Tag Archive: Family Movie Night


This is a Kids Movie?

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

The other day my daughter and one of her girlfriends made a comment about some cute and cuddly creature they wanted to buy or own or simply possess.

When I asked “what happens if it gets wet?,” the girls looked at me as if they had no idea what I was talking about. Then I remembered that they had not grown up in the 80s and knew nothing about Gremlins.

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

How is it that these girls who have watched The Breakfast Club knew nothing about one of the biggest movies of that decade? Gremlins sparked a wild toy craze and a not-so-great-sequel several years later.

To me if a sequel takes more than two years to get from script to screen, there is something wrong. But that is another story for another day. In watching Gremlins, I came to realize I never watched the movie. When it originally came out, I was in college and too cool for a kid’s movie. I mean, there are puppets in it. I was not interested. It wasn’t until the other night that I saw it for the first time.

What Gremlins portrays and what it appears to be about are two different things.

The story starts with with an inventor father giving his son an early Christmas gift of a mogwai that he bought in a store in Chinatown. There are three simple rules for taking care of one of these creatures. Do not get them wet, do not feed them after midnight, and do not take them out into direct sunlight or even shine a bright light on them.

Billy, as portrayed sweetly by Zack Galligan, breaks the first rule inadvertently. The second rule is broken when his clock is stopped at 11:30 p.m., making him think he still has time to feed the critters.

What starts off as a cute movie about small town life and the meaning of the season, becomes something different. The send up to It’s A Wonderful Life turns into a parody of sorts to monster movies from the 50s and 60s. But these are deadly monsters. The town drunk and a science teacher are the first victims and their mischief reaches out to the rest of this small city until they finally come together at the movie theater.

GremlinsThis is a movie that’s strangely conflicted. I have heard it described as a kid’s movie but I would not show it to kids under the age of ten. There are too many elements, such as Phoebe Cate’s story about her father’s disappearance and the death of various gremlins, that are too adult in context. Nor is it a classic horror or monster movie that would appeal to older teens or adults because the mayhem is light weight in comparison to the standards of even 80s horror and monster movies.

Can you have a cutesy monster movie? I guess this movie would be the proof. If I was to share it with anyone, I guess it would be with tween kids and those who do not really like the full-on gore of most monster movies. However, if I never see it again, I am pretty much okay with that, too.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Halloween This Way Comes

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Halloween approaches.

For whatever reasons, summer has left us all too early and fall barely started before becoming colder than desired.

I love fall weather. I like being able to run around in a tee-shirt and a sweater. Because my body temperature tends to run high, I love that time of year when a jacket is all you need to get by. I even love it when my car is hotter on the inside and I am taking off my jacket because it is too warm.

It seems almost impossible that just a week ago it was so warm that I was running around in shorts. I tried to do it on Monday and Tuesday but already the temperature dipped lower than was comfortable. Somehow it makes all of the Halloween decorations I see up throughout town all that more appropriate. Of course, there are pumpkins and cornstalks all over, left from Pumpkin Fest. Left over scarecrows have moved from the light posts of Station Street to the front yards. But more and more skeletons are creeping out of the closets and storerooms. Purple and orange lights brighten the early evening.

Notice the flying bats

Notice the flying bats

It is too early for carved jack-o-lanterns from real pumpkins. I hear if you wash a carved pumpkin with a bleach/water solution or cover the insides with vaseline, the pumpkin will last longer. I am almost willing to try it out.

What I am noticing is an influx of scary movies. But at my house, the most watched horror program is American Horror Story which can be seen on the FX channel. Each season has a different premise, a different storyline. The first season focused n a family that moves into a restored mansion. They slowly discover that the house is haunted by anyone who has ever died there. But what they do not realize is that almost everyone they have contact with in that house is a ghost.

American Horror Story

American Horror Story – First Season from blastr.com

The second season is set in an insane asylum where evil lurks within the heart of nearly every person who works there. The third season followed a girls’ school that is meant for witches while the fourth season takes us to a freak show.

