Family Movie Night
by Karyn Bowman
One of the problems of renting movies from the store in town is that the movie I want to see is not always back and ready when I am ready.
Case in point, Sunday I was ready to watch The Odd Life of Timothy Green starring Jennifer Gardner and Joel Eddgerton.
I wanted to watch a life re-affirming movie, one that reminds me a of the joys that are mixed in with all of the sorrows. The story is about a childless couple who write down all of the aspects of their dream child that they have not been able to conceive. Then they take the papers, put them in a box and bury the dream in the back yard. Imagine their surprise when a child comes from that spot who slowly reveals himself to be all of the things they dreamed. That was the movie I was hoping to see.
What I saw instead was the movie box with an empty hook for the tag.
Someone had beat me to the movie, someone was enjoying it but I was not.
That is when I went with my second choice, Dark Shadows starring Johnny Depp.
I had put this movie on my list of safe scares. Trust me, there are things here to scare a little kid but not a tweener or anyone older.
A re-vamp of the 1960s soap opera, this movie brings Barnabas Collins (Depp) back to his mansion in Maine after being trapped for nearly 200 years. His goal is to bring greatness back to his surviving family members. Elizabeth Collins (Michelle Pfeiffer) is the strong matriarch raising her daughter while Roger (Jonny Lee Miller) is the weak willed patriarch more interested in lifting money than making it. Nor is he interested in his son, David, who misses the mother who died at sea.
The family appears to be plagued by a curse. Their livelihood has failed, they are barely keeping the manor together. Elizabeth hires a new nanny for David who fits in perfectly, maybe too perfectly. But the curse is really a series of problems caused by vengeful former lover of Barnabas who has lived as long as he has and worked to create a fishing empire.
What works is Johnny Depp as Barnabas. He delivers lines well and remains true to the character, with the exception of one or two scenes that are entertaining but do not work. However, when he is paired with Pfeiffer the air crackles and pops. They share the same goal and intensity of saving the family. There are hidden layers for nearly every character that makes you want to keep watching.
However, I find there are some glaring problems with big holes in the plot and characters that do not stay true to themselves. I wanted more Victoria, David and Liz, less Doctor Hoffman. I wanted more gothic atmosphere and less killing.
For me this movie was a miss while my 15-year-old thought it was a hit. Perhaps it is a case of great style, little substance.
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.