BACK TO THE FUTURE – LORRAINE (BACKGROUND REFRESHER FOR FUTURE BLOG)

As Lorraine (Lea Thompson) recounts when she fell in love with George, there is a moment of surprisingly deep pathos.

(Quick quiz: This is possibly the best work Ms Thompson ever did. Can you name how many distinct but necessarily similar parts she plays in the course of the trilogy?)

Biff has just brought back their family car in a wreck, intimidated George into doing his office work for him, leers at Lorraine, then departs. George takes his mind off everything by watching an old rerun of Jackie Gleason at the rickety kitchen foldout that serves as the family dining room table. She gazes at her husband and recounts, for the umpteenth time to her three ignoring children the story of how she fell in love with George when they were teenagers. George laughs mindlessly at a TV show. She winds up the overly familiar story with, "…and that was when I realized I was going to spend the rest of my life with him." The loss of their wasted life together etched into the pathetic expression on her face is heartbreaking.

(Answer: In order of appearance: SIX – Middle-aged pathetic Lorraine, young vivacious Lorraine, middle-aged blossoming Lorraine, Elderly Lorraine, Middle-aged BUXOM pathetic Lorraine, Western Lorraine/Maggie. Each has their own individual personalities. Each of the Lorraines, while the same character, are different in the way they move, react, use body language, speak. Middle aged buxom pathetic Lorraine has a raspy alcoholic voice and moves in the halting way you might expect of someone used to dodging blows. Western Lorraine/Maggie is Irish and moves with confidence and dignity but a healthy sniffy suspicion to the young intruder, Marty. You get the drift. Thompson does a truly magnificent job making all the Lorraines alike but different. And yes, there is no real reason that Marty's mother should look like his great great … great? grandmother Maggie unless we are to believe that her family and the McFlys have been intermarrying for generations, which would make Lorraine not only Marty's mother but a distant cousin … but we'll let that one go.)

The Father and the Father Figure in Back to the Future

BACK TO THE FUTURE – GEORGE (BACKGROUND REFRESHER FOR FUTURE BLOG)

SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT

I don't like to give spoilers, but in a review of this kind for teachable moments it is often necessary. Most movie goers have seen the first BTTF, if not the entire trilogy of this rather brilliantly conceived and virtually flawlessly executed time travel/coming of age comedy. The consistency and seamlessness with which Zemeckis has interwoven the characters, story and time travel itself can be the subject of another article.

(Quick quiz: What other Zemeckis film dealt with a fatherless boy who becomes a hero, bringing everyone around him UP against very steep obstacles? Hint: not exactly time travel but the actor character was inserted, by movie magic, into seminal historical film footage.)

But, just for those who need a refresher: In the original time line, George is a cowardly geeky doormat. George is taken advantage of by the school bully, Biff, as a teen, and then still abused by Biff when both are adults and co-workers. Biff gets George to do his homework then office reports, advances over George's footprint tattooed self-esteem, wrecks George's car, and lusts after his wife, Lorraine. Lorraine, a former prom queen type, is now a chubby lush who drinks whisky from an 8 ounce tumbler like it was iced tea. We learn more about the details of how they met and the sparking for her infatuation later in the movie but suffice it to say that Lorraine married George because she felt sorry for him and had futile hopes that he would grow into a knight in shining armor.

Next Up: BACK TO THE FUTURE – LORRAINE (BACKGROUND REFRESHER FOR FUTURE BLOG)

Answer: Forrest Gump

THE REAL HERO OF BTTF

Hang onto your knickers girls. I'm not into political correctness. As a matter of fact, for any of you who have any respect for the N.O.W. gang – you should probably sit down.

(Quick quiz: What year did the first BTTF come out?)

I'm also not into brevity but I AM into being entertaining as well as informative. So I hope you enjoy this tribute to Back to the Future……..

Not all educational moments are for children. This one is for the moms, more particularly wives — or even just women in general. Do you remember Back to the Future – the story of the fairly cool Marty – played by Michael J Fox – who comes from a very dysfunctional family, accidentally goes back in time, inadvertently keeps his parents from falling love and getting married, and puts his own existence in jeopardy? The rest of the movie is about Marty trying to fix this. But have you ever considered that, while Marty is the titular hero, and I suppose he is in a way, that everything really pivots, not on Marty, but on his dad – George?

