Tag Archive: disney


Take the Wave

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Bringing a new movie into the house is always a roll of the dice.

I never know if the kids are going to want to watch it.

Pete's DragonTake Pete’s Dragon for instance. I brought this one home, thinking it was a no brainer. They like fantasy flicks and what is more fantastical than having a dragon show up in your modern-day life.

We never watched it because the first words out of the kids’ mouth were “You know that is on Netflix.” It sat on the shelf because I meant to watch it and never did. Guess I will have to stream it some night – by myself.

However, that was not the reaction when I brought Moana in the house. The box was taken out of my hands and placed in the machine before I could put away my work things and grab my slice of pizza.

The story is about a girl who lives in on an island in Polynesia. But their island is dying and Moana believes she is the one to save it by getting the heart of the Godess returned to her.

Moana

It requires finding the demi-god Maui, and making him return the heart. But Maui is not honorable or likable. He tries to strand Moana until the ocean, her special friend, makes it clear that Moana goes with him. Through their adventures and going on some dangerous missions Moana and Maui develop a friendship.

And what a journey it is.

I watched this movie a couple of times in bits and pieces, each time finding something else to like. Moana and Maui are complex characters who are enjoyable to watch. Moana is given a family who actually love and adore her but community rules prevent sailing beyond the barrier reef. Maui is a demigod who has made life easier for humans but he appears to have some issues that need to be resolved.

I also liked that Moana is another Disney character that does not need a male romantic partner. Similar to Moira (Brave) and Elsa (Frozen), Moana wants to do great things but not in the way her parents want. Her issue is that her island appears to be dying and she knows great dangers must be faced to make things better.

I know there are some complaints about this movie not being completely culturally accurate. But it can also inspire a kid to look up information about Polynesian culture and discover what the Long Pause was all about. It might steer kids to wanting to know more about the demigod Maui and the Goddess Te Fiti. That is what a good movie should do – inspire and encourage.

Finally, I have to talk about the music. Lin-Manuel Miranda is credited as a song-writer on this film and he has made some amazing music. Various songs reminded me of his hit musical, Hamilton, but as I listened to more songs separately I realized that there are many good pieces here. And it makes me wonder what we will hear from him next.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Beauty and the Beast Redo

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Plans do not always work out.

Our initial plan for Friday was to pack everything up and go to the drive in for the first night of Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens.

Beauty and the Beast PosterWe went on Saturday instead to the Paramount. The line was long but thank goodness for pre-bought tickets. Our group started at age 12 and end with adults. The audience was filled with little ones up to Grandmas. When we left that screening, the line for the next showing wrapped around the building. I was not surprised to hear the movie broke opening weekend records.

The people I went with loved the movie. We cried about a half a dozen times. My kids tell me that I cry at every movie so of course they were not surprised that I had to dry off tears. Perhaps it was the arrangement of the music, the rush of the notes leading to a rush of feelings. I felt myself just as engaged or more so as with the original animated feature.

The story remains the same: a young woman lives in a small French town with her eccentric father. He trespasses on a property and is thrown in the high tower dungeon of an old castle. His daughter comes to save him and trades places.

The master of the castle is a beast, becoming so after showing cruelty to an enchantress. If only he can love and win the love of someone in return, then he can become human once more. But the time is running out. His servants who were turned into household items are in danger of becoming fixed in their state. But they see the girl as a way out of the curse. It doesn’t hurt that she is pretty and kind.

It is a beautiful and grand movie. The tricks of the camera and computer animation make the various scenes of dancing china and attaching furniture a sight to behold. We are given a few back stories that clears up a few details from the older movie. And the OMG big scene of reveal about two characters was underwhelming in the end.

Beauty-and-the-Beast-2017 GastonI found this movie to be marvelous and that was confirmed when the pickiest of movie watchers stated it did not feel like two hours in length. It all went by so fast. The actors made it look so good, so easy. Luke Evans was superb as the villainous Gaston while Emma Watson held her own as Belle. Dan Stephens hit the right notes as the beast, giving him a sense of humor and mercy.

But as always with these movies it is the side characters who get to shine. Ewan McGregor and Emma Thompson do that as Lumiere and Mrs. Potts, respectively. Then there is Audra McDonald as the Armoire whose voice shimmers when she sings.

Some people told me they thought the movie was over-rated. Not everyone liked it. I get it even though I disagree with you.

Beauty and the Beast 2017 BeastI was afraid I was not going to like it because I love the original. And yet, Emma Watson won me over as Belle. I believed she would strongly dislike Gaston, I believed she would try to figure out how to escape the castle, and I believed she would find the good in a man who’s life had been wasted in cruelty.

