Archive for the Family Category

The Secret Life of Pets

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Living an easy life, happy terrier Max sees his world upended when his owner brings home Duke, a mongrel Max regards as a loser. But the two soon find themselves allied against a horde of abandoned pets looking to turn the tables on humans.

What people are saying:

“In much the same way that the smash Zootopia demonstrated that creatures of different culture and class and species are better off when they come together, The Secret Life of Pets is a testament to teamwork and friendship and fixing the rifts that divide us. Let the fur – and the warm, fuzzy feelings – fly.” 3 stars

“Draws on the universal experience of pet ownership to draw out the “awww” in all of us. But the film butt-scoots by on its premise. There’s not much more going on, thematically or emotionally below the surface.” 3 1/2 stars

“Quite disappointed. Not at all what I was expecting from the trailer! I thought this was going to be a cute, funny movie about the trouble that pets will get into everyday but then hide all evidence of it just before the owners get home. No not at all. It’s a movie about a big dumb bully who goes out of his way to destroy the life-style of the main character. But wait, it changes to “oh let’s work together and we can all be friends BS”. Ugh. more moral crap. And don’t forget, there’s psycho bunny who wants to kill all humans! At least he’s funny.” 1 star

“It certainly won’t be winning any awards for originality and you’ll probably feel like you’ve seen the story a thousand times before, but with its colorful animation, great voice cast and enough funny moments sprinkled throughout, particularly when it comes down to finding clever ways of portraying the typical animal behavior that all pet owners will recognize, it may be just charming and cute enough to hold your attention.” 2 1/2 stars

“The problem with The Secret Life of Pets is that we’ve seen it before. This movie borrows most of its tricks from Toy Story, Oliver & Company, Flushed Away and other animated features that came before it. It doesn’t really have anything to make it stand out from the crowd. This isn’t a bad movie, it just isn’t anything special.” 3 stars

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Trolls

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Inspired by the beloved troll dolls that have entertained kids for decades, this animated tale follows the always-happy Princess Poppy and her grouchy survivalist companion Branch as they embark on a journey that takes them into an unfamiliar world.

What people are saying:

“combines the barely-there characterization and irritating cutesiness of The Smurfs and Jelly Jamm with the hideous character design and awful pop covers of Strange Magic” 3 stars

“”Trolls” combines dreadful kindergarten humor (one troll poops cupcakes) with a feeble plot, much padded with high-fructose-corn-syrup versions of pop and R&B classics.” 1 1/2 stars

“Cute and colorful with some great voice work from an all-star cast and some of the dialogue is definitely geared towards the adults in the audience. The synthesized music gets a bit cloying after a while and the nod to Cinderella is…well…what it is. As it goes it’s decent family entertainment” 3 1/2 stars

“What a perfect example of this stupid generation I’m apart of. All the millionnials who don’t know how to do anything useful and they think as long as their happy life is good when there’s so much more to it than that.
Reminds me of all the people I hate.” 1 1/2 stars

“Wow, I was not expecting this to be this good. It’s bright, colorful, vivid, trippy, and the songs chosen for the musical numbers (That’s right, this is a musical featuring mostly 20th-21st century pop hits plus some original songs as well.) are fantastic. The story is pretty simple, and the whole thing kind of reminds me of a 90’s Saturday morning cartoon updated for the modern day. Anna Kendrick was my favorite voice actor here, and is bubbly, cute and adorable. Trolls is a painless, enjoyable film” 3 stars

The BFG

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on July 15, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Roald Dahl’s spooky children’s book is transformed into a family-friendly fantasy centering on young orphan Sophie, who meets a colossus called the Big Friendly Giant — who’s exiled from his peers for refusing to eat boys and girls.

