Thursday, April 27, 2006

Hollywood family films.

In addition to the vast number of Indies and foreign films, there are a number of genuine, actual Hollywood movies shown at the festival. The three here are called "family entertainment" as they don't say shit, fuck, piss, tits or cocksucker even once.

Keeping Up With The Steins

Directed by
Scott Marshall

The Bar Mitzvah (Hebrew for “first blessing), is one of the most important ceremonies in the Jewish religion. In olden times, the 13-year-old boy, would come up to read the torah at the synagogue for the first time. Then he would be given a party prior to being kicked out of the house and forced to get a job.

Except for the last part, the tradition continues to this very day, and the party is one thing that everyone remembers. The jokes about how ostentations and vulgar the bar mitzvah parties can be have been going around since kicking the son out of the house was a real part of the whole meshegaas.

Benjamin Fiedler(Daryl Sabara), the privileged son of a Hollywood super-agent, is almost thirteen and thus is scheduled to take part in the rite. When we meet him, he’s attending the party of his friend
Zachary Stein(Carter Jenkins), who’s parents had it on a cruise ship with a Titanic theme. Vulger it is. Ben’s parents(Jami Gertz and Jeremy Piven), not to be outdone, are preparing for a hyper-expensive to-do of their own.

Imagine “Father of the Bride III” from the point of view of the bride.

Ben’s parents have issues, but the real one is between Ben’s dad and grandfather. Decades before, Irwin Fiedler(Garry Marshall) had left his wife Rose (Doris Roberts) and son Adam, and Adam had never forgiven him. Reconciliation between father and son being a mitzvah in and of itself, Ben decides to invite Irwin and his girlfriend
Sandy “Sacred Feather” Frost(Darryl Hannah), a new age vegan type, and unknown to his parents, changes the date so they would show up a week early.

This is one of those “true meaning of Christmas” type plots, where everyone lives happily ever after, and as such it works. The jokes, are for the most part good, and so is the acting. For those of us who are members of the tribe this will bring back memories, whether or not they’re good or bad depends on the viewer, but bring them back they will. For gentiles, this is a good insight into the Jewish mind, whatever the heck that is.

Worth the bucks.


Directed by
Barry Sonnenfeld

Film critics generally hate comedies. Family comedies especially. That’s because ever since “Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation” back in the early 1960s, if not further, it’s been pretty much the same plot: In order to get from here to there, every disaster that can happen will happen. It’s inevitable. Been there done that.

Now the reason that critics hate these films is not only that they’ve been done before [why can’t they just rent a good old Shirly Temple movie…oh yeah, they’re racist] a hundred times, but because the critics have seen…them…a…hundred…times.

This doesn’t mean that they can’t be done right anymore. They can.
In this version, corporate type Bob Munro(Robin Williams) is taking his wife Jamie (Cheryl Hines) and kids Carl (Josh Hutcherson) and Cassie(Jojo Levesque) to a corporate swaree, and the friend that Cassie brought along attacks Bob's boss Todd(Will Arnett) for ruining the children of America with his soft drinks, sloshing them all over his new suit. Hardeeharhar.

Due to an emergency, Todd has decided to NOT fire Bill and tells him to cancel that Hawaii vacation that they were going on the next week and head out to Colorado to make a presentation.

This being the American upper-middle class family, we need family bonding!!! So We’ve got the title vehicle, which, as expected, doesn’t work properly.

Just because the thing’s been done before doesn’t mean that much of the shtick isn’t funny. The porta-potty disposal joke actually works, and the helpful, but rather corney Gornicke family(Jeff Daniels, Kristin Chenoweth and some kids) from whom the Munros try so very hard to escape, are actually a decent foil for them.

All in all, it’s good not great, and is worth the bucks to take the kids, after all, it’s a family comedy, and there are always going to be families….

Goal! The Dream Begins

Directed by
Danny Cannon

One thing we learn in this picture is that Mexico gives sells passports quickly, cheaply and with no questions asked. Apparently, you don’t even need a birth certificate!

Otherwise how would an illegal alien like Santiago Munez (Kuno Becker) be able to get all the way to London, England from LA so fast? If there wasn’t some sort of magic involved, then how would there be so many bizarre coincidences?

One of the bad things we’ve got is the politics. The film begins with
young Santiago(Kuno Becker) crossing the border illegally with this father(Tony Plana), who apparently hates soccer. Cut to ten years later, where Santi, is living with his dad, his grandmother (Miriam Colon) and baby brother Hernan(Tony Plan). They’re not doing too well, although they live in a nice house and make more than the minimum wage….Now dad knows that since the whole family, except for little Hernan, are illegal, they can’t get all that far in the world of work. He has to rake leaves and work as a busboy in a Chinese resturant, where he’s discriminated against.

But he still has soccer, where he plays in a local league against college teams. It’s here he’s discovered by one Glen Foy (Stephen Dillane), a former soccer star himself and also a former scout for Newscastle United. From here we go directly to fairy tale land.

First off, the scout he’s with decided not to go see our hero, but hang out with bodacious babes on the beach. So Foy calls up NU owner Erik Dornhelm(Marcel Iures) at three in the morning GMT, and gets the latter to let Santi try out.

Thing is: Dad is dead set against it, and goes as far as to steal Santi’s life savings to buy a truck and start his own business. This leads to a real rift, and it’s the only thing that’s the least bit real on an emotional level. Then Grandma buys a ticket via Mexico city to London, Santi gets his magic passport and off we go to Newcastle.

The rest of the film is a bit of a cheat. Santi makes mistakes, but someone, somewhere, be it Foy, superstar Gavin Harris (Alessandro Nivola) or love interest and nurse Roz(Anna Friel), someone always comes to save our hero’s butt. They have to have a happy ending, right. The father/son conflict isn’t sorted out in the way you might expect, but that’s the only thing. The rest is by the book.

Still, it’s a cute film.

1 comment:

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