Mom/daughter movie night

I don’t get to see my oldest daugher, Jennifer, as often as I’d like now that she’s moved to campus housing at ASU. But yesterday I picked up Jenn, and her giant suitcase of laundry, so she could enjoy the weekend back here at the ranch.

The craftiest of our three kids, Jennifer always comes home with a whole bunch of show and tell type objects — things she’s made, purchased from various artists or found at local thrift shops. (Her Christmas wish list, she tells me, has just a single item: an awl, for making holes in various materials.)

Thursday night’s offerings included an old copy of “The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law.” Seems she’d ripped out the final page, a list of proofreaders’ marks and their usages, and turned it into a work of art. You’ve gotta love a girl who couples grammar with crafting.

Earlier that evening, we’d attended an advance screening of the movie “The Tourist” together at Harkins Theatre Fashion Square 7 at Scottsdale Fashion Square — then used a final bit of time before the stores closed to gather a few essentials. A Build-a-Bear outfit for one of her prized stuffed animals, and two boxes of Paradise Bakery miniature cookies.

We discussed the movie on the way home — and Jennifer shared her dismay that so many people in the film seemed to spend so much of their time turning heads, usually when Angelina Jolie’s character, Elise, entered the room. I wasn’t all that bothered by it, but it did seem her role was reduced in some ways to a sort of three-dimensional paper doll with a very expensive set of paper dresses.

I’m always challenged when expected to think of movie “stars” as the people they are portraying. Jodie Foster makes everything believable — but some other actors, not so much. Yet Johnny Depp loses all his delicious idiosyncracies when he steps into the role of American math teacher Frank.

It’s harder to forget that Elise is Angelina Jolie — due in large measure to the ever-fresh peachy lip gloss that’s there whether she’s powering a getaway boat in the canals of Venice or sleeping alone in a luxury hotel suite. I prefer Jolie in meatier fare — such as “The Changeling.”

Yet Thursday night’s audience seemed to adore this simple cat and mouse affair. There was plenty of laughter, and some audible gasps, as the plot took various twists and turns.

Of course, any movie seems better for being set in stunning European locations — and there’s the fun of trying to translate all that French with only a few years of high school language study more than just a couple of years ago. Jennifer is the family’s best French speaker, so she had the most fun with this aspect of the adventure.

“The Tourist” has so far failed to wow most reviewers, but I actually found the movie quite smart and funny (unlike the 2008 movie “Smart People” which wanted us to believe that calling a dandelion a rose makes it a rose).

“The Tourist” is a sort of James Bond meets “39 Steps.” There are safes to crack, ropes to knot just so and mysterious rendezvous by train and other means. I quite enjoyed the dialogue, much of which is humorous in a way best appreciated by wordsmiths (like those whose children make art from AP style guides).

I also enjoyed the movie’s score — except for the one scene that features vocal performance rather than instrumental fare. It’s over the top, and turns the vibe from passionate to phony. Perhaps I simply failed to appreciate an intended parody of sorts.

In any event, we enjoyed the film from start to finish (despite the creepiness factor of one character who seemed a sort of Hannibal Lecter minus a mask and a fork). It makes for a fun mom/daughter outing, date night or evening with friends — especially when viewed so close to the cookie counter.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about “The Tourist”

Coming up: Ballet takes a dark turn in “Black Swan”

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