Over The Top
"Because I Said So": Yes, it's a classic "chick flick," with the women as the primary characters, and the men very much in the background. The emphasis is on conversation and character development in close relationships, not explosions, crashes, and violence. A woman turning 60 (Diane Keaton) is active to the point of meddlesome in the lives of her three grown daughters, especially the youngest (Mandy Moore), who has not yet married. Though there is frank discussion of sexuality, mostly intended to be humorous, there is no nudity and little foul language, so this movie would seem to have wide appeal for church audiences. (It doesn't do any good any more to complain about the assumption of compulsive single adult sexual behavior.) But the character of the Mom is so over-the-top that when her daughters ask her to please be quiet, we want to jump up from our seats and yell, "Yeah! Shut Up!" And then she doesn't. Never has laryngitis been so welcome in a film's main character. And rarely has familial love been so irritating.
"The Number 23": Jim Carrey's acting career takes an unusual turn, as the dogcatcher who accidentally encounters a novel that starts taking over his life. He becomes obsessed not only with the book's characters, but also with the number 23, and then the audience is regaled with an out-of-control numerology, culminating in an unexpected plot development in the "real life" of the characters. The problem with the story-within-a-story-within-a-story format is that it will tend to so spiral in on itself as to become too far removed for the viewer. But then again, any movie that ends with a direct scripture quotation can't be all bad, even if the quote is out of context: Numbers 32:23: "Be sure your sin will find you out."
"The Astronaut Farmer": Billy Bob Thornton plays it almost straight, although still tongue-in-cheek, about a retired astronaut who has moved back to his hometown to run the family farm, but his head is still in the clouds. He rides his horse in his astronaut suit. He builds a spaceship in his barn and fully intends to launch it himself. Overcoming the ridicule of the townsfolk and the resistance of the government, he follows his dream, but it's all so improbable that we have a hard time suspending our disbelief, or experiencing the intended inspiration.
"Music and Lyrics": Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore also follow an improbable premise, as an aging former pop star on the nostalgia circuit writes a hit song with a rookie lyricist who's his substitute plant-waterer. There are parts that are funny and cute, even if a bit contrived, but the over-the-top sequence features the teenage sensation newcomer Haley Bennett playing an oversexed pop music queen whose glitzy dance number is 'way too risqué for pre-teen consumption. OK, so you could argue that it's farcical. Fine. It's also objectionable as long as it's intended to be iconic.
Questions For Discussion:
1) How important is numerology in connection with the Bible: the number 666? 70? 12? 3? 40?
2) What should churchgoing pre-teens be taught about single adult sexuality?
3) Have you ever had an ambition that seemed improbable to everyone except you?
4) What's the most unlikely place you have met a significant other?
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Terrell, Texas