Tonawanda News

December 3, 2012

CRIB NOTES: Who knew Kevin James could be so influential?

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Having spent several years as this publication’s arts critic, I’ve developed what some might call a selective eye for movies.

That is to say, I am picky.

I abhor most films that are formulaic, which might preclude me from 90 percent of what’s produced. In many cases, I can’t even fathom why such tripe is ever produced.

Take “Here Comes the Boom.” This Kevin James vehicle is so paint-by-numbers I guarantee you will deduce the ending just by knowing he’s a teacher who becomes an MMA fighter to raise money for his school.

So imagine my joy when Penny opted to go see this movie on a recent father-daughter afternoon. She picked it over some animated film and I didn’t have the heart to tell her I already knew how it ended. So in we went.

As it turns out, I was right about the ending. I also discovered why so many themes are repeated ad nauseum — because there are audiences, sometimes new audiences, that will always be receptive to the same old, same old.

And that might not be such a bad thing.

Penny had a bit of trouble following the plot early on, but quickly enough she was full of life in anticipation of the next scene and just as full of questions.

“Daddy, is he going to win?”

“Daddy, doesn’t he know fighting is bad?”

“Daddy, do you think his kids will like him for doing this?”

“Daddy, is it just me, or is this worse than ‘I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry?’ “

OK, I made that last one up. But nonetheless, Penny was completely into this movie. And that made me get into it, even when I knew precisely what that wacky Kevin James was going to do next.

This was, quite literally, Penny’s first foray into non-cartoon films at the movie theater. She enjoyed it so much she forgot about the box of candy I supplied her. She seemed to have no idea a character could overcome adversity, rise up in pursuit of a goal and take life’s punches (and those of a professional fighter) and get back up again.

This was — dare I say it — a life lesson.

And a thrill ride, to boot. During the climactic fight scene (at least in name), Penny rose to her knees and clenched my arm with both of hers.

“Is he going to do it?” she asked over and over, actually cheering him on — which I’m sure thrilled the two other people in the theater with us. “Come on, get him! You can win!”

The excitement carried over after the credits rolled. The film was all she wanted to talk about as we left.

“Daddy? Could someone really do that?”

“Well, sweetie, anyone can do anything they set their mind to.”

“Oh.”

“Most things are not easy.”

“Like homework?”

“Exactly. And what did he do to get the money for his kids?”

“He never gave up!”

I smiled. There really was a point to it all.

“What do you want to be when you grow up, Penny?”

“A vet, I think.”

“Cool. It will take a lot of work. What do you have to do to make sure you are a vet?”

“Never give up!”

I smiled more, picked her up and gave her a hug.

From there, I enjoyed a delightful lunch and rest of the afternoon with the world’s next great veterinarian. And future generations of animals will have Kevin James to thank for their second chance at life.

Those are words I never thought I would say. Nor are these: Nice work, Hollywood.

Contact Paul Lane at pjlnews@ymail.com.