Fox Searchlight Pictures/Lionsgate
As this year comes to a close, we look towards what 2014 has to offer at the multiplex. Check out the films that have us excited for the new year, and the ones that make us wish we could stay in 2013 forever.
What we're looking forward to: NothingThe month of January is widely recognized as toxic runoff of the movie year, and January 2014 looks to continue that trend since nothing here stands out as being completely promising.What we're NOT looking forward to: I, FrankensteinThere has to be a worst of the worst right? Deep in the sludge of January releases lies the upcoming I, Frankenstein. The film, featuring a perma-shirtless Aaron Eckhart as the monster. It's hard to get excited about a film that looks like it filled in the crater of an exploded Hot Topic.
What we're undecided about: That Awkward MomentThe trailer for That Awkward Moment previews a mix of raunch and romance that could go all wrong, but it could also go right.
What we're looking forward to: The Monuments MenThis film's banishment to early 2014 certainly has us worried, but it's jaunty war tale about stealing precious pieces of art back from the Nazis looks to charming to pass up.
What we're NOT looking forward to: 3 Days to KillKevin Costner seems to be doing his best Liam Neeson impression in this action vehicle that looks like a second rate version of Taken. We already have a second rate version of Taken, and it's called Taken 2.
What we're undecided about: RobocopNext year's Robocop just looks way too generic to drum up any excitement. The film has also been slapped with a PG-13 rating, and a Robocop film without excessive amounts of violence just feels wrong.
What we're looking forward to: The Grand Budapest HotelWe simply can't wait to feast our eyeballs Wes Anderson's latest, which looks to be his most beautiful and wonderfully weird film yet.What we're NOT looking forward to: A Haunted House 2The sequel to a terrible horror spoof? in March? ...Why?
What we're undecided about: NoahDarren Aronofsky is taking on the Bible with the bombastic-looking Noah, but it remains to be seen how the director, who usually handles smaller stories, will deal with the gargantuan project.
What we're looking forward to: Captain America: The Winter SoldierWhile the first Captain America felt more like an obligitory step leading up to The Avengers rather than a full on film, the sequel looks like it will inject a good amount of intrigue and thorny politics into a Marvel universe that sometimes feels like it could use some nice splashes of grey area.
What we're NOT looking forward to: NothingLuckily, nothing in April stands out as looking outright terrible.
What we're undecided about: TranscendenceWhile the trailer and premise for Transcendence is certainly intriguing, the film looks like it could easily dovetale into silliness.
What we're looking forward to: X-Men: Days of Future PastAfter X-Men: First Class gave the X-Men series a '60s face lift, we're excited to see more period mutant action, especially considering this film will inolve time traveling, and both versions of the Magneto and Professor X characters.
What we're NOT looking forward to: NeighborsWhile Zac Efron and Seth Rogan are both likeable enough, many of the gags from the trailer simply don't land, especially the airbag prank with a noticeably cgi'd Seth Rogen.
What we're undecided about: The Amazing Spider-Man 2While the new addition to the franchise, especially Dane Dehaan as a sunken-eyed Harry Osborn look fun, this film looks like it might suffer under the weight of all it's villains, the same problem that helped sink Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3
What we're looking forward to: How To Train Your Dragon 2We're super excited for the sequel of the 2010 film, which told the classic story of a boy and his dragon with boatloads of charm and humor. Also, the film's various flying sequences made the strongest case for 3D films since James Cameron's Avatar.
What we're NOT looking forward to: Transformers: Age of ExtinctionYou'd think three Transformers films would be enough, but Michael Bay has no time for the concepts of "restraint" or "fewer explosions." The director is charging forward with yet another Transformers sequel sans the human cast from the previous trilogy, and we're certainly not excited.
What we're undecided about: Edge of TomorrowSaddled with what is possibly the most boring film title in the history of naming things, Edge of Tomorrow seems like an odd mix of Groundhog Day and Saving Private Ryan, with aliens... which could be a good thing, but will probably be a terrible thing.
What we're looking forward to: Dawn of the Planet of the ApesWho knew the world really needed more Planet of the Apes Movies? Rise of the Planet of the Apes, apart from being a serious mouthful of a title, surprised everyone by becoming arguably the best blockbuster film of 2011, and its sequel looks to keep the franchise moving in interesting directions.
