Day 100 is here! Wow! I can't even begin to express how thankful I am to have finally reached the last day on this journey – and believe me, there were several times when I wasn't sure I would make it. Early on, at say, Day 14, I expressed reservations to my co-workers and close friends about possibly biting off more than I could chew (working a full-time gig, fitting this special project into my schedule, and trying to maintain my life and sanity turned out to be harder than I expected). Then, there came a level period where the exhaustion seemed normal...and then another wall appeared at about day 60...some more normal tiredness...and right here at the very end – a dead panic about somehow, some way not being able to crawl across the movie finish line.
But here we are, and before I get to a final wrap up of conclusions, kudos and observations, I wanted to make sure to give a final impression of the last movie on my list – the action spectacular and ode to '80s cinema known as The Expendables. The plot is fairly minimal, as it should be for any action movie co-starring or featuring all of the following titans: Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts (lest we forget Roberts' own action moves in Best of the Best). Here, Stallone's guys are hired by Willis (after Arnold passes on the job) to take down a rogue CIA agent, and in the process, they can also save a kidnapped lady and preserve some of their former humanity.
The mechanics of the movie are just an excuse to see these dudes blow stuff up real good. And that they do very well...in a movie that's rated R for good reason…it is hardcore violent and so over-the-top that it's impossible to take any of it seriously. It's basically just Stallone's last Rambo movie with more people shooting guns and chopsocking each other to pieces. So, yes, it is awesome. If you have a taste for this genre, go see it. Then go see it again.
Ok, so now that we've gotten the actual Day 100 movie review out of the way, now it's time to dispense with several ultimate summer movie experiences from the 100 Days journey, plus some fun facts and figures. It's been a long, good, hard and interesting haul, and I'm thankful to everyone who's managed to tag along for any portion or all of it. I really do appreciate each and every one of you, my fellow movie lovers...and here we go...
Best Overall Theatrical Experience – Hands down, and I know I'm not the first to recognize this, but the folks at the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, are on a level unto themselves when it comes to unique and truly inspiring movie programming and presentation. From the themed menus to the cool trailers to the special features and the sheer love of film espoused by the management and the patrons, there is just nothing else like it in America. We were lucky to witness the Cinepocalypse quadruple feature of Demolition Man, I Come in Peace, Die Hard and The Expendables (and anyone wondering, yes, that means I watched Expendables twice in theaters, as part of the 4-pack and on its own). Thankfully for all movie lovers, the Alamo Drafthouse chain could be expanding to your area.
Most Luxurious Theatrical Experience – Tie between Denver's Hollywood Southglenn Stadium's "Skybox" premier auditoriums and Pasadena's Gold Class Cinemas. While nothing can rival the Drafthouse's programming, these two theaters offer the first-class presentation for customers who want to lounge around in oversized leather chairs and prefer to mix the pre-drinks, dinner, movie and post-drinks experience all together. As well, the service at these two venues is second to none.
Best Outdoor Movie Experience – While the screening of Say Anything at McCarran Park in Brooklyn was an amazing second, by far the most memorable and not-to-be-duplicated outdoor experience occurred on Day 50 for Grease at the Hollywood Bowl. On a perfect summer night, singing Summer Nights along with thousands of adoring fans to a new, beautiful remastered print and soundtrack…well, the cliché that you just had to be there holds true.
Most Sentimental Movie Experience – Although a hurricane showed up about ¾ of the way into Goldfinger at Washington D.C.'s Screen on the Green, I'll always cherish being able to see this Bond classic with my four best friends from childhood who'd flown in from all over the world. Plus, the whole crowd got up and danced when they played sponsor HBO's old logo and accompanying theme music. Definitely cool.
Best City to Catch a Summer Movie In – New York and L.A. obviously have plenty of great venues for moviewatching. But there's just something about Austin, Texas, that appeals to my inner moviegoer. It's not just the Alamo Drafthouse. It's the beautiful, green city and its citizens and its thriving music and art scene. Runner-up would be my hometown of Denver, Colorado, with its picturesque backgrounds that are also straight out of the movies.
Best Revival Theater – The American Cinematheque, both at the Aero and the Egyptian theaters in Los Angeles, offers up great revival programming and stellar, A-list guests. Jon Favreau, Tobe Hooper, even '80s icons like Savage Steve Holland are all regulars at the Cinematheque, and it's par for the course to find James Cameron and Robert Downey, Jr. spilling wise on Avatar and Iron Man on a good – and relatively inexpensive – night at the Cinematheque.
Best Movie Palace – I've seen all-night Halloween movie marathons there, and caught American Graffitti at this venue on the trek. Simply put, the Orpheum Theater in downtown L.A. puts the grand in grandeur.
Best Indie House – I know I'll catch flack for it, but I'm a huge fan of the quaint, old Laemmle Monica in Santa Monica. Sometimes, you don't need modern accoutrements to get the most from your indie films. And if you do, then go see these same movies at The Landmark. Or The Nuart. Or The New Beverly (more of a long-time, old-school revival house, but it must be mentioned that this theater – now owned by Quentin Tarantino – is fabulously cool).
Best Cineplex – With its huge Egyptian motif and backgrounds that carry over from the exterior right into the auditoriums, it's hard not to be overwhelmed and impressed by the Cinemark Egyptian 24 and XD in Hanover, Maryland. Picture and sound on both Despicable Me and Predators was stellar. Runner-up: the supremely awesome Regal L.A. Live Stadium 14, which hosted this year's L.A. Film Festival.
Best Drive-In – Any. The Mission Tikki where we saw Cats and Dogs 2 and Inception is absolutely stellar. But any operating Drive-In is fantastic simply because it still exists. There's still some summer left, so if you can find one, take your friends and family quickly.
Most Surprising Movie (i.e. – I thought it would be lame, and it was good) - Ramona and Beezus
Facts & Figures:
Number of Trays of Nachos/Cheese Consumed: 72 (or 79,272 calories)
Number of Hot Dogs Consumed: 67 (or 20,435 calories)
Number of Bags of Peanut M&Ms Consumed: 56 (or 42,000 calories)
Number of Cherry Cokes Consumed: 27 (or 2,700 calories)
Number of Boxes of Popcorn Consumed: 22 (or 20,922 calories)
Total Weight Gained over 100 Days of Movies: 25.2 lbs.
Total Days I'll Spend Working off 100 Days of Movies: 100 Days of 24 Hour Fitness, or 90 Days of PX90
Number of Times I Changed the Movie of the Day to Another Movie of the Day: 24
Number of Times I Mentioned I was Tired in a Blog Post: 48
Number of Days I'll be Sleeping As Soon As I Get Done Typing This: 4
Ok, that's all I've got. Again, thanks so much for hanging with me on this crazy, crazy movie journey. If there's anything else to be said, it's just that there really is no one ultimate summer movie experience, but there are many, many to be had with different kinds of movies, different kinds of venues, friends, family and people to meet and discover. I wish everyone peace, love and more amazing moviegoing experiences upcoming. See you soon at the movies! And woohoo! We made it!