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Kids movies, and your mama too

I’m not a big fan of kids in movie theatres.

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They generally misinterpret the un-posted but universal rule of "Don’t talk during the movie." As well, kids move around more than real people, they fidget. They fidget and they kick your seat. I realize kids are just kids so really the blame lies with the parents that won’t (can’t) keep their kids under control. Maybe we’d have less stabbings up here every weekend if parents everywhere started teaching their children about having respect for others. Shit, I bet they could go to the movie with their kids, keep them quiet the whole time and then afterwards perhaps even discuss the movie, like, as a family or something… Or not, whatever, I don’t care, Just keep your kids quiet.

Having said that, I do quite like children’s movies, even when the theatre’s full. The Spy Kids series was superb and the number one box office hit last week was Shrek 2. Now, finally, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban opens Friday at the Village 8.

The first two Potter movies were predictably light and fluffy; kids stuff. Well the times they are a-changin’. Harry Potter goes through puberty and Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron infuses The Prisoner of Azkaban with an underlying mood that’s much darker than Potter’s last two outings. This is due partially to the writing style in author J.K. Rowling’s third Potter book but mainly to the fact that Cuaron brings a fuller sense of realism to the movie franchise. His Hogwarts School of Magic actually looks like a real school, one where magic is an everyday thing used by teachers, students, or even cafeteria busboys. As well as giving far more attention to detail, Cuaron’s camerawork, especially the long panning shots, brings a hint of creepiness to the film, which fits perfectly.

The story is simple: back for another year of wizard school, Harry, Hermoine, and Ron learn that Sirius Black has escaped from the Azkaban Wizard Prison. Imagine that – a bad guy with the name Black. Anyhow, since Sirius Black killed Harry’s parents, the young wizard decides to kill him. Serious stuff I know, but child actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint are starting to grow up and finally they can handle tougher themes and emotions. There’s even a bit of sexual tension between Grint’s Ron and Watson’s Hermoine. And Radcliffe is now old and comfortable enough as an actor to nudge some believable bitterness and anger into Harry.

On a side note, Emma Watson’s talent has matured beautifully, leaving Hermoine poised to wrench the star spotlight from Harry.

In fact, all the characters, even the hippie-esque teachers, are more fleshed out and natural. There’re cool new creatures and the CGI effects are superb, even subtle at times. This is a far cry from the overly dramatic, mouth agape magic of the previous films. In Alfonso Cuaron’s adept hands Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a film that should really appeal to adults. If only because it’s so good and scary their kids will finally shut up and watch.

Other good kids movies include Labrynth, The Neverending Story, and Y Tu Mama Tambien. Wait a second that’s not true. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, Y Tu Mama Tambien is actually rated R and it isn’t a children’s movie at all. It’s the DVD of the Week!

Filmed in Mexico and subtitled in Spanish, Y Tu Mama Tambien (translation: and your mama too) is a tale of a woman’s new-found freedom acting as a catalyst for the maturation of two young men. Seventeen-year old best buddies Julio and Tenoch are terribly bored after their girlfriends leave to travel for the summer. The boys meet up with an older, female cousin (by marriage) who’s having problems of her own and has decided to get away for a while. Julio and Tenoch fabricate a story about a beach called Heaven’s Mouth and together the three set out to find it, taking turns having sex and losing/rebuilding friendships along the way. Eventually they get to the beach and the movie ends shortly after that. Part visual poetry (Armed roadblocks and open countryside), part gritty realism (frontal nudity and clever masturbation scenes), and part love-triangle road trip, Y Tu Mama Tambien is what I consider an ideal date movie and since it’s readily available on DVD you don’t have to worry about kids making noise while you watch it. Rent it from Movie Gallery, they have some deals on these days.

At Village 8 June 4-10: Harry Potter Prisoner of Azkabon, Raising Helen, Day After Tomorrow, Shrek 2, Troy. June 9: Triplets of Belleville.

At Rainbow Theatre June 4-10: 13 Going On 30.

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