Monday, July 27, 2009

My Week In Movies - Rolling With the Oldies

Charley's Aunt (1941) Seeing the star-studded comedy epic It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World a few weeks ago has resparked my love of classic comedy. I didn't discover Jack Benny until later in life, but I couldn't be a bigger fan of his work. He's one of the few older generation of comedians that makes me laugh as loud as any thing being produced today. I've had this film on my Netflix queue for a while, and finally just moved it up to the top spot so I could get a little Jack Benny fix. The basic selling point of this movie is: Jack Benny in drag. That's all I needed, I was sold! Charley's Aunt is actually a stage play translated to the silver screen. It's a wacky, madcap farce where every ridiculous situation results in more ridiculous situations. Jack Benny doesn't play his "Jack Benny" character here, but he's still great a little out of his element carrying a full length motion picture. I couldn't do justice trying to relate the storyline to's a random page with a summary and more on the movie.

Have Rocket, Will Travel (1959) I've never really been a fan of The Three Stooges. I've seen a few of their shorts, but I just never really got it. They have a credited appearance in It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and I was looking forward to giving them another look - however they only appear for one very brief moment in the movie and they don't do anything. (However, just the sight of them got a huge laugh in the theatre.) So, I went hunting for some more Three Stooges to get a taste of their work now that I'm a sophisticated patron of classic comedy. Turner Classic Movies ran this sci-fi themed big screen outing during a day of space travel films on the anniversary of the Moon Landing. Nobody goes to the moon in Have Rocket, instead the three clumsy janitors end up accidentally launching themselves into space and head to Venus. Once on Venus, the boys meet...who else?...a talking unicorn. After a rollicking song with the unicorn, the Stooges find themselves trapped in a giant bird cage by a robot wearing three pairs of dish washing gloves. Larry, Moe and Curley end up getting back to Earth, just in time to be honored as heroes at a swanky party where Curley winds up having a giant spring attached to his rear end and casing a pie fight to break out. As you can guess from that summary, I rather enjoyed this fine film. I still don't get the physical humor of Moe smacking and hitting his two friends all the time, but the Three Stooges have a comic timing and charm just like Laurel & Hardy, Abbott & Costello and all the other great comedians of cinema's early years.

Stormy Weather (1943) I rented this because Netflix has Eddie "Rochester" Anderson listed in the cast. Anderson played Jack Benny's valet, Rochester, on Benny's radio and television program as well as a few films. (He also appears in Mad, Mad, World). Sadly, he's not actually in Stormy Weather, but that didn't stop me from enjoying this musical comedy. This lightweight film is loosely based on the life of dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. I had been familiar with Robinson through clips in various documentaries over the years so it was nice to actually see one of his films. He's an amazing dancer and a great entertainer with a captivating screen presence and one pair of amazing feet! Another one of my favorite old school entertainers, Cab Calloway, shows up half way through the picture and brings down the dump with several fantastic musical numbers. This was also my introduction to Fats Waller, a popular jazz pianist of the time who wrote (and performs here) the standard Ain't Misbehavin. I'm looking forward to discovering more of Fats Waller's work. This film does include a few of the ugly stereotypical images that were part of the landscape of Hollywood during that era. According to a 1943 review of the film in the New York Times 20th Century Fox advertised the film as "a cavalcade of Negro entertainment" while the Times itself said the movie featured "an abundance of the show world's leading colored talent". Unbelievable today that those words would be in print, but it shows the mindset of the country back in those days.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Classic Commercial Sunday - Allan Sherman

Allan Sherman was a popular singer/comedian of the early 60's who took popular songs and changed the words to make humorous ditties. He had a great influence on "Weird Al" Yankovic. I had one of his albums when I was little and used to listen to it all the time. Recently, I've been sharing some of his stuff with my kids. They don't really understand much of it, but they like upbeat music and silly lyrics.

