Idea For A Sad, Sad Movie, Like “Old Yeller,” But Sad

My sister and I have a weak spot for sad animal movies. I think she was traumatized for years after her second grade class was “treated” to a walk to the movie theater for a screening of The Incredible Journey. Of course that’s the heartwarming tale of two dogs and a cat whose owners lose them on vacation (nice), and they have to make a cross-country trek back home. She still vividly recalls trying to control her sobbing during the scene where one of the dogs goes all MMA with a porcupine, and ends up with a bunch spikes in his face.

Disney loves that shit. The Lion King, The Fox and the Hound, Old Yeller, Dumbo, Bambi, Finding Nemo, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (because a new generation needed to be exposed to poor puppies and kitties struggling to survive in the wild)…rivers of tears have been shed by kids and adults alike during these beloved flicks. Bastards.

Anyway, I have an idea for a pitch based on this genre. It’s sweet, it’s heart wrenching, and ultimately triumphant. It’s about a poor, sad, neglected little beagle mix named Penny. She’s subjected to untold trauma during her short life. She’s forced to eat dry dog food. She must dejectedly go lie down by herself on her soft bed that’s covered with blankets and toys when no one is paying attention to her. And the most despicable tragedy imaginable. One day, out of the blue, her human mom and brother leave to go on an errand. Will they be back in 20 minutes? An hour? Never? She doesn’t know. And she’s all alone. Oh wait, no, she’s not alone, her 12-year-old human brother is home with her, but working on the computer. How will this end? Will she ever be loved again? Thoughts run through her mind, memories of the days she was taken on walks, given kisses, treats, tummy rubs. But not now. They’re gone. But wait? Is that the garage door? Are they home? Could it be?

OHMYGODHOLYCRAPTHEYACTUALLYCAMEBACKFORMEOHMYGODOHMYGODTHATSTHEMTHEYREHOMEOMFG!!!! Reunited at last in a frenzy of howling, screaming, jumping, licking, tail-wagging glory. And they walk off into the sunset, after a long belly rub. All is well again. The end.

This is based on this picture I took today before Alex and I left the house.

As an aside, while we were busy abandoning Penny, Alex and I got something to drink at the Target food court before shopping. I was filling Alex’s cup with water, and we had this conversation.

Alex: “Aww, I wanted a smoothie.”
Me: “No, you can just drink water.”
Alex: “Oh fine. Why are you getting diet Coke?”
Me: “Because I’m an adult.”
Alex: “But I thought you liked wine?”
Me: (Chuckling quietly. They are observant little things, aren’t they?)
Alex: “Don’t you like wine?”
Me: (At this point an older woman is nearby, hearing everything and grinning.) “Not at Target.”
Alex: “Do they even have wine here?”
Me: “No.”
Alex: “Oh.”


© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012



Day three of summer vacation, and I’ve already gone all Mommie Dearest on my kids. In my defense, they all deserved it.

Driving home this afternoon I passed some kids on the other end of our street selling popsicles to benefit the American Cancer Society Relay For Life. So I threw a five-spot their way and took home giant freeze pops for the kids. I should be hailed as an all-conquering hero, right?

Flash forward to ten minutes later when I’m scrubbing orange popsicle juice off my living room carpet screaming “I SAID NO POPSICLES IN THE LIVING ROOM!” at Justin, who is in histrionics because he wants another popsicle because he dropped his on the floor after I told all of them 20 times to eat the popsicles outside or in the kitchen. Alex is throwing things at me because I took his away after he wouldn’t go to the kitchen. David is coming into the living room with his popsicle to yell at Alex and Justin because they won’t stop crying, and I’m chasing after him because he won’t shut his yap or get in the kitchen, and Cameron, for some inexplicable reason is standing on a dining room chair.

Okay, so maybe my performance wasn’t quite Joan Crawford level psycho, but even so, I seriously need to go back to work.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012


Chick Flicks That Don’t Suck

This weekend I went to see the re-release of Titanic in 3D. Other than the obnoxious Celine Dion theme song, and some of the cheesier lines, and a terribly done Italian accent, I’ve always liked that movie, and always get sucked into it when it shows up on cable somewhere. Contrary to what you may have heard (SPOILER ALERT), Jack still freezes to death in the end.

It somewhat damages my credibility as a hater of chick flicks and most romantic comedies. I’ve written in the past (Not Just Bad Movies, I Mean Flaming Pile Of Crap Movies) about how I have friends who invite me to movies, and I just cringe when I hear what they want to go see. Failure to Launch, The Vow, The Wedding Planner, Valentine’s Day, You’ve Got Mail, The Bodyguard, P.S. I Love You, The English Patient. I could go on.

