I saw in a recent magazine article that Meg Ryan was taking a break from acting to focus more on her family and personal life. In light of that development I decided to showcase a small sampling of her movies in the following movie blog entries.
The first movie is Hanging Up from 2000 and stars Meg Ryan, Diane Keaton and Lisa Kudrow as three sisters coping in very different ways with the demands of their elderly and ailing father played by the late, great, Walter Matthau. The title refers to the frenzied exchanges the sisters have in trying to deal with their father while trying to navigate the complexities of their own lives and relationships. While the movie has some enjoyable comedic touches it is by no means a straight comedy. It shows with touching poignancy how difficult it can be to be the caregiver of an elderly parent who is in mental and physical decline, especially for the Meg Ryan character Eve who appears to carry the brunt of caring for her father and is overwhelmed by the challenges that presents while at the same time feeling as though she needs to be the one to take charge as it were. There is one particular affecting scene where Eve pours her heart out to a stranger, the mother of someone she has had a minor car accident with and as the woman gives the nurturing Eve some much needed nurturing of her own we are reminded that as much as we want to believe we can keep it all together and be strong for those we love and who need us, there is no shame in acknowledging the fact that all of us no matter how strong needs someone to turn to and lean on at times. Indeed it takes great strength to admit when you’ve reached your limit and ask for help before your own mental and physical collapse. This life is not an easy one and part of how we survive the challenges of life is by being brave and courageous enough to reach out to other people when we need them and realize that no one has to go it alone. I also like another sweet scene in the film where Eve is performing some sort of light trick for her father and in that moment father and daughter are sharing a tender moment. When someone is dealing with the progressive illness of a loved one, especially a parent those moments are precious touchstones when they happen and can be cherished memories during harder times.
The second Meg Ryan pick is an older movie from 1987 called Innerspace and has her staring along with Dennis Quaid and Martin Short in a very funny, enjoyable gem of a film. The basic premise is Dennis Quaid is a test pilot named Tuck who while taking part in a secret government miniaturization project winds up being injected into an unsuspecting hypochondriac named Jack, played by the hilarious Martin Short. The scene in the doctor’s office where Jack still unaware of what has happened is suddenly hearing the voice of Tuck in his ear canal is hilarious, although probably one of my favorite scenes is when Jack’s supermarket nightmare comes to life, absolutely priceless. Underneath the hilarity is the story of a man who has been afraid to really live life learns the true measure of what he can do when the miniaturized Tuck, murderous thieves who want the secret to miniaturization and Tuck’s spunky ex girlfriend Lydia played by Ryan, all force Jack way out of his comfort zone. The result is the transformation of all involved for the better with great laughs and fun action scenes along the way. Yes, life can be scary, but oftentimes the greatest rewards come when we push through our fears and embrace life and of course laugh whenever possible at the unbelievable and absurd.
Friday Night Movie Pick: Miracles
Staring Tom Conti and Teri Garr
with Christopher Lloyd and Paul Rodriguez
For This Week's movie post, I decided to choose a film that may not be familiar to many but that I found funny, charming and adorably quirky. The movie is from the 1980s and stars the always funny Teri Garr and Tom Conti. I had seen this movie on Netflix some months back and was disappointed that Netflix took it off their list. Alas I've come to expect this from them, movies will be put up then taken down then mysteriously brought back again. It's a shame really because sometimes some real gems get cast aside and you can't find them anywhere else and Miracles is one of them.
Let's see how to describe Miracles, it is at it's center about seemingly random events that are not so random at all but that are part of a greater plan with everything fitting together just so. The main premise concerns a bickering divorced couple played by Conti and Garr who find themselves kidnapped by a pair of bumbling bank robbers. In the course of their journey which includes a crash landing in a remote mountain top in a foreign country, a series of seemingly discrete events happens that as I said before all seem random at first but it the end are all connected. For instance, the plane crash dislodges a bolder that rolls down a hill that knocks unconscious the intruder that was holding a family hostage, a wayward bullet from a police officer trying to get one of the bank robbers hits a bird in the sky that lands on the dinner table of a starving family praying for food and then there is a shipwreck that brings a doctor to a remote village to heal a sick girl and so forth and so on.
All the while, you have some very funny scenes of a couple who beneath all the bickering have the potential to be just right for each other. I've tried to be vague enough so that you can still discover the pleasures of the movie for yourself while at the same time trying to give you a taste of its magic. I wish Netflix still had it up because it truly is a fun movie.
Another reason I chose this film is because sometimes when troubles hit us or things don't go according to "our plan" we can feel lost and don't see the forest for the trees so to speak. Whether or not you believe that life is part of a greater plan it is hard to deny that things are often connected to some as yet unrealized future event and that as hopeless as a given circumstance may appear it is but a moment away from a catalyst dislodging that bolder and setting you free from whatever is holding you captive.
Friday is movie night. Good movies have the power to transport us to other worlds, make us laugh when we are having a bad day, and even understand ourselves a little better when a situation similar to ours is seen through the lens of the camera. So every week or so I am going to highlight a movie for your viewing pleasure, suitable for a Friday night or any night where you can use a good movie to delight in. It might be a current movie, an old classic, a YouTube find, etc. This is not meant to take the place of a scheduled session but to merely be a fun and enjoyable outlet.