More on Movie Night

Interesting timing. After my post about movies the other day, I saw this article today: The Fifty Best Catholic Movies of All Time. The “Catholic” criteria is pretty loose, which makes the selection broad, and it’s not a list specifically for children, which doesn’t mean that there aren’t kid-friendly movies on there, it just means you’d have to check them out a bit further.

The list was compiled 10 years ago (oh, but to have an article of mine still being circulated a decade later!), and comments are encouraged for other suggestions, especially modern movies. There are a substantial number of additional movies listed. Happy viewing.

Movie Night: What not to pick

Katie’s birthday is Friday and we’re trying to pick out a movie to watch for a birthday movie night.

She had seen previews for The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep and really really really wanted to see it. So I checked it out here.

Now, when Bill was deployed back in 2003, Fritz was 5 and we watched E.T. That’s a fun movie, right? Well, there’s that bit about him dying towards the end, but he comes back and goes home and everybody lives happily ever after.

But the themes of separation, loss and going home were too much for my kids. Instead of smiles, I had sobbing.

I’ve learned to be a bit more selective in choosing themes now when my kids are having rough times.

On to The Water Horse and the USCCB website review says:

“Engaging but, by the end, surprisingly intense fantasy adventure, set during World War II, in which a forlorn Scottish boy (Alex Etel), coping with the absence of his sailor father…”

“…starts off unthreateningly, but gets steadily more ominous as it moves toward a turbulent climax that would likely frighten most young children.”

Yeah, I think we’ll skip this one for now.

Any suggestions for happy, fun, amusing rentals for mixed ages and genders but all 11 and under?

The Loveliness of Movie Night

I said to my husband:

I summarize her blog to Bill a lot, and I always begin the same way. I think he knows who Sarah is from the first mention of her name, but I have to say the whole thing, like it’s her title or something.

“…she’s hosting a Loveliness Fair. The topic is ‘staying connected to the ones we love.’ So, how do we stay connected?”

“OK. Hmmm…maybe you could write about how we’ve progressed to the oral *** stage: we pass each other in the hall and say ‘F*** you!’ “

I narrowed my eyes to wee slits. “That’s not very lovely.”

Or true. But my husband never lets the truth stand between him and a funny punch line.


On Saturday nights, we usually watch a movie together. We try to wait until the kids are asleep to avoid interruptions, which generally means we begin rather late. My body often would rather be sleeping, but such are the sacrifices we make for love. Sometimes we watch something silly, sometimes it’s not to my liking, or something I would pick myself, and sometimes it really gives us an opener for a conversation.

Occasionally, we skip our movie night. One of us is too tired or has other more “important” work to do. But we try to keep those excuses to a minimum. I miss it when we don’t do it. I’d rather watch a bad movie – with my husband there to groan with me – and face a mountain of dishes in the morning than not to have this regular time together.

Stranger Than Fiction

This past weekend, Bill and I watched Stranger Than Fiction. We liked it; it provided some food for thought.

From The Internet Movie database comes this review:

No humor, no suspense, no cursing, no use of the “n” word, no frontal nudity, not even rear end nudity, no sex at all, no car chases, no drive-by shootings, no screaming or yelling..just NOTHING to keep a person awake for 2 hours.

They gave it one out of ten stars. If you’re expecting a typical Will Ferrell movie (a la Talladega Nights), this ain’t it. For those of us with entertainment tastes slightly more sophisticated than the average NASCAR fan, it’s not a snoozer. I managed to stay awake, but I totally slept through V For Vendetta with its plethora of violence.

Harold Crick (Ferrell) suddenly begins to hear a voice narrating his life. At first, it is merely obnoxious, and he wonders about his mental health. He then becomes quite alarmed when he hears the narrator casually mention his “imminent death.” He seeks help from a shrink who refers him to a professor of literature (yes, that’s a bit silly, and of course, we all know the guy would end up on anti- psychotic drugs faster than he could just say no, but it works). The professor helps him discern what kind of story he is in (tragedy or comedy), what chance he has for survival, and who the author is. He also encourages Harold to, basically, seize the day, which Harold does.

I venture to guess that very few people would actually want to know the day and time and method by which one would die. Would you have boarded the Titantic if you knew it would sink? Would you not rather sleep late than face the morning commute if you knew someone would spin out of control and nail you? Even soldiers, firefighters, police, and other workers who face danger daily don’t go to work thinking their number is up. They rush into buildings to save lives while praying for a miracle to protect their own.

Harold Crick meets the author and pleads for his life. She gives him her outline of his death, but, being just a tiny bit freaked out by the reality of her character, begins to doubt that she should tell the tale. Harold reads his story, learns of his heroic death, and freely chooses this end. As the author correctly points out, it is one thing to die a hero’s death, but something even greater to freely choose in advance to die a hero’s death.

