Amy Poehler on Boston News: I Wonder if We can Soften our Eyes, Give our Eyes a Break

I love this from Amy Poehler. She addresses all the disturbing images coming out of Boston and other horrible stories. Can we choose to soften what we see? Watch her honest and insightful thoughts as she struggles with bad news on our computers, TVs and smartphones.

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How about it? Can we be ok with letting some things rest in peace?

Next Episode April 25: Derek James

Chef Hopeful Derek James

Chef Mentor Walter Scheib

Devoted family man and father of three, Derek James had always dreamed of becoming a chef at the highest level, serving heads of state and dignitaries.  Instead, he was drawn into the restaurant business with his parents where he faced the harsh reality of having too many cooks in the kitchen.  After two failed restaurants and a now strained relationship with his parents, Derek chose to work in IT for job security.  At this point in his life it seemed unlikely that he’d be able to realize his dream.  Kurt introduces Derek to former White House Chef Walter Scheib, a master not only of cuisine, but of the fine art of cultural protocol, an essential ingredient needed in a chef at that level. After training with Walter, Derek will interview with a premier catering company that handles all the high profile events at the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library.  Derek will have to sharpen his back-of-house skills to improve his cuisine, while also honing his front-of-house acumen to become an expert in protocol and international customs.

This post is part of a sponsored promotion with USA Network to highlight The Moment. 

The Profound Mystery of ‘To The Wonder’

In the Bible, in the New Testament, there is a letter written from the great Christian convert and leader Paul to a church he founded in the city of Ephesus in Asia Minor.  It contains a passage that is cause for much debate and angst in the church, a passage that compares a husband to Christ and the wife to the church.

Paul writes, quoting Jewish scripture:

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and the two will be one flesh.” This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church.

This “profound mystery” lies at the heart of Terrence Malick’s exposition of love and marriage To The Wonder, or at least I think it does. With Malick films, one feels shy about making absolute statements.

Malick, reportedly a Catholic, poured his faith out in the profound The Tree of Life, a movie that moved me so much, it inspired a tattoo on my arm.

In To the Wonder, Malick weaves together the story of two marriages. They inform each other and both flow from and to the love of God, the ultimate Bridegroom. Parisian Marina (Olga Kurylenko) marries American Neil (Ben Affleck) after a weighty and confusing courtship, made more complex by an unresolved love between Neil and Jane (Rachel McAdams). The second marriage is of Marina’s priest Father Quintana (Javier Bardem) to God.

The two marriages run in roughly the same course. First, there is an undeniable, life-altering love, a love that changes everything, recasts the universe, and reshapes the people on which it falls. Before the love, life was Marina’s own, Father Quintana’s own. After the love, they must rework their lives to be with the beloved, to reflect the new reality.

Although the love changes everything, the euphoria fades. Marina is left with a man who seems distant and unreachable. Father Quintana is left with a God that seems distant and unreachable.

And that is when love is tested, when the reality of love is either believed and held or lost. The two types of love flow from the same source, “the Love that loves us,” as Marina puts it.

Terrence Malick tells his stories in unique ways. He cares much more about the cries of the heart and the whispers of the mind than everyday dialog. So the prayers and unspoken longings of the characters are told in whispered voiceovers while the details of their lives are hard to know. This makes the movie almost unbearably quiet, still, nearly silent, like a cathedral in the middle of the day, holy but ineffable.

Sometimes it works and his style delivers profound truths, but other times it just leaves the viewer feeling quietly lost. It doesn’t help that many of the voiceovers here are in French and Spanish.

Still, you get the sense that love is a real thing, more real than we often believe. And that is, paradoxically in our sex-crazed world, a message the world needs. But you don’t know what that means for life, for love, for a soul, by the end of the movie, because so little is resolved.

And a little unresolved for a Terrence Malick film is, like, WAY unresolved for a normal film.

The scenes of the priest made me weep at times, for a man who so loved his God as to dedicate his life to Him, but then loses all sense of his lover. It is beautiful, his tired faithfulness, his desperation for the God he knows is there somewhere. He knows He is there because of the love that changed everything and remains undeniable, even in the past.

And yet, I ended the film wishing there was more. This juxtaposition of marriage and relationship with Christ fascinates me. I want to see, to feel, to know how Malick’s theology reflects his ideas of love and marriage. I suspect he may be one of the few filmmakers who actually has something profound to say about it.

And yet, I felt he teed up the ball but didn’t swing. In his other films, you have to dig for truths but they’re waiting to be discovered. I felt like there was less here.

Also less was the cinemagraphic wonder. Malick chooses beautiful shots of water, nature, rocks, streams, beaches, and lingers on them. Yet, in The Tree of Life, many of his frames had theological implications in themselves. They meant something, the imagery was alive. They were dreamlike, creative, alternate realities that expressed his truth. This film doesn’t have the same level of forethought or theology in the very images.

Sometimes a stream is just a stream, I guess.

On one level, I love that Malick had the courage to address love as a profound mystery rather than a gretting card comedy we get every month or so at the theater. On the other, I wish he’d be a tad less profound and a tad more approachable.

Who is Kurt Warner?

KURT WARNER

Host

Kurt Warner is the host of the new original reality series THE MOMENT, which premieres April 11, 2013.

While the football narrative of NFL quarterback Kurt Warner reads like a rags-to-riches Hollywood script, it is the story of a man filled with dignity, class and undeniable faith that captured the imagination of the sports world and beyond.  Warner continually beat the odds to quarterback two perennial doormat franchises to the Super Bowl and etched his name in the NFL record books along the way.

The first chapter of Warner’s tale was written in 1999 when he defied logic by emerging from obscurity to lead the St. Louis Rams to a victory in Super Bowl XXXIV.  In that same year, Warner was named the NFL and Super Bowl Most Valuable Player and stood out as the spiritual leader of the Championship team.   For the next two years Kurt continued to be a dominant force in the NFL as the ringleader of what became known as the “Greatest Show on Turf.”  He led the Rams to two additional playoff appearances – including another Super Bowl – and received Pro Bowl honors for three consecutive years (1999-2001).  He also was one of a few NFL players to be recognized with two NFL MVP awards, receiving his second after the 2001 season.

After suffering from injuries and watching from the sideline, Warner was released by the Rams in 2004 and signed a one year contract with the New York Giants.  In March 2005, he was signed by the Arizona Cardinals where most football experts expected him to unceremoniously end his career.  In 2007, the veteran signal caller battled through an elbow injury to begin his renaissance with a passer rating of 89.9.  In 2008, he led the Cardinals to their first ever Super Bowl berth, was voted to his fourth Pro Bowl, and surpassed several Cardinals’ franchise records including touchdowns, attempts, completions, completion percentage and passer rating.

Arguably at his best in the postseason, Warner earned several NFL career postseason records (passing yards per game, career completion percentage, yards per attempt).  Warner holds the second most career passing yards in a Super Bowl with 1,156 and notched the top three passing performances in Super Bowl history.

After a 12-year career, Warner retired from the NFL following the 2009 season with a performance that continued to establish his name in the record books.  His post-NFL career has proved anything but relaxing as he continues to impress with his football knowledge in broadcasting with the NFL Network and also a brief stint at Fox Sports.  Warner’s inspiring perspective on life captivates crowds as a motivational speaker and in 2010 he joined the cast of TV’s hottest show, Dancing with the Stars – Season 11, where he placed a respectable 5th thanks to his charm, charisma, competitive spirit, and growing fan base. In the winter of 2013, Kurt will host a new original reality series THE MOMENT on USA Network.

Kurt Warner has reached the pinnacle of success on the field. But, his gridiron accomplishments pale in comparison to the dedication he devotes to the community. In 2001, Kurt and his wife Brenda established the First Things First Foundation, a non-profit public charity dedicated to impacting lives by promoting Christian values, sharing experiences and providing opportunities to encourage everyone that all things are possible when people seek to put first things first.

First Things First has compiled an impressive philanthropic resume blessing countless children and families through the diverse programs of the foundation. A small sampling of First Things First’s outreach includes: hosting annual week-long trips to Disney World for children suffering from serious illnesses and their families; rewarding hard-working single mothers who achieve the dream of homeownership; raising over $875,000 for rebuilding efforts after the 2008 Midwest floods; collecting and distributing more than 150,000 coats from an annual coat drive in greater St. Louis; stuffing and personally delivering more than 80 stockings for a Christmas Day surprise for foster children, including the delivery of 10 tons of snow to the foster agency to build snowmen and enjoy a traditional snowball fight; providing Mission: Possible! Scholarships to youth groups doing service-based mission trips; and fostering an attitude of inclusion for children and adults with special needs thru the CHEER program. (www.kurtwarner.org)

Some of Warner’s more recent accolades include the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, The Good Guy Award from the Pro Football Writers Association, USA WEEKEND’s Most Caring Athlete, ABC World News Person of the Week, Forbes Magazine-America’s Most-Like Sports Figure, Sports Illustrated-Best Role Model, and the Bart Starr Award.

