Earlier this year, when I announced I would be participating in the Buzzwordathon readathon, I joined the event with the intent of finishing each book in their respective, allotted time-frame. From January to April, I was successful in my attempts, providing a review for each book before the end of the month. When May rolled around, the theme was ‘Directions’. Since ‘between’ is a prepositional, directional word, I planned to read The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman. Unfortunately, I didn’t finish reading it in May. That’s because the book put me in a “reading slump”. For those who don’t know, a “reading slump” happens when you lose motivation to read and/or finish a book. In my case, I saw The Light Between Oceans movie before I read the source material. I haven’t seen the film in years. But, based on what I remember, the movie was faithful enough to the book to satisfy the reader. At times, this made me wonder, “Why am still reading the book”?
Because I try to be a blogger of my word, I will still publish a review of The Light Between Oceans. Even though this book put me in a “reading slump”, there are aspects of it I liked. One was how honest the writing felt. Various moments of the story provided thought-provoking statements due to the text’s honesty. Isabel, the book’s female protagonist, points out how her brothers didn’t receive a funeral. Violet, Isabel’s mother, reflects on why she made that decision. The text reveals the lack of funeral for Isabel’s brothers is because Violet didn’t want to admit her sons were never returning home. Until I read The Light Between Oceans, I had never thought about funerals in that sense. Another strength in M. L. Stedman’s writing was the use of descriptive imagery. The way people, places, and objects were described gave the reader a chance to picture them in their mind. When Tom, Isabel’s husband, visits Janus’ lighthouse for the first time, M. L. Stedman writes about each layer of the structure. As Tom reaches the top of the lighthouse, the different components of the light itself, such as the lenses used to position the light, allow readers who may have never visited a lighthouse before to get up-close to the lighthouse’s mechanics. Because of how strong M. L. Stedman’s descriptive imagery was, it brought the text to life!
The Light Between Oceans starts with Tom and Isabel’s discovery of Lucy and her biological father. The book is also divided into three parts. I found these creative decisions unnecessary as 1) Lucy’s discovery is an event included in the book’s synopsis, so the reader already knows what to expect and 2) the story itself is straight forward. I also didn’t think it was necessary for the book to be over three hundred pages. After a certain event in the story takes place, the text becomes drawn out and repetitive. Each chapter feels like M. L. Stedman tried to put as much content as possible into each chapter. As I’ve already mentioned, The Light Between Oceans put me in a “reading slump”. But, as I’ve also said, this is because I was familiar with the story prior to reading the book. If I had known how similar the film adaptation and its source material were to each other, I would have stuck with my memories of the movie. With that said, if you’ve read the book, you’ve already seen the film, and vice versa.
Overall score: 3 out of 5 stars
Have fun during Buzzwordathon!
Disclaimer: The Light Between Oceans is a dramatic book that contains overarching, heavier topics. These topics are miscarriage, the aftermath of war, and grief associated with death. The book also discusses the subject of prejudice. There are some swear words in the text and the mention of someone vomiting.
Another month means another Buzzwordathon review! For February, the theme is ‘Pronouns & Possessive Pronouns’. Because one of the eligible words is ‘you’, my selection is Wish You Well by David Baldacci! Prior to participating in Buzzwordathon, I have read The Christmas Train, which I loved. I also enjoyed its respective film adaptation from Hallmark Hall of Fame. So, when I purchased Wish You Well at a garage sale back in 2019, I thought I might like it. But, in all honesty, I found the book just ok. One of the reasons is about 80% of the book is a “slice of life” story, a type of story I, personally, don’t find as interesting as other stories. Since some parts of the “slice of life” story revolve around farm life, there were times when Wish You Well felt repetitive. Another way the overall story felt repetitive was when the protagonist, Lou, runs away anytime something bad happens. Lou is named after her great-grandmother, Louisa. Because of how similar these names are, it was sometimes difficult to tell which character David was referring to. A few coincidences that seemed too convenient also hurt this book’s case, such as how a restaurant in the small town of Dickens just so happened to be named after the state Lou and her brother, Oz, are from. Wish You Well’s page count is 399. For a story of this nature, I thought this page count made the book longer than necessary.
David’s writing style in Wish You Well is lyrical, to the point where it almost feels flowery. So, if you’re not paying attention to the text, you might find yourself confused by what is happening in the story. Fortunately, I never found this to be a problem, as the story itself is straight forward. David uses the chosen writing style in his favor, putting that effort toward his book’s world building and character development! The way locations are described help the reader picture them in their mind. One example is when David writes about a train station as being “a glorified pine-studded lean-to”. Through his writing, David is able to create characters that are unique to one another. With the descriptive details he chooses, a character like Louisa, for example, sounds as if David is talking about a real-life individual. There are tense moments sprinkled into the story, which held my interest. A court case that takes place toward the end of the book was a tense part of the story that held higher stakes. Because I had never read Wish You Well before, I was curious of the court case’s outcome.
In the afterword material from my copy of the book, David explained how learning about his family’s history was his inspiration for Wish You Well. From the sounds of that, it seems like his intentions were good and his heart was in the right place. But I wish David had written a memoir about his family’s history and his journey through learning about that history, instead of penning a fictional version of it. While reading Wish You Well, I could see how the book inspired a non-profit organization of the same name; the Wish You Well Foundation. However, as I stated earlier, I thought this book was just ok. In the future, I do plan to seek out more of David’s literary work, especially his mysteries/thrillers, as I haven’t read any of those yet. Hopefully, the next book of David’s I read, as well as March’s Buzzwordathon pick, is stronger than Wish You Well.
Overall score: 3 out of 5 stars
Have fun during Buzzwordathon!
Disclaimer: Wish You Well contains some content that some readers may find offensive. This content is the following:
One character who uses racial slurs on more than one occasion*
The use of the word “hobos”*
A chapter focusing on a woman giving birth
At least one mention of an animal passing away
At least one mention of a child passing away
A child smoking on a few occasions
The use of swear words on some occasions
References to child abuse
References to a car accident
(* — This is in relation to the book’s time period, 1940)
If you’ve read my recent blog follower dedication reviews, you could tell that I’ve been trying to watch more films from my DVR. This has been a conscious decision, as there are several films that have been there for a year or more. One of those movies is Matinee, as it has been on my DVR since last February. What caused me to record it was how the movie revolved around a movie. Film is a topic that I am very passionate about. Because Matinee was about a subject I’m interested in, it gave me a reason to watch it. While looking back on the movies I’ve reviewed within the past month, I realized that the last film I talked about from the ‘90s was the 1990 adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac. This is another reason why I chose Matinee for my 220-follower dedication review, as the movie was released in 1993. Before I start this review, I’d like to thank all of my followers! I’m incredibly grateful for the success this blog has achieved!
Things I liked about this film:
The acting: Any time I have seen one of John Goodman’s movies, I have noticed how his character has a larger-than-life personality. Even when John was voice-acting as Sully from Monsters, Inc., that character’s personality was very jovial and memorable. When it comes to John’s performance in Matinee, Lawrence Woolsey also had a larger-than-life personality. The persona that John brought to his role was commanding, allowing the audience to focus on him whenever he came on screen. His performance was not only consistent in this film, but it also plays a consistent part in John’s acting career. It’s nice to see actors you recognize from one movie appear in another one. Omri Katz and Kellie Martin are two good examples of this. I’m familiar with Omri because of his performance in Hocus Pocus. Kellie Martin’s small-screen work is what I have seen from her filmography. Watching Omri and Kellie’s performance in Matinee was a joy to watch! They had good on-screen chemistry and both of their portrayals were convincing!
The historical accuracy: The story of Matinee takes places during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Because of this, the presentation of the film needs to reflects that moment in history. The historical accuracy in this movie was executed so well, I felt like I was transported to 1962. All of the costumes looked like the wardrobe you’d see on a typical episode of The Andy Griffith Show. Cars from that time period can be seen cruising down the street, sporting color palettes that are not often seen on today’s roads. Lawrence’s sea green convertible with matching interior is one example. Even the music set the tone for that environment. When Sherry’s ex-boyfriend, Harvey, returns to town, The Angels’ song, “My Boyfriend’s Back” is heard. Even though this song was released in 1963, the overall sound reflects the soundtrack of that period in time.
The special effects: I was not expecting the creative team behind Matinee to incorporate any special effects into their project. However, these special effects were impressive! They were mostly used during the presentation of Lawrence’s movie, Mant! At certain points in the fictional film, smoke and flashing lights could be seen. Matinee’s climax boasts even more eye-catching effects! In one scene, a section of the theater is being destroyed. During this moment, the theater rumbled as flames engulfed the background. The way these effects came together made this destruction look so real! They also looked very good for a movie released in 1993!
Relevant ideas: I was surprised to find ideas within this story that are just as relevant in 2020 as they were in the ‘90s or even the ‘60s. When Gene and Stan pass by their local grocery store, they see patrons shopping in panic. These patrons grab everything in sight, with one woman buying as much toilet paper as she can carry. While the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Coronavirus are two completely different events, both of them have caused a large group of people to panic. Toward the beginning of the Coronavirus, grocery stores were witnessing the fear their customers carried. The situation became so dire, there were reports about people fighting over toilet paper.
What I didn’t like about the film:
Under-utilized characters: I found some characters in Matinee to be under-utilized more than others. One of them was Gene’s brother, Dennis. From a historical fiction perspective, I understand that Dennis is meant to show how younger children might have responded to an event like the Cuban Missile Crisis. But from the perspective of Lawrence’s movie presentation, I asked myself why Dennis was in the story at all? This makes me wish this particular character had received his own subplot.
