Sunday, July 23, 2006


From the archive: 4/18/2005

At the 2004 Academy Awards ceremony, Charlize Theron won a much deserved Best-Actress Oscar for her role as Aileen Wuornos in the movie Monster. Everybody expected her to win, everybody admitted she deserved to win, and so she did. Good for her, she was only 28. If Monster had been made just one year earlier or one year later, that Best-Actress Oscar probably would have gone to a 13 year old girl, Keisha Castle-Hughes, from Donnybrook, Australia. Keisha was the youngest person ever to be nominated in that category. It was her first role.

In Whale Rider, Keisha Castle-Hughes plays Pai, the 12 year old granddaughter of the chief of the Maori tribe, the native people of New Zealand. The chief is getting old and is looking for a successor. Pai is the only descendent available, but no woman in the history of the tribe has ever been chief, and ........... well, you get the idea. It's kind of like Disney's MULAN, only it's good.

This is the ultimate kind of family movie. What makes it ultimate? There is no particular age group that this movie targets. From the surface, you might think that it' geared toward teenage and pre-teen girls. No, it's not! This is such an emotionally deep movie, that everyone will want to see it. And it's not just dramatic. It's also funny, and inspiring, and thought provoking. It's a FORREST GUMP of a movie! I have no children living at my house any more, yet we were all engaged by the story.

There is a scene in the middle of the movie where Pai puts on a performance at a school pageant that makes you stop and stare in amazement. There is a depth to her performance that is seldom seen, even in older actors. This is a "goose bumps moment", one of many in this movie. The end is particularly satisfying.

Rent Whale Rider and watch it with one or more of the following:
  • your spouse - you can get emotional with each other without feeling weird
  • your children - Pai is a good role model for kids of all ages
  • your date - this movie will make them feel emotional and vulnerable, use this to your advantage
  • your neighbors - you will "one-up" them. They will have to paint your house or some other task to catch up.
  • your friends - you know, for moral support.
  • yourself - cry with abandon! No one's looking.
FYI: For more affirmation, the link below will take you to Roger Ebert's excellent review.


Film critic Roger Ebert's review of Whale Rider.


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