Summer Movie Reviews 2014

Rachel Tropp ‘16
Senior Entertainment Editor
Gabby Tropp ‘16
EE Staff Writer

Wish I Was Here

Zach Braff and his brother, Adam, teamed up to write a kind of coming-of-age tale, about finding your identity and discovering what truly matters, although this major crossroads doesn’t come until age 35 for the main character, Aiden Bloom. Bloom finds he can no longer skate by on his small acting gigs and his wife’s small salary from her boring job. His father, who previously paid for his kids to go to a private Orthodox Jewish school, can’t afford the tuition because he has to pay medical expenses. He makes the choice to homeschool his kids so that they won’t have to switch schools mid-year. The challenges he faces while dealing with schooling the kids, mending his relationship with his sick father, reconnecting with his wife, and trying to find his own place in life lend moments of comedic brilliance, emotional turmoil, and inspirational acceptance of life’s more bitter moments.

One of the first movies of Summer 2014 was Maleficent, a great retelling of the classic story of Sleeping Beauty. The original Disney animated film, Sleeping Beauty (1959), revolves around one of the best-known princesses, Aurora. It stuck fairly faithfully to the story written by the Brothers Grimm. The new movie, instead of focusing on the princess is told from the perspective of the infamous “villain” of the story, Maleficent. Starting with a young, strong, and thoroughly good fairy Maleficent, the protector of her people, the movie shows how she befriends a human, Stefan. They fall in love against all odds, but he gets caught up in the world and leaves her. When the human kingdom attacks, Maleficent is forced to hurt the king. He dies, and Stefan, in pursuit of power, avenges him by taking Maleficent’s wings “as proof of her death.” He takes the throne, and when he has a daughter, Maleficent places on her the famous curse of eternal sleep induced by a spinning wheel. While Aurora lives in the care of three incapable fairies, Maleficent watches over her, and grows fond of her. Over the years Maleficent and Aurora become good friends. Maleficent sees the error in her revenge plan: she blamed Aurora for Stefan’s greed. But is it too late to stop the curse? In this tale of love, redemption, forgiveness, and trust, Disney once again makes you think of fairy tales in a whole new way. In short, a must see.

If I Stay
Since its release August 22nd, If I Stay has been both the object of tears and criticism. Based on the book by Gayle Forman, the movie follows cellist Mia Hall in the aftermath of her family’s tragic car crash. The lone survivor, Mia finds herself in an out of body experience where she watches her friends deal with her coma while she engages in a series of flashbacks that cause her to question whether she should stay and live on in a family-less world, or whether it would be easier to die. Integral to this decision are the two things that she was most focused on in the past year before the accident- her music and ambition of a future at prestigious Juilliard, and her now ex-boyfriend Adam, whom she still loves. As Mia poignantly remembers both her family and her times with Adam, a vivid picture of her life is painted. Doubtless, too, the deaths of her adorable ex-rocker parents and little brother evinced many tears in audiences across the country.

The heart of the story is very touching, and the not quite average life of the musical protege inspires all of us. Yet many were unimpressed by the formulaic storyline, and found the tale more manipulative than heartfelt. But overall, it is a narrative that will stay with many of us anyway and teaches us to value the life we have while we live it.

What If
In the past few years, the term “friend zone” has sprung into our vernacular. Defined as “a situation in which a friendship exists between two people, one of whom has an unreciprocated romantic interest in the other,” it has been both overused and denounced. Yet, to an extent, the movie What If is a fictional exemplar of this cliche.

When med school dropout Wallace meets a girl named Chantry at a party where he is standing in the back writing “love sucks” poetry with fridge magnets, they strike up an instant connection. But when Wallace learns she has a boyfriend, he tries to forget her, until chance encounters bring them together again. They grow closer and closer, bonding over Elvis and bacon, PB &J sandwiches. And from the beginning, the story is full of adorable comedy, wit, mirth, and transcendent animation.

When Chantry’s boyfriend Ben moves to Dublin for business, it acts only as an opportunity for Wallace and Chantry to grow closer. Through friend drama, weddings, parties, desperate sisters, and especially just everyday friendship and understanding, Wallace begins to fall in love with Chantry, and Chantry, much to her own unhappiness, begins to fall for him too. Together, with unforgettable characters like Wallace’s newly engaged roommate Alan, Alan’s wild fiancee Nicole, and Chantry’s extremely out-there sister Dahlia, an adorable, heartwarming, and hilarious story is crafted that teaches we can’t choose who we love, but that there may be someone perfectly right for us out there.

Adorkable Zoe Kazan (Chantry) and everybody’s favorite, Daniel Radcliffe (Wallace), are both charmingly endearing in their roles, and the whole movie shines with originality and humor, and throughout, a realistic and human representation of the life and love of normal people.

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