My favorite Christmas movie is A Christmas Carol. by Charles Dickens. But not just any telling of it. It has to be the The Muppet’s version. (1992)
It is truly the best version ever made. If you have not seen it, you must. Even if you aren’t in kid’s ministry and yes, even if you typically don’t like puppets. It is as touching as it is funny. And Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat, as narrators make the movie. They are simply hysterical. Micheal Caine does a great job as the Scrooge as well. Of course, Kermit and the Gang all do great filling in the rest of the cast.
So, in 2004, I created my own parody of the movie in ToyBox Tales fashion. If you are not familiar with ToyBox Tales – for several years I performed stories with action figures on a set in front of a live audience of kids at my church as a way to introduce lessons or re-introduce familiar stories in a new and fun way. (From 2001-2005) Long before the phrase “going viral” existed, the videos I made “went viral” and as people found them on my church website and I was forced to start a website called toyboxtales.com to share them. YouTube.com did not exist at the time! So they were converted to flash and hosted on my own site. They are there still!
But as a Christmas gift this year, I decided to take my favorite Christmas movie and upload them to my YouTube channel and share them here on my blog for your enjoyment.
Stealing an idea from George Lucas, PIXAR decided to come out with a “prequel” to Monsters Inc., which I think was genius from a business point of view. Not only will families with kids flock to the film, but the college crowd who grew up on Mike and Sulley will too.
And flock they did! After missing out on not one but TWO sold out showings, we decided we’d better go an hour early if we wanted to get the best seats in the house!
Luke doing his first movie “camp out,” but well supplied!
I’ll link to the official Kidology Review coming shortly from one of our expert reviewers, but I wanted to post some of my thoughts.
First of all, TWO THUMBS UP! As people were coming out the showing before us, I asked, “Thumbs Up or Down?” After repeated thumbs up, I had to explain the ‘thumb system’ to Luke. LOL
NOTE: I AM going to include spoilers from this point forward, so if you haven’t seen it, stop reading after this paragraph, and just go see it. It’s a great film with super messages for everyone on friendship, forgiveness, teamwork, and as my blog title suggests, never giving up.
Secondly, (minor spoilers following) I love the theme of never giving up on a dream! Along with that came the message of HARD WORK, which is not taught very well or very often in our American “get rich quick” or “I’m entitled to success” culture. That’s why I’d give the movie four thumbs up if I had that many. (I’d probably be in the movie, then, huh?)
Mike is a little monster who, quite simply, isn’t very scary. But after an experience as a young monster early in the movie at the Scream Power Plant at the heart of Monstropolis, (I’ll leave that spoiler out, for those who chose to read on), he sets his heart and all his effort on becoming a Scarer at the Power Plant. It is his dream and life purpose. The movie quickly shows him studying hard and getting good grades to get into the college of his choice, Monsters University, rather than the rivals, Fear Tech or Scary University.
Despite all his hard work, and he works and studies harder than anyone else, his lack of “natural scariness” seems to spell nothing but failure. Rather than summarize the entire movie since you’ve either seen it or will, I will to get to my point. Through it all, Mike never gives up. There is one moment of despair where he almost does, but that is when reconciliation happens between Mike and his former rival, Sulley. As it turns out, Sulley had been depending on natural talent and a family reputation rather than hard work to succeed, yet he was seeing the same amount of failure.
Working together, they end up doing the impossible. As great as that is, it isn’t what I like the best about the film. There was something else I really liked, and I’m curious if others caught it.
In the process of doing this incredible “thing” at the end (still avoiding the details), they break some rules and to my surprise, they are expelled from Monsters University. I really expected them to be forgiven and allowed to re-enroll due to the amazing “thing” they did. The intimidating teacher I suspected of being evil the entire movie turns out to be just stern and intimidating. While she admits her surprise at their success, she doesn’t extend grace. They still have to leave the school.
Could the message, especially to to college kids,be that the ends do not justify the means? You may accomplish good, but you may still have to accept the consequences?
Then came what I loved most, and my Patriotic side nearly burst. Since they flunked out of Scare School, they decided to take on what was offered once as an insult: a job in the mail room at the Monstropolis Power Plant. It reminded me of Joseph in the Bible.
First, sold as a slave, he decided to be the best slave he could be, and in time was promoted to running the entire house of the captain of the guard of Pharaoh. His positive attitude, even as a slave, earned him that promotion. Then, when Joseph was falsely accused and thrown into prison, he didn’t pout and complain Again, be decided he would just become the best prisoner that prison had ever seen, and soon he was put in charge of the entire prison. In time, he rose to become the second in command of all of Egypt! His literal childhood dream came true.