Weaker subplots: A few of Matinee’s subplots were either too straight-forward or didn’t lead anywhere. A perfect example involves two of Lawrence’s employees, who pose as a special interest group attempting to ban his movie. Like Dennis’ presence in Matinee, I understand that this part of the narrative contains historical context, showing how some people choose to publicly dislike something to the point of protest. But after they interact with Harvey, these employees disappeared from the film. They didn’t receive a satisfying resolution and were forgotten about as the movie progressed.
My overall impression:
Anyone who knows me knows that Phantom of the Megaplex is my favorite Disney Channel movie.It showed me how movies, as well as the movie-going experience, can be fun. Even though Matinee was released seven years prior, it reminded me a lot of the 2000 picture. They happen to share similar ideas, some of them beyond the subject of film. This is one of the reasons why I enjoyed Matinee so much! It was funny and, at times, clever, with relevant ideas woven into the story. The film also had solid components, like the acting and special effects. Most important is how Matinee was fun! In a year when so much has happened, movies can play a role in providing a form of escapism and making viewers feel like they can conquer something, even when events in their world are beyond their control. Before the presentation of Mant!, Lawrence explains to the theater employees why it’s important to release his movie at that given time. He tells them that, despite scary things appearing in his picture, he wants to remind his audience that everything is going to be ok. Lawrence also shares that he wants to remind his audience that his film’s villain can be defeated.
Overall score: 8.5 out of 10
Have you seen Matinee? What movies involving movies have you enjoyed watching? Let me know in the comment section!
When it came to The Costume Drama Blogathon, I wanted to choose a movie that was already on my DVR. Out of the six movies that would have fit the requirements, I decided to review The Littlest Horse Thieves! This is a Disney film that I didn’t know existed until this year. Since I reviewed Swept from the Sea and Hallmark’s Hall of Fame’s In Love and War, I thought that I would change things up by selecting a children’s/family-friendly film. What made me want to watch the movie was the historical aspect of the story. Before even hearing about The Littlest Horse Thieves, I never knew that ponies were used in the mining industry. The only animal I knew that went into mines were small birds. I was looking forward to learning something new while being entertained.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: When it comes to casting young actors in lead roles, those performances can be hit or miss. In The Littlest Horse Thieves, the performances of all three leads were really good! Chloe Franks, Andrew Harrison, and Benjie Bolgar portray the titular horse thieves. Throughout the film, their characters were endearing and likable. The emotions these actors displayed appeared very genuine, as if their characters were real people. It was really sweet to watch the characters’ friendship evolve over the course of the film. Because of these factors, it made it easy for me to root of Alice, Dave, and Tommy.
Historical accuracy: The Littlest Horse Thieves takes place in, I believe, the early 1900s. Every aspect of this movie reflected that particular time-period really well! The sets looked like the audience could step back in time, that this point in history was not too far away. Things like wardrobe, dialect, and even the artwork on the walls brought the early 1900s to life again. Even the issues surrounding mining and employee well-being seemed to come directly from that decade. What made the historical accuracy work in this film was the creative team’s attention to detail. It shows how much care was put into this project.
Not so perfect plans: In a lot of children’s/family-friendly films, the young protagonists’ plans always work out in their favor. This is not exactly the case for The Littlest Horse Thieves. I’m not going to spoil the movie in case you want to see it. But the children sometimes overlook important details relating to their plan to save the ponies. I liked how the protagonists’ efforts didn’t go according to plan. This made the characters and their situation seem realistic and relatable.
What I didn’t like about the film:
A drawn-out story: The Littlest Horse Thieves had a drawn-out story that seemed to last too long. The first half of the movie focused on the children finding out about the conflict and figuring out how to solve it. The act of rescuing/stealing the ponies didn’t happen until the film’s halfway point. It also only lasted for a few minutes. The second half of the movie shifted the focus from the children to the adults. The overall narrative talked about everything but the most exciting part of the movie.
The editing: During the first half of the film, I noticed how less-than-stellar the editing was. It made conversations feel cut-off and transitions between scenes less smooth. These two aspects made the overall flow of the film seem choppy.
The conflict between Dave and his stepdad: Within The Littlest Horse Thieves, there was a conflict between Dave and his stepdad. It’s not the conflict itself I didn’t like. How little time was devoted to it is my biggest issue. In the first half of the film, Dave and his stepdad dislike each other. While the stepdad’s reason is never explained, Dave feels his reasons can be justified. His dislike toward his stepdad also affects his younger brother, Tommy. After the ponies are rescued/stolen, Dave and Tommy’s stepdad automatically becomes supportive of the children and their cause. The aforementioned conflict was not fully explored and felt it was there for the sake of being there.
