This weekend, I wanted to go see Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, partially because I read the book and loved it, and partially because I keep being thwarted. I’ve told my boyfriend, my roommate, and even my MOM that I want to see that damn movie, and each and every one of them’s gone, “Eh.” I can understand it in my boyfriend’s case, because he’s long since fulfilled the “Two chick flicks or a performance of the Vagina Monologues” agreement that we struck after he traumatized me with Rambo. My mom, too, gets a by–cause she’s my mom, and I figure she’s sat through enough Disney movies and whatnot over the last 23 years to earn my forgiveness for everything short of accidental decapitation. My roommate, however, is totally on my shitlist over this one. She’s all, “Oh, it looks cute, but I don’t think it’s worth paying theater prices for.” Which sounds reasonable on the surface, until you consider the fact that this is the same girl who made a Livejournal entry not five days ago trying to cajole her friends into seeing W with her .
Yeah, you read that right: motherfucking W.
So to make a long story short, I decided to go see Nick and Norah by my lonesome. And then when I woke up Saturday morning…okay, fine–when I woke up on Saturday afternoon and checked the showtimes, I realized that they’d kicked it out of the theater closest to my house. Which, since I don’t own a car and the buses don’t run on Saturday in this barbarous county, meant that I couldn’t see it.
There was a little rending of clothes and gnashing of teeth, but then I decided to just rent a couple of movies I’d been meaning to see. I threatened my roommate with the Nancy Drew movie, but I didn’t follow through because Ballet Shoes caught my eye instead.
Ballet Shoes was originally a novel by Noel Streatfield. It’s pretty old–written in the thirties, I think–and although it’s evidently still popular enough to spawn a feature film in England, I’ve never met another American woman my age who’s read it. Which is a shame, because it was really very cute and starred the Fossil sisters, plucky orphans with horrifying names like Pauline, Petrova, and Posy. Their surname comes from the fact that Gum, the man who adopted them, is a paleontologist (although I don’t know that Streatfield used that term). None of them are actually related. Gum and Pauline’s parents were on a ship together; when the boat sank, Gum and Pauline survived, but her parents drowned. Gum brought Petrova back from Russia, and picked Posy up from a feckless ballerina. He left them all in the care of Garnie, his great niece, who was herself orphaned and came to live with Gum as a child. After depositing Posy with Garnie, Gum went on his merry way–Gum was always going on his merry way, as evidenced by the fact that he kept bringing children back from as far afield as freaking RUSSIA. Anyway, he left, but he made sure they had enough money for the next few years; the only problem was, those years passed, and he didn’t return. Leaving Garnie with three little girls, a huge house, no job skills, and no more money.
In an effort to make ends meet, Garnie takes the girls out of school and rents out rooms in the house, but it’s hardly an ideal situation; Petrova runs circles around her mathematically, and she’s like, ten (in the book. In the movie, the actress is about sixteen). Fortunately, because this is a children’s book/children’s movie, all of the boarders are very kindly. Two old ladies turn out to be doctors of mathematics and literature, and offer to teach the girls for free; the dance teacher who lives downstairs fixes the girls up at a good stage academy so that they can earn money while they’re still children–and the garage owner lets mechanically-inclined Petrova help out with his cars.
The movie differs from the book in only one major way: in the book, Petrova is taken under the wing of a nice married couple who boards with the Fossil family. In the movie, though, the man is unmarried and serves as a love interest for Garnie. Which is nice, because frankly, even as a little girl I felt kind of sorry for Garnie. She was this meek little creature who spent her whole life living with her great uncle and her nanny, and then wound up fostering three little girls and tearing her hair out trying to make ends meet. Unfair! At least in the movie she gets a little action.
All in all, I thought the film was pretty cute. I disliked a few things–primarily the fact that they aged both Pauline and Petrova’s characters. It’s not a big deal if you never read the book, but if you did, then you know that some of the stress the girls felt stemmed from the fact that in the thirties, you had to be 12 years old before you could go onstage; basically, until their twelfth birthdays, none of the girls could make any money. Pauline and Petrova were both played by girls in their late teens, however, so there went that. Also, the little girl who played Posy was not a natural redhead–and that’s fine, but her dye job was BEYOND unbelievable. Y’all, I’ve had that very same color on my head, and it came out of a package of dye that cost me 9.99. I know the BBC does things on a budget, but DAMN. And finally, the ending sequence involves a spinning globe and a wee little airplane flying a circle around it. RIDICULOUS.
Nevertheless, it was very cute. I liked it a lot as an adult, and I would have LOVED it as a little girl.
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