January 29, 2015

Ranking John Cusack's films

Man, John Cusack has been in A LOT of films. I mean, he's no Christopher Plummer or anything, but he's been a bunch of films.

Let's break them down.

His films that are excellent...(best at the top, worst at the bottom)
  • Grosse Pointe Black (1997) - This is phenomenally rewatchable. It's funny and creative and nostalgic. Minnie Driver is great. Dan Aykroyd might've had his last enjoyable performance here. Excellent
  • High Fidelity (2000) - JC's last great film and one I would put in the running for his finest. The speech patter fits him perfectly. The part is brilliant. The lead couple have great chemistry. Wonderful film. 
  • Better Off Dead (1985) - It's not perfect. It's badly dated. It's loads and loads of fun from start to finish. From the awesome claymation to his best friend appraising the street value of the mountain of snow to apologizing for blowing up Ricky's mom to the Franch dinner...hilarious.
  • Eight Men Out (1988) - Cusack plays one of the disgraced Black Sox in an excellent film. It's certainly not my favorite of his, but it's pretty excellent.
  • Being John Malkovich (1999) - It hasn't aged well, but it was absolutely stunning at the time. There aren't a lot of films this weird, original, and creative. Had I rated it when I first saw it, I probably would've had it a couple of spots higher.
  • Say Anything (1989) - This one feels so very much older than the late 1980's. It feels like early 80's to me. Hard to believe this was the end of early JC. By the time he got here and played high school Lloyd Dobler, he was already 23 (at least as of the date of the movie's release).
  • The Sure Thing (1985) - I thought this would've come along a little later in his oeuvre. Cute, workable romantic comedy with the ever-cute Daphne Zuniga in the other lead role.
His films that I acknowledge aren't perfect but that I enjoy...(best at the top, worst at the bottom)
  • Hot Tub Time Machine (2010) - I was shocked to find hoe much I enjoyed this one. And I give JC credit for not putting himself into the sequel. In act, I wonder if Cusack has put himself into a single sequel. Off hand, I can't think of any. Let's put a pin in that and come back to it.
  • The Ice Harvest (2005) - Saw this one in the theater and enjoyed the dark tone for a movie centered around the Christmas season. Plus it has Oliver Platt who is pretty much always hilarious. Lots of double crosses and distrust...
  • Bob Roberts (1992)If you check this one out, you might want to hit up Don't Look Back first because it is rife with Bob Dylan references. If you get them, it's hilarious. If not, it might just come off as a bit foolish.
  • Fat Man and Little Boy (1989) - Highly fictionalized account of the Manhattan Project. Shoehorn in a love story, a little bare-handed handling of two uranium core halves. Interesting stuff, at least.
  • Pushing Tin (1999) - Interesting film about a romantic rivalry between two air traffic controllers (JC and Billy Bob Thornton). Decent enough flick.
  • Serendipity (2001) - The initiator of this post...it's not a good film, but it's an enjoyable film - mostly because of JC and Jeremy Piven. The writing - dozens of 'almost got together' rolling throughout the film - isn't awful, either. In the end, it's a confection - sweet but ultimately not entirely satisfying.
  • Tapeheads (1988) - Not a good film but very much a fun one of an era. Tim Robbins and JC star as a couple of music video producers who are all set to become big men in the nascent video industry. It impressively dated but kinda fun.
His films that are passable, at best...(best at the top to worst at the bottom)
  • The Grifters (1990) - Well, here's a dark one. Conman gets conned and double conned by pretty girl and creepy mother.
  • Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997) - This one hasn't stuck with me all that well, but I do remember that I saw it once. Kevin Spacey chews scenery here like he is spectacular at doing.
  • Road to Wellville (1994) - Apparently JC got away without putting out a film in 1995. That's his third such year working backwards. Interesting take on the Battle Creek enema crowd and the birth of Corn Flakes.
  • Must Love Dogs (2005) - I'd entirely forgotten that I'd even seen this one. Then I looked up JC on my blog and found that I'd even reviewed it. Not a boon there, but apparently it was enjoyable enough fluff.
  • War, Inc (2008) - There are a few neat scenes, but this isn't a good film. Hillary Duff's part, in particular is impressively trashy with an hilarious Eastern European accent.
  • Bullets Over Broadway (1994) - I remember falling asleep a few times while I watched this. That's about all I've got here.
His films I haven't seen...(chronological order here, reverse-style)...I'm curious as to which of these I should check out. Any advice?
  • Reclaim (2014)
  • Love & Mercy (2014)
  • The Prince (2014)
  • Drive Hard (2014)
  • Maps to the Stars (2014)
  • The Bag Man (2014) - seriously? six movies released in 2014?
  • No Somos Animales (2013)
  • Grand Piano (2013)
  • The Frozen Ground (2013)
  • Adult World (2013)
  • The Numbers Station (2013) - The dude is not afraid to work. I'll give him that much.
  • The Factory (2012)
  • The Raven (2012)
  • Shanghai (2010) - How did he go a full year (2011) without putting out a single film?
  • 2012 (2009)
  • Igor (2008) - Working backwards, this is JC's first animated flick.
  • Martian Child (2007)
  • 1408 (2007) - This is the first one working backwards that actually interests me.
  • Grace is Gone (2007)
  • The Contract (2006) - JC's only 2006 release
  • Runaway Jury (2003) - Again, a year off for 2004 for JC. This Grisham-penned flick actually sounds like it might be worth checking out.
  • Identity (2003) - IMDB users give it an aggregate 7.3/10 which is a fair bit higher than most of the films that I've listed above. I remember seeing previews of this one and understanding that it's got a big reveal at the end, but I never got around to seeing it.
  • Max (2002) 
  • America's Sweethearts (2001)
  • Cradle Will Rock (1999)
  • This is My Father (1998)
  • Anastasia (1997) - another animated flick
  • Con Air (1997)
  • City Hall (1996)
  • Floundering (1994) - Finally JC plays a part called JC.
  • Money for Nothing (1993)
  • Map of the Human Heart (1992) - Another with good (7.1/10) ratings from IMDB users.
  • True Colors (1991) - Spader and Cusack together? I definitely should check this one out.
  • Hot Pursuit (1987)
  • One Crazy Summer (1986) - I'm really surprised I haven't seen this one. I know I passed by the videotape box dozens and dozens of times back in New Albany at the video store.
  • Journey of Natty Gann (1985)
Films that aren't really his but in which he had a smaller part...
  • The Butler (2013)
  • The Paperboy (2012)
  • Summerhood (2008)
  • The Thin Red Line (1998) - It's not much of a JC film (he's barely in it, in fact), but it might be the finest film on the list. Great, great film from Terrence Malick. Beautiful, slow, moving, absolutely perfect war movie that plays against type at every turn.
  • Chicago Cab/Hellcab (1997)
  • Roadside Prophets (1992) 
  • Shadows and Fog (1992) - another Woody Allen flick, meh...
  • Broadcast News (1987) - Good film but not enough JC to make it into the ratings
  • Stand By Me (1986) - Great film but not one that has enough JC to make the list. Really spectacular and even a good performance from JC in the bully role.
  • Grandview USA (1984)
  • Sixteen Candles (1984) - I've reviewed it before, and it has aspects that I do enjoy. Early, early JC as a minor character's friend even.
  • Class (1983)

1 comment:

coldnorthgamer said...

Definitely see Identity. Really enjoyable, but maybe not so much if you know there is a big ending reveal. And, One Crazy Summer is one of my favorite Cusack films. Better Off Dead is the winter ski movie and One Crazy Summer is the summer beach movie. Classic 80s!