Archive for the ‘ PG ’ Category

God’s Not Dead

20140408-122053.jpgWhat would you do if you showed up at your new college, went to your philosophy class, and were ordered by your professor to agree that “God is dead”? What would you do if he told you that your refusal to sign would require you to prove in three lectures that God is not dead? What if your girlfriend threatened to leave you and your professor to ruin you if you took the challenge?

For Josh Wheaton, college freshman and dedicated Christian, there can be only one answer.

Take the challenge and tell the world that God is definitely not dead. In fact, He’s very much alive.

The Live

This is a film that clearly proclaims the gospel, along with the power and goodness of God. It doesn’t get too preachy, and does a pretty good job weaving Christianity into the story naturally. It also does a pretty good job of weaving a lot of different storylines together. Each storyline has a slightly different message to offer. Josh learns that God will bless his faith and his courage. A pastor learns that being faithful in the little things is just as important as “being on the front lines” and that God is in control of everything–even cars that refuse to start. A conflicted girlfriend learns to see herself the way God does, and that she doesn’t need attention from anyone to make her worthy. And yet not everyone learns better. A quintessentially selfish businessman exits the story the exact same man as when he entered it.

None of these morals hit the audience over the head too badly, with some of them even left to the viewer to figure out for themselves. Everyone doesn’t live happily ever after, but the central characters do discover God’s faithfulness.

The film is also technically excellent. The cinematography was artistic without trying to be too clever, and the filmmakers did a good job overall of showing instead of telling. The acting was superb almost across the board, and the emotion was portrayed powerfully. Together, these aspects create a film that definitely has the potential to inspire and get people thinking.

The Deadly

Unfortunately, the film had too many flaws for me to wholeheartedly endorse it as I wish I could. Almost all the characters are unrealistic and two-dimensional from beginning to end, making it hard to take their lessons seriously. All the atheists in the story are stereotypically and over-the-top bad, with one even remarking “I’m the meanest person I know.” One atheist is outright verbally abusive, to the point that I was honestly a bit scared when one scene left him alone in an elevator with the protagonist. Not only is this not true to real life (many atheists are kind people, and most mean people hide it a little better than these characters), but it gets a little tiring to watch after awhile.

To be fair, the atheists aren’t the only mean ones. One character’s Christian girlfriend angrily leaves him because what he believes to be the right thing to do might interfere with her plans for their lives. My question is why he didn’t see her selfishness previously in their six-year dating relationship, especially since it was obvious to me in the first ten minutes of the film.

But then, there are a lot of confusing or just plain absent motivations in this film. One major character has a sudden dramatic change of heart for unclear reasons… presumably because his girlfriend stood up to him and an eighteen-year-old kid humiliated him in front of his class. Other characters swing from one state of mind to the next with seemingly small reasons.

On a theological note, the idea of trying to prove or defend God is shaky at best. For one thing, the very idea that anything can prove God implies that something has higher authority than He does. For another, statistics and science cannot convince someone to believe. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. Yes, He can use anything to touch people’s hearts for Him. But turning to reason as a basis for faith is troubling. We don’t believe because our minds are convinced, we believe because our hearts are changed by God.

I also found Josh’s answer to the question of why there is evil in the world concerning. Whether you believe in free will or not, his reply didn’t indicate that evil has any greater purpose in God’s plan, which is a very depressing point of view, and not one that I believe Scripture teaches.

The Verdict

From my criticisms, it probably sounds like I hated God’s Not Dead. I didn’t. I thought it had merit, and even that it was worth seeing. I think it has the potential to be used by God. I’m grateful for the courage that led the filmmakers to boldly and openly proclaim our King.

I was just disappointed to see that in the end, the story wasn’t able to shake off many of the stereotypes, bad writing, and unrealistic content that has tended to characterize Christian films. It accomplished a lot of things. I just hope that we’ll start seeing some Christian films with better writing in the near future.

I’d give this one 2.5 stars out of five.

Monster’s University

Monsters-University-2013-Wallpaper-HD-for-Desktop

It has been Mike Wizowski’s dream since first grade to be a scarer. Finally, he has made it to Monster’s University. the Ivy League school in scaring careers. When he gets to the class though, he find monsters much scarier than himself. One in particular names James P. Sullivan.

Sullivan is a famous name in the scaring world, and James is pretty sure becoming drafted for a scarer is a walk in the park. Mike however, is determined not to be sent home. The study begins. Mike spends the time reading books and doing all kinds of prep. Sully Spends it attending parties.

