ReadTheSpirit staffers stayed up late Thursday night to wade through a sold-out cineplex and watch the debut showing of Harry Potter movie, the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Sure, it’s all everyone will be buzzing about this weekend. The movie is fantastic—although it’s also fantastically dark and violent, as is the conclusion of the final J.K. Rowlling novel.
So, if everyone is talking about Harry—we’re going to tell you about three gentle comedies you may enjoy especially if you’re not wild about Harry …
Larry Crowne & Return of Leah Thompson & Marion Ross
1. Larry Crowne: If you read news coverage, you’ll miss it
From its opening weekend, news reports have called Larry Crowne “a bomb.” That’s because the star power of Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts didn’t work much magic this time and the boxoffice totals were poor. Of course, ticket sales in 2011 all about the teens and it’s unlikely many high schoolers will “get” this story of a middle-aged guy fired from his job at a cross between Target and Walmart. It seems that Larry aspired to management, yet he never earned a college diploma. Instead, he enrolls in a community college and his life is turned head over heels. The humor certainly can be described as gentle, but the movie is pure pleasure. Plus, Larry Crowne—both the character and the movie—treat all the secondary characters with remarkable good grace. If you’ve watched previews and guessed that Larry Crowne is a sort of updated Forest Gump—you’re misunderstanding the movie. Larry proves he’s got far more talents than anyone thought back at his big box store. This is going to vanish soon from theaters! See it now! NOTE: If you want to pull out a classic back-to-school romantic comedy from 50 years ago, try Teacher’s Pet from 1958 with Doris Day and Clark Gable.
2. Marion Ross returns in Keeping Up with the Randalls
It’s wonderful to see Marion Ross back in a family comedy—and you can’t beat the pricetag: Keeping Up with the Randalls debuts on the Hallmark Channel Saturday July 16. The Hallmark Channel provides an in-depth website about the movie, including previews and more. Fans of the decade-long run of Touched by an Angel may enjoy seeing Roma Downey back on television again. This time, rather than the angelic character, Downey plays a definitely witchy Mom trying to scare away her son’s new girlfriend. That’s where Ross rises beyond a bit part to assert herself cleverly as the true matriarch of this bitterly feuding clan called the Randalls. Apparently, Hallmark is encouraging viewers to get up off our couches, because Keeping Up with the Randalls is all about an annual family tradition of “games.” Think of the Kennedy tradition of touch football at clan reunions—except the Randalls take this to such extremes that it’s very tough for the new girlfriend to compete. No, you’re not likely to hurt yourself laughing at this film. It’s gentle made-for-TV comedy. But, if you’ve had your fill of the R-rated, gross-out comedies Hollywood is pumping out this year, then give the Randalls a chance.
Remember: Debuts Saturday July 16 at 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, 8 p.m. Central.
2. Leah Thompson returns in Hallmark’s The Cabin
Leah Thompson may have more fans, these days, than either Downey or Ross. After all, Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy is selling very well on Bluray. And, seasons of Caroline in the City on DVD are selling well. But, her career in movies has veered more toward smaller supporting roles in recent years.
Her many fans are likely to enjoy seeing her back in the lead role of a romantic comedy—even if this made-for-TV movie definitely falls into the category of gentle comedy. No, you won’t have shoo any children or grandchildren from the room when The Cabin debuts Saturday July 30 at 8 pm Eastern and Pacific, 7 pm Central on the Hallmark Movie Channel. The “grossest” comic bits in this film involve a chuckle over the Scottish delicacy haggis. The storyline centers on a divorced Mom (Leah Thompson) and a divorced Dad (Scottish-born actor Steven Brand) who bring their kids to a reunion in Scotland. Through a registration error, both families are booked into the same small cabin and—as in a thousand other comedies—they decide to make the best of their tight quarters. Like the Randalls movie, The Cabin also revolves around family athletic competition—in this case, events with a Scottish touch. Yes, there’s a Caber toss with wooden poles for all ages and sizes of competitors. One word of warning: If you’re hoping to see gorgeous vistas of Scotland—adjust those hopes now. Very few scenes were shot in distinctive Scottish settings. This is a family comedy pure and simple. Hallmark Movie Channel has a full-service website up for The Cabin, complete with previews.
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Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.