Twice the Despicable Fun with Brothers

Screen Shot 2017-07-08 at 7.40.11 AMImagine Gru if he were blond, rich, and handsome—okay, maybe not handsome, but equally entertaining. Gru’s brother Dru (both Steve Carell) seeks him out to assist him in learning the true ways of villainy. Meanwhile, Agnes has her own agenda—she plans on visiting a forbidden land and discovering a real live unicorn she can keep for her very own. Throw that in the mix with Lucy (Kristen Wiig) and her expectations to continue crime-fighting, despite being fired from their job (for failing at a capture), and you realize there’s no worse time for them to meet up with Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker).

Balthazar, with his bubble gum blowing, 80’s music jive-dancing, urge to continue where he left off as a child, refuses to give in—the way a spoiled child does when he doesn’t get his way. Balthazar decides to steal the world’s largest diamond, and the only way for Gru and Lucy to return to the Anti-Villain League is to capture him. But with Lucy tugging at one sleeve to capture bad guys and his twin Dru tantalizing him with doing what comes natural as a criminal, what decision will Gru make? And more importantly, who will the Minions serve, or will they venture off to find another big, bad, daddy?

Although this show was quite entertaining and omitted a few great laughs from the packed theater, it wasn’t as good as the first two movies. But was it good enough to attend the theater for and perhaps consider purchasing later? Yeah, definitely worth a night out with the kids for clean and unadulterated fun. Then share your thoughts!

 

On a scale of ten stars, this one receives —

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales – Sh, keep it to yourself!

Ain’t that the truth? Perhaps only dead men should be seeing this movie so they won’t tell anyone about it. None of the original players are involved from the score (film’s music) to the casting directors, 90% of the people holding this treasure of a film have folded. And the one-liners are real stinkers for the most part. Even the seasoned actors can’t arouse a giggle on some of them. That’s saying something, or is it?

The original crew is all but gone except for Jack Sparrow and his first mate, Gibbs. Sure, there are small appearances by Elizabeth Swann and William Turner, but the story’s plot is thin, predictable, and unless you see it in 3-D for the “Aw!” feeling, it could be a waste of over two hours of your valuable and irretrievable time. If it’s the sword fighting you’re interested in, watch the videos you already own.

The special fx aren’t too bad, but there are a few places throughout the film where they aren’t lined up correctly and it sort of jumps a bit. For example, the tower has a flame burning in it while the camera rotates around the opening. If you watch the turning flame, you’ll see. And there are little things throughout. The filmmakers appear to be skimping on the production. If you are brave enough to see it, please leave a comment displaying what you liked about it. But again, see it in 3-D. The vision of the antagonists’ hair which appears to be floating in water and waving throughout the production is pretty cool.

Then again, if you’re a teen and wanting a film to make-out to, this may be the “blockbuster” you’ve been waiting for. The main characters making their debut were Brenton Thwaites as Henry Turner, the offspring of Elizabeth and Will Turner, and Kaya Scodelario as Carina Smyth. Honestly, it’s unimaginable where they managed to get these two actors unless they have relatives in show business. Brenton was a bit stale, but he’ll come around to be a hit eventually. Kaya’s acting was nothing short of a kid reading a comic book. so she’s probably lucky she has the breasts to draw the audience’s attention.

I have to say I was a bit disappointed because I thought they would reveal the way Will Turner managed to get the gold coin around his neck from his father, as displayed in the first movie. Many times when there are several movies tied together, they’ll loop around and attach. Sadly, this series had none of that. They did, however, cast an interesting group for some of the scenes hoping to arouse curiosity if nothing else. They even managed to book Paul McCartney as a last-ditch savior. Let’s hope they can leave the blockbuster movies where they are without creating any more stink for them, eh?

On a rating of 10 possible stars, this film produces only a mediocre 5, which is extremely disappointing for any Jerry Bruckheimer movie.

