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Second Hand Lions

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:55 AM

I'm not even going to try to summarize the whole plot — if you've gotten this far, you should have rented the movie and watched it already (or perhaps you caught it in theaters). Ok, Ed, you can keep reading, but anyone else must go rent the movie first.

The basic plot we have here is that of the two eccentric uncles and their young great nephew, Walter, who has been all but abandoned by his mother at the beginning of the movie. Throughout the movie, the uncles tell the story of their journey through Europe, fighting in Africa during World War I, and Uncle Hub's finding of, and loss of, true love. The story that the uncles tell Walt is certainly wild and the one uncle even questions if the young man believes the story. Along the way there are people that claim they know the “real” story — the Uncles really were mafia members or the uncles were cruel bank robbers. The latter storyteller, Walt's mother's questionable fiance, even suggests that Hub's “true love” Jasmine was actually merely someone left to die at the scene of a bank robbery.

Ultimately, Walter chooses to ignore the nay-sayers and stays with his Uncles rather than going with his lie-telling Mother. Despite that, I think both the audience and Walter wonder if the stories his uncles told him really are true or only a cover up. As Uncle Hub tells Walter, it doesn't always matter if something is true, that isn't always what is important. Walter needs to believe in his uncles and so he does. He takes a leap of faith.

This reminded me so much of how it is with our relationship with God. Like Walter, we are mere children in need of someone to watch over us and lead us. God offers us the opportunity to be His sons and daughters and we experience just a tidbit of a real relationship with Him while on earth. The world itself remains theistically ambiguous and there are plenty of people making claims as to who God really is or whether God is God at all. We can choose to believe the critics or we can choose a leap of faith.

Taking a leap of faith does not mean believing something that is not true. Walter has evidence to support his belief in his uncles' stories (such as the sandy chest with the picture of Jasmine in it), but he also has evidence that seems to point in the opposite direction (such as the bank-like safe hidden in the barn). Walter keeps the faith despite the ambiguity of things and that is what makes the end of this movie so poignant: as he arrives to see the airplane wreck that has brought both uncles to their demise, a helicopter from a Middle East oil company lands and out steps the son of the sheik from his uncles' stories. He had seen the plain wreck on the news and recognized the names of Walt's uncles. The stories were true both men standing there discover that day.

Isn't it the same with God? In this life we will never have all of the proof to silence every critic. I believe this is very much for a reason, which I'll address in my next movie review, hopefully later this week. But for now, just consider that fact. I will never be able to prove God to everyone. There will always be arguments from people trying to convince me otherwise. But, just like Walter needed to trust his uncles before he had all of the proof, so that he could gain the wisdom and love they had to offer, we must trust God now. After this life we will have the equivalent of a helicopter landing with “the proof,” but then it is too late to seize upon that truth.

Sunday Brunch: Sitcoms

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 10:53 PM

Christopher just had some Sunday Brunch, so I thought I'd have some too. Join me in the comment, if you'd like.

1) What sitcom have you seen every episode of?
None. I have come quite close with I Love Lucy and I Dream of Jeannie, but despite constant reruns, a few episodes elude me.

2) What sitcom makes you laugh until you cry?
Most any one I'll waste my time watching must, at least on occasion, cause me to laugh hard enough that I cry. Let's see, that would include the two aforementioned ones with episodes such as the Vitametavegimin episode and most of the Hollywood episodes of I Love Lucy, just to name a few. Likewise, for example the Tony sounds like Caruso episode on I Dream of Jeannie. I'd also point out the Beverly Hillbillies on this point, with classic episodes such as the one where Jed, Jethro and Elly May think they are buying a piece of land for Granny and they are really buying a cemetery plot — you have to see it to understand it.

3) What sitcom do you wish had not been canceled?
I Dream of Jeannie could have gone longer, as could have Gilligan's Island. Those two are the only ones coming to me right now as shows that died before they really deserved to.

4) What sitcom do you wish they WOULD cancel?
Given that none of the modern ones intrigue me, I rather wish they'd cancel them all so perhaps the writers would go back to the drawing board and come up with something a bit better.

5) Who is your favorite sitcom character, either past or present?
Tough! Probably Lucy Ricardo. But Dr. Bellows, Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies, Mr. Bean and numerous others also are worth mentioning. Lucy gets the nod because Lucille Ball had a knack for comedy that I have not seen from anyone else. Her perfect timing on facial expressions, proficiency at slapstick and her character's general “likability” all play into this.

Johnny English

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:49 AM

I watched Johnny English tonight (with Rowan Atkinson of “Mr. Bean”). It was quite a bit like I expected — completely ridiculous. :-) Sometimes that's exactly the kind of film you need to see, ya know? Don't expect a long blog post on this — there isn't all that much significance to it. But, if you like Atkinson's brand of humor, you'll enjoy this film. I know Christopher posted on this film in 2003, but I cannot seem to locate that post. At any rate, it was a good movie for ninety-nine cents at the drug store. I made my throat hurt from laughing.

The Italian Job

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:57 AM

Slam-a-lama-ding-don't

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:46 AM

Slam-a-lama-ding-dong

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:43 AM

Princess Bride

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:24 AM

Trouble in River City

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:29 PM

Harold Hill (who is really “Greg”) is a con-artist who goes into River City, Iowa after hearing on a train about how Iowans are a tough sell. The salesmen on the train, not realizing Hill is on board, talk about how salemen going into towns where Hill has already been get tarred and feathered. They decide he'd never make it in Iowa. When the train stops, a young salesman says “I might just have to try Iowa.” One salesman says he doesn't recall the other man's name. “I don't believe I dropped it,” replies the young man, who flashes his suitcase that says “Prof. Harold Hill” as he dashes out of the train.

Once in town, “Prof.” Hill, as he likes to be known, convinces the towns people they need a boys band to eliminate the corrupting influence of a pool table that has just been added to the town (“You've got trouble, trouble right here in River City. That's starts with a 'T' and that rhymes with 'P' and that stands for 'Pool'”). He convinces most everyone other than town librarian Marian, who researches Hill's claim of coming out of the Gary, Indiana Conservatory class of “Ought Five.” In the mean time the Mayor (who owns the billiard and pub) orders the Board of Education to get Harold to reveal his credentials, but he is able to escape when he introduces the previously feuding board to the pleasure of singing in a barbershop quartet. From then on, he can slip way by just singing the first few words of a song, because the board gets wrapped up in the enjoyment of singing.

While his desperate plea for Marian's attention goes without any response in the rousing song “Marian the Librarian” (which I quoted the other day), Marian, who worries about becoming an “old maid” but is too picky to have anything to do with the men in River City, starts to fall in love with Harold. This seems to come about when she sees how Harold's efforts have turned her little brother, who has barely talked for years, into a happy singer.

Harold starts to have second thoughts after he discovers that his cunning tricks didn't get by Marian, who researched Gary, Indiana and found out it wasn't built until “Ought Six.” Harold and Marion, while apart for the moment, sing “76 Trombones” and “Goodnight My Someone” respectively, and then trade songs half way through. Harold is in love, but is fighting that with the realization he needs to jump on the 9:10 train and get out of town before getting caught.

While Harold plans to leave as soon as he collects all of his money, a fellow salesman, who has been trying to track him down since the train ride at the beginning of the play, throws a ratchet into the plans when he tells the town that Harold is a fraud. Marian finds Harold and warns him, but Harold realizes he can't bear leave. “For the first time in my life, I got my foot caught in the door,” Harold tells Marian. While the town prepares to attack Harold, Marian speaks up and notes all the joy the dancing and music Harold has encouraged brought to town, even if his main claim (to be a great conductor capable of starting a boys' band) is a lie. When the mayor asks anyone who agrees with Marian to step forward, people start stepping forward, including the mayor's wife (he tells her to go back, but after hesitating, she refuses). Someone does ask “where is the band” and on cue the children march out ready to play. While Harold realizes that it's hopeless to get them to play (since his “Think” system of thinking about the music to play is a fraud), Marian encourages him to lead the band and almost magically, they play. Harold is vindicated as he leads the band through the tune of “76 Trombones.”

I've Actually Seen Some of Them!

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 1:26 AM

1. Titanic (1997) $600,779,824
2. Star Wars (1977) $460,935,665
3. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) $434,949,459
4. Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) $431,065,444
5. Spider-Man (2002) $403,706,375
6. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The (2003) $377,019,252
7. Passion of the Christ, The (2004) $370,025,697
8. Jurassic Park (1993) $356,784,000
9. Shrek 2 (2004) $356,211,000
10. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The (2002) $340,478,898
11. Finding Nemo (2003) $339,714,367
12. Forrest Gump (1994) $329,691,196
13. Lion King, The (1994) $328,423,001
14. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) $317,557,891
15. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The (2001) $313,837,577
16. Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) $310,675,583
17. Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi (1983) $309,125,409
18. Independence Day (1996) $306,124,059
19. Pirates of the Caribbean (2003) $305,411,224
20. Sixth Sense, The (1999) $293,501,675
21. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) $290,158,751
22. Home Alone (1990) $285,761,243
23. Matrix Reloaded, The (2003) $281,492,479
24. Shrek (2001) $267,652,016

25. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) $261,970,615
26. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000) $260,031,035
27. Jaws (1975) $260,000,000
28. Monsters, Inc. (2001) $255,870,172
29. Batman (1989) $251,188,924
30. Men in Black (1997) $250,147,615
31. Toy Story 2 (1999) $245,823,397
32. Bruce Almighty (2003) $242,589,580
33. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) $242,374,454
34. Twister (1996) $241,700,000
35. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002) $241,437,427
36. Ghost Busters (1984) $238,600,000
37. Beverly Hills Cop (1984) $234,760,500
38. Cast Away (2000) $233,630,478
39. Lost World: Jurassic Park, The (1997) $229,074,524
40. Signs (2002) $227,965,690
41. Rush Hour 2 (2001) $226,138,454
42. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993) $219,200,000
43. Ghost (1990) $217,631,306
44. Aladdin (1992) $217,350,219
45. Saving Private Ryan (1998) $216,119,491
46. Mission: Impossible II (2000) $215,397,307
47. X2 (2003) $214,948,780
48. Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002) $213,079,163
49. Back to the Future (1985) $210,609,762
50. Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) $205,399,422
51. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) $204,843,350
52. Exorcist, The (1973) $204,565,000
53. Mummy Returns, The (2001) $202,007,640
54. Armageddon (1998) $201,573,391
55. Gone with the Wind (1939) $198,655,278
56. Pearl Harbor (2001) $198,539,855
57. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) $197,171,806
58. Toy Story (1995) $191,800,000
59. Men in Black II (2002) $190,418,803
60. Gladiator (2000) $187,670,866
61. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) $184,925,485
62. Dances with Wolves (1990) $184,208,848
63. Batman Forever (1995) $184,031,112
64. Fugitive, The (1993) $183,875,760
65. Ocean's Eleven (2001) $183,405,771
66. What Women Want (2000) $182,805,123
67. Perfect Storm, The (2000) $182,618,434
68. Liar Liar (1997) $181,395,380
69. Grease (1978) $181,360,000
70. Jurassic Park III (2001) $181,166,115
71. Mission: Impossible (1996) $180,965,237
72. Planet of the Apes (2001) $180,011,740
73. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) $179,870,271
74. Pretty Woman (1990) $178,406,268
75. Tootsie (1982) $177,200,000
76. Top Gun (1986) $176,781,728
77. There's Something About Mary (1998) $176,483,808
78. Ice Age (2002) $176,387,405
79. Crocodile Dundee (1986) $174,635,000
80. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) $173,585,516
81. Elf (2003) $173,381,405
82. Air Force One (1997) $172,888,056
83. Rain Man (1988) $172,825,435
84. Apollo 13 (1995) $172,071,312
85. Matrix, The (1999) $171,383,253
86. Beauty and the Beast (1991) $171,301,428
87. Tarzan (1999) $171,085,177
88. Beautiful Mind, A (2001) $170,708,996
89. Chicago (2002) $170,684,505
90. Three Men and a Baby (1987) $167,780,960
91. Meet the Parents (2000) $166,225,040
92. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) $165,500,000
93. Hannibal (2001) $165,091,464
94. Catch Me If You Can (2002) $164,435,221
95. Big Daddy (1999) $163,479,795
96. Sound of Music, The (1965) $163,214,286
97. Batman Returns (1992) $162,831,698
98. Bug's Life, A (1998) $162,792,677
99. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) $161,963,000
100. Waterboy, The (1998) $161,487,252

Glider Fun for Free

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 1:46 AM

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