Tag Archive: kids


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.

Over the years I have heard many people talk about the “damn kids” and the trouble they cause and that they are the reason why are country is going to hell in a hand basket.

Tattoos, and consumerism and the lack of God in their lives is bringing this country down. Alcohol and drug abuse has never been like it is now. And what about these marriages that do not stick together.

I hear it every week and quite frankly IT PISSES ME OFF.

We sit there and complain about the kids and young people these days. Just like they did in Plato’s day, just like they did during the Jazz Age and the 1960s. I hate to break it to you oldsters, but we got the example how not to live from somewhere. And I am pointing my finger right at you!

I remember when the talk was that the role of President was going to jump over the Baby Boomers. Things were going to jump from George H.W Bush to someone who was not even born in the Baby Boomer era BECAUSE that group was too selfish, too shallow.

Hello Bill Clinton, W, and Obama – three men who were born in the Baby boomer era and became president. So much for the jump-over.

That is not what I want to talk about today. Instead, I want to bring up a man who was featured in Sports Illustrated this week. This man was a football coach at a high school in Ohio that managed to survive a shooting. While three students died, more deaths were prevented when this offensive line coach chased after the shooter.

image from sports.yahoo.com

image from sports.yahoo.com

He did this while the shooter tried to take aim at him. He did this even though it could have ended his life and made a widow out of his wife. And when he chased the kid out of the school, he went back to the first room, the school cafeteria, and sat with those three boys as they were dying.

That takes guts. But this is not the end of his story. Months later after dealing with depression and PTSS, this coach hears of an opportunity to work at a high school that his own high school had merged into. The school is in a bad town, poorer than poor tax base, and kids who were just told by their old coach they were worthless.

He never understood why God save him that awful day when a student started firing in the school cafeteria. But he decided to take a chance, to let abandoned kids know what it is like to have an adult care about you.

So for those of you who complain about kids today and do nothing but sit on your butt, here is an example of a man who is doing something. What you should be asking is “Why can’t I be more like Frank Hall?”

Well, why can’t you?

Making Hard Life Choices

When I was asked to review a book on being childless called Complete Without Children by Ellen L. Walker Ph.D, I took the book for a number of reasons.

Picture from Me

I have to admit I was intrigued by the book after reading news stories that there are more households that have a pet than have a child in the house. That’s right, 39% of households in America have a pet dog while 33.5% of households have a child under the age of 18.

I am willing to bet most of those households have dogs but that is beyond the point. Apparently fewer of us are having children or waiting longer to do it. Which means we have fewer children.

Some of my friends saw me reading this book and wondered why I was reading such a thing. After all, I have four kids. It was a bit too late to have a childless life if I so wanted.

For me the book was more of a glimspe into the life I might have had if I had not changed my mind about wanting a family. I could have travelled more, figured out my life ambitions  more, devoted more energy to a career. When I was young I stated I did not want children because I was a selfish being and kids require a certain selflessness. You have to understand that your wants and needs do not always matter.

In this book Dr. Walker looks at women who were childless by choice, by happenstance or by circumstances beyond their control. I felt sorry for the women who could not have children and grieved the loss. But for the women who did not have children and choose not to have children, I felt complete agreement.

One woman had to raise her younger siblings while their mother worked to support the family. Another never wanted children and ended a relationship with a man who did want a family. The author was involved with men who already had children or did not want to start a family. By the time she got around to thinking about children it was too late for her. Besides that, she enjoyed having freetime to work on projects. Another woman worked as a freelance graphic designer and liked having a quiet house so she could work all day and all night if need be. 

What made this reading assignment enjoyable is that the book is written in a conversational manner. I began to know people and enjoyed reading how they came to their lifestyle decisions.

When my husband saw the book I was reading, he snorted. Then he made a comment that not having a family  is un-natural. We are meant to have families, we humans are made to have families and by golly, everyone who is capable of having children should have children.

Really, I answered. Because I would rather have parents who want kids in this world. How many kids have we seen on our street and in our community where parents are parents not by choice. And the majority of those parents are angry, resentful parents who pass on those feeling to their kids, making for angry resentful kids. Yep, that’s what I want in the world. Kids raised by angry, resentful parents.

I would rather have children raised by parents who want them, by parents who give a shit about their kids. Quite frankly, it is brave of these women to stand up and say “I do not have a maternal bone in my body.” Nor I do not think they should be ridiculed or put down for that. Knowing what you do not want is just as important as knowing what you do want.

