Real Life Adventures: Bill’s Triple Recommendation & Reflection

Why are “true to life” movies so great? Why do they all leave me in tears, grabbing the tissue, wishing for more? Of all the movies that I love, why do true movies touch me so deeply.

Take these three family friendly true to life movies.

The first… “We Bought A Zoo“. Now… I wasn’t the most excited one in our family to see this movie, but see it we did. And talk about good. And fun. And family friendly on top of it! This is the story of a family who accidentally buys a zoo. And how they turn this zoo into the top ranking animal park it is today. Though it was a feel good movie…it still left me in tears with hope that good things do happen in life.

The second movie is out on DVD already. We showed “Dolphin Tale” to our youth group this past weekend. I brought it home too to watch with my family. This is a movie made around a disabled dolphin and the remarkable way his keepers(and this 11 year old boy) never gave up on him! It’s an outstanding movie… And again I was in tears. Especially when this little girl who lost her leg sees the dolphin and tells her mother: “He’s just like me!”

Finally, we saw the newest true-to-life movie in theaters, “Big Miracle.” This is the story of a family of whales stuck in the ice in Alaska and how the country rallied around this family and brought them to safety. A warning, though, there are sad moments in this movie too. But overall, it was a heartwarming tale!

So… why are true-to-life movies so…good? Maybe it’s because hope, true and pure hope, can’t be manufactured. Hope is something that comes from God in life with all its ups and downs. Most true stories I’ve seen have captured that hope in a powerful way, making you realize that, Yes! God is alive! Yes! We are stewards of the world around us. Yes! We should care about what happens to animals, to creation, to everything! And yes! It’s already happening here!

Joyful Noise…An Anti-Recommendation by Bill

I am a musical nut. Pure and simple. I love watching musicals. Musicals on tv. Musicals on the big screen. Musicals in a small community theater. It doesn’t matter.
So I was initially excited about seeing Joyful Noise, a new musical movie starring Dolly Pardon and Queen Latifa.

That was…until I actually saw it. Talk about a mixed bag of reactions.
On the one hand the music was astounding! Pure and simple. Pardon and Latiffa did a brilliant job singing all their parts. And their co-stars were just as talented as they. This is definately a soundtrack to purchase, especially if you like “Sister Act” kind of music.

But everything else…and I do mean EVERYTHING else…really stunk.
The plot was straight out of Sister Act 2…only with a non-denominational group of adults. The plot goes like this:  Choir gets new choir director. Choir struggles with change. Choir overcomes challenges. Choir wins tournament. That’s the plot of Sister Act 2…and that’s the plot of Joyful Noise too.

But even worse than the overused plotline was the dialogue. I don’t know who wrote the screenplay but they need to sit in on a few realistic conversations. Most of the dialogue happens in the car as they’re traveling to one place or another. And most of it is totally unrealistic! Would people actually talk this way?!  What was worse was when they started talking about God! Talk about contrived!

The dialogue was so bad I started to cringe half-way through the movie.  I noticed that when they were talking, even my fellow movie-goers were finding other things to do.

Overall I’d give this movie’s soundtrack an A-. It was that good!  But it’s dialogue and plot…and firm C+. Don’t waste your money seeing this one. I’m sure it’ll be on ABC Family channel eventually.

Game of Shadows Reveals the Purpose of Movies

One of the many movies I’ve been looking forward to this winter, Sherlock Holmes 2, just came out!

Ever since the first one came out two years ago I have been looking forward to seeing this movie. With its original cinematography and its dead-on characters, I thought this would be a hit. At least as much of a hit as the original was.

And a hit was what it was…at least for me! I loved how Robert Downing Jr. drew you into Sherlock’s character, making him more action hero than boring sleuth. I loved how Jude Law played off his character as Watson in every way imaginable. And I loved the bad guy! Wow! The action was exciting. The story was real. And the ending was to die for!

Coming out of the movie I realized what one purpose of the movies is…at least for me.  Going to the movies takes me out of my reality.  It pulls me into another world with new characters and new challenges.  A good movie becomes real to me, like a dream, making the hours fly by.  At the end of a good movie I look back and wonder where the time went.  The theme music becomes a part of my day.  I start humming, even a piece of it.  I get wrapped up in the movie that I want it to continue past the credits.  I stay to the very end.  That’s the sign of a good movie for me.

What is it for you?  What do you look for going to the theater?  Is it realism?  Is it a thought provoking plot-line?  Is it realistic characters?  Or a dramatic score?  What makes you go?

If you find the same things appealing as I do, though, check out the new Sherlock Holmes movie.  And be prepared to be profoundly confounded, good sir!  The game is afoot!  It’s time to see the show!

Muppets: Real Entertainment from Bill


What is entertainment? Is it laughter? Is it drama? Is it being engrossed in the movie you are watching? Is it fun? Does it bring tears to your eyes?
Whatever your definition of entertainment is, you’ll find a little piece of it in the newest Muppet Movie. I heartily recommend this movie to anyone wanting a good time at the movies.
There’s all your favorite characters… Kermit, Miss Piggy, and even Animal!
There’s some drama involved in the piece. A tear or two came to my eye in a couple parts.

There’s definately humor!  Jack Black is hillarious in his role!
There’s a moral to the movie too. A little lesson on accepting yourself fits snugly in the movie.
And, of course, there’s lots and lots of singing!
What more do you want out of entertainment?

There’s even a new version of “The Rainbow Connection”, one of my favorite songs from the first Muppet movie.
But seriously, I do think The Muppets brings up this important question. What is entertainment? What do we hope to gain out of it? And what constitutes as entertainment out there?

Go and see The Muppets and tell me what you think. I think you’ll agree that The Muppets is just plain fun!

Giving Voice to the Least…in The Help

As much as I’m jumping up and down, not only in excitement over Steve’s latest posts after the long summer, but also in addressing some of his…shall we say…errors in dealing with the movies this summer, I mustn’t start there.  Something needs to be said to what I think will ultimately be the best Christian movie of the summer…maybe of the entire year. The Help.

The Help has a little of everything in it.  It takes place in the 1960’s, where issues of discrimination and civil rights are all the rage.  There are lots of funny moments in this movie.  Including one a little off color I will not spoil for you.  🙂

But the best thing I think about The Help, though, is how remarkably Christian it truly is.  It follows a young white woman who, wanting to become a published author, helps the “help”, the African-American women around her, have a voice.  Interviewing each of them, she compiles a book of their perspectives and opinions.  She gives them voice.  Allowing each of the maids, servants, and other help to speak on their lives.

As these women open up, as they truly rise from the dead of dispair and grief, I kept thinking of Jesus’ words in Matthew.  “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me.”  This young white woman was giving voice to the least of these.  The African American maids and housekeepers who were shunned, criticized, and looked down upon, were lifted up by this young woman and given freedom to express themselves.

And all pay the price for this freedom too.  The young woman loses her fiance.  Many of the maids lose their jobs.  But isn’t that the price we pay for justice?  Isn’t that what carrying our crosses is all about?

Go and see this movie…now!  It will do your faith some good.

Bill’s Summer Movie Reviews… So far…

I find the summer to be the time I go to the movies the most. Sci-fi and fantasy flicks are all over the place this time of year. And most weekends one or more of the newest pictures are appealing to me or my children.

But if you were to go to the movies…which movie should you see? What’s good out there?? Well, here’s my review of the summer movies we’ve seen…so far.

Thor… Already offered my review of that movie as well as the Christian elements in it. See it in 2-D though. I don’t see the value of 3-D with this one.

Kung Fu Panda 2… This movie surprised me. I was not a fan of the first movie, nor do I particularly enjoy Jack Black’s brand of humor, but this movie was funny…and really very deep in parts! The 3-D isn’t all that bad either. If your children or grandchildren are itching to go(as my kids were) I’d just go…with the knowledge that YOU might be surprised. And YOU might get something out of it.

Pirates of the Caribbean 4… If you’re familiar with the ride at Disneyland and are semi-familiar with the characters from the previous films, this is a great movie to watch. If not… might be one to skip. Especially if you’re not in the mood for the supernatural pirate stuff… but that’s just me…

X-Men: First Class… My wife and I saw this for our anniversary. I was nervous(it being our anniversary and seeing a comic book movie…)… but this movie was AWESOME! It tells the story of Magneto and Professor X before they split up. It helps if you know the comic books or have watched one of the previous movies. If you haven’t…you might want to skip it.

Super 8… I had high hopes for this movie, especially with Speilberg and Addams on board with it… but it didn’t match my expectations at all and felt like a modern-day remake of a B-rated movie back in the 70’s. Maybe that was the point… but it didn’t work for me.

That’s my review of the summer movies so far… and there are more to come. With Green Lantern, Harry Potter, Smurfs, and so many others on the horizon you can be guaranteed a sequel to this post soon.

A Kiddie Movie Double Feature by Bill


So… you’re out with your kids (or your grandkids) and wondering what to do with them.  You see a bunch of movies at the theaters, one or two that they haven’t seen, but wonder to yourself: “Are they any good?”

Thankfully you’ve read Bill and Steve’s blog recently, trusting the critique you’ve read there, and are confident which movie to see.

So… given the choice between the two movies above… which do you choose?  Well… It all depends…

Diary of a Wimpy Kid : Rodrick’s Rules…  If the kids in your company are in late elementary school or middle school this movie is perfect!  Based on the Wimpy Kid books that most kids have read, they follow the seventh grade hero as he wrestles with living with his older brother.  While the first movie focused on the relationships of his friends, this movie focuses on the relationship he has with his brother, Rodrick, who does what every older brother in the world has done before: Made his younger sibling’s life miserable.  The movie focuses on their relationship pretty much as well as the newly budding hormones of its middle school cast.  Delightfully well done, my only gripe with the movie was how it portrayed the mother.  Mothers everywhere…prepare to be offended.

The Faith Connection…  Surprisingly this family actually goes to church at one point in time.  (It almost looks like a Lutheran church too!).  Of course some delightfully humorous thing happens at church (and in typical Hollywood fashion, the church is packed with everyone the kid knows!)… but the fact that they made the family faithful won points in my book.  Take your older kids to see this movie…and you might find yourself grinning yourself.

Mars Needs Moms… This movie I think is the worst attended, worst critiqued movie that nobody saw.  I’m not sure why its done so badly in the theaters either.  Some critics say that Mars rehashes old storylines…but which movie doesn’t?  Some say it’s just sappy… yeah?  I don’t know what their problem with it is.

Mars Needs Moms follows one boy as he tries to rescue his mom from the martians who have kidnapped her.  Martians here live underground(that’s why we can’t see them on the cameras) and they need one mom every few years whose discipline and control of her kids is perfect to sacrifice in order to fill their “nannybots” with discipline.  Maybe that’s where people got lost.  The name itself sounds like Moms are needed to take care of the kids.  They are…sortof.  The mom dies if their essence gets transferred into the nannybots who are designed to take care of the martian babies.  So… you can imagine the boy’s urgency to find his mom and save her.  First and foremost, though, in this movie is a mother’s love.  You see this best in the final act of the movie (a sequence I will not spoil for you here).  Needless to say… get your tissues ready and be prepared to cry (yes cry!) throughout this movie.  My wife cried continuously through this movie!  Still despite the tears, this is a really, really, really good movie!  The kids (all of them) will enjoy this movie I think, from the youngest to the oldest.  It has some really colorful characters and a good plot.  My sons were hugging my wife at the end of the movie saying: “We love you mommy.”  What better reward is there?

Faith Connection: No God is specifically identified in this movie.  Nor do any of the characters pray that I remember.  Still, the sacrificial nature of this movie reminds me of Jesus words: “Greater love has no one that this: that he lay his life down for his friends.”  This is definitely a “life-laid down” sorta movie.

So… back to the theater… you look up, see that these movies(and Rango) are all playing and think… “Now… which movie do I want to enjoy today?”