Northern Lights

250px-Northern_Lights_(1997_film)

The very first Disney Channel Movie, with smoking and death. Happy 100!

Hello, Spongey here.

We’re in the home stretch of our finale month, and next we have a subject I just had to include. That’s right, we’re doing a Disney Channel Original Movie! I just had to, as this weekend they will air their 100th DCOM.

…Sort of. It’s actually 104, and Bad Hair Day was 100, hence me doing DCOM Month 2 last February. But they don’t count stuff like 16 Wishes for some reason, even then a little video from their FaceBook page claims it is indeed a DCOM.

I don’t get it. And for their 100th Original Movie, they are doing…a remake. Of a film I’ve never seen so the bitching from those people can stop cuz chances are it’ll be it’s own thing and still make sense by Disney standards.

Huh. Fits slightly better than Bad Hair Day, so okay then. It is their 100, I’ll have to cover it at some point. For this, they did a big 24 marathon of the biggest DCOMS, and overnight for the rest of the month they are airing all the other DCOMS.

Meaning I recorded every one I have not reviewed, and I know have the means to review nay DCOM I want. They are all on iTunes now too and I bought some, and I have to get more before that deal runs cold.

I might bring DCOM-Cember back now that I have so many, but we’ll see. For now, I think the big 100 calls for a throwback. We’re going all the way back to the start, for the very first DCOM! …Sort of.

This is another one they don’t count for some reason, and they consider Under Wraps to be the first. So to them, the first DCOM has jokes about singing dancing Nazis. Nice. But I consider this to be the first so far.

See, before the DCOM they had Disney Channel Premiere Movies (or the DCPM, if you will) and I’m assuming this was meant to be one of those, and the switch was made halfway through production, as this in more in line with those.

Btw, the first DCPM was Tiger Town, so maybe I’ll do that next Aguast, as that will be the 20 year Anniversary of the DCOm, as this aired August 23, 1997.

I’m going into this stuff, as there’s not much to say about the creative team. The director and writer have done little of note, really. Apparently this is based on a 1988 Stage Play, the author of which helped write the film itself.

That’s …kind of interesting. I don’t know a lot about this one beyond the premise, so I’m hoping will be a solid start. Or maybe it’ll be boring, I don’t know. Time to find out, I suppose. Let’s see how the DCOM began.

This, is Northern Lights

After 2 minutes of opening credits, the movie opens with a boy looking at a globe.

You won’t find the Northern Lights there”

Roll credits? That was fast!

We cut to our lead Robertera, played by Diane Keaton (making this is the 2nd Disney film with her I’ve watch recently), doing stuff while we see a guy getting a cat from I assume a telephone poll. …Point? What’s Roberta saying on her little phone call?

His Titty? …His Kitty!”

  1. think I see they consider Under Wraps to be the first.

She seems to be talking to the guy from the kitty bit and apparently he died from that. ….That’s…dark. And that was her brother too!

Roberta decides to take a smoke and have a flashback. Tity, Death, and now smoking. Honestly, even the way it’s shot is very un-DCOM like. This did air on Disney Channel, so even if it wasn’t meant to be like the others, it is still odd. Even the actual real first one mostly stays in line with Disney stuff.

Anyway, the flashback has Frank, the brother arriving late to help her with some music stuff. We see them bonding in an attempt to make us care about him given he died the first time we actually saw him.

They at least try, I’ll say that much. Then we cut to two kids looking for the Northern Lights, and I’m assuming the title will be some “Deep” symbolism. Also, with these kids, one seems okay, the other seems saccharine as all hell.

Roberta and some other guy show up at their house, so I assume this is Frank’s place. I only assume it’s a small town due to the poster tagline. (A poster that wants to remind you Diane Keaton is an Academy Award Winner, in case this movie made you forget).

Once inside, it seems to be a hotel, and now I’m confused. Were the kids on the roof of the hotel or was that another place for some reason? Anyway, the desk guy says there’s no bell boys on duty but he still rings the bell which Roberta questions.

