Tag Archive: Family Movie Night


We Can Fly

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

When my daughter first told me that the school play was going to be Peter Pan, I had to stop myself from getting every copy of every version of the movie or TV special I could lay my hands on.

I managed to contain myself but was very happy when the kids performed over the weekend. Everyone did a good job, everyone looked great and sang well. Captain Hook had a great evil laugh. Perhaps instead of “Speak Like a Pirate” day in September there should be a “Laugh Like a Maniacal Evil Leader” day. Peter had that joie d’vivre and perfect petulance when he didn’t get his way. And Wendy, well what I can I say here without being an annoyingly boastful mother. But I liked her performance, too.

Peter Pan Mary Martin

Mary Martin As Peter Pan

For those of us over a certain age, we can remember when Mary Martin played the forever young man who never wanted to make the first step of growing up. What you may not know is that Mary Martin was instrumental in getting the musical version of Peter Pan created during the 1950s. She originated the musical role on Broadway and would win a Tony for her performance.

In the 1970s, Olympic Medal winning gymanst Cathy Rigby took on the role. With her hard-won athletic skills, Rigby made flying and mid-air somersaults look natural. When the play went to Broadway, Rigby was nominated for a Tony award for her performance.

Peter Pan Cathy RigbyOf course many people know the Disney animated version. A sequel came out about 10 years ago featuring Jane, the daughter of Wendy who is kidnapped by Captain Hook during WWII. And there is the version with Robin Williams as a grown up Peter Pan with Maggie Smith playing Wendy. We also have Finding Neverland which is about how the write James Barrie came up with the play. None of these movies are my favorite one about the boy who can fly.

My favorite is the live action movie from 2003. The movie stars Jeremy Sumpter as the boy who loves to torment Captain Hook. Unlike the others, this movie is gorgeously filmed. The details of the rooms, the depth of the colors, and layers of scenery brings the movie to life or perhaps larger than life.

Peter Pan IMDb com

Image from IMDb.com

But it is not only those visual aspects. I love the language, the words that are spoken. When Wendy expresses her amazement of Peter time and again she speaks of “the cleverness of you.” I am fascinated by Jason Issacs as he plays Hook who learns to fly with happy thoughts of Peter being dead. As Hook breaks down Peter, I am mesmerized by his forceful nature until he is broken down by his one sad thoughts.

Issacs is equally compelling as Mr. Darling who works in a bank to support his family in the manner to which society dictates. There are times that Darling is embarrassed time and again in front of his employer until he begins to realize what really matters in his life. It is his performances that draws me back to this version.

Live performances are better. But if you can’t get that, this makes a great second place.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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.

Beauty and the Beast Redo

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Plans do not always work out.

Our initial plan for Friday was to pack everything up and go to the drive in for the first night of Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens.

Beauty and the Beast PosterWe went on Saturday instead to the Paramount. The line was long but thank goodness for pre-bought tickets. Our group started at age 12 and end with adults. The audience was filled with little ones up to Grandmas. When we left that screening, the line for the next showing wrapped around the building. I was not surprised to hear the movie broke opening weekend records.

The people I went with loved the movie. We cried about a half a dozen times. My kids tell me that I cry at every movie so of course they were not surprised that I had to dry off tears. Perhaps it was the arrangement of the music, the rush of the notes leading to a rush of feelings. I felt myself just as engaged or more so as with the original animated feature.

The story remains the same: a young woman lives in a small French town with her eccentric father. He trespasses on a property and is thrown in the high tower dungeon of an old castle. His daughter comes to save him and trades places.

The master of the castle is a beast, becoming so after showing cruelty to an enchantress. If only he can love and win the love of someone in return, then he can become human once more. But the time is running out. His servants who were turned into household items are in danger of becoming fixed in their state. But they see the girl as a way out of the curse. It doesn’t hurt that she is pretty and kind.

It is a beautiful and grand movie. The tricks of the camera and computer animation make the various scenes of dancing china and attaching furniture a sight to behold. We are given a few back stories that clears up a few details from the older movie. And the OMG big scene of reveal about two characters was underwhelming in the end.

