24 June 2009

Summer Sees and Skips

Summer Sees and Skips for the Whole Family

By Kristin Battestella

With all the holidays and vacays, you and you’re family need to know what to watch during you’re summer movie nights. Here are some tips on what to enjoy- along with a few pictures to avoid.

See and Enjoy

Napoleon Dynamite- After finally seeing this 2004 teen comedy I was pleasantly surprised by its coming of age wit and awkward stuck in the eighties silliness. Not quite for children, but teens and folks who remember graphic t-shirts will laugh.

Little Miss Sunshine- A fine ensemble cast-including Steve Carell, Toni Collette, and Alan Arkin- gives this quiet picture the umph, charm, and plenty of humor. Some parts are a little sentimental, and you should know if you’re kids can handle some of the heavier subject matter before viewing; but this one has drama and family analysis for the intelligent audience.

Mr. Bean’s Holiday-He’s not as cruel as he used to be, but Mr. Bean’s hijinks still have laugh out loud moments and English wit for the whole family. This road trip sequel does far better than the titular Bean and even has some heart-warming charm, too.

The Departed- Put the kids to bed for this gritty undercover cop and mole game from director Martin Scorsese. Plenty of hardware and fine action from Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Mark Wahlberg add spice and intrigue-and more than make up for an ambiguous ending.

The 6th Day- Sure there’s action that we expect from Arnold Schwarzenegger, but this 2000 sci-fi thriller has science, intelligence, and religious debate to thicken the mix. More than just an excuse to have two Arnolds about, director Roger Spottiswoode presents cloning issues that aren’t that far from current science.

Yes Man- Jim Carrey’s latest starts off like Liar, Liar but grows into a charming mix of humor and drama. Fine support from Zooey Deschanel and Terrence Stamp add reflection and warmth. Outside of brief nudity and innuendo, the whole family can enjoy-not often said for a Carrey picture.

Traitor- Don Cheadle and Guy Pearce are dynamite in this international thriller. Touching upon the FBI, CIA, radical Islam, and the American Way, Traitor is complex, intelligent, intricate, and yet wrapped with a fine cast and realistic action.

Donnie Darko- A little obvious and weird; but a fine ensemble, intriguing premise, and good old teen angst keep this quirky picture interesting. Go for the Director’s Cut DVD for more scenes and food for thought.

Finding Neverland- Sentimental and full of Victorian Charm, fans of Kate Winslet, Johnny Depp, and all things Peter Pan will love this little film. The whole family can enjoy the drama, fantasy, and trouble with growing up while learning a thing or too about J.M. Barrie.


In The Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale- I have tried to watch this poor imitation of the Lord of the Rings at least a dozen times. So many things are wrong with this Uwe Boll film-from the blatant Peter Jackson ripoffs to the woeful cast. Ray Liotta’s Goodfellas’ delivery does not work with Matthew Lillard and his Shaggy squeaks-and that’s if you can figure out what the hell is going on.

The Golden Compass- Another children’s fantasy book rushed to the screen, creating a mishmash of effects with an incomplete story. Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig are wasted along with some fine young talent. Some were upset about the anti-Catholic sentiments in the novels, but there isn’t much of anything worthwhile here.

Pathfinder- We don’t see nearly enough Viking pictures, but a great story idea is lost amid all the action and barely there bad dialogue. What might have happened if Vikings encountered early Native Americans? The racial stereotypes here certainly don’t tell us.

The Other Boleyn Girl-I like Medieval films and Tudoresque material, but this adaptation of the Philippa Gregory novel boils the reign of one of England’s most infamous monarchs down to a sisterly catfight. Erica Bana, Natalie Portman, and Scarlet Johansson are wonderful elsewhere, but an international cast was not needed for what should be some definitive Englishness.


ablack said...

Have you heard about the American Bible Society’s Bible challenge for kids? It’s perfect for a Sunday school class project with the goal of raising money for the U.S. military to have Bibles. Check out this website: http://www.truthfortroops.americanbible.org/ for project ideas!

Kristin Snouffer said...

Thanks for the tip...