A Little Bit of Heaven
Directed by Nicole Kassell
There have been a few tries to put cancer in comedies in the past couple of years, most of which have had mixed-to-bad results, because cancer isn’t really that funny. So of course the next step is a weepy romantic comedy about dealing with cancer and finding love! Even weirder, it’s pretty much marketed as a romantic comedy even though is blurs more over into the drama category. But, despite the fact it’s getting awful awful reviews, A Little Bit of Heaven isn’t awful (or even awful awful), it’s far more complicated than that…
Marley Corbett is a carefree woman who seems like she has it all going on. She’s a young hip girl in the city, just scoring a big promotion and living life and partying. Working hard and playing hard. All that cliched jazz. Her biggest worry and biggest love is her pet bulldog, while men are nothing but a list of bootycalls. She has a whole cadre of friends who join her on her adventures.
But things aren’t going all that great in Marley’s life, unexplained loss of weight, bloody stools…something bad is on the horizon. After a visit to the very handsome Dr. Julian Goldstein, she’s diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. Of course, Marley is too busy having fun to take any of this seriously. She shocks her friends with her announcement done in a flippant way, unaware or uncaring about the shock she put them through. Her attitude begins to have some cracks after a colonoscopy shows things are worse than they thought and the only hope in an experimental procedure that might work or might not. It’s also during this colonoscopy that she has her first vision of the afterlife…
The Big Year
Directed by David Frankel
Written by Howard Franklin
The Big Year takes place in the world of birding, where obsessive fans of feathered friends spend their time watching and following birds. They learn the songs, know the species, and some can even imitate their favorite birds. And there is no greater glory in the world of birding than the Big Year, where a birder spends an entire year seeing as many bird species as possible.
Now, as a biologist, I’ve meet birders and can understand where they’re coming from, even if I have no desire to trek through swamps and snow to spot rare birds with pink feet. Myself, I’m perfectly fascinated by even the most common birds. Crows, starlings, mourning doves, all are cool in my book. Granted, the herons, egrets, and hawks I spy on the drive home are awesome as well. Maybe I am a secret birder…
The Big Year is ultimately about obsession. About a hobby, about love, about doing what you love but also living your life. It’s based on Mark Obmascik’s book The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession, which I haven’t read. But I did get free tickets to an advanced screening, so once again, Tars sells out!
Brad Harris is ostensibly the main character, but in reality there are three main characters, three story arcs, three paths. All of the three main characters want to be the best, to win. but not all of them will win. Only one can be the best. And sometimes, the quest is only the beginning.
A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner!
Directed by Savage Steve Holland
Written by Butch Hartman & Scott Fellows
When A Fairly Odd Movie: Grow Up, Timmy Turner! was first announced as a live-action feature film, it sounded like it would be terrible. Who needed yet another live action film for a cartoon? Haven’t we suffered enough? But, Grow up, Timmy Turner! instead turned out to be a good surprise, keeping the tone of the cartoon while delving into raging manchild territory with a plot so off the walls that it is brilliant. And yes, that means I liked it very much. I’m shocked, shocked, I tell you! Who knew that I would end up enjoying what appeared to be a terrible Disney Channel-type film? But Grow Up, Timmy Turner is much more than that, it’s fun, and sort of has a message about the need to grow up and move on with your life buried beneath the wacky antics of the hijinks that ensue.
For those of you out of the loop, The Fairly Oddparents is a cartoon series about a child named Timmy Turner’s fairly godparents who grant him wishes, and all the adventures that entails. The series’ bizarro humor helped earn it a cult following among more than little kids, with viewers of all ages tuning in. There has been sporadic tv-movie specials for The Fairly Oddparents, though this is the first live-action special.
Grow Up, Timmy Turner continues the same basic plot, except Timmy is now 23 years old, still in the same grade at school, still living at home, and still not grown up, because being grown up loses you your fairy godparents. It’s in the rules, trust us, they break out the rules to read during the movie!
Cameos from the cartoon show up all over the place. Jorgen Von Strangle (Mark Gibbon), the strongest fairy and the boss of all fairies, appears repeatedly throughout the film to threaten Timmy. He’s an obvious Arnold Schwarzenegger parody. Timmy’s childhood friend Chester McBadBat and A.J. (Chris Anderson and Jesse Reid) appear sporadically as adults assuming the still-childlike Timmy is jealous of their “successes”, though the successes are never elaborated on.
Director Savage Steve Holland was an 80s genius with such classic films as Better Off Dead, One Crazy Summer, and How I Got Into College. He got into tv with The New Adventures of Beans Baxter and the Encyclopedia Brown series on HBO, but his greatest television creation was Eek! the Cat (and accompanying cartoons.) He’s since been making a living directing episodes of family fare tv series, making him perfect for this film packed with Nickelodeon teens.