PAWN SACRIFICE

pawn

Ah, the Cold War. That frightening time in our history when we practiced Drop Drills (the Russians were coming), were terrified by youth group leaders into memorizing even more Scripture (the Russians were coming), and went to bed in fear that we might wake up to a world in which we would have to Learn Russian (I should have. Half the associates at my local Wal-Mart speak nothing else, at least while they’re working.). Once I mentioned aloud that I wanted a “Mao Jacket” and was roundly castigated for “going soft” on Communism. I was 17. I liked the frog closure at the top. No, Mao was not Russian, but he was Close Enough. (He was also dead, but this did not matter.)

Also, apparently it was part of our National Pride to be the country of origin for our guy (who was Good) who could play chess better than their guy (who was Bad). Because, if an American champion can beat a Russian–excuse me, SOVIET (as if “soviet” is a nationality)–champion, then we can put up another tally mark in our column on the Who’s Ahead Board. Never mind the American champion is going stark raving berserk from the pressure. “Mr. Fischer, you don’t mind carrying the weight of our Entire National Honor on your shoulders, do you?” What do we care–dogs into space (at the cost of the dogs) or win a few board games in Reykjavik (at the cost of our guy’s sanity)–so long as We Win. (Were we traitors for cheering for Olga Korbut? Or that huge guy who used to lift weights in like fifteen Olympiads? Remember him?)

This reminds me of that ongoing thing about “If you do such-and-such, then the Terrorists have won.” Aren’t you sick of that? “If you put off traveling to Place X, the Terrorists have won.” Or, “If you have compassion for prisoners in Gitmo, then the Terrorists have won.” Newsflash: the Terrorists have not won. Granted, we (“we” as in the-civilized-world-but-paid-for-by-the-USA) need to Do Something about ISIS/ISIL, the current freaks-du-jour who are giving away girls to teen boys who kill for the cause, but The Terrorists As A Concept (that is, FundyIslam that wants to destroy America) have not won.

Back to Pawn Sacrifice.

So, this is a movie about Bobby Fischer, an American chess prodigy who got so good at moving his pieces around a board that Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger got all fired up about it. Which reminds me of another Cold War memory from Junior High. We didn’t have Facebook, so we did things like sit around and play ADD UP THE LETTERS IN YOUR NAME TO SEE IF YOU GET 666, and apparently, you could add up the value of the letters or vowels in Henry Kissinger’s name and figure out that He Was The Anti-Christ. Because that’s super scriptural. (Maybe there’s an app for this now. “What supposed anti-Christ figure are you?”)

Figuring out who was the Anti-Christ figured large in the Cold War Christian Kid’s manual of how to be afraid of the Russians. Because they were coming, probably soon, and definitely you were going to have to inform on your parents, but no one would inform on you because you weren’t holy enough: “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” was one of those Christian-school chapel messages thrown at kids sitting in alphabetical order to make them feel the need to Come Forward. (Bonus, if you come forward, you miss half the next class and maybe you can get out of the pop quiz because you were busy rededicating your life.) Rapture Fiction was already going strong in the 1970s (the time about which I am most familiar in the Cold War paranoia, because after that I was grown up and worried about other things like lesson plans and taxes and scaring kids about the Coming Russian Invasion–it was way easier being on the Scaring End of that than on the Scared End, and I apologize to the 5th Graders of 1981 and 1982 a whole whole lot, and not just for this.), and a lot of it was based on the idea that The Tribulation prophesied in Revelation and setting us all into a frenzy of fear was Exactly Equal to what Russian Christians were already suffering at that moment and had been since 1917 and even before that, because life under the Tsars was no picnic, amirite? Anyway, don’t get me started on what American Christians think equals “persecution” (being laughed at for doing something stupid comes to mind). Plus that general fear that gripped you when you got home and no one was there and you knew for doggone sure you had been (cue scary Larry Norman music) Left Behind.

Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) goes to Reykjavik (spelled it right the first time, woot!) to challenge World Champion Boris Spassky, who is played almost entirely mutely by the great Liev Schreiber. I’m game for watching Liev Schreiber play all sorts of characters without speaking, now that I’ve seen him do so with such expertise here. Henry Kissinger has more words in his movie than Liev Schreiber.

Hey, did you know that Dr. Kissinger is still alive? Dude is 92 years old, has been married to his wife since 1974 (that is, since I was terrified that the Russians were about to Take Away the BIBLE, so we’d better have most of it memorized, hurry up very very quickly; does anyone know any passages from Obadiah?), has a bronze star and a Nobel Peace Prize and runs Kissinger Associates? Nice work for a sometime anti-Christ, if you can get it.