What people are saying:

“…this splendid Steven Spielberg-directed adaptation makes it possible for audiences of all ages to wrap their heads around one of the unlikeliest friendships in cinema history, resulting in the sort of instant family classic “human beans” once relied upon Disney to deliver.” 4 stars

“An undeniable master at telling deeply affecting matinee-style tales, [Spielberg’s] 29th feature retains enough magical elements from the source novel to delight kids and captivate adults.” 4 1/2 stars

“This is one of the few Roald Dahl books I’ve never read, so I can’t speak for the accuracy regarding the book, but I thought this movie was brilliant of its own accord. The graphics are beautiful, the story is touching and the acting is perfect. I honestly only planned to see it because I’m willing to see just about anything Disney releases, but I was very impressed and will definitely be seeing this again.” 4 stars

“The animated ’89 version of The BFG was a staple of my youth, so naturally I was excited for a Steven Spielberg redo. Unfortunately, I don’t think the tale lends itself well to the live action format. That, or the hands making this piece were unable to concentrate the narrative to where it went. In either case, the end product is a film with many tiny endearing moments of nostalgia that at no point come together to create a laudable whole.” 2 stars

“Well acquainted with the quirky Roald Dahl books from when I was a kid, I enjoyed this and it’s pleasing to see that Disney didn’t water it down. The screenplay was penned by the late Mellissa Matheson (ET The Extra Terrestrial) and the CGI was visually superb and believable. Infact, the warm-hearted giant was rendered very lifelike (looking as he did, like Liam Neeson!) and terrifically voiced.” 3 1/2 stars

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 1, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

When Bikini Bottom’s livelihood is threatened after a pirate steals the secret Krabby Patty recipe, SpongeBob and his pals head to shore to get it back. But the animated crew will have to get tough to face the live-action villain on land.

What people are saying:

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water won’t win over many viewers who aren’t fans of the show, but for the converted, it’s another colorful burst of manic fun.” 3 1/2 stars

“The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” remains true to the surrealism of its animated television roots. But it also tries to force a live-action element which isn’t as comfortable a fit as a certain pair of symmetrical trousers.” 3 1/2 stars

“It’s a great way to say goodbye to thI remember loving Spongebob as a kid, and this brings me back to my childhood! It reminds me of Spongebob back in the good old days. I can see how people would find the mixture of computer-animation and live-action distracting whenever the characters would go to the surface, but I don’t find it too bothersome. Besides, they don’t go to the surface until the final act, so most of the movie still has that 2D traditional hand-drawn format that the TV show has. If you love the first SpongeBob movie, then chances are, you’ll probably love the second one.e part of my childhood that was a Spongebob fan who lost his interest in the show catching glimpses of the horrible recent episodes of the show. It feels like a film, though probably filmed in a very short time period and made easily with the directors sitting at a table thinking up of the most ridiculous things they could think of and finishing the script in less than a week…but it’s a fun film. Batshit insane, sure…but it’s fun. I enjoyed it.” 3 stars

“I remember loving Spongebob as a kid, and this brings me back to my childhood! It reminds me of Spongebob back in the good old days. I can see how people would find the mixture of computer-animation and live-action distracting whenever the characters would go to the surface, but I don’t find it too bothersome. Besides, they don’t go to the surface until the final act, so most of the movie still has that 2D traditional hand-drawn format that the TV show has. If you love the first SpongeBob movie, then chances are, you’ll probably love the second one.” 4 1/2 stars

“Despite what Nick’s advertising would have you believe, SpongeBob is a brilliant show that a person of any age can enjoy. Well it used to be. SpongeBob was brilliant in its first 3 seasons and decent in seasons 4 and 5. However in season 6 the quality tanked the show became an annoying and boring shell of its former self with Choir Boys being the series’ masterpiece of failure. Sponge out of Water however managed to be a laugh-out loud ride that brought back my childhood love of the show. The movie is colorful and bursting with creativity, all while showing the immense comedic talents of the cast and characters creating one of the stronger 2010’s comedies.” 4 1/2 stars

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Through a series of misunderstandings, Alvin, Simon and Theodore come to believe that Dave is going to propose to his new girlfriend in Miami…and dump them. They have three days to get to him and stop the proposal, saving themselves not only from losing Dave but possibly from gaining a terrible stepbrother.

