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Nigel Le Vaillant,
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Surprisingly pleasant movie with good performances
My thoughts for Frankie & Hazel at first were not good. I really thought this film was going to be another piece of kid garbage since there were very few good kid flicks in 2000. I however was pleasantly surprised to be proved wrong tonight as I turned my TV on to watch Frankie & Hazel.
The movie is about Frankie (Francheska), a 12 year old ballerina. Frankie has done ballet all her life, but walking through the park she sees a sign announcing baseball tryouts. Encouraged by her activist best friend and neighbor, Hazel, Frankie decides to go out for the team. She has to do this on the sly because her grandmother, whose thinking is in the victorian era, feels Frankie should live, breathe, and eat ballet. Frankie lives with her grandmother because she lost her parents when she was two. Frankie's grandmother hasn't finished grieving for her daughter, who also was a ballerina, and demands ballet from Frankie because it's a way of closure for the severe emotional loss. The amusing subplot in this movie is the activist exploits of Hazel. Bothered by a library rarely open, filthy parks, and ignored by the town's mayor, Hazel does her homework and discovers that there's no age set to run for mayor. Hazel announces her run, and quickly draws a following. The scene not to be missed is the mayoral debate where she hands the middle aged mayor his hat, metaphorically speaking. Any mother can put this video on and know that their children will be inspired by Frankie and Hazel. This is where a heartfelt, sometimes serious and real life movie begins but sadly ends with the typical Hollywood ending.
The acting for this type of movie was great. The lead role played by Mischa Barton was right on target. I am really starting to enjoy her work. I thought Polio Water, her first movie, was decent although it was basically for 1950's lover. Her character Diane in that film was very likable, and so was her character in this film. Her transformation from ballerina to mayor seemed so natural, which was very nice to see. Ingrid Uribe was pretty good as Frankie's best friend. This was her second movie and her performance was pretty strong. I think she did a good job. Joan Plowright's character I did not care for. She was obviously just put into the film for comedic effect but I feel this did not work well.
Elisa Guest and Jeremy Bogart wrote the script for this film. They did a good job with taking a script about young caring girls and adding a lot of new scenes to this film. But like I said previously, they both seem to fall for that typical Hollywood ending. The script had a very real life feel to it and I can picture most of this actually occurring in real life. I can honestly relate to the feelings and emotions of the characters. This film attempted to do this on the most part but like I said above they threw Joan Plowright in this film to try to get a few chuckles. JoBeth Williams was also the director of this film; I think she did a good job directing especially since this is only her second film.
So I turned off the TV feeling good. The film put a smile on my face and I really felt I could relate to this film. It is a typical film for the most part, which in Hollywood does not really mean anything anymore. It did however take the normal script and add some new things to it to spice it up and make it seem more like a reality than fiction. This movie is not an Emmy winner or anything but it's a decent release that many should like. The critics once again panned this film, which does not surprise me. They always like the Independent films, which I normally always agree with them on but when it comes to mainstream Hollywood films they are usually wrong. So In conclusion, I liked this movie for the most part, it did have a few problems here and there but all in all I really enjoyed it. I went renting the movie not knowing what to expect. The film started and by the time Mischa Barton came into the movie I was hooked. This film was so weird. My eyes were glued to the screen the entire time. I laughed several times in the film and the movie itself was a visual fest for the eyes. It's hard to describe the movie but it's like Fly Away Home, a ballerina girl, a kid running for president and some great background art all mixed up in a blender and you get Frankie & Hazel. The problem is it's special effects and realism (or lack of). That's the best way I can explain the movie and also this film is very unique. Trust me when I say this you will not see another movie like this one.
The acting in the film for what type of movie it was is good. Mischa Barton who played Frankie in the film, for once did not annoy me. I remember watching her in Pups over the summer and I hated her performance but in the film she fitted in nicely.
The movie as I said above is a fest for the eyes. The director and the art designers on this movie do a terrific job. I love the camera angles and all the backdrops and the unrealistic. The movie didn't have much of a story but its one of those movies where you just watch to enjoy and laugh. It's a fun film for many people. There were some jokes for the kids and a lot of adult jokes mixed into the mix as well. It was an enjoyable movie.
So in conclusion, I really liked the film. It put me in a good mood and I for one was not in a good mood when I went to see this film. I laughed quite a bit and I was amazed of how great the acting and story was. I know the critics hated this but it's not a film, which is going to be hailed by critics. If you want a good meaningful movie visit the Independent Theater but if you want a fun, silly, and above all weird movie then go see Frankie & Hazel. I would give this film a solid 7/10 and I will go see it again because I enjoyed it that much.
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