Tuesday, June 23, 2009


While I was out one night recently, husband D and son K watched Escape From the Planet of the Apes (1971), which is the third in the series of Planet of the Apes films.

Although K told me it was “really good,” it was D who told me it was perhaps even great, and that K really enjoyed it. Since I didn’t see it, and getting anything more out of either of them is like getting the younger one to ... say, clean his room -- ahem -- here’s the Netflix descriptor:

In this third installment of the Planet of the Apes series, Cornelius (Roddy McDowall), Zira (Kim Hunter) and Milo (Sal Mineo) travel back in time to escape the destruction of their world. Landing in 20th century Los Angeles, they're treated as curiosities and celebrities at first, but soon become hunted by a suspicious and fearful government intent on making them the subjects of an experiment that could alter the course of human and ape events.

I’ve already given the thumbs up to the first two films (Planet of the Apes and Beneath the Planet of the Apes), but adding a third one to the “recommended” list feels very satisfying.

Now that you know you’ve got three here that work with kids in the 10-year-old range, you can plan a series of movie watching nights.  How cool will your kids be, growing up knowing about these classic films of the ‘60s and ‘70s?

(By the way, these are all officially rated G, but you know that these days that equates a PG rating, right?)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Chastened, I Am

I have been informed by a kind friend that Curly of the Three Stooges did not say, "Nyet, nyet, nyet" -- of course, he didn't. I think perhaps Stalin and Tolstoy may have said "nyet, nyet." Certainly Vladimir Putin said it when George W. Bush said he saw into Putin's soul.

Curly said, "Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk," of course .. as any t-shirt, poster or Stooges-centric joke will tell you.

Mea culpa. Not enough coffee this a.m.

Randon Act of Self Indulgence .14

Today’s a mishmash of tidbits... appropriate for a Friday, yes?

First off, we tried a Monty Python episode via Netflix/Instant View the other night, and after one forced laugh and about 14 minutes of viewing, son K said, “I’m gonna go watch TV” (in the other room). Yes, Holy Grail worked big time for K, but the TV show -- not so much. Of course, like any other comedy show (or TV show, for that matter), any one episode can be hit or miss. Maybe this was a miss episode (it didn’t strike me as hilarious), so we may try again. But if you’re thinking about sharing the love of Python with your own tweener, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work -- the first time, anyway.


Out on July 1, Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs looks to be as much fun as the first two! Here’s a trailer that’s a bit different from what’s in the theaters. I’m a sucker for this franchise, I have to admit. (Oh! and if you live in a real city, you may have a sneak preview available this weekend. Here are details on where and when.)

(File this under "Semi-Kid Movie News," as I suspect it won't really be for the kiddies --) Word is out that Sean Penn has pulled out of the Three Stooges movie that I wrote about a while back. I think this is a good thing. Sean Penn as “Larry?” Nah. (Or maybe I should say, “Nyet, nyet, nyet.”) This Farrelly Brothers project is reportedly still online with Jim Carrey as Curley and Benecio Del Toro as Moe. 

Benecio. Benecio. What can we do to change your mind?

And Carrey? Well, we don’t really care what Jim Carrey does.

(On a serious note, Penn also pulled out of another movie project called Cartel. Dunno if his agent just had second thoughts, or if something else is going on ... maybe he's working on his marriage. Anyway, we hope all is well in Penn-world.)


Came across this interesting trailer for a film called Cold Souls, starring Paul Giamatti, David Strathairn and Emily Watson that I liked so much I just want to share. It opens in November.


From our posts past:

- Alaska
- Journey to the Center of the Earth
- Snake in the Eagle's Shadow
- Shackleton
- The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T
- The Incredible Shrinking Man

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


In 1876, the rare and coveted ’73 Winchester rifle was the “gun that won the west,” and when our hero Jimmy Stewart -- er, I mean Lin McAdam --wins one in a shooting contest (one of many great scenes in this classic western), you know there’s trouble ahead.

The gun is stolen, and what follows is a series of tense standoffs and misadventures between McAdam and a dirty, rotten character named Dutch Henry. Son K points out: “Like most westerns, you got your good guy, your bad guy, a tough girl,” (Shelley Winters) “... attacking Indians, some gun fights and fast horse riding.”

Yeah, that about sums it up. But it’s superbly acted, tightly directed (by Anthony Mann, who also directed El Cid, Spartacus, and The Fall of the Roman Empire, among many others), and the story goes easy on the depictions of boozing and hard livin’ women. (Winters does play a former “dance hall” girl, but there aren’t any scenes too racy or difficult to explain to the kiddies regarding her past.)

Of course, there’s some violence. People get killed, and some of the villains are oustanding examples of the dark side of humanity.

Just put on your best Jon Lovitz impression, and remind the kids, “It’s just ... acting!”