When the day of the exam comes, each are prepared in their own way. But do they have enough to be one of the best scarer’s of the class?

Things I Liked

After 12 long years, the greatly anticipated sequel for Monster’s Inc. has been released. It is great to see some well known characters, albeit in a younger fashion. Of course, the two main characters are Mike and Sully. Mike is a nerd and Sully is the cool guy on the block. We know theses guys are best friends, and this movie tells the story of how that happens.

Mike is the cliche perfect student. He gets straight A’s, is super friendly (though no one like him much), and even has a retainer to boot. Mike’s work ethic is something to be commended. We see him study and put his whole self into whatever it is. That can be a book, a game, or a competition. There is no halfway for the passionate Wizowski. Something we definitely can learn from.

Sully is the opposite of Mike. He is big, scary, a cool guy, and lives life with the entitlement of the last name he carries. His father was a famous scarer, and he thinks that is enough to get him to work for Monster’s Inc. He doesn’t study but instead parties. He hangs out with the cool kids at the expense of other Monster’s feelings getting hurt. What he learns however is- a last name does not a good monster make. We see him learn, often the hard way, that if you want something in life, then you have to work for it. Cheating, partying, and degrading others will get you places in the short term, but that’s it.

These two guys start off on the wrong foot, and generally go through the whole movie fighting each other for the position of scarer. Mike has the wits, Sully has the brawn. They learn through some bad choices they make (which get them trapped again in the human world) that both of them are imperfect, and both have specific strengths. They learn what being a “team” means, and is is quite cool to watch how that happens.

There is no profanity nor is God’s name taken in vain.

As always, Pixar dazzles you with bright colors, creative creatures, and a charming screenplay in terms of humor, story, and characters. This Prequel tips it’s hat to many things in the first movie. It tells why Randall hates Sullivan so much. It shows characters we know from the past like Roz. It explains how the doors work and are made. And more. It is a very well thought through and developed film, and very enjoyable to watch.

Things I didn’t Like

Perhaps the scene I have the most issue with, occurs when the Scare games are taking place. The Scare games are a series of challenges designed for competition among groups in the University. After a particularly hard loss, Mike breaks his team into private property for Monster’s Inc. After they are inspired, they get caught, and they race out of the property and get away. There is no consequences for this action, nor is it even implied that it  was wrong.

This movie is full of slapstick humor and scaring (of course). Monsters are pricked with urchin-like objects and swell to immense size. They get thrown out of a building, run over by a cleaning machine, and are spanked with wooden paddles. In order to return to the monster world, Mike and Sully have to scare people. They way they do this can be frightening for younger children- so bear that in mind.

Other minimal things include a pretty cruel prank pulled on Mike’s team at a sorority party. There are some awkward comments about a guy telling a college student who is marrying his mother “Just view me like an older brother married to your mother. Wait- No…

Closing Thoughts

“You aren’t scary Mike, but you are fearless.” ~James Sullivan~

Unlike so many other movies, Mike is not happy being good. He wants to be great. He wants to succeed and is passionate in working to that goal. What he finds though, is he is not cut out to be a scarer. Through the whole movie we see him trying to be someone he is not. And the results on a personal level, are devastating. To often we hear the phrase “You can do anything if you believe in yourself.” in modern society. This is incredibly false. There are some things people can’t do which others can. We are designed to do specific things. Mike believed with all his heart he could be a scarer, but when push came to shove- he couldn’t do it. We can’t do things which we weren’t designed to do, and this movie shows that incredibly well.

In the Monster World, scarers are the equivalent of our sports and hollywood stars. They are elite and worshiped by many. Scarers are put on immense pedestals of importance. And if you aren’t scary, well, you’re worthless. This film shows that just because you aren’t “famous”, doesn’t mean you are worthless. We see Mike, after not being a scarer, choose to excel in “menial” jobs, and he is rewarded for it. It was a perfect example of being faithful in the little things, because they are just as important as the big things.

While not quite topping the original Monster’s Inc. , Monster’s University is a more than adequate prequel and welcome addition to the monster world pixar has created. Monster’s University has everything we’ve come to expect in a Pixar film- A touching story, some great laughs, and memorable characters. Solid values and minimal potty humor make this one I’ll not only be recommending to others, but adding it to my collection.  We don’t need to be scared of this film- it definitely passed the test.

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.

Nacho Libre

Jack_Black_Nacho_Libre

What do you get when you cross a Christian Brother, with Mexican masked wrestling, a Skinny Sidekick, and a nun which this brother is attracted to?

