Friday, August 18, 2017

Gone on vacation

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I'm in Europe right now, having an amazing vacation in several countries, so I won't be posting any movie reviews until I get back in September!

Of course, movies are always on my mind.  In fact, I just sat on the bench in Amsterdam as seen in the movie "The Fault in Our Stars."  Quite a few other tourists had the same idea when we got there.
So many fun things to see an experience, so little time!

If you live in any of the following countries, I'd love to hear any travel tips you have for me:
The Netherlands

More Movie Review Mom posts to come!

Leap is inspiring, gorgeous, and will make you dream bigger

Movie Title:  LEAP

Grade:  A-

Rating:  PG, 89 minutes

In a Nutshell:  This gorgeous family-friendly film paints Paris with an incredibly charming stroke, created by the L’Atelier Animation Studio in France.  You’re easily transported back to 19th Century France.

I love titles that have double meanings.  While the orphan Felicie’s dream was to produce the incredible leap she had seen a ballerina make once, the film also encourages us all to take a leap of faith and hard work to make our dreams come true.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Passion
  • Dream big and take action.
  • You are unique.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re nothing.
  • Persistence, hard work, tenacity

Things I liked:
  • Catchy theme song.  All of the music was infectiously good and included a lot of lovely songs unfamiliar to Americans, as well as a few faves like “Suitcase” by Sia, and “Confident” by Demi Lovato.  Carly Rae Jepsen voices Odette, and also sings and wrote several of the songs.
  • The scene where Victor tells Felicie about his first day in Paris was hilarious.  Excellent animation stops and sequences.
  • Felicie’s training sequence was really cute and as inspirational as any sports movie training montage.
  • Elle Fanning voices Felicie, whose dream it is to dance in the Nutcracker Ballet.  Elle Fanning actually performed in The Nutcracker 3D (2010 movie).
  • Maddie Ziegler voices Camille.  She’s a dancer in real life, having appeared on Dance Moms in 2011.
  • Victor was voiced by Dane DeHaan in the international version of the film.  Nat Wollf was used in the American release.
  • It’s well balanced in comedy, magic, and drama.
  • The ballet battle between Felicie and Camille before the big evening performance was adorable and hilarious.
  • It feels like a European animation, because, it is.  Originally, it was entitled “Ballerina”, which is the version I first saw.
  • It was choreographed by Aurelie Dupont and Jeremie Belingard.  The dancing animation in the beginning felt a little off, but by the end it was perfect.
  • The film appears to have a deeper origin.  Director and writer Eric Summer also comes from Brittany where the story begins.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Some of the animation looked rushed and out of sync, particularly in the beginning.  
  • The underdog plot isn’t unique, but it’s still very sweet.
  • Most of the characters are thin archetypes.
  • Some critics don't like the fact that pop music is played, insisting it should all be classical ballet music like Tchaikovsky, but that didn't bother me at all.  I actually liked it.
  • Other critics complain that the filmmakers didn't do their research for historical accuracy.  For example, were there motorcycles in France in the 1800's as this movie supposes?  It turns out that yes, there were in the later half of the 1800's, just about the same time the Statue of Liberty was being built.  

Funny lines:
  • “Thank you Mother Superior.  And may I just say that you’re looking very superior today?” – Victor
  • “Who is that?”  Felicie (Elle Fanning)
“Rudy.” – Dora (Elana Dunkelman)
“From the top boys’ class, holder of the best cheekbones at the Opera award.  I love him.  He’s so blonde and shiny.” – Nora (Shoshana Sperling)
  • “How is that pick-up line working for you?” – Felicie
  • “I am loving your apron!” – Victor
  • “Paris!  City of romance.  City of Dreams! City of Romance!  City of Pigeons!” –   Victor

Interesting lines:
  • It’s when you’re tired you start to progress.” – Odette (Carly Rae Jepsen)
  • “Tired is for losers.” – Regine (Julie Khaner)
  • “There’s a difference between being ready and being ready to do it well.  That’s why we train every day.” – Odette

Tips for parents: 
  • This is an enjoyable film for all ages.  It’s funny, sweet, and inspiring.
  • Several fart jokes.
  • Your little ballerina daughter will be very inspired and want to see the Nutcracker Ballet.
  • I really like how the movie features two children with dreams, who don’t just fantasize about what they want to do, but are willing to work hard to achieve it.
  • No profanity.
  • Some bullying.
  • Some animated moments of peril.



