Standing Up

StandingUpSuggested by Brad Nelson • Two kids are stripped naked and left together on an island in a lake — victims of a vicious summer camp prank. But rather than have to return to camp and face the humiliation, they take off on the run together.
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One Response to Standing Up

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    This is rated PG. There’s nothing in this film inappropriate for a general audience. And adults should get a kick out of it as well. This would make for a good parent-child movie night.

    Just as the synopsis above explains, two kids are “bullied.” But this is thankfully not a hyper-ventilating anti-bullying movie. Neither child (Howie or Grace) are obnoxiously precocious. Neither is spouting lines that only a tone-deaf adult could stuff into their mouths as so often happens these days.

    This is, dare I say, a tender movie but one that remains quirkily fun and unpredictable. The story is based on what apparently is a very popular young adult novel.

    I enjoyed the movie. Still, opinions will differ. One reviewer wrote:

    The book this film is based on “The Goats” is a much less sunny story of two kids violated and left to fend for themselves in a cold and uninviting world. The film gives the story the afternoon special kind of vibe placing the kids in a beautiful Adirondack setting (where curiously all the leaves are tuning in high summer?) where they have a series of adventures while they develop a tender pre-adolescent (and completely platonic) romance. The directors have also fell for the ancient device of putting over-sized eyeglasses on two extremely pretty kids and expecting us to see them instantly as nerdy and unattractive. It rings hollow. The characters are largely one dimensional. The bullies from their own camp are predictably evil. The minority kids from the neighboring poor kids camp are noble and good and the adults are stereotypical and clueless.

    Interestingly, I didn’t at all find the children to be one-dimensional. I suppose this is a matter of basing my opinion on real children rather than movie children. If the reviewer expects real children to act like movie children, well then they were a bit one-dimensional. But I found them believable (within the constraints of a movie).

    The themes are surprisingly conservative-friendly. There is an awful lot of self-reliance going on. And as the kids “borrow” a few things that they need as they are on the road, they are very self-conscious about not stealing. They leave IOUs. I dare say, there is no subtle message that is going to turn your child into a little monster. If anything, this is good training for bucking inappropriate authority.

    All of these kinds of observations will be way over the head of the average viewing public. And that’s a shame, because if they were more aware of many of the truly awful messages hidden in most films, they could then at least avoid being mindlessly programmed. A film slightly along those lines (but one I found enjoyable nonetheless) is one I watched soon after this: Moonrise Kingdom.

    If you can forgive the subtle overall cultural theme that only the misfits in life are really normal, you’ll enjoy this movie, although this one tries too hard to be quirky. Still, Bruce Willis is great as the police officer, and Edward Norton is outstanding as the Scout Leader. I wouldn’t call this an ideal kids’ movie because many of the themes are a bit racier. Bill Murray and Frances McDormand weigh the movie down needlessly with their depressing presence. Tilda Swinton does, however, have some humorous moments as the social services heavy.

    The two main characters (the boy and girl) may be a little more difficult for some to swallow down. They are both a bit oddball which is the main draw of this film. Quirks and quirks galore. But the boy is a slightly sympathetic character in that he is an orphan who is being thrown out by his foster parents. The girls in any other universe would be in a comprehensive therapy, but here she is cleansed of being a violent psychopath by the magic of the soft-filter of the movies. At some point she stabs a kid with her left-handed scissors, but it’s all just good fun. Quirk quirk.

    This would have been a better film had they pared out some of the “hip” and substituted more heart…particularly in and around the Willis and Norton characters. Ed Norton is superb as the Scout Leader and this movie is worth watching just for that. But you might not find this particularly suitable for kids. But given what is typical today, it’s rather mild. It’s a visually interesting film as well. Lots of nice shots in and around nature.

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