Cast

 

TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY

 

Having read the book for my own school studies in college, I only read it because of it being an assignment. I didn’t feel like wrapping myself up in an unstable way of thinking would benefit me. Everyone has pain, this is true. And the physical and mental changes of puberty certainly impact them tremendously, but is this work fanning the fire? By getting in the hands of the right student, certainly, the way any medication has the ability to do. But I have two kids, a 15-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl. Do I think it’s acceptable for them to watch? Read on, because suicides are among us at all ages.

Now Netflix has created a one-season drama surrounding the novel and the results are like a hot iron across the face of America. Some are standing in protest, some embrace the openness of the subject, and others consider the work acceptance of their own suicidal behavior – actually prompting kids to consider the option.

What’s the difference between reading a book and seeing a movie? First, the content. The book is written from Hannah’s perspective, never allowing us to understand the other characters’ opinions or their experiences into why their minds perceive things in a specific way. The book doesn’t allow the clear insight for us to understand the other characters as emotional people – just “the others” who are to blame. But the book is also a lot less graphic in the sexual scenes, teen drinking, vicious behavior, and blood.

The movie, on the other hand, allows us into a close and personal view of why the other characters are doing what they do – the abuse they’re surviving, the secrets of their own lives they’re hiding, etc. Nobody’s perfect – truly, but that doesn’t mean people stop striving for the perfectionism their parents, teachers, siblings, and romantic interests anticipate. People expect a lot. And the more they get, the more they need. This is why perfectionism is never quite met.

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In our society, special fx disguise the reality of film, literature has a faster pace, even discussions at school at more exposed than what was acceptable years ago. Advertising suffocates us on the freeways, in magazines, on television and movie screens. Blemish-free and thin heroes adorn the scenery beckoning others to “get fit” and eat this way or that. “Copy me!” they seem to shout. And here they are again.

At the beginning of the article, I presented the question as to whether or not this material should be shared with our youth. This depends on the parents and the relationship with their children. My two kids? Yep, they saw it. However, eyes were shielded as Hannah held the razor to her wrist and a few other choice scenes where descriptions suffice. They didn’t need to see the act to understand what was happening – after all, the entire show centered around suicide. But, I would stop the show every once in a while and we would discuss some of the alternatives Hannah could have made at that point. For example, going to parties in high school where parents aren’t visible but underaged drinking is? A clear invitation to disaster.

Some of the scenes were clearly fictitious, such as a whiskey flask at a school dance being openly passed between students – doesn’t happen. And half the student body appears tattooed when you are to be 18 before a parlor legally sees you without parental consent. Other things were easily imagined, such as the graffiti on the bathroom walls at the school, and photos being taken and shared among peers. I’ve seen some of these things myself and often wondered what words the students must hear throughout the day before witnessing it permanently on a wall or on a screen. And how much of the crap is hearsay or completely made up by some girl who wasn’t chosen as a prom date, or a guy who was one-upped by another? It happens.

If you plan on having your child watch this show, please be responsible enough to watch it and discuss what is happening. If you decide not to watch it, make sure your child has made the same decision. If not, chances are they’ll watch it without you.

By the way, producer Selena Gomez states we should all be prepared for the next season. I suppose it stirred up enough controversy, producers have decided to wring it out for what it’s worth! Seems like they took a pseudo positive spin and took off while it’s hot. While some argue the sex, violence, drinking and tattoos boasts a “reality check” for kids, others may disagree. Then again, we may need to stop and ask where our focus is.

 Core Cast
Dylan Minnette Dylan Minnette
 Clay Jensen (13 episodes, 2017)
Katherine Langford Katherine Langford
 Hannah Baker (13 episodes, 2017)
Christian Navarro Christian Navarro
 Tony Padilla (13 episodes, 2017)
Alisha Boe Alisha Boe
 Jessica Davis (13 episodes, 2017)
Brandon Flynn Brandon Flynn
 Justin Foley (13 episodes, 2017)
Justin Prentice Justin Prentice
 Bryce Walker (13 episodes, 2017)
Miles Heizer Miles Heizer
 Alex Standall (13 episodes, 2017)
Ross Butler Ross Butler
 Zach Dempsey (13 episodes, 2017)
Devin Druid Devin Druid
 Tyler Down (13 episodes, 2017)
Amy Hargreaves Amy Hargreaves
 Lainie Jensen (13 episodes, 2017)
Derek Luke Derek Luke
 Kevin Porter (13 episodes, 2017)
Kate Walsh Kate Walsh
 Olivia Baker (13 episodes, 2017)

