#313- Meet Me in St. Louis

Quick recap: The Smith family encounters many ups and downs leading up to the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1903. A better title for the film could’ve been, If You Love St.Louis so Much, Why Don’t you Marry it?

a special ‘thanks’ to Judy Garland for getting this song stuck in my head for a week straight

Fun (?) fact: The mother of Margaret O’Brien (who played Tootie) wanted her child to get paid more, but the studio refused. Instead, they randomly chose a lighting guy’s daughter to fill the roll, going so far as to dress her and give her lines. The studio eventually backed down and O’Brien took her roll back over. The lighting guy then dropped a light during one of Tootie’s scenes, just narrowly missing her. He was later committed to an institution. Hollywood didn’t play around back then.

let me tell you, though, this kid was amazing

My thoughts: I love a good musical, and Meet Me in St. Louis didn’t disappoint. There were infectious songs, beautiful costumes, romance and an absolutely terrifying Halloween scene that gave me nightmares, so what else could I ask for?

So, first off, the entire cast was fabulous, especially Margaret O’Brien (as mentioned earlier) and Judy Garland as Esther Smith. I have heard her voice over and over in the Wizard of Oz but never really appreciated its depth until this movie. Side note: I had no idea this was considered a Christmas film. Garland singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas was damn depressing, which is just about what I expect all my holiday movies to be, so I’m on board. Anyway, I loved everything about Garland except for her eyebrows, which really weirded me out. But I also feel guilty about that knowing how much she went through with her looks. And maybe that was the style at the time? They were a little much, but didn’t detract from the overall tone.

Oh, honey. No.

And then there is that crazy Halloween scene, which just comes out of NOWHERE. The scene begins with Rose helping the little girls, Tootie and Agnes with their costume and I’m thinking it’s just going to be another cute peek into this family’s life. But then the girls go outside to join their friends, who have started a freaking BONFIRE in the street. What are they burning?Why are they burning things? Girls are dressed as boys and boys are dressed up as girls and it’s madness. There’s apparently some game going on where the older kids pretend to kill the neighbors by throwing flour in their faces and screaming, ‘I hate you!’. And the thing is, Agnes and Tootie already had a conversation with their mother about the flour so it’s a known thing. The rest of the movie is your typical romance and family fare, but this scene was downright creepy and I’d like to not think about Halloween before, let’s say, 1950.

The hell?

Final review: 5/5. I was originally going for a 4 but when you get a song stuck in your head for a week, it does things to you.

Up next: Grease

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#304- Fantasia

Quick recap: 8 pieces of Western Classical music are illustrated by the Walt Disney company.

Me, after eating that whole pizza the other night

Fun (?) fact: To this day, Disney still receives complaints from parents about the ‘Night on Bald Mountain’ sequence. It was removed from the film for several years after so many people complained that it frightened young children but later brought back to teach those kids to suck it up.

I blame the large nipples

My thoughts: I made invited my seven year old to watch Fantasia with me, hoping to further cultivate a love of music like I have. I loved this movie as a kid, but then again, I’ve always had a thing for Classical. My grandmother used to listen to it often and I remember falling asleep to various pieces at night, painting pictures in my head as the music swelled around me. Alas, this bonding moment with my son was not to be because he was asking to turn it off within 5 minutes. It wasn’t a complete wash, as you will see as I break down each segment:

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor– the animation was just a bunch of abstract art, which is basically the very definition of torture for a kid. The look in his eyes as the music continued was one of betrayal, since I had promised him he would enjoy it.

Nutcracker Suite- My kid loves The Nutcracker and wanted to listen to it constantly around Christmas. He enjoyed this segment better but would’ve much rather seen the ballet than the changing of seasons. The mushrooms dancing (albeit a little racist) was pretty cute.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice– Mickey Mouse saves the day! My son thought the animation was really funny, except for the scene when he chops up the broom into little pieces.

Rite of Spring- The animation for this one started with the birth of our planet and ended with all the dinosaurs dying off. My kid has never really been into dinosaurs so he was mostly bored. I was amused watching what people in 1940 understood about our universe.

