* * * ½
(Spielberg’s Coming-of-Age Movie)
Tony Kushner and Steven Spielberg combined their talents to write this sentimental, very personal coming of age memoir about Spielberg’s early family life.
Using the pseudonym Sammy Fableman, they tell of the young Jewish boy growing up in a dysfunctional family with his three sisters, workaholic father and mentally unbalanced mother.
Sammy sees his first movie “The Greatest Show on Earth” and is fascinated by the train wreck scene, which he re-creates at home with is toy train set.
The rest is history.
Sammy makes movies using makeshift plots and his Boy Scout buddies as actors, which are screened for his friends.
The family goes on a camping trip with his father’s business partner, with Sammy filming the event.
In one of the background scenes he catches the close family friend/business partner in a bit of hanky panky with his mother.
Dad sees a business opportunity in northern California and moves the family from Nevada against their wishes, providing an opportunity to split up affair.
Sammy gets a surprise visit from his uncle (Judd Hirsch) who encourages him to pursue making movies against his father’s wishes for him to give up his “hobby” and make “real things.”
Spielberg uses the California move to pursue his disgust over prejudice, as Sammy is nicknamed “Bagleman” and harassed by his largely non-Jewish schoolmates.
The movie ends abruptly when college student Sam Fableman meets his idol John Ford and is given advice that changes his life.
The rest is big time history.
* * * ½
(Disney Cartoon Feature)
“Strange World” is filled with some of the strangest creatures ever drawn in the Disney studios.
They come in all shapes, sizes and colors, with a rubbery blue creature named SPLAT leading the pack.
The story is filled with life lessons aimed mostly at fathers and sons.
Jaeger Clade is an Explorer who takes his family on a big adventure. Son Ethan (voice of Jake Gyllenhaal) discovers Pando, a rare plant, along the way and wants to bring it home. His father insists on forging ahead and does so, leaving his family behind.
His son returns and becomes a successful farmer, marrying and raising a young boy who helps with the farm, although he has other dreams for his future.
Disney gives us a biracial family and a three-legged dog, using them in various situations to show harmony and perseverance.
The family goes off in a space ship to a subterranean world to discover what is causing their crops to lose power. They run into Jaeger, who has been gone for 25 years and reconnect after dealing with their abandonment and different interests in life.
The three generations of men discover and deal with their differences by finding out who they are and where they are.
Lots to chew on in this one.
The real pleasure in this movie is in the incredible drawings. It is truly a “strange world.”
We have the feeling we will see a lot more of SPLAT in the future.
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