(Answer: It's the 30th anniversary this year. I remember seeing it with my Dad at the movie theater. Boy do I feel old.)

Up next:  Refreshers

 

Ree/eal Life – THREE THROUGH FIVE OF FOUR REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH MOVIES — WAIT?! WHAT?

REASON NUMBER THREE OF FOUR

Another reason movies are fascinating and why you should watch them is that they compress experience into condensed versions of that REAL life to which my husband alluded in the previous posts. In a well made movie nothing happens except that which forwards the vision/theme/goal of the film. One of the basics of screenwriting is: if it does not forward the motion of the plot then, even if it is a really good scene, cut it. It's called "killing your darlings". A painful but necessary process. If you have a story about a baseball pitcher, then having a long interlude on how his wife reconfigured the family recipe for orange muffins may not be in the best interest of the story, no matter how cute or well written. You want to stick to the thread of your idea and not wander too far off the trail that will get you from Point A to Point B. Films are not the lengths of real lives (though I have sat through some that were so dull they SEEMED to be closing in on that long). They are, by and large, a maximum of 120 minutes. So getting to and staying ON topic is pretty essential to good story telling. As a result, often what you see is fairly intense – intensely felt love affairs, exciting car chases, pivotal incidents in an otherwise mundane person's life, watershed moments, historic turning points. The rest is left on the cutting room floor. What you see in REEL life is a purer, or at least concentrated, experience than what you would normally have in REAL life.

REASON NUMBER FOUR OF FOUR

Another reason I find movies worth the time is that watching a protagonist or antagonist face a decision gives you an opportunity to test your own mettle – what would you do in that situation? Of course, you do not personally have the vested interest of stepping into a boxing ring, or racing from an exploding volcano. But if the film maker has any skill at all and you are the least bit cooperative in the effort, he will help you become emotionally invested in the scenario: Will the guy admit to the girl he loves that he is the biological father to over 500 children? Will the Olympic champion have the moral courage to refuse to run on Sunday? Will the man step into an apparent abyss to save his father's life based solely on the instructions written in his father's diary? What would you do in each of those cases? Would you: Admit? Refuse? Step forward? (Quick quiz: name each of the movies those scenarios come from, answers below.)

Now while it is unlikely one would face ANY of those specific situations, we likely WILL be asked to choose between: admitting a hard truth or adopting an easy falsehood, deciding on something we want versus God's Will, going forward with something that frightens us for a loved one or turning your back in fear. Were they clever? How did they work that courage up?

We are all interested in how others face challenges. Family stories of Grandpa's fishing expedition or how a cousin approached a job interview or how your best friend proposed to his girl can be the inspirations to how you will face your own challenges. Movies help expand our pallet of experience. And getting an opportunity to preview that issue, to get a good example or observe a horrible warning are helpful REEL life exercises running up to the REAL life lessons we will face.

REASON NUMBER FIVE OF FOUR ……WAIT??!!…WHAT?

That's four reasons there. But are there any others? Well – yeah! Of course!!! Because they are darned FUN! They make us laugh, cry, jump in fear and shiver in admiration. The best of them can make us proud to be American, thoughtful about the weaknesses of being a human, awe struck by the power of God or the capacity of people to be selfless. They can also take us out of ourselves for a while to offer us perspective or simply a vacation from our daily stresses. Or they can reinforce the importance of the simplest most mundane actions of decent people.

These are some of the reasons movies are important to me and why I think you should watch movies. But the impact – long and short – they can have on our attitudes, our psyche or even our children's dreams are why it is important  – as one of the characters in the quick quiz warns – to "choose wisely". See you at the movies!!!!!

Answers: Starbuck (story stolen by Delivery Man), Chariots of Fire, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

And — FYI, the caution to "choose wisely" comes from the knight of antiquity in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. But you'll have to watch it to find out why.