The Pastoral Symphony– The setting for this piece is Mt. Olympus. There are various centaurs, unicorns, and gods and not a nipple in sight. It was really creepy after awhile, this nipple-less world. My son thought the baby pegasus were cute but lost interest with the centaurs were hooking up. I don’t blame him.

Dance of the Hours-My son enjoyed this one as well, but didn’t understand how an alligator could lift a hippo. Buddy, you have no problem with an ostrich ballerina but an alligator and hippo dancing gives you pause? Moving on.

Night on Bald Mountain- My kid’s favorite holiday is Halloween so I thought for sure this would win him over. NOPE. Not even the screaming ghouls did the trick.

I’m sad that this movie didn’t really hold up as I remembered. On the positive side, I know what I can put on as punishment the next time my kid drives me crazy.

Final review: 2/5, although I would’ve rated it higher had I watched alone

Up next: Man of the West

#269- The Princess Bride

Quick recap: A classic fairy tale- kings, queens, knights, pirates and Billy Crystal.

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Fun (?) fact: Cary Elwes, who played Westley, later continued his stunning career by playing the villain in Twister. Yes, there was a villain. No, it wasn’t the tornado. OR WAS IT?

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Jonas! Why didn’t you just listen to Bill Paxton? WHYYYYY??

My thoughts: Before I start the review, let me make a couple of points: 1 being that I didn’t watch The Princess Bride until I was an adult and 2 yes I do have a sense of humor and anyways, my mom thinks I’m hilarious so isn’t that all that really matters in the end?

As you probably already guessed, I didn’t really care for this movie. It’s not to say I didn’t like it or that I thought it wasn’t very good. I mostly just don’t get the cult following it has. The local Alamo Drafthouse does Princess Bride quote-alongs often, at almost the same frequency as Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which is just downright silly to me. I was entertained but not to the point that I would watch this 20 times in a row and then squeal with delight every time someone made a reference to the movie.

I truly feel like I’m being unfair to this movie, having only seen it as a jaded, cold-hearted adult. My six year old loved it, so to me, The Princess Bride did its job. He cracks up every time he hears the ‘My name is Inigo Montoya’ quote and it’s not hard for me to imagine him one day growing up and watching a midnight screening at a local movie theater to bring back all those good childhood memories. As for me? I thought it was a sweet movie and creative, and yes, even funny sometimes, but ultimately, a little out of my age range. Sorry.

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Final review: 3/5

Up next: Happiness

 

#243-E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Quick recap:

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I remember another gentle visitor from the heavens. Who came to earth… and then died… only to be brought back to life again. And his name was: E.T., the extra-terrestrial. I love that little guy.

Fun (?) fact: E.T. is actually a plant-like creature and neither female or male

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This might be my new favorite reaction gif

My thoughts: This movie has been a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember. Back when VCRs were hella expensive, Three-year-old Me would carry around the VHS tape everywhere I went on the off chance someone would feel sorry for me and let me watch it. It wasn’t until I ended up in the hospital when I was 5, that I finally got my hands on a VCR proving that a) sometimes you have to go to extremes to get what you want  and b) Chicken Pox is no laughing matter.

I’ve sat through E.T a handful of times as an adult and each time I’m amazed by how much the movie still affects me. I choked up as always during the scene when E.T and Elliott are in the bathroom dying, but there was this added layer to the movie where I identified more with the mom than I have in other viewings. It was almost as if I was watching something for the first time, noticing what the mom is going through as she deals with a separation on top of taking care of three kids, one of whom brings in an alien that almost kills him. It’s a lot to take in and though she doesn’t always handle things perfectly, she sees the bond Elliott and E.T have and she respects it, even though the consequences are so serious.

On paper, this movie looks like it would be a major train wreck. This kind of cutesy-buddy story about an alien and boy just doesn’t work most of the time, as evidenced by the many copycats that came after *ahem* Mac and Me. But throw in Spielberg and John Williams and you are at least heading in the right direction. There are so many iconic scenes in this movie- the bikes flying in the air, E.T and his glowing finger, and the score is still my favorite from everything Williams has done. I don’t know how an adult might react to viewing this film for the first time, although I can predict that it would probably be negative. The film itself is shot through the perspective of a young boy because it is a movie meant for children. It meant so much to me as a kid and I carried those lessons with me through adulthood.

Final review: 5/5

Up next: The Last Wave