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Cleavers are an all-American family living in Ohio - wise father Ward, loving mother June, teen-age son Wally and 8-year-old "Beaver" Theodore. Beaver hopes to get a bike as a gift from his father and to please him tries out for his school football team and he makes it, only to be embarrassed. The bike he gets is quickly stolen. Meanwhile Wally is trying to help his friend Eddie Haskell to get the heart of pretty classmate Karen, but Karen seems to like Wally more, and that leads to tensions between the friends. Written by
Before watching the film, I realized it must have been quite a challenge, not to the actors, but to the writers, to update it. With knowledge of writing, I figured one writer could probably do it, but that a team would probably dilute it terribly.
Four writers are listed, two as major writers, so it isn't as badly diluted as if a large team did it.
And the writers did well.
We have an up to date Beaver, with an up to date world, but still keeping in the story line of basic day to day life struggles, and drawing some comedy from them.
If I was to nit pick, it would be at the parents. Ward and June are nothing like the old series. While the other characters seemed perfectly cast, it looked like there was an attempt to deviate from Beaumont and Billingsley in the portrayal of the parents. Hugh's Ward was not nearly the pretty boy we see in this movie. Nor was he as ill tempered. Hugh was the personification of moderation.
That said, the actors were all very good. I've worked in little "real life" depiction films before, and each scene is extremely time consuming to film, and the more "ordinary" a scene appears, the more time it takes to film it. This, of course, is because Fantasy can have multiple depictions, but watching a grade school Football game is "watching a grade school Football game", and less can be left to chance. In these scenes, it really looks like all the participants were very patient. Not many people realize how much tougher an innocuous movie like this is to film. I always laugh when small movie producers will be reluctant to do a Fantasy based movie because of budget, when the budget for this sort of film is set at a large scale, while one can be lax with the other.
This new LEAVE IT TO BEAVER did a lot of very good things. The way the characters interwove throughout the piece was especially good. A little storybook? Not nearly so much as one would think, and no more story book than mere coincidence of all that can happen in a day will allow. It looks like the writers spent a ton of energy into interweaving the characters in the story, and came up with a very elaborate, well designed scheme.
Some very well done scenes, like the skating rink, but it's not fair to single these out, because all of the scenes were well done. I won't credit the director for keeping an entire cast and crew in line, because it is the cast and crew who deserve credit for their patience. Anyone could direct a team as disciplined as this.
That's not to put down the director. You have only to look at my high rating of the film to know how I feel about that. Everything was well done. I was pleasantly surprised.
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