Beauty-and-the-Beast-2017 GastonI found this movie to be marvelous and that was confirmed when the pickiest of movie watchers stated it did not feel like two hours in length. It all went by so fast. The actors made it look so good, so easy. Luke Evans was superb as the villainous Gaston while Emma Watson held her own as Belle. Dan Stephens hit the right notes as the beast, giving him a sense of humor and mercy.

But as always with these movies it is the side characters who get to shine. Ewan McGregor and Emma Thompson do that as Lumiere and Mrs. Potts, respectively. Then there is Audra McDonald as the Armoire whose voice shimmers when she sings.

Some people told me they thought the movie was over-rated. Not everyone liked it. I get it even though I disagree with you.

Beauty and the Beast 2017 BeastI was afraid I was not going to like it because I love the original. And yet, Emma Watson won me over as Belle. I believed she would strongly dislike Gaston, I believed she would try to figure out how to escape the castle, and I believed she would find the good in a man who’s life had been wasted in cruelty.

The biggest compliment I ever give a movie is that I would go see it again. When it comes to Beauty and The Beast, I wouldn’t mind seeing it several times over.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

We remember St. Patrick as the saint who drove the snakes out of Ireland. We celebrate his work as a christian cleric by drinking with green beer or Guinness, and eating corned beef and cabbage.

At this point in time, my St. Patrick’s Day plan is to go to the Drive in in Gibson City to watch Beauty and the Beast. I have not previewed this movie so I don’t know if it is good or not.

But this live-action retelling is based on a very popular and well written original. Plus it stars the very talented Emma Watson and Dan Stevens from Downton Abbey. I have high hopes. Plus, I will be at the Harvest Moon Twin Drive-in where there are sure to be plenty of good snacks.

My personal favorite is the funnel cake sundae. Don’t tell my doctor what I am eating. I feel pretty sure I will have to walk a mile or two to kill of the calories of this killer snack.

Now if you are not as lucky as I am, there are always movies you can rent.

LeprechaunSomehow I feel it is possible to find copies of Leprechaun. This 1993 horror movie is about a group of teenagers who unwittingly unleash an evil leprechaun who wants his gold back that was stolen by the previous owner of the house. They don’t know where the gold is located but they keep trying to find it as the evil guy keeps hunting them and killing people off.

Actor Warwick Davis infused his character with some humor. You know him better as Professor Flitwick. Another actor you might recognize is Jennifer Aniston in her first movie.

I am not a fan of horror flicks so I can’t tell you if it good or bad but I am willing to bet that this would not be a good movie for the younger members of your family or any one who gets nightmares easily.

High SpiritsIf you are looking for something a little bit safer with a bit of an edge to it I would take a gander at High Spirits directed by Neil Jordan and starring Darryl Hannah, Steven Guttenberg, Liam Neesom, and Beverly D’Angelo. This movie is about an American couple spending the weekend at an Irish castle to see if her father should buy it or not.

It is a castle reputed to be haunted by a couple who died on their wedding night. But just in case that doesn’t happen, the owner (Peter O’Toole) has provided a few scares of his own to make the trip worthwhile for his guests. This is a movie with medium scares and somewhat less scary for the young ones in the family. I think context wise it is more appropriate for adults than children.

Into the West IMDb com

Image from IMDb.com

However, if you are looking for a movie for all members of the family with an Irish theme, then my suggestion is always is always going to be Into the West. It is a fantastic story about two boys who are given a horse by their grandfather. The problem is that the boys live in a Dublin public housing high rise building. They really have no place to keep him and the elevator makes for a poor stable.

Then a rich and greedy man notices the horse and finds a way to get this beautiful beast. But the boys steal the horse back and make a run across the country to the sea. Besides the police and the rich man’s henchmen, they are being followed by their father who has been living in grief over the death of his wife.

