(Image: debtfreedowds.wordpress.com)

(Image: debtfreedowds.wordpress.com)

(UPDATED: November 20, 2017)

For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you know that I am a relative newlywed desperately trying to share my love for movies with my lovely wife, Thanh Shanahan.  Between my DVD/Blu-ray "Wall" of movies and our access to Netflix and Hulu Plus, I am always stopping our world in its tracks when I discover in conversation a movie that she hasn't seen, that we now need to watch immediately (this happens a lot).

Needless to say, not all of my sharing attempts work.  She's a former primary and early childhood elementary teacher turned stay-at-home-mom, so her attention, focus, and enthusiasm wanders (hey, it happens to all of us, myself included).  It will take more than a hot guy and a shiny object, especially with a baby around now (and one more on the way).  Because of that, she's a fascinating person to compare notes with after a movie.

Little did I know, that she too has the power to quite effectively review movies.  For her, it's all about whether she falls asleep or not from a lack of engagement or interest.  When she comes with me to the movie theater, I'm pretty much investing in an $8 nap.  It's just a matter of time.  While my scale is stars, hers.... is pillows and in the polar opposite value to stars.

If a movie can keep her attention from start to finish, it receives zero pillows.  If she's horizontal and snoring in the first half-hour or hour, it gets five pillows.  Compared to my deep (OK, that's stretching it too) analysis and interpretation of all things movies, her method is ingenious and has to be shared.  So, at the request of quite a few of my female Facebook friends who roll their eyes at my attempts to be a macho man with my love for movies, as a new ongoing feature on "Every Movie Has a Lesson," I give you my wife's two cents and her pillow reviews of the movies we see together.  Let's see much the babies gets in the way.  You were warned...


"When I watch a movie, I don't internalize anything.  None of it is stored in my brain."  

--Thanh Shanahan, November 13, 2012

WONDER-- "I loved the message of the film.  I am so glad whole classrooms are seeing this film.  They need what this film talks about.  Thanks for the date night, baby!  ZERO PILLOWS!"

A BAD MOM'S CHRISTMAS-- "The fact that I stayed awake counts as a victory.  The older moms made it interesting.  By the way, Justin Hartley still can't act away from This Is Us. TWO PILLOWS!"

AN IDEAL HUSBAND-- "You said artsy fartsy and I said time for a nap. I watched 7% of that movie.  FOUR PILLOWS!"

THOR THE DARK WORLD-- "Background noise underneath the rain sound effects stuff I keep my kids asleep with.  FOUR PILLOWS!"

WONDER WOMAN-- "I have tried unsuccessfully three times to start and finish this movie. I want to like it.  PILLOW RANKING DELAYED FOR COMPLETION!"

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST-- "I really enjoyed the magical quality of it. I'm glad my daughter loved it. ZERO PILLOWS!"

GIFTED-- "As a parent, I really liked the message of this film.  I know it motivates my husband.  ONE PILLOW." 

DIRTY DANCING-- "If they want me to stay awake, why are they opening with this 20 minute retrospective.  Get to the dancing.  TWO PILLOWS."

FINDING DORY--  "It was not a lackluster and disappointing sequel like others that were unnecessary. ONE PILLOW."

THE JUNGLE BOOK-- "I like the cartoon better. I'm able to check out and do work. FOUR PILLOWS."

TROLLS-- "The music was a lot of fun and my kids now love it.  We'll be dancing to that Justin Timberlake song on repeat.  ZERO PILLOWS!"

MOANA- "I think it is too scary, sad, and serious in parts to show my daughter, but I appreciated the messages and singing.  ONE PILLOW."

BAD MOMS-- "This was a girls date with the husbands watching the kids.  With those comfy power reclining seats, I thought I was a goner, but the storyline was intriguing and captivating enough that I made it through. My friends checked on me throughout and were surprised to see me awake.  As with all movies, the implausibility is very present.  The ridiculousness is pretty thick.  There were laugh-out-loud parts, but not as many as I thought.  It felt like all the funny parts were in the trailer.  Maybe I had higher expectations, but that's OK.  The best thing about it was going with a group of friends!  TWO PILLOWS!"

L'ATTESA-- "I swear 50% of that movie was complete standing in silence.  FIVE PILLOWS!"

THE BIG SHORT-- "Why are they talking so much?!  That's all I saw was talktalktalktalk.  FIVE PILLOWS!"