What people are saying:

“In some respects, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip is a marginal improvement over prior installments, although this in no way qualifies as a recommendation.” 1 star

“A cute and harmless family movie which will definitely gain the approval of the kids as the three most famous chipmunks venture to Miami with a stereotypical rebelling teen. Despite a predictable plot, the film makes a decent enough movie for children to enjoy.” 3 stars

“I think Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise should’ve quit after the second movie. The third one was boring at best. We had four kids with us. They were pretty bored after the first 30 minutes. There were some good songs but they did not make up for the very forced story line. Save your money and watch it on a rental.” 2 stars

“Irritating characters, little semblance of a plot, weak gags, and sub-par performances … result in a film that doesn’t even have enough going on to interest a five-year-old.” 1 star

“Definitely better than the third movie, which, unfortunately, was pretty lame. “The Road Chip” had some great music and was genuinely funny in many places. Though I agree with some other reviews that this was not a movie particularly geared toward young children, I think that young adults ages 12 or 13 on up, including adults, would really appreciate it. Younger children would like the music and some of the comedic lines and scenes, too.” 4 stars

Alice Through the Looking Glass

Posted in Action/Adventure, Family, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In this trippy sequel to the 2010 blockbuster “Alice in Wonderland,” young Alice returns from several years at sea and again passes through to the magical landscape, where she ends up journeying into the past to try to save the Mad Hatter.

What people are saying:

“A solid kids’ movie in the old style. One with something to say about something real – family and time- and a willingness to admit consequences, even as it serves up goofy humor, mild thrills, and slippy-slidey accents from slumming stars.” 2 stars

“It deviated from the actual book, but that doesn’t mean it was not entertaining. It had good messages about positive attitudes for women not to be victims of circumstance. A much needed improvement from much of the stuff many kids are watching now. ” 5 stars

“The charm found in the first Alice in Wonderland is definitely missing in the sequel. The story is a mix match of going in the past future time etc. The plot that is way too confusing for most children even some adults. The acting isn’t anything great most of the actors you can tell look like they’re in front of a green screen. Some of the special effects were nice and there’s some creativity to be found in this movie but in the end it just didn’t come together very well.” 2 stars

“I never read the Alice in Wonderland books, but I doubt this is one of them. Yes, it has that zany twisted quality you expect in Wonderland, but there is a theme running through the movie that gives it a scifi depth, “Why can’t I go back in time and change the past?” Most of the characters from the first movie are back and Cohen’s Time fits in Wonderfully. ” 5 stars

“the most offensive kind of film…one that spends an enormous amount of money yet seems to have nothing on its mind but money. You give it, they take it. And you get nothing in return but assurances that you’re seeing magic and wonder. The movie keeps repeating it in your ear, and flashing it onscreen in big block letters: MAGIC AND WONDER. MAGIC AND WONDER. But there is no magic, no wonder, just junk rehashed from a movie that was itself a rehash of Lewis Carroll, tricked out with physically unpersuasive characters and landscapes and ‘action scenes’, with blockbuster ‘journey movie’ tropes affixed to every set-piece as blatantly as Post-It Notes” 1 star

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement

Posted in Chick Flicks, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Five years after the first film, Crown Princess of Genovia Amelia “Mia” Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) has just graduated from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School and is returning to Genovia with her bodyguard Joe (Héctor Elizondo). There, she will await her reign once her grandmother, Queen Clarisse (Julie Andrews), steps down as Queen. During Mia’s 21st birthday party, she dances with all the eligible bachelors in hope of finding a husband. She becomes attracted to a handsome gentleman named Nicholas (Chris Pine). During the course of the night, Mia’s tiara falls off and is caught by a Member of Parliament, Viscount Mabrey (John Rhys-Davies) who secretly plans to steal Mia’s crown. While the Parliament is in-session the next morning, Mia stumbles upon a hidden room that allows her to secretly listen in. Viscount Mabrey reveals his nephew, Lord Devereaux, is another heir to the Genovian throne. Despite Queen Clarisse’s objection, the only way Mia can assume her duties as Queen is if she marries within the month. Clarisse invites Lord Devereaux to stay at the palace, while Mia is shocked to discover Lord Devereaux is Nicholas. Mia’s best friend Lilly Moscovitz (Heather Matarazzo) surprises her by visiting. Together, they pick through potential husbands. Mia eventually chooses Andrew Jacoby (Callum Blue), Duke of Kenilworth and days later they are engaged. Mabrey plans to have Nicholas woo Mia and dissolve the engagement.

