Monday, April 20, 2015

Sneak Peek into new Star Wars movie


The new Star Wars film—Rogue One—will take place between Episodes III and IV and focus on the raid to steal Death Star plans, according to details released over the weekend. A teaser for the Star Wars prequelRogue One leaked online Sunday from the Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California. 

The teaser was shown to the audience who gasped at seeing the original Death Star looming over a planet with Obi Wan Kenobi saying from A New Hope : “For over a thousand generations, the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times… before the Empire.”

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Paul Blart 2 disappoints

Movie:  Paul Blart Mall Cop 2

PG, 1 hour 34 minutes

Grade:  C-

In a Nutshell:  If you really like Kevin James (I do) and his physical humor (ouch!), you won’t mind the simple plot and weak script too much.  If not, you might want to skip this one.

One of the characters in the movie calls Paul Blart a “misshapen superhero.”  He was certainly a lovable character in the first movie, although this sequel  spends more time on the size of his cape than on his endearing, deluded personality.   Maybe that’s a good thing, because he becomes rude and obnoxious in this second one.

As Paul says: “Always bet on Blart.”  Unfortunately, the critics hate this movie and aren’t betting on it at all.

Uplifting Theme:
·         “We live as we dream.” – Joseph Conrad
·         Courage comes in all sizes.

Things I liked:
·         I finally got to ride a Segway for the first time on a San Antonio city tour back in February with my hubby and we loved every minute.  They’re definitely as much fun as Paul Blart makes them look.  He’s really good at doing tricks on them!

·         I thought it was funny when Paul pounced on a “bad” person and jiggled his large body, thereby smooshing the victim until the person gave up.  I used to do that to my kids.

Things I didn’t like:
·         It feels like an infomercial for the Winn Resort in Las Vegas.  (Beautiful hotel, by the way.)  At the end of the movie, you get to actually see Steve Wynn and his wife.  Sadly, they both look awkwardly plastic.
·         The movie also feels like a UCLA recruiting ad.
·         There are a lot of moments that are produced to draw laughs that fall flat.  I actually did hear a few people laugh in the theater a couple of times though.  Kevin James co-wrote the movie with his long-time writing partner, Nick Bakay.  When they were drunk?
·         Both Kevin James (Paul Blart) and Maya (Raini Rodriguez) look like they have gained a lot of weight since the first movie.  Of course, I have too…
·         There are two hotel workers who fall in love with Paul and Maya.  The unlikely romances are pretty forced and feel like slapstick.

Funny lines:
·         “Security is a mission, not an intermission.” – Paul   
·         “My body’s fine.  Turns out it’s my ego that got hit.” – Paul, after taking one of his many hits in the movie
·         “Is it me or did he smell like tobacco and vanilla?” – Paul
·         “What’s the motive?”  Do you have a lot of money?” – security guy at the hotel
“Define a lot.” – Paul
“Any?” – security guy at the hotel
“No.  I don’t have any.”  - Paul
·         “Is it warm in here or did I order my next uniform from Rochester Big and Humid?” – Paul
·         “It’s a bad day to be bad people.” – Paul
·         “Are you ok?” – Female cop
“Nope. But I’ve never been better.” – Paul

Tips for Parents:

·         Because the film takes place in Las Vegas, you will see gambling, drinking, and scantily clad women.  Welcome to Las Vegas, Baby.  I live in Vegas, so I always get a kick out of seeing views of the Strip in movies.  Thanks to all those tourists, we pay no state income tax!  There’s a scene when one of the guard’s wives is holding a GIGANTIC glass of booze.  That’s how we locals can tell who the tourists are…the locals are the ones carrying big bottles of water.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Monkey Kingdom provides Ecotainment and Disney charm

Movie:  Monkey Kingdom

G, 1 hour 25 minutes

Grade: A

In a Nutshell:  Disney Nature spent three years filming this lovely movie that documents pivotal moments in the life of Maya, a mother who will do anything to protect and raise her baby son Kip…it’s what mothers do.  This one just happens to be a monkey…a fiercely loyal macaque in Sri Lanka to be exact.

