It's back-to-school time, and, for my almost-10 year-old daughter, that means sleepover time! She's spending lots of time catching up with friends whom she missed for most of the summer while we were back East. They're plotting this last year of their elementary career "ruling the school" as 5th graders and talking about middle school already (too soon!). Thanks to the folks at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, she and her friends have been able to enjoy two great movies during these sleeping-and-planning sessions: "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" and "Diary of a Wimpy Kid." Our reviews of these movies follow, and there's a chance for you to win one or both of them at the end of the post!Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Based on the award-winning popular book by Rick Riordan, this Percy Jackson movie chronicles an epic, heroic adventure in which modern and mythical worlds collide. In the film, Percy Jackson learns he's the son of Poseidon, and he gets caught between a battle of gods when he becomes the prime suspect in the stealing of Zeus's lightning bolt.
My daughter, Petunia, really enjoys mythology, and this movie delivers big on that front, making myths come to life in a fun way. She hadn't read the book -- an unusual exception on my part, as I usually require the reading first (like with the Harry Potter series). According to her friend who watched it with her, the movie deviates a lot from the text -- so much so that it's annoying. (I heard this complaint from a number of parents who had read the book, too.) Regardless, they ended up giving the movie positive reviews, especially Petunia, since she lacked the point of comparison. They deemed it too scary for little brother Dash, though (he's 5), so it seems a good pick for the late-elementary/early-middle school sleepover set. They noted that "it's not Harry Potter" -- but Petunia added, "but it's not supposed to be, as it's myth-based, not just fantasy." That said, it does seem to be a movie that the Potter fans would enjoy.
From mom's perspective, the cast was a draw: Uma Thurman, Pierce Brosnan and Rosario Dawson are among the greats joining relative-newbie Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson. As well, I sought out the books for my daughter, who had labelled them "for boys" before seeing the movie. Any movie that gets her interested in new books gets the thumbs-up from me!
Featuring character Greg Heffley navigating his life in middle school, this movie fit right into our phase of life and scored super-big with both of my kids -- even 5 y.o. Dash loved it! For anyone who remembers the middle school (which we called junior high) social scene as rife with awkwardness, wedgies, and big plans to overcome it all, this movie is epic. Based on the book by Jeff Kinney that sprang from a series of on-line cartoons, the movie doesn't venture as far afield from the original book as Percy Jackson does. Since my daughter read the book(s) before watching the movie, it was nice to see how well-entertained she was by the movie version.
As a parent, the down-side to this series for me involves a few things with which I'm guessing I'll struggle as Petunia reaches middle school: the quest for popularity, evolving notions of friendship, and language, language, language ... I once wrote a post about how my kids can use George Carlin's list of swear words, but they'd better never say "stupid" in my house. This movie says stupid, and moron, and idiot, and a whole bunch of other not-quite-swear-word insults that I'd rather not hear anyway. Dash and I had to have a talk about his incorporation of the word "moron" into his vocabulary after this movie -- not cool. (But not horrible, either ... is it alright to admit that the "funny" outweighs the "bad" for me in this case?!)
All that said, the movie is well-done and pretty darned funny. It's perfect for the same age-range as Percy Jackson watchers: late-elementary to the first year/two of middle school. Petunia and Dash have watched it multiple times, so I'm betting it'll be a hit in your house, too.
If you're interested in owning either "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" or "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," leave a comment below, making sure to tell me if you're entering for one title or for both (I'll assume both if you forget). BONUS: If you share an awkward junior high moment, you double your chance to win! (I have two copies of each movie to give away, so four in total.)
Since my kids help me review these movies, we don't use an electronic randomizer; we use commenter names in a hat and do the drawing the old-fashioned way -- so there's some trust involved here. I'll try to remember to take a picture of our methodology this time. In any event, the drawing will be conducted on Saturday, August 21st, at 8 pm PDT. (That's 11 pm EDT for my East Coast friends.) I'll contact winners that night. If winners haven't responsed by Tuesday, August 24th -- that's our first day of school! -- alternates will be chosen. DVDs are sent directly to you from Fox.
Thanks for entering -- good luck!
Disclaimer: My family received free copies of these movies from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. I did not commit to reviewing these movies positively and have not been compensated otherwise for these reviews. I'm grateful to Fox for providing me the opportunity to give these movies away to my readers -- thanks!