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Christy Catherine Marshall

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January 18, 2013

Percy Jackson books

If you feel as much joy as I do when great kids’ books are made into movies, you’ll get a kick out of this article in Publishers Weekly, The 10 Most Anticipated Book Adaptations in 2013.

There is absolutely nothing I want to see at the movie theater this month, and that’s fine with me. I’m too busy happily plowing my way through the Percy Jackson series — at last! My 9-year-old son has been begging me for months to please hurry up and read The Lightning Thief so we can discuss how amazing the book is and how different it was from the movie.

So I did! I’ve at last cracked the covers of Rick Riordan’s first bestselling series and have become intimately acquainted with the lives of Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase, Grover Underwood … and now, my mind is reeling with dozens of gods and goddesses, the likes of which I haven’t studied since my long ago days in 8th grade mythology. Camp Half-Blood is a real place to me, somewhere I’d like to visit with my kids.

I flew through The Lightning Thief, which Disney/Hyperion published in 2005 (the same year Scholastic brought out J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Detect any rivalry there?). Next, onward ho to The Sea of Monsters, and I’m wondering if anyone who doesn’t know about the Percy Jackson books might think my choice of reading … a bit odd. Loved that one, and now I’m into The Titan’s Curse. Ah, Riordan’s plotting has become somewhat predictable, but the writing and humor are so good, I can’t stop. (Though actually I have very little time to read each day and I must stop or my kids will all starve and run around in dirty clothes.)

So, you can see why I’m one of the millions of Riordan fans eagerly anticipating the upcoming August 16, 2013 release of “The Sea of Monsters” movie. Now, I confess I did see the 2010 film version of The Lightning Thief before I read the book, but that’s back when I used to say, “I’m not really into fantasy.” I don’t say that anymore now that I love reading what my kids are reading, and discussing books is one of my favorite “connecting points” of motherhood.

Anyway, the 2010 film was OK, but strayed so far from the book, it was like a completely different story. Oh, I hope the director does a better job with the sequel. I can’t wait to take my kids, the ones who’ve READ the book, and we’ll probably get a big group up to go.

Here are the other three movies in the PW List I’m excited about:

*Ender’s Game comes out November 1. I haven’t read this series yet, but my oldest son loves these books, and now I have a reason to read them so I can enjoy the movie too!

*Catching Fire, book 2 of Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games series, releases November 22. Two movies in one month for me! I read these books only because my 12-year-old daughter and her friends were all talking about them, and I promised I’d read them before we went to the movie. Wow. I hated and loved these books — the first one is so violent and awful, but when you finish Catching Fire and Mockingjay, you see how the author had to create a world of evil to contrast it with one of peace, and I actually wept and felt bereft for a few days when I finished Mockingjay … so yeah, I can’t wait to take my OLDER kids to the movie. (This series is so inappropriate for the under 12 crowd!)

*Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug. We have to wait until December 13 to see this one. waah! But at least this gives more people time to actually read the entire book. I admit it has been several decades since I’ve read The Lord of the Rings series, but I did reread The Hobbit before the movie, and I plan to make up for lost time — as soon as I finish Percy Jackson, which will take me a while because Riordan hasn’t stopped writing those things! My kids have all finished through The Mark of Athena, book 3 of the Heroes of Olympus series, so I have many words to read before I sleep.

By: Heather Ivester in: Children's Books,Family,Movies | Permalink | Comments Off on Children’s Books I Can’t Wait to See as Movies in 2013

June 22, 2011

I hope you’re having a relaxing summer. I’m enjoying a break from the school routine, but I have little time to relax. This month, I’ve been completely consumed by a household full of kids and teens, and we’ve also added four baby goat “kids” to our menagerie. The word “kid” now has two meanings for me. These babies must be bottle-fed several times a day, yet they act like impish toddlers who are into EVERYTHING and don’t want to stay in their playpen. Baby goats are lovable and cute — just like the penguins in this film.

Getting to the movie theater to see Mr. Popper’s Penguins was pure escape for me. Of course, you know I had to see it — a movie based on a classic work of children’s literature! And a Newbery Honor winner at that! Though the plot of the movie deviates from Richard & Florence Atwater’s 1938 work, the screenplay is well written, and it’s thoroughly entertaining for all ages.