Sherman's most popular song was Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh - which went all the way to #2 on the Billboard charts in 1963. This song was so popular it even spawned a board game...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Week In Movies - Veggies & Crabs

The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A Veggie Tales Movie (2008) This is an odd movie and not just because it's about sword fighting produce. This second Veggie Tales movie breaks away completely from the structure of every Veggie Tales product that has come before it and puts a handful of the popular characters into a swashbuckling fantasy/adventure story. The movie is actually very funny and makes a good pirate alternative for younger kids who aren't quite ready for the Pirates of the Caribbean series. There's plenty of action and swordplay, but nobody gets hurt and of course there's not a drop of blood. If you know three things about this movie going into it, you'll be able to enjoy it better. First, all the characters now have different names. Larry is not Larry anymore...he's Elliott. I'm not quite sure why they decided to do that, but it's a bit strange. Second, Bob the Tomato is not in this movie. (For those of you not familiar with the Veggie Universe, Bob and Larry are like Mickey and Donald or Bugs and Daffy...) Bob has about a two second cameo in the closing credits. Third, there is not a single mention of God...or the bible, or Jesus or anything else these vegetables are known for talking about. That's not a problem with me, but you might find yourself sitting through the whole movie wondering what any of this has to do with God or religion and you'll never get an answer. Sure, the movie has a nice message - but what kids film doesn't!?! Seeing this film for a second time last week at a free Kiddie matinee, I was able to sit back and take the film for what it was and enjoy it. It's actually pretty funny and well done family entertainment.

He's Just Not That Into You (2009) Pretty much any movie that takes place in Baltimore, but wasn't made by a Baltimore filmmaker, has a scene where crabs are eaten in an unrealistic setting. Here, it's at a rehearsal dinner for a wedding. The extended family is all gathered at a fancy restaurant, the guys are in suits and the girls are in nice dresses and there sits a huge mound of crabs in the middle of the table clothed table! Not the way we roll in B'mo! Besides the incorrect depiction of a crab feast, you'll find a half dozen interlocking stories about dating, marriage, romance, guys and gals. You'll see Scarlett Johansson play the exact same character she played in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, you'll see Drew Barrymore prominently displayed on the poster and then only show up for about 4 minutes of the whole movie. You'll also see the wonderful Jennifer Aniston who seems to be good in everything she's in, and one of my underdog favorites Justin Long. All in all, this is a good movie with some creative storytelling methods that payoff a little flat thanks to the obligatory Hollywood happy ending.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Yabba Dabba Shoe

I recently bought the most expensive footwear I've ever owned, Explorer Sandals from L.L. Bean for $60.00. Now it looks like I'm going to have to go even higher than that because it's a no-brainer that I absoultley need to get these new Fred Flintstone shoes from Nike. The Nike Big High Fred Flintstone is available at for the low price of only $160.00! Yes, that's a whole one hundred dollars more than my beloved sandals. And yes, that's U.S. currency, not Bedrock Sanddollars. But still, how sweet are these shoes? The fact that they are Nike's makes them just a little bit cooler! Yes, it's ironic that The Flintstones didn't wear shoes and yes, it's ironic that these shoes were probably made in a sweatshop in Micro Indonesia by seven year olds who have never seen a cartoon...but come on, these shoes look like Fred Flintstone's clothes. And the shoelace is the same color as Fred's tie! If that weren't enough, check out the back of the shoe:

Nike is written in bones! Sold!
When I was a freshman in college I had Vans with Mickey Mouse all over them...they were awesome! I gotta say, these Fred Flintstone shoes would officially be the coolest shoes I've ever owned.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Some "Weird Al" Stuff

A few "Weird Al" Yankovic related links for ya today:

-Al had been releasing his new album one song at a time on various digital media sites. His new song "Skipper Dan" is another Al masterpiece as he turns his attention to the world of Disney. It's good stuff! There's a animated video to go along with the song...Al's record company has blocked it from being embedded on other websites but here's a link to the video on You Tube that you can check out!

-Here's a nifty article from Rolling Stone called "Weird Al" Yankovic on Imitation as Flattery where Al talks about his encounters with the late Michael Jackson.

-And this is really neat and just one of the reasons I love Al so much. He's just unveiled a new 3-D movie and exhibit called Al's Brain which is all about the human brain. The exhibit just opened and is running through August 9 at the Orange County Super Fair (whatever that is) in California. After the fair, the unique exhibit and film will travel to science centers and other similar venues starting with the Puyallup Fair in Washington state on September 11. There's a website for the movie at

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Johnny Carson Does Walter Cronkite

Yahoo News:
Legendary CBS anchor Walter Cronkite dies at 92

And here's a brief clip from the film Back to Neverland which played at the Animation Studio tour at Disney/MGM Studios Theme Park when it opened in 1989:

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The American Idol Experience Gift Shop Experience

I don't know why, but I find the merchandising of TV's beloved American Idol quite humorous. I mean, at it's heart, it's just a talent show where the same people sing over and over again. I know it's a cultural phenomenon, and the highest rated show on TV, but it just seems like an odd thing to use to sell ice cream or fast food. And now, as you may know, Walt Disney World has jumped on the bandwagon with their newest attraction The American Idol Experience where guests can be either contestants or the audience for a recreation of the hit TV show. Of course to be an attraction at a theme park means there must be a gift shop at the end of the ride or show. Disney's American Idol gift shop is chock full of silly things to slap the American Idol logo on. Of course they've also dragged Mickey and the gang along for the ride. Here's some of the things you'll find...(the first three are t-shirts)

When you wear one will be able to see the American Idol logo!?

I should have noted how much this leather jacket costs!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Week In Movies - One Off The List

It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) I have always wanted to see this movie, in fact it was in my list of 10 Movies I've Always Wanted To See that I posted back in September. So I was particularly excited that I got to experience this film on the big screen at a restored historic old theatre in Gettysburg. The epic running time on this comedy classic is close to four hours, which has been part of what has kept me away for so many years. I'm so glad I finally got to see it, it's a wonderful comic masterpiece that stars boatloads of comic legends. The story involves a hidden stash of stolen money and a group of strangers who all set off to find the loot. The main group of characters are played by Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Mickey Rooney, Buddy Hackett and Jonathan Winters. Spencer Tracy plays a cop, Jimmy Durante's in it, there's Ethel Merman, Dick Shawn, Jim Backus...the list goes on and on. Two of my very favorite older actors, Phil Silvers and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson also get mixed up in the zany action! There's also about 20 other familiar faces that pop up throughout the adventure. This movie was so much fun, and the monstrous length of the movie just flew by. The story is very focused and everyone looks like they are having so much fun that the entire picture was a joy to watch. I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a DVD of the movie and watching it again real soon.

The Lion King II: Simba's Pride (1998) I mentioned last week that Lion King Mania was running through our household, so the kids and I decided to watch this direct-to-video sequel to the 1994 blockbuster. While Simba's Pride doesn't come anywhere near the original, it's still a pretty well done movie. The problem with alot of these Disney animated sequels is that they miss the point and soul of the first movie. Since The Lion King is a good guy vs. bad guy movie, the addition of new enemies for Simba and company to face keeps in line with the film's older brother. The songs here aren't memorable, but they aren't bad either. There's actually a pretty catchy fun little number in the middle of the movie, although I couldn't tell you the name of the song. Most of the original voice cast returns as well as some new B-list celebrities who help fill out the rest of the cast.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hey Kids, Hurricane!

It's been a while since we've talked coin-op fun. We stumbled upon a machine this weekend that really takes the cake. It first I thought it was one of those machines they have at the grand opening of car dealerships where you step inside and the money blows all around and you try to grab as much as you can in 30 seconds. But nope, It's a 78 MPH Hurricane Simulator. This kind of thing wouldn't be so odd if it were at a science center or maybe even some sort of Family Entertainment Center (like a go-cart track) but this thing was just sitting right in the middle of a mall!?! It's just sitting there, with no sign or instructions or anything...just a bill collector slot and a sticker that reads "$2".

Hurricanes kill people, uproot homes, destroy lives and property...even one of the darkest moments in recent American history involves a hurricane...and someone somewhere decided that it would be the perfect basis for an arcade ride!?! Bizarre! Maybe soon in malls all across the country kids will stop begging Mommy and Daddy for loose change to ride Elmo's Helicopter or a race car and instead will ask for some cold hard cash to ride the 78 MPH winds of terror.

My guinea pig...I mean, stepson Joey was more than happy to step into the machine and give it a try. He thought it was kind of cool but also kind of lame at the same time. As soon as he stepped into the machine, a rather large crowd (for such an uncrowded mall) gathered around to witness Joey's personal Storm of the Century. The machine went on to make four more bucks in the next few minutes. I wasn't able to get my cell phone video up on the blog here, but here's a link to the video of Joey in the Hurricane Simulator at the mall. Enjoy!

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Fred Flintstone and George Clooney Want to Come To Your House

Any good blog worth it's weight in rocks nowadays has a giveaway of some sort to thank it's readers for stopping by. WWoB is proud to announce a contest that will put a few extra titles into your DVD library. And not just any DVD, but we're happy to share our favorite prehistoric cartoon family with you. We'll be giving away a copy of the 5 DVD set Warner Home Video Premiere Episodes Vol. 1! Five first episodes of television series, classic and modern, come packaged together for a trip down memory lane on the house courtesy of Wonderful World of Blog. There's "The Flintstone Flyer"; the first episode of The Flintstones to air in 1960. The set also includes another comedy classic from the same era, Gilligan's Island - the first episode was an hour long and filmed in black in white. There's also the feature-length first episode of ER and two more favorites. That's almost five hours of quality television entertainment!

So, what's the rub? All you have to do to win this collection of great television is enter our super simple Flintstone Celebrity Contest. If you remember on The Flintstones, real-life celebrities would often appear on the show but their names were "Flintstone-ized", for example the most famous guest appearance was Ann-Margret who danced with Fred and Barney as Ann-Margrock. Ed Sullivan became Ed Sullystone, Cary Grant was Cary Granite, Michael Jackson even appeared on a late 80's episode of Flintstone Kids as Michael Jackstone. All you have to do is zap WWoB an e-mail or leave a comment with a Flintstone name for a modern day celebrity. It can be anyone from entertainment, politics, sports...anywhere!

We'll pick one winner at random from all the entries received before 11:59pm on Sunday July 26, 2009. The winner will be picked at random and not based on the creativity of the entry, in fact you don't even have to send in the Flintstone name - you can just enter. We'll post the winner and some of the funny Flintstone celebrity names later in the week. Have fun!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Classic Commercial Sunday - View Master & Friends

I've always loved collecting movies. Before anyone even knew what a VCR was, I loved any toy that you slipped a cartridge into and you could watch a movie. The movies were usually short clips of cartoons or TV shows, but I loved all toys that fell into this category and I couldn't get enough of them!

The only one of these toys that has withstood the test of time is the View-Master. Originally made by a company called GAF, it's now part of the Mattel family. You can still pick up View-Master reels pretty much anywhere toys are sold. They are even starting to bring back the travel series of View-Master reels, so you can take home pictures of places you visit. Here's a 1971 commercical for View-Master staring Henry Fonda and the hardest working girl in showbiz, Jodi Foster...

Later on, View-Master came out with a new toy called the Show Beam. This projected the movie pictures like a flashlight. I wanted one really bad when it first came out, but Santa never followed through! Then it came out again a few years later and I bought one myself. Yes, I was too old to really want one, but I had to get one anyways.

I so had the Mickey and the Seal cartridge shown at the end of that commercial!

Here's one more ad, this one spotlights a few of the toys from View-Master family of fun...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

My Week In Movies - Confessions of a Guy Watching A Chick Flick

Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009) I will confess that the major factor that brought me to this movie is Isla Fisher. She's adorable and she's also a pretty good comedic actress. (Check out in the way underrated Hot Rod to see her at her goofy best.) This film is a chick-flick to the 10th degree. Shopping is treated with such reverence in this movie that I really had a hard time understanding what was going on. It's all cute and funny and mindless fluff...the way I like my movies, but I think you really need to be a woman (or gay) to really appreciate this movie. In it, Fisher gets a job writing for an investment magazine which is ironic because she knows nothing about saving fact, she's in so much debt there is a debt collector out to get her. Fred Armisen, from Saturday Night Live has a surprisingly straight role and there are nice appearances from John Goodman, Joan Cusack, and John Lithgow. But in the end, this is basically shopping porn.

The Lion King (1994) Believe it or not, my kids had not yet seen The Lion King. After a week of having characters from the movie shoved in their faces at Walt Disney World, they were really interested in seeing the film. I gotta admit, this is one of the Disney animated films that I don't hold as close to my heart as others. When it first came out I worked at a preschool. Somehow the school had got their hands on a horrible bootleg copy of the movie and it went on heavy rotation during afternoon pickup time. I must have seen it 100 times, then when it was officially released on video I had to see it another 100 times. It had been a while since I last saw it but this movie is really powerful and really holds up. I forgot how good it actually is! It's possibly one of the best constructed movies ever made! My kids loved it, they wanted to rewatch it the next day and now they want Lion King toys. It's like 1994 all over again in our house!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Up On The Rock Top

And now from our Scanning the Back of Cereal Boxes and Posting Them on the Internet department:

I was about to toss this empty Fruity Pebbles box in the recycle bin when I noticed the pretty cool Flintstones artwork on the back of the box. Nothing special, but I thought I'd scan it and slap on up here to add to our collection of Flintstones stuff. You can click it to enlarge it, then print it out and have yourself a gay ol' time!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Enchanted Forest Saga

For those of you not from the area or just out of the loop, let me bring you up to speed on my beloved Enchanted Forest. The small amusement park opened in the summer of 1955, just shy of a month after the opening of Disneyland. Even though the Enchanted Forest was built on a mere fraction of Disneyland's budget and it covered only 30 acres as opposed to Disney's 160, it was the coolest place in the world to any child who stepped foot inside the park. It had a castle, it had rides, it even had Cinderella, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. To a young child, the only thing missing was Mickey Mouse himself! And better than Disneyland, Hersheypark, or even Walt Disney World...The Enchanted Forest was located in the same county I grew up in, not more than 15 minutes from my house!

The Enchanted Forest was low-tech but beautifully maintained. There were displays of all the popular fairy tale and nursery rhyme characters. There were rides like the Alice in Wonderland ride where a train of tea cups took you inside a cave to follow the story of Alice on foot. There was a Jungle Land ride, and a boat ride through Ali Baba's Treasure Cave. In the back of the park was a giant mountain with a sliding board that made it's way all over the side of the mountain. The place was cool and you can see plenty of pictures of how it looked in it's hay-day at a website called The Imaginary World.

The park closed in the late 1980's and the land was sold to a development company. The company quickly leveled half the park and it's parking lot and built The Enchanted Forest Shopping Center. Now, on the same land where you could once meet the Three Little Pigs or eat lunch at the Robin Hood Cafe you can get your clothes dry cleaned, rent a video or stock up on pet supplies. The park's iconic castle entrance still stands at one end of the shopping center along with Old King Cole waving shoppers in off Route 40, but what was left of the amusement park sat behind a fence falling into disrepair for many years.

In steps Clark's Elioak Farm, a small petting zoo just miles away from the original Enchanted Forest site. A few years ago the farm started acquiring some of the pieces from the Enchanted Forest. First they got Cinderella's Pumpkin Coach which was easy to move as it has wheels. They restored it, gave it a fresh coat of paint and put it out on their land for the kids to play in. The move attracted quite a bit of press for such a small operation. Slowly, the folks at Clark's started moving more pieces from the old park to their new operation. The company that now owns The Enchanted Forest land gave Clark's permission to remove whatever they wanted except for the king and castle out by the main road. Next thing you know, enormous structures like The Three Bears House and The Old Lady in the Shoe's Shoe were being dug up from their original spots and restored to beautiful splendor at Clark's Elioak Farm.

