Tag Archive: kids


The Craft of a Good Actor

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

It wasn’t that he was goofy looking or had funny eyes that made Gene Wilder funny. It was that he was willing to take every character and every scene to the nth degree. He wasn’t the romantic lead or the true action hero. But what Wilder gave us was perfect comic timing and ideas that seemed outlandish until he performed them.

VARIOUS - 1979

Mandatory Credit: Photo by STEVE WOOD/REX/Shutterstock (74497b) GENE WILDER VARIOUS – 1979

Interestingly enough, Wilder stated that comedy was even funnier when you played scenes straight. You don’t need to make funny faces or sounds, playing the scene as most people might live it can be funny.

As soon as the word came out that Wilder passed away last week, my husband instantly stated we needed to get Blazing Saddles. It is this movie, Willy Wonka, Young Frankenstein, and Silver Streak that may be what Wilder is known for doing. It is these movies that he seems to be the straight man while creating total havoc.

It is a different formula from what the Marx Brothers were doing but his work makes us laugh just as hard. It could be the timid accountant in The Producers or the mad creator doing the soft shoe with his monster in Young Frankenstein. His performances always seem like he is completely present in that character no matter what the character is doing, whether it is a mean character or someone kind of sweet and lost.

Wilder had not performed in movies for the last twenty years. He stated that he did not like the modern films with so much swearing and explosions that seem to make no sense to the actual story. Then in the last three years, Wilder dealt with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. He left public life after that. It was comforting to hear that in the end he was surrounded by family and listening to Ella Fitzgerald.

tom-cavenaughAnother actor in that mold of playing it straight no matter what is Tom Cavenagh. My son watches the CW network show, The Flash in which Cavenagh plays a bad guy masquerading as a good guy. Each side of his character is believable. I find his character especially compelling because Cavenagh has played a number of good guys.

His first big role was in the TV show Ed in which he played a former New York lawyer who comes home to his small town, buys the local bowling alley, and sets up a new law practice. He sweetly romances the girl he had a crush on during high school with some success and some failure. But you instantly like this guy. It feels that what you see is what you get. I have noticed this in other movies as well.

But in The Flash, there is something different driving the character. He has a desire to create what he needs to happen in the future and so he must be a mentor to the one person he will destroy in the future. While I would say that The Flash is better for teens and young adults, Cavenagh’s other movies – Yogi Bear and How to Eat Fried Worms are better movies for younger children.

As for Wilder’s movies, Willy Wonka is better for the younger generation but his other movies are more suited for teens.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

What a week.

I am so glad it is over despite this week coming being almost as hectic.

Our church help Vacation Bible School, which is time consuming no matter how well everything is planned out. And despite having good plans, we had some set backs and found our way to solutions.

VBS Surf ShackIt makes for hectic nights because life doesn’t stop. We still had work and 4H judging days. And then we found out the husband’s sister succumbed to cancer. She is gone and the family – her siblings and children – will feel that loss for a long time.

On Facebook, family and friends shared how she gave her heart and caring and tomato plants to them. Friends of her children told how she opened the doors of her home and her heart to support them in difficult times. The husband talked about how she took charge of the home when their mother was ill and made things better during those rocky times.

We had originally planned to go to the double feature at the Harvest-Moon Twin Drive-In. Those plans were scrapped by a need to drive in to Pennsylvania and another child’s friend’s birthday party. Suddenly it was just two of us, so I suggested going to a screening at one of the local theaters. The daughter suggested we go to a play instead.

We drove to the Kankakee Library to see The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. The performance space on the fourth floor was utilized for this event. I have been there before when Rick Kogan came to town and for a work-event. It made me think once more how wonderful it would be to have our own library in town. I realize it would take a referendum and a lot of work. But the benefits would be greater. Greater access to books and other materials, an opportunity for kids with no internet access at home to get their work done.

Well, enough dreaming.