What we're NOT looking forward to: Step Up All InWhen every other dance movie during the dance film craze of the late 2000s had the good sense to go away, the Step Up series keeps two-stepping it's way into theaters, and were starting to feel like that town in Footloose was on to something.
What we're undecided about: Jupiter AscendingCloud Atlas was an unde-appreciated gem and we're excited about what the Wachcowskis have up next... but Channing Tatum with elf ears gives us pause.
What we're looking forward to: Guardians of the GalaxyThe Guardians of the Galaxy might be Marvel Comic's C-team in terms of superhero groups, but we're incredibly excited to see this group of space misfits battle the evil forces of the galaxy. Plus, this is the closest we're going to get to Chris Pratt in "Burt Macklin: Space Ranger."
What we're NOT looking forward to: The Expendables 3 This swan song for aging '80s action stars needs to finally step back and take a look at some retirement options.
What we're undecided about: Sin City: A Dame to Kill ForIt's hard to muster up excitement for this sequel considering the first one will have came out almost 10 years ago.
What we're looking forward to: The Boxtrolls Animation studio Laika is single-handedly keeping the art of stop motion animation alive in American film. It also doesn't hurt that their films are equal parts weird, cute, and charming. The Boxtrolls looks like another excellent film from the studio, and more proof that kid's films don't need to begin and end with CGI.
What we're NOT looking forward to: NothingSeptember looks like another pristine month!
What we're undecided about: The EqualizerTV to film adaptations are rarely successful, so we're not expecting much from this Antoine Fuqua film. But who knows? Denzel Washington has been known to elevate drudgery into something memorable.
What we're looking forward to: Gone GirlA David Fincher film starring Ben Affleck and Tyler Perry? We have to see this.
What we're NOT looking forward to: Paranormal Activity 5We now live in the evil sort of world that has two Paranormal Activity films coming out in the same year. One is tolerable, but two is simply criminal.
What we're undecided about: Dracula UntoldWe're currently suffering from vampire fatigue right now, and the prospect of seeing a Dracula origin story isn't exactly the most exciting thing in the world. We don't really need to see Dracula castle-shopping.
NOVEMBERWhat we're looking forward to: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1With The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, director Francis Lawrence delivered a confident and pitch-perfect adaptation of the book, and we're excited to see how he handles the next to last chapter of Katniss' journey.
What we're NOT looking forward to: NothingFall is usually pretty good for movies and there's nothing that stands out in this month as being bad enough to mention!
What we're undecided about: Dumb and Dumber ToJim Carrey is putting in the teeth one more go around as Lloyd Christmas, but does the world really need another Dumb and Dumber? We're not sure.
What we're looking forward to: The Hobbit: There and Back AgainBilbo's journey took an exciting turn for the good with The Desolation of Smaug, and we can't wait to see how the Hobbit's adventures come to an end in the series' conclusion.
What we're NOT looking forward to: Night of the Museum 3The thought of Ben Stiller trying to manage a museum full of sentient exhibits for the third time is almost maddening.
What we're undecided about: AnnieLittle orphan Annie is getting a modern day retelling, and we're not quite sure what this adaptation will bring to the classic musical. Maybe show your kids a DVD of the 1982 classic instead.
After the epic showdown of two weeks ago — in which friend was pitted against friend, mentor against mentee, sugar against vinegar — the Pawnee Parks and Recreation department is once again united in a common mission. In a plot line that harkens back to Parks and Rec's earlier (dare I say, fresher?) seasons, Leslie is once again on a mission to build a park. A green, lush, beautiful park located on the location that was formerly known as The Pit. Personally, I'm loving the return of The Pit this season. In fact, I would love a webisode that is essentially a live feed of the Lot Formerly Known as the Pit, featuring music by Mouse Rat. But I digress…
You're Like a Southern Belle when Rhett Butler Comes Around.
Before the opening credits, we find Leslie Knope as the guest on a local NPR-wannabe radio station (where can I get a ticket to the spoken word opera about pear-shaped women?) pleading for the citizens of Pawnee to submit résumés and designs for her new park. Fast-forward one credit sequence and a few days and we find Leslie and Ben sifted through said proposals. Unfortunately, most of them are from prison inmates and crazy people.
But ho! There is one brilliant ray of hope beaming forth from the pile of sludge! Mr. Wreston St. James, architect, has an impressive portfolio and shiny new plan for the Pit Park. There is only one catch… he's from Eagleton! Ugh, vomit, gross, cooties Eagleton. The only thing that Leslie Knope hates more than sadness, death, and the library. But thanks to Ben's coaxing and the overall lack of other options, Leslie and Ben head out to meet this Mr. St. James in person and see what he is all about.
