Iron Man 3

iron_man_three

“Things are different now, I have to protect the one thing that I can’t live without.”

Since that epic battle in New York, nothing has been the same for Tony Stark. In his own words, “You experience things, and then they’re over. I can’t sleep, and when I do I have nightmares.” Ever since the Avengers assembled to save the world, Stark has become a damaged and suffering man living in a world he no longer understands. Tinkering with his Iron Man suits merely serves as an escape from the real world, and, when “demons” from Stark’s past suddenly appear in his life and threaten to destroy everything he holds dear, will Iron Man realize that hiding is not the solution?

The Good

Who is Tony Stark without his suit? This is a question that not even Stark himself knows the answer to and this film documents the dramatic and raw journey of discovery. While this film does have some exciting scenes, engaging dialogue, and entertaining elements, the themes it provides for thought are definitely the most rewarding aspect.

Arrogant. Egotistical. Narcissistic. These are all words that can be used to describe the character of Tony Stark. However, as Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” Stark does experience his fall and learns the right lessons through it. We watch such a vainglorious character transform from a pompous “genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist” (to use Stark’s own description of himself) into a man who is stripped of his illusion of strength and experiences true brokenness and humility. Iron Man 3 chronicles more than just another action-packed adventure; it tells a story of identity and transformation. Previously, in Iron Man 2, Stark had proclaimed, “I am Iron Man. The suit and I are one. To turn over the Iron Man suit would be to turn over myself.” Throughout this latest installment in the Iron Man trilogy, that view is radically changed and Stark is finally able to admit to himself that his suit was nothing more than a “cocoon” that enabled a new man emerge from it’s shell.

Protection and sacrifice were both themes that I appreciated as much as the emphasis on humility. The previous Iron Man film ended with Tony Stark and Pepper Potts finally in a serious relationship and it is refreshing to watch the way they both sacrifice to protect each other. In a moment of anger and pride, Stark jeopardizes the safety of “the one thing he can’t live without.” Once he realizes his mistake, however, he is broken and his apology is sincere. Multiple times Stark compromises his own safety in order to ensure Pepper’s. What a vast difference this is from the old Tony Stark who only cared about himself; now he loves Pepper and is willing to put her needs and safety before his own. Pepper’s character has always been one of a feminine woman who supports and aids the hero without getting involved in the action herself but that perception is altered somewhat in this installment. After she endures a terrible ordeal, Pepper is worried for herself and Tony and she is terrified that she might inadvertently harm the man she loves. However, Tony reassures her, “I can make you better. I fix stuff.” Both are willing to be there for each other in good times as well as bad and make sacrifices necessary to protect the other.

Another concept that is worth thinking about is introduced in a statement by Stark at the opening of the film. He remarks, “You start something pure, something exciting then come the mistakes, the compromises. We create our own demons.” This quote and the way it is a crucial aspect to the plot provides some excellent food-for-thought. Even if it doesn’t acknowledge the true nature and source of evil, it does inspire people to consider their actions towards others and realize that the compromises we make now can have deadly ramifications for our future. Despite the fatalistic tone of this statement, the story is not void of following up with messages of hope and redemption and overcoming mistakes.

The Bad

The MPAA rated this film PG-13 for “sequences of intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content.”

Even though Iron Man 3 is full of some excellent themes and messages worth thinking about, it is not void of negative content and it contains much of the risque content found in the other two Iron Man films.

Yes, Tony and Pepper are in a relationship now, but this does not stop us from seeing the kind of behavior Stark was notorious for during the previous films. Flashbacks show us a glimpse of the promiscuous-pre-Pepper Tony. Nothing is shown and nothing explicit is said, however, there is suggestive dialogue and inappropriate actions are implied. Regarding Pepper and Tony’s relationship, the two live together even though they are not married and suggestive dialogue is amply present between the two of them as well.

People are shown together in bed while, throughout the course of the movie, women are shown in underwear, bikinis, and very revealing clothing. Pepper’s midriff is exposed during quite a bit of the film.

Profanity consists uses of “s-“, “d-“, “a-“, “S.O.B.” and taking the Lord’s name in vain. In addition to those, there are several instances of inappropriate slang terminology.

Drugs are mentioned and some characters drink alcoholic beverages.

This is, without a doubt, a very violent film; more-so than I can remember the other Marvel films being. Iron Man 3 seems to jump from one fast-paced battle to the next with hardly a moment to catch your breath in between. People are killed and terrorism is shown in a way that is extremely frightening and realistic. Blood is shown and genetic modifications are the cause of some highly disturbing images and scenes including people breathing fire, turning red-hot, and being able to regenerate disgusting and mutilated bodies back to normal. People are blown up and buildings explode. Hand-to-hand combat is gritty and intense (including vicious fighting between a man and a woman.) The violence is definitely something of which to be very wary.

Conclusion

While I consider Iron Man 3 to be superior to Iron Man 2 plot-wise, it is far from perfect. What started out as a fantastic plot with plenty of depth and a well-developed villain, was taken too far and ended up being over-the-top and unbelievable. Sometimes less is more and subtlety is better than excess. Towards the end of this film I was ready to go back to the more “realistic” roots of Iron Man and forget about some of the crazy things that were introduced into this story by its end. The messages were there, but they seemed to get buried and lost amidst the special effects and action sequences that failed to deviate from the expected norm.

