Saturday, May 13, 2017

But I Digress... Movie Moments for Mother's Day

By Cat

I was inspired to be a little different for this holiday edition of my weekly digressions. I usually put a list of movies together that seem appropriate to the occasion at hand. This time around, I felt the need to put a little more of a personal spin on it. This compilation is presented in 2 groups of 10.

The first 10 that you’ll see are movies that evoke the feeling of Mother’s Day. There are so many wonderful movies out there that are also fitting, but harder on the heartstrings and facial tissue consumption; so, as before, I tried to keep it light and also (mostly) family-oriented.

The second group of 10 is an ode to my mom. Our relationship hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows. We know how to press each other’s buttons, and in some ways are a lot alike – and that often causes head-butting. Now that I’m also a mom (of a freshly minted teenager, eek), I have a deeper understanding of some of the choices that my mother made. At some point as adults I feel we all come full-circle on these sorts of moments. Though, even when I’m frustrated, pulling my hair out, rolling my eyes, or… well you get the picture… she’s still my Mom, without her I wouldn’t be here, and I love her.

I hope you enjoy this selection of movies, and just maybe one (or more) of them might be great for making some Mother’s Day memories for you, too!

 10) A League of Their Own (1992)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase),  Vudu, Xfinity Subscription
Director: Penny Marshall
Actors: Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna , Lori Petty, Jon Lovitz, David Strathairn, Garry Marshall, Megan Cavanagh
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Sports, Family
Rated: PG
More Information Here.

Blurb: Two sisters join the first female professional baseball league and struggle to help it succeed amidst their own growing rivalry.

This selection is a dedication to Selina and her mom; as it's a special film for them. I wish I lived closer to give her a huge hug and tell her Happy Mother's Day in person - because I am so very glad I have her daughter in my life.

While the majority of the story doesn't revolve around motherhood, there's some sub-plot theme here along those lines. It's still a heartwarming tale set in a time of historical significance. It's got that vintage feel and a great cast.  

9) Snatched (2017)

Viewing Options: Currently Playing  - Released in theaters 5/12/2017
Director: Jonathan Levine
Actors: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Joan Cusack, Ike Barinholtz, Wanda Sykes, Christopher Meloni, Tom Bateman, Óscar Jaenada
Genre: Action, Comedy
Rated: R
More Information Here.

Blurb: Dumped by her boyfriend on the eve of their vacation, impetuous dreamer Emily Middleton persuades her cautious mother, Linda, to accompany her on an exotic getaway to South America. Polar opposites, Emily and Linda must soon work through their differences to escape from a wildly outrageous and dangerous jungle adventure.

This movie isn't on the list dedicated to anyone in particular. In fact, it really only made this list because it is this year's Mother's Day box office offering. If you want to go see something in the theater that is freshly released - here you go! Keep in mind, though, that this is a comedy that's not meant to be taken too seriously. Raunchy humor and ridiculous situations are going to be present and it's not meant to be picked on - just let go and go with the flow to enjoy a few laughs. I haven't seen this one yet, myself, but I found the trailers amusing.

8) Freaky Friday (2003)

Viewing Options: Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, Vudu, The original 1977 movie is available on Netflix DVD.
Director: Mark Waters
Actors: Jamie Lee Curtis, Lindsay Lohan, Mark Harmon, Harold Gould, Chad Michael Murray, Stephen Tobolowsky, Christina Vidal, Ryan Malgarini
Genre: Comedy, Family
Rated: PG
More Information Here.

Blurb: An overworked mother and her daughter do not get along. When they switch bodies, each is forced to adapt to the other's life for one freaky Friday.

It's the age old tale of parents and their children having a hard time relating due to generational gaps or each getting involved in their own 'worlds.' This is a remake of a 1977 movie, I've seen both, and I don't think it does the original any disservice to recommend the newer version here. The reboot brought the story into the modern era and put a slightly different spin on it. I was highly entertained by it.

7) The Terminator (1984)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes,  Vudu, Xfinity Subscription (Cinemax)
Director: James Cameron
Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Michael Biehn, Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen, Rick Rossovich, Bess Motta, Earl Boen
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Rated: R
More Information Here.

Blurb: A seemingly indestructible humanoid cyborg is sent from 2029 to 1984 to assassinate a waitress, whose unborn son will lead humanity in a war against the machines, while a soldier from that war is sent to protect her at all costs.

Looking for an action movie that doesn't have anything to do with the 'sappy' part of the holiday, but revolves around one kick-ass mother? This movie might just be for you. The whole Terminator franchise revolves around Sarah Connor's son, and more than one movie focuses on the lengths she'd go to in order to keep him safe. There was even a TV series in homage of her.

6) Ricki and the Flash (2015)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu, Xfinity Subscription
Director: Jonathan Demme
Actors: Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, Rick Springfield, Mamie Gummer, Audra McDonald, Sebastian Stan, Nick Westrate, Hailey Gates
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Music
Rated: PG-13
More Information Here.

Blurb: A musician who gave up everything for her dream of rock-and-roll stardom returns home, looking to make things right with her family.

This movie was featured in my Top 20 Movies for December of 2016 article. I was able to get a chance to watch it recently and I was quite taken with it. It's a movie that takes a look at a mom and her family and how sometimes those relationships aren't exactly perfect. This mom is no June Cleaver, but her choices in the present drive the movie as she comes to terms with the choices of her past.
5) The Incredibles (2004)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, Vudu
Director:  Brad Bird
Actors: Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, Samuel L. Jackson, Jason Lee, Wallace Shawn, Sarah Vowell, Spencer Fox, Brad Bird
Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure, Family
Rated: PG
More Information Here.

Blurb: A family of undercover superheroes, while trying to live the quiet suburban life, are forced into action to save the world.

Is there really a need for explanation here? It's a Disney movie about a family of superheroes; including one plucky heroine that is determined to save her family. OK so I fibbed when I said I was done with the sappy stuff. This movie just also happened to be released on my Mom's birthday in 2004.

4) The Blind Side (2009)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu, Xfinity Subscription
Director: John Lee Hancock
Actors: Sandra Bullock, Tim McGraw, Quinton Aaron, Jae Head, Lily Collins, Ray McKinnon, Kim Dickens, Adriane Lenox
Genre: Biography, Drama, Sports
Rated: R
More Information Here.

Blurb: The story of Michael Oher, a homeless and traumatized boy who became an All American football player and first round NFL draft pick with the help of a caring woman and her family.

Mothers who open their hearts to accept a child that they didn't biologically carry are no less mothers than those of us that did. Sometimes it's a harder path because those needing adoption often carry scars from whatever experience left them in a place where they needed a new mom. I finally got to see this movie as it was on cable rotation recently, and it was wonderful. This is a true story of an amazing woman and family. It's also airing on the CMT cable channel on Mother's Day at 11am (not sure what time zone - check your listings).

3) Mother's Day (2016)

Viewing Options: Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu, Xfinity Subscription (Or Showtime Anytime)
Director: Garry Marshall
Actors: Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts, Jason Sudeikis, Britt Robertson, Timothy Olyphant, Héctor Elizondo, Jack Whitehall
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Drama
Rated: PG-13
More Information Here.

Blurb: Sandy is a stressed-out, single mom who learns that her ex-husband is marrying a younger woman. Her friend Jesse is a fitness freak who doesn't tell her parents that she has a family. Bradley is a widower who's trying to raise two daughters on his own, while Miranda is too busy with her career to worry about having children. When their respective problems start coming to a head, the Mother's Day holiday takes on a special meaning.

What list would be complete without a movie that's named after the holiday, itself? There's a horror movie or so that share the moniker but we're keeping this light, right? 

Moving on... 

This movie looks funny and endearing. I really enjoyed the trailer and am looking forward to seeing it at some point in the future. It's in cable movie rotation, apparently, but hasn't made its way to Netflix yet.

2) Mothers and Daughters (2016)

Viewing Options: Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, Vudu
Directors:  Paul Duddridge, Nigel Levy
Actors: Selma Blair, Courteney Cox, Eva Amurri Martino, Christina Ricci, Susan Sarandon, Mira Sorvino, Sharon Stone, Paul Wesley
Genre: Drama
Rated: PG-13
More Information Here.

Blurb: Interwoven stories of what it is to be a mom seen through the lens of photographer Rigby Gray.

Here we have another movie exploring the dynamic of mothers and their daughters. While the last movie hasn't made it to Netflix stream yet, this one has. I might just give this a watch at some point on Mother's Day - or maybe fire up my laptop to stream it while my mom, daughter, and I are on vacation next weekend so we can watch together. I like that the trailer shows glimpses of relationships that have some friction or even distance in them - it strikes a chord as genuine and something many of us can relate to. In the end, it's clear that the mothers and daughters love each other in their own way.

1) Brave (2012)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, Vudu
Directors: Mark Andrews , Brenda Chapman
Actors: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Sally Kinghorn
Genre: Family, Animated, Comedy, Adventure
Rated: PG
More Information Here.

Blurb: Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse.

My near-sister's exclamation when this movie came out was "Look Cat! There's finally a Disney princess with your hair!" I couldn't argue, even though mine isn't quite that bright a shade of red. 

I digress. 

Merida is a relatable character to me for more than our common redheaded curls. She has a bit of a strained dynamic with her mother, and she is headstrong in seeking to follow her own path. (I'm told that's a redhead thing but I'm pretty sure we haven't cornered the market on it.) 

There's shades of light and dark in this tale of learning understanding. I laughed, I sniffled, and I loved it.

While life hasn’t always been picture-perfect, I still have wonderful memories shared with my Mom – and there are a good chunk of them shared watching shows or movies together. She is half-responsible for most of the influences that have inspired my life-long geekdom.

SO while discussing our upcoming Girl Scout road trip, I asked her to tell me about a movie that she remembers fondly for watching with me so that I could incorporate it into this article. Apparently indecisiveness over such things is hereditary, because I received three entire text boxes full of titles because she couldn’t narrow it down to just one. I’ve listed most of them here in this final 10, with a couple added of my own. 

Rather than give you a pitch for these, I want to share with you what makes them special to me - since my mom already listed them as special to her. (For the most part.)

10) Jurassic Park (1993)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu
Director: Steven Spielberg
Actors: Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, BD Wong, Joseph Mazzello
Genre: Science fiction, Thriller, Adventure, Action
Rated: PG-13
More Information Here.

Blurb: During a preview tour, a theme park suffers a major power breakdown that allows its cloned dinosaur exhibits to run amok.

Jurassic Park wasn't on my mom's list. In fact, she wasn't with me the first time I saw this movie. Why is it listed then? Because it was a milestone for me that I remember clearly as one of the first - if not the first - movie that I was allowed to watch with a friend on our own. We were dropped off at the movie theater and picked up when the  movie was over. I was so excited, and I'm thankful that she had trust in my 15-year-old self. 

There's a different sort of Mom-and-Me memory associated with this movie, also. When the film was re-released in theaters in 3D in 2012, my daughter and I attended together as a Mommy-&-Me day. We had lunch together, did a little shopping, and watched the movie.

9) The Point (1971)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes
Director: Fred Wolf
Actors: Mike Lookinland, Ringo Starr, Paul Frees, Lennie Weinrib, Bill Martin, Buddy Foster, Joan Gerber
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Family
Rated: Unrated
More Information Here.

Blurb: A father tells his son a bedtime story about young Oblio, who believes that having no point in the fantastical kingdom of pointed heads and things, still has a point.

This is one of the movies my mom mentioned to me. I wasn't born yet, of course, when it first came out, but it had several showings on TV. My mom also has the vinyl of the soundtrack. This wasn't your typical record. It had the story attached as well so you could read along with the narrator in between the musical numbers. I loved sitting by the giant 3ft tall speaker our record player sat on and playing the record over and over while I read. (I'm afraid I also decided it would be cool to paint some of the blank spaces in the illustrations  with pink nail polish. Sorry Mom!) 

The movie isn't as hard to find as it once was since it re-released on a DVD collector's edition in 2004.

8) Cinderella (1950)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video
Directors: Clyde Geronimi , Wilfred Jackson , Hamilton Luske
Actors: Ilene Woods, Eleanor Audley, Verna Felton, Claire Du Brey, Rhoda Williams, James MacDonald, Helene Stanley, Luis Van Rooten
Genre:  Family, Fantasy, Animated
Rated: G
More Information Here.

Blurb: When Cinderella's cruel stepmother prevents her from attending the Royal Ball, she gets some unexpected help from the lovable mice Gus and Jaq, and from her Fairy Godmother.

This movie is timeless, and while I can't quite remember if my mom and I watched it in a theater for one of it's many special releases, or if it was on TV. It was one of the many movies that fed into my love of musicals - especially Disney musicals.  

7) Willow (1988)

Viewing Options: In Select Theaters (limited re-release), Amazon Instant Video
Director: Ron Howard
Actors: Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Warwick Davis, Jean Marsh, Patricia Hayes, Billy Barty, Pat Roach, Gavan O'Herlihy
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Rated: PG
More Information Here.

Blurb: A reluctant dwarf must play a critical role in protecting a special baby from an evil queen.

This one we definitely saw in the theater together. I loved the fantastical world and its inhabitants. I also remember that the baby had curly red hair and my mom commented on how curly my hair was even when I was little. I love this movie for it's story, the characters and the actors that brought them to life - and for enjoying this sword & sorcery tale with my Mom.

6) The Dark Crystal (1982)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu
Directors: Jim Henson, Frank Oz
Actors: John Baddeley, Stephen Garlick, David Buck, Barry Dennen, Percy Edwards, Michael Kilgarriff, Lisa Maxwell, Brian Muehl
Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy
Rated: PG
More Information Here.

Blurb: On another planet in the distant past, a Gelfling embarks on a quest to find the missing shard of a magical crystal, and so restore order to his world.

The Dark Crystal is one of my early movie memories. We saw this in the theater and I remember the Skexis bird-things scared the crap out of me. The Gelflings were adorable and I remember the little hairy monster named Fizzgig. I wanted my own Fizzgig. I was so swept up into the story and the effects were just mind-blowing. Of course, I was 4 at the time so it was ALL magic. Movie effects have traveled what seems like light-years ahead of where they were then - but all the same this movie holds a special place in my heart. 

5) The Little Mermaid (1989)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video
Directors: Ron Clements, John Musker
Actors: Jodi Benson, Pat Carroll, Christopher Daniel Barnes, Rene Auberjonois, Hamilton Camp, Nancy Cartwright, Paddi Edwards, Gerrit Graham
Genre:  Family, Animated, Fantasy
Rated: G
More Information Here. 

Blurb: A mermaid princess makes a Faustian bargain with an unscrupulous sea-witch in order to meet a human prince on land.

This has to be one of my favorite animated movies of all time. I had the soundtrack cassette (I still do)  and I remember that I used to play it every night when I went to bed - for a long time. Not only did I listen to it, but I sang along. Thanks, Mom, for not telling me to cut it out and allowing me to lullaby myself to "Part of Your World' among other numbers. I think I absorbed the music of this movie by osmosis while going through that nightly routine. Hey - it's fun to sing along to and it was right there in the pocket for my vocal range, for the most part. 

My final note on this entry is to also convey my thanks to my Mom for telling me that this Disney version wasn't the original telling of this story and the original fairy tale had a much different ending for the main characters. I am pretty sure I rolled my eyes or said something snarky then, but that dose of reality juxtaposed with the sugar-shine that the mouse house put on the tale was important.

4) Doctor Who (1963-1989 & 2005-)

Viewing Options: BBC, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes, Vudu, Netflix DVD
Director: Various
Actors: Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, David Tennant, Matt Smith, Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper, Karen Gillan, Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Arthur Darvill, Freema Agyeman, Alex Kingston, Catherine Tate, John Barrowman, Pearl Mackie
Genre: Science Fiction, Adventure, Drama, Family
Rated: TV-PG
More Information on the Classic Series Here.
More Information on the Current Series Here.
Blurb: The adventures of a Gallifreyan Time Lord only known as the Doctor and his companions, traveling through the universe, time, and space.

So you've got me. This isn't necessarily a movie. There have, however, been movie specials for the show. I remember that my mom and I used to watch the classic episodes together. I started with the 3rd Doctor and just thought that the 4th was the absolute best ever with his hat and funny scarves. I loved K-9, the Tardis, and all of the sci-fi shenanigans. I didn't even care that the special effects were so rudimentary in some places. This was one ritual we had together that meant quite a lot to me. I drug my heels a little on watching the rebooted series after it came back in 2005. I was silly in trying to be a purist. I finally caved and caught up a couple years ago and I don't regret it at all (even through my tears- the writers are sadists).

There is a mother's day sort of twist in the new series plot, but I can't say much about it without it being "Spoilers!" While the 4th will always be 'My Doctor,' I'm over the moon about the 10th. The series is up to the 12th regeneration of this beloved character. I can't wait to see who they select to pilot the Tardis next.

This also wasn't in my mom's list but it made just that much of an impact that I couldn't skip it.

3) The AristoCats (1970)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, Vudu
Director: Wolfgang Reitherman
Actors: Phil Harris, Eva Gabor, Sterling Holloway, Scatman Crothers, Paul Winchell, Lord Tim Hudson, Vito Scotti, Thurl Ravenscroft
Genre: Family, Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Rated: G
More Information Here.

Blurb: With the help of a smooth talking tomcat, a family of Parisian felines set to inherit a fortune from their owner try to make it back home after a jealous butler kidnaps them and leaves them in the country.

This is another movie that we watched together on re-release. I'm not sure if it was TV or a VHS. The memory is foggy on that. I do recall, though, that it was the origin of words such as 'bumbershoot' entering my vocabulary. I remember how my mom and I would interject the lingo here and there and laugh.

2) Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Viewing Options: Netflix DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu
Director: Tim Burton
Actors: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Anthony Michael Hall, Alan Arkin, Kathy Baker, Robert Oliveri, Conchata Ferrell
Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance
Rated: PG-13
More Information Here.

Blurb: A deceased inventor's unfinished creation becomes an instant celebrity when a cheery suburbanite brings him home.

While my mom's restriction on Rated R movies for me was galling, I am glad that she was open-minded enough to take me to see movies like this. Beyond being able to keep up with the talk at school or whatnot, this was a really good movie. It's also quite fitting for Mother's Day because of the suburbanite mom that just decides that Edward is a little lost duck that just has to be brought home. There's a real case for a mother's heart here.

1) Forrest Gump (1994)

Viewing Options: Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube (purchase), iTunes, BestBuy CinemaNow, Vudu
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Actors: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, Sally Field, Rebecca Williams, Michael Conner Humphreys, Harold G. Herthum
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rated: PG-13
More Information Here.

Blurb: Slow-witted Forrest Gump has never thought of himself as disadvantaged, and thanks to his supportive mother, he leads anything but a restricted life. Whether dominating on the gridiron as a college football star, fighting in Vietnam or captaining a shrimp boat, Forrest inspires people with his childlike optimism. But one person Forrest cares about most may be the most difficult to save -- his childhood love, the sweet but troubled Jenny.

This movie rounds out my list, and it is also another movie that my mom didn't mention. 

Forrest Gump happens to be one of my best movie memories with my mom, though. We were on vacation in Florida with my now-step-dad and we found an actual drive-in movie theater. This was the movie that was playing. I remember we brought in a cooler with sandwiches and drinks and sat in the truck enjoying the movie. It had to have been one of the coolest movie experiences for me, ever. 

I want to wish everyone a wonderful Mother's Day - whether you're a mom, stepmom, mother of fur-babies, a single dad doing his best to be mom too, you have a mentor figure that's a surrogate, or your mom has passed. Gather up those that mean the most to you and share a story of something you've enjoyed together. The greatest gift we can give one another is time - because it's fleeting.

But I Digress... is a weekly column for that can't be pinned down to just one thing. It's Cat's celebration of tangents, random references, and general fan geekdom that both intertwines with, revolves around, and diverges from our movie-review core. In homage to the beloved Brit comedians, we want to bring you something completely different!

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