Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Day 8: Sick Days and Sneakthieves

I took a sick day today...something I haven't done in almost a year and a half of teaching.  In hindsight, I'm surprised that I hadn't done it yet.  I've been having this abdominal pain off and on for over a year and some times it happens quite a bit and other times it is gone for months at a time.  I've even gone ahead and taught on days that I felt lousy with it because I knew that it usually only lasts about 24 hours.  However, each of those days was always terrible and I always regretted it...but I didn't want to use up sick days.  For some reason I have this compulsion to always attend work and school and I never liked to miss.  I even went to seventh grade with a hideous fever and stayed there most of the day.  A teacher had to kick me out of class for my own good.  And I have to say, after taking this sick day, it certainly wasn't what I imagined.  I thought I'd sit around and convalesce all day...but in fact I was busier than if I had gone to work.  I had to go into school early to lay out sub plans, then I had to go to the doctor's office early to get an appointment, then I spent an hour and 20 minutes there after running some necessary errands, I got scheduled for a CAT scan (for my tummy), did blood work, and then actually did the CAT scan.  I mean I didn't stop moving from mid-morning on.  On the upside, I finished the shopping for Mom and got a treat for myself...and I finally did something about this pain.  It feels good to have done something rather than just sit on my ass and take it.  So it was probably one of the strangest sick days of my life.  I'm ready to go back to work tomorrow though, and I'm sure I'll feel good in the morning.  Anyway, the subject of today's film examination is another film that takes place in December, but doesn't make a big deal about the fact that its taking place around Christmas.  It also deals with someone who took a sick day and had an adventure.  No, its not Ferris Bueller, but it definitely takes some cues from Mr. Bueller...which isn't surprising since it was written by the same man, the late John Hughes.  It is also part of a series and its about the point when that series started to go sour...but that won't stop me from talking about it.  So lets get kid crazy and look at Home Alone 3.

The film begins with a crack team of for professional thieves preparing to smuggle a top secret missile microchip out of the country.  In order to get through security with no snags, they hide the chip in an RC car (it was 1997, airport security was easier then). However, when they prepare to transfer planes they find that the bag they had placed the car in has been switched with an identical one by accident.  They don't know who took the bag, but they do figure out that it is headed to Chicago.  Eventually they discover that an elderly lady took the bag and they are able to find her street.  They cannot find the correct house though, due to incomplete information, so they begin doing a house-to-house sweep during the day since no one is home.  Little do they realize that Alex Pruitt, who has been left home with the chicken pox and who also has been given the car by the elderly Mrs. Hess, is watching them.  He calls the police, but no one believes his story when they find no evidence of any break ins.  Soon, the thieves become aware of Alex's prying and his possession of the car and it is up to him to keep them out of his home...using the most inventive boobytraps ever thought up by an 8-year-old.

Home Alone 3 feels like two different movies playing at once.  On one hand, it is an espionage thriller with a kid as the lead and on the other hand it is a slapstick comedy and the two halves don't exactly fit together securely.  The stakes are well set up and some of the characters are decently well rounded...particularly Alex and his mother (Haviland Morris)...but when the thieves, who seem very very good, begin making stupid mistakes and falling for Alex's primitive traps is when the movie hits his biggest snag.  They are set up as so ruthless and professional at the start and it seems wrong to see them bumbling like idiots.  When Harry and Marv in the first two films did it, it seemed natural.  But these are smart and top-notch thieves, and to see them falling all over themselves like idiots seems wrong.  However, if you can get past that...like say you figure that they are too arrogant and overconfident...the film is easy to enjoy on an entertainment level.  The setup isn't bad and it is trying out some new ideas rather than repeating the first film (a criticism that part 2 got from all sides).  The traps are also funny...though some seem very difficult to survive, like the falling barbell and the falling lawnmower.  Anyway, if you've never seen Home Alone 3, you could do a lot worse for shallow entertainment...especially if you have kids.  However, if the first two don't thrill you at all, you should probably avoid this one too.  Its basically the same idea with a different skin.

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