My overall impression:
Every studio has those films that don’t always get talked about. Disney is no exception to this. That’s why I try to go out of my way to address these films on my blog. Some of them are better than others. But you never know what’s in store until you give the film a chance. For this particular blogathon, I chose to watch The Littlest Horse Thieves with an open mind. Now that I have seen it, I can honestly say that it was just ok. It’s not one of the worst things that the studio has ever made. But it’s not one of Disney’s strongest efforts. In fact, I could see children, especially younger ones, becoming bored by this movie. However, people who like British and/or historical fiction films will probably like it. Its historical accuracy is pretty satisfying and there are moments that I found educational. I could tell that the creative team behind this film tried their best to make something worthwhile. But it wasn’t as impressive as it could have been.
Overall score: 6 out of 10
Have you seen The Littlest Horse Thieves? Which film from a major studio do think is underrated? Please share your thoughts in the comment section!
For a few years now, I have wanted to watch the film, Summer Magic. It’s a title that I had never heard of until I came across it on Pinterest. Even after I recorded the movie on my DVR, I didn’t make the time to watch it. Because of the A Month Without the Code Blogathon, I decided to include Summer Magic in my roster of films! This is the third movie of Hayley Mills’ that I’ve reviewed this year. I liked both The Moon-Spinners and The Trouble with Angels. When I read the movie’s tagline on their DVD cover, I saw the word “mystery” and was excited to see what kind of story would be told. I also discovered that Burl Ives was one of the stars of the film! Prior to watching Summer Magic, I had never seen Burl act. However, I was familiar with who Burl was as a singer, as I’ve heard his versions of various Christmas songs. So, I was curious to see if he was given a significant part in the movie or a cameo role where he got to portray himself. Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s find out in this review!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: When it comes to films starring Hayley Mills, I, as an audience member, have never been disappointed! That’s because she has the acting talents to lead a film! Hayley had such a pleasant on-screen presence in Summer Magic, bringing her character, Nancy, to life with charm and likability. As I said in my introduction, I had never seen Burl Ives act before. His portrayal of Osh Popham was better than I expected it to be! He was so expressive in his acting performance and his singing performance could do no wrong. Deborah Walley is an actress that I am not familiar with. Despite this, I was entertained by her performance! Julia was such an interesting character to watch on screen. Deborah’s ability to pull off a well-rounded performance helped her achieve that goal. The rest of the cast was good as well. Because of the believability they brought to their roles, all of the characters appeared and felt like real-life people!
The music: If you’re going to cast Burl Ives in a film, you have to have him sing at least one song. Burl actually sang two songs in Summer Magic and both performances were really good! His first song “Ugly Bug Ball” not only featured music that reflected the story’s time period, but it also featured music that resembled when the film was released. Burl’s second song, “On the Front Porch”, as well as the rest of the music, felt like it belonged in the world of the early 1900s, when Summer Magic takes place. This helped the movie be immersive and bring this cinematic world to life.
The historical accuracy: Another aspect of Summer Magic that made the movie feel immersive was the historical accuracy of the overall production. For historical fiction stories, this aspect is so important because it provides a sense of authenticity. From the costumes to the architecture, everything seemed like it was brought back directly from that time period. Even things as simple as hairstyles helped the movie’s creative team realize their cinematic idea. Anytime I see a period film that appears and feels historically accurate, it gives me the impression the creative team behind that film not only knows what they’re doing, but that they care about the project they’re making. This is exactly how I felt about Summer Magic.
What I didn’t like about the film:
No “magic” and “mystery”: On the DVD cover for Summer Magic, the film’s tagline says “A Season Of Love, Music, And Mystery”. However, “magic” and “mystery” are nowhere to be found. Since The Moon-Spinners was created by the same studio as Summer Magic and since The Moon-Spinners was released the year after Summer Magic, I assumed the latter would have a mystery that was more light-hearted than the aforementioned title. Sadly, this plot didn’t leave any room for a mystery to be told. Even though this movie is called Summer Magic, there is no “magic” that is usually found in Disney films. When it comes to films from this particular studio, “magic” is not just coming from the things that happen on screen. It’s the way that the film makes an audience feel. For me, Summer Magic did not make me feel this way.
A basic plot: Because of what I just said, I thought there was going to be a mystery featured in this film’s plot. That didn’t happen, which caused the plot to be too basic for my liking. The story was also straight-forward, leaving no room for intrigue. Even when there was a chance for the narrative to have a sense of intrigue, those chances ended before they could begin. A perfect example is when Osh Popham was telling Nancy and her mother about the previous homeowner’s painting, only for his wife, Mariah, to confront him about his lie moments later.
Lack of musical numbers: For movie musicals, there’s, usually, at least one musical number. This scene will feature singing and dancing, but will also be presented as a grand spectacle. Summer Magic never had a scene like this. In fact, anytime a song was incorporated into the film, the characters would, mostly, sing the song while sitting down. Because Disney’s forte is musicals, I was quite surprised by the lack of musical numbers in this film. Since Mary Poppins was released the year after Summer Magic, I’m wondering if the first movie received more attention and financing from the studio, possibly viewing Summer Magic as an afterthought?
My overall impression:
As of August 2019, I have seen four of Hayley’s Mills films in their entirety. For the most part, I have enjoyed these movies. But, if I were to rank them, Summer Magic would be at the bottom of the list. That’s because the film itself was just ok. Since there was no “mystery” or “magic” in the story, the film’s plot wasn’t as intriguing as I hoped it would be. Despite the fact that the movie’s tagline promised that there would be music, it wasn’t a musical in the typical sense. But the film did have its merit, such as the acting and the historical accuracy of the project. It’s a film that I can’t fully recommend, but not completely dissuade people from seeing. Like I said about The Nun’s Story, Summer Magic is one of the “cleaner” films in A Month Without a Code! While there are a few things that would need to change, this film could be “breenable”. These things are:
There is some language in Summer Magic that would need to be rewritten or removed. This is because some of the words that the characters said were unpleasant. One example is when Nancy is trying to put up wallpaper in the house. When her mother expresses her doubts about whether Nancy is capable of completing the task on her own, Nancy makes a statement like “Any idiot can do it”.
There were three lines in the song, “Ugly Bug Ball”, that I was very surprised were featured in a Disney film. The lines are highlighted in bold print:
“Then our caterpillar saw a pretty queen
She was beautiful in yellow, black and green
He said, “Would you care to dance?”
Their dancing led to romance.
And she sat upon his caterpillar knees
And he gave his caterpillar queen a squeeze
Soon they’ll honeymoon
Build a big cocoon
Thanks to the ugly bug ball”
Because of how suggestive these lines sound, they would need to be rewritten.
During the movie, Julia and Nancy develop a crush on Charles Bryant, a recent college graduate who comes to their small town as a school teacher. Julia admits that she completed “finishing school”, so I’m guessing she would be 17 or 18. Meanwhile, Nancy might be somewhere between 14 to 16. Since this is a Disney/family-friendly film, their interactions with him are innocent. But, the fact that two teenage girls would entertain the idea of falling in love with a grown man should not be in a family-friendly movie.
While Osh Popham is looking for a painting for give to Nancy’s family, he finds a picture of a scantily clad woman. When this painting is presented to the audience, jazz music can be heard in the background. If this film were created during the Breen Code era, this painting would not be shown on-screen. I don’t believe that the jazz music would be heard either.
Overall score: 6.3 out of 10
How are you enjoying my reviews for A Month Without the Code? Are you looking forward to my upcoming posts? Le me know in the comment section!
When I first heard about The 5th Annual Great Villain Blogathon, I was originally going to write about a movie, that I haven’t seen yet, where the primary focus was on a villainous character. However, after accepting the Sunshine Blogger Award, I decided to talk about Jiggy Nye from the movie, Felicity: An American Girl Adventure. This film is based on the Felicity series from the American Girl Historical Collection. For almost three decades, the character of Felicity has represented the late 1700s, during the time of the Revolutionary War. In 2005, this particular series was adapted into the aforementioned film. As someone who has read some of Felicity’s stories, as well as seen this movie, I used to think that Jiggy Nye was an effective villain. Over time, I realized that he wasn’t as villainous as I remembered. Within this editorial, I will explain why I feel this way by primarily referencing Felicity: An American Girl Adventure. I will also be making a few references to two of the books in the Felicity series; Meet Felicity and Changes For Felicity. After making my points about why Jiggy’s not an effective villain, I will share some examples of villains and antagonists that are more effective than him. Now, let’s shed some light on Jiggy Nye and talk about why his reputation as a villain isn’t as strong as other cinematic villains and antagonists.
The Incorporation of Jiggy’s Backstory
A cinematic trend that I’ve personally noticed in recent years is a realistic-sounding backstory being given to a respective film’s villain or antagonist. While this story-telling aspect can provide depth to this particular type of character, there are times when this concept can be executed poorly. This is the case for Felicity: An American Girl Adventure. A minute and forty seconds after Jiggy was introduced on screen, Edward Merriman (Felicity’s father) and Grandfather Merriman share Jiggy’s backstory with the entire family. Though this explanation is brief, they reveal that he used to be a respected gentleman who was very knowledgeable when it came to horses. After his wife died, Jiggy made some poor life choices that are possibly the result of his grief. This limited amount of information could have been useful in developing Jiggy’s character and helping the audience understand why he is the way he is. However, Jiggy’s backstory was, ultimately, given a “don’t-blink-or-you’ll-miss-it” moment. It’s not only addressed in casual passing, but it’s barely referenced throughout the film. The timing of this backstory also came way too early. Because it was brought up less than two minutes after the audience was introduced to Jiggy Nye, it didn’t give the audience an opportunity to become familiar with Jiggy as a villain. Had they spent, at least, half of the movie seeing Jiggy being a villain and then learned about his backstory before a climatic/important moment, it would have given the audience a chance to process this information as well as consider everything they thought they knew about this character.
It’s no secret that I talk about Bucky Barnes quite a bit on this blog. But, as an example, his involvement in Captain America: The Winter Soldier makes sense within the context of this editorial. In the aforementioned film, the audience spent about half of the movie watching Bucky as the Winter Soldier. The audience wasn’t aware that Bucky was the Winter Soldier until Steve Rogers/Captain America removed the mask from his face at about the halfway point of the film. A few moments after this reveal, the audience learned the shocking truth of how Bucky came to be involved with Hydra. This incorporation of Bucky’s backstory was better executed than Jiggy’s backstory in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the audience was given enough time to become familiar with the film’s antagonist. This allowed them to form their own opinion of this character. When the truth about the Winter Soldier is revealed, it makes the audience contemplate these pieces of information as well as re-think everything they thought they knew about him. Because Bucky’s backstory was introduced moments before the film’s climax, it made this reveal more emotional and effective.
No Substantial Evidence
In Felicity: An American Girl Adventure, some of the characters make statements about Jiggy Nye. However, the film fails to provide evidence to these characters’ claims. One example is the characters’ statements about how Jiggy treats his horse, known in the movie/book series as Penny. Toward the beginning of the film, a customer shares her displeasure about Jiggy to Mr. Merriman, saying “I do believe he beat his last horse to death”. When Jiggy arrives at the Merriman family home to retrieve Penny (a moment that I will talk about later), Mr. Merriman tells him “The only crime committed here, sir, is your mistreatment of the poor beast”. Also, when Felicity is trying to persuade her parents to let her keep Penny, she tells her father, “Father, he beats her…and he starves her”. Despite all of these aforementioned claims, there isn’t any substantial proof that Jiggy treats his horse poorly. In the movie, Penny appears to be well-cared for. This horse does not appear starved and there are no signs of injuries on her. The only things that Jiggy does that come close to being abusive toward Penny are tying her to a post in his yard and saying hurtful things toward and about her. In a story when there are claims made about a film’s villain, but no evidence/proof is given to support these claims, it doesn’t provide the audience with a reason to take this character seriously as a villain. It also doesn’t give the audience an explanation as to why they should dislike or be terrified of this character. Because the claims against Jiggy are not supported by evidence/proof, the characters who made the claims appear to have lost a certain amount of credibility.
The villain group, Hydra, in Captain America: The First Avenger is one that the audience doesn’t want to mess with. That’s because the creative team behind this movie portrayed Hydra as dangerous, evil, and cruel. Though this group was shown in the movie for a limited amount of time, their presence brought home the exact point that this film’s creative team was trying to make. It wasn’t until Captain America: The Winter Soldier that the creative team gave their audience solid evidence to the claims that were made about Hydra back in the first film. Not only does this story present examples of this group causing chaos and destruction, but their abuse toward Bucky also shows just how cruel they can be. Because the creative team behind Captain America: The Winter Soldier put in the effort to add evidence to the claims made about Hydra, this gave the audience reasons to not like this villainous group as well as take them seriously as villains. It also made the story and the creative team behind it seem very credible. This is very different from Felicity: An American Girl Adventure.
The way that Jiggy is portrayed in both the Felicity series and Felicity: An American Girl Adventure is in a “villain-turned-hero” way. This specific kind of character development isn’t often seen when it comes to cinematic villains or antagonists. Like with Jiggy’s backstory, however, this part of Jiggy’s story was also poorly executed. Within the first thirty-six minutes of the movie, Jiggy is shown as a villainous character. The next time the audience sees him is twenty-three minutes later, when Jiggy is sleeping on the floor of a jail cell, violently coughing and appearing to be ill. Eight minutes after that, it appears Jiggy has been released from prison, casually walking through the streets of Williamsburg, Virginia and looking like he has recovered from his illness. His final appearance in this movie starts eleven minutes later, when Felicity asks for Jiggy’s help as Penny is about to give birth to a foal. When assessing these gaps in time, it seems like there is an obvious pattern. Jiggy is, essentially, placed in the film for plot convenience. Throughout the movie, the audience, to a certain extent, is given the opportunity to get to know Jiggy as a character. But, when it comes to seeing how Jiggy evolves from villain to hero, the audience never gets to see the personal growth and self-discovery that is usually associated with this kind of character development. If anything, Jiggy’s journey from point A to B feels rushed and sudden, with a limited amount of background provided.
Even though Henry Gowen is from a television show, I believe that his story on When Calls the Heart corelates with the subject of this editorial. For three seasons, Henry Gowen was the resident villain of Hope Valley. It wasn’t until the fourth season when Henry’s villainous ways finally caught up to him. Since When Calls the Heart: The Christmas Wishing Tree, Henry has been making a conscious effort to turn his life around. What works in this character’s favor is that his story is a part of an on-going narrative. Because When Calls the Heart is a continuous television show, not a stand-alone film like Felicity: An American Girl Adventure, the screen-writers have more time to explore Henry’s journey of transforming from villain to hero. What also helps is that Henry is a part of the main cast of characters. This allows him to receive a good amount of screen-time and stay involved within the series. With Jiggy, on the other hand, he isn’t directly related to Felicity’s family or any of her friends/acquaintances. Therefore, he wasn’t given as much screen-time as some of the other characters in the film.
A Hypocritical Protagonist
When an obvious villain/antagonist is placed within a story, there is usually an obvious protagonist to present a balance between right and wrong. Though the protagonist is not meant to be anywhere near perfect, they’re at least meant to make better decisions than the villain/antagonist. While Felicity’s heart was in the right place in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure, some of her choices seem hypocritical. As I mentioned earlier, Felicity and her father made claims about Jiggy mistreating his horse. However, this movie’s titular character is not as innocent as the film wants you to think. In an effort to “save” Penny, Felicity sneaks out of her family’s home in the early morning hours, breaking family rules and disobeying her parents. She also takes Ben’s (her close friend’s) breeches without his permission, trespasses on Jiggy’s property, and steals his horse due to a misunderstanding. On several occasions, some of Felicity’s family and friends try to help her make the right decisions. For example, while spending some time with her grandfather in the garden, he encourages Felicity’s love of horses. At the same time, Grandfather Merriman reminds her that she mustn’t bother Jiggy and his belongings. Despite her family and friends’ efforts, all of their advice goes in one ear and out the other. After Felicity gets reprimanded for stealing Jiggy’s horse, Felicity goes back to trespassing on Jiggy’s property. This time, she sets Penny free into the wild. Because Felicity seems to be making just as many poor choices as Jiggy within the film, it makes these two characters appear more like individuals just trying to get through life than a conflict between villain and protagonist. Even though she uses her grandfather’s advice about choosing kindness over anger later in the film, she doesn’t really set the best of examples, as a protagonist, at an essential time during Jiggy’s story as a villain.
Throughout his trilogy, Steve Rogers/Captain America has always been known for making good decisions, no matter how difficult they seem. One perfect example of this is in Captain America: Civil War. In this film, one of the over-arcing narratives was about the Sokovia Accords. With this document, the use of a superhero’s powers and abilities would be controlled by the government. Not only did Steve take the time to read the Accords, but he decided not to sign it for personal reasons. He knew that his decision would have consequences, but he still stuck by his beliefs. Steve made the choices he did because he felt it benefitted the people around him as well as himself. Unlike Felicity, Steve thought about his actions and choices before he carried them out. He also used a balance of emotion and logic in order to make these decisions. This is also very different from the aforementioned film’s villain, Helmut Zemo. Because he’s upset about losing his family in the tragic events from the previous film, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Zemo’s feelings and emotions fuel his criminal actions. Since Zemo blames the Avengers for the death of his family, he tries to do whatever he can to drive a wedge between the Avengers, from causing massive amounts of destruction to framing Bucky for a crime he didn’t commit. Unlike Steve, Zemo’s decisions seem very self-centered, his only focus being how he’s going to get revenge for his family.
Not a Big Enough Threat
Usually, in tv shows and movies, the villain/antagonist has a consistent presence in the story. This is a way of showing that this character poses as a big enough threat to the protagonist. As I mentioned in argument number three, “No Transition”, Jiggy wasn’t given much screen-time compared to the other characters in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure. I also mentioned that it feels like Jiggy is placed in certain moments of the film for the sake of plot convenience. Because of these observations, Jiggy doesn’t seem like he poses as big of a threat to Felicity. During his “villain stage”, Jiggy and Felicity only interacted with each other on three separate occasions. Not only did they barely speak to one another, but no major conflicts were resolved. Another reason why Jiggy doesn’t really pose as big of a threat in this film is because he doesn’t necessarily do anything that’s villainous. Sure, he said some nasty things (including a threat to kill Penny if Felicity showed up on his property again) and tied his horse to a pole in his yard. But he never commits any serious or unspeakable crimes throughout the film. In argument number three, I said that Jiggy was seen in a jail cell. While his reason for being in prison is never mentioned in the movie, it is said in Changes For Felicity that Jiggy went to “debtors’ jail”. If this is the reason why Jiggy is in jail in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure, it seems like he was unable to pay for anything because of a result of his grief, not because he was trying to take advantage of the system in a criminal way.
For this argument, I’m going to be talking about two examples. The first is the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. A major reason why this character is an effective villain is because she had a more consistent presence in her movie than Jiggy did in his. Even though she doesn’t appear in every scene, the Wicked Witch of the West shows up in enough of them to give the audience the feeling that she is always lurking around the corner. What also helps her case is the music that plays and the special effects that appear whenever she shows up. My other example is Scrooge from A Christmas Carol. While Scrooge is the antagonist at the beginning of the story, the audience never sees or reads about him ever doing anything villainous. Even though being selfish and greedy are not desirable qualities, his choices are not criminal. In fact, Scrooge’s story has similarities to Jiggy’s story, especially since they both transform from villain/antagonist to hero/protagonist. However, Scrooge’s journey is explored more in A Christmas Carol than Jiggy’s is in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure.
My Final Assessment of Jiggy Nye
In the introduction of this editorial, I said that I would describe why I didn’t believe Jiggy Nye was an effective villain in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure. After explaining my reasons why, I feel that Jiggy is presented more as a victim of his personal situation. As I mentioned in my first argument called “The Incorporation of Jiggy’s Backstory”, Jiggy’s wife passed away and his world was greatly affected by it. However, this important detail was barely referenced in the movie, pretty much getting glossed over. It didn’t seem like most of the characters were willing to connect Jiggy’s choices and behaviors to his grief. Because of this, Jiggy became a scapegoat for the sake of needing a villain/antagonist. While he does get a moment to redeem himself and become a hero, this transition wasn’t shown or explored. I understand that this movie was Felicity’s story (especially since her name is in the title) and that this movie is based on a series of books. But I just feel that this aspect of the narrative could have been better executed. If anything, Jiggy was a more effective villain in the first book, Meet Felicity, than in Felicity: An American Girl Adventure. Valerie Tripp, the author of this book, had an entire story to flesh out the character of Jiggy Nye and provide enough evidence to show that he was not a nice person. Because the movie adapted six books into one cinematic narrative, Jiggy’s part of the story was sacrificed and overshadowed.
Last month, I received The Blog Complainer’s Appreciation Award! In order to officially accept the award, one of the requirements is to complete a small challenge. In my post where I talked about this award, I chose to read two books for the Cosyathon readathon. While I didn’t complete these books within the readathon’s time-frame, I still chose to read them because a.) I wanted to read these books and b.) I promised my readers and followers that I would read these books. While thinking about the challenges from Cosyathon, I realized that my two choice books actually counted for four of the readathon’s challenges! As you can see in the picture, these books are The Christmas Child by Linda Goodnight and That Fatal Night: The Titanic Diary of Dorothy Wilton by Sarah Ellis.
The first book I read was The Christmas Child. I was interested in reading this book because, to me, it sounded like a Hallmark movie I would probably watch. This book fulfilled the challenges of “read a Christmas themed book” and “read a book that’s set during Winter”. Not only does this story take place within the month of December, but it also takes place around Christmas-time. The Christmas Child is about a teacher and police officer who find a young child in their town. The young child, Davey, is non-verbal, with no known family to be found. Kade, the police officer, and Sophie, the teacher, have to solve the mystery of Davey and his history. I really loved this book! It felt like I was reading a Hallmark movie, particularly from Hallmark Movies & Mysteries or Hallmark Hall of Fame. While this story had its emotional moments, it was also sweet and heart-warming. The only flaw I could find within this book was how both Sophie and Kade’s point of view were included in each chapter, making these chapters feel a little bit too long. Other than that, I absolutely enjoyed reading this story! I hope that Hallmark considers adapting The Christmas Child into a movie, either for Hallmark Movies & Mysteries or Hallmark Hall of Fame. This is the type of story that I could definitely see being shared throughout Hallmark’s Christmas line-ups, which would definitely make me a very happy reader and movie blogger.
The second book I read was That Fatal Night: The Titanic Diary of Dorothy Wilton. This story counted for the challenges of “read a book with a cold cover” and “read a book about getting stranded”. According to history, the Titanic sank in a cold environment. As you see on the cover, the Titanic’s demise is depicted in the background. Also, according to history, the passengers were stranded in the middle of the ocean when the Titanic sank. This book is a historical fiction story about a young girl who survives the Titanic tragedy. After getting expelled from school, Dorothy, the book’s protagonist, is given a journal so she can express her feelings about her traumatic situation. This is another book that I really enjoyed! What made this book so good was the author’s ability to create a fictional character that feels and sounds like a real person. While there are moments where Dorothy seems like a typical child, there were also moments where she sounded wise beyond her years. Another good thing I liked about the book was how the author created a balance between moments of sadness and joy. For me, this story only had one flaw, which was the editing. There were times when I felt that commas were missing from some of the sentences. Also, I found sentences in some parts of the book that were either too short or too long. However, because this book is written in a journal format, I’m not sure if this was a legitimate editing error or if it was supposed to reflect the idea of a child’s style of writing. I feel that Hallmark should adapt this story into a Hallmark Hall of Fame production. A film adaptation of this book would be very different from the other Hallmark Hall of Fame films that were released in recent years because a.) it’s been at least six years since a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie has featured a child or young person as the protagonist and b.) there has been few movies from Hallmark Hall of Fame that feature children or young people dealing with or overcoming traumatic situations. Also, when I think about the portrayal of the Titanic in film, I realize that not only have the main point of views never been from a child, but also barely explores the trauma that can be experienced from surviving such a horrific event.
What are your thoughts on these books? Would you like me to talk about more books on 18 Cinema Lane? Let me know in the comment section!