I catch glimpses of the show, partially because I am not a horror genre fan. But what I see are wonderful bits of acting and writing. The tension is palatable. My son says he likes the suspense of the show, that while you might be able to predict what is going to happen next it is the scenes after wards that are not so easy.

I have a friend who has grown attached to this show as well. She says it is addicting and before you know it, you have watched an entire season.

The thing is, this is a show for teens and adults. It is not meant for small kids and I do not allow my ten year old in the room if his older brother is in the middle of a show. The context as much as anything else feels more adult to me and not appropriate for a child in that tween age-range or younger.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

What’s Coming up?

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Did you tick everything off your summer bucket list?

Beach 2014We didn’t manage half of what we wanted to do although this past weekend we did the one thing I have been dreaming about. We went to the Indiana Dunes state park, sat on the beach, and played in the water. It was a wonderous sun-soaked time, one of the few days that felt truly warm enough to get out on the beach.

In a summer that has seemed less than sizzling, so has gone the summer movie season.

Beyond a few movies that were adaptations from Young Adult books that were meaningful explorations of emotion and identity, there were few movies this summer that made me say ‘yes, I have to see That!”

However, I do not feel the same way about the movies coming up in the fall.

One of the most interesting pictures coming out is Gone Girl starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike. Their marriage seems idyllic until she disappears on their fifth wedding anniversary.

The movie is based on the best selling suspense/thriller novel by Gillian Flynn and promises to be exciting and a possible Oscar contender.

Gone Girl with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike

Gone Girl with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike

The story is about a couple who move from New York to Missouri after a job loss. The husband took the last of his wife’s trust fund money to start a bar in his home town that succeeds and supports the couple as well as the husband’s sister. But when the wife turns up missing, the husband becomes the number one suspect, things begin to get complicated.

I am fascinated because not only is the life of this couple comes under the microscope, the husband gets extra hard scrutiny from the media. In this case, it is a Nancy Grace type who tends to judge the case first and let the facts speak towards her conclusion.

Excited? I know I am.

For my kids, the big movie that has them excited in The Hunger Games. This is the third movie in the series from the third book. Because so much material needs to be covered to make fans happy, the movie versions will break the third book in half so we get two movies to cover one book.

This time around, Katniss must find a way to bring Peeta home from the Capitol. Nor can she deny what must be her role in this revolution. She must become the mocking jay and appear to lead the fight against President Snow.

The next installment of The Hunger Games should be filled with explosions, excitement, and intrigue. I know I am excited to see it.

Finally, we will see the end of the Hobbit trilogy. Finally, we will find out if the dwarves get their mountain back and if the dragon does real damage to the lake village. We will find out if Bilbo gets back home. There is much to find out and the beauty part if that it will all look fantastic because that’s how Peter Jackson rolls.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Planet of the Apes

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

This week is going to be a blur.

I already know it because it is the start of 4H judging season. This past Monday was the food judging night. We prepared by making cookies, sweet rolls, and cheese muffins.

Wednesday is the clothing judging day. And then starts the race to get all of the rest of the projects done. Along the way some of our chosen projects will get pushed to the wayside. We did not get them done and therefore, it is not going to happen. I am not sure if that is better or worse than the year someone’s corn stalks were attacked by raccoons or when it was so dry there were not enough tomatoes to put on a plate.

To me that is OK because there is always next year. Maybe something was too much of a challenge for this year but next year it will make more sense or have more relevance. At least, that is what I am hoping.

Planet of the Apes - DawnThis past weekend saw the release of Dawn of The Planet of the Apes and it is a movie that is being called better than the 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It is very rare that a sequel is better than the original movie. The only other movies in my book like that are Toy Story 2 and Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Both movies continue the story in spectacular fashion while making their own compelling and watchable film.

