A Tween, a Teen and a Mom Review “Leap Year.”

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I must say, I was happy to see this movie pop up in the Netflix “Because you watched” list.  I have caught bits and pieces of it from when it was released in 2010, but never the whole thing.  It’s rated PG.

The Premise:

Anna (Amy Adams) has a successful career in Boston as a real estate stager, and a heart doctor fiance named Jeremy (Adam Scott).  She thinks he has invited her to dinner to propose, but that turns out not to be the case.  She decides to take matters into her own hands, and purpose to him.  Apparently, it’s an old Irish custom for women to purpose on Leap Day in Ireland, and as it turns out, Jeremy is in Dublin for a conference on – you guest it – Leap Day!  However, plans go awry landing her in a one-horse Irish town where she hires Declan to drive her to Dublin and shenanigans ensue.

The “It” Factor:

Mom and Tween: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

The Teen: ❤️❤️❤️❤️ – She docked it a heart because she thought they should have dated a little longer before getting engaged.

We all agreed that this movie has the “it” factor.  Even though the plot is a bit thin and does nothing to advance any feminist notions, we loved it.  And let’s face it, you already know those things going into most romances.  I am always charmed by Amy Adams and she did not fail here.  She (and I might add, her amazing calf muscles) make the movie.  As the tween noted “she is perky and funny without being too annoying.”

We all loved the banter between  Anna (Adams) and Declan (Goode), the funny cow scene, and the cinematography.  It was filmed all around Ireland and the scenery is beautiful.  However, if you are a geographic purest, you will have some problems as it would appear they traveled the whole of Ireland and went way out of their way to get to Dublin.  I am geographically challenged, and even I noticed this.  Anywho, that is what a “willing suspension of disbelief” is for – right?  So just chill and enjoy the scenery.

Fun 80’s/90’s star appearance: Jonathon Lithgow as Anna’s father.

Him Is So Handsome:

Tween and Teen: ❤️❤️❤️

Mom: ❤️❤️❤️❤️

We all have a thing for dark hair and blue eyes in this family, so we all liked Matthew Goode.  I like him a little more.  The girls thought he was a little too old to get a full five stars, ageist that they are.

The Tropes (all the cliches):

✔️The road trip

✔️ Enemies to lovers

❓ Unconfirmed dead mother.  Anna meets her father (Lithgow) for a drink to supposedly tell him that she is getting engaged.  No mother shows up, and I get the feeling that she might not be on the scene.  Of course, that doesn’t mean she is dead necessarily, but you kind of get that impression. Here’s to hoping there is a living mother of a heroin floating somewhere in the backstory!

 

The Ewwww Factor: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Nothing Ewwww here.  Everyone can enjoy watching it together.

The Bechdel-Wallace Test: ❤️

It barely eeks out a pass because the majority of scenes are between Anna and Declan.  However, there is a bit of conversation between Anna and a female board member of an exclusive apartment building.  There is also a brief snippet of conversation between an innkeeper’s wife and Adams that doesn’t focus on men or romance, but rather on the marital status of the couple from the previous night and cooking.

A Tween, a Teen and a Mother Review “The Kissing Booth”

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The Kissing Booth is a teen romance about a girl, her best friend (a guy) and his brother.  Elle (Joey King) has been Lee Flynn’s (Joel Courtney) best friend since they were babies (their mothers were best friends).  They created all sorts of rules about their friendship when they were little.  One of the rules was that Lee’s older brother, Noah (Jacob Elordi), is off-limits.  All that changes with an encounter in the school fund-raiser kissing booth.  This Netflix original production debuted in 2018 and is rated PG-13.

I always like when stars of the 80’s and 90’s make an appearance in these movies.  This one has one of the biggest gets ever – Molly Ringwald!!!  My only complaint is that they didn’t give her much to do.

A small aside – if you like podcasts, you should check out The Moth episode where Molly tells a story about getting called into the principal’s office about her daughter.  It’s vulnerable and heart-touching.  Here’s the info: https://themoth.org/storytellers/molly-ringwald

NOTE: Only Fiona (the teen) and I watched this one, with my husband as a “guest viewer”.  It must be noted that he was filling this role somewhat unwillingly.

The “It” Factor ❤️❤️💔

Fiona saw the ads on Netflix and suggested that this be our next movie to watch together.  Since I noted that queen of romantic teen movies of my generation, Molly Ringwald, is in it, I agreed.  We started off thinking this movie had all the feels.  The couple had good chemistry, and the premise is fun.  The “rules’ for the friendship between Elle and Lee are cute and believable.  However, this movie didn’t quite match up with how it was presented in the promotional materials, so it didn’t meet our expectations which resulted in the low rating.  I’ll explain more about this in the Ewwww section.

“Him is So Handsome” Factor ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

There is no denying that Noah Flynn (Jacob Elordi) is a hotty.  The Teen in particularly was swooning over him.  He spends a lot of time in this movie with his shirt off, which might account for this movie’s trending status on Netflix.  Even the best friend/little brother (Joel Courtney) is a cutey.  Adding to the appeal of Noah is the fact that the actors playing Noah and Elle became a couple in real life. Kinda like Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens did in High School Musical.  Hmmm, I am really beginning to see why my Teen was so attracted to this movie, as Zac Efron was the original “Him is so Handsome”…

The Overarching Tropes – All the clichés

✔️ Forbidden Love – Elle has a long-standing secret crush on the off-limits older brother.