You get the life of Nacho. He dreams of becoming a pro luchador, for the fame and glory the title possesses. He also wants to help the orphans too, and of course impress the Sister Encarnación. Unfortunately, going pro is a bit harder than anticipated, and believe it or not, the church looks down upon the violent sport.

Will Nacho succeed in his quest for fame and food for orphans? Only through his stretchy pants and the Lucha mask will we find out.

Things I Liked

Nacho has a heart to serve the orphans which live at his parish. While a bit of what he does is for the glory, it is clear throughout the film his heart lies in making it possible for the orphans to live a better life.

What is a hero without a sidekick? For Nacho, not much. Esqueleto is that sidekick. He is loyal as a dog, and honestly, portrayed not to be much smarter than one. When everyone abandons Nacho in his quest, his friend sticks with him and provides words which encourage Nacho to continue on and persevere.

Things I Didn’t Like

One of the foremost things I did not like was Nacho does things which are wrong, to help “the greater good”. That good being the orphans. He lies, steals, cheats, and breaks his oath in fighting in the wrestling matches. He isn’t a hero we should admire. He pride himself in gags and passing gas. He is rude with food and possesses poor manners, if any at all. Immature, boisterous, rebellious, and crude. Nacho is all of these things.

Then comes in Sister Encarnación, and things get, quite frankly, grossly sticky in terms of innuendo and tension. Nacho is infatuated with the nun, and asks her personal questions which are grossly uncomfortable. He displays his body in front of her, especially his gluteus maximus, and talks about breaking their solemn vows to run away and start a family. In addition to that, at a party an aggressive woman chases Esqueleto in order to love him. We see him being dragged across the floor to her.

The violence in this film dips to the grade school level. Crotch shots, hair pulling, biting, and other forms of slapstick beat up Nacho and his sidekick quite soundly. Early in the film, we see two men tussle in the dirt like school boys over some chips. A man is smacked on the head with a cello… Overall the violence can be described as a crudely twisted humour which is meant to be funny, but winds up just losing the match. This movie is gross- and that grossness is meant to be funny? Nacho eats a raw eagle egg. Or at least tries. He snorts food out of his nose, he accentuates the fact he is overweight, and more.

The dirty language in this flick includes a lot of implied cursing, but it is never actually spoke. A man is called a douche, boyish insults fly constantly, and trash talk is exchanged in the ring.

Closing thoughts

With any Jack Black movie you can pretty much expect the following: Crass slapstick humour, a bumbling hero, and a weak message.

Indeed, we find all of these in this movie too. I watched this at the recommendations of some adult friends, who guaranteed me it was “Hilarious”. Expecting something different than what I had watched earlier (School of Rock), and knowing the rich culture behind Mexican Free Fighting, I thought this would be more mature, more refined.

I was wrong.

Nacho Libre is a  crude comedy which dabbles in just enough innuendo to remain “harmless”, yet imply exactly what is meant to be conveyed. Ridiculous half naked fat stunt men slam, smack, and bite each other in clearly fake wrestling matches, meant to be funny I assume… And the “hero” is given justification for stealing and breaking his oath for the “greater good”.

The little light in the move is, as I have mentioned, the care about the orphans. But that light is dim compared to the rest of the film.

So what’s the point of the movie? I’m not sure really, but I’m calling this one pinned. Pinned by the depths of  gross humor, the crude sexual jargon, and immature violence. Don’t waste your Libre (freedom) on this film, or at least, know that is is not funny as the fans make it out to be.

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.

The Croods

the_croods_movie-wideIt’s not easy being a Crood. With your neighbors killed by wild beasts, food scarce, and the climate rather inhospitable, there is a reason you value your home so much, even if it is just a cave. There’s just one problem. The world is coming apart at the seams, the Pangea seams that is, and the Croods are right on top of those places where the continents decide to come apart. Soon their entire world is rocked to the core. Their cave is destroyed, their land crumbled to bits, and Grug (Mr. Crood) is responsible for finding his family a new home.

This is easier said than done. Not only does he have to protect his family, but he has a curious daughter (Eep) who is itching for something new. New things however, and curiosity, can get you killed. “Never not be afraid” that’s Grug’s motto, and it has kept his family alive and healthy in the past years. Now however there’s new territory, new animals, and a new guy (who’s name is… Guy) who all challenge his tried and true saying.

The world is coming apart, Eep is chasing this Guy who has these things called “ideas”. Somehow, someway, Grug has got to keep his family alive through it all.