It's love at first sight between Ben and Wreston St. James, who not only designed the biggest park I've ever seen outside of Disney World's Animal Kingdom (complete with a balloon artist extraordinaire) but also seems to be the nicest person on the face of the planet. But while Ben is enamored and wants to hire St. James immediately, Leslie is having a hard time overcoming her loathing of Eagleton as like, a place on the planet that exists. St. James really does seem to good to be true — I wouldn't trust him any farther than I could throw him. But with no other viable options, Leslie is against a hard place and a vast expanse of nothing, so she decides to take a chance on Wreston. That is, after she says she's sss…. soorr… sorrrrr… sorUGH… sorry. There. She's sorry.
When Wreston sends his assistants to present his plans for the park in his stead, all of Leslie's nightmares come true. Their model of Pawnee's newest park is full of terrible, gross, nasty things — like drool buckets, cheeseburger troughs, and public showers complete with bathing instructions (the joke being that the people Pawnee are smelly and don't know how to shower) and Leslie is whatever is more angry than furious.
Determined to get an explanation, Ben heads to Eagleton for a lunch date with Wreston. Leslie, meanwhile, plans her revenge. Just as Wreston tells Ben that his lackeys worked without his permission and were fired once news of their wrongdoing reached his ears, Leslie bursts in, shaving cream cans blaring. "You want a silly tie? I'll make you a silly tie!" she screams as she attacks Wreston. Leslie, your timing is impeccable.
But, since Parks is largely rainbows and butterflies these days and never leaves a conflict without resolution, Wreston decides to forgive Leslie and move forward with his plan for the park. Which is truly awesome (the park, not the forgiveness). It even has a Lil' Sebastian fountain. Long live Lil' Sebastian — may he rest in peace.
Good Use of the Word Fiscal, Very Upscale
Gone is the swagerific, irresponsible, pipe dream-chasing Tom Haverford, and in his place is a penny-pinching, budget balancing, levelheaded businessman. "Tommy Timberlake is dead," Tom proclaims, "Long live Thomas M. Haverford: Responsible Tycoon." Tom has found a location for Rent-a-Swag and the whole gang is ready to turn it into the most beautiful storefront this side of Entertainment 720 — just as soon as they get rid of the raccoons. Unfortunately, new and improved Tom is not so much fun. He's the kind of guy who tries to order a carton of eggs from the diner, who chooses booger yellow paint because it's on sale, and whose idea of a pizza party is one small pizza without any toppings. Raise your hand if this sounds like your dad! Without his usual spunk and risk-seeking attitude, Tom might just drive the best business he's ever had into the ground.
Luckily, Ann is on hand for an intervention. "Go find your sparkle, Tom!" she says. "Don't forget who you are!" And she hands him a wad of cash, courtesy of the group, to use to spice up his new store. Newly invigorated and inspired, Tom glams up his new digs and looks just about ready for business.
Oh Hitler, You Sexy Bastard.
As City Hall's security guard, Andy is bored. He is so bored he starts to think about existence. To liven things up, he calls April down to keep him company, and the two embark on an elaborate roll-playing mission starring FBI Agent Bert Macklin and the wily Judy Hitler, daughter of Adolf. Hitler jokes abound.
Things get serious, however — as they are wont to do — when Andy and April run across a young boy who has become separated from his mother. Goofball Andy is nothing if not compassionate, so he swings the lad up onto his back for a piggyback ride and sets off to find the missing mother. Of course, the two are quickly reunited. This prompts a syrupy sweet moment in which April tells Andy that he, not Bert Macklin, is the real hero. Awww!
Best line of the night: "You have 5 seconds to get out of here or I will rip your throats out." (It's the delivery here that sells this one.)
Follow Abbey Stone on Twitter @abbeystone
[Photo Credit: NBC]
'Parks and Recreation' Recap: Every Dog Has Its Day
'Parks and Recreation' Recap: One Quilt to Rule Them All
'Parks and Recreation' Recap: It's Better Than Strawberry Jell-O Night
You Might Also Like:
Jake Harper Could Disappear on ‘Two and a Half Men.’ What Other TV Kids Went Missing?
12 Hot (And Horrifying) TV Nude Scenes