Musings on children's and YA literature, the academy, and the relationship between them, from an English professor and mother.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Movie Minutes

I've seen three movies in theaters in the last two weeks--this must be some kind of record! (And, hmm, yes, I was pushing to meet a deadline, why do you ask?)

  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Having been pleasantly surprised by the first installment in this series, I was really looking forward to the second. Yes, I'd been warned, but I was still hopeful. Alas, I should have heeded the warning. I didn't find the racism as bad as it was in the book--but that's small praise, really, as it is in this one, The Horse and His Boy, and to some extent The Last Battle, that Lewis's pro-Northern biases really come through. And I didn't find it as sickeningly violent as Kelly did, either, though that may reflect more on me (and my tolerance of violence in movies) than on the movie. Certainly there was a higher ratio of battle scene to character development than I would have liked, though. Reepicheep, Trumpkin, and Nikabrik are all barely developed; even the kids are far less developed than they are in the first movie. Caspian is, of course, movie-star handsome--but did we need a hinted-at romance between him and Susan? Why, no, we did not.
  • Baby Mama: No, it's not a kids' movie. It's not even really about kids--it's about the desire for kids. That aside, it's a fun, smart, silly update of Working Girl. (I love the Sigourney Weaver role in Baby Mama, which is just completely ridiculous.) I could talk about the cultural construction of motherhood and the ways in which the film deploys its stereotypes of the working class without really deconstructing them--but, to be honest, I laughed too hard to make that any fun.
  • The Visitor. Again, not a kids' movie. But the best movie I've seen in a long time. Probably the most honest depiction of professorial burnout I've ever seen (sigh), as well as an extended meditation on what it means to be "home" or "away" (two central concepts in children's literature, after all). This is a slow-moving, meditative movie, not "entertaining" in the Hollywood sense, but beautifully done. See it if you can.

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