The play was a fun and25th annual spelling bee fast-paced musical about a spelling bee in New Jersey for sixth graders. Each child had a different story and reason for wanting to win – or not – as the case may be. First produced in 2005, the play has a modern feel to it while the kids seem straight forward. One child is raised by two fathers, one has a mother missing from her life. One of the kids is home schooled and a little cooky while another is a boy scout. Finally, we had the over achieving boy and girl.

I enjoyed seeing local talent showcased with some great singing and fun acting. There were many laughs as audience members were asked to join the group onstage. These people may have been given easier words to which the other participants reacted in a not-so-happy manner.There are a few moments to the play that are serious and heart-wrenching. It makes a person cry after so many times when we laughed.

To be honest, I enjoyed the play from the live combo, with one member who felt the need to blow bubbles, to the surprise appearance of Jesus. It made me laugh during a week when I didn’t feel like laughing at all. And that is the best praise I can give any performance.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.`

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Cooling off sometimes means hitting a wonderfully cool movie theater.

Besides a library, one of my favorite places to hang is a nice cool and dark movie theater. Plus the kids wanted to see Finding Dory so it was one of those win-win situations.

Finding DoryAll of us liked the movie. It was fun, bright and colorful most of the time. Dory, as ever, is fearless despite or because of her memory problems.

In this movie, Dory has a memory come back to her while helping Mr. Ray lead class. In it, she remembers her parents. Suddenly, Dory realizes she has to go home to California. And like all of Dory’s ideas, they have to happen now.

Thankfully, Marlin knows a guy who can help them.

Soon, they have found their way to California, to a marine life rescue and release center. Dory pieces together bits of memories, figuring out how to find her family.

Like all good adventure movies, there are close calls and separations and reunions and companions who seem unreliable but are the best friends you’re going to ever have. We have chase scenes and close calls and the impossible solution to a problem.

Are you going to love this movie?

Probably, especially if you liked the first one. But things are different. First off, the annoying part of Dory’s memory problem is made clear. There is no rest for Marlin, he and other adults, are always on the watch out for Dory because she is easily distracted and forgets two seconds after you tell her something. Marlin can be snappy and irritable.

Secondly, there are some scary scenes, especially for those of us who might be claustrophobic. The pipe scene got to me, had me running for more popcorn when I didn’t need more popcorn. Thankfully by the time I go back to my seat, that scene was over. And I don’t feel like I missed much much or a big clue.

Lastly, this movie has a more California vibe to it, especially with the music. It is more laid back, less ethnic than the first movie.

Finding Dory HankWhat is the same as Finding Nemo are the great side characters. There are the ferocious sea lions defending their rock while helping Marlin and Nemo. We meet Becky, the slightly deranged bird. Then there is Hank the seven tentacled octopus. His only goal in life is to get to Cleveland and never return to the ocean, if he can help it. Ed O’Neil has fun with this character and makes him almost more important than Dory.

What I didn’t like was the slow opening, the heavy handedness of fair treatment to disabilities. And I think about the world as it was in the days of the first movie. Autism had not come to the great rates as it is today. ABA therapies and GFCF diets were being developed for a population that started growing like crazy. And the aging population was on the verge of a great Alzheimer’s epidemic. Life has changed in those 13 years. We look at our parents and our children, wondering how to cope with it all.

The adults may never be allowed to forget these issues. But the kids do, they just see Dory as Dory. She is strong and brave and funny and believable as she goes on an adventure of rediscovery. Pixar has done what they do best, put together a strong story with great animation. And this movie never lets us down in the process.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.`

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

I had been putting off seeing Maleficent because I knew it was a re-telling of a familiar fairy tale and I wasn’t sure I was up to it.

While the other updates on fairy tales are about girl power and taking control of your own destiny, this one goes a step further to a darker place. Something is taken from our lead character that can never be replaced and then she is treated as the villain for wanting revenge.