Although I didn’t notice any mention of it at TIMd, it is glaringly obvious, especially during this Lenten season, that Harold Crick is a Christ-like figure. My guess is that those who didn’t like the movie didn’t get this or aren’t the type to be drawn to such a story (no sex in The Passion, despite the name). I thought that the analogy, though clear, was not blunt. And I appreciate that.

On a completely different note, Bill’s wrist watch recently breathed it’s last tick, and he liked Harold Crick’s watch enough that I got it for him. I wonder if it will spontaneously chime whenever I’m in the vicinity…

Movie Review: Old School

Last night, Bill and I watched Old School starring Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn.

The first adjective that springs to mind: juvenile. There was not a single mature character in the flick. If you have a problem with nudity, sex outside of marriage, sex with more than one person at a time, sex with minors, or unmarried people co-habitating, then this is not the movie for you. The warning of “adult situations” doesn’t quite prepare you for ninety full minutes of that sort of thing.

The second adjective that occurs to me: hysterical. The whole thing was funny. I laughed from one scene to the next, often through tears, often suppressing myself so I could actually hear the lines. Each situation led to another one even more preposterous than the one prior that I was no longer constrained by any sense of decency and could just laugh at the silly people doing ludicrous things. Yes, it was an “Oh my gosh…!!!” kind of laughter, and if I actually knew people who were like this I probably wouldn’t find it nearly as funny. It is that the characters are so very unreal, that the movie is so very funny.

Definitely not for little eyes and ears. In fact, I would be embarrassed to watch this with my parents, and don’t think I would ever watch this with my own children, even in twenty years. But I did enjoy it and do recommend it for those still slightly in touch with their own immaturity.

Movie Review: 300

Last night we took a break from our run of Humphrey Bogart films to watch 300. Bill had wanted to see it when it was in theaters, but that just didn’t happen. I finally remembered to put it on our Netflix queue, and it arrived yesterday.

Well, now.

It had a good soundtrack…

I had read that it was historically inaccurate, so I was not overly bothered by any of the details that didn’t mesh with actual Spartan warfare (fighting out of formation or without armor), real Spartan life (the claim of a “free” society), or real Greek culture (“God speed” says one fleeing Arcadian…God speed? Which god?).

And I knew this was based on a comic book, so I could be amused by the gravity-defying agility of the characters (gotta love computer animation!).

But I did not realize that this was a fantasy fiction…kind of like Sparta takes on the forces of Mordor. The Persian army seemed to be composed of wizards, orcs, and all sorts of amazingly deformed creatures that could only come out of the depths of hell. Heck, they even had oliphants. And what was up with that half man – half lobster (aka: the human guillotine) who looked like what “might have been” had the Karate Kid’s mom taken Thalidomide?

I understand the technique of portraying bad guys as inhuman…but really.

Beyond that, I really can’t say that the plot was captivating or that the characters were inspiring. I mean if a pregnant (read: highly emotional) soldier’s wife doesn’t feel particularly moved when she sees a scene where the queen receives the necklace her dead king wore in battle (and I tried, I tried) than you really haven’t done much in the way of character development.

The special effects were cool, I suppose. But I’m just too old now for lots of blood: it doesn’t excite me the way it used to. And all that slo-mo, stop-action fighting with people hovering in the air…I first saw that technique in The Matrix (it might be older than that for all I know), and that was eight years ago. There comes a point where it just seems passé (please note the use of the fancy “e” there…and many thanks to my BIL, Tom, who made that possible).

In the end, it wasn’t a total waste of my time. I rarely watch modern movies, and whenever I do, I feel so hep and a part of modern pop-culture. But even Bill agreed that it was better on DVD (as in free) than if we had paid to see it (and paid babysitters for the ability to see it).

For a bit, I’ll go back to old movies. We just got a collection of Roy Rogers films I think the kids will enjoy…and me too. No blood. No slow motion. But probably not a bad soundtrack.

…a bit more…

My sister, who is celebrating her birthday today, chastized me for not appreciating this movie. Apparently, I should have spent my time admiring the bare-chested actors to get the true essence of what the movie was all about. Silly me. But, when you live with this hunk o’ burnin’ love, I’m sure you realize why I just don’t notice those sorts of things:

And Esther also disagreed with my assessment. So please don’t allow my personal opinion to detract you from enjoying the film, if you like looking at men’s chests and think severed limbs and heads flying in slow motion across the screen are cool. My copy will be back at Netflix in a day or so.

Happy Catholic liked the bare-chested babes, too. I’m sorry, I still can’t get over the deformed guy who beheaded the inept general with his forearm.

Battle of the Sexes

After watching Adam’s Rib Saturday night, Bill commented:

“I always thought I’d like to marry someone like Lauren Bacall. Little did I know I would marry a Katharine Hepburn.”

Ouch. Sadly, Hepburn’s character’s behavior made me wince through the whole flick precisely because I recognized the same obnoxious tendencies in me. From her oblivion to the overt passes made at her by her neighbor and her equal oblivion (disregard) to how much these passes irritated her husband to her competitive nature that compromises marital harmony, there’s not much to like about Amanda Bonner, defense lawyer.

We hope to watch Desk Set later this week. Every movie I’ve seen with Hepburn has her playing an independent, liberal (for the 40s), strong-minded woman. Unfortunately these qualities come across as harsh, self-serving, and irritating. Also unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that the movie makers are unjustly portraying her this way: her bad decisions are in character, she shows remorse for hurting someone’s feelings, but not remorse for doing what she’s doing. In other words, she is sadly real.

Family Movie Night – what not to watch

In recent months, I’ve been exposing the kids to musicals for family movie night. They’ve seen The Wizard of Oz, Kiss me Kate, Singing in the Rain, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. So far, I think their favorite has been Singing in the Rain. Even my 3 year old was performing two of the songs weeks later. And the vaudeville/tap dancing is a big hit with the boys, although it hasn’t yet convinced them to take lessons.


Last night we watched West Side Story. I made the mistake of not checking the length of the movie before I promised it. It is 2 1/2 hours long. We got about 90 minutes in when I called a halt on account of the three younger ones who really needed to just go to bed. The older boys were disappointed. I was sorry, but that was that. This morning, Fritz woke up at 6 am as usual, and I found him in the family room cuing up the DVD to where we left off the night before. He and Petey and I watched the last hour before anyone else awoke.

This musical did not hold my kids’ interest nearly as much. They like tap dancing much more than modern dance and ballet, the songs are not as catchy, and the whole gang warfare concept was outside of their world view. In that last hour, there is the big rumble scene where the two gang leaders are killed. “Romeo” goes to “Juliet”‘s home and tells her he is responsible for her brother’s death, but that he didn’t mean to do it. They agree to run away together. He departs to wait for her to meet him later. Then word comes that an angry friend of her brother found out about their plans and killed her. It’s a lie, but “Romeo” believes it as truth and goes out looking for this man in the hopes that the friend will kill him too and end his misery.

Fritz asked: Why does he want to die? Oh, how glad I am that he is still young enough to not get that. And how glad I am that I am old enough to almost forget why myself.

Later in the morning, Billy told me that he didn’t need to watch the ending of the movie. Fritz clued him in that there was a big fight, people died, and that the ending was sad. OK, I can take a hint. Next up I think will be Annie Get Your Gun. They’ve recently learned about Annie Oakley, and this musical is supposed to be a battle of the sexes, happy ending love story. Sounds good to me.

At dinner last night…

Bill: There’s a new movie coming out soon…300.

Me: Gates of Fire?

Bill: Uh-huh.

Me: Aren’t you impressed at my guess?

Bill: Oh, I’m all hot and bothered.

We realize comments like those at the dinner table will have to cease soon, but then again, we’ve been thinking that for years now, and I do recall my own parents taking great pleasure in mentioning their plans to lie around the house naked when we’re all moved away…or sooner if that’s what it required to get us to move away.

I’m waffling about whether or not I’ll see this movie, which is actually based on a novel by a different author but of the same battle. I didn’t read Gates of Fire. Bill read it and shared it with me. The one scene that sticks with me is when the head honco talks with one of the women. The Spartans all know that nobody will return from this mission. The chosen 300 will fight to the death against the advancing hoard. All they’re doing is buying time so the rest of Greece can better prepare its defenses. The Spartans take care to not leave any woman or child without a patriarch: if her husband goes, she’ll have an adult son remain and vice versa. Except for one woman who will lose both. Mr. Head Honcho tells her he knows this will be hard for her, but he also knows she’s a really strong woman and can handle it. And then he says that since her grief will be the greatest, he expects her to set the tone for how all the women should handle this tragedy. In other words, Mrs. Smith can’t justify hysteria if the woman with the greatest loss is putting on a good face. Lovely, eh?

And Bill told me this scenario as a sort of pep talk for me, telling me that he sees me as that strong women, yada, yada, yada. I really don’t want to be a strong woman. I want to be a taken care of woman, know what I mean?

Anyway, since the movie is based on a different novel it is likely that scene will not be in the movie, but war movies are not really what I enjoy watching. I thought it was pretty normal for women to not be interested in watching war movies, but I know two women who loved Master and Commander.

Master and Commander, to me, was like Band of Brothers meets Moby Dick. All the horrors of war, but on the sea and with a captain obsessed with capturing his nemesis. At least the nemesis was another ship commander, and not a whale. Bill had already seen it once and said that I might enjoy the story line. I did find the relationship between the doctor and the commander of the ship to be interesting. However, those scenes were few and far between the other scenes which include a 12 year old having his arm amputated, a suicide, and a bad storm wherein a soldier is cut away from the ship to name just a few of the times that inspired me to query: And why did you think I would like this movie?

I have subjected him to a few chick flicks lately, so perhaps he stands a good chance of wrangling me into the theatres to see this one. I just hope he doesn’t consider it foreplay.