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Remember the Titans

remember_the_titansBased heavily on a real life drama, Remember the Titans is a story set in 1971 Virginia, amidst the tension of forced integration between black and white schools.

Denzel Washington plays coach Boone, a no-nonsense taskmaster sent to Williams High (the white school that the black school is integrating into) to replace the leadership of the much loved white coach Yoast. Despite their difference in coaching styles, and the less than ideal circumstances in which they are placed, these two men must battle their own pride and bigotry in order to lead their team of athletes not only on the field in victory, but also through the turmoil of life and a divided community.

Positive Elements

I’m really not sure where to begin because honestly, this is one of the best movies I have seen in years. I’m not sure how this beautiful movie (and the real-life story) managed to evade me for so long!

Remember the Titans is a spectacular, powerful film that shows virtuous behavior, projects an old-fashioned respect for discipline, teaches integrity, honors the Christian faith, and depicts real character-building lessons throughout the movie.

We see coaches stand up to corruption and make choices as to whether they want to be men of integrity, or whether they are willing to compromise what is right in order to get what they really want. We see an injured player refuses to wallow in self-pity. We see boys become men, learn about real friendship, undergo tremendous personal growth—even minor characters experience growth.

The real focus of this film (character-wise) centers on the shoulders of Coach Yoast and Coach Boone, two men who were as extraordinary in real life, as they were in the film. However, this movie was filled with many other great characters, especially when it came to the boys on the football team. However, my favorite duo (besides the coaches) were Gary and Julius, two young men that start out the movie with nothing but hatred towards one another for the color of their skin, but quickly learn to respect one another and become much more than just fellow teammates. These two boys also provide great opportunity to discuss the type of team leadership that’s necessary to bring guys together for a common cause.

Negative Elements

This film has no drug content, no sexual content, no crud humor, and next to no violence (other than the typical bruising that comes with the football turf). In fact, the only negative elements to this movie are as follows:

According to Walt Disney Studios chair Peter Schneider, Titans underwent severe rewrites after the script was brought to him. In the original script, every third word was the n-word, every fourth word was the f-word, and every sixth word was the s-word, which didn’t fly. Before the film was given the okay by Peter Schneider and the two real life coaches, Boone and Yoast, all that remained were less than a handful of mild profanities.

In addition to the profanity, Remember the Titans obviously has some racial issues surging through it. A brick is thrown through Coach Boone’s house window. His wife hurries the children into another room while Coach Boone grabs a rifle and prepares to shoot the trespassers. Nobody comes in, though; all we see is a car speeding away. This is not the only instance where racial violence is shown, but it should be noted that this movie does not support racism in any way. It boldly decimates the dividing lines between segregation and has several powerful scenes that deal with the negative effects of racism.

Controversy

Since seeing Remember the Titans I have had several people say that they are surprised I saw the film due to the fact that it portrays a homosexual character. Because I know this is the reason why many people will not see this movie, I thought it was worth addressing in its own category.

Here is a quote from someone who saw the film and felt that Sunshine’s character promoted homosexuality: “Sunshine’s shower scene where he kissed another player in an attempt to seduce him was disgraceful. Disney’s attempt to include this behavior on a equal social level with racial concerns was disgusting and obviously in an effort to normalize and encourage acceptance!”

Now, I would like to point out that Sunshine does kiss another character in an attempt to “pay back” an offensive comment made earlier by the character getting kissed (Gerry). However, it was not sexual in any way, but rather locker room tomfoolery used to put Gerry in his place (though I don’t condone this use of tomfoolery).

Furthermore, I would like to point out that the character of Sunshine was not gay. When his father (a military man who has served with black men on the front lines and therefore he and his son “sunshine” have no tolerance for bigotry and racism) brings him to training camp, Gerry yells “hey you fruitcake!” Gerry makes this comment because Sunshine (who’s real name we never learn) shows up to camp with long blond hair (he and his Father just transferred from California where Sunshine liked to ride the waves).

