Here's another solution to bad romantic comedies: go to France. American moviegoers will already be familiar with the charismatic stars Jean Reno and Juliette Binoche, and they're wonderful together in the light-as-air Jet Lag (2002). She plays Rose, a cosmetics expert who is slathered in layers of makeup. Reno plays Felix, a former chef-turned-frozen food magnate. An airline strike strands them both at the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport, and fate brings them together when Rose accidentally drops her constantly-bleeping phone down the ladies' loo and asks to borrow Felix's. Writer/director Danièle Thompson not only concentrates on getting these two together, but getting them back to basics: Felix back to real food, and Rose back to her natural, fresh-faced look. A reverse-makeover scene, just after Rose emerges from the shower, is breathtaking.
The Emperor's New Groove
It's hard to imagine a Disney animated movie that goes under-appreciated, but it's not an entirely uncommon occurrence. AfterTarzan became a huge hit in 1999, the goofy, erratic The Emperor's New Groove (2000) only earned about half as much revenue, and yet it remains one of Disney's flat-out funniest movies. The wild, angular animation filled with ridiculous one-liners is more reminiscent of Tex Avery or Chuck Jones than any of the Disney classics, which may be what turned off some viewers. David Spade provides the voice of an egotistical emperor who is turned into a donkey by a witch (voiced by none other than Eartha Kitt). John Goodman is the poor, but kindly villager who helps him out. Patrick Warburton is absolutely hilarious as the witch's dim sidekick Kronk.
2012 was an amazing year for animated features, so it's only natural that some of them were buried under the abundance of riches. With its ever-so-slightly melancholy tone and its matter-of-fact glimpses of death, Chris Butler and Sam Fell's magnificent ParaNorman (2012) was the obvious candidate to be overlooked. It's about a boy who can see and speak to dead people. He discovers that he's in charge of a ritual designed to keep a witch and a hoard of zombies at bay, but when he bungles it, the town comes under attack. ParaNorman has its share of big laughs and adventurous thrills, but it never shies away from darkness, either. The wonderfully fluid stop-motion animation gives it an organic texture that makes it feel all that much spookier.
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