That is exactly what Mike and Sulley did. They immediately set out to beat the “most mail delivered” record. And they did. Next, we saw through some pictures put up over time in Mike’s locker that they went on to be janitors and decided to be the best janitors ever. Then they served soup, and they put their hearts into that. Finally, there was an “Employee Scare Try-Out,” and they won. Their dream came true! It took time, hard work, and patience, but they DID became official Scarers!
That is a message MUCH NEEDED for kids today in our country. Hard work, patience, humility, determination, and dedication to a dream will in time product results!
Just like John D. Rockefeller, Mark Zuckerburg, Ansel Adams, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Ty Warner, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, John Travolta, Johnny Depp, Tom Hanks, Peter Jennings, Steven Spielberg, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and even Abraham Lincoln, they fulfilled their dreams through hard work and focus, having never graduated from college! They didn’t expect anything to be given to them, they worked hard for it.
Too many young people today expect to graduate from college and be given a six figure salaried career. They aren’t willing to work in the mail room, be the janitor, serve soup, or flip hamburgers – and be the best hamburger flippers their fast food joint has ever hired. That is the secret to seeing your dream come true. I am blessed to own and run my own business, but that only came after decades of mowing lawns, flipping burgers, delivering legal documents, valet parking cars, organizing plumbing parts, and being the best children’s pastor I could be while pursuing a God-given dream I had when I was 19 and a calling I received when I was 10.
I guess you could say, “Be Like Mike.” Pursue your dream, and if one door closes, find another way. And if God is on your team, you can only win, if you never give up! He will bring along the Sulleys in your life to help you, humble you, teach you, and join you in your quest!
BE LIKE MIKE!
PS: Stay after the credits. Our family were the ones who did… and it was worth it.
I found the Lost Medallion! And with it, I traveled into the future and saw this movie that is coming out in theaters NEXT MONTH!
Here is my review, before the movie even hits theaters! Truly, the Medallion is powerful!
No worries, right before returning from the future, I replaced the Medallion to the place where I found it so as not to disturb the space time continuum – you really don’t want to mess with that! Last time I did, I nearly kissed my mom at a dance in the 50′s! McFly!
Anyway, I really enjoyed it. (Dare, I admit tissue needed at the end?)
It reminded me of The Princess Bride in that the story was written in response to requests from children (though not many people know the Princess Bride was written from a list of things the author’s daughter asked to be in a bedtime story) – In this movie, it was a group of gathered foster kids who asked for a story.
It also reminded me of Second Hand Lions in that while the sets and acting and effects may have been sub-par for a ‘realistic’ major motion picture, it wasn’t intended to be ‘realistic’ as it was a visualization of a story being told, and in that sense, it made it perfect. This isn’t to say the effects or acting were bad – it was quite elaborate and the settings were beautiful and exotic, just a little corn-ball at times in a fun way, similar to Second Hand Lions.
It also had tips of the hat to Indiana Jones in light hearted ways, but in the end, it was a movie with an obvious purpose: to address the need for kids to know they are special (a word almost over used).
The story teller is a man dropping by a foster home to drop some things off on his way to a play off game and after visiting with the host, an elderly woman, he conversationally learns a little about three news kids – each with unique needs. When he is mistaken as the Tuesday story teller, he gets roped into spinning a story, which he crafts using the names of the three new kids, each with character needs similar to their own.
Half way through the story, you see him glance at his tickets and you realize he has chosen to skip the game and continue his story for the sake of the kids who are glued to the story he is skillfully weaving… with the once withdrawn kids moving closer and engaging, much like the nephew in Princess Pride.
As for violence, there is one death that is a little awkward to the plot and seems a bit forced, but is planted in order to provide a parable for Christ’s sacrifice for us. An old man who was killed steps in front of the main character to save him. When asked why he would die for him, his dying words are, “Because a king once died for me.” The sudden attempt on the boy’s life by an otherwise comedic character seems a little out of place, but it serves the purpose of the parable as well as lightening the party who next must travel by water, a trip that would have certainly left the old man behind anyway. The primary villain kills a few of his underlings, but most of the violence happens behind a log or bush or is pretty tame.
While the story moves a bit slow at times and could have used some tighter editing, it has a message that is an important one that would be valuable for all children to view. I would especially recommend this movie to children who are in foster care – as it seems it would have a message of hope and value for them, when adults in their lives have let them down, God still has a purpose for them, and the message of “they are no accident” is rung loud and clear several time in this film. It is refreshing to see another movie produced with the goal of instilling positive messages to kids about their own value and God’s love for them. We need more movies like this.
The hardest line for me was the father who told his son, “Everything of value to me is buried in the ground,” referring to his deceased wife and the lost treasure, oblivious the message that communicates to his son – who is alive and standing right there. I would hope fathers watching would catch that blow, and ask themselves if their grief over life’s losses and their devotion to work ever communicates a lack of value placed on their children who are longing to be loved and valued by their dads.
The end has a very sweet twist I’ll save for your enjoyment that adds an extra special and unexpected heart tug outside of the Lost Medallion story itself, that adds value to the overall experience.
In short, support this film, and take your kids to see it in the theater. You’ll be glad you did.
“A little bit of hope,” the President says, is what is needed, “but not too much.” Just the right amount, he says, is far better than fear for controlling the masses. This is one of the many messages of the Hunger Games, a movie that blew away Twilight on its opening night, and in its second week, has given a beating at the box office to Mirror Mirror and Wrath of the Titanscombined.
What is so powerful about this movie? Young people are flocking to the movie, and others, like myself, are going to see what all the fuss is about. The plot, at its simplest description, is revolting to many – randomly selected kids killing kids in a nationwide politically motivated reality TV show to keep down any future rebellious uprisings. At a deeper level, it is symbolic of the loss of innocence of our generation. While it was difficult to watch, I found it no more violent than the average video game I’ve seen even Christian kids playing. (A statement of fact, not approval.) What makes it especially difficult is that the audience is drawn toward rooting for the main characters, but for these protagonists to “win,” they must kill other children. The fighters, or “tributes,” are given a mentor who is a previous victor of this game. His first bit of advice, given while drunk (since even he seems to understand the grim nature of what is to come and the unlikeliness of their success), is simply, “Embrace the probability of your imminent death; and know deep down in your heart, that there is nothing I can do to save you.”
I’ll leave story summaries and deeper analysis to those who can do it better (See Glen Wood’s Review), but for me, I am glad to have seen it so that I can get a glimpse into where our culture is, and where it is going. I did not find it as shocking as I expected it to be. The plot was not overly original; there have been many films of this nature. Claude Van Damme’s Hard Target used homeless people, for example, and there are many others with a “kill or be killed” plot. What made this different, of course, was the introduction of young kids and the nationwide reality TV show.
I met a family member of the author at my viewing of the show and have extended an invitation to do an interview with Suzanne Collins, who wrote both the books and the film adaptation. While I won’t hold my breath, I would love to know, beyond the basic plot/story, what message she was trying to communicate. What trends does she see in our country and culture that concern her? It is easy to jump all over “kids killing kids” in a movie and get irate, but do we give the same passion to the REAL killing of kids happening around us? Do we get equally upset by the desensitizing of kids to others by the way we idolize those who are attractive, or smart or from certain economic classes or races? (This is addressed in the film by the way those who are free look down on those in the districts from whom the ‘tributes’ come.) Do we get worked up about sex trafficking and child abuse and kids who are home alone so their parents can work more than necessary to acquire the “American Dream” while these kids are essentially abandoned? Do we get worked up over the promiscuity of girls trying to live up to what the world says they need to be in order to be loved or desired? Are we equally concerned about the drug use or crime of boys trying to impress each other and feel powerful and successful because that is what the media and entertainment world say is what it means to be a man? It’s always easy to get worked up over a movie because it’s a stationary target – whereas these other things are more fluid and moving, and (gulp) we are guilty of them as well. We wouldn’t want to shoot ourselves by shooting at them.
Yes, Hunger Games is violent. Our culture is violent.
Yes, Hunger Games has people obsessed with reality TV. So is our culture.
Yes, Hunger Games shows a lack of value for human life. Bingo.
Maybe Hunger Games is should have been titled Mirror Mirror?
You may remember awhile back, I did a post called Kidmin Toolkit, and it got WAY over 50 comments and a lot of interaction! It was a lot of fun!
Well, it took awhile to compile all the responses and pick a WINNER – but that original post has been UPDATED with both the winner and PDFs and WORD documents with all the submissions in a list, so you can compile your very own Kidmin Toolkit and BE READY for the next time you suddenly get called to go teach or serve and have no time to plan or pack or prepare – just grab your Kidmin Toolkit and GO!
GO THERE NOW – to see WHO WON, and download the TOOLKIT LISTS!
Leave your NEW COMMENTS HERE, rather then there. I’m especially interested in whether anyone actually creates their Kidmin Toolkit. If you do, send me a picture and I will post it here in this thread! E-mail to karl at kidmintalk.com as I will probably end up talking about this on KidminTalk soon!