MaleficentHere Angelina Jolie plays a fairy who is the protector of her world which lies next to a human kingdom. The humans can see this wonderful magical area and want to take it over. But Maleficent won’t allow it, using trees for her army. The king is furious and wants her destroyed.

Only one man in his circle knows how to do this and Stephan uses knowledge from his shared childhood with Maleficent to make sure she cannot fight as strongly as she did that day. It is a great betrayal that leads to a curse on her part and maddening obsession his. And it ends with a battle royal on the day of his daughter’s 16th birthday.

If this retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story is anything, it is beautifully photographed with rich colors and well done CGI. The sets and costuming brings one into the time period as well. I enjoyed that aspect. What bothers me is the motivation for the curse, the reason behind everything which is upsetting and unsettling. I have seen and read re-told tales. Is that what Wicked is after all, tell the story from the Wicked Witch of the West’s point of view?

It is not just what was taken from Maleficent but by whom it was done, a most trusted friend. It reminds me of too many real cases of theft of this sort and how the victim is always made to be the villain in the story. It is not a movie for the younger crowd, better viewing and understanding will happen with the younger teens and older because of the context of the movie. I would be prepared to answer questions at the end.

On the lighter end of the spectrum, Zootopia comes out on DVD this week. When I first heard of this movie, I was not impressed. It took hearing a few friends’ reviews and watching it for myself to really fall in love.

ZootopiaThe story is about a bunny who lives in the country and dreams of being a police office. Not just any police force, she wants to land on the police department of the large capitol city, Zootopia. And when she does, Judy is not given the most exciting job. However, soon enough she is knee deep into an investigation that starts off being about a missing animal and leads into something much bigger.

Judy, it turns out, is quite resourceful especially when she blackmails fox Nick Wilde to help get into places she can’t otherwise. The action is fast paced, characters are well drawn and interesting, and Judy’s optimism is infectious. The other big plus is the theme song by Shakira who voices Gazelle in the movie. Every time that song comes on the radio, my minivan rocks.

While this is a great kids movie, be aware that if your pre-school child is scared by loud roars and some aggressive behavior, they may not enjoy this movie.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

One Fine Day

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

For whatever reasons, whenever it rains for days in a row, I am reminded of One Fine Day starring Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney.

One Fine Day - missing busSet in New York City on a rainy spring day, the storyline is about two single parents who manage to miss the school field trip on a big day for each of their careers. Melanie blames Jack because she was trying to grab his daughter to take her to school. That made her late. Jack, on the other hand, did not know he was taking care of his daughter for a week until the morning of the field trip. Through the course of the day, they try to figure out what to do to make their meetings, run their work errands, and take care of the kids.

Along the way, each parent develops an appreciation for the other while holding on to their own prejudices and fears. For moments at a time, they let go of those fears to begin the steps of falling in love again. It is filled with wonderful moments of truth telling, happy moments, and fear.

One Fine Day Movie PosterI have no idea why rain makes me think of this movie because for one, I have never been to New York City. But when I watch it, I wonder if you can really get around Manhattan in a taxi. Or if Serendipity is really that good. The film makes me want to take a trip there to see Washington Park and the museums and Carnegie Deli.

While the setting and the music are wonderful side characters, what I really love about this movie are the two leads – Melanie and Jack (Pfeiffer and Clooney, respectively). They portray a certain constant weariness that is always present in parenting. Even when you think you have gotten enough sleep, you have not gotten enough sleep. But they also show that parental love has no limits.

Secondly, these are two people who are a little broken by their relationships that didn’t work out. Each character has trust issues and they wonder if they can trust another person once again. That both are attracted to another person and see the possibility of hope in that person is a huge emotional step. What is even better is that they can admit it openly. How many of us ever want to admit to the soft parts inside our souls.

