Ant-Man: Too Many Bugs for Me


Ant-Man (2015 PG-13), directed by Peyton Reed, is a super hero movie that is clever and witty and fits in nicely with the rest of the Avengers universe.

But there were too many bugs for me to enjoy it.  I couldn’t laugh when the audience laughed.  I couldn’t “ohh” when the Avengers references were made.  Too many bugs.  Literally.

Ants.  All over the screen.  Ick.  Yuck.  Gross.

Even now, safe at home, writing about the movie makes me squirm.  But that’s just me.

You, if you like Agents of Shield and Iron Man and Hulk and Captain America and Avengers, you will like this movie.

Stay to the very very end for a nice tie in to other Marvel movies.

Marvel's Ant-Man..Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd)..Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..? Marvel 2014

Scott the crook finds a strange suit instead of money in an old man’s house. Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd)..Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal..? Marvel 2014.

Marvel's Ant-Man L to R: Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal © Marvel 2014

Old Dr. Pym needs Scott to be Ant-Man so they can stop the bald bad guy, who becomes Yellowjacket. L to R: Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) Photo Credit: Zade Rosenthal © Marvel 2014


Dr Pym’s daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly) is undercover trying to help.


Scott’s friends (T. I., Michael Pena, and David Dastmalchian) help him break in.


Scott has a daughter (Abby Ryder Fortson) and ex-wife (Judy Greer).


That’s me suffering in a swarm of bugs.

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Max: A Standout Movie in a Summer of Sequels


Here are the movies currently showing near me:

Minions – animated sequel aimed at kids and parents

Magic Mike XXL – sequel aimed at women

Terminator Genisys – sequel aimed at men

Ted 2 – sequel aimed at Milenials

Jurassic World – sequel aimed at everyone

Pitch Perfect 2 – sequel aimed at show choir teens

Spy –  soon to have sequel

San Andreas – non sequel disaster flick

Inside Out – animated movie about depression

The Gallows – scary

Self/Less – not sure

Max – patriotic dog

All those movies, yet the choices are rather limited to something like we’ve already seen.  My advice:  Go see Max (2015 PG).


If you’ve seen any of those other movies this summer, you’ve probably seen the trailer to Max.  Pretend you didn’t.  The trailer does not match the real movie.


Big brother Kyle (Robbie Amell) is a Marine dog handler who gets killed in action.  Max, the dog, can’t work in the battlefield anymore and is adopted reluctantly by teen brother Justin (Josh Wiggins).  Justin’s parents (Thomas Haden Church and Lauren Graham) grieve and try to understand sullen Justin, who would rather hang with his friends.


The movie is about how Max the dog and Justin grow together, and how they work together to solve a mystery.  Adventure, humor, grief, and teen friendship all mix together lightly to create a quality adventure movie.

That’s it.  A well acted, well written, fun movie that all ages will enjoy!


You could look deeper.

The movie shows the self doubt and posturing teens go through to try to figure out how they fit in their world.  When your older cousin is a thug, how should you handle it?  Chuy (Dejon LaQuake) struggles with this, and we see his normally jokey personality become subdued.  Carmen (Mia Xitlali) plays the tough girl, yet she is really just testing boundaries and wants approval.

Hero worship is tricky.  Marine buddy Tyler (Luke Kleintank) returns home to adulation, yet in private he is cynical about the whole military situation.  Justin’s dad was wounded in the first Gulf War, and doesn’t tell his story anymore.

Chuy’s cousin is the same age as Justin’s brother – they were on the wrestling team together in high school.  After high school, the choices you make steer your life’s path (brother becomes hero, cousin becomes criminal).

Justin’s parents a regular people busy working and parenting their sons.  Maybe over the years they forgot they were in love with each other.  See how tentatively they hold hands on the Fourth of July.



Go see Max!

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San Andreas: A Movie for Rescue Workers?


I am a California girl, who grew up with Smog Alerts and earthquake drills.

My husband is a volunteer rescue worker, who trains with a local and a national team.

I wanted to see San Andreas (2015 PG-13), directed by Brad Peyton.  He would go with me only if he was allowed to critique the actors’ rescue techniques.


I’ve asked the question before:  Can a teacher enjoy a classroom movie?  Do police officers like watching cop shows?  Do lawyers approve of courtroom dramas?

For my rescue worker, the answer is, “No.”


Ray (Dwayne Johnson) is a rescue-chopper pilot with the Los Angeles Fire Department.  Throughout the movie we see him fly helicopters and use rope to hang from the chopper to rescue people.  My husband could barely eat any popcorn because he was so busy telling me everything Ray did wrong.

