Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois on July 19, 1982 · 32
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Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois · 32

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Chicago, Illinois
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Monday, July 19, 1982
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32
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Chicago Tribune, Monday, July 19, 1982 Section 2 3 ntpo 'NIMH' charmer could have used more Disney By Gene Siskel Movie critic " ft ff HO CAN RESIST a film that W I ff takes you to a place you've V it ver een fore? Anc' tne W form that can do that so easily is the animated film. Strange places and a mythic power to manipulate emotions are at the core of the very best Disney animated features, and "The Secret of NIMH" is a solid attempt to live up to Disney's past glories. That it isn't a Disney film, though, makes for an interesting story. "The Secret of NIMH" was produced by a group of Disney renegades who left the studio in the late '70s after Disney executives had assembled them to make a classic animated feature, the old, full-figure way, with every part of the body moving to express the emotion of the moment and with backgrounds fully drawn, too. In charge of the group was Don Bluth, and he led a studio walkout when Disney, according to Bluth, began pinching pennies and asking him to take, shortcuts. So Bluth said to his colleagues what every embittered employee in Hollywood would like to say: Why don't we make our own movie? THE RESULT is "NIMH," the strange title referring to an event that has happened before the film begins. In an experiment at the National Institute of Mental Health NIMH, some rats are shocked into superintelligence. And now the new rat society is divided. One mean old rat wants to have a coup and take over from the old guard; other rats want to stop scavenging I --f5SSi65S aSgV-.;. ''-'mtWmtimm iiniaiileiiil.ii HHfifmi nl nlil'fm ' Mrs. Brisby, a widowed mouse who is a bit of a whine, mesmerizes Jeremy, a comic-relief crow, with a magic amulet in "The Secret of NIMH." "The Secret of NIMH" Mini-review: Sweet Directed by Don Bluth; story by Bluth, John Pomeroy. Will Finn end Gary Goldman; mualc by Jerry Goldsmith; produced by Bluth, Goldmen end Pomeroy; e United Article release et neighborhood theetere. Rated G. THE VOICES Shrew Hermtone Beddeley Mre. Brisby Elizabeth Harlmen Jeremy Dom OeLulse Nlcodemus Oer Jacob! Mr. Agee Arthur Malet Owl John Cerradlne Justin Peter Strauss from humans and set up their own superior society. And then there's sweet little Mrs. Brisby, a recently widowed mouse who is worried that her sick child may be destroyed by some planned changes in the landscape. The plight of Mrs. Brisby, who is a bit of a whine, forms the main substance of the first half of the film. More interesting is the battle inside the rat world between young and old. "The Secret of NIMH" is charming, but it could use a little bit more of Disney's bad guys versus good guy's mentality. The script is credited to four people, and the narrative is littered with too many unimportant characters. Another problem is the casting of Dom DeLuise as the voice of a comic-relief crow. DeLuise inserts too much of himself into the character, and for a while whenever his voice bounced off the screen, I thought I was in a Burt Reynolds movie. And yet the second half of "NIMH" is a genuine pleasure, taking us to a secret rat world that should amaze little ones. Adults may be tempted to drop off their child at this movie, but those who do so will be making a mistake. The children will have lots of questions, and the adults eventually will be drawn into the story, too. mm A BELL HOP'S DREAM-LIGHTWEIGHT LUGGAGE AT GREAT VALUES Verdi Knockout collection. A special purchase of unconstructod luggage in light, durable nylon. Nylon zipper and gussetod Iront pocket. 3 colors to choose. Navy, grocn or rod. (Not available at Water Tower Place.) sale 1. Carry-on $34.99 2. Garment bag . 42.99 3. 26-inch pullman 42.99 4. Roll tote . 29.99 5. Eastwest tote 22.99 Saravan collection by Leisure luggage, a special purchase of tough rayon gabardine luggage with brass-finish zippers, interior pockets and full lining. Black with tan or natural with burgundy nylon trim. (Not available at Water Tower Place and Lake Forest ) sale 6. 22-inch carry-on $39.99 7. Garment bag ' 39.99 8. 26-inch pullman with wheels 54.99 9. 28-inch pullman with wheels 59.99 10. Tote bag 24.99 Luggage, Downstairs, State Street; all stores. There's no time for scandal in the hectic life cf a Washington page f - a w J : ' vi " S Continued from first Tempo page itor for his high school newspaper, added with a smile. In a more serious tone, however, he commented: "Almost all of the allegations are coming from one page. Clearly he's a basically unstable person; he's changed his story; he's admitted he lied." Asked if he had any prior knowledge of the activities cited by former Arkansas page Leroy Williams, 18, Weisberg shook his head. "None at all, absolutely none. I think there's been a big overreaction to all of this. It's clearly given the page program a bad name. Why all of a sudden is everybody talking about reforms when all this has come from only a few messed-up pages?" BILL GRAHAM of Winnetka. an ebullient, equally clean-cut youth who this summer is attending a journalism workshop at Northwestern University, had just returned from his six-month stint in Washington when the scandal broke. On a couch in a Northwestern dormitory lounge this week, he recalled: "I was sitting down having dinner, and they started in with it on the CBS news, and I was just on the floor; I was in shock." Despite their concern that the allegations have unfairly damaged their image as pages, the.boys are not unsympathetic to some of the reforms being proposed. In reality, their lives in Washington are both less tumultuous than the allegations indicate and more unstructured than many parents, congressmen or the boys themselves at times would like. Graham's mother, Mary Jane, acknowledged that when Bill departed in January for Washington, "we did feel that we were throwing him to the wolves. Either my husband or I visited him once a month. I just held my breath and hoped that he wouldn't get mugged, that he'd make it out alive through the six months. I think it's incredible that they have 16-year-olds running loose." On the other hand, she said, "I think the whole thing has been a fantastic opportunity for him. What he learned, the way he grew up, you couldn't trade for anything." THE CHIEF PROBLEMS are housing and supervision for the youths. Most of the female pages live in a privately operated dormitory, similar to a YWCA, which provides two meals and has an 11:30 p.m. weeknight curfew and 1 a.m. weekend curfew. The boys, however, are responsible for finding their own housing. The majority end up in modest rooming houses scattered around Capitol Hill. Most are operated, said one government official who asked not to be identified, "by people who are kind of like somebody's grandmother senile but loving and caring." In recent years, many of the houses have closed down. Locating rooms has become increasingly difficult. Once the pages are off work, says fat uamboni, a spokesman for Rep. John Fary's D., Chicago office, "they are terribly devoid of supervision that s definitely sorely missing. They go to school part of the time, work part of the time, and what they do outside that, we're really unaware." However, Graham, who lived in a rooming house with nifiinriiA i "r-rnr T1-iTir-T-r-iniiifiii)iiriiiiiiiifni n Despite their concern that the allegations have unfairly damaged their image as pages, the boys are not unsympathetic to some of the reforms being proposed. 10 other pages, said he had benefited from that lack of supervision. "When I go to college, I'll be a lot more prepared. I learned to budget my money. I learned timing, scheduling. At home, Mom's always saying, 'Do your homework, do your homework.' Here, you've got to tell yourself to do your homework." Still, he said, "a dorm is long overdue. The girls have it really nice. At least they're safe. They get their meals." He said many of his repasts were frozen dinners thawed in the rooming house's one microwave oven. Weisberg, who lives in a Georgetown University dormitory with his 17-year-old brother, who is a summer intern at Washington Monthly magazine, said he eats a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. SCHAEFER, TOO, SAID he has enjoyed the freedom. "You learn how to take care of yourself, be responsible, make it on your own. I've learned so much. I learned how to iron, how to do laundry. College is going to be easy compared to this." After six months in a rooming house, Schaefer, then 16, moved in March to an apartment, a large, clean basement studio near the Capitol. He says he enjoys living alone. "I think I can keep my own tabs. Here I can play my music as loud as I want." He adds, however, "I don't think it would benefit all the pages to live in a dorm, but I think it would be best for the pages as a whole. It would be nice to have everybody together. It would help ease the parents' minds." The boys all agreed that the minimum age should be raised from 14 to 16 in the Senate. "You take a 14-year-old, and last year he's been to Camp Big Bear Lake, and the next year he's by himself in Washington," says Graham. "That's definitely too young." Weisberg, however, opposes a dorm for high school juniors like himself. "What can a dorm do?" he asks. "Maybe see that you get in on time. But they'll be likely to set too early a curfew. If kids are going to do things people don't like, they can still do them before curfew. By the time you're 16, this should be a learning experience. There are always a couple of kids not ready for it. But that would probably be true if they were 18 or 21. The major advantage of this program is being on your own." IN FACT, considering the length of time the page program has been in operation, officials admit there have been few problems. "Several kids have been sent home for using drugs," said David Carle, a spokesman for Simon's office. "One Tribune photo by Karen Engstrom Rep. Paul Simon D., Carbondale is leading some congressmen to overhaul the page system. child went berserk and hit another with a 2-by-4." Other officials say a summer night tradition of fountain-hopping and water-balloon fights has been the most visible mischief. The pages interviewed said their off-hours were far from raucous. "We do the same things other teenagers do," said one. Movies, listening to music, reading, eating, watching TV or "doing nothing." The big bonus was the capital's impressive museums, the boys said. On many nights they were too tired to consider getting " into trouble. " " They added that they had virtually no contact with congressmen after working hours. "I saw Sen. Alan Cranston D., Calif. jog by once outside my apartment, and I saw Sen. Robert Dole R., Kan. in the lobby of a hotel once," said Schaefer. Occasionally the pages are invited to formal receptions in office buildings, which they describe as sedate, "very official" affairs. . Still, says Virginia Fletcher, a spokesman for Rep!" Daniel Rostenkowski D., Chicago, "a lot of kids are not prepared for this. A lot of kids are from rural areas. They don't realize they need to lock their doors. They have no concept of where itls safe to walk. They've lost their keys. I've had to make dental appointments for some of them. I've gotten them prescriptions on the weekends. Either they turn to their congressional office, or they have nowhere to go." Technically, the con--gressmen are not responsible for the pages they are supervised by offices in the House and Senate. In 1973, Congress appropriated $1.45 million to purchase a site for a proposed page dormitory on Capitol Hill. But the costs of building such a dorm, estimated at $10 $15 million, have been considered prohibitive until the recent scandal broke. THE JOB of page, itself, gets tedious, the boys said. Schaefer said he lost 25 pounds scurrying through the capitol corridors, and Weisberg said he loathed carrying flags that are flown atop the capitol as favors to a i congressman's constituents. But all the boys were excited by the opportunity to see Congress and congressmen in action. "It's the perfect way to get behind the scenes," said Graham. "It was one big history lesson in how government works." The Senate pages sit on a rostrum on the Senate floor "and wait for the members to snap or ,i whistle Sen. Barry Goldwater R Ariz. sort of taps his cane and then you rush up and do what they want." Some chores are more important than others: He has fetched Life Saver candies for a congressman, awakened a congressman for a vote and tracked down -J another for a meeting with Budget Director David " Stockman. ; ; As House documentarian, Schaefer has a desk next to the Speaker and is responsible for raising the flag on the capitol building each morning. He distributes ouou jaae Bracelet 50 off Expertly crafted from 2 deep green solid curved Jade bars mounted securely In 141 gold electroplated end pieces with safety chain and concealed spring lock. An exceptional value. Eer-235 Sale $14.97 CHoow either the 114.97 Jetle BrereM. the 6 Matching Jede Eemnqt. or both! Phone Orders (312) 787-9300 or wnle P O. Box A342S. Chkaqo 1 50640 Add 6 tales tax P'lus 11.50 jhpq 6 hdlg 60 Day Unconditional Monty Back Queranlee. iiiiniiiiii t-tacsntlv hninJ SaliJMlNn quaWAntrcd 1 -X 1 I af.f thclAJUl IfcUaLL VU. IcwmcBs . ... . - - - iHtrfm Mwa Oh llaa. JeiMaJI flu iti 1 1 flu i FmVakVv Ytrekhw The pages said their off-hours were far from raucous. 'We do the same things other teenagers do said one. Movies, listening to music, reading, eating, watching TV. . . . . .. amendments and other documents to the representar tives and also rings bells that reverberate through the capitol complex. The bells signify the time for votess adjournment and other matters. "Twelve bells means, 'Duck, the bomb is coming.' ". . rt Currently, pages who generally are required to have high academic standing are appointed for a variety of terms. Some come for only a month in the summer, some for three months. Others spend two entire high school years in Washington, attending a page school located on three floors of the Library of Congress, m ADMINISTERED BY the District of Columbia public school system, the school opens at 6:10 a.m. and recesses at 10:30 a.m. Breakfast is 7:45 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. The pages then report to the House or Senate, where they work until 5:30 p.m. or until Congress adjourns. If the session lasts past 9 p.m., the pages may forgo homework assignments; past 10 p.m.; they are excused from school the next day. House pages are paid $8,827 per school year; Senate pages receive $9,090. Although the school grants full high school credit,' Graham said the instruction clearly is inferior to 6at he was receiving at New Trier High School in Winnetka. "It's a no-frills school," he said. "Anyone thinking about being a page will have to take that into consideration. I probably did sacrifice some quality, but I was educated in a different subject as a page." The school offers only basic courses no physical -education, art, music, etc. and fields a basketball tedm that "always loses," according to Graham. There are a student council, yearbook, newspaper and a prom. SOU, Rep. Simon, who made an unannounced visit to the school several years ago, says the school makes vety poor use of Washington's unique facilities the libraries, museums and other government resources. I Graham said he took a chemistry course in summer school to compensate for the diluted science program at the page school. "They don't have .chemistry labs because you can't light any fires in the Library of 1 Congress," Graham explained. WEISBERG SAID frankly he did not apply for a ! school-year internship because he questioned the quality of the page school. Schaefer, however, gave the school good reviews and plans to continue through his senior year and graduate next spring at a ceremony attended by the President and members of Congress. J "I think I'd be bored now if I went back to Highland Park High School," he says. "I've been living such Jin exciting life. There are just so many things to fit into each day. I feel like I'm a congressman sometimes?' The boys' nervous hope is that the current investka-tion of the page program will improve rather than f damage it. "We've always been considered the cream of the crop until now," Schaefer said with a sigh. J "I just hope people don't become disillusioned about pages," Graham agreed. "I hope kids still want to do! it. It's such a neat Idea. It's just amazing that a ktnf me could be on the Inside of'all the', government ft'i just Incredible." " Jeiaev eile aKr.

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