Who needs kids when you can get a puppy? Picture by Bad Robt

However, you and I know people will shake their heads and cluck their tongues at women whose life does not have a child tugging at their shirt tails. God forbid a woman should walk a different path than one of motherhood, still. I thought feminism was getting us beyond this point. We are used to women working, women being able to own their own homes and have their own credit card.

That childless woman a real threat to society. Yep, I am buying into that line thinking. Just as soon as I buy into the idea that the Moon Missions really happened in the desert.

Now if you are interested in reading the book, I am giving away my copy. Add a comment making the request and I will pick someone at random.

In the meantime, let me know what you think about women who choose not to have children. Unnatural or a good decision – tell me.

Family Movie Night

 

It has been hot. Terribly hot, unbearably hot.

 

I think I have lost five founds without even trying. People see me walking my dog and wonder – out loud – about my sanity.

 

I wonder as well. But when I come home from work, the dog jumps on me and begs for his walk. So I hose him down before we go and then we take an abbreviated walk.

 

When we get back, we are thirsty. I am ready to be under the sprinkler if it is running.

 

When it is this hot, I am ready for a silly and ridiculous movie. I want a movie that is going to make me giggle and laugh and forget how hot I am feeling.

 

Movie poster image from IMDB.com

A few weeks ago, Arthur came to the home market. This re-make of the Dudley Moore movie follows the adventures of a very rich man who remains child-like in his daily life. Russell Brand stars as Arthur in a winning manner. You come to understand why he acts the way he does with his constant attention seeking behavior.

 

But then his mother demands he marry Jennifer Garner, a woman from a wealthy family but a bit driven and coarse. In the meantime, he meets the wonderful unlicensed-tour guide, Greta Gerwig, and falls in love with the unpublished children’s author. There to catch him in every bad situation and save him is his faithful nanny, Helen Mirren.

 

This is a sweet movie with funny moments. There are the sad moments and truthful moments and moments that make you shake your head. The movie rating of PG-13 is there for sexual situations, drug references, alcohol use throughout and language. I would not watch this movie with young children around but it is fine for a date night at home.

 

Movie poster from IMDb.com

One movie that I love for kids that is silly and fun is The Jungle Book from 1967. There are so many good songs that make you want to dance and jiggle around the house. The animation is incredibly dense and beautiful, which pulls you in to the movie even more.

 

The movie also has some great performers. Phil Harris plays the lovable slacker bear, Baloo. Louis Prima gives voice to King Louie of the Apes. George Sanders is the silky smooth danger that is Shere Khan the Tiger. Sterling Holloway, also known as the voice of Winnie the Pooh, plays Kaa the snake.

 

Movie poster from IMDb.com

Finally, the best silly and incredibly funny movie out there is Airplane. This movie spoofs every disaster movie and gets comedic performances from people you would never expect such as Peter Graves, Lloyd Bridges and Barbara Billingsley. This movie came out in 1980 and is on every list I have ever seen for best comedic movies ever made. It is suited for those who are in their teens and up due to some sexual situations and drug references.  

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

The Sea of Snow

Wordless Wednesday

Six months ago, snow was the topic of our lives.

 

My Neighbor's Pine Tree

 
 

Playing with Christmas Toys outside

Snow, Snow, snow everywhere

 

Picture by Sue Molyneaux

 
And it felt as if it was never going to end.

A few weeks ago an incident at a park bothered me. Really bothered me despite it having nothing to do with me or my actions.

Picture by Click

It was the Fourth of July and our town was having a celebration that was also raising money for new playground equipment. We had fun and had a hand at raising nearly $6,000 for the new park. That was the great part of the day.

However, while I was there talking to another tee-ball mom a little boy came along to play in the sand. He was without parent. At first he was throwing sand but a stern look from me stopped that behavior. He continued on playing with my friend’s little girl – in the sand – for 15 or 20 minutes.

That is when mom finally came on the scene and she was angry. How dare he play in the sand and get all dirty. A smack to the head was followed by his crying and being dragged off by angry mom.

It was over in a minute but I felt shocked at what I was seeing. There are certain rules of parenting that should not get broken and one of them is being an unreasonable bitch. Hitting your kids in public is no longer allowed. And certainly leaving your kid alone for twenty minutes and then getting pissed at him should have given me the right to smack her like she smacked her five-year-old.

