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Wonder

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Over the weekend, I gathered a bunch of friends to see the movie Wonder.

WonderI was certain that hardly anyone would be there because this movie has been out in theaters for the last six weeks. But the theater was filled to capacity at 44 people.

Starring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson as the parents, it is one of those movies that makes you like a kid who had a genetic deformity that has required several surgeries just to do those things we think of as normal occurrences. You know, like breathing, hearing, and seeing.

Auggie, played by Jacob Trembley, is both scared and excited about going to school for the first time in fifth grade. He is afraid of being picked on for being different because he is different. His mom tries to give him the usual “leave them alone” speech while dad whispers to him fight when the situation arises.

Slowly but surely Auggie makes one friend. He hits a roadblock, loses a friend, gains a friend. He also has to deal with a bully that is unrelenting month after month.

Wonder Auggie and jackNow this movie could have been a saccharine sugar fest, all about anti-bullying and making the victim too good to be true while the villains are pure evil.

Except its not. It is done factually and in language that sounds like 5th grade kids.

We even get to see some of the family dynamics with Via feeling left out in some ways because she appears to be able to handle all of the complications that Auggie’s condition brings to the family.

One of the blessings is that we begin to see the story from others’ point of view. Auggie’s sister Via, his friend Jack, Via’s former best friend, and back to Auggie. By seeing these different points of view, we see how different characters think and feel, even when they blow it and make mistakes.

Which is another thing I love about this movie. Everyone messes up or tries to fix things that seem right to them although wrong to others. There are ways to make a family movie that really appeals to families and this movie does it. I kept waiting for the worst to happen that never did and I was so glad of that.

Perks of being a wallflowerI have always been impressed with Walden production company, their movies tend to be good with less treacly sweetness. They understand that any old crap is not OK just because this is a family movie. It also helps that Stephen Chbowsky directed. He made the fine The Perks of Being a Wallflower which was perfectly fitted for a late teenage audience.

When it comes to family movies, I want something that all family members can watch, quality writing, and characters that are people you would actually know.

What makes Wonder a wonder is not the story but how it is told. Easy criers will get teary, you will laugh, and get mad at injustice. And, chances are, you will really like this movie.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

 

By Karyn Bowman

 

I have been moaning that I wanted to see Snow White and the Huntsman so I could compare and contrast it with Mirror, Mirror both of which are the two ‘Snow White’ movies that came out this year.

 

The story is familiar to most of us – a beautiful princess loses her mother. When the father decides to re-marry, the new queen is a woman jealous of anyone more beautiful than she. When her step-daughter becomes more beautiful than she, the evil queen plots her death. But the girl eludes her by hiding out in the woods with the help of seven dwarves while the prince searches for the girl.

 

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Now you might be wondering how two movies on the same subject get made in the same year. What often happens is that movies take a long time to be made, a 2-4 year process on average. Once a movie gets a the green light go ahead, if there is another movie similar to it happening at another studio, suddenly both movies appear to be racing to see who will be first.

 

Funny enough, the prince in Snow White had also auditioned for Mirror, Mirror as did Lily Collins for Snow White in both.

 

But while both movies work off the Snow White fairy tale, do not go in thinking these movies are identical. It is the tone that marks the difference between these movies.

 

What is similar is the theme of aging and how a queen is only valued as long as she is beautiful. Both Julia Roberts and Charlize Theron play women who work to keep their youthful appearance. While Roberts employs various spa treatments, Theron steals her youthful looks from others.

 

While both women dispose of their king, one does so in a manner that continues his life and her use of him. This queen keeps him under her control while the other kills her husband outright because of her disdain for all men. We do learn the second woman’s back story and understand how she became this way but in no way does it excuse her treachery.

 

Poster Image from IMDb.com

The other theme that is present in both movies is the price of magic. Both women have used magic to gain their positions that resulted in deaths and maintenance of magical creatures. They have used magic to maintain their positions which for one woman requires a constant supply of energy. And both know there is a cost to its use.

 

The difference in these movies is the tone. Mirror, Mirror plays as a late 18th comedy with serious undertones that take over as the movie advances. It has bright colors, smart dialogue and sets that defy imagination at times.  What I love is that the mirror is more that a reflection or tells only what the queen wants to hear. She has her secrets and will share if only the Queen would listen.

 

Snow White and the Huntsman is more of a medieval fantasy action-adventure film. The costumes and battle techniques suggest a King Arthur period which has it’s own sort of romance. We want to believe all will end well but first we must run through mud and muck. Something that surprised me was actual dirt on Kristen Stewart’s hands.

 

This is a darker movie than the first. The Queen derives joy from the deaths she causes. She does not mind the evils her brother acts out. Nor is she unwilling to create an atmosphere of fear within her kingdom.

 

Neither movie is appropriate for young audiences. I found them to be disturbing enough that I would not want anyone younger than age 9 to see these because of the dark tones in The Hunstman and some of the sexiness in Mirror, Mirror.

 

But both are interesting interpretations of the fairy tale. Mirror, Mirror is currently on the DVD shelf while Snow White and the Huntsman is currently at Movies 10.

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.