Finding Dory: I Can’t Sit Through It Again

This is not a review.

I don’t think there are any spoilers here. But if you really need to go in blind, come back and read after you’ve seen the film. I know I’m in the minority. Everyone loves a Disney flick, and so do I. Monsters, Inc? Yes, please. The Emperor’s New Groove? I’ll have an extra helping with a side of Yzma (but hold the Kronk’s New Groove).

The best Disney movie ever made. Eartha Kitts at her most hilarious.

The best Disney movie ever made. Eartha Kitts at her most hilarious.

I even loved Finding Nemo. It came out when the Padawan was just a toddler, and he had already set his sights on becoming a marine biologist.

We went to see Finding Dory on Father’s Day, even though Disney has a history of offing parents in terrible and creative ways. We figure with both of us as parents, we’ll be paying for our kids’ therapy anyway, so why not? We even took Squish. It was his next-to-first movie. We even bought popcorn with free refills. We were ready for adventure. And then the picture rolled.

Fifteen minutes into the film, I didn’t want to watch it anymore. If you’ve never seen either movie, let me catch you up. Dory is a fish who suffers from short-term memory loss. Notice I didn’t say she’s a fish *with* short-term memory loss. She suffers. It is painful, not just for her, but for all of us.

She's adorable. And heartbreakingly apologetic. Photo source: USA Today

She’s adorable. And heartbreakingly apologetic. Photo source: USA Today

The movie contains a number of scenes that flash back to Dory’s babyhood. We get to see baby Dory and her Mom and Dad as they coach her on how to help a cruel world understand her. “My name is Dory, and I have short-term remembery loss.” Isn’t that cute? Maybe it should have been, but it wasn’t. Instead of a little baby fish with big, violet eyes, I see my son.

No, he hasn't been drinking blood. He has a cherry slushie.

No, he hasn’t been drinking blood. He has a cherry slushie.

What broke my heart more? Was it the look on baby Dory’s face each time she realized she was different, somehow lacking in an essential element? Was it her abject apologies to her parents when she failed to remember, when her disability caused her to stumble? Did I imagine the heartsick expressions on her parents’ faces when they reassured her that she hadn’t done anything wrong? I don’t know. I just know I felt exhausted, and I wanted to cry. For Dory, for her parents, for myself.

Instead of feeling hopeful at what was supposed to be an adorable story, I was inexplicably angry, and I wanted the movie to stop. I wanted Disney to quit exploiting this child, to quit showing me over and over and over again how different she is and how painful that difference is for her.

Dory slips away from her parents, something we know has to happen in order to move the story forward, for there to have been a Finding Nemo in the first place. But what was the real story? So many questions bubbled in my brain.

Were Dory’s parents  ever hopeful that one day their child would live a successful life on her own?

What is their internal dialogue each time they reassure her that she is just fine? Do they cry on the inside because they foresee how difficult her life is going to be?

Did they keep her away from the other little fish for her safety, or was it because they were afraid the other fish wouldn’t understand her and would be treat her badly?

How many times did they cry because another fish was cruel to her?

Did Dory understand her parents’ heartache and anger when she was bullied? 

Did being pushed around bother her, or was she, like Squish, completely oblivious?

Did Dory ever have supervised play time with hand-picked small fry so that she could learn how to interact with others, or was she isolated?

Had Dory’s parents planned to have only one child, or were all their resources, both financial and emotional, tied up in Dory?

They knew she had trouble remembering. Why did they ever leave her alone? Why was there no alarm on the door?

Had Dory made enough progress that they genuinely thought she would be able to remember the rules for keeping herself safe?

Were they just so worn down from constant vigilance that they let down their guard?

In the movie, Dory’s parents are always seen together. If they had maybe tag-teamed and taken shifts, would they have had more energy for supervising her? Would their marriage have suffered as a result?

And most importantly, if Dory’s parents couldn’t do it, can I?

 

 

The One In Which I Realize We are Doomed as a Society

The Girl-child and I went to the movies last week. We bought our tickets for Pass the Light. Given the movie’s premise, we expected to leave the theater full of hope and with spirits lifted. How wrong we were.

I don’t mind shelling out for a quality picture, and therein lies the rub. Hollywood and I don’t often see eye-to-eye on what constitutes quality. The Imitation Game? High quality. Noah? Not. So. Much. And of course now producers are really into remakes because they’re all out of ideas. If they’re going to make imitations of great movies, I should be able to print my own imitation money to pay for the ticket, right?

