Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day

A very happy Independence Day to all my American readers.  It's a day of celebration filled with parades, barbecue parties, ice cream cones, patriotic songs and fireworks displays.  Today, I decided to show my contribution to this national holiday by compiling a special offering of my own.  What follows is a short list of my personal recommendations of films ideal for a 4th of July movie night.  So, let your star spangled banners wave and show your national pride by viewing at least one of the following films.


1. Ben and Me- Okay, this isn't really a movie but an animated short, but it still is well-worth seeing, particularly for families with small children, as it might spark an interest for history in their young minds.  In this 20 minute feature based on a book written by Robert Lawson, a brand-new twist is placed on the story of America when English-speaking church mouse named Amos meets and befriends Benjamin Franklin.  Throughout the story, it’s revealed that many of Benjamin Franklin’s largest contributions to Early America, such as bifocals and the Franklin Stove, were really thought up by Amos the mouse.  In fact, Amos was even the secret reporter for Benjamin’s newspaper, The Pennsylvania Gazette.  The friendship between Amos and Ben becomes severed when Ben’s experiments with electricity nearly gets Amos killed, but when the tension between the American colonies and England starts to build, Ben approaches Amos, requesting his help once again.  Amos agrees, on the condition that Ben signs a contract that states Amos’ terms.  Just when Ben is about to sign Amos’ contract, they receive a surprise visit from Thomas Jefferson, who is having difficulty in writing the opening to the Declaration of Independence.  When Ben, at Amos’ urging, starts to read through Amos’ contract, Jefferson finds his much-needed inspiration, which is identical to Amos’ contract, word-for-word.  

 2. Independence Day- Say what you will about director Roland Emmerich and his style of movies, this summer flick has always been a staple of my 4th of July celebration.  As the movie opens on July 2nd, the whole world marvels at the sudden arrival of extraterrestrial spacecraft, with each of the spacecraft positioning themselves above the world’s major cities.  However, wonder quickly turns into terror when the spacecrafts simultaneously fire off directed energy weapons at the targeted cities, thus completely destroying the metropolises.  As the film progresses, a handful of survivors, including American President Whitmore, Captain Steven Hiller of the U.S. Marine Corps, and David Levinson, an MIT-graduate-turned-cable man, band together to devise a way to strike back against the invading aliens.  As fate would have it, a plan is made on July 4th, and, with the use of Morse code, survivors from all over the world are able to coordinate a global counterstrike.  While I will not deny that this movie does have a few problems here and there, I still think the spirit behind the story more than makes up for it.  And I defy anyone not to be enthralled at President Whitmore’s epic speech towards the end of the film.

                  

3. An American Tail- Once again, mice are used to give us a quasi-history lesson of another point in America’s history, this time of the Ellis Island immigrants of the 19th century.  In this story, the main focus is on a young mouse named Fievel who is journeying to America with his Russian Jewish family, the Mousekewitzes, along with many other immigrant families.  During the journey on board the boat, Fievel’s foolish curiosity leads to him falling overboard, and he only survives by climbing into an empty bottle that he happened to find, which just happens to get washed up on shore at the base of Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty is still being built.  Fievel sets out in the hopes of locating his family, but while he finds a good number of friends, including the street-smart Italian immigrant, Tony, Irish activist Bridget, the French Pigeon Henri, and Tiger, an orange-furred vegetarian alleycat, he starts to lose hope as he discovers America isn’t the great cat-free paradise they had believed it to be.  Like many other movies released under the iconic Don Bluth’s name, this movie, despite being classified as a kid’s film, does not sugarcoat things, and there are some legitimately dark and gritty moments, from the inhospitable conditions on the boats bringing immigrants to Ellis Island to showing how hard the immigrants had to work upon reaching America.  There is even a scene when Fievel is sold to a sweatshop.  In the end however, things do end happily for Fievel, who is later brought to the dedication of the Statue of Liberty by his old friend, Henri the pigeon.  It could be debated that this ending symbolizes how the immigrants eventually managed to rise above their difficult start in America and became full-fledged Americans.  No matter how you interpret it, this is a wonderful film that everyone should see at least once.

4. National Treasure- This is one of those movies that has a little something for everyone: history, action, mystery, comedy and even a      little romance thrown in for good measure.  As a boy, Benjamin Gates was told an old family legend by his grandfather about a fabled treasure hidden by the American Founding Fathers.  Despite his father’s discouragement, Ben never gave up hope and, upon reaching adulthood, he made it his life’s mission to find the fabled treasure.  With the help of computer expert, Riley Poole, and National Archives employee, Dr. Abigail Chase, Ben follows a series of cleverly hidden clues that leads them to various American landmarks, including Independence Hall and the Trinity Church in NYC.  In one of the most iconic scenes of the film, Ben, realizing that there’s an invisible map to the fabled treasure printed on the back of the Declaration of Independence, concocts an elaborate plan to steal the document during a gala event.  However, the intrepid team of treasure hunters have to watch their step as they continue on their adventure, because they also have to avoid a second team led by Ian Howe, who desires the treasure for dishonorable reasons, as well as Agent Sadusky and his FBI squadron, who are hot on Ben’s trail.

5. Glory- In this 1989 film with a cast of well-known actors, Matthew Broderick portrays Colonel Robert Gould Shaw during the time of the Civil War.  After being told that President Lincoln is about to pass the Emancipation Proclamation, Colonel Shaw accepts command of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first regiment in American history to consist entirely of blacks. Despite the institutional racism, Colonel Shaw ensures that his regiment receives effective training and are properly equipped, which earns him his men’s respect.  Even though it soon becomes clear that the higher-ups in the army have no intention of allowing the 54th to enter into the actual fighting, Colonel Shaw ensures that the 54th regiment receives the same treatment and opportunity as any other full-white regiment.  With its highly poignant ending, this film is a must see for everyone, as it is not only based on actual events in America’s history, it’s a testament to the strength and courage that exists within
all true American soldiers.

Once again, have a happy Independence Day.  And God bless the U.S.A.!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Movie Review: My Father, the Hero

                There comes a time when you come across a movie that, after seeing the trailer or hearing the premise, you think will be utterly stupid.  But then your friends will come along and practically force you to go see it with them.  And once you've seen it, you realize that the movie wasn't as bad as you thought it would be.  In fact, a part of you has to admit that you actually enjoyed it.  The movie I’m reviewing today…. isn't one of those movies.  This movie is among those that are actually worse than you were imagining them to be.  What’s even more amazing is that this movie is actually labeled as a comedy!  Well, is a comedy still a success if you’re laughing, not because you found it funny, but because you’re left wondering why people found it funny?  Unfortunately, I really don’t know the answer to that question.   So, what movie am I talking about?  It’s the 1994 movie released by Touchstone, My Father , The Hero.
When I read the plot synopsis for this movie on the DVD case, I immediately knew it was worth reviewing.  I mean, we've got this teenage girl who’s on vacation with her divorced father, and her idea of impressing her crush is to spread around a story that her dad is really her boyfriend posing as her father?  Okay, I admit it’s been a while since I was a teenager, so perhaps I simply have forgotten how the teenage mind works, but if you’re going to impress a guy, why exactly would you make him believe you were currently in a relationship?  If he was even worth your time and attention, he would most likely respect the fact that you’re ‘unavailable’ and back off, labeling you as off-limits.  If any guy continued to hit on me after I told him I already had a boyfriend, I’d be worried I was possibly dealing with an arrogant misogynist or something very similar.  Not only that, the whole issue of an adult dating someone half their age is a controversial subject at best.   The very fact that this teenage girl would go about telling people that her father is actually her boyfriend without any regard to how it would affect her father made me seriously dislike her from the get-go.  But, seeing as how some people seemed to like it, I decided to try and give it the benefit of a doubt.
                So, we open with Andre, the above-mentioned father, taking a taxi from the airport to the New York apartment owned by his ex-wife, Megan, in order to pick up their teenage daughter, Nicole, for their father/daughter vacation, which they have been planning for a year.  Needless to say, this movie doesn't mess around and we’re immediately shown just what kind of people we’re dealing with in this film.  First off, Andre arrives with a little gift bag carrying what I’m guessing is supposed to be a present for Nicole.  What does the ex-wife, Megan, do with it?  When she goes into the kitchen area, she throws the gift bag out.  Now, I obviously can’t confirm this, but seeing as how we never saw what was in the gift bag, I’m seriously left wondering if Megan purposely threw out the gift bag with Andre’s gift still inside it.  I suppose there is the chance that Nicole got the gift when Megan briefly steps into her room, but Megan was only in there for a few seconds, so I highly doubt it.
                We then do get one normal scene when Andre and Nicole greet each other.  It’s a very believable moment of interaction between a father and daughter.  Unfortunately, the pleasant moment is ruined with the reappearance of Megan, who found one of her jackets in Nicole’s room.  Immediately, Nicole shifts into a complete whinny brat, accusing her mother of invading her privacy and whatnot.  She even straight up insults her mother, calling her the b-word.  Now, if I ever spoke to my mother like that, I would have gotten a well-deserved slap across the face, but all Nicole gets is an order to apologize, which she refuses to do.  One would think this would result in her getting grounded and her trip with her father getting called off.  Guess what? Nicole is still allowed to leave with Andre, leaving her blatant disrespect go completely unpunished.  Great parenting skills in action here, folks.  Golf claps all around.
Out on the street, Andre tries to help load Nicole’s bags into the waiting taxi.  What does this very likable teenage girl say?  What else but ‘give me the bag, Andre.’  So, now she’s ordering her father around without so much as a ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’  Plus, she’s calling her father by his first name, snootily stating that all her friends do the same thing.  What kind of friends does this girl have?  How many people do you know who won’t call their parents ‘Mom and Dad’ or some variant of that.  The only exception I can think of is if it’s a step-parent or something.  But that’s not the case here.  Andre is Nicole’s biological father, so there’s no legitimate excuse for Nicole calling her dad by his first name here.   At that moment, Megan hurries out of the apartment building, telling Nicole that she didn't get a goodbye kiss.  Immediately, Nicole is all smiles and hugs, complying to her mother’s request.  At this point, I was laughing out loud at the sheer insanity of the moment, wondering if anyone else in this particular family were diagnosed as bipolar off-screen.
                At the airport, Andre attempts to get a jumpstart on family bonding by buying drinks from an airport bar for him and Nicole.  However, instead of showing any form of gratitude, Nicole turns her nose up at the Shirley Temple Andre got her, stating she’s almost 15 and doesn't drink them anymore.  Okay, Nicole, you’re nearly 15.  So what?  I’m pretty sure you’re still on American soil at this point, where the drinking age is a bit higher than that.  There are only a limited number of non-alcoholic mixed drinks out there, so deal with it.  Anyway, Andre takes this all in stride and gets her a different drink.  His efforts are rewarded by Nicole getting a real snotty ‘I just swallowed a lemon’ look on her face and, in an incredibly rude tone, she asks Andre if he invited the woman working at the airport bar to come on their trip, too.  She then proceeds to run off, stating she doesn't want to go anymore.  
Okay, seriously!  What is this girl’s problem?, I could sort of comprehend the reasons for her malfunctions up to this point, even though I think they all called for a serious scolding or something along that line, but this one came completely out of nowhere!  It wasn't as if Andre was blatantly flirting with that woman.  He was just getting drinks for him and his daughter.   What does Nicole want?  For her father to never speak to anyone lacking a Y-chromosome?  More importantly, why does Andre want to spend time with her, anyway?  I know she’s his daughter and all, but so far, she’s being a really ungrateful stuck-up little brat.  Is Nicole supposed to be a teenage reincarnation of Verruca Salt?
                Anyway, we now flash-forward to Andre and Nicole arriving at a resort in the Bahamas.   While her father checks in at the front desk, Nicole catches sight of a young lifeguard-looking boy, and is obviously smitten.  However, that’s not enough to keep her from complaining to Andre about how there’ll be nothing for her to do on the island, even though she can clearly go swimming and lounge around on the beach.  That’s something teenagers like to do, right?  Lie around in the sun, hoping to get a tan?  But I haven’t even got to what she does when they reach their room.  Nicole, seeing there’s only one bedroom, insists that she’s a grown woman and can’t be expected to sleep in the same room with a stranger.  Andre points out that he’s her father, not a strange man.  “You just don’t get it, Andre,” Nicole retorts.  No, Nicole, of course he doesn't get it!  I don’t even get it!  What, are you looking to punish your father because he lives overseas and are angry because he never spends time with you?  Guess what?  That’s what the whole point of this vacation is!  For you and your father to get to know each other again!  And you know what else?  15-years-old is not grown up.  And even if it was, you’re certainly not acting like a grown woman at all.  No, you are acting like a three-year old throwing a tantrum.  Also, you’ll never guess how this scene ends.  Nicole actually forces her father to sleep on the couch.  Andre, I know you want your daughter to have a good time on her trip, but you are still the parent, and she’s the child.  There comes a time when you have to put your foot down.
                The next morning, Andre actually does step up to the plate somewhat when he sees Nicole chatting away to a cabana boy by the pool, which activates his ‘keep away from my daughter’ instincts, something that pretty much every decent father on the face of the earth experiences at some point.  His innate protective father gene goes into overdrive when he sees that Nicole’s bathing suit leaves a good portion of her derriere on display.  Of course, Nicole dismisses Andre’s legitimate concerns by saying he should stop overdoing the fathering because it’s ‘not impressing her.’  Oh, I get it.  Every time my father put his foot down and issued discipline on my brother and me, he was just trying to impress us.  Thanks for clearing that up for me, Nicole.
                Sometime later, Nicole’s down at the beach and runs into the boy who caught her eye in the hotel lobby.  He informs her that it wasn't a smart move for someone her age to come to that section of the beach, particularly with high tide coming soon.  Nicole tells the boy that she’s really 18, and, when asked if she’s here with her parents, she states that she’s really here with a friend.  What follows is a bunch of filler scenes with Nicole and Andre interacting with the other tourists.  When night falls, the pair go to a party were she runs into the boy again.  It’s here were we get the big lie scene, when she tells the boy, whose name is Ben, that Andre’s really her boyfriend, but he has to pretend to be her father because she’s really 16 and the laws prohibit relationships with a minor.  Like I said before, I see absolutely no logic to why she would tell anyone that story.  Last I checked, a lot of young adults go on trips with their parents.  Sure, the teenager might get embarrassed by their parents from time to time and pretend they’re not related, but you don’t see any of those teens telling people they’re romantically involved with their parent.  But at this point, it’s rather clear that Nicole only thinks about herself, so I’m no longer surprised by her behavior, and how she’s not the least bit worried about the possibility that the lie has reached the ears of the other locals.  Which, of course, it has.  Oh, and Nicole doesn't stop there.  When she runs into Ben again during a walk along the beach, she tells him that she was a runaway who stole in order to support her addiction to heroin until she met Andre, who saved her from a life on the street.  At this point, I was once again wondering what was going on in this girl’s head.  First, she’s telling this guy that she’s dating Andre, now she’s telling him that she was a drug addict.  Maybe I should try using that a pickup line sometime, because it apparently works, as evidenced by the fact that Ben now is convinced Andre’s taking advantage of her and decides to do what he can to ‘rescue’ Nicole.
My Father the Hero
                In the morning, it becomes clear that everyone on the island has heard Nicole’s lies and now, believing Andre is some kind of pedophile, are treating him like a leper.  Not only that, but when Ben volunteers to man the speedboat when Andre rents skis to go waterskiing, he purposely drives the boat in such a way that Andre is placed into danger again and again.  At one point during this scene, Andre is almost run over by a passing boat, and only escapes serious injury or death at the last possible second. Oh, yeah.  This is really hilarious.  Nicole’s lie almost got her father killed.  Ha, ha, I’m laughing so hard, my sides are splitting.  Now, one would think that seeing her father’s life being put into jeopardy like this would force Nicole to wise up and actually start telling the truth, but while she does tell Ben off for endangering Andre, she still won’t come clean.  People, this movie is really making my brain hurt.  So much so, that I seriously considered ejecting the DVD from my computer and never speaking of it again.  It was only the knowledge that I had to complete this review that kept me going.
