Published: Tuesday, 28 October 2008 03:02
High School Influential
Disney's ubiquitous franchise takes a (final?) bow
by Kristen Page-Kirby and Jared Peterson
Kristen Page-Kirby, editor of Chesapeake Family magazine, and writer Jared Peterson are the regular movie critics on ChesapeakeFamily.com. They are also friends who enjoy making fun of things. When it was announced that High School Musical 3 would hit theaters (the previous two were television movies), Page-Kirby and Peterson decided that the temptation to mock together was just too great, so they teamed up over gchat to review the jazz-handsy juggernaut. Below is the transcript:
KPK: Want to tell our tens of readers the plot?
JBP: Having not seen the first two films, I'll do my best.
KPK: I can help fill in the holes
JBP: The whole High School Musical gang is back, this time wrestling with the trials and tribulations of their senior year. Troy (Zac Efron) and Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens) are still the perfect couple, but they have to wrestle with the prospect of a long-distance relationship and which dreams to follow as they move on to college.
KPK: Oooh, you got all the actors' names and everything
JBP: I have cable--I watch The Soup. This is not my first rodeo. Anyway, the big musical is being written by the seniors themselves, based on their feelings about the big choices on the horizon. And, of course, it's also about the pure and chaste love of Troy and Gabriella, and the prospect of the best years of their lives being ahead of them. Naturally, I'm horribly bitter about the whole thing.
KPK: Heh. You forgot that the evil Sharpay returns, trying to steal the best songs from Troy and Gabriella. She does that in every movie, and she'd get away with it, too, if it weren't for those meddling kids
JBP: Yes, it's business as usual for all the characters (or so I take it).
KPK: Did you get the sense that they were trying to set up High School Musical 4 and kind of crowning a new generation?
JBP: With Sharpay going to the local college and returning next year to "help run the theater department." Sequel!
KPK: In terms of the first two, this is probably the strongest. It's got the same wholesomeness (Troy and Gabriella never kissed in the first movie, and only kissed in the second after some pretty over-the-top, yet funny, interruptions.)
JBP: Right. The kiss spoilers consist mainly of self-restraint here.
KPK: But I liked that the message has grown with the characters. The first one was pretty much about how--gasp--a boy can be an athlete AND be into theater. The second one was about how you should stay true to your friends and not sell your soul for money. And this one is about how what your parents want and what YOU want may be two different things. And about how a boy can be an athlete and into theater.
JBP: Heh heh
KPK: Which is, of course, a timeless lesson
KPK: I have to say I was never bored during the entire movie
JBP: Me neither. Even though there were no big surprises, the movie got on with its business, took you along for the ride.
KPK: Right. It was tightly written--although I kind of wish the music served a more traditional function in moving the story along, like it does in "real" musicals
JBP: And I found--to my surprise, though it may have been a forgone concluson to fans of the other films--that the whole thing was executed with a remarkable dignity.
KPK: I know! I think the performances really helped that--Zac Efron in particular has kind of the earnest cheesiness that is necessary in musical theater. And I mean "earnest cheesiness" as a compliment
JBP: Yes, of course. The performers are all quite talented (I always respect films in which the actors have to know how to DO things--sing, dance, feel). And they all perform with a refreshing unselfconsciousness.
KPK: In fact, the whole movie has that feel. Like the scenes in the High School Musical within High School Musical, the props are clearly intended to look "handmade"--the limo that takes them to "prom" is cardboard, etc. The "sets" actually look like something high school kids might have made. Really TALENTED high school kids, but still.
JBP: Great use of space in the film. Stage sets, the absurdly spacious high school, especially the outdoor spaces.
KPK: The rooftop scene? Fantastic. And the song was good, too
JBP: The scene on the roof, with the mountains (of Utah, standing in for those of New Mexico)
KPK: HAHAHAHA! We think the same
JBP: The graduation, too. Excellent use of natural light.