If I'm going to make my own money, I'm going to put my own image on it. Still rockin' the track suit.

If I’m going to make my own money, I’m going to put my own image on it. Still rockin’ the track suit.

I know. I’m not turning into my mom. That ship has sailed. I’m turning straight into my grandma. Let me just seal that particular deal by saying “Movies today? They’re all sex, sex, sex, and blowing people up! In MY day, producers knew how to make good movies, movies that make you think!”

After our movie trip, I firmly believe that society as a whole is going to hell in a handbasket. Producers will show anything to make a quick buck. There is no modesty anymore. The most intimate moments are broadcast for everyone to see. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, is left to the imagination. I cannot believe people want to see this stuff! We are quickly becoming desensitized, and the definition of what is appropriate is being rewritten at frightening speed. I left the theater horrified, uncomfortable, disillusioned. Because of the pre-move commercials.

I do not want to live in a world that thinks it is even a little bit okay to advertise something like this *** (click to enlarge):

Here's a hint. If it's sold at Skymall, it probably needs to be kept a secret.

Here’s a hint. If it’s sold at Skymall, it probably needs to be kept a secret.

I know that *ahem* personal products like this exist, just like I know things like tax auditors and  boy bands exist. That doesn’t mean I want them shoved in my face. Some things are best kept to ourselves.

I was okay with the product itself. It was the demonstration that gave me the screaming willies. Beautiful model? Check. Pumice sander? Check. Closeup of the bits of beautiful model’s feel sanded off in a floating cloud of skin particles? CHECK!

MY EYES! MY POOR, POOR EYES! Why did anyone think it was advisable to be so graphic? It didn’t used to be that way. Anybody remember the good old days, back when commercials promoting maxi pads were careful to use only blue liquid in their demos? Can we not leave something to the imagination? I believe I speak for everyone when I say “Get off my lawn, you darned kids!”

I have comprised a list of things that should never be demonstrated. Ever. This list is in no way comprehensive.

  • any product that trims hair from anywhere on the human body
  • pooper scoopers
  • bogie removers
  • nail clippers
  • adult diapers
  • toilet plungers
  • bikini wax systems
  • cat litter
  • Cabbage Patch dolls (Just me, then? Fine. Whatever.)

Where does the over-sharing stop? Some things are just meant to be kept private.

***this was not the exact product. Sadly, there are more than a few out there. I cannot remember the name of the one advertised, which indicates an advertising fail on a whole different level, doesn’t it?

What gives you the heebie-jeebies?

The Benefit of Second-hand Smoke, Part 2

When last we met, my husband and I had gone to see a real movie in a real movie theater, a movie theater that quickly filled with cigarette smoke. I know. I didn’t believe it, either.

Warning. Spoilers abound. Skip to the next bold print if you need to.

I introduced you to the marvelously stupid rock-Transformers, otherwise known as the Watchers. Remember them from Sunday School? Nah, me neither.

Yeah. The Watchers were fallen angels (the Nephilim in the Old Testament. But instead of marrying the daughters of men, these guys helped build the ark. I know. And they looked pretty much like this, give or take a leg or two.

Yeah. The Watchers were fallen angels (the Nephilim in the Old Testament. But instead of marrying the daughters of men, these guys helped build the ark. I know. And they looked pretty much like this, give or take a leg or two.

 

Originally, I thought it was a period piece. I was kind of right. It’s bloated and made me scream a lot.

I don’t know what the message was supposed to be. Was it a fitness movie? There was a lot of running. Or maybe it was about hugging? There was a lot of hugging, too.

It wasn’t about the ark. In reality, it took years. In the movie, it was built in a two-minute montage with the aid of a magic seed and the rock-Transformers. It wasn’t so much about his adventure with the animals, either. They were glossed over, arriving in an amorphous mass and appearing to be generally the same species. Has the director only seen two kinds of snakes in his life? And the moment they arrive, he tucks them neatly away by putting them to sleep with the help of special happy smoke so they don’t eat each other or him during their time on the ark. (But if they wake up with the munchies, he pretty much defeated his own purpose, right?). So they’re going to sleep for the next year.

I think the movie’s biggest failure is that the director forgot he was making a movie that was based on a book – a book that maybe a few billion people have read. It’s a huge risk. There are a couple of ways to pull it off successfully. A director needs to think so far outside of the box that it hits viewers right over the head and they know to expect the unexpected. “Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?” comes to mind. It’s a genius retelling of the Odyssey, and one of my favorite movies. I get a lot of satisfaction finding the elements that tie it to the original story. The other way is to stick pretty darned close to canon. This director does neither. Big mistake.