Jim Carey plays Tom Popper, a divorced New York realtor who excels in his job making high-end real estate deals, but is a lousy parent. You don’t want to miss the first five minutes of this movie because it shows scenes from Tom Popper’s childhood where he was also consistently disappointed by his absentee father — who traveled the world, sending back snow globes and other souvenirs, but missed important events like Tom’s birthday. History repeats itself.

When the grown-up Tom Popper receives word that his father has passed away, he learns his father has left him one final souvenir: it arrives in a wooden crate at the door of his luxury apartment. Tom thinks it’s a stuffed penguin, until the creature begins to move. He immediately contacts the zoo to come pick it up, and he puts the penguin into a bathtub full of ice cubes, thinking he’ll be sending it out the door soon.

Later, another crate arrives with five more penguins, and then his own family shows up to celebrate his son’s birthday. They’re in for a surprise when they see the apartment full of penguins. His son and daughter immediately fall in love with Dad’s new pets, and even his ex-wife is impressed at Tom Popper’s new role as faithful pet owner.

All kinds of adventures follow, as the zoo keeper is now determined to capture the birds, but Tom decides to keep them because his kids actually enjoy hanging out with their dad now. He even begins to break through the “OMG frowny face” texting world of his 13-year-old daughter, which is a miracle in itself, as any parent of a teen daughter can attest!

To keep the penguins alive, Tom Popper turns his apartment into a winter wonderland. Yet he’s determined to stay on top of his career, which involves convincing the owner of Central Park’s Tavern on the Green (played by “Murder She Wrote” actress Jessica Lansbury) to sell to his corporation. But she won’t sell until she finds the right kind of buyer, one with a big heart.

The penguins lay eggs, and Tom’s heart grows as he and his kids watch the eggs hatch. Slowly, he and his wife seem to be reconciling their relationship, and the kids are thrilled. The theme of this movie is all about keeping family together, and for this reason alone, it’s a great movie. This is the kind of film teachers will want to add to their Friday afternoon “pizza party” collection — it can be shown in the classroom without needing to have the fast forward remote close by. There are so many hilarious scenes and nothing to make a teacher squeamish about showing her students.

Besides the wonderful theme, Mr. Popper’s Penguins has an artistic quality that’s unusual for kid-friendly movies. The colors are relaxing, lots of blacks and whites with bold dashes of color sprinkled in like a painting. In one scene, Mr. Popper and his ex-wife are both wearing black, and her new boyfriend looks out of place in brown — you just want him to get out of the picture! The film is icy cold and uncluttered, a perfect escape from the heat of summer.

Jim Carey is so funny, our whole theater was laughing. Also, you don’t want to miss the closing credits, which show cartoon penguins dancing to a new rendition of “Ice Ice Baby.” All of us Gen-X parents who came of age in the 80s will remember this beat.

The best part about the film is that I believe it will fuel interest in the classic book, Mr. Popper’s Penguins. When we got home from the theater, my 11-year-old daughter immediately pulled the book off a shelf in her room, settled herself in our big rocking chair, and began reading it out loud to her younger siblings. THAT is what made it worth the effort and expense of going to see the movie.

I hope you’ll take your kids to see it — and let’s send the message to Hollywood that we LOVE movies made from the best of children’s literature!

April 28, 2011

When I saw the previews for Soul Surfer a few weeks ago, I was squeamish about seeing a movie involving a shark attack. Yikes. It reminded me too much of “Jaws,” which I remember seeing on someone’s cable TV back in the early 80s. I really had no desire to see a girl survive something horrible like that.

But … several of my daughters’ friends saw this movie — and their moms, of course, and everyone loved it. People kept telling me, “It’s got a great Christian message.” OK, so there are not many movies you can say that about, especially not on the big screen. So we went to see it.

And it was amazing. Soul Surfer is based on the true story of Bethany Hamilton, who was attacked by a 14-foot shark off the coast of Hawaii when she was 13 years old. This happened in October 2003, so now she’s around 20, and she’s become an inspirational role model to kids, teens, and even adults (like me) around the world. She’s also authored several books where she uses her platform as a survivor and champion athlete to share her faith in Jesus Christ.

Before the attack happened, Bethany was training for a national surfing championship, with her heart set on turning pro. After the tragedy in which she lost her left arm, she didn’t know if she’d ever surf again, and she questioned God about why He had allowed this to happen. Yet, only a month later, she was back out surfing the waves, regaining her footing as a fierce competitor, and capturing the hearts and admiration of millions of fans.