But there are some that transcend the genre. Here are ten other girly movies (Not that kind of *girlie* movie. Get your heads out of the gutter, people.) that have my seal of approval. Some of them are terribly bad, but still better than forking over  $10 to see 27 Dresses, or anything having to do with traveling pants, or Kate Hudson.

“It’s called civil rights. This is the 90’s.”

Four Weddings and a Funeral
 “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Goat. Eh…Ghost.”

Dirty Dancing
“I carried a watermelon?”

“You can’t just blurt it out like that! And quit moving around because you’re starting to make me dizzy. I’ll just tell her in my own way. Molly, you in danger, girl.”

“Regarde la bella luna!”

Say Anything
“I got a question. If you guys know so much about women, how come you’re here at, like, the Gas ‘n Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere?”

“Just me and the moron twins.”
“We’re not twins!”

Steel Magnolias
“I’m pleasant! Dammit! I just saw Drum Eatenton this morning’ at the Piggly Wiggly, and I smiled at the sonofabitch ‘fore I could even help myself.”

The Sure Thing
“Then what the hell did you pick me up for??? You think I got nothing better to do with MY life than to sit here and pass the time with you…SHHHIT BRAAIIIN!!! I don’t think I want this ride after all.”

When Harry Met Sally
“But I’d like the pie heated, and I don’t want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side, and I’d like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it, if not then no ice cream, just whipped cream, but only if it’s real; if it’s out of a can then nothing.”

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012

Instant Movie Review

  1. It’s misleading to name your film Carnage if Kate Winslet vomiting on a coffee table book is the most violent thing that happens.
  2. My motivation for seeing Carnage was simply to get out of the house with friends. I didn’t do pre-screening research. Had I known it was directed by child rapist, Roman Polanski, I would have passed.
  3. Jodie Foster. Overact much?
  4. John C. Reilly. The whole doughy schlub married to a hot wife thing has been done to death. Not buying it anymore. Do something with that hair.
  5. These two couples had to meet because their sons had a fight that started when one called the other a “snitch.” Really? That’s the best you could come up with? You apparently live in the pansiest neighborhood in Brooklyn if that’s all you’ve got. Cut your losses and move on.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012

Not Just Bad Movies, I Mean Flaming Pile Of Crap Movies

My friend, Julie saw the movie Drive a month or so ago. She’s still bitter about it. She’s anxiously waiting for this Michigan woman’s lawsuit to go class action. Woman sues to stop Drive getting away with a ‘misleading’ trailer

Here’s Julie’s concise review of the film. “Drive. Buzzed about at Cannes. 80 on Metacritic. Huge flaming pile of crap – unless you watch it as a comedy…”

Her brother, Joel was equally unimpressed. “You could stare at a photo of Ryan Gosling for two hours and basically have the same experience without the annoying music and ultra violent spurts.”

I think everyone has seen a movie that they despised on a visceral level. A friend of mine once sent me an e-mail after seeing The Blair Witch Project, and said that he wanted a refund of his ticket price just so he could take it and throw it out a window, because he’d get more satisfaction from that action than he ever could watching that movie.

In May of 2000, I picked up my brother at the Kansas City International Airport. We were attending our sister’s graduation from the University of Kansas the next day. He had seen Battlefield Earth the night before. And he clearly wasn’t over it. From the time he set foot in the car until we reached our hotel in Overland Park, probably a 25-30 minute drive in afternoon traffic, he went off on one continuous rant about everything in the movie that sucked (which was EVERYTHING in the movie).

My cinematic arch-enemy is P.S. I Love You. Sometimes I get sucked into going to really awful chick flicks with my friends. I’m not really a big fan of the romantic comedy genre, but there are a few that I can tolerate, even like. This one, no.

Soooooo many things were wrong with that movie. The premise is, a guy dies of a brain tumor, and as he’s dying, he leaves a series of fun, kooky, romantic notes for his young widow to find after he’s gone.

Firstly, most men are incapacitated by a simple head cold. I can suspend disbelief in order to buy that Indiana Jones can crack his whip, be dragged behind a truck full of Nazis shooting at him, and come out unscathed (with his hat), but to think that a guy in the throes of end-stage cancer is going to be thoughtful enough to go to such extravagant lengths for his wife on the other side, is not within the realm of possibility.

I mean, he sends her off on a trip to Ireland (um, they lived in a tiny NYC apartment and she worked as a waitress at a bar, yet he’s got money stashed for an all-expense paid trip for her and her three friends) and she meets a guy in a pub, sleeps with him, and oh jeez, look at that, it’s her late husband’s childhood best friend. Who knew?

