“Atlas Shrugged” and “Madea’s Big Happy Family”, They Both Have Surprises

I went to the movie theater for the first time in quite a while. This is not something I do too often because of 1) the outrageous prices of tickets and refreshments and 2) most of the time the movies I want to see aren’t playing in a theater anywhere near here anyway. But while attending today, I was surprised that tickets were only $5, and found out this discounted rate was because I went on a weekday afternoon. If tickets continue to be at that semi-reasonable price, I might return to the movies on another weekday afternoon sooner than I would otherwise.

The two films I saw today were “Atlas Shrugged”, the first film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s best-selling Objectivist novel, and “Madea’s Big Happy Family” today, the most recent in the line of box-office hit “Madea” movies from director Tyler Perry. Both these films managed to be surprising to me in their own, if very different ways.

“Atlas Shrugged”, in the 50 years since it was first published, has continually been ranked as one of the 20th century’s greatest novels. Discussions to create a film adaptation of the novel have went on for decades but numerous times projects have been halted before they started because of the tremendous nature of their task. This film, simply put doesn’t do justice to Rand’s masterpiece novel. As a stand-alone film it’s pretty mediocre, not a lot going for it but it manages to fulfill all the requirements of being an ok film, but as an adaptation of one of the 20th century’s greatest novels it really does not do it’s job. One problem “Atlas” has going against it is that it only covers a third of Rand’s novel leaving the film ending off at what feels a terribly forced point Another big problem is that the story is taken out of its original historical context (the 1950s, when it was written) and flung into the future. This is a movie about trains; trains mattered in the 1950’s but trains don’t matter in the modern era and it’s highly doubtful they will in the future so taking the story out of its original time-frame makes the entire film just feel awkward. There also seems to be endless shots of trains, city skylines, and limos driving past homeless people (I’m not joking on that one!) that don’t seem to serve any purpose to the plot whatsoever. While I feel the film did a injustice to Rand’s masterpiece, I suppose it could have ended up being worse. The movie mostly sticks to the novel, and I was entertained throughout most of the picture. This “Atlas” seems acceptable until, maybe in a decade or two, a more definitive and timeless edition of this classic novel is made.

“Madea’s Big Happy Family” is not the greatest film ever made, it does not engineer any new great cinematic technique, it doesn’t push the limits of films technologically, artistically, or socially, nor is it going to start any sort of revolution anywhere, but with that said, it really is a quite good film. It’s a hilarious movie, I spent most of the time in the theater laughing out loud until my face hurt from smiling, but that’s not all “Madea” is. Like most other of Tyler Perry’s films this one manages to mix into his comedy a sometimes powerfully heart-wrenchingness, amd sometimes an incredibly sweet drama. The characters in the film are some of the most lovable and just plan ‘real’ characters I’ve ever seen. Yes, this is the fifth or six film in his “Madea” series but seeing the previous films isn’t really needed to enjoy this one, which is what I’m sure you’ll do if you just give Madea her chance.

So, in conclusion, both movies aren’t the greatest things I’ve seen. They don’t reinvent film-making, but both were enjoyable to watch and both come recommended by this author.