24 September 2015

Thursday Movie Picks - All in the Family Edition: Adopted/Foster Families

Damn it! Why did I use Annie already? I guess it's okay. I had plenty to choose from this week. After the hard-hitters last week with the Journalist movies, I feel like it's time to lighten things up a bit.

Now, stories of adopted kids, or kids from foster families, can certainly get a bit sad and sappy. Some, though, are nice mixtures of sweet and funny. That's what you'll find here today.

So, welcome back to Thursday, people. The weekend is nigh! This week on Wandering through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks, it's an All in the Family Edition...Adopted/Foster Families.

Here are my picks:

Problem Child 2 
Dir. Brian Levant, 1991

Oh, young Michael Oliver, where in the hell did you come from? Where in the hell did you go? As Junior, adopted son of John Ritter's Ben Healy (or Dad), this kid terrorized the movie screen in two quite bad but great comedies released just at the right time for me. It's actually the sequel I like better, or at least it stands out a bit more for me. This one has newly-single Dad moving his young demonic prankster of a kid from Cold River to Mortville, where he has to deal with being a third-grader in a sixth grade class with a principal played by Gilbert Godfried. He also has to deal with Dad's new single life, which pretty much encapsulates the entire plot, which pits young Junior against the lady suitors, picking them off one by one. He meets his match in this one in the young daughter of one of the lucky ladies. RIP John Ritter. I heart you.

Flirting with Disaster 
Dir. David O. Russell, 1996

While I love David O. Russell's polished up Oscar fare of late (suck it, haters!) and his magnum opus, Three Kings, I think I am most fond of his forays into farce, including 2004's I Heart Huckabees and this one, a brilliant oddball comedy starring Ben Stiller. Stiller plays Mel Coplin, father to a new baby with his wife Nancy (Patricia Arquette), who needs to find his birth parents before he can provide a name for his kid. You see, Mel was raised by New York Jewish intellectuals played by the incredible duo of George Segal and Mary Tyler Moore. Mel and Nancy begin a journey with their inept case worker played by Téa Leoni that leads from one nonsensical mishap to another and features a cast of characters that includes Lily Tomlin, Alan Alda, Richard Jenkins, and Josh Brolin. It is hysterical.

Moonrise Kingdom 
Dir. Wes Anderson, 2012

My wife's favorite Wes, and really close to mine, Moonrise Kingdom is the love story of 12-year-old orphan Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) and angsty daughter of lawyers Suzi Bishop (Kara Hayward). The setting is the fictional New England island of New Penzance. It's the summer of 1965. Of all of Anderson's films, this one stands as the most free-flowing and the most heartfelt. A scene between the two young lovers at a camp site on a secluded beach provides one of the most beautiful realizations of first love I've ever seen. Ed Norton is boss as Sam's Scout Master, Ward, and there is also an interesting unrequited love story between police Captain Sharp and Suzi's mother Mrs. Bishop, played by Frances McDormand. Oh, and, of course, Bill Murray is there as the spurned husband, Mr. Bishop. And then there's that omniscient but physically present narrator played by Bob Balaban. It's a genius film that, dare I say it?, should have gotten the same amount of love received by the equally genius The Grand Budapest Hotel. Anderson is really on a roll right now. Can't wait for whatever comes next.

Honorable Mentions from 1999

Big Daddy
Dir. Dennis Dugan

Because, come on!, isn't this actually the best "Adam Sandler" movie? Paul Thomas Anderson thinks so. If I ever had an adopted dad, I think I would want Sonny.

The Cider House Rules
Dir. Lasse Halstrom

Because I love John Irving. That's why. And this is a brilliantly devised adaptation of the life story of the lifetime orphan Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire). The only one Irving ever did himself. And he won an Oscar for it.

So "Goodnight, you Princes of Maine, you Kings of New England."


  1. Oh my goodness I'm terrible, I haven't seen any of these yet. I've been wanting to see Moonrise Kingdom for so long though!
    - Allie

    1. Moonrise Kingdom is so great. I re-watched it last night. See it!

  2. Holy crap there are some good ones here that never even occurred to me. I love Moonrise, Cider House Rules, Big Daddy and Annie. lol

    I haven't actually seen your first two picks, but the photo you used for Problem Child 2 is amazing.

    1. Haha! Thanks. Problem Child 2 is a bad movie...but so great. And Flirting with Disaster is a must.

  3. I also choose Flirting with Disaster, such a good movie. Been forever since I saw either of the Problem Child movies, really need to watch them again. Big Daddy is one of Sandlers best, still prefer Billy Madison but it is up there.

    Haven't seen the others two movies yet.

    1. Nice. It really is a great one. The Problem Child movies were everywhere when I was a kid. They came on TV all the time. Billy Madison is one of the greats. Agreed.

  4. Fantastic choices! Of all of them I love Cider House Rules the best, so different from the book but still manages to capture its essence and great work from the entire cast. Flirting is a cockamamie delight, I'm glad you mentioned MTM and George Segal they are brilliant together. For me The Wedding Singer is Sandler's best but Big Daddy is one of his strongest, it helps so much that he and the young boys sharing the role of his adopted son work so well together. I liked but didn't love Moonrise Kingdom, it does have its charms. I hated the first Problem Child so I've never seen the sequel.