Because I like it’s tone, I imagine is why”

You…imagine. Amazing cover up, dude.

Does this seem like that show Rod Sterling used to host?”

Star Trek”

The next morning we get a weird scene where we see a bell hop looking dude walking with creepy music, only for him to just bump into Roberta comedically. I don’t get it. Roberta meets with the guy who called her to begin with.

He has a speech impediment so we can have this forced comedy bit. Meh. This is naturally followed by the funereal scene. They actually do this the weight it deserves, even if it goes on a bit too long.

Then Roberta meets her nephew Jack and based on the posters,things are about to get real wacky! ‘But first, they look at Frank’s will. Roberta gets custody of Jack, meaning they are stuck together. Again, so wacky!

She’s pissed about this since she didn’t even know he existed until today, which seems a bit odd but okay. I’d like to point we’re not over 30 minutes into this, and not a whole lot has happened, and our premise is only just starting to form.

But yeah, Roberta doesn’t want to take care of a kid, and imagine that will change as they bond, correct? This is kind of cliché enough to be a DCOM, it just isn’t written or directed like one at all. Plus, this would be usually from the kids’ POV.

Roberta is stuck in an elevator, and Jack helps her get out. Riveting. Honestly, this one’s kind of boring so far, despite the premise. Maybe it’s lack of experience with this kind of thing on the blog, I don’t know.

Roberta talks to Jack and they actually kind of hit off right away. But she randomly takes a break in the middle of their bonding, and the speech impediment guy tells Jack that she just needs time to get used to this. She seemed used to already but okay.

In the next scene, Roberta is talking to the guy she came with in the hotel lounge place so we randomly get a performance for no reason, that has nothing to do with anything. This scene leads to being invited up there, but did we need the filler?

They have no reason to think she can sing at all, so it’s a good thing she can. After that….she goes and cries? …Did I miss something? Apparently it’s due to the song being close to her or something, but then why did she sing it to began with?!

So she’s freaking over the situation again. I get that one bonding session won’t fix everything, but it’s almost like that scene never happened. We cut to Roberta’s friend the next morning as he answers a knock on the door, and it’s from a woman, I think the singer chick, I don’t know.

Is there a gentleman available who can lend a lady a strong hand??”

…Oh my. Turns out they are going a party for Frank, but I’m not sure what was up with her being sexy. Meanwhile, Roberta isn’t interesting in going to the party, and Speech Impediment guy calls her out on this.

So she goes and ends up bonding with Jack some more. …Then after she sits him down, he runs off. Can we focus on these two for even a minute before launching into other stuff? Then he returns with a woman he says is his Mom. So she’s still alive? Before I ask questions, I am going to assume she’s a fake.

Jack performs on piece on piano (that must been used by Adventures of sonic the Hedgehog, cuz it sounds like the intro) then Mom starts dancing around and ends up in the lake, and has to be dragged out.

Instead of being confused that she even did this, he yells at her and then she is taken to a mental instation. …Wait, what?

She’s unable to care for Jack. But they have regular visits”

…That’s…heavy. A bit too heavy to randomly dump on us with little explanation, actually. I should be focusing on how strange this plot element is but i’m focusing on how poorly it was introduced.

I at least get why Jack runs off here, and Roberta’s friend has to talk to him. He says she’s fine when they are alone, so not so much with other people. Then he and the friend start bond, which is nice.

Then we get an explanation of Mom’s condition, as someone says it started after Jack was born. You know, it would have been better to explain this to Roberta earlier, to give her a reason to want to take care of Jack, and bond with him.

Speaking of, Roberta talks to him and start to hit off a bit more. Now she wants to be a good guardian for Jack after the new info, thus proving my point. …But she says she can’t stay, which pisses Jack off.

Oh come on! Can’t these guys really bond for a second without arguing for no reason? In most movies like this, they bond a decent amount over the course of the movie before the end of Act 2 argument. Here, every time they bond, they go back to being mad for no reason!

After a pointless scene with Roberta’s friend and that chick, he tells Roberta that his time with Jack made him want him to be a Dad. Story wise this is random since he’s had no real character before now, but the scene itself is nice.

Then that just ends as we move on to Roberta leaving…even after what happened with Jack. We don’t even see her thinking about it that hard. So long kid who needs me! She even says goodbye to him. Her apologizing for staying won’t help, even if he seems oddly okay for no reason.

But on their way out, they see Jack on the roof as he slips and starts dangling from it. Holy arbitrary climax, Batman! And in the span of minute, they simply catch when he falls. SO INTENSE.

This leads to a pretty sweet moment with Jack and Roberta, where it seems like they finally like each other. Then we randomly see a bunch of clips of people wishing him Happy Birthday, topped off with Roberta giving a speech about what she has learned.

This is a tape they are watching at his birthday party. Also, the friend’s girl says he can chop her cherry tree anytime. Oh my. After the party, he thanks them for it and we see them bonding a lot more.

Glad to see it, even if it ended up being rushed in the end. Then they see the Northern Lights, making me wonder why it’s called that anyway .Then as they watch them, our movie ends. I see rushed DCOM endings has been a tradition since the beginning.

Oh right, this was the first Disney Channel Movie. Actually forgot at this point. That was an hour and 28 minutes by the way, yet it was still rushed in some areas.

Final Thoughts:

Well, that was….interesting. Taking away the strangeness of it’s place in the DCOM lineup, on it’s own as film it’s…okay. It’s a really mixed bag. In short, the plot itself is good with good moments and ideas, but the story itself is just a mess with how it all it comes together.

The main problem is that the movie avoids it’s main points. Every time Roberta and Jack start to bond, it either cuts to something else or has them just stop for no reason. I get that people don’t get along right away, but in most movies like this, they gradually bond over the course of the film.

They don’t just stop bonding at many points, at least not like this. So in the end, them bonding is on the rushed side even though that’s the point of the movie. There are other elements that are just not fully realized.

Jack’s crazy mom is a deep and interesting idea, but it’s introduced and dropped so quickly. In exceuction, it’s just something that happens instead of the serious thing it is. And the film in general is mostly boring because it doesn’t focus on the interesting elements.

A lot of it is filler, and not the most interesting filler. The film is also confusing, as there were points where I wasn’t sure what was going on, mostly due to confusing editing. Naturally these issues do cause some characters to be weaker.

But none of them are too bad, and the main two are decent enough even if weak writing drags them down. The main thing that keeps this thing afloat at all is the heart. There are some very sweet moments when they actually focus on the important elements.

As cliché as this is, the actors did a good enough job for me to like them when they actually did bond. The moments we do get save the film, as if this was poorly acted and not sweet, I would have liked it way less.

But as it is, it’s okay. The writing is a mess, but it has it’s heart in the right place, and it’s not too offensive, despite the whole crazy mom thing. It is an odd choice for your first DCOM, so I see why they went with Under Wraps later on. That’s honestly a better introduction.

As it is, i’d only recommend this is a curiosity piece. If it was a normal movie, I’d say skip but as the first DCOM, it’s interesting to watch. A bit dissapointing, but not bad. Happy 100, Disney Channel. They can be mixed, but so many have bought joy to people…even if it’s not always for the right reason.

Grade: C+

And with that, next is the big finale…for weekly play by play reviews. I gotta do something interesting. A Tie in to stuff I tend to do, that in a way kind of represents me and how I view stuff to an extent.

But what could possibly fit?

Goosebumps_(film)_poster

..That’ll do.

See ya.

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About Spongey444

I'm 20 and I'm a slightly below average man who can barely spell. I mostly spend my time watching TV and movies, hence why i ended doing a blog all about those things. I tend to have weird tastes, but I like think I'm just fair on things.
This entry was posted in Disney Channel Crap, Disney Channel Movies, Play by Play Reviews, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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