Friday, December 23, 2011

On our Screen

We love watching movies together at our house.  RedBox, at a dollar a movie, makes it nicely affordable.  Princess Sassy is a particular fan, so with the newlyweds living here, she and Prince Steadfast often invite us to join them for a movie night.  

We've seen so many lately, I thought I'd do some mini reviews...

Captain America: The First Avenger:  Cool idea, story-wise.  Some very cool effects, and a likable enough (super) hero.  But I thought the movie moved a bit slowly... It took forever for Captain America to finally face the bad guy.   It was "OK" to watch once, and the kids liked it.

Green Lantern:  This one has lower ratings than Captain America, but I liked the pace better, so enjoyed the movie more.   Prince CuddleBunny watched it with us, and I was concerned that the enemy in the movie would scare him, but it didn't seem to bother him after.  The main nemesis was scary enough, but during a good portion of the movie, a part of him operated through a human, which made it particularly evil and bothersome, I thought.  As the bad guy in a movie, this just means it was well-done, but I'm not sure it's a kids' movie, because of it.  I also remember more humor in this movie than in Captain America, which would also affect my more positive opinion.

Taken:  Pretty scary for parents!  Especially those who might be tempted to let their daughters travel abroad without them.  (Hmm...Maybe that's why I felt next to tears when I knew Princess Bossy was making a trip alone out of the country this week.  She, though, was meeting the family for whom she's nannied, so a big group with older adults...unlike the young woman in the movie.)  It was unsettling and a bit scary, but it was supposed to be.  Kidnapping girls into sex trafficking is not exactly a fun subject.  I am a person who thinks movies should make me laugh, and generally avoid scary/thriller/action types of movies, but this one seemed pretty good.

The Help:  I knew it was about a serious subject, but from the commercials I'd seen on TV, I thought it would be funny.  Not.  It was an appropriately difficult movie, as life in the south in the 60s was a civil rights nightmare, and in retrospect, should not really be made light of.  I sat on the edge of my seat, always afraid of the white employers' reactions to the well-meaning and hard-working 'maids.'  I'm sure that was a tiny bit representative of how those women lived on a daily, minute-to-minute basis.  Still hard to believe such a large number of people could treat other people like that.

I had this movie on my Christmas list, but took it off.  Not that I didn't like it or that it wasn't good. Because I did, and it really was.  But it's not the kind of movie I'll want to pick out of my shelf to watch repeatedly.  Usually going to my already-watched selections means I need a break and a laugh, and this movie isn't for that.  It also has bad language.  I don't remember housewives or church-going women of the 1960s speaking that way...

Besides the historical, human rights stuff, one other thing will stick with me, hopefully forever, from The Help.  At one point, in which one of the maids was making the frightening decision to share the truth of her situation with a writer, she is sitting in church.  The pastor is giving a sermon about when Moses told God that he wasn't a good enough speaker or brave enough to face Pharoah to demand the release of the Israelites.  The pastor said, "Courage ain't just about being brave, courage is there to do what is right in spite of the weekness of our flesh."  Amen.

That movie has also made me want to run out and buy a big can of Crisco, so I can fry up a panful of chicken!  Some amazing looking food.

Soul Surfer:  Wow.  Several thumbs up.  Another sit-on-the-edge-of-my-seater, since I knew there was a shark attack involved, and for part of the movie, I never knew when that was coming.  I like good, true stories, and especially those that involve faith.  This is one of those.  It's properly inspiring, and exemplifies, and impresses upon me even more, the courage lesson learned from The Help.  The loss of an arm is, of course, a bit gruesome, but it's a good family movie.

Crazy, Stupid, Love:  This is a meatier movie than I'd expected.  I thought it would be a silly-funny, romantic comedy, but it isn't.  There are funny parts, but also a lot of gritty truth about desperation, the demise of relationships, and how people soothe emotional wounds in self-destructive ways that are also hurtful to others.  There is a lot of language and a lot of behavior that I think might make this deserve a tougher rating than its PG-13.  The good thing is that the negative behavior is mostly proved to be undesirable and unrewarding, and the characters seem to learn a lot, grow, and get on the right track in the end.  There is also an unexpected twist in it that's kind of fun.  I liked it.

Cars 2:  Really fun.  7 year-old Prince CuddleBunny enjoyed it, as did his older siblings and his mom.  Quite a bit different than the original...  a take off on James Bond movies, which I really liked.   As I'd read when it first came out, there are anti-big-oil undertones, but they're not too obvious.  I don't think kids would catch them, and I don't really feel they make their point... But it doesn't spoil or override the fun of the movie.

NOT recommended
The Change-Up:  Awful.   It's the classic "I wish my life was like yours" magical switch-a-roo, but with awful language, awful attitudes, awful situations, and awful people.  I didn't watch this whole movie, and left as the bad language got worse, and as one character was headed in to take part in a porn movie.  I assume the 2 men probably learned from their experiences, and somehow became better, more appreciative people... They had a long way to go.  I just don't understand why scripts full of the worst of 4-letter in a few per sentence... are desirable or necessary.

Fred Claus:  Princess Artiste was wishing for more Christmas movies to watch, so I picked up a couple off a sale rack.  This was another that wasn't as funny as I expected.  Not really funny at all as it made a good point about why a child, or adult, might be 'naughty.'  --Out of pain, problems, and self-defense in facing certain life situations out of their control, rather than just a willful disregard for others.  I enjoyed it, and thought it was worthwhile, but won't necessarily look forward to or make a point of watching it every holiday season.  

I also got Four Christmases.  Princess Sassy and Prince Steadfast had warned me that it's not for younger children, especially those whose ideas about Santa may risk damage.  I watched it alone and was appalled at the movie.  Lots of great stars in a lousy film.  Terrible behavior and attitudes, distasteful humor throughout.  I threw it out as soon as it was over.

Others we've watched recently aren't new to me, like the ones above.  These are the old favorites we look forward to pulling out every December...  

A Charlie Brown Christmas:  Such an enjoyable Christmas treat.  I so respect Charles Schulz for insisting on the inclusion of Christian carols and Linus' recitation of Luke 2, in answer to Charlie Brown's desperate question, "Does anyone really know what Christmas is all about?!"
“And there were in the same country Shepards abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. 
And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you. You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in the manger.’ 
And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men.”

Elf:  Goofy, cute, funny.  Pretty ridiculous, but the kids love it.

The Santa Clause:  The best of the 3 movie collection.  SO FUN and good-hearted.  We also like Santa Clause 2: The Mrs. Clause... and can deal with The Santa Clause 3 - The Escape Clause, but don't love it like the original.

White Christmas:  I've already mentioned in previous posts that I'm crazy about this movie, and that I watch it a few times each year, often while wrapping gifts.  I still find the antics of Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby very funny and entertaining, with just the right amount of romance and great music.  And what house-o-phile couldn't love that Vermont inn with the huge checkerboard floors, the fireplace and window seats, and the barn doors that open to the falling snow?

I know it's probably considered anti-Christmas and heartless not to have It's A Wonderful Life at the top of my must-watchh holiday films, but as much as I appreciate the story, and particularly love Jimmy Stewart, it's just not one I want to watch over and over.    
I like Miracle on 34th Street, but we don't own it, so I rarely get to see it.

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