Wednesday, November 05, 2008

HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3: THINGS MY DAUGHTERS TAUGHT ME



During these times of my ever-more-fractured attention span, I have found it more difficult than ever to devote the kind of time that my instincts, and my sense of guilt and duty, however misplaced, seem to insist upon when it comes to blog writing. The fourth anniversary of this enterprise will be marked on November 15, and when I started it my life was considerably different, less hectic—to continue the evocation of outdated politics, I barely had a pot to cook a chicken in, obligation-wise, much less the actual chickens to cook. But the work I’ve been able to take on because of this blog, to speak nothing of the career changes I’ve initiated in my life outside of it, have made regular contributions to SLIFR in 2008 far less regular. (It’s a shame that with less profligacy greater keenness of observation has not necessarily followed.)

That all said, I’ve still been catching up on as many movies as I can, and a lot of thoughts have been clanging around that I probably should stop imposing on unsuspecting friends in otherwise unrelated e-mails and form into some sort of post-worthy material. I’ve decided to take advantage of that the fact that, though I still feel like I’ve been shrunk by fever and muscle aches down to about ¾ of my actual size (a viable diet plan?), I’m able to sit up straight in bed and type. So here I am, faced with several daylight hours during which I can write, and you, Dear Reader, must now, if you have the will to continue, pay the price.

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As a relatively responsible movie-going parent, I’ve always been curious as to how much of an influence our children’s responses to the movies we take them to works to color our own. One of the first movies I ever took my first daughter to, when she was two years of age, was Monsters, Inc. Of course she loved it. She even reached up midway through the movie to give me an unsolicited kiss, as if to say, “Thanks for taking me to this movie.” I came away convinced that Monsters, Inc. was a masterpiece of children’s entertainment, and that sublime ending, with Sulley peeking through the doorway at a sleeping Boo, did nothing to dispel that notion. (Neither did my daughter’s resemblance to Boo at the time do anything to dampen my happiness over our experience.) Thus began a history of taking my daughter(s) to the movies, one in which we’ve endured plenty of duds (any chance I could trade in our two screenings of Open Season or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull for one more shot at Wall-E on the big screen?), but one which I’ve also had some genuinely lovely experiences. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed movies together (Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Journey to the Center of the Earth 3D) that are unlikely to end up on anyone list of children’s classics. And I’ve been blessed to be able to turn them into fans of the drive-in movie, thanks to that quintessentially American format’s unlikely local renaissance courtesy of theaters like the Mission Tiki Drive-in, the Vineland Drive-in, the Rubidoux Drive-in, and the Van Buren Drive-in.

(There exists somewhere a videotape of me and my then three-month old daughter taken in 2000 at the now-defunct Foothill Drive-in in Azusa, CA, in which I guide her on a tour of the near-deserted lot just before movie time and express my regret that by the time she’s old enough to see them drive-ins will likely be completely extinct. Thank God for my inability to suitably conjure Nostradamus for my inaccurate prognostications.)


Finally, this summer we definitely rode that same wavelength in our mutual adoration of Speed Racer. After spending the movie’s opening day simmering in a downtown jury room awaiting the call that would ultimately never come, I spent a goodly portion of my downtime reading the Los Angeles Times and various other sources (accessed on the courtroom’s $5.00-a-hour Internet access computers) as they proclaimed Speed Racer to be an incoherent dud the scale of which could ultimately bring down its studio, Warner Brothers, after an epic botch of the movie’s marketing. (These were, after all, the bleak days before a certain Dark Knight came and cheered up everybody on the WB Burbank lot.) To celebrate my release from jury duty sans commitment to an actual trial (the system works, folks), I called my daughters and told them to make plans—we were gonna head out to see Speed Racer, my thinking being that if nothing else it would be a boatload of fun witnessing just how far off the rails a major studio movie can go in this age of buttoned-down, micro-precise marketing strategies. At dinner before the movie, we encountered a waiter who overheard us talking about seeing a movie afterward, and when he found out what we were seeing this rather tall, imposing gentleman immediately revealed himself to be a hyperactive member of the uber-geek community. He’d seen Speed Racer earlier in the day (remember, this is opening day) and was hard-pressed to contain his enthusiasm. He implored us to come back and let him know how we liked it, and I thought to myself, “You’re a nice guy, Bub, but you’re not gonna want to hear what I’m probably gonna think about this movie.”