ANOMALISA-- "No thanks.  That was not interesting.  FIVE PILLOWS"

BROOKLYN-- "I'm glad she chose the guy she did.  THREE PILLOWS!"

THE MARTIAN-- "He does so many things with gloves on. I can't do anything with gloves on. He'll probably never eat potatoes again. TWO PILLOWS, but my fault for falling asleep."

MR. HOLMES-- "I have no idea what happened in the movie, but I'm happy to have a fun fact to walk away with! Bees leave their stingers, but wasps don't.  FOUR PILLOWS!

TOP FIVE-- "I was wrapping Christmas presents, but it caught my eye once or twice.  THREE PILLOWS!"

SKYFALL-- "I feel like I've seen this before. I wanted to fall asleep, but there was enough action. I still don't like fighting. TWO PILLOWS!"

INTERSTELLAR-- "When my husband posted that we were watching this movie, two of his Facebook friends, including a fellow movie critic that didn't care for the film, said that there was no way I would stay awake through the whole thing.  Well, I did it and I couldn't stop asking my husband questions.  I kept waiting for him to cry again.  TWO PILLOWS!  Nice try, guys!" 

PAN-- "I finally go out to a real movie (a special advanced press screening with my husband) and this is what I get?  This was so not worth missing a baby consignment sale for.  FIVE PILLOWS!"


(It took thirteen months after the birth of our second child to have an honest and true "date night" again where the kids slept overnight at their grandparents' place.  The goal is to finally get back to going out when and where we can a little more often than once a year.)

ALOHA-- "So weird and with such a great cast.  Why did I keep watching this? I was awake the whole time. THREE PILLOWS for weirdness."

BEFORE WE GO-- "I like Chris Evans, but that girl he's with can't act.  I hate open-ended endings too.  THREE PILLOWS!"

JURASSIC WORLD-- "I don't like watching people get eaten by animals.  I would not have been a good person to watch this in the theater with.  I'd be screaming and covering my eyes.  FOUR PILLOWS (all over my face to stop from seeing)!"

MINIONS-- "That was worse that a foreign language film.  Can I get subtitles?  FIVE PILLOWS!"

SPY-- "Awful.  Just awful.  FIVE PILLOWS!"

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON-- "I did make it through that one.  Too many things going on.  THREE PILLOWS!"

PADDINGTON-- "I'm glad my daughter liked it when she saw it on the big screen, but I didn't stick with it.  THREE PILLOWS!"

CINDERELLA (2015)-- "I like the Cinderella story (or "Cinder-Bella" as my daughter calls it), but it was just alright.  It kept my attention but was missing something.  TWO PILLOWS!"

EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS-- "Is Christian Bale going to mumble like that all movie?  He's Moses!  Let me people go, Batman!  FOUR PILLOWS!"

LAGGIES-- "My husband and I have tried starting this movie to watch twice.  We were disinterested and turned it off both times before Sam Rockwell every shows up.  FIVE PILLOWS!"

THE JUDGE-- "I was trying not to watch it, but it drew me in completely.  ZERO PILLOWS!"

JUPITER ASCENDING-- "I didn't go out and see the film with Don, but all I heard when he said "Jupiter Ascending" was "Juniper Breeze" and thought of that soap scent from Bath and Body Works.  It sounds like the soap was better.  FIVE PILLOWS!"

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU-- "Loved the cast and the humor was good, but there were far too many twists to be believable.  It became too much, but I wanted to see how it ended.  ONE PILLOW!"

MR. TURNER-- "Every time I looked at Timothy Spall I would picture his ugly character Nathaniel from "Enchanted."  His grunts were too much.  I couldn't get that image out of my head and I could barely finish the movie.  My husband was right.  That's like watching paint dry.  FIVE PILLOWS!"

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING-- "I didn't like that nurse one bit coming on to Stephen.  He's married.  Too slow and too much science.  FOUR PILLOWS!"

STILL ALICE-- "Frightening and overwhelmingly sad story about Alzheimer's.  It makes you hug your family a little tighter.  TWO PILLOWS!"


(Our second child arrived September 4th, a strapping young son.  My wife is back on the market to occasionally catch some movies, maybe even some with "date night" quality.)

THEY CAME TOGETHER-- "I stayed awake, but it was not my speed of comedy.  It wasn't awful.  ONE PILLOW!"