Fischer doesn’t want to play Kill The King unless conditions are just right. That gets worked out. Lots of suspenseful chess ensues, including shocking moves that stun the audience. I love the level of intellect that realizes, “OH NO! He moved his rook! In 14 moves, it’ll all be over!” Mostly, because when I play chess, I can see roughly one move ahead, possibly two, if I’ve had a lot of caffeine and am not worried about imminent Russian advances or terrifying secretaries of state who Weren’t Born In The United States (I’m not kidding, Dr. Kissinger had us shaking in our clogs and striped bell-bottoms with rope-and-bead belts. Because United States citizens who have risen to Cabinet posts AND ARE JEWS are always wannabe beasts or false prophets.).

We win. Duh, it’s the Cold War. We were always going to win. Because Dollars. And they were Starving to Death and trying to recover from Stalin at the same time, while trying to cosmonaut it up at our Neil-and-Buzz level, Good Luck with that one, Russkies! Which is not to say we shouldn’t have been afraid. At any moment some shoe-banging Soviet Dictator could have decided not to turn his missile-carrying boats around. Or any number of other disasters could have overtaken us. But it’s easy, now that we’re on the other side of that, to make snide comments. Unless you want to start talking about How Scary China Is. Which I don’t want to do. Because no.

The movie is definitely worth seeing. You understand the title refers to Mr. Fischer, right? Never mind his mental clarity or need for psychiatric care–we’ve got to Get Ahead of The Bad Guys. What nonsense are we doing like this now in whatever quest we’re currently on? Let the kid play chess. There’s no need to make a federal (or international) case out of it. Of course there’s some footage of Real Bobby Cracking Up In Public at the end. I’m not sure that was called for, but whatever. I’ve cracked up in public myself. Happily, before cell phones. Once, memorably, at a bowling alley, but that is a story for another time.

A THOUGHT FOR CHRISTIAN PARENTS WITH GAY KIDS

In my capacity as a member of the Board of Directors at BJUnity*, I have occasion to think about how Christians interact with (or fail to interact with) their gay friends, co-workers, and children. I’ll admit my thoughts are rudimentary, but perhaps they might be, for all their simplicity, helpful to Christians who learn that someone in their circle of influence in gay. Particularly, if the person is one of their own children.

Thought #1: Take the Anderson Cooper Test

If you had a chance to meet Anderson Cooper, would you say, “Ewwwww, no, how gross! He is so gay!”? No, you would not. If you had a chance to have dinner with Mr. Cooper, you would be as gracious as possible, and your conversation would be as witty and as sophisticated and as focused as you could possibly muster, given that your heart would be racing with absurd levels of star-struckedness.

Treat your gay kid with at least this much grace. He or she came out of your body and loves you. Anderson Cooper is thinking, “How long do I have to stay here with this person just because they won the CNN caption contest?”

Thought #2: Take the Sally Ride Test

When thinking about great Americans, do you leave out Sally Ride and say, “Oh yeah, she was America’s first female astronaut, but we’re not talking about her because she was a freaking Lesbian”? No, you do not. You put up her poster and talk about her as a great American woman who blasted through the glass ceiling of NASA like it was nothing but space. You discuss her PhD in physics, her work on the Challenger commission, her space missions. You don’t throw her contributions out because she had a 27-year-long partnership with another woman.

Treat your gay kid with at least this much respect. He or she wants your love and longs for your acceptance. Would you have shaken hands with Tam O’Shaughnessy, Ride’s partner? Shake hands with your own kid’s partner.

Thought #3: Take the Neil Patrick Harris Test

If you could be on NPH’s new show, Best Time Ever, would you? Or would you say, “No way, never. It creeps me out even to think of being near a man who is married to another man. I would throw up. I can’t get out of my mind the images of what they are doing to each other”? No, you would go on the show. You would have fun. You would laugh.

Allow your gay child at least this much access to you: to have fun and enjoy family moments as you would have fun and talk about (forever, and you know it) how much fun you had on NPH’s show, were you ever fortunate enough to get on.

And, of course, I’ve saved the best for last.

Thought #4: Take the George Takei Test

If you could meet Mr. Sulu. I repeat: If you could meet Mr. Sulu, would you, dear Christian trekkie, say to him what Christian parents say to their children, “I will never speak to you again! You’re not welcome in this house! You’re going to hell and God can’t save you. Your grandmother will die in shame because of you. I hope God brings you to your knees in disaster. You can’t see your siblings ever again!”?