I know Aronofsky is an atheist. I don’t think he had to believe in God the Creator in order for the film to work. Sadly, though, he did not believe in God the character, either. He commits the cardinal sin for writers everywhere. He tells instead of shows. Rather than hearing God’s voice and hearing the message right along with Noah, we are treated to a dream in which Russell Crowe spends ten seconds underwater. The moment he wakes up, he’s all “The Creator said I gotta build this big boat and we’re all gonna die!” Really? That’s what you got from that dream, Noah? Right. Last night, I dreamed my dog Phoebe ate my wallet and turned into a jackalope. So I’m pretty sure that means God wants me to buy a wardrobe of pink hot pants, strap on some rollerblades, and run for President. That leap was weak at best, lazy at worst.

The problem with taking God out of the story is that without Him, Noah’s motivations become muddied. In the first hour, Noah isn’t shown in any act of worship, he just seems to have a general idea about what’s right. It reminds me of the phase of my life when I went to church on Easter because I had this vague notion that’s what I was supposed to do. Would someone with that level of devotion believe they were being told to build a giant boat? And would they obey? Doubtful. Maybe he would build the boat out of self-preservation, but then how do you work killing his grandbabies into it? Suddenly the film makes no sense. There’s no believable catalyst.

Imagine The Lord of the Rings with no Gandalf. Frodo just tells us he met this old guy who said he was supposed to hike 1500 miles and dump a ring into a volcano. Would we buy it? Probably not. We needed to see Gandalf, to experience his terror  first-hand. Only then can we swallow the premise of Frodo’s perilous journey. And we do, hook, like, and Slinker/Stinker.

Maybe it was about vegetarianism? The bad guys were first labeled to us as bad guys because … wait for it… they ate meat. Killing animals is wrong, wrong, wrong. Forget that (in the Bible) God actually instructed man to make animal sacrifices and that Noah was to bring seven pairs each of the sacrificial animals.  Or that in the story of Cain and Abel, the murderer was the veggie-raiser, not the shepherd.

Oh, wait. I did say I would bold a section to let the spoiler-haters know when to tag back in. Here you go!

It was a mess of a film with everything and nothing going on at once. I know it was directed by an atheist. That doesn’t bother me. It could still have been a thought-provoking and engaging film without the religious aspect. But when the intent is to remove the religion from a religious story, it needs to be replaced with something else equally compelling and profound, more than just “eating meat makes you the devil.”

I can live with poor movie making, lazy plot and silly CGI, though. The deal breaker, what prompted us to get up and walk out of the theater, was the over-the-top violence that partially involved over-the-top cruelty to animals. When I buy a ticket for a movie rated PG-13, I should feel comfortable in knowing I am not about to be subjected to animals screaming while they are ripped apart  or have to watch them try to get away after their body is mangled. PG-13, huh? Is that the kind of thing you want your 13-year-old desensitized to? I don’t. When the violence is taken to that level, the film needs to be slapped with a big, fat R. It’s not a kid’s movie. It’s not a teenager’s move, either, in my opinion.

Was Aronofsky thumbing his nose at believers? “Here’s what I did to a favorite religious story! Neener-neener!” I don’t know. Maybe. But it reminds me of the time in an act of supreme defiance, one of my toddler children peed on the dog. Yes, the kid made their point and I had a bit of a mess to clean up, but the kid was the one who stooped to peeing on the dog. Which of us had the bigger problem? So Darren, dude, I hate to be the one to tell you, but you just peed on the dog.

So we walked out. And thanks to the smoker, we had a good enough reason to get our money back. Because that’s what we did. We could have gotten return tickets to come back when Smoky Joe wasn’t there anymore, but we didn’t. We got the refund. Because life is too short to sit through a pointless picture.

 

The Benefit of Second-hand Smoke

My husband and I decided to treat ourselves to a movie. Like, in a theater. I found one I wanted to see, and off we went.

About two minutes into the film, husband and I looked at each other and said “Is someone smoking?” And the answer was yes. Smoking. In a movie theater. The audience collectively waited for the miscreant to put the thing out. We couldn’t see the culprit, but it was pretty obvious to everyone that they were there. (Let me interject right here that I am not a “condemn smokers to hell” kind of gal. I am, however, asthmatic. And seriously. Smoking? In a movie theater? C’mon, kids!) It was like hanging out in a bar.