Now, the thing to remember about this movie is first of all, the time period. This is the south in the early 1970’s. Long hair on a young man back then insinuated that he was a hippie, a drug addict, or gay. Therefore, upstanding young men like Gerry would not associate with someone who looked like Sunshine because of the association his hair carried. It was another form of discrimination, essentially.

Coach Boone offers Sunshine a place on the team for two reasons. 1.) he’s got good skills, and 2.) he comes from an environment that doesn’t tolerate racism, which would be a valuable asset to the team, especially considering their struggles with the topic. However, coach Boone has one requirement. Sunshine has to cut his hair, which he willingly does.

Sunshine is not gay. He’s not a hippie. He’s not a drug addict. He’s actually a really good kid, as everyone later learns when they give him a chance, and he stands up for what is right.

The incidents with Sunshine (who was a real person) are just another way that the filmmakers are trying to deal with prejudice on all levels. Even prejudice within one’s race, as was the case with Sunshine. And, just like with the racism, Sunshine was not who he was said to be, anymore than the black boys on the team were who the bigots said they were.

Conclusion

Remember the Titans is a must see movie. I was not only inspired by watching the actions of this team who not only changed their school, but also their town, but I also felt a huge amount of pride. Pride that good men still exist and they are still willing to stand up for what was right. As I began to watch documentaries on Coach Boone and Yoast (who are still very close even today in their old age) I found myself impressed with the filmmakers, too. They chose to listen to the stories told by these two men and truly portray them. As I listened to the two coaches talk about their boys and the struggles they went through, I could see the close parallels between their stories and the movie’s depiction of those stories.
There were many struggles involved with making this movie. Many people did not want it made. Others didn’t believe in the film and thus cut the film’s budget to the point where the movie could no longer be produced. But the men and women behind this film believed in it, and they believed in the story that needed telling. Several of the actors, including Denzel Washington, took heavy pay cuts in order to get the film back into production. And the end result was an amazing movie that earned its place on my favorite’s shelf.

If you watch this film, I promise you that you and your family will Remember the Titans.

Monster’s University

monsters_university_ver2The lovable monsters of Monsters Inc have once more invited us to come along with them on a journey, only this time, it’s down memory lane…. And their college experience.

Mike has always dreamed of being a scarer. He can give you every fact and every scary pose in the book. However, he has a problem. He’s not really…. Well… scary. Enter James P. Sullivan, or Sully as we best know him. Sully can scare. In fact, he was born with the ability what with being the son of one of the most famous scarers ever. His problem, though, is that he’s not book smart, and he’s got no self confidence—or at least not the kind of self confidence.

Both of these monsters want to be the best, so when they stumble into one another, it’s a full out war, a war which lands them outside of the scaring program. That is until they get a chance at redemption. The scare games.

There’s just one problem… They have to work together. And if that weren’t a big enough hurdle, they have to work together with the geeks of the Oozma Kappa Fraternity.

Positive Elements

Monster’s University has two themes at the heart of its film. The first is one which every generation is in need of, especially our current one: you do not have to succumb to the expectation of others based on your size, skin color, illnesses, or, as we see in this movie, scariness.

Throughout history we have great examples of men who rose out of horrific circumstances or illness and defied what others said they would do/amount to (coughpresidentTeddyRooseveltcoughIsaacNewtoncoughEinsteincough). Now that theme is being delivered in a movie that is very kid-friendly and can resonate with a much younger audience than Einstein normally attracts.

The second prominent theme in this film is the gift of friendship and how much easier our goals are when someone’s got our back.
But perhaps my favorite part of the movie was the end, when we see our heroes own up to their wrong doings and face the consequences of their actions. And then, instead of seeing them defeated, we see them once more team up and start from the ground in order to work their way to being the Monsters we first fell in love with in MI.

Negative Elements

Dangit and son of a gun is the worst language that you will have in this movie, and the most sexualized content is when Sully’s hand falls into Mike’s face while he is sleeping and he proceeds to kiss it.

As for violence, it’s mostly slapstick, cartoony violence that doesn’t really result in anyone being truly harmed. Monster’s get thrown from a building into water, Mike accidentally runs students over with a buffer, and glowing spiky urchin looking things cause several students participating in the Scare Games to swell up as a type of allergic reaction.