The movie got one rescue thing right:  When his helicopter is damaged and has to land without engine power, Ray uses autorotation to land safely.  Here is Cal Fire doing a practice autorotation landing:

Did you watch this video?  It’s boring, right?  Maybe it’s good for training purposes, but there is no drama.  That’s where Hollywood is allowed to be inaccurate.  Accurate is dull and tedious!


Same with the earthquake stuff.  The LA Times listed five things the movie got wrong about earthquakes, and one thing it got right.  Look at the great pictures in the article!  The movie would be blah without great earthquake destruction scenes – even if they are unlikely in real life!

To me, this is a fun disaster movie with real world lessons on how to survive an earthquake.  You could read the California Department of Conservation article on what to do.  But I learned it all in the movie:

  1. If you run around in a panic, you will be crushed by falling buildings.
  2. If you stay on a bridge or dam or skyscraper, you will be killed.
  3. If you are mean to someone, even during moments of panic, you will later be crushed.
  4. Don’t stand in doorways; instead, hide under a desk or along side a sturdy wall.
  5. If you get doused with gasoline, change clothes quickly so you don’t catch fire and die.
  6. To increase your chance of survival, learn how to hot wire cars, drive motor boats, and fly planes.
  7. Always wear a skimpy tank under your shirt, so you can use your shirt as a bandage for hotties.
  8. If you are uncertain what to do, officials probably will help you (security guards, police, fire, paramedics, FIMA).

And this is what my husband couldn’t see in the movie:  All the officials trained to help in an emergency did just that, and at great personal risk.  We saw security guards calmly guiding people out of buildings. We saw police directing traffic.  We saw FIMA’s relief camp.  We saw firefighters working on blazes.


Thank God for the selfless public servants who help in our time of need!

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Terminator Genisys: Actors from Elsewhere


Terminator Genisys (2015 PG-13), directed by Alan Taylor, has what you would expect:  Unstoppable robot assassins who look like people, time travel confusion, lots of fights and explosions and car crashes.  If you’ve never seen a Terminator movie, you will still be able to understand and enjoy.  If you’ve seen all the movies, and the TV series, you will love the dialogue that draws from Terminator history.

For me, too many actors reminded me of their other roles.  Here is where you may remember them from (from left):


Byung-hun Lee is the first assassin we meet in Terminator Genisys.  You may know him from G. I. Joe.


Jason Clarke is lead resistance fighter John Connor.  To me he is the sad-sack guy from The Great Gatsby.


This is the first time I’ve seen Emilia Clarke, and I was impressed with her combined youthfulness and strength.  But she is well known for Game of Thrones.


Arnold Schwarzenegger, of course, is the reason for Terminator movies.  Watch how he ages, watch how he fights himself, watch how he cares for young Sarah Connor.


Jai Courtney is sent to save Sarah Conner.  Although he is good in this role, I couldn’t shake the memory of him as the nasty rotten guy in Divergent.


Two other minor characters are too well known for other roles to become their Terminator character.

Matt Smith is Dr. Who.  And only Dr. Who.  Not some resistance fighter in the future.


J. K. Simmons is the guy who won the Academy Award for that movie no one saw.  His acceptance speech was memorable, however.

WHIPLASH - 2014 FILM STILL - (L-R): Miles Teller AND JK Simmons - Photo Credit: Daniel McFadden/Courtesy of  Sundance Institute

WHIPLASH – 2014 FILM STILL – (L-R): Miles Teller AND JK Simmons – Photo Credit: Daniel McFadden/Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Have fun watching this movie!

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People Will Talk: Not What You’d Expect from 1951

Poster - People Will Talk (1951)_01

People Will Talk (1952 NR) is a movie with an unexpected take on pregnancy.  My impression of 1950’s movies and TV is that pregnancy and sex was not even spoken of.

Annex - Wayne, John (Quiet Man, The)_04

In The Quiet Man (1952 NR) wife Maureen O-Hara desperately seeks advice from her priest, yet speaks in native Gaelic, and the audience must guess she is asking why her new husband John Wayne doesn’t sleep in bed with her.


In TV’s I Love Lucy (1951-1957), Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz are married, yet sleep in separate beds.

In our movie, Cary Grant plays compassionate, if unconventional, Dr. Praetorius. Isn’t he dreamy?

His patient, Deborah (Jeanne Crain), is distressed to find she is pregnant out of wedlock.


The surprising thing to me, with my impression of the 1950’s, is the vocabulary they use.  Pregnant!  Not married!  A whole discussion about telling her father!

The good doctor saves the girl from shame by marrying her.  He works it so she doesn’t know that is what he is doing.  What a nice doctor!


