Let’s Stay Home And Go To The Movies

Friday marked the fourth birthday of the “Voice from the Bullpen.” I want to thank The Post-Journal for this opportunity to share thoughts with you, who’ve been loyal readers. Thanks for your comments, encouragement and agreement/disagreement of some of the topics. I hope you enjoy the column and “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise,” I’ll be able to continue for a long time. Now, onto today’s piece …

The seasons are changing and the new television season is beginning, but without nightly baseball, the selection of programming will leave lots to be desired, so we sometimes find ourselves looking for some other “stay at home” entertainment.

I know many enjoy going to the movies. For me, many theater movies today don’t have the flair, or fit the genre I enjoy, especially at the cost. Besides, on some of those cold, crisp autumn/winter nights, we like to stay home, enjoy a hearty “fall/winter” meal of maybe homemade soup, or chili, or chicken gumbo, or one of my favorites, jambalaya, each deliciously prepared by my lovely bride, then maybe enjoying some coffee, a soft drink, maybe wine (or something stronger), then sitting down to watch a TV movie, one which may not have exploded on big screens, broken box office records, or garnered Oscars, but a good, clean, warm-hearted movie, which might result in maybe smiles, goose bumps, throat lumps, tears, or just make you think of someone/something special in your life. In case you need help choosing one of these types of films, I suggest any, or all, of the following:

1.) “Rudy” Sean Astin, Ned Beatty, Jon Favreau, Robert Prosky, Charles Dutton. The true story of Daniel Ruettiger who showed true strength of spirit, perseverance and fortitude being able to tune out many who told him that playing football and getting a degree at the University of Notre Dame, was an impossible dream. It’s a movie that can be watched repeatedly and never lose its “feel good” effect.

2.) “Stolen Summer” Aiden Quinn, Kevin Pollak, Bonnie Hunt, Brian Dennehy. The story of 8-year-old Pete O’Malley, the son of Catholic parents, and a student at a Chicago Parochial School, who, heeding the stern lecture of one of the nuns at his school who told young Pete to try and follow the path of the Lord during the summer, developed curiosity in the Jewish faith. He met a Rabbi and befriended his son, a young boy stricken with leukemia. Believing Jewish people couldn’t enter heaven after death, because they couldn’t find Jesus in the Eucharist, Pete spent the summer devising a way that young Danny could convert to Catholicism, thus being able to get into heaven. It’s a wonderful movie that will definitely warm the chills of the season and leave you with smiles and tears, sometimes simultaneously.

3.) “Pay it Forward” – Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, Haley Joel Osment, Jay Mohr, Angie Dickinson. A story of a young boy dealing with an abusive, regularly absent, father and alcoholic mother. He’s given an assignment by his social studies teacher requiring students to create, and implement, something that could change the world. Young Trevor’s idea was to do three good deeds and ask those whom he helped to, in turn, do three good deeds, etc., hoping positive deeds would snowball. Trevor’s efforts became the subject of a reporter and not only did he make a difference in the three benefactors of his deeds, but he influenced many more around him. Another movie that will allow you to turn down the thermostat on a cold winter night.

4.) “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” – Thomas Horn, Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock, Max Von Sydow. The story of Oskar, a young boy whose father died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. After finding a blue vase in his father’s closet containing a key in an envelope labeled “Black,” Oskar begins a frantic “scavenger hunt” trying to find what that key would open. (His father used to send him on frequent scavenger hunts, trying to impress on him that “if things were easy to find, they wouldn’t be worth finding.”) As he ventured he put together a scrapbook which ended with a picture drawn by Oskar showing a body falling up to the top of the Trade Center as if time and the attacks were reversing. An impactful, emotional film that will turn a cold winter night into one of thought, reflection, and remembrance.

5.) “Indian Summer” Alan Arkin, Kevin Pollak, Elizabeth Perkins, Diane Lane, Bill Paxton. The story of a reunion of sorts, about seven adults, former annual childhood regulars at Camp Tamakwa, invited back by Camp Director “Uncle Lou,” who’s gathered them together one final time before he closes the camp for good. It is a great film that sends all of us back to times of youth and experiences of our past.

6.) “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton, C.J. Adams, David Morse, Dianne Wiest. The story of two people who couldn’t have children who buried their dreams of having a child in a box in their yard, only to be introduced to Timothy who magically appears with leaves on his ankles and calls the couple Mom and Dad. Though the couple tried hard, they made many parental mistakes. Timothy taught them more than they thought they could ever know about parenting. It’s a movie that emotes loving, and being loved, unconditionally.

7.) “Radio” Cuba Gooding Jr., Ed Harris, Debra Winger. The true story of Coach Harold Jones, and his acceptance of a mentally challenged young man into his football program, and his lesson of acceptance taught to an entire town. It’s a film that shows that champions/championships are not only made/won on the football field, but in the real world of everyday life.

8.) “The Reading Room” James Earl Jones, Joanna Cassidy, Georg Stanford Brown. The story of a man with reservations making good on a promise to his dying wife to open and operate (despite sometimes violent community opposition) a room where children and adults could go to learn how to read and enjoy reading. Another feel good, heartwarming story.

9.) “We Bought a Zoo” Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church. A true life tale of a young widower with two children seeking something to allow him and his kids to start over. He purchases an animal park and runs into problems with his son and money, but perseveres to make it happen. A warm, sad/happy story.

10.) “Miracle” Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson. The story of the 1980 USA Olympic Hockey Team … enough said.

Siskel, Ebert, Reed or Siegel I’m not, but these are some movies I’ve come across that would go great with that jambalaya and wine on that crisp fall/cold winter night. Try them. They might just let you turn down that thermostat a bit.