Kurt Warner lives in Arizona with his wife Brenda and seven children Zachary, Jesse Jo, Kade, Jada Jo, Elijah, and twins Sienna and Sierra.

This post is part of a sponsored promotion with USA Network to highlight The Moment. 

Interview: Kurt Warner on ‘The Moment’ (Premieres TONIGHT!)

It was hard not to get caught up in the excitement in 1999 when an unknown named Kurt Warner came from obscurity to lead the St. Louis Rams to win the Superbowl.

His story, now well-known, electrified our household: A star of the Arena football league, which we all knew to be for those who couldn’t make it in the NFL, he was stocking shelves at the local grocery store to support his family when he was signed to the Rams. Unexpectedly, a spot opened for him due to injuries in the string of quarterbacks above him. He took the spot of quarterback, surprised everyone by winning, and further astounded everyone by leading his team to a Superbowl victory.

He had a second chance at his dream.

I talked to Kurt recently. He hosts the reality show “The Moment,” premiering on the USA Network tonight, in which people are given a shot at pursuing the dream that eluded them.

When you got the call saying we want you to come play in the NFL, how did that feel? 

There was relief, there as excitement, there was nervousness. And the knowledge that after all the perseverance, after all the hoping and wishing, it was up to me to show everybody that I could make something of this second chance.

I knew that opportunity, because somebody gave me a chance, didn’t mean I was guaranteed anything. On this show, we’re not giving anybody anything other than an opportunity. We’re giving them a chance to chase their dream. When I personally was given that chance, I knew it was up to me.

 You’ve always been vocal about your faith. I’d love to hear about a time when God really met you. 

I became a Christian at about 26 years old as I was going through the process of playing Arena football and trying to get back into the NFL and pursue my dream. About six months after I became a Christian, I had to leave my family for four months and go to Amsterdam [to play for a Rams affiliated team in the NFL Europe league].

Of all places.

After six months of being a Christian to go that city.

It was really the first time for me to be on my own, from a faith standpoint. My wife had been a Christian since twelve years old. I’d had friends who were really able to give me direction. And then He throws me into Amsterdam.

To go to church there, I had to walk through a red light district. I remember feeling like, Ok, this was the first time I couldn’t do it on my own. As a man, as a football player, you’re kind of like, “ok, what part of this can I control? And God can kind of do the rest.”

This was the first time where I’m like, “Ok, this is going to be impossible. How am I going to get to church on Sundays? How am I going to lead the guys?” And I saw Him show up over and over again. I was able to connect with a friend, he later became a pastor. I was able to lead a Bible study with half the guys from my team. And really became able to testify to people with my faith. And the only reason was because I fully trusted God to take over.

Kurt’s enthusiasm about giving people a second chance to work hard and chase a dream comes through loud and clear. The show is inspiring and fun for the entire family. I encourage you to tune in.

Win Movie Passes to see the Jackie Robinson Story in ’42′

42, which hits theaters this Friday, April 12, tells the story of American hero Jackie Robinson who broke the MLB’s  color barrier in 1947. The first African-American to play in the major leagues, he endured an unbelievable level of racism with class and dignity.

Every April, players from all MLB teams don the number 42 jersey to commemorate and celebrate “Jackie Robinson Day.”

His number is the only one to be retired by all Major League Baseball teams.

We are giving our readers an opportunity to win FREE movie passes to 42.  Our prize package includes:

  • Two movie money certificates to screen 42 which is valid  at participating theaters for you and a guest.
  • Two 42 movie baseball caps
  • 42 T-Shirt
  • 42 baseball

Just tell us who is your favorite sports hero and why. Post in the comments section below. One entry per household. Valid in the United States. Contest closes Friday. We will announce on Monday, Jackie Robinson Day.

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Review: ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ Just Feels Good

Olympus Has Fallen is going to be a big hit.

