Sunday, May 15, 2011

"The Sorcerer's Apprentice" -- Liking a Mediocre Film

Watching films, and reviewing them, is always subjective. What I think makes a good movie isn't always going to match anyone else's opinion-- and what I think may change over time and vary according to my circumstances.

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...


Scott Marlowe said...

Sorcerer's Apprentice was an enjoyable film, which is saying a lot given how poorly done/written so many movies are today. I'd take it any day over Transformers, which I never really liked even the first time I saw it.

Budd said...

I feel your pain. I hate sitting their watching what seems to be an appropriate movie, and then being shocked and looking over to my kids to see if they caught it. It happense sooooo much.

How to train your dragon was pretty good.

Even shows on Nick or Disney are sometimes shocking though.

M. McGriff said...

It's very hard to find a kid friendly movie these days! I don't have any kids but still like watching the occassional kiddy movie from time to time and I'm kinda shocked at the adult content in them! I'm going to have to do what my parents did with me when I was kid - preview the movies and then decide if I can go see them! (though I did con them into letting me and my friends see Space Balls at my 9th bday sleep over! My mom was pretty peeved at me though when the movie was over! LOL)

Vickie said...

I enjoyed Sorcerer's Apprentice as much as I thought I would when we saw the trailers. It was nice to take my now 8 year old to see a movie we could both enjoy, neither of us cringing.
DH liked it when I brought it home on DVD, too. It's one of my guilty pleasure flicks now...