A-to-Z Challenge (2016 edition): W is for The Watsons Go To Birmingham AND Winter’s War

It’s April A-to-Z month! Interested in signing up? Unfortunately it’s too late. I know! But even if it it, check out the 1400+ bloggers signed up and striving to complete this month-long challenge. They need YOU to cheer them on!

NOTE: Changes are happening! I’m no longer filtering these movies through the W-story structure, because it’s too rigid. Instead I’ll be using Jami Gold’s Basic Beat Sheet. BUT if you liked Mary Carroll Moore’s W-story structuring method, you can find info all about it here.

Disclaimer: This is MY version of a plot break down. You might decide I’m entirely wrong and spewing nonsense, and that’s cool. It’s all relative.


For my ‘W’ movie I went on a trip with the Watsons in The Watsons Go To Birmingham.

And breaking it down…

Inciting incident: It’s 1963 and an older version of our MC, Kenny Watson, is narrating his summer adventure when he was 12 to Birmingham, Alabama, his mom’s home. The story really starts when Kenny’s parents arrange plans to visit his maternal grandmother down in the south (they call Michigan home).

End of the beginning: Kenny doesn’t tattle on his older brother, Byron “By” when he plans to run away from their parents’ punishment to keep the troubled By down in Birmingham with their Grandmother Sands.

Pinch point #1: For the upcoming trip, Kenny’s father buys the family a new music player – state-of-the-art for 1963. Kenny and his family leave early to avoid problems with racists on the road. They want to get to Birmingham early. Kenny and his family arrives in Birmingham and at first it looks just like their home in Flint, Michigan, but they soon realize that’s just a facade after they go out and they encounter hostility in a diner (where ‘coloreds’ are only allowed to eat around back). Then they encounter the same treatment at a theater, and Kenny doesn’t like how his skin color is loud and clear in the south. Not at all. The Watson children also meet their southern cousins, and they learn how these kids their age have marched in protests demanding equality from the white Southerners and the police and state. There’s a bill that’s up to pass to make segregation unlawful in education, the workplace, etc. Kenny can’t believe his cousins bravery! He couldn’t see himself ever sticking up for anything like that, not when he can’t even tell his school bullies to back off (Kenny’s a bit of a bookworm – cool kid to me). One more thing to note, Kenny and co. are warned off of Collier’s Landing, a lake that is off-limits because of a ‘whirlpool’ or ‘wooh pooh’.

Midpoint: Wanting to prove he’s brave, Kenny breaks away from Byron and his younger sister, Joette “Joey” to swim in the dangerous Collier’s Landing and show that ‘wooh pooh’ he isn’t a scared. Kenny gets in the water and he ends up panicking when he goes under and he sees a dark shadow before blacking out and waking up in Byron’s arms; his big bro (usually hassling him) is suddenly crying and kissing his head and calling him ‘baby bro’.

Pinch point #2: Kenny and By are suddenly in a much better space relationship-wise. By promises that he’ll watch over him and their mom and kid sister while their dad is away (he had to go back to Michigan for his job while the rest of the family takes their summer vacay in Birmingham). Kenny swears by the ‘wooh pooh’, but he keeps it to himself. No need to risk his mother and grandmother’s ire for disobeying, playing and nearly dying in Collier’s Landing. Kenny goes to church and he’s trying to act brave, but he’s scared and wants to come home. Finally it’s the end of vacation and his dad arrives to give them the lift home. But before they leave, they go to church in Birmingham one last time and Kenny’s sister, Joey, is singing in the choir. So for the occasion his grandmother buys her a pair of polished shoes to go with her beautiful white Sunday dress. Kenny walks her to choir practice at church and then he comes home, only to feel an explosion – those happen lots in Birmingham as whites and blacks struggle against each other – and once the family hears its the church that’s been struck, his parents and grandmother are off to find Joey. By is supposed to watch Kenny but he leaves to help too, and Kenny, trying to be brave, goes as well to recover Joey.

Crisis: Amidst the carnage, Kenny sees a pair of polished shoes in the rubble. Believing Joey to be dead, he looks up an sees the ‘wooh pooh’ and runs all the way back to his grandmother’s. Crying in his bed, Kenny suddenly sees Joey standing in front of him. She’s alive, she tells him, but he doesn’t believe her. Joey hears their mom and dad and goes to fetch them to help Kenny.

Climax: Back in Flint, Kenny is still afraid of the phantom ‘wooh pooh’ and he’s acting unlike himself. He’s got his parents, sister and even By worried. Then Kenny and By have a heart-to-heart and By comforts him. After all the events, By isn’t left behind with their grandmother and he has gotten better – he isn’t causing as much problems and he’s acting as an older brother should, protecting his younger siblings. Kenny doesn’t know if he’ll get better, but he takes his first step when he stands up to his bullies. Overhearing Kenny’s bravery,  By steps up and lets the bullies know that he’s got Kenny’s back. No one messes with the older, stronger, crasser By.

Resolution: Meanwhile they learn months later that the bill in Birmingham has been passed and segregation in education, the workplace, public places (i.e. diners, theaters, drinking fountains) has been deemed illegal. It’s a step in the right direction, and Kenny realizes that it’s love and only love that can be a balm to life’s injustices. Right now that’s the love of his family.

