Archive for April, 2017


Take the Wave

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Bringing a new movie into the house is always a roll of the dice.

I never know if the kids are going to want to watch it.

Pete's DragonTake Pete’s Dragon for instance. I brought this one home, thinking it was a no brainer. They like fantasy flicks and what is more fantastical than having a dragon show up in your modern-day life.

We never watched it because the first words out of the kids’ mouth were “You know that is on Netflix.” It sat on the shelf because I meant to watch it and never did. Guess I will have to stream it some night – by myself.

However, that was not the reaction when I brought Moana in the house. The box was taken out of my hands and placed in the machine before I could put away my work things and grab my slice of pizza.

The story is about a girl who lives in on an island in Polynesia. But their island is dying and Moana believes she is the one to save it by getting the heart of the Godess returned to her.

Moana

It requires finding the demi-god Maui, and making him return the heart. But Maui is not honorable or likable. He tries to strand Moana until the ocean, her special friend, makes it clear that Moana goes with him. Through their adventures and going on some dangerous missions Moana and Maui develop a friendship.

And what a journey it is.

I watched this movie a couple of times in bits and pieces, each time finding something else to like. Moana and Maui are complex characters who are enjoyable to watch. Moana is given a family who actually love and adore her but community rules prevent sailing beyond the barrier reef. Maui is a demigod who has made life easier for humans but he appears to have some issues that need to be resolved.

I also liked that Moana is another Disney character that does not need a male romantic partner. Similar to Moira (Brave) and Elsa (Frozen), Moana wants to do great things but not in the way her parents want. Her issue is that her island appears to be dying and she knows great dangers must be faced to make things better.

I know there are some complaints about this movie not being completely culturally accurate. But it can also inspire a kid to look up information about Polynesian culture and discover what the Long Pause was all about. It might steer kids to wanting to know more about the demigod Maui and the Goddess Te Fiti. That is what a good movie should do – inspire and encourage.

Finally, I have to talk about the music. Lin-Manuel Miranda is credited as a song-writer on this film and he has made some amazing music. Various songs reminded me of his hit musical, Hamilton, but as I listened to more songs separately I realized that there are many good pieces here. And it makes me wonder what we will hear from him next.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

This Saturday is April Fool’s Day. Do you have your practical jokes ready?

This is one of my favorite non-holiday days. Every few years I try to come up with a neat and elegant practical joke. I say every few years because I like my family to not know if I will do something this year or not.

SlashLast year I went with a classic. I printed out a picture of Slash the guitarist and taped it on my son’s tire. I woke him up just a little earlier than needed and told him there was a slash on his tire. That tire needed to be changed before he goes to school, I told him.

So he got up and went to change the tire. Once he saw the picture, he knew he had been tricked. So he smiled to himself, took the picture off of his tire, placed it on one of his father’s car tires, and waited till his father was napping before telling him the tire had an issue.

I laughed and laughed.

My favorite joke actually came from someone else. My friend’s mother used clear thread to sew the utensils for dinner onto the place mat. Unfortunately her new husband did not have a sense of humor. His total acknowledgment was to get up from the table to get a fork out of the silverware drawer. I love this joke for its simplicity and elegance.

Those are the jokes that make me laugh hardest – simple and elegant slapstick. That is why I loved Abbott and Costello. This comedy duo made people laugh during the years of WWII and the post war era. Their most popular routine – Who’s On First – is repeated or referenced to this day.

I became enamored with the duo when their movies were constantly played on TV during my youth. It was always something in the line of “Abbott and Costello meet…” One time it was Frankenstein, another was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Or they were ‘in’ someplace, such as Hollywood or in the Foreign Legion.

Abbott and CostelloBud Abbott was always the straight guy, the tall man with the charm while Lou Costello was the guy who over-reacted to whatever situation what happening. It didn’t matter if he was being chased by the Wolf-Man, a cop, or an errant bad guy, Lou always reacted with big wide eyes and clumsy movements. Bud might be more restrained in his performance but it bounced off of Lou perfectly. Later when the men broke up as a pair, Abbott tried to work with another partner. Even he admitted he worked best with Costello and it was hard to replace him.

Start your Abbott and Costello journey with Buck Privates (1941), one of the best WWII comedies. Hold That Ghost (1941) is their first meeting with the supernatural with Lou’s terrific terrified responses. After that, you can find a number of movies that ate filled with their vaudeville routines and slapstick comedy.

Their brand of humor made America laugh with simple but elegant routines. And that is something to aspire to being.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.