The only other negative elements is Mike and Sully’s initiation ceremony (which some people might not appreciate but is done for the sake of humor), the red cups in the college party scenes (It isn’t portrayed as alcohol, but it is a college party, so some parents won’t appreciate that), some characters break into MI for a look at things and when the police come one of the group shouts that he can’t go back to jail, there is the typical college fraternity bullying issues, and obviously there are several scenes with monster’s scaring kids.

However it should be noted that all of these elements are very soft elements and as child friendly as possible.

Conclusion

I adored Monster’s Inc! It made it on my favorite’s list, actually. So when MU hit theaters, I had to go! And I wasn’t unhappy when I left the theaters.

My best friend laughed multiple times beside me in the theater, and I enjoyed watching the movie. However, it didn’t measure up to Monster’s Inc, in my opinion. As I said, it wasn’t that the movie was bad. I enjoyed it, and it had some good points. Plus, I like finding out all the back-story, so that was an added bonus. But, Monster’s Inc had a strong story line that was original and amazing. Monster’s University was not as original, nor as stunning from a writing standpoint.

However, I would recommend the movie to anyone who didn’t have an issue with watching Monster’s Inc. The movie is more about friendship and not letting the world define you than it is about scaring and college life, and that is something that is good for us in any kind of dosage, no matter how potent or mild.

Man of Steel

man_of_steelSuperman is one of the most iconic superheroes of all times, which has led some to question whether a revamping and remaking of the Superman franchise would work. The answer? You better believe it!

While this retelling has all the original elements portrayed in Kal-El’s, or Clark Kent if you prefer, story, it also brings something else to the table. Old villains are given a new face, the iconic S symbol is given a back-story, and the tale of Superman takes a much more humanic turn as the storyline deals with the physiological aspects of being a superhero, and just what exactly is the price that comes with so much power.

Positive Elements

The beginning of this film takes us back to the Superman Origins, showing us how Kal-El came to be, why his parents sent him to earth, and the tumultuous existence that was Krypton at the time of his birth. In this opening we have so many positive elements portrayed that it is hard to pick just a few to share. Both Jor-El and Laura-El sacrifice much in order to ensure their son is given not only a chance at free will, but also a chance at life. Amidst moving tears and remorse over never seeing their son walk or say their names, the parents choose to do what is best for their son, no matter how great the personal cost or how hard they will have to fight to ensure he escapes the fate planned for him. They also show that our yellow son isn’t the only thing that made Kal-El a superhero—he came by it naturally, for amidst the evil schemes of General Zod, Kal’s parents stand up and fight for what is right, regardless of the cost that will be extracted from them for it.

But the El family is not the only family Kal-El has. Upon arriving on earth he is adopted by a new kind of family. A Human family. A family that names him Clark Kent. The Kents are good people, and they impart great wisdom to their son throughout his life, making him into a good man who values life, unlike his predecessors. Jonathan Clark is often a living example for his son, and his last act on earth is spent in helping others, leaving a lasting legacy for his son. The Kents also teach their son self restraint, an attribute that Clark needs in order to survive this world. Throughout the story we see Clark demonstrate power under control. From being a bulled teenage boy resisting the urge to sock his attackers, to an adult man enduring embarrassment and insults when he comes to the defense of a young woman.

Which brings us to the character of superman himself. Clark is not only a good kid and man, but he has this innate desire to save those around him, be it literal or metaphorical. No matter how dangerous the exposure to himself is, or whether or not his actions will lead him to a new alias, Clark continually risks much in order to help the needy. And it is because of his other’s focused actions that cause human soldiers and civilians alike to unquestioningly accept the alien from outer space. It is because of the good character instilled by his parents that Clark is accepted by the world and not rejected.

Also worth noting is the fact that artificial population control is inadvertently shown as destructive and that “evolutionary advantage” isn’t what wins a fight. The heart and passion behind the warrior is.

Negative Elements

Kryptonians, we learn, were engineered from birth to carry out whatever lot in life has been planned for them by their government, essentially denying them free will. However, while some would view this as a negative element, I challenge that it is not a negative aspect in this film because the movie clearly depicts this as an evil thing that brings great destruction and harm.

The sexual content in this film is minimal, but not nonexistent. We see Clark confront a man in a bar who is behaving inappropriately towards one of the waitress’ (it is a very brief scene), Clark and Lois kiss, and hear another woman refer to Superman ad hot. Laura-El also wears a dress that, for a brief moment, shows a fair amount of cleavage.

Language in this film was not excessive, but a couple of times when it is used, it is rather offensive in nature. There’s around four a—references, two of h—, and one of d—. There is also two crude references to the male anatomy (one as a put down, one as a feministic comment).

As for violence…. It’s a superhero movie. It’s not really optional. While the violence is not excessive or violating (it’s your average superhero violence), we do see Superman snap someone’s neck. There is much destruction and turmoil in the film (Metropolis is nearly leveled), and many characters receive some whopping hits to the abdominal region, but it is all done well in terms of filming. If you’ve watched movies like The Avengers and Iron Man, you won’t have an issue here.

Conclusion

This movie is not Superman Canon. Snyder and Nolan chose to do things in this film that we haven’t seen before in the Superman franchise, but to be honest, I think that was a good thing.

Origins were given to details like the Superman S (which isn’t an S, thank goodness!), Louis Lane wasn’t saddled with the idiot reporter image (I mean honestly, what woman would be fooled by a pair of glasses?), and the suit was just plain awesome (I’m sorry, but the spandex original was lame and impractical), for a Superman suit. And yet, despite these changes (and the fact that Superman does kill someone with his bare hands, something many fans will be upset over), this film still has the Superman Origins at its heart. It took a story that was good but unrelatable and made it relatable. They humanized Superman in a way that made him seem much more realistic than his earlier renditions.

Despite a few comments I could have lived without, I enjoyed Man of Steel. Superman may not be my favorite Superhero, but Snyder and Nolan did a good job in portraying a Superman that raised the bar in the Alien’s franchise.

Epic

epic_ver10M.K. hasn’t seen her dad in a long time. But at her dying mother’s request she promised to go back and try to patch things up with the tiny-kingdom-of-small-people-who-live-in-the-forest obsessed father. His obsession is actually what drove her mom away, and M.K. isn’t too sure she’s going to be sticking around long after making an effort with her dad. Especially after she gets to his house and assesses the situation.

Things don’t go the way M.K. was hoping.

Her dad is still crazy, and he’s still talking about tiny people in the forest that ride on hummingbird backs. She tried. Now she’s done. After all, she’s old enough to be out on her own. So, she grabs her recently deposited stuff and heads for the door only to be sidetracked by the escaping three-legged dog from her childhood and escapes to find him.

What she finds instead is wounded creature. A tiny wounded creature. One very much like the little people her dad babbles on about. And before she knows it the little creature tosses her a glowing flower pod. Without thinking M.K. catches it. Then she begins to shrink.

Positive Elements

Despite the fractured family element in the beginning of the movie, Epic has a lot of family tie themes running through it. Between Ronin taking in the son of his fallen comrade and friend to raise as his own, and M.K.’s journey to reconciling with her father, the very core of the film is about family, despite the fact that the family relations of both groups are strained at times.

Several characters are willing to put their lives on the line for others. In fact, Being upright, heroic and self-sacrificial for the sake of one and all is encouraged, especially with the leafman mantra we hear over and over again, “Many leaves, one tree. We’re all individuals, but we’re still connected.”

There is also a very obvious good vrs evil struggle in the film. The leafmen are good. They are heroic. They are protectors. The Boggans are evil. They destroy. They love darkness and decay.

Negative Elements

To be honest, this movie is one of the cleanest animated pictures I have seen in a long time. There is no sexual content. No language (besides an occasional jerk or idiot comment). No alcohol content. The multiple combat scenes are rather child-friendly—all in all this movie was as clean as they come, content wise. The only objection some parents will have is the magical element.

Queen Tara is a kind of Mother Nature figure. She, essentially, keeps the forest alive and thriving. Contrasted by that is the evil Mandrake (we’re not sure what exactly this creep is) who causes anything he touches to wither and die. There is a contestant struggle between their magic in the film, but while they both have magical elements, the magic element of the movie takes a backseat to the story, for the most part.

Conclusion

This movie is without doubt a tale of good struggling to conquer evil. It’s cute, has some hilarious characters, and is beautiful from an animation standpoint. The colors are vibrant, the characters are likable, and the themes are timeless. Epic may not have been… epic, but it was enjoyable in so many ways and did exactly what I hoped it would. Take me on a fun ride.

Jack The Giant Slayer

jack_the_giant_killer_ver10Taking its inspiration from the classic fairy tale of Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack the Giant Slayer is set in a fictional English kingdom during the middle ages. As in the fairy tale, the main character is Jack, a tenant farmer trying his best to make ends meet.

Needing money to repair their room, Jack’s uncle tells him to go to the market and sell their horse. While there, Jack meets a mysterious monk desperate to purchase a horse and give him a handful of “magic beans.” Hesitant at first, Jack is moved by the man of God and, being a trusting sort of lad, makes the exchange.

His significantly more cynical uncle, however, doesn’t care about what the monk told Jack. All he cares about is the desperately needed money that the horse and cart were supposed to fetch so that he could sleep under a newly thatched roof without fear of drowning from the ensuing rain!!!

Shortly thereafter, a storm descends upon the kingdom, water spilling through all those unthatched holes in Jack’s roof, as well as the dirt bellow the floorboards of the house where a magic bean just happened to find its way. Before Jack knows what hit him, a beanstalk sprouts up in his living room, carrying away not only his house, but the princess within it, also.

Positive Elements

Jack is a likeable hero, both because he is rather down to earth, and also become he has some good character qualities. Despite his fear of heights, Jack volunteers to accompany the king’s rescue party up the beanstalk (and we aren’t talking a little twiggy stalk here). In the scenes that follow, we see this poverty stricken farm boy showcase traits such as humility, boldness, bravery, and resourcefulness. He saves Elmont (the brave leader of the royal guard and the man who really stole the show, in my opinion), the princess, and ultimately the whole kingdom. And there is just something very unassuming about Jack that made him a hero I could like, instead of roll my eyes at.

Jack’s not the only courageous character here, either. Elmont has pledged his life to King and Country, and we see him stand fast beside both. He often risks life and limb to protect not only the Princess and the King, but also his men and the low-born Jack.

The King won many brownie points when he chose to lead from the front (a trait that I greatly admire) when other men of power might be inclined to rush to safety. In addition, we see that he is a wise man, and one who knows his place as a true leader. In one seen we see him make the decision to cut down the beanstalk (the only hope he has of ever seeing his daughter again) in order to save his kingdom. While it is a heart wrenching call for him to make, and we see him tearfully whispers for Isabel (his daughter) to forgive him for what he must do, we feel like it is the right call for him to make.

Also, Isabel gets points for being just the right mixture of plucky and princessish. Often I am turned off by female characters, but this princess was one I could like. She lives with a desire to be the kind of queen her mother, a kind and wise woman, was, and she sees the value in learning about the people she is going to rule in order to be the best sovereign she can be.

Negative Elements

Violence is obviously everyone’s big concern. With a title like Jack the Giant Slayer, you just get a violent vibe, which is perhaps why I was shocked that the movie really wasn’t that violent. I mean, we do have lots of giants eating lots of people, but the actual act is never shown, and blood is pretty much none existent.

In Jack the Giant Slayer, there are several war scenes reminiscent of Lord of the Rings styled fighting (flaming trees get flung over the castle walls and giant boulders get slung in sling-shot fashion at the castle walls), just one a much tamer level. Also, it is safe to say that the giants are… well, man eating giants, and thus, humans get stepped on, grabbed from atop horses, and so forth, but as I said above, the action is never a focus of any shot and most of the time you only see the giants spit out someone armor, letting you know that they are now deceased.

To be fair, though, the humans do a good bit of infliction as well, on each other and the giants. The villain and his obnoxious side-kick kill multiple people (it should be noted the death is always off screen). Sword fights commence, one giant is stabbed, another skewered in the tongue with an arrow, but all in all, it’s very tame and bloodless.

