Family Movie Night

One of the great things about being a parent is all of the things we do with our kids.

Just this past weekend, we went to the RV and Boat Show at McCormick Place. There the kids climbed on boats, tramped through RV’s, and planned a life of camping as we looked at pop-ups.

Sara and Sam had fun jumping and running in a floating tube while David explored a Coast Guard boat. All of us marveled at beautiful wooden boats.

On Saturday, the kids insist we have a picnic outside while the weather was still warm. We watched the colder temperatures roll in with darker clouds but for that moment we ate our lunch outside. Who does that in January in a northern state?

Later that same day, I took in a movie with a girlfriend.

This was not a movie meant for small kids. And sometimes that’s OK, parents should have movies that are meant just for them. Sometimes we want adult situations, adult context and content. Some of us adults want music and soaring vocals to accompany a grand story.

Anne Hathaway as Fantine in Les Miserable, image from IMDb.com

Anne Hathaway as Fantine in Les Miserable, image from IMDb.com

Les Miserables is a movie about the poor in post -revolutionary France. Life is hard and unforgiving of mistakes made in your youth. Victor Hugo created conflicted characters, people who do wrong in the hope they are helping to do right.

We have characters who acknowledge their sins, characters who believe they are acting correctly in all circumstances. There is a political power struggle and love-at-first sight. We see unrequited love and a parent’s love for a child that pushes a woman to the brink.

The story starts with men working as slaves to bring in a big ship that has been damaged. But the focus goes on one prisoner who is about to go free on parole. That man is Jean Valjean, imprisoned for stealing bread and trying to escape.

His greatest moment of salvation comes when a priest forgives his sins, even after being released from jail and stealing from the church. But the greatest love of his life starts when he agrees to take care of a child left behind by a former employee.

We will have battles of will, battles of faith, battles against the harsh realities of life. Mixed in all that are horrifying moments when a woman loses her pride, a man loses his purpose, another realizes that he was only taking care of a child before she found her true love. And then they sing about how their hearts are broken and love did not go the way they had hoped.

Just when it gets too heavy, we have Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham-Carter to lighten things up as the inn keepers who are willing to lighten their customers’ pockets.

So is this movie worth your time? Is it Oscar worthy?

Yes IF you are a fan of musicals. Yes IF you do not mind sitting through a two and a half hour movie. Yes IF you do not mind going through a slow spot. Yes IF you love great singing and acting from Hugh Jackman.

If you prefer chase scenes, explosions, and fighting with weapons such as swords I am going to disappoint you and let you know those things to not happen in this movie.

If you are looking for commentary on the human condition, if you are looking for a testimony of faith, if you want to see a person die with dignity then this is the Oscar-nominated movie you have been waiting for.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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