February 26, 2007

Let's see...

Friday night was Family Movie Night, which by now guarantees that half of the family will see one movie (crappy shlocktacular improbable turn-of-events chick flick and/or dimwitted starlet is a princess/President's daughter/pop star in-search-of-her-real-self chick flick) while the other half goes and sees something suitable for the entire family (heartwarming live-action family dramedy and/or overly-CGI-animated heartwarming family comedyrama).


The three older girls went and saw the hooker-chasing Hugh Grant/highball-downing Drew Barrymore Music and Lyrics, which I had flatly refused to see, and I took the younger two with me to Bridge to Terabithia.


Not having read the book (although a couple of the kids have) I didn't know anything about the story but I'd seen the trailer and it looked interesting-ish. And it was--the parts of the movie dealing with the young boy and his family (one boy, four girls, and a distant dad who was once a liquid metal shape-shifting android) was nicely done, as were the scenes at the small school they attend. The friendship with the new girl is also well-done and believable, and overall the simplicity of the story and the way it's presented on film is empathetic. The family is poor, but they aren't played as pitiful or cloying or victims. Even when the boy or his little sister or his friend actually are the victims of bullying by the various mean kids in school.

Again, not knowing the story, I kept wondering why the the discovery of the creek and rope swing by Leslie and Jess was accompanied by the creepy music and sense of dread--maybe the book was different, but a bit less heavy-handed foreshadowing would have been appropriate.

As for the world across the creek, it was well-done all the way up until the introduction of the CGI characters, which also seems to be a beef a lot of folks have. I think my main problem with them is that they weren't fully one thing or another--the various birds and squirrels and bugs that turn into other things would have been better had they turned into things that weren't so obviously cartoon derived. Or something. Hard to explain, but it seemed better when the monsters weren't wearing metal hats and such.

But maybe I'm overthinking it--the kids seemed not to notice at all.

Then to the sad part of the story. All three of us were sniffling--again, the story proceeds painfully, unflinchingly, matter-of-factly and it's difficult to watch. And deeply affecting. For younger kids, I think it might be too much. After the movie was over and we had all met back up and were going home, Catherine was telling Reba about the movie and she got sad and started crying again about it. As far as I know, she's not done that with any other movie she's seen. And she knows it's not real, and that no one really was hurt, but it was, I think, the unvarnished manner in which tragedy was presented that got her. And me, too, for that matter. (After getting to spend the night in Mom and Dad's bed Friday night, she was much better.)

The epilogue was touching, although I felt like a moron when I got that little epiphany of why the movie has the title it does--"hmm--he's gonna make a bridge with all that lumber. A bridge to--OHHHHH!!" The only disjointed part was again due to the intrusiveness of the special effects at the very end that didn't add anything to the story.

Overall, though, a nice movie worth going to see--if for nothing else than it's full of kids who aren't impossibly hip and glib and there aren't scenes of mass chaos caused by frogs being dropped on the supper table or dogs biting people in the crotch or coarse jokes about cleavage or farts. It's probably not quite as good as the book, but then, few movies usually are. I'd give it a solid 8 out of 10 curly possum tails.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at February 26, 2007 09:20 AM

Did you get any brief responses on the chick flick you happened to miss?

Posted by: Marc V at February 26, 2007 11:03 AM

From the way they described it, it was horrendously trite and lame and predictable and derivative and coulda-phoned-it-in like. They liked it.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at February 26, 2007 11:18 AM

So do you think it would be ok for 5 year olds.

Posted by: Sarah G. at February 26, 2007 04:46 PM

I guess it depends on the five year old, but I don't think I would have recommended it for any of mine when they were five. Unless you're talking about the Hugh'n'Drew Show, which isn't suitable for any age.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at February 26, 2007 11:02 PM