 

Ree/eal Life – TWO OF FOUR REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH MOVIES

In the previous posts I explained my love of movies. Today, I'll begin to explain the why and source of that affiliation.

REASON NUMBER ONE OF FOUR

To me there are at least four reasons to watch a movie. For one thing, it is the only proven use of telepathy that I know of. What you see on the screen is the public visualization of someone else's dream. OK. To be more accurate the vision is more of a group effort – costume designer, cinematographer, location scout, casting director, and dozens or hundreds of other "chefs" add their ingredient to the stew. But USUALLY the final party plan is the director's; his or hers the vision that you get to see. For the most part, the "final cut" is the director's, he the one who makes what you see on screen most like what he has envisioned. Now granted that can be a good or bad thing, depending on whether the director is Ed Wood or Frank Capra. Then the choice is yours as to whether or not you want a peek into that person's mind. But it is a kind of telepathy – a (literally) "feeling from afar" as the term "telepathy" was originally coined by English psychologist Frederick Myers in 1882, even though that feeling is "limited" to visual, auditory and emotional.

REASON NUMBER TWO OF FOUR

Another reason why you should watch movies is that they are cathartic. You can, via sympathy, experience situations and events, that you may never personally get to do first hand. For example, I will not likely ever get to float in zero gravity watching the earth spin from miles above, but there are any number of movies which, with a little imagination, can help you vicariously get that experience, including Gravity and The Right Stuff.

………..Next – Reasons three, four and five out of four —— wait??!! what???…………..

 

 

Ree/eal Life – I DO NOT LOVE ALL MOVIES

I DO NOT LOVE ALL MOVIES

Continuing with the previous post…..

In the first part of this post, I described my love affair with movies. Let me clarify that point a bit.

I do NOT love or even like ALL movies. The kids say I would watch the washing machine go around, but that is not actually true. It would HAVE to at least have a good soundtrack.

But there are movies and genres I just do not much care for: soap operas and slasher movies would top that list – though there are some movies that would break even that rule, making the grade despite their parentage. I confess to the guilty pleasure of Titanic in the first case and the novelty of the concept behind Freddie Krueger in the case of the original Nightmare on Elm Street in the latter case. (One of the Elm Streets was definitely enough, however.)

And when I watch movies I try to remember something a friend of mine – a little known writer/producer named Phil Kirksey – told me about 30 years ago: "NO one sets out to make a bad movie."

Even the poorly made ones I have to, on some level, admire. At the very LEAST those people had a vision which they carried out.

I have been on a number of sets. I have written and tried to write a bunch of screenplays. I have participated in a few amateur film shoots and a couple of professional ones. It's NOT a cake walk. Even the simplest, dumbest pieces of dreck have to be planned, scripted, costumed, lighted, filmed, edited…not to mention convincing a bunch of other people to: act, give permission to film on their property, lend you props, bring or lend expensive often delicate equipment. The actors have to be: transported, fed, kept safe and comfortable, provided with potties. Need I go on?? It's not easy and it takes commitment. And anyone who can get ANYTHING up on a screen, whether professional or for the local film fest, I have to give them some respect.

WHY WATCH MOVIES??

But WHY do I watch movies? My husband often teases me: wouldn't you rather (fill in blank) than watch someone else do it? The answer is — well, that depends. Yes, I would rather eat a piece of chocolate cake than watch someone else eat it. Yes, I would rather rock my own baby than watch someone else rock theirs. Yes, I would rather take a nap than watch someone else sleep. But the topic of a film does not usually revolve around the kind of mundane activities most of us mortals engage in on a day to day basis.

On the other hand, I would rather watch someone else run away from a 60 foot Tyrannosaurus Rex than actually do it myself. I would rather observe someone else's technique for surviving the sinking of the Titanic than put that to the test personally. And as for comedy – well, think of the Three Stooges. Yeah, more of a spectator sport if you ask me.

Do I choose to watch a lot of movies? Yes. Do I choose to watch ANYTHING? No. Of course not. But, the $64,000 question remains —— WHY?

…………..To be continued………..

