Posts Tagged ‘boys’

Hereafter, a.k.a. “Les” Miserable

April 22, 2011

by Thomas M. Pender

I like Matt Damon.  I really do.  I enjoyed him in lighter dramatic fare, such as Good Will Hunting, heavier drama like Saving Private Ryan, and even silly things like Dogma and the infamous duet with Sarah Silverman on Jimmy Kimmel’s show (which I can’t tell you the name of!).  He’s a talented guy.

Yet, as Hollywood history has proven again and again, even the best actor cannot carry a film if the film is unwatchable.  The script, director, producer . . . many components play their parts in making a movie, from concept to finished reel.  Personally, on this project it’s the script that has me stumped.  Who read this and thought it would be well received by an American audience?

To begin with – and I’ll try not to exaggerate – half of the script is in French.  I did not wish to see a foreign film when I rented Hereafter.  Foreign films give me headaches.  You miss the whole show whilst reading subtitles at everyone’s waistline.  Here, interspersed with Damon’s scenes, are scenes of a woman in France and twin boys in England.  Not until you are a full 90 minutes into the 120-minute show do any of these people prove they have anything whatsoever to do with each other.  For 90 minutes, you feel like you’re watching three movies with a spouse who won’t let go of the remote control!  When they do finally interact, it’s so anticlimactic you’ll wish you could demand your money back from the Redbox.

Damon himself is the only box office draw, and it seems a good waste of the producers’ money, since they don’t let him act.  Unless “catatonic” and “unaffected” can be viewed as emotions that are difficult to fake, any box of corn flakes could have acted this part, at a mere fraction of the cost.

I’m surprised that I didn’t eject this one 45 minutes in.  If you’ve ever struggled through a movie, swearing to yourself that there must be some reason people made it and then paid to see it, you’ll understand what it’s like to watch Hereafter.  Hopefully, that will save you some time and money.

Garrett’s Elephant

June 24, 2010

by Thomas M. Pender

Being a daddy to young boys is simply a hoot.  You never know what they’ll do next, say next, get into next, or pick up from you next.  As long as you’re careful about how you act and what you say in front of them, it’s a true entertainment center.

When my sisters and I were little, we had a “See-N-Say” toy.  We could point an arrow at a different animal picture, pull a cord, and while the arrow spun, a voice would say, “The (animal chosen) says (appropriate sound).”  Well, when Garrett was about 1 or 2, I started playing my own version of this game with him.  I started with the easy ones.

“Garrett, what does a dog say?”

“Ruff!  Ruff!” he would answer in his high-pitched voice.

“What does a cat say?”


Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.  As he got a bit older, I would expand the aural menagerie to include less ordinary animals, like lions and tigers and bears (oh my!).  After a second or two to think, he would always come up with an appropriate sound.

Then one day, I surprised him with a curve ball.  “Garrett, what does an elephant say?”

The boy just blinked at me.  Apparently, this was a new animal he had yet to experience.  Luckily, one of the reasons I asked in the first place was that I could do a pretty decent elephant trumpet.  I had been doing it for years, mostly to tease co-workers with particularly sonorous nose-blowing techniques.  I also put in a bit of visual effect with the trumpet, by extending my arm out by my nose, and waving my hand a bit to imitate a trunk.

As my little boy watched, I put my arm out, waved my hand, and pushed a respectable elephant trumpet out between my tightened lips.  Delighted at the new sound, he quickly put his plump arm up to his mouth . . . and spit on it.  Using the skin of his forearm, he blew a Bronx cheer any Yankee fan would be proud of!

I laughed heartily at this exhibition.  Smiling up at me in triumph at his new sound, he happily repeated the process for me, and later his mother, brother, uncle, and grandmother.  Now, I was fully into the game whenever I saw him.  I would never start with the elephant, but always waited to spring it on him after some more typical animal sounds went by.  Garrett would bark, meow, cluck, growl . . . then spit on his arm.

Later, the four of us went to the Atlanta Zoo.  The boys liked the animals, and we arrived at the elephant habitat just in time to go in and see them washing the animals.  It was very interesting to hear and watch how they are trained, much like circus elephants, to raise a particular body part when it is lightly tapped with a stick.  The zoo employee explained all this to us and the others in the small crowd, as we watched the red Georgia clay get hosed off the large animal.  Before we left, I said, “Garrrett, tell the lady what an elephant says.”  My son proudly raised his elbow, and spit on his arm for her.  I then had to show her what he was imitating, but she loved his version better.

So do I!