There’s something about the narrative that hits a sweet spot in the zeitgeist. It’s the sense of America hit from without by barbarians. It’s feeling of America as Rome, battered and tested, but America finding deep within the courage and strength that made her great in the first place.

With lots and lots of explosions.

As the film opens, Mike Banning, a loyal and tough Secret Service agent, slaves away at a desk after a dark moment in his heroic but tragic career makes him a cause of sorrow to the President.

From his desk at the Treasury Department, Banning has a front row seat to watch the unexpected and highly coordinated attack of North Korean terrorists on the White House. Still crabby about that whole Korean War thing, they want to pay America back and force change, in that order.

Not while Mike Banning is on watch.

When the considerable smoke settles, he finds himself the only loyal American left alive and armed inside the White House. He must rescue the President’s son, save the President, and save the world from descent into war.

And make it home in time for dinner.

That’s pretty much the movie, but the makers don’t stint on the big booms.

The assault on the White House, which takes place in coordinated layers of attack, is a compilation of our deepest terrorist fears. From an airspace incursion that starts the event, to the apparent tourists who are packing heat under their visors and fannypacks, to the coordinated use of innocuous garbage trucks to seal the deal, the attack underscores how vulnerable freedom can be. Why, anyone could be a terrorist hacker with years of study of key government security systems.

TSA don’t catch that, now, do they, with all their tricky little pat-downs and superscanners?

I live in the DMV (That’s our super-fly nickname for the DC Metropolitan area. District, Maryland, Virginia. Get it?) and it’s always fun to see your town devastated in creative ways. While most of the action is centered on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the Washington Monument, ordinary neighborhoods and the National Mall get in on the destructive action.

And when I say destructive, I mean that with a capital D.

If I had a pickle for every time a person went to meet his Maker in this film, I’d have a bulging full barrel.

Even counting the methods of dispatching souls to the hereafter quickly becomes impossible. Many are shot, mowed down by automatic weapons, or killed in explosions.

But that’s just warming up.

Let’s just say downtown DC is a bad place to be that day, what with all the flaming airplanes, the debris from a crumbling Washington Monument, the cars crushed by nefarious large vehicles, and helicopters spinning out of control.

You’d think with the arsenal of weapons used by both the Secret Service brigade and the invading terrorists, combatants would always be able to find something that fires a bullet, but quite frequently, they resort to hand-to-hand combat, knife fights, and even knocking each other over the head with busts of Abraham Lincoln.

All of this mayhem, plus constant salty language, earns the movie an R rating. There is no sexuality. The violence isn’t as gory as it could be, but there’s a fair amount of red mist and body shots.

But, as in one of my favorite cult movies, Red Dawn (the original, not the remake), there is the attitude that this is America, dammit. And even the most miffed, highest trained, extremely ruthless terrorist underestimates America.

It’s in those “America, dammit” moments that the movie is the most fun: When a cabinet member is dragged to her apparent death defiantly screaming the Pledge of Allegiance; When the President of the United States spits an expletive into the face of his torturer; When the Navy SEALs converge to take back their national house.

The movie isn’t perfect. There are quite a few little details that grate on anyone who knows DC. The process of succession making Speaker of the House Morgan Freeman temporarily President isn’t exactly protocol. Someone calls the White House the seat of American power when everyone who took high school civics should know that’s Congress. And a disgruntled American cites “Wall Street” as the source of his loathing of his own country. Seriously? Wall Street?

Most irksome was that after declaring that America does not negotiate with terrorists, it does just that. Morgan Freeman doesn’t make a very good President here, in my opinion. He caves at every opportunity. Don’t elect him if he ever runs.

But, luckily, it’s not Morgan Freeman’s story but Mike Banning’s. Gerard Butler, who has made a steady stream of truly bad movies recently, finds a role that suits him well. There’s not a lot of depth, just running, fighting, falling down, getting up, and fighting some more.

And America, dammit.

Some critics will surely hate the flag waving and simplicity that the movie projects. It lacks nuance. It’s too black and white. We never sense the depth of the bad guy’s suffering soul. Too rah-rah, patriotic, basic good versus evil.

They’re right. And that’s why you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

 

Opinion: Roma Downey and Mark Burnett are Much Too Professional to Intentionally Make Satan mimic Obama

People get a little loopy when religion is involved.

