Alright, now that I (think, anyway) have finally figured out how to post photos (I swear to Satan wordpress keeps changing how it’s done every 6-12 months or so) let’s make this post. It’s been in the works for quite sometime, so.
Disclaimer: wordpress has been liking to crop my photos weird lately. I THINK I’ve solved the problem, but if some of these photos look like I took a crop tool to them when I was plastered, blame wordpress because I totally did not crop these photos like that.
Real post now.
Life on the streets has taught me
To see the world through different eyes…
I fill my cup with emptiness, and promises to make…
All I remembered of this movie was those song lyrics playing in the background as the main characters robbed a grocery store. It’s been bothering me a lot lately, so I gritted my teeth and googled the now cheesy sounding lyrics.
I’m not sure how old I was when I saw this movie. I was 3 when it came out in 1992, so I definitely did not see it that year. I know I was in Lansing when I saw it, because I remember specifically being in that school, and in that classroom.So I would’ve been in the 8-11 range, roughly 1997-2000. My guess is that I was in either the 4th or 5th grade, since I can’t imagine adults showing it to children much younger than that. Plus I remember being in the 3rd-4th grade classroom. So, while my memories MAY have been wrong, I doubt it. I would put myself in the 8-10 year old range. I’m going to go with 9-10, when my teacher showed it. It’s possible I saw it in 5th grade, but the oldest I could’ve been when I saw it was 11. Actually, given certain events, It is highly likely I was 11 when I saw this movie, which just makes me feel like an even bigger idiot. That, kids, is why it’s a great thing social media didn’t exist 15 years ago.
I’d rather not say why this particular scene stuck out to me because it makes me look like an idiot. So we’ll just get on with the rest of the review.
Most Christian movies I look back on from childhood are awful… really really awful. This one didn’t seem so bad at first, but…. the more I watch it, the more it bothers me.
Anyway, the movie is called The Buttercream Gang. You can watch it online for free at www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7_TRPJ4EIE
Well, you can’t any more due to copyright infringement. Seriously? This movie is so old no one is going to buy it, why thefuck did you make an issue of it? ;efhiuwceiow;fgheiow;feowf;euwf;
(new better link)
Seriously? The buttercream gang? That just brings to mind images of children sitting around eating buttercream frosting out of the container. We later find out where they get their name, and it’s actually a pretty realistic sounding story, so much so that I don’t wonder if there isn’t a grain of truth to it. I’ll have to do some googling.
The movie starts with a boy, I’ll guess his age at about 14-15, though it is later established that his friends are about to graduate Jr. High. Pete looks a bit older than the other Buttercream gang members, so that makes sense. We’re not told his name is Pete until quite a bit into the movie, but I learned it from reading the back of the video case. Or, I mean, the description from the back of the video case they posted on amazon.
I tried figuring out how old Michael Weatheredd, the actor who plays Pete, was at the time of this movie, but there is hardly anything about him on the internet, which is strange. Usually a quick google search will at least give you a birthday. My guess is that this is a case wherein the actor is much older than the character he actually plays.
Pete bikes up to the treehouse, where it turns out his friends Scotty and the other 2 whose names I had to google for because I somehow missed them during the first watch through: Elton and Lanny. Now that I think about it, I do dimly recall someone using Elton’s name. But I had no idea this other kid was called Lanny. I think they could’ve easily cut his character from the movie and not lost anything.
Pete comes up into the treehouse where his friends have a surprise for him…. and… what is up with Pete’s outfit? I admit to being a bit too young at the time this movie came out to care about fashion, but looking back, seriously, even for the 1990s this outfit screams DORK!
Anyway, they give him something they say will “make him fit in with the natives.” I had to back up twice and pause to find out that it is a flag that says “bears.” Maybe someone from Chicago can tell me what that means because I’m lost. There is also a poster, but we don’t really get to see what’s on it… just zoomed in. It’s… Michael Jordan. Really? What about Michael Jordan is specific to Chicago? Do people in SmallChristianTownville not have posters of Michael Jordan? The sports flag thing I kinda understand, but not this.
I apologize for this, but… I’m face blind. In movies with lots of characters, I struggle a lot to figure out who’s who. So… Scotty and his friends all kind of look alike to me. I can kind of keep Scott straight since he’s obviously the main protagonist, but no guarantees on the other two, one of which who’s name is barely even mentioned.
Scott: These are for you, to help you fit in with the natives.
Boy: unless you’ve changed your mind?”
Pete: you know I can’t do that. My aunt’s alone with two little boys. I gotta help her out. I’m a Buttercreamer, right?
Pete: Besides, it’s the closest I may ever get to having a real mom. (Even if she does make spaghetti with Ketchup which, seriously, eww. Pete didn’t saw the “eww,” part, I did.)
Ouch. So, his grandmother (we will later learn that he has been living with his grandparents all this time, but are left to wonder about it for the first 15 minutes or so of the movie.) hasn’t been like a mother to him? I feel sorry for Pete already. It’s a tad frustrating that we aren’t shown, at any time in the movie, Pete’s grandma interacting with him. Actually, we do not see her at all, and if the boys didn’t mention talking to her I would have literally no idea she even existed at all. We are told Pete has a grandma, but not shown. We are told Pete’s grandma isn’t like a mother to him, but we don’t get to see it. This is lazy writing.
Also, this establishes early on that Pete is The Kid With The Troubled Home Life(tm). So of course he’s going to be the bad guy. I feel like this is a common trope, especially with Christian children’s fiction. He’s bad because his home life is bad. To be fair, this isn’t always limited to Christian fiction. But I still hate it.
Before Pete leaves, however, one order of business must be taken care of. Pete Chooses Scott as the new leader f the gang, much to one of the boys’ disappointment. Seriously, if they were not all blondes, I could keep better track of them. I can tell Pete because he has dark brown hair, is obviously older, and looks like he had a broken nose at some point. The other 3, being white blonde boys, all just kinda look alike to me. Anyway, reluctant boy (Lanny?) reluctantly agrees. He is clearly disappointed that he was not chosen to lead.
As the other boys leave, Pete pulls the kid aside. I can’t hear what he calls him, but it sounds like, “wiz” or “buz.” He tells the kid to “lighten up.” Being a Buttercreamer isn’t just about helping out, it’s about having fun. “You know about fun, right?” Pete says and then tickles him which, if someone tried that on me, would get them a nice black eye to take to Chicago along with the Michael Jordan poster.
“Lighten up” is not the advice I’d give to someone who’s disappointed he hasn’t been chosen to be president of The Frosting Club. Maybe something like, “It’s ok to be disappointed.” or.. “maybe if you do your best you’ll get it next time.” Or… something. I don’t know. I don’t have any good advice either, I guess. It just seems rather condescending.
The Buttercreamers all bike with Pete to the bus stop, and the driver puts Pete’s suitcase under the bus. I have no idea how he got the suitcase there on the bike, but whatevs. His grandfather (seriously, where is his grandma?) and half the town bid him farewell. The bus has a sign saying “Chicago.”
Wait, this bus goes straight from Elkridge to Chicago? Hmm. I’ve never been able to get a straight shot on a bus before. I could handwave it because Chicago is a big enough cit to have a major bus hub.
Pete boards the bus, sits down, and leans his head against the window. I can relate. I’ve traveled to and from loved ones on busses, and I do pretty much the same thing Pete does, though it does kinda surprise me that he doesn’t bring like, a book or something to read on what is sure to be a long, boring ride. Seriously, did the prop committee have such a small budget that they couldn’t get him like, a book to carry to make it at least seem like he was really going on a long trip?
In the next scene, the boys are riding home from school and a girl watching other girls playing jump rope calls out, “Scott! Lanny! Elton! Stop!”
This, at around the 5 minute mark, is the first time we hear Lanny’s name. We learned Elton’s name only a few seconds earlier. I feel like it would’ve been better to work these names in earlier, and it wouldn’t even have been hard, since there was 4 of them to have a conversation. This movie is not very good at introducing their characters, and I am not good at keeping characters straight. This, folks, is why I prefer to read books.
Little girl: (in urgent tone of voice) come quickly, hurry!
What’s the urgent matter, I wonder? Has The Widow Jenkins fallen down again? Is her kitty up a tree? Is her house and she forgot how to dial 911?
NOPE! She just wants Elton (I finally figured out it was Elton on my 3rd watch through) to play with them! Someone should really tell her the story of the little girl who cried wolf.
The other girls surround him chanting “do earthquake!” And they are clearly too old to be chanting for a guy to do… apparently, “earthquake” consists of Elton playing jump rope and then falling onto the ground as hard as he can, making a loud noise. Why this is called Earthquake is beyond me, since he doesn’t make the ground actually shake.
We see little girls that I’m going to guess as 5 year olds laughing hysterically at this, which… what? I don’t even… no… no I’m sorry, even at 5, I wouldn’t have cared.
Children beg Elton to do it again, but Elton has decided he has had just about enough of that nonsense and peels away on his bike. I can’t blame him. As a 13(?) year old, I’d rather be with my friends too after a long hard day in school than playing with little kids.
Actually, no I wouldn’t, I’ve always loved little kids. However, most 13 year olds I’ve gotten to know, they don’t want to play with little kids.
Not sure what the point of that scene was, except foreshadowing.
The next few scenes involve Scott writing multiple letters to Pete over a long period of time. Letters, haha. This movie was really not all that long ago… It’s hard to remember that. Has the world really changed that much?
Cut to Pete in Chicago:
There are police sirens in the background. No idea why… were they there in real life and never got edited out? Or do the people who made this movie just think that there is so much crime in Chicago that sirens are always going off?
I just got back from a trip to Chicago, and I can attest that this is not the case.
Pete: Hi aunt Maria!
(Scott just called her aunt Spaghetti, but clearly that is not her name.)
Maria: Hi Pete, how’d you do in school today?
Pete: Fantastic! *starts reciting school achievements… I don’t care*
Maria: hey pete that’s great! You know, if your parents were alive I think they’d be so proud of you.
So, that answers the question of what happened to Pete’s parents, I guess. This could have been worked into the movie a lot earlier, in my opinion. Especially since at this point, we are not told who he was living with before in Elkridge.
Maria: by the way, you got a letter from Scott today
Maria: yeah, he must be a pretty good friend
Pete: yeah, he’s the best!
This does not, to me, sound like a conversation between a mother figure and a son. It sounds like a conversation between strangers who don’t really know each other all that well. So much for Pete’s hopes of having “the closest thing he’ll ever get to a real mom.”
In contrast, Scott’s conversation with his mother, one of the only scenes in which we will see his mother:
Scott: hi mom
Mom: hi sweety, you got a letter from Pete today, I put it on your stereo
Mom: and can you please not put your stuff on the bed please?
She really does say please twice. Also, her outfit looks straight out of the ’50s. This, though much shorter, is a more realistic exchange between son who just came home from school and his parent.
Also, I’m pretty sure this is the longest interaction we will see with his mother. Or at least, the longest interaction with his mother where she has actual dialog.
That’s all for now folks, tune in next time to watch me drink my brains out as I watch part 2, and possibly slam my computer into the wall trying to figure out wordpress.