Picture by Anita Patterson

Did that mom not know they were at a public park? Sand and dirt are all over the place – in sandboxes and on baseball fields. Kids are going to find it. Did she tell him not to get dirty when they got there?

That is like bringing a kid to a jump house place and saying “Ok, no playing in any of the bouncy houses. I don’t want you getting hurt.” What kind of stupid idiot parent brings a kid somewhere that has sand and then tells them not to play in the sand?

While we are at it, what kind of stupid parent brings their kid to a fun fair at a park and does not know where their kid is for 20 minutes?

This mom shows up and acts as if what the kid was doing was a total surprise to her. Where was she during all of that time? Talking to friends? Having a good time,  not noticing her kid throwing sand and being reprimanded by another mom?  It is one thing to be an idiot mom and not notice your kid. It is another to reprimand him in the worst way possible.

That’s right. Smacking a kid because you took him to a park where there was sand and dirt while telling him he cannot get dirty. And when he plays in that irresistable pile of sand while you were not paying attention for 20 minutes that gives the parent the right to smack the child and smack him hard. What if I place that parent in a bar and then told them the only thing they could drink was water. No beer, wine, mixed drink, hard lemonade, nothing.

You know what will happen next. They will try the water but nothing is a good as what you cannot have. The desire grows and then someone hands them a favorite alcoholic drink. That is when I get to swoop in and “whammy!” with the back of my hand.

While I enjoy the imagery of that last thought, here are a few rules for parents to live by.

1. If you go to the park, kids will find the dirt and/or sand. Don’t go thinking they will stay perfectly clean or by your side while you talk endless trash with your friends. They will get bored, they will look for something to do and chances are it will involve sand and/or dirt. If it bothers you that much, bring along hand sanitizer, baby wipes or a plastic bubble to put around your kid.

2. Keep an eye on your child – no matter what. If they are under the age of 8, watch what they are doing and do not be surprised when they find something to do involving dirt/sand/mud when you are not looking. You can still talk to your friends, just move around so your child is within your eye-sight line.

3. Do not hit your child. In public, in private, anywhere. Especially if what you are really mad about is your own shortcomings.  You blew  it in public and then yelled at your child before smacking them to let that kid know he did wrong. A wrong you did not catch till too late.  Who is really in the wrong?

So is there good news here?

Yes, there is. You can be a better parent. You can start observing your child better, setting parameters more clearly, acting better towards your child. You can be the grown-up who controls their own actions.

A Babe-In-Total-Control-of-Herself.

Otherwise, a bitch, like myself, might not be disiplining just your child. She might take her cell phone to call the cops to disipline you if she doesn’t do it herself first.

Fairy Tale Night

Family Movie Night

I was looking at the movie rental rack the other night in our little store and noticed that two of the newest movies were based on fairy tales.

Beastly is based on the Beauty and the Beast fairly tale with a bit of high school bullying angst thrown in. Amanda Seyfried stars in Red Riding Hood which is based on the darker aspect of the familiar tale.

If you have ever read the original tales that the Grimm’s brothers recorded, you know that this is dark territory. The punishments are harsh with their bloodletting. Gothic and gruesome, some of these tales are simply amazing.

Poster image from IMDb.com

The stories we tell children have been incredibly cleaned up from the originals.

What these two movies do with their fairly tales is not meant for children.

Red Riding Hood takes us to a small village that has made a deal with a werewolf by feeding him farm animals. However, one month a villager is killed and revenge is exacted. But doubt remains and a werewolf hunter is called in.

Around this is the love triangle with Valerie, her true love Peter and her promised husband Max. Valerie also discovers she has a connection to the werewolf. There is more to the plot but it gets a little crazy and then you have Gary Oldman as the werewolf hunter.

Now there is violence and some sensuality in this PG-13 movie that is aim squarely at those teens who also like Twilight.  

Poster Image from IMDb.com

Beastly is also rated PG-13 and focuses on a young man at a high school who is rich and handsome. Kyle’s heart is cold and cruelty lies beneath those good looks. His latest victim is goth girl Kendra, rumored to be a witch. When his latest prank hurts her – as planned – Kendra turns the tables on Kyle. She casts a spell making his appearance as ugly as his soul.

Now Kyle has a year to find so

meone to love him or stay in his ugly state forever. And his hope rests in the quiet Lindy, a classmate he has never talked to in the past. The rating reflects crude comments and some violence.

