Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Spice Up Your Christmas Again

Every year I like to share a Spice Girls Holiday related video with ya. It's become known as America's least looked forward to tradition. Thank you very much! Here's another cute commercial for a British department store chain that plays off the girls persona's:

Monday, December 10, 2012

Bing's Last Sing

Every year I try and find some YouTube clips of classic Christmas songs performed on television in the 50's...these clips seem to be few and far between. Perhaps if I was looking for clips of cats falling off kitchen counters I'd be more successful. However, here's a holiday cheer filled clip I found - Mr. Christmas himself Bing Crosby singing his signature tune, White Christmas. Bing Crosby Christmas Specials were a holiday staple for many years, this show is from 1977 and was called Bing Crosby's Merrie Olde Christmas. It was to be his last holiday special.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Disney Comes To Netflix

I was pretty happy yesterday to see some honest-to-goodness Disney Classics arrive on the Netflix streaming service. Hopefully this is the start of a beautiful relationship between the two entertainment giants and more titles both popular and obscure will start to surface!

Some major titles making their debut on Netflix:
  • Dumbo (1941)
  • Alice In Wonderland (1951)
  • The Aristocats (1970)
  • The Fox and the Hound (1981)
  • The Great Mouse Detective (1986)
  • The Rescuers Down Under (1991)
  • Pocahontas (1995)
  • The Tigger Movie (2000)

And then some other goodies from the studio:
  • One Magic Christmas (1985)
  • Pocahontas II: Journey To A New World (1998)
  • The Brave Little Toaster Goes To Mars (1998)
  • The Brave Little Toaster To The Rescue (1999)
  • Air Bud: World Pup (2000)
  • Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch (2002)
  • Tarzan & Jane (2002)
  • Air Bud: Spikes Back (2003)
  • Air Buddies (2006)
  • Tinker Bell (2008)
  • The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos (2008)
  • Mickey Mouse Club House: Road Rally (2010)
  • Car Toons: Mater's Tall Tales (2010)
  • Spooky Buddies (2011)
I was surprised to see some of Disney's real animated treasures like Dumbo and Alice in Wonderland available and pleased to find some off-beat titles as well. It looks like this could be the start of something magical...

Sunday, December 02, 2012

My Week In Movies - November Wrap Up

Love At The Christmas Table (2012) There seems to be no less than 30 new Christmas movies debuting on television this season, this is one of them. What brought me to this picture was Danica McKeller (Winnie from The Wonder Years) and one of my all-time faves Lea Thompson. I intended to turn the movie off after 5 minutes but I was intrigued by the very first opening frames of the movie. This sappy holiday romcom, which is debuting on Lifetime, was produced by independent film company The Asylum. I've seen some of The Asylum's other work which is all gory horror movies and raunchy sex comedies, so I was surprised to see them producing a movie for Lifetime Television. The Asylum's films are always low budget affairs, with actors who can't act and stories that don't make a whole lot of sense but their scripts always show a flare for creativity and I've enjoyed what I've seen from them, especially the Netflix Classic "Barely Legal". The Christmas flick follows a couple who fall in love over the course of 30 years meeting one night a year at the kids table of their father's company Christmas dinner. Sappy, corny, predictable, confusing, and boring in parts...in the end, it worked for me. It's a cute little Christmas package with some higher than usual production values for The Asylum. It's no "Barely Legal"...or "Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies", but it's fun!

Soul Surfer (2011) Second time seeing this feel good surfing movie, it holds up. Good performances from the cast and a script that knows it's treading on familiar cinematic territory - the story of Bethany Hamilton, a young surfer who lost her arm to a shark attack yet learned to surf again, is an awe inspiring journey.

November Movie Count: 17
Best New Movie: Wreck-It Ralph
Worst New Movie: Vamps
Best Rewatch: Tangled
2012 Movie Count: 218

Friday, November 30, 2012

My Week In Movies - It's A New Princess

Sofia The First: Once Upon A Princess (2012) Disney's newest Princess franchise is a show directed at preschoolers, but the debut of Princess Sofia was rolled out in a family-friendly TV movie that sets up the series without being an educational lesson or the usual mind-numbing kiddie show fare. The film follows commoner Sofia, whose mother ends up marrying the King of a neighboring Kingdom. Soon Sofia finds herself in the world of castles and servants and so many other things she's not used to. Ok, I realize this show and starter film is pretty much aimed at little girls but let me tell you why it's awesome. Since it's aimed at an undiscerning preschool audience, the whole thing is just unabashedly Disney! It's like someone said, "Oh, you like Disney?" And then threw a bucket full of Disney at your head at point blank range. There's castles, and bad guys and cute little animals and singing and dancing and the coolest part of all is the Disney references and nods throughout the whole film. The kids in Sofia's new class are all inspired by other famous Disney characters. The real kicker, and the main concept for the show - is Sofia has a magic amulet (of course she does) which when Sofia needs advice, will summon another Disney Princess to help her out. In the movie, Cinderella drops by for some Princess Advice and a song! When they get to The Little Mermaid episode...I'll be watching. The three fairies from Sleeping Beauty are also series regulars as the head masters of Royal University, where Sofia attends. I'm sure the following TV series, which debuts next month, will be more directed at little kids, but this debut movie was a nice family event. And between The Disney Channel and Disney Junior channel, it's on about every two hours between now and Christmas.

Arthur Christmas (2011) Ok, we get it. Everything we know about Santa Claus and his operation is obsolete. The North Pole organization is now updated with computers and hi-tech this and iPad that...we get it. This concept has been done a handful of times already, most notably Disney's charming Prep & Landing specials. Arthur Christmas covers much the same ground, with Santa's spaceship (Sled-1) zipping across the planet, delivering gifts by zip-line all while Santa watches from above on his iPad. It's cute and will provide the necessary amounts of Holiday Cheer for a Christmas movie...but as with most non-Disney animated films, it's just "...eh?!"

Ruthless People (1986) I used to love this very grown up movie about a kidnapping going all wrong. I haven't seen it in probably 20 years, and I don't know if it's because I watched it so many times when I was younger, but I barely cracked a smile watching it this time around. It's still a good movie, with a solid story and plenty of gags...but I guess it's all etched in my mind pretty well because I was just sort of bored. If you haven't seen it, it's worth a look though. It's directed by the team responsible for Airplane!, Top Secret! and The Naked Gun, but this is not like those films at all. This is a normal movie with a real story set in the real world. It's good fun, I think I just wore it out for myself.

Friday, November 23, 2012

My Week In Movies - November part 2

Vamps (2012) Director Amy Heckerling was at the helm of four movies I adore; Fast Times At Ridgemont High, National Lampoon's European Vacation, Johnny Dangerously and Clueless. I was really excited to see her new flick which reteams her with Clueless star adorable Alicia Silverstone. Alicia is fantastic as ever along with Kristen Ritter (from The B- in Apartment 23) as a pair of vampires trying to navigate the singles scene in modern day New York. Sadly, this is the second Heckerling film in a row that I couldn't even make it through all the way. This is just a horrible film with way to much Vampire mythology thrown at you in the first 10 minutes that it just gets bogged down under it's own weight and it's just not funny. Too many special effects driven jokes and a way too complicated set-up make this film hard to enjoy. The longer it goes on, the painful it is to watch. A real let-down, and the fact that it debuted on iTunes the same day as it's alleged theatrical release should have been a clue.

The Last Flight of Noah's Ark (1980) Here's a Disney film that I remember coming out when I was a kid and it's taken me 32 years to finally see it. This is another of the Disney Tries To Go More Mature era pictures, except this one is a very Disney film. A plane crashes on a deserted island and the passengers and a large number of animals onboard try to make the best of it. They eventually build a boat out of the plane and make a go for safety. Well done flick.

The Queen of Versailles (2012) This documentary/reality movie centers on the The Siegel family. Jack Siegel is founder and CEO of Westgate Resorts, the largest time share company in the country. The film starts as a profile on their efforts to build the largest private home in America but when the stock market crashes the company takes a dive and so do their plans to build this huge house. I thought the film was going to be about this gigantic house they were building, but the story is more about this family that is so stinkin' filthy rich they don't even know what cutting back on expenses mean. The film doesn't make a commentary on the wealthy couple, it doesn't need to...these unsympathetic billionaires paint their own sad picture.

Mickey's Twice Upon A Christmas (2004) It's been a good while since I'd seen this follow up to Once Upon A Christmas from a few years earlier. It holds up alot better than I remember it. The film tells 5 short stories about Mickey Mouse and company and their holiday adventures. After a weak opening story about a skating duel between Minnie and Daisy, there are some solid cartoons with Huey, Dewey and Louie breaking into the North Pole to add their name to the "Nice List" and Goofy's son Max bringing a girl home from college for the holidays. Good stuff and a great way to kick off the Holiday Movie Season!

Tangled (2010) Easily, the best Non-Pixar Computer Animated Movie to ever come out of Hollywood!

Friday, November 16, 2012

My Role in the Elmo Scandal

The other night around 11:20 I started getting messages through Facebook that people thought they had seen me on the news in Baltimore. It turns out, while doing a story on the Kevin Clash allegations, WJZ 13 used file footage of an event at Port Discovery children's museum including a shot of myself working with Elmo & Clash. We don't get Channel 13 where I live, but I just found the story online so I thought I'd share. Look for the very large fat guy in a purple shirt talking to an audience with Elmo. That was back in 1999, and perhaps about 100 pounds heavier...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

edTunes - Anticipating

I pulled out a bunch of CD's from the back of my CD collection while I've been painting our kitchen this week. From Britney's third album, I forgot how great this song is...

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Week In Movies - November part 1

Anybody who has ever spent any significant amount of time in an arcade or even in front of a game console needs to go see Wreck-It Ralph (2012), a totally unique and charming film from Walt Disney Feature Animation. Filled with real life video game character cameos and lots of gamer in-jokes, the film follows Ralph - a bad guy from an 80's arcade game who travels into other video games looking for a chance to be a hero instead of the villain. My biggest rule for a comedy is to stay funny throughout the whole picture, Wreck-It Ralph succeeds. In addition to all the great video game jokes, the characters eventually enter a game called Sugar Rush which is sort of a Mario Kart in CandyLand game. There, the jokes and references switch to candy and food and there are plenty of great puns and familiar candy brands that the writers had fun with. This is a great time at the movies. I was worried it wasn't going to be very good since the marketing for the film has been shoving clips down our throats for the past 6 months - but it turned out to be a wonderful, well-done movie!

Before Cinderella III, The Lion King 1 1/2 and Lilo & Stitch 4 there was The Return of Jafar (1994), the very first time Disney made a direct-to-video sequel to one of their beloved animated features - in this case Aladdin. Even though it's just television animation, which is several...several bars below the theatrical original, I've always thought this was a pretty decent follow-up as far as humor, story and music. None of it is as good as the 1992 original film, but it's all still pretty fun. It's hard to track down a DVD of this film now, but you can go to any Goodwill and buy the VHS for $1.97.

I have wanted to see This Is Cinerama (1952) for as long as I can remember. The film is nothing more than an introduction to a new film process called....wait for it...Cinerama. Cinerama was the movie industry's attempt to lure folks away from their new TV sets and back into the theatre with a screen so huge, it wraps around the audience. It took three projectors to show the film theatrically. Turner Classic Movies secured a nice print of the film, presented in Smilebox - which is a letterboxing format that curves the picture on a television set to allow the full scope of the enormous screen. I thought it would be interesting to see a movie whose sole purpose was to simply show off a new size of screen but there is only so much "nothing" you can watch before it gets boring. There's no story just lingering shots of boat rides, helicopter rides, concerts and landmarks. The opening shot is a roller coaster ride, which is pretty neat even on a 42" screen and the finale was filmed at Florida's Cypress Gardens theme park which was very beautiful. But in between was a gosh-awful bore.

From the very first time I saw the trailer for Madea's Witness Protection (2012) I knew something was up with this latest Tyler Perry production. Whereas all of his previous films have been black melodramas sprinkled with comedy, Witness Protection is Perry's bid for a bigger audience by playing it strictly for broad laughs. When Eugine Levy and his family end up in the care of the Federal Witness Relocation program, they end up in the home of Madea. If you are unaware of Madea, she is played by Tyler Perry in drag - she's a huge old woman who don't take nuttin' from nobody! Hi-jinks ensure as Madea tries to adjust to having a wealthy white family staying with her. Whereas most Tyler Perry films end with some heavy duty drama, this one sees Madea and Levy traveling to New York in disguise to fool some investment bankers. It's comedy ahoy! In all honesty, I laughed several times - very loud and very hard. I thought this was a solid comedy!

I wasn't expecting anything from another visit from the Madagascar gang and Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (2012) was even more lame than I could have imagined. The Madagascar machine is on full auto-pilot here with nothing new to offer except Chris Rock's Marty the Zebra wearing a Rainbow Afro wig. That gag must have gotten so many laughs around the Dreamworks office that the wig is the center of attention for almost half the film not to mention the song dedicated to said wig. Ugg! Also, I can't have one regular bear, with regular bear eyes and a real bear growl surrounded by cartoon animals. It doesn't work that way.

Finally got a chance to see Disneynature's fourth film, Africian Cats (2011). I love the Disneynature films because they are one of the few old-school Disney things the company still does. However, this flick about lions and cheetahs was pretty boring. It's essentially 90 minutes of animals chasing each other. And what's with all the slow-motion? I felt the scenes were completely cut of their true drama by slowing down all the action. What's the point of a chase scene if it's slow? The narration is provided by Samuel L. Jackson, who delivers a down to Earth explanation of what you are looking at but this movie in nowhere near as good as the more recent Chimpanze, from the same series.

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) is another mid-80's attempt by the Walt Disney Studios to find their voice in the changing movie market. This time they go for a mature, psychological thriller penned by Walt's friend Ray Bradbury. The result is a concoction of creepy images, strange occurrences and some half-decent special effects which unfortunately don't add up to much. The idea of a Disney Thriller was done much better in The Watcher In The Woods. Still, this is one Disney movie that I hadn't seen - so at least now I can check it off my list.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

My Month in Movies - October Wrap Up

After cramming 30 movies into as many days in September, I cooled off from the flicks quite a bit this past month. First, there was the 11 days we were on vacation followed by an exhausting experience with some contractors we hired to do some work on our kitchen. Long story short: I only got to 10 films in October - and I didn't do too many Halloween or scary pictures as I would have hoped to. In fact, the majority of my film watching last month was made up of Disney movies.
I stocked up on quite a bit of Disney this month. Some of it in preparation for going to Walt Disney World, others trying to hold on to that Disney Magic after we returned to the "real world". My kids and I watched a bunch of classics. Lady and the Tramp (1955) is one of our families favorites. We ate at Tony's Town Square Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom, which is inspired by the eatery in the film, so this was some prep work to get the kids excited about going to the restaurant. It certainly enhanced our visit, having just seen the movie.
Dumbo (1941) is one of my personal favorites, short and sweet at 64 minutes - it's alot of fun for such a quick movie. I wanted the kids to see this because so much of the new revamped New Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom takes it cue from the circus theme of Dumbo. The classic Dumbo ride has recently been enhanced as well as the addition of a Casey Jr. water playground and a Dumbo gift shop. Great movie!
We watched Alice in Wonderland (1951) which was never one of my favorites, but it's certainly grown on me over the last few years. Perhaps in comparison to the dark Tim Burton take on the tale, I find this cheerful and silly Walt Disney version quite enjoyable now.
And my kids didn't have to ask twice the night they suggested we watch The Little Mermaid (1989), one of my all-time favorite movies. Having had the Mermaid shoved down their throats for a week at Disney World, it wasn't surprising they wanted to see it again. Plus, that night we had just come back from a costume party where I was dressed as Ariel's father - King Triton. I looked pretty good if I do say so myself.
Without the kids, I watched So Dear To My Heart (1948) which is just about the most obscure animated film in the Disney library. A story about a young boy at the turn of the century who dreams of raising a prize winning sheep for the county fair. It's a mix of live action and animation, similar to Song Of The South which came out a few years earlier. There are no classic Disney characters to be found in this film, just a ditty called Lavender Blue, which had become somewhat of a Disney standard nowadays. It's good nostalgic entertainment even if it's not nearly one of Disney's best. It is said to have been Walt Disney's personal favorite.
Two more I watched without the kids, the creepy and well-done The Watcher in the Woods (1980). Disney's only foray into horror, this came out a time when the directionless Disney Studios was really trying to figure out they were going to fit into the changing landscape of movies. There's some genuine scares tucked in this picture along with alot of creepiness. For someone who doesn't like horror movie, I really enjoyed it.
As always, I also enjoyed Disney's The Million Dollar Duck (1971). You can't go wrong with a madcap comedy about the Federal Reserve chasing after a kid and a duck that lays golden eggs!
Another Disney World prep film the kids and I watched was Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003). My little guys had never seen the original, which I remembered as being much better than the other films in the series. However, after seeing it again for the first time in at least 7 years - it's pretty much just as boring as the other three except for a few references to the Disneyland attraction it's based on.
And the only two non-Disney movie I saw in October were: L!fe Happens (2011), a horrible comedy about a girl trying to raise a kid on her own while all her friends keep partying and living the single lifestyle. It stars Kristen Ritter and Kate Bosworth, both who I really like alot, but this direct-to-everything-but-a-movie-theater film was a real bore! The Magic of Belle Isle (2012) is another movie that seems to have bypassed theaters, however it is a really nice little movie about a slightly odd-relationship between older than dirt Morgan Freeman and 50 year old Virginia Madisen and her daughters. The nice surprise is it's a well-told, mature story that is done without anything inappropriate for children to watch. It's a bit over the top in the sappy department, but it's worth a watch!
October Movie Count: 10
Best New Movie: The Watcher In The Woods
Worst New Movie: L!fe Happens
Best Rewatch: The Little Mermaid
2012 Movie Count: 201

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Seven Highlights From A Week at Walt Disney World

In case you've never read a word of this blog before, let me just fill you in: I loves me some Walt Disney World. It is easily my favorite spot in the entire world for so many reasons I could never list them all. Earlier this month, we were there for a week to have a good ol' fashioned family vacation. We hadn't been to WDW since June 2009, which is like 70 years in Disney Years! So, it was exciting to go and of course we did all kinds of neat things, eat wonderful food, rode incredible rides and met favorite characters from beloved movies. I'd go on for days telling you about every cool thing we did (and I will if you want me too!) but for here I thought I'd share six highlights from our trip...

#7) Staying at the new Disney's Art Of Animation Resort.  The value resorts at Disney are, in my opinion, the most "Disney" hotels to stay at. They aren't fancy, they are just overflowing with colorful fun and excitement. As always, Disney has taken their own game to the next level with the Art of Animation resort - which just opened earlier this summer. The new hotel immerses you in the environments of four favorite Disney films. You can almost literally swim with Nemo, explore the jungle with Simba and walk a stretch of highway with Lightning McQueen and Mater. We opted for the fourth and final option - hanging out with The Little Mermaid herself, Ariel.

It's no secret that 1989's The Little Mermaid is my very favorite Disney film, not to mention at the top of my list of all-time favorite movies in general. I was thrilled when I found out Disney chose this slightly older film to include in their new hotel. The other three sections of the new resort are made up of suites for 5 or more guests, while The Little Mermaid buildings house rooms designed for families of four or less. So, it worked out for me that The Little Mermaid was out best option money wise.

