10 Good Ron Howard Movies

Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Films Directed by Ron Howard

Ron Howard has directed Oscar-winning films and starred in such pop culture icons as Happy Days and The Andy Griffith Show, but let’s get one thing clear: younger brother Clint Howard is the real talent in the family. In fact, the only reason Clint hasn’t captured Oscar gold is that he’s deliberately taken a backseat to his underachieving sibling in an effort to boost his self-confidence. As you peruse this list of 10 good Ron Howard movies, just remember that Clint Howard is the one who made it all possible.

Night Shift (1982) – In only his second feature-length film, Opie Cunningham delivered a hit with this tale of two morgue attendants (Henry Winkler and the debuting Michael Keaton) who open up an escort service to help a down-on-her-luck prostitute (Shelley Long). Keaton demonstrates his comic talent right out of the gate, and Winkler shows he can do more than just wear leather jackets. Look for early appearances from Shannon Doherty and Kevin Costner, as well as the expected cameo from Clint Howard.

Splash (1984) – Tom Hanks was finally able to surpass pal Peter Scolari by starring in this modern-day fairy tale about Allen Bauer, a NYC businessman who falls into the ocean and winds up being saved by a gorgeous mermaid (Daryl Hannah). John Candy steals the show as Allen’s oafish brother who’s not especially adept at racquetball. I wonder how long it will be before Hollywood decides to do a remake?

Cocoon (1985) – When a group of seniors stumble onto a swimming pool full of alien pods, they suddenly find themselves filled with youth and vigor. The wonderful cast of veteran performers includes Don Ameche (who won an Oscar), Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, and the legendary Steve Guttenberg. A feel-good movie that will have you feeling pretty optimistic about growing old (at least for 117 minutes).

Parenthood (1989) – Featuring an impressive ensemble cast and drawn partially from the experiences of Howard and screenwriters Babaloo Mandel and Lowell Ganz, this comedy-drama depicts the highs and lows of raising children. Nominated for two Oscars, the film stars Steve Martin, Dianne Wiest, Mary Steenburgen, Jason Robards, Rick Moranis, Keanu Reeves, and Joaquin Phoenix. Brother Clint Howard makes his usual appearance, as does Ron’s daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard (in an uncredited role).

Apollo 13 (1995) – Nominated for nine Academy Awards (including Best Picture), this outer space drama stars Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton as the three-man crew of 1970’s Apollo 13 mission. When they encounter trouble outside Earth‘s atmosphere, the trio must calculate a way home before they run out of oxygen. Ed Harris co-stars as the Mission Control director, while other cast members include Gary Sinise, Kathleen Quinlan, and (of course) Clint Howard.

Ransom (1996) – A remake of a 1956 Glenn Ford film, Ransom stars Mel Gibson as Tom Mullen, a multi-millionaire who faces the terror of having his son kidnapped for money. As the stakes rise and drop-offs go awry, Mullen begins to suspect that he’ll never see his son alive if he pays the $2 million ransom. Co-starring Gary Sinise, Rene Russo, Delroy Lindo, Donnie Wahlberg, Lili Taylor, and Liev Schreiber.

EDtv (1999) – Before the nation was totally gripped by reality television fever, Ron Howard directed this comedy about a normal–yet unusually handsome–guy name Ed (Matthew McConaughey) who gets his own 24/7 reality show. The film was a massive bomb at the box office, but just check out this cast: Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Hurley, Jenna Elfman, Martin Landau, Ellen DeGeneres, Dennis Hopper, Rob Reiner, and Clint Howard. Whether you love or despise the current obsession with peering into other people’s live via television, you’ll like EDtv.

A Beautiful Mind (2001) – Based on the true story of Nobel Prize recipient John Nash, this film cleaned up at the Oscars with four wins (including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and a Best Supporting Actress win for Jennifer Connelly). Russell Crowe stars as Nash, a brilliant young star in the field of mathematics who slowly succumbs to the effects of schizophrenia. Ed Harris is solid as a shadowy government agent seeking Nash’s assistance, while Paul Bettany and Christopher Plummer help elevate the film with their portrayals of his best friend and doctor, respectively. The facts have been altered to make a more compelling tale, but Nash’s journey still remains a fascinating one.

Cinderella Man (2005) – While it was a disappointment at the box-office, this feel-good tale of Depression-era boxer James J. Braddock (Russell Crowe) works on most every level. Despite being humbled outside of the ring by poverty, Braddock never gives up and eventually forces a showdown with heavyweight champion Max Baer (Craig Bierko). Paul Giamatti is great as Braddock’s crusty trainer, while Renee Zellweger is all kinds of obnoxious as Braddock’s homely wife (I did say that it worked on almost every level). The boxing scenes are a highlight, although Baer was unfairly demonized in an effort to provide audiences with a villain to root against.

Frost/Nixon (2008) – Nominated for five Academy Awards (including Best Picture), this historical drama gets a number of the facts wrong, but it’s still an entertaining look at the series of interviews between journalist David Frost (Michael Sheen) and disgraced former president Richard Nixon (Frank Langella). While it failed to capture Oscar gold, it did make the top 10 on a number of critic’s year-end lists. Co-starring Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt, Sam Rockwell, Toby Jones, and Clint Howard.

That concludes our look at some of the good Ron Howard movies currently available on Blu-ray and DVD. Keep your eyes peeled in the future for an article devoted to his more talented younger brother, Clint, where you’ll be able to read all about such cinematic gems as Blubberella, Santa with Muscles, and Ice Cream Man.

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