My new favorite movie

I hit the local movie theater with Lizabeth while we were in Cedar City, Utah for the Shakespearean festival last week, and came away with a surpising new favorite.

I tend to favor foreign and independent fare, so my embrace of such a popular flick took me a bit by surprise.

I’ve never had a single all-time favorite–just films that leave their mark in particular ways. In the underdog category there’s “Precious” and “The Soloist.” In the men who don women’s wigs category there’s “Tootsie” and “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

Often I’m drawn to movies about parents whose children face health-related challenges–such as “Lorenzo’s Oil” or “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” Or to movies about young people struggling to overcome obstacles, like “Good Will Hunting” or “Music of the Heart.”

On my short “I could watch it a million times list” there’s “Fatal Attraction,” largely because I am so intrigued by the use of light and color. I’m equally intrigued by the erotic drama “Unfaithful,” also directed by Adriane Lyne.

Sometimes it’s the performance of a single actor that makes or breaks a film. Among more popular fare, my favorite individual performances include Dustin Hoffman in “Rainman,” John Travolta in “Phenomenon” and Amy Adams in “Enchanted” (which might top my list of overall favorites were it not for the whole future mother-in-law turns dragon scene).

Often it’s the image of a strong woman protecting herself or those she loves that catches my interest–as in “An Eye for an Eye” with Sally Fields or “The Brave One” with Jodie Foster.

But the first “feel good” film I’ve really enjoyed in a long time is the recent release titled “Ramona and Beezus”–based on the popular book series by Beverly Cleary that includes “Beezus and Ramona.”

Ramona is the little sister, but she has a big imagination that’s the source of endless adventures for the fictional Quimby family.

“Ramona and Beezus” is all about love. Love of home and family. Young love. Mature love. Lost love. Found love. Hesitant love and whole-hog love.

It’s well-written, well-acted and utterly charming in every way. Funny but not frivolous. Moving but not maudlin.

And it’s proof positive for young viewers that seemingly tyranical teachers can be tender, that financial worries needn’t dash a family’s wonderment.

Lizabeth and I both left the theater teary-eyed, and she’s eager to see the film again with her dad since it also features a glorious glimpse into the special bond between father and daughter.

Next on our movie outing list is “Charlie St. Cloud,” because we’ve both been impressed by what we’ve seen of Zac Efron’s acting chops and insights he’s exhibited during various interviews and public appearances.

In another year, Lizabeth will be off to college–so our movie together time will be harder to find.

On the other hand, I’ll get to catch up on all those movies I’ve missed through the years.

Any suggestions on good films to begin with?


Note: Posters pictured here are available online at (except for the “Ramona and Beezus” poster I found at the website)

Coming up: Photos from “Stage Mom” travels to Cedar City, the Utah Shakespearean Festival and Southern Utah University

Update: I discovered while researching the history of holidays on the History Channel website today that Aug. 4th is the date on which Anne Frank and her family were captured while hiding from Nazis–to learn more, click here.


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