Don't smoke in the theater. Angry usher will get you! Or bring you pizza. Whatevs.

Don’t smoke in the theater. Angry usher will get you! Or bring you pizza. Whatevs.

One person left the theater and returned with an usher. She could not find the source of the smoke. My money was on the kid who said “F- you” repeatedly when she came up the steps toward him, but I am no Sherlock Holmes. Instead of ousting him, she brought him a pizza. No, I am not kidding. She did get another usher, however. The two of them scoured the place with no luck. After another complaint, a manager was brought in. She could smell the general direction the smoke was coming from, but she couldn’t catch anybody. Finally, we moved seats hoping that we could at least get away from the worst of it. After an hour, we left the theater and got our money back, and as we left, an officer of the law came in to try to sort it out.

My husband and I will be ever grateful to the individual who decided to flaunt social graces and light up illegally. In doing so, they saved us from perhaps the worst movie I have ever seen. And I even watched Dodgeball. Accidentally. The drama in the theater itself was more compelling than the action on screen. Yeah, I’m talking about Noah.

GIANT SPOILER ALERT. I know. You’ve already read the Bible story, so you know what happens. Trust me when I say you don’t.

I knew next to nothing about this movie going in, except that it was a retelling of the story of Noah’s Ark. And it starred Gladiator and Hermione Granger. And Hannibal Lechter as Grandpa. What else do you need to know, really?

So a few minutes in, I began to question the authenticity of the piece. The wheel hadn’t been invented yet, but we are shown a mine with some kind of wind-driven machinery. Okay, then. So it’s fantasy? I can live with that. Then the rock-Transformers show up.

Yeah. The Watchers were fallen angels (the Nephilim in the Old Testament. But instead of marrying the daughters of men, these guys helped build the ark. I know. And they looked pretty much like this, give or take a leg or two.

Yeah.So.  The Watchers. They looked pretty much like this, give or take a leg or two.

The Watchers were fallen angels. And boy did they fall far. Instead of looking all glam and naughty-angel-like, they looked like walking charcoal briquettes. Except they didn’t burn. And they could totally kick human tail, except for when they couldn’t. I don’t know. It didn’t make sense to me, either. There currently aren’t any images of them available because they’re pretty hilarious. Shh. They’re top secret.

This post became entirely too long and cumbersome for one sitting. Stay tuned tomorrow for the conclusion of “Why This Movie Was a Real Waste of Time.”

Have you seen it? Did the rock-Transformers make you giggle?

Is Everything REALLY Awesome? A Lego Movie Review

I have mixed feelings about my kids’ addictions to Lego bricks. I do love their educational value. The Padawan saves his money to buy sets that he likes, the more complicated, the better. He learned the value of following directions, and also not to pour all thousand pieces out on the table at once. Those who accuse sets of stifling a child’s creativity have never seen a ten year old redesign a space ship to give it more playability and durability. We have loose bricks, too. Very loose, under foot, even. I don’t mind. The boys love them, and they’ll spend hours building and creating. And we’re all hooked on the Mystery Mini Figures.

I hate the rampant commercialism. We went to a Lego Discovery Center a couple of summers ago. We’ll never go back. I looked into purchasing the Minecraft sets at Christmas. 469 micro bricks for a mere $35. Micro bricks. For $35, I can purchase a Lego set that is all of 3x3x3. Inches. $35 and Squish could hold the whole thing in his hand. No. Thanks.

When the Lego Movie was first advertised, I knew I would be dragged to see it. It’s PG, and ever since “Horton Hears a Who” introduced Squish to some fabulous new words, I’ve had a strict policy of prescreening anything rated higher than G. Last Sunday, I got up a wild hair to treat the Padawan to a movie, sans little brother.

I didn’t tell him where we were going, just that we had an appointment at 1:30. My secret scheme was almost blown at lunch when he said “I want to go see the new Lego movie.” I played it off by asking him if the movie was even out yet. Clever me. He had no clue about our destination until we stepped up to the ticket window. Apparently, he thought I had found him a therapist (I don’t even…), or maybe we had an appointment for a massage. Yes, that sounds like me.

We went full works. Popcorn, sodas so big we’d be peeing Pepsi for a week, enough candy to guarantee illness. It was a perfect set up.

Long story short, I knew I would hate it. I was wrong. I left the theater thinking that Lego Group deserves every penny they make on this film. It was delightful. The cast is star-studded. George Takei, anyone? There’s action, there are celebrities bringing back beloved roles (no spoilers here, folks), there’s earworm that I am still singing.

