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Give a Hoot
By Sister Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.

Q U I C K S C A N

HOOT
RV
THE WILD
MOTHER TERESA
A DAY WITHOUT A MEXICAN
BIG LOVE
FILM CAPSULES
CATHOLIC CLASSIFICATIONS

This month’s films have an environmental theme. In 1999 Pope John Paul II addressed all the principles of Catholic social teaching in his document Ecclesia in America. Regarding care for the earth, he wrote: “Alongside legislative and governmental bodies, all people of goodwill must work to ensure the effective protection of the environment, understood as a gift from God.”

HOOT

HOOT (A-1; PG): Curly (Tim Blake Nelson) is determined to build a pancake house in Florida for the corporation that hired him. When Officer Delinko (Luke Wilson) responds to a call that the construction site has been vandalized, he trips in a hole in the ground. The holes are the homes of a protected species of burrowing owls.

Roy Eberhardt (Logan Lerman), a newcomer, is bullied on the school bus by Dana Matherson (Eric Phillips). Wild-looking Mullet Fingers (Cody Linley) is the stepbrother of Beatrice (Brie Larson), a formidable soccer player.

The young people face a moral challenge of what to do when big business, development and the environment clash. Both Mullet and Beatrice have been left to care for themselves by irresponsible parents. Their story is a parallel to the tales we hear about development that ignores or destroys the environment.

Hoot is based on the best-selling Newbery Honor-winning book by Carl Hiaasen. Co-produced by Walden Media (Holes, The Chronicles of Narnia, Because of Winn-Dixie and the upcoming Charlotte’s Web), Hoot is quirky, engaging, funny and beautifully filmed on location in Florida.

Hoot strikes just the right chord to spark conversations about the best way to care for nature that sustains us all. Wil Shriner (Becker, Frasier) directed and wrote the script. The young actors are totally believable, and the music by Jimmy Buffett (who also appears in the film) complements the story and cinematography.

Flush, Hiaasen’s newest novel for young people, is about a brother and sister who find a nonviolent way to catch a casino-boat owner who is illegally flushing sewage into coastal waters, threatening loggerhead turtles. Hoot (novel and film) and Flush offer engaging summer entertainment for grown-ups as well as kids. Some mild bullying and brief problem language.

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RV

RV (A-2; PG): When Bob Munro (Robin Williams) has to cancel his family’s vacation to Hawaii because he wants to please his boss, who threatens to replace him with younger blood, he rents a huge, ugly RV (recreational vehicle) and tells the family that plans have changed.

He tells his wife, Jamie (Cheryl Hines), that he wants to spend time with her and their kids, Cassie (JoJo Levesque) and Carl (Josh Hutcherson). In reality, he has to be at an important meeting in Colorado in a few days.

From the moment the family leaves Los Angeles, it’s one disaster after another. At the RV dump site, the Munros are helped out of the mess that ensues by Travis Gornike (Jeff Daniels). The Munro kids find out that the Gornike kids are homeschooled as they travel around the country.

The Munros, who are not a likable family, try to outrun the friendly Gornikes, who know everything there is to know about RVing.

In Colorado, Jamie and the kids begin to adjust to being together and appreciating nature while Bob sneaks off to his meeting. But soon enough, Bob’s deception is revealed in a series of unfortunate events.

RV is like a meditation on one man’s journey through all the Last Things: Bob dies several deaths, judges himself and is judged, creates purgatory for his family, ends up in a kind of vehicular hell—and so does the audience— and finally reaches heaven. Robin Williams is funny, warm and thoughtful.

I thoroughly enjoyed this flick by director Barry Sonnenfeld, which is like a family version of The Out-of-Towners. I felt the frustration of anyone who has gone on a journey, made silly mistakes, refused all advice and met up with every possible kind of obstacle.

RV is much less sophisticated than Sonnenfeld’s 2004 big-budget Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. But it is more appealing and down-to-earth because of its universal themes.

Add to that a non-stereotypical acknowledgment of homeschooling, a strong message against vending machines in schools and the downside of big business. This comedy is worth seeing because it explores the human condition, and is interesting and positive. Some crude humor and language.