The actress who plays Bethany, AnnaSophia Robb, is the same adorable girl who played Opal in Because of Winn Dixie and Leslie in Bridge to Terabithia, two of my favorite books adapted into movies. AnnaSophia has grown up quite a bit and, at age 17, appears older than the 13-year-old Bethany she portrays. But she does a wonderful job of helping us to imagine what life would be like having to recover from such a devastating loss.

There are some poignant scenes with Bethany and her mother (Helen Hunt), as well as Bethany and her church youth counselor, played by vocalist Carrie Underwood, in which these women steer Bethany back in the right direction, as she seeks a new purpose for her life.

If you’re a mom of a teen daughter, I highly recommend you to take her to see this movie. Our theater was filled with teen girls, and afterward, everyone had to compare notes about which scene caused the most tears. Bring your tissues!

On her website, Bethany says this about her faith:

When people ask me what my faith in God means to me, I usually answer in just one word: “everything!”

As I left the movie theater after seeing Soul Surfer, I couldn’t help but feel gratitude for the WRITERS who captured Bethany Hamilton’s story into words. How else would I have heard of a surfer girl in Hawaii who got attacked by a shark and used her experiences to reach the world for Christ? Thank you, writers, web designers, photographers, and filmmakers, for producing wholesome, encouraging stories that give all of us a reason to hope!

February 28, 2011

I confess. I’ve caught a bit of spring fever.

We’ve had a few days of sunshine here that have teased me into thinking I need a break. A spring break!

But we’ve still got a solid month of school — and testing — coming up before we’re out on holidays. So, although I’d rather be stretched out under a seaside umbrella, I decided to do the next best thing…

I gathered a group up to go see Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never — in 3D!

I’ll tell you right off the bat: we squealed and laughed almost the entire time. (Justin Bieber was ADORABLE as a preschooler!) This is such a fun movie for girls and their moms to go see. We were all wearing these giant 3D red and blue glasses watching a teen POP STAR grow up from baby to toddler to adored performer, who at this point is clean-cut and publicly praises his own mom — what’s not to love?

To me, the real heroine of the movie is Justin’s mom, Pattie Mallette. She was the one behind the video camera, capturing those precious images of him as a toddler beating on the seat of a chair. She bought him his first drum set and filmed him, never realizing these images would one day make it into a movie about her famous son’s first sixteen years of life.

OK, so of course everyone knows who Justin Bieber is (right?). Before seeing this movie, I only knew Justin from the covers of magazines, the ones I see while waiting in the grocery checkout line. Cute kid, cute hair, is about all I knew.

I had also heard an interview with him on NPR a couple of years ago, and I knew he had a sweet song where he sings “Baby, Baby Baby — ooh!” and that he was discovered on Youtube. That’s it!

So I totally didn’t expect to be COMPLETELY mesmerized by his story during “Never Say Never,” which sounds like a fairy tale. He was born to a teen mom in London, Ontario and raised in the tiny town of Stratford. He was very close to his maternal grandparents, and in the movie, you see him sitting in his grandfather’s lap, just like any kid. He played sports and became interested in music, teaching himself to play drums, piano, guitar, and trumpet.

He liked sitting on the steps of an auditorium in his hometown playing guitar and singing. When he sang, people all over the town would open the windows to let his voice drift in. Yeah, there was something about that kid…

So he entered a singing contest, at age 12 — and got second place. But his mom recorded it, and she and Justin decided, “Hey, let’s put it on youtube” so family and friends who couldn’t make it could see him singing.

Then one day, a music manager in ATLANTA, of all places, accidentally clicked on Justin’s youtube video, and by this time, his mom had put several songs online. This guy, Scooter Braun, figured out where Justin lived, contacted him through his mom, (that must have been freaky!), and invited them both to come down to Atlanta to meet a few people and record some demos.

Now, this part of the story has become legendary: in the parking lot of the studio, Justin saw one of his favorite recording artists, Usher, and asked if he could sing for him. At first, Usher was a little too busy. But eventually he took a minute to hear this kid from Canada sing. And — he discovered a future star! So Usher and Braun took Justin under their wings and helped him get his first record deal with Island Music.

Then they invited Bieber and his mom to move to Atlanta! Scary! And they did. See, how I admire his mom? She must have done a lot of praying to know this was the right thing to do. Anyway, his first album was a huge success. Justin also built up his own following through social networking. As of today, his Twitter site has close to 8 million followers. In 2010, he won “Artist of the Year” from the American Music Awards.