One fine day - kiss
But, lastly I love some of their arguments that talk about the truth of life. If we like what we like and want things to go that way, are we control freaks or people who know what we like? As parents, especially single parents, keeping everything going means juggling and relying on yourself. Sometimes we have to admit that we are out of options. And sometimes, we have to admit we want the magic of love in our lives.

The movie is now twenty years old and there are some things that are incredibly out dated, such as their cell phones and Jack’s baggy pants. And then there are some things that never grow old, such as Melanie’s suit, how kids behave, or men and women trying to figure out the life/work balance.

This may not be a movie to watch with younger kids because Jack tends to say G-D, a lot. This is more of a movie to watch with girlfriends who can agree or disagree with whatever is happening on the screen.

Bring on the rain just so I can hear the Natalie Merchant take on that classic old song once more.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Get the Bucket

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Last week, we had a sick kid in the family. I could tell you the whole story that involved a trip to the firehouse and a failed trip to ER that resulted in said child throwing up in the car.

sick-kidThen again, this is the child who is almost never sick, almost never feeling bad enough to miss school. He proudly shows me the part of his report card that tells the story of no missed days. Well, not for this quarter.

The problem is how must one stay quiet and rest after resting too many days and feeling ready to move but not feeling well enough to move. When the boy cannot finish a bowl of his favorite soup, you know he is sick.

Usually in my house the solution is simple. I find animated films so that rest can happen but a person is ‘occupied.’ Some would call this a win-win situation. But this child is not the other kids in the family. Tarzan or Toy Story are not among his choices of movies.

So I made the choice that I felt was the best for the situation. I picked up Transformers. I am talking about the mixed live action/computer animation, loud as thunder, action packed movie that help launch the career of Shia LaBeouf from TV to the silver screen.

The story is about a young man who is buying his first car. OK, Dad is buying it and he is shopping. At the first lot they walk onto, the kid spots a car that looks run down. He is trying to decide function over fashion but Dad seems determined to go for cheap. After a momentary glitch in which the windows of all of the other cars break, Sam is driving home a rusty Camero that needs a little work.

Transformers_star_ShiaIt doesn’t take long for Sam to try to leverage his new car as a way to get not-so-secret-crush Michaela into his life or to find out maybe the car is not exactly what it appears to be. In fact, the car is something more, an alien who is to protect Sam from other forces that wants something he has and it is not Michaela.

Soon, Sam finds himself on a dangerous journey, trying to return the cube to the military. We get the pleasure of watching giant mechanical beings destroy a city and Dad’s garden. There are plenty of great lines to repeat day after day so kids will understand the importance of the tasks faced in this movie.

Should this movie be ridiculed? Yes because there are times the action and or dialogue is just awful. But the delivery from our various actors such as Josh Duhumel, Kevin Dunn, and Megan Fox somehow works. And then there is Optimus Prime, perhaps one of the best super good guys who gets that sometimes self sacrifice is the only way.

Sure watching this movie makes my house shake to its foundation. And there are times that I look at the animation and wonder how anyone could have come up with these spectacular shots.

But I also have to admit that for a few days after watching this movie I wonder if my cell phone would ever turn on me.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Opening Day

As spring is here, warmer weather is following. With that warmer weather comes opening day for the drive-in movie theaters.

Harvest Moon Drive InEvery time I mention drive-in, people get excited and want to know where I go to find one. The closest one to our home is in Gibson City called the Harvest Moon Twin Drive-In. This place is great because it has two screens, one that shows a more ‘family’ oriented movie and the other that shows something a bit more adult. Check out their Harvest Moon Twin Drive-In.

This past weekend, the choices were Zootopia and the new Batman vs. Superman movie. We went for Zootopia for no other reason than it was getting great reviews from a bevy of critics. And one of the kids expressed interest. And the husband really wanted to go to the drive in.

Well, why not. The drive is only about an hour away. We sit outside of the car with jackets and blankets on to keep warm. We can bring in our own food for a $5 fee that gets us a free large popcorn. And how can I turn down deep fried cheese curds or the funnel cake sundae?

funnel cake sundae

funnel cake sundae with chocolate sauce

 

Which explains why I am willing to pack up on a Friday night with blankets, chairs, snacks, and five kids to see a movie about which I know nothing.

I do know the basic premise. In a world where animals are like people and there are different zones for different geographical areas, there is one big town and that is Zootopia. Somewhere in a small farming town, a bunny wants to become a police officer in the big city. Her chances are slim because she is a small and tiny bunny. How is she to take down big bad criminals?

Except that the bunny, Judy Hopps, works hard and becomes the valedictorian of her class at the police academy. Her reward is to be assigned as a meter maid. While Judy wants to solve crimes, she decides to be the best at her job. That is until one day she stops a thief, saving a tiny creature in the process. That leads to Judy being assigned to solve a case regarding missing predators by the big chief but she has only 48 hours to do so. If she does not solve the case, Judy must resign from the force.

But to solve this case requires help. Judy gets Nick Wilde, a fox, to help her. She might have to use a few tricks to force him to help but this is no dumb bunny. Can they figure out why predators are going missing and who is behind the whole scheme? Probably but let me just say that this was a fun movie. I had low expectations but was pleasantly surprised.

I thought the movie was going to be lame and trite. Well, it was in spots. Some of the scenes were exactly what you would think they were going to turn out. But I also found myself liking different parts, such as parents being relieved their daughter was not in a dangerous position on the force. Or how Judy has such a difficult time dealing with the sloth at the DMV. This movie is a fun buddy movie, a police procedural for kids.

But let me give a word of warning. One of my friends took his 5-year-old who became scared of the predators and had to leave the theater. If you know your child scares easy, this might not be the film you want to go see. My 14-year-old thought it was a bit dark for a kids movie and I am not sure I disagree with her.  Otherwise, it is a bit of fun and perfect if you happen to be going to a drive-in theater in which it is ok if young kids move around and talk during the movie.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Watch the Try Anything video featuring Shakira as GazelleShakira Gazelle

So this is the week in which everyone is Irish. We celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with relish, with glee, with Guinness or a Jameson’s shot.

I have a friend who celebrates every year with a potato party. The guests bring toppings and green side dishes or desserts. Because I had a brain cramp our side dish wash stuffed mushrooms wrapped in bacon. The hubby made them and I am glad that he did. They were tasty.

But so were the potatoes, the green frosted brownies, broccoli salad, and the pistachio salad. It was a fun night as different tables played different games including Dutch Blitz and euchre.

OndineAs always, I am on the lookout for an Irish movie I have not seen yet to add to my collection. I have loved suggestions I have received from fellow bloggers. My favorite one so far is Ondine starring Colin Farrell as an Irish fisherman named Syracuse who pulls a young woman out of the sea one day. Alicja Bachleda states she can’t remember who she is or how she got in the net. Syracuse lets the young woman live in his mother’s abandoned cottage and Ondine develops a relationship with his young daughter who has various health issues.

Soon, with the help of his young daughter, Farrell is speculating if Ondine is a selkie. Selkies are mythical creatures that can change from being a seal into a human once they take off their seal coat. But the selkie can be trapped on land if a human finds their coat and hides it from the selkie.

This story is not as simple as it seems. These things are never that simple. But it is wonderful to watch as Ondine and Syracuse begin to fall in love and eventually resolve her past.

Waking Ned Devine

Waking Ned Devine

Another movie that was suggested to me was Waking Ned Devine. I had never watched this movie but I thought I would give it a spin. The story is about a winning lottery ticket in the weekly Irish lottery that happens to be located in a small Irish village. Just as we know where a winning Lotto ticket is sold here, the big lottery winning location is announced there. The villagers slowly work out who is the winner after quizzing everyone.

The problem is the man who has one is not able to claim the prize anymore. No way, no how.