    My first three are a drama, a comedy and one that's a bit of both but my extra, which I happened upon just the other day, while a bit of a stretch on the theme is a weird mixture of familial drama and horror movie.

    Loggerheads (2005)-Three separate vignettes look at an adoption story from different angles. Feeling unsure and unsettled Grace (Bonnie Hunt) returns home to visit her mother and search for the child she gave up for adoption years before. Young drifter Mark (Kip Pardue) begins a relationship with a handyman while trying to help endangered loggerhead turtles survive. Elizabeth (Tess Harper) struggles with defying her pious minister husband to seek out her estranged adopted son. On a Mother's Day weekend in North Carolina their three stories converge.

    Baby Boom (1987)-Hard driving executive J.C. Wyatt, not affectionately called The Tiger Lady, is on the cusp of being made a partner in her advertising firm when she is named guardian for a baby when a distant relative and his wife are killed in an accident. Unexpectedly taking to the little girl she decides to adopt and raise her which throws her life into tumult and takes her in a direction she never expected. Charming comedy is a perfect fit for Diane Keaton.

    Room for One More (1952)-Cary Grant and Betsy Blair, married in real life when this was made, play a couple with three children who also have been foster parents to many over the years. They take two deeply troubled children into their home who prove to be almost more than they can handle. The film follows the difficult adjustments they all face when they decide to adopt rather than foster them.

    Dishonorable Mention: Happy Mother’s Day, Love George aka Run Stranger Run (1973)-What starts out as a quiet drama about a young man, adopted at four days old, returning to the Nova Scotia coast of his birth to search for his roots takes an extreme wrong turn about 3/4 of the way through and becomes a slasher flick for no discernible reason. Up until then it's not a bad little film, with a very strong performance by Cloris Leachman, in a terrible black wig, as a sad, beaten down woman but that severe shift in tone scuttles the movie completely. How this ever attracted a cast of such quality, aside from Cloris there are two other Oscar winners-Patricia Neal-chewing scenery like crazy, and a brunette Ron Howard as well as Bobby Darin in his last role (as a fry cook!) is a mystery. There are some beautiful shots of the Nova Scotia area but this is a strange mishmash of a movie.

    1. Your dishonorable pick sounds strange, man. Not sure if I'll catch up with that one, but it may be worth it for the casting alone.

      Of your other picks, I've only even heard of Baby Boom, which I'm sure is good considering I love all things Diane Keaton. Loggerheads sounds interesting as well.

      I really love what Irving did with his own Cider House Rules, shaving it down into a shorter time period, yet keeping the plot intact. Michael Caine was a great choice there. I love that story so much. I like The Wedding Singer a bit better myself, actually, but Big Daddy is good and fit the theme well. Problem Child and its sequel are NOT good movies, but I just watched them so many times as a kid, I couldn't help but throw one down here.

  5. Love Moonrise Kingdom. Haven't seen Flirting. Didn't see PC2, either, but that's because I hate the first. I know, I'm heartless.

    1. No. You're not heartless, man. PC and PC2 are both bad movies. But they're so ridiculous and were played on repeat when I was a kid. So many memories of watching those movies.

      Moonrise Kingdom is the kind of movie where I just want to hug whomever is with me after it's over.

  6. I enjoyed Moonrise Kingdom. It is quirky, unique, and so well acted. I have seen the other 2 but I also love The Cider House Rules-There are so many films and so little time to watch them

  7. Love, love LOVE Moonrise Kingdom. Problem Child 2 is not my thing, but Flirting With Disaster is. It's been on my list for a while.

    1. Same. I LOVE IT. Problem Child 2 is only my thing because I saw it so much as a kid. Flirting with Disaster is great. Must see.

  8. I haven't seen two of these, but Moonrise Kingdom and Cider House Rules are terrific choices.

  9. I remember renting Problem Child 1 and 2, and I think it was aired on TV a lot during the 90's too.

    1. Oh yeah. All over the TV when I was a kid in the early 90s.

  10. Love Moonrise Kingdom. Wes Anderson's best film & one of my all-time favorites.

    Really enjoyed The Cider House Rules. Ending gets me in the feels every time.

    My pick for this category is Secrets & Lies. I know you haven't seen it, as you've told me, but you really need to. The only place you can get it is Amazon, just to let you know. Thankfully, there is a US R1 DVD, which is the one I bought since idk if I have a region-free player, so if you do get it, get that DVD.

    But it is an excellent film. The direction & screenplay from Mike Leigh is amazing, & he is now one of my biggest filmmaking influences.

    The acting from Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Timothy Spall & Brenda Blethyn is amazing. Marianne Jean-Baptiste was robbed of the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1996 (Juliette Binoche won for The English Patient… that movie is extremely overrated). Timothy Spall should've received an Oscar nod, & he was better than the Oscar winner for Best Actor that year (Geoffrey Rush won for Shine). And I am now conflicted between who I think should've won Best Actress. I can't choose between Brenda Blethyn (who was nominated for an Oscar & she won the Golden Globe for Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama), or Frances McDormand in Fargo (which I know you would go for Fargo since you've told me that is your favorite movie of all time. So, for me, it's a tie between Frances McDormand & Brenda Blethyn.

    But you must watch it soon.