(Oh, a warning: do not read the summary on Netflix! They have a huge spoiler in their brief description of the film. Also, have fun finding a young Rock Hudson and a young Tony Curtis in the movie. One plays an Indian chief. Hilarious. )

- Scene during a night ride, Lin and his partner, High-Spade Frankie Wilson, know they’re surrounded by Indians on the war path:

Lin McAdam: Yeah, I hear 'em.
High-Spade Frankie Wilson: I told you night riding wasn't smart.
Lin McAdam: I guess you did.
High-Spade Frankie Wilson: Now we're smack in the middle of 'em.
Lin McAdam: I guess you're right again.
High-Spade Frankie Wilson: Being right ain't gonna do us any good. What do we do now?
Lin McAdam: Well, keep riding.
High-Spade Frankie Wilson: With injuns all around us?
Lin McAdam: Maybe you'd feel better if we stopped?
High-Spade Frankie Wilson: Ah... no.
Lin McAdam: Well, then maybe we better just keep riding...

Monday, June 15, 2009


Monty Python and the Holy Grail was officially rated PG, but that was back in 1975, before PG-13 was instituted as a step before R. It definitely earns the higher rating, so depending on the age of your kids, you want to consider what’s ahead.

Son K is now 12, going on 18, and we figured it was an appropriate time for Monty Python. Of course, the television episodes are available on Netflix and elsewhere, so starting there is a possibility. Those can be spotty, in terms of what might be inappropriate, as you don’t know what you get from episode to episode. (For some reason, when I think of Monty Python, the first thing I think of is, “Oh, intercourse the penguin!”)

Anyway, we rented Holy Grail, knowing that both The Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life have solid R ratings, and figured we’d be pretty safe.

First, you need to know that there is a great amount of cartoonish gore in the film, which isn’t a problem -- at least not in our house. You may not care for the spurting streams of fake blood and occasional rampages of killing that are darkly hilarious -- how funny is the line, “It’s only a flesh wound!” uttered by the Black Knight as he’s losing limbs in a sword fight?! -- but compared to what a lot of kids see in movies and X-box games these days, it’s probably no worse ... and the cartoonish aspect helps offset the volume.

As suspected, K loved Monty Python’s absurd and bizarre brand of humor ... we had a great time, and now we’ve got some TV episodes lined up to see.

Here’s the caveat: material that may be inappropriate includes some language (no F-bombs), and dialogue rich with sexual innuendo, most of which kids under 12 or 13 will either not get, or will miss due to the speedy delivery. Most of it takes place in one scene, where one character enters a castle full of vestal virgins, one of whom points out they are all between the ages of 16 and 19, unsupervised, and pretty much all deserve spankings. We were sort of holding our breaths through this scene, and it reached a pinnacle with her offering -- very quickly and rather casually, so it didn’t really stand out -- “followed by oral sex.”

I’m not sure, but I think I heard K laugh at that. I was trying to just get through the moment.

Anyway, now that you know the worst of it, you can plan to talk loudly over that part, or take one of those well-timed breaks.

If you’re new to Monty Python yourself, you need to be the type of person who appreciates ridiculously hilarious lines such as, “I fart in your general direction!” These are lines your kids are sure to remember, and will practice repeating until you long for the good old days of "Blues Clues" and "The Wiggles."

Here's a great clip (whoever put it on YouTube had a brightness issue, but you get the idea):

Friday, June 12, 2009


We caught some of “Nature’s Most Amazing Events” on the Discovery Channel, and this month the series is released on DVD and on Blue-ray.

A close cousin to the great
Planet Earth series, this
program also features stunning photography, and really enlightening storytelling. Following the natural cycles of nature that can be both life threatening and species propagating, the series is a great way for kids to grasp the interconnectedness of all things: One animal’s tragedy may be another’s survival.

The Great Flood; The Great Feast; The Great Melt; these are natural and climactic phenomena that stretch across the planet, affecting wildlife on different continents with equal vigor. (These are also the names of episodes.)

If you’re looking for some nature viewing this weekend that’s a notch (or two) above what you might stumble on watching TV, clicking between Animal Planet and PBS, pick up Nature's Most Amazing Events instead. Highly recommended.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


A few months ago, I wrote about an upcoming animated film called 9 (it hits theaters on 9/9/09), directed by Shane Acker, featuring the voices of Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover, Christopher Plummer, and Martin Landau. It’s a dark, post-apocalyptic tale about the impending extinction of all life (on earth? I think so). 9 is the little guy who saves the day, from what I gather.

Anyway, the poster has been released, and it’s quite a beauty. This film will be for the older kids, as it’ll carry a PG-13 rating.

I noticed some less than enthusiastic reviews on the IMDB message board for the film. Hmmm. Does Focus Films have time to pull off a fix?