Thursday, August 3, 2017

Kidnap showcases every parent's fear

Movie Title:  Kidnap

Grade:  C

Rating:   R

In a Nutshell:  Having your child kidnapped is every parent’s fear.  You don’t mess with a mother and her son.  (I have 4 sons.)

Uplifting theme: 
  • “I will never let you go.” – (Karla McCoy) Halle Berry   That's the fierce attitude of protection every parent of a young child needs to have.  
  •  Think smart. 

Things I liked:
  • The opening music tells you that you’re in for an intense ride that rips your heart out.
  • Halle Berry is as beautiful as always.  How is it that she doesn’t age, but I do?
  • What a miracle it was to watch the little boy grow up in the opening sequences. My babies grew up way too fast.
  • Lots of interesting drone views from above and other different camera angles.
  • I was impressed that she spoke nicely about her ex-husband’s new girlfriend for their son's sake.  Wow, I don't think I would be that composed.
  • She does a lot of things right, but she also makes some dumb mistakes.
  • I can’t blame her for not wanting to wait for the police to take care of matters.  Good for her for taking action.
  • It’s somewhat suspenseful as you wonder what the scumbag abductors are going to do next and what you would do as a parent in that situation.

Things I didn’t like:
  • It's just not that good of a movie.  Halle Berry is fierce, but the script lets her down.
  • The custody battle that begins in the movie is left unresolved.
  • SPOILER: That was pretty bold and dumb of the kidnappers since they didn’t know she wouldn’t have a cell phone on her. For all they knew, she could have easily called the cops or anyone for help within seconds.
  • Lots of driving around, watching Halle Berry look worried and upset.
  • There should have been some kind of informational graphic at the end, telling audiences about how many children are kidnapped each year, and providing a web site for more information on how to keep your kids safe. 

Tough lines yelled by an angry mother:
  • “You took the wrong kid!” - Karla 

Funny lines:
  • “Hey God, I know I never pray to you unless somebody is sick or dying or in an airplane…” - Karla 

Tips for parents: 
  • Some profanity, including an F-bomb.
  • Body count.
  • Lots of crashes and destruction.



Monday, July 31, 2017

Atomic Blonde showcases a hot and icy Charlize Theron

Movie Title:
  Atomic Blonde

Grade:  B

Rating:  R, 115 minutes

In a Nutshell: 
Payback goes atomic.  Based on the 2012 graphic novel Atomic Blonde: The Coldest City , this stylish spy flick takes place in 1989 when the Berlin wall fell.

Charlize Theron is gorgeous, stylish, and cold as ice.  She is why you see this movie.  Her character and John Wick would be the ultimate power couple in the spy world.  In fact, one of the directors of John Wick also worked on this film.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Umm....not sure.  Don't trust anyone?

Things I liked:
  • Charlize Theron is stunning.  With flawless skin and a body with practically no body fat, she looks amazing in this movie.  Her clothes, boots and shoes are smoking hot.  She did some solid stunt training to prepare for the movie and it shows.  I couldn't take my eyes off of her.
  • James McAvoy is also fantastic, as always.  He was so fun to watch in the movie Split and may earn an Oscar nomination for his impressive work on his role in that film.  Well, at least he should.
  • Amazing stunts.  The action scenes are intense and impressive.
  • Sofia Boutella and Charlize Theron make-out.  This movie is steamy, along with the brutal storm. Sofia also stars as the seductive mummy in this summer's The Mummy (2017). Good for Sofia for having two movies in theaters at the same time!
  • I love a twists and turns.  This movie has several.

