After keeping up this blog for over two years now, I have been AWOL, taking a little Christmas-New Year's vacation from public punditry. In fact, my family and I had planned to be out of town on a road trip, leaving on New Year's Day, but the utter lack of cooperation by the big continental weather systems ultimately discouraged us from leaving home, day by day. Instead, we sat home in warmth and electronics and relaxed instead of gallavanting abroad to brave chilly motel rooms and outdoor hiking and animal-watching in near-snowy conditions (call us wimps, but there you have it). The gators and manatees will still be there if we go to see them in February, I'll bet.
Meanwhile I have been cleaning up around the house, the yard, and my computer after the holidays. Have also started teaching my 16-year-old son how to drive. He can now drive around the biggest local church's empty parking lot, avoiding curbs, in first gear, and I have only screamed "Stop!" once. I think. It's gone better than I expected, and has brought back many fond memories of my Dad teaching me to drive on the stick shift in his 1967 red VW Bug.
Cue "The Circle of Liiiiiiife......"
Speaking of Disney songs, the best mass-media entertainment we enjoyed over the holidays was going to see Disney's latest movie release, the clever and charming, fun and funny "Enchanted
." My daughter, age 12, and I saw it for the first time with her friend and her friend's mom; we went a second time with my son, and then on Christmas Day both kids and I felt like seeing it again, and we persuaded my 80-year-old mother to go with us. She was understandably jaded about enjoying any modern movie that would interest her and not offend her "Casablanca"-era movie sensibilities (which I share). She came out of the theater marveling, "Now that's a movie even I liked!" We drove home from the theater singing and humming the tunes--how often nowadays does that happen?! I cannot remember the last time I paid to see a movie in a theater three times
. Probably not since my Tiger Beat
days of Haley Mills adoration, if ever.
I asked my son why he liked it and he said the obvious: because "it's funny" and "the music is good." My daughter was continually turning to me during the movie, with a big smile on her face. She loved the humor and the big song scenes. Mom and I especially appreciated the fact that the actors were great, and the main protagonists are likeable, attractive, sweet, decent, kind, and good (how surprising in a modern movie!). The "forces of evil" were suitably campy and were defeated or reformed in the end; the self-parodies and referential humor were delightful.
Only two bad notes appeared as "low" so-called comedy and offended me: the dog urinating on the prince's foot, and the chipmunk passing gas--hey, the staples of appealing to kids of all ages, in Hollywood executives' minds. (I was grateful they showed such remarkably high-minded restraint in not throwing in the ever-fashionable belching, spewing, and butt-wiggling
.) Someday I'll watch a great modern family movie without any
such vulgar, unfunny, gratuitous distractions, and I'll know I've died and gone to heaven.
By the way, am I the only one who's noticed that running the gauntlet of the movie trailers (for coming attractions for kids) before the main feature is like sitting in an unruly Kindergarten held hostage by vulgar little boys and girls enamored of loud noises and their own bodily functions? That's not entertainment to me or to my kids. After the gross "Alvin and the Chipmunks
" trailer, my daughter hid her face in her hands and said, "I hate that trailer and I don't want to see that movie." My son was equally offended by it, but said he actually might've gone to see the movie anyway, if only they had cast David Duchovny
as Dave. Hmm, maybe me too.
In the meantime, "Enchanted" is definitely entertainment, and an 8-thumbs-up hit for ages 12 to 80 with us. My daughter got the "Enchanted" soundtrack CD
with the likeable Alan Menken score and songs for Christmas from her brother. Thanks, Disney, for doing something right."Enchanted" at Wikipedia
: everything you ever wanted to know and more (includes spoilers)
Check out the parents' ratings and opinions at Kids-in-Mind
and Common Sense Media
(both sites always include spoilers, because they tell parents everything they want and need to know in advance about how the movie might/will affect their kids). I always check these websites before taking my kids (and my mother!) to the theater.