 

Ree/eal Life – I Love Movies

I LOVE MOVIES

I love movies. I love everything about them. I love hearing about the possibility of one coming out. I love finding out it's coming to a theater near me!  I love buying the popcorn, watching the trailers (though I admit that sometimes I end up enjoying the previews more than the movie I came to see. LOL). Then when the theater lights go down and the screen lights up, there is something magical about the descent into darkness and allowing the vehicle of your imagination to be chauffeured by someone else for a while – see where THEY want to take you and to go along for the ride.

Before the advent of TIVO, online streaming, DVDs or even VHS tapes, I remember, as a kid, biking down to the local grocery store once a week to pick up the latest copy of TV GUIDE! I'd thumb through it – sometimes not even waiting to get home but check it out on the sidewalk outside, in the shade of the awning, straddling my bike keeping it balanced while I scanned the movie titles for that week. I'd scour the list to find out if any movies that I wanted to see, or had missed at the movie theater, were going to be coming on and PRAYED it would not be on an early bedtime school night.

Movies I was not allowed to see at the movie theater I might be allowed to watch on TV because, back then, the sensibilities were less jaded, editing was pretty strict and an R rating would be knocked down to a tolerable PG when shown in the American home between Oreo cookie and Mr. Clean commercials.

The movie would also have to be on a channel we could get with my Dad's pivoting satellite antenna. He had a tower attached to the house and you could control its direction from inside the house, often getting – especially late at night – channels normally FAR outside of the regular viewing geography. Living in New Orleans, why, sometimes we could even get a channel that originated in Baton Rouge!

OK. This REALLY dates me. Boy what I wouldn't have given at that time for just the ability to copy onto a scratchy VHS the badly hacked movies shown on TV, even crudely truncated to make time for the interminable and poorly placed commercials. Because your choices back then were: catch it at the movie theater, see it on TV at a random time assigned by the station and hope it isn't too chopped up to make time for the advertisements, or …………….. Well, there were no other choices. You could read the "Book based on the movie," listen to the sound track on an 8-track cartridge and hope it included snippets of the dialogue, ask a friend with a good memory and gift for story telling to describe it to you….but really….there were no reasonable options. If you loved movies you could get pretty frustrated.

And I love watching movies – and rewatching them. My Dad used to carry around old beloved paperbacks in his back pocket. He said rereading his favorites was like visiting old friends. I feel the same way about movies.

I'm often told I talk too much. I suppose that bleeds into my writing too. I also understand that one shouldn't write into a single post more than one could read while sitting on the — well, while one is otherwise occupied. So, I have broken this rather loquacious blog into a series and see if that is more user friendly. Please let me know if you like this idea better or would rather get it all over with in one swell foop.  🙂 So, as in the old days………….

…..To be continued

 

3 Movies I Liked But You Should Not See

Some movies just should not be made —- or should have been made differently. Every now and again I plan to clue you in to movies which I actually liked and were very popular but I think have inherent flaws which make them unwatchable.

BE WARNED – FULL DISCLOSURE: I plan to spoil the living snot out of them for two reasons: given the nature of the evaluation it will usually be necessary to tell the ending – the outcome of the characters often strongly informs the value of the movie. If the bad guys do not get a comeuppance then the movies’ ethical and educational quality should be closely scrutinized. Second, frankly I want to tell you enough about the movie that it kills your curiosity and makes you not want to see it.

Three this time: Grease, Pretty Woman and Risky Business. I have seen and liked all three; all three are classics in a way, were extremely popular in their time,  and, in retrospect I realized they were just not very nice movies.

Risky Business: All that being said, there IS ONE scene that is pretty terrific which is fine to show anyone. If you have grown up seeing Tom Cruise in Minority Report, Live-Die-Repeat, or one of the Mission Impossible movies it is hard to resist watching one of the early scenes in Risky Business. He is just a puppy at this time and plays a high school senior who is tasked with watching the family home while his parents are on vacation. Being left completely alone for the first time he sliiiiiiiides into view with a faux microphone wearing nothing but socks, underwear and a long shirt lipsyncing to Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll”. It is SO darned cute…….. But then, during the course of the rest of the movie, he: hires a hooker, allows her to manipulate him into so much debt she convinces him to put his rich Ivy league friends together with her friends, effectively turns his family’s home into a bordello, bribes a college evaluator with a questionably aged prostitute, lies to his parents and…..GETS AWAY WITH IT! He is accepted to his dream college and keeps the hooker as a girlfriend. Charming example of how to get ahead.