So now it is a matter of getting everyone on board for the biggest deception that could mean an end to a life of struggle for the 50-member village.

I could tell you more but I don’t want you to miss out on the naked motorbike ride or the hop and skip chase around the creek or the questions of just who fathered a fair maiden’s child.

There are some memorable scenes in this movie with beautiful music and lovely landscapes. If high action is your thing, this may not be your movie. But if you are willing to wait for the story to play out and to have a resolution you can live with, well then, this Irish film is worth your time.

Now, neither of these movies are exactly family friendly. Sometimes the language gets a little salty. If a family friendly movie is what you are looking for than search no farther than Into the West. This movie is about two boys who are given a horse to care for despite the fact they live in a housing complex in the slums of Dublin.

Into the West IMDb com

Image from IMDb.com

That is when a rich man takes the horse through crooked methods so the boys do the only thing they can and steal the horse back. Soon they are are on the run, hiding from the police and other goons trying to get the horse, who is no ordinary horse. Their father joins in the chase with the help of his caravan friends to save the boys before something terrible happens.

It mixes modern day Ireland with folklore, combining an action adventure story with the redemption of a family. Makes me tear up every time.

Until Next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Last week I wrote about how The Iron Giant would make my top ten list of best animated movies.

As much as I love that movie, it made me think of what other movies I would put in that list. People who know me, know there are a few that are naturals. I have raved about them in the past and there is no way I could do a list without them.

On the other hand, I have done this list and later wondered why I didn’t put a movie down only to realize I forgot about it amidst all of my other steller choices. That is when one must do an honorable mention to make up for something that should be on the list but never made it.

So what do I look for in an animated feature. Beautiful animation for starters. Because animation can be otherworldly in depicting our world, I want something that is both dreamy and realistic. Like any other movie I watch, I want there to be good storytelling and characters with whom I can feel a connection. And because this list is family friendly, I want something most of the family can watch together.

  1. Toy Story FriendsToy Story – This computer animated flick tells the story of a toy who is the known favorite and must make an adjustment when his human gets a new toy. It is a story of jealousy, action and adventure, and a lesson on learning to accept your situation as it changes. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen were perfect as Woody and Buzz.

  2. Shrek – I loved this movie for making fun of the various fairy tales and legends of Europe while giving it’s lead monster a sincere heart and wicked sense of humor. Its sound track was pretty great, too. Parents could watch this movie with their kids and not poke their eyes out after repeat viewings.

  3. Spirited Away – Director Hiyao Miyazaki is one of the best anime masters in the world. Based on Japanese folklore, the story is about a young girl who goes to work for a spa for the spirits in order to save her parents. Along with the incredible storytelling is animation that makes you think you are looking at a black and white photo in one scene and drawings on incredible depth in others.

  4. The Incredibles – Pixar hit the trifecta with this movie. The animation is fantastic with the variety of super heroes. Then there is the story telling, taking on the issues of what does a superhero do when he can no longer be a superhero and what it means when we reward everyone with or without merit. Finally the voice-over work of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, and Jason Lee are simply wonderful, giving life to the characters as we get to know them.

  5. Kung Fu PandaKung Fu Panda – Jack Black plays into type here as the lovable loser who manages to succeed without the initial willing help of his teacher. Then there is the animation. One scene in particular that stands out is when the flowers on the peach tree fall and blow into the sky. While I consider this a family movie in the action/adventure vein, it is one my father would not watch. He firmly said he was not watching a movie with Pandas.

  6. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves – I mention this movie because it gave us the formula for all animated movies. As the Disney company’s first foray into a feature length movie, it proved animation could be interesting for 70 minutes or more. Take a classic fairy tale, create a great villain, and make the surroundings beautifully detailed. While the singing is classic to its time period, we still sing those songs today. Do you ‘whistle while you work?’

