by Terri Winder
Most of my kids chose to go to the Mr. San Juan pageant, which left me home with just Jenny (who was sick with bronchitis) and a newly rented DVD.
She and I got comfy on my bed and then started the movie. I groaned inwardly as it began to play. It was a worn out theme: a workaholic father; a concerned but obviously clueless mother; and their pre-teen son and young daughter, who are both precocious and directionally – as in rules – challenged.
During a family vacation at their beach house (at which the father was arriving days late), the kids find a capsule floating in the ocean. Of course they don’t show it to their mother. It magically opens to reveal the secrets of the universe and a plea from the future to send back the enclosed stuffed bunny, which is the only way the world can be saved.
It was at this point that Jenny decided she’d rather go climb in her own bed and sleep rather than suffer through any more terrestrial drama. I was snuggled in covers and didn’t have a remote control, so I lazily decided to invest a few more brain cells in the movie. After all, I reasoned, there was no sex or strong language or violence and we’d paid $3 for it; my instincts said to see it through.
Still, I rolled my eyes at the predictability of the plot. The children in the movie keep their activities a secret from their parents; which seems rather unnecessary since the parents are so oblivious, anyway.
I say this because the daughter attaches herself to the stuffed rabbit, which she carries around and talks to, in a baby voice. The rabbit speaks to the girl, also, in “reformed cryptic”, giving her instructions on how to save the planet, and no one even pays any attention.
The kids unravel intergalactic mysteries through dumb luck and newly acquired genius. However (as is often the case) their newfound intelligence did not come with common sense.
One night, the boy is messing around with his beach treasures and accidently activates a blob that mutates into a generator which sucks up all the electrical power from half the state of Washington. This leaves the electrical company, Homeland Security, and the FBI temporarily in the dark.
I could have told them what would happen next, but they eventually figure it out for themselves. They rudely burst into the innocent family’s home commando style: invade and raid.
They take the family hostage but, of course, the kids escape the maximum security facility (the mother isn’t the only clueless one); steal a conveniently parked laundry truck (with keys in the ignition); and then, after running out of gas just in time to be providentially rescued, they gather their souvenirs on the back lawn of the beach house.
The music gets really tense at this point because they really need to get that stuffed rabbit launched into outer space before the totally naive adults – who are jumping out of a helicopter even as the music plays – can stop them.
This time the boy aims the generator disguised as a blob in the proper direction and it revs up to full capacity. Simultaneously, there’s another conflict resulting from the girl getting all sentimental over the stuffed rabbit, but if you can’t guess what that is, I guess you should rent the movie.
As for myself, I was wondering, is this ever going to end? And then, exasperated, I thought, Why is it that the generator blob shut down power grids the first time it was activated, but now the electricity is completely unaffected?
I no sooner formed the question in my head than – and this is the complete truth – the power in my house went off. The TV screen shut down, the lamp went off, the cordless phone and fire alarm emitted their little warning beeps.
I looked out the window and saw all of Blanding had been plunged into darkness. And in the eerie stillness that followed I sensed, rather than heard, a deep belly laugh in response to my amazement.
When the power came back on, I did not finish watching the movie. I’m sure their world got saved; but, more importantly my own little world had just been enlarged.
It’s a good thing to remember we all have powerful friends in high places who know our thoughts and, occasionally, respond with a sense of humor.