At the movies
The fun-for-all-ages Disney flick “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” opened Oct. 10. It follows 11-year-old Alexander as one calamity (like gum in his hair) follows another. The film is based on the huge-selling 1972 children’s book of the same name written by Judith Viorst, now 83. Viorst and her husband of 54 years, political journalist Milton Viorst, 84, have three successful adult sons.
In 2003, Viorst, who has a graduate degree in psychology, spoke to J. about her book “Grown-Up Marriage.” She said her Jewishness has been a source of cohesion because of its “family aspect,” including getting together for holiday celebrations. Last May, Viorst, along with son Alex, 47, and his wife and children, caught a private screening of “Very Bad Day.” She called it “an adorable movie” and added that the filmmakers cleverly enlarged the scope of the book by focusing on Alexander’s upset over his family’s “not sufficiently sympathetic” reaction to his very bad day.
Opening on Friday, Oct. 17 is “St. Vincent,” a comedy-drama that seems tailor-made for Bill Murray. Vincent (Murray) is an acerbic, heavy-drinking gambler who lives a pretty bare existence in a section of Brooklyn still dominated by working-class Jews, Italians and Irish. Things change when Maggie (Melissa McCarthy), an X-ray tech, moves in next door with her 12-year-old son, Oliver (Jaeden Lieberher). Maggie enrolls Oliver in a nearby Catholic school, despite the fact that he is Jewish. The undersize Oliver is picked on, but a very nice Catholic priest (Chris O’Dowd) comes to his aid.
Advance articles about “Fury,” which also opens Oct. 17, call it one of the grittiest and most violent war movies ever made. It is April 1945 and the war in Europe is almost over. Brad Pitt plays Wardaddy, a battle-hardened Army sergeant sent on a deadly mission behind German lines with his five-man Sherman tank crew. The tank crew includes three Jewish actors (Jon Bernthal, 38, Shia LaBeouf, 28, and Logan Lerman, 22). Also in the cast is Jason Isaacs, 52, as a captain who is Wardaddy’s mentor. As a footnote, the German Tiger tank, which was better armored and had more firepower than the Sherman, shocked American crews who came up against it at war’s end. Authentic Sherman and Tiger tanks were used in filming.
NFL Jewish players
The following players were on an NFL roster as of Oct. 8. Gabe Carimi, 26, guard-tackle, Atlanta Falcons: An outstanding college player, Carimi was seriously injured in his rookie season with Chicago (2011). He was traded to Tampa Bay in 2013 and started only three games last season. Atlanta picked him up in February and he’s played in the first five 2014 season games. Nate Ebner, 25, free safety, New England Patriots: He made the Ohio State team as a walk-on and excelled in special team play. Barely drafted in 2012, he shocked pundits with outstanding play on special teams during his first two seasons. Erik Lorig, 27, fullback, New Orleans Saints: After four years with Tampa Bay (2010-13), Lorig signed a four-year, $4.8 million contract with the Saints. Taylor Mays, 25, strong safety, Cincinnati Bengals: 2014 is Mays’ fourth season with the Bengals. If he stays healthy, this may be his first good season. Geoff Schwartz, 28, offensive guard, N.Y. Giants: Schwartz, a six-year veteran, signed a $16.8 million, four-year contract in the off-season. In 2013, with Kansas City, he started seven games. He was injured in early September and is not expected back until Nov. 3. His younger brother is Mitchell Schwartz, 25, offensive guard, Cleveland Browns: In his rookie season (2012), Mitchell started all 16 games and repeated this stat in 2013.
Columnist Nate Bloom, an Oaklander, can be reached at email@example.com.