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Read It and Weep (2006)
A Review from an 18 year old
For as long as I can remember, I've been addicted to Disney movies whether they were animated or on the Disney Channel. I remember waiting every month for the latest Disney Channel film to premiere and throughly enjoying each new film. Though I cannot pin-point exactly when it started happening but slowly Disney Channel movies began taking a turn for the worst and I stopped watching them as I grew older; no doubt they were still entertaining for little kids but one of the things I always enjoyed (and still do) about Disney is that they masterfully appeal to both children and adults, not to mention those inbetween. The first Disney Channel movie I watched in as long as I can remember was "High School Musical" and my faith in the channel was instantly renewed. But this review is not about "High School Musical", but about Disney's latest film "Read It and Weep," the first Disney Channel film since "HSM" that actually caught my attention.
"Read It and Weep" follows the (mis)adventures of a high school freshmen, Jamie, who is always on the outside looking in. True, she's got three great friends, a cool but strange older brother and loving parents but Jamie wants something more. She wants the hottest boy in school, Marco, to notice her and wants to be able to stand up against Sawyer and her gang of "Populars" for once. But, seeing as Jamie will never be able to get up the guts to do these things, she creates the character Is to live out these wishes for her. Is (short for Isabelle) is the girl that every other girl wants to be and every guy wants to date; in short, Is is perfect. Not only can Is climb the rope in gym class and get the guy, but she can also "zap" away any problem that gets in her way. Accidentally, Jamie turns in the story of Is to her English teacher and the "novel" ends up being published in the school newspaper because making it all the way to the Bestseller list. Suddenly Jamie (or rather, Is) finds herself sky-rocketing in popularity; Sawyer and the "Populars" actually want to be friends with her and Marcco is starting to look her way. But slowly, things start to get out of control, especially when Is begins to manifest herself as a more permanent part of Jamie's life and prompt Jamie to wonder how much of Is is just a character and how much of Is is in herself. Jamie faces the age-old dilemma of choosing between what she thinks she wants and what made her happy before, leaving a good message for all tweens who watch the film.
As an 18-year-old, I found certain things about the film bothersome that wouldn't even enter the mind of the tweens and younger children who watch it, so I know I'm simply nitpicking. The fact that Jamie's novel is so successful in such a short time is highly impossible, though enviable, but the plot is bearable given the fact that it's a light-hearted kid's film and the intended audience wouldn't care too much about all the steps it takes to earning that sort of career and popularity. The story is cute (based upon the pre-teen novel "How my Private Journal Become a Best Seller -sorry if that's not the exact title) and the characters are warm, though Jamie is slightly obnoxious at times. The real winner of the story, however, is Is (played by Danielle Panabaker, Kay's older sister) who doesn't get as much screen time as she should. Panabaker Sr. plays her character with a comfortable ease, no doubt feeding off the fact that she's used to upstanding her younger sis (though Kay has a promising career in front of her in the children's movie set, if I'm not mistaken) and is enjoyable the entire time.
For the intended audience, "Read It and Weep" offers a very important lesson: you don't need to be superhuman to be happy and content. Being yourself is just as fine as being like Is. While most children's films will force their messages down the throats of the kids watching, "Read It" manages to work the meaning into the story without making it painfully obvious.
As with any children's movie, the story is sub duded, written for a child to understand and enjoy (though this is one of the first Disney Channel films I remember where two of the characters actually kiss; there was only a peck on the check in "HSM." The little romance between Jamie and her background best guy friend was more then enough to keep me interested) but still manages to capture the attention of any age group. Even at the age of 18, I found the movie adorable and entertaining, something I would watch again given the chance.
While "Read It and Weep" is no "High School Musical", it is certainly a movie to stand with "HSM" when it comes to turning around the quality of Disney Channel movies. If Disney continues to make films like "Read It and Weep", which smartly appeal to kids, teenagers and older teens like myself, then they were be right back on track with the old films they used to make "back in the day." "Read It and Weep" certainly deserves a viewing, no matter your age and, if nothing else, will leave you with a hint of a smile on your face.
Christmas in Boston (2005)
Perfect Movie for the Christmas Season
"Christmas in Boston" is exactly the sort of movie you would expect to see during the holiday season: it features an unrequited love story, two adorably dorky star-crossed lovers and their wilder but well-meaning pals, a case of mistaken identity and, of course, the Christmas spirit.