                Okay, so let’s press on.  Once again, when night falls, there’s another party going on, because, well, this is a resort in the Bahamas.  They have to do something to keep the tourists entertained, right?  Nicole is still in a snit from the water-skiing incident, and even gives Ben the cold shoulder.  Andre, noticing his daughter’s mood, finds confidence in Diana, another tourist and probably the only one in the whole stinking movie who is actually kind to Andre.  Diana provides Andre with a little guidance, saying that Nicole probably just wants what any young woman wants: a little bit of romance.  All Andre can do is be there for her when she needs him.  Diana then proceeds to invite Andre to a Tropical Tiki dance on Thursday, a ‘date’ with no pressures or expectations.  After brief consideration, Andre accepts the invite.
                Meanwhile, Nicole has spotted Ben has reentered the party location, this time with another girl who he proceeds to dance with.  As Ben starts dancing with this other girl, he turns to look right at Nicole, as if taunting her.  Oh, Ben, come on.  Are you really going to pull that childish ‘make her jealous’ card?  We've already established that Nicole is the queen of childishness.  And this is once again proven when Nicole, deciding to counter Ben by using the ‘two can play at this game’ card, immediately walks over to Andre to start dancing with him while glaring at Ben over her father’s shoulder.  Until Ben starts placing small kisses on the other girl’s face, and Nicole storms off in a huff, leaving Andre understandably confused.  Oh, I could go on for hours about this scene.  I realize that these two people are teenagers, and will therefore act like teenagers, but I really cannot stand it when people try to play these kinds of mind games by trying to make each other jealous.  It’s particularly annoying here, because Ben is all ‘I can’t believe Nicole blew me off!  I’m going to start dancing and kissing some other girl.  Then, she’ll be sorry.’  At no point does he seem to acknowledge that Nicole blew him off for a reason. She was still mad at him for recklessly endangering Andre.  For those of you who don’t see how utterly ridiculous Ben is acting in this scene, imagine this scenario: Boy forgets Girl’s birthday, Girl gets angry at Boy and punishes him with the silent treatment, Boy gets affronted and goes to the prom with someone else.   Who would act like that?  No one!  Because it’s bloody stupid!
                And on that note, it’s time for the next scene.  It’s apparently the following night, as Nicole and Andre are wearing different clothing, and are being told by some of the other tourists that it’s talent night.  As they sit at their table, Andre confides in Nicole his issues with Isobel, who he hasn’t been able to reach because of her being ‘out of town.’  Oh, who’s Isobel, you might ask?  Well, apparently, she’s Andre’s lady friend, whom Andre had been trying to call frequently throughout this movie.  Only, she’s not out of town like Andre suspects.  We've clearly seen from previous scenes that Isobel was indeed home when Andre was calling.  However, she simply ignored his calls every single time.  Nicole, however, seems to know something is up, and she tells Andre that Isobel is playing him because she wants to marry him.  Andre pretty much shakes his head and insists that Isobel  is a nice woman and wouldn't act like that.  Um, sorry Andre, but as much as I hate to admit it, I’m in agreement with your bratty daughter in this case.  However, you’re probably right when you claim that Nicole and Isobel would get along.  After all, they’re both women who’ll act like a rotten little snot to get their way.
                Unfortunately, Nicole then proceeds to loose me again.  When she asks Andre if he loves Isobel, he says he thinks he does.  Well, according to Nicole, this means he will definitely marry Isobel and have other kids.  With that said, Nicole claims to have a headache and leaves, refusing to stay for the show. After leaving  the talent show, Nicole runs off to find Ben in order to tearfully tell him “I hate [Andre].  He’s a horrible man.”  
Nicole?  What. On. EARTH. Is. Your. Problem?  First, you’re going around acting like you don’t want to be there with your father, and now you’re acting all wounded because he might enter into another relationship that might produce a new kid or two?  To be fair, Nicole’s claim that being in love automatically leads to marriage does seem to be on par with a teenager’s mindset.   From what I remember of those years, young people think love is all you need to make a marriage happen.  What does a teenager know of conflicting values, priorities and beliefs?  Most teenagers might not realize that marriage is a serious commitment and that it requires a lot of work on both sides.  However, Nicole is obviously old enough to know that a parent doesn't stop loving their children when new ones come along.  Isn't that something a toddler would think?  Then again, perhaps I've just forgotten that Nicole is extremely self-centered and spoiled.
                Anyway, the talent show commences, and the various tourists all go up and perform their acts, from dancing to acting out movie scenes to telling jokes.  Finally, at Diana’s urging, Andre goes up to play a song on the piano.  Upon reaching the stage, one of the tourists in attendance requests that Andre play something French.   Okay, something French, huh?  Let’s see, what song could Andre chose to sing?  Perhaps  La vie en rose, a song that’s widely recognized?   Maybe Je l'aime à mourir, the classic Francis Cabrel song?  He could even sing Alouette, a French Canadian children’s song which, despite the rather disturbing meaning behind it, is probably something everyone who went to a public school had to learn at some point.  Nope.  The song Andre chooses to sing is Thank Heaven for Little Girls, a song that came from the American musical comedy, Gigi.  Okay, first of all, even though Gigi took place in Paris and was based off a novel written by French author Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, the song itself has no direct ties to France.  In fact, the people who wrote the song  for the movie Gigi were Frederick Loewe, an Austrian-American composer, and Alan Jay Lerner, and American lyricist and librettist.  Neither of those men were French.  Which means the song Thank Heaven for Little Girls is as French as French fries!
                Oh, yeah, and all that aside, remember how everyone thinks that Andre is a pedophile thanks to Nicole’s lies?  Yeah, well Andre’s choice of song has officially cemented that assumption into everyone’s minds, and all the tourists storm out of the talent show hall, except for Diana, who is now just as confused as Andre over what everyone’s problem is.  So, after that little disaster, Andre returns to his resort room to find Nicole is missing.  When he starts searching for her, he sees the resort’s band standing around and, suspecting Nicole is somewhere with the cabana boy he’d seen her flirting with earlier in the movie, particularly after he’s told that the boy in question is ‘with some chick.’ Instructs one of the band members to take him to the cabana boy’s house Well, obviously, the ‘chick’ in question is not Nicole.  Once again, Andre asks then where Nicole is, and they tell him that she’s probably with Ben.
                We then shift back to Ben’s house, where Ben, obviously still believing that Andre is Nicole’s boyfriend, is telling her to leave him.  He even offers to hide Nicole on his father’s boat.  At that moment, Andre arrives to look for Nicole.  Ben immediately goes over and, after refusing to let Andre in, punches him in the nose.   Seconds later, Nicole appears and stops the fight before running off, with Andre hurrying after her.  When he catches up to her, Nicole starts whining and moaning about how Andre doesn't love her anymore and that he’ll run off to marry Isobel and forget all about her.  She then proceeds to tell Andre about the time when he missed her 13th birthday because he was sick.  According to Nicole, she went over to his hotel with some soup, but instead saw a perfectly healthy Andre getting off the elevator with Isobel.  Thus, Nicole realized that Andre had lied about being sick and chose to spend time with Isobel instead of coming to his daughter’s birthday.  And after hearing that story, I think this is the only time in this whole movie when I actually felt bad for Nicole.  As for Andre, he apologizes to Nicole for that day, and tells her that he could never forget her and that he loves her more than anything in the world.
                A short time later, Nicole finally does something right and tells Andre about the lie she’d spread, about how Andre was actually her lover instead of her father.  To his credit, Andre’s reaction is strikingly realistic, and he flips out on her.  He instructs Nicole to tell Ben the truth, but Nicole insists she can’t do that because she’s in love with Ben, and that he’ll hate her if he finds out she was lying.  Well, I’m sorry Nicole, but you do kind of deserve to have him hate you, especially after all the crap you've pulled so far.  Besides, Nicole’s only known this guy for a few days, and those few days have been spent with him swallowing her lies, being downright nasty to Andre and trying to make her jealous by getting all lovey-dovey with some other girl.   How can Nicole even think she’s in love with this guy?  Ugh, maybe I just have to keep reminding myself that she’s nearly 15 and as a general rule, people that age typically aren't emotionally developed enough to properly distinguish between a teenage crush and genuine romantic love.