The bulk of the movie is about the mysterious friend the doctor has (Finlay Currie) and the jealous colleague (Hume Cronyn) who tries to ruin the doctor.  An uneven film, but Cary Grant is always fun to watch.


The Girls Who Went Away, by Ann Fessler (2006), is a well researched book that tells the true story of how unwed pregnancy was handled in the 1950’s-1970’s.  Most often, girls who found themselves pregnant and not married were sent to out-of-town relatives or even a sort of group home to wait until they could give up their newborn babies for adoption.  Secrecy and shame often accompanied these girls.  Read this powerful book.

Even though Lucy and Ricky sleep in separate beds, Lucy still gets pregnant.  Share their joy in this clip!

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Twelve O’Clock High: A Movie for Memorial Day


We live in a military city, and so on Memorial Day we have many choices of services to attend at cemeteries, or parks, or mountain tops.  I always like to show an old war movie to my teenage daughters to help them appreciate why we remember those who have died in defense of our country.

Twelve O’Clock High (1949 NR), directed by Henry King, is the story of a tough general, General Savage (Gregory Peck), who takes over an American bomber unit based in England and tries to make them a success.


The movie takes place early in World War II, when the military was still trying to figure out how best to use the new B-17 bombers.  Flying into Germany at night, and at high altitude, caused the bombs to land inaccurately.  So, Gen. Savage is told to get the 21 airplanes and their crew of 10 men each to fly during the day, and to fly low, so that the bombs reach their target.  This most certainly will make their planes easier targets for German fighter planes and anti aircraft guns, and increases the risk of loss of life.


The movie is a bit odd.  It was released in 1949, just four years after the end of World War II.  From the movie poster tag line, “A Story of Twelve Men as Their Women Never Knew Them,” I think the intention was to reveal the peril that the crew in the air endured.  Also on the poster is a pretty nurse.  In the movie women are rarely seen, and only have a few inconsequential words to say (“More coffee, General?”).


The movie also starts unnecessarily in the present (1949) and spends too much time getting to the 1942 flashback.  And for a movie about a bomber squadron, the flight footage is saved until the very end.  That is because the director used actual footage, which must have been impressive to audiences at the time.  Still is.


Then, notice the twelve men mentioned in the poster.  The movie rarely uses close ups, and with everyone in uniform, or covered in flight gear, and everyone Caucasian, it is hard to tell the men apart.  Watch the movie with other people, so you can help each other keep the characters straight.

A more recent movie, Memphis Belle (1990), does a better job at conveying the life of a bomber squadron.  But where this movie succeeds is in showing General Savage’s commitment to winning the war – at all costs.

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Little Boy: Big Surprise for a Little Movie


Little Boy (2015 PG-13), directed by Alejandro Monteverde, tells the story of a small boy in a California town who believes that with enough faith, and actions to build that faith, he can bring his dad home safely from World War II.

The big surprise in this movie is how many types of people will enjoy it!


  • Star watchers.    Many of the actors, hidden under 1940’s hair and wardrobe, are well known.  My teenage daughter and I kept nudging each other and whispering, “That’s the guy from that Monk show,” and “Isn’t that the mother from that other WWII movie?”


  • History buffs.  The entire movie looks and feels authentic for the period.  And those of you who know history will feel really smart for figuring some things out in advance.


  • Children.  The little boy (Jakob Salvati) is very close to his loving father, who imagines stories in which they are the heros.  There are town bullies that pick on Little Boy, and we see his father captured during fighting, so you will have to decide for yourself if the PG-13 rating means your child should wait to see it.


  • Teens.  The older brother is played by David Henrie, famous for his starring role in Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place.  In the long running TV show, he plays the geeky big brother.  In this movie, he is the big brother who has to keep the family business running while his dad is gone.  He shows an intense range of emotions, and is a quality actor.


  • Church people.  Little Boy hears in church that if he has faith like a mustard seed, he can move mountains (Matthew 17:20).  Father Oliver (Tom Wilkinson) discusses this pracitality with him, and suggests he complete a list of good works to ‘strengthen’ his faith.  Father Oliver handles Little Boy’s tricky questions with honesty and shows how Christians grapple with God’s will.


  • Schools.  One of the things on Father Oliver’s list for Little Boy is to befriend the only Japanese man (Cary-Hirojuki Tagawa) in town.  The movie does not shy away from the unpleasant way the government treated Japanese living in America during World War II.  This movie has humor and drama and conflict and action, and would be a terrific classroom movie.

Check out these other articles about the movie, and then watch it yourself.  It’s a good movie for everyone!

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