For a ceremony, Mia is to ride sidesaddle but does not know how. Queen Clarisse provides an ancestral wooden leg decoy to make it look like she’s riding sidesaddle. Mabrey spooks Mia’s horse with a rubber snake and Joe rushes to Mia’s aide, but accidentally tears off the wooden leg. Humiliated, Mia flees to the stables, where Nicholas fails to comfort her. At a garden party, Mia and Nicholas quarrel about Mia’s relationship with Andrew; Nicholas tricks Mia into admitting she doesn’t love him. Angered, she argues but instead gets bombarded by a kiss. At first, she kisses him back but then backs away. Nicholas pursues her even more, which causes both of them to fall into a fountain. Queen Clarisse finally tells Mia that her behavior with Nicholas needs to stop.

During the Genovian Independence Day parade, Mia sees some boys picking on a little girl (Abigail Breslin), and abruptly halts the parade to comfort the girl. Learning the children are orphans, Mia has a vendor give them all tiaras and lets them walk with her in the parade. Everyone is impressed by her act of generosity, while Mabrey sees it as a political maneuver. Mia later decides to convert one of the royal palaces into a temporary children’s center. That night, Mia has her bachelorette/sleepover party, where Queen Clarisse surfs on a mattress and sings a duet with Princess Asana (Raven-Symoné), one of Mia’s good friends. In the meantime, Mabrey realizes Nicholas has fallen for Mia, but Nicholas says that Mia will never love him. Nicholas comes upon Mia as she is practicing her archery as part of her coronation rites. He helps her succeed in getting the arrow to hit the bullseye, something she had been struggling with. Nicholas then informs Mia that he is leaving, but asks to see her just one more time before he goes. She declines, saying she is under close guard.

That night, Nicholas appears outside Mia’s window and asks her to come out. Lilly encourages her to go, and Mia sneaks out. They ride out to a lake where they share secrets, dance and eventually fall asleep. They awaken to find a man in a boat videotaping them. Mia thinks Nicholas set her up, while he insists he had no idea. By the time Mia gets back to the palace, the scandalous footage is already being broadcast. Andrew is disappointed and kisses Mia to see if there is a romantic spark between them. They realize they do not love each other, but do not call off the wedding for the good of Genovia. The wedding is to take place the following day, and Mia’s mother Helen (Caroline Goodall) comes with her new husband Patrick (Sean O’Bryan) and their newborn son Trevor. Nicholas decides against attending, but his surly housekeeper Gretchen informs him that Mabrey engineered their televised scandal.

Right before the wedding, Joe informs Mia that Nicholas is innocent. Queen Clarisse encourages Mia to follow her heart, something she has never done and has now cost her Joe, the only man she truly loved. Mia reenters the church, and after pointing out how her grandmother has ruled Genovia while unmarried for a number of years, she tells the members of parliament in the audience to consider the significant women in their lives (such as their wives, sisters, daughters and nieces) and questions if they would have them do what they’re trying to force her to do (marrying people they don’t love). Mabrey cites the law again and once again suggests that his nephew be named King, but just then, Nicholas not only refuses the crown, but also disowns Mabrey as his uncle. Mia proposes the law on royal marriages be abolished, and the Parliament unanimously gives its assent. Encouraged by Mia to have her own happy ending, Clarisse proposes to Joe and they are promptly married.

About a week later, Mia is preparing for her coronation when Nicholas shows up. He professes his love for Mia on bended knees, and they share a romantic kiss. The next day, Mia is crowned “Her Majesty Amelia Mignonette Thermopolis Renaldi, Queen of Genovia”, with all in attendance in the royal palace.