                Believe it or not, this is when the movie REALLY starts getting stupid.  I know, I can’t believe it either, but things actually get dumber than they've been so far.  When morning comes, Nicole wakes Andre up, informing him that Ben is on his way over and that she wants Andre to continue acting like he’s Nicole’s boyfriend.  That’s right, Nicole has not only neglected to tell Ben the truth, she wants her father to knowingly play along with her lie.  Now, one would think that Andre would man up and refuse to tolerate this.  After all, he’s the parent and she’s the child, so its Andre’s responsibility to ensure his daughter learns to take responsibility for her transgressions and whatnot.  But no.  Andre actually indulges his daughter by not setting Ben straight.  You know what? I don’t care if this is just a movie.  I expect the movies I see to have characters that are actually believable.  There is absolutely no way that I would believe that a parent would willingly pander to their kid’s immaturity by feeding their lies, particularly when it’s this big of a lie.  Any real parent would yank Nicole into the room and insist that she start being honest with Ben.  But maybe Andre is living under the delusion that maybe Nicole will finally come clean once he leaves the two alone together.  Guess what?  Nicole doesn't fess up.  Instead, she feeds Ben ANOTHER lie, telling him that Andre’s dying from a rare African disease and that she needs to stay with him for his final days.  And once again, Andre neglects to act like the responsible parent and allows Nicole to call the shots by pretending to be bedridden from his illness.  
However, that night, after Andre attempts to contact Isobel, who once again deliberately ignores his phone call, he has a heart-to-heart with Diana, filling her in on what Nicole has been saying about him.  A sympathetic Diana consoles Andre’s feelings of failure by assuring him that he’s a great father to Nicole.  I’m sorry, Diana, but no he’s not!  I can’t let this go.  A good father would remember that his job is to ensure his children grow up right by teaching them dishonesty is not generally acceptable.  They don’t cater to the child when they’re off spreading lies, particularly lies of this magnitude.  Well, at least some good comes of this heart-to-heart with Diana.  Andre vows that since Nicole won’t take responsibility for her mistakes, he will personally make sure the boy knows the truth.  Finally, we’re going to see Andre acting like the competent parental figure he….he’s not going to go through with it is he?
                NO!  NO HE DOESN'T!  The very next scene has Andre regaling Ben about some kind of war wound he got while serving in the military in some Russian war.  Please tell me this movie is almost over!  Please!
                Anyway, Nicole, being the little snot that she is, starts yelling at Andre for taking Ben’s attention away from her.  Once again, Andre instructs Nicole to tell Ben the truth, but Nicole once again says that it’s too late, and that Ben will hate her if she comes clean now.  Andre tries to reassure her, stating that he wouldn't hate her.  Why not, Andre?  Are you saying that no one could possibly hate Nicole?  Because I've hated her from the very start.  Once again, Nicole asks that Andre help her along with her lies by acting like a fool in front of Ben so he will no longer feel intimidated around Andre and start paying attention to Nicole again.  Andre consents by being rubbish at playing tennis, golf and windsailing.  However, Nicole’s plan fails when she and Ben later see Andre playing the piano, prompting Nicole to remember how Andre used to play for her before she went to sleep at night.  This leads to Ben, seeing in her face how much she cares for Andre, leaving Nicole a note saying that it might be best for them to never see each other again.  Nicole is devastated, but I’m not sure what she expected would happen.  
The next morning, Andre is out on the porch when one of the lifeguards runs over to him, informing him that Nicole is in danger.  Apparently, she went out windsailing, ignoring the lifeguard’s warnings of strong currents, and is now unable to return to shore.  When Nicole falls into the water, Andre immediately dives into the water to swim out to save her, but gets a cramp before he can reach her.  Thus, it is Ben in his speedboat that makes it to Nicole first.  Upon realizing that Andre is also in trouble they then steer the boat over to him as well.  In a panic, Nicole calls out to him, calling him ‘daddy.’  Ben, hearing her call Andre that, instantly figures out the truth.  Thus, when he sees Nicole again at a market, he brushes off her attempts to apologize, telling her to just stay away from him.  Trying to get back into Ben’s good graces, Nicole then proceeds to try and write him a letter with Andre’s assistance.  At night, the pair sneaks over to Ben’s house and, after breaking his window to get his attention, Nicole pleads Ben to meet her at the dance.  With Andre acting as her Cyrano de Bergerac, Nicole spouts off this whole romantic spiel about how much she loves him.
                At the dance, Andre essentially snubs all the tourists who treated him like a pariah. (Speaking of which, do they know the truth now?  It’s never stated.)  As for Nicole, she starts to think Ben won’t show up, but then when she starts to give up, Ben finally makes his appearance.  The two go off to take a walk on the beach where they share a kiss.  After witnessing this, Andre makes his final attempt to call Isobel, who once again continues to ignore his phone call.  Until Andre mentions that he’d like to marry Isobel, prompting the woman to fly off the chair and pick up the phone.  The two continue to discuss their upcoming marriage, with Andre stating he wants to have a daughter with her.  Which means Andre is willing to potentially go through this whole crap-fest again.
                Someone PLEASE tell me where this movie came from?  I know I said it before, but it’s worth repeating.   How do people find this movie funny?!  It’s really terrifying!  It astounds me how mean-spirited this movie could get at times.  There was not a single thing in this movie that was remotely funny.   I actually felt really uncomfortable at times.  The really scary part is that there are no real repercussions for Nicole’s self-centered lies.  Throughout the whole movie, she acted like a spoiled brat who never gave a thought to how her actions were affecting others, particularly her father, and yet, she still gets exactly what she wants.  I suppose we were supposed to be rooting for her, hoping that everything would work out for her in the end, but I never felt like that. Not once.  I didn't want to see her wind up with Ben, or make up with her dad.  I don’t think she deserved to get her way.  Just think about it for a moment.  Not only did her lies make practically everyone on the island think Andre was a pedophile and therefore treat him like something disgusting on the bottom of their shoes, it could have destroyed Andre’s entire life.  Any one of those people who heard and believed Nicole’s lies could have gotten Andre arrested and left with a permanent criminal record, which would have followed Andre around for the rest of his life.   His professional reputation would have been in tatters, making it almost impossible for him to find a job anywhere.  Even if that never happened, it still doesn't change the fact that her lies came very close to getting Andre killed.  And if that wasn't enough, Nicole never tells Ben the truth willingly.  The only reason her lies came out was because Nicole had a slip of the tongue.  So obviously, Nicole never intended to tell Ben the truth.   This movie could have been salvageable if they had Nicole finally show a lick of maturity and publicly admit the truth to everyone.  That ending would have at least showed that Nicole had learned something from all of this.  As it stands, however, I seriously doubt Nicole learned anything good.  On the other hand, perhaps she does deserve Ben after all.  After all, we've all seen how Ben will knowingly endanger someone’s life and, like Nicole, is not above utilizing petty and childish mind-games to get his way, as we saw when he started dancing and kissing that other girl to try and make Nicole feel jealous.  As was said in Big Girls Don’t Cry, They Get Even, a rather entertaining family film from 1992: Brats of a Feather.
                If anything, I just feel bad for Andre, but even that has its limits, particularly since it’s pretty clear that he allows people to treat him like a bloody doormat.  When he finds out about Nicole’s lie, he doesn't lay down the law and make sure she takes responsibility for her actions, he actually plays along with her.  That aside, he is seriously planning to marry Isobel at the end, even though we've clearly seen that Isobel is a manipulative hag of a woman who only gives Andre her attention when he lets her get her way.  Even the ex-wife, Megan, who we briefly saw at the beginning of the film.  I’m still convinced she knowingly threw away the gift bag with Andre’s gift still inside it.  You've got to wonder about Andre in this case.  He seems inexplicably drawn to horrible unlikable women who will take advantage of him without any remorse.  You know what this reminds me of?  It reminds me of one of the well-known symptoms of abuse victims, in the sense that some of them actually start to feel affection for their abusers.  I seriously think that’s the case with Andre.  He’s gotten so used to the women in his life constantly manipulating him, he’ll give them everything they want and no longer even attempts to stick up for himself.  Even in the last line of the movie, he’s telling Isobel to make sure the kid they’ll have together is a girl, which, to me, indicates that he wants the cycle to continue and will allow this new potential daughter treat him as horribly as Nicole and Isobel have.  The only good thing I can say about this is the fact that I made it through this film with at least some of my sanity intact, and that after today, I never have to sit through it ever again.  And thank Heaven for that.