Perfectly timed for Earth Day, this story is heartwarming, true, and touching.  Be sure to stay seated during the final credits to see how the filmmakers actually got some of the amazing shots they did.  Three cheers for Mark Linfield, Alastair Fothergill and their fantastic cinematography crew.  

Uplifting Theme:
·         Don’t forget Earth Day is April 22!
·         Find joy in living.   
·         Love and protect your family and friends.  Be willing to pick bugs off them when necessary.

Things I liked:
·         Who doesn’t love monkeys?  Seriously, you’d have to be a real hater not to like this movie.
·         Tina Fey’s humorous narration connects us to these adorable creatures.
·         Will these monkey’s hairdo’s ever come in style?
·         Tey Fey asks “Did you know monkeys could swim?”  They can!  And it’s a joy to watch!  You can actually see them hold their breath under water.
·         The monkeys are completely adorable when they huddle up to sleep. So sweet.
·         The ancient ruins that become the monkey village called Castle Rock looks like it is right out of an Indiana Jones movie.
·         It was fascinating to watch the monkeys befriend a dog.
·         I thought it was perfect casting that nature provided a “bad” monkey who actually looked bad.

Things I didn’t like:
·         I often wondered how much of the crazy antics were staged.  I mean, it’s awfully convenient to have cameras suddenly inside a house that the monkeys discover and explore during a birthday party where food is set out all over the kitchen table and not a single human around.  Just sayin… It is a pretty cute scene though.
·         I thought it was interesting that male/female stereotypes exist in the monkey world.   Some of the females were caddy and mean, while the males play rough and tumble and want to be in charge.

Funny lines:
·         “No one will ever know we were here.  We are like ninjas.  Is this even food?  I don’t care.  Leave nothing behind!”  Tina Fey voices the monkeys’ thoughts as they steak birthday cake and food from a human’s house.
Interesting lines:
·         “Maya, like most mothers,  probably wants to freeze this moment in time.  This is the perfect age.”  I think I said that every year while my kids were growing up.
·         “If nothing, Maya’s scrappy.  She has a Plan B.”   I’ve learned that all mothers need to have a Plan B.
·         “They’ll fall asleep with an unfamiliar feeling in their bellies…fullness.”
·         “Jack fruit isn’t just fruit.  It’s politics.”

Tips for Parents:   There was a dad sitting behind me in the theater who had to explain a few things to his little girl.  There are some sad and tense moments, but otherwise it is a “safe” movie for all ages.

Love Disney Nature?  Here are some more you'll enjoy!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Book review of Trina Boice's newest book about dating and marriage

Participating in the blog tour of my newest book, is the following book review posted by Shauna Wheelwright!   Thanks Shauna!

A review copy was provided

by Trina Boice

What Women Wish Guys Knew

Love is like baseball, so hit a home run in your relationship! With Trina Boice's advice, any man can learn how to step up to the plate. Learn tips, stats, and skills to make a powerful and lasting romance whether you're in the “minor leagues” of dating or the “major leagues” of married life.

Learn to:

Translate women’s thoughts into a sports language men can actually understand

Track your dating stats and plan strategies to up your game

Avoid foul balls, bad calls, and getting stuck in a pickle

Support each other with the occasional bunt or sacrifice fly

Cover all your bases—even when you’ve got kids on your team

With the right tools, you and your sweetheart can pitch a perfect game together every time you play. This is the perfect playbook for rookies and hall-of-famers alike.

My Review
Trina Boice is AMAZING and this book is INCREDIBLE!