Things I didn’t like:
  • SPOILER: The storytelling could use some work.  When you see Charlize being interrogated in the beginning, the film then loses some of its tension, because you already know she survives the whole ordeal.
  • There are some subtitles you need to read quickly.
  • Everyone smokes a LOT of cigarettes.  Yuck.
  • Everything looked real, except for one scene where the fire looked totally fake on a green screen.
  • Sometimes you can’t understand what people are saying because of their thick accents.
  • The music choices are fun 80’s hits, but don’t always fit what's happening on the screen.  The movie Baby Driver nailed that concept!

Funny lines:
  • “Don’t shoot!  I’ve got your shoe.” – David Percival (James McAvoy)
  • “My G-d, I think I F-en love you.” – David
“That’s too bad.” – Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron)
  • “If I had known he was going to call the police, I would have worn a different outfit.” - Lorraine
Interesting lines:
  • “I chose this life and some day it’s going to get me killed, but not today.” – Lorraine
  • “Women are always getting in the way of progress, aren’t they?” – David
  • “The world is run on secrets.” – David
  • “It’s a double pleasure to deceive the deceiver.” – Lorraine, David

Tips for parents: 
  • This is a true rated R movie that children should not see. Even the trailer is super violent.
  • Charlize is naked in a bath tub full of ice and then she walks around naked in her bathroom.  She looks great.  If I looked like that, I might be tempted to walk around naked too.
  • Cultural slurs and crude language, including a zillion F-bombs.
  • Lots of violent, brutal fighting.  Some bloody, gory deaths.
  • Lots of destruction and car crashes.
  • Topless girls in bed during a threesome.
  • Talk of pornography.
  • Smoking, drugs, alcohol, sex, dangerous and bad behavior.


Movie Review Mom

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Storytellers: An Evening with Colorful Characters offers wit and wisdom

Grade:  B

Rating:  PG, 67 minutes

In a Nutshell:  I admit it…the first time I tried to watch this movie, I fell asleep.  I was home on my comfy couch with a full belly at the end of a long day.  

The Millennials in the room with me turned to their cell phones within minutes.  That doesn’t bode well for movie sales, right?   I wanted to give it another try, especially because this won the 2017 LDS Film Festival for Best Picture!

The second time I watched this movie, I was delighted by the conversation between these three legendary men of the 19th Century.  Their meeting in the Utah territory is only fictional, but this charming depiction around a campfire could have easily gone down the way it’s depicted in the movie.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Challenges make life interesting – overcoming them makes life meaningful.” – Porter Rockwell (Jasen Wade).
  • “Start living your dreams instead of your nightmares.” – J. Golden Kimball (Cameron Asay).
  • Faith in God, faith in yourself, faith in others.

Things I liked:
  • I adore Jasen Wade.  He does a great job as Porter Rockwell, known as “the Destroying Angel.”  He’s wonderful in all of his movies.  He just recently starred in a movie that hit Utah theaters this month called, "Love Kennedy."
  • Joshua Michael French is an excellent Mark Twain.  With as colorful a character as Samuel Langhorne Clemens was, it’s surprising he’s not featured in more movies!
  • Cameron Asay actually looks like J. Golden Kimball.  They show pictures of these three real men at the end of the movie, making you appreciate the casting even more.
  • Beautiful landscape in the Utah mountains where the movie was filmed.  The colors and textures are captured very well in the beginning and end of the film.
  • There is respectful talk of women.  Golden exclaims, “Women are God’s finest creation.”
  • Most of us know a little bit about these men as they were older, so it’s fun to see them as younger men. 
  • Their conversation flows easily, as does their wisdom.

Things I didn’t like:
  • It feels like a stage play.
  • There isn’t any action.
  • Non-Mormons will only recognize Mark Twain, as the other two men were LDS. 
  • I could have used more stories!
  • It's a little slow-moving.
  • It seemed short for a feature film.

Funny lines:
  • “Virtue is a patience…or so I’m told.” – Mark Twain
  • “I never let school interfere with my education.” – Mark Twain
  • “If people think you’re crazy, they’ll never push their limits with you.” – Porter Rockwell
  • “My apologies.  I thought you were going to shoot me.” – Mark Twain
“It’s not over yet.” - Porter
  • “I think God has a sense of humor.” – Golden
“You think so?” – Mark Twain
“I hope so.  Otherwise, I’m going to hell.” – Golden
  • “I never killed anyone that didn’t deserve it.” – Porter
  • “Thank you Porter.” – Mark Twain
“For what?” – Porter
“For not shooting me.” – Mark Twain
“Life’s not over yet.” - Porter

Interesting lines:
  • “Not every book you read is truth.” – Mark Twain

Tips for parents: 
  • There is a string of profanity uttered by each of the men at various points in the movie; however, they are not real words.  Ha ha
  • Children will most likely not last the entire sitting.
  • There is some discussion about polygamy.

Movie Review Mom


Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Emoji movie is not only "Meh", but "Bleh"

Movie Title: 
The Emoji Movie

Grade:  D

Rating: PG, 86 minutes

In a Nutshell:  Meh. Rumor has it that this film was Sony’s last effort to make a good movie before going bankrupt.  I doubt that's true, but I have a feeling they’re not going to be posting any happy emojis when they see how audiences are reacting to this disappointing movie.

Unfortunately, It appears to be a blatant money grab, as well as a copycat of Pixar’s successful movie Inside Out (Theatrical)

Based on the idea that high schooler’s lives revolve around cell phones, the animated emojis live in a colorful, nonsensical world called Textropolis.  In fact, the narrator (Meh) exclaims cell phones as the “most important invention in the history of communication.”  I love using emojis too, but I love language even more...and real human interaction.

Uplifting theme: 
  • Individuality, express yourself
  • “Being #1 doesn’t matter if there aren’t any other numbers.” – Meh, Jail Break
  • “I’d rather have a real friend.” – Meh, hand
  • It’s OK to have a lot of different emotions.
  • Friendship, loyalty

Things I liked:
  • The talented voice cast includes T.J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Steven Wright, Jennifer Coolidge, Christina Aguilera, and Sofia Vergara.  Can you believe Patrick Stewart plays “Poop”?!
  • Good music.
  • The parents of “Meh” talk in monotone, which is pretty funny, especially when you recognize comedian Steven Wright's voice who is absolutely perfect for his role.
  • The YouTube video of the kitten getting tickled got more reaction out of the audience than anything else in the entire movie.  

  • Tons of poop jokes.  Who doesn't love the poop emoji?  Some movie critics are using it to describe this movie. The poop emojis are in a lot of scenes and easy to write gags for.  I thought it was cute when the young poop followed his dad out of the bathroom with toilet paper stuck on his foot.
  • There’s a quick look at WeChat, which Meh describes as “a whole other world.”  That’s for sure.  I’ve been to China twice this year and have been completely amazed with WeChat.  You can invite a friend out to dinner, make a reservation at a restaurant, call a taxi service to take you there, pay for dinner, and all without ever leaving the app.  You can even pay for vending machines, go shopping, shake your cell phone to win prizes, and soooooo much more, all on WeChat.  It’s like all of America’s apps built into one.
  • When you see The Emoji Movie in the movie theater, you’ll also get to see the animated short called “Puppy”, based on the characters from Hotel Transylvania.

Things I didn’t like:
  • Really dumb script and plot.
  • It’s just not funny.  When I arrived in the theater, kids were bouncing out of their seats with excitement.  Once the movie started, they became almost comatose.
  • Predictable, obligatory dance number at the end of the movie that fell flat.
  • The sub-plot of Meh's parents almost divorcing was bizarre.
  • A ridiculous amount of product placement.
  • Some of the dialogue is just absurd.