                 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Movie Review: Darby O'Gill and the Little People


                Mora na maidine dhuit!  Bail ó Dhia ort.  It’s St. Patrick’s Day, that time of year to show your Irish pride and honor the patron saint of the Emerald Isle.  So throw on your green sweaters, adorn yourselves in shamrocks and pour yourself a pint of Guinness (or a Shamrock Shake from McDonalds if you, like me, aren't a fan of beer) before sitting back and immersing yourself in the sounds of traditional Irish ballads.  But maybe you want to do a bit more than that.  Perhaps you also want to treat yourself to a special movie night to celebrate this day.  If that is what you choose to do, then your movie night will not be complete without a live action film produced by Disney back in the  late 1950s.  This film not only follows an old Irish storyteller as he engages in a battle of wits with the King of the Leprechauns, but it also delves into the culture and mythical legends surrounding the Irish people while showing the viewer some of the picturesque old countryside.  This is Darby O’Gill and the Little People.
 
            The story takes place in the town of Rathcullen, which is located in the southwestern County Kerry.  As the film opens, the Widow Sugrue stops by the estate of Lord Fitzpatrick.  She makes her way to the gatehouse, where the movie’s protagonist, Darby O’Gill, lives with his adult daughter, Katie.  Darby, as we’ll soon find out, is the caretaker for Lord Fitzpatrick’s estate.  At the moment, however, the only one who’s home is Katie, who is in the middle of churning butter.  The Widow Sugrue starts things off by asking Katie for a pinch of tea, but then whips out her sales pitch by commenting to Katie about how the latter doesn't have a husband, and how many women have lost their chance at getting married by waiting too long.  Before all the feminist extremists start reaching for their torches and pitchforks, please remember that this movie is seemingly set during the 19th century.  Besides, the Widow Sugrue as an ulterior motive in all of this.  Her objective in bringing up the concept of marriage is to convince Katie to consider marrying her son, Pony.  This would, in turn, enable Pony to be able to move into the gatehouse and lay claim to the benefits Darby has obtained from being Lord Fitzpatrick’s caretaker, which clearly is a very prestigious job in this town as Darby and Katie apparently have more than other people in town.  Thus, the Widow Sugrue is very eager to either see Pony become the caretaker or to marry Katie.
            At that moment, Lord Fitzpatrick arrives at the gatehouse unannounced, much to Katie’s surprise.  She hurries out to greet him, telling him that if they knew he was coming, they would have had the manor house open for him.  Lord Fitzpatrick assures Katie that he won’t be staying long enough to need the manor house, and inquires about Darby.  Briefly, a nervous look appears on Katie’s face, but she quickly recovers and tells him that her father had been talking about cutting the weeds around the summer house and has probably gone into town to have his scythe sharpened.  After offering to go and fetch him, Katie dashes off.  Once Katie leaves, Lord Fitzpatrick begins a conversation with the young man accompanying him.  This is Michael McBride, who is played by none other than a young Sean Connery.  Lord Fitzpatrick reveals to Michael that he knows that Darby isn't really getting the scythe sharpened and is most likely off at the inn telling stories.  Their conversation is overheard by the Widow Sugrue, who takes the opportunity to try and promote her son, Pony, to Lord Fitzpatrick, insisting that Pony is better suited to be the caretaker.
            The action now cuts to Darby, who, as Lord Fitzpatrick predicted, is in the middle of telling his friends down at the local pub about one of his misadventures.  According to Darby, he managed to corner King Brian, the King of the Leprechauns, out in the ruins atop Knocknasheega, a mountain that will appear numerous times throughout this movie.  Darby’s story is interrupted when some young man jokingly asks if the leprechaun king had a long tail and a cloven hoof.  Darby starts to comment on how silly that question is, but stops when he sees who was talking.  This is the famous Pony, who is the closest thing this movie has to an actual villain.  Pony is essentially a mix of the local bully and the village’s heckler.  He regards all the stories about leprechauns and other fairy folk as ridiculous blather and essentially dismisses Darby’s claims of seeing a leprechaun as nothing more that hallucinations brought about by too much drink.  After telling Pony off for heckling, the pub’s owner urges Darby to continue.  Darby complies by explaining how, upon cornering King Brian on Knocknasheega, he told the leprechaun king that he would not be let go until after he granted Darby’s three wishes.  King Brian attempts to trick Darby in order to escape, but Darby informs him that he knows all the Leprechaun’s tricks, and that if King Brian doesn’t grant him his wishes, he’ll have Father Murphy, the village’s priest, lay a curse upon the leprechaun.  
           King Brian then relents, and tells Darby to make his wishes.  Darby proceeds to make his wishes, first by wishing for health, then for a big crop of potatoes.  Finally, for his third wish, Darby requests the crock of gold.  King Brian grants each wish with a casual air, but when Darby is admiring his gold, King Brian asks what Darby’s fourth wish will be.  Darby states that he never heard of the fourth wish, to which King Brian insists that he’s feeling generous that night.  Thus, Darby wishes that all of his friends in the village will get a crock of gold of their own.  Once Darby makes his wish, King Brian starts laughing and tells Darby “Three wishes I grant you, big wishes or small.  But you wish your fourth one, and you lose them all!”  With that, Darby’s crock of gold vanishes, as does King Brian.
            We then return to the present, where Darby finishes up his tale.  One of Darby’s friends, Paddy, warns Darby to stay far away from Knocknasheega and not to meddle around with King Brian.  Darby scoffs at his friend’s warning.  At that moment, Father Murphy makes his presence known.  Unbeknownst to Darby, Father Murphy had entered the pub in time to hear Darby’s story in its entirety.  Father Murphy informs everyone in the pub that he had been contacted by the priest in another town.  Apparently, the church the other priest presides over had just obtained a brand new bell for their chapel, and the old bell is being donated to them.  Since Father Murphy doesn’t have a horse or cart, he is hoping that someone there would be willing to go retrieve the bell in his place.  While Pony volunteers his service, he refuses to do the work for free.  Instead, Father Murphy then pretty much coerces Darby into volunteering  to get the bell, by stating that doing this task might even absolve someone of the sin of using the name of the church against the powers of darkness for their own ends.  (Father Murphy clearly is referring to the part of Darby’s story where Darby threated King Brian with the church’s curse in order to get his wishes granted.)  A repentant Darby instantly volunteers, stating that he’d do the task for nothing.  In response, Father Murphy tells Darby that in return for his good deed, Darby will be given the music of the bell.  Obviously, this is a very big deal, if Darby’s reaction is any indication.  To be honest, I’m not sure if getting the music of the bell symbolizes anything, but I’m guessing it means Darby and all his descendants will receive God’s blessing every time the bell is rung.  If anyone has a better idea of what it means, though, please let me know in the comment section below.
            After the deal is made, Katie enters the pub and hurriedly drags Darby away.  Back at the estate, Darby joins up with Lord Fitzpatrick and Michael outside the summer house, where Michael has found evidence that someone had been poaching rabbits.  Once they’re face to face, Lord Fitzpatrick informs Darby that he’s retiring him as caretaker and giving the position to Michael instead.  To make the news easier for Darby, Lord Fitzpatrick will allow Darby and Katie to move into another cottage on the land where they will live rent free.  Darby is shaken by the news, but requests that Lord Fitzpatrick allow him to break the news to Katie.  Lord Fitzpatrick agrees, but reminds Darby that he has two weeks to get things settled and move out of the gatehouse.  
           Once Lord Fitzpatrick leaves the estate, Michael is set to head off to the inn, where he will be staying until Darby and Katie can move out of the gatehouse.  However, Darby refuses to let him do so, and instead invites him to stay up in the loft.  At first, Michael is hesitant, but Darby insists and, when Katie is brought into the conversation, she states that it’s no trouble to give Michael houseroom.  It is at this point where we see there is an instant but subtle attraction between Katie and Michael.  Meanwhile, the Widow Sugrue, who is currently unaware that Michael has already been slated as the next caretaker, is still trying to promote Pony to Lord Fitzpatrick.
