The Glass Castle: An Abridged Script

FADE IN:

INT: FANCY SCHMANCY NEW YORK RESTAURANT

BRIE LARSON is exchanging WITTY DINNER TABLE BANTER with her fiancé, MAX GREENFIELD and his clients.

BRIE LARSON
My dad, WOODY HARRELSON, and mom, NAOMI WATTS just got CUTEST CRASH PAD on the UPPER EAST SIDE of POSH NORMALCY.

MAX GREENFIELD
BRIE’s DAD is developing a formula for GREEN-FRIENDLY COAL BURNING, isn’t that right?

BRIE LARSON
Absolutely! And NAOMI is a charmingly offbeat ARTIST. Oh, by the way, I want to box up my LEFTOVERS, please. And my seatmate’s. And the guy’s over there who just left without finishing.

SERVER
Your pets must be in for quite a treat!

BRIE LARSON
Er…no.

BRIE leaves the restaurant and hails a cab. On her way home, she sees an INTOXICATED, HOMELESS GUY who turns out to be her dad but pretends not to. She then goes home and calls her older sister, SARAH SNOOK.

BRIE LARSON
Dad and Mom are penniless and out of control. Whatever shall we do?

SARAH SNOOK
This is news? They’ve been trainwrecks since we were born.

BRIE LARSON
Of course not, I just had to emphasize to the audience how conflicted I am. Ciao.

INT: A HOSPITAL

In the FIRST of MANY FLASHBACKS, YOUNG BRIE LARSON is being INTERVIEWED by a SOCIAL WORKER and a DOCTOR.

SOCIAL WORKER
So, you say you got THIRD DEGREE BURNS on your TORSO from COOKING by YOURSELF? And you’re what, seven?

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
Three in the book, but around seven here. But it’s no biggie – I cook all the time! On an actual stove! Unsupervised ’cause my mom gets so absorbed in PAINTING that she FORGETS to FEED ME.

DOCTOR
What’s that noise?

WOODY comes whooping into the room with YOUNG BRIE’s YOUNG SISTER and BROTHER, who is wearing a BLOODY HEAD BANDAGE.

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
(without irony)
Look, DADDY – they gave me actual food – Mystery meat and red jello – yummy!

WOODY HARRELSON
(actually tries some)
Not bad. Hey, YOUNG BRIE, did you know DR. BOURGEOIS McTWITFACE is going to use our hard-earned money to gas up his Mercedes?

DOCTOR
SIR, in my opinion, you aren’t even qualified to rear a CHIA-PET. Plus, you appear to spend more on your shirts than your kids.

WOODY HARRELSON
(lunges at him)

DOCTOR
FIRST, it’s a violation of the HIPPOCRATIC OATH to turn away a patient in need. Second, oh never mind, I know already I’m not going to win this one.

LATER ON, WOODY and HIS KIDS sneak back into the hospital to CREATE A DIVERSION in order to SPRING YOUNG BRIE. It works! They then join HEAVILY PREGNANT NAOMI in the Auto of Free-Spiritedness, and they head out into the desert for adventure.

EXT. DESERT WILDERNESS by the FIRESIDE

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
DADDY, MOMMY’s off doing hippie stuff, and I’m scared. Can you possibly try to act like a REAL DAD for once? Give me a hug, read me a bedtime story?

WOODY HARRELSON
I’ll try. See the FIRE? It’s a METAPHOR for ADVENTURE. It’s one of the FILM’s THREE METAPHORS. Understand?

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
No. Plus I thought I heard something scary in the tumbleweed over there.

WOODY HARRELSON
(real response)
Me too! Did it have big ears and pointy teeth? I know just who you mean! He scares me, too.

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
Gee, DADDY, you’re about as comforting as an air-conditioner on a sub-zero night.

WOODY HARRELSON
The BOOGEYMAN is another metaphor. He represents the FEARS WE CAN’T FACE.

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
Huh? I thought maybe it was a coyote. Thanks, Dad.

WOODY HARRELSON
By the way, you’re beautiful regardless of any scarring from the burns. See even though most of the time, I am a huge dick, occasionally I can put on my “Act like a good dad” hat.

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
This is going to be one grim movie.

EXT: ABANDONED WAREHOUSY BUILDING in the PRESENT

WOODY HARRELSON
Howdy, BRIE and this guy you’re inexplicably fond of. C’mon on in and have a drink.

They join NAOMI, JOSH CARAS (ADULT BRIE’s BROTHER), SARAH SNOOK and BRIGETTE LUNDY-PAINE (ADULT BRIE’s YOUNGER SISTER), plus a few other SKETCHY SOULS inside.

BRIE LARSON
Gee, MOM, your painting is awesome. It reminds me of the one you did while we were mixing butter and sugar together as little kids because we were literally out of anything else.

JOSH CARAS
It reminds me of the time when GRANDMA MOLESTED ME. Good times.

SARAH SNOOK
Boy, does adversity make one strong or what!

BRIE LARSON
MOM, can I talk to you privately for a minute? I’m going to get engaged to MAX, but I don’t want to tell DADDY.

NAOMI WATTS
Honey, that’s just fine. He seems like a nice young man.

BRIE LARSON
Who are you, and what the heck have you done with my REAL MOTHER?

WOODY HARRELSON
(from other room)
Hey, kids, me and MAX are gonna have an arm-wrestling contest. Come on and watch!

BRIE LARSON
Oh no. No, no, no…You’re drunk, by the way. Both of you.

WOODY HARRELSON
All the better for some more ugly family truths to come out then.

WOODY and MAX actually do this, to much whooping from the sidelines, including BRIE who yells, “Kill him, kill him,” at her HUSBAND. Finally, Max WINS.

LATER ON – SHARED APARTMENT OF FEIGNED NORMALCY

MAX GREENFIELD
Uh, honey? You seemed a little out of control tonight. I thought I even saw a strand of hair descend from your BUN of REPRESSDNESS.

BRIE LARSON
I’m fine. By the way, MOM gave us her blessing.

MAX GREENFIELD
Okay then. But you know, maybe…therapy?

BRIE LARSON
I’m FINE!

EXT. PUBLIC SWIMMING POOL – FLASHBACK

YOUNG BRIE and FAMILY are poolside. They appear to be the ONLY WHITE FOLKS in the VICINITY, but everyone ignores them and goes on splashing.

NAOMI WATTS
This is what my life has become? I’m reduced to showering at a public pool.

WOODY HARRELSON
You knew when you met me that I was a free spirit. What did you expect?

(raises voice)
BRIE, honey, go on and SWIM already!

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
I can’t, DADDY. Why did you bring us to a pool without any kind of shallow end or kiddie option? Have you not ever heard of water wings?

WOODY HARRELSON
(picks her up and hurls her into the water)
That’s the THIRD METAPHOR right there!

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
(once she’s finished coughing up water and recovered her breath)
DADDY, you’re INSANE.

A CONSPICUOUSLY WHITE GUY approaches.
SIR, might I suggest that you find a more humane way to teach your daughter about metaphors. Ones that won’t result in her going back to the emergency room or lifelong therapy as an adult as a result.

WOODY HARRELSON
Damn you, Nosy McRacist. Mind your own business.

CONSPICUOUSLY WHITE GUY
I’m the manager, and you’re totally drunk.

WOODY HARRELSON
(lunges at him)

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
DADDY, at this point your STUBBORN ECCENTRICITY is looking a lot more like OUTRIGHT ABUSIVENESS. Do you really have to put everyone you disagree with in a headlock? And just where do you get the money for all this booze anyway?

WOODY HARRELSON
(real line)
You can’t spend your life clinging to the side of the pool.

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
Then teach me to swim like a normal dad would. Problem solved.

INT. ENGAGEMENT PARTY at the APARTMENT of GETTING MORE STRAINED by the MINUTE NORMALCY – PRESENT.

NAOMI and WOODY have shown up to crash BRIE’s and MAX’s CELEBRATION.

NAOMI WATTS
So I thought this would be a cool time to tell you that we own a MILLION DOLLAR PROPERTY, BRIE. That won’t upset your hard-won equilibrium or anything now, will it?

BRIE LARSON
(real reaction)
?!

NAOMI WATTS
Also, WOODY and I were thinking maybe we could borrow some money off MAX. For the sake of PLOT PURPOSES.

BRIE LARSON
(real reaction)
?!

WOODY HARRELSON
So how about it?

BRIE freaks out and orders WOODY and NAOMI to leave. They are mystified at this, but eventually DO.

INT. RAMSHACKLE HOUSE in BOONDOCKS – ANOTHER FLASHBACK

YOUNG BRIE LARSON to SIBLINGS
(trying to ignore the sound of WOODY and NAOMI fighting)
Come on, let’s go play outside.

They try, but then they see NAOMI dangling from the window, which puts a crimp into their playtime. They all rush upstairs to INTERVENE.

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
MOM, DAD? what’s going on?

WOODY HARRELSON
(real reaction, starts laughing)

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
Excuse me?

NAOMI WATTS
(joins in)
Oh wow, that was hilarious. I saw my life flash before my eyes, which I’ve apparently always wanted to do. Also being called crude terms for an adult woman’s anatomy just makes me want to get closer to you.

WOODY HARRELSON
Kids, there’s absolutely nothing to see here – go out and play.

YOUNG BRIE LARSON
I guess if I can make it here, I can make it anywhere.

Later, YOUNG BRIE gathers her SIBLINGS and they VOW to STICK TOGETHER, STUDY HARD at SCHOOL, and ESCAPE as soon as they are legal, which they eventually do.

INT. FANCY SCHMANCY RESTAURANT (Possibly the same as before, but who knows?) – PRESENT

ADULT BRIE is exchanging WITTY DINNER TABLE BANTER with her fiancé, MAX GREENFIELD and his clients.

MAX GREENFIELD
…BRIE’s DAD is developing a formula for GREEN-FRIENDLY COAL BURNING, isn’t that right?

BRIE LARSON
No, he’s actually DYING from ALCOHOLISM in an ABANDONED WAREHOUSE, my MOM just accepts us because she WANTS to BORROW MONEY, and I’m not even sure I want to be engaged to you anymore.

MAX GREENFIELD
Don’t hold back, tell us how you really feel, BRIE. At least, this didn’t happen at the ALTAR.

BRIE LARSON
Now, I must go and see WOODY who I have been refusing to talk to since our disastrous dinner party, and have a POIGNANT EXCHANGE BEFORE HE CROAKS.

MAX GREENFIELD
Er, are we still ON for the WEDDING? Or should I start making cancellations?

BRIE LARSON
I don’t know, and I’m not sure the filmmakers do either. In any event, we don’t get a wedding scene. Bye.

INT. PRESUMABLY MUCH LATER – ADULT BRIE’S THANKSGIVING DINNER TABLE

BRIE welcomes NAOMI, SARAH, JOSH and BRIGETTE to come in to her HOME of HARD WON INDEPENDENCE and sit down.

BRIE LARSON
Gosh, it’s great to all be here together. Except for WOODY, but hey, he was quite a character.

JOSH CARAS
(real line)
He had his moments.

SARAH SNOOK
Like that time when he “gave” us STARS in the NIGHT SKY rather than BORING OLD STORE-BOUGHT TOYS. My character is what it is today because of him!

BRIGETTE LUNDY-PAINE
By the way, BRIE, what happened to your husband?

BRIE LARSON
I think we DIVORCED. Or something. Who cares? He was boring and bourgeois.

NAOMI WATTS
And the cycle is complete.

END

 

 

 

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Movie Review: Good Time

Occasionally, when it comes to movie titles, I don’t bother to decode them before I’m in the theater, and then I have a moment a few minutes in where I genuinely wonder why – like the recently released “Good Time,” someone came up with them. Then the lightbulb of belated realization dawns and I nod. Oh yes, the concept of irony.

