Our old friend Michael Cera, who for a good two or three years there, much like compatriot Seth Rogen, just did not seem to ever go away, pops up again here alongside still currently ubiquitous Jonah Hill in this old fashioned high school sex romp, produced by Judd Apatow and directed by Greg Mottola (Adventureland) from a script by Rogen and Evan Goldberg (whom Hill and Cera portray younger fictionalized versions of). Seth and Evan are best friends who rest uncomfortably in that void between popular and hopeless, who embark on a harrowing quest through the San Fernando Valley for booze which will hopefully score them prestige and fellatio upon arriving with it at that night’s year-end bash. Typical of Apatow produced/directed fare, this flick has a core comprised of genuine sentimentality underneath its thick layer of copious dick jokes (and drawings). It also has charming Emma Stone and Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s instantly immortal turn as alpha-nerd McLovin.
Some were annoyed at Oscar winning screenwriter Diablo Cody’s self -conscious hipster cuteness (which can go overboard a bit, “home-skillet”), but there’s no denying the innate truth, substance, and laughs to be found in these words which brought her the gold. And then, there is the matter of Ellen Page’s acclaimed lead performance as the titular smart-alecky teen that finds herself in a predicament with de-flowerer Michael Cera (whom J.K. Simmons as Juno’s father quite understandably “did not think had it in him”). Precocious plucky Juno decides to have the child and give it to a not-so- perfect-as–they-seem couple (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman), all while grappling with her feelings for track star Cera. Despite an annoyingly twee pop-folk soundtrack and quirky aesthetic that has become standard to “indie” comedy-dramas like this one, Juno stands on the strength of Page’s presence, and her ability to make Cody’s dialogue as memorable and amusing as it is so clearly meant to be.
Chalk another one up for the folks over at Pixar, who with Ratatouille gave us another animated jewel with this story of a French rat with fine tastes who finds himself acting as a kind of ghost-chef (as applied to “ghost-writer”, though there is an actual ghost who is a chef in the movie) in a renowned Paris restaurant. Comedian Patton Oswalt lends voice to the longing of Remy, the rodent with a discerning palette who encounters a host of hilariously designed and voiced characters on his touching journey from pest to chef of his very own kitchen. Director Brad Bird (The Incredibles) stages the action with his trademark balletic fluidity, and imbues his characters with real heart and distinct personalities. The film earned more Oscar nominations than any previous computer animated feature, including one for Bird’s endearing, clever screenplay.
2 Hot Fuzz
Edgar Wright, writer/director of Shaun Of The Dead, reteams with star/co-writer Simon Pegg and co-star Nick Frost to take on American blockbuster action in this charming, raucous, and ultimately bloody spoof. Pegg plays a by-the-book London cop who transfers to a seemingly sleepy English village and finds some real trouble brewing behind the scenes when a series of bizarre deaths start to occur. His partner (Frost) has seen/owns every bombastic Hollywood cop flick ever made, and soon he and Pegg are bringing celluloid style, dual guns n’ aviators justice to the streets. The film is stuffed with a roster of likeable British thesps playing affable characters (including Timothy Dalton and Jim Broadbent) that admirably manage to keep the film pleasant and engaging, even as appalling violence and gore unfolds before your eyes. The final siege wherein Pegg, Frost, and their small force take on the corrupt village establishment is a masterpiece of priest-dodging, old lady-stomping action.
1 Knocked Up
A bracingly funny and real look at a woman (Katherine Heigl) forced to cope with the reality of being impregnated by slacker Seth Rogen, Knocked Up is director Judd Apatow’s follow up to the megahit, The 40 Year Old Virgin, and still his all around best film to date. Unemployed stoner film geek Ben meets driven E! Network correspondent Alison while out at an L.A. club with his friends (Apatow regulars Jason Seigel, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel and Martin Starr) and they hit it off before drunkenly getting it on. A miscommunication results in the absence of a condom, which in turn results in Heigl playing host to Rogen’s hirsute, portly seed. Rogen and Heigl are pitch perfect as two very different people thrown together by circumstance who believably fall for one another. Offering a possible glimpse into future complication is the hilariously turbulent marriage of Alison’s sister (Leslie Mann), and her husband Pete (Paul Rudd), with whom Ben forms a bond. The road to the miraculous event is paved with earthquakes, magic mushrooms and pinkeye in this modern classic.
Walk Hard – A zany music biography spoof, drawing most heavily from Walk The Line and Ray, gets by on the considerable talents of John C. Reilly as country legend Dewey Cox, and Jenna “Pam Beesley” Fischer as his long suffering woman.
Charlie Wilson’s War – A witty, fact based political tale that makes good with a killer cast (Tom Hanks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julia Roberts).
That’s where the laughs were in 2007. If you don’t agree with this list, you’re invited to make one yourself, for our own amusement.