Scarlett Johansson as Laura Nelson
Directed by Rob Reiner
Written by Alan Zweibel
Release Year 1994
MPAA Rating n/a
North (Elijah Wood) is just a normal 11-year-old boy. Other than that he is a super baseball player, is the best in geography and doesn’t look bad on the stage in his school either. He’s just the star of the school. Everyone admires him, except his parents. At dinner his father tells how good he is at trying on trousers and judge them, while mother admires him for that but at the same time tells that she also has a hard job at the Travel Agency. This goes on and on and North is forgotten. This gives him a hard time – his own parents treat him like that. In school he doesn’t know the answers anymore and at baseball he doesn’t hit any balls. So, he leaves during the training, walks through the whole town and lands in a hotel. There a man, disguised as Easter Bunny, comes to him and asks him what is troubling him. North tells him that his parents don’t love him. The man isn’t having any of it. All parents love their children. He walks away and tells North to think about it. Which this one does.
So he comes up with a brillant idea: He could ‘divorce’ his parents. With the support of his best friend Winchell, who sees himself already as a Pulitzer winner and much more, he goes to court. The Judgement: North may leave his parents but has to find new ones until Thanksgiving or he has to go back. So North goes on a journey. To Countryland, Hawaii, Alaska, the Quakers, China, Kenya and to a family (who is like those you find in childrenbooks) in the suburbs of New York City. The time is running and strangely he doesn’t like it anywhere. While North is looking for the perfect parents his friend plans the revolution: kids against parents. Because he fears that North destroys everything by returning home, he heads a killer on him. But everywhere North meets the man who was disguised as the Easter Bunny back in the hotel and who is now helping him.
It’s a funny children story, but appears to be made up for what there is of course a reason, which I’m not going to tell. Only this much: in the end, everything is fine.
Scarlett Johansson’s Role
Scarlett, in her film debut, plays Laura Nelson, the daughter of Ward and Donna Nelson (played by John Ritter and Faith Ford). Along with older brother Bud (Jesse Zeigler), they become North’s new foster-siblings in his search for the perfect family. The characters of the Nelsons don’t really much to do but play the typical, perfect family that’s all nice and stuff. Yet, the feel in the performances end up being very bland and unrealistic. Scarlett’s performance is average at best since she isn’t given much to do but look cute, smile, wear a pink bow, and act like a typical nice, normal little sister. Though it’s only her film debut, it doesn’t really show the talents and promise of what was to come. That’s largely the fault of director Rob Reiner who loses sight of making a family and ends up making stereotypes.
I should also note that in the final credits, her last name was misspelled as “Johanssen”. This would make confusion over that might be the daughter of the legendary New York Dolls singer/Buster Poindexter, David Johanssen.
… Elijah Wood
… Jason Alexander
… Julia Louis-Dreyfuss
… Marc Shaiman
Trivia & Facts
• Marks Scarlett’s very first movie role.
• There is a myth that Roger Ebert’s review of this film contained the first use of “I hated, hated, hated this movie”, which became something of a catchphrase. In actuality that is a misquote. Ebert wrote, “I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.”
• Alexander Godunov and Kelly McGillis play the Amish parents – a joke on the movie Witness (1985) where they also played Amish characters.
• Featured the lone film appearance of Brynn Hartman, Phil Hartman’s wife and eventually murderer.
Quotes: Scarlett Johansson
• “When I did North, I was seven or eight, and I remember it, but those memories are a little blurry, kind of surreal.”
Quotes: Her Character
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