~ ~ ~

Shortly after the Steve Carell/Anne Hathaway Get Smart movie came out in 2008, HBO Home Video started releasing the original, 1965 television "Get Smart" series (starring Don Adams and Barbara Feldon) on DVD. I believe Season 3 has just been released.

We haven’t seen any of these yet, but I’m utterly convinced K would love them, and have added the first season to our Netflix list. I’m curious if any of you have tried them?

My dad loved this show. I’m not sure I remember the actual show, really, as much as I remember my dad getting a kick out of it. He did a mean Maxwell Smart impersonation.

~ ~ ~

Robert Rodriquez recently told MTV that in between his Grindhouse spin-off (titled Machete), his Sin City sequel, and his sci-fi thriller (NerveWrackers), he’s hoping to get moving next year on a live-action film of The Jetsons. (You can Wiki that if you’re, say, under 30 years old. Otherwise you should know about "The Jetsons." Come on.)

We’re not sure what happened to Rodriquez’ proposed remake of Barbarella. But he’s a busy guy, isn’t he? And I think it’s amazing how he can pull off really decent kid fare alongside stuff like Grindhouse and Sin City. Ultra cool.

~ ~ ~

I’ll leave you now with this photo of Mickey Rourke in his villain gear for Iron Man 2. Yeah.

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Well, we didn't exactly have a Marx Brothers fest this weekend (as predicted earlier), but we did make a second attempt to charm son K with a Marx Brothers classic. I can't say it was a successful endeavor.

A few years ago, we tried Night at the Opera, but it was clear that K was too young to keep pace with the speedy dialogue and definitely too young to understand the humor. So, at age 12, we figured we'd try again; this is, after all, a kid who has grown up seeing black and white films of all kinds, and has a fairly mature sense of humor.

This time out, we tried Duck Soup ... but with pretty much the same results. Duck Soup is barely over an hour long, so not a huge time investment. Groucho is appointed leader of the country of Freedonia, and his brand of absurdist governing is hilarious at the same time it feels slightly dated and sexist. But his bluntly chauvinistic character is part of the charm (isn't it?) and so you don't really tsk tsk so much as you rather guiltily chuckle along to the gags. 

But of course, most of this inarguably adult humor is lost on kids.  

Unless you are dying to get a Marx Brothers fix yourself, and want to test your own kids' capacity for staccato one-liners and double entendres with phrases they may not be familiar with, I'd say these films are probably better saved for later.    

Friday, June 5, 2009

New Movie News

Yes, it’s been quiet here at KidsFlix, but two days of travel time returning from the West Coast (read: airport hell), will take it out of you. (And, um, how dumb was it to have my laptop with me, but not my power cord? Talk amongst yourselves.)

We’ll get back into gear soon, promise. I think we’re having a Marx Brothers fest here in the KidsFlix household this weekend, so we’ll let you know our thoughts again on these great but dialog-driven films and how they work with the younger set.

For now, take a gander over at AwardsDaily.com’s report on upcoming Dreamworks projects, and you can get a Monty Python booster while you’re at it. (Big cheers for a Kung Fu Panda sequel, and for the Ben Stiller executive-produced Oobermind, featuring Robert Downey Jr. voicing a super villain.)

Also at AwardsDaily, you can get more on Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus and its showing at Cannes, along with some clips. The visuals alone seem enough to save the film from any tepid reviews.

Speaking of tepid reviews, I’m over my disappointment that Land of the Lost is rated PG-13 (sounds like the filmmakers were lost!), but want to just make sure parents know about some of the comments being made by reviewers before they relent and take their 10-year olds to see it.

(RedCarpetRatings notes: Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content and for language, including a drug reference.)

From Cinematical:

Directed by Brad Silberling and starring Will Ferrell, this update on the Sid and Marty Krofft television series from the 1970s is the strangest, filthiest summer movie I think I've ever see.

From RottenTomatoes (where Land of the Lost earns a paltry 25% rating):

About once a year, I like a film everyone else despises, a film so admittedly and indefensibly bad that I have no justification whatsoever for having enjoyed it. Last year it was The Love Guru. This year it is Land of the Lost. -- Brandon Fibbs.com

Land of the Lost becomes an endurance test -- one that's too borderline bawdy for families and too dull and rote for anyone over 15. Who, exactly, is the intended audience for this drivel? -- Miami Herald

From the L.A. Times:

The filmmakers get props for persuading Leonard Nimoy to suit up as the Zarn -- you know, an invisible alien creature except for the spots of light that totally make him visible. But not so much for a close-up shot of Ferrell delivering an F-bomb that seems the definition of gratuitous ... 

Ok, don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Did you know you can watch movies on YouTube now? Granted, it’s with commercial interruptions -- highly annoying, no? -- so exactly why people would choose this over Netflix Instant Play, or SnagFilms or iTunes, etc., is beyond me.

Any ideas? What do you think? 

(Apologies for the font wackiness here... I can't seem to track down the issue.)