Over the weekend, one of the cable stations ran the 2011 Planet of the Apes movie. As I watched with my son, I noticed that certain elements from the original Charleston Heston movie had to be retained. The line, the famous line of “Get your hands off of him, you damned dirty ape” was re-written but included when a hateful zoo keeper tortures Caesar for fun.

It is a long movie, set in San Fransico. James Franco plays Will, a scientist looking for a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease that plagues his father, John Lithgow. Caeser was born to an ape who was given a drug to help cure Alzheimer’s but it also made her smarter. Caeser inherits these abilities which become known after Will takes him home.

There is much, much more. But what I find most interesting of all is how the Apes develop. The back story involves a man-made virus. And the teens at my house felt that this was a reasonable concern. I told them that the original movie gave nuclear war as the explanation.

Planet of the Apes - RiseRemember the final scene when Heston comes upon the top of the Statue of Liberty on the beach? It is then that he realizes Man destroyed the planet somehow, that this is how the Apes came to take control. Funny how the explanation for what destroys life as we know it now comes in the final scene of the 2011 movie as well.

Both movies are compelling while dealing with our fears. Just as my generation feared nuclear destruction, it seems our children also fear a man-made tool of destruction. But this one is created in a lab.

Wondering who should watch this movie? I would go with tweens and older. I personally think parts of this movie is too long and drawn out to keep the attention of the younger kids. Some of the actions might be too violent for them as well.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

For the Love of Benedict

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Because I see so many movies, I am always surprised when I begin to see certain actors turn up again and again.

Sometimes it is because they are the flavor/the cutie of the moment. And sometimes it is because that actor is so good everyone wants to use them in every possible way.

The latest actor who seems to be everywhere is Benedict Cumberbatch. His most famous role is that of Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series, Sherlock. The Sherlock Holmes character seems to be enjoying a bit of revival with the Guy Ritchie movies, the BBC series starring Cumberbatch, and the CBS series starring Johnny Lee Miller. I have watched them all and appreciate the difference of each production.

With Cumberbatch’s performance, there is the usual high level of confidence in his knowledge about, well, everything. This Sherlock doesn’t suffer fools although he can be kind at times as well. What I love most about Cumberbatch’s performance is the insouciance he gives Sherlock. The way he is a petulant child despite his high intelligence.

Holmes is a bear to deal with in the best of circumstances but when he is without a case he is libel to start shooting a gun at the awful wallpaper of his flat. And once he gets a case, he happily steps on the coffee table to get to where he wants to go like a teenager making their way to the kitchen for food.

The thing is, as I watch all of the movies I meant to see last fall, I start noticing Cumberbatch in many of them. Last weekend, I watched August:Osage County starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.The story is about a family gathering together after the disappearance of the patriarch. Soon it becomes a funeral gathering. But it is a mean spirited one in which two women from an older generation feel the need to tear down their spouses and children at every turn.

Cumberbatch plays the son of the aunt who has fallen in love with one of his cousins. It is a brilliant performance in that he does not play a confident man or a smart one. Little Charles is simply trying to get through life and is happy he has found someone those little joys.

You could almost say the same about his performance as a plantation and slave owner in 12 Years a Slave. It is not that his character is suprememly smart or stupid. He is a man of his times in which you needed slaves to run a succesful plantation. His character might have some decency but not enough, not enough to stand up to those things he knows are wrong.

Finally, there is his character in Star Trek Into Darkness. Cumberbatch plays Khan with steely eyed fearsomeness. He is smart, crafty, willing to blame it all on anyone but himself. Fierce, loyal to his fellow creatures, and willing to double cross all because the means do justify the ends.

There are two other movies I have not seen yet that feature Cumberbatch. The first is The Fifth Estate about Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. The second movie is The Hobbit:The Desolation of Smaug in which Cumberbatch voices the dragon. I have them on my list of must-see movies because for Adults, Cumberbatch is always a great actor to watch.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

This has been one of the strangest springs in my lifetime.

The winter lasted so long that the buds on my dogwood tree never formed and, therefore, never bloomed. Come to think of it, I do not remember seeing Magnolia trees in bloom this year either.

