'Last Chance Harvey' flubs golden opportunity


"Last Chance Harvey," rated PG-13

A soufflé is a light, fluffy, baked dish made with egg yolks and beaten egg whites combined with various other ingredients and served as a savory main dish or sweetened as a dessert.

The very word soufflé makes the mouth water. But the dessert is tricky to make because even with all the best ingredients it can fall flat.

How is a soufflé like "Last Chance Harvey"? You probably can guess.

Dustin Hoffman (Harvey) is a wonderful actor. Emma Thompson (Kate) is a wonderful actress. The trailer to "Last Chance Harvey" shows great promise. Two grown-ups meet by chance when things were not going well in their respective lives and fate brings them together. So far the ingredients for a good movie would seem to work. Even the supporting cast of Kathy Baker, James Brolin and English actress Eileen Atkins seem nicely suited in their small roles.

Perhaps writer/director Joel Hopkins gave his talent too much free rein with the script or perhaps they followed his script to the word; who knows? The result is predictable and trite and I was so looking forward to a love story where the leads' ages totaled more than 39. Maybe there will be more than one last chance for a grown-up romance. Alas, "Last Chance Harvey" isn't it.



Try to imagine the DVD world without animation? No branch of film-making has changed more drastically than the art of moving pictures. Walt Disney's "Bambi" was first released in 1942 and then rereleased in 1957.

Unlike the youths of today who not only see movies multiple times and even own their own library of DVD titles, I have seen "Bambi" only twice, once in 1957 and once in 2009. It was wonderful both times, but for very different reasons.

As a child, the birth of the fawn "prince" was cause for great excitement in the forest. Birds sang of his arrival and bunnies rushed to get a first peek. Bambi stood on wobbly legs and explored the forest with his new friend Thumper. They faced challenges growing up in the forest, awakening to the different changes of the seasons. Bambi's mother taught her son of the dangers of frolicking in the meadow, a warning that foreshadowed a tragic event.

As an adult, music and mystical shadows signaled the magical awakening of the forest long before any animals appeared on screen. Bambi's innocence and Thumper's friendship still are touching. The brilliance of the musical score throughout the picture propelled the story far more than the scant dialogue and the restored original animation cels were a joy to watch.

A story about nature, growing up and life with its dangers and joys, "Bambi" is said to be Walt Disney's favorite animated film. I can see why.


"Taps," rated PG*

Ever wonder what it would be like to go back to your 30th high school reunion? Well, even though 1981 is a few years shy of that landmark, several of our most talented actors appeared in "Taps" that year.

In his film debut, Sean Penn is sensitive, intelligent Alex, best friend of student commandant Brian - Timothy Hutton. Playing David Shawn, the loose cannon on the wrong path in only his second film role, is Tom Cruise. Headlining "Taps," although only in the first half of the film, is George C. Scott. There's lots of talent in this movie but very little plot believability.

Directed by Harold Becker, "Taps" is a story of a military academy that is forced to close its doors to make way for condos. When the young boys (age 12-18) learn of the closure, they decide to put their regimental training into practice. An armory of active weapons including machine guns and grenades is at their disposal and the standoff with the National Guard begins.

In the past quarter century, the news media has covered many violent incidents for a variety of causes: Columbine High School, Waco Branch Davidians and Somali pirates to name a few. This movie doesn't come close to any real life dramas.

"Taps" offers a nostalgic premonition for a few talented actors who transcended the material. Mostly it's boys playing with guns with deadly results.

* Lots of violence against young children and profanity - PG-13 would be more appropriate.

Rebecca Redshaw can be reached at

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