There’s plot, there’s silliness, and best of all, the Padawan and I both loved it, but neither of us felt compelled to go out and purchase any of the affiliated items. The sets they’ve come out with to go with the movie tend to be a mish-mash of bricks with limited use, and even some pink Duplo style blocks. They’re in keeping with the plot of the movie, but they all look like something a kid could make themselves. We will collect some of the mini figures, but we do that anyway.

I recommend the movie for ages 7 and up. There’s (surprisingly) nothing inappropriate that I could see (and you’d better believe I was looking). There are no snarky kids, no graphic anything,although a few characters are mistreated, and an important plot point is the main character’s friendlessness. The one thing that would make me hesitant to show it to Squish is the plethora of “butt” jokes. I don’t like that word. But that was the only thing. The only thing.

The reason I don’t recommend the movie for younger children is because it is plot-driven, not so much action-driven. There is action, to be sure, but without understanding some intricacies of plot and dialog, there are not enough explosions and car chases to keep many younger children engaged. I know. The theater was full of them, and they got kind of wiggly. My suggestion for those whose little ones are dying to see it is to wait for the DVD. Then buy it. And watch it until your ears fall off. Because they will. Everything is awesome.

The Padawan hasn't had the best luck with Mystery figures. Most of the ones he got at Christmas were girls. But I covet that chihuahua, don't you?

The Padawan hasn’t had the best luck with Mystery figures. Most of the ones he got at Christmas were girls. But I covet that chihuahua, don’t you?

Peter Jackson Didn’t Ruin My Birthday

I decided that I was going to have the best birthday ever. After the dog peed in the floor, and yet another Hallmark ornament broke the first time it was out of the box, I made my decision. I get one birthday a year, and I can either enjoy it, or let it be ruined by small things. I opted to make it the best birthday ever, and it was.

I subbed for middle school, and one of my friends there made me brownies and gave me a t-shirt with a stinkbug on it. I got cards, some of them handmade, and lots and lots of hugs. And then I went home to a giant death-by-chocolate birthday cake with whipped icing so thick that the flames the candles were flush with the icing, and four new CDs. Who could ask for more? And then my husband sprung it on me. He wanted to take me to a movie.

“Which one?” I asked hesitantly, knowing the answer.

The Hobbit. Or Thor. Or The Hobbit. I thought you might like to see The Hobbit.” Because I enjoyed the last one so much.

“What if we stay home and you throw rocks at me and tell me all the many and varied reasons reasons you hate my dog? It would make me feel about the same and cost less.”

“I thought you’d really want to go see The Hobbit! And if you do, I will find a theater that isn’t sold out.”

“What did I ever do to you?”

In the end, he was just so persistent cute that I caved. The theater we chose had two showings. We expected to have to go to the later one, but there were lots of tickets left. Everyone else was clearly as excited about this flick as I was. We couldn’t have asked for better seats, unless those seats were in a theater playing just about anything else. I was determined, though, to open my mind enjoy myself. And I did.

Nothing could ruin the night. Not Azog the Mostly Fabricated chasing down elves and hobbits in his vengeful rage over something that never happened. Azog, buddy. Let’s talk about this for a minute. If you really look deep inside, I bet you know who you’re really mad at. It’s not Thorin Oakenshield. It’s Peter Jackson. Why don’t you do me a giant favor and tell him how that metal thing jammed into your arm makes you feel? It might help to clear the air.

Photo credit: lotr.wikia.com

Photo credit: lotr.wikia.com             Caption blame: yeah, that’s all me.

The cinematography couldn’t dampen my spirits. Even though most of the film was shot by a caffeinated toddler whose head was too heavy and kept tipping backward and whose favorite hobby is spinning in the grass until they puke. Had I seen the movie in 3D, I would have. I’ll save that particular joy for the third installment. The sound editing wasn’t all that great, either, and I’m pretty sure I could hear the cameraman over the music.

“Look! Taaaalllll building!”

“Twirlie bird! Wheeeeeee!”

“Oooh! Slavering jaws! Can I touch them? I think that Warg just ate my Beanie Baby.”

“Let’s zoom in real close so Legolas’ head is twenty feet tall and everyone can tell he looks ten years older than he will sixty years from now in Lord of the Rings! Elves are magic.”