            When night falls, Michael is visibly taken aback when he hears Darby telling Katie that Lord Fitzpatrick had only brought him to the estate as seasonal help.  While Michael is no doubt conflicted, he doesn’t contradict the lie and remains silent.  Before settling down to supper, Darby plays out an upbeat tune on his fiddle.  As Darby plays, Michael, as one would expect (hey, this is Disney, after all,) keeps sneaking glances over at Katie, who is busy preparing supper.  If Darby notices this, he gives no indication of it, and simply asks Michael if he can identify the tune.  Michael states that the song Darby is playing is completely new to him.  Darby, upon finishing the song, informs Michal that he heard it out in the old ruins of Knocknasheega, where it was being played by the leprechauns as they danced around in the moonlight.  Michael responds by saying “Aren’t they the bold creatures?”  Katie, I suppose, heard some sort of patronizing undertone in Michael’s statement, as she instantly gives him a sharp glare and coldly announces that the supper is ready.
            After supper, Darby heads off to round up the horse in order to go and pick up the bell for Father Murphy in the morning.  Michael offers to go help him, but Darby turns him down.  Michael them near scolds Darby for lying to Katie about why Lord Fitzpatrick brought him there, but Darby insists that he can’t just break the news to Katie out of the blue.  Darby promises that he’ll tell Katie the truth soon and then heads off to Knocknasheega to get his horse, Cleopatra.  When Darby finally catches up to Cleopatra among the ruins, the horse’s face suddenly goes… there’s no other way to put it… trippy.    I know that’s a vague description for what happens, but I can’t think of a better one.  I managed to stumble across a screenshot, but pictures don’t do it justice.  I have absolutely no idea how the film crew made this effect, but my gosh, it’s incredible.  And this was done without the use of  modern-day computer animation.  Whoever managed to create this effect deserves some kind of an award.
Now, gushing aside, this moment is supposed to reveal that Darby’s horse is actually a pooka.  Cleopatra the pooka proceeds to rear back and ultimately forces Darby to fall down a deep well.  Now, you would think that the fall would have killed Darby, but he actually survives.  The reason for this is because the well was actually the entrance to the leprechaun kingdom, so there’s magic there.  Darby is greeted by two leprechauns who bring Darby to King Brian’s throne room, where King Brian greets him warmly.  Darby soon starts admiring the numerous Irish treasures that fill the throne, such as the throne of  Fergus mac Léti, the gold cup of  Cormac and the sword Brian Boru used to drive out the Danes.
This is one of the reasons why this movie is such a gem.  It’s a tapestry of Irish culture and history.  Granted it could be said that it portrays a stereotypical view of the Irish people, but you can tell that Walt Disney did some research when he made this movie.  For those who don’t already know, Fergus mac Léti, Cormac  mac Airt and Brian Boru were all legendary high kings of Ireland, although Brian Boru is arguably the most famous..
As Darby admires the treasures, he starts to wonder what his friends in town will say when he tells them about what he’s seen.  However, King Brian informs Darby that he can never leave.  This angers Darby, and he proceeds to berate King Brian for trapping him there after Darby did whatever he could to ensure the people in town showed the proper respect for the leprechauns.  This berating enrages the other leprechauns.  King Brian then tells Darby that his right hand leprechaun had overheard Lord Fitzpatrick telling Darby that he was being replaced as caretaker, and that King Brian had ensured that Darby be brought to his kingdom to help spare him the troubles of losing his job.  Once he hears King Brian’s reasoning, Darby admits that he is grateful towards the leprechaun king.  When asked if he would like to play the harp that stands among the treasure, Darby states that he’s rubbish with harps and is much better with the fiddle.  He offers to go and fetch his old violin from the gatehouse, but King Brian is one step ahead of him and gifts Darby with a Stradivarius, which has the reputation of being the unparalleled best string instruments money can buy.  Darby, knowing that there is nothing leprechauns like more than dancing, whisky and hunting, decides to play the Fox Chase.
The next few minutes are rather pointless.  It’s just Darby playing the Stradivarius while all the leprechauns dance around the room.  After a while, King Brian and the leprechauns get so into the song, they all mount small white horses and ride them around the throne room for a while before King Brian uses his magic to open up a hole in the side of the mountain, which all the leprechauns ride through.  Seeing his chance, Darby slips through the hole after them after pocketing some of King Brian’s cache of jewels.  Darby just manages to make it outside before the hole closes up again, but unfortunately the treasure he tried to make off with had all fallen through a hole in his pocket, much to the amusement of Cleopatra the pooka, who was inexplicably waiting outside for Darby.
Back at the gatehouse, Darby is busy in the stables, drawing the curtains over the windows and pulling a jug of whisky off the shelf.  When he notices that Cleopatra is giving him the eye, Darby informs her that he’s expecting company.  Darby’s prediction soon proves true, as King Brian appears in the stable.  He is not happy with Darby for tricking him.  Darby tells King Brian that he only came back to retrieve his pipe.  There is nothing else he wants from his old home and he is eager to return to the leprechaun kingdom.  He goes on to tell King Brian that he doesn't even want the jug of whisky, which he would offer to King Brian except that it wasn't good enough to please the little king.  King Brian, however, insists to judge the whisky for himself.  King Brian finds the whisky to be pleasing, and soon decides that they have plenty of time to return to the mountain.  In no time at all, Darby and King Brian strike up a drinking song as they continue to drink the whisky, although Darby secretly refrains from drinking a single drop.  
It soon becomes clear that King Brian is beginning to drink too much.  So much so that he doesn't realize how much time has passed until he hears a rooster crowing outside.  It turns out that this was Darby’s plan, as he knew King Brian’s magic was hindered during the day.  Thus, King Darby cannot escape the stable and is essentially trapped.  King Brian is enraged that he was tricked twice in a row and vows that when his magic returns when night comes, he will place a curse on Darby for his deceitfulness.  Darby simply laughs off the threats and sets the farm’s cat onto King Brian.   Once King Brian is effectively cornered by the cat, Darby tells him that he’ll call off the cat if King Brian agrees to give Darby his three wishes.  The frantic King Brian agrees, and Darby pulls the cat away.  Slyly, King Brian offers Darby as many wishes as he wants, but Darby informs King Brian that he remembers their last encounter and what happens when you make a fourth wish.  Deciding that he wants to protect his last two wishes, Darby makes his first wish that King Brian will be at his beck and call for a fortnight until he makes his next two wishes. King Brian, again, is furious, but when Darby once again threatens him with the farm cat, King Brian grants the first wish.  When King Brian asks how he’s to protect himself until Darby makes his next two wishes, Darby pulls out a rucksack and stuffs the protesting King Brian into it.  Upon exiting the stable, Darby is displeased to see the Widow Sugrue skulking around the gatehouse again.  It’s clear that Darby has no tolerance for this old woman and her tendency of always going around begging for various things.  Perhaps Darby feels that the Widow Sugrue is leeching off of them, and after seeing some of the Widow Sugrue’s actions, I have to agree that Darby’s assessment is spot on.
Inside, Michael has just woken up and is greeted by Katie.  Both have just noticed that Darby is absent, but Katie is confident that he will turn up.  Their conversation turns to Darby’s talk of the leprechauns.  Michael reveals his skepticism by commenting that he suspects Darby simply drinks too much.  Katie, however, informs him that Darby isn’t a drinking man and that he goes down to the pub because he’s been lonely since Mrs. O’Gill passed away and enjoys the company.  Michael asks Katie what she does when she gets lonely, to which Katie states that she keeps busy.  She then tells Michael that there’s a dance that night in town and suggests that he go with her.  Michael gracefully declines, but asks that Katie call him Michael.  (Up to now, she’s been calling him Mr. McBride.)  With a wide smile, Katie states that she hasn’t known him for more than a day, so she won’t be calling him by his first name until she’s known him longer.  Darby chooses that moment to enter the room, asking what the Widow Sugrue was doing around the place.  He warns Katie that both the old widow and her son, Pony, are not to be trusted as they’re most likely up to no good.  After that conversation is over, Darby no doubt thinking about King Brian and his two remaining wishes, tells Katie that there’s been a change in their fortunes and that he might be buying the manor house.  However, Katie is completely uninterested with the thought of living in the manor house.  Darby tries to find out what Katie would want, but Katie takes up a tone of finality and tells him to pipe down and eat his breakfast.
We now reach one of the highlights of the movie.  Sometime later, Katie is going out to bring some food to Michael, who is busy cutting the weeds around the summer house.  She finds him in the middle of singing the tune ‘Pretty Irish Girl,’ a song that, from my brief internet research, was apparently written for the movie.  Yes, that’s right, everyone.  Sean Connery, the man who would go on to become one of the most iconic James Bond actors, voice a dragon and portray Indiana Jones’ father to boot among other notable roles, actually sings in this movie.  While there are some that suspect Connery’s singing was dubbed by Irish singer Ruby Murray, Michael’s deeper singing voice does not match that of the vocally trained Murray.  Thus, I am confident that it really is Connery singing here, and I’m sure any fan of his acting needs to see this scene.  As for the song itself, it is far too catchy for its own good.  I guarantee you’ll at least be humming it for quite a while after seeing this movie.
As Katie gives Michael the food she prepared him, they strike up a playful conversation that begins when Katie warms Michael about the dangers of eating hot bread, which prompts Michael to comment on how he probably needs someone to look after him.  Michael also questions Katie if Darby said anything to her before leaving to pick up Father Murphy’s bell, checking to see if he came clean to her about his retirement.  However, Darby clearly still hasn’t told Katie the truth and merely told Katie that he (Michael) was a good lad.  When Michael asks Katie if she agrees with that statement, she coyly says she doubts it before dashing off with a wide smile.
Later on, Darby returns home with Father Murphy’s bell.  After delivering the donated bell, Darby steps into the pub and, when his friends notice that the rucksack Darby’s carrying is moving, Darby tells him that King Brian is inside the rucksack.  While the disbelieving Pony and his cronies state that it’s probably just a chicken and leave the pub. the others believe Darby’s claim, which is proven to them when Darby lowers a small glass of the pub’s finest whisky down to King Brian, who, upon finishing it, tosses the now-empty glass back up to Darby.  The witnesses to this are stunned into silence, with the bartender placing the glass in question up on high shelf, stating that they’ll be repeating that story.  “And if any man doubts the truth of it, there's the very same glass,” she announces.
That night, Darby arrives home to find Katie getting ready for the previously mentioned dance, singing the very same song Michael had been singing earlier.  She tells Darby that Michael is off doing the rounds for Darby, checking around for poachers.  Darby leaves to catch up to him and, as he hurries through the grounds, Michael suddenly leaps out of the darkness, tackling him.  And on a personal note, this moment always makes me chuckle.  I have no idea why, but I find the image of Michael quite literally popping up out of nowhere to tackle Darby quite funny.  Once Michael realizes that it’s only Darby, he apologizes, saying he thought Darby was a poacher.  However, when Michael sees Darby’s rucksack, he concludes that there’s a rabbit inside and initially refuses to return it.  Darby informs Michael that he’d captured the king of the Leprechauns, and even allows Michael to look inside the rucksack.  However, since night has fallen, King Brian has regained his magic and ensures that Michael only sees him as a rabbit.  Sadly, Darby wishes that Michael could see King Brian.  At that moment, King Brian gleefully informs Darby that his second wish has been granted.  Flustered and unhappy that he wasted his second wish, Darby demands that King Brian go on and let Michael see him.  King Brian, the slippery little bugger he is, tells Darby that Michael can see him: he sees him as a rabbit.  However, King Brian takes pity on Darby and promises him that Michael can see his true self in his dreams that night.
Elsewhere, the town’s dance has just come to an end, and Katie is leaving the dance hall, accompanied by a man named Sean.  After complementing Katie on her dancing, Sean offers to see Katie home, but before she can reply, Pony steps in and says that Katie can ride home with him.  While Sean starts to protest, his words trail off when Pony literally twists his arm, forcing Sean to back down.  Thus, Pony is the one who brings Katie back to the gatehouse.  Once they’re there, Pony makes an obvious attempt to kiss Katie, but she simply bids him goodnight and heads inside.  She is met with Darby, who had been waiting up for her.  Darby begins to scold Katie for riding home with someone like Pony and tells her to stay away from him.  Once Katie has gone off to bed, Darby has a heart-to-heart with King Brian, who had been hiding nearby.  King Brian warns Darby that if he doesn't make his final wish soon and let him return home to Knocknasheega, his leprechaun army would retaliate by going after Katie.  Darby admits that he doesn't know what to wish for.  It turns out that Darby wants his last wish to ensure Katie’s happiness, but he has no idea what would accomplish that goal.  King Brian suggests that perhaps Katie really wants is a steady lad with temperate ways.  Darby states that if Katie found love with a man like that, he would gladly make his third with.  Thus, as the night goes on, King Brian slips into matchmaker mode by entering into the dreams of Michael and Katie in turn.  With Michael, he places the idea into his head to take Katie up to the ruins of Knocknasheega after Sunday mass.  Once he’s done with Michael, King Brian makes his way to Katie’s room.  I’m not quite sure what he convinces her to do, but I suppose he’s encouraging her to play hard to get.
Because of King Brian’s influence, Katie and Michael journey up to Knocknasheega on Sunday.  While they’re up there, I imagine King Brian’s leprechauns are working their magic to ensure that the pair falls in love.  The quasi-date starts off with Michael reciting the poem The Pillars of Old Ireland, with some paraphrasing.  Seamlessly, the pair starts to playfully flirt with each other, culminating with Michael chasing a laughing Katie across the mountainside.  Their fun is brought to a screeching halt when Katie literally runs into Pony.  For a few tense moments, Pony and Michael face each other down, but before anyone can throw a punch, Katie leaps to Michael’s defense, telling Pony that if he lays so much as a finger on Michael, she’ll never speak to him again.  Pony wordlessly steps aside, his smarmy smirk never leaving his face.  Once they’re out of earshot, Michael essentially tells Katie that he doesn't need her help against someone like Pony.  In response, Katie insists that Pony would have killed him, but when asked, she claims that she wouldn't have cared if Michael had died, because she doesn't have the slightest interest in him.  Despite her words, Katie leans in for a kiss.  Instead of complying, Michael sidesteps around her to walk off.  Before he takes five steps however, Katie hurries after him and kisses him.
Unbeknownst to the pair, a gleeful Darby and King Brian had been watching the exchange.  Thrilled over the fact that Katie and Michael have now fallen in love, Darby prepares to make his third wish, but stops when he hears the chapel bell ringing.  Remembering Father Murphy’s promise that the music of the bell would belong to Darby, he tells King Brian that he’ll make his final wish the following day in order to fully enjoy listening to the bell ringing.
The next morning, Pony delivers the mail to the post office. (Pony’s job is to bring the town’s mail from the train station to the post office.)  Also in the post office is the Widow Sugrue, who is apparently friends with Mrs. O’Toole, the woman who works there.  As Mrs. O’Toole, goes through the mail Pony has delivered, she and the Widow Sugrue come across a postcard from Lord Fitzpatrick, which is addressed to Michael.  Apparently, these two women have no sense of privacy, for they read the postcard and learn the true reason why Michael had been brought to the estate.  At the conniving Mrs. O’Toole’s urging, the Widow Sugrue volunteers to bring the postcard to the estate herself, to see if Katie knows.  Before she does so, however, the Widow Sugrue meets with Pony to tell him what she’s found out and suggesting that perhaps Pony would be able to run Michael out of town.
That night, Michael enters the gatehouse to find Katie in the process of packing up her and Darby’s things.  She directs Michael’s attention to the postcard from Lord Fitzpatrick, which is sitting on the nearby table.  Upon reading the postcard, Michael turns to Katie with a guilty expression on his face, prompting Katie to ask why Michael didn't tell her before.  Michael explains that Darby made him promise not to, but tells the now tearful Katie that he doesn't want them to go at all.  These words have the opposite effect on Katie, and she lashes out at Michael for taking her father’s job when he himself is fully capable of finding work anywhere.  Now angry, Michael grabs Katie’s arm to keep her from running out, informing her that he doesn't want Darby’s job unless he can have the both of them with it.  He proceeds to confess that he loves Katie and wants her to remain in the gatehouse as his wife.  Katie, however, responds to Michael’s confession with scorn and storms out of the gatehouse.
