Saturday, February 03, 2007

Movie Night...

We're just wrapping up another movie night and Liam is off to bed. Tonight, "Madagascar" was in the DVD player. I took the kids out to ye olde Blockbuster to get a couple movies, and to get them out of the house for a bit while Jen did some studying.

Movie Night has become a regular feature of our time here in Cambridge. And we've watched enough so that I'm running out of ones that we'll all enjoy. And picking out kids' movies is tricky. For instance, this last week, I put an oldie called "The Yearling" on our Netflix list to watch with Liam. Yowza. Has anyone else seen this G-rated bloodbath? I vaguely remember it, but like so many things I watched as kid, I had forgotten how violent "kids" movies could be.

The set up for the Yearling sounded innocent enough. A family living on the frontier. Their 11-year-old boy, Jody, is lonely and longs for a pet to care for. He adopts a baby deer and raises it. What could be sweeter, right?

Except, of course, living on the frontier means everyone carries guns. So that was problem number one. Then we learn the reason Jody is so lonely: His parents had about 30 different kids, but they all died. We learn this as the camera pans across the numerous gravestones behind their home. ("Daddy, what are those?" "Well, those are gravestones because people are buried there..." "Why...?" "Well...").

But the real kicker was the way Jody came to adopt his deer. Jody's father discovers their pigs have been stolen by their hillbilly neighbor, Clem. So he grabs his gun and Jody and they set off to get them hogs back. As they're walking, Jody unsheathes the 8-inch knife he's carrying. But as they're tracking through the woods, dad gets bit by a rattlesnake on his hand! So dad takes out his knife and starts hacking off the skin so he can suck the poison out. Jody's freaking out. ("Dad, don't die...!) They get up to run for help, when dad spots a momma deer. He whips out his shotgun and blasts the deer. Then he tells Jody to carve out the deer's heart and kidney.

Jody runs over to the deer, kneels down and digs right in with his big honkin' knife. Next thing, he's running back to his dad, with a heart in one hand and a kidney in the other, both hands dripping with blood. Dad puts the organs on the wound because they apparently suck out the poison. (Who knew? Holistic medicine frontier style.) Then he tells Jody to run for help. Jody runs screaming for the hillbilly neighbor. Except, just as he's about to run, he sees the baby deer, and immediately realizes they just whacked its mom. Later, when dad lives, Jody lays on the guilt trip and convinces his dad to let him raise the baby deer. Soft focus shot of happy boy. Cue the swelling music....And fade out...

I asked Liam if he understood what had just happened. And he said, "That baby dear is sad." And then he said, "Daddy, I want a pet." "What kind of pet?" "A baby giraffe." "Well, we'll have to see when we get back to Oakland..."

Fortunately, Liam didn't wig out. And that's a big shift because Liam went through an extended period of being terrified by just about any movie or DVD except Blue's Clues. ("Ya gotta find another paw print, that's the second clue...!") A couple years back, we tried to go to a movie theater to see "March of the Penguins" and he was so terrified, that it wasn't until recently that he was even open to the idea of viewing anything remotely resembling a movie or DVD.

But starting last fall, he became more open to the idea. We rented "Mary Poppins" and he loved it. And he loved "Willy Wonka." At the time anyway. Now he keeps asking me if I'm chewing gum and says that gum scares him. ("Daddy, I'll help you...I'll take you to the juicing room."). And along the way we've watched the standards: Toy Story, Nemo. We even went to the movie theater over the holidays and saw "Happy Feet." Stressful moments that used to send him scurrying out of the room now don't seem to faze him much. In fact, now he laughs hysterically through movies like "Madagascar." The current favorite, though, is "Curious George," which Liam quotes liberally throughout the day. ("You're going to want to put those cucumbers back..." "You lost me at lost...") Strangers, of course, just look at him like, "Huh?"

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