Funny lines:
  • “My mom just joined Facebook.  Can you believe she wanted to friend me?” – school girl
  • “We’re number two!  We’re number two!” – poop emojis
  • “What could a teenage boy possibly want to hide from his parents?” - Meh (T.J. Miller)

Dumb lines:
  • “We have business to attend to.” – monkey emojis
“What kind?” – Meh
“Monkey business!” – monkey emojis
  • “Words aren’t cool.” – boy’s friend’
  • “That’s what matters in life: popularity.” – High 5 (James Corden) 

Tips for parents: 
  • Your kids deserve a better movie.
  • Talk of piracy, skins, and a ton of social media programs.



Sunday, July 23, 2017

Valerian is a sugar rush

Movie Title:  Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Grade:  B

Rating: PG-13, 137 minutes

  • In a Nutshell:  Written and directed by Luc Besson, this sci-fi adventure takes you on a colorful journey with incredible creativity and imagination. 

  •  Unfortunately, it     misses the mark as an emotionally satisfying meal, but is a fun sugar rush.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Love is more powerful than anything.” – Laureline (Cara Delevingne)
  • “Love – it’s the trust you place in someone else.” – Lauraline 

Things I liked:
  • The French comics source material is extremely creative and this film does it justice.
  • The opening sequence in the space station when the Americans were greeting visitors in space throughout the centuries was really cute.
  • There is another sequence where Valerian smashes through a bunch of sections of the space station and you quickly see an impressive variety of environments.
  • Cara Delevingne is beautiful to look at.  She wears mostly skimpy outfits that consist of a bikini with a sheer cover, but I thought the white dress she wore was really pretty.
  • I loved all of the creative creatures.  This blows that orginal Star Wars bar scene out of the water....or universe in this case.
  • Rihanna fans will love her character as “Bubble.”  Bubble puts on an amazing pole dance show and is a very sweet character.
  • Good music choices.
  • I LOVED Avatar and the people of Mul reminded me of them because of their sparkly skin and gentle spirits.  The animation was incredible.
  • Beautiful colors and textures.
  • The “Big Market” looked really interesting and kind of like a virtual 3D game.  That double barrel pistol in the market was cool.
  • Cool K-Trons.
  • China is such a HUGE movie market nowadays that I thought it was interesting that you see the Chinese flag two times in the movie.  Can you say Yuan?
  • I wish I had someone like Alex to help me with everything!  Maybe the  Amazon Echo - Black is kind of like that?
  • See in 3D if you can.
  • The plot is fairly simple, but I thought the journey was a lot of fun.
  • Ethan Hawke’s performance was a kick.

Things I didn’t like:
  • A lot of the dialogue was really dumb.  
  • Most of the lines that were supposed to add humor fell flat.
  • Wow, I guess I’m getting really old, because the two stars of the movie (Valerian and Laureline) look like teenagers to me. They don't have believable chemistry together.  The casting just seemed off.  It's pretty ridiculous to believe they're the universe's most talented agent team.
  • Laureline rolls her eyes a LOT.  In fact, both Valerian and Laureline are incredibly cocky and just not that likable.  We don’t see much character development, nor arc to show their growth.  The romance between them just wasn't convincing.
  • Dane Dehaan sounded like a goofy Keanu Reeves and seemed very young and impish.  I thought his performance in A Cure for Wellness was much more mature and with more depth.
  • There are so many creatures and side stories packed into this film that I would have loved to learn more about, but are quickly skimmed over. 

Funny lines:
  • “For better or worse?” – Laureline
“Worse?  Is that negotiable?” – Valerian
“No.” – Laureline
  • “Humans are so predictable.” – Doggendaggies
“Clearly, you’ve never met a woman.” - Laureline

Tips for parents: 
  • This is a fun family film.
  • No profanity.
  • Skimpy clothing on all of the women.
  • Sci-fi violence.

Want to read the graphic novel? Check it out here:
  Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: The Official Movie Novelization