The Lorax

Photo #1

Film (with rating): The Lorax (PG)

 

Studio:
Universal

 

Summary: A
young boy (voiced by Zac Efron) searching for the one thing that will enable
him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams must first learn the story
of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world.

 

Review: I
loved the book “The Lorax,” written by Dr. Seuss. Who can argue with
a rhyming, colorful tale that explains the disasters that happen when greed
runs amok? And in true Seussian fashion, “The Lorax” never preaches,
yet it screams its message loud and clear. The movie, directed by  Chris Renaud, follows that same path. It
is beautifully animated, with amazing voice talent from Efron, Taylor Swift,
Danny DeVito (as the Lorax. Perfect job!) and Betty White.  While not a lot of the famed Seuss
language makes an appearance in the film, that is forgivable since the film
holds true to the book’s message and feel. The musical numbers are actually
kind of charming, too.

 

In a nutshell, “The Lorax” tells the tale of young
Ted and his crush Audrey, who live in a town with only fake trees. Ted heads
out to see the Once-ler and the Lorax in an attempt to find a real tree and
impress his gal.  Problems happened
years and years ago when the Once-ler fell in love with the Truffula trees and
turned their fluff into “thneed” scarves. More scarves, more trees
cut down, more scarves made, more trees gone. On and on this went–despite
warnings from the Lorax–until no trees were left.

 

“The Lorax” beautifully tells this story of
environmentalism, conservationism and greed, but in a way that even the young
can understand and the grown ups can enjoy.

 

Extra highlight:
The animated shorts

 

What to serve for dinner: For tonight’s Meatless Monday recipe, let’s serve
up some “trees,” in honor of those Truffulas. (Doesn’t anyone else
have a kid who calls asparagus “trees?”) Springtime Asparagus Risotto
(www. mizkan.com).

 

According to the website: “The cooking method for this
risotto is not traditional, but even without constant stirring the result is
excellent. The flavors of grated cheeses vary. Start with 1/3 cup, and then add
more if desired. Serve risotto in 1-cup portions as a side dish or larger
portions as a main dish. A pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc wine would make a
lovely accompaniment.”

 

1            lb.
thin asparagus spears

2            Tbsp.
butter

2            Tbsp.
extra virgin olive oil

1            medium
onion, chopped

2            large
cloves garlic, minced

2            cups
(14 oz.) Arborio rice

1            cup
HOLLAND HOUSE White Cooking Wine (available at Target or other retailers)

4            cups
(32 oz.) reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/3            cup
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino-Romano cheese

1            Tbsp.
grated lemon peel (optional)

1/4            tsp.
dried marjoram, tarragon, or sage

 

Wash asparagus and break off the tough ends. Cut spears into
1-inch pieces; set aside.

 

In a 6-quart pot, melt butter with olive oil. Add onion,
garlic and rice. Over medium-high heat, cook and stir 3-4 minutes; do not
brown. Add cooking wine and broth. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.
Immediately reduce heat to low, cover and cook 10 minutes. No need to stir.

 

Add asparagus and continue to cook and stir, uncovered,
about 3 minutes. Taste rice to ensure it does not overcook. Rice should be al
dente and rather soupy. Stir in cheese, lemon peel and marjoram. Remove from
heat and serve immediately. Sprinkle with additional cheese, if desired.

 

Makes 8 cups (8 side dish servings, 4 main dish servings)

 

 

What to talk about over dinner: What is your favorite Dr. Seuss story? Why? What do
you think about “The Lorax’s” message? How can we help kids today
understand the need to conserve and protect the environment? What is the most
important crisis facing our earth today? Why is Betty White so awesome?

Silent House


Film (with rating): Silent House (R)

 

Studio:
Universal

 

Summary: A
young woman (Elizabeth Olsen) finds herself sealed inside her family’s secluded
lake house, panicking as events become increasingly ominous in and around the
home.

 

Review: A
horror movie without a lot of gore and over-the-top CGI. Thumbs up! Olsen, who
displays some serious acting chops, does a great job as Sarah, the terrorized
young woman who goes to her family’s lake house to help prepare it for sale.
Since it’s boarded up from the inside, darkness prevails in every corner,
leading to the creepy feel of the film from the get-go.

 

Directed by filmmaking duo Chris Kentis and Laura Lau, who
did the ridiculously terrifying “Open Water,” “Silent
House” is shot using meticulous camera choreography to look like a single
uninterrupted shot. This “real time,” Hitchcockian-like
cinematography trick is one of the high points of the film.

 

While the surprise twist at the end may leave some viewers
feeling cheated, the movie as a whole is a well-done thriller. Not great, but
very unsettling and worth the watch.

 

Extra highlight:
Eh, just switch back to the Olympics.

