Tag Archive: family movie

Surprise Island

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Finding a good family movie can prove to be difficult.

Boxcar Children Surprise IslandSometimes you find one that has great characters but a story line that makes no sense. Or the dialogue feels right until we get into poop and fart jokes that run continuously.

Sometimes a good family movie works and sometimes they just don’t.

I say all this because I recently watch a Boxcar Children movie, hoping that it would be good.

For those unfamiliar with the back story, the Boxcar Children are a family of four children who were orphaned but have been taking care of themselves thanks to the efforts of the oldest brother, Henry. Older sister, Jesse, is a good cook and can organize just about anything. Younger sister, Violet, has an artistic spirit but is a bit shy. Benny is a rambunctious six year old boy that everyone adores.

At some point they are found by their grandfather, a very rich man who wants to care for his grandchildren. They and their dog, Watch, eventually move in to the older man’s mansion and make a new life.

Boxcar ChildrenIn the newest movie featuring these characters called The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island, summer vacation has finally come. The children are ready for an adventure and their grandfather plans to give them one.

He owns an island, one where he used to spend the summer, exploring the entire island and creating memories. It is his intention to let his grandchildren spend their summer here so they can do the same. He will visit as he can but for the most part they will be on their own along with Captain Daniel who lives in the dock house. And there is Joe who is the captain’s assistant.

There is a mystery to solve and adventures to have and a museum to create.

I enjoyed the way this movie played out. It is what some might call a slice of life movie in which the kids just live using what they find on the island and what ever provisions Joe or Captain Daniel can get from the mainland.

But what kept distracting me from enjoying this movie was the animation. Or maybe I should say the lack of depth in the animation. The characters moved very stiffly as did almost any wild creature, the sky, and the sea.

My Neighbor Totoro IMDb com 4 2013Perhaps I have been spoiled by Disney, Pixar, and Studio Ghibli animation. These three studios put out films that are beautiful to watch and complete with great story lines and dialogue. The Jungle Book by Disney features a four-panel background that moves as Mowgli walks, giving the jungle a lush look. The toys in Toy Story look nearly real with their myriad of expressions. The grass in My Neighbor Totoro blows in waves as the wind streaks along.

But none of this happens in Surpise Island. The grandfather’s mustache barely moves as he speaks. It doesn’t matter that the great Martin Sheen gives voice to this character if it doesn’t look like his mouth is moving right. And that can ruin the rest of the movie along with the story it wants to tell.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.


Family Movie Night


By Karyn Bowman


Have you ever been anticipating a new movie but then the critics rip it apart, making you doubt if that movie is worth your time?


I was feeling that way about Oz: The Great and Powerful. This prequel to The Wizard of Oz received some incredibly bad reviews. It took a while for positive reviews to trickle out.


Poster image from IMDb.com

Poster image from IMDb.com

In the case of this movie, I was not finding anyone who liked it before hand. Only after the movie opened did friends start telling me what they thought. This was combined with the incredible box office numbers the movie was pulling in. It made me wonder if the critics knew what they were talking about or if families were hungry for a good movie.


Now that our family has seen the movie, I want to say it is a little of both.


The story is about how the Wizard comes to the Land of Oz, how his arrival was foretold by the late king and that his arrival would mean freedom for the people of Oz. But the man who arrives is perhaps not the one who was expected.


This was a beautifully photographed movie. The colors are rich, deep, enthralling. I was drawn in to the movie and did not realize time had passed.


Yet, it takes something more than rich backgrounds and incredible sets. It takes more than groups of people similar to the movie we remember that this one is connected.


After all, there are many details that foreshadow the movie we remember. The yellow brick road is there along with flying monkeys and munchkins. The poppy fields and straw men and a lion all make their appearance.


That is when James Franco must step up to make this story his and not a remembrance piece. He must play this con man with truth and conviction along with something up the sleeve that will trick even those he is working to save.


Then there are the three witches: Michelle Williams, Mila Kunis, and Rachel Weisz. These women are at odds with each other in regards to the king’s death – who was poisoned. When this mysterious person comes to their land, he has to figure out who is evil and who is good. And he has to figure out which of these women know the truth about him.


As for the critics, I realize some of what they said was true, that some of the performances were bland. However, one should never mistake bland with simple because there are some deep thoughts in this movie. Some also stated that Franco was terribly miscast but I thought he was perfect as the con man looking for something more.


I know that I want to see this movie again. I want to watch for the things I missed. I know my kids loved the movie and barely made a peep because they were so enthralled. If there was a moment that might have been too scary, it was when the evil flying monkeys made their appearance. That said, I thought it was one of those few good family movies that all ages could enjoy with tidbits for the adults and bits for the kids.



Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

When I received the invite to see a preview screening of Ice Age: Continental Drift, I knew right away that only one of my children was going to see the movie with me.

That was going to be my seven-year-old boy.

I have an eleven-year-old and fifteen-year-old as well but they have become too old for this movie series. My daughter might have been interested because of the storyline involving Peaches who is now a young teenager. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Poster Image from IMDb.com

In this movie, we are dealing with a new problem for the herd consisting of Manny (Ray Romano), Diego (Denis Leary) and Sid (John Leguizamo). The land mass is changing, greatly. Mountains and cliffs are rising or pushing forward.

The only hint that this might happen is when Sid’s family suddenly show up and leave Grandma (Wanda Sykes) behind without her teeth. A comment is made about the world changing but that is not their main concern.  Our herd does not worry until they start hearing some rumblings.

Manny still has time to tell his daughter, Peaches (Keke Palmer), that she is not hanging out with the cool mammoths. And she still has time to fight back. That is until another rumble begins to physically change their world and separates the three males from the herd. Manny vows to get back to his family while Ellie leads the rest of the herd to what appears to be a safe place.

Manny faces down a pirate crew in a life -or-death battle while Peaches takes on peer pressure during a march that could mean life or death.

Funny enough, it is Sid who says it best about these movies when trying to describe the dinosaur adventure when he says it doesn’t seem likely but it was great fun.

I could pick apart this movie, talk about the stories being tried and true, that a few characters need to examine their souls and where they stand in life. I could talked about the laughably bad musical number that introduces the pirates and the teen drama that plays like it always does.

But what an Ice Age movie is about is really the fun of it all. The fun of out-witting the bad guy, the action of the 3D as characters fly over ice or through the water, and cute cuddly creatures that are brave when it counts. That is what makes it fun for the kids.

What made it fun for me, the mom who is sitting there with the kid, were the silly little moments.  Such as the irrelevant question as the herd begins their journey to the land bridge. Or how Manny knows when he is being tricked by a group of monsters. Or when Peaches finally stands up for herself.

I enjoyed Wanda Sykes as Grandma and Jennifer Lopez was not too distracting as Shira. I loved the badger as a pirate flag and the whole nutty ‘Atlantis’ section.

While the 3D is OK and makes things pop out, it does not add to the movie going experience all that much for me. At least this time around the glasses were not too annoying.

Would I watch this movie again? Not really. It is OK for a fun night with the kids and I would not be overly bored with it. But Ice Age:Continental Drift does not have the underlying issues that makes me want to watch others movies such as Toy Story or Shrek over and over again.

It is a movie that is great for family time, just a little touchy-feeling at times, but with plenty of action to make you forget about that stuff.

(2 Stars)