Classics with Nine Lives (but No Felines)

cats

What to Watch in the Theater:
Cats (PG) opens today. Sometimes plays should stay on the stage, and not try to become movies. This big-budget, star-studded spectacle gives the audience too many things to pick at, from props and perspective to SO many form-fitting cat suits on celebrities. This distracts from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music, which gave the theater version its longevity. The storyline was always a little awkward, which makes it even more difficult to bring to the local megaplex. A few redeeming graces – tons of meme material here, a startling production number with Rebel Wilson and cockroaches, and of course the song “Memory” still has the power to bring tears (this time thanks to Jennifer Hudson).
Our rating: 3 out of 5

littlewomen

Little Women (PG) opens on Christmas Day. The performances in this retelling keep the classic story fresh, even though it’s been done and re-done, even a few times recently. Fans of the book should be pleased with the casting and portrayals of their favorite characters, and those new to the story will be drawn in to a timeless story of family, perseverance and the power of being true to one’s self. Greta Gerwig has done a great job writing and directing a story that could be considered the origin of “girl power.”
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5 

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Santa Girl (TVPG) is streaming exclusively on Netflix. One of our favorite Disney Channel actors, Jennifer Stone (Harper on Wizards of Waverly Place), takes the title role in this holiday movie. As Santa’s daughter, Cassie, she longs to sample a normal life, and is allowed to go away to college for a semester before returning to the family business. She loves the experience, but things get complicated by a love triangle and all is not what it seems. It’s a fun movie for the holidays.
Our rating: 4 out of 5

Home Alone (PG) is streaming exclusively on Disney+. We found that viewing this movie with present-day knowledge and judgement, made some of the story feel a bit off. Once we surrendered to the time period it was made and suspended our disbelief of the parental neglect that made the story possible, we were able to enjoy Kevin’s survival skills and ingenuity in dealing with criminals. But we still can’t get over the iconic scene (featured TWICE in the movie) that actually means nothing to the plot. We hate when that happens, but enjoyed the re-watch.
Our rating: 4.17 out of 5

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

Multi-Genre Fun at the Megaplex

jumanji2

What to Watch in the Theater:
Jumanji: The Next Level (PG13) opens today. This sequel sees the teens re-enter the game to rescue their friend, but something’s different. Characters are shifted around, and new people have been sucked into the game! The adventure continues, with new locations, new characters, new abilities, and just as much fun as the original.
Our rating: 4.33 out of 5

richard

Richard Jewell (R) opens today. This movie is based on the true story of Jewell, the security guard who reported the Atlanta Olympic bombing and then became the prime suspect. It’s an interesting story about a simple man who just wanted to work in law enforcement but ended up hounded by the people he wanted to join, and convicted in the media. There are lessons to be learned here.
Our rating: 3.83 out of 5 

playmobil

Playmobil: The Movie (PG) is in theaters now. On the surface, this is a LEGO knock-off, with a confusing premise and far too many “lands” and characters. There’s just way too much stuff in this one movie. Some of it is cheesy, but there’s some fun to be had here as well, with funny characters, an impressive array of voice talent, and a brilliant villain voiced (and sung!) by Adam Lambert. Yes, it’s a confusing mishmash of everything but the kitchen sink, but at a bargain matinee or later home viewing, kids will inevitably find something entertaining here.
Our rating: 3.67 out of 5 

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
The Knight Before Christmas (TVPG) is streaming exclusively on Netflix. Yep, it’s another holiday “Hallmark Movie” on Netflix. This one has the weird premise of a medieval knight showing up in present day, just in time to romance Vanessa Hudgens and save the day, etc. etc. There are a lot of funny and sweet moments in this fish out of water rom com, even if it is as predictable as a Santa costume.
Our rating: 3.83 out of 5

Plus box office results, movie news, the latest movie trailers, what’s new on DVD and Blu-Ray and the first round of awards nominations.

The Ups and Downs of Reality

21bridges

What to Watch in the Theater:
21 Bridges (R) is now in theaters. At first, we had trouble getting past Chadwick Boseman in a role other than Black Panther (yes, we’re shallow), but once we got past that, we found the story compelling, with twists and turns that had us suspicious of everyone. This is a violent movie, and we can’t imagine them ever shutting down Manhattan in real life, but the acting was good and it kept us guessing. The premise was just a bit of a stretch for us.
Our rating:  3.83 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Biggest Little Farm (PG) is streaming on Hulu. This feel-good documentary doesn’t sugar-coat life on the farm. The ups and downs are right out in front, and it’s an entertaining and informative watch. The hard work, dedication, trials and rewards had us rooting for these people who set out to create the perfect farm (and life), all because of a promise they made to their dog.
Our rating:  4.5 out of 5

Brittany Runs a Marathon (R) is streaming on Amazon Prime. After some bad news from her doctor, Brittany (played by Jillian Bell) decides to change her life for the better by training for the New York City Marathon. Instead of a straightforward comedy that makes fun of people like Brittany, we get a drama with funny bits, showing the difficult journey she embarks on, and how hard it is for her to believe in herself. There’s a lot of heart in this movie about self esteem and perseverance.
Our rating:  4.33 out of 5

Merry Happy Whatever (TVPG) is streaming exclusively on Netflix. This holiday-themed comedy series pokes fun at the Quinn family spending time together. There are some great characters with some pretty serious storylines that progress over 8 episodes, as they build new relationships and test old ones. It’s a fun and compassionate look at the difficulties in dealing with expectations, while coming to grips with who you are and what you want out of life. Disney favorites Bridgit Mendler and Ashley Tisdale star, and we’d definitely watch another season.
Our rating:  4.5 out of 5

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

Into the Unknown with Warm Feelings

frozen2

What to Watch in the Theater:
Frozen II (PG) is now in theaters. This sequel is breaking all kinds of records, including its predecessor’s. The story takes place not long after the first installment, with Elsa and Anna settling into royal life in Arendelle. We learn a bit more about their backstory, and when Elsa hears a mysterious voice, the gang is led into the magical mist, and discovers the secrets of their ancestors. Will the sisters be torn apart again? Will Kristoff ever propose to Anna? There are some great songs in this one, although none will ever reach infamy the way “Let It Go” has. (Thank goodness!). There’s a good mix of sadness and comic relief – this sequel follows sure-footedly in the iconic footsteps of the original.
Our rating:  4.67 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
The Mandalorian (TVPG) is streaming exclusively on Disney+. This Star Wars series introduces us to a bounty hunter whose life is changed when he accepts an assignment to retrieve a small being, and realizes he has a greater calling. Each episode is a new chapter in the journey, with new characters and locations (including some we’ve visited before in the Star Wars films). The look and feel is the same as the movies, but we’re given more time to develop feelings and opinions about the various characters, and the absorb how each step fits into the greater journey. This series may be especially meme-worthy (no spoilers here), but it’s also well worth the watch.
Not rating until we finish the series

Noelle (G) is streaming exclusively on Disney+. You can’t help but smile at Anna Kendrick as Santa’s daughter, who embodies everything that’s fun and whimsical about the Christmas season, all year round. When her brother is tasked with replacing the icon after his passing, and then goes missing, it’s up to Noelle to find him and save Christmas. In the process, she gets to see what life is like in the real world, and find her true calling. This is a fun movie that could become one of our family’s classics, alongside Elf.
Our rating:  4.5 out of 5

Booksmart (R) is streaming on Hulu. This coming of age movie tells the story of two high school seniors who have spent all of their school years studying, to the detriment of their social lives. They are determined to pack all of the craziness of a high school career into their final night before graduation, and their journey is pretty epic. There are highs and lows, but mostly they learn a lot about themselves and the other students they took for granted. This movie seems more well-grounded in reality than most teen movies, and reveals important life lessons in an entertaining and heartwarming way.
Our rating:  4 out of 5

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

Links we mentioned on the show:
See Daisy Ridley rap a Star Wars recap here.