A very silly tempest in a teapot happened Sunday night when folks on Twitter started noticing that the character of Satan in the History Channel’s The Bible bore a striking resemblance to our Commander in Chief. 

Personally, I do think that Satan, played by Mohamen Mehdi Quazanni (see a picture of him without makeup here) looks a lot like Obama. It’s weird because the actor is light skinned and not of African descent, but he does have features resembling Obama’s and with the makeup, the similarity becomes striking.

But that’s where this whole thing should have died. With a shrug and a “isn’t life odd?” chuckle.

There is absolutely no chance that The History Channel and producers Roma Downey or Mark Burnett (read their response to the hubbub here) had any intent of making Satan look like Obama. None.

How do I know?

Well, the couple is too Hollywood to make such an error or statement.

That may sound like an insult, but it’s not.

Roma Downey, of course, was the lead angel in the TV show Touched by an Angel. Burnett is the mastermind behind such TV hits as Survivor, The Apprentice, and Shark Tank. I have spoken with Downey several times (here and here). She is many things: polished, intentional, even a bit slick. But she is a consummate professional and not somebody who would sabotauge her reputation by taking pot shots at the President. I have not interviewed Burnett, but if anything, he’s even more professional. In fact, there is no evidence that either one of them has anything but the highest regard for Obama. Burnett donated money to his election campaign, a common practice in Hollywood.

Furthermore, behind all the packaging and promoting, The Bible was a passion project for both Downey and Burnett. Downey spoke many times about her dream of bringing her faith to her work. She was thrilled to be in a position where she could choose projects that reflected her faith.

“I have reached a point in my career where I don’t have to work,” she told me, “I have a lot of gratitude. I have a choice. I can do projects that are positive and honor God.”

In case any of us have missed the memo, nobody gets kudos or enhanced reputation in Hollywood by being religious or doing religious projects, especially old-fashioned Christian projects. In fact, it almost always costs something.

Downey and Burnett have paid their dues in Hollywood, and then some. They have worked hard and built reputations and relationships. They’ve done the hard work of being successful in a town where success can be hard to come by. And they turned around and poured that capital they had built into a Bible project.

Kudos to them. We should all be so lucky. We should all be able to say we’d built something that mattered as they have.

So, no, no one involved in that miniseries intended for the Devil to look like Obama. They worked too hard and cared too much to throw away their reputation and the project’s reputation on a cheap potshot.

It’s a coincidence.

Everybody stand down.

And, whatever you think of The Bible, give Roma Downey and Mark Burnett a pat on the back for at least being in a position to bring such a work to the small screen. It’s much more than the rest of us can say.

For more on The Bible:

Peter Chattaway reviews the first episode of The Bible.

Peter Chattaway reviews the second episode of The Bible.

 Craig Detweiler on how Hollywood underestimates religious audiences

Producers Defend “The Bible” Miniseries in the face of Obama-Devil Controversy: Utter Nonsense! Obama is a “Fellow Christian”

The Internet is in an uproar over the resemblance of the Devil in the History Channel’s Bible miniseries to Barak Obama. 

The producers of the miniseries, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey have issued the following statement:

“This is utter nonsense. The actor who played Satan, Mehdi Ouzaani, is a highly acclaimed Moroccan actor.  He has previously played parts in several Biblical epics– including Satanic characters long before Barack Obama was elected as our President.”

Executive Producer, Roma Downey added, “Both Mark and I have nothing but respect and love our President, who is a fellow Christian.  False statements such as these are just designed as a foolish distraction to try and discredit the beauty of the story of The Bible.”

The History Channel also made this statement: “HISTORY channel has the highest respect for President Obama. The series was produced with an international and diverse cast of respected actors. It’s unfortunate that anyone made this false connection. HISTORY’s ‘The Bible’ is meant to enlighten people on its rich stories and deep history.”

The Bible has been a passion project for the TV supercouple. Mark Burnett has produced spectacularly successful reality shows like Survivor, Shark Tank, and The Apprentice. Roma Downey is best known as the lead angel on the TV show Touched By an Angel, which aired from 1994 to 2003. They married in 2007.

Back in November, Downey told me this project was “the best work my husband and I have ever done.

Update: Why I think the resemblance must be an odd coincidence. 

For more on The Bible:

Peter Chattaway reviews the first episode of The Bible.

Peter Chattaway reviews the second episode of The Bible.

 Craig Detweiler on how Hollywood underestimates religious audiences

Review: ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ Blows Away Cynicism

After years of Shrek-like cynicism and fart jokes dominating children’s media, a refreshing tornado of sincerity blows into theaters with  the new spectacular Oz the Great and Powerful. A movie which remains true to the spirit of its source material while entertaining and delighting, it’s the best kids’ flick to come along since 2011′s The Muppets bopped into our hearts.

To understand Oz, one must understand the orginal stories, not just the 1939 blockbuster that revolutionized cinema, but also the books by Frank L. Baum and other writers that encapsulated the optimism of the 1920s. It seems hopelessly naive and innocent now, but in aftermath of the horrors of the first world war, people believed that humanity could create a society that was good and just and free from murder, war, and other sundry evils.

Hitler and his death camps ruined that, of course, and few can say “the inherent goodness of man” with a straight face since then.

From this “Happy Days are Here Again” optimism, the land of Oz was born. It is a place with great magic and clever, sometimes self-absorbed characters, but no death, wars, fighting, or evil. In most of the books, not much happens and conflict has to be imported from the outside in the person of Gnome king who wants to imprison the happy people of Oz, or, alternately, from Kansas.

And so it is that Oz the Great and Powerful roughly follows the storyline of The Wizard of Oz even as it creates a prequel setting the stage for Dorothy’s wild adventure.

A traveling magician called Oz (James Franco) turns down his chance at happiness with Annie (Michelle Williams) because he cannot settle for the black and white existence of a salt-of-the-earth farmer from Kansas. Having rejected a good life with a good wife and a steady, decent job for the potential greatness of showbiz, he becomes incorrigible: chasing women (in a purely PG fashion), abusing his assistant, and generally being a two-bit scoundrel.

A tornado blows him to a vibrant, enchanted land cannot blow his character clean.

This land is under the thumb of an evil witch who sends her flying monkeys out to terrorize the fields, farms, and cottages of simple folk. They’ve been waiting for a wizard to save them.

Since being a wizard comes with mountains of gold and the attentions of beautiful witch sisters Theodora (Mila Kunis) and Evanora (Rachel Weisz), Oz signs on for the job. He knows he is nothing more than a con man and fake, but hey: Gold! Pretty girls!

It’s not until he meets a little girl made from china, as shattered in her porcelain body as in her psyche by the evil witch’s minions, that Oz begins to think outside himself. By then, however, he has callously mistreated the heart of one innocent woman/witch and conned an entire people, two selfish deeds that will haunt him in the final act.

It’s well-known that movie critics in general are a cynical bunch who get twitchy without their daily dose of irony. It’s not their fault, poor dears, but when Glinda the Good (Michelle Williams) looks up at Oz with adoring, pure, saintly eyes and starts talking of the dreams of the people, critics tend to long for a little Quentin Tarantino.

This is why Les Miserables was panned and will have been why Oz the Great and Powerful is not as beloved as it should be.

They are wrong.

The movie is a delight, from the fantasy, jewel-toned visuals to the new characters. The 3D effects play with the technology (look a spear coming at you!) in a way that critics pooh-pooh but kids will love. Although there are shout-outs to the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, the Horse of a Different Color, and so on, Oz gathers his own new little troop traveling the yellow brick road. He befriends a winged monkey named Finley (voice of Zach Braff) and the precocious china girl (Joey King), both of whom elicit more laughs than anyone expects. James Franco occasionally overacts, but ends up acquitting himself well. Michelle Williams shines, as always, in a purely good role, but the meaty role goes to Mila Kunis as an innocent whose heartbreak leads to great trouble.

Rated PG, the movie has definite suspense at times, with scary flying monkeys, a spooky graveyard, and a battle. It will be too intense for the youngest moviegoers. There is no sexuality, inappropriate language, or gore.

But best of all are the simple, decent messages as rich as Kansas farm soil: Greatness is not as important as goodness. The way to find meaning in life is to put others above yourself. Believe in goodness and decency.

And so this movie is fantastic for kids who already know in their little hearts that decency and goodness can, indeed must, exist somewhere. It’s the adults, seeped in a steady stream of violence and sorrow, who need a refresher that the pure in heart will see Oz.


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