Iron Man 3 explored and caused viewers to consider and question some serious issues, such as the ramifications of genetic modification and “playing God.” Due to its thought-provoking themes, I am glad I went to see this film; it provided me with a lot to consider and the film itself contained plenty of exciting action, plot twists, and witty dialogue to be thoroughly entertaining. However, because of the risque content and the heavy amount of disturbing violence, this is not a film I would chose to see again.

A Knight’s Tale

Knight's-tale

William has one goal. One desire he inherited from his father when he was sent away as a young boy. That is to change his stars. It isn’t easy for him to do though, being the son of a roof thatcher, one of the lowest rungs in the english feudal system. However, when the knight he serves dies from a jousting tournament, he decided to risk his neck and attempt to change his stars… And win the jousting tournament with a fake name, fake papers, and more.

With the unlikely help of his fellow men, a penless (and moneyless) writer, a woman blacksmith, and a noblewoman named Jocelyn. William and his team embark against all odds to prove one doesn’t have to be a knight to be noble, and certainly not a knight to win the joust. William has decided to change his stars. Is it possible to do so though in a society set in bloodlines, titles, and kings?

Things I liked

William is in character a knight in peasant’s clothing. He is loyal and brave. He is willing to stand against the wrongs of the feudal system which enslave millions of common people, even if it costs him his life. He acts not for himself, but for the wishes of his father. That’s what drives him to the extremely dangerous path of competing as a non-exsistent knight “Ulrich von Leichtenstein.” He perseveres in the face of certain failure, and refuses to run from what he believes.

The bond of friendship between a host of unlikely characters make not only for some hilarious moments, but also some fairly deep ones. They sew him clothes, they try to teach him to dance, they pool all their money for the tournament… More importantly though, they are there for William in his most dire times. William’s friends may not be the brightest of the bunch, but they are some of the most loyal I’ve seen in a movie. They go hungry, take hits, and endager themselves, all for the sake of William and the dream of something better. They are painfully honest with William, which makes him grow. They are also protective of him, when he is in trouble.

William enlists the help of a writer who lost everything (including his clothes) to gambling. When he does so again, William shows mercy and saves him from being skinned alive. We see the dangers of gambling and how it can indeed take everything you have, down to the clothes off your back.

Love is portrayed in manner which I found quite surprising. A noblewoman catches William’s eye and he pursues her with all his heart. At first, it looks like a cliche hollywood romance, but then we see it turn into a relationship which isn’t based upon  physical beauty, but upon selfless unconditional love. William loses a tournament for her, instead of winning it for her. She is willing to leave all she has and live with pigs in a hovel in the country in order to help William. The relationship, while flawed biblically (more on that to come) does have redeeming points as well. I liked seeing that relationship grow into something more than just physical attraction.

I will say as well, this movie is funny. I don’t normally laugh at flicks, but this one indeed got me to chuckle more than a few times. The wordplay is fast, witty, and well written. As far as production goes, this comedy is top notch in terms of originality and humour.

Things I didn’t Like

The most disappointing thing about this movie is the amount of crude humor shown and implied/innuendoes of sexual content. The writer is first seen fully nude from the rear (including his derrière . As he has lost all his clothes from gambling, he shamefully has nothing to cover himself with. This is shown in a negative light, but still unnecessary and tactless. Again, a second time, when he loses everything again, same deal. Many crude comments are made about various body parts and functions by William’s friends. He himself says quite a few things about the noblewoman he admires. The Noblewoman wears an outfit which reveals way to much cleavage. She also approaches him in his tent. They kiss and the scene goes to black, but much is implied through that clip.

When The noblewoman gives a kiss to the messenger for William. The messenger gives it to William, promptly spitting on the ground afterwards and being thoroughly grossed out. Indeed, we are too.

Crude language is used throughout the film, mostly variations of the S word. God’s name is never used in vain though, which I appreciated.

Closing Thoughts

Your men love you. If I knew nothing else about you, that would be enough.” ~Prince Edward~

A Knights tale is a rough and tumble comedy which has many high points, but several lows as well. The value in this movie comes from William’s men, and the redemption he has after being caught. (you knew it had to happen. 😉 )  William’s drive is about changing his stars to honor his father. He doesn’t really care about riches or castles. He care about the people in his life, and doing what he can to make them happy and successful  even if that pursuit costs him his life. He proves being a true knight isn’t something on paper, but something which is in the heart.

I’ll be honest with you all, I enjoyed this movie for the tale it told of camaraderie and selflessness. It is funny with solid messages on not only standing for what is right, but on what lasting relationships are made of as well. To quote the film however…

You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found wanting.

While this tale is packed with great messages, it is also packed with a lot of unnecessary crude and sexual garbage. Because of this junk, A Knight’s Tale falls from being a royal feast, to a moldy loaf of bread. There is nourishment there, but you will have chew through quite a bit of filth to get to it. Add to the list quite a bit of coarse speech and joking… This film, which has a lot of potential, is definitely found wanting of something more… Knightly.

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.

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.