Pretty Woman: Edward (Richard Gere) hires a hooker (a lot of that going on) named Vivian, played by Julia Roberts, as eye candy for an important negotiation. To make her a convincingly appropriate escort he styles her up. The scenes that follow deliberately echo My Fair Lady, including a posh scene at a racetrack. But the analogy becomes offensive to me for a number of reasons. For one thing, in My Fair Lady, Eliza is virtuous. Instead of the easy cash she could make as a comely lady of the night she scrapes out an honest living selling flowers, then seeks to better herself with elocution and social lessons. Henry’s interest in Eliza ranges from that of a scientist analyzing an interesting form of fungus to paternalistic/fraternalistic protector. In Pretty Woman Edward takes full advantage to use Vivian for that which he has paid her. As for the supporting cast, instead of a Freddie who becomes infatuated with Eliza, there is Philip, a loathsome colleague of Edward’s, who beats and tries to rape Vivian. Now, just before credits, Edward does propose marriage, but it’s a band aid on a gun shot wound. Sadly, I could have accepted pretty (if you’ll excuse the pun) much almost all the rest of the movie if Edward had simply not had sex with her. Duh. If he had rebuffed her attempts to “fulfill” her part of the bargain, if he had done the Higgins’ thing and held her at arm’s length, if Edward had simply been a VIRTUOUS EXAMPLE, there could have even been some rather funny moments from this scenario. Instead Edward is a cad. It is unfortunate, because there ARE some nice moments in this movie, and it had potential. There’s even a very cute scene (which IS watchable but in the middle of the movie) where Edward takes Vivian  to a VERY elegant clothing shop. Edward pulls the manager aside and tells him, referring to Vivian, that Edward wants the manager to do some “serious sucking up,” intending to bolster Vivian’s self-ego. The manager misunderstands and immediately goes into this oozing complimentary patter to Edward. Edward stops him in mid sentence: “Not ME! Her!” It is quite funny. Also Hector Elizondo’s portrayal of Barney, the hotel manager/Pickering-type character is stand-out charming because HE treats Vivian as a LADY. Barney would have been a far better Higgins to Vivian’s Eliza. Had that latter pairing been made it might have been a really good story. As it is, it is a preposterously unrealistic portrait of a (definitely NOT) lady.

Grease: Wow, the archetype story of corruption. Olivia Newton-John plays Sandy, a clean cut virgin girl from Australia who had met Danny, (John Travolta), the high school BMOC, the previous summer in an exchange program for high school students. Thrown back together in an American high school, Danny at first doesn’t want to admit he likes her and in true ’50’s fashion they sing and dance their way through boy loses girl, boy eventually gets girl humor trials and tribulations. For those who have grown up first seeing Travolta play tough guys and psychos in movies like Broken Arrow, Face Off, and Pulp Fiction it must be a bit of an amusing shock to see him in a goofy good guy roll and discover the boy can both sing and dance! However, during the course of the movie, some obviously over-aged supposed teenaged girls smoke, sleep and drink their way around Sandy, eventually convincing her that the way to win Danny back is to act like them. (“Good-bye Sandra Dee”) So, to make a long story short, at the end of the movie, Danny admits he loves Sandy and even agrees to go to college, which is fine. But Sandy, as her part of the bargain, becomes a stiletto wearing, Cat Woman leather-outfitted, drinking, smoking party girl. WHAT!? Where’s the cute girl who should have been the good example for the rest of the movie’s layabouts, slackers, and promiscuously behaved degenerates? Danny falls in love with Maria from Sound of Music but takes home Fergie to meet his mom??!! Somehow I think they got that one backwards. Also keep in mind that Danny does not marry the girl but drives off with her. Had they saved the “Better Shape Up” song – costume and everything – for a post-wedding – on the way to the honeymoon scene – where they maybe show Sandy as now ready to let her hair down for her husband, I could have accepted the routine. But as it is – it was hollow and depraved. I remember seeing a Mad Magazine spoof on this movie which pointed out this exact perversity: So to win your guy, you should become a slut?? Even Mad Magazine saw the ludicrous fallacy in that argument. It’s certainly not a good example to set for your children.

