It’s cold and snowy outside, a sign of winter and a time to plan for movie nights with families, friends, faith communities. The Trinity New Hope property manager and I have started planning a movie night for February. We happen to have many kids and teens living in our 16 homes right now so it seems appropriate to choose a coming-of-age film, especially when there is a good selection of relatively recently released ones.
We probably will not show The Edge of Seventeen at Trinity because it is rated R but I think it would be a great film for teens and adults/mentors to watch together. We all were or knew the central characters in this story and it has universal themes: friendship, awkwardness, loneliness, self-discovery, and transformation. What makes this film great is a smart script, Hailee Seinfeld, who rightly received a Golden Globe nomination for playing high school junior Nadine, and a perfectly cast Woody Harrelson, as Nadine’s teacher and reluctant mentor Mr. Bruner.
The film I think should have received more praise this year is Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life. “Rafe Khatchadorian (Griffin Gluck) has an epic imagination and a slight problem with authority, and these things collide when he transfers to a middle school where students are expected to follow the rules. This doesn’t sit well with Rafe. With the help from his friend Leo (Thomas Barbusca), he concocts schemes to drive his principal crazy while also using his charm and wits to impress a girl and battle the bullies” (Rotten Tomatoes). Gluck, only 16 but with enough experience that you will likely recognize him, and Barbusca made me laugh out loud and then pulled at my heart strings. Lauren Graham plays Rafe’s mom, a role perfected by her years as a mom on Gilmore Girls and Parenthood.
You know what is next, right? Yes–it’s Moana, “about an adventurous teenager who is inspired to leave the safety and security of her island on a daring journey to save her people. Inexplicably drawn to the ocean, Moana convinces the mighty demigod Maui to join her mission, and he reluctantly helps her become a way finder like her ancestors who sailed before her. Moana fulfills her quest and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity” (Disney). Music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, a Disney film with a girl at the center but with no love story, and lots of sunshine (have I mentioned the weather in Idaho) make this worth a trip to the big screen but it’s the identity question that make this a film worth watching with a faith community, and that would be my opinion even if I had not talked this morning about being given our identity as children of God in the waters of Holy Baptism.
A Man Called Ove (En man som hater Ove) is based on Fredrik Backman’s novel and is not exactly a coming-of-age film but I include it here because the story serves as a reminder that turning 17, finishing Middle School, or fulfilling one daring journey should not be the end of an individual’s growth and transformation. “An isolated retiree with strict principles and a short fuse, who spends his days enforcing block association rules that only he cares about, and visiting his wife’s grave, Ove has given up on life. Enter a boisterous young family next door who accidentally flattens Ove’s mailbox while moving in and earning his special brand of ire. Yet from this inauspicious beginning an unlikely friendship forms and we come to understand Ove’s past happiness and heartbreak” (Rotten Tomatoes). This is a gem and I hope many people see it on the small screen.