Homage to Earth and Its Animal Inhabitants

penguins

What to Watch in the Theater:
Penguins (G) is in theaters now. The latest light-hearted film from Disneynature follows Steve, an Adelie penguin, as he returns to his home for his first springtime mating season. Beautifully shot, this film shares the beauty of nature, while injecting some humor into the plight of this plucky little guy, just trying to do what’s supposed to come naturally.  We worry about Steve, his mate and their offspring, as there are some precarious situations (and one particularly scary scene with a leopard seal), but overall the tone of the movie is light and hopeful. As in all Disney films, the audience is drawn in by bonding with a relatable character, and it’s a great way to introduce younger kids to nature films.
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

llorona

The Curse of La Llorona (R) is in theaters now. This film, which is part of the Conjuring universe, follows a family that is drawn into a Mexican legend they had no previous knowledge of. Linda Cardellini plays single mom and social worker Anna, fighting for her kids’ lives against the “Weeping Woman.” This movie has all the requisite jump scares and a creepy paranormal figure, without a lot of gore. The R-rating is primarily for moderate violence, mild language and a lot of terror. It gave us a good scare.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Unicorn Store (TVPG) is now streaming exclusively on Netflix. This movie’s lead is a post-Oscar winning, pre-Captain Marvel Brie Larson, and she also makes her directorial debut. Art student, Kit, has been kicked out of school and is determined to get a “real job” and not disappoint her parents. She receives an invitation to a mysterious store, where the quirky salesman (Samuel L. Jackson) promises her the one thing she’s always wanted – a unicorn. Kit must check off some boxes before she receives her mythical best friend, and in the process she (of course) goes on a journey of self discovery, and makes a new friend. This film has important messages about loving yourself, and finding what you really need in life.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

Our Planet (TVG) is streaming exclusively on Netflix. This beautifully shot 8-part series documents different nature topics. This one had a lot of pros and cons for us. The cinematography is the best thing about it, and there’s a great opportunity for learning about a variety of nature subjects. The organization of the material was a little confusing – sometimes geographical, sometimes based on a common element. Jennifer didn’t appreciate nonegenarian narrator David Attenborough’s vocal style. Max saw the series as a nonstop commercial for the WWF (the climate-change messages were a little heavy-handed). There were some devastating scenes of animal peril (stretching the G-rating just a bit). This one is the polar opposite (pun intended) of a Disneynature film.
Our rating: 3.67 out of 5

Plus box office results, movie news and what’s new on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Keeping the Past in Perspective

best

What to Watch in the Theater:
The Best of Enemies (PG13) is in theaters now. This movie, starring Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell, is based on a true story of school integration in Durham, NC in 1971. After a fire burns half of the blacks-only elementary school, a local black activist and concerned mother, Ann Atwater, faces off against C.P. Ellis, head of the local Klan chapter, in order to ensure a better life for her kids. This film demonstrates how societal pressures affect the outcome of issues, and the people making decisions. This is an important part of history that needs to be remembered, and the story is compelling and well-acted.
Our rating: 4.33 out of 5

mlink

Missing Link (PG) is in theaters now. LAIKA’s latest stop-motion animation features a British adventurer looking for recognition, and his greatest discovery (Mr. Link, the Sasquatch) looking for his place in the world. We have a great appreciation for stop-motion artistry, which almost always goes hand-in-hand with great family entertainment. This one does have some dark elements, as our heroes frequently find themselves in peril AND chased by a bounty hunter. This film is a fun journey, with adventure, humor and heart, plus an awesome voice cast (including Hugh Jackman, Zach Galifianakis and Zoe Saldana).
Our rating: 4.67 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Black Summer (TVMA) is now streaming exclusively on Netflix. This zombie series comes from our friends at The Asylum (most well-known for the Sharknado movies, but Jennifer did a couple of films with them before they found fame with sharks). Max checked out after one episode, because there was no explanation for the zombie outbreak, and he prefers the slow-moving type. Vic is hanging on for all 8 episodes, and has so far enjoyed the first half. This seems more like how a real-life zombie apocalypse could go, which makes it pretty frightening. We follow a variety of characters as they navigate suburbia, dealing with both zombie attacks and their own human flaws, while trying to find their way to the stadium in the city, in hopes of reconnecting with family.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

Stan & Ollie (PG) is available on DVD. The movie documents the relationship between the comic duo during their later years, with some key flashbacks. They’re on tour together in the UK, years after their success in movies, looking forward to producing their own movie for a change. We get a glimpse into the men behind the comedy, with Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly doing a great job of bringing Laurel & Hardy to life. It’s a poignant tale about an important part of our cinematic past.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

Plus box office results, movie news, what’s new on DVD and Blu-Ray and the latest blockbuster movie trailers.

Inspired by Actual Events (or Earlier Movies)

petsem

What to Watch in the Theater:
Pet Sematary (R) is in theaters now. This re-make of the Stephen King tale follows the Creed family, who have relocated to Maine. They discover their 50 acres of forest includes a place where kids bury their pets (hence the name of the movie), but there’s more. Creepy neighbor, Jud (played by John Lithgow), shows dad, Louis (played by Jason Clarke) the sacred land with powers to bring back the dead. When tragedy strikes, Louis does what any grief-stricken dad might consider (though not actually DO, knowing how things typically turn out in Stephen King stories). The story is gory and predictable (even if you didn’t see the original or read the book) and not very suspenseful. The biggest mystery here is why the family moved to this location without checking it out first.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

breakthrough

Breakthrough (PG) opens April 17th. This faith-based film comes from the Fox 2000 division, which was just given the axe by Disney. It follows the true story of the Smith family, facing a test of faith when teen son, John, falls through the ice, technically dies and then is brought back to life by his mother’s prayers. The parents each have their struggles, facing the possibility of losing their only child. Mom, Joyce (played by Chrissy Metz) demonstrates her resolve over and over, sometimes to the detriment of her own health, as she learns what having faith really means. It’s a moving story (especially for parents) that’s told in a non-preachy way.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

little

Little (PG13) opens today. This comedy is the opposite of the Tom Hanks classic, Big. Obnoxious, successful career-woman, Jordan, wakes up one morning, back as her awkward middle-school-age self. Her overworked assistant must pretend to be a relative, as Little Jordan learns the necessary lessons from her peers and mentors, that will enable her to return to her successful life (hopefully changed for the better). Most of the funny bits were in the trailer, but there’s a good message here about accepting yourself. The humor was not too adult, which was a bonus.
Our rating: 3.5 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
The Perfect Date (TV14)  is now streaming exclusively on Netflix. The Internet’s Favorite Boyfriend, Noah Centineo, is back for his third Netflix rom com. This time he plays Brooks Rattigan, a high school senior who hires himself out as a customized date for formals, art openings and other events, in order to save up for Yale. Brooks befriends the quirky Celia (Laura Marano), who is his first paid date and the inspiration for his service offering. He also pines after the popular Shelby. The whole process is a learning experience for Brooks, as he tries on different personalities and figures out what he really wants in life. Though somewhat predictable and reminiscent of quite a few 80s rom coms, we thoroughly enjoyed the ride.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

Plus box office results, movie news, what’s new on DVD & Blu-Ray and new movie trailers.

When Does a New Version Work?

dumbo

What to Watch in the Theater:
Dumbo (PG) is in theaters now. This live action reimagining of the story of the big-eared baby elephant who can fly, comes from the mind of Tim Burton. He assembles a cast of quirky characters (played by some of his regulars) and gives it a darker look, especially with the addition of Michael Keaton’s villain and his Dreamland amusement park. This story is NOT a retelling of the classic Disney animated film we all grew up with. Instead, it centers more on the humans in Dumbo’s life, who become his family. There are no talking animals, no friendship with a mouse. The separation of Dumbo from his mom is still a devastating key element, and Dumbo is still mocked for being different. But this time, he’s got some human’s on his side. It’s a heartwarming, fantasy tale that should be, like all Disney live action remakes, taken on its own merit.
Our rating: 3.92 out of 5

shazam

Shazam! (PG13) opens today. This superhero movie combines a lot of elements – a villain backstory, supernatural beings, a group of foster kids, an unlikely hero, and some great homages to the movie Big. Teen Billy Batson finds himself in the body of a grown dude with powers, and he’s like a kid in a candy store. As he learns about his powers, he’s also trying to fit in to a new foster group home. Unbeknownst to him, he has an arch nemesis set on destroying the world, and only Billy has the power to defeat him – he just has to figure out how to use it. This is a funny, action-packed film, with some great messages about family. There’s one violent scene that was a little jarring, but not gory. The humor really is key here, and Zachary Levi is perfect in the role of reluctant superhero who’s really just a kid inside.
Our rating: 4.83 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Pick of the Litter (not rated) is now available on DVD. This documentary follows a litter of puppies in training to be guide dogs for the blind. We watch them go through the different stages, starting with being puppy raised in various homes (and sometimes re-homed, based on their performance). We learned a lot about what goes into this process, and how few make it all the way through. We were really rooting for all the puppies and the humans who were doing their best to help them make it through the process.
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

Archer (TVMA) is available on Hulu. Season 10 is coming soon  to FXX. It’s titled Archer 1999, and we got to watch the first episode at a WonderCon panel featuring the actors from the series. You’ll find no spoilers here, but we’ll be tuning in. If you’d like to catch up on the series, you can find seasons 1-9 streaming on Hulu.
We recommend this series

Plus box office results, movie news, what’s new on DVD and Blu-Ray and our trip to WonderCon.