How to Train Your Dragon - A-
A surprisingly funny and touching animated film about acceptance of all kinds. The only thing that kept it from being an A was the deus ex machina ending. But even that didn't take too much away from a wonderful story about family, community and seeing things from all sides.
Oscar Potential: It should give Toy Story 3 a run for its money in the Best Animated Feature category.
Daybreakers - B
I knew almost nothing about this film going in. And learning it's about a vampire named Edward didn't give me too much hope. It's a vampire film almost in reverse. Only a few humans are left in a world populated by vampires. Some clunky scenes didn't take away too much from a clever story. (If circumstances are so urgent, does Willem Dafoe really have time to sing an Elvis song?) The logic is a little vague at the end, but for me to explain further would spoil an unusual twist on the rules of vampire movies. Sam Neill makes a great villain, but if you present a villain with a sound argument for his beliefs, you shouldn't have him commit an unspeakable act that no sane person would commit.
Oscar Potential: Almost none, but the makeup deserves consideration.
Grown Ups - B
I was pleasantly surprised by this one. Sure, with Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider, there's plenty of gross out and slapstick humor. But it's used sparingly. And, of course, there are certain elements that really could've been left on the cutting room floor or perhaps there was more to the story, but they left the rest out, i.e., Sandler lying to his wife, James being unemployed, etc. But the film does make an solid commentary on modern marriages, putting careers first and child-rearing. The cast, which includes Salma Hayek and Maria Bello, seems to be having a blast making the movie and it's hard not to share their fun.
Oscar Potential: Zero.