Monday, April 21, 2008

More Family Films to Enjoy


Several years ago, I was invited to be a "MomExpert" for ClubMom.com, and contribute columns on a regular basis. They've since revised that program, but I still get to participate in nifty projects with Stacy DeBroff, the Chief Mom Expert who invited me onboard. Recently, Stacy's new organization, MomCentral.com, asked me to review a new movie called "A Plumm Summer," starring Henry Winkler, William Baldwin, and Peter Scolari, plus a little guy named Owen Pearce who will steal your heart away, and 16-year-old Chris Kelly, who will have your daughters swooning. I tend to be rough on movies, so I invited my husband, sons, and their friends to join me in watching this new production from director Caroline Zelder. Because it's billed as a "family film," my 17-year-old's eyes were rolling right along with the opening credits. And because my 24-year-old is a film director whose tastes lean toward the Coen brothers and Alfred Hitchcock, he was skeptical, as well (although the cast definitely caught his attention right off).

Let me just say that, these days, it's a pretty significant accomplishment for a film to hold the attention of viewers aged 15 to 50, but "A Plumm Summer" did just that. The story is based on a true incident: the kidnapping of "Froggy Doo," a children's TV celebrity puppet that was wildly popular in the midwest back in the 60s. Having been a huge fan of my own town's "Uncle Bruce Show," and the nationally televised "Mary Ellen Show," I had no trouble relating to the outrage this "crime" generated. Interwoven into the main plot are issues of coming of age, sibling support, alcohol abuse, and the boundaries of love. "A Plumm Summer" is funny, it's tender, there's a touch of romance plus a few tense moments and, even though nobody was willing to proclaim it their favorite movie of the year thus far, everybody agreed it was worth their time and they'd be willing to recommend it to others. The film goes out in limited release in Alabama, California, and one of the "M" states this coming weekend (Minnesota? Maine?); wider release will depend on how well it does on its debut. So, for heaven's sake, if it's playing somewhere near you, go see it. Lord knows we need all the family films we can muster! I don't know about you, but I really appreciate it when a well-known actor lends his or her name (and talent) to a film whose primary purpose is to uplift, rather than titillate or gross out, audiences. For that same reason, you should go see Jodie Foster in "Nim's Island." I love her work, but most of her recent films are so violent that I don't even put them on my consideration list. Perhaps if her family-targeted film is successful, Foster will focus her considerable talent in that genre instead.