Harriet the Spy

Here's a movie I went to go so because of the cool typewriter font on the poster. I was so psyched up for it, that it just had to be good. And that it was, save a brief lull near the end. Harriet wants to be a writer, thus she takes on the role of "Spy" and spies on other people to get ideas for her stories. She is meticulous with details, and has everything written down. This backfires greatly when the other kids get hold of her 'private' notebook, and find what she has written about them. Finally, at the end, she makes peace with them, and becomes editor of the 6th grade paper. This could have been the perfect vehicle for utter cheese, but, luckily, they built some depth in to it. In the background, it holds a simple 'coming of age' subplot. Harriet, now 11, must come to grips with the departure of her lifelong nanny and confidant. At first, her whole world seems to collapse with her departure. Only at the end does she finally begin to gain some trust in her parents. When the nanny finally reemerges at the end, it is only to give some words of advice and encouragement so that she can make it on her own. In parting she tells Harriet that she "never goes back, she only goes forward." With this encouragement, Harriet tries to make amends to her friends. Unfortunately, she finds it to be much harder than she thought, and her attempts fail. Hey, it's not easy to apologize. Later she finally comes up with the guts and plan in class to take over as editor of the newsletter. It is ironically the boy who never talks that nominates her. Finally, in print she is able to do what she found so difficult: take back her past remarks, and restore friendships. She can communicate much better with the pen. Maybe she can begin to write with her parents.

Harriet's fall is a common leap-frog we face. She gets caught one day spying. But spies never get caught, so, feeling down, she decides to abandon the spying for a day, and join the gang in the park. Unfortunately, while enjoy these escapades, she drops her private notebook, and suddenly everyone knows what she has written about them. Some things written in private appear to be the basic truth, but in the wrong hands they can be totally destructive. Only in the end does she realize the usefulness of 'little lies' (finding the good in people even though you don't agree with it 100%) Even her best friends turn away when they find read the negative comments that she has written about them. Suddenly the whole class has turned in to spy chasers. Harriet can't focus in school, and thus her teacher and parents soon join in the pursuit. She even runs in to a cop on one of her spy runs. Suddenly the whole world is after her. even going to the extent of banning her from 'spying'. One small mishap always seems to snowball in to many. She becomes overwhelmed. Suddenly, the carnal nature pops out and she begins to seek revenge - that always seems like the answer. She gradually pulls a prank on each of the classmates that have been taunting her. Her last classmate to taunt was her old best-friend, Sport. While posting embarrassing flyers around the school about him, she captures his saddened glance. However, she has already hardened herself to the actions, and keeps going. It is only after being alone that she can finally overcome the hardness, and she begins to break down. Revenge seems so sweet until you start to feel the other person's suffering. However, it is only through the help of her parents, her ex-nanny, and even a psychiatrist that she can finally overcome the anger, and regain friendship. During her down period she thought you could either be a spy or have friends, but not both. Now she finally realizes that you can do both, but there have to be sacrifices. You can't dig out the deepest dirt about people and expect them to remain your friends. Besides, as she begins to learn at the end, what seems to be the 'dirty truth' may be totally false. The man that she thought was steeling food from the grocer was actually, with the full approval of the grocer, giving the food to starving children. Only from her initial view, Harriet was unable to see the children. Sport's dad, who seemed to be just a slacker, finally published a major book. She realize that he had actually been working very hard, but was unable to see immediate results. Even the cat man, was able to obtain new kittens after being stripped of his cats. She learns that our view of the world has a major impact on how we live. When she feels down, she is able to note everything negative that happens. When she regains her strength with a positive outlook, she sees all the great things everyone is doing. The most difficult part, however, is jumping from the negative to positive mode. This movie did an excellent job in showing this transition. Instead of giving a candy-coated easy fix, the transition was gradual, only with lots of help and hard work.

Before the movie was a Nickelodeon animated short - "Arnold". A little nerd finally overcomes the naysayers and hits the baseball - directly to the big bully's head. After coming to, the bully decides to beat him up. The girl (who is secretly in love with Arnold, but outwardly hates him) convinces him to change the time to the next day so Arnold has more time to suffer. Finally, the way Arnold tries to 'beat' the bully is showing that he is 'strange'. After seeing this dance, the bully refuses to beat him up, and instead invites him to join the club of different kids. However, to have the promised fight, he orders two kids to beat each other up. (They promptly oblige)

Things are not always as they seem. Often the most difficult challenge can prove to be the best opportunity for advancement. Arnold met the challenge of the bully with creativity, and soon found himself a large group of friends. The bully, after all, really didn't want to beat him up. He was just going through the motions. After finding something even greater than violence, there was no need to fight. (However, to quell the others' thirst for blood, they needed the 'dummy' fight.) Fights are a totally irrelevant method of problem solving. The mind is where the power lies.

Abbott and Costello meet the Keystone Kops
This one has lots of slapstick humor. Unfortunately, some scenes to drag on just a little too long.

This is what Mission: Impossible could have been. Just add the M:I theme song and you have a mega-hit. In this flick, Robert Redford's team is after a special code-cracking chip. Only, they are not sure who they're working for, and they gradually realize who is in it for what reasons. They pull a serious of teamwork missions and eventually are able to rescue it, only after many close calls. Very good, though the ending is kind of lame.

Strange Days
James Cameron sure produced a stinker. I wonder if this was something he wrote when he was 12 and always wanted to produce. It seems to center around a virtual reality device. Unfortunately, the story seems to change its main focus every ten minutes. The movie is super dark, set in a trashy future, and just has a feeling of evil abounding. A real stinker. Avoid at all costs.

Ususal Suspects
A nice Hitchcock style piece of intrigue. This would be an awesome movie if they'd just cut out the profanity. A big ship supposedly containing drugs recently burned up. Only two people survived, a seriously injured Hungarian, and "Verbal". The cops grill verbal as to what exactly happened. The rest of the movie is flashback, only we really don't know what is real and what isn't. Only at the very end do all the pieces fit together. A well done job. You really don't have any idea until the very end.