The “Never Say Never” movie is a documentary leading up to his sold-out Madison Square Garden concert, with real footage from many of his other performances. You get to feel like you’re in the audience, watching him jump out at you and sing away. And at one point, he takes a break from the behind-the-scenes concert tour to speak to movie-goers, telling us to quit texting and pay attention! It was really cute.

I’m sure this is the closest I’ll ever get to see him in concert, so it was a bargain price for us. We thoroughly enjoyed it, and I wish Justin Bieber and his mom all the best. I’ve heard that tomorrow, March 1, is his 17th birthday. I hope he’ll keep producing good clean music with lyrics that moms will let their kids listen to!

Happy Birthday, Justin Bieber, from all of us here at Mom 2 Mom Connection!

* Here’s one of his recent tweets (2 hours ago, as of this writing):

im never gonna change…i will always remember…i will always be that kid from stratford…I will always be grateful.

February 3, 2011

If you haven’t made it to the movie theater lately, here’s a film that will surely entice you. The King’s Speech is a gorgeous British film that is every bit worthy of its 12 Oscar nominations. I hope it wins “Best Picture” because it’s far and away the best movie I’ve seen all year.

Our pastor gave a sermon on “The King’s Speech” a couple of weeks ago, reminding us to read our Bibles so that our daily speech will be more in line with that of our King. He also shared the background story to this film, and I was so intrigued, I felt like I had to go see it. Thankfully, my husband agreed.

I love movies based on true stories, and this one centers around the rise of King George VI (played by Colin Firth) to the throne of England in 1936. No one ever thought “Bertie” (as his close friends and family know him) would become king because he was the younger brother — and he had a terrible stammer that made it downright difficult for him to speak in public.

But when his father dies, Bertie’s older brother, Edward, abdicates the throne. He’s in love with an American divorcee and chooses to go against the rules of the Church and marry her, giving up the kingship. Bertie then accepts his calling and grave responsibilities of his public role with the help of Australian speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush.)

Throughout the film, Bertie’s wife, Elizabeth, played by the beautiful Helena Bonham Carter, supports him and believes in him. It’s her love more than anything that seems to give him the strength he needs to persevere through the challenges of his speech therapy and service to his country. I loved everything about Helena Bonham Carter — the breathtaking tilt of her hat, reminding me of Kate Winslet’s first upward glance at the Titanic, her lovely English accent, the way she cares for her two princess daughters, everything! Oh, I hope she wins Best Supporting Actress! She’s a role model for all married women and mothers.

There are a few funny parts in the movie. Lionel Logue uses some unconventional methods to bring out the best in his patient. And the actor who plays Sir Winston Churchill is a hoot — I giggled every time he said a line. How could the people around him keep from laughing?

My only regret is that the movie is rated “R.” I don’t normally go see rated “R” movies, but since it was recommended by my pastor, hey, I thought it couldn’t be all that bad. Well, it wasn’t. That’s my regret — that it wasn’t labed PG-13.

This is a great movie for teens to see, even kids as young as 11 or 12 EXCEPT there is a brief moment of bad language. The speech therapist makes the discovery that when Bertie is angry, like cussing angry, he doesn’t stammer. So the therapist asks Bertie to cuss a time or two, to see how his speech can be controlled through his emotion. Yet because the f-word appears a few times, I guess this earned the film an R rating. I just kept thinking what a shame! Of course I’m not taking my young kids to see a rated R movie at the theater, but when it comes out on DVD, I think it’s fine for families to rent — maybe keeping the fast forward controller nearby to speed through that brief R-rated speech.

Otherwise, I think this is a family-friendly film. I left the theater thinking how many of us could use someone like Lionel Logue in our lives, coaxing us through our fears and helping us believe in ourselves when our moment comes to give our own “king’s speech.”

The Academy Awards will air on ABC on February 27 at 8 pm. I may try to watch it since Anne Hathaway is co-hosting, and I love her dearly. Well, here’s to “The King’s Speech” for leaving its mark on award history!

[Update: Congratulations to the 2011 Academy Award Winners! “The King’s Speech” did indeed win Best Picture, Best Actor (Colin Firth), Best Directing (Tom Hooper), and Best Writing (Original Screenplay).]

By: Heather Ivester in: Marriage,Movies | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

January 10, 2011

I’m back! And Happy New Year to ya. Seen any good movies lately?

