‘Knocked Up’: If the title makes you cringe at its crudity, then the movie itself will make you apoplectic. But behind all the crusty repartee is a character with a good heart. Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) is a classless slacker who spends all his time getting high with a little help from his friends, carefully tracking porn. He happens to meet a nice girl named Alison (Katherine Heigl), who is actually on a career path, and otherwise wouldn’t have given him the time of day, but well, she was a little tipsy from celebrating a promotion, and the next thing you know, they wake up together in the morning wondering who in the world is this person next to me in the bed. That would have been the end of it, except, you guessed it, eight weeks later she turns up pregnant. And then they have to try to figure out if they even like each other, much less can raise a child together. A thoroughly modern reverse love story, told with so much off-color off-handedness as to leave hardly a hint of saccharin aftertaste.
‘Ocean’s 13’: This slick, stylish tale is exactly the opposite of ‘Knocked Up’ with its apparent gentility, spirit of cooperation, quick-thinking improvisation, and dressed-up beautiful people on their best behavior. But despite the natty appearance, this one harbors a dark soul: the only reason the old friends are gathering is to con a con man. It’s a sting operation. And yes, at the end we are rooting for one set of bad guys versus another, only because the former are better-looking, and wear their arrogance more tastefully. Oh, well, we enjoyed ‘The Sting,’ also.
‘Surf’s Up’ is an animated version of ‘Blue Crush’, with the plot of ‘The Color Of Money.’ Local surfing star enters the big competition, only to find that he is thoroughly outclassed. Enter a legendary mentor, determined to help the kid find his inner champion, but only by tearing down his ego first, and then re-building his sense of style, flair, and savior-faire. Sure, we’ll root for a penguin on a surfboard, because it’s a cute story, with a sloppy but sentimental moral about following your dreams, and being open to the possibility that good mentoring might come from unexpected places.
‘Ratatouille’ is a charming animated film featuring a French rat, who grew up in a Parisian sewer, but just happens to be a master chef, understandably lacking an outlet for his great talent. Yes, what we have here is the ingrown dynamic of a bunch of very talented artists making a movie about the importance of recognizing artistic talent wherever it happens to appear. But somehow it works because it’s so…well…artistic. You’ll find yourself rooting for the rat, and glad that you did. Fun for all ages.
Questions For Discussion:
1) Have you ever dealt with a ‘problem pregnancy’? What was your solution?
2) Have you ever romanticized a gang of thieves?
3) Have you ever had a reluctant, but effective, mentor?
4) Have you ever had a great talent which you thought went unrecognized?
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Terrell, Texas.