And just when poor Hilary Swank, worst actress in a romantic comedy ever, is at the end of her rope, she sees his cufflink fall to the floor and it inspires her to start her own business of putting trinkets on top of shoes, and instantly she’s a fashionista with her own swanky retail store on Fifth Avenue. What fucking ever.

Harry Connick, Jr. and other assorted hot guys are in this movie. I’ve had a crush on Harry since I first knew who he was when he was 21 years old and I was 19. By the end of the movie, I even hated him. Hated him because his character was stupid, hated him personally because he took this stupid role to begin with.

Years later I’m still filled with self-loathing for having ever SEEN that piece of dreck. This is why we need a resurrection of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Someone needs to find those guys, give them a hugeass budget so they can rake big box office flicks over the coals. The Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party crowds should be getting to the bottom of problems like this. These are the issues that matter.

What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen, and why?

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011

Non-Helpful Movie Review: The Help

I saw The Help tonight. I liked it a lot.

Of course I probably could have seen Plan 9 From Outer Space and liked it just by virtue of being out with friends and not having to give anyone a bath, make dinner, wipe an ass, referee a fight, watch Spongebob, or listen to whining for an evening.

Not to take anything away from The Help because I really did like it. Bryce Dallas Howard was most excellent as the villain character. Also, wow, Mississippi in the summer without air conditioning while wearing panty hose, girdles and taffeta. None for me, thanks.

Anyway, that’s been the Critic’s Corner for Friday, August 26.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011

Stay With Me, Buddy

Wow, this week I just needed a break from writing. I have a few other things I’m working on, and the focus has just not been there. I found though, that once you skip one day, it becomes easier to skip two. And three. So I’m back on the wagon now.

I owe you a post about the second part of our trip to Wisconsin, which had its share of, for lack of a better word, interesting moments, but I’m just not into that right now. Instead I give you this little snapshot of my day.

Today I took the guys to see Cars 2. I realize it came out like three months ago, but I waited until it made its way to the cheap-o theater before we went. Cars wasn’t necessarily one of my favorite Pixar movies. Visually Cars 2 is an amazingly vibrant, detailed and stunning piece of cinematography. The colors in it are incredible. The plot though, considering it’s geared toward the younger set, is somewhat complicated and long. That’s likely why my four and five year-olds became pretty restless halfway through the movie. But we made it through and set off on the 20 minute drive home.

This is usually what you like to see on a car trip. There are exceptions.

We got out of the theater just before 2:00. When we got in the car I noticed Alex was pretty quiet. As we were driving, I saw him start to lay his head down. As a parent, this is DEFCON 3 territory. Because if he falls asleep on the drive, even for a few minutes, a nap when he gets home will be out of the question. It’s the equivalent of someone at NORAD starting to nod off on the job. It’s a situation that must be dealt with immediately. It’s a bona fide emergency because, cute as he is, Mama needs a break.

But since I can’t ply him with coffee or squirt him in the face with cold water, my only option is to keep him talking. Make him pay attention to something. Unfortunately there just aren’t that many points of interest from Hopkins to Chanhassen. So you just start asking questions and pointing out whatever random things you can think of.

“Hey Alex! Do you remember this song? It’s Party in the USA.

“So Alex, who was your favorite car in the movie?”

“Do you know who my favorite car was? Holly Shiftwell. Wasn’t she a cool color of purple? I liked that color. Or was it pink? It kind of looked a little pink.”

“What’s your favorite movie? Oh, Snow White? Who’s your favorite dwarf? I like Grumpy.”

“Why don’t you sing a song for me? Sing the one from Snow White. I haven’t heard you sing that for a long time. Please?”

“Hey Alex, look at that girl over there by the road with her car. I like her skirt. Isn’t it pretty? I think they must have dropped a box out of their trunk.”

“OH! Here comes someone walking a cute doggie. Wow, she has three of them, and that one looks like Penny.”

“Alex, did I show you the picture of the little puppy Kim’s friends are adopting? Wasn’t he cute? I love little puppies like that.”

“Hey look! A swamp!”

“Hey Alex, did you finish all of your Swedish Fish?”

“Do you think Anna has seen Cars 2? Are you gonna tell her about it tomorrow?”

“Hey Alex! There’s that park where we went geocaching. We should go there again sometime so you guys can play there.”

“Look! There’s the big crane!”

“Alex, do you think you’d be able to drive us home? Tell me which way we should turn.”

“Wow, look at that old car. That’s cool, it’s the same color as Holly in the movie.”

“Who goes to that church? Is that Rory’s church?”

“Look at that big bike with three wheels!”

“Hey! We’re just about home!”

I’m happy to report that he did take a lovely two-hour nap, at which time I had only the crises of three hooligans to deal with instead of four.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011

Thanks For The Memories, Harry!