You would not. You love George Takei and you want him to love you. You would speak kindly. You would recount your happy memories of a certain fencing incident. You would assure him he was and always will be far better than John Cho could ever hope to be (even though you are highly appreciative of Mr. Cho’s performance, darn that pesky external inertial dampener). You would shake Mr. Takei’s hand and you would shake Brad’s hand, too, were it offered to you. You wouldn’t say anything that remotely referenced their intimate relationship or what you might think it entailed.

In short, you would be an adult.

Granted, these things are more difficult with your own child. You never had hopes and dreams for Neil Patrick Harris. You did not imagine specifics of Sally Ride’s wedding. You never worried that your own parents might think ill of George Takei’s marriage choices. But you are still an adult, and you are still a Christian, and you can exercise prudence, compassion, and kindness.

You can keep communications open.
You can express love without prefacing and couching and following-up with “you know where we stand.”
You can shake hands, chat about the weather, exchange holiday and birthday gifts, inquire as to your child’s and your child’s partner’s/spouse’s health and job.
You can congratulate people on promotions, raises, graduations, new babies, and marriages.
You can be there.
You can stand between them and those who would be cruel.

No one is saying these things would be easy, only that they ought to be done.

They don’t have to be done perfectly. After all, people will crawl all up your business if you’re kind to your gay child and his/her/their partner/spouse. People will shame you and say you are “condoning sin” if you don’t cast stones and hurl aspersion. You may be shunned. You may be talked about. They might say you have walked away from the faith, that you can’t be saved, that God can’t love you if you love your gay child, that you never really were saved at all if you could do such a thing as be kind, compassionate, and accepting of your own child who has come out to you.

This is your son. This is your daughter.

Treat this person who aches for your love at least as well as you would treat a random gay celebrity who, if you ever did meet them, would forget about you before you had left the room.

*BJUnity is a group of LBGT and straight allies affiliated in some way with Bob Jones University. I am a 1981 graduate of BJU, a former staff member, and author of 11 books published by BJU Press, 3 of which are still in print. You can reach BJUnity at www.bjunity.org.
sulu

THE INTERN, starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway

the intern

The Intern is a happy little date-night or girls-night-out movie that will make you say, “Awww, that was sweet.” Anne Hathaway is adorable in her look-at-me-I’m-a-kinder-gentler-version-of-Anna-Wintour take on being the Woman In Charge who wears sunglasses and amazing coats and gets picked up by car service every day. If you’re a Devil Wears Prada fan (and you know you are), you’ll find yourself saying, “No, no! Don’t go in the house!” when the employee throws caution to the wind and enters the house. (Totes going to watch DWP tonight, though I don’t like the ending at all. The clothes. The thigh-high boots. The Tucci. I can’t resist.)

Robert De Niro stars as Ben, a nice 70-year-old retiree/widower who finds it emotionally exhausting to try to fill up his day with random golf games and other old-man-gatherings, and hops on the chance to become a Senior Intern at an internet start-up. His success and enthusiasm certainly caused me to want to become a senior intern. I mean, why not? I got a senior discount into this movie, after all.

Let’s talk about that, shall we? Apparently, I am not aging as gracefully as I think I am if I, at 54, pass for 62. Then again, I’m down with saving money, however that may happen. We can blame it on the teenager behind the counter–seriously, when I was her age, I could not tell the difference between forty and seventy, and even today, at a support group I attend, I accused a self-respecting 40-year-old woman of being only 25. She looked young to me, I have no other excuse.

Back to the movie: it’s sweet. It’s predictable. It has enough questions to hold you in your seat until the end so you can find out the answers. I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the ending, though I understood the reason behind it–a sort of zen moment, if you will–and there were some plot elements that could have been expanded on.

If you’re looking for a nice, happy way to spend an evening, this will do. Or wait for it to come streaming into your device. That’s also okay.

EVEREST

Everest is the true story of a tragic 1996 climb that resulted in the deaths of several hikers. There is beautiful scenery and there are touching emotional interactions. There is that most important feature of a really good story: self-sacrifice. There is suspense, moments of fright, deep sadness.

You can’t help, when watching this movie, to wonder what your “Everest” should be or could be. What is that thing you absolutely must do to make your life full? The tippy-top of your To-Do List. The thing that, were you to fail to do it, you would regret most.

