I must begin with a confession. I’m a father of relatively young kids, which means that I almost never get to see first-run movies. So rather than giving reviews of movies I haven’t watched, I’ll tell you which films I’d see – If I could get clear to see them.
1) "The Passion of the Christ" – This one I will see. Mel Gibson’s film has produced a flood of publicity and criticism, much of it from people who haven’t or won’t see the movie. I’ll let you know what I think when I’ve seen it.
2) "Barbershop II" – I like the concept. I like the cast. I liked the first "Barbershop" movie. Ice Cube has emerged as a bona fide movie star, and I’d watch Cedric the Entertainer in just about anything.
3) "Mooseport" – I know it has gotten panned, but I’m a fan of Ray Romano and Gene Hackman. Besides, I shared my only scene in my only movie with Hackman. Here’s a hint: Michael Kinsley also was in the scene.
My All-Time Favorites:
1) "Casablanca" – Humphrey Bogart, Claude Raines, Ingrid Bergman: What’s not to like? Here’s a movie that spawned a thousand clichés, captured the old-fashioned tough-guy virtues of the World War II era, and provided proof positive that good guys can win in the end, even if they pretend to behave like bad guys.
2) "My Favorite Year" – Peter O’Toole and Mark Linn Baker: A hilarious story about a dissolute, washed-up movie star trying to earn a little cash by appearing on a live television comedy show, modeled after Sid Caesar’s "Show of Shows." The catch: He doesn’t know it’s live, freaks out, tries to run away, gets embroiled in a fight with mobsters, and swoops to the rescue in an Errol Flynn finish. This one touches all the buttons.
3) Action movies in general: The "Indiana Jones," "Die Hard," and "Lethal Weapons" series. I’m a sucker for put-your-brain-on-hold, watch-things-go-bang movies. Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis, and the Danny Glover-Mel Gibson duo are terrific. I don’t care that there’s minimal plot. The action does the trick.
4) Baseball movies: "The Natural," "Field of Dreams," "A League of Their Own," "The Rookie." Redford, Costner, Hanks, Quaid: These actors all fit the part, as do the other players. "A League of their Own" is especially impressive just because it worked so well with such a large cast, including Madonna, Geena Davis, and Rosie O’Donnell (when she was still the "Queen of Nice").
5) Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian: There’s a part of my humor that will remain forever lodged in the 1970s, and the Python troupe’s half-intellectual, half-juvenile romps are part of it. I can recite from memory far more of these movies that I would dare admit. That’s less true of Monty Python’s "The Meaning of Life," which stands out in my memory only because I once took a girl to the movie on a first date, where we sat in the front row. She left the theater staggering and green, and not very happy with my choices.