 

 

 

 

Beauty and the Feast for Your Eyes

Everyone is familiar with the story of Beauty and the Beast, so it’s always a special treat when a new release comes out on video, especially with the FX cropping up weekly. I planned on going with a Meetup Group, sort of a girls’ night out, without kids. I cried a few times and was relieved my kids didn’t see me blubber like a baby. Of course, if I’d gone to the correct theater, the group would have seen me sobbing. That’s right, I was in my recliner watching the movie all alone. I was also relieved I was alone when 1/4 of the way through, I realized I had accidentally put my workout bra on. It was pinching me ruthlessly throughout the movie, until I did the old “pull your arms into your sleeves and take the bra off” trick, stuffing it into my purse. Again, glad to have no witnesses.

As far as Emma Watson goes, she’ll always have that innocent and childlike glow about her, but Luke Evans as “Gaston”? Now there’s a prize to sing about! Sure, he’s sort of a jerk, unlike the other roles he’s played, and it was a nice switcheroo for a change, but he’s always hot. His sidekick LaFou, played by Josh Gad (the fun voice playing “Olaf” in Frozen) did a fabulous job as he always does. And the two of them appear to get along marvelously, as they do on this prank! But even being naughty, Luke Evans couldn’t be on Santa’s Naughty List because, according to Gaston, he’s worth every look. And, as a single, middle-aged divorcee, I’d have to agree. Still, all three men got along great.

The animation of the film was beautifully done with only a few, minor errors, but a film is film and the important aspects are the storyline and actors, like one of my favorites, Kevin Kline. There were some big names involved in this movie, most of whom couldn’t be placed by their voice alone, as Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson. Ewan McGregor and Stanley Tucci are a couple of my all-time favorites.

No gore or specifically scary images, unless you count the Beast, but that’s not unexpected. And quite frankly, with those blue eyes, I sort of liked the big hairy Beast a fraction more than the timid-looking Dan Stevens. I’m unsure why, but he didn’t come across as the hero type if you get what I mean. He danced okay, but imagining him fighting off wolves? Not so much. Believe this role should have been someone brawnier.

Would my kids have enjoyed it? I doubt it. They’d rather see Boss Baby with Alec Baldwin. This movie was sort of a split. The storyline clung to the original tale for the most part, but the emotional state was for the more mature crowd.

I know everyone was ranting and raving over this movie’s original showing, but I’m glad I didn’t rush for tickets. Perhaps it would have been better in 3D. It’s evident a lot of time, energy, money, and overall work went into the making. I give it three stars.  *  *  *

 

Un-Smurfing Believable

The Smurfs have been around for years, but have taken the leap from Saturday morning cartoons from 40 years ago to the theaters where they can rock the world of little kids. Personally, I was a bit disappointed to find many characteristics reflecting Trolls from a few months ago. But after arguing incessantly with my 10-year-old daughter about how little people are protecting their village while singing and dancing, and also the main protagonist is a misunderstood female, I gave in. No particular reason except that this film wasn’t made with me in mind as much as the little ones.

Some of the main points of the film, however, is that while many of us have our specialties and talents we’re known for, some people are considered the “Jack (or Jill) of all trades.” In some instances, being refined in numerous areas is a huge benefit for problem-solving. Although Smurfette didn’t originate as a little blue creature when Gargamel first created her, inside, that’s who she truly is and rebrands that at the beginning of the movie in case you aren’t aware.

Little kids should be taught the lesson that even though people are different from them, everyone has something useful to add to the lives of others. In this instance, the Smurfs have good reason to be grateful that Smurfette isn’t truly a blueberry skinned comrade.

