Thursday, July 26, 2012

Top 10: Movies Set Within a Single Day

I've decided I'd like to make a top 10 movie list! And what better way to kick it off than with movies that entire plot spans one day. It turns out, a lot of my favorite movies in general use this design. I think it's an interesting device to have a whole story play out in 24 hours or less. Sometimes you don't even really think about the timeline in movies, but I think it's something special when a movie can tell a riveting story within a single day. I'm no movie buff, but I do love movies. These are my personal favorites, and perhaps there are others that would have made the list if I had seen them. So please tell me which ones I should add to my list!

10. Empire Records (1995)

This is the movie that inspired the list. I recently watched this movie after a friend of mine recommended it (thanks, Alyissa!). Empire Records is a funky, little privately owned record shop that is jeopardy of being sold off to a large chain. But wait! We mustn't dwell. No, not on Rex Manning Day! The employees are a bunch of 20 somethings who are cooky and loveable and just a little messed up. The movie features young Liv Tyler (pouty trouty mouth and all) and Renee Zellweger (a little less puffy squint than compared to recent years) as well as a few other faces you might find familiar. It's got an awesome soundtrack too! And while there were a few minor things that bothered me (moody Debra and her dumb funeral), the movie was fun. And all those nostalgic 90's outfits were a trip (miniskirts and fuzzy sweaters!).

9. Do the Right Thing (1989)

Set in Brooklyn on one of the hottest days of the summer, this movie deals with the mounting racial tension in this predominantly black neighborhood. Spike Lee both directs and stars in the film, and you can bet there will be a lot of truth spittin'. The movie revolves around Lee's character, Mookie, a pizza delivery boy and the people in his neighborhood. Some include his feisty Latina/Black girlfriend, Tina (Rosie Perez), his tough but fair Italian boss, Sal (Danny Aiello) and his sons (John Turturro and Richard Edson), as well as Martin Lawrence, Samuel L. Jackson, Gioncarlo Esposito (something about Breaking Bad?). Also everyone is more than a little bit racist. The blacks hate the whites who hate the Asians who hate the Hispanics who hate the Blacks who also hate.... etc. It finally escalates to a breaking point and, well, you'll have to watch it.

8. The Goonies (1985)

A staple from my childhood (even if it was released before I was born...) this movie is a classic adventure story told by a group of kids looking for a hidden treasure. Plus there's a pirate ship, a deformed (yet loveable) superman, booby traps, the Truffle Shuffle, plus so much more! The movie's starring ensemble also features an adorable Sean Astin, a grumpy Martha Plimpton, a hunky (and still hunky) Josh Brolin, and a  mischievous Corey Feldman, as well as a few other cute wittle kids. I think I appreciated how much this movie relied on these young actors to carry this movie. It was about these kids growing up and figuring out life for themselves, without adults and their mind-numbing advice. Although, I guess there are a few adults trying to kill them... It's funny and heartfelt and makes us all wish we could find something as cool as a real treasure map hidden somewhere in our attics.

7. The Breakfast Club (1985)

Another movie from '85, and this one is a step up from precocious kids to quirky, angsty, complicated teenagers. This is a classic John Hughes film, if not his most famous. And in line with Hughes' other movies, this one takes place in a made up town in Illinois! What what. Anyway... the movie is about five high school students spending their Saturday in detention. At first they're at odds; "Ugh, we have nothing in common" "Ugh, I hate you and your conformist ways" "Ugh, I hate you and your smart ass mouth" "Ugh, no one really understands me". But then slowly, they each start to crack and open up. It turns out, no one is perfect and sometimes we all need a friend, no matter who they might be or what crowd they might be a part of. Awwww, a life lesson! Plus, the dance scene is great.

6. Mallrats (1995)

Not the first Kevin James movie to be set in a single day (Clerks), but my personal favorite. After TS (Jeremy London) is dumped by his girlfriend (Claire Forlani), he meets up with his BFF Brodie (Jason Lee) who was also dumped by his girlfriend, Rene (Shannen Doherty). Trying to move on from their respective ex's, the boys go to the only respectable place for teenagers/young adults to waste time in the 90's: the mall. There, TS discovers his ex is going to be part of a televised dating show, put on by her asshole father. Well, obviously, they have to stop it! Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin James) make a reappearance and regulars like Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, and Brian O'Halloran also show up. Even Stan Lee makes a cameo! There are sailboats, batman shenanigans, Jedi mind tricks, fake nipples, and sweaty ass-crack chocolate pretzels, and more; it's some good quality fun for the whole family.

5. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

This movie holds a special place in my heart. I have had a longstanding crush on the charming and adorable manboy that is Matthew Broderick, specifically during the 1980's. This movie might be his most famous role to date (I mean, did you see the Honda car commercial for the Superbowl this year?). He pulls the ultimate sick day. In fact, Marybeth and I attempted our own sort of Ferris Bueller inspired sick day, but the school office didn't believe I was my mom when I left them a message about our "mysteriously similar illness". But I digress. Another classic John Hughes film (which ALSO takes place in Illinois, but this time in some city called "Chicago"), this is like every teenage dream day. I mean, a Cubs game, the Sears Tower (before it was the Willis Tower...), the Art Institute AND he gets to lip-sync to the "Danke Schoen" and The Beatles atop a parade float? All this from a guy who supposedly passed out a 31 Flavors... or that's what my best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend who heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl said.

4. Friday (1995)

The stoner movie is a whole other genre that we won't get into today, but this one is one of my top 5. Clearly it is also in my top 5 movies set in a single day. It's got a lot going for it. And while I sometimes think this movie is two different movies spliced together (which moves it further down from the top of the list), I just can't help but love the first 2/3 of this film. Starring Ice Cube and Chis Tucker, the movie starts out with a simple plot line of two guys hanging out on a Friday after Craig (Ice Cube) gets fired from his job. Taking a cue from his name, Smokey (Tucker) is a pot dealer, but ends up smoking all of his product. In debt to the permed out drug dealer, Worm, Smokie and Craig have to find $200 by 10 pm or they'll both be shot. Yeah, things get kind of heavy. But up until the evening there are so many great moments and characters. And so many quotable lines! Here, let me give you an example: "I know you don't smoke weed. I know this; but I'm going to get you high today, 'cause it's Friday, you ain't got no job, and you ain't got shit to do!" Truer words have never been spoken.

3. Wet Hot American Summer (2001) 

One of the wackier movies on the list, Wet, Hot American Summer is a never ending barrage of random, hilarious moments, outrageous intertwining plots, and too many stars to name (but I'll try: Janeane Garofalo, Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Molly Shannon, Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter, Christopher Meloni, etc). The movie takes place on the last day of camp in the summer of '81. It revolves around a bunch of teenagers, even though their roles are being played by much older actors (there's talk of a prequel with the same actors who are 11 years older now who will be playing younger versions of their original characters. ha!). There are a lot of different stories going on in the movie, and while the characters interact, they're individual plots rarely coincide, if that makes any sense.  No, you know what, just got watch the movie. It's a cult classic and it's so fun to see so many prominent actors being completely silly.

2. Attack the Block (2011)

The most recent movie on the list, this sci-fi/comedy/horror movie has definitely earned it's place and I love talking it up any chance I get. The film takes place in the projects of South London. After a presumed alien falls from the sky, it is discovered and ultimately killed by a group a teenage kids. Once they take it back to their apartment building for safe keeping, shit starts going down. More "things" start falling out of the sky: big creatures, black as night, who scream and bare their fluorescent blue fangs. And they happen to be very interested in these boys' home. They have to defend their home from these aliens and make it to the fortress that is the grow room in a top floor apartment. The movie sews together all the genres so seamlessly and they even manage to sneak in some social commentary about the state of London's intercity youth. It's worth noting too that the main cast of boys are all fairly new, if not brand new, to acting and they all do a stellar job. I think it's an extremely smart movie, and if you can get past the ghetto, London jargon, I'd highly recommend you watch it.

1. Dazed and Confused (1993)

My number one movie set within one day is the cult classic, Dazed and Confused. Set on the last day of school in 1976, the film is just an homage to drugs, booze, and shenanigans. There's no plot. There are no main characters. It's just a bunch of high school and soon to be high school students enjoying the beginning of their summer. I love it's simplicity! And the music! Ugh, the music is fantastic. It's a collection of all the classic 70's rock and it fits in so nicely with the costumes and the cars and just makes you wish you were there with them, hanging out. Also all the cameos are fantastic too! There's Matthew McConaughey, Parker Posey, Ben Affleck (again), Joey Lauren Adams (again), Jason London (twin brother to Jeremy London), Milla Jovovich, Anthony Rapp... It's just a great movie that everyone should see; it's got something (and someone!) for everyone!

Honorable Mentions

Rocky Horror Picture Show
12 Angry Men
Hard Candy
The Rugrats Movie
(seriously there are so many good ones!)

Let me know what I've missed!

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