I haven’t seen “I Am Legend” yet, but I assume once I do, it’ll crack this list. And honestly, this list was MUCH harder to narrow down to 5 than I thought it would be. I decided to leave out the sequels (“MiB II”, “Bad Boys 2”) but that still left me with a lot of legit choices. Here’s what I ended up with:
5. Bad Boys
It pains me to leave “The Pursuit of Happyness” off this list, but I had to make a cut somewhere and while I think it’s a great movie, it’s not one I’ll watch over and over again. This one is. I just really like seeing a movie where lots of people are shooting lots of guns and driving really fast and expensive cars for no good reason (“Bad Boys 2” had even more of this phenomenon, but it loses out because its a sequel).
4. I, Robot
I know it’s not true to the book. I don’t give a fuck. Will Smith saves the world from every thing every year, and in this particular year, he was saving us from killer robots. I like how the movie is supposed to kind of teach the lesson to judge people (and, in this case, robots) as individuals, but really, the only lesson I learned from this is that we need to make sure Will Smith is available for the inevitable robot revolution (oh, and that robotic arms implanted into humans make for AWESOME weapons).
Smith earned a best actor nomination for this role and he totally deserved it. Some part of me still feels like this movie is too long, but that doesn’t stop me from popping it in every now and then. Smith completely nails Ali, which a lot of people didn’t think he’d be able to do. He’s in great physical shape for the boxing scenes, and pulls off the dramatic scenes in Africa with no problem. Also worth noting, I got to see this movie in a screening with the reigning heavyweight champ at the time (Hasim Rahman, back in 2001) so obviously I’ll always think more highly of it than most people.
2. Men in Black
Here’s the thing about “Men in Black” -- at no point in the movie does it try to fool you into thinking its a cinematic masterpiece. It’s a fun buddy action comedy (much like “Bad Boys”) with some really great make-up work and special effects. The plot is slim, but just enough to remind you that it’s Will Smith’s annual job to save the world. The movie is long enough that you don’t feel cheated by it, and short enough that you don’t feel like it drags. All the jokes hit the mark, and let’s be honest, you really want one of those big ass guns they use in the last big scene, don’t you? ‘Cause I know I do. Oh, and tell me you’re not humming the song right now. ‘Cause you know you are. And if you say you’re not, you’re fucking lying.
1. Independence Day
Will Smith saves the world for the first time. Look, don’t complain about how the alien force is overcome by a computer virus -- that’s just a modern update of the ending to “War of the Worlds”. This movie is at its best when Will Smith is flying in a jet or a spaceship while being chased by aliens. The whole first fighter jet scene that ends with him forcing the alien into a crash is just fantastic. And even though it has nothing to do with Smith, this movie is made 10 times better because of Bill Pullman’s speech that ends with “Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!” I watch this movie every year on the 4th of July just for that speech. That’s why this movie is in the top spot here, and creeps into my top 10 favorite movies of all-time (and for those keeping track, that’s 6 of the 10... only 4 to go before I reveal the order).