There was a wonderful routine in the Bozell family when I was 11 years old. Every Saturday afternoon my mother would load her undiapered-aged brood, maybe six of us back then, into the station wagon for an outing to the local movie theater. What a delight. John Wayne and the westerns. Dean Jones and anything Disney. "Gone With the Wind," "How the West Was Won," "Doctor Zhivago."
On any given Saturday afternoon, Hollywood laid out the red carpet for families, beckoned us in, serving us popcorn and a soda, inviting us to lose ourselves, for a couple of hours, to the world of wonder and imagination.
But that was 40 years ago, another era. All that sparkle is gone today.
Last Saturday afternoon we were alone, my little boy, Reid, and I, and the idea hit to take my 11-year-old to the movies, our own father-son outing. What to see? I pondered, opening the paper for the theater listings. Here is what Hollywood, circa 2008, has to offer.
First, a gratingly long list of mediocre R-rated movies:
"Blindness" (rated R) -- Completely hopeless film about people catching an infectious disease of blindness and getting rounded up in a mental asylum.
"Quarantine" (R) -- Completely hopeless film about a TV news crew getting trapped in a Centers for Disease Control quarantine of a building where everybody catches a version of rabies and dies. (What is this, a trend?)
"Burn After Reading"(R) -- A dippy personal trainer gets caught up in a government plot, doesn't know what he's doing and gets shot in the face. So much for Brad Pitt.
"Body of Lies" (R) -- Leonardo di Caprio pretends to be a rugged CIA agent, and we're lectured again about the moral rot of American foreign policy manipulators.
"Righteous Kill" (R) -- Serial killer takes out violent felons who've fallen through the cracks of the justice system. Nothing more than a rip-off from that perverted TV show "Dexter."
"Miracle at St. Anna" (R) -- Spike Lee tries to make a war movie without any wacko claims about the federal government blowing up levees in New Orleans.
"How to Lose Friends and Alienate People" (R) -- British satire of celebrity journalism, complete with a pig urinating on a woman at the British version of the Oscars. Ha. Ha.
"Religulous" (rated R) -- Who'd give two nickels to Bill Maher to watch him rant against God?
"Appaloosa" is a Western I might enjoy on my own, but it's an R.
Then there's the PG-13 gunk to consider:
"Flash of Genius" (PG-13) -- Son, let's see a whole movie about the inventor of intermittent windshield wipers. I think I'd skip that even on a rainy day.