The locust trees bloomed but it seemed like a very, very short time that they were out. Finally, last week, the Linden trees set out their flowers and the soft gardenia scent drifted through the air as I walked my puppy along our usual route. The smell lasted six days, maybe a week. It would make me stop in my tracks and look for the trees giving off the scent.

I am not sure how many of these trees exist in the parkways around town. All I know is that each year in the month of June, I truly appreciate them.

Fault in our StarsOne of the things that have been happening with our family is my girl’s need to see some movies that come from Young Adult literature.

A few weeks ago, she went with her friends to see The Fault in Our Stars starring Shailene Woodley. It is based on the book of the same name by John Green. I read it, loved it, and sanctioned her going. The story is about a girl with terminal cancer who meets and falls in love with a boy who lost his leg to cancer.

While the story takes some twists and turns that you don’t expect, there is one thing that you do expect: There is going to be a whole lot of crying. In fact, the girls told me virtually everyone in the theater was sniffling or weeping. There was no way to avoid it.

The group thought it was a great movie and really enjoyed it.

Then this past weekend, we watched The Perks of Being a Wallfower starring Emma Watson. This is a story about a freshman boy who is bullied and teased in high school because he is smart. But then he finds a group. It starts with Patrick in his shop class. Then Charlie meets Patrick’s step sister, Sam. Soon, he is in their group.

The perks of being a wallflowerAs we race to the end, there are teenage dramas and high school milestones. Couplings, divisions and re-groupings occur. But at the very end we learn a secret of what makes Charlie tick. It is devastating and yet the clues were there all along. We didn’t quite connect them together.

It ended with me explaining how the story got “there,” pointing out the clues. The next day as we talked about the Wallflowers movie and the Fault in Our Stars movie, the girl made the comment that while she really liked the latter, it was the former that was the better movie.

When I pressed for an answer, the reply wasn’t ‘because.’ The reply was that Wallflowers was a richer and deeper movie. While Fault in Our Stars was a good movie, it wasn’t as good as the other one.

Which explains why I like the flowers of the Linden tree above all others. The scent is richer, denser, a little more complex. The hints of sadness make the moments of triumph all that much striking.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

The other night when I got home from a softball game with the daughter in tow, there was a sheet of paper on my porch table.

It was about our little Country Market, about the roof caving in, about how we should support the owners in their time of need.

That bit of light you see through the door is sky.

That bit of light you see through the door is sky.

It has been very strange to not have that market available. There have been dozens of times in which I have thought to myself that I need to go to the store and pick up this, that, and the other. My husband says he has done the same. Then we remember we cannot go into the store.

That ‘oh’ hangs in the air before the thud of realization.

A store like that makes a town. It was a big factor in our decision to move here. So whenever I am with people I ask “What do you know?” I ask “Are they going to re-open?”

The response for the first-timers are always shock and disbelief. That was my own reaction when I came home from work that Tuesday. One of my son’s friends was bunking on the futon because they were evacuated from their apartment.

But then we talk about what that little store means, how getting fresh meat and produce really matters. With the closing of that store, even if it is only for a short time, we are suddenly in a food desert. Dollar General might have limit choices of meat but fresh fruits and veggies are not there.

It is sad and frustrating. So my wishes and hopes are that Larry and Sandy decided to re-open, that any and all repair work goes smoothly. And that our little store re-opens soon so that  we can mix and mingle  once more while we buy our groceries as a community.

I thought about movies that focused on small businesses. The first that came to mind was Barbershop starring Ice Cube as a man who has inherited his father’s barbershop on the south side of Chicago. Ice Cube is able to cut hair and has about six other barbers cutting hair in their chairs.