If you haven’t watched this movie, I recommend it. The actors really did feel like a family. It was cute and funny and heart-warming in the midst of the burgeoning of the civil rights movement. But if you have already watched it, did you cry at the ‘crisis’ moment?

As a bonus, and since I went to watch it last night, I’ll do a breakdown of The Huntsman: Winter’s War it as well under ‘W’ for Winter’s War.


promised myself I wouldn’t watch this movie after seeing the crap that the first movie was…yet here I am doing this plot breakdown. *facepalm*

So compared to Snow White & the Huntsman this prequel-sequel was, I’m delighted to report, much better. So much in fact that I’d warn you to avoid watching the first movie if you haven’t seen it yet. You honestly don’t need to watch it to see the Huntsman 2. Why? Because you know how the Snow White fairytale ends: SPOILER, the evil queen/stepmother is dethroned and killed, cool?

Let’s chop it up then:

Inciting incident: The Huntsman is approached by Snow White’s guards/army people and some advisor guy from the first movie (I think he was SW’s childhood friend). ANYWAYS, they find the Huntsman and ask him to see the Evil Queen, Ravenna’s mirror to a sanctuary where it can stop hurting people with its evil whisperings (if you’ve seen Oculus then picture that mirror).

End of the beginning: The Huntsman tracks the group carrying the mirror to the sanctuary – his job is to join their ranks and defend the mirror if a threat is in its path. When he arrives he’s too late: the party of SW’s soldiers was ambushed and the mirror stolen. It’s up to Huntsy to find it.

Pinch point #1: Surprise! His wife, Sara, is alive and she’s been hunting him down. Supposedly free of the Ice Queen, Freya and her Huntsman guard, Sara is searching for the mirror too. She doesn’t want Freya to seize her dead sister, Ravenna’s evil mirror, because it would make her invincible. Huntsy tags along because OMG his wife is alive and no more visiting her grave with flowers…also there’s the mirror to retrieve.

Midpoint: Sara sees Huntsy still has the pendant of her mother’s on. It was their form of a ‘wedding ring’ when they exchanged vows…to each other. She thaws and they have a great wonderful night of lovemaking. (Should have mentioned there were wicked cool goblin fight before this).

Pinch point #2: Huntsy almost lets the mirror’s evil whisperings into his heart. Freya’s army catches up with them and she’s there to take the mirror back to the North and her ice palace, put it to good use and all taking over the rest of the world (aka Snow White’s southern lands). SURPRISE! Sara is actually working for Freya still and she’s been waiting to snatch the mirror away to her Queen. What’s more she’s ordered by Freya to kill Huntsy and Sara, being a brilliant archer who never misses her target, pierces Huntsy’s chest without a blink. But Huntsy is alive and Sara tricks Freya by piercing her mother’s amulet/charm necklace instead – the necklace taking the most of the arrow’s fire.

Crisis: Knowing that she still loves him, Huntsy chases after Sara and plans to kill Freya dead and see the mirror back to said sanctuary. His stupid plan backfires before it starts because DOUBLE TROUBLE SURPRISE Ravenna is alive. She’s sorta been living in the mirror and Freya (accidentally) frees her. Now bossy Ravenna is trampling over Freya’s authority and Freya, always having been meeker, lets her sister do it. Huntsy and Sara are brought before the court and Freya, being sort of Ravenna’s puppet, plans to execute them right then and there.

Climax: BAM! Freya’s huntsmen guard all turn against the sisters – well, the majority of them (some A-holes are caught and easily subdued by said majority) and then a “war” starts. Freya freaks out that her Huntsmen are being oblierated by Ravenna’s powers so she does her weird screaming thing and an ice wall divides the throne room. With her and Ravenna on one side she finally confronts her sister. Turns out Ravenna was the one who killed Freya’s baby girl because she was destined to be more beautiful than Ravenna herself. The sister’s fight, Freya’s mortally wounded. Her ice wall breaks and the Huntsmen attack -by which I mean Sara and Huntsy since none of the other huntsmen are strong enough for Ravenna’s weird octopus-like ink tentacles. Sara is knocked out cold, Huntsy goes in for the kill. To help him out, Freya freezes the mirror and he chucks his ax at it, cracking it and killing Ravenna dead. Like hopefully for good, man.)

Resolution: Freya dies, the Ice Queen’s tyrannical reign has ended and the huntsmen leave and commence with the merry making in the courtyard, while Huntsy and Sara start kissing like there’s no tomorrow. Save it for after the credit roll, kids.

The voice-over guy telling this so-called fairy tale hints that there might be a third, but we all know there isn’t going to be. Not with the purported “$70m loss” and a poor opening weekend. Universal won’t be touching that with any decently sized stick.

Have you watched the first movie, Snow White & the Huntsman? Thumbs up, thumbs down?

Since this was a fairy tale retelling, which live-action retelling have you watched and liked? I particularly enjoyed CINDERELLA, MALEFICENT, MIRROR, MIRROR, and HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS (<- this one surprised me).

6 thoughts on “A-to-Z Challenge (2016 edition): W is for The Watsons Go To Birmingham AND Winter’s War

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Jen! BTW – I got my first rejection for this round of querying. Your rejection bingo idea has lifted my spirits so I bounced right back from it. 🙂


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