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Posted at 11:13 AM ET, 09/ 1/2006

Best and Worst of Summer Movies

By Jen Chaney

Doesn't it seem like just yesterday that everyone was buzzing about "The Da Vinci Code"? Yet here we are at the end of the summer cinema season, with not much to show for the experience except the couple pounds we gained from downing all that popcorn.

It's fair to say this was not a particularly noteworthy few months at the movies. Most releases, particularly the biggies that garnered so much early buzz, fell somewhere on the quality spectrum between decent and just okay. But the summer wasn't entirely a wash. It had its highlights and its low points. What were they? Gee, I'm glad you asked...

Best Action Flick: Paramount may have dropped him on his "Risky Business" behind, but Tom Cruise -- despite his weirdness -- delivered the most mindlessly enjoyable movie of the summer: "Mission: Impossible III." Even Stephen Hunter has a soft spot for it.

Movie That Made You Want to Change the World: Even though it wasn't a documentary in the traditional sense, "An inconvenient Truth" probably convinced more people to turn over an environmentally conscious leaf than a decade's worth of Earth Day celebrations.

The Summer's Sinker Stinker: The "Poseidon" remake was laughable and a box office dud. But on the plus side, all that water helped many a soda-drinking moviegoer achieve a new level of bladder control.

Best Family Movie: You can never go wrong with Pixar. And this summer, that meant you couldn't go wrong with "Cars."

Most Hype for the Least Payoff: It was supposed to generate much controversy and big box office dollars. To a degree, it did both. Too bad "The Da Vinci Code" turned out to be incredibly dull as well.

Worst Hair:You thought I was going to say Tom Hanks in "Da Vinci Code." But you didn't consider the greasy, sleazy pseudo-mullet that Colin Farrell sported in "Miami Vice." Midway through the movie, just when I thought it couldn't look worse, he actually tied it up in a scrunchy. And I said, ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner.

Best Opening Titles: On the whole, I enjoyed "Superman Returns." But I didn't love the movie nearly as much as I loved the opening titles, so reminiscent of the ones in the beginning of 1978's "Superman."

Best Experience in a Theater: It didn't take the bite out of the box office that so many had predicted. But I didn't see any audience as amped up as the one that turned out for "Snakes on a Plane" on opening night. Apparently nothing gears up a crowd like Samuel L. Jackson in full-on reptile-killing mode.

Least Bang for Having Made So Many Bucks: I love Johnny Depp as much as the next "Ed Wood" fan. But I still can't figure out how a mediocre sequel like "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" earned more than $400 million. Was everyone in the theater wearing eye patches that skewed their view of all the boring booty-action?

And finally...

The Best Movie of the Summer of 2006: "Little Miss Sunshine." It's the only movie that cracked me up and made me tear up, often within the same scene. And it's the only film I actually saw twice. Plenty has already been said about the stellar ensemble cast. But please, let's give it up for Linda the grief counselor: "You're not the only person who's had someone die here today, okay?"

By Jen Chaney  | September 1, 2006; 11:13 AM ET
Categories:  Movies  
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I couldn't agree with you more with the "best movie of the summer" category. Little Miss Sunshine was hil-ar-ious! If you haven't seen a movie this summer that has left you leaving the theater satisfied, then put down that coffee mug, take a long lunch, say you're going to a doctor's appointment, and run to the theater right now and see this movie. I will never be able to hear the song "Superfreak" and keep a straight face again...

Posted by: Laura | September 5, 2006 1:55 PM | Report abuse

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