Things I Liked

If this movie could have another working title, it would be called “Mr. Crood” because indeed, he is the focus of the movie. Grug embraces everything a father should be though, perhaps at times, a little to hard. He lives a life of sacrifice for his family by eating after everyone else, putting his life on the line every-time he leaves the cave, and is surprisingly open about how he is feeling. He is brave, loyal, and loving. We know without a doubt he would give anything to protect and provide for his family. Grug is not without his faults however, he worries constantly and rejects and sort of change. Just like all dads today, he has the right intentions, but is having trouble how to carry them out in this new land and trials.

Guy is a young man who has new ideas. Something Grug, nor any of his family have ever dreamed of, because of course, new is bad. Guy shares these ideas like fire, shoes, and sleds with the Grug family freely to help with their survival. Even though he has both his eyes on Eep, he does stick with and help the whole family, rather than running off with the young lass. It was great to see Guy attracted to Eep, but not abandoning the family and usurping Grug’s authority in that process.

We see both Guy and Grug have an emotionally raw and honest conversation. As opposite as the two are, both come to not only trust and learn from each other, but compliment each other as leaders of the same family. Speaking of which, the entire movie is about family. This family fights, just like all of us. They also persevere and look out for each other. Seeing a family, albeit a bit unorthodox, stick and work together as a unit was an additional theme I enjoyed.

In addition to having some solid family values, this movie is quite honestly very funny. Watching the Croods learn and experience new ideas such as fire, shoes, belts, and more was a great way to add humour into the film without detracting from the overall focus. This flick is also beautifully animated, rivaling Disney in epic landscapes and attention to detail.

Things I Didn’t Like

This movie clearly operates under the belief of evolutionary thinking. The Croods are cavemen, there are dozens of animals which would be classified as “missing links” in evolutionary circles. This movie presents without question a way the world could have been a couple million years ago. It is an underlying message that seems innocent, but can erode the shallow foundation of any child quite easily.

Eep is rebellious. Pure and simple. She doesn’t like the cave, or the rules, or the way things have always been the same. She wants more and disobeys her father, much like Ariel in the Little Mermaid, to find it. This puts herself and others at risk all the time. She also is rather aggressive in being with Guy. While he respects her father, she disregards Grug’s wishes consistently. In the end, there is resolution and both admit their faults, but this is not nearly as focused on as Eep’s seemingly justified quest to fulfill her curiosity above her father’s wishes. I asked a younger sibling of mine I took to see this movie what they thought of it. They said “It was kinda crazy and the dad was Mr. Worry and very mean.” I think it is worth noting that while Grug is completely selfless in all his actions, he is cast in a light which is dark. Then Eep, who is disobedient, is cast in the favorable light. This is something to be aware of.

Eep and Guy come very close to kissing in the movie, but never do. They do hug, touch, and generally stand extremely close to each other. There is a bit of crude humor, as we see Grug’s boxers the only thing left on his derrière after an extremely close encounter with a cat. All the characters in the movie are not very well or modestly dressed, granted it is an animated movie, but want to make sure you know all the same.

There is a lot of comic violence in the movie. While I did not mind this much, I want to be sure of inform you of the large amount of slapstick humour in the movie. The Croods continually hit each other with sticks, rocks, bones… pretty much anything they can find. They tumble, roll, slide, skid, are crushed, and bruised… yet come out just fine time after time. Much like the Tom and Jerry cartoons of the past, anything can happen to this family and they come out unharmed. That’s not to say however, the danger of death isn’t present. To the contrary, there are some quite intense moments of near death. Rocks and the earth tear apart, huge feral cats chase the Crood family, and casms reaching to the earth’s inner crust are present many times. Several times my younger sibling put their head on my arm because of the intensity of some earthquake scenes… Also something to bear in mind if taking a younger child to see this movie.

Closing Thoughts

“What is the purpose of staying alive if we can’t live?!?”

Eep asks this question when her father speaks of the importance of the cave, the place of safety. Indeed, staying alive offers very little motive when one is not allowed to live. See, everyone has their own individual purpose in this beginning of the film. Grug’s is to protect his family. Eep’s is to discover and explore. Guy’s is to innovate and come up with new ideas. All of these purposes we see create clashes in the family as far as relationships and pursuits.

Until that is, Guy introduces a new purpose. One called “Tomorrow” This tomorrow is filled with hope, promise of something better, and a continual pursuing of “the light”. This light for the Croods is the sun, and the promise of tomorrow the sun brings. Now, clearly any mention of God or Christ is lacking in this movie. That does not mean however, we cannot take a biblical truth from this movie and see it applied. Once the Croods, one by one, embrace this hope of tomorrow  they no longer act as cavemen, but as modern men, like Guy. They become new creatures, and through this much strife and conflict is resolved.

