Idiots & kings

I heard from Lizabeth, our 17-year old daughter, after she’d seen the musical “American Idiot” Friday night on Broadway.

Saturday found her doing her first college theater program audition, and getting a good night’s sleep knowing that other auditions await.

While Lizabeth was enjoying college tours on Friday, I went with our 21-year-old son, Christopher, to see “The King’s Speech” at the Harkins Theatre in Tempe Marketplace.

I’ve long suspected that our mother-son movie outings are merely excuses for Christopher to get his buttery popcorn and jumbo drink fix. He’s often too bored or restless to make it through an entire show.

But “The King’s Speech” was different. Normally I find the whole popcorn munching thing distracting, and get more irritated than I should with people who talk or text message during movies.

But we both had a steady bout of rapt attention for this one — which features truly exceptional acting by Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush, plus a rare glimpse of Helen Bonham Carter with tamed hair and matching shoes.

The film opens with the two daughters of a British prince begging for a bedtime story, something he hesitates to offer because of a terrible stutter.

A love of literature is evident throughout “The King’s Speech” — especially in scenes featuring Rush, who portrays a sort of speech therapist meets self-help guru who becomes this man’s closest friend.

The first time the two men work together, before the prince reluctantly becomes Kings George VI of England, this therapist has him read a bit of Shakespeare.

Later in the film, we see this commoner (an Australian) playing a guess-the-character sort of game with his two sons. Seems he’s also an earnest but rarely- cast actor — which fuels more than a few of the film’s best one-liners.

“The King’s Speech” is billed as a movie about a stuttering monarch, but it’s a great deal more.

It’s a tale of duty and devotion to both family and country, of challenging father-son encounters and strained sibling relationships, of the delicate interplay between what others expect of us with what we demand of ourselves.

It’s a very tender film, which would be perfectly suitable for family members of all ages had it not earned an “R” rating for a few scenes heavy in hot-headed language of the not so demure variety.

Sesame Street won’t be choosing any of these words when they feature the letters S or F, and I can imagine a young child seeing the film only to run home with a favorite new expression — “Oh bugger!”

The language is even more colorful in “American Idiot” — but I haven’t asked Lizabeth to share it with me. That’s why they make cast recordings.

As we chatted Friday night, Lizabeth and I discovered one commonality in the way we’d spent the day.

I shared that I’d hit McDonald’s for dinner with both Christopher and Jennifer, our 19-year-old daughter. She dreams of San Francisco the way Lizabeth dreams of New York City (which is the way that I dream of sleep).

Turns out Lizabeth had also eaten dinner there, which is a genuine rarity because she’s much more health conscious than the rest of us.

Our children share a common gift for sniffing out life’s many ironies, so it wasn’t lost on Lizabeth that she chose to eat at America’s premiere fast food chain before seeing a Broadway show that mocks our country’s drive-through mentality.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony honoring the year’s best films

Coming up: Giant Peach meets Peoria, Children’s theater from jungle to farm, Picture yourself a playwright, How camp!, Childsplay goes to the dogs


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