Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: Sparky’s Gang

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s pick is “The Peanuts Movie” (2015).

When I was a kid, the Sunday funnies were a big deal. “Dick Tracy” and Al Capp’s “Lil Abner”, “Nancy” and “Beetle Bailey”, “Alley Oop” and “Pogo”. “We have met the enemy and he is us.” That used to crack me up. Because of the Sunday funnies, everybody knew what a Dagwood Sandwich was. Tried to open our mouths and get a bite in all at once. Most of us didn’t have that big a mouth.

Al Capp’s “Lil Abner” became a musical. “Alley Oop” became a hit song by the Hollywood Argyles. And so did another comic strip. “Charley Brown” by the Coasters.  “Who’s a clown, that Charley Brown.” Of course, I am talking about “Peanuts”, the comic strip that seemed like it would live forever. It almost did. It continued for fifty years.

In the sixties, there started appearing the television specials, beginning with “A Charley Brown Christmas”. That featured a wonderful score by  jazz pianist Vince Guraldi. The Peanuts Gang found their way into two musicals, “You’re a Good Man, Charley Brown” and “Snoopy the Musical”. There was even a “Snoopy on Ice” Ice Capades show.

Now there is a movie bringing back all the Peanuts Gang. This one I didn’t think I would enjoy as much as I did. I gotta tell you that I liked it so much I am labelling it a two-thumber. All the kids in the Peanuts Gang are back. Lucy is doing her devilish things. Schroeder still plays Beethoven. Linus and his blankie. Peppermint Patty is still calling Charley Brown “Chuck”. Marcie still thinks Peppermint Patty is the smartest girl in the world. Snoopy is still doing battle with the Red Baron.

And, of course, the Peanuts Everyman, Charlie Brown, has a starring role. He instantly falls for the Red-haired Girl when she moves into the neighborhood. So much so he takes on a book report for her, even though it means he has to read “War and Peace”.

There is no sex or violence or car chases or trucks blown up. Just the Peanuts Gang doing what they always did, being the kids they always were. And no adults were harmed in the making of this movie. But it is still a two-thumber. How about that.

So do yourself a favor. See this one. It’s a hoot and a half. Besides it’s Christmas. What would Christmas be without Charlie Brown?

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: Sam and His Good Deeds

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “Good Sam” (1948):

We’ve all heard that we should live by the Golden Rule. “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” (Matthew 7:12). It is also called the Law of Reciprocity. It is a basic precept in all the major religions. Then again we’ve also heard the Oscar Wilde quote, “No good deed goes unpunished.” Leo McCarey’s comedy “Good Sam” takes those two seemingly contradictory statements on.

Sam Clayton (Gary Cooper) is a happily married man with three kids. His wife, Lu (Ann Sheridan), wants a home. Unfortunately Sam keeps helping people and that help ends up being expensive, so expensive that it costs them their down payment.

Sam lends the neighbors his car. He should have given the husband, the driver in the family, an eye test first.

Sam contacts the mechanic to come and fix the neighbor’s car. Sam ends up paying the bill.

The mechanic shows up with his wife at Sam’s door. Sam invites them in for dinner. They hadn’t eaten.

Sam lets his brother-in-law stay for two weeks. Sam’s hospitality is so good the brother-in-law is still living with them six months later.

One of his employees is about to commit suicide because the married man she was dating ditched her. You guessed it. She ends up at Sam’s house.

Sam’s previous neighbor has a wife who is pregnant. The man wants to buy a gas station. He is broke and can’t borrow the money from the bank. Sam loans him the five thousand dollars he has in savings.

Lu does want that house. Out of desperation, she goes to see her minister. The minister senses that Sam needs to exercise moderation. He discusses keeping the wife happy. Sam thinks the minister is having marriage problems.

Jesus cautioned about serving two masters. Sam must choose between his good deeds or his wife. Either way it looks like a lose-lose proposition for Sam.

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: The Boy Who Never Grew Up

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “Pan” (2015):

We’ve all heard the story. He was the Boy Who Could Fly. Now I can hear some of you saying, “Oh, Harry Potter.” No, I am not talking Harry Potter. It’s true. He could make that broom go zoom. He was Hogwart’s Master of Quidditch. But before there was a Harry Potter, there was a Peter Pan. And he did not need a broom to fly. All he needed was to think happy thoughts.

“Pan” is pre-Peter Pan. It is the story of how the Boy Who Could Fly became the Pan. If you haven’t been thinking happy thoughts lately, maybe “Pan” will give you a few happy thoughts. In fact, I am sure it will. Then you can fly just like Peter.

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: Story Making

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “Kubo and the Two Strings” (2016).

While my guitar gently weeps, theme song for Kubo and the Two Strings.

The Making of Kubo and the Two Strings

For my two bits, movies succeed or fail because of one thing. The story. If the director has not honored the story or if he has decided not to have one, then, in my humble opinion, he has a lousy movie. Just look at two of the most successful movie series of all time, the Harry Potters and the Lord of the Rings. “Gone with the Wind” was a Margaret Mitchell family story.

As far as I can tell, few movies have delved into the art of storymaking and the storyteller. I am not referring to movies about writers like Wonder Boys or Adaptation. They are about writer’s block. The World According to Garp explores the relationships of a writer with women.

Unlike those movies, these explore the process of creation. Two of these movies have been directed by Marc Foster, Finding Neverland (2004) (about J M Barrie and his creation Peter Pan) and Stranger than Fiction (2006). Topsy Turvy (1999) explores the creation of Gilbert and Sullivan and The Mikado. Tim Burton’s most autobiographical movie, Big Fish (2003) is the big fish story and its relationship to the narrator’s father. With The Fall (2006), two patients in a hospital, a child and a stunt man encounter each other. The stunt man tells stories to the child to get her to steal drugs for him. In Inkheart (2008), the stories a man tells his daughter comes alive.

All these movies shine a light on just how magical stories can be and the relationship between the story and the story teller.

Kubo and the Two Strings is a wonderful addition to these films.

See this film and think about the stories in your life and what they mean to you.

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: A May-December Affair

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. Uncle Bardie might even throw in a reflection on the movie. If so, it will make an appearance below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie is “Murphy’s Romance” (1985);

It’s Thanksgiving week and I have a lot to be thankful for. So I thought I would give a big thumbs up to a movie the whole fam can watch and not be embarrassed. On a likability scale of one to five, I give “Murphy’s Romance” a six. Maybe it’s because it has the very likable Sally Field and the even more likable James Garner in the main character roles. Director Martin Ritt and Screenwriters Harriet Frank and Irving Ravetch have taken the cliche-ridden May-December romance and turned it into something special.

Emma (Sally Field) is a divorcee who comes to a small Arizona town, ready to start a new life with her teenage son. There she starts running into Murphy (James Garner), who seems to be everywhere and know everybody. He lost his wife several years before. Neither are looking for a new relationship.

About the time Emma and Murphy are becoming interested in each other, Emma’s ex, Bobby Jack, shows up, wanting to get back together with Emma. She’s barely able to resist his charm. And charm he has. He is the kind of guy who can charm the pants off a woman, break her heart, then run off with her money. Brian Kerwin plays him to the hilt.

Even though Emma’s trying to get rid of him, he just won’t go away. Part of the reason is that Bobby Jack is her son’s father and he charms his son as well.

Martin Ritt takes his time and lets the viewer get to know the characters and the town. He isn’t rushing the story just to get a sex scene. He is giving us something that is the real thing. A darn enjoyable movie. And it’s likable too.