Gina and Seth have been communicating through e-mails, letters and IMs for 13 years, promising never to phone one another and never wanting to meet. They're both too nervous about what the other will think of them to want to meet face-to-face. But when Seth's work brings him to Boston and Gina's journalist career puts her in the path to meet Seth for the first time, they both go to great lengths to avoid one another. Of course, the avoidance isn't too difficult, seeing as, for years, Gina has been sending Seth pictures of her best friend Ellen, while Seth has been giving her pictures of his buddy Matt. With a little convincing, Matt and Ellen pretend to be their friends and meet thinking the other is the real deal. Sparks fly, of course, after Ellen and Matt hit it off, which send both Gina and Matt into a fit of despair. They can't imagine someone else with the man/woman of their dreams, but neither of them bother to stop Ellen and Matt's relationship from progressing. When Seth finds meets the real Gina and discovers that the girl Matt is actually a stand-in, he is more then willing to let Matt have Ellen and try and form a relationship with Gina, though he is still unable to let her know that he's really Seth.
While the plot is predictable and the ending obvious from the very beginning, "Christmas in Boston" is still enjoyable to watch. The writing is mediocre and witty at times, better then most made for television movies and the actors, most of them stuck in the purgatory of not undiscovered but not a household name, are charming and believable and play their characters to a T.
Though "Christmas in Boston" will probably disappear into the recesses of the minds of those who saw it last year, it is a movie worth seeing and hopefully ABC Family will reair it during the Christmas season or even release it on DVD in order to make a profit. I was fortunate to tape the movie and still find myself watching it in the middle of June because the adorable (though clichéd) love story and humorous one-liners are appealing no matter what the season.
I thoroughly recommend "Christmas in Boston", though it might be a little difficult to see the movie in the middle of the summer. Hopefully, during the upcoming Christmas season "Christmas in Boston" will find a place in ABC Family's Christmas schedule, allowing viewers to add a little holiday spirit to their day.
The Lion King (1994)
A Timeless Film
Ah..."The Lion King." There's so much I can say about this movie but all my comments always come down to one thing: this movie is beautiful. Pure genius. A timeless story. I might be a little biased in my beliefs, seeing as the first movie I remember seeing in theatres is "The Lion King" and I still watch it on a regular basis and know all the words but I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who agree with what I have to say. "The Lion King" is beautiful; hands down, it is the best Disney film ever created.
The story is something that everyone can relate to, whether they are a lion ;) or not. Simba is destined to become king one day and just can't wait to rule the throne; everyone can relate to wanting to grow up and become an adult, to do whatever they want and not have to worry about anything. His father tries to teach him that, despite the fact that he will one day be grown and king, his life will not be easy. Simba has to learn his lesson the hard way when his Uncle Scar, who, too, wants the throne, kills his father and convinces Simba that it was his fault. Suddenly, growing up doesn't seem so great anymore (I can *really* relate to that).
And so, Simba flees his home and comes across Timon and Pumbaa, two other outcasts. They teach Simba the "Hakuna Matata" lifestyle, something that idealizes a life free of stress, worry and responsibility. Now, don't we all wish we could live this way? No worries for the rest of our days... But when Simba's childhood friend Nala returns, he realizes that he can't live Hakuna Matata forever, for he does have a responsibility to his pride and his homeland. Simba understands that he must grow up, as we all do, and does what's right.
The songs are catchy and fit the movie well (the original songs, of course, though "The Morning Report" isn't too bad) and the score is haunting and beautiful. Along with the art work, the music captures the heart of Africa.
With the types of shows that children watch these days (boy, doesn't that make me sound old?), it's a wonder they'll learn in virtues and values at all. "The Lion King" is a great teacher when it comes to learning lessons that will carry throughout their lifetime. "The Lion King" teaches children that it's all right to be a kid but you must understand and accept responsibility for things you can and cannot control. Everyone has a place in The Circle of Life and we must find it; the film also teaches that we will encounter bad and even terrible things during our lifetime but we must accept them and move on. These are important, meaningful lessons; heck, I even used them in my SAT essay! "The Lion King" is a film for every generation and is a powerful film that all children should see. I'm past my childhood now and I still watch it whenever I get the chance; I look forward to sharing it with my children.
A timeless film!