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“Once Upon a Mattress,” a musical version of “The Princess and the Pea,” is one of my favorites. Carol Burnett became a star for her portrayal of the kind-hearted but rather loud princess when it premiered on Broadway and she repeated the part in two television broadcasts. In this version she plays the queen, who will do anything to stay in power, which means stopping her timid son from finding a bride. The songs, written by Mary Rodgers (daughter of Richard Rodgers of “South Pacific” and “The King and I”) and Marshall Barer, are tuneful, witty, and utterly charming.

In supporting roles, Zooey Deschanel (“(500) Days of Summer”) and Matthew Morrison (“Glee”) are fairy-tale perfect. A great family movie!

(NOTE: Some mild references to making babies)

Thanks to Kevin “BDK” McCarthy and Josh Hylton for having me on the air to talk about the new releases!

Three recent movies in different genres have had one thing in common — fathers who interact with the ghosts of their dead daughters. In the historical drama “Creation,” Charles Darwin sees the ghost of his daughter as his struggle to deal with her loss reflects in part his struggle over whether to publish his controversial theory of evolution. In the literary adaptation “The Lovely Bones,” the spirit of a murdered girl is stuck in the “in between” as she tries to help her devastated family and expose the killer. And in the thriller “Edge of Darkness,” Mel Gibson plays a cop whose 24-year-old daughter is murdered. As he seeks to understand what she was involved in, he sees her ghost as both a child and an adult, with an especially sweet scene with her at about age five helping him shave.
I always wonder, when something like this happens, whether it is some sort of harmonic convergence or just a coincidence.

Thanks to the Online Film Critics Society for including my thoughts in their round-up of commentaries about what movie critics are for. The question was “Do critics do anything nowadays except give out awards? What is the purpose of a film critic in today’s entertainment industry?” Here is what I said:

The film critic is not a part of the entertainment industry. The film critic is a part of the journalism industry. We are there to report on, assess, and illuminate the entertainment industry and its products. We are there to guide audiences away from the over-marketed and under-produced products of that industry and to encourage them to try movies they might not have heard of, even those without big stars and in other languages. We are there to challenge their thinking, provide context, and provoke discussion. And we are there to set an example with the diligence of our study and the excellence of our writing to engage them in our passionate attention to stories, characters, meaning, and even entertainment.

All of the entries are provocative, well-written, and worth reading. Take a look.