I couldn’t have been less surprised when my daughters began immediately squealing with delight over the candy-colored antics of the Wachowski Brothers’ movie splashing with abandon upon the wide screen. But I kept waiting for that moment when, rather than giving in to the abandon, I had to shut down in the name of self-protection and begin actively rejecting the nonsense. That moment never came. And about three-quarters of the way into the movie, sometime either during or just after the movie’s spectacularly disorienting Fuji race, its track deliberately evocative of the loop-de-loop Hot Wheels tracks of my youth, I turned to my oldest daughter with a huge grin on my face and admitted, “I love this movie!” I spent the remainder of its short summer theatrical run returning to Speed Racer, five times in all, and twice in IMAX, with my daughters and my friend Don, the only other grown-up I know who seems to understand. (The night of the movie’s release on DVD I got a message from him that stated simply, “Have you watched it yet?”)


But then, my kids also loved Open Season. And Indiana Jones and that cheesy crystal skull. And Steve Martin’s remake of The Pink Panther. And Madagascar. And countless other crass movies pitched primarily to their demographic which I, either proudly or sadly, cannot abide. This is the group into which I have traditionally lumped the High School Musical phenomenon. Despite featuring an abundance of tunes that seem to have sprung directly out of a hit-making machine, so insidiously, preternaturally catchy are their hooky melodies, HSM just seemed too Disney-prefab for anyone old enough to be able to draw the line between the adventures of Troy and Gabriella and those of Frankie and Annette. Of course, the entire raison d’etre of HSM is giving the elementary school set a freshly scrubbed look into a universe that they’ll soon be experiencing, with all its real-world complications, soon enough, thank you. And of course that universe doesn’t resemble reality in any meaningful way beyond the carefully marketed multiculturalism of its casting, which is, I suspect, an issue of far more importance for those who don’t have kids or are looking for an easily accessible ax to grind with the movies. High School Musical is simply the wrong place to go trolling for evidence of social reality, and to knock the series for the absence of cholas in the hallways of whatever the hell that high school is called, or because the movies don’t deal with the hard-hitting issues like pregnancy or premarital sex that face today’s teens, is to miss the point entirely.

(Peter Travers’ appalling review of High School Musical 3: Senior Year, in the pages of Rolling Stone, seems to me a particularly egregious and desperate attempt to pander to the demographic and presumed tastes of his magazine’s readership, not to mention their prejudices. “If you're gay and/or eight years old, HSM3 is the movie event of the year,” Travers opines. “From the first leering close-up of Zac Efron shaking off sweat on the basketball court before bursting into sappy song, the movie — like the two TV movies that preceded it — is a nonthreatening sexual marshmallow.” Does that sound like an opening sentence written by a man who isn’t in some way threatened by this fairly innocuous entertainment? Okay, we got ya, Peter--- you’re way too smart, and too butch, for this shit. Sadly, Travers’ review is not an isolated instance of his continued assault on the credibility of film critics, not to mention the music of the English language.)


High School Musical is, again, fantasy, the kind that many of us grew up on in various forms, whether it be Annette and Frankie, or the Tammy movies, or even The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family. I don’t see a lot wrong with my daughters having someplace to hang their hopes in a pop culture framework for the life they eagerly anticipate as they get older and school gets tougher. It seems to me they have a right to a fully romanticized idea of high school they can revel in, one which will undoubtedly be snatched away from them far too quickly in any case. (And anyone who subscribes to the Entertainment Weekly-fueled enthusiasm over shows like Gossip Girl or the new 90210 and doesn’t admit that they are simply fantasies of another kind, built on puerile sensationalism and exploitation of trendy attitudes instead of googly-eyed innocence, is conveniently deluded.) I have yet to see the first two TV movies, so the duty of taking my daughters out to see HSM3 fell to my wife, who has indulged the girls’ enthusiasm to a far greater degree than I ever have. (I have been, up to this point, exclusively the one who needles my oldest about Zac’s hunkiness and how I far prefer the perpetually plaid-clad Ryan.) Of course my daughters loved the movie—I would have been foolish to expect anything else. (If somebody would have concocted a big-screen version of Jonny Quest when I was eight years old I probably would have similarly flipped out.) What was surprising, however, was the report brought back to me by my wife regarding the reaction of my eldest, the eight-year-old. Patty said that, about midway through the movie, during an emotional number in which Troy, Gabriella and Troy’s best friend Chad confront the reality of Gabriella moving to Stanford (“Just Walk Away”), my daughter, never one to hide her emotions, began weeping openly, uncontrollably. Patty attempted to comfort her, but it was clear that our daughter, to whom these characters were close to real people she has seen grow up over the course of three zippy, poppy movies, was taking their dilemma utterly seriously. And it was breaking her little heart. (It made me think of Pauline Kael’s comment about how, for many people whose primary experiences in the movies were the Star Wars trilogy, it’s understandable how, no matter how raggedy the last chapter, the fates of Luke, Han and Leia might be experienced on a deeper level than some might be willing to concede.) My daughter’s emotional outbursts were not confined to the scenes involving the separation of her friends—the tears continued to flow through the end credits, along with the presumably real tears of the actors on screen who, in taking their final bows, couldn’t help but acknowledge their own emotional responses to the ending of a series that has framed their entire teenaged lives. It was this summing-up that my daughter was finally reacting to—she got to experience, through the power of this prefab little musical phenomenon, feelings about a series of movies that has been hugely important to her. Though they scared her a bit and she didn’t initially know what to do with them, those feelings somehow found an outlet and she felt safe enough to express them.

