Ghost Town

Ghost Town (2008) PG-13
This delightful romantic comedy stars Ricky Gervais, Greg Kinnear, and Tea Leoni. A dentist named Bertram Pincus (Gervais) has zero people skills and in fact despises people so much, it is surprising he didn't choose a different career such as hermit or public executioner. And as though life isn't tough enough for Pincus, he acquires the ability to see and speak with ghosts as a result of faulty anesthetic.

The ghosts are people who had unresolved issues at the time of their deaths and they all want Pincus to help him. For a man like Pincus, this is a disaster, as he has spent most of his life avoiding the living and now he's being haunted almost nonstop. However, things get even more complicated when one of the ghosts, Frank Herlihy (Kinnear), pesters Pincus into helping him break up his widow's engagement. This is a particularly difficult task since her fiancé is handsome, fit, wealthy, and a great humanitarian, whereas Pincus is plain, plump, and spectacularly obnoxious. In addition, Pincus has offended and antagonized Gwen several times in the past.

There are a lot of laughs in this movie and it is very definite feel good romance.

Check out other reviews from The New York Times, CNN, Roger Ebert, and The Seattle Times.

Up

Up (2009) PGUp begins with Carl Fredricksen as a boy meeting the love of his life, Ellie, and shows them dreaming about traveling to the mysterious Paradise Falls in South America. The movie fast forwards through scenes of their beautiful life together, all the while their dream of traveling eludes them. When Ellie dies, and Carl is about to be ordered by the court into the Shady Oaks retirement home, he escapes by tying thousands of balloons to his house and floating to South America. Now that Ellie is gone, Carl just wants to be left alone. Unfortunately, Russell, a local scout trying to earn a merit badge for helping the elderly, is pulled into the adventure, too.

They head for Paradise Falls and end up battling the famous explorer Charles Muntz who is trying to capture a rare bird assisted by his band of dogs who can talk with the help of special collars. After a shaky start, Russell and Carl become close friends who look forward to spending time together. Up is a wonderful story about chasing one’s dreams, but more importantly, it is about making new dreams and never giving up on life.

A Room with a View

A Room with a View (1986) R
In this romantic tale, young Lucy Honeychurch (Helena Bonham-Carter) takes a trip to Italy with her fretting, old-maidish cousin Charlotte (Maggie Smith). Among the interesting people Lucy meets is a middle class father (Denholm Elliott) and his introspective moody son George (Julian Sands). A picnic in the country, the heat of the day, and a kiss between Lucy and George changes Lucy forever. This is a witty and beautifully imagined filming of the E. M. Forester novel.

Two Weeks Notice

Two Weeks Notice (2002) PG-13
Lucy (Sandra Bullock) is a lawyer who never met a lost cause she didn’t support, most particularly the saving of her Coney Island neighborhood landmarks. When she takes a job as legal counsel to George Wade (Hugh Grant), a local developer, she soon is not only managing his divorces but choosing his ties and writing his speeches. Finally Lucy can stand it no longer and she offers her two weeks notice. Can this mismatched pair find true romance? You bet they can.

Check out other reviews by Roger Ebert, in the LA Times, and in Entertainment Weekly.

The Blind Side

The Blind Side (2009) PG-13
This was such a touching story (with a lot of laughs) for all ages.

In her Academy Award winning role, Sandra Bullock plays the indefatigable Leigh Ann Tuohy. Tim McGraw plays her husband, while Kathy Bates has a supporting role as Miss Sue. The trio are united in their desire to help Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron).

Wondering about the true story behind the movie? Check out Jennifer's review on our Current Picks blog.

The Awful Truth

The Awful Truth (1937)
This is the movie that made Cary Grant a star. The big name at the time was his co-star, Irene Dunne. The two play a divorcing couple who fight over custody of their dog and attempt to break up any new romance the other might start. The physical comedy is perfect and the dialog witty. A classic of screwball comedy.

Check out the original 1937 New York Times review and read some background information on the film at TCM.com. Want more romantic comedies from the 1930s? Check out our list.

Jennifer’s Body

Jennifer’s Body (2009) R
After winning an Oscar for writing Juno, Diablo Cody enters the horror genre with her take on high school for those old enough to watch this R-rated comedic bloodfest. The ending doesn’t disappoint. Jennifer is “the body” that also wowed you in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Megan Fox). Also starring Amanda Seyfried and Adam Brody.

