Out In The Cold

          Bride Wars” has already received much scathing criticism for its shallow story and vapid characters, but it’s not as bad as all that.  Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway star as lifelong friends who happen to want the same locale and date for their weddings, and the formerly-friendly rivalry turns into a hair-pulling, fingernail-scratching, all-out cat fight.  Sure, it’s also formulaic (the predictable gay guy friend, the Pygmalion-like appearance in the fancy wedding dress, the wedding coordinator Nazi), but good for a few laughs, and not as awful as the curmudgeon critics’ easy dismissal.
           Renee Zellwegger is “New In Town,” playing the high-powered corporate executive sent from Miami to downsize an old-fashioned factory in the middle of Minnesota .  Yes, we have the accent, the ice fishing, the crow hunting, the scrapbooking, the homemade tapioca, and all the fun we can possibly make of what Hollywood has long considered the vast cultural wasteland of Middle America (what they call “The Heartland”).  But Renee starts to like the place despite herself, falls in love with the local union rep (bonding with his teenaged daughter), and kinda goes for that happily ever after in the heartland.  Sure, it’s predictable, and a bit sappy (the whole town Christmas caroling around the big tree in the town square, and everyone on key, even), but it’s warm-and-fuzzy cute.
“Outlander” is part Viking, party sci-fi, and part horror movie.  James Cavaziel plays an alien crash-landing in a spaceship in the middle of Norway in the Iron Age.  He learns Norse by computer through his eyeball---a portent of things to come?---and the whole experience exhausts him, so he sleeps, but awakens to being rudely rousted out by a couple of Viking warriors, who take him prisoner and apply their best torture techniques, without the waterboarding.  Eventually, they discover that he’s not the one who attacked the nearby village, because he’s with them when the “monster” strikes them.  It seems our space cadet, as part of a warrior race who has just conquered another planet because they could, somehow managed not to wipe out all the survivors.  One particularly angry dragon-like creature stowed away aboard his spaceship, wiping out all the crew except him.  So now the fire-breathing dragon is on the loose in medieval Norway , and the alien has to help the Vikings defeat the beast.  Lots of battle scenes, a little bit of grog in the mead hall, throw in a dash of intrigue about the tribal leader succession, and just a hint of romance, and you have a very old-fashioned fairy tale drama, except that the distressed damsel can take care of herself very well, thank you.  The only suspense remaining is if our time-warp traveler will forsake all that he’s left behind for a very uncertai n earthbound future.  But maybe this is how the Vikings really did discover America ?
Questions For Discussion:
1)      Have you ever been the new boss ready to tell everyone else what to do, and then realized you probably looked like the one who needed direction?  How did it go after that?
2)      Have you ever had a falling out with friends and family over a wedding?  How did it go after that?
3)      Do you believe that Christopher Columbus was the first European to “discover” America , or were there others before him?
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas