Make a wave

After a Friday afternoon of movie-going with my son Christopher, I came home and turned on the television to get an update on the dreadful oil spill off the southern coast of the United States.

While reporting the story on his weekday program “Hardball,” Chris Matthews of MSNBC added the following: “This is a teaching lesson for how man can destroy his own habitat.” I can’t argue with that, but I’m certain Christopher would want to add something to it.

As we drove back from Harkins Theatre at Tempe Marketplace, where we’d just seen the movie “Oceans” (rated G, released 4-22-10 by Disneynature), I ran some possible blog titles past him—including “Get your shopping cart out of my fridge.”

It was a reference to one of many striking scenes in the film—which features an animal trying to swim its way around a shopping cart parked smack dab in the middle of its neighborhood.

Christopher liked the idea, but noted that it implies the oceans are nothing more than a food source for humankind. Indeed, the ocean is part of our habitat. The earth is our one and only home. But maybe it’s also got value beyond merely what it can do for us.

The movie “Oceans” left me wondering what we should be doing for the sea. Not because it was preachy or political—it wasn’t. But because it raised my awareness of the ocean’s beauty and bounty in ways few other things have.

Plenty of creatures live there, and I suspect they are every bit as fond of (and worthy of) clean food and water as we are. I don’t expect everyone who reads this to agree with my philosophy here—only to see the movie and have the discussion with their own friends and family.

“Oceans” raises important issues that otherwise get far too little of our attention. As the opening for the movie notes, we seem much more fascinated with exploring the stars than with exploring the seas.

Yet the seas hold no less wonder, no fewer mysteries, and no less potential for helping us to understand our origins and frame our future. I admit to pondering on many occasions why we invest so many resources in outer space exploration when our own inner spaces have been so nihilistically neglected.

Folks who see this flick may walk away with totally different take home messages. I’m all for it. But have the dialogue. See what’s out there. Then imagine the possibilities.

Remember that the ocean covers 71% of the Earth’s surface and contains 97% of the planet’s water, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which also reports that 95% of the underwater world remains unexplored.

“Oceans” runs about 90 minutes and is breathtaking throughout. The narration is lovely—informative but not overbearing or distracting. The audience we sat with, which included preschoolers through grandmothers, was still and hushed throughout.

The movie moves between fierce ocean currents and gentle lapping waves, between suspenseful hunting excursions and sweet animal parent/child interactions. It’s ever tasteful and never terrifying.

“Oceans” is truly captivating—and a must see movie for every family.


Note:  To learn more about “Oceans,” visit the Disneynature website—which features educational materials for parents and teachers. To up your cool factor with the Radio Disney set, be sure you correctly identify the movie’s closing song as “Make a Wave” sung by Joe Jonas and Demi Lovato. Photo: Child’s drawing of Earth, courtesy of NASA

Coming up: A review of “The Secret Garden” (the play)–presented by Curtain Call, the educational division of Arizona Jewish Theatre Company. Performances today and Sunday, May 2, at the John Paul Theatre at Phoenix College. Info at Tickets at 602-264-0402 or the door.


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