Of the three I found  Grease the most offensive. Risky Business pushed a questionably ethiced young man over the brink. Pretty Woman lionized prostitution, making it appear a path to success and happiness with your dream man. But Grease encouraged the deliberate corruption of a nice young woman.

Similarly to the point I made about being careful to screen what you encourage others to watch and not rely on the reputation or past history of the filmmakers, just because a movie is considered a “classic” does not make it wholesome.

6-13-15

Cataclysm as Marital Therapy

I love disaster movies. Armaggedon, Independence Day, Poseidon Adventure – both 1972 and 2005 versions, the Terminator series, World War Z, Earthquake, San Francisco, Knowing, Deep Impact, Outbreak, Towering Inferno (released in 1974), The Tower (very similar story made in Korea in 2012), I Am Legend, Day of the Triffids (1962 and 2009 – though I haven’t seen the 2009 version it’s on my list of things to see), War of the Worlds (2005 and 1953), even that awful environmental wacko film Day After Tomorrow, and the poorly done TV series The Stand (though the book was well written). These movies span generations (San Francisco was released in 1936), cultures, and geography. The reasons for the disasters range from extraterrestrial aliens to homegrown superbugs, from man made robots to natural disasters. From world wide to the confined space of a single building these films are visual and emotional roller coaster rides that scare the daylights out of us, give us the good example of the protagonists who follow a moral code even in the face of great danger, and the horrible warnings of the characters who do not.

They also provide perspective. Being late for work because of a traffic jam or facing yet another April 15th tax season certainly isn’t as bad as being on the menu of a 50 foot ant or knowing your job is irrelevant because the city is about to: blow up, freeze over, or be incinerated. When you wake up to a city that is not overrun with zombies it’s not hard to face even Monday with a smile.

Disaster movies generally follow a certain formula – meet an ensemble cast of characters you learn to like, then watch as they face obstacles created by: monster, disease, natural event, etc. and wait breathlessly wondering who will make it to the credit roll. The challenges bring out the best and worst in people – some you expect, some you don’t. There are elements of humor and romance, LOTS of suspense and usually plenty of special effects. And there is not usually a lot of surprise in them once you have twigged to the familiar scenarios. But for me that is OK – it’s like the path of a favorite thrill ride.

However, there is one fairly recent theme phenomenon I have noticed cropping up of late with a handful of movies and I thoroughly approve of the addition.

SPOILERS – THOUGH I WILL TRY TO REFRAIN FROM GIVING AWAY WHO DOES AND DOES NOT SURVIVE.

Over the weekend, on our 33rd wedding anniversary trip Bryan and I went to go see San Andreas, the new earth shaker flick. The main protagonist, Ray (Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson) is a divorced emergency responder. Ray is on good terms with his ex – Emma (Carla Gugino) but is freshly coping with her having a new – and rich – boyfriend.

(Quick quiz – Gugino has a habit of playing stressed out moms in weird situations. She was the mater in a trilogy of rather spoofy espionage films about a husband and wife facing outrageous life threatening situations with their kids. Answer below).

Disaster happens and in the course of Ray’s endeavors to rescue his wife and teenaged daughter, he pretty much shows up his rival to re-win the respect of his child and the affections of his wife……. and I suddenly thought –  hold on —– this scenario sounds AWFULLY familiar. Didn’t John Cusack do the same thing as a limo driver in 2012? In 2012 Cusack’s character gets advance notice of the coming Mayan-predicted end of the world so grabs wife, children and wife’s boyfriend to adventure out into a struggle against the obstacles between them and survival. Cusack ends up re-winning the affections of his ex-wife ……..and —– wait a minute – in Independence Day Jeff Goldblum realizes the visiting aliens aren’t ET so grabs his wife and her boss – who just happens to be the President of the United States (who is NOT a boyfriend, but her boss, though Goldblum’s character at one time THOUGHT they were involved so it counts) and together manage to rescue the world, and in the process re-wins the affections of his wife and ……….wait just a second!!! In Jurassic Park III William Macy and Tia Leoni are estranged. She has a boyfriend who is conveniently dispatched early (not much of a spoiler because we barely meet him in the beginning of the movie before he gets eaten). Together they go to outrace and out smart dinosaurs to rescue their son who is stuck on one of these dinosaur islands and before the movie is done they —- reconcile. Is there a pattern to be detected here?