Check out reviews by Roger Ebert, in The Washington Post, and in TIME Magazine.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008) PG-13
Set in 1939 London, the film follows Guinevere Pettigrew (Frances McDormand), a recently unemployed governess as she responds to an ad for work as a "social secretary" and into the glamorous show business world of American actress and singer Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams). In the film, the often silly actress and the frumpy governess form an (often comic) bond. In the end, they discover that they need each other much more than either one could have expected.

The art direction and nice musical score make this a delightful film reminiscent of the musicals of the '40s. The pivotal moment of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day occurs when Delysia sings "If I Didn't Care" in a 1939 London nightclub. The seemingly glamorous, emotionally calculating American movie star is overcome in this moment of truth and still does a swell job with the tune made famous by the Ink Spots.

Check out the book that was the basis for the movie and read The New York Times review.

Emma

Emma (1996) PG and Emma (2009)
These are my two favorite movie treatments of my favorite Jane Austen novel. In the 1996 Gwyneth Paltrow version, Mr. Knightly (Jeremy Northam) is warm and charming. Paltrow is suitably strong minded yet likeable, and the supporting characters are all well done. In the 2009 miniseries, I found Emma even more likeable yet suitably wrong-headed and the other characters equally well cast. The father seems a bit too hearty, although appropriately frettish. But no Mr. Knightly can for me match Jeremy Northram’s in the 1996 version.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) PG
Adapted from the book by the acclaimed author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox is by no means a movie only for children. In this Wes Anderson work, the art of stop-motion animation is at its finest. Fantastic Mr. Fox, voiced by George Clooney, and his wife (Meryl Streep) romp through the adventures of his reckless thieving ways. With intentional adult humor masked for those of the younger set, both young and old alike will enjoy the sly Mr. Fox and his court of characters.
Tags:

(500) Days of Summer

(500) Days of Summer (2009) PG-13
In this hip dramedy (an official pick of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival), a young greeting card writer (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) falls head over heels for his new coworker, Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel). She just may be "The One." Through the 500 days of their relationship, the viewer watches these two characters grow with each other as they learn about life, love and hope. In a series of flashbacks the story unfolds hopping from sweet, romantic and funny moments to devastatingly, desperate and sad ones – all leading to the ultimate lesson that finding one's soul mate is no easy task. An entertaining musical scene is sure to leave you smiling.

The Sheepman

The Sheepman (1958)
This 1958 comedy western stars Glenn Ford and Shirley MacLaine.  There are a lot of funny moments in this film.  In one scene, Ford tells Edgar Buchanan that he is looking for a man who is completely without honor, a man who is willing to sell out anybody and everybody for as little as fifty cents.  Buchanan tries to look offended but when Ford starts to walk away, Buchanan says, "My price for that sort of thing starts at least a dollar."

The story is pretty familiar to western fans but the first 15 minutes are full of surprises.  (Do not read the back of the DVD case or you will spoil the surprise.) The chemistry between Ford and MacLaine is delightful. The photography in this film is beautiful and the musical score is both tender and heartwarming. If you like westerns with a bit of romance and a lot of laughs, this movie is for you.

Skin Deep

Skin Game (1971)
James Garner and Louis Gossett are two buddies in 1850s America. The two con men travel to small towns around the south. At each new town Garner sells his "slave" Gossett then later helps him escape. When the two meet an equally brazen con woman and a ruthless runaway slave hunter, their game goes terribly wrong. Both funny and wrenching, this is a different kind of buddy movie.

Whip It

Whip It (2009) PG-13
Drew Barrymore’s directorial debut is a movie with an ‘80s-style feel (maybe it’s because of the roller skates and the fashion style of the coach).

Bliss Cavendar (Juno star Ellen Page) doesn’t quite fit in with the debutante set in Bodeen, Texas. When she discovers roller derby, she finds something that’s her own (and against her parents’ wishes). The ladies might be rough-looking and it isn’t quite “normal,” but she had a passion for skating. Bliss (aka Babe Ruthless) has teammates like Smashley Simpson (Barrymore) and Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig). Her rival is Iron Maven (Juliette Lewis).

Also co-starring Jimmy Fallon (as announcer ‘Hot Tub’ Johnny Rocket), Marcia Gay Harden, and Daniel Stern. Based on the novel Derby Girl by Shauna Cross.

Outsourced

Outsourced (2006) PG-13
Funny, right on target, and certainly a "hidden gem"!  See India through the eyes of a middle management American fellow who's job and department has been outsourced to India and travels there to train his replacement. Culture shock is everywhere and his life is forever changed, but not in the ways he expected. A delightful, endearing comedy.  I liked it better than Slumdog Millionaire.
Tags: