The Guilty Pleasure Films of 2009

by PopMatters Staff

4 January 2010


5 - 1


cover art

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

Director: Chris Miller, Phil Lord
Cast: Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan Andy Samberg, Bruce Campbell, Mr. T., Bobb’e J. Thompson
Review [18.Sep.2009]


Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Chris Miller and Phil Lord

Chris Miller and Phil Lord’s manic candy-coated disaster movie parody is the most purely entertaining animated film in a long while. It revels in its outsized concept wherein an awkward inventor crafts a device that causes food to fall from the sky, leading to public praise and then to predictable destruction. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs lobs something hilarious at you in every frame. The endless sight gags are dizzying in a Wallace and Gromit kind of way, and there’s plenty of huge laugh lines layered on top of them. Much as they did on their cult animated show Clone High, Miller and Lord consistently find ways to subvert the genre’s predictable clichés ever so slightly. It may not have Pixar’s top-heavy gravitas, but Cloudy‘s madcap visual invention left me positively giddy, and that’s at least as worthwhile, in my view. Ross Langager



cover art


Director: Alex Proyas
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Chandler Canterbury, Rose Byrne, D.G. Maloney, Lara Robinson, Nadia Townsend
Review [20.Mar.2009]


Alex Proyas

Since The Wicker Man became a YouTube mini-sensation, it’s become easy to watch Nicolas Cage performances, especially in cheesy genre movies, for snark-ready camp value. Knowing certainly has its moments of deranged rail-jumping, but Cage’s wild-eyed schtick is well-suited to an Alex Proyas apocalypse—which is at least more thought-provoking than a Roland Emmerich apocalypse. Little here matches the visual invention of Dark City, but Knowing, goofy as it gets, at least has the stones to use mass destruction to alienate, confuse, and/or mystify its audience, rather than as an easy crowd-pleasing device. Jesse Hassenger



cover art

I Love You, Man

Director: John Hamburg
Cast: Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Andy Samberg, Rashida Jones, Jaime Pressly, Rob Huebel
Review [25.Aug.2009]
Review [20.Mar.2009]


I Love You, Man
John Hamburg

While not exactly Role Models—last year’s beautifully obscene Paul Rudd summer comedy—or Forgetting Sarah Marshall—Jason Segal’s 2008 comic paen to love-lorn obsessives—Rudd and Segal’s 2009 offering is a buddy movie about a guy with no guy friends who finally gets one. The message (men, even mousy guys who are a little too sensitive to their womenfolk’s needs, need guy-time to cut loose and be free) is shot home like a howitzer and the calculated cameos (Rush, Lou Ferrigno) and breezy SoCal setting are a little too Judd Apatow-lite. But the laughs come pretty fast, particularly once the looming, brash Segal gets under the milquetoast Rudd’s skin, and the supporting cast(Rashida Jones, J.K. Simmons, Jane Curtain, Jon Favreau) more than cover up any remaining gaps. Chris Barsanti



cover art

Whip It!

Director: Drew Barrymore
Cast: Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden, Juliette Lewis, Kristen Wiig, Zoe Bell, Drew Barrymore, Jimmy Fallon


Whip It!
Drew Barrymore

Whip It! is wonderful, a clap along crowd pleaser that also speaks the language of an underserved cinematic demographic. Young girls are never really given adult movies to mope about in. In 2009, it’s all questionably talented tweens, high school musicals, and failed family film franchises. Instead of our heroine, they’re our halfway point to a snarky one liner or a major last act denouement. So it’s stunning to watch a 17 year old disaffected gal suddenly discover herself in the bruiser babe burlesque of roller derby - especially this new version of the old UHF sport, complete with tattoos, piercings, proto-feminist philosophies, and male-baiting bravado. Director Drew Barrymore scores a direct hit with her debut directing effort. Bill Gibron



cover art

Sorority Row

Director: Stewart Hendler
Cast: Briana Evigan, Leah Pipes, Rumer Willis, Jamie Chung, Audrina Patridge, Carrie Fisher


Sorority Row
Stewart Hendler

Although Stewart Hendler’s remake of The House on Sorority Row (1983) is often visually incoherent, the film succeeds as a result of unmistakable postmodern humour. The script, by Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger, revamps the fun, self-referencing spirit of the Scream heyday and adds to that starting point sharp jabs at vanity, careerism, and the feeble bonds of “sisterhood”. Reality show starlets including Jamie Chung, Audrina Patridge, and Nicole Moore appear alongside actresses Leah Pipes, Margo Harshman, and Rumer Willis to form the bevy of beauties involved in a prank gone horribly awry. The slasher plot generates suspense not only with inventive kills, but through the presentation of the various moral boundaries and breaking points of the guilty sisters. As each sister becomes “independent” of the sorority (by force or by choice), Sorority Row updates the import of horror’s final girl(s). The film is thrilling and tonally satisfying as it wildly trumps two recent movies that tried and failed to communicate similar messages—the morally backfiring House Bunny and Glen Morgan’s atrocious Black Christmas update. Finally, if the reader is not yet sold on the concept as described, please consider housemother Carrie Fisher defending her girls with a shotgun. Thomas Britt


We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work. We are a wholly independent, women-owned, small company. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing, challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. PopMatters needs your help to keep publishing. Thank you.

//Mixed media


TIFF 2017: 'The Shape of Water'

// Notes from the Road

"The Shape of Water comes off as uninformed political correctness, which is more detrimental to its cause than it is progressive.

READ the article