This dovetails nicely with a two part post I’m working on which is  coming up soon, near Father’s Day. But suffice to say that Hollywood, for all its inherent contempt for traditional families, seems to understand the life affirming fundamentally satisfying solidity of the traditional family structure.

There is an analogy here for all of us. Many families work, struggle, love and thrive with single parents, children of broken homes, and of homes headed by widows and widowers. There is great nobility in these homes because they are operating at a huge disadvantage. These four blockbuster movies reflect in concentrated microcosm the difficulties of daily living. I may not be leaping in front of an ultrasaurus or racing ahead of a 1000 foot tidal wave or blowing up a 6 mile wide meteor but as families we all face obstacles that seem potentially world shattering. These movies touch on our core instinct that understands the strongest template for protection, for success and for survival is the mom plus dad plus kids. There is something basic in our nature that recognizes almost anything can be accomplished, any obstacle overcome, any challenges can be broken by a mom and dad fighting for their children. While not all of us have the blessings of that armor, it is a structure we can teach our children to strive towards for their own protection and the protection of their own families against the tidal waves, the dinosaurs, and the natural disasters to come.

Answer – Spy Kids, Island of Lost Dreams, and Game Over

6-10-15

Should You Trust Me?

Of course not!! When evaluating anything for your own children you should review it first hand! Even within our own close knit family, opinions differ on what is and/or would be appropriate for one’s children.

Let me tell you a story. Full disclosure here. When my oldest daughter was going on a date with her, then boyfriend, now husband, I made the grand mistake of suggesting a movie I had not seen. They were both in their twenties, almost graduated from college. I was making the recommendation based upon the director and a trailer and thought – they’re big people, this group makes fun movies, what could be the harm? It was their first movie together. And let’s just say it was —– memorable. Neither of them would consider themselves prudish but the movie was so filled with raunchy sexual humor that even they were embarrassed. I was, of course, horrified and am still needled about this poor choice to this day. I won’t tell you the name because I don’t want to give it ANY kind of endorsement, even from curiosity or some kind of reverse psychology. Suffice it to say — don’t assume every movie will be good even from a director/writer whose work you have seen before.

So – moral to the story — when I suggest something, while I can assure you, I HAVE seen it, before passing along the recommendation or showing it to your children, YOU SHOULD SEE IT FIRST!

My memory for films is quite good. Family members know better than to bet against me on movie trivia and my husband has only bested me ONCE in 37 years on ONE question, and I am kind of the family walking film encyclopedia. However, knowledge isn’t wisdom. I might forget or neglect to mention some detail that could be important to you. Or maybe I saw it BC – before children – or without the children and was not, at that time, being as attentive as I might otherwise have been about language or dialogue content. Or there could be something in the movie that could be a specific hot point for your family or for a particular child.

MINOR SPOILERS

For example, Poltergeist (the original 1982 one – haven’t seen the new version) has a really scary scene with a clown doll. In Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Ariel’s father, frightened for his daughter and angry she has been concealing trinkets from the world of people who killed his wife/her mother destroys a room with all of Ariel’s most precious possessions. In Lord of the Rings some of the Orcs EAT each other.

While every movie needs an antagonist – be it human or other – and family conflict often will move a plot along, you might not mind a roller coaster scare for a child, but you don’t want them up with nightmares for a week, or shunning a family member because of a movie they saw. And only you would know – or should know – what your child could/should watch.

So – trust me? No. Trust your own judgment. But even then, as President Reagan said – “Trust but verify”. And I hope these articles help give you the tools to do just that.

6-5-15