Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallée
Screenplay: Nick Hornby & Cheryl Strayed
From the memoir: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Starring: Reese Witherspoon
20-something Cheryl Strayed (Witherspoon) has been on the road to self destruction, so she decides to embark on a new path: 1100 miles up the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). In addition to her monstrously large hiking pack, she carries with her other baggage in the form of a failed marriage and unrequited grief. In flashbacks we get a glimpse of how bad it really got.
Laura Dern plays Cheryl’s mother Bobbi, a single mom who has always struggled but never lost sight of what’s important. In an eye-opening scene she explains to Cheryl the true meaning of happiness. It’s obvious the impact Bobbi has on Cheryl and her brother. She is the glue that holds their little family together.
Undoubtedly there is something about nature that calls to us. It has the ability to cleanse our soul and has a real healing power. I couldn’t help but think of the movie Into the Wild and Chris McCandless’ quest to leave his life behind and survive in the Alaskan frontier. But even though Cheryl is not entirely prepared to hike the PCT, she’s not so isolated that when she does get into trouble she’s not far from getting help. She encounters many different characters and situations each one teaching her a valuable lesson.
It’s rare that a good book is successfully translated to the screen but Wild is one of the best adaptations I’ve seen. The script was written by Strayed and Nick Hornby (About a Boy and High Fidelity) and aside from some minor scenes and characters they really do the book justice. Witherspoon was the perfect choice for this role. I think this is the first time I’ve seen her in a movie where I saw her as an adult woman. Even in Walk the Line I still saw her as teenage Tracey Flick in Election. She has outgrown that little girl look and her performance is raw and moving. I don’t think she wears a stitch of makeup in this film. We will definitely see her on the red carpet during the upcoming awards season.
Wild is a film that will move you. If you are looking for a little inspiration or need a bit of motivation go see this movie. You’ll be glad you did.
A little trivia: The real Cheryl Strayed is the lady in the truck who drops Witherspoon off in the beginning of the film. The child version of Cheryl is played by Cheryl Strayeds’ real daughter. During the credits you will see pictures of Cheryl’s trip on the PCT.
Wild is playing at the Art Theater in Long Beach. Visit http://www.arttheatrelongbeach.com/ or call 562 438-5435 for show times.
It’s the Holiday Season and many of us will have extra time to catch a movie or two. If you can’t make it to the theater, below are some of my recommendations. You can watch some of them on Netflix streaming or Amazon Instant Video—OR you can support local business and head over to Broadway Video, an old-school video store with a great selection of movies. The guys behind the counter always give me good recommendations. Call ahead at (562) 433-1920 and they will reserve a movie for you, and go pay them a visit at 3401 E. Broadway.
For the holiday spirit
It’s a Wonderful Life: I know I know. But this movie is a must. I admit I hadn’t watched this movie in many years but my 9 year old daughter and I watched it together and it’s message about life, family and the power of Christmas spirit is sure to get you in the mood. It sure is fun watching it with someone who has never seen it.
Trading Places: Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy trade their life status all because of a bet. Christmas is the back drop as hilarity ensues.
Disney’s A Christmas Carol: This version is one of the most beautifully animated films I have ever seen. It can be a bit scary at times so not recommended for little ones.
Meet Me in St. Louis: The movie that features Judy Garland singing Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Enough said.
Fireplace for your home: Netflix has 3 versions of the Yule log that will look spectacular on your big screen TV.
Grand Budapest Hotel: My favorite movie of the year. Ralph Fiennes is a concierge at the Grand Budapest Hotel and when a crime is committed all hell breaks loose.
Chef: Jon Favreau (Swingers) is a high end chef who starts anew cross country in a food truck. Great soundtrack. Sofia Vergara and John Leguizamo also star. You will also learn how to make the ultimate grilled cheese.
For the Kids
Pee-Wee’s Playhouse: Show your kids why Yo Gabba Gabba is mediocre.
The Painting: Yes, it’s an animated French film, so there are subtitles. What a great way for kids to get their reading time in. The message is one we are familiar way but told in an original way.
Mary & Max: An 8 year old girl in Australia and an elderly Jewish man from New York are pen pals. There are some minor adult themes so this one is best for 13 and older. Clay animation.
Take this Waltz: Michelle Williams and Seth Rogan play a married couple until Luke Kirby comes into the picture. Girls, you will love this one. The scene at the amusement park is a masterpiece. Written and directed by the amazing Sarah Polley (yes, you need to google her).
About Time: I would not have watched this movie by looking at the cover but it was adorable. Domhnall Gleeson meets and falls in love with Rachel McAdams. Yes, this movie is about love but mostly the love between a father and son. Bill Nighy is great and you will love Gleeson. Keep your eye on this actor, he’s got talent.
For your brain (Documentaries)
Spinning Plates: 3 different restaurants are profiled in this documentary about perseverance and the love of food.
Somm: What it takes to become a Master Sommelier. We follow 3 candidates who study endlessly for the test. Will they pass? If you love wine you will love this film.
30 for 30: ESPN does these amazing documentaries about sports figures, events, tragedies, etc. You don’t have to be a sports fan to enjoy them. Check out the one on surfer Eddie Aikau.
For the whole day (Series)
Orange is the New Black: If you are one of the 5 people who haven’t seen this yet, what are you waiting for?
True Detective: Matthew McConnaughey and Woody Harrelson are detectives in the past, present and future. Some of the best acting I’ve seen all year. I can’t wait for the next series.
The Fall: A short series about a serial killer in Northern Ireland. Starring Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan (get an early glimpse of the lead character in the upcoming 50 Shade of Gray).
Wild Card (Amazon Instant Video)
Tusk: Misery meets Clerks meets Human Centipede. You’ve been warned.