Betting On a Dream, Living a Good Story: My (Spoiler-Free) Thoughts on The Hunger Games Premiere

Betting On a Dream, Living a Good Story: My (Spoiler-Free) Thoughts on The Hunger Games Premiere

The Hunger Games movie hits theaters today, and I’m ready—but barely. I finally picked up the books this week and blew through The Hunger Games trilogy in two days because the story is just that good.

I don’t usually see movies when they first come out; I hardly ever go to the theater at all. But I’m making an exception for The Hunger Games. And it’s not just because I loved the books; it’s also because Jennifer Lawrence is a hometown girl.  And her offscreen story’s not bad, either.

***** ***** *****

Just a few years ago I was at a party at my parents’ house, and ended up out on the porch talking to Jennifer Lawrence’s mother. I don’t know Jen–I’m a decade older than she is–but our parents have known each other for years. I knew she was pursuing acting, knew she’d made it onto a sitcom, but I didn’t know the extent of it until her mother filled me in.

Her mom told me she and her husband were taking turns flying out to L.A. to live with Jen so she could pursue acting full-time. Mrs. Lawrence was very matter-of-fact about it all: Jen was too young to be living by herself in L.A., but since she’d landed some small parts and a steady sitcom gig, her family had decided to make it work.

I admired Jen’s resolve, her dreams, her commitment. I respected her family’s decision to make it possible for her to pursue her dream.

But I also thought they were crazy. Didn’t they know the odds in Hollywood? They were investing so much, but the chance of it paying off was so small.

***** ***** *****

Jen was soon cast in Winter’s Bone, a gritty film in which a meth-cooker’s teenage daughter tries to hunt him down in the Ozarks so she can save her family. I wasn’t interested in seeing it, but I paid attention to the film’s reception and read the reviews. I wanted to see the local girl do well, and it seemed she had.

I finally decided to give it a try after it appeared in a round-up of great films with redemption plots. I love a good redemption story, and I was interested in seeing Jen’s performance, so we rented it.

Winter’s Bone was great. Jen was fantastic. Mrs. Lawrence, I was wrong.

***** ***** *****

Jen nabbed an Oscar nomination for best actress for Winter’s Bone, and the roles came poring in. Last year, she was cast as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. (Which is not so unlike Winter’s Bone, with another spunky girl from coal country finding vast reserves of inner strength to overcome crushing adversity.)

This bit of Hollywood news didn’t mean much to me at the time. I didn’t know anything about The Hunger Games, and I utterly failed to grasp the significance of this role for my hometown actor.

So many of you raved about The Hunger Games that I finally decided to put it on my to-read list. About that time, I started seeing Hunger Games ads showing Jen gripping a bow and arrow, and I finally get it:

Jennifer Lawrence. is Katniss. in The Hunger Games.

The story is fantastic. The early reviews from trusted sources are excellent. This thing has blockbuster written all over it, and I’m excited to see it–and to see her–on the big screen (though sadly, probably not this weekend).

Back in 2009, Jen spoke with our hometown paper about her passion for acting: “Once I got the tiniest taste for this, I could never look back and I could never do anything else,” she said. “Thank God I have parents who could see that. They knew what was happening was real.”

Mrs. Lawrence, I’m looking forward to seeing Jen on the big screen. Maybe you all were a little crazy, but it’s sure paying off big. Here’s to beating the odds, and here’s to your daughter.

What about you? Have you read The Hunger Games? Are you going to see the movie?

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26 comments | Comment

26 comments

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  1. karen says:

    I love, love, love the books, but I’m not planning on seeing the movie. I have decidedly mixed feelings about film adaptations (some I love, some I loathe), but because I love the series so much I’m resisting Hollywood’s need to show me how they think characters, places, scenes should look (and there are some bits that are horrifying enough in my head that I really really don’t need to see them played out on the big screen.

  2. So cool that you know her family! There are a couple people I went to high school with who have made it big in TV/movies, and it’s crazy to me.

    I had to chuckle at your comment “Here’s to beating the odds,” given the Hunger Games catch phrase, “May the odds be ever in your favor!”

  3. Missy June says:

    I was at the premier at midnight last night (this morning?). It is a great movie, well-adapted, though certainly they couldn’t develop each character the same way as in the books. However, Jennifer was amazing in her ability to convey emotion. Loved that!

  4. Lucky says:

    I’ve read 2/3 and am impatiently waiting for the 3rd to come through from my library. Actually I may just break down and buy it tonight.

    I love the casting of Katniss, and it’s great to read such a good story behind the actress.

  5. Plus she was great in X-Men: First Class! 🙂 How crazy to actually know someone onscreen. I feel like that might make the movie hard to watch though, since you know her as Jen, might be hard to see her as Katniss?

    I’m not going to get to see it for 2 weeks! Argh!

