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.

Sometimes Older is Better

captive

What to Watch in the Theater:
Captive State (PG13) is in theaters now. After the initial invasion scene sets up a couple of the characters, this dystopian sci fi mainly takes place 9 years after aliens have taken over earth. We meet a variety of characters, but the main ones are teen Gabe, whose brother was a legendary rebel, and the cop (played by John Goodman), who keeps an eye on him. Although the new alien government believes they squashed the rebellion, it is alive in the shadows, and we learn more about its members as the movie plays out. The movie starts pretty slowly, and gets more interesting as things come together. Unfortunately, the payoff doesn’t make up for the earlier lack of momentum.
Our rating: 2.83 out of 5

gloriab

Gloria Bell (R) is in theaters now. This independent or art film, starring Julianne Moore as the title character, chronicles a short period in Gloria’s life. She’s a divorcee with grown kids, relatively comfortable with her life but still missing something. Her one true passion is dancing, which she fulfills by visiting night clubs. When she clicks with a recently divorced man, they start a relationship, but his baggage complicates things. This “woman of a certain age” film will resonate with a certain group, who may be reminded of themselves, their relationships, or their own journeys toward a more fulfilling life.
Our rating: 3.5 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Kim Possible (G) is now available on DVD. There’s nothing wrong with this Disney Channel Original Movie. It’s perfectly good entertainment, about a female teen and her sidekick, who battle her evil nemeses (the plural of nemesis) while in high school and accompanied by a naked mole rate. The problem is, we’re HUGE fans of the original animated series. Special effects and wire work just can’t take the place of animation, and the character/plot changes alter the original story. Kim may be a little more relatable here, when she’s upstaged by a friend and loses her confidence, but that works against our previously held beliefs that KP was pretty infallible, except when it came to things like dating and the occasional pimple. Then, she was much more superhero-like, living a double life as an A student/cheerleader, who saves the world in her spare time. While there was a small update needed to bring Kim into the present day, we feel they changed her too much.
Our rating: 2.17 out of 5

In Time (PG13) is available on DVD. In this futuristic story from 2011, life on earth resembles present day, with a big twist. People stop aging at 25, and time is the new currency. There’s a big disparity between the haves and have nots, divided into time zones where the wealthy could live forever and the poor could (and do) die any minute. While we had questions about the technology for transferring time between people, we thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Justin Timberlake’s Will receives a new lifetime from a stranger. While that opens new doors for him, he realizes he must try to fix the system. With the daughter of a wealthy man (played by Amanda Seyfried) along as collateral, he becomes a literal time bandit Robin Hood. This was a fun watch, especially considering we missed it the first time around.
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.

Searching for Someone to Share Our Soul

fivefeet

What to Watch in the Theater:
Five Feet Apart (PG13) is in theaters now. This film about teens with Cystic Fibrosis gives a pretty accurate portrayal of life with the disease, providing an effective vehicle to raise awareness about CF. We come to care about the young characters, watching Stella and Will bond after at first not getting along. It’s pretty classic teen drama and romance as they fall in love, but in a hospital setting, unable to physically touch each other as they must maintain a six-foot distance apart at all times. It’s a bittersweet story of love and loss, as they learn to open up to each other and discover which risks are worth taking. There’s some heavy stuff here, but it’s presented well. Bring tissues!
Our rating: 3.67 out of 5

us

Us (R) opens today. From the mind of director/writer/producer Jordan Peele, comes the followup to his much-acclaimed Get Out. This one didn’t floor us quite as much, but it was definitely creepy, with a seriously disturbing plot and the all-important twist at the end. It’s more thriller than horror, just like Get Out, but with a lot more gory violence. It could’ve used a bit more backstory, after the mid-movie reveal, so we left the theater with some questions. It was still a thrilling watch, and the cast did an excellent job portraying dual roles. We look forward to seeing what Jordan does next (especially The Twilight Zone series).
Our rating: 4.25 out of 5

What to Watch at Home (Or Not):
Nobody’s Fool (R) is on DVD. We’re big fans of Tiffany Haddish, and the trailer for this one gave us big expectations for some comedy, especially with Tyler Perry involved. The plot, about a beautiful, successful woman obsessing over a man who may or may not be catfishing her, was hard to swallow. Tiffany and Whoopi were there for comedic relief, but they were totally wasted in this movie (and not the way Whoopi’s character was). It just wasn’t funny AND included some really unnecessary adult material. Don’t waste your time on this one.
Our rating: 0.83 out of 5

The Iron Giant (PG) is available on DVD. Twenty years out, and we can see why this animated film is considered a classic. It was a box office failure in its day, but the combination of voice talent (Jennifer Aniston, Harry Connick Jr.), a real retro animation feel, and the genius of a pre-Pixar Brad Bird has endured the test of time. The story takes place in the Sputnik era of the late 1950s, when a young boy meets a robot, who could be from outer space or a cold war weapon – even the iron giant doesn’t know what his purpose is. As their relationship grows, we learn more about what powers us as humans, and the choices we have to make.
Our rating: 4.17 out of 5

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