What these two movies represent to me is popcorn watching. They were both rated terrible by critics and movie goers gave both movies a 50% enjoyment rating, according to Rotten Tomatoes movie review website.

I have a few fairy tale movies that I love.

Fiona and Shrek from "Shrek," image from IMDb.com

My family pick is the Shrek series. Mixing all sorts of characters from fairy tales across Europe, Shrek weaves a tale of freedom from repressive rulers and true love and magical transformations in the first movie. As the series moves along we are transfixed by great musical selections and simply good storytelling.

Drew Barrymore in "Everafter," image from IMDb.com.

My second pick is great for a girls’ night or a couple date night at home stars Drew Barrymore. Everafter is a retelling of Cinderella that takes my breath away every time, even though Barrymore does a terrible accent. The movie is filled with little moments of discovery about the story we never thought about.

A young Fred Savage and the late great Peter Falk in "The Princess Bride," image from IMDb.com.

Lastly, my favorite fairytale movie – and perhaps one of the best movies ever – is The Princess Bride starring Cary Elwes and Robin Wright. The tale of a woman about to marry a prince after her true love was killed by the Dread Pirate Roberts never fails to fascinate me with incredible sword play, amazing dialogue and the deepest essence of true love.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Slice of Life

Family Movie Night

 

When does a movie go from comedy to slice of life?

 

For me, it is when the action slows down and requires the main character to cross a line. This might mean he has to make a moral decision, it might mean he has to stand up to someone who wants him to do wrong.

 

It might be funny or serious but in the end it feels as if a moral victory has been won by the main character and we, the viewers, feel rejuvenated by his decision.

 

I ask this because Cedar Rapids comes to the home market this week and the reviews are mixed. Some professional reviewers loved it while others hated it.  I am curious to see this movie because when it first came out, I heard many wonderful opinions of this movie.

 

There was amazement that a movie that had so much raunchy humor could also be sweet and touching.

 

The story is about an insurance agent who gets sent to his company’s convention in Iowa in order to win back a coveted award. Tim has always lived in his small Wisconsin town and has never moved, emotionally, beyond a high school stage of life. And what he sees at this convention with the men he shares a room at the hotel is eye opening.

 

He shares a room with a loud mouth braggart and a black man who is much like Tim. Along the way he meets a prostitute and an assertive female agent from Nebraska who, along with his roommates, help him grow up a bit and deal with the convention.

 

Ed Helms stars as Tim, playing the straight man to John C. Reilly and Anne Heche, among others. This is a movie meant for adults with an “R” rating, the humor contains plenty of naughty bits that is funny in its place but not appropriate for younger members of the family.

 

I haven’t seen it yet. But from everything I have read, it reminds me of Barbershop starring Ice Cube. When I first saw this movie, I did not think there was much there. No car chases or big fight scenes but a picture of a neighborhood.

 

It was later when I saw it a second time that I realized what made Barbershop such a gem. The moments of joy, the moments of truth telling and crazy statements. People may not always get along and you wonder how it all stands together.  In the end it is about family – the one you are born into and the one you create.

 

This movie does have a PG-13 rating and single use of the f-bomb. Parents need to think about what they would allow their children to watch before putting in this selection.

 

Finally, if you are looking for a family-friendly ‘slice-of-life’ movie, one of my favorites is How to Eat Fried Worms.” The story revolves around a sixth grader who moves to a new school. Being the new kid he must get past the school bully. To do that the eating of worms are involved. The fun is seeing how a boy who has a very quesy stomach reacts to having to eat worms without throwing up. This is one movie I would watch with my younger children again and again.

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Do you find that one actor or actress gets to you in the way that no other performer does?

If this was my second oldest child answering, he would say Johnny Depp.

Nicholas Cage who is six day younger than myself; Image from IMDb.com

For me, it is Nicholas Cage.

I have no idea why but I will stop my world to watch a Nicholas Cage movie – good or bad.

Lately one of the stations has been showing Ghost Rider over and over. I have been watching when I get a chance for the pure chutzpah of it all. How Cage will look in a mirror and smack his choppers, making that hollow sound of bones crashing together.

He takes total joy in the pursuit of evil and bringing in those who prey upon their fellow man.

