Wednesday, October 19, 2011

SNOWMEN- A Family Movie Review

A while back I signed up for a homeschoolers product testing group, then promptly forgot about it. Well, they just reminded my by sending me a free movie. Today I give you my review.

(*Warning, if you absolutely hate spoilers then you may not want to go on. While I try not to give everything away, I happen to like spoilers as they better help me to decide if it's something for me and my family.)

The movie "Snowmen", which is slated for limited release on Friday October 21, 2011, is of the quintessential feel-good family movie fair. It stars Bobby Coleman (of Martian Child) as Billy Kirkfield a young, enthusiastic, and charismatic youth who wants to do something 'big'. He wants to be remembered, not as a 'loser', but as someone who did something. And he has cancer. He tells us right from the beginning that he is dying, so it shouldn't be a surprise, but I will tell you that it takes and unexpected turn in the feel-good-movie sort of way.

At the beginning of the movie a bit of trauma strikes the kids as the body of an elderly gentleman is found in the snow after the previous weeks storm. When Billy and his friends, the ever endearing Lucas, and the tough, but slightly out of place cuz he's from Jamaica and stuck in a frozen waste land, Howard decide to go to the old man's funeral and find no one there, Billy becomes obsessed with doing something that will get him remembered.
Just like every family film, there are warm parts, and parts that make you get a bit misty eyed, there is the bully and the girl and the misunderstanding that comes with being a tween that's trying to do something that is bigger than himself. There's even Christopher Lloyd with a bit of sage wisdom.

What I didn't like about this movie was that I wasn't given any spoilers beforehand (I happen to like spoilers, it never ruins it for me, it just gets me excited about it) in order to determine who this movie was best for. Primarily concerning the death. While neither the body of the older man or our beloved Billy was intensely graphic, knowing about Billy's 'death scene'** may have prompted me to watch it when my 3 year old was down for nap. Because, of course, that's now what he remembers the most. I wont say it was traumatic for him to watch, but I may have not had him watch at any rate, or at least covered his eyes for that scene. For myself and the girls it was defiantly a tear jerking, how-can-this-be? sort of scene. I'm not the type to completely shelter my children from death but I like to know ahead of time so I decide if it's too much or not.

(**Billy drowns in an accident when he falls through the ice. He is speaking to us the whole time as narrator during this and is quite calm and reassuring about the whole event, but we are shown that he is unable to hold his breath any longer after being trapped under the ice, and when he is pulled up his is not breathing and is quite blue.)

What I liked
was that every person got his moment, or even moments to shine. Lucas and Howard had nothing in this deal but to help out a buddy, but they both put themselves out there to do it. Tender Lucas stood up to the bully, Jason, and won, and he did probably one of the most heroic things ever in saving Billy.

Howard showed moxie and skill right from the beginning, as well as loyalty. He could have easily been one of those kids that meets the dorky kid first, then after realizing it quickly detaches himself from said dork and establishes himself with the cool kids. But he didn't, and I respect that. (Maybe cuz I was the dorky kid...)

Even Jason-the-bully comes into his own. He shows his own tenderness and shoulders the burden, literally, when Billy and Lucas need him the most.

And then there's Billy. So bright and determined to do something big, so sure of the way things are that he can't see the other possibilities. ("It's funny how clear everything is when it's too late.") But aren't we all like that sometimes? In the quiet time that Billy and his friends spend with Lloyd's character they learn something that we really all know but just tend to forget. Something truly "profound". Lloyd says "It's not about what people do, but how they do it. Maybe being a good person is a purpose all by it's self."

In all, this was a good, feel-good (yes, even after the drama it's 'feel good') movie that we enjoyed watching.
My13year old said that 'while at 1st she was not impressed by the title, Snowmen, she really did enjoy it and it had a lot of funny quotes that can be used in a round of 'movie quote game'. My 10year old said it was 'sad in parts, but cool', even she got a bit misty eyed but it was funny and she liked the outcome. My 7year old gave it 2 thumbs up. She liked that the bully becomes a friend and even helps them in the end. And my 3year old was a bit entranced by the accident. (He said "Billy fell.") But maybe that will deter him from trying to walk on the ice.

If your family is looking for a "humorous and heartfelt coming-of-age story about three unlikely heroes and the winter that changed their lives forever" type of family movie, then this may be the one for you.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Nanny

This is Locutis. Of Cat.

(You can read his story here.) He's a pretty good boy most of the time, he's an old boy too. He just turned 14 this year. He usually looks like this:

But he thinks he looks like this:

I guess I can see a bit of a resemblance...

He's my buddy. He hangs out with me all the time. He tries to help me with my work (he's crashed out on my notebook as I type, he seems to think it's helpful to lay directly on top of my papers), he feels very dejected if I don't let him sleep on the bed at night (and he will go down and pester the kids if he can't get in the room) and he likes (to think he can share my) tea,

and he thinks he's a good baby sitter.

He's very tolerant and has only ever given a nip when it was really deserved. He's actually a bit of a 'fraidy cat and he got beat up by a hamster. But he asked me not to tell you about that. He's very lovey and often shows concern for those who are hurt or upset. Well, for me or very small people anyway, maybe not so much for the man. But whenever I or the baby is very upset he will come running to check on us and make sure we are ok. He's very compassionate like that.