Out at the village pub, everyone has gathered to watch Darby make his third wish.  Before he can do so, however, Katie hurries in to get her father to help her catch the horse, Cleopatra, who has run off again.  Darby, solely focused on making his third wish, virtually ignores her pleas, and in despite frustration, Katie shoves the rucksack containing King Brian aside, enabling the leprechaun king to escape in his form as a rabbit. 
To be honest, I’m a bit confused about this.  Earlier, it said that leprechauns like King Brian lose their magic during the day.  But it’s clearly daytime here, as evidenced by the sun being out, and King Brian is able to take the shape of a rabbit.  Maybe King Brian had managed to conserve a little magic for emergencies?  Then again, perhaps I simply don’t understand the intricate laws of the leprechauns and their magic.
Realizing that Darby won’t be helping her, Katie returns to the estate to do the job herself.  Before she can go after Cleopatra, she is stopped by the concerned Michael, who tells her that if she goes up the mountain with night falling, she could get herself killed.  Katie, however, is still angry and refuses Michael’s offer to get the horse for her and strikes him across the cheek with the horse’s halter before running out into the night.  Michael tries to follow her, but Pony suddenly appears behind him and hits Michael over the head, rendering him unconscious.  Pony them proceeds to carry Michael over to the manor house and leaves him propped against the doorway, taking careful measures to make it look like Michael is passed out drunk, in the hopes that Lord Fitzpatrick, who is to return the following morning, will find Michael in his current state and conclude that he is a poor candidate for caretaker.  
Meanwhile, Darby, who has failed to catch King Brian, returns home to the gatehouse, looking for Katie.  When he finds Lord Fitzpatrick’s postcard, he realizes that Katie must have read it and now knows the truth.  Frantically, Darby starts searching the grounds and finds the unconscious Michael.  At first, Darby believes that Michael is indeed drunk, but upon seeing his reactions upon waking up, is able to devise the truth.  Michael tells Darby where Katie has gone, which deeply concerns Darby, as he knows that Katie is chasing after a pooka.
At that moment, Darby hears the haunting sound of a woman wailing in the wind and recoils in fear.  He recognizes sound as the cry of the banshee, which he’d last heard on the night Mrs. O’Gill passed away.  Without hesitation, Darby and Michael hurry off to the mountain to find Katie in time.  After a search, Darby finds Katie lying unconscious just below a ledge she clearly fell off of.  Darby hurries down to her side, but the moment he reaches her, a bolt of lightning lights the sky, and the banshee appears.  Like the effect with Cleopatra the pooka earlier, the appearance of the banshee is quite remarkable.  So much so, that she actually frightened a lot of younger children who watched this movie.  Even today, those individuals, despite being fully grown now, admit they still find the banshee scary.  Thus, I again have to applaud the special effects team.
Darby, though clearly frightened of the apparition, manages to drive her away by throwing his lantern at her.  This seems to do the trick, as the banshee disappears as the lantern collides with the side of the mountain, bursting into flame.  Darby and Michael bring the now sick and injured Katie back to the gatehouse before summoning Father Murphy.  Now that I think about it, one would think they would have called in the doctor instead of the priest, but perhaps they were hoping Father Murphy would be able to help pray Katie better.  However, regardless of the reasoning, it appears that Father Murphy can do nothing for Katie, and, judging by the expressions on Darby and Michael’s face, starts to get ready to perform the last rites upon the young woman.
Darby suddenly starts hearing the banshee’s wailing once again.  Wordlessly, he slips out of the room and hurries to the front door.  The moment he opens it, BOOM!  The banshee is RIGHT THERE!  In our faces.  And that scene terrified a lot of kids when they saw this scene for the first time, myself included.  Even the Nostalgia Critic placed this scene in the Number 1 slot of his Top 11 Scariest Nostalgic Moments.
Anyway, Darby tries to chase off the banshee with a nearby shovel, but he stops when he sees the Cóiste Bodhar approaching.  Now, in Irish folklore, the Cóiste Bodhar, otherwise known as the Death Coach, is a harbinger of death.  Knowing that the coach is coming for Katie, Darby summons King Brian and begs him to send the coach away.  King Brian states that the Cóiste Bodhar is beyond his power, and once it sets out, it cannot return empty.  Darby then tells King Brian to grant him his third wish and allow the coach to take him in place if Katie.  King Brian, after trying to talk Darby out of it to no avail, sadly grants the wish before disappearing.  And so, when the Cóiste Bodhar comes to a stop outside the gatehouse, Darby willingly climbs inside.
As Darby is carried off to the other side, King Brian appears once again, stating that he came back to bid him farewell.  Finally, King Brian acknowledges Darby as a worthy adversary.  He then tells Darby that Katie’s fever broke the instant Darby set foot inside the coach.  As a final request, Darby asks King Brian to keep an eye on Katie and Michael for him, to which King Brian agrees to do.  Suddenly, a sly grin appears on King Brian’s face and he announces that he wishes he could stay with Darby for the whole trip to the other side.  Darby echoes the wish.  Immediately, King Brian begins to laugh in triumph.  “Darby, you've wished your fourth wish!” he announces.  With the fourth wish now nullifying Darby’s third, King Brian zaps Darby out of the coach, which rides off without him.
Sometime later, Darby is regaling to his friends about his experience on the Cóiste Bodhar.  Like before, Pony, who is present, laughs at Darby’s claims and announces that he’ll be glad to move to the town of Cahersiveen because he’s had quite enough of hearing the ridiculous stories about the little people.  At that moment, Michael enters the pub, asking Pony what kind of man doesn't believe in the leprechauns.  He then continues to say he remembers someone hit him over the head on that fateful night, and, thinking it was a leprechaun, he asked King Brian about it.  According to Michael, King Brian told him that Pony should take the consequences, and instructed Michael to “clout the blackguard in the face.”  Instantly, a fistfight erupts between Michael and Pony, much to the delight of the bystanders, who have clearly all wanted to see someone challenge Pony for years.  After a brief fight, Michael defeats Pony and walks out of the pub arm-in-arm with Darby.  Together, they join Katie, who is waiting by the carriage, and they all ride back to the gatehouse, with Michael and Katie once again singing Pretty Irish Girl, this time as a duet.  On that note, no pun intended, the movie comes to a close.
As a whole. Darby O’Gill and the Little People is a rather decent film.  While it might not be one of Disney’s best achievements and could easily be clumped together with some of their earlier obscure life-action films like The Three Lives of Thomasina, So Dear to My Heart and Toby Tyler.  But for what it is, it’s a rather imaginative fantasy story.  In fact, Walt Disney was so invested in making this story, he began planning for the film about ten years before it was released, and when WWII came to an end, Walt Disney and several of his artists even journeyed to Ireland themselves in order to gain the needed background material.  In addition, it has been reported that his appearance in this film was what brought Sean Connery to the attention of director Albert R. Broccoli, who later cast Connery as James Bond.  Thus, in a way, we can thank this film for giving us one of the most iconic of 007 actors.
What’s particular interesting about the movie is that there are some moments where you have to make your own interpretations.  For example, when Michael and Katie are out on their quasi-date up on Knocknasheega, there is no way to confirm that King Brian’s leprechauns are influencing the pair to fall in love.  It’s only hinted at `when King Brian visits their dreams.  What’s more, as the film comes to an end with Michael finally confronting Pony, we only have Michael’s word that he actually spoke to King Brian about the identity of Michael’s attacker.  It’s up to us to decide for ourselves if Michael really did talk to King Brian or if he’s only claiming he did because he’s not the type of man to fight Pony based solely on a suspicion he can’t prove.
In closing, this movie is an ideal way to begin introducing children and even some adults to Irish folklore and history.  Although, it may be a good idea to keep an eye on your children afterwards, for they might go out trying to catch a leprechaun themselves.