Then this same actor makes National Treasure. The history geek in me loves this movie and all of the facts – or semi-real facts – it presents. All along, Cage’s character waxes poetic about the meaning of the Constitution. When his assistant, Justin Bartha, states that people don’t talk that way, Cage responds with “But they feel that way.” As he says it, I know deep in my heart he truly believes in that line.

There is sincerity in that statement. What Cage has been working for the last few years is creating characters with sincerity.

In his early career, Cage had a tendency to overact. Watch him in Moonstruck. There is a constant  “over-the-top” feeling. He won’t get beyond it for several years. But then he did Guarding Tess  (1994) with Shirley MacLaine and Leaving Las Vegas (1995) with Elizabeth Shue.

His acting changed, he became more real despite some of the outrageousness. Whatever was going on in the story, Cage became the calm inside of the storm. But he also worked to be interesting without being weird.

Adaptation allowed him to play two roles – the blocked writer working on a novel-to-screenplay adaptation and the outgoing twin brother who easily writes a screenplay and sells it almost instantly. The movie is about the creation of movies and a writer’s dip into a deadly underbelly of orchids (of all things).

Another great movie from this period is Matchstick Men in which Cage and Sam Rockwell are con men, making the biggest con of their careers that will allow for retirement. Cage is suffering from OCD which makes doing jobs harder and harder. Then he discovers he has a daughter from his brief marriage.

I love this movie for the highs and lows, the wins and the losses. I love it for Cage’s performance. I feel the same way about The Family Man, The Weatherman, National Treasure and World Trade Center. These performances are about character studies and people going through tough situations in really messy ways.

In the last few years, there have been news stories about Cage’s need to pay off tremendous debt. He has made some incredible popcorn movies, relying on those great acting skills in movies that are B-level. What we don’t always get is that he makes them watchable. How bad could his latest movie, Drive Angry, had gotten if he did not play it serious.

Considering I believe he made The Sorcerer’s Apprentice  better than it should have been, it is my feeling he has saved many of these lesser movies. But the real question is will Cage ever get back to making the better movies he is capable of doing?

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Behind the Scenes

Family Movie Night

 One of the neat things about being a nosy parker (that would be me) is that you are always learning or seeing new and different things.  Sometimes that means people don’t want to talk to me and other times it means we get some interesting requests.

A few weeks ago, friends of ours asked if our daughter would be interested in acting in their film. It is a 10-minute short that has her playing a girl who dies in an accident. The rest of the story is to be a surprise and I will leave it at that.

What I will say is that it has been fascinating to watch the filming. We always see the finished product but to get that film takes time. You can go through a scene several times for a number of reasons.

The actors did fine but the shot itself needs to be refined. Or the actors flubbed a line or changed how they did something or had an attack of the giggles after much repetition.

Sometimes a scene will go off perfectly, requiring only a second shot to get a timing glitch out of the way.

Paul Giamatti and Frankie Muniz in "Big Fat Liar," Image from IMDb.com

Plus, you have to remain super quiet during the actual take because the microphone is so strong it will pick up sounds in other areas. We couldn’t talk or move around. I made my youngest son stop playing for a moment when he was on set one day so the sound wouldn’t ruin the shot.

All of this made me wonder about movies that are about the movies. For the kids, there is Big Fat Liar starring Frankie Muniz as a kid who’s last ditch paper is stolen by big time movie producer Paul Giammatti. So the kid and his best friend, Amanda Bynes, go to Hollywood hoping to get credit where credit is deserved.

Sharon Stone and Albert Brooks in "Thr Muse," Image from IMDb.com.

For something a little more adult and crazy, there is The Muse starring Albert Brooks and Sharon Stone. He is a screen writer hitting a serious block and she is a consultant of sorts who helps Hollywood-types break blocked periods. But she comes at a cost and prefers gifts in little blue boxes.

 When I did some quick looking around, I found that not everyone loved this movie as much as I have. I love the movie for being breezy and fun. That everyone caters to Stone in the manner she demands is hilarious.

Erick Von Stronheim, Gloria Swanson and William Holden in "Sunset Boulevard," Image from IMDb.com

Now if you want to go to classic movies about Hollywood , the ultimate behinds the scenes movie to me is Sunset Boulevard. What does one do when the zenith of your fame has gone away? What does one do when your multitude of fans disappear? If you are Gloria Swanson, you go crazy. Your mindset remains in the past. And you hire men to be your ‘companion.’

What movies about Hollywood do you love?

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let the world know about your latest pick for Family Movie Night and drop a note below.