Thursday, September 24, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks - All in the Family Edition: Adopted/Foster Families

Written as part of the weekly blogathon hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. Join in the fun by picking three films that relate to the week's theme and telling us about them!

To all my fellow Jews out there, Happy New Year, and I hope your fast was easy. That's the short reason why this posting is a bit late and a bit short today. To everyone else, HAPPY FALL! My favorite season.

Anyway, let's get right down to it, shall we?

This month's All in the Family Edition of Thursday Movie Picks focuses on Adoptive/Foster Families. This is the long reason why this posting is a bit late and short today. This is one of those times where I have to page through all the movies I've seen (thank you, Letterboxd!) and see which ones fit the theme. I just couldn't think of any off the top of my head. And then of course, when I see one that fits, I smack myself and say, "DUH! How could I forget?!"

Animal Kingdom (David Michod, 2010) J's mother has died from a self-inflicted overdose. So he gets taken in by his grandmother, formerly estranged. There's a reason for that: Her sons Darren, Craig, and Pope are a bit of a criminal element. And the police are after them. This Australian family crime drama is a stunning exercise in tension, compelling from first frame to last.

Despicable Me (Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud, 2010) Gru is just your average supervillain trying to put a dastardly plot into motion. His plot? To steal the moon. But after the Chinese shrink ray (an integral part of his plan, as you can guess) he stole gets stolen from him, he adopts three adorable orphan girls to enlist their help to get it back. But the little brats start to grow on him, and he ends up (SPOILER ALERT) adopting them for real. Adorable, hilarious animated film with great voice performances all around (especially from Julie Andrews, doing an impeccable German accent as Gru's impossible-to-please mother).

The Blind Side (John Lee Hancock, 2009) The heartwarming story of a good family of White Christian Saviours who adopt a big black boy not because his mother is a no-good drug addict who barely takes care of him, not solely out of the goodness of their hearts, but because he MIGHT be good at football. And, whaddya know, they just happen to be important people at a Southern private school with a good football team! Aw, I don't mean to be mean, really I don't. The Blind Side is a perfectly nice Lifetime movie that has born the brunt of some pretty harsh, although not entirely undeserved, criticism because it managed a Best Picture nomination. It may be sickly sweet and only competently made, but the performances of Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw as the heads of the family in question are just complex enough to make it not entirely cringe-worthy. Not at all Oscar-worthy, least of all in 2009, but still.


  1. Yeeeesssss, Animal Kingdom! That's an excellent choice.

  2. Thanks for the happy fall greeting, I love autumn except for that nasty sting of winter at the end.

    Your description for The Blah...I mean Blind Side cracked me up. It is a Lifetime movie for the big screen and though I really like Sandra Bullock and think she's a decent actress, a much better comedienne than dramatic actress, I've never seen her give a performance worthy of an Oscar including this one especially when it robbed Carey Mulligan of her rightful reward. Be that as it may the film fits well in the theme and is sweet in an almost gooey way.

    To be honest I'm not crazy for Animal Kingdom, it was fine and the performances very good but I'd never watch it again, but an excellent choice for the week.

    Do I even have to say I haven't seen the animated film.

    I had intended to stick to the three picks for the week but stumbled across something so bizarre a few days ago that fit the theme in a roundabout way I had to include it as a sort of caution.

    Loggerheads (2005)-Three separate vignettes look at an adoption story from different angles. Feeling unsure and unsettled Grace (Bonnie Hunt) returns home to visit her mother and search for the child she gave up for adoption years before. Young drifter Mark (Kip Pardue) begins a relationship with a handyman while trying to help endangered loggerhead turtles survive. Elizabeth (Tess Harper) struggles with defying her pious minister husband to seek out her estranged adopted son. On a Mother's Day weekend in North Carolina their three stories converge.

    Baby Boom (1987)-Hard driving executive J.C. Wyatt, not affectionately called The Tiger Lady, is on the cusp of being made a partner in her advertising firm when she is named guardian for a baby when a distant relative and his wife are killed in an accident. Unexpectedly taking to the little girl she decides to adopt and raise her which throws her life into tumult and takes her in a direction she never expected. Charming comedy is a perfect fit for Diane Keaton.

    Room for One More (1952)-Cary Grant and Betsy Blair, married in real life when this was made, play a couple with three children who also have been foster parents to many over the years. They take two deeply troubled children into their home who prove to be almost more than they can handle. The film follows the difficult adjustments they all face when they decide to adopt rather than foster them.

    Dishonorable Mention: Happy Mother’s Day, Love George aka Run Stranger Run (1973)- I've been on a Patricia Neal kick of late trying to see as many of her films as possible and when I found this one I wondered why considering the cast it could be so obscure, then I watched the movie and found out the reason why! What starts out as a quiet drama about a young man, adopted at four days old, returning to the Nova Scotia coast of his birth to search for his roots takes an extreme wrong turn about 3/4 of the way through and becomes a slasher flick for no discernible reason. Up until then it's not a bad little film, with a very strong performance by Cloris Leachman, in a terrible black wig, as a sad, beaten down woman but that severe shift in tone scuttles the movie completely. How this ever attracted a cast of such quality, along with Oscar winners Cloris and Patricia Neal-chewing scenery like crazy, (one of her real life daughters with Roald Dahl, Tessa, plays her daughter here...the physical resemblance is uncanny unfortunately her immense acting talent was NOT handed down) there's a brunette Ron Howard as well as Bobby Darin in his last role (as a fry cook!) is a mystery. There are some beautiful shots of the Nova Scotia area but this is a strange mishmash of a movie.

    1. So true about Bullock. I totally get why she won, but looking at the performances in contention that year it makes absolutely no sense. I would have given it to Gabourey Sidibe, but Mulligan is good too.

      Of your picks I've only seen Room for One More, which is very nearly as sweet as The Blind Side, but works in that way that only wholesome family films made in the 50s do. Grant and Blair really pull it over. Baby Boom has been on my list to see for some time, and I've never heard of Loggerheads, but I think Bonnie Hunt is a really underrated actress, so it's totally going on my list now.

      Where on earth did you find Happy Mother's Day Love George?!?!? It sounds like something that simply demands to be seen, even if it does end up on the bad side of things. That cast! That plot! I MUST find it!!

    2. I found it on YouTube under Run Stranger Run. I forgot to mention it's directed by Darren McGavin, his sole credit in that capacity. That might explain some of the casting.

  3. I have not seen the first film but I love Despicable Me. It is heart-warming and who wouldn't love an evil genius named Gru. As for the Blindside. I have seen parts of it and was left wondering why the hell she won an Oscar for that role. I mean it felt like an after school special. I am certain it's fine but I think I agree with your assessment but I should watch the film in its entirety.

    1. There is absolutely no need to watch The Blind Side in its entirety. If you've seen one scene of it, you've seen enough.

  4. Despicable Me! Yay!

    The Blind Side. Yawn.

    Animal Kingdom? Haven't seen it.

    1. Animal Kingdom is GREAT, with a DELICIOUS performance from Jacki Weaver, deservedly Oscar-nominated.

  5. Letterboxd is my best friend when it comes to Thursday, ha!
    Great picks, and I picked Despicable Me, too :) Great minds think alike.
    - Allie

    1. Where would I be in life without Letterboxd?

  6. I love Animal Kingdom!!! Did you know it's getting a US TV adaptation. Not quite sure if it's a TV movie or a potential series still with only a pilot ordered? TV movie what's the point...but a TV series,,,that could be interesting.

    The Blind Side - yeah I still find it cringeworthy. DEfinitely Lifetime material.