The following Saturday it rained in and around Los Angeles. Stuck for something to do while my wife spent the afternoon working, curiosity got the best of me and I suggested we three go see High School Musical 3. Both my daughters were shocked that I even wanted to see it, and they extracted a promise from me that I would not openly mock the movie throughout. I agreed, and off we went to a Glendale auditorium packed exclusively with moms and daughters, and me. (I feel confident in asserting that I was the only male of any age in attendance that day. Take that, Peter Travers.) Turns out that, for this non-veteran of the HSM experience, the third chapter is a pleasant-enough diversion. My tolerance for chirpiness was tested from time to time, and there was a patch when I was fighting off slumber—a frequent occurrence whenever I hit the matinee circuit—but both my daughters helped me through that rough patch (“Dad, you’re snoring! Knock it off!” cried my youngest, and I don’t think I dozed a wink after that.) As I suspected, HSM3 is very much a product of Andy Hardy-Annette and Frankie lineage, and it has the same kind of enthusiasm mixed with blithe ignorance of how silly it all must seem to those outside its hermetically sealed universe that is either wearying or cheering, depending on your perspective. As a director, Kenny Ortega proves himself to be a fine choreographer. (Hairspray's Adam Shankman was far more limber and adept at mixing the two vocations.) It’s a good thing that the movie is as packed as it is with catchy, well-staged tunes, because all that people-interacting-with-each-other-sans-backing-track stuff seems beyond Ortega’s reach—- most of the interstitial scenes between production numbers are as flatly lit and imagined as a Swedish pancake, with Ortega seemingly content to turn the camera on in sit-com style proximity to his actors and hope that their toothy grins will carry the day. Fortunately they usually do, at least long enough to get to the next musical outburst. And at least they neatly capture the kinds of dilemmas young people find earth-shattering—divided allegiance to life pursuits and the difficulty of leaving friends behind are this glossy picture’s meat and potatoes. Thankfully free of the pretension and exploitation that pervades most modern depictions of high school life readily available on cable TV, HSM3 is a movie any adult could see through with little effort. But it’s one that this adult can also fairly effortlessly enjoy, with no ties to the previous installments, and I credit that to the movie’s commitment to its retrograde charms in honoring the emotional pact it has forged with its young audience.

Speaking of which, the moment came when Gabriella must leave for Stanford, and sure enough, my lovely, open-hearted little girl let fly the sobs as she tucked herself in my arms for the duration. And I know I was simply reacting to her reaction, but I didn’t resent the fact that I ended up crying too. Any movie that can touch my daughter without resorting to cheap tactics, but instead by allowing her to get to know a group of kids, the corollaries of whom she’ll likely never meet in real life, kids with little else on their mind but their personal loyalties and that intense need to sing and dance, is okay by me. It doesn’t matter that I don’t necessarily think it’s a great movie. This time it’s enough that she does.

29 comments:

Flickhead said...
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Flickhead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Thom McGregor said...

Thank you for this, hubby. I liked the movie more than you, but then you don't find Zac dreamy. But you perfectly captured a great moment of parenthood that I'll never forget. And happy anniversary.

Patrick said...

Don't take this the wrong way, Dennis, but if getting sick results in this much clear, warm, quality writing, I'm thinking about coughing in an envelope and mailing it to you every day. Well, once a week maybe. At least until the next quiz summary. (Wait - summaries; you still owe us for the Bertram Potts quiz.)

Jokerath said...

It was quite a dreaming music and drama I have ever experienced. As expected High School Musical 3 is out standing with the performance by Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens. If there is another series love to watch it too. Songs are well composed I have seen it online because of reliability of site http://www.80millionmoviesfree.com had lot of fun with the movie

Peter Nellhaus said...

Well maybe hanging around Dad, the girls will eventually discover the musicals by Vincente Minnelli or Donen & Kelly, or not. Every generation has its own "discoveries", like The Beatles, who kids just a tad older than myself had dismissed as re-heated Everlys. Just a roundabout way of saying I enjoyed the post.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Peter: You're right on the money. They already know the joys of Busby Berkeley (The Gang's All Here) and Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly (Singin' in the Rain), and I just got the new WB/TCM edition of Meet Me in St. Louis, so Minnelli is next! They both love the Beatles too, and though we have sprung Yellow Submarine on them, A Hard Day's Night is inevitable-- we're just not there yet. (The oldest is also a big fan of Bend of the River and Randolph Scott, but that's another pot of stew.) I really think that is the good thing about something like HSM-- it wears its influences on its sleeve to a certain degree, so if you're a parent who cares about giving them a little history, it's a great way to introduce them to musicals of all kinds.

Thanks for the kind words too. My own posts are certainly less frequent these days, but I still enjoy a cup of Coffee, and it's always good to hear from you!

Patrick: It's called a golden window of opportunity. I literally don't get enough chances to write these days, so I figured as long as I could sit up straight... I appreciate your comment, though. New quiz coming up before Christmas for sure, but I don't know about Bertram Potts- maybe a holiday surprise?!

Thom: Happy anniversary to you too (one hour away yet...)! No, Zac's not my bag, though I do understand his appeal and thought he made a keen Link Larkin. He's definitely the most talented of the bunch. I have to admit I've taken a shine, though (innocent division), to the pre-nose job Ashley Tisdale! Calling all cars!

Comment deleted: Sorry for contributing to wasting any portion of your time. We do still have Forrest J. Ackerman, though I hear he's in grave health...

Flickhead said...

Dennis, according to Tim Sullivan, “"After being diagnosed with congestive heart failure, [Forrest J Ackerman] requested no further treatment and asked to be allowed to ‘say goodbye’.” There’s not much more on the web, but some information’s available at Shock Till You Drop.

I deleted my comments about Speed Racer because — like so much on the internet — they could be misread or misconstrued as mean-spirited. To put it in more friendly terms, the movie really does bite the Big One. You’re a far stronger man than I for getting through it once, no less several times.

Jonathan Lapper said...
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Paul Arrand Rodgers said...

Woah, Speed Racer was in IMAX? I thought it was trippy enough on the regular ol' big screen. IMAX may have blown my mind.

bill r. said...

Jonathan, I have no interest whatsoever in High School Musical, but this...

If you're gay and/or eight years old, HSM3 is the movie event of the year

...is condescending. It just is. You can agree with the sentiment, but how can you not understand that someone who enjoyed the movie might feel slighted? Why does Travers need to insult the audience like that?

And further...

I'm sorry, but after eight years of the dumbing down of America and constant anti-intellectualism I'm getting a little tired of myself or my children being called snobs because we don't like this horse manure.

Please. If you think the dumbing down of America started exactly eight years ago, and that all of our cultural problems are the fault of one man, then you haven't been paying a lick of attention.

But hey, Obama's president, and Bush can't force anyone to be stupid anymore. I'm sure everybody's going to start reading books again.

Jonathan Lapper said...
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bill r. said...

Okay, Jonathan, you're making an awful lot of assumptions with that comment, and, in fact, most of you wrote had nothing to do with what I said. My reaction wasn't to any and all criticism of Bush, it was to the idea that his presidency made people dumber. People -- and not just Americans -- are getting culturally stupider practically every hour, every minute, and it has absoultely zero to do with Bush, or any president, and it started long, long ago. My comment was based on the fact that people choose to blame Bush for every goddamn thing they don't like, whether he had anything to do with it (or, in this case, actually could have possibly had anything to do with it). I find that immensely tiresome.

You say that you're tired of being told you're an elitist snob for not liking High School Musical. I have to ask, has anyone actually said that to you? Because I not only live in a "red" state, but I live in a very red part of a red state, and I have a book with me almost wherever I go, anything from John D. MacDonald to Fyodor Dostoevsky, and not one person has ever, ever, called me an elitist or a snob or anything like that. In fact, they're more often interested in what I'm reading (to an almost annoying degree. I mean, I'm trying to read here, folks), whether they have any idea what the book is, or even read themselves.

