Sunday, April 10, 2011

A movie and a book

I watched the movie "Mystery Team" tonight.  It's about a trio of eighteen-year-olds who, as kids, started a detective agency in the Encyclopedia Jones mold, and are still running it.  People in town think they're weird, since they're now pretty much adults, but still try to solve cases like finding a missing autographed baseball or discovering who stole a carton of milk from the lunch line.  Then an eight-year-old girl hires them to find out who killed her parents.

Most of the jokes come from the juxtaposition of classic boy-detective tropes, like the enormous magnifying glasses or terrible disguises (mostly just a variety of mustaches), with the sight of nearly-grown men using them.  They're also, in trying to solve a murder, exposed to the seedier side of life, and are either shocked or simply uncomprehending (for example, they dress up in top hats and tails and speak with British accents when trying to sneak into a "gentlemen's club").

It was funny, vulgar, stupid, and entertaining.  My boyfriend said it seemed like the sort of movie that was spun off from a short bit of sketch comedy, and I agree.  But one of my favorite movies is "Wayne's World," so for me that isn't necessarily a bad thing.  The plot was very predictable and formulaic, but really I was watching it for the jokes.  I'd certainly watch it again, though I doubt it will become one of my faves.

I also finished the book The Vanishing of Katherina Linden by Helen Grant.  It's written from the perspective of an eleven-year-old German girl.  It was great. Pia, the heroine, falls in status at school after her grandmother dies by basically spontaneously combusting, making the other kids label her a freak.  (That bit alone didn't totally ring true for me.  Some children are cruel, but nearly ALL of them? And for such a reason? I don't know.)  She's left with only Stefan, the most unpopular kid in school, as her friend.

After girls their age start disappearing from town, Pia and Stefan are determined to solve the case. They're aided by Herr Schiller, an old man they've befriended.  As they learn more about local folklore from Herr Schiller and imagine terrible supernatural interference, real life intrudes from the troubles between Pia's English mother and German father.

I am not usually scared while reading, particularly during the day, but for some reason the end of this book just had me on the edge of my seat.  I said "Oh no!" out loud a few times.  Once I reached the climax, I committed to finishing the book and ignored my phone ringing and everything else until it was done.

I think things wrapped up a little too quickly - I would've liked a little more detail on how things settled for Pia.  But it was overall a great book.  If you like fairytales of the gruesome Brothers Grimm variety, and/or you like coming-of-age novels, you should definitely read this.


  1. oooh! I know my book for this week...heading to Barnes and Nobles now (we don't have Borders close by :(

    BTW I have no idea why my profile is showing up as Taurus. I am a Taurean of course ... may be Google took my birth date.

  2. Ooo, let me know what you think of it!