Barber Shop starring Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Eve, Micheal Ealy, Anthony Anderson, Troy Garity, David Keith, Sean Patrick Thomas

Barber Shop starring Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Eve, Micheal Ealy, Anthony Anderson, Troy Garity, David Keith, Sean Patrick Thomas

But this is not what he wants to do with his life. Once he can get rid of the barbershop, this man knows he can find a better way to support his wife and expected child. Trying to get rid of his father’s shop is an ordeal until a local ‘business’ man makes an offer. When Ice Cube learns of the new direction for the old barbershop, he feels regret. He looks around and realizes why a simple business like this old shop is so important to the community.

Is this a movie for the younger members of the family? I would say no. It moves too slowly without enough chases scenes, explosions, or fights to keep their attention. Plus, there are some language issues that make me a little embarrassed, let alone a child under 13. I am not sure if kids over 13 will like it because of the adult issues of owning a business but not loving it. There is a sub plot about stupid crooks involving Anthony Anderson but the language these guys use is not appropriate for younger children.

That said, I do enjoy this movie as an adult. I love the interaction of the staff at the barbershop, I find the theft storyline funny, and I love how Ice Cube underplays a role he could have hammed it up. Instead, he let the story play itself out and that is what I love about this movie.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

The Great Gob Smack

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Today I am going to share the big secret I rediscovered in the last few weeks. Every now and again this one has to smack me upside the head. But every time it does, I swear I have the same shocked reaction.

Time moves on, kids grow up, and I keep getting older.

It hit me seeing pictures of Mallory Boomsma’s wedding from a few weeks back. Our family know Mallory from 4H and I remember when she loved to hold the new baby in our house. That baby is now 13-years-old and doing the same as Mallory. She loves to play with babies.

When did that happen? How did Mallory get old enough to marry and my girl old enough to be as Mallory was way back when? And why do I keep finding gray hairs mixed in my dark locks?

Well, this realization really smacked me in the face, again, when my youngest did not want to watch The Incredibles with me. There was a time when I could bring home the latest animation flick and be called a hero. Nights on the couch with popcorn was the norm and everyone was happy.

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

But when I brought home that movie recently, I got snarky comments and rolled eyes. A few days later, I brought home a Goosebumps movie and was a hero once more.

Except, I wasn’t going to watch that movie with them. I was not the least bit interested. This series is poorly made and watching PG horror flicks is not in my wheel house at all.

The pushing of Mom away with youngest child has started. Time is moving on.

Well, at least I can watch The Incredibles if I want and I do.

This is one of those movies that borders on perfection. It lands on my list of perfect movies because the characters mix well together, the angst/conflict is something all of us can relate to (have I settled in my day-to-day life as a grown-up), and the action scenes are, well, incredible.

The story is about how superheroes are put into hiding because of fear and financial damages. It is not easy to go into a 9-5 life when you are used to saving the day.

But that is what Bob and Helen (Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl) do with their three children in a nice quiet suburb of a large metropolitan area somewhere in the USA. A job loss and a potential new sideline throws the family, going through normal isolation issues, into something more serious, more dangerous and potentially bringing the family closer.

I love the dialogue of this movie, the way the family interacts and gives conflicting messages. I enjoy the active discussion about what makes people special and what makes us all ordinary. I love how, for once, the villain is done in by his own callous behavior. And the actions scenes really pump me up whether it is in a burning building or with a giant robot.

It is a movie that I will watch again. Until grand kids show up, I guess I am watching it alone.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

 

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

With Memorial Day weekend quickly approaching, I know many people have thoughts about picnics or backyard cook outs.

Old CemeterySome will hang flags from their porches or display small flags in their yards. Others will remember to visit cemeteries to visit with loved one or attend small town ceremonies.

I always think about my grandmother, Ruth Day Weinhold, and wish I could get myself together enough to visit her grave site in Wheatland Township in Will County. Not too far away is the old Methodist graveyard where my great-grandmother, Susan Grill Weinhold, is buried.

However, Memorial Day was not meant originally for visiting our dead but to remember the military members who fell through various various wars. The holiday was first approved in 1868 by Gen. John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic as a way to honor those killed in the Civil War. But as the years passed and other wars took more young men, the holiday’ meaning was expanded. Red poppy flowers are now sold so we do remember them.