I didn’t think I’d ever see a film like TRON LEGACY (cue sound effects of speeding motorcycles here), but when you have an adorable 7-year-old boy begging you to take him, you start thinking, “Well, maybe it’ll be OK.” Plus, I know in a few years he’ll be too cool to see a movie with his mom.

So — I spent two hours watching men and women in tight fluorescent suits speed around on digital motorcycles shooting light disks at each other. It was bizarre — and fun! We wore our 3D glasses, and I felt like I’d blasted away into a new world. It was an experience beyond what I’m used to, being that I’m mostly a fan of romantic comedies.

The plot centers around a boy, Sam Flynn (played by Garrett Hedlund), whose dad, Kevin Flynn, disappeared 20 years ago. We later find out that Sam’s dad has somehow been stuck inside the virtual world of Tron, a video game he invented. (Tron was apparently popular in the 80s — how did I miss this? I guess I was too busy playing Atari Frogger.)

Sam Flynn spends his early life wondering why his father left him. I really love how the movie director showed the passage of time. Young Sam rides off on his bicycle, you see him speeding along, then he gradually morphs into a 20-something guy riding a motorcyle, still searching for his dad.

There’s a scene where he steps into Flynn’s Arcade, the place where his father used to work, and it’s creepy-eerie for those of us who remember going to arcades. All the games are covered in dusty plastic sheets. It made me feel old!

Sam discovers a hidden room behind the Tron game, and he inadvertently enters through the same portal his dad entered years before. Here, in “the Grid,” he must constantly fight bad guys to preserve his life. Sam finds his missing father, played by Jeff Bridges, but there’s now a digital clone of his dad who has become his arch enemy, Clu.

As I was watching the film, I almost couldn’t stand the fast pace. I liked this guy, Sam, and I wanted him to live! So I kept eating my popcorn faster and FASTER, fearing that every second he might die! Once I’d inhaled my small popcorn, I searched my purse and came up with some Altoids. You can’t eat those too fast, but they kept me busy for a while.

Then I began to like Quorra, played by Olivia Wilde, and I was rooting for both her and Sam to somehow survive this wild mess of virtual battle scenes. I needed more popcorn — or Junior Mints — or something! All this action was intense!

Instead, I discovered some chapstick; well, what I thought was chapstick. I put some on, and since it was just chapstick, I put on plenty. When the movie ended (wow! what a final scene!), I waved and smiled at people as we left the theater, not knowing there was something wrong with my face.

Until … I stepped back into our house, doing a few Olivia Wilde TRON kicks with sound effects to impress my other kids who’d missed out on the movie. My oldest daughter’s eyes got really big when she saw me, and she said, “Mom, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOUR FACE? Did you, like, get a Tron make-over?”

So I looked in the mirror, and — horrors! — I’d somehow mistaken flesh-colored cover-up for chapstick. My lips were nearly invisible. I looked a little bit like one of the Sirens from Tron. Scary!

So, my opinion is that Tron was fun to watch in 3D. I don’t see how it could compare to seeing it in your home on regular DVD. I’m sure there will be a lot of kids wanting to wear Tron costumes with those laser stripes for Halloween. From a mom’s view, there was no kissing and very little violence, except for video people dissolving into tiny colorful squares. It was similar to Star Wars, with the aircraft scenes.

Still, since the whole theme of the movie revolves around a son trying to rescue his dad, and their relationship, I’d recommend this to be a better movie for fathers and sons to see together.

With plenty of popcorn!

By: Heather Ivester in: Movies | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (1)

December 22, 2010

We received a surprise gift of some movie tickets — woohoo! — so I immediately hopped in the car with my kids to go see Tangled. I had seen previews for it, and my younger children had been talking about it with their friends all week. But I must thank our local paper’s movie review guy for writing a fantastic, detailed review of it that made me add it to my must-see list.

I’m not a big fan of paying to see cartoon movies (except I loved “Toy Story 3” and “Despicable Me”), but this one came as a huge surprise. It was absolutely hilarious! It’s a retelling of the story of Rapunzel, who must “let down her hair” to the evil woman who has kidnapped her and kept her locked up for years in a tower. And then along comes her prince (who is actually a bandit trying to escape from his pursuers).

