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Grade: Middle
Subject: Language

#3548. How to Write a Movie Review from a Pet's Perspective

Language, level: Middle
Posted Tue Aug 9 12:20:02 PDT 2005 by Marcy Winogad & Jacqueline Hirtz (winogradcoach@aol.com).
Booklocker
Pet Entertainment Television, a Fictional Television Network, Los Angeles, CA
Materials Required: Overhead
Activity Time: 1 hour
Concepts Taught: Narrative Analysis & Expository Writing

Standard: TLW be able to write persuasive compositions, using precise language, incorporating supporting evidence, and reflecting a strong voice.

Objective: TLW will write contrasting movie reviews from the POV of two pets who disagree about a film -- preferably one featuring an animal. (Struggling learners may only write one review.)

Hook: Ask students to brainstorm movies or television shows they enjoyed a lot. What made the productions so enjoyable? What are the criteria for a good show? (Likeable characters? Suspense? Intriguing setting? Humorous?) List the criteria on the board. Next, ask students to brainstorm movies or television shows with animals in starring or supporting roles. Choose a film/show to talk about and identify one of the animal or pet characters. Ask students to imagine they are the animal telling another animal about the film. Would the animal recommend the film? Refer back to the criteria chart for a good show and use the criteria as the animal's basis for the recommendation.

Procedure: Share the following excerpts from the Workbook, "Lights, Camera, Woof! Writing for Pet Entertainment Television," (http://www.booklocker.com/books/1991.html) an activity workbook which offers young writers an exciting, self-directed approach to creating television newscasts, game shows, situation comedies, and movie reviews. The Pet Network is a barking broadcast empire run by and for pets. In the excerpts below, two zany iguanas, Eggbert & Delbert, review a remake of the movie, "Goldilocks and the Three Bears." As students read the models below, ask them to underline their favorite parts of each review. Discuss why they chose particular segments to underline. (Precise language? Strong voice? Persuasive?)

Eggbert

How would you feel if a stranger barged into your cage when you were out, slept on your newspaper, sat on your swing, and munched on your lettuce? I'll tell you how I would react. My eyes would bulge out, my warts would turn purple, and my mouth would spit fire. I would feel invaded! This is exactly how Mama, Papa, and Baby Bear feel in the remake of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," a repto-magnifico film playing at the Multi-Pet-Plex on Growl Lane, right here in the heart of New York City. Unlike the original version, the remake tells the story from the bear's point of view. Instead of feeling sorry for Goldilocks, a lost girl with no food but lots of nerve, we sympathize with the bears. When Goldilocks breaks into their house and samples their porridge, we hiss, bark, meow and quack at the screen in protest. Baby Bear, played by Teddi Boo, that talented brown fur ball from Alaska, is equally convincing in his role as the victim. His line, "Who's been sitting in my chair?" is delivered with such heartfelt emotion, I developed a gargantuan lump in my throat and couldn't swallow the cantaloupe pieces my human gave me for brunch.

"Goldilocks and the Three Bears" is a must-see for all pets. On the iguana scale of 1-10 glowing neon warts, 10 being repto-magnifico, I'll give it 10 warts."

And now for another perspective ....

Delbert

Are you out of your reptilian skull? "Goldileech and the Three Bears" is about as exciting as a beige peacock. Ugh! The main problem is there are no iguanas in it. Not even one lazy lizard. All we see are endless scenes of Goldileech snooping around the bears' den, which, I might add, could use a new interior decorator. Surely bears have heard of wallpaper.

I know they haven't heard of dialogue. There isn't any to speak of. No one has a conversation until the very end of the film, when Baby Bear discovers someone breathed on her Bark-o-lounger. Like I care. Ugh! Forget this movie. If you want to see giant balls of fur, dip some lint balls in mud. On an iguana scale of 1-10 glowing neon warts, I give Goldileech a numero uno. Ugh!

2) Next, ask students to choose another movie on the class list or come up with a new show to review from a pet or human perspective. Ask them to fill out the following questionnaire:

Questions for Pre-Writing a Movie Review

a) What was the story about?

b) Why was the main character likeable or not likeable?

c) What made the actors convincing or unconvincing?

d) Which conversation or dialogue did you enjoy the most? Why?

e) How predictable or unpredictable was the plot?

f) Which were your favorite scenes? Why?

g) Would you recommend this movie to pets? To humans? Why?

3) Invite students to share their responses, first in their own voice and then in the voice of one of the pet characters in the show they are reviewing. Emphasize that voice is the character's personality and makes the character unique.

4) Model drafting contrasting reviews from Eggbert and Delbert's perspectives and/or invite students to write contrasting views from the POV's of animals in films they are reviewing. (For struggling learners, focus on writing one review.)

5) Assess the Movie Reviews

You can do this together, using the criteria chart below. Have students underline sentences that reflect a strong voice; star the most persuasive parts of their review; circle precise nouns and verbs; check off concrete examples.

Criteria Chart

-- Captures the voice of a character
-- Writes persuasively --
-- Uses examples and details to support a position
-- Employs precise nouns and verbs
-- Writes with a minimum of grammatical & spelling errors

4) All 3) Most 2) Some 1) Little, if any

Independent Practice: Ask students to write another movie or television review and act out a scene from the movie they are reviewing. For more details, see "Lights, Camera, Woof, Writing for Pet Entertainment Television," by Marcy Winograd and Jacqueline Hirtz at: http://www.booklocker.com/books/1991.html