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