! = recommended
* = all-ages
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(500) Days of Summer: I’ve talked this up to everyone I know as one of the best romantic comedies of the year. This out-of-sequence story follows greeting card writer Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) through 500 days, as he falls for seemingly perfect Summer (Zooey Deschanel), and gets his heart shattered in 2 million pieces. Gordon-Levitt’s ability to move from elation to depression is as impressive as Deschanel’s vintage wardrobe, but the real surprise here it the refreshing script, which is ultimately about loving yourself and finding out what makes you happy – not relying on another person to do it for you.
District 9: I was skeptical about this initially, but ended up being blown away by this sci-fi original with a deeper message. Aliens who crash-landed outside of Johannesburg have been forced to live in what’s now become a slum, creating theft and violent crime, so government agency Multinational United marches in to force the “prawns” to move into a more secure area (AKA: a concentration camp). The special F/X are great, but in my opinion the reason this film is so effective is because every single thing that happens is absolutely and totally believable. You HAVE to see this film, you guys.
Family Guy: Something, Something, Something, Dark Side: The success of Blue Harvest spurred Family Guy creator (and George Lucas-fanboy) Seth McFarlane to try his hand at spoofing The Empire Strikes Back. Say what you will about the tastelessness of FG; McFarlane’s pop culture knowledge can’t be rivaled, and his Star Wars: A New Hope skewering was near flawless. Thus, even though I haven’t seen it yet, I’m expecting this one to be just as funny (and I can't wait to see what he does with Yoda).