I really fell in love with the characters, and there were several times throughout the movie where I felt like the situation was so desperate they were doomed. But of course it’s a Disney film, so scene after scene leads viewers to the ultimate joyous ending. Of all the Disney princess films I’ve seen, I now think “Tangled” is one of my favorites.

We loved the horse, Max, who is part hound dog. We loved Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore) and her prince Flynn Rider (voiced by Zachary Levi). We especially enjoyed the comic scenes with the dancing men and all the surprises that ensued from their desires to “live out their dreams.”

This is a film for all ages — there were even some toddlers in our theater who sat quite still for most of the film. And anyone who is young at heart will be touched by the tears of a father who longs for his “lost princess.” The lantern scenes are going to become classic Disney images that will be instantly recognized someday as being from “Tangled.”

I found this Japanese movie poster, and I think it’s interesting they are calling the movie, “Ra-pun-zeru” instead of “Tangled.”

That’s one comment our local movie reviewer made — he thought it had a bad title. Hmmm… I sort of like the title because her long hair does cause her to get tangled up in all sorts of messes — and it also makes it much easier to get boys to the theater. They wouldn’t want to see a “princess” movie (yuk!) but they’ll go see an adventure tale with a sword-bearing, swashbuckling hero who rescues his princess from the dangers of the evil world.

By: Heather Ivester in: Family,Japan,Movies | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

December 20, 2010

We saw this movie last Sunday afternoon, along with a packed theater. I found it interesting that our local marquis advertised the film as “Chronicles of Narnia 3” instead of using the title, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”

I was happy to see so many families watching it together, and I can only hope that the popularity of the films will spur people toward reading the book series by C.S. Lewis. (If you don’t already own it, the boxed set would make a nice Christmas present for someone on your list!)

Some of the action was intense, but we didn’t find it overly violent. I asked my second-grade son if the Sea Monster was too scary, and he said, “It wasn’t scary — it was AWESOME!”

I’m hopeful Walden Media will continue producing the remaining four books in the series. I know the young actors are growing up, so there’s little time to waste between filming. We’re looking forward to seeing “The Silver Chair” next!

Here’s a great interview with the President of Walden Media, Michael Flaherty, which shows you the heart behind the production of this movie. I especially love this quote:

…there are strong Christian themes in the book that were influenced by Lewis’ worldview. Further, Lewis’ main focus in writing “Dawn Treader” was “the spiritual life.” While every book encounters some changes from the page to the screen, we wanted to make sure that the themes that were important to Lewis – redemption, temptation, grace, and our yearning for our true home – were not only preserved, but amplified through the changes that we made with the script.

There were a number of lines from the book that were important to preserve verbatim as well. Most important are Aslan’s lines at the end when he tells Lucy “In your world I have a different name. You must learn to know me by it. That is the whole reason you came to Narnia. By knowing me better here you would know me better there.”

We felt a sacred trust with this scene not only to be faithful to the book, but to be faithful to all of Lewis’ writing.

I hope you have a chance to read this whole interview. Please encourage everyone you know who loves The Chronicles of Narnia to go see The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. With kids out of school, this will give you and your family something fun to do together. I would love to hear what you think!

By: Heather Ivester in: Faith,Family,Movies | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

November 24, 2010

If you’ve got a house full of relatives staying with you over Thanksgiving break, you might find yourself needing a breather at some point. Here’s a fun movie that offers a quick escape for you and your guests.

Morning Glory stars Rachel McAdams, Harrison Ford, and Diane Keaton in a light-hearted romantic comedy that does exactly what it sets out to do — entertain. I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially since we’ve been working our way through the old Indiana Jones trilogy at home. Seeing Ford portray a grumpy old man — as opposed to a dashing young adventure seeker — was downright hilarious.

Rachel McAdams plays Becky Fuller, a 28-year-old workaholic who’s just been let go of her network job in New Jersey. Through sheer guts and a willingness to run through the streets of New York in a mini-skirt and stilettos, she lands a new job as executive producer of “Daybreak,” a fluffy morning show with low ratings.

In order to prove herself, she immediately fires the narcissistic male co-host and goes after Mike Pomeroy, played by Harrison Ford. He’s an aging former hard news anchor who spends most of his time game hunting, still collecting millions until his contract expires in two years. No longer. When Becky finds him and forces him to come back to work, Mike is furious.

