Sunday, May 15, 2011
For example: I watched two films this week that I had not seen in a while. The first, Ever After, is a Cinderella story featuring Drew Barrymore that was released in 1998-- and I loved it when it first came out. I hadn't watched it in years and wasn't sure if I would feel the same watching it now as I had watching it then. I still love it. Is it a good movie? Well, I certainly think so. It has the kind of rom-com sensibility that I favor in that it has romance, humor and sentimentality in huge quantities. And Angelica Huston is hilarious.
However, the second film I re-watched this week, "Transformers," failed to impress me this time around. Granted, I had some reservations about this movie the first time around, but after sitting through it a second time with kids who are older (my daughter was 7 the first time she saw it, and is now 11) I realized how cringe-worthy some of the content is. I thought it was idiotic to have Bumblebee "pee" oil on one character the first time I saw it, but waiting for the inevitable questions after Sam's mother inexplicably asks him if he was masturbating during one particularly dumb sequence is uncomfortable to say the least. Who are they trying to appeal to here? Little kids who still think potty humor is the height of comedy or teenagers who're probably just as uncomfortable watching Sam dodge his embarrassing mom as I am? I know, I know, it's Michael Bay. Believe me, I'll take that into account before I pay to see the next "Transformers."
Because my kids are past the stage where they are oblivious to film content, movie going has a lot of land-mines these days. The only films I trust right now are animated ones by Disney and Pixar. But it's not just language and adult themes that are the issue. Finding a film that appeals to pre-teen kids and adults is harder than I imagined. The "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" movies are cute enough, but had me sneaking a peek at my smart-phone pretty regularly. And sitting through anything featuring Jack Black is even harder in my opinion. (I read that Kathy Griffin's mom said Black has "serial killer eyes" and now that's all I see when I look at him...)
Which brings me to The Sorcerer's Apprentice.
Now, I know "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" isn't a great film. Like most everything that comes out of Hollywood it's big on special effects and light on plot. Jay Baruchel, while likable enough, sounds like he spent most of his high school years perfecting his Christian Slater impersonation in drama club and I'm pretty sure I don't need to expound on the mystery that is Nicholas Cage's career or his choice in naming his child Kal-El (seriously?). I do, however, like Cage in a Christopher Walken kind of way.
But here's the thing. For the first time in a long, long while, both my kids were glued to the screen. My 11-year-old did not want to watch this movie and she was the first one to turn to me when it was over and exclaim that was awesome! There wasn't any noticeable language to be wary of (believe me-- my kids point it out) and no unexpected injections of adult content. Awesome indeed.
As I watched "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" I went from composing a review in my head that checked-off the good and bad qualities of the film to just appreciating the fact that it had so many breath-easy qualities. Eventually I ended up wanting to write a love letter to Jerry Bruckheimer and Jon Turteltaub for making such a kid-friendly film. And, truth is, it was pretty entertaining taken as a whole.
I know it's a sad state of affairs when I will sing the praises of a film that could realistically be called cliché only because it doesn't embarrass me or my children. But the days of "Mary Poppins" don't seem to be coming back any time soon-- if ever. So, for once, I'm taking my 'critic' hat off and allowing myself to like a movie for what it means to me as a parent and nothing else. Sometimes it's nice to give the critic a day off...