And why not bring up Travers? Why not call critics out on their bullshit? I don't understand what's wrong with that.

Anyway, I'm sorry if I came off as insulting, but please don't put words in my mouth. I do get annoyed by the Internet on occasion, and I just had to vent. I hope there are no hard feelings.

bill r. said...

Also, Jonathan, I realize that I put words (or thoughts) in your mouth (or brain) as well, and I apologize for that.

Jonathan Lapper said...

That's fine. I'll delete my comments rather than engage this any further.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Flickhead: And I hope you don't think for a minute that I don't understand how someone might have a reaction that was the polar opposite of my own to Speed Racer. I certainly didn't think your comment was mean-spirited-- maybe written in annoyance because of an unpleasant experience, but not at all untoward or inappropriate. I just always hope that those whose ability to think about film I respect (this goes for you too, Jonathan) might see things my way on a movie like that, but I never take it personally when they don't-- and believe me, I'm still in the minority on that movie.

As for Forry, thanks for the link. He seemed awfully frail when I met him some years ago. Word was he was to have appeared with Ray Bradbury and Ray Harryhausen at a local bookstore here a few months ago and that surprised me because I automatically assumed he would naturally be even more frail and too ill to attend. I don't know that he actually did attend, and hearing the info you pass along makes me doubt it. He is a wonderful man, to be sure, and I hope only peace and comfort for him.

Jonathan, Bill, I'm at work (4:55 on the Left Coast) and have a special evening with the Mrs. to look forward to, so I'm unable to take the time to respond in the manner which I think is appropriate to the conversation. I would love to do so, however, whether it be here or, since Jonathan has opted to delete his comments that were, however briefly, on view here, by private e-mail. I would like to suggest, however, (I can't say that it's always true, because I don't know to the exact number of instances), that my tendency to want to bring the views of other critics in on the discussion is usually in response to movies I love (unexpectedly or otherwise) that are being very poorly received and critically dismissed almost across the board.

I think this is clearly the case for both Speed Racer, and in the case of High School Musical 3 I singled out Travers because I felt it was a shoddy, obvious, not to mention somewhat bigoted and overstated response to a movie that, if Travers found it so transparent and disposable, would seem to warrant more of a shrug and a wave of the hand rather than the lengths he goes (with such clunky prose) to make sure we all know he knows how dumb it all is. I hope I would never find it necessary to disparage anyone simply for disagreeing with me, either pro or con. My beef with Travers goes way beyond that-- frankly, had his tone been different I would have neither noticed nor cared if our views lined up. And had it been my intent, I'm sure I could have found lots of other smart(er) folks to drag into the argument.

Similarly, the day I begin to feel the need to regularly roast other critical voices for praising something I hate, well, then I guess it'll be time to devote all my free time to that big crocheting project. I don't believe I had anything to say about anyone who looked more kindly on Mamma Mia! than I did; and when I ripped Juno I did mention the "Best Movie of 2007" status bestowed upon it by the likes of Ebert and Sarris as a matter of curiosity, but I was more interested in what Rex Reed had to say in his rave because I thought it was valuable to compare Reed's own style of writing with that of Diablo Cody's.

In general, that tactic would, admittedly, become tiresome. But I honestly don't feel that mentioning Peter Travers here, or constructing my Speed Racer review as a response to voices far more widely read and distributed than mine, was particularly below the belt. (I certainly tried to keep the conversation based in what they said, and not turning it into a name-calling rant.)

As for HSM, I haven't even seen the first two, nor do I much care to, and frankly I probably wouldn't have seen HSM3 had I not had reason to want to witness, experience, and think about my daughter's reaction to it. So I'd be the last person to call anyone a snob for not wanting to endure those movies or anything like them. My whole reason for even talking about HSM3 was not because I think it's a great (or even a particularly good) movie or to berate anyone for not giving it a fair shake (Travers' tempest-in-a-teapot excepted), but simply because others do love it, and to think about what that says about the way we as parents experience what our kids experience, as well as what that experience can teach us about ways to introduce them to the roots of whatever phenomenon they're currently obsessed with.

Well, I've taken the time I said I didn't have, and now I'm gonna be late for my anniversary dinner! Oh, well! If you're interested we can continue this by e-mail or right here. I'm always available. Thanks for reading, guys!

Flickhead said...