Perhaps the movie’s most grotesque moment comes when someone is torn apart by a rapidly growing beanstalk coming from inside their body, eventually blowing them to pieces (the camera does focus in on a head while this happens).

A smattering of language is also included in this tale, which was, to be quite honest, the worst part of the film, and even that was shockingly few. The words “b –rd,” “p ,” two uses of “h “, and one misuse of the Lord’s name were it for the entire film.

It should also be noted that in the beginning of the film, the princess falls into a rough crowd who eyes her lecherously, but nothing comes of this and she is very quickly rescued from them. She and Jack also share a tame kiss.

Worth concluding with is the fact that the whole beanstalk mess was created by monks who, in their sinful quest to reach heaven before their time (sound like the tower of Babel?…), create beans from dark magic. We’re told that the land of the giants is located halfway between earth and heaven, and God is acknowledged by both humankind and the giants.

Conclusion

Despite the fact that this is a fairytale (albeit a more adult version of the retelling), in the end we see that fairy tale endings don’t just come about. Jack didn’t get to just live happily ever after because some magic bean came his way. No, he had to make sacrifices and put the needs of others before his own in order to get that happy ending.
I really enjoyed this movie. It wasn’t the most brilliant script, it had a few plot holes, and the villain could have been a bit more… well, less ridiculous, but all that said, it was a fun movie with likeable characters and surprisingly clean content. That, added with the stunning visual effects, and the fact that the giants were fierce warriors instead of bumbling brutes, I felt the film was worth a re-watch, which I did with my family in tow. It may not be able to contend with The Avengers, but Jack the Giant Slayer is well worth the watch, if you are as into fairytales and fantasy as I am.

Daddy Day Care

daddy_day_careIf your job was to promote breakfast cereal to children, which product would you rather be promoting?  Lucky Charms, or Veggie-Os?  Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the Veggie-O’s guy is going to be out of a job soon, right?  Well, Charlie and his co-worker Phil must not have gotten the memo, because they are the guys behind Veggie-Os, and they are devastated to learn that they will be out of a job.

This causes some problems for Charlie.  Obviously, this means his wife is going to have to pick up some more hours while he tries to search for a job, and they will have to pull their son, Ben, out of the prestigious Chapman Academy, the Princeton of preschools.  At least for the moment.  Oh, and since Kim is going to be the sole breadwinner for a while, that means Charlie is going to have to take care of Ben until he can find another daycare facility.  That proves to be difficult, though, because Charlie and his wife learn there are a lot off bad daycares out there, and they are not handing over their baby boy to just any crazy.

That’s when it hits Charlie.  Lots of parents can’t afford Chapman!  And he’s already having to watch his kid.  What if he and Phil were to start their own daycare?  After all, a Daddy Day Care can’t be too hard.

Positive Elements

The main message behind this movie is that kids should be allowed to be kids.  Chapman functions like an elite college, as opposed to a creative environment for kids to grow.  And in today’s society, where we push kids to be older, faster, until the hit the teen years, at which point we tell them to stay there as long as they can, perhaps this is a needed reminder.

Once the Daddys in Daddy Day Care finally get serious about teaching the kinds they are now watching, we see them try and promote a healthy, happy environment for the kids to grow up in.  We see them work with a little girl, teaching her to read, they work to transform a tyrant into a polite little man, and Charlie’s son Ben goes from being an unsocial individual to enjoying interacting with the other kids.

The relationship between Charlie and Ben blossoms in the movie and is cherished. We see them begin to spend time together, engage in numerous bonding rituals (bedtime stories, family hugs, family games) and often proclaim their love for one another. Phil, meanwhile, overcomes some of his antipathy toward the grimier aspects of parenting (diaper changing) and becomes more involved in his son’s life.

Other positive elements include the truths that not all authority figures are spoilsports, parents can always find room for improvement, success requires perseverance and professional status can’t compare to the rewards of being a good parent.