Maybe there is nothing you think of like this, but perhaps there is. My husband wants to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. He’s been talking about it for many years. He needs to do that. Climbing mountains and taking long hikes aren’t my cup of tea. Instead, I did law school and passed the California Bar Exam. I needed to do that.

Maybe there’s something you should do.
Do that.

You also can’t avoid the question posed by this movie, “How cold is too cold?” It is asked in every possible way: How far is too far, how painful is too painful, how little oxygen is too little oxygen, how close to death and/or divorce can you get without imploding, and so on. It’s not just a question for adrenaline junkies and “because it’s there” folks. It’s a question we can ask about all sorts of things.

Because, you know, climbing Everest is a loony-tunes thing to do. The mountain is trying its darndest to kill you, so you’d better have a really good reason for attempting to walk brazenly up its forbidding faces, scramble over its glaciers, and push forward into its crevices just so you can touch its summit and plant your little flag there.

I’m just saying, when you pick that thing you want to do (and I’d say you don’t really pick such a thing: it picks you and shakes you around until you can’t do anything else than make the attempt), be sure it’s worth it. Count the cost. Check with the people who matter to you (not necessarily the same as the people to whom you matter). Then strap on your gear and jump out of the plane, apply to the CIA, enroll in ROTC, take up the oboe, tell everyone off because you are too going to be a stay-at-home-dad and damn the torpedoes, or cut off the toxic people in your life. Take up skateboarding. Take up culinary school. Take up politics. Heck, take up mountain climbing.

But remember the simple lessons brought to you by this movie:

1. Check the weather. Storms may loom.
2. Keep your communication lines open.
3. Be ready to turn around 100 yards from your goal if it means the difference between living and dying.
4. Before you decide not to turn around, remember there are people who love you and want you alive.
5. Thank the Sherpas. They went ahead of you to stash the oxygen tanks and secure the ropes and ladders that made your attempt possible.

I don’t think I have to spell out for you who the Sherpas in your life are. You’re smart enough to know who they are. Thank them. They are the ones who deserve the applause. everest

BLACK MASS, starring Johnny Depp

johnny

The Departed, under the direction of Martin Scorsese, gave us a fictional look at the life and violent times of James “Whitey” Bulger, crime kingpin in South Boston in the 70s and 80s. That movie, though deeply disturbing, distances the audience from Bulger’s crimes simply because it is a “based on” story.

Black Mass, on the other hand, is fact-based. This is what happened. These are the people Bulger killed. This is the culpability of Bulger, of the FBI, of everyone who looked the other way, pretended not to see, ignored, passed by, or straight up refused to talk.

This is a movie that grabs your chin in its hand and says, “Look at me. Reflect that this actually happened.” Children were made into drug addicts. Personal disagreements led to executions. Government employees were complicit in the expansive evil.

Johnny Depp is superb as Bulger. Ruthless, barbaric. I hope he gets an Oscar nomination for this work.

Benedict Cumberbatch plays Bulger’s brother, Senator William Bulger, but somehow it’s not distracting. Turns out (at least for me) it’s Cumberbatch’s British accent that kills the ladies. When he speaks with the same dulcet tones, but in “American,” he’s just an actor. (Good thing Khan Noonien Singh spoke Brit, amirite?)

Not for children. Language and brutality throughout.

AN ASIDE REGARDING SCRUPLES

Definitely, however, for adults everywhere. I hear often from people who have scruples against seeing R-rated movies, and I’d like to take this opportunity to address this.

The scripture verses most often offered in connection with such scruples are (1) “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes,” and (2) “whatsoever things are lovely . . . think on these things.”

Let’s speak to (1) first:
I don’t know what King David is particularly considering when he says this, but it isn’t violence or brutality. King David is known in the Bible as a man of war. He did violence on the daily for years, and the Bible speaks of him as a man after God’s own heart. Lots of soldier’s language and strewn body parts in King David’s world. So the wicked things he’s avoiding looking at in the above-mentioned verse are not violence and war.

(2):
Whatsoever things are honest and lovely and pure cannot mean we are only to sit primly thinking about roses and kittens, lambs in springtime. If we did that, George Muller wouldn’t have delved into poverty and filth to raise orphans. Prison ministries would not exist. You could never grapple with any serious moral issue in any meaningful way.

So, I conclude that these phrases must mean something else than “don’t look at disturbing images” and “don’t think about profoundly violent things.” I’m not going to attempt to preach to you what these passages might mean, only to say that they can’t mean what they can’t mean.

Back to Black Mass, I don’t care if you see it or not–it’s just a movie–but it’s a window into our country’s history, a story of what happens when might is right and the law slinks away in fear and self-seeking. We need to look at real people in real situations doing real things. We need to see the world as it is. Avoiding raw stories, ignoring harsh reality, doesn’t preserve one’s moral or mental purity–it merely advances one’s ignorance of society. These stories are rated R so that young children are not exposed to the brutality, not to protect adults from important knowledge and societal understanding.

Evaluating a film for adult consumption can be tricky. Some people are so disturbed by the F-word, they can’t focus on the story, so they miss a lot of great story-telling. Some people are morally disturbed by graphic sexuality or even not-so-graphic sexuality, so they will miss some great stories. All I’m saying here is that if you are an adult, you should be able to consider adult themes, adult conversations, adult situations without freaking out. You should be able to see, for example, Shawshank Redemption, for the friendship, self-sacrifice, grace, heartache, joy, and victory, that is displayed within the stark setting of a prison wardened by a religious freak and staffed by criminally-brutal officers, without reacting like a fourteen-year-old.

You should be able to see The Departed for the beauty of the direction, the script, and the general man-candy (DiCaprio, Damon, Wahlburg) and for what it says about humanity, with an eye to reflection on our shared condition: our hopes, dreams, failures, betrayals, without believing you’ve failed God for watching it because of the various “fucks” it contains. (Pretty sure God doesn’t cringe and hide when He hears this word.)

If you are a grown-up and you want to limit yourself to Disney flicks, that’s your prerogative, of course. I don’t care what you watch. But I would be pleased if sometime, when you have leisure and nothing else to do, that you try something less macaroni-and-cheese and more intellectually sophisticated that might make you consider your place in the world, how others live, and the tragedy that people in America live and die, having spent their whole lives in hunger and fear, poverty and ignorance, and that, in that condition, often, people give love and are loved in return, as are a couple of sweet women in this movie.

Please stay for the first part of the credits. Simple gripping images put a stamp on the real-ness of the story.

ALOHA, starring Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone

aloha

This film is a mishmash of every possible idea: love story, love triangle, who’s the daddy, global thermonuclear war, American imperialism, kids saving the world, etc. I’m not sure what they were going for, but they tossed all these ingredients into the blender and out came a movie, at the end of which, my daughter Emma looked at me and said, “That was really bad, right?” Right.

So, here goes (spoilers galore):

Brian (Bradley Cooper) used to be somebody, but then he stole $100K from somebody in Afghanistan and got shot to heck by a missile. He’s fine now and hired by billionaire Welch (Bill Murray) who wants to be the king of space. Too bad there’s a king of Hawaii who has to be consulted about moving one of the gates at Hickam Air Force Base, so (get this) Welch can have easy access from a factory he is going to build to the base.

That’s dumb. Oahu isn’t that big. If the gate at Hickam is here or there, there isn’t going to be a substantial difference in Mr. Welch’s access (absent having to navigate the Middle Street Merge at commute). Plus, it’s a pedestrian gate they are moving. What, is he walking his satellites from the not-yet-built factory to Hickam? I’m at a loss.

The gate is important to the story, because without the need to move the gate, Brian wouldn’t have had any reason to go to Oahu to get the new gate blessed by the kahunas, and without that need, he wouldn’t have had to hike into some isolated Sovereign Nation of Hawaii lands that are overseen by the rightful king himself, who is called Bumpy. If he hadn’t needed to hike up to see His Majesty, we wouldn’t have known that Captain Ng (Emma Stone) is all authentic Hawaiian and likes to play the Waimanalo Blues. More importantly, we wouldn’t have known that King Bumpy is afraid that the Air Force is going to deploy weapons in space, and if they do, the blessing idea for the new Ped X-ing is all pau.

It gets worse. Brian promises free cell phone service and a mountain or two (or half, as it turns out) to the King of Hawaii in exchange for the blessing, but wait, as it happens, Billionaire Welch is going to launch a nuclear weapon into space after all. How do we know? We know because Brian’s ex-girlfriend’s son–because he lives at Hickam in officer housing, because his dad who never speaks is a major who flies around all the time we don’t know where–sneaks into a hangar at midnight and gets footage of said weapon, because, oh I don’t know, because you live in on-base housing, the entire base is open for you to walk around and look into classified projects after midnight with your camera videoing away. When you’re ten.

It gets even worse. Brian realizes that the Air Force is unwittingly launching a weapon. Unwittingly, because the Air Force doesn’t know what it is launching, because these dang civilians won’t tell them what is in the payload of their satellites, (I was crying by this time for the stupid.) and of course a government who can tap all our phone calls can’t get the inside scoop on a satellite it is itself launching.

The Air Force is less astute, apparently, than a 10-year-old boy, because the boy is able to tell simply by looking at the satellite in his video footage that the payload is illegal, whereas the Air Force personnel overseeing the Hickam hangars have no idea. Maybe fifth graders really are smarter than everyone else.

Good thing Brian’s there! If he wasn’t, then there would have been no one at all who could have stopped the Chinese from hacking this satellite at the last second. “Go ahead and launch! I’ll get the Chinese hack turned off in time!” He does this–good thing he needed to come over to liaise with King Bumpy, otherwise the nuke would have gotten into orbit with the Chinese in charge of it. Global thermonuclear war averted without even the need for tic-tac-toe.

At the last second, as the rocket is rising and the Chinese hackers are probably being executed somewhere for their failure, Brian looks deeply into Captain Ng’s eyes and decides, “Yo, howdy, it ain’t right we’re launching weapons into space; I’m going to blow it up!” So he calls his friend out at the Ka’ena Point tracking station and says, “Dude, send all that sonic info up there and blow it up.” Sonic means sound, but, weirdly, when friend says, “Sure, dude, I’ll send up a sonic blast of all sounds ever recorded and blow up a $100 million dollar satellite,” there seems to be a visual component because everyone’s computer monitors are suddenly alight with random shots from old television shows. Don’t ask me. I have no idea.

The sonic blast works, the satellite breaks apart, nothing happens to Brian for destroying a zillion dollar project, except now Captain Allison “I’m a fighter pilot!” Ng is now in love with him. Two days later, everyone who matters finds out there really was a nuclear weapon on board and that the whole project was an attempt by Mr. Welch to become lord and master of lower earth orbit so he could do whatever it is lords and masters do, which probably if you have a nuke at your disposal involves blowing people up.

The satellite comes apart without exploding (I guess the sound wasn’t that bad after all), so somewhere out there must be a nuclear bomb doing whatever all the other trash out there is doing–waiting until gravity wins.

Throughout the movie there is a bizarre love storyish thing going on between Brian and his ex-girlfriend, the ex-girlfriend and her very stressed out husband, and Brian and Captain Ng.

Captain Ng is an absurdly-drawn character. Her role is to host Brian as he liaises between the USAF, Welch’s private space company, and the King. Of course these hostessing roles always to go F-22 pilots, right? I mean, what else would an F-22 pilot have to do but escort some private-sector guy around Oahu for a week or two? My best guess is that the Air Force has an entire staff of people trained in wining and dining visiting contractors and therefore has no need to take skilled and valuable pilots off their training for such work.

Also (and granted, I don’t personally know any F-22 pilots), my guess is that the women who fly combat aircraft for a living don’t flit around like this particular woman does here. She’s ditzy and perky. I may be wrong, of course. Maybe you can get a Hello Kitty flight suit like this girl obviously wishes she had. (Apologies to Right Stuff flying women if I’m wrong about this and you’re all sitting around comparing nail polish colors.)

I liked the look at authentic Hawaiian culture, the mention of menehunes, mana, Pele and Lono, kahunas, the 1893 overthrow, and so on.

I disliked the ending immensely. Short version: turns out Brian is the biological father of ex-girlfriend’s daughter, but ex-girlfriend has never told anyone, including her husband. In the final scene, Brian stands outside daughter’s hula school watching her. She sees him. He nods knowingly. She dissolves into tears and runs out to throw himself into his arms. Because, apparently, when you’ve never told anyone at all this very confidential news of who the Real Father is, you suddenly decide to tell your daughter who is 13 and who is completely bonded to her Actual Father who has raised her. Or perhaps no one told her and she just sensed it from seeing Mom’s Stalky Ex-boyfriend hanging out at the hula halau.

The whole thing is a tangled mess. I didn’t even get to the part where the General (Alec Baldwin) says–two days after the explosion–“Man, you’re actually a hero for exposing this.” Because that doesn’t happen. When you expose something big you shouldn’t know about, you have to quick run to another country and hide there even after everyone has acknowledged you did the right thing. Save your money. Don’t see this movie.