And let’s not forget that while Trolls had Justine Timberlake and Anna Kendrick, The Smurfs have a few talented tricks up their tiny sleeves too. Meghan Trainor does her part to exemplify the beauty of being a strong and independent woman.

And, of course, they have other big names on their payroll, as they have every time. The question isn’t whether or not these names have a price tag attached to them as when will this movie on the sale rack? I really found that given the choice between Smurfs and Trolls, the former would win hands down. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the talents of such as Julia Robers as the reincarnated “Pretty Woman,” former actor of Dwight Schrute from “The Office” as Gargamel, and Demi Lovato as Smurfette.

By and by, if you have nothing better to do with your time, it’s rainy outside and you want to spend time doing something your children will enjoy, this film has lots of colors.

On the scale of 1 – 5, Smurfs: The Lost Village gets a well-deserved THREE! I gave it an extra star because there were no lewd humorous remarks or two-level innuendos.

Trolling for a Good Time? Don’t Miss Out

Ventured out on this beautiful day and grabbed a totally uplifting film that’s great for the family. I laughed so loud my son told me to quit embarrassing him. But if you can’t laugh aloud, what’s the point, right?

Anna Kendrick playing Poppy and Justin Timberlake as Branch are a wonderful chiming of maniacal talent in this fantastic show of never leaving friends behind and sticking to the plan no matter what. Of course, Zooey Deschanel plays Bridget, an outcast Bergen who needs a great plan to overcome her odds in winning the heart of the king, teams up with the two trolls. Together, they must find a way to overcome the chef, played by Christine Baranski, who was marvelous. Russell Brand is back in United States showbiz with the role of deceitful troll Creek. And then, of course, we have the incredible voice talents of Gwen Stefani.

With plentiful laughs and wonderful singing, I say you should leave feeling pretty happy.

Tantalizing Adventures with Moana

 

The best family movie of the year, Moana (played by gorgeous newcomer Auli’i Cravalho) represents a new bravery. A little girl struggles against her own self-doubt. No one, other than her crazy as Indian corn grandmother, believes in her. Her protective father, Chief Tui (played by Temuera Morrison), forbids her to go beyond the reef yet encourages her training to be the Chief-in-Training.

The spirits of the ocean beckon her. Moana makes a subtle attempt quickly giving up until her Gramma Tala (Rachel House), known as the island’s whack-job convinces her differently.  It isn’t until her grandmother’s final dying wish is for Moana to save the island and her people by breaking the rule, traveling the forbidden waters. Moana learns she must trust in nature and her heart following her destiny and locating Maui (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), the demi-god who stole the heart of Te Fiti, requiring his assistance to get her there. Dwayne states why he truly enjoys this role so closely linked to his own Polynesian heritage here.

There are several reasons this film is a must see. The scenery and songs (including infamous bad guy Jermaine Clement) are captivating. The famed ex-wrestler, The Rock, charms us with his singing voice, without even laying eyes on his dazzling smile. Plus, the show allows us a peek into another culture even inviting us to believe in Moana, cheering her on in breaking free for herself and her people before time runs out.

There are no love interests, no perverse humor, yet awe-inspiring story keeping us enthralled and on the edge of our seat the entire way. A rare pearl in today’s film industry that shouldn’t be missed.

Moana is rated PG because of the furious lava monster’s need for revenge, but there is no blood or raw humor, and nothing but happy tears throughout.

The Secret Life of Pets is Revealed

Universal Studio did some amazing things with this film’s animation. Some of the attitudes and activities these pets do can easily be imagined as happening in one of the homes of the writers. Hopefully not the dachshund with the mixer, but to each his own.

If your little ones love pets as much as my 9-year-old date, the plot doesn’t matter much. In this case, that’s a good thing. Momma’s stockings have a lot more to hide than the happenings of this show. That hardly seems to matter because, throughout the entire show, people were cracking up. We got to see animals wiggling their derrieres at us throughout the show and urinating. I guess nowadays that’s funny to see as if it hasn’t been happening all along, but the kids seemed to enjoy it.