That’s where the value and true strength of this movie lies. Yes Grug is a commendable father figure in the end, yes there is self sacrifice, perseverance, and loyalty… But truly deep down, the movie adresses the issue of living. It makes the point it isn’t just enough to survive, we have to live. And the only way we can do that is through purpose. For the Crood’s it was hope in tomorrow. Which leads to an excellent question to ask any person who has thought about this movie… Where is your hope, and where is it leading you?

That’s what surprised me about this movie. It is more than just a funny family adventure (though it is for sure), it quest of purpose rooted in hope and faith. Without that hope, they would have failed. Without that faith, they would have remained afraid. I can honestly say this movie reminded me of the hope and faith I am to have in Christ, and if I don’t, just like the Croods,- how little I will accomplish in this world.

Popeye

Popeye posterStrong, squinting, pipe-smoking sailor Popeye sails into Sweethaven to search for his father, who abandoned him as a small child. The folks of Sweethaven are set in their ways, and are wary of the good-natured, kind-hearted, mumbling newcomer, though Popeye soon earns their respect with both his compassion and his muscles.

While boarding with the Oyl family, Popeye meets their daughter, the stubborn and lovely Olive Oyl, soon to be reengaged to the town bully Bluto. Tempers begin to boil and the plot to thicken as Popeye inadvertently steals Olive’s heart, and is left a baby with psychic fortune telling powers that everyone–including the furious Bluto–wants to exploit for their own purposes.

A cartoony and lighthearted romp from start to finish, this film follows Popeye as he seeks the truth, tries to protect others, and learn life’s greatest lesson–to always eat his spinach.

The Strong

This is really just a fun, rather cute, if very bizarre, film. There’s little either good or bad about it, though by far the strongest positive element is the character of Popeye himself. He is principled, kind, and ready and willing to protect and defend those he loves. When harshly insulted and humiliated by a group of men in a restaurant, he takes it meekly and without remonstrance until they insult his father. After this he requests an apology, and it’s only when they mockingly and violently force a number of innocent bystanders to apologize to him that he proceeds to give them all a beating.

The romance between Popeye and Olive Oyl is innocent and cute, with no innuendo or ickiness, and while the storyline about them going off and coming back with a baby that they both see as theirs could have been used to make inappropriate jokes, there is none of that. Popeye tells a group of people how he was bitter against his father for leaving him for a long while, but that he learned to wholeheartedly forgive him, and came in search of him to tell him so. He doesn’t waver in his decision that he will not allow “his baby” to be exploited to predict horse race outcomes or locate buried treasure. Indeed, his only fault is being a little too innocent and trusting, in assuming things like that his father will be delighted to see him, and that people who ask to “take the baby for a walk” have no ulterior motives in mind.

As for the artistic side of the film, redoing a classic cartoon as a live-action film was a very bold idea, and they certainly pulled off the cartoon aspect of it. Everything from the costumes to the sets to the shots are cartoonish in the extreme, giving an almost surreal quality to the visuals. And it’s almost worth sitting through two hours of the goofy story to watch Robin Williams’ extraordinary interpretation of the character. He has the bow-legged shuffling gait, the mumbled dialogue, and the squinting face of the animated Popeye down to the last little detail.

The Weak

The film may have few especially good qualities, but on the other had it has very few bad ones. There is some violence, but it’s all extremely cartoonish in quality. There’s no blood, no gore, just an awful lot of slapstick. Bluto, the hefty, morose henchman to the mysterious Commodore and Olive’s five-time fiance, is surly and easily angered to the point that he literally sees red.

There is some pipe smoking, though I don’t believe any actual smoke is seen coming from the pipes, and a lot of just plain bizarreness that might bother some young children. At the horse race, there are some women hanging around who are dressed with mild immodesty. Some cartoonish scary situations and lots of goofy behavior round out this film, which fluctuates between charming and utterly strange. The characters occasionally burst into songs, none of which are especially melodic or enjoyable.

Conclusion

Popeye is a very distinct style of film, unlike anything else I’ve seen. This unusual quality makes it the kind of film that most people will probably either love or hate. I personally found it overly goofy, but sortof cute, in a bizarre kind of way. The sweet character of Popeye, the innocence of the story, and the cleverness of the adaptation made it worth watching once for me, though I don’t see it becoming a favorite.