Just look at some of the VERY FUN chapters in this book:

* Batter UP! The Game
* The Playbook: The Rules of Romance and Love Language
* Heavy Hitter: Be. A. Man
* Eyes on the Ball: Flirting Your Way to a First Date
* The Uniform: How to Look like a Knight in Shining Armor
* Sports Medicine: Win Over Her Heart and Funny Bone
* Catcher: Courting and Date Ideas
* Peanuts and Cracker Jacks: Kindness in a Nutshell

Her advice is SO. RIGHT. ON!

I absolutely LOVE the baseball theme. Want to get to know a girl? Learn her stats: favorite color, dessert, flower, etc.

And the end-of-chapter assignments are PHENOMENAL! Even the shyest of guys can accomplish the First Base assignment.

I LOVE that Trina doesn't just talk about these things...her son went out and "field-tested creative dating tips and has learned some really interesting things that he shares in each chapter." Cooper became the coach for the team (those reading this book.) I really appreciated his insight, for as he said "women talk about what they want, and guys talk about what women actually want."

EVERYONE should read this book!
Put your relationship first and foremost...grab a copy today!

First Base assignment: ADD TO GOODREADS
Home Run assignment: PURCHASE A COPY HERE

In the words of legendary sports announcer Harry Caray, "Hello everybody! It's a bee-yooo-tiful day for baseball!" You've bought this book and stepped up to the plate. That tells me you're really serious about improving your relationship with the woman in your life. Either that or she bought this book for you, and now you have to read it because you know she's going to ask you what you learned. Don't worry; it's not going to be that bad. After all, it's partly about baseball, and you love baseball! Romance and baseball are not all that different, actually. They're both skills that you can learn and enjoy for the rest of your life.

You could read an entire book about baseball statistics, but that wouldn't make you a better player out on the field, would it? You have to get out and practice! This book is designed to be read in small sections and put into practice. Read a little bit, and then try an idea or two to see what works for you and your sweetheart. I guarantee you're going to have a ball! (Terrible baseball puns will be included throughout this book in order to keep your eyes rolling and awake.)

Let me first state the obvious that women are different from men. And that's a good thing! A lot of men have a hard time trying to figure out what women want and how they think. It's not that difficult if you learn their language and appreciate the differences. To make it easier, we're going to use terms you might feel comfortable with: the language of baseball.

This book is written for both men who are still in the "minor league" (dating) and men who have been drafted into the "major league" (marriage). Getting a girl and keeping her are not all that different. Maybe you've been playing too much baseball and still don't have a woman in your life. This book can help you with that too! This book will help you find a quality woman you can marry and be with for eternity.

This book was conceived one day after my husband and I were discussing our relationship early in our marriage. He's going to get a lot of credit in this book for some of the really great things he does in our marriage. When I need to use him as an example of whatnot to do, I'll just tell you, "I have a friend whose husband..." so you'll never know if it's him or really a friend of mine. Hey, I don't want to get in trouble with my husband and end up sitting on the bench.

My husband, Tom, is really creative and has come up with some incredible gifts over the years. Early in our marriage, he really came through on big events such as anniversaries and birthdays, but then there were disappointing and somewhat alarming long dry spells with nothing. No flowers. No romance. Nada. Our conversations occurred during one of those dry spells and basically consisted of my pitiful complaints that I was feeling unloved and unappreciated. I suggested that maybe he could replace the few big efforts with more frequent, smaller ones. He thought about that for a few minutes and said, "Oh, it's just like baseball. Home runs are exciting but don't happen that often. It's the small, consistent base hits that win the game." In a baseball peanut shell, that's it!


Each chapter will contain some ideas you can put into practice to improve your current relationship or help you figure out how to get one! Even the greatest guy and the best relationship can use some tweaking every now and then. The first-base challenges are to help you ease into The Game. Go for second or third base to up your game. When you're ready to really knock it out of the park, try the home-run assignments.

Now, I'm not talking about rounding the bases in the traditional sense the world talks about it. I'm referring to bases as increasing efforts and bigger payoffs. What I mean is that if you're a beginner in the game of romance or want to start with something easy, then begin with the first-base assignments. They're simple to do, and you'll have some success. If you really want your girl to feel loved and appreciated, go for the home-run assignments. They require more effort, but the payoff is bigger too. "Happy wife, happy life," as people say.