Dennis, for what it's worth regarding this Speed Racer fiasco, I've seen the Vin Diesel movie The Fast & the Furious and Jessica Alba's Honey at least six times apiece. I wouldn't recommend either of them to anyone -- but I'd happily sit through them again right now.

A Guilty Pleasures Blogathon, anyone?

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Heh-heh! Angie Dickinson. Forrest J. Ackerman. You always have the best ideas for blog-a-thons, Ray! I'm in!

And I'll see your Fast and the Furious and raise you with Fantastic Four. And toss in Fathom on top of that!

But I don't feel guilty about Speed Racer! :)

Flickhead said...

Well, you should feel guilty about Fantastic Four. As for Fathom, LoveChick, that's a Bee in My Bonnet!

I'll whip up a Blogathon announcement soon!

Flickhead said...

No date set yet, but I put up a small teaser ad for the Guilty Pleasures Blogathon on the sidebar of my blog!

Paul Arrand Rodgers said...

Peter Travers is generally an awful reviewer of movies. He let's personal bias get in the way of information for at least two of the four movies he reviews any given Rolling Stone, and the smaller the box is, the more likely the review will be written to revile and stir up controversy.

Still, not as bad as Rex Reed's tirade on Synecdoche, New York.

Flickhead said...

Unless I'm mistaken, it was Travers who originated the "Smart! Hip! Sexy!" pullquote used in the ads for seemingly every other movie released throughout the 80's.

Discman said...

Dennis, taking your comments about experiencing movies with your kids a step further, have you given thought to taking them to see "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas"? I ask because the movie, a Holocaust drama (believe it or not), is being promoted as a teaching tool of sorts -- a good introduction for young kids to the historical event.

To say that I find this promotional strategy ill-advised it to put it mildly, but I don't want to launch into a jeremiad here. If you care to post about that film at a later date, I might join the discussion. I haven't had such a strong reaction to a movie in a long time, and find the idea of *promoting* it as a teaching tool for young people objectionable in ways that are difficult for me to put into measured words.

Larry Aydlette said...

I took the little one to HSM3 this afternoon. We both enjoyed it. Travers is a knob.

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Flickhead, no doubt your recollections are accurate. I was thinking back to when I used to think Peter Travers was a good writer, back when he wrote reviews for RS in the early '80s. And then I remembered it wasn't even him, but Michael Sragow who wrote the perceptive reviews in that mag of movies like Blow Out and 48 Hrs. (just two examples I can recall off the top of my head) which raised the bar high enough that when Travers took over the drop was precipitous indeed.

Larry: The girls and I just got back from the drive-in. We put our PJs on (okay, they did) and we enjoyed Madagscar: Escape 2 Africa. I'm thinking you might enjoy it too. The first half hour is particularly amusing, and with the help of Bernie Mac and Alec Baldwin and Sasha Baron Cohen (again) it goes down much easier than the first one did. Thanks for chiming in.

Discman: I was just reading something about that whole teaching angle in regards to The Boy with the Striped Pajamas. What I read anyway was not anything official being promoted by the studio or an education organization or anything like that, but instead a suggestion/thought raised in chuck Wilson's review in the L.A. Weekly. Was what you heard some kind of endorsement of using it in such a way?

At any rate, I haven't seen the film, but I'm guessing from reading in between your lines that you wouldn't think it was a good idea. The argument as to the value of the movie in that regard is certainly of interest to me, especially as I begin looking at my teaching career. But as for my own girls, they are way too young for me to consider letting them see it, I'm afraid. Maybe after I got a look at it myself, but really I don't think I'd be ready to darken the oldest one's view of the world on that subject for another three or four years at least, which, if I'm not mistaken, is about the point where she'll be introduced to the subject in her school curriculum. (She's eight years old and in the third grade this year.) Of course, if she should somehow begin to hear about the Holocaust before then and ask questions I'll be there. But I think a movie, however well intentioned, is something I'll keep her away from for the time being.

hokahey said...

Dennis - Thanks for this enjoyable post. Over the years I've seen a lot of movies with my daughter - everything from The Lizzie Maguire Movie - which was lots of fun - to serious films like Roman Polanski's Oliver Twist and Finding Neverland.

Right now her favorite movie is HSM3 - which she could watch repeatedly. To be in the know, and as research for a post I wrote about my daughter's viewing tastes, I watched HSM and I found it enjoyable. It is definitely a fantasy of wish fulfillment - but TV and the Internet inundate young people with enough reality that I think it's great they can take refuge in a film like HSM. I've seen a lot of entertaining movies that I would have missed if not for my daughter.

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