THE WILD (A-1, G): In this animated film, Samson (Kiefer Sutherland) is the lion king of the New York City Zoo who recounts stories of the wild to his young son, Ryan (Greg Cipes). Ryan runs off and ends up on a truck that returns animals to the wild.

Samson pursues Ryan with his animal friends: Brigette the Giraffe (Janeane Garofalo), Larry the Snake (Richard Kind), Nigel the Koala (Eddie Izzard) and Benny the Squirrel (James Belushi).

If this sounds like Madagascar or Finding Nemo, you would be correct. Once again, there are no mothers (or mention of them) and only one lead female character. The wild, above or beneath the sea, is indeed a man’s world. All three films, however, make a statement about respect for nature.

Like other high-concept animated films, The Wild’s characters are picture-perfect. Although I did not think I would like it (some of these animated films are sleep-inducing), The Wild is funny, especially as it reaches the finale. But because of its similarity to other films, you might want to wait for the DVD. Visually dramatic; may frighten very young children.

MOTHER TERESA (not rated): Olivia Hussey (Mary in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1977 miniseries Jesus of Nazareth) plays the Nobel Peace Prize-winner in a film approved by the Missionaries of Charity. Very little drama, but for anyone who wishes a linear, accurate account of Mother Teresa’s life, this would be of interest.

A DAY WITHOUT A MEXICAN (not rated; R): Released in 2004, this film is even more relevant now because it shows what could happen in California if all the Mexicans disappeared for a day. Imaginative, humorous and deeply thought-provoking about the immigrant issue. Some problem language and brief sexual scenes.

BIG LOVE (HBO, Sundays): Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) belongs to a fringe Mormon sect that practices polygamy. He has three wives (played by Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloë Sevigny and Ginnifer Goodwin), a passel of children and three suburban homes that form a compound.

Bill is short on cash and in big trouble with the father of one of his wives, a man who could pass for a mob boss with a cowboy hat.

The first two episodes have to be classified as eyebrow-raising pornography; the following episodes have mellowed. The series is now a soap opera with a touch of The Sopranos: It still steams up the screen, only less frequently. Bill has a difficult night when each of his wives won’t let him in the bedroom, for one reason or another.

It is difficult to sympathize with the men and women in this show. The men have all the power. The women, who exist to serve the men, survive by manipulation, conniving and running up credit-card debt. Jeanne Tripplehorn’s character is the only one who reflects dignity and insight, though not enough to walk away—yet.

In our society, which does not permit or understand polygamy, there seems to be little reason for Big Love, except the illicit sex. We’ve heard stories on network news programs about Mormon sects that practice polygamy and read about them in books, such as John Krakauer’s 2003 book Under the Banner of Heaven.

The graphic sex will undoubtedly and unfortunately attract some viewers among the young. How long will the series last? Until Bill gets caught or viewers get bored.

 

ICE AGE: THE MELTDOWN (A-1, PG): The animated prehistoric suspects are back, with Manny (Ray Romano), Sid (John Leguizamo) and Diego (Denis Leary) fleeing the melting ice cap. Manny thinks he’s the last wooly mammoth alive, until he meets Ellie (Queen Latifah): Romance is in the air. The story line is as thin as the ice, but keep your eye on that squirrel and the acorn.

THANK YOU FOR SMOKING (L, R): Aaron Eckhart is brilliant as a scummy, amoral lobbyist for the tobacco industry in this smart satire. He does it to pay the mortgage, but there are consequences when his young son starts to ask questions about his job and the impact of tobacco. This could be an award contender. Rough and crude language; two sexual encounters.

NOBELITY (not rated): Filmmaker Turk Popkin interviewed nine Nobel laureates about their view of the state of the planet, the situation of children who will inherit it and what the subjects believe responsible people can do now to leave the earth better than we found it. This documentary is showing in libraries, churches, colleges and universities around the country. Contemplative, informative and inspiring.

A-1 General patronage
A-2 Adults and adolescents
A-3 Adults
L Limited adult audience
O Morally offensive

USCCB Movie Review Line: 1-800-311-4222, www.usccb.org/movies/index.htm

At www.CatholicMovieReviews.org, readers can search Sister Rose's and hundreds of other film reviews.

 


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