I cry, I laugh, I cheer the boys on.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle

The Great Feud

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Never let a good story get in the way of the truth.

I am sure someone has said this in the past but I have no person to attach to this quote. But this is especially true in regard to the latest Ryan Murphy limited run TV show, Feud.

It stars Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon as Hollywood legends Joan Crawford and Bette Davis who battled each other for over 30 years.

Both women have won Oscars, both women had ups and downs during their careers. Both women were accused of child abuse by their adult children, although no one will ever top the ‘No Wire Hangers’ tantrum.

Both were gifted actresses known to be temperamental. Bette took the studios to court while Joan hung out in her trailer until a scene was re-written to her liking.

These are the divas that today’s divas look up to and wonder if they can ever be matched.

Yes, these women were difficult. But their talent made them worth it.

Joan CrawfordJoan Crawford earned three Oscar nominations, winning one for her role in Mildred Pierce (1945) about a woman who works hard as a waitress, and later as a restaurant owner, to giver her daughter everything. But there are complications. Her daughter resents the loss of their past life and hate the restaurant that supports them.

It is a role that took guts and determination. Director Michael Curtiz didn’t want her in the role until a screen test proved to him that Crawford was the one for the job. Her hard work slowly changed his mind despite their disagreements. This is one of those movies that is a must see for classic movie fan.

That is also true for Dark Victory (1939) starring Bette Davis. Starring as a socialite who only wants to have fun, Bette must face the fact that she has a tumor on the brain and that her life will be shorter than expected. So what does the girl do? She falls in love with her doctor, flirts with the stable man (Humphrey Bogart), and finds a way to make her last days the best.

It is a thrilling brave performance that is only matched by her performance in All About Eve (1950) in which Davis is an older actress holding on to her place in the world while a young ingenue becomes her assistant and works to take her place. It is a marvelous film in which Davis is fearful and happy and bitter and not afraid to take it to the limit.

Bette Davis All About EveBetter Davis was nominated for ten (10) Oscars, winning two (2). The most important thing about Davis is that she never thought acting was to be small, everything on the screen had to be bigger than life. Maybe Crawford felt the same way although she always wanted to be glamorous and felt that is what her fans expected.

Before I watch the next episode of Feud, I plan on watching some of these older classics to remind me why these two women are so fierce, ferocious, and fabulous.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

 

By Karyn Bowman

 

In wining six Oscars, La La Land may have proved that it really didn’t need to win that Best Picture award. Yes, I am sure the mix-up was upsetting. Moonlight is a special film that I heard about all year.

 

la la landBut there is so much to like about La La Land.

For me, the # 1 thing was the OscarTM winning Best Song – City of Stars. It is a song that trickles and skips down the scale. It is light hearted and hopeful and sad all at the same time. There is something so perfect about it. I feel as if I know this song, as if Hoagy Carmichael wrote it himself. But no. That’s not how it happened. Somehow this son best reflects my feelings about this movie.

 

When the husband and I went to the cinema last Friday, I was afraid I would not like it; I was afraid the hype would ruin the movie for me. The thing that ruined the movie for me was sitting too close and getting motion sickness from the twirling scenes. I had to leave the theater and come back. I sat in the back next to someone I am sure did not want anyone sitting next to him.

 

an-american-in-paris-o-s-t-1951I started watching the movie again, allowing the music and magic take hold. At times I felt as if I was watching any number of movies set on Hollywood sets with characters from different movie genres walking across the lot. But there is also a scene that made me think of Singin’ in the Rain or An american in Paris. I am sure there were other references I missed.

 

The story is about an aspiring actress and a jazz musician who want to succeed in their professions. They both work in Los Angelos. Seb and Mia meet by accident and they meet at parties. They think they are not attacted to each other and then they fall in love. What they love about each other is the passion each has for their work.

 

Even when they break up, it is not long before one is rooting for the other.

 

This movie doesn’t feel like your usual musical and yet there are constant refernces to old Hollywood classics. I see hints of Fred and Ginger, who danced in the oddest of places. There are moody atmospheres in clubs and being alone at the home of the one you love. There is the sadness of the drive home after feeling like a failure. There is the happiness of a second chance.