KPK: I also noticed a couple of very clever things. During Troy's Big Insanity Number,there was a pretty clear allusion to "Footloose." Which I enjoyed. I also have "Sharpay is wearing Carol Channing's wig for some reason" in my notes
JBP: Sharpay got off a clever Bob Fosse reference.
JBP: One for the old school theater geeks. (Peterson raises hand)
KPK: The thing is, the movie doesn't pander to its audience. However, I'm pretty sure its audience isn't ACTUAL high school seniors
JBP: Absolutely. There were all 2nd to 6th graders in at my screening
KPK: Which, oh, these kids are going to go to high school, and try out for the musical, and their little hearts are going to be crushed into bits when they're cast as Villager #7 in Fiddler on the Roof.
JBP: I was taken--as an adult viewer who, again, has cable--by the fact that this is a high school world that is refreshingly desexualized. Such a welcome departure from, like, everything else in the entire world.
KPK: I have in my notes "odd to have a teen movie that's not all about getting laid.” Even though this isn't, strictly speaking, a teen movie
JBP: But desexualized thoughtfully. It never, ever seemed forced. That is a genuine filmmaking achievement.
KPK: But to see high schoolers not having sex, not drinking, not smoking--even nearly everyone that appeared on a bike wore a helmet--it was well done. They created this entirely sanitized world that's totally unrealistic, but you buy it, because everyone associated with/in the film seems to buy it
JBP: Yes. It's important to note that no film in the history of cinema has ever portrayed high school realistically.
KPK: Although, let's take a moment to look at anything that might give parents pause. I've got boys in towels with no shirts, a flash of dance panties in the last number and Troy and Gabriella are in her room alone at one point
JBP: Yes. Distressingly low-slung towels.
JBP: And Sharpay's big entrance, owing partly to the director's attempt t keep her face hidden for a bit, focusses on her body, to include her short skirt. In one shot, her swishing purple leather enveloped backside fills the frame.
KPK: You know what I like best? Or almost best? That Gabriella is smart. And it's not played for laughs. She's smart, she's pretty, she unfortunately sings through her nose, but she dates a really cute guy who LIKES that she's smart. Also, the heavier girl who's a minor character but can really dance--she's a cheerleader? It's like, "Hey! Some people in high school don't look like they belong on Gossip Girl!"
JBP: It is what it is. Sweet--treacly, even--but a well-executed and perfectly appropriate entertainment.
KPK: Yes indeedy. Oh! I meant to say that I thought the last number was kind of weak and too meta for its own good
JBP: Yes. Plus the commencement scene...Drawn out too long.
KPK: Well, yeah. But I think you were supposed to use that time for dancing in the aisles
JBP: And who picks their major, let along announces it, while still in high school?
KPK: I was Spanish and pre-law! And ended up being English and Poli Sci
JBP: I was theater to start. But again, no way in hell I was announcing that to anyone.
KPK: YOU WERE A THEATER MAJOR? I MOCK YOU
JBP: For nine seconds.
KPK: That's ok. I was three credits short of a theater minor
JBP: I was English. 3 credits shy of an Anthropology minor.
KPK: I did kind of want an American Graffitti-style update, about how Troy and Gabriella broke up 7 weeks after arriving at school, because YOU KNOW THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED
JBP: That's what sequels are for.
KPK: So, to sum up?
JBP: Again---no film, ever, has escaped teen stereotypes completely.
KPK: It didn't suck. I didn't hate it. Zac Efron is cute. I now have something to talk about my niece with at Thanksgiving
JBP: So it's not a wash. You came out ahead. That's all you can ask these days.
KPK: But I think it was better than "We thought it would suck, and it didn't!"
It was actually kind of...good on its own merits
JBP: I went in with very low expectations, and came out pleasantly surprised.
