In Defense of JUMANJI

JumanjiWhen you visit rottentomatoes.com, they only give Jumanji a score of 50%. Ouch. Roger Ebert called it “gloomy” and Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave it only a C+ implying that the story did not live up to the special effects. Double Ouch.

Yes, Jumanji is not a perfect film. There are moments that make me squirm, like when Robin Williams is attacking some wild vines with a sword and shouts “Harvest time!” That is not the only embarrassing shout in the film, later Judy (played by a young Kirsten Dunst) holds a checkout lane gun up at a person’s eyes and shouts “Price check!” To help emphasize the bad joke, the camera cuts to the cash register where it declares “no sale.”

Not to be a grinch, but many of the classics we love aren’t perfect. I’ll even give you a cherished example. In The Wizard of Oz, when the witch orders out her monkey army to get Dorothy she references a scene that was edited from the film. She explains to her monkeys that she had sent out bugs to tire them out first. Of course, we don’t see the fabled “jitterbug” scene happen (and probably for very good reason, it sounds incredibly cheesy). But, unless you know the history of the film, this really doesn’t make any sense at all. What bugs? What did the bugs do to them? How does a bug bother a scarecrow and a man made of tin?

Now in saying all that, I’m not comparing The Wizard of Oz to Jumanji, even though they both have many similar themes (returning to a home, forging a new family, friendship, etc.) and buy into the great myth that underlines most children stories (a normal child swept away into an adventure to find they are special). The Wizard of Oz is a classic and will never disappear. I can’t say the same for Jumanji in the future, and that makes me a little sad. There is a good chance that over time it might become nothing more than another chapter in all those future biographies of Robin Williams that are certainly being planned right now.

I love the film Jumanji. It is comfort food on the screen for me. And since the tragic death of Robin Williams (our hero Alan Parrish) I have watched it three times… and there is a good chance I might be watching it again soon.

Continue reading

“A bit of fun” Austenprose Reviews A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM!

An Illustration from AustenWhen A Jane Austen Daydream was released there were two reviews I was the most nervous about. The first was with the Jane Austen Centre (which you can read here), the second was with Austenprose, probably the most prominent voice in new Austen literature. Seriously, if Entertainment Weekly or the New Yorker found the book, I wouldn’t feel this amount of stress. (Okay, I might as well… and I would love to be tested on that, by the way! Do you hear me book reviewers?)

Yes, A Jane Austen Daydream is my novel and can be read by those who are not schooled in the works of Miss Austen (with some post-modern twists in it), but I really, really wanted my book to be accepted by the Austenites as well. Well, today, I got the review from Austenprose (here) and I am right now breathing a deep sigh of relief.

Here is an excerpt from the review, the reviewer’s response to my depiction of Jane Austen:

The good news is Scott Southard’s Jane is a delightful creature. She is clever and witty and determined to do the best she can for herself, even when things take a turn for the worst. Jane’s dialogue is one of the bright spots in the novel and her thoughts and comments had me smiling (and even laughing) on more than one occasion.

A Jane Austen DaydreamYou can read the rest of the review here. If you would like to learn more about A Jane Austen Daydream, you can do so on this page for the book (here). A Jane Austen Daydream is available via Amazon (here), where you can find it for the low price of $3.99 for eBook and $13.46 for print.

Book Review: From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury

When Ray Bradbury died Entertainment Weekly listed some of Bradbury’s books that their readers might not have read. These were not the classics, but more like hidden gems for readers to discover. From the Dust Returned was one of the books listed, which is what drove me to pick it up.

From the Dust Returned is the story of a house filled with ghosts, the undead, and other supernatural creations. There is one human living with them, a young orphan boy named Timothy, and it will be his fate to write about them.

For me, upon my reading, I had two reactions. First, I am not sure why Entertainment Weekly listed this as one to discover. I could have easily named a handful that would have fit more perfectly into that distinction (Did they just call the publisher? Did they just Google?). The second is the untapped potential for the work, leaving me with the feeling I read the shadow of a good book; not the good book itself.

Ray Bradbury stated that he had spent fifty years working on this book, but with an imaginative mind like Bradbury I really have no idea what that means. He was always creating, always generating works. Chances are, for me, when a book is not being moved forward it is for a good reason, I am waiting for that lightning bolt to truly ignite the creation with a Frankenstein scream of “It’s alive!” Continue reading

My Coke (Zero) Addiction

Ah, sweet nectar of the Gods!

What was life like before Coke Zero, and dare I even try to remember?

With two kids, early mornings, and a life that always feels like it is running and then suddenly asleep, Coke Zero has replaced the blood in my veins and my heartbeat now beats to the tempo of “I would like to teach the world to sing…”

This is my life force.

It wasn’t always like this. No, for a time I was off soda.  Four months of semi-consciousness, bumping into walls, speaking incomplete sentences, losing words, forgetting to—I don’t know—wear socks. But thanks to my baby daughter’s teething, I was brought back into the fold and I am once again collecting My Coke Reward points like nobody’s business. Subscription to Entertainment Weekly? Nah, I’m hoping to earn enough points to take over their editorial staff (I have a strong opinion regarding their obsession around Twilight, reality shows, and Glee). Continue reading