First Base: Set this book out on a table so your girl will see it. Yeah, your buddies will make fun of you. That's okay though; you don't want to kiss your buddies.

Second Base: Put a bookmark somewhere in the book so she'll think you're actually reading it. Be prepared for her to ask you questions about it. Let her know it is the most fantastic book ever written.

Third Base: Read the doggone book already!

Home Run: Read the book with your girl. Ask her questions. Talk about it.

To keep the fire going, you have to continue adding some fuel, right? 
So grab some popcorn, peanuts, and Cracker Jacks and let's play ball.


This is a section that will be at the end of each chapter just for the ladies. Girls, you're not off the hook here. You have work to do too. A happy, healthy relationship includes two people.

About the Author
Trina Boice grew up in California, but currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. She worked as a Legislative Assistant for a Congressman in Washington D.C., and was given the “Points of Light” Award and Presidential Volunteer Service Award for her domestic and international community service. She wrote a column called “The Boice Box” for a newspaper in Georgia, where she lived for 15 years. She taught Spanish at a private high school and ran an appraisal business with her husband for 20 years. She currently writes for several web sites and is the Entertainment News Editor for Bella Online. Trina was selected by KPBS in San Diego to be a political correspondent during the last presidential election.

Learn more at:

Monday, April 13, 2015

Home is harmless fun

Movie:  Home   

PG, 1 hour 33 minutes

Grade: B

In a Nutshell:  Dreamworks is trying hard to keep up with Disney who has recently been pumping out hit after hit.  Home doesn’t have quite the magic that Disney films are known for, but it’s “safe” fun for kids.

Uplifting Theme:
·         Believe it or not, bubbles are a recurring theme...plain ole, fun bubbles, as well as the imaginary ones we put around us to protect ourselves. 
·         Oh says “The truth is I do not fit in; I fit out.”  Everyone wants to fit in and feel special.  Spend more time helping others feel wanted and you’ll fit in just fine.
·         Home is where the heart is.

Things I liked:
·         The film is filled with color and heart.  In fact, the Boovs change colors to reveal their quickly changing moods and emotions. (Pink = love, Blue = sad, red = angry, yellow = cowardly)
·         I want to get one of those cute turtle cell phone holders Tip has in her car.  (I have 2 pet water turtles.)
·         I really like Rihanna’s two new songs for the movie, which is saying a lot because some of her songs really drive me nuts.  She also voices Tip, who acts like a little girl, but is somehow old enough to drive a car.???
·         Who doesn’t love Steve Martin?  He plays Captain Smek, a goofy, cowardly leader who is “best at running away.”
·         I thought the twist at the end was very sweet.  No Spoiler Alert!
·         The animation for Tip’s hair is amazing.
·         Cute cell phone rolling credits at the end.
·         I liked the Boov’s luggage at the beginning of the movie.  Notice what items Oh packed.

Things I didn’t like:
·         Jim Parsons’ character, Oh, is similar to the character he plays in The Big Bang Theory: Season 1 .       Creepy facial hair on some of the Boovs.
·         You’ll think twice about eating ice cream after you hear Oh say “Enjoy frozen bovine secretions.”
·         While the Boov’s language is adorable, it’s not helpful for my international students who are learning English.  Just sayin...

