Movie Review

Review: Water for Elephants

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Water for Elephants

Written by Sara Gruen
Published January 1, 2006 by Algonquin Books
Genre: Fiction, 336 pages 
 

Water for Elephants is the story of Jacob Jankowski who gives his viewpoint as a young twenty-something year old and a ninety-something year old. He describes his experience being with the Benzini Brothers Circus in the Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Jacob is an orphan veterinary student who turns to the circus by accident. It’s the Great Depression and Jacob has nothing after a devastating car crash that left both parents dead, so he jumps upon a moving train to discover that it’s a traveling circus. Jacob meets many memorable individuals including Marlena who performs an equestrian act. Jacob falls madly in love with Marlena, yet she’s already married to a man with an evil streak. The circus seems to be going downhill, until Rosie the elephant arrives to hopefully create the next big circus act. However, Rosie doesn’t follow commands and frustrates some people who handle the situation poorly. Jacob forms a close bond with Rosie and treats her with care. Terrible incidents occur on the circus and the older Jacob doesn’t share these stories with anyone. The book moves from the past to the present as Jacob finally shares his tales. I thought Water for Elephants was an enjoyable book, but it felt rushed near the end. There were romantic aspects, since there is a growing love between Jacob and Marlena but I wouldn’t describe it as ‘chick lit’. The book highlights aspects during the Great Depression, such as the prohibition and being jobless with no hope. Throughout the book, the reader views real photographs taken from circus life mainly with the Ringling Brothers.

Water for Elephants
Director: Francis Lawrence
Cast: Robert Pattinson, Reese WitherspoonChristoph Waltz
Genre: Drama, Romance
Rated: PG-13 (some violence, sensuality) 
Release Date: April 22, 2011 
Running Time: 2 hours 
 

I actually watched the film before reading the book. The film closely matched the book. The film didn’t show the older Jacob as much as the book. There is a strong connection between Robert Pattinson as Jacob and Reese Witherspoon as Marlena. You won’t find any ‘vampire-like’ views of Robert Pattinson. There are some violent scenes with cruel animal acts and strong sensuality between Pattinson and Witherspoon. The film felt rushed as it provided information about Jacob’s life after the circus. If you enjoyed the book, you won’t be disappointed with the movie.

 

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Book & Film Review: Flipped

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Flipped 

by Wendlin Van Draanen

Ages 10 & up, 224 pages

Flipped is an adorable book about young love and coming-of-age. The first time Juli Baker looked into Bryce Loski’s eyes she flipped for him and desires her first kiss. They meet in second grade when Bryce moves across the street. Bryce wishes he could have space from Juli even though they hardly talk. The book flips perspectives between Bryce and Juli, so the reader learns their struggles as they deal with life and feelings. Bryce’s grandfather lives with his family and he questions Bryce why he isn’t Juli’s friend. Bryce hasn’t realized that Juli is the ‘girl next door’ with spunk and tries everything to get rid of her. Gossip, misunderstandings, and situations occur and their feelings for each other flip: Bryce soon can’t stop thinking about Juli and Juli doesn’t want to speak to Bryce ever again. Will they ever flip for each other at the same time? Flipped is a very humorous and sweet book with adolescent love struggles.

Flipped

Directed by Rob Reiner

PG, 90 minutes – 2010

I saw the movie before I read the book. I didn’t even realize it was based upon a book until the credits. Bryce Loski is played by Callan McAuliffe and Juli Baker is played by Madeline Carroll. The film is set during the late 1950s and early 60s, unlike the book that didn’t really provide an exact time frame. I thought the movie was very close to the book and the reader won’t be disappointed. It’s a family friendly movie with no violence, perhaps three swear words used the entire film, no real ‘sensitive’ topics (besides their feelings for each other), and provides wonderful awkward moments during junior high that I’m sure many viewers can relate to. I highly suggest this delightful movie!