The biggest compliment I ever give a movie is that I would go see it again. When it comes to Beauty and The Beast, I wouldn’t mind seeing it several times over.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Last week I wrote about how The Iron Giant would make my top ten list of best animated movies.

As much as I love that movie, it made me think of what other movies I would put in that list. People who know me, know there are a few that are naturals. I have raved about them in the past and there is no way I could do a list without them.

On the other hand, I have done this list and later wondered why I didn’t put a movie down only to realize I forgot about it amidst all of my other steller choices. That is when one must do an honorable mention to make up for something that should be on the list but never made it.

So what do I look for in an animated feature. Beautiful animation for starters. Because animation can be otherworldly in depicting our world, I want something that is both dreamy and realistic. Like any other movie I watch, I want there to be good storytelling and characters with whom I can feel a connection. And because this list is family friendly, I want something most of the family can watch together.

  1. Toy Story FriendsToy Story – This computer animated flick tells the story of a toy who is the known favorite and must make an adjustment when his human gets a new toy. It is a story of jealousy, action and adventure, and a lesson on learning to accept your situation as it changes. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen were perfect as Woody and Buzz.

  2. Shrek – I loved this movie for making fun of the various fairy tales and legends of Europe while giving it’s lead monster a sincere heart and wicked sense of humor. Its sound track was pretty great, too. Parents could watch this movie with their kids and not poke their eyes out after repeat viewings.

  3. Spirited Away – Director Hiyao Miyazaki is one of the best anime masters in the world. Based on Japanese folklore, the story is about a young girl who goes to work for a spa for the spirits in order to save her parents. Along with the incredible storytelling is animation that makes you think you are looking at a black and white photo in one scene and drawings on incredible depth in others.

  4. The Incredibles – Pixar hit the trifecta with this movie. The animation is fantastic with the variety of super heroes. Then there is the story telling, taking on the issues of what does a superhero do when he can no longer be a superhero and what it means when we reward everyone with or without merit. Finally the voice-over work of Craig T. Nelson, Holly Hunter, and Jason Lee are simply wonderful, giving life to the characters as we get to know them.

  5. Kung Fu PandaKung Fu Panda – Jack Black plays into type here as the lovable loser who manages to succeed without the initial willing help of his teacher. Then there is the animation. One scene in particular that stands out is when the flowers on the peach tree fall and blow into the sky. While I consider this a family movie in the action/adventure vein, it is one my father would not watch. He firmly said he was not watching a movie with Pandas.

  6. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves – I mention this movie because it gave us the formula for all animated movies. As the Disney company’s first foray into a feature length movie, it proved animation could be interesting for 70 minutes or more. Take a classic fairy tale, create a great villain, and make the surroundings beautifully detailed. While the singing is classic to its time period, we still sing those songs today. Do you ‘whistle while you work?’

  7. The Jungle Book – This movie gave us jazz on a mainstream level while telling the story of a lost Asian Indian boy trying to find his way back to the man village. The animated background on four movable panels within one scene gave us the depth of the jungle. It is hard not to tap your fingers and your toes to this movie or be impressed by the animation.

  8. The Lion King IMDb com

    Movie poster for The Lion King, picture from IMDb.com

    The Lion King – This is one of those once in a lifetime movies where everything comes together. The music is inspiring, hitting on emotional points without pulling you too far into despair. The story telling is excellent as a young prince is driven from his kingdom by a beloved uncle. Finally, the animation is filled with splendor whether is it the opening scene or the trip to the elephant graveyard.

  9. The Iron Giant – I went in detail why I like this movie last week. But in a nutshell I love the storyline about a boy in the 1950s who discovers a giant robot. The animation, the story telling, the characterizations, and the way everything incorporates pop culture of the period is breathtaking while being relatable.

  10. Beauty and the Beast – There has been some chatter lately as to Frozen having great female characters who do no wait to be saved by the male characters. True but Elsa and Anna are not the first of these role breaking women in the Disney world. That honor goes to Belle from Beauty and the Beast who does all she can to save the Beast. Her story is wrapped around with fantastic music, the conversation of if a small town for your entire life better, and a villain who is very handsome despite his cold heart.

Until Next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

 

By Karyn Bowman

 

How many people can say they love Japanese Anime?

 

How many people know it when they see it?

 

If you have kids like my kids, the Uh-Gi-Oh or Pokemon or some other cartoons might be the extent of what you know.

 

"My Neighbor Totoro" Image from IMDB.com

I discovered Anime one day when I was looking for a video for my son who was feeling sick that day and needed to be entertained. In the store I stumbled upon My Neighbor Totoro by Studio Ghibli’s director Hayao Miyazaki. The cover looked worn and tired at that time, so much so I almost skipped over it.

 

I took it home anyway. We watched it and were entranced. The story is about two young girls who move to the country with their father and meet Totoro, the king of the forest.