Actually, I think there was good reason for those tight shots. Tom Hooper did that with Les Miserables last year to prove that there was no overdubbing. Jackson does it to prove that his actors can say their crummy lines with a straight face. I was impressed.

The cinematography was evocative, and if what Jackson was trying to evoke was *carsick*, he nailed it. Nailed it. Good job, Pete, and pass the Dramamine.

I thought it was great that Jackson let students work on the visual effects? What? No, I’m pretty sure he did. And I’m also fairly certain that they were elementary school students. I couldn’t tell Beorn from a warg, and my pea brain kept screaming “Green screen!” Or maybe I actually screamed it. People did keep throwing their popcorn at me.

I thought Peter Jackson’s choices for this film made a lot of sense. I mean, why wouldn’t orcs trash Mirkwood, and then show up in Laketown? And why wouldn’t Thorin leave half his party behind when he finally set off for the Lonely Mountain? It’s not like Dwarves care much for their kinfolk. They’re kind of loners, really. And of course Tauriel the Completely Made Up would work her healing magic on Kili. With his head in a bowl of nuts. Tree nuts probably have healing properties. I’m just glad he wasn’t allergic.

photo credit: static2hypable.com

They are the victims here, not us. Well, not only us.    photo credit: static2hypable.com

My husband and I argued a bit about which part of the movie was the best. If you’ve already seen it, maybe you can help us decide. Which was the best part  – the previews or the end credits? I know. It’s a tough call.

The movie was awful, but I had an amazing night. I learned that my husband and I are truly of one mind. We snickered inappropriately in all the same places, mimed puking on one another’s shoes, rolled our eyes in unison when Bofur delivered the cheesiest line in the history of motion pictures. And his rant on the way home was like a beautiful Hallmark card telling me we were meant to be together. What Peter Jackson has brought together, no man can put asunder.

Misery Loves A Little Company

Well, not misery so much as Les Miserables. Les Mis loves company. To the tune (see what I did there? Tune?  It’s a musical and all) of 600 people squashed into a theater the day after Christmas.

It’s our tradition. The girl-child and I go and see a movie on Christmas eve and leave the boys to fend for themselves. This year, though, the only movie she actually wanted to see opened on Christmas day. We went, but barely. By the time we got there, the line for the movie was out the door. As I stood waiting for the guy to ring up my tickets, he commented “I hope it doesn’t sell out before I can get this done.” Me, too, pal.

I know most of the people in the theater had already seen at least one stage production and probably owned a soundtrack or two, judging by their ability to sing along. Not me. I was a first timer, my experience limited to a reading of an abridged translation in the 8th grade. Or a speed-reading. Or a quick glance before the paper was due. I remember something about a sewer.

Anyway, I didn’t have a lot of preconceived ideas like I did for The Hobbit, or even actually remember what the thing was about. I knew there would be a little singing here and there, and no overdubbing or flying monkeys (don’t ask!). That’s all a body needs to know before seeing a film, really.

I can’t totally decide how I rate this movie. It’s either a 3 1/2 or 4 1/2 stars.

The music was incredible. Mind, my knowledge of the soundtrack is limited to Susan Boyle’s audition for Britain’s Got Talent, so I have little to compare it to, but I loved the music.

The singing was 75% really good, 15% spectacular, and 10% painful. Hugh Jackman’s first few songs made me want to crawl under my seat, but he did get better. Anne Hathaway was so good that I almost forgave her for being such a worm in Brokeback Mountain. Almost. And Amanda whats-her-face was stellar as Cosette.

The acting was superb. Every single actor committed to their performance in a way I’ve never quite experienced before. Maybe it had something to do with the powerful music.

So if I loved the music, the singing, and the acting, what’s left? Um, the cinematography. Dear heavens. I am praying that the film isn’t nominated for an academy award for cinematography because we do not want to encourage this kind of behavior.

I know the bouncy footage is supposed to make me feel like I’m there. It didn’t. It made me feel like someone had just handed the camera to their five year old nephew and told him that there was a Ninja Turtle around the corner. And some of the shots are retained in the movie because the actor nailed the song, but the cameraman didn’t. There were many shots that were totally out of focus, or focused on weird things. And not in an artsy kind of way. In one scene, the only parts of Marius’ face that were in focus were his right ear and his left cheek, and he was the only one in the shot. That was some cinematic magic right there. How they pulled that off, I will never know.

And what is with the tight shots? And I do mean tight. Close ups take on a whole new meaning here. Hugh Jackman’s head took up 2/3 of the movie screen. His Michael Landon/Pa Ingalls hairdo was a bit distracting at 20 feet tall.

