Christmas Movies: An Interim Report from California

by December 27, 2010 at 4:00 am 1,650 0

Mary Burgan Borderstan Movie Fan

Mary Burgan is the Borderstan Movie Fan.

Mary the Borderstan Movie Fan’s column on movies runs every two weeks. Mary Burgan is a retired professor of English and association executive. Her previous reviews are listed at the end of this post. You can contact Mary by email.

I am reporting from California — across the Golden Gate from San Francisco in Marin County — where I have come to be with grandchildren. The movie-goers among the four of these lovely creatures are the youngest ones. I’ve discovered that the ones in their teens are either too preoccupied with other things or too broke to take in many movies. Ticket prices are very high, and if you add any of the delectables on sale at the popcorn stand, you stand to double the ticket fee.

Our pickings for the past two weeks have been sparse. Luckily, I took in Tangled before we left DC because I suspected that neither of my grandsons would be caught dead in that reworking of Rapunzel. First, it was a fairy tale. And second, it was about a girl. I was right. When I suggested that we try out Tangled here, I got a chorus of “That’s a girl’s movie!”

Voyage of the Dawn Treader

So we all went to see Chronicles of Narnia: the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which I had been avoiding because I am so tired of fantasies with fire-breathing monsters who have many, many bad teeth and who reach out at you through the wonders of 3-D.

There was such a monster — a sea serpent — in this Disney version of one of C.S. Lewis’s most attractive installments of the story of the Pevensie children. There was a lot of action on the sea and going into dark places, and my first-grader grandson reached for my hand and whispered, “If you get too scared, Grandma, you can squeeze my hand.” I took advantage of his offer when the monster — with a mouth that had slithering, Medusa-like teeth all around — reached out to get you if the mouth hadn’t done that job on its own.

I think we were right to choose Dawn Treader over the latest Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows film because that movie series has gotten too old for kids like my grandsons. And it’s become a little too complicated as well. But my six-year-old confided that he dreaded it partly because “the bad guy’s face doesn’t have any nose to it, but just two tiny, little nostrils.” I agreed that such a violation of Ralph Fiennes’s aquiline features was really scary.

Tron Legacy

My youngest had gone off to see Tron Legacy last Saturday on a movie date with a classmate, and he gave it a thumbs down as “too weird.” He told me that the weirdness included the fact that when the characters get shot, their arms come off in blocks. I offered to give him another chance when I took his older brother to Tron Legacy, but he backed out.

My other grandson, the fourth-grader, and I agreed with him a  little bit as we limped out of that over-two-hour movie, placed our 3-D glasses in the recycle bin, and wended our way down the mall to do a little more Christmas shopping. That brother opined that “the movie was very exciting, but it was confusing. I think that it had very good effects, and it was very loud. I suggest if you like sci-fi you should see it. If you don’t like sci-fi, I suggest you see Yogi Bear.

Yogi Bear was one of the funniest movies in this season. The bear loved picnic baskets. He had lot of plans to steal them. Sometimes, they worked. But most of the time, they failed. It was hilarious.” Both boys, and a friend they went with, loved the Yogi movie, though I don’t think they got the serious environmental theme that reportedly animates that film. But it wouldn’t give them nightmares, either.

We haven’t had a chance to see Gulliver’s Travels with Jack Black, although we all agree that we like Jack Black most of the time, and that seeing him as a giant tied down by little people would be fun. I’ll add a note about this movie in my next installment.

In that installment, I’ll talk about “serious” year-end films the kind that come up at Oscar time. I have torn myself away from the grandsons long enough to see The Black Swan, and I can report that the film was scary enough that I needed a hand to squeeze. I haven’t yet made up my mind about the quality of the film as a whole, but I can say that Natalie Portman’s acting is truly extraordinary and deserving of an Oscar nomination. She is a reason to endure this uneven film.

Mary’s previous movie reviews are below the fold.

Previous Reviews by Mary Burgan


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