Robert Pattinson, who stars as a lowlife with a mentally impaired brother (Benny Safdie), has the night from Hell in “Good Time,” as he makes decision after wrong decision which sends him to a spiral of destruction from which it looks as if there is absolutely no good outcome. In “Rain Man,” also about a con man with a mentally impaired brother, Tom Cruise takes Dustin Hoffman, who plays an autistic savant, to count cards in Vegas, but there Tom at least attempted to ensure that Dustin had a halfway decent time by cutting his fish sticks in half and making sure that he didn’t miss Judge Wapner on TV. Here Robert plunges poor Benny in at the deep end by springing him from an institution then bringing him along on a bank robbery of all things – we can’t be sure how much Benny grasps what’s going on, but we do know that it won’t end well. Sure enough, Benny winds up in jail, which leads to Robert attempting again to rescue him. This involves much lying, starting with his girlfriend (a disheveled Jennifer Jason Leigh), which leads him to an impromptu stay in an elderly lady’s apartment where he hooks up with her teen granddaughter (Taliah Webster – here the only character with any smarts), then winds up partnering with another lowlife (Buddy Duress) who may be even more pathetic than Robert. The three hit White Castle for some munchies – one of the few “happy” moments in the film, then get waylaid at an amusement park after hours where they run – gasp – into even more trouble. After more run-ins, Robert attempts to conceal himself from the authorities by dying his hair with peroxide which makes him look oddly like a young Kurt Cobain, but that doesn’t work well either, and eventually things end on a somber note.

“Good Time” is a movie that is undeniably uncomfortable to sit through but also riveted me to the screen for the entire running time. There’s a dearth of sympathetic characters, but there is a lot of tension and drama in wondering where the whole mess is going to end. I hope Robert gets at least an Oscar nod out of this because even though the movie has flaws, his performance is impressive.

Movie Lessons: Summer 2017 Edition

Warning: These contain spoilers.

Megan Leavey

1. If you take steps to become a more social member of your group, also make sure you avoid antisocial behavior – unless you want your boss to catch and put you on dog cleanup detail.

2. Giving your veteran daughter who is suffering from PTSD a replacement puppy after she returns from serving will only trigger an explosive fight.

3. The magic word when you ambush your Congressman to persuade him to help you adopt a service dog who has a reputation for being unpredictable is “Corporal.”

It Comes At Night

4. There’s a lot of truth to the adage: Guests and fish both start to stink after three days.

5. A teenager who’s been trapped in one place for years on end may not necessarily crave the same junk food that you do, even if you both exist in the same dystopia.

6. Even when at high risk of catching plague, it can be awfully tempting to ignore your host’s strict orders to leave certain always-locked-rooms alone.

All Eyez On Me

7. If your mom’s been incarcerated, you should pay attention when she gives you advice about dealing with jail.

8. If a woman recognizes your Shakespeare quote and quotes some back to you, that’s a good sign you two are compatible.

9. A record label owner who assures you that all his clients are treated “like family,” may have something more sinister in mind.

The House

10. Fleecing one’s neighbors is fine if they’ve just voted to use town funds for a public pool as opposed to your daughter’s college scholarship.

11. Taunting someone who you have always known as a mild-mannered soccer dad may unleash his inner “Butcher,” after he’s had a taste of casino-running.

12. Never underestimate how a close-knit family can overcome any obstacle to get their child to college – even if it involves amputation of the neighbors’ digits, extortion and kidnapping.

Spider-Man: The Homecoming

13. If you are superheroing and can’t figure out who to return a stolen bike to, it’s a good idea to leave a note.

14. If you are going to hack into an upgraded superhero costume, it’s wise to read the instruction manual before field-testing it.

15. If you are going to have a confrontation with your mentor, you should avoid the men’s room at your high school, unless you don’t mind being interrupted in the middle of a monologue by someone who needs to wash his hands.

Dunkirk

16. Even delivering an aerial blizzard of suggestions that your opponents surrender when they’re literally between the sea and a hard place, won’t work with plucky Britons (or French).

17. If you keep your mouth completely shut when everyone is arguing about what to do as their ship floods, you might be assumed to be a spy and ousted.

18. Even a pleasure boat can be instrumental in rescuing a beach of stranded soldiers in war time, if there’s a fleet of them.

The Big Sick

19. If you keep all the photos of potential Indian wives your mother fixes you up with in a box, your white girlfriend may stumble on it and assume the worst before you can explain.

20. Doctors with potential emergencies on their hands may strong-arm you into putting your girlfriend into a (medically induced) coma by simply not letting you go until you agree.

21. Meeting the parents after you put said-girlfriend into a coma will not make for the most receptive relationship, but eventually you can overcome this if both sides try.

Detroit

22. Flattery to the young woman at the front desk of a hotel will get you a room, but that might mean your trouble for the night is just beginning.

23. The adage “innocent until proven guilty” does not apply to anyone the police want to interrogate during a riot.

24. If you eventually sour on performing Motown before racist audiences, you can always make a career change by applying for a job as your church’s choir director.

The Dark Tower

25. When you can’t persuade your mom and stepdad that evil people are about to take you away, you can always fall back on the “I need to use the bathroom,” excuse to escape.

26. Even your closest youthful friends may start putting limits on your relationship if you keep showing up at odd hours with bizarre drawings, babbling about how your imaginary world is real.

27. If you’re a kid, your natural flexibility will come in more handy than any magic powers when you’re outrunning the enemy.

The Glass Castle

28. If your patient’s sister announces on a visit that she should break her arm in order to sample unlimited hospital food, and she’s not kidding, you should probably sic Child Protective Services on that family.

29. Regardless of how much they love you, you will never convince your young kids that traveling at night in the back of an airless moving van is a super fun adventure.

30. If your daughter makes an innocent comment about how school is a good idea for kids her age, it’s okay to risk your family’s life and limb pulling off the road and heading out into the desert in order to show her that she doesn’t “need” school.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

31. Amsterdam is a great place to have a high speed chase because every single unattended vehicle (and there are a lot) can easily be started by a stranger sans keys.

32. You should avoid taunting Samuel L. Jackson even when he’s in chains because he has one powerful head-butt.

33. You should avoid giving Samuel L. Jackson a speech on character before you die because he will eventually just throw back his head and guffaw. And shove you to your doom.

Movie Review: The Hitman’s Bodyguard

It is a truth commonly known that when one goes into a theater to view a Hollywood action movie, certain things will always occur. The characters (including the bad guys) will be able to hotwire any vehicle they encounter necessary for participating in a thrilling high-speed chase. The characters (including the bad guys) will never injure themselves by hitting an artery which would result in a lot of spurting blood – blood in action movies usually does nothing but politely trickle down the side of the hero’s face – even when he launches himself through a plate glass window to evade the explosion. The owner of the store you ransack for weapons to duel your enemy or whose vending cart you smash with your hijacked vehicle will never sue you in the aftermath for causing so much damage. And if the two leads – as in “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, spend the entire movie bickering – it means they will either fall in love or here, kiss and make up in a manly platonic sort of way by the credits

In the original “Bodyguard,” Kevin Costner starts the movie under a cloud because when he took a day off his job to attend a funeral, the man he usually protected wound up seriously hurt, – before Kevin is assigned to guard Whitney Houston. In the remake, Ryan Reynolds starts the movie looking glum because of a botched job that resulted in the assassination of the man he was supposed to be protecting a couple of years ago. For reasons I was never quite clear on except that there has to be some reason for them being on the outs, Ryan blames fellow agent, Elodie Yung, for being indiscreet and causing the death of the foreign dignitary. Now Ryan must suffer all sorts of indignities on the lower rungs of the bodyguard hierarchy, such as having to drive a car that smells (literally) “like ass,” no matter how many times it’s washed. However, we know he has a secret heart of gold because he rescues the dog of the jerk he’s protecting (who is more concerned about his vintage Rolls being blown up).

In order to regain his original elite position, Ryan agrees to act as the bodyguard of Samuel L. Jackson, who is due to testify against an evil Russian villain (Gary Oldman, here looking vaguely like Steve Bannon). Also Samuel’s beloved wife (Salma Hayek) is in prison, although how she landed there, I’m not exactly sure, though it gives her an excuse to curse a lot and act feisty, plus a sweet scene where Samuel attempts to deliver tulips. In the end, of course, Samuel makes it to court, and there’s even more explosions/pursuits to come after he finishes testifying. Virtually every vehicle one might use in Europe (where it takes place) is utilized, and both men wind up with their desired love interest. Gary makes a dramatic speech at the end but gets his comeuppance. The movie is less witty than last year’s “The Nice Guys,” but if you want an end-of-the-summer action film that requires absolutely no mental effort to enjoy, this is a decent bet.

 

 

anyway.

A Look Back: Oz the Great and Powerful

Sometimes I sincerely wonder what moviemakers have been ingesting in order to come up with the wacky ideas that they do. Occasionally I wonder this when it comes to the task of stretching out a franchise, especially of a universally beloved movie/book. This happened in the nineties, when Steven Spielberg, (who can usually be relied upon to bring the magic), made “Hook,” which starred Robin Williams as an adult Peter Pan, who’d turned into a workaholic yuppie. When his neglected kids are kidnapped by Hook (i.e. Dustin Hoffman), he must return to Neverland to rescue them. When it was released, “Hook” was ridiculed by a Premiere Magazine critic, perhaps justifiably insisting that few people really care about “the problems of pudgy adults,” even if they happen to be Robin.

In 2013, something similar happened when “Oz the Great and Powerful,” starring James Franco as the Wizard, appeared on the big screen. L. Frank Baum, who likely spun around more than a few times in his grave, when Fairuza Balk played a Dorothy fleeing from electroshock treatments in “Return to Oz,” got yet another workout when “Oz the Great and Powerful” directed by Sam Raimi was released. The movie skips viewing Oz through wondrous child narrator eyes, ignoring the time-proven way of capturing kids’ interests, in order to teach James life lessons about being honest and treating one’s friends fairly. Oh, and there’s also a whole lot of cleavage, interspersed between the flying monkeys and deadly poppies. As it happens, Baum provides the Wizard’s backstory in a few Oz books but doesn’t really sex it up. That’s where “Oz the Great and Powerful” comes in to fill that gap.

Coincidentally, this prequel to “The Wizard of Oz” was released in the same year as “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone,” whose opening scene is almost identical and features Steve Carell as an arrogant prick of a “magician,” who eventually becomes humbled and learns life lessons about treating one’s friends and associates fairly. However, it has the major drawback of having Steve achieve this in the real world, whereas shortly into the movie, James climbs into a hot air balloon to flee a man whose girlfriend he’s involved with, as well as a mob of fairgoers who expect him to heal a little girl in a wheelchair (Joey King). Luckily, there’s a tornado handy to whirl him into a vortex where he emerges in Oz. Here he meets a friendly (and hot) witch (Mila Kunis) who offers to take him to the Emerald City to meet her sister (Rachel Weisz), as he may be the one who can save them all. He also befriends a friendly flying monkey (Zach Braff who also plays his real-world assistant).

When they reach their destination, James is thrilled to encounter a chamber filled with gold, not to mention Rachel, though she promptly sends him away on a quest to defeat another “bad” witch (Michelle Williams). (On the way, he encounters a village of broken china people, one of which he glues back together to become Joey King-as-a-china-sidekick.)  However – gasp – Michelle turns out to be good (she’s Glinda), while Mila turns out to be bad (she’s the Wicked Witch of the West). Now James must use his magician skills to return to the city, where he must defeat the Real Evil.  This involves an elaborate plan which results in a fake mechanical army being destroyed, lots of gold being blown up, ample cat fighting, and culminates with James deciding to stay and rule Oz as the Wizard, now that he’s become humble and good. And perhaps when Sam Raimi goes to Heaven, he’ll encounter L. Frank Baum who will ask, “Why? Oz is a fantasy that’s supposed to entertain children first. There’s no sex whatsoever in my books.” Or perhaps not. Maybe he’ll have already learned from “Return to Oz” that you can’t always trust Hollywood to deliver the magic so to speak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Movie Review: The Glass Castle

I don’t know what this says about me, but there’s a particular stock character in Hollywood movies who I always wind up feeling sorry for – sometimes even more so than for the protagonist, as I did in the just-released “The Glass Castle.” It’s the “nice guy fiancé” role – you know, the heroine’s dream guy, who’s witty, devoted and charming, but who is destined to either be a) left literally at the altar, or b) given an impromptu off-the-cuff speech about values by the heroine, after Life Lessons about being yourself above all, dawn on her. Here, it’s Max Greenfield, who is witty, devoted and above all, quite rich, to whom Brie Larson is engaged as the film opens. However, she has not yet told her parents (Woody Harrelson and Naomi Watts) who are currently squatting in an abandoned home in New York. By all measures, Max is perfect for Brie, a magazine columnist, for whom saying that she had a chaotic upbringing is like saying the Titanic sustained some water damage. In real life, this match would make it through the wedding, but because this is your typical movie, we know from the start that Brie’s issues will get in the way, and the collateral damage won’t be pretty.

“The Glass Castle” is based on the best-selling memoir by Jeannette Walls, and charts how she and her three siblings were dragged from pillar to post across the country, often hungry if not penniless, while her artist mother painted and her alcoholic father dreamed big dreams that never came to fruition because he, too, was tormented by demons. They lived in homes with no electricity or heat (when Jeannette’s older sister points this out, her dad responds, “Ignore her. She was born without vision.”) when they weren’t staying with Woody’s evil mother. But all this was temporary, according to Woody, because he was going to one day build the titular Glass Castle. At first, Jeannette (played as a girl by Ella Anderson) finds all these adventures thrilling and has the utmost faith that Daddy will come through; eventually, she realizes that she is being “parented” by incompetents and makes a pact with her siblings to stick together until they are old enough to escape. When they do manage to, their parents follow them to New York with their youngest sister. Neither Woody nor Naomi is thrilled to see their middle daughter embracing the bourgeois lifestyle. Eventually, Jeannette begins to have doubts, as well.

The movie includes most of the memorable scenes from the book: the opener when Jeannette burns herself badly enough to land in the hospital; the scene where the kids band together against Woody’s evil mother (for good cause), and one in which Woody repeatedly throws Jeannette into the water to “teach” her how to swim. This serves as the film’s central metaphor, which is pounded helpfully into the movie-goer’s cranium. The cast all does a decent job bringing the memoir to life, but those critics who have pointed out that the film tries to wrap up dysfunction with a pretty bow have a point.

Movie Review: The Dark Tower

Stephen King once claimed in an interview that he’d like to be taken more seriously as a novelist by Those Critics Who Matter Most, but knows that’s not going to happen – partly because he’s not the greatest novelist of all time. That really shouldn’t matter at this point, however, considering that he’s in a position most writers would give their eyeteeth for – as even his grocery lists are examined seriously by Hollywood at this point to see if they could somehow work as a feature film. There are roughly two types of King movies: those grappling with big ideas in the real world without any detours into the supernatural and those that extend into the otherworldly realm. There are also films based on plots King probably came up with at 3 a.m. when he couldn’t sleep, such as “Thinner,” about an arrogant overweight guy who gets cursed by a gypsy and starts losing weight. “Dark Tower,” which opened recently, has all the ingredients of an enjoyable fantasy/action King film, but somehow doesn’t quite add up to a memorable movie. (Although the plot is far more original than “Thinner.”)

Drawing pictures in one’s spare time is usually considered a harmless childhood pastime, right up there with bike riding and marathon “Sesame Street” watching, but in the movies, it’s generally taken as a major danger signal that something is amiss in the kid’s (here played by Tom Taylor) life. According to his therapist, the pictures, along with the fact that Tom has bizarre, recurring dreams (read nightmares) of a dark tower, a man in black, and a gunslinger, are due to having lost his father in an accident. Unfortunately, the doctor no longer feels capable of dealing with Tom’s issues on his own, so when Tom’s school recommends that he be sent to an institution for further testing, his mom (Katheryn Winnick) reluctantly agrees. However, danger signals go off when Tom meets his new treatment team, and so he flees, manages to find a portal to the world of his dreams, and the adventures begin.

Idris Elba plays the movie good guy, the “Gunslinger,” and like most action heroes, he is resolute, stoic and concealing a painful past. Matthew McConaughey plays the bad guy, with his hair slicked back and a perpetual sneer on his face in case the viewer harbors any doubts. Idris soon hooks up with Tom, and explains things for him and those who haven’t read the series. Tom learns that the “Tower” really does exist, but can be brought down by the mind of a child with particular powers. Matthew is busy recruiting children who can possibly do this and so needs to be stopped. As Idris and Tom are pursued by any number of supernatural creatures, including one that resembles “The Neverending Story’s” Rockbiter but much less cuddly, Matthew pops through a portal to wreak havoc in the real world – also putting Tom’s mother and stepfather in peril. I won’t give away the ending, but it sets up things for a sequel, which I’m sure is planned and which I hope, is a lot better than this movie. I’d recommend that King fans wait for the remake of “It,” due out later, as long as they’re not clown-phobic.