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July 8th, 2008, 03:00
Been a while … here are some recent views in our household …

The Seeker: The Dark is Rising (2007)
Rated: PG
Score: 3.5/5
We happened on this one on 'On Demand' because we wanted to watch a movie but all we had from Netflix was Firehouse Dog and nobody wanted to see it …

We had heard only bad things, and my son loved the book … so we decided to give it a try, with very low expectations. It actually played out fairly well. Early on my son basically said 'stop asking how that worked in the book, I have to just forget the book exists to enjoy this'. And that seems the way it plays out - if you focus on the book you will surely hate it, but as a light entertainment treat it is not too bad.

Juno (2007)
Rated: PG-13
Score: 4.5/5
Summary: This was hilarious and touching and thoughtful all at once. Nice acting and I like the way the whole thing has enough depth to keep you talking about it for a while.

Dilbert: The Animated Series (1999)
Rated: PG-13
Score: 1/5
Summary: I wondered why, despite being a huge Dilbert fan in the 90's, I had never hooked into this show. My kids wanted it on Netflix, and I got to find out … the show completely misses what made the comic and the characters funny and engaging.

An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
Rated: PG
Score: 4/5
Summary: Why the heck didn't THIS guy run for president in 2000? Nice documentary that really lays things out in a good way without getting condescending, nasty or preachy.

Wild Hogs (2007)
Rated: PG-13
Score: 3/5
Summary: I had low expectations, but this was a funny and entertaining ride - don't expect stellar performances or much of any depth, just some nice empty fun. Always love William H. Macy.

Close Encounters of the Third Time (1977)
Rated: PG-13
Score: 5+/5
Summary: Now *this* is why Spielberg will be remembered as one of the great masters of cinema. It is just brilliant from start to finish - the pacing, filming, plotting, suspense, performances … everything works so well on so many levels.

Amadeus: Director's Cut (1984)
Rated: R (original was PG?)
Score: 5/5
Summary: OK, we see 15 seconds of Constanze chest as she stands in humiliation in front of Salieri and hear the 's word' once or twice … and for that we jumped to R?

That aside, this remains a completely brilliant and compelling movie - and it just gets better and better from start to finish. Hadn't recognized Cynthia Nixon as Lori the main before. The kids adored the whole thing.

Big (1988)
Rated: PG
Score: 5/5
Summary: It is almost as if while we watched Josh turn 'big' in the movie, we were seeing the transformation of Tom Hanks from funny goof to major actor (ok, he still had to get through Turner & Hooch and Joe vs. the Volcano). But his portrayal in this film - paired with Elizabeth Perkins subtle way of playing off of him, just makes for a engaging and fun trip down a path that was *way* overplayed in the late 80's. A bit uncomfortable with the kids as the pair get intimate for the first time, but it is done in a very sensitive and somewhat amusing way.

Astronaut Farmer (2007)
Rated: PG-13
Score: 2/5
Summary: So we're supposed to care about 'Farmer' and be behind him and his dream, which pretty much amounts to having to leave the space program to take over the family farm because his father killed himself? We never got it, never cared, and thought it was all very ponderously paced (i.e. boring), and wondered why the wife stuck by him as he lied and squandered … and how did they manage to actually eat, anyway? Oh, who really cares …

Ghost Rider (2007)
Rated: PG-13 (UR version)
Score: 3/5
Summary: This was one the kids wanted to see, and we had really low expectations. It wasn't great, but succeeded as mindless entertainment. The whole romance was silly, and there were plot-holes galore, but it was the sort of movie that just said 'don't worry about that stuff' - and you don't.

As you can see, we've been making the most of our Netflix subscription
-- Mike
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