 

What to serve for dinner: Meatless Monday again! During these hot, dog days
of summer, it’s best to keep things 
simple, light and easy. There’s no real tie to the movie this time. I
just had a fantastic peach from my local farmers market and got a craving for
this salad. So here you go–Peach-Cucumber-Barley Salad. (www.goodhousekeeping.com)

 

1 cup pearl barley

1 3/4 cup lower-sodium vegetable broth

1 1/4 cup water

1  seedless
cucumber (English)

2  ripe peaches

2 pints cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

 Salt

 Pepper

1 can (15-ounce) chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and
drained

1 head Boston lettuce, leaves separated

 

Place barley in 4-quart saucepan. Cook on medium 5 minutes
or until toasted, stirring. Stir in broth and water. Heat to boiling on high.
Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 35 minutes or until tender. Drain if
necessary, and cool slightly.

 

Meanwhile, scoop out and discard soft center from cucumber,
then cut into 1/4-inch pieces. Pit and chop peaches. Cut tomatoes in quarters.
Very finely chop basil. In large bowl, whisk vinegar, oil, and 1/4 teaspoon
salt. Add barley and toss until well coated. Cool until no longer hot, then add
cucumber, peaches, tomatoes, and chickpeas, tossing until well combined. Serve
over lettuce leaves.

 

What to talk about over dinner: What is your favorite scary movie of all time that
does not involve a chainsaw, finger knives, machetes or butcher knives? What
was the scariest scene in the film? Why? Have you ever been that scared before?
Have you ever been in a house that creeps you out? Have you seen “Open
Water?” Did you vow to never, ever go scuba diving again? Confession time:
My husband and I watched this film when I was six months pregnant and preparing
to go on vacation to the Bahamas. Where he wanted to go scuba diving. Mix one
terrifying movie and a very hormonal woman, and guess who didn’t go scuba
diving in the Caribbean?

American Reunion


Film (with rating): American Reunion (R)

 

Studio:
Universal Studios Home Entertainment

 

Summary: All
the original “American Pie” characters return to East Great Falls for
their 13th high-school reunion, spending the weekend reconnecting,
drinking, pooping in coolers and talking about sex.

 

Review: I
admit it. I really loved the first “American Pie.” It was just
brainless, crude, funny and likeable enough to make its mark on cinema culture.
Who can forget that it spawned the “MILF” saying? For this fourth installment
in the franchise, all of the same actors return to reprise their roles. This is
a huge strength. I mean, most of us who like the “American Pie”
movies do so not just because they are crude and center around tube socks and
ways to violate baked goods. At the core, we like these movies because the
characters, as lame and gross and just downright stupid as they can be at
times, are rather endearing. So bringing everyone back to the table is
brilliant. And I mean everyone. We’ve got Jason Biggs, Alyson Hannigan, Seann
William Scott, Chris Klein, Mena Suvari, Shannon Elizabeth, Tara Reid, Jennifer
Coolidge, Eugene Levy (Jim’s dad!) and Natasha Lyonne.

 

The movie revolves around everyone gathering together at the
high school reunion. Of course, life has changed. Jim (Biggs) is married to
Michelle (Hannigan), as we saw in the third “American Pie.” But now,
they have no sex life and a toddler. Kevin is married, but not to Vicky (Reid),
and Finch still longs for Stifler’s mom. Speaking of Stifler (Scott), he is the
one who has not changed; he’s still the horndog juvenile.

 

There are plenty of laughs, usually surrounding some sort of
immature sexual subject. But really, are you surprised? Lots of flashbacks
paying homage to previous films in the franchise will delight fans, but you
don’t have to have even seen the first three to enjoy this one. Despite some of
the jokes being overdone and some of the plot running thin, “American
Reunion” holds its own. I credit this, again, to the likeable characters.
Despite how embarrassingly lame they may be at times, we root for them. This
movie doesn’t have that same youthful flair that attracted us to “American
Pie,” but hey, we all get older and saggier and lose some of our spunk as
the years pass. Doesn’t mean we can’t still rock it every so often, right?
Well, at least we can try.

 

Extra highlight:
Alternate takes

 

What to serve for dinner: How about a chicken and apple pot pie? (Too much?
Well, what did you expect?) Courtesy of www.rachaelrayshow.com.

 

2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, white or dark meat,
diced into bite-sized pieces

Salt and pepper

3 tablespoons butter

3 Empire, Gala or Honey Crisp apples, peeled and chopped

3-4 small ribs celery, chopped

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup apple cider

1 cup chicken stock

1 sheet store-bought puff pastry dough, defrosted if frozen

1 egg, beaten with water

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat EVOO in a large skillet
over medium-high heat. Add chicken and brown 7-8 minutes then remove to plate.

 

Add butter and melt. Add apples, celery, onion, bay, thyme,
salt and pepper, and cook to soften, 8-10 minutes. Sprinkle with flour, stir 1
minute then whisk in cider and stock. Slide chicken back into pan and simmer a
few minutes to thicken sauce.

 

Place in casserole dish or individual casserole dishes
arranged on baking sheet to catch drips. Cover with pastry, brush with egg wash
and bake until golden. Serves four.

 

What to talk about over dinner: Do you still hang out with your high school
friends? Did you go to your reunion? How was it? Any surprises? Who is your
favorite character in this film franchise and why? Anyone else loving “How
I Met Your Mother?” What made 
“American Pie” such a hit? Which sequel did you like the best?
Was it hard to watch supposedly “grown up” people act like stupid
high schoolers? What was your favorite blast from the past in this movie?