It is a rarity to hit theaters in a single weekend and discover that you greatly enjoyed every film you watched. This weekend I had the pleasure of (finally) catching Stardust and Superbad. In completely opposite genres, both films succeed on just about every level.
Princess Bride 2? Stardust
I am sure this comparison has been made a bazillion times by now, but any fan of Princess Bride, which I'd hope is all of us, should greatly enjoy Stardust as well. A very light fantasy, the film has fun with dialogue, relationships, fantastical elements, love and even death.
All of the actors get to have fun, and the energy projects onto the viewers.
Pfeiffer looks like she is having a blast going from beautiful back to ugly as what I can only call the wicked witch, Lamia. The evil princes, who have no trouble murdering to help their aim of becoming king, are enjoyable thanks to their tagalong ghost brothers. I don't want to give too much away here, but comedic ghosts should be a requirement in any film.
Claire Danes played the role of star-crossed er, star perfectly, but it is Charlie Cox and Robert De Niro who really shine. Taking on the title character, Tristan, Cox goes from innocent boy to man during the film's 128-minute running time -- all taking place across a single week. Though hard to imagine, both Cox and the film pull it off convincingly. Having watched the film with my sister, I can only imagine that a ton of new fan-crushes for Cox formed during this film.
Robert De Niro, don't get me started on Robert De Niro! An in-the-closet pirate captain?! Who knew?! Every minute Robert De Niro is on the screen he steals it; no easy task since he shared the screen with Cox, Danes and Ricky Gervais. His character is brilliant, and his stock just went up two points.
Stardust, though marketed as a love story slash adventure, is more love story than anything else. And it works beautifully.
Though not directed by Judd Apatow, Superbad sure does feel like his sort of film. I still find 40 Year Old Virgin to be no comparison to Wedding Crashers, but will admit that Knocked Up was a vast, very funny improvement. Fortunately for us, well, me, Superbad is up to the stature of Knocked Up, but this time we deal with three high school buddies trying to get laid instead of the daunting challenge of pregnancy.
I don't know if this is a trend that Judd Apatow is trying to establish, but his films seem more like a compilation of funny moments than a free flowing saga. In Superbad, some scenes work greatly while others feel bogged. The story, told in a style similar to Waiting if you ask me, takes place in a single day as we watch Seth, Evan and Fogell attempt to purchase alcohol and then arrive to that weekend's rager. Like any good comedy, the trio hits some hitches in the road that have humorous consequences. Such as a couple demented police officers -- Seth Rogen and Bill Hader -- for instance.
The meat of the story lies in the dissolution of the boyfriend-like relationship between Seth and Evan. Inseparable friends for life, the two find it hard to know that they will have to go their separate ways after the summer. With both comedic and very real moments between the two -- seems to be Apatow's style -- the two garner tons of laughs as they deal with separation and, perhaps more importantly, getting laid. Their final segment is nothing short of classic.
A guarantee for laughs, however, lies in Christopher Mintz-Plasse's Fogel. One can't help to laugh every time this character appears on screen or begins to speak. A surprising supporting role, Fogel has the best character arc in the film, going from shy nerd to someone with confidence. Hey, if he can handle out of control police and a night of shenanigans, he can handle anything.