  7. The Jungle Book – This movie gave us jazz on a mainstream level while telling the story of a lost Asian Indian boy trying to find his way back to the man village. The animated background on four movable panels within one scene gave us the depth of the jungle. It is hard not to tap your fingers and your toes to this movie or be impressed by the animation.

  8. The Lion King IMDb com

    Movie poster for The Lion King, picture from IMDb.com

    The Lion King – This is one of those once in a lifetime movies where everything comes together. The music is inspiring, hitting on emotional points without pulling you too far into despair. The story telling is excellent as a young prince is driven from his kingdom by a beloved uncle. Finally, the animation is filled with splendor whether is it the opening scene or the trip to the elephant graveyard.

  9. The Iron Giant – I went in detail why I like this movie last week. But in a nutshell I love the storyline about a boy in the 1950s who discovers a giant robot. The animation, the story telling, the characterizations, and the way everything incorporates pop culture of the period is breathtaking while being relatable.

  10. Beauty and the Beast – There has been some chatter lately as to Frozen having great female characters who do no wait to be saved by the male characters. True but Elsa and Anna are not the first of these role breaking women in the Disney world. That honor goes to Belle from Beauty and the Beast who does all she can to save the Beast. Her story is wrapped around with fantastic music, the conversation of if a small town for your entire life better, and a villain who is very handsome despite his cold heart.

Until Next week, see you in the rental aisle.

If I had to think about all of the great animated features I have seen over the years, I know I could make a top ten list without too much thought.
It would include movies from Pixar, Disney, DreamWorks, and Ghibli Studios from Japan.
They are the easiest studios to think of because they have put out some of the best animated movies such as Toy Story, Shrek , My Neighbor Totoro, and The Lion King. And that is to name only a few.
I noticed that a movie I have considered a little known gem for many years just came out with a Signature Edition. The Iron Giant first came out in 1999 but very few people saw or seemed to even know about it. I would argue that this movie is really worth your time despite the fact that Warner Brothers did not know what kind of movie they had at the time.
Iron Giant 1999

1999 Movie Poster

It is a rich story about a boy who lives in Maine during the 1950s. It is a time of fear as the country is trying to hunt down communists while in a cold war with the Soviet Union. Worse yet, it appeared we were losing the race to space as Sputnik launches and succeeds in its flight around the earth.

For Hovarth, it is a great time as he watches the monster movies of his era on TV while his mother works the dinner shift at the town diner. But one night, as he is watching another science experiment gone awry, the TV signal goes out. Hovarth has to climb to the top of his roof to fix the antenna and notices big foot prints leading away from his house and into woods.
That starts our adventure with the big robot who eats metal and sometimes mistakes art works as tasty metal snacks. Things get hairy when the government comes in to investigate and right away Agent Mansley focuses on Hovarth. He knows the kid knows something but won’t tell the agent. When the situation grows into something awful, the Iron Giant proves what love can do to change a soul.
Iron Giant Signature

Signature Edition

When I think about this movie, I get teary-eyed because there are moments that catch you in the heart. There are moments that make you happy and laugh in all the right ways. It is a movie I would show to kids in third grade and up because some of it may not make such sense to kindergartners and younger children. Keep in mind that there is a scene or two that has a medium swear in which a general gets mad about how far a situation has gone and there is no turning back. But there are so many other great parts to this movie that you might want to make sure to watch it on a regular basis to catch all of the little details that you have missed before.

Voice over performances by Jennifer Anniston, Harry Connick Jr., and John Mahoney are pitch perfect. Eli Marienthal and Christopher McDonald find the right balance of kid and adversary adult as Hovarth and Agent Mansley, respectively.
So why get this Signature Edition? To be honest, the film has been worked over so the colors are deeper and brighter. There are a ton of special features, including a reel of deleted scenes, to look at as well as Easter Eggs to find. Plus, movie geeks can turn on the commentary to hear those details they love so much. But then there is the story itself. Director Brad Bird has restored scenes and changed a few things to make the movie he originally wanted.
Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.