Neuman’s Movie Monday
These are 10 movies with a Good First Half and I'll tell you when to turn the movie off.
This week is not so much a ranking but just 10 movies that have a good start but then fall off in the middle. I will tell you why it falls off and when you can turn the movie off. Also, just to be clear, because this movie is on this list, doesn't mean I hate the movie. Just to be safe: SPOILERS AHEAD.
1. There Will Be Blood
I would actually recommend not even starting this movie. It was really overrated. A story is supposed to have a dramatic arch to it. So a story that has a build up to a climax and then brings you back down to an ending. This movie fades to black in the middle and a graphic comes up that says, "30 years later." Oh good, glad nothing relevant happened in a span of 30 years! If you are to start this movie, turn it off there, or fast forward to the very end because you want to see the "I drink your milkshake" line.
This has a great first half. "Stripes" is wildly funny. The cast is filled with comedy legends like: Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, John Candy, and John Larroquette. The problem is it has such great character development, they then decided that they have to be legitimate soldiers, too. They could have made the whole movie about basic training and graduating could have been their happy ending. Instead, they get sent to Italy, and the two goofballs need to save the rest of the platoon. Unfortunately, the comedy stops. You can turn it off as soon as they get to Italy.
3. Full Metal Jacket
Kubrick is a genius and has made some of the best movies of all time. I really like "Full Metal Jacket". But the first half of the movie is so great that the second half doesn't match up. They are like two different movies. Gunnery Sergeant Hartman is unlike any other character ever and steals the whole show. After the battle between Gny. Sgt. Hartman and Private Pyle ends, you can turn this one off.
4. Burn After Reading
I have such a love/hate relationship with the Coen brothers. They make such great characters but they never know how to end a movie. It's really frustrating. At least in "Fargo" and "The Big Lebowski" they waited until the end to realize they didn't know how to end the movie. Whereas in "Burn After Reading" it's apparent right in the middle. ***Spoiler*** The whole story hinges on Brad Pitt's character Chad Feldheimer. Chad dies half way through the movie and the rest of the movie does not matter.
5. Coming to America
Another wildly funny first half of a movie. Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and Semmi (Arsenio Hall) are great. The songs "Queen to Be" and "Soul Glo" had me doubled over from laughing so hard. The barber shop scenes and the scene meeting girls in the club is a riot. But you can turn it off right after Randy Watson gets off stage. After Akeem meets Lisa it's just a dime a dozen rom com with no com.
The reason "Up" makes this list is because the opening scene is so amazing. It is a roller-coaster and you fall in love with the guy and girl right away. With no words spoken, you get a whole story. It's beautiful and gut-wrenching. It was so sad, I can barely watch it as an adult. I know this list is about a first half, but you can turn it off as soon as Carl realizes that Charles is still on his porch. The first scene set the bar so high that the rest of the movie can't reach it.
7. Independence Day
"Independence Day" is done over three days. You can turn off "Independence Day" right after you see the Statue of Liberty in the water with the alien spaceship closing up in the background the morning of July 3rd. From the second you see the moon shaking, it's so how it would be if there was an alien invasion. Some people freaking out and staring at the sky and others are welcoming the aliens to earth is exactly how it would be. Jeff Goldblum was great throughout the entire movie, but Bill Pullman takes over and it becomes a pretty corny movie. Pullman is doing his best "Outlaw Josey Wales" impression and Will Smith has cheesy lines to try to induce a clap break. For example, the alien that destroyed the room inside Area 51 and killed the doctors was one-punched un-conscience by Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith). He punched (not the alien but) the alien's protective body armor and knocked him out which spawned the line, "Welcome to Earth." We also never needed Randy Quaid's B-story.
8. Good Morning Vietnam
Another comedy and another army movie. The movie has a good start and Adrian Cronauer (Robin Williams) is fantastic and funny on the air. The movie gets so serious. I'm not saying it makes it bad, just not as good as the first part of the movie. You can turn it off after the bar explosion and feel pretty good about missing the rest of the movie.
9. Fight Club
I expect to get a lot of flack for adding "Fight Club" to this list but as soon as Project Mayhem starts, it's not very good. The movie goes from The Narrator's self loathing to having this "message" about corporate America. The movie builds up to a fight club and then moves further and further away from the fight club. You can turn off "Fight Club" after Lou let's the guys use his basement. ***Spoiler*** Yes, Tyler Durden is the great guy within us that we all want to be, but I HATE movies where the person we are looking for or the "bad guy" was the main character the whole time. Fight Club, Secret Window, Shutter Island... why does this ending still exist? It isn't innovative or creative. It's just as bad as if the main character was dreaming the whole thing.
The rise of the gangster drug kingpin is what we want to see, we don't need to see him at the top. The "Push It to the Limit" montage of him laughing with Sosa over the phone, marrying Elvira, and going to see his tiger is so awkward. As soon as that montage starts, you can turn off "Scarface." Move the restaurant scene up in the movie as we see Tony rise to the top of the drug game. Then the ending should be skipping the montage so Tony and Elvira never get married because "I can't even have a kid with her, man." Elvira leaves Tony and Manny leaves, too, with Gina. Tony realizes he doesn't need any of them and we fade out as Tony is in his bedroom floor hot-tub yelling, "Who put this thing together? ME! Who do I trust? ME!"