 

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone capture our hearts as Seb and Mia, the couple who fall in love when they are not even sure they want to fall in love. We see their dissapointments and failures written all over their faces. It is all right there, you can see it and you can feel their pain. You can feel their passion for their work and why they continue.

 

Maybe La La Land didn’t win the award for Best Picture. But that doesn’t mean its not a winning movie.

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Remembering an Era

Family Movie Night

 

By Karyn Bowman

 

When Mary Tyler Moore died a few weeks ago, it made me want to see videos of The Dick Van Dyke Show.

 

It was a show I watched over and over again in reruns as a kid. I loved how Rob and Laura interacted. As a couple it appeared that they really loved each other. They were graceful together even while trying to apear to be clumsey. Some of their fights felt real even though the show would only depict these two sleeping in twin beds. Couple who don’t like each other sleep in twin beds, not a couple who still kiss and touch and are happy to be together. Rob and Laura taught me what to expect of life as someone who was socially mobile, a lesson I did not realize I was learning at the time.

 

dick-van-dyke-show-anniversary-rob-and-lauraI found a DVD collection of the show through the library catalog and order it so I could once again hear their laughter and fights. I have fond memories of them singing and dancing and destroying family heirloom jewelry. I loved the haunted cabin episode. From lovable goofy neighbors to co-workers who don’t always get along to a family that sometimes expect unreasonable things there is never a dull moment. It is a picture of the 1960s that we enjoy looking at again and again.

 

It makes me think about Mad Men, the TV show that lasted on the AMC network for seven seasons. The setting of the show began in 1960 in New York City at a premier ad agency. Everything feels glamorous and exciting. And it should as we are seeing this world through the eyes of Peggy who is entering this thrilling world. She is the secretary to the most fascinating and success ad man in the  business.

 

But under that veneer is something darker. Our lead hero is Don Draper, a man with a dark secret. But he is driven to sucess, driven to be more than he was ever expected to become. His life is complete with a beautiful wife, three kids, and the lifestyle of a professional man of that age complete with infidelity, alcoholism, and an incredible amount of cigarette smoking.

mad-men-season-1This is not the happy world of the Petries. Co-workers are fierce competitors willing to do anything to succeed. Wives are not happy partners. And there always seems to be someone digging a little deeper than anyone wants for the secrets to a past well hidden.

 

Both shows are a window to a world that is far behind us. The Dick Van Dyke Show was made in the moment of the 1960s, choosing to show what we thought was the best parts of the era. It also pushed boundaries of what women wore and what black people ‘looked like.’ Mad Men, on the other hand, is a reflection on that age. It features the beautiful fashions and designs of the era along with the larger than life characters of the ad world. But you can’t get away from the inherent social ills of the day – of sexism and classism. Of the change from Camelot in the White House to the eventual counter-culture of the late 1960s.

 

All of it, that is both shows, make for DVD watching that is fascinating.

 

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

 

By Karyn Bowman

 

What do our pets do when we are not around?

 

lady08-4-15I suspect that our lovely Lady continues to lay on the couch and nap throughout the day. Then she takes a break by barking at the squirrels who come on our porch for a snack.

 

Maybe she turns on the TV to watch Animal Planet but I doubt it.

 

After watching The Secret Life of Pets, I can’t help but wonder if my dog is really a spy or friends with all dogs. And as we contemplate getting a second dog, it makes me wonder if the reaction to a new dog will be similar.

 

You see, in this movie a cute Jack Russell Terrier named Max is very hapy with his life with his human, Katie, in New York City. He has friends in his building and neighborhood. Life is good until Katie shows up one day with a big brute of a dog named Duke.

 

They do not like each other instantly. Duke has made it known he is the top dog and Max responds but putting Duke in his place. This leads to an altercation during their daily walk with the dog walker. Max puts down Duke and puts him in his place every chance he gets. Duke responds by trysecret-life-of-petsing to get Max lost.

 

He does so in a big way. But it is a disaster that leads to Max and Duke being captured by a group of deserted pets who are lead by a demented white rabbit. After an escape that leads them across the river to Brooklyn, the two dogs try to find a way back home.

 

Meanwhile, Gidget the pomeranian realizes that Max is missing and organizes a search-and-rescue party. It involves a very fat cat, a guinea pig, a weiner dog, and a bassett hound with wheels for back legs. And a red-tail hawk who is hoping for a meal.

 

The adventures these creatures go on is very exciting. They have to expand their horizons, challenge their fears, and confront difficult situations.

 

Every moment is worth it. The animation is beautiful. And the characters are wonderfully developed. I enjoyed being around this crazy group of friends who work to find their friends who is missing. Jack and Duke develop a relationship based on need at first. But as you can imagine, they have to go through several trials and tribulations before finally making a big break through.

 

Some movies are good for a nap, some movies are good for having on while doing projects. But this movie is good for watching and paying attention and savoring the story. It is one of those few movies that really is enjoyable for the whole family.

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Witchy Women

Family Movie Night

 

By Karyn Bowman

 

Valentine’s day provides a much needed break from a bleak cold winter.

 

As red and pink abound, we are reminded that life is not all about chilling winds and blinding snow storms. We remember to celebrate love in all of its forms.

 

Maybe that is with flowers or chocolate or a special meal of a special time together. Maybe a special craft will come home from school or candles will be lit over a special homemade meal.

 

Like Mardi Gras (which takes place at the end of February) it is a chance to chase away cabin fever after being stuck indoors because of the cold weather. Our snow count has not been much this year but I did notice weather people counting the cloudy days we’ve had so far.

 

Ugh.

 

I watch a ni-married-a-witch-bannerumber of movies and there are times that I want to watch something different from the usual choices for these various holidays. Those favorites are good and we love them, until we have seen them too many times and want something else. We want something that goes in different directions.

 

This week I watched I married a Witch from 1942. This comedy stars a 19-year-old saucy Veronica Lake, with the peek-a-boo hairdo, and Frederick March. She is a witch who was burned and her spirit is locked in an oak tree. March is the Puritan who put her to death along with her father as witches. But before everything she curses the man’s descendants to marry women who make them unhappy.

 

i_married_a_witch-vampire-magic

Image by vampire magic

Lake is freed from the tree 250 years later from a freak lightning storm. Her first order of business is to make the descendants of her tormentor miserable. But that task is being accomplished by his spoiled brat of a fiancee. So Lake decides to make the man fall in love with her and she can do the job personally.

 

Well, of course, it doesn’t all run smoothly. Things go awry in the making the man miserable department. But it is humorous and amusing as Lake and March show their stuff in a classic light comedy from the 1940s. Safe and clean but it may be more for adults to enjoy.

love-and-friendship-poster
The other movie I watched was Love and Friendship starring Kate Beckingsale as the delightfully manipulative Lady Susan. Jane Austen fans will recognize this name from the self-titled unfinished novella. This is not good for younger children although teens could comfortably watch this one. Lady Susan is the impoverished recently widowed Regency woman doing her best to marry off her daughter to to a rich but dim-witted suitor while trying to steal away the most handsome man in all of England from his rich wife.

 

Lady Susan is cruel and indifferent to those around her. She can charm most men and easily explain away most incongruities in her story. Unafraid to use her sex appeal or seemingly goodness, this woman can and does get away with everything while being wily and resourceful. I am not sure why I like her. Whenever she speaks it is surely a lie. Even the most crazy things are suddenly clear with her explanations. But then aglove_and_friendship_kate_beckinsale_ain, the people around her are insufferably good with the exception of her best friend, Chloe Seveigny. Her piety or lack there of begins to feel more real, more human.

 

I guess that is a part of her charm. She, is after all, Lady Susan – the biggest flirt and breaker of hearts in all of England.

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.