A dramatic scene loses some of its impact when the actor has nasal leakage larger than the average preschooler hanging off their face. I didn’t weep over Fantine’s lost innocence because I was too concerned she was going to drop a snot-runner on my new purse. The people on the front row should have been issued umbrellas. How could I focus on Marius’ incredible voice when his Adam’s apple was the size of my dining room table?

The movie was haunting and beautiful in so many respects, but I don’t think I can watch it in a theater again. Given that a good 70% of the filming consisted of super-tight closeups, I think it will actually look better on my $10 yard sale television than it does on the big screen. It was off-putting enough to cost the movie a star in rating. I think. I can’t decide if the actors make up for the lousy camera work.

I would like to watch the movie a second time and a third, and a fourth (all on a smaller screen, of course), so I will likely buy it when it goes on sale, but I can’t see it in the theater. I can’t look up Russell Crowe’s nostrils again. I could see his brain.

An Unexpected Something

The Padawan and I have been reading The Hobbit together in anticipation of the movie’s release. Is there anything better than curling up on the couch under a blanket and sharing a delicious adventure with someone you love? I think not. We went last night to see the movie.

It was the Padawan’s first Opening Weekend, and we were both so excited! We’ve been looking forward to it for months. MONTHS! I’m a cheapskate by nature, but for this event I loosened the purse strings and bought the popcorn and the candy. And let the kid stay up hours past his bedtime. We were so ready to love this movie!

And we didn’t.

Howard Shore worked his magic with the score. Themes, both new and familiar, were exquisite. In this movie, we are treated to Shore’s interpretations of the songs that were so integral to Tolkien’s work. The soundtrack is a must-have. The deluxe edition, if you please.

The cinematography was simply gorgeous. Some shots were even more dramatic and lovely than the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The acting was stellar, the cast spot-on.

But without the story, all of the above are worthless. Peter Jackson took a beloved tale of high adventure and turned it into a bar-room brawl.

The characters were unrecognizable. The Bilbo Baggins I grew up with charmed me with his delightful manners, no matter how absurd the situation. I loved him so because, though a party of ravenous dwarves appeared on his doorstep and proceeded to empty his larder, he was ever so polite. Though confused by their demands for cakes and ale, he complied. These simple acts set the tone for the story, both courtly and romantic.

The character on screen last night was rude and selfish, a hobbit from the 21st century. In his heart, Tolkien’s Bilbo wanted the dwarves to leave him to his peace (and his food), but he would not dishonor his guests or his heritage by saying so. The 21st century Bilbo told them to give him back his tomatoes.

Jackson’s rough treatment wasn’t limited to Bilbo. Radagast the Brown was a wizard in my mind akin to St. Francis of Assisi. The person we were subjected to last night was a buffoon with bird turds plastering his hair.

The script was toyed with until it was no longer the story I love. Where there wasn’t enough excitement, Jackson interjected some trumped up drama, twisting the tale and its inhabitants into caricatures of themselves. And there’s falling. Entirely too much falling.

There is no room for graphic violence in Tolkien’s story, but Jackson fixes that. Where the book depicts clean kills, Jackson creates torture and brutality, a goblin king eviscerated in front of the audience, a pale goblin’s arm severed and spurting blood, later replaced by a claw skewered through the flesh of his upper arm.

This movie should never have been rated PG-13. I’d have given it a solid R, and I never would have taken my son. By comparison, many of the Harry Potter movies were rated PG-13. I let the Padawan watch them after he had read the books because those, at least, were fairly true to their original source. I no longer trust Peter Jackson.

My joy for today is the sweet innocence I rediscovered in my Padawan. I think of him as nearly a pre-teen. Last night, my little boy was returned to me, bouncing in his seat with childish enthusiasm and anticipation, reaching for my hand to cover his eyes in the scary parts, delighting in the enormous container of candy in his possession. I treasure last night, regardless of the quality of the movie.

Happy weekend!

Twilight : Breaking Dawn: Part 2: The Review

Oops, I did it again. I’ve just stumbled in at 1:30 in the morning after taking my sister to see Breaking Dawn,Part 2. My reasons are pretty much the same as the last time. I owe her big.  This time, I had the added bonus of taking one of my bestest friends in the entire world with us, too. We had big fun, the three of us, especially since the nice theater people have finally embraced the notion that their target audience is a wee bit older than they once thought and offered a 10pm showing. I love them for that.