Speaking of letting a little liquid loose, if you are a big laugher who drinks a lot of soda, make sure to use the facilities before entering if you’re wearing drawstring pants. The consequences can be devastating if the strings tangle into a knot. Not that this happened, but I will no longer wear pull string pants to a theater.

The kids seemed to enjoy this, as did the guffaws of a few adults. However, the little ones were so hammered with advertising they were almost finished before the actual movie started. It’s best when you have little tykes if you have reserved seating, to wait about 5 minutes after starting time to prevent the wiggles from breaking out. A few started getting restless and even crying a bit more than halfway through. Thank goodness their parents removed them politely from the theater. Also, make sure to hand around partially through the credits. One of the cutest parts of the movie is seeing the pups dressed in costumes.

The graphics were excellent, the voices were great, but the plot was thin. Again, tiny kids loved it for a little while, but seeing as how most of them can’t type, you’ll have an adult’s opinion to work with today.

On the scale rating this movie, it deserves no less than a 6.5. Then again, if you’ve seen it, leave us your feedback on what you thought of the show.

Finding Dory is Excruciatingly Enjoyable

We all remember little Nemo who barely escaped the nest as blue collar escargot, but the friends he made along the way have their own stories, too. Dory was a favorite with her happy-go-lucky attitude that caused everyone to smile. This film is a little different because viewing the story from her point of view sheds a new and saddening light on the subject. That isn’t to say the ending doesn’t do the plot just good. It certainly does.

Ellen DeGeneres breathes life into this blue tang fish without giving it mouth-to-mouth and has the audience laughing and pondering at the same time. This film is both entertaining and educational at the same time, which is great for kids to secretly learn while having fun. Filled with humor, anecdotes, and lessons about taking one step at a time, or is it swimming one swoosh at a time? Anyway, the importance of not giving up.

Of course, she meets all types of ocean life throughout her journey, but the friends she makes now help her to find her long lost friend of a lifetime, Nemo. This is a must-see for parents taking their kids for a night of family fun, or a single parent to bond with a child. And, of course, as with all Disney movies of late, your job is to seek which character joyously exclaims, “This is amazing!”

This film easily ranks up there with Finding Nemo, which is rare for a second film to do so well. Pixar and Disney have managed to deliver a powerful blow yet again with this one.

We rate this a strong 8 out of 10 stars and encourage you to at least see it if not buy it.

If you dare to take a peek, make sure and post your own review alongside this one! People deserve to hear your opinion, right?

 

Avengers: Age of Ultron

The problem with serial movies is the writers become lazy and figure they’ve won the audience, and even if the sequel stinks, they’ll get their fans’ invested dollars. Sort of like, “If you build it, they will come,” because the ratings are already there. That’s why there are so many sequels to begin with when making movies and remakes. Fortunately for the fans of Avengers, this film was written with high tenaciousness. The audience will revel and cheer while sitting back and observing what happens when Joss Whedon does his magic.

In order to simplify the 2 hour and 21 minute feature by revealing the best part, let me start by saying the whole movie was fairly kick ass. In fact I didn’t even know until the credits at the end that James Spader is Ultron, and boy did he nail it! The usual suspects punch their way across the screen with characters Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), and Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Their interviews always lead the viewer inside to the personalities of the actors, which is always fascinating when revealing their characters strengths and weaknesses.

This PG-13 movie’s rating boasts high due to the astounding special effects created using CGI by their artists. With a 220 million dollar budget, this film made over $200 million it’s first weekend, but with the last movie grossing over $1.5 billion, this won’t leave any workers of this project in the bread line.

With this film performing so well at the box office, either we can anticipate an even better film from Joss Whedon with Avengers, or waiting for the next and greater work of him could be anything – perhaps a movie about a young displaced school girl making the most of an unfamiliar situation? Who knows? One thing we all know is that it’s bound to be a blockbuster.

Joss Whedon is the sails beneath artist Stan Lee's wings.

Joss Whedon is the sails beneath artist Stan Lee’s wings.

On the Ten-Star Review, this movie receives a 9!

The only reason this work doesn’t receive a 10 is we want some space for improvement on the next venture.