: they could have done much better.
Wait for TV or rent if there's nothing that interests you more
There's only 3 ways this movie could have ended: one would have the audience angry (and possibly throwing popcorn at the screen), one would have people asking "is that it?" as it would be so predictable that you expect more scenes to leave you satisfied or the way it actually ends. Really, the current ending is the safest choice and the most satisfying for the audience. However, it doesn't have enough build to make it truly satisfying. Instead, you leave the theatre saying "meh, it was okay."
The one positive thing I will say is that Tony Gilroy clearly did his research on real spies. I love tales like the Bourne Identity, Alias and Bond, but they're highly unrealistic of the average case officer spy. Duplicity's story details are realistic like it could have been told over drinks by a spy leaving the business or diplomats who figured out who the spy amongst them was (in the realism: that is NOT the story- telling method of Gilroy's direction). Everything in the movie seems plausible and credible for what is known of intelligence officers.
However, it wasn't enough to save the movie for the average moviegoer (who probably wouldn't know about this stuff). This movie is based more on character and situation, which I love and still got bored. It should not be considered an action movie (if some of you are under that impression- people say it is despite that it wasn't advertised as such) and "thriller" is a stretch. There's too much information and that information doesn't build a climax.
I thought it was predictable: I saw the ending from approx an hour in. However, my family often forces me to go to movies as, when we rent, I have a tendency to accidentally blurt out the ending I see foreshadowed - and in the theatre, I can't talk. "Curse of the Writer," my Mom calls it. My Dad says it is only me (and other writers) who see these things coming, and he didn't see this one, but he sometimes can't predict the end of a Nicholas Sparks movie. I'll leave you to judge if that man is someone whose perspective on predictability is one you can trust. Personally, I don't think it was a writer seeing the formula like the strings of a puppet. You decide.
It may improve when it finally ends up on network television: the editing may tighten it and leave less time for the audience to get bored.
Dead Man on Campus (1998)
Great Stress Relief
I own this movie and watch it several times a year. Why? Because when you are studying for exams you wish your school had a policy like this (and you could fake a death because who really wants a roommate to die?)
I find people are over-analyzing, and you have to take any movie with a grain of salt. All movies require a suspension of disbelief, as much of this is unbelievable, but it's a freakin' comedy! Not a statement on life. It pokes fun at a situation where many of us have been: most of us go through a slacker phase where the world is just too tough and you have to forget, just relax a little... still don't get how if we all need this there are still so many consequences but I digress.
Most of the intelligent stuff has been said already so I won't bore you by repeating the same sentiments. However, I do recommend this movie for when you can't get papers/exams out of your mind but you still need a break (or if you just feel like reliving that part of your life). It's better than "The Perfect Score" but that movie is also good for study breaks.