✔️ Dead Mother –   Yep, this one too.  Seriously, Hollywood is tough on the mothers.  This is not really a spoiler alert, as they reveal the fact that Elle’s mother died with the opening credits.

✔️ Motorcycle riding, fist fighting alpha male bad boy.

The EWWWWW factor 💔 (Spoiler Alert – although the predictability of a romance kinda precludes a spoiler alert, but anyhoo here it is).

First, it should be noted that I watched this movie with a newly minted teen – she just turned 13 in May, and really didn’t want to be a teen.  That’s to say that I am watching this film with someone who is still fairly innocent.  The ewww factor might be less intense if you are watching with an older, more mature teen.

So, we are watching the movie and all is going along fine, until it isn’t. There is a scene where Lee and his brother throw a party and Elle, drunk,  gets up on a table to dance and decides she is too hot and starts taking off her clothes.  Neither brother does anything to stop her.  Aren’t they her friends?  I can get over that scene as it can be a good conversation starter about what NOT to do, but it did bother me that neither one stepped up.

There is also a montage of Elle and Noah hooking up.  The intimacy is mostly off camera and we don’t see much more than him without a shirt and her in a bra.  They also show her buying condoms.  I guess kudos to them for portraying safe sex, but there was an ewww factor watching it with my husband and 13 year old.  I am not sure she was even paying attention to that part, as her head was in her phone, and she was annoyed that her father wanted to turn off the movie then.  Or maybe she didn’t understand what Elle was buying, or maybe we are all in denial – I am not sure.

But the scene we could not get past is when Lee discovers the secret relationship between Noah and Elle.  This sequence of scenes doesn’t at all feel like the rom-com Netflix promoted this movie to be.  The two brothers talk about Elle while barely acknowledging her presence.  Then Lee asks if they have been together, and uses the f-word.    A fairly violent fight breaks out between the brothers that seemed outside the context of the sibling rivalry between them, and completely unnecessary.   We exercised our parental guidance and turned the movie off at this point.

These scenes are jarring and don’t fit the tone or feel of the rest of the movie. There are better ways this could have been handled that would have shown more character depth and growth. When the teen was gone,  I went back to finish the movie, because I was curious about how they recovered from this section.  The film, oddly, just went back into teen rom-com mode, with a lot of brooding until the romance was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.  I am disappointed Netflix, I expected better of you.

The Bechdel-Wallace Test: ❤️

It barely passed, but it did.  There is a brief moment when Elle and Mrs. Flynn (the mother of Lee and Noah) discuss school.

 

A Tween, a Teen and a Mother review “Coffee Shop”

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Coffee Shop is a romance starring Laura Vandervoot and Cory M. Grant.  Coffee shop owner Donovan (Laura Vandervoot) is in danger of losing her coffee shop when the bank that owns the building is sold. Ben (Cory M. Grant) is a playwright visiting the town to escape bad reviews of his recent play.  He sets up shop in the threatened cafe.

The “It” factor –The Teen and Mother: ❤️❤️ The Tween:❤️❤️❤️

Although none of us thought this movie totally had the ‘it’ factor, there was some disagreement on the ranking.  Emma thought it should have been three stars at least because the premise was good.  However, we didn’t really connect much to the lead characters, and Donovan’s sister, Becky (Rachel Hendrix), annoyed all of us.  Even my husband commented on her annoying behavior as he floated through the living room.

Mom’s Main Beef:  The background mood music played constantly, and was completely distracting.  Also, Vandervoot needs to work on her fake crying.  It was not convincing at all.  Lastly, the main two love interests don’t seem to have good on-screen chemistry.

The Teen’s Main Beef: The sister kept trying to set Donovan up with her ex boyfriend in annoying ways.

The Tween’s Main Beef:  There were some continuity issues for Emma.  In one scene, Donovan and Ben have a chance meeting in the town square and decide to go get ice cream.  It’s pitch black out, with white lights twinkling in the trees.  Then when they are eating the aforementioned ice cream on a park bench, the sun is just going down.  There was a lot of this kind of thing.

Him is So Handsome Factor : The Teen and the Mother❤️❤️❤️❤️ The Tween ❤️❤️❤️

We all were crushing on Ben (Cory M. Grant).  He really pulled off the tussled hair, scruffy beard look well.  However, the Emma thought that he “was not Mistletone Guy” hot, so she lowered her rating.  I told you, she is a tough critic.

The Overarching Tropes (cliches)

✔️Dead mother – I don’t know why Disney and romances are so hard on the mothers, but main female characters often have a deceased mother and Donovan is no exception.

✔️Wise African American man dispensing advice.

✔️A supposedly strong-minded businesswoman in need of rescue to save her business.

The Ewwwww Factor: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

No awkward sex scenes or inappropriate dialogue.  We were all comfortable watching together.

The Bechdel-Wallace Test: ❤️

Although there are some female characters, the majority of their discussion was around a man.  Even discussions about saving the business had to do with a man, albeit, not all of it was romance based.