I cried a bunch yesterday. When the doctor finally came in to see us after two hours of waiting at Primacare (a walk-in clinic) and saw the tears rolling down my cheeks, he probably thought I was worried about Emmie (she has bronchitis)… or that I was fed up with having to wait so long with a bunch of sick people ON THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS. But Primacare was showing The Rookie on their in-clinic movie system– why wouldn’t everyone cry at that?
It was the second time I’ve seen it. But I think I cried not only because it’s a great, true story about second chances, it’s also a really well-made movie, and well-made movies are hard to come by– great soundtrack (tunes by Steve Earle, Willlie Nelson, John Hiatt, and Ryan Adams, among others); great acting (Dennis Quaid in the lead role of Jimmy Morris); really good camera work (you can almost feel the West Texas dust in your face); appropriate for all ages; and a feel-good story without being schmaltzy or too sugary. I can’t say enough good things about this wonderful 2002 Disney flick, and I’m not even a huge sports fan. Quaid once said in an interview with Larry King that it would have been too unbelievable if it had been a fiction piece, and that it worked because it is a true story. I checked it out online when we returned home yesterday and amazingly, the main parts are true. All the elements needing a “second chance”– the strained relationship Jimmy Morris had with his father, the high school baseball team Jimmy coached, that needed to start winning, Jimmy’s early failed attempt at playing pro baseball and the challenge from his students to try again over a decade later– all true, as well as his 98 m.p.h. pitches in his mid-thirties and his debut in the majors in, of all places, his home state. Definitely a good movie to watch over this holiday break, especially if you (or your children) have never seen it!! So uplifting in the midst of so much angst in the news!
I got in on yet another “second chance/true story” movie about four hours later when Emmie, feeling miserable and lying on the living room sofa, requested that we watch Soul Surfer with her. She’d gotten the DVD as a Christmas present, and Andy had never seen it. I took both girls to see it when it was at the dollar theater but found myself drawn in again last night as I tried to clean the kitchen while Andy and Emmie watched. Definitely a bit scarier than The Rookie, with a brief glimpse of a shark, lots of blood, hospital emergency scenes and a teenage girl that loses her left arm, and it definitely borders on schmaltzy with a “forced” performance by Carrie Underwood as a church youth counselor, but there are a lot of really uplifting things about this movie, too, and there I was, sniffling again. Seriously, who can’t be moved by a girl who gets back on her surfboard and competes again after losing her arm to a shark???? And if you don’t believe it, real-life video footage of the real Bethany Hamilton shows as the credits roll at the end. There is good acting in spite of Underwood (Helen Hunt, Craig T. Nelson, AnnaSophia Robb and hey, there’s Dennis Quaid again!); gorgeous camera shots (what’s not to love about Hawaii?); and the first time I’ve ever seen a youth mission trip portrayed on film (Bethany goes to Thailand, after the tsunami). You come away from the movie not only inspired by Bethany’s courage, but also by her close-knit family and the way her parents chose to follow their dream of living near the beach and being lifelong surfers.
So, Soul Surfer is another good movie to watch over the break, appropriate for, I think, pre-teens and up (and it’s not just for girls– Bethany’s brothers are portrayed in this almost as much as Bethany!). There’s also a book of the same title, written by Bethany, for teens and others who want to know more about her story, so the movie can be a springboard to reading. And if you happen to have lazy kids, you might even get other “mileage” out of the movie– the next time they balk at cleaning their rooms or helping around the house, just remind them of the scene where Bethany fixes breakfast for her whole family– using only one arm!!