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Hammerle On… 'Obvious Child,' 'How to Train Your Dragon 2'

Robert Hammerle
July 16, 2014
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“Obvious Child”

I really loved “Obvious Child,” and I fully understood its meaning. Women will not just understand it, but they will feel the searing emotional significance of this wonderful movie. That is a profound difference.

Jenny Slate is irresistible playing Donna Stern, a standup comic whose life is unraveling. Her boyfriend leaves her by announcing that he will be moving in with her best friend, and she finds herself pregnant after a drunken one-night stand with an interesting stranger.

She is decent, funny and on the verge of unraveling. She quickly decides on an abortion, and the ramifications manifest themselves in a warmth seldom seen on the screen.

Her divorced parents, played by Richard Kind and Polly Draper, try to lend a helping hand. Her mother even reveals she also had an abortion decades ago in college, and Donna and the audience are reminded quickly that an unwanted pregnancy is anything but rare in most families.

Incredibly, this film finds a way to find humor in nearly every dark corner of Donna’s life. Donna is surrounded by caring people, as when her father reminds her that many people find genius when they are at their lowest emotional moment.hammerle-obvious.jpg
One of the many touching moments of this film comes from Donna’s growing relationship with Max, the man who knocked her up. Played by Jake Lacy, he is a guy who must decide whether to walk away or rally to her side.
Additionally, there is a completely magnificent scene surrounding the moment when Donna ends up hitting the hay with Max. Gradually getting intoxicated, they go back to his place where they engaged in a captivating dance scene with Paul Simon singing the title song of the film, “Obvious Child.” It’s a beautiful picture of romance with a stranger, and it isn’t hard to understand how she really couldn’t recall if they used the condom that both were trying to open.

The decision by Donna to have an abortion is a story that will empower women. The recent Supreme Court opinion in the Hobby Lobby case, a decision where the five majority members are all Roman Catholic males, ironically sits center stage. Watching Donna, everyone understands that while the Right to Life movement demands that all pregnancies equate to birth, they then turn their backs, yelling “To hell with them. They’re the parents’ responsibility, not the government’s.”

The decisions that all pregnant women face are emotionally difficult under the best circumstances. That decision should be left up to the individual woman, not men running corporations or sitting on the United States Supreme Court. The three women on that Supreme Court understand that fundamental fact, and it’s time for all of us to do the same thing.

“How to Train Your Dragon 2”

Once in a while an animated film becomes a sterling adult experience. Sure, most of us need kids for company to justify the trip. It is embarrassing to sit alone and get emotionally wrapped up in an animated feature where you have a little tear in your eye.

“How to Train Your Dragon 2” falls into that category. My two grandkids finally found time in their busy schedules for me, and their parents came along for the ride. Everybody loved it, and the film evolved into a legitimate human drama that never disappointed.

The first “How to Train Your Dragon” film appeared five years ago, which is hard to believe. In that film, we discovered Hiccup and his wounded dragon Toothless as they accompanied each other on a quest to have humans and dragons trust one another. That wasn’t easy.

In this film, Hiccup’s father is the head of a kingdom that has embraced dragons with the same love that we do dogs and cats. Everybody but Hiccup is having a great time, and he sets out on a quest as if he was a Nordic version of Christopher Columbus.

hammerle-dragon.jpg

In the process, he discovers new lands and new villains, and the question remains who will triumph. Although it isn’t hard to guess the answer, it makes for a pretty spirited journey. Hiccup is an immensely likeable kid with a heart of gold, and his girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera) is never far behind.

Central to the film is Hiccup’s reluctance to succeed his stern but loveable father, Stoick (Gerard Butler), as the leader of their clan. He balks at administrative duties, and his quests for new worlds lead him to the astonishing discovery of his long-missing mother. She is voiced by Cate Blanchett, and you soon realize that the two have a lot in common.

There is a nasty villain in the film known as Drago (Djimon Hounsou), and he holds humans and dragons in complete disdain. For reasons that you will see, he has the ability to hypnotize dragons, and Toothless is put in complete peril. While the kids squirm a bit in their seats, you can’t help but feel a bit uneasy at Toothless’ fate.

The film’s visual effects developed by Motohisa Adachi resemble some of the magnificent scenes in “Avatar” (2009). The scenes are beautiful, and high pitch battles with Drago’s forces leaves lives on the line.

The great thing about “How to Train Your Dragon 2” is that it reflects an attempt to cure profound divisions in their world. It reminds me of my favorite T-shirt displaying a cross, the Star of David and a Muslim symbol. Underneath it is the phrase, “Can’t we all just get along?”

Hiccup and his mother, Valka, confront the same problem, and they are determined to overcome it. They embrace love, tolerance and respect as the fundamental building blocks in life, which include the rights of all dragons to live their lives in peace.

As I watch Tea Party members criticize President Barack Obama at every turn in our country, Sunnis battling Shiites while Arabs battle Persians in the Middle East and Russians fight Ukrainians for reasons defying explanation, you almost wish that Hiccup and Toothless were around in our world. Why is everyone everywhere encouraged to be so bitter, angry and hateful?

Some guy in history once said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Was that Hiccup?

Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or working diligently in his Pennsylvania Street office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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  1. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  2. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

  4. When I hear 'Juvenile Lawyer' I think of an attorney helping a high school aged kid through the court system for a poor decision; like smashing mailboxes. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the bigger picture of the need for juvenile attorneys. It made me sad, but also fascinated, when it was explained, in the sixth paragraph, that parents making poor decisions (such as drug abuse) can cause situations where children need legal representation and aid from a lawyer.

  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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