Hollywood Uplink – September 2005: What Hollywood Has in Store for You

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September 2005

        Issue: 14:9

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What Hollywood Has In Store for You
By Dick Rolfe, chairman – The Dove Foundation

Hollywood has been lamenting for the past several months that attendance at the movie theaters is down significantly. Pundits are offering advice from every point of view. Some experts blame television; others say its video games, or the Internet, or even the weather.

There are film critics who say the poor turnout at the box office is because there have been no “decent” films released lately.  When I first read these comments, I thought, “At last, someone gets it!  These critics realize there is a desire for more wholesome, family-friendly movies.”  Upon further examination, however, I discovered that they were not complaining about indecent content, such as sex, violence and profanity, but about the overall quality of this year’s movies. “Not enough blockbusters,” they lamented.

 Their observation is partly correct. “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” ($380 million – USA box office) was the only blockbuster this year that came close to the huge numbers of 2004 mega-hits “The Passion of the Christ” ($370 million), Spider-Man II ($373 million), and “Shrek II ($437 million).”  All of these movies, except “The Passion,” are Dove-approved.

So far this year, Dove awarded its Family-Approved Seal to 25 out of 105 movies that have been reviewed. Some of the more memorable 2005 titles recommended for family members of all ages include live action titles like, “Because of Winn Dixie,” “Ice Princess,” “Herbie; Fully Loaded,” “Sky High,” “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl,” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Animated movies were also well represented with, “Robots,” “Madagascar,” and “Valiant.” The list would not be complete unless we added the wondrous nature special, “March of the Penguins,”

Even adults had an opportunity to enjoy action-adventure movie, “Sahara,” starring Matthew McConaughey and Penélope Cruz, and comedies like “Rebound,” starring comic Martin Lawrence, and “Miss Congeniality; Armed and Dangerous,” the sequel with Sandra Bullock.  Coming of age film, “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” starring Amber Tamblyn also won Dove approval for older audiences.

While it is always difficult to speculate, the fall and winter lineup contains some encouraging possibilities, and also some real questions.  

There is a great buzz of anticipation for the much-publicized movie based on book two of C.S. Lewis’ collection of Christian allegories, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.”  This co-venture between Walden Media and Walt Disney guarantees the financial legs to produce a truly wondrous fantasy that could make it the runaway mega-hit everyone hopes for. The big question is how the violence will be portrayed.  Many, including the Dove review board, felt that the recent series based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” was too violent for the family audience. We hope that “Narnia” is being filmed with viewers of every age in mind.

Beyond “Narnia,” there are only a few tasty prospects for the family diet. However, none of these films have been reviewed yet. Always check Dove’s reviews at www.dove.org before you go see any movie.

“Cheaper by the Dozen 2” opens on December 21st. The Baker family returns to the screen in this sequel starring Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt. The first installment of this classic comedy was approved for all ages. Director and Executive Producer, Adam Shankman, new to this project, has an impressive track record with some good, physical comedies, like “George of the Jungle,”  “Inspector Gadget” and “Blast from the Past.” However, Adam directed “Bringing down the House,” also starring Steve Martin, which missed Dove approval due to sexual situations, drug and alcohol use, and rough language.  I expect that Twentieth Century Fox will target the same family audience that made the first installment of “Cheaper by the Dozen” so successful.

Then, there is “Oliver Twist,” an adaptation of the classic Dickens tale, where an orphan meets a pickpocket on the streets of London. This well-known tale has been filmed as the musical “Oliver” and as a drama.  This latest version will be worth approaching with caution for two reasons; first because the story contains some violence and language that could be over the top. The second reason is that it is produced and directed by Roman Polanski, not normally associated with family-friendly fare. In fact, Polanski has never made a Dove-approved movie to-date.

 “Happily N’Ever After,” an animated retelling of several Grimm’s fairy tales will open December 31st. You remember Cinderella, The Frog King, Hansel and Grethel and Little Briar-Rose?  What could anyone possibly do to harm these oft-told fairly tales? Well, maybe nothing, but I am somewhat skeptical of this movie because of the choice of cast voices: Sigourney Weaver, Sarah Michelle Gelar, Freddie Prinze Jr. and George Carlin. Add to that the relative inexperience of director, Paul Bolger and writer, Robert Moreland and an unknown animation company, BFC Berliner Film Companie from Denmark, and you end up with a big question mark.

So, there you have it; very few choices for the rest of the year, and some of them dubious. Stay tuned to Hollywood Uplink and www.dove.org for the latest updates on the rest of the 2005 films coming to a theater near you.


The Dove Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.  Our mission is to encourage and promote the creation, production, distribution and consumption of wholesome family entertainment.  We are supported primarily by donations from families such as yours who want to move Hollywood in a more family-friendly direction.  All donations are tax deductible.
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