And we should. No matter what you may think of these various war, the rightness or the wrongness of it all, we should remember the veterans and help out in whatever way we can. Some were drafted; in the last thirty years it has been voluntary service. That does not matter. What should matter is that these men and women get the support they need for medical services, to find work after their service is done, and to live as all of us want to do.

Flags of Our FathersI thought about movies this week that was fitting for this topic. What I kept going back to time and again was a double feature by Clint Eastwood. Flags of My Father and Letters from Iwo Jima show the Pacific theater from WWII from two points of view.

The former tells the story of the men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima that is shown in the iconic photograph. It delves into the stories of three of those men, how they came back to do war bond tours only to have to return to the Pacific. We find out how each man’s life ended as well.

The second movie tells the Japanese side from the viewpoint of a general who visited America in the 20s and a young soldier who wants to stay alive so he can return to his wife. The General writes beautiful letters to his family but the heartbreak is there. He knows he will not be returning. The young man works to stay alive and eventually finds himself with the General.

Letters From Iwo JimaNeither movie shies away from the difficulties of war, neither is afraid to show how a man might loses his bearings and turn to alcohol to numb the pain or commit atrocious acts out of stressful frustration. Eastwood imbues each movie with a certain amount of grace and truth that stands up to repeat viewings. That is the sign of a brilliant director in my mind.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

 

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Starting earlier this year with the release of Son of God, it is being said that 2014 is the year of the biblical movie.

Just looking at a list of movies shows that there are at least four major motion pictures with biblical or faith-based themes to them.

Last week, an independent movie called God’s Not Dead starring Kevin Sorbo was released. The story is about a college student who feels pressured to give up his faith by an atheist professor. Instead of giving in, that kid played by Shane Harper (Spencer from Good Luck, Charlie), chooses to defend his beliefs and does so scientifically.

While the critics have not been kind, I am interested in seeing this movie. I want to see how they portray the conflict and how our main character, Josh, is able to defend his beliefs.

NoahThis week, the big production of Noah makes it to the big screen. Russell Crowe stars as the man who is given the task to build a boat that will save his family and many of the creatures of the earth. I became excited about the movie after watching several trailers showing water rushing down and the very human story of all those people being left behind.

It has been reported that the word “God” is not used in this movie. Instead other names are used, which actually is appropriate considering this is a story from a Jewish standpoint. In the Jewish tradition, you do not call “God” by his name because that word is so powerful. “Yaweh” is a more common term that is allowable. I also read that the director, Darren Aronofsky, has been wanting to make this film for years but it took his great success with Black Swan to make that possible.

In April, Heaven is For Real comes to the big screen starring Greg Kinnear as the father of a young boy who states he saw Jesus when the boy was very sick with appendicitis. Adapted from the book of the same title, I expect a very gentle telling of this story. I find Greg Kinnear can be very subtle and engaging, he is able to tell a story well. I wonder how they will deal with various parts of the book that show a family in crisis as well as the moments of joy.

This fall, Nicholas Cage stars in the remake of Left Behind. I wonder what kind of performance he will give knowing how intense this actor can be. Finally, we will go through Exodus starring Christian Bale (Batman series) as Moses and Ridley Scott in the director’s chair in the month of December.

Kelly Riley, Connor Corum, and Greg Kinnear in Heaven is For Real

Kelly Riley, Connor Corum, and Greg Kinnear in Heaven is For Real

What some might say is that Hollywood realizes there is some good money to be made by playing to Christian believers. But I believe these movies do not get made unless producers believe they will actually get their money back.

I also believe that there are people hungry for movies about faith and belief. Otherwise a movie such as Heaven is For Real may have never seen the light of day. Noah and Exodus are made for the spectacle they create. But movies like Heaven are made for us normal people to ponder.

Until next week, see you in the Rental Aisle.

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