Funny lines:
·         “I am saying the sorry to you.” – Oh
·         “Why is it called Super chip?” – Tip
“It is mostly marketing.” – Oh
·         Oh no!  My hands are in the air like I just do not care!” – Oh
·         “Okay, pee break.” – Tip
“Oh, I too has to break pee.” – Oh
·         You thinks you were scared?  I almost made a #3!”  (Tip hugs him)  “Not too hard!  It is still a possibility!”  - Oh 
·         “Parties are so much more fun when people come.” – Oh
Tips for Parents:
·         Toilet humor
·         Kids love complicated booby traps and sequences, so they’ll get a kick out of the ones in the film.
      Lots of action should keep young kids entertained.  Older kids will see the plot a mile away.
*    You've never seen such adorable, benign aliens.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Furious 7 is playfully preposterous and a sweet tribute to Paul Walker

Movie:    Furious 7 

PG-13, 2 hours 20 minutes

Grade:  A for amazing stunts and action, C for cheese

In a Nutshell:  Paul Walker’s character says “Just when you didn’t think it could get any better, huh?” as if he were really talking about this film.   If you love this action franchise, you’ll love this new addition to the ongoing saga.  Like the others before it, this one has LOTS of action and testosterone, not to mention cheesy lines that you’ll be laughing at and quoting with your friends for a long time.  

You’ll think you’re watching one of The Terminator movies, because villains and heroes refuse to die, despite unbelievable crashes and over-the-top fights.  Don’t get me wrong, the body count is high and some of the deaths show pretty yucky endings.  

The absolute best/funniest moment of the movie is when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson bulges his massive muscles and bursts out of an arm cast, saying “Daddy’s gotta go to work.”   Haha  

Uplifting Theme:
·         Sadly and ironically, Paul Walker was tragically killed in a real life car accident about midway through the filming of this movie in 2014.  The characters in this film, as well as Paul Walker, lived their lives doing what they loved.  He will be missed.  The song See You Again (feat. Charlie Puth) plays in the movie and is a touching tribute to Paul. Vin Diesel even named his new baby daughter Pauline after his dear friend.
·         Dominic (Vin Diesel) affirms “Everyone’s always looking for the thrill, but what’s real is family.” Family is who you surround your life and love with.

Things I liked:
·         It’s always fun to see Kurt Russell in anything.  I was in love with him when I was a little girl.  I want a pair of his cool night-vision glasses.
·         Epic fight scenes between Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham.
·         I love looking at Jordana Brewster.  She is such a beautiful porcelain doll.
·         Michelle Rodriguez looked beautiful in that red dress.  Note to girls: make sure there is a big slit in your gown so you can kick butt in case you get into a serious cat fight at your fancy event.
Things I didn’t like:
·         Most of the stunts are so ridiculously awesome that they couldn’t possibly ever be done in real life.  I’d like to see Myth Busters try them.
·         If you haven’t seen any of the Fast & Furious (2009) movies before, you won’t appreciate the backstories that bring all of these characters together again, but you’ll still enjoy the fun ride.
·         Vin Diesel poses and stares off in contemplation a LOT.  There’s also a lot of slow-motion walking scenes so you can linger on the stars' awesomeness a bit longer.

Cheesy lines:
·         “They say an open road helps you think.” – Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel)
·         “You better start talking before I break that finger six different ways and stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.” – Luke Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson)
·         “He doesn’t miss the cars.  He doesn’t miss the girls.  He misses the bullets.” –Mia talking about her husband
·         “When you find the guy who killed Han, what are you going to do?” –
“Words haven’t been invented yet.” – Dominic
·         “Did you bring the calvalry?” – Letty (Michelle Rodriguez)
“Woman, I AM the cavalry!” – Luke (The Rock)

Funny lines:
·         “Don’t worry.  You’ll get use to this in no time.” – Preschool mom
“Yeah, that’s what I’m afraid of .” – Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker)
·         “You risk your life to save the world and they give you Jello and a bad ‘70’s show.” – Dominic
·         “I’m just a guy.  I’m just a nobody.” – Petty
“That’s a pretty big entrance for a nobody.” – Dominic
·         “Your file’s not only detailed, it’s extremely entertaining.” - Petty

Tips for Parents:
·         What do guys like?  According to this cars and scantily clad girls.  There are a lot of both, including close-ups of thongs, buns, and inappropriate jokes about women’s bodies.

