Sunday, April 18, 2010

Styrofoam trees

My Rodgers and Hammerstein movie appreciation series only has one movie left, one of my top five favorite movies of all time, The Sound of Music. This past Saturday night, however, we watched the second to last movie, the made for television movie version of Cinderella from 1965.

Starring a much beloved and long time actor from General Hospital (one of my, uh um, guilty pleasures), Stuart Damon (isn't he handsome above?), Ginger Rogers, and the breakthrough performance of the totally adorable Leslie Ann Warren, it has to be great, right?
The consensus in the room was that the movie was not good. At all. Honestly, laughable. The actors were the best part, wonderful and sweet, but the styrofoam cone trees, odd costumes, high school theater sets, and a rather wimpy and whiny Cinderella left us feeling very critical...and kind of silly. Are we totally spoiled by modern cinema and strong female characters? Are we too cynical? Standards to high? Are we, gasp!, total movie snobs???

I looked up the movie on, and the reviews are glowing - "Absolutely enchanting", "Magical", "A true classic", "Mesmerizing", and so on and so on. Wow. I am really shocked. Did they watch the same movie as us?

But, if I take a look a little deeper, most reviewers say they loved the watching the movie as a child. Humm, interesting. Do these glowing reviews come from sentimentality? Nostalgia? Is their judgment clouded by fond childhood memories? After all, it's been known to happen.

A few weeks ago, I was thinking about favorite childhood food. So inspired, in fact, that I dragged my kids to the grocery store to buy a few of these food items. I head to the Hostess section to buy some partially-hydrogenated memories in the form of cupcakes, Twinkies, and an apple pie. My man mentioned his favorite, frozen french bread pizza, so I pick one up for him while I am buying some creamed chip beef for myself. Of course, as children, me and my man loved homemade food made by grownups, but us latchkey kids made ourselves a lot of frozen dinners and when we found ones that we liked, we ate a lot of them. Can you say $.25 Swanson pot pies anyone? The worst thing at the time was choosing between chicken or turkey and waiting the forty-five minutes they took to heat in the...gasp...oven!

My kids got in on the sampling of goodies when we got home, as they are more than happy to help since they never tasted them before. I slice each one of the sweets into bite-sized pieces and it is really fun to share. Of course, they think they are all yummy. I think they are, uh, just okay. Certainly not OMG! soooooo delicious!!!, but not yucky poo poo. Just okay. The creamed chip beef? Salty! My man's review of his pizza? Mediocre at best.

Ya, so maybe I am pretty cynical. Or, maybe, just maybe I appreciate the finer things now as opposed to when I was a kid. I actually teared up over eating a slice of real New York pizza in Brooklyn, and melted over every single bite of the most perfect piece of thin crust Margherita pizza in Cortona, Italy. And, I will toot my own horn, but I make a pretty darn good homemade pizza myself. So, of course a frozen "pizza" with chemicals and no flavor is not going to cut it anymore!

Same with the classic Cinderella story. I can see how in 1965 a made-for-tv movie was a new concept, expectations were low. A theater play on my tv!? How glorious! Now the standards are much much higher. The lovely The Slipper and the Rose filmed in beautiful England or Ever After with a strong and smart Cinderella are two updated versions that totally trump the 1965 version. Even the magical Enchanted, which was not only fun to watch (love the Central Park musical scene and that damn song gets in my head), but Giselle realizes that falling in love is about compatibility and choice and not just some automatic feeling because he's all cute and charming and is all into you and promises you the world and stuff. Aw...sigh.

I guess part of the fun watching these older movies is seeing how far we've come and appreciating that and especially being able to laugh about it among wonderful friends. After all, Cinderella only wishes she had friends like this. She's stuck with only an evil step-mother, two mean and jealous step-sisters, a few mice, and a prince that probably won't encourage her to follow her dreams or appreciate her beautiful female soul. Although a big castle with endless staff who make your bed and draw your bath and cook for you and take care of all your needs so you don't have to lift a finger wouldn't be such a bad thing...ummm, well, once in a while anyway...

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