An epilogue shows that Genovian Parliament now allows female members, one of whom is Charlotte. And Queen Mia officially opens the children’s home

REVIEW:

Sometimes when the end credits roll on a film you wonder if you will ever see the characters again and what will they be up to the next time we see them, should we be privileged enough to see them again. This was the case with The Princess Diaries. The film ended in a way that left the audience wondering what happens next. Enter The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, a film that I swear I was not meant to see (up until tonight, I have never been able to watch it straight through for various reasons). With all that aside, let’s see if this film is comparable to its predecessor.

What is this about?

Directed by Garry Marshall, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement picks up where its predecessor left off — that is, with American teenager Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) reeling over the news that she is a princess within the royal family of Genovia, a little-known European nation with a population of barely 50,000. As promised, Mia, along with her best friend, Lilly (Heather Matarazzo), travels to Genovia after their high-school graduation. The unlikely princess has hardly settled into the castle, let alone begun representing the country, when she learns that a larger title is approaching more rapidly than expected; it seems as though Mia will have to take over as queen. Suddenly, in addition to further schooling on the etiquette of royalty, Mia finds herself with a daunting prospect — according to Genovian law, all princesses must be married before they can be crowned.

What did I like?

One more once. Not too long before the first film was made, Julie Andrews underwent surgery on her throat/vocal chords. The operation was a success, but she was no longer allowed to sing. I’m not sure what happened, but we get a song from her during the slumber party, albeit nowhere near as strong a vocal performance as we expect from her. Still, it is great to hear her sing a few notes.

In her skin. In this second time out, Anne Hathaway, as Princess Mia, seems much more confident both as an actress and the character as a royal. Can you imagine what this would have been like if she was still bumbling around like she was when we first met her? Granted, she does still have those moments that remind us that while she is the would be queen, the clumsy prep school girl is still in there somewhere.

Grandmother. Julie Andrews’ character is on her way out of the royal spotlight and off the throne as Mia takes her rightful place as ruler of Genovia. It is because of this that I think she is able to not be such a “stick in the mud” and be more of a grandmother towards her granddaughter. We get a few scenes where she is chewing her out, of course, but for the most part, she is the dream grandmother we all wish we had. She had poise, class, elegance, compassion…not to mention she’s Julie Freakin’ Andrews!!!

What didn’t I like?

Nevermore. Aside from her best friend, Lily, who was flown in from California (and felt a bit forced into the film), Mia seems to be close to Princess Asana. There are two glaring issues I want to bring up with this. First, if they are so close, why is Asana only in a couple of scenes? Second, who is she? How did they meet? Why are they so close? Mia grew up with Lily and they were both outsider freaks in high school, so we know that’s why they were so close, but with Asana, we get none of that. She’s just a random character that gets to sing with Julie Andrews.

Formula 1. Is it me or with every film, book, or tv show that involves a royal change of power of sorts, we get someone who wants to prove they are next in line. This is such a cliché’ nowadays. One could tell what was going to happen before it actually does, just by the film’s title and the type of film this is. Come on filmmakers, be creative!

Lionel. Joe, who is retiring when the Queen leaves the throne, is sacked with an intern in his last days. What I found odd about this guy was how he reminded me of Michael from the first film, but with darker skin and slightly shorter hair. This got me thinking…with the way Mia fawned over Michael in the first film, wouldn’t it have been a cool idea for him to show up as Lionel in disguise and be her dream ending? Of course, then Chris Pine’s whole character in this film would be worthless, but he goes on too much bigger and better things after this, so he’ll be fine.

Final verdict on The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement? Let’s see…it repeats some of the same notes from the first film. The soundtrack isn’t as catchy this go-round. Chemistry among the characters is so-so, but I actually believed it in the archery scene with Hathaway and Pine. The mattress surfing scene was perhaps the most fun part of the film. Do I recommend this? Yes, a good (non animated) family film is hard to find. While not great, it is somewhat entertaining and that’s worth something. However, I would suggest going for the first film, if you can.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars