I Could Never Be Your Woman

Posted on April 15, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Usually when a movie has a limited release with no ad support it means that test audiences hated it and the studio has decided to cut their losses. But once in a while it has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of the film and that is the case with I Could Never Be Your Woman. The title is awful, but the script and cast are great and the movie is a quiet gem.

Michelle Pfeiffer plays Rosie, a television studio executive responsible for a sitcom called “You Go, Girl!” with a demanding star. The show’s appeal is fading and its cast has outgrown their roles — though they are still playing teenagers, most of them are married with children. In order to refresh the show and broaden its appeal, Rosie adds a new cast member, Adam (Paul Rudd), an appealing and talented young actor. He is interested in her but she is reluctant to respond because he is younger than she is and because she is still protective of her feelings following her divorce. Rosie’s relationship with Adam is endearing and appealing, but in every way the heart of the story is Rosie’s relationship with her middle-school-age daughter Izzie (Saoirse Ronan, the young girl who was nominated for an Oscar in “Atonement”). Rosie counsels Izzie about life in general and a boy in school in particular and the tenderness and understanding of that relationship is beautifully conveyed.

But it never got any support from the studio. Even the trailer doesn’t do justice to the film. It looks sit-com-y.

The movie got caught in completely unrelated financial problems at its studio and never got a real chance in theaters. I am hoping that Rudd’s recent success will inspire audiences to seek out this film. It is uneven (though I love Tracy Ullman, I would have cut her scenes as Mother Nature). But it has a deft script, smooth direction from Amy Heckerling (“Clueless”), world-class performances, and a real feeling for the mother-daughter relationship. And Pfeiffer is an extraordinary actress. This film really gives her a chance to shine as a professional, a mother, an ex-wife, and a woman who is surprised and delighted to find out that she can still be surprised and delighted. Audiences will find themselves surprised and delighted, too.

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After the kids go to bed For Your Netflix Queue Neglected gem

Why is SpongeBob in a Sexy Commercial?

Posted on April 7, 2009 at 10:31 pm

What were they thinking? The latest Burger King ad for a Kids Meal featuring a SpongeBob Squarepants toy is a booty-shaking adaptation of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s famous musical salute to ladies’ rear ends. This is what the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has to say:

Nickelodeon and Burger King have reached a new low. They’ve partnered to produce a new, highly sexualized, ad for a Burger King SpongeBob SquarePants Kids Meal. The commercial, which ran during the men’s NCAA basketball championship last night, features The King singing a remix of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s 1990’s hit song, “Baby Got Back” with the new lyrics, “I like square butts and I cannot lie.” The ad shows images of The King singing in front of women shaking their behinds for the camera intercut with images of SpongeBob dancing along. The King even measures the behind of one of the woman who has stuffed a phonebook under her dress. After the King informs children about the free SpongeBob toy they get with the purchase of a Burger King Kids Meal, the ad ends with Sir Mix-A-Lot, lounging on a couch with two female admirers, saying, “Booty is booty.”

It’s harmful enough when a beloved media icon advertises junk food to children, but it’s utterly reprehensible when SpongeBob simultaneously promotes the objectification of women through sexualized imagery.

If you find this ad campaign directed at children offensive, the easiest way to express your views is by sending an email to Nickelodeon and Burger King via CCFC’s website.

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Elementary School Marketing to Kids Neglected gem Preschoolers

The Big Bad Swim

Posted on April 4, 2009 at 6:02 pm

I am a bit of a softie when it comes to those movies about diverse groups of people who come together to learn something new like tap dancing (“Stepping Out” with Liza Minnelli) or ballroom dancing (“Shall We Dance” with Richard Gere) or Italian (“Italian for Beginners”). We get to see glimpses of lots of different characters and stories and we get to see the way that they engage with new challenges and are transformed by their sense of accomplishment, new skills, and relationships.

I really enjoyed a quiet little movie in this genre called The Big Bad Swim. A group of people sign up for a swim class at a local rec center. It is a special class for people who are reluctant or scared of the water. The students include a recently divorced calculus teacher, a cop, a casino dealer/stripper, and a couple with a new pool. The movie skillfully interweaves the characters and their relationships with the kind of messy authenticity and respect for the audience that makes independent films so engaging. The performances are exceptionally layered and true, especially Paget Brewster as the teacher, and the little coda after the credits is delightful. This has very mature material, including sexual references and situations, drinking and drug use, and some very bad decisions, but is well worth a look for fans of independent film and good stories.

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After the kids go to bed For Your Netflix Queue Neglected gem
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