I have some questions and commentary about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. So if you haven’t seen it or don’t already know how it ends, don’t read past the spoiler alert. If you don’t care one way or the other, you might as well keep reading.


David at a party at Barnes & Noble for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in July 2007.

For the record, I knew from the first movie (didn’t start reading the books until I started reading them to David and Cameron when David was in kindergarten or first grade) that in the end Snape would turn out to be on Harry’s side. Even in the darker periods through the Order of the Phoenix and the Half-Blood Prince where it seemed like he was double-crossing him, I still believed there would be a twist.

And no I didn’t read ahead, and David and Cameron didn’t tell me. Although David did start naming people who died as he was reading the last book, which I wasn’t happy about. I actually need to read books five through seven because I quit reading them once the kids started reading them on their own.

Ok, but here’s the question I have. Because sometimes I’m simple and can’t follow movies with complicated plots (I don’t really understand any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but did like them. Ditto most anything James Bond. I’m afraid to see Inception because I’d probably walk out completely confused.)

Was Snape Harry’s father? There was no “Luke, I am your father moment,” so I’m still not quite sure. David didn’t know either. I’m kind of hoping not, because that’s so cliché, but I totally did not get that part. And I’m smart too, I was on Jeopardy, dammit. But that detail eluded me for some reason.

Anyway, good movie, nice ending to a fun ride. Monsters Inc. was the first movie David saw in the theatre. He was two months shy of his second birthday. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone opened the same night we took him. Where did ten years go?

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011

My Life Is Just Like Top Gun. Only Not As Exciting. Or Cool. And Without F-14s. Or Tom Cruise.

So as promised in an earlier post (Drop And Give Me Twenty), I’ve enlisted David and Cameron in a massive de-cluttering, deep cleaning project that will be a weekly event until school starts up again in September. Today we (I use “we” in the sense of “pretty much mostly me”) tackled Justin and Alex’s bedroom.

I’m happy to report that every headless, wingless, or big punching handless action figure, every doll who looks like she needs an appointment with the prosthetics lab, every book with missing pages, and almost every toy that once shared its living quarters with french fries now has a one-way ticket to the landfill.

And multiple bags of age 3 and under toys and clothes went to P.R.O.P. and will hopefully live to see another day. It’s just like Toy Story 3, only not funny and cute. Or heartwarming. And it doesn’t have Tom Hanks. Or John Ratzenberger. Or a metrosexual Michael Keaton Ken doll. Other than that, it’s exactly the same.

Next stop will be Cameron’s room. That will be exactly like Scream. Only scarier.

Gonna take it right into the danger zone.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011

It Feels Radical In Kind Of A Tubular Sort Of Way

I’ve been living, eating, and sleeping baseball for the last several weeks, which is fine because I love baseball, but it will be nice to eat a normal dinner again. David’s team suffered an unfortunate (and by unfortunate I mean, they were nearly no-hit by the opposing team) loss tonight. I snapped this picture of a gathering at second base during a pitching change. It made me think of one of my favorite quotes from, I think, the best baseball movie ever made, Bull Durham.


That movie was made in 1988, which was, like a lifetime ago, so many of you youngsters might not have seen it. Do yourself a favor and get it in your Netflix queue before the summer is over. Here are my other favorite Bull Durham quotes.

"Excuse me, but what the hell's going on out here?" "Well, Nuke's scared because his eyelids are jammed and his old man's here. We need a live... is it a live rooster? We need a live rooster to take the curse off Jose's glove and nobody seems to know what to get Millie or Jimmy for their wedding present. Is that about right? We're dealing with a lot of shit."

“Your shower shoes have fungus on them. You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you’ll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press’ll think you’re colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob.”

“This son of a bitch is throwing a two-hit shutout. He’s shaking me off. You believe that shit? Charlie, here comes the deuce. And when you speak of me, speak well.”

“Relax, all right? Don’t try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls – it’s more democratic.”

“Man that ball got outta here in a hurry. I mean anything travels that far oughta have a damn stewardess on it, don’t you think?”

“It feels out there. I mean, it’s a major rush. I mean, it feels radical in kind of a tubular sort of way, but most of all, it feels out there.”

“Well, he really hit the shit outta that one, didn’t he?”
“I held it like an egg.”
“Yeah, and he scrambled the son of a bitch. Look at that, he hit the fucking bull! Guy gets a free steak!”

“You guys. You lollygag the ball around the infield. You lollygag your way down to first. You lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you? Larry!”

“I wouldn’t dig in if I was you. Next one might be at your head. I don’t know where it’s gonna go. Swear to God.”

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2011 and Orion Pictures, 1988