Blythe Danner, Mary Kay Place, Martin Starr, Sam Elliott, Rhea Perlman.
FILM SYNOPSIS: After the death of her beloved dog, Carol (Blythe Danner) finds the everyday activities that have given her life structure – her regular bridge game, gardening, a glass of wine or two – have lost their luster. With the support of three loyal girlfriends (June Squibb, Rhea Perlman, and Mary Kay Place), Carol decides to embrace the world, embarking on an unlikely friendship with her pool maintenance man (Martin Starr), pursuing a new love interest (Sam Elliott), and reconnecting with her daughter (Malin Akerman). The film is directed by Brett Haley (The New Year) from a screenplay by Haley and Marc Basch.
PREVIEW REVIEW: Having been a Christian most of my life and having had church and Christ’s teachings such a part of my upbringing, I find it sad to see nonbelievers try to deal with loss without a spiritual aid. Watching this drama, I was glad that because of God’s mercy and Christ’s sacrifice, I had something fulfilling in my life even during hard times. That’s about all I got out of this film. The story, the dialogue and the relationships are clichéd and far too secular to gain any comfort or insight for those of us seeking to further develop our spiritual walk.
I don’t mean to sound pious, but the truth is, so many people are simply lost, trying to fill up their time as if something they do for themselves will ultimately bring happiness. It’s necessary to seek solace during the stormy times, but it’s never lasting when our own needs are all that are met.
Christ’s name is abused several times in this film, with all the cast getting a chance to play feisty old ladies who swear. There’s sex talk around a card table (another writer thinking old people swearing and talking about sex is funny), they talk of travel, play golf and drink to excess. All of this is either meant to make them look dimensional and “full of life.” But for me, they came across as self-centered and myopic. Make no mistake, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with social activities, except when that’s all you do to fill your time.
The characters are bored and because they have enough money, they plan on taking a trip to Iceland. Why? ‘Cause they don’t know what else to do. It would never occur to them to find an outlet that serves others in need. They’re lives would be far more complete if they sought ways to aid their fellow man instead of waiting for night to fall so they could go to the local bar and sing karaoke.
At one point the main character says, “I feel so incomplete.” Her final solution, she buys a dog.
The cast is made up of fine actors, but the story and their characters seem shallow. Though entering the last seasons of their lives, none of them consider an afterlife or have regard for those of us in the audience who do. Really? You make a picture about old people and not even one of them speaks of spiritual matters or the afterlife?
DVD Alternatives: It’s a Wonderful Life. It just may be the most important film Hollywood ever produced. James Stewart’s George Bailey is given the opportunity to see what his community would have been like if he had never been born. Director Frank Capra reminds us that our compassion and responsibility make a difference in the lives of those with whom we come in contact. The things we say and do affect the lives of others. Hard to top that message.
Amish Grace. The true story is about the aftermath of the 2006 schoolhouse shooting in the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. The book’s title best summarizes the production’s theme – Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy. Riveting, emotionally stirring, a powerful TV experience. It also reveals how dealing with tragedy requires looking at the problems of others.
Up. This comedy adventure concerns 78-year-old balloon salesman Carl Fredricksen, who finally fulfills his lifelong dream of a great adventure when he ties thousands of balloons to his house and flies away to the wilds of South America. But he discovers all too late that his biggest nightmare has stowed away on the trip: an overly optimistic 8-year-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell. Usually impossible situations and illogical premises drive me nuts. But this gem of a parable is filled with symbolism and uses implausible circumstance (like a house propelled by thousands of balloons) to stretch the imagination of both young and old.
The Impossible is based on the true story of a couple played by Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, who with their three children are vacationing at a tropical resort in Thailand. Their idyllic getaway is interrupted on the morning of December 26, 2004, when a devastating tsunami destroys the coastal zone, separating the family and triggering a frantic search. Though this was an actual occurrence, the filmmaker also uses the events as a symbolic message, reminding viewers that in this era of “What have you done for me lately?” mankind will survive the paths dictated by politicians and the conglomerate business world only if we the people start looking out for the other guy. This compassion cannot be mandated by law. It has to come from man’s sense of what’s right and wrong. That spiritual element aids us in rising above our own welfare. This concern for others is evidenced in The Impossible. The compassion becomes palpable, with several scenes offering examples of selflessness that will inspire.