KPK: Previews, at a 2:20 showing at Annapolis Mall, I had "Bedtime Stories," "Paul Blart: Mall Cop," "Coraline," "Despereaux" and the "Bolt" meta-trailer
JBP: I had Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (PG), an animated wildlife movie; The Tale of Despereaux (not yet rated), an animated mouse movie; Bolt (PG) an animated dog movie; Marley and Me (not yet rated), a live-action dog movie; Bedtime Stories (not yet rated), a live-action family movie; and Paul Blart: Mall Cop (PG), a live-action doofus movie.
Kristen Page-Kirby is the editor of Chesapeake Family. Jared Peterson writes at proweirdo.blogspot.com.
Published: Wednesday, 05 November 2008 02:24
Editor's note: Sorry this wasn't up yesterday. It was entirely my fault and I wish I had a big elaborate explanation, but I just forgot. Blame teething-inspired sleep deprivation.
A "Haunting" done strictly by the book
by Jared Peterson
Someday someone will make a horror film that dispenses with story altogether and consists solely of scenes of people turning around, opening and closing mirrored doors and backing slowly away from threats that are actually behind them. In the meantime, there’s The Haunting of Molly Hartley, a bland Halloween treat that uses these well-worn tricks, and little else, to relieve you of a couple of hours.
Molly Hartley (Haley Bennett) is the new girl at Huntington Prep, and, as happens, she instantly finds herself sized up and thrust into a clamoring social melee. By sixth period she’s already caught between Joseph (Chace Crawford, on loan from Gossip Girl), a super-cute guy who sidles up and flirts on cue, and Suzie (AnnaLynne McCord, vacationing from 90210), his snotty queen bee girlfriend. The right people hate her, the wrong people like her and the faculty has its eye on her. But through it all Molly remains somber and guarded, beset by bigger and far darker problems.
You see, some time ago, with no warning at all, Molly was attacked and nearly killed by her own mother, who was convinced her daughter would succumb to a horrible but unspecified evil if she were allowed to live to adulthood. She escaped with her life, barely, but with deep physical and emotional scars. Her mother was committed, and her father brought Molly to a new town for a fresh start. But as she nears her eighteenth birthday, she is plagued by many fears: that her mother will escape; that she herself may fall into madness; or that, somehow, her mother was right, and she is destined to a life of darkness.
I know, right?
The Haunting of Molly Hartley follows a flood of supernatural chillers released in the last few years, flowing in part from the revolutionary work of filmmakers from Asia, particularly Japan. The best of these “J-horror” films were characterized by bizarrely supernatural premises, grotesquely imaginative imagery and an utterly infuriating patience in building the tension that leads to the big scares.
Traditionally, the thriller playbook is wicked simple: set up, misdirect, gotchya! Directors carefully mold the audience’s expectations only to gleefully thwart them. The viewer screams, jumps and, very often, laughs—amused and humbled by their own gullibility, at and having been duped. Paying customers consent to these deceptions; fans crave the joy of the jolt. In Molly Hartley, you get your gotchyas, but they are mostly cut-rate ones—facile, warmed-over tactics (see my opening paragraph) repeated over and over again, dulling their impact. That knowing laughter threatens to reverse course and become cynical. (I knew we’d turned a corner when, after a couple dozen identical boo moments, Molly shrieks and wheels at the thud of a bundle of letters coming through the mail chute. Whatever.)
The film offers a tapas menu of varied menace and violence; for instance, we witness a violent car accident, a disfigured face hallucinated in a mirror and a surgery involving a long metal rod guided into the brain through the nose. Molly delivers some skillful punches, at one point knocking someone out with a single blow. (She is apparently well-trained in something like aikido.) She fights a climactic battle with an attacker who comes to an end flipping over a banister and falling face-first to the floor below onto a shard of glass. Stabbings are alternatively described, overheard, edited away from just in time or witnessed outright.
Kids regularly swear (there’s one f-word), occasionally smoke and, just once, shoplift. We catch Molly in her bra as she changes shirts. In a party scene, she is plied with liquor, which disinhibits her enough to smooch Gossip Boy and scuffle with 90210 Girl—that one ends with Molly deftly snapping a bone in her wrist. Mental illness is generally made light of, as is Christianity. One character is labeled a “Jesus freak” and—deals with the devil notwithstanding—religious belief is treated as a vaguely off-putting and ultimately empty pursuit.
At a November 2nd screening, the following previews were shown: Yes Man (PG-13), a Jim Carrey spazz-fest; The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (PG-13), a Holocaust drama; My Bloody Valentine (R), more blood than Valentine, I suspect (the trailer features plenty of the red stuff, some wielded blades, and a brief shot of a woman running for her life in her underwear); and Friday the 13th (R), a hard-core remake of the original horror classic (this trailer belongs to an antisocial fellow named Jason—you do the math).
Jared Peterson scares tens of readers at proweirdo.blogspot.com.
Published: Tuesday, 11 November 2008 04:00
Survival of the Flippest
It’s quips and quandaries for the animals of Madagascar
by Jared Peterson
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (PG), a bouncy and buoyant sequel to the 2005 hit Madagascar, follows a menagerie of unlikely animal heroes on their continued quest for their proper place in the world. In the first film, the once-pampered denizens of the New York Zoo—Alex the lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett-Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer)—went from mild life to wildlife when stranded on the titular island with a host of kooky animals. At the opening of this installment, they’re preparing to say goodbye to their new friends and return to the comforts of civilization. But a jury-rigged airframe, commanded by a gaggle of overconfident penguins, can carry them only part of the way. Gravity and poor engineering conspire to deposit them in their ancestral home—the wide open plains of an African nature preserve—where they face all new challenges. Alex gets tangled up in parental expectations, Marty deals with a loss of uniqueness in a herd of his own kind, and Gloria and Melman stumble around on the path to true love.
The visuals here are quite impressive: subtle facial expressions, sweeping vistas, and the most realistic computerized rendering of water yet achieved in a film. The story leans a bit heavily on the familiar voices and well-known personas of its voice actors, though it’s hardly anything new to make use of these to bring in patrons and to speed the story along. Like Toy Story, Shrek and many other modern fairy tales, Escape 2 Africa is aggressively inclusive. Younger kids will delight in the cartoon zaniness, while older members of the “Adult Swim” and YouTube generations will dig the dry wisecracking and hyperkinetic slapstick. Parents are authorized to enjoy these as well; but for adult consumption the filmmakers serve up a hearty helping of knowing asides, offhanded cultural references and veiled social commentary. (My personal favorite was a scene involving collective-bargaining negotiations between the penguins and a union of disgruntled monkeys. Ah, labor humor.)
Keep in mind that this is a cartoon fantasy—in the mold of “Tom and Jerry” and the Warner Bros. shorts—where physical comedy is pursued as a kind of extreme sport. Characters inflict and endure all kinds of brutal punishments, and emerge, unscathed, to fight another day. The penguins are especially quick to violence (oh, how I’ve longed to write that sentence). They’re at it even before the opening titles, going so far as to bum-rush that kid who loafs on the edge of the crescent moon in the Dreamworks logo. But there is nothing quite so fearsome as the wrath of Nana (Elisa Gabrielli), a waddling grandma with a bloodthirsty grudge against “bad kitties” and other animals. She wanders from her safari tour and into a series of vicious slugfests (she and her attackers each lose teeth) and head-on collisions (at one point she’s thrown through a windshield). This bizarre blood feud is either wantonly inappropriate… or utterly inspired. I vote for the latter—in my experience, there are few situations, in art or in life, which cannot be improved by adding penguins and/or the feisty elderly.
There are a couple of near misses with a hunting rifle, and a switchblade is flipped threateningly by (again) a short-fused penguin. Thankfully, potty humor is largely absent. The characters have simple tastes in off-color language: half a dozen uses of the word “butt”, a pun on the word “nuts”. Careful sound editing masks an a-word (“Kiss your [loud noise] goodbye!”) There are nipple tweaks, nose picks and other childish pranks, and the depiction of lemur cross-dressing and interspecies dating may offend the sensibilities of the socially conservative or skittishly Californian.
At a November 8th screening, audiences were treated to previews of three dog-related films: Marley and Me (not yet rated), about “the worst dog in the world;” Bolt (PG), about a deluded animal actor; and Hotel for Dogs (not yet rated), which I think is self-explanatory. Also featured were The Pink Panther 2 (PG), with Steve Martin failing to keep his balance; and The Tale of Despereaux (not yet rated), about an uncommonly brave mouse. Finally, we have Monsters vs. Aliens (not yet rated), a new addition to the list of movies I wish I had thought of.
Jared Peterson has yet to achieve alpha-male status in his herd. His attempts are chronicled at proweirdo.blogspot.com.
Published: Tuesday, 18 November 2008 02:14
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Bond is back… and he seems upset about something
by Jared Peterson
Parse the title of the new 007 film and you will uncover its principle motifs: pain, and physics. We begin, familiarly, with some very nice cars weaving at high speed through the fun-sized streets of an Italian city. Piloting a disintegrating Aston Martin, crack British agent James Bond (Daniel Craig) uses simple inertia and angular momentum—and a few bullets—to send his pursuers off cliffs and into sickening head-on collisions. He then glides into a safe house with a bound-and-gagged intelligence asset ready for questioning. All in a day’s work. But, while outwardly dry, under the skin Bond seethes. He is shaken by the death (in the previous film) of the only woman he’d ever let himself love [Ed: Except for Tracy de Vicenzo, whom he married in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Sorry. Marriage does strange things to one’s trivia storehouse.] and stirred to rage by her betrayal in the name of a hitherto unknown crime syndicate called Quantum. Her Majesty’s Secret Service is desperate for information about this new global threat. Bond could care less—he needs just a moment alone with its masterminds. So he goes off the reservation, seeking solace in vengeance—something for which he carries a particularly useful license.
Quantum of Solace and its predecessor Casino Royale have revitalized Ian Fleming’s half-century-old spy series by carefully melding the old and the new. The action sequences are still spectacular, but they adhere more closely to the laws of motion and the bounds of reason. The fighting is relentless, but no longer toothless—our suave hero takes beatings that do far more than rumple his dinner jacket. And Brosnan-era screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, joined by heavy-hitters Paul Haggis (Crash) and Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball), are determined to plumb the depths of the suave superagent. So they’ve taken away his gadgets and given him issues. This new Bond bleeds, but he also aches.
The casting of Daniel Craig, initially regarded as a huge gamble, seems to have paid off. He certainly gives new meaning to the phrase “painfully handsome”: along with piercing blue eyes and chiseled features, he bears, even at rest, the look of a man bracing for a punch. He is a skilled actor, though, and plays the character through a mask of unflappability across which subtle flickers of emotion are allowed to pass.[Ed: Also, HOT. Sorry. Back to the review.] Also doing more with less are the masterful Judi Dench, with a stoic yet motherly reinvention of the intelligence director M, and French actor Mathieu Amalric, who responds to the daunting task of post-Austin-Powers super-villianry with a creepily reserved turn as Quantum puppetmaster Dominic Greene.
In Quantum of Solace, violence is persistent and often distressingly casual. As a pro double-oh, Bond pushes the limits of ruthless efficiency. In one scene, after stabbing a bad guy in the neck he lingers a few moments, distractedly waiting to confirm the kill—here, this is thoroughness, not sadism. Later, he loses a trusted associate in a gunfight, and calmly heaves the body into a dumpster in order to keep moving. “He wouldn’t care,” he tells his Bond girl. Maybe not, but dude… come on.
Elsewhere, a lifeless body is seen submerged in a bay; another is discovered facedown on a bed, naked and coated in black goop, having been drowned in a vat of oil. Many bad guys, and one or two bystanders, are felled by gunshots; the camera focuses mostly on the barrels rather than the wounds—a kind of restraint, I suppose. Fistfights are lovingly rendered and abound with the flat smacks and icky pops of close-quarters combat. One poor fellow is thrown off a building; another catches an axe in the foot. And of course, the filmmakers delight in orchestrating brutal lessons in applied physics, with vehicles crushed and bodies flung with abandon. Inertia, I’ve determined, is the new gore. Visceral shocks minus the viscera, these moments still reverberate in your gut.
Inevitably, Bond coaxes a mysterious woman with an absurd name (watch the credits) into bed—there’s a bit of post-coital nuzzling along her exposed back. Also, in the heat of a gun battle we see partway up the skirt of an understandably distracted bystander. There’s some mild swearing—which sounds absolutely adorable in a British accent. Classy men drink classy cocktails, the recipes of which are recited in detail.
At a November 16th screening, the following previews were shown: Angels and Demons, a sequel to The Da Vinci Code; Watchmen (R), based on a purportedly “unfilmable” graphic novel; a teaser trailer for 2012, an apocalyptic fantasy (or, if you’re Mayan, a documentary); Fast and Furious, some sort of community-service arrangement for Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez; and 7 Pounds, a Will Smith Oscar vehicle.
There was also a trailer for the new Star Trek movie, which was awesome because they’re completely reinventing the franchise with, like, the old characters and kind of the same uniforms, but everything’s all new and shiny, and the Enterprise was like “Whoooooosh!” and they were like “Fire torpedoes!” and it was all “Bwow! Beeeeeewwwwww-bwooooow!” and it’s gonna be, like, so sick, I totally cannot wait! [Ed: I no longer feel bad about butting in and calling Daniel Craig hot.]
Jared Peterson is, shockingly, still single. Shards of his lonely existence are strewn about at http://proweirdo.blogspot.com.
Published: Monday, 24 November 2008 00:20
You're nobody until somebody wants to kill you and suck your blood.
So, Twilight was released on Friday …
Sorry. There are some teenage girls in here who won’t shut up about Edward …
SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE EDWARD OMG OMG OMG SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
ANYWAY. Apparently every high school in Annapolis was missing its female students Friday afternoon, because they were all at the 1:40 showing of Twilight …
OK, they’re gone.
Twilight, based on the first of the incredibly popular series of books by Stephenie Meyer, tells the story of Bella (Kristen Stewart), a 17-year-old girl who recently moved to tiny Forks, Washington, to live with her father. After some initial new-girl awkwardness, she finds a group of nice, incredibly diverse friends and becomes BFFs with them in about fifteen seconds. But the friends aren’t the point—they’re mainly for exposition about the creepy, very pale group sitting a few lunch tables over. Those are the Cullens, and one of them—Edward (Robert Pattinson) [SQUEEEE!] is irresistibly attractive to Bella, mainly because he stares at her a lot.
Eventually, Bella notices things about Edward that suggest he’s not your typical emo kid, even though he has the hair for it. He never shows up on sunny days. He doesn’t eat. His skin is ice-cold. Oh, and he one-handedly stops a car from smooshing her. Seventeen billion years after a normal person would have figured this out, she realizes that Edward is, in fact, a vampire, and so is the rest of his “family.” The Cullens, however, consider themselves “vegetarians,” since they don’t eat people—only animals.
Edward and Bella fall in love—the kind of love that involves staring at each other and breathing heavily for what seems like minutes at a time, giving you ample opportunities to contemplate your Milk Duds or the fact that Bella doesn’t close her mouth for a solitary second. Not in the talking sense—her mouth is partially open throughout the entire movie. It’s distracting. A big theme in Bella and Edward's relationship is that they never have sex—they barely even kiss—because Bella is, at her core, a tasty vampire snack and Edward’s not sure he can eat just one of this metaphorical bag of potato chips.
