There's a good article in the newest Entertainment Weekly about Walden Media, a production company that makes family films based on acclaimed books for children and young adults. Past works include Holes and Because of Winn-Dixie, both of which I enjoyed more than I thought I would. Recently I saw The Chronicles of Narnia on DVD* and a sneak preview of Hoot.
A few weeks ago Walden Media set up a live simulcast screening of Hoot in 45 cities, with ticket priorities given to students and educators. I am neither, but my father and I got in anyway. (We saw a satellite feed of the film projected in Irvine, CA. The picture quality was iffy at times. Is this what pirated films look like?)
A pancake restaurant chain tries to build a new location on Florida lot where burrowing owls live, and three middle schoolers use low-tech and intelligent tactics to stop them. Though the film is pro-environment, it has no overt anti-corporation message, and if anything steers clear of being preachy. There's good visual use of the coastal setting, probably as suggested by first-time producer Jimmy Buffett, who also plays a science teacher in the movie.
My father doesn't know music, so I had difficulty explaining who Jimmy Buffett was. He'd never heard of "Cheeseburger in Paradise" or "Margaritaville" (the songs or the restaurants). Then it hit me.
"I think he's Warren Buffett's cousin."
* I was unimpressed with Narnia. It was never clear to me why the children embraced their destiny so quickly; it seemed like their main motivation was escaping boredom. I kept wondering why I should care.