Every year there is something new at Clark's and this year they've gone all out and have almost completed their collection of Fairy Tale displays from The Enchanted Forest. Except for a few major structures and the rides, Clark's has managed to capture the spirit and wonder of the original park that opened over 50 years ago.

Here's Hickory Dickory Dock, an original piece from 1955 that's been refurbished, repainted and is making it's debut at Clark's this summer. This...and many other pieces...are all part of a new attraction at the farm called The Enchanted Forest Maze. The maze ads quite a bit more land for visitors to explore. The maze is essentially a forest of over 800 Evergreen trees with storybook friends hidden along the way.

What's really cool about The Enchanted Forest Maze is that it literally puts you in the middle of a forest. At times the greens are thick, and you have to push branches out of your way to make it through portions of the trail. At other times, you feel completely removed from the outside world - lost in a maze of trees. It's a very cool experience. There is a foot worn dirt trail that you can follow or you can break off and go in any direction you like. There is also a maze guide and activity book that you can purchase to enhance your experience.

This large piece is the Rock-A-Bye Baby tree and the house where Sleeping Beauty hid until her 16th birthday. They had moved this giant structure to the park last year, and it was sitting off to the side awaiting attention. It now stands in the middle of the maze with a fresh coat of paint waiting for kids to play inside it. They really did a beautiful job fixing it up. You can see the cradle with the baby in it hanging from the branch.

The Sombrero was always an odd fixture at The Enchanted Forest. It doesn't seem to pertain to any particular story or nursery rhyme but it was always there sitting in a back corner of the park near the very popular Willie the Whale. Last year the Sombrero was standing near the donkey in the petting zoo area, this year is been spruced up and placed inside the maze. They took the liberty of adding to the fence around the base of the sombrero and it's now home to a pretend donkey. Nice touch, the kids got a kick out of seeing him in there.

One of the structures that couldn't be moved from The Enchanted Forest was the Witch's Candy House from the story of Hansel and Gretel. At the old park, the Hansel and Gretel house served as the park's Birthday Party room. It was a full sized building where kids could celebrate the cake and presents portion of their birthday party. (I never knew anyone who had a party at the Enchanted Forest and quite frankly I'm still a little bitter about it!) Anywho, as it was one of the only pieces that Clark's couldn't move to their farm, so the local artists who volunteer their time built a new one from scratch. It has some of the same elements as the original, but it's much smaller and doesn't house birthday parties. You can look inside and see the witch trapped in a candy jail cell. It's very well done. Visitors to the original park will remember the little gingerbread man to the left of the house. There were at least 100 of these gingerbread men, brown and pink, that lined the property of the original forest along Rt. 40. and into the parking lot. Several of them can be found, completely restored, all around Clark's Elioak Farm.

Along with the 15 major sites along the trail there are four hidden characters that are listed only in the Maze Guide book. These little critters are hidden deep inside the maze and you really need to look hard for each of them. My kids had so much fun hunting for them and got so excited when they found one. This one pictured above, Gert, was tucked away in a tiny far off little spot. It was actually quite challenging to find her. I thought this was a really cool new addition to the Enchanted Forest experience and one of the new aspects that creates new memories for a new generation of kids.

Moving outside the maze, there are still plenty of other Enchanted Forest goodies to visit. One of them is The Merry Miller's House. It's a small house with a paddle wheel on the back that sat along the small creek running through the Enchanted Forest. Clark's built a small body of water to display some of the water based items from EF and The Merry Miller's House is among them. Many of the original Enchanted Forest house had scenes inside them which featured simple animation or a recording of some kind. (Several places featured the music from a Disney film of the same name!) Clark's not only restored The Merry Miller's House, but they restored the Miller himself who dances around in a circle inside his house singing a song. The recording of the Miller's song is a recording from the original park that was taken from a video tape that a park employee recorded in 1987. This video tape has been used to reference the way things looked when the park was in operation and a copy of the tape is available on DVD in Clark's gift shop.

If you're in the area, pack up the kids and head on out to Clark's Elioak Farm. It will bring back a flood of memories and create new memories for your kids. If you don't have kids, you should still go to the park....check out all the Enchanted Forest history that's on display in the gift shop and visit all the buildings from your childhood memories. Clark's is really doing a great job of keeping this Howard County landmark alive and well.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Classic Commercial Sunday - 7/5

My Week In Movies - Pixar Does It Again

Up (2009) Anybody who has seen a handful of Pixar films knows that they are special. They just are! They are beautiful, they are funny, and they are (mostly) touching. Even though Up is essentially about an old man who ties enough balloons to his house to fly himself to South America, it's probably the most down to Earth and easy to relate to story the studio has made. Up manages to stage a tear jerking moment in the first eight minutes of the movie. It's handled in such a way that younger kids probably won't know what's going on, but older viewers will have a hard time holding back the tears. The fact that a movie, yet alone a cartoon, can pull this off in the opening minutes speaks volumes for how smart and crafty the Pixar filmmakers are. The movie is funny, heart warming, full of action and adventure and even thought provoking. It might not be filled with lovable cute characters like Monsters Inc. or Toy Story, but I'd have to put it near the top of my list of favorite Pixar films.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009) What really blew me away about this funny movie was how clean and PG it was. It's basically an action film and there's some very mild risque humor, but I was amazed at how the film had nothing that I felt was inappropriate for my 3 and 5 year old to watch. The violence is kept to a minimum, the language is very tame, and the bad guys were never too bad. My kids (and the rest of the family) loved this movie. While a majority of the situations are far fetched, it's loaded with plenty of slapstick comedy and Kevin James' gentle humor that had all five of us laughing out loud at various times. This movie was a hit earlier this year when it surprisingly grossed over $140 million at the box office. It's not because this is a great movie, it's because it's a good movie that is clean and is fun for the whole family. I hope Kevin James' sticks with this winning formula because his next movie Field Trip sounds like it could be hilarious!

The Hammer (2007) Here's a small independent movie that was put together by Adam Carolla. You probably know Carolla from The Man Show or Love Line or as Jimmy Kimmel's good friend. I really started to become a fan of Carolla's when I started listening to his morning radio show out of L.A. via iTunes. When his radio station switched formats and dumped his show, Adam took to Podcasting and now has one of the most downloaded podcasts on iTunes. In many ways, the Podcast is better than the radio show and he may just revolutionize podcasting. Anywho...he talks about this movie that he made alot, and the movie didn't get a fair shake in distribution and he's always talking about how well received the movie was but no one has really gotten a chance to see it. Thanks to TiVo and HBO 17, I caught an airing of this charming little comedy. Carolla plays a carpenter who gets talked into getting back into the ring and making a bid for Olympic boxing glory. It's not a silly slapstick comedy as you might imagine, it's actually a sweet little story with a romantic subplot that turns out to be surprisingly effective. Adam is right...this IS a really good movie that deserves to be seen by more people. Hunt it down and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Friday, July 03, 2009

The Prez Records For Disney

Here's a neat video from the White House website of President Obama recording his lines for the Hall of Presidents attraction in Walt Disney World...

I snapped this picture of a sign outside the closed attraction when we were in Disney World a few weeks ago...

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Winnie the Pooh's Hidden Submarine

Disney Imagineers pack the Disney theme parks with loads of Hidden Mickeys, inside jokes, and references to the company's rich history. Here's one of my favorites - In Fantasyland in Orlando's Magic Kingdom you'll find Pooh's Playful Spot, a cute little play area for the little ones that recreates the Hundred Acre Woods - home of Winnie the Pooh and friends. This newer attraction was built on the footprints of a classic Disney attraction 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. That ride took guests on a voyage through liquid space inside a submarine. To pay homage to the original ride that occupied the space when the Magic Kingdom opened, the designers worked a little submarine magic into the woodwork of Winnie The Pooh's house...

...this image can be found blended into the doorframe of Pooh's home. There's a similar homage across the way at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride. The Pooh ride-thru attraction is housed in the building that used to feature Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. In the second scene of the Pooh ride, you can spot a picture on the wall of Pooh's friend Owl being handed the deed to the property from Mr. Toad himself! Pretty dorky, eh!?
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