I’ll cut to the chase. Because I am tired but also because I know you are on the edge of your seat waiting for the review and impressions of what will be one of the highest grossing films of the year. But mostly because I am tired. I apologize for any spoilers.

Yes, I bought a t-shirt. I won’t apologize.

The opening is beautiful. And clever. Pretty!

Wait…what? Why did she just…huh?

Ohhh, that’s what I’m talking about! Pow!

Ick! Take it away! That is just wrong! NO MORE!

What? Seriously? That was awkward.

Mmmm! Sweet Tarts! I love these things!

Ooooh, I like how they did that.

HAHAHAHAHAHA! That was great!

What? Why..?.wait…

My Junior Mints are melting.

Wow. That was cool.

Huh? Okay, I see why they did that, but…

Awww. That’s so sweet!

Ick. Creepy! Make is stop!

Oh, he’s pretty. And so is he. I like that!

Cool!

HAHAHAHAHA! Awww…

That was a lot of soda. I need to pee.

*sniff*

I really need to pee.

What…the…heck!

No way!

Nuh-uh!

You have got to be kidding me!

I want my money back.

That’s it, we’re going home!

Ohhhhhhh.

OH! Tee-hee! Good stuff!

I wish I had worn a diaper. I bet the restrooms are going to be packed. At least the ladies’ room will be.

Oh, that was well done.

Awwww….

Annnnnnd scene!

I do hope I didn’t spoil it for everyone.

A Day Late and a Dollar Short Movie Review: The Hulk

I did not love it. I am not even sure if it was The Hulk or just Hulk, and I don’t care enough to Google it, or even go downstairs and look at the DVD cover. The happy news is that I spent no money on it, since it was a free loan from my library. Unless I forget to return it today. Then it will cost me a buck, and that would be one dollar too many.

I didn’t hate Hulk, really. The story line was just okay. All the superhero movies get a little tedious as they give the back story on how said superhero acquired their powers, and this one was definitely no exception. There were some disturbing moments, and some of them seemed unnecessary. It was like Ang Lee couldn’t decide if this picture was going to be dark like Batman or not. I guess that was his goal because he was either going for dark and scary or flat and forgettable. Truthfully he vacillated between the two.

I wasn’t completely engaged in his version of the pre-monster story. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t read the comics, but I grew up on The Incredible Hulk TV show. I think David Banner may have been the first broken, brooding man I ever gave my heart to. And Lee’s version stomped all over my treasured memories. To add insult to injury, Lee didn’t even use the theme song, a tragic oversight if ever there was one.

The acting was, um, something. Yes, something. I know that Bruce Banner was supposed to be reserved, keeping all his emotions locked inside. Ham-handed dialog gave me that insight within the first 10 minutes. Apparently, all the other characters were, too, since they all offered the emotional depth of a popcorn carton. Maybe this was all as Lee intended, and short of hiring Kristen Stewart to play ALL the roles, this cast was the best he could come up with.

It sometimes seemed like Lee hadn’t actually read the script because all of a sudden, the dead-pan lead character is advised to “get ahold of that temper.” Temper? Really? I would give my life-size Severus Snape cutout (hey, sweetie! If you’re reading this, I’m getting one. That’s okay, right? I promise to keep him on my side of the bed!) to have a kid whose tantrums were pre-Hulk Bruce. I’ve had flip-flops with more emotional instability.

Anyway. The story wasn’t horrible. Except for the part about the mutated Poodle. Poodles are German, Lee, not French. Do your research! I’m not sure if scary poodle was supposed to be funny, or if it was supposed to take the sting out of Lee’s stereotypical use of Pit Bulls as vicious attack dogs. I was lost either way.

There were some very technically impressive, though not very interesting, scenes where Hulk bounds through the desert like a giant green bunny. There was also an extended shot of the backs of my eyelids. Or maybe fell asleep. I’m not fussed about it. I can pretty much fill in the blanks. Hulk bounces around. He smashes some stuff. He said “Puny human” once. Which made me ponder the frailty of human existence. Or not.

I asked my husband if Hulk killed the bad guy. He said “Um, I think so?” Which pretty much says it all. Will I see the others in the series? Only if Mark Ruffalo is actually in them. He nailed Hulk in Avengers. Would I recommend it to friends? Sure. Watch this movie if you have nothing better to do, like painting the dog’s toe nails or regrouting the bathroom.

Hulk bore puny human! ARRRR!