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The Hangover Part II (2011)
"Hey, can I copy your homework?"
"Yeah, but change some things to make it look different."
12 Angry Men (1957)
With brilliant acting from the jurors, an engaging script and fntastic direction from Sidney Lumet, 12 Angry Men knows what it is doing and succeeds masterfully at it.
12 Angry Men is not an extravagant movie. Most of the film takes place inside a small jury room - no extravagant sets in this movie. This gives us incentive to focus on the three strengths of the film - the acting, the dialogue (written by Reginald Rose) and the direction (by first-time director Sidney Lumet).
The acting is outstanding. There is a long shot that takes place before any talk of the case, and simply based off this shot, we can tell so much about these characters - which way they will vote, whether they can relate to the boy on trial, and which of them will collide in the future. Special mentions of course go to Lee J. Cobb and Henry Fonda, the two opposites whose conversations are some of the most interesting in the whole movie. Lee J, Cobb's revelation scene at the end of the movie alone shows how multilayered he can play his characters.
The dialogue is spectacular, and I am of the opinion it is one of the best scripts ever written for the movie screen - possibly the best. Every character speaks based on their motivations: Juror 5 speaks based on his experience as a kid from the poorer areas, Juror 3 speaks based on his own son, and Juror 7 speaks based on his desire to get to a baseball game. These motivations color their arguments and distinguish each of them from their peers, and ths is exemplified in the script. This film also contains the single greatest line in film history, delivered by Juror No. 8 to Juror No. 3 after No. 3 threatens his life. When you watch the scene, you'll know the line.
And finally, the directing is masterful. The film's limited set means that the director, Sidney Lumet, had to come up with creative ways to frame shots to aid the film's storytelling. He does this by shooting in wide shots at the start of the movie, and slowly bringing the camera closer to the actor's faces, putting more emphasis on their reactions and reinforcing the claustrophobic size of the room. The scene where the men walk into the outside at the end is basically catharsis.
12 Angry Men is a smart and engaging movie, and feels like it was made with every element completely fine-tuned to make one of the greatest movies of all time. I think this movie needs to be seen by everyone, not just to enjoy it, but to see how dialogue can be used masterfully to enhance a story.