SUCH a tasty snack that she attracts the attention of another group of vampires, particularly James (Cam Gigandet), and the chase is on. Running ensues, Bella avoids being lunch, love triumphs, they all go to the prom.
There are some good points to the film. Director Catherine Hardwicke (who directed the excellent Thirteen) has a good eye for creating atmosphere, particularly the overcast Washington sky and the final battle scene, which takes place in a cathedral-like ballet school. The movie really does look good. But the rest is … not so good.
The performances are wooden. Pattinson speaks every line like he’s on the verge of vomiting. Stewart’s main job here is to look pretty and in peril, so it’s tough on her when she has to, you know, act. Thanks to a lightweight script, the rest of the actors aren’t given things like character development, so the actors become a largely forgettable ensemble. The exceptions: Peter Facinelli as Carlisle Cullen, the head of the Family Undead, is quite nice and plays his part with a cool, controlled, dry sense of humor. And Billy Burke as Charlie, Bella’s dad, does good work with what little he’s given.
There’s some clever vampire stuff, too—they play baseball in storms so the crack of the superhuman-powered bat is covered by thunder; when Bella comes to the Cullens’ house for dinner, they prepare her an elaborate spread (even though they don’t eat) to make her feel at home. Best was a modern art piece made of all the graduation caps that the eternally young Cullens have worn across the years.
But there’s the bad part of the movie, and then there’s the almost dangerous part of the movie. To be frank, Edward and Bella do not have a healthy relationship, and their romance should not be made to be appealing to the tweens that are Twilight’s audience. Bad boys and forbidden romances have been the drug of choice for teenage girls since before Romeo, but this story struck me as more insidious.
Think about it. Think about if your teenage girl had a boyfriend who refused to talk about himself. At all. One where she believed that only she could see the good inside. A boyfriend that told her, repeatedly, that he wanted to kill her. That she should stay away, because he’s no good. A young man who sneaks into her room nightly, for months, to watch her sleep.
Twilight tells girls that this is what love looks like. It’s forbidden and dangerous and always on the brink of violence.
Of course it’s just a movie. It’s just a fantasy. But, since most of our readers here are mothers, let me ask—when you go to the grocery store and see every Photoshopped and airbrushed fantasy staring out at your from the magazine covers, isn’t there a little part of you that whispers, ever so quietly, “Look like this?” “Have this dress. Be this thin. This is what you should want to be.” Well, Twilight tells teenage girls, “This is what you should want to have.”
Don’t believe me? In my showing, when Edward tells Bella that he’s been hanging out in her room, uninvited and without her knowledge, watching her sleep, there was an audible “awwwwww” from the teen-heavy audience.
In terms of other questionable material, there’s only a little. Edward and Bella have a steamy makeout session in her room when she’s wearing a t-shirt and panties. There’s adult drinking and a shotgun makes an appearance, though Charlie is just cleaning it. Bella’s mom asks her if she’s “being safe” when she hears that Bella has a new boyfriend. The prom has a gambling theme. Bella’s leg gets broken rather gruesomely and the final battle between Edward and James gets violent, bloody and dismembering-y.
I’m not saying that teenage girls shouldn’t see this movie—it wouldn’t really matter if I were saying that, since they’re going to see it anyway. But if they go, talk to them about how good boyfriends don’t view you as food. Make sure they’re confident enough in themselves to kick a guy to the curb if he’s breaking into their room, and that real love isn’t dangerous.
And then go rent the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. All the vampire goodness, with the added bonus of intelligence.
At a showing on Friday, November 21, the previews were Knowing, a Nicolas Cage feature that shows a rather startling plane crash that might frighten younger kids, Fired Up, which has a pun on a nickname for “Richard,” the animated Coraline, and Valkyrie which, you guys, looks so stupid.