Mad Magazine

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Bibliographic Info:

Title:  Mad Magazine

Published: Bi-monthly

Critical Evaluation

Mad Magazine is a comedic magazine full of political satire and social commentary that originated as a comic book before it became a magazine.  Mad Magazine has a segment but for movies and TV as well as articles.  The cover of the magazine always has a picture of the magazines mascot, Alfred E. Neuman.

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Movie Info:

Title: The Breakfast Club

Director: John Hughes

Stars: Molley Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez

Release Date: 1985

Movie Summary

Five students are sentenced to Saturday detention, the athlete, the basket case, the brain, the criminal, and the princess.  They are forced to sit in the library and under the supervision of the assistant principal, Vernon.  Though the students know who one another his, they are not friends.

The morning starts out with Vernon assigning a thousand word essay on who they believe that they are, and as soon as he assigns it he retreats to his office, coming back every so often to make sure they’re still there.

When they’re first left alone, the criminal, Bender begins to harass the brain, Brian, and the athlete, Andrew, until he turns on the princess, Claire.  Slowly they open up to eachother about what got them there and what they’re not happy with about who they are and the lives they lead.  The common theme being that neither of them are close with their parents and they don’t want to end up like them.  As the day goes on they dance and smoke weed in the library, escape and run around the school, narrowly missing Vernon.

The film ends with Brian writing to Vernon saying they didn’t need to write who they are because he had already labeled them an athlete, a basket case, a brain, a criminal, and a princess and signed it “The Breakfast Club.”

Critical Evaluation

A movie that focuses on the characters and the way in which society and individuals stereotype them, The Breakfast Club attempts to show the viewer that there is more to people than meets the eye and you never know what you may have in common with the person seated next to you.  Hughes’ brilliance is that he writes characters who on the outside seem to have their place, but as you look closer you see that he’s given them fine layers and a script that peels them back.

Set in an eight hour time period in one location, the movie is driven purely by the actors’ performances and they do John Hughes proud.

Reader’s Annotation

When an athlete, a basket case, a brain, a criminal, and a princess are stuck together in Saturday detention it could be the worst day ever, or it could be the day that changes your life.

Who Should Watch

The Breakfast Club is a movie for everyone, with a diverse set of characters, young adults are bound to find a little of themselves in at least one of the characters.  This movie also gives a lesson in tolerance, because you never know what is going on with people in their homes or with their families.

Why I Watched

The Breakfast Club is one of the classic teenage movies of the 1980’s and has remained so ever since.

Genre

*High School

*Comedy

Interest Age

14+

Challenge Issues

*Drugs

The Breakfast Club

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Movie Info: 

Title:  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Director: John Hughes

Stars: Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck, Jennifer Grey

Release Date: 1986

Movie Summary

Ferris Bueller wakes up one day and decides that this is his last opportunity to ditch school during his senior year.  Calling on his best friend Cameron to borrow his dad’s perfect Ferrari and help get Ferris’ girlfriend Sloane out of school for the day.  Cameron repeatedly refuses to help, but then gives in at the last minute and pretends to be Sloane’s father who calls the school and tells the principal that her grandmother has died in order to excuse her from classes for the day.  Though Principal Rooney believes Ferris to be behind the ploy, he cannot prove it and the three race off to enjoy their day.

The trio head into downtown Chicago where they drop off the Ferrari at a garage where the attendants immediately take it on a joyride.  Ferris and company then attend a baseball game, visit a museum, the local stock exchange, and have a fancy lunch at a restaurant where Ferris’ father, who is also having lunch there, almost busts them.

Back at school, some kids who believe that Ferris is really sick start collecting money to buy him a new kidney.  Ferris’ sister, who also attends the high school freaks out over the kids collecting money and races home to catch him in the act of ditching, just as Principal Rooney does the same thing.

The final adventure of the day occurs when Ferris disappears and Cameron and Sloane are left looking for him, when a parade goes by with Ferris lip-synching on a float to “Twist and Shout.”  As the parade ends the three race back to the care in order to get home before Ferris’ parents.  When they get back to the car they realize that it has more miles on it than should have been there and Cameron freaks out.

As they try and figure out what to do about the car, Cameron begins to talk about his father and how he cares more for the car than he does for his own son and he begins to kick the fender repeatedly.  The Ferrari flies backwards and through the window and Cameron confesses that it’s about time and his father have a talk.

Sloane and Ferris part ways and Ferris races home, beating his sister by mere seconds and his parents are none the wiser.

Critical Evaluation

Though the plot isn’t very deep, it is full of adventure and fun times with good friends.  Ferris and his friend’s may be ditching school, but they’re looking for one day that can never be taken away from them, good fun with your best friend and the girl you love.  The characters, though Hughes doesn’t go into too much background, you feel that he has a strong sense of who they are.

Reader’s Annotation

If you had one last day to spend with your two best friends, how would you spend it?  That is Ferris Bueller’s predicament and he doesn’t waste a second of his day.

Who Should Watch

Those who want to know what a senior ditch day looks like should watch Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and take notes!

Why I Watched

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a classic teen movie.

Genre

*Comedy

*High School

Interest Age

14+

Challenge Issues

N/A

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

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Movie Info:

Title: Thor

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Natalie Portman

Release Date: 2011

Movie Summary

Thor tells the story of the Marvel Comics hero who is son to Odin, the king of Asgard, who after the defeat of the Frost Giants takes the source of their power as well as the son of their leader.  The son of the Frost Giant, Loki, is raised as Thor’s brother and when Thor and Loki defy their father and confront the Frost Giants for attempting to steal back the source of their power, Odin has to intervene and banishes Thor to Earth, and separating him from his weapon, the great hammer until he is worthy of it.

On Earth, Thor meets Jane Foster, a doctor who studies the star and has possibly found information on the “wormhole” that leads from Asgard to Earth.  It is while in exile that Thor begins a dalliance with Jane.

Meanwhile, back in Asgard, King Odin has fallen into a deep sleep that will allow his body to recover from the battle with the Frost Giants.  It is then that Loki discovers he is not Odin’s son, but rather the leader of the Frost Giants is his father, and he takes the throne of Asgard for himself.

When Thor’s comrades in arms, called the Warrior Three, decide that Loki’s rule is unsuitable, they attempt to get through the wormhole to find Thor.  The Warriors make it through, as does the Destroyer that Loki sent to kill them, and the Warriors and Thor must defeat it.  When Thor offers himself up to the Destroyer to save both Jane and his friends, and as he does so, his sacrifice has proved him worthy of his hammer, which then returns to him.

Thor kisses Jane goodbye, promising to return to Earth for her, and he and the Warriors return to Asgard to fight Loki.  As Thor and Loki fight, they accidentally destroy the connection with Earth, and therefore from Jane.  As Thor ends, he tells his father that he is not ready to be king, while Loki continues to make moves in an attempt to gain power.

Critical Evaluation

Though Thor is based off of a comic book, the characters are multi-dimensional and clearly defined.  The roguish Thor is taught manners during his time on Earth, while Jane and the other human characters have quite a fun time fawning over him.

The story line could get confusing with the Frost Giants source of power, a casket of their forbearers(?),the “wormhole” as it is called on Earth and the Bifrost as the Asgardians call the portal between the worlds, but these concepts are woven into the story in a way that is not too complicated for the audience.

The action in Thor was entertaining and not too drawn out, there were lots of explosions and fights, but they made sense in the plot.  I was surprised at how good the movie was and I would recommend it to just about everyone.

Reader’s Annotation

When Thor is banished to Earth, his half-brother Loki usurps the throne of Asgard from their father, and with the help of his warrior brother’s in arms, Thor must fight his own brother.

Who Should Watch

Thor is a movie for lovers of comic books and action/adventure alike.

Why I Watched

My teenage brother urged me to watch Thor, claiming it was one of his top three favorite movies last year.

Genre

*Comic Book Hero

*Action

Interest Age

12+

Challenge Issues

N/A

Thor

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Movie Info:

Title:  Clueless

Director: Amy Heckerling

Stars: Alicia Silverstone, Brittany Murphy, Paul Rudd

Release Date: 1995

Movie Summary

As an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma, Clueless is the coming of age story of Cher Horowitz, a rich, well-meaning, but quite naïve Beverly Hills high school student who is desperate to play match-maker for her friends, while waiting for true love herself.

When a new girl, Tai, is enrolled at school, Cher and her best friend Dionne feel that she is in desperate need of a makeover, which they happily give her.  The next step is for Tai to find a suitable boyfriend, one which Cher and Dionne approve of, though Tai has already met a boy she likes, a “slacker” named Travis.

While helping Tai fit into her new life, Cher butts heads with her ex-stepbrother Josh, a college student who is much less materialistic than Cher and her friends.  When Josh calls Cher out on her selfishness she vows to prove him wrong by helping two awkward teachers fall in love.  As Cher attempts to match Tai up with one of her more “suitable” friends, she is shocked when he confesses her love for her rather than Tai.

As the movie goes on a new boy comes into the picture and Cher falls for him immediately, not realizing that he’s not quite into girls.  The movie continues with more instances of Cher realizing that she might not be as qualified to match up people as she previously believed, and as she steps back, Tai and Travis begin to fall for each other, as do Cher and Josh.  The movie ends with all parties happy and Cher’s vow to never try to set up people again.

Critical Evaluation

Though Clueless seems to be a story about self-obsessed, materialistic teenage girls, behind their shiny exterior are characters that truly care about the happiness of the friends around them.

Heckerling’s direction is phenomenal, the back drop of Clueless is ritzy Beverly Hills and the scenery does not disappoint, from Rodeo Drive to the lavish parties set in back yards of the rich and famous, you instantly feel like you’re in these girls’ world.

The script for the film added to the story, with made up words and phrases that showed just how materialistic the Beverly Hills world can be, but despite the gap between them and the viewers, you feel as if you’re a part of the crowd rather than watching from afar.

Reader’s Annotation

Cher is determined to set new girl Tai up with the most eligible teenage bachelor in Beverly Hills, but if she can’t even see what’s in front of her, how can she find the right man for Tai?

Who Should Watch

Clueless is a movie that could be enjoyed by the whole family, but I suspect it’s the teenage girls that will be most interested.

Why I Watched

Clueless has entertained the last couple generations of teenagers and should be an important part of any YA movie collection.

Genre

*Comedy

*Romance

Interest Age

12+

Challenge Issues

N/A

Clueless

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Bibliographic Info:

Title:  Emma

Author: Jane Austen

ISBN: 9781482526769

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Copyright date: N/A

 

Plot Summary

Set in the small village of Highbury in England in the early nineteenth century, Emma is the story of Emma Woodhouse, the daughter of a wealthy widower who is the center of Highbury society.  Emma is a young, well-born, beautiful, if slightly vain girl, who believes herself to be an excellent matchmaker, attributing the recent wedding of her governess as her greatest accomplishment, and sets her sights on the local vicar as the next person she wishes to be married and settled. 

 

Harriet Smith is a newcomer to Highbury, educated at the local boarding house, whose parentage is unknown.  Emma takes it upon herself to show Harriet the ways of the world and begins to turn her head away from a previous suitor, a farmer, and to look towards the vicar, Mr. Elton, as a more appropriate match.

 

What ensues is the sometimes-comical misunderstandings of a girl who wants everyone to be in love, yet has no clue what is truly going on around her.  The supporting cast of Emma includes her neighbor, Mr. Knightly who at times is brotherly, while also being the object of everyone’s affection, Mrs. Weston, Emma’s ex governess who dotes on her, Frank Churchill, the charming, yet deceitful step son of Mrs. Weston, as well as members of Highbury society who get caught up in Emma’s antics.

 

Critical Evaluation

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that” Jane Austen’s writing is as witty as you’ve been told. It is easy to forget that this book was originally published in 1815 because the female characters are so well represented, Emma has a goodness in her heart but is still so young that she can’t see what is right in front of her. The tone of the story is light, with balls, dinner, and picnics being the majority of events, but the language shows that there is more going on than what appears to be seen. 

 

What Austen does best in Emma is to tell a story from the point of view from the most flawed character that we encounter and still gets the reader to love her. The main plot or conflict in Emma is that she herself is unaware of the mistakes she is making and through the course of the story there is the realization that she knows much less than she previously believed.  The evolution of the main character from “clueless” matchmaker to falling into her own love trap will delight the reader.

 

Though not the most complex writing or storyline, it is easy to see why Emma is a book that has been popular for almost two hundred years. Rich with characters and dialogue that never leaves the reader doubting what the character is thinking, Emma is one of Austen’s most entertaining reads while also highlighting the idea that as young people we think we might have all the answers, but perhaps we should stop and listen to what is really going on around us. 

 

Reader’s Annotation

Emma Woodhouse wants those around her to be happy and in love, and she will stop at nothing to push two people together, regardless of their own feelings, but what happens when she realizes she’s gone too far?

 

Who Should Read It

Mostly geared towards women, Emma has a little romance, but is more a story of a young woman finding her path.  Set in the early 1800’s you can’t help but picture the period costumes and the village of Highbury as you read.

 

Why I Read It

I had read both Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility and loved them and I wanted to expand my relationship with Jane Austen.

 

Author Biography

Jane Austen was a writer who was born in 1775 and who wrote until her death in 1817.  Born into a family whose patriarch was a reverend, Austen was one of seven children and her father was always supportive of Jane’s love of writing.  Though she was writing seriously well before her first novel Sense & Sensibility was published in 1811. Austen went on to publish Pride & Predjudice, Mansfield Park, Emma before she died with her sister Cassandra and brother Henry getting her final two works, Persuasion and Northhanger Abbey, published after her death.

 

Genre

*English literature

*Coming of Age

*Romance

 

Curriculum Ties

*Classics

 

Booktalking Ideas

*Frank Churchill: friend or foe?

*Discuss Emma’s treatment of Ms. Bates.

 

 

Reading Level/Interest Age

16+

 

Challenge Issues

N/A

Emma