·         I sat next to two different sets of teenage boys.  They all clapped, laughed and squealed with delight.  That’s entertainment.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Woman in Gold has heart, humor and history

Movie:  The Woman in Gold

PG-13, 1 hour 50 minutes

Grade:  A-

In a Nutshell:  This is a fascinating, true story about a woman’s and nation's journey toward justice and peace after the Holocaust.   The film has heart, humor, and history as the David vs. Goliath story unfolds.

Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds demonstrate a quirky chemistry as two Americans with unique and prestigious roots in Austria.

The value of art is not monetary, but about the feelings it evokes when we experience it.  Great art should stir our humanity, don't you think?  Film is art too and this one does just that very well.

Uplifting Theme:
·       “Your only enemy is fear.” – Adele
·         Maria wants restitution and defines it as: “to return something to its original state.”  She learns that we can never be the same after life’s experiences.
*  "Remember us."  - Maria's father.    We need to never remember what happened to the world during the horrific Holocaust so that we don't repeat it.  We also need to see some of the atrocity's that are still happening in the world today and stop them.

Things I liked:
·         The woman in gold may actually be the talented Helen Mirren, winner of the prestigious golden statue named Oscar.  She always brings grace, elegance and wise maturity to any role.  I simply adore her.  She’s believable as a moody Austrian who struggles with pain and pride.   
·         I loved that Casting found an actress (Antje Traue) who very closely resembles the real Adele Bloch-Bauer who was portrayed in Gustav Klimpt's famous painting “Woman in Gold.”  Maria learns that Adele’s name was removed from the title of the artwork by the Nazis to hide the fact that she was Jewish, exclaiming “Her identity was stolen as well.”
·         The plot may be simple, but it’s still a remarkable story.

Things I didn’t like:
·         Helen Mirren wears dark contact lenses to make her look more like the real Maria Altmann.  I wasn’t bothered by it, but some people say they were distracted.  Whatever.  If that’s the worst thing you can say about her performance…
·         The court scenes didn't quite reach the status and thrill of To Kill a Mockingbird , but they're still inspiring.
·         Katie Holmes is sleepy in bed during most of her scenes in the movie.  They could have cast me in that role. 
·         Sadly, there was no one in the audience under the age of 50 when I watched this movie.  All you young ones out there may feel the need for more speed, but you’re missing a little gem in this film.  Wow, that sentence made me sound so old.

Funny lines:
·         “Against my better judgement, I think I like you.” – Randy
·         “Smile Maria.  It’s good to exercise your facial muscles once a year.” – Maria’s father
·         “My sister finally decided to move in with me.  The only problem is she didn’t do it until she’s dead.” – Maria
·         “This is like a James Bond film and you’re Sean Connery.” – Maria to Randy
·         “I want to go to Austria with my daughter some day.  She loves kangaroos.” – Dumb clerk

Interesting lines:
·         “I have to keep these memories alive, you see, especially because the young forget.” – Maria
·         “What’s in it for you?” Randy
“Let’s just say it’s a very particular brand of patriotism.” – Austrian journalist
·         “It’s hard to believe Hitler applied to be an art student here.” – Randy
“I wish they had accepted him.” – Maria

Tips for Parents:
·         Children may be bored with the legalese in court scenes and the slow drama.  The subject matter of the Holocaust is dark, although the film doesn’t show some of the horrors of the time like other Holocaust movies do.
·         1 F-bomb, but very little “other” profanity.

Want to know more?
I studied abroad in Spain and traveled to Vienna back in the 80’s before the Judenplatz Holocaust memorial was built.  It is a somber, haunting structure that makes you feel uncomfortable intentionally.  It honors the 65,000 murdered Austrian Jews during WWII.

If you’re fascinated by the history of artwork stolen by the Nazis during WWII, you’ll enjoy learning more in the film The Monuments Men   You can read my review of that movie here.   The Rape of Europa can be watched for free on Netflix right now!


To learn more about the artwork of Gustav Klimt, check out the following: