Determination is Everything

vice

What to Watch in the Theater:
Vice (R) is in theaters now. This is a biographical comedy/drama about Dick Cheney, brought to us by Adam McKay, who also created The Big Short. We see how Cheney got into (and out of, and into again) politics, and rose quietly through the ranks. Apparently it’s all about timing, who you know, and if those people are currently in favor. There’s definitely some conjecture, some tongue in cheek, and a political slant here. Your politics may determine your enjoyment of this film – our team was clearly split down political lines.
Our rating: 3.17 out of 5

dogs

A Dog’s Way Home (PG) is in theaters now. While narrated by Bella the dog (voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard), no dogs physically talk in this film, which is always a plus. Lucas takes Bella in as a puppy, and then drama unfolds, simply because she is a pitbull (although she doesn’t look it, her mother clearly was). They become separated, and Bella spends the rest of the movie trying to get home, over hundreds of miles of wild terrain. She encounters a variety of humans and animals, creates some interesting bonds, but never loses site of her goal to reunite with Lucas. It’s a heartwarming story about connection, which includes a sub-plot about dogs helping veterans. Make sure you have some tissues handy.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Good Trouble (TV14) airs on Freeform. This series follows up where The Fosters left off. Callie and Marianna are on their own in LA – out of school, in their 20’s and trying to balance serious jobs with social life and of course, life drama. They start making questionable decisions from the get-go, but have to be responsible for their own actions now, so there’s a lot of decision-making angst here. If you’re not familiar with the original series, this one might get lost among other shows about 20-somethings making bad decisions. If you’re a fan of the series The Fosters, you MUST check out this spinoff. (And yes, other members of the Adams-Foster clan will be making guest appearances!)

Check out the video of Jennifer’s CES 2019 report here.

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Something for Just About Everyone

fav

What to Watch in the Theater:
The Favourite (R) is in theaters now. There are some awards-worthy performances here, especially that of Olivia Colman in the role of Queen Anne. In general, we are not fans of period pieces, especially ones that are pre-1800s. This film is no exception. It just didn’t really do anything for us.
Our rating: 2.17 out of 5

escape

Escape Room (PG13) is in theaters now. This film, about a group of 6 people who think they’re competing for money by going through a regular escape room, provides many chills and thrills. The group soon realizes they did NOT receive this outing as a gift, but that they’ve been somehow targeted, and their lives are in danger. They work together to try to survive precarious situations far beyond any escape room you’ll find in real life. It’s scary, but not at all gory, with no nudity or foul language, so it’s a perfect outing for all except the youngest in the family. We were on the edge of our seats!
Our rating: 4.75 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Dog Days (PG) is on DVD. This movie shares the stories of several interconnected people and their relationships with the dogs in their lives. Everyone loves dogs and the dogs love them, and thankfully the dogs do not talk in this movie. There’s comedy, romance, and a lot of bumps in the road for our various protagonists. It’s a fun, feel-good movie full of dogs doing what they do best – bringing people together and adding joy to their lives. It may seem sappy, but sometimes you just want to laugh and cry through a movie that’s not too deep.
Our rating: 4.33 out of 5

3Below: Tales of Arcadia (TVY7) is a Netflix exclusive series. Two siblings, the heirs to the throne, narrowly escape an attack on their planet, and make their way to earth in their mothership, with their bodyguard. They need a place to hide while the ship trips to regenerate their parents, and what better place than earth! This animated fish out of water story comes from DreamWorks and Guillermo del Toro. It’s a fun ride, watching the characters try to fit and learn about our planet. The accents are a little hard to adjust to at first, but it’s reminiscent of 3rd Rock from the Sun, with the quality animation you’d expect from a DreamWorks invention.
Our rating: 4.08 out of 5

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Striving to Improve Life

bumble

What to Watch in the Theater:
Bumblebee (PG13) is in theaters now. This Transformers origin story takes place in 1987, as Bumblebee takes refuge on earth and meets 18-year-old Charlie (Hailee Steinfeld). She wants a car more than anything, and discovers Bee, in the form of a VW Beetle. The two form a bond and have some adventures, thanks to a couple of Decepticons and the US military. In our opinion, this is the best Transformers movie ever, with much more human interaction and fewer robots to keep straight. The fight scenes are still impressive, and although we have some questions about the robots, we found this movie thoroughly entertaining – packed with not only action, but heart.
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

second

Second Act (PG13) is in theaters now. Jennifer Lopez is a smart worker who deserves better, but is blocked from succeeding because she never went to college. Her godson creates a new persona for her online, and she lands a dream job. She has the talents she needs but only reluctantly goes along with the lie, until a surprise from her past makes things even more complicated. More than a rom com, this movie is about a woman’s journey to find where she shines and live the life she deserves. It’s an inspiring (though unlikely) story with some great comic relief.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Bird Box (R) is a Netflix exclusive. This horror movie finds Sandra Bullock as Malorie, a single mom with two kids, trying to find their way, blindfolded, up a river to a safe haven. We learn more via flashbacks to five years ago – a bizarre entity (or entities) of unknown origin causes people who see it to take their own life. We get more details about Malorie, her relationships and how life has been affected by this. We were split on this one, which wasn’t as scary as we thought it would be.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo (not rated but likely TVG) is a Netflix exclusive series. If you’re familiar with Marie Kondo’s books, you know she’s all about sparking joy. If not, you’re in for a pleasant surprise, in the form of this cheerfully organized Japanese mom. In this series, Marie shares her method for tidying up with a variety of different people, in their own homes. Each episode highlights the lessons that apply most to their situation, and we see how this improves their lives. It’s fun and inspiring, and although we’ve only watched one episode so far, we look forward to more.
Our rating: 4.17 out of 5

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Why So Many Dead Mothers?

mortal

What to Watch in the Theater:
Mortal Engines (PG13) is in theaters now. We can see this dystopian film’s similarity to many others, ranging from Howl’s Moving Castle and Mad Max, to even Star Wars. The story shows a future where humans have blown the earth into a barren wasteland, and most of mankind live on moving cities and small towns. When the big city of London swallows up a small town that contains Hester Shaw, she now has an opportunity to avenge her mother’s death. The murderer has set his sights on an even greater evil purpose, and Hester teams up with steampunk aviators to try to foil him. It’s not a bad movie, actually, it just suffers from a Peter Jackson-size budget.
Our rating: 3.83 out of 5

marypop

Mary Poppins Returns (PG) is in theaters now. Everyone’s favorite nanny is back, with a similar storyline set 25 years after the original. Michael Banks has 3 kids of his own, his wife has passed away, and he’s on the verge of losing that oh-so-familiar family home. Mary Poppins to the rescue! As before, she brings a sense of order, while embracing the whimsy in life, taking the Banks children on singing, dancing and animated adventures. The magic is the same, but different, with new characters in place of old. The homages are many, and this film not only stands well on its own feet, but also serves as a reminder that the original will always be that, and that the story can continue without detracting from our love for the past. Well done, Disney! We’re reserving a spot on our shelf for this one now, right next to the original Mary Poppins, where they’ll both live in practically perfect harmony.
Our rating: 4.83 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Searching (PG13) is on DVD. This “desktop movie” shows the story unfolding as if it’s being watching on a computer – through video chats, emails, online videos, texts, web sites, etc. The story deals with a father desperately trying to find his missing teenage daughter. As he works with police to retrace her steps, he learns he and his daughter have been more disconnected than he thought, since his wife/her mother passed away recently. We see the good and bad of social media in this situation, and learn that all is not what it may seem. It’s a riveting story told from an interesting point of view.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

Ellen DeGeneres: Relatable (not rated) is streaming exclusively on Netflix. This hourlong special is Ellen’s return to standup comedy after 15 years of daytime television.  Her material truly lives up to the name – the fun is genuine, combining the best of self deprecating comedy with some personal insights. The jokes are fresh and the laughs come easy. There’s nothing shocking, political or nasty – and we enjoyed every minute of it. There is some language,  so this may not be for the youngest family members.
Our rating: 4.67 out of 5

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