CHEF-- "My husband and I made the mistake of not eating before this movie.  It doesn't help that I'm pregnant.  I loved the movie and I love any movie about food!  ZERO PILLOWS!"

OCEAN'S TWELVE and OCEAN'S THIRTEEN-- "I had never seen these and wanted to.  I was hoping they would be good enough to keep my attention.  I had high hopes for "Ocean's Thirteen."  I even kept my contacts in, but I woke up to my own snoring.  FOUR PILLOWS!"

SNOWPIERCER-- "I couldn't handle it - wimp!   It seemed almost like the Holocaust.  I left the room.  I even closed the bedroom door so I couldn't hear anything.  FIVE PILLOWS!"

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER-- "You kept me out late on a weeknight and work day, put me in the most comfortable leather recliner movie seat possible in the special theater downtown after standing in line for an advance screening, and I DIDN'T fall asleep?!  That's a miracle all its own.  Good movie too and I liked the first one!  My husband is such a dork with his nerdy commentary whenever any name gets dropped.  ZERO PILLOWS!"

DRAFT DAY-- "That was way less boring than Moneyball.  TWO PILLOWS!" 


(With the anticipated September 2014 arrival of our second child, my wife will likely shrewdly choose her spots on when she will tag along on a "date night" movie and leave our one-year-old-and-change daughter with her folks.  This could get scarce again.  Sorry folks.)

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY-- "Movies are supposed to be for imagination.  I liked it.  ONE PILLOW!"

SAVING MR. BANKS-- "First movie out in over a year!  A movie like this makes me want to read the book for my own daughter someday.  And, I can't stop hearing the music in my head!  ONE PILLOW!"


(Our daughter has turned ten months old and has finally gotten cool enough to make it overnight with someone other than us.  Welcome back, Mrs. Shanahan!)

PHANTOM-- "A movie with a title like Phantom doesn't stand a chance.  FIVE PILLOWS!"

THE INCREDIBLE BURT WONDERSTONE-- "Something about it kept my attention, which is all I can say.  I made time to put a baby back to sleep.  TWO PILLOWS!"

ONLY GOD FORGIVES-- "This boring looking movie lost me in the first five seconds.  Nap time!  FIVE PILLOWS!"

LES MISERABLES-- "I like my musicals upbeat.  Drama, drama, drama!  My husband was right. Russell Crowe really sings bad.  THREE PILLOWS!"

THE GUILT TRIP-- "I don't know when my husband and mother-in-law had time to sneak away and make a movie, but I sure enjoyed it.  ZERO PILLOWS!"

PREMIUM RUSH-- "I didn't like that bad guy and bike messengers are crazy!  ZERO PILLOWS!"

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN-- "I don't get how this is any different than the last Spider-Man. TWO PILLOWS!"


(My wife becomes pregnant with our first child, making "This is 40" her last movie in theaters for over a year.  We make due with Redbox, Netflix, Hulu, VOD, and Amazon Prime.)

THIS IS 40-- "Why can't they both just be truthful?  Still entertaining.  ONE PILLOW!"

KILLING THEM SOFTLY-- "I didn't even go with you to see the movie and just reading the review put me to sleep.  Because of that title, all I kept hearing was that overplayed Lauren Hill song.  That was the only thing keeping me awake.  FOUR PILLOWS!"

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK-- "I never like it when people are sad.  I hate it when people hurt other people.  ONE PILLOW!"

GOLDFINGER-- "Great.  Now I've got that title song in my head and I can't fall asleep.  I fell asleep during the movie, but can't now?!  THREE PILLOWS!"

THE SESSIONS-- "Ewww... watching people have sex?  I've never seen porn before.  Is this porn?  ONE PILLOW!"

LINCOLN-- "Why was there so much talking??? FOUR PILLOWS!"

WRECK-IT RALPH-- See above disclaimer.

YOUR SISTER'S SISTER-- See above disclaimer.

THE FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT-- See above disclaimer.

THE PERFECT STORM-- "I never thought I wanted to be a fisherman.  Now, I know for sure! THREE PILLOWS!"

LOOPER-- "Too violent for me, but interesting.  TWO PILLOWS!"

THE BOURNE TRILOGY-- "I may not have fallen asleep, but that doesn't mean I paid attention enough.  ZERO PILLOWS!"


THIS MEANS WAR-- "I was so tired.  I was trying to take a nap, but I couldn't.  The movie kept my attention and I never left the couch.  ZERO PILLOWS!"

BRAVE-- "It's a very empowering movie for girls.  ZERO PILLOWS!"

SENSE AND SENSIBILITY-- "Even their pajamas have ruffles.  FIVE PILLOWS!"

THE MAMBO KINGS-- "Pretty music, but I totally fell asleep.  FIVE PILLOWS!"

MEN IN BLACK 3-- "I hate creepy crawly things.  That lost me in the opening scene.  FOUR PILLOWS!"

THE AVENGERS-- "I enjoyed it, but probably not as much as my dork husband.  But, he's my dork.  ONE PILLOW!"

THE HUNGER GAMES-- "I don't like kids killing kids.  The movie had little point for me.  THREE PILLOWS!"

21 JUMP STREET -- "It was funny, but seemed way too ridiculous for me.  Not my kind of humor.  THREE PILLOWS!"

EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE-- "The movie's portrayal of a kid on the spectrum offended me.  TWO PILLOWS!"

THE IRON LADY-- "Meryl Streep did awesome, but I imagine Margaret Thatcher being a better woman than that.  THREE PILLOWS!"

WE BOUGHT A ZOO-- "That little girl was so cute and that zoo inspector is a meanie.  ONE PILLOW!"

THE ARTIST-- "It was cute, but no talking means no attention.  My husband had to wake me up often.  TWO PILLOWS!"

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN-- "I wonder how much of that story was true.  TWO PILLOWS!"

YOUNG ADULT-- "It definitely kept my attention.  I was very curious to see what was going to happen to her, but meh!  ONE PILLOW!"

HUGO-- "I still don't like those 3D glasses, but I think this is a book I would like to read as a elementary school teacher myself.  It was still too slow.  THREE PILLOWS!"

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE- GHOST PROTOCOL-- "I give it ZERO PILLOWS!  It kept me on the edge of the my seat.  If you were at the 4:30 IMAX screening on Sunday, December 18th at the Cinemark Seven Bridges, yes, that was me screaming out loud.  This movie redeemed IMAX for me after the terrible Transformers 3."

THE DESCENDANTS-- "Beautifully set in Hawaii!  I can't see a mom in an ICU bed and not cry.  I would so punch that clueless Sid too.  Too funny!  ZERO PILLOWS!"

THE MUPPETS-- "A little slow for me, but fun nonetheless.  I loved watching my little cousins clap after every song-and-dance number.  ONE PILLOW!"

MELANCHOLIA-- "I knew in the first 20 seconds that I was not going to like this movie.  Done, out, and lost.  FIVE PILLOWS!"

IN TIME-- "I already knew that time was precious, but it kept me on the edge of my seat.  ONE PILLOW!"

50/50-- "What a great story!  I was crying as much as I was laughing.  ONE PILLOW!"

COURAGEOUS-- "It definitely challenging to be a father. ONE PILLOW!"

THE IDES OF MARCH-- "It definitely kept my attention and I'm glad I didn't see it on an exhausting Friday night.  TWO PILLOWS!"

REAL STEEL-- "Where there wasn't the clink and clang of the robots, I was sleeping.  I can't believe I (almost) made it through a 7PM movie on a Friday!  TWO PILLOWS!"

MONEYBALL-- "I thought you said it was a baseball movie, honey.  THREE PILLOWS!"

CONTAGION-- "Great, now I'm going to wash my hands more. ONE PILLOW!"

THE HELP-- "It's good to know that there are good people in this world.  ONE PILLOW!"

VAN WILDER-- "So it's like Billy Madison only college?  TWO PILLOWS!"

CRAZY, STUPID, LOVE.-- "I loved all the twists!  What happened to they all live happily ever after?!  ONE PILLOW!"

HORRIBLE BOSSES-- "It was like a train wreck.  I couldn't look away.  Horrible!  TWO PILLOWS!"

FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS-- "I love happy endings.  I wish they would have turned the music down, though.  ONE PILLOW!"

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER-- "I like good guys and I didn't check my watch once.  My husband is brainwashing me to look forward to this Avengers stuff.  ZERO PILLOWS!"

VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA-- "My husband talked me into this after we mutually loved Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen.  Nothing but zzzz's on this one.  Who ended up with who again?  THREE PILLOWS!"

THE COMPANY MEN-- "I don't feel sad for rich jerks.  They live in big houses.  Boo hoo!  Good movie, though.  ONE PILLOW!"

THE HARRY POTTER FILM SERIES MARATHON-- "I see their appeal, but it's just not my thing.  I would never read all those books!  You're lucky you got me to sit through all those movies and not multi-task.  Well, maybe I multi-tasked and snoozed a little.  TWO PILLOWS FOR EACH MOVIE!

TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON-- "I don't care how great it looks in 3D, I have an hour limit for those dumb glasses!  I couldn't tell who the bad guys were and I'm pretty sure I slept through about about half of the ruckus.  It was great white noise for my nap.  FIVE PILLOWS!"

LARRY CROWNE-- "Mopeds rock!  Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks are never a bad combination.  ONE PILLOW!"

BAD TEACHER-- "I don't like cheaters, but it was a funny movie.  TWO PILLOWS."

CARS 2-- "Way better than Kung Fu Panda 2.  Mater cracked me up!  I don't think I looked at my watch once.  ZERO PILLOWS!  Woo hoo!"

FIRST KNIGHT-- "Long dresses like would make me so mad and get dirty instantly, but that was Gladiator-good.  ONE PILLOW!"

GREEN LANTERN-- "Who was the yellow team again?  You can see his muscles.  That's gross.  I can't believe I slept through all of those loud scenes.  FOUR PILLOWS!"

MIDNIGHT IN PARIS-- "Loved it.  I want to go to Paris again.  Although, I really wish I would have paid more attention in high school to get all the references.  ONE PILLOW!"

BEFORE SUNRISE-- "What a sweet love story.  There's still no way I'm getting off a train with a stranger!  TWO PILLOWS!"

CHASING AMY-- "Well, I didn't really watch it, but it's too bad her lesbian friends were so judgmental.  Are all comic conventions like that?  I'm a sucker for a love story.  TWO PILLOWS!"

X-MEN: FIRST CLASS-- "I love the other X-Men, so this one couldn't be bad.  That's a comic I can stand behind, but I still needed Cliff Notes.  ONE PILLOW!"

KUNG FU PANDA 2 -- "Inner peace.  Sheez!  I get it already.  It did not meet my expectations at all.  It wasn't a tenth as good as the first one.  FOUR PILLOWS!"

THOR--  "He's not that cute, even with his shirt off.  It kept my attention, but I don't remember what happened.  Don had to explain it me afterwards.  TWO PILLOWS!"

THIRTEEN DAYS-- "I fell asleep like a jock in history class.  Not the movie to watch late after a long day of work.  I want to give it another chance.  FIVE PILLOWS!"

BRIDESMAIDS-- "I learned that if he's nice, cute, and speaks with an accent that you should take a chance on him.  TWO PILLOWS!"

FAST AND FURIOUS-- "Why does every scene take place in the dark?  I couldn't see anything.  I would be so claustrophobic in those caves... errr... tunnels... whatever.  I'm not watching the new one until it comes to Netflix.  Sorry honey... TWO PILLOWS!"

WATER FOR ELEPHANTS-- "I don't see what the big deal was, but be nice to animals.  THREE PILLOWS!"

SOUL SURFER-- "Incredibly inspirational! ZERO PILLOWS!"

SOURCE CODE-- "I was so on the edge of my seat.  I had to pee halfway through, but didn't want to leave.  ZERO PILLOWS!" 


(She's officially now my movie partner for life.  Pack some more snacks.)

THE OTHER GUYS-- "It's so weird.  Why is Mark Wahlberg always yelling?  I was lost enough to pause it, cook dinner, and take several long phone calls without worrying about it coming back on.  FOUR PILLOWS!"

BRIAN'S SONG-- "Totally fell asleep, but I woke up early the next day to watch it again and balled my eyes out.  ONE PILLOW."

LIMITLESS-- "I was cool until he drank that blood off of the floor. That was just gross. ONE PILLOW!"

127 HOURS-- "I was tired and trying to fall asleep with the help of Benedryl, but I didn't.  Wow.  ZERO PILLOWS."

THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU-- "Those hats were fun.  I want a hat like that.  ZERO PILLOWS."

RANGO-- "I fell asleep, somehow on a Saturday morning, and missed the middle.  I was lost after that.  THREE PILLOWS."