This is a blog about books that we read to and with Isaac, but occasionally I take the liberty to digress and talk about something I have read or seen that may inform my parenting or teaching. Today I am going to go in a different direction entirely and write about movies.
This should really be Matt's post since he is the film-hound and a much more thoughtful movie critic than I am. But Isaac and I have seen quite a few movies this summer and I wanted to share some of them.
Many of the movies that have come out recently for children have been based on books or book characters. Mr. Popper's Penguins was the first one that we saw a few weeks ago. It is based on a children's book that Isaac's teacher read to the class last year, so he was very excited when he found out they were making the movie. I have to admit that I have not read the book and cannot judge how closely, or not, the movie follows the plot. And Isaac is not yet discriminating enough in his movie tastes to care. It was pretty good for a summer-get-the-parents-to-bring-their-kids-to-the-theater-release. Jim Carrey was his usual funny self, but the penguin stole the show. It had heart, but really all the kids wanted to see was the dancing penguin scene and Jim Carrey make the zookeeper punch himself in the face. It did have Angela Lansbury, but anyone below 35 isn't really going to appreciate the sentimentality of her appearance. Show the penguins again, already.
We also saw Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer. This movie is based on a children's series and the author co-wrote the screenplay. I liked that it continues the character's story, rather than simply takes one of the books and puts it on the screen. Fans of the series will find many familiar references and characters to connect back to the books. The movie employed some fun effects to bring out Judy's personality and the flavor of the books that are difficult to get across when you lose the inner-dialogue that the books allow the reader to be privy to. My only real problem with the movie was Heather Graham. I am just not a fan. And I don't appreciate the sexy-aunt character. She is supposed to be a free spirited artist, but that could have been portrayed just as easily in a caftan as a bustier. I am sure, though, that many fathers who were dragged to the movie by their children would disagree with me.
The one big movie disappointment of the summer was Cars 2. I should clarify that Matt and I were disappointed, Isaac liked it just fine. I have wanted to write about Pixar before, but just never took the time to focus on it. As a family, we love Pixar films. I believe they have made many of the best films of the past 20 years. Typically, Pixar movies have a strong story, relatable characters, and amazing animation. I really don't think there is one I have not liked, until now. Cars was one of Isaac's favorite movies for a long time, which means I have seen it a lot. We were really looking forward to this new one, and were also sad that Paul Newman had died before being able to be a part of it. A few days before the movie was released, we watched a documentary about Pixar and its rise as a creative force in the film industry. Over and over again the key players in the company emphasized the importance of "story" to their movies. Without a good story, the movie would fail no matter how great the animation. Somehow, they lost sight of that with this latest movie. The story was haphazard and the movie was simply a showcase for the funny stars and the cool animation. But again, Isaac liked it, and Pixar will make money on it and all of the merchandise it spawns. Hopefully, though, they will get back on track and find another good story for their next film.
I think today Isaac and I will go see Zookeeper. It's not one I would normally choose, but I have a feeling I will have sat through worse. (I actually took him to see Yogi Bear back in the winter -- it can't be worse than that, can it?) The one job that Isaac keeps coming back to when he is asked what he wants to be when he grows up is a zookeeper, so he has been excited about this movie for a while. It's really hot today (possibly getting up to 100), it's been a hectic week, and Isaac and I have been getting on each other's nerves. An air-conditioned movie theater, a tub of popcorn and some talking gorillas sound like just the thing we need.