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Notes from the back row

How to raise your kids



We are living in strange times. Western Civilization is devouring itself. On the one hand, we spend more and more time staring at screens (computer, TV, iPod, ATM, cell phone, video games) and we're allowing screens to raise our children, thus destroying their imagination and creative potential. On the other hand, we keep telling our kids they can be anything they want in life if they just believe in themselves when the fact is, that's bullshit. Wanna be an astronaut? Or a Fighter Jet pilot? Believing and hard work counts but luck plays just as big a part - what if you're colour blind? Say goodbye to that dream, kid. Ever think of working in a restaurant?

A debate on the value of imagination (delivered through one of the mediums that is helping destroy it) provides the central theme of Tooth Fairy, early front-runner for shittiest movie of 2010.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson plays a thuggish, aging hockey player who likes to tell it like it is when he talks to kids. The honest approach backfires when he almost informs his girlfriend's daughter that there is no tooth fairy. That night he's whisked up to the fairy kingdom, outfitted with wings and a pink tutu and for two weeks is supposed to sneak into kids' houses and do the tooth fairy's duties. Cue the stupidest 101 minutes of the year, more painful than having an actual tooth pulled.

The theme of the movie is all about the value of imagination, which is a good message but it's delivered like a dog fart in a closet.

One more thing: it's not that movies and video games and internet porn are utterly bad for your child's imagination. They aren't - just the opposite actually. But they have to supplement a kid's playtime, not replace it.

Speaking of children, Extraordinary Measures, starring and executive-produced by Harrison Ford, is a loosely-based-on-true-events flick about a father (Brendan Fraser) with two children sick with Pompe disease (a nasty rare disease that no on has bothered trying to cure) who teams up with an outcast scientist (Ford) to start a research lab to work on curing or treating Pompe. The real story is heartwarming and compelling, and you can read it in Geeta Anand's 2006 book The Cure. The film, poorly directed by Tom Vaughn (What Happens in Vegas) is a bit of a disaster. Harrison Ford overacts (a lot) while Fraser and his wife (Keri Russell) don't act enough. The story of a family coming together in the face of adversity and of a man taking risks for the love of his children is there, but the script and direction don't really take us anywhere special. Harrison Ford is a legend but this film, and the promotional tour he's been doing for it, comes off as more of a grouchy old prick with a chip on his shoulder. Get your game face on Indiana before people start calling you washed up. Oops, too late. Remember Crossing Over, Firewall, Hollywood Homicide, What Lies Beneath, Random Hearts, Six Days Seven Nights, The Devils Own??? No one else does either. That's seven duds in the last 13 years. Not a very good run.

Humanity has had a good run, but it all comes to an end in Legion when God gets pissed and sends his angels to kill us all. Except for one angel, Michael, who holes up in a diner trying to protect one pregnant chick and her holy child. Looks like a decent religious sci-fi with some neat-o effects but it stars Dennis Quaid which is never a good sign. Even TV-numbed kids get bored watching Dennis Quaid.



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