Today Locutis felt that I was slacking off in my parental duties. I thought he was just butting in.

You see I had a headache this morning. I had gotten up with every intention of getting a bit of exercise and being fully productive today. I was going to go for a brisk walk in the morning sun and get some fresh air on this lovely fall day, I was going to clean up the kitchen a bit and maybe do some more preserving. (I am just learning how to can foods and I had veggies from one end of my kitchen floor to the other. The pile has slowly gotten smaller but there's still a bit to do and I really want my kitchen back.) I was even going to balance the checkbook (bleh) and take the kids to the library.

But then I got up. My morning consisted of me getting the children up to start on their chores (and their school work, but they managed to avoid that today) and going right back to bed. Locutis followed me to the room and took up his usual spot at the end of the bed. I never fell asleep, (how could I with 4 children arguing and "cleaning" and having run of the house?) so I could hear everything that was going on. Baby Boy has been 'a bit of a pill' recently some might say. (I say he was being a brat) He is the 1st child I've had that has had bonafide 'terrible twos'. And his fits usually have to do with food. That boy can eat.

Well, he was pitching a fit about something or other and the girls were trying to get him to chill out, and I was ignoring it because I knew it would blow over in a minute and he would find something else to occupy himself. But Locutis was certain that something was really wrong and not only came to get my attention, but stood on top of me and yowled in my face. As if to say, "hey, the baby is really upset, you'd better go check it out." I tried to assure him that Boy was just fussing but he continued to yell at me. I explained that I had no intention of getting up and dealing with it right now because I knew Boy was just having a fit and I had a headache and didn't feel like bothering with giving him any attention for said fit.

Locutis was rather annoyed with me, but as Boy has stopped screaming, he laid back down.

Then Boy started screaming again. (Apparently sister had something he wanted so he bit her. This is new to me as none of my girls were biters, but sister just scolded him and put him the corner for right now since I was currently unavailable for toddler training sessions.) He yelled a good one and a few seconds into it Locutis was in my face again frantically yowling and swatting at my face to get me up. Again I said 'No! He's just being a brat right now.' but Locutis would have none of it. He yowled and swatted at me and when I rolled over and refused to listen he left to check for himself. By this time Boy had stopped hollerin' and found something else to eat so there was really nothing to see. But when Loc came back he gave me a dirty look anyway. As if he just knows that I'm somehow being neglectful. Never mind that there are 3 other people and I was still awake and listening. Never mind that if there was a real problem they would have said and would be out there in a heartbeat (and my house is tiny so it really isn't far).

Never mind that you're just a cat.

I'm just the mom, so what do I know? Sheesh.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back to School Book Week- Fiction

i used to read tons, devouring one book after another at times. sometimes taking a break in between. before i had kids. now i rarely find the time to read. when i hit the library i get a nice big stack of books that look so good and then i find that i don't have the time to finish them. usually when i do it's the middle of the night after the children and the man have gone to bed. i stay up horribly late, 2 or 3am some nights, partly because I'm enjoying the story and partly because i know i wont be able to pick it up again for a while.

and in the meantime my daughters, especially the oldest who is now 12, devour their books. reading one after another, (including most of the books that i picked up from the library that i haven't gotten to) thick books being finished in a day or two. some times i'm a little jealous.

i generally stay in the youth and young adults (although, unfortunately, sometimes even these are iffy. do 13yr olds really need to read about having sex?) book section only rarely venturing to the 'adult' section. i don't like smut books, i don't want to read horrible, graphic details about some tragic event or some crazed weirdo, and i don't want to expose myself to an excess of vile language because the characters (or author) couldn't come up with more intelligent words. (as mike wazowski says 'if you're going to insult me, do it properly' or something like that.) (if you're interested, you can find some really great insults on the Elizabethan insults page. classic stuff)

but as for all time favorites, we have a few. there's the old and modern classics like peter pan, ann of green gables, enders game, and ruby hollar.

for younger children i love the gossie book by olivier dunrea . the text is pretty simple but i just love the artwork. soft painted water colors and bright little sketches.

i also love the books by peter h. reynolds, especially 'the dot' and 'ish'.

again, the paintings are simple but beautiful (and i love how he uses tea for one of his mediums!) and the stories are essential for anyone who wants to teach art to children (or even adults). never say 'i cant make art' or 'i cant draw' because anyone can draw anything and it is all art.

(even if it's only art-ish) i also used these books to remind the children that art is in the eye of the beholder, so just because they wouldn't have done it that way, or they don't think it's a good job, doesn't give them the right to insult each other or their own work for that matter. 'ish' is good enough, just look at Picasso.

and lastly i have my small but expanding collection of 'alice in wonderland' books. there's the color book, the annotated book, the old book, the sticker book, and 2 awesome pop ups.

in fact i had to replace one of them because the kids played with too much and it didn't want to pop anymore.

my daughter would like me to also mention the book 'Mimus' by Lilli Thal, one of the few that i actually got to read before she took it from me. it is a tale of adventure and betrayal, of understanding peoples and understanding yourself, and of jesters.