Chris Columbus Movies

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 8:05 am

If you’re familiar with Chris Columbus movies, then you’ve no doubt noticed a sense of optimism that runs throughout his works. The Ohio native believes in family values and he was once quoted as saying “I can understand the validity of showing people the ugliness of the world, but I also think there is a place for movies to leave people with a sense of hope. If your film isn’t going to do that, I just don’t think it’s worth making.” Fans of the torture porn genre should go ahead and move towards the exits.

Columbus got his start as a screenwriter for Amblin Entertainment, the production company founded by Steven Spielberg. Prior to making his directorial debut, he helped pen such ‘80s classics as The Goonies, Young Sherlock Holmes, and Gremlins. He’s also made a name for himself as a producer, overseeing the production of nineteen movies from 1995 to 2011.

For the ten Chris Columbus movies listed below, as well as over 100,000 other films, make sure to sign up as a member of Netflix. They’re the leading online rental service in the United States for a reason, as they offer a massive selection, competitive prices, and fast delivery.

Adventures in Babysitting (1987) – Back before Elizabeth Shue was officially a MILF, she starred as a 17-year-old babysitter who goes to pick up a runaway friend and stumbles across a city seemingly packed with oddballs and eccentrics. The first PG-13 film released by Disney, it remains a good-natured classic that should appeal both to kids and adults. Shue demonstrates the brand of charm that would serve her well in Hollywood for years to come, and who can resist an 8-year-old girl (Maia Brewton) who idolizes the comic book character Thor?

Heartbreak Hotel (1988) – David Keith never became a major star in Hollywood, but he still managed to turn in a number of entertaining performances. Case in point: his role as Elvis Presley, the aging rock legend who’s kidnapped by a teenage boy (Charlie Schlatter) to entertain his lonely mother (Tuesday Weld) on her birthday. If you’re a fan of Elvis Presley movies, be sure to add this one to your must-see list. And if Keith’s manly charms win you over, be sure to check out his roles in An Officer and a Gentleman, Daredevil, and The Lords of Discipline.

Home Alone (1990) – The highest grossing film of 1990, Home Alone still remains the most profitable live-action comedy of all time. Columbus directs from the John Hughes screenplay, and the plot revolves around precocious eight-year-old Kevin McCallister, a kid whose family heads off for Paris, France and accidentally leaves him all by himself at their Chicago home. While enjoying his newfound freedom, Kevin is soon forced to match wits with a pair of burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern), and this leads to a number of sight gags and examples of violent physical comedy. It’s hardly Citizen Kane, but there’s enough there to keep adults awake, while youngsters will quickly warm to the idea of one of their own being able to outwit a pair of adults. It’s odd to think that Pesci also starred in Goodfellas the same year. Boy, I would’ve loved to see those characters get switched.

Only the Lonely (1991) – With a number of similarities to Marty, this sweet romantic-comedy stars John Candy as a middle-aged Chicago cop who falls for a girl (Ally Sheedy) working in a funeral home. But his overbearing mother (Maureen O’Hara) feels threatened by the relationship, and she works hard to throw a wrench into the works. Columbus wrote and directed the film, and John Hughes co-produced, so you needn’t worry about the film having a downer ending. While it’s predictable in patches, it still remains an above-average viewing experience thanks to the charm of Candy and his on-screen chemistry with leading ladies O’Hara and Sheedy. The presence of Roy Orbison’s timeless song doesn’t hurt, either.

Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) – When an unemployed voice-actor (Robin Williams) gets divorced and loses custody of his three kids, he concocts a crazy scheme to spend more time with them. This results in the creation of Euphegenia Doubtfire (Williams in drag), a 60-year-old British housekeeper who charms the entire family with her lovable antics. While the film’s premise–based on the novel by Anne Fine–is all kinds of predictable, it still manages to creep up on you with its unrelenting charm and humor. Sally Field co-stars as the ex-wife, and Pierce Brosnan is her latest suitor.

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Stepmom (1998) – Columbus takes on more mature material with this story about an attorney (Ed Harris) and his much younger girlfriend, Isabel (Julia Roberts). As Isabel struggles to win over his two kids (Liam Aiken and Jena Malone), she must also contend with their mother, Jackie (Susan Sarandon), a disapproving publisher who gave up her career to focus on family. The ante gets upped when Jackie learns she has cancer, a revelation that forces all sides to reexamine their idea of what’s really important. While critics were somewhat divided, the film raked in a tidy profit thanks to the starpower of its leads.

Bicentennial Man (1999) – Based on the novella by Isaac Asimov, this combination of drama and sci-fi tells the story of “Andrew” (Robin Williams), a robot who starts off as a housekeeper but slowly gains sentience over the course of many years. Williams demonstrates his skill as a performer (even though the Razzie Awards gave him a Worst Actor “honor“), as Andrew’s interaction with several generations of humanity range from the heart-wrenching to the profoundly romantic. Also starring Sam Neill, Oliver Platt, Embeth Davidtz, and Stephen Root. Winner of the Academy Award for Best Makeup. Sure, it’s overly sentimental at times, but it’s also recommended viewing for anyone who’s ever felt isolated or out-of-synch with the world around them.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) – Chris Columbus hit paydirt by directing the first film of the Harry Potter franchise. The film grossed almost $1 billion at the international box office (the most financially successful of all Chris Columbus movies) and ensured that Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson would be able to cash paychecks for years to come. It’s the logical starting point for those few who haven’t already been swept up in the phenomenon started by author J.K. Rowling.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) – There’s another mystery afoot at Hogwarts, and Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger are just the youthful wizards to solve it. Clocking in at close to three hours, there’s plenty of magic and CGI effects to go around, and fans of the book will be thrilled by the film’s adherence to J.K. Rowling’s work.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010) – After two films about young wizards in training, Columbus stays near familiar territory with this film about a young demigod in training. Based on the novels by Rick Riordan, the film stars Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson, a 17-year-old dyslexic who happens to be the son of Poseidon (Kevin McKidd). When the lightning bolt of Zeus (Sean Bean) goes missing, Percy is named as the primary suspect (even though he has no idea about his godly origins). This leads to an adventure of mythological proportions, including a stay at a camp for young demigods, a battle with Medusa, and a journey to the Greek underworld. It should be noted that Percy kills a number of monsters, so don’t expect this to be quite as innocent as the early Harry Potter movies. Still, older kids and adults should have a grand old time, especially thanks to a cast that includes Steve Coogan, Rosario Dawson, Brandon T. Jackson, Melina Kanakaredes, and Alexandra Daddario.

While he’s unlikely to start churning out gritty films about the criminal underworld, you can expect Chris Columbus movies to keep delivering entertainment that’s appropriate for the entire family. While that’s not necessarily my cup of tea, those who are interested can join Netflix and enjoy all these films and many more. We do receive a small commission when you join up through our site, but that money goes right back into Only Good Movies and doesn’t cost you one penny extra.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 15th, 2011 at 8:05 am and is filed under Good Movies, Thoughts on Film. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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