Tag Archives: movies

When Life Takes the Front Seat, Avoid Oncoming Cars

It has not been an easy week and a half. But as many homeschoolers can attest, there aren’t that many easy weeks during a school year. Schooling at home means dealing with life at home all day, every day, and sometimes life takes the front seat.  Last week, my oldest son John cut his hand, requiring a trip to the ER, seven stitches, a follow-up trip to the hand doctor, and finally today, outpatient surgery to repair two tendons. Now, I know such an event should have spurred me on to lead the kids in an investigation of muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and  the anatomy of the hand, but instead I decided we should rent a movie and watch it this afternoon. And it wasn’t even educational. It was Cars 2.

We hadn’t seen the movie yet, and it had just come out as a video rental.  John thought it was a good choice, as his younger brother Luke would like it to. So, we gathered around the living room and watched it this afternoon, and I have to say…I was extremely disappointed.

I liked the original Cars movie. Aside from “feeling” like a rather long film (I remember watching it in the theater and wondering when it would end), it was a fun movie with likable characters and a good message. Luke loved it and we ended up buying it, along with all the little action figures.

But this movie was not the same at all. While (I think) the original was geared to 3-7 year old boys, this one must have been intended for older kids. The plot was complicated and way over the heads of the original Cars fans, involving an hour and a half of spies and secret agents.

What I found most appalling, however, was what else the film serves up to young viewers: weapons, torture, bombs, and even death. In one scene, a “good” secret agent is captured and tortured — the bad cars tell him he’s going to die. Then he bursts into flames off camera.

“I can’t believe it!” I said. “They just killed him!”

“No,” my kids assured me. “He’s all right. He’ll come back.” But he never did. Then, towards the end of the film, the bad cars are after Lightning McQueen, determined he’s going to die too. They even rig Mater up with a bomb to unknowingly blow up his friend.

So, while I’m glad we took the afternoon off (we all needed the break), watching Cars 2 was not the way to go. While children may enjoy the races and chase scenes, this film has little else to offer.  So, yay for John for thinking of his little brother, but boo for Pixar for not. 🙁

Free Things to Do in the Summer

Our lazy days of summer haven’t been too lazy yet. We’ve had family visit, spent a week with art camp, and worked on math. There’s so much we can do, and even for those (like us) who are on a tighter budget this summer, much of it is free.

If you’re looking for things to do as a family, check into some of these:

Library Programs:  Many times libraries will bring in presenters for programs. They might be magicians, animal handlers, scientists, musicians, or puppeteers, and the hour-long program can be a lot of fun. Some libraries also offer free craft classes for kids.

Kids’ Movies: Check with your local movie theater to see if any free movies are being offered. Our area has three theaters that offer free movies in the summer, usually once or twice a week. One of our local universities is even offering free kids’ movies in the evening.

Concerts: Often, community bands will offer free concerts in the summer. Check the Sunday paper or your city’s website for more information.

Festivals: Our state has festivals going on all through the summer, from the Peach Festival to the Watermelon Festival to Fourth of July Festivals. Take along some extra water and enjoy the arts, crafts, and music.   

Parks: Enjoy the outdoors with your family with a picnic at a city park. Pack your food in a cooler, take along a Frisbee or football, and enjoy!

Zoos and Museums: Depending on where you live, entrance into the local zoo and museums may be free as well. Check your city’s website or visitor’s guide for more information. You might even want to get a group of friends together and make it a field trip!

Whatever your family does this summer, be sure to slow down and enjoy it!

Plugged In Online

Last week, a new IMAX theater opened about forty-five minutes from our home, and to celebrate, theater-goers were offered free movies and popcorn during the first week. (patrons could give a donation to the Make-A-Wish foundation). We took advantage of the opportunity to see Monsters Vs. Aliens in 3-D. While my children had seen it before on video with their dad, this was my first time watching it. Though it was fun to watch on the huge screen, it wasn’t one of my favorites (nor my kids’ favorites), so I was glad we didn’t pay full price.

I find myself often thinking those same thoughts after watching a DVD at home — I’m glad we didn’t spend money to see that one in the theater. And with movie prices so high these days, I’m also glad we’ve found Plugged In Online.

Sponsored by Focus on the Family, Plugged In Online is a movie review site that covers both older films and new releases. The information you’ll find there includes: a summary of the film, the positive elements, the spiritual content of the film, sexual content, violent content, crude or profane language, drug and alcohol content, other negative elements, and finally the reviewers opinion.

The information on Plugged In is detailed and explicit, allowing parents to know just what to expect in a movie they are considering for themselves or their children. For example, in the review of Brendan Fraser’s new movie Furry Vengeance, every crude or possibly crude phrase used in the film is noted, as are the racial stereotype jokes and toilet humor. From the description on Plugged In, I know that’s one film we’re not going to see, even on video.

You’ll also find reviews on the site for music, television shows, and video games. So before you spend any more money (or time) on entertainment, check out Plugged In. You’ll be glad you did!

Busy Day

Yesterday, we had a very busy day. We left the house at 8:30 am, returned for about 45 minutes at 5:00 pm, then had to leave again right away, finally returning at 8:30 pm. Whew!

We started the day by taking my oldest son John to his co-op class. It lasted an hour, so during that time, the other three children and I ran errands. We made it to two stores: the grocery store and Target, and returned just in time to pick up John.

We then headed towards the far end of the county, where a new IMAX theatre just opened up. In celebration of the opening week, all of the movies were free (they even gave out free popcorn!), so we went to see Monsters vs. Aliens in 3-D on a huge screen. Not too educational, but a lot of fun.

Next, we headed back for an orthodontist consultation for my daughter Cassie, but we arrived about an hour early — enough time to run another errand. We shopped the sales at another grocery store, but didn’t get through the entire list before it was time to go, so after the appointment, we went to one more store. Part of that list was for supplies for John’s backpacking trip this weekend, so we had to finish.

We arrived home with just enough time to pack up that backpack and head out again to have it weighed-in with the other scouts. After a short meeting, we moved on to Walmart to pick up some photos for Friday, and by the time the day was done, it was after dark.

Could this be counted as a school day? For John, it could. He attended his co-op class, read his schoolbooks during the car rides and while waiting at the orthodontist, and learned how to pack for the trip. For the rest of the children, probably not. While a lot was accomplished, not too much was done in the way of learning, so we’ll make it up on Saturday. But that’s one of the best advantages of homeschooling — the flexibility of schedules to accommodate life — or whatever else may be going on.