Negative Elements

There is much angst in the beginning of the film, by women, about men running a day care center.  The guys pitch that they are two committed fathers, trying to make people more comfortable with them, but the phrasing backfires a bit, and someone mistakes them for a gay couple.

I was a bit surprised at the lack of innuendo in the movie, and to my knowledge the only thing that was said was when Marvin (who joins the Daddy Day Care team because of his somewhat childish nature and ability to connect with the kids) becomes star struck by one of the attractive, single moms and, when she asks him out (he mistakenly thinks she wants him to watch her son for her while she goes out on a date… with someone else), says “Dinner, bath, bed?  The works?”

As for violence and crude humor… it’s a movie about toddlers, so there is a lot of potty humor and little tyke tempers that flair into kicks and blows of little fists and feet.  Phil in particular gets the brunt of both the blows, and the bathroom dealings.  The movie begins with the Dads’ incompetence (Ben gets walked into a door, the kids tear pillows apart, jump on furniture, drink bubbles), so you can imagine how wild the kids get, and how bad the behavior can be.

As for language… there is a whole lot of kids saying things like “sucks”, “fart”, “butthead”, and the likes, but no actual language, though there is a handful of misuses of the Lord’s name.

Conclusion

I like the male centered theme in the movie, since hands-off Dads are one of my big pet peeves.  And I also like that Charlie makes the important discovery that caring for kids can be much more satisfying than a high-power career. That said, there is an awful lot in the movie that makes me leery of recommending it for people with young children.  Kids are very impressionable, and if they see other kids acting like wild animals, and having lots of fun doing so, then it’s not a stretch that we won’t see them do so also.  But, that is a call parents will have to make for themselves.

College Road Trip

college_road_tripJames Porter is a man of the law, so he’s seen his share of danger, and he ain’t never gonna let his baby see any of it. Which is why he is a Northwest University man all the way! Why? Because it is 40 miles from home, so when his baby goes off to college he’ll be able to get there in 28 minutes (he’s clocked it) in an emergency.

Melanie isn’t so worried about how fast dad can get to her college, though. She wants to be an attorney, and her sights are set on Georgetown University, which is 700 miles away, in Washington DC, crime central! So, you can imagine dad’s response to such a declaration.

The problem James runs into is his wife’s convincing speech, and the fact that his daughter is planning on a college road trip with her friends. So, dad makes a decision. He’s going to take Mel on her cross-country trip to DC, convince her how wrong it is for her, and then bond with her amidst all the schemes.

If only things would go according to plan.

Positive Elements

James does love his daughter. He just wants what he thinks is best for her, and he wants her to be safe. But not only does he love his daughter, he loves his wife and son, too.

A few nice moments are sprinkled throughout the movie, such as when Michelle, James’ wife, says, “You taught her how to think for herself and be strong”, or when James tells Mel, “Go in there with all confidence, keep your head up, and do your best.”

Negative Elements

Dad, being protective, has a couple of guy moments, in relation to his daughter. When a handsome young man offers to give Melanie a tour, dad asks, “A tour of what?”. Also, when James hears a deep-voiced girl answer the phone at a sorority house, he immediately thinks that Mel is sleeping with guys and girls at the sorority sleepover. He rushes over, only to realize his mistake once he’s under the bed, and is found out and “exposed” as a Peeping Tom the next morning.

Violence is all in an attempt to be humorous (the movie is a comedy, after all). Things like James and another man battling with golf clubs while racing side-by-side in golf carts, or a dad tackling a young man when he learns that he’s engaged to his daughter.

Language is reduced to a couple of “Oh my god!” comments, and the only alcohol depiction is at a wedding reception. James also makes the comment to Melanie that coffee is, essentially, a drug.

Also worth noting is the fact that Melanie lies to her dad about going to the library with friends when she’s actually going to a party.

Conclusion.

The movie is pretty harmless and rather unspectacular. Which is probably why this will be my shortest movie review ever. The movie has a very weak plot, some funny lines that weren’t enough to carry you through the movie, and is yet another “daughter was right, Dad was wrong” kind of film. The pig was adorable, and that was the funkiest, most enjoyable version of the song Double Dutch Buss I have ever heard, but that is about all I can say for the movie.