Monday, November 29, 2010

A Walk in My Shoes

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If you read my post from last Friday, you will recall that I was going to try to pre-view NBC's upcoming Family Movie Night movie, A Walk in My Shoes. Well, over the weekend I had the opportunity to view the movie with my son, Tex, and I wanted to tell you a bit about it.

I will tell you right off that I am a fan of NBC's idea for showcasing family-friendly movies on Friday evenings. I think this is a phenomenal idea that those of us who do watch some television should support, because our society is definitely a media-driven one and we need to get more movies and shows with positive messages out there so people can see that there is a better way to live than the pattern set by popular favorites such as The Simpsons, Married with Children, and Friends (you can tell how long it has been since I watched prime-time comedy TV by the fact that I do not know the names of any of the newer sitcoms…and I never watched the ones listed here, either….thankfully).

I want to say up front that when individuals review a product, they are doing so from their own personal bias, their set of experiences, and their worldview, so I want you to realize that while I am attempting to be as objective as possible, this review will naturally have some of my family’s preferences wrapped up in it.

That said, I want you to know that I can recommend this movie for most families. Overall, my son, Tex, and I enjoyed it, and because we really talked about the content in detail, it was a worthwhile experience for us. We enjoy reviewing things, such as movies and music and books, and consider the exercise of picking something apart detail by detail a fun way to practice skills such as comparing and contrasting, debating, making inferences and predictions, and drawing conclusions. As a result, we had fun analyzing the characters, listing both positives and negatives of the film, and figuring out what lessons each person was likely to learn, then comparing our hypotheses to what actually happened.

The film is a story about a teacher/wife/mother who is self-absorbed and rather clueless and uncaring about those around her, including her own family. Events happen and she is put into a situation where she spends time “walking” in the shoes of another mother whose husband has been killed in Iraq, is running ragged trying to support her family, and has two children who are struggling as they fall farther behind in their schoolwork because of the stressful situation at home (it’s kind of like A Christmas Carol meets Freaky Friday meets Touched by an Angel). Over the course of the movie, this teacher begins to learn to take the focus off of herself and to really pay attention to and listen to others, and that by doing so, she actually gains something, rather than loses it. The movie resolves well, with things returning to the way they ought to be, but with the teacher having learned a lesson which she takes with her to apply to her new, more aware (and less self-centered) reality.

In my book, since the movie ends “right” (with a lesson learned and a happy ending), I liked it. Tex enjoyed the discussions we had during and after the movie, and he thought that while the storyline was a bit predictable, it was decent. It wasn’t earth-shaking in its presentation or performances, but it was enjoyable for the end of a long, tiring day when we really just wanted to do something quiet to lay around and relax before bed time. I felt it was worthwhile since we did it TOGETHER, which I feel is the whole point of the Family Movie Night initiative NBC is attempting to re-start.

For those who are very conservative, I will tell you that I wasn’t thrilled with the soundtrack. Let’s just say it was LOUD. Even Tex, who listens to Contemporary Christian bands like TobyMac (not my favorite, but Hubby likes them, too), thought it was a bit over the top. Mostly, the music is as a background for some skateboarding scenes. The music pops up about three or four times as I recall. You could always mute this out. Another thing was something I noticed (and disliked), then was pleased when Tex pointed it out as a negative aspect himself. One of the boys in the movie is disrespectful to the woman he thinks is his mother (but is actually the teacher in her place)…he is impatient and flip with her in a way I would not allow in my house, and I would hope my boys (or girls) would never talk to an adult, or to each other that way. It’s not that he cursed or was overtly nasty in an angry fashion, but the way he treated her was more like how you’d talk to another kid, and not one you particularly respected (typical of today’s secular television attitudes, especially in sitcoms). Since Tex noticed this poor attitude on his own, and we talked about it, it wasn’t a problem for us, but I do prefer to watch movies where the kids are consistently kind and respectful to each other and to adults. The child in question was better in a few other scenes. Lastly, there is a character whom you get the impression is supernatural in nature, more towards the angelic end of the spectrum than anything else. She is nice, and strangely enthusiastic and peppy (she dances and sings in one scene, which we didn’t quite get the point of). She is the one who facilitates the events that occur, and by the end of the movie you get the impression that perhaps this movie is a lead-in to a potential series or at least a sequel, with her as the continuing character. There is nothing occultish about any of it…it’s more like an angelic intervention.

The movie taught several very clear lessons:
  1. Don’t judge someone else’s situation until you have walked a mile in their shoes (or at least tried to understand it),
  2. Don’t get so caught up in yourself that you fail to see the needs of others,
  3. AND as one character says at the end,  “It’s funny how when you help someone else, you heal your own wounds.”
There was one very clear mention of God and faith, and it was a positive one. I will try to share the brief conversation as accurately as I can recall. One character (a child) asked the other (an adult), “Do you believe in God?” The adult answered, “Yeah.” The child commented, “I just don’t get it. Where was he when my dad died?” The adult answered, “Right there beside him.” I felt that was a great answer.

I would recommend supporting this movie for several reasons: First, it is a good idea to support family-friendly initiatives whenever we can. If was are too judgmental and particular about things, we will never make any inroads into improving the general culture, and improvements definitely need to be made. I do not mean we should compromise our values for the sake of making a difference, but that we should choose our battles and be glad for small steps when they come. Second, it does make for a good discussion of culture, behavior, choices, etc. with older children. I liked that the oldest son (the son of the mother who was working so hard) was working after school to help pay the bills. What a novel idea in today’s general society! Also, the man who becomes their neighbor reaches out and helps the family through some troubled times (and there is no romantic involvement in it for him, either). It is a good demonstration of “loving your neighbor.” I would probably not have my younger children watch it (for more conservative viewers) due to the music and the occasional disrespect shown by a few of the characters, but I do not think that watching it with ages nine or ten and up would be a problem. Children this age are mature enough to spot poor attitudes when they see them, and to draw correct conclusions about them. Lastly, it IS a great idea to spend time together with your family, and after a busy day, watching and discussing a movie with a big bowl of popcorn to share sounds like a fun thing to do on a chilly December night...

A Walk in My Shoes will be showing on NBC on Friday, December 3rd, at 8 pm EST/ 7 pm CST. Thanks to Walmart and P&G products for supporting this Family Movie Night initiative.

You can watch the movie trailer HERE. You can see a synopsis of the movie and request a FB event reminder for the movie showing HERE. You can find out more about the Family Movie Night initiative HERE. Don’t forget to spread the word, so they will continue to bring more family-friendly movies to prime time TV. Thanks.

Blessings,

Heather

1 comment:

Kristy said...

Great review. I will look forward to watching it! Thanks for the post. We are praying for you always!

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