 

We watch it on a regular basis and I still have that feeling of amazement every time I watch it.

 

Image from IMDb.com

Last week, our 4H group did our semi-annual dinner and a movie night. After supper at Panera Bread, we went over to Movies 10 to watch The Secret World of Arrietty a movie from Studio Ghibli although not directed by Miyazaki.

 

We had kids ranging in age from 8 to 17 and there was not one single unhappy kid in the crowd.

 

The story is based on The Borrowers, tiny people who live in our homes and borrow only what they need. So food items and earrings might disappear as well as tissues. The trick is to stay hidden from the ‘beans, cats and rats. Birds like to eat borrowers as well.

 

In this case, Shaun comes to live at his aunt’s house to rest before a serious operation. He sees a borrower by accident and at first he thinks he imagined it. That is until his aunt tells him about the special doll house that was built for a tiny family.

 

Meanwhile, Arrietty is the only child of borrowers who live in this house. She accompanies her father on her first borrow in the house and he teaches her not only how to be a borrower but how to be a good person.

 

As far as they know they are the last of their kind in the area. Other families have disappeared and where more might be is hard to tell.

 

What is different about this movie is the way the story slowly unfolds. There are few big action scenes and every moment is not filled with music. The sounds of nature suffice and fit better. At first I had trouble slowing down and simply enjoying it. I had to remind myself it was OK to let things play out and not know what would happen next.

 

 

While Disney Channel viewers will recognize Bridget Mendler as Arrietty and David Henrie as Shaun, soon you forget about their real ‘faces’ and believe them as their characters. Amy Poehler does a wonderful job as the mother while Carol Burnett is a hoot as the housekeeper determined to rid the house of the ‘little people.”

 

This movie plays well for children in early grade school through middle school. The animation is beautiful and can be appreciated by all ages. 

 

Other Miyazaki anime movies you might enjoy are Ponyo and Kiki’s Delivery Service for younger viewers while Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away are more appropriate for pre-teens and teens.

 

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

This summer has had its fair share of sequels to big money-making franchises.

And then there are those sequels that make you wonder why.

Image from IMDb.com

I had not heard of a big out cry for a new Fast and Furious or Scream movie. And yet we got them.

In Hollywood, most popular actors have a good five-year run, longer if you can really act or a money-maker for the studios.

I wondered if some of the cast members in these two movies needed the visibility boost more than anything.

In Fast Five, Vin Diesel returns as Dom who now lives in Brazil with his sister, Mia, and her love, Brian, after they broke Dom out of prison. But (there is always a ‘but’) they have to deal with a local crime lord and a dogged FBI agent determined to bring them in.

They are offered a heist that would gain the three of them freedom and the chance to not worry about money ever again. the problem is the obstacles they have to face including bad law guys and their own rivalries. Dom and Brian still fight over who is the better driver.

I have to give Vin Diesel credit here. He took his five years and ran with it. He made some interesting movies and some bad movies. But he worked with what came his way and tried to be a better actor (with gorgeous abs). Paul Walker and Jordana Brewster – not so much.

Anyway, what this movie promises it delivers. Great car scenes, plenty of action, Dwayne Johnson being the good guy. Oh, then there are the smoldering scenes between Dom and Brian. Plus if you wait through the credits you will see snippets of where the series could go in the future – if they decide to make another Fast and Furious movie.

Image from IMDb.com

Now the reason for Scream 4 truly eludes me unless you want to follow how the genre affects lives of the people left behind. This theme was explored a bit in the last Halloween movie that starred Jamie Lee Curtis and it only seems right that Scream 4 works at this angle as well.

The premise of the movie has us seeing Sydney ten years since the last murder. She has healed her life by writing memoirs and self-help books. Her latest tour ends in her home town of Woodsboro and her plan involves visiting family members. Dewey and Gale still live in town and Dewey has become the top law enforcement guy.

But then people start dying. And it is quite clear that it is Ghostface once more. Worse yet is the taunting Sydney receives with the killer letting her know she cannot save anyone. Who is the killer? Well, I am not telling although I do know who it is.

Wes Craven directed this movie so you know that means it will have more bodies and more gore than the previous Scream movies. And yet, there is an interesting theme about what you do with your life after living through the worst.

I am guessing there is a doctoral thesis in the making if one really wants to dig into that theme a little more.

Image from IMDb.com

Oh and did I mention that these two movies are not meant for little kids? Well, I wouldn’t show them to my kids under the age of ten.

However, Disney is releasing African Cats this week. The documentary focuses on the stories of two cat families surviving in the decreasing wilds of Africa. This one is ok for the kids as hunts for food show more of the hunt and less of the kill. Added bonus? Samuel L. Jackson is the narrator of this documentary.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.