  6. My husband and I watched Winter’s Bone last year on Netflix. It was sort of a last resort because we couldn’t find anything else that looked half-way interesting that night.

    But..it surpassed our expectations! Great acting. I think The Hunger Games will make a good birthday date night out for me! Yes, I think I’ll suggest this. (We already have the babysitting squared away:) Yippee!!

  7. Tim says:

    Love this quote from Jennifer: “Once I got the tiniest taste for this, I could never look back and I could never do anything else.”

    I wish I could always say the same for my walk with God. (That pesky Romans 7 stuff seems to keep getting in the way.)

    Tim

  8. I have to say, I really hated The Hunger Game trilogy. Panem is a shockingly bad dystopian society. Katniss manages to be surprisingly passive despite her strength. But, most importantly, The Hunger Games presents a hopeless world where there aren’t any “good guys.” District One is terrible, but so are all the alternatives. The best anyone can do is scrape by. I don’t buy a presentation of the universe where no matter how much you believe in the good, you can’t bring it about.

  9. Angie says:

    WHEW! I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one who didn’t make the “hometown girl” connection until recently! She actually went to the middle school my youngest son’s attending right now, and they’re in a frenzy over the movie coming out. I just finished the first book, and promised my son that as soon as he finishes it we’ll go see the movie together – I can’t wait!

  10. Jamie says:

    I opted not to watch Winter’s Bone and not to read The Hunger Games because people and societies (real and literary) that drop their problems on children rather than requiring adults to suck it up and act responsibly really drive me nuts.

    However, it’s awesome that your friend has been so successful and it’s always gratifying and encouraging to see hard work and sacrifice pay off for the deserving. 🙂

  11. Sarah says:

    I cannot wait to see the Hunger Games! I had planned to catch it tonight but my friend and I both had sitters that backed out last minute – boo! But hoping to catch it soon!

    And having the main character played by someone from Louisville makes it that much more enticing! I hadn’t heard of Lawerence before all the Hunger Games hype but now look forward to following this fellow Kentuckian!

  12. Rachel says:

    I am so excited to see The Hunger Games! Hoping I can escape sometime soon to do so. I also blew through the entire trilogy in a couple of days. It was so compelling! That’s a pretty neat home town connection :).

  13. I’m a huge Hunger Games fan. I think the series is fiction genius and jumped at the chance to take my daughter’s and their friends to the midnight showing last night! And here I sit, still thinking about it. Still in awe of the genius behind the story. Still going on only 3 hours of sleep since the movie last night. SO worth it 🙂 Jennifer was wonderful. I think I may just have to rent Winter’s Bone!
    Thanks for the tip and the fun glimpse into the family that made Katniss!
    Blessings,
    Sherri Ohler
    http://www.sdgartistry.com
    http://www.thepaintedlife.com

  14. Laura says:

    Well, you know I’m a recent reader and total fan as well, so I’m squealing over your connection to Jennifer Lawrence! EEEK!

    I can’t wait to see the movie. I’m trying to talk my husband into reading the books first, but if he procrastinates much longer I’m just going to have to drag him to the theater anyway! 🙂

  15. Heather says:

    You did blog about it! Now you have to see the movie and tell us what you think. It will be at least 3 months before I’m in a country that will have it on the big screen…or will it still be on by then?! Bummer. I’m about 1/3 through your college friend’s book, The Hunger Games and the Gospel. It’s really an excellent analysis thus far. Not cheesy, as the title might suggest. Full of reflection about poverty and oppression in the modern world. Recommended.

    • Anne says:

      Heather, I have no idea–it’s been ages since I’ve seen a movie in a theater and I have a poor grip on the timing. But surely, three months would do it? I’m grabbing a copy of Julie’s book; I’d love to trade thoughts after I’ve read it.

  16. Kimberlee says:

    Loved her in Winter’s Bone, so I was so excited to see that she’d been cast as Katniss. Saw the movie last night with my 12 year old son, (who despite not being a reader at all, blew through all three books, which made me love them all the more) and we both loved it. He wished they’d included more from the book but I felt they did a pretty good job while keeping it at a watchable length. And oddly, most everyone was just as I’d imagined them or better.

  17. Kimberley Smith says:

    I initially read these books to be able to answer questions from my kids. Little did I know that Jennifer Lawrence would provide me with great teachable moments because of the way she handles herself with the media. Congratulations to every single person who taught her how to stand tall and pursue her dreams without sacrificing personal responsibility!

  18. Nichole says:

    I just read this (6+ years after the fact) because you linked it in today’s post. I am also a Kentucky girl (even though it hasn’t been “home” for me in 18 years) and I LOVE seeing others from KY succeed. Actually, finding out you were from KY is what originally took me from seeing your stuff on Pinterest to actually following you on Modern Mrs. Darcy and listening to your podcast. 🙂

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