And so we movie-goers get to sit back and watch the unstoppable Becky work her tail off trying to revamp Daybreak’s image and ratings. But Mike undermines her efforts by being a pill to work with, letting everyone know he’s above such a frivolous broadcast. Tension builds as the network threatens to cancel the show, and Becky runs faster and faster on her narrow pointy heels, chasing down executives on their morning jogs through Central Park.

There’s a love interest for Becky, which doesn’t add much to the story, except that he’s nice to look at (played by Patrick Wilson). Unfortunately, one scene makes this a better film for adults than for kids to see, despite the PG-13 rating. I was disappointed that our heroine was smart in every way except when it came to dating. Still, for you ladies watching, we’re glad she does take a time-out from her BlackBerry, which she stows in the freezer for a few minutes of peace.

The film offers several laugh-out-loud silly moments, as the Daybreak hosts attempt some extreme sports on live TV. Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford ham it up for the audience — and it truly seems like they’re having a blast acting in this film. If you see it, you’ll understand why I wanted to go home and try tossing together a Harrison Ford Fritatta.

I enjoyed peeking behind the scenes of a high-speed morning TV show. It made my own crazy mornings seem a little more bearable.

If you need a breather from your endless holiday chore list, I recommend Morning Glory. And I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

By: Heather Ivester in: Movies | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)

November 7, 2010

I had a hunch about Secretariat.

When I saw the previews for it, I thought the plot would be similar to SeaBiscuit, a feel-good movie about a horse overcoming odds to win races. But I still wanted to make an effort to see it because of the “housewife” story, a mother in mid-life who finds her true calling. This was the real incentive for me to add it to my must-see list.

I felt like a racehorse overcoming all odds just to GET to the movie theater. Our little entourage required days of phone calls and emails, coordinating schedules and pick-ups and meeting times — and IT WAS A COLD AND RAINY NIGHT when we finally made it to our finish line at the ticket counter.

Popcorn in hand, I listened to my daughter’s eleven-year-old friend tell me about her latest horse show experience. “I got fourth place last week riding my horse, Peter Pan,” she said. We were definitely the perfect audience for this Disney horse feature.

The movie opened with such a familiar scene: Diane Lane, playing Penny Chenery Tweedy, is serving her family supper, straight from the frying pan. A Denver housewife, she’s put her career aspirations on hold to raise her four children. Then the inciting incident: the phone rings, a startled Penny drops the bowl she’s stirring, and we learn that her mother has suddenly died.

Penny journeys with her family back home to the Virginia horse farm where she grew up. After the funeral, she decides to stay a couple of weeks to put her mother’s affairs in order and help her ailing father. He’s being taken advantage of by greedy farm managers, and she immediately fires a dishonest breeder. The farm has been losing money for years, and Penny determines to do all she can to save it.

Unfortunately, it’s a man’s world she’s stepping into, but that doesn’t stop her. After winning Secretariat in a coin toss, she approaches French-Canadian Lucien Laurin (played by the hilarious John Malkovich), to train him. He refuses at first since he’s supposedly retired, but then throws his golf clubs away and decides to join her. Definitely a wise decision.

Halfway through the film, I turned to my seven-year-old son and said, “Isn’t this amazing? It’s a true story!” His eyes got big and he said, “You mean this really happened?” And then he passed the word down our row. “This really happened!”

I remember being in sixth or seventh grade writing a report on Secretariat in my school’s “media center,” copying facts out of the encylopedia. Secretariat won the Triple Crown in 1973, running two world records that still stand today, 37 years later. He’s known as “the greatest racehorse who ever lived.” When he died in 1989, it was discovered that his heart actually weighed twice what was normal for horses.

Doesn’t Diane Lane remind you of Cinderella in this scene? (And she’s 45 years old!)

For all of us who were around in the early 1970s, the fashion and set designs bring back nostalgic memories of sun clocks and earth tones. I kept wanting to loosen up Diane Lane’s helmet hair, and it seemed like she got prettier and more relaxed as the story progressed.

At the final racing scene, our whole theater erupted in applause — this is what makes sharing a movie fun. As we were leaving, my friend who had brought her two kids said, “That was the BEST movie I’ve seen all year.” And I agreed.

Secretariat is a horse story that needed to be told on the silver screen, and this movie’s going to become a classic, one I’ll want to own, especially if the DVD includes an interview with the real Penny Chenery Tweedy, who is still alive at age 88.

Stay for the end of the credits. There is a surprising cameo you won’t want to miss!

By: Heather Ivester in: Movies | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (2)