The buildings are decorated with images of fish, clams and other neighbors and friends of Ariel's. Around the grounds of the Little Mermaid wing you will find Prince Eric's statue (direct for Ariel's Grotto,) a salute to Dinglehoppers and Snarfblats as well as four story tributes to Ariel, King Triton and Ursula. There is a Flippin' Fins pool which is way less crowded than Nemo's Big Blue Pool, and it plays music from not only The Little Mermaid film soundtrack but also the Broadway Cast Recording and several Ariel and Sebastian albums that Disney had released back in the day.

In the Landscape of Flavors food court, you can dine surrounded by background and concept art from the film while dining under a huge light fixture that looks like Ariel's grotto from beneath and appears to be above the sea when viewed from the side. The guest rooms are decorated in great detail with my favorite being the shower. The shower curtain features a full sized image of Ariel, but when you pull the curtain aside you reveal Ariel's Grotto in great detail surrounding the shower. It was a very cool touch. Sebastian's sheet music for "Under The Sea" embedded in our coffee table was a nice touch too.

The newness of the resort made for some very crowded experiences at the food court, but overall the Art of Animation is a really cool place to hang out between parks especially if Cars/Finding Nemo/The Lion King or The Little Mermaid happens to be one of your favorite movies.

#6) Buying $7.00 Binoculars at Animal Kingdom  You don't have to talk me into buying anything in Walt Disney World. If it has a picture of a character, or mentions anything about Disney World - I'll easily buy it. I love to buy stuff for the kids without their asking. While we were waiting for our Fast Pass time for Kilimanjaro Safari, I surprised the kids each with a cheapo pair of toy binoculars. They said Disney's Animal Kingdom on them, and had a picture of Mickey Mouse in a safari outfit holding a pair of binoculars. I mean, how was I supposed to NOT buy them? So, the kids loved them and they took them on the safari ride and they just elevated the ride to a whole new experience. The kids were so into looking at the animals through their binoculars and hunting around for more animals than were out in plain sight. It was adorable to watch the kids see the safari though their "new eyes". I must have snapped two dozen pictures of the kids looking at animals. After the ride, the kids were so excited to continue using their new binoculars. They stopped at any chance to see animals and get an up close look at them. The binoculars experience, coupled with a great meal at Rainforest Cafe, meeting Pocahontas (one of the kids' favorites) and the incredible Finding Nemo The Musical show - made for what was easily the most enjoyable day we've ever had at Disney's Animal Kingdom! The binoculars even made several trips with us to other parks.

#5) Elias Conquers the Extended Mountain Range  Elias, now 9, had been on Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain before when he was much younger - and had no idea what was going on. He had sat out riding both the last couple of times we've visited Disney World. After 300 rides on the wooden roller coaster at our local amusement park, he was ready to take on the Disney Mountain range at full force. He had no problem getting on Splash and Big Thunder. I give credit to any kid who gets on Space Mountain. You can't see anything of that ride before you get on it. It's a complete mystery. He was a bit nervous, but not at all intimidated to ride. We got to the park early one morning and walked right up to the ride platform and got on with no wait. Elias LOVED the ride! We got back on and did it a second time. Some new tweaks that Disney has done to the attraction even brought new surprises to me. It was great to see Elias enjoy the ride so much. He liked it so much that he decided he was ready for the much bigger Expedition Everest in Animal Kingdom. He wasn't too sure about getting on it, but he did without delay and he also enjoyed the heck out of that ride too. He was proud of himself for doing it, and it was certainly the biggest coaster he has ever been on. I almost got him on the Rock and Roller Coaster the following night, but after consideration he felt he had enough thrills for one trip. It's all good, there's always next time.

#4) My Kids & Stitch  My boys have this thing where they latch on to something that has already expired in the mass Pop Culture world because I think they like the thrill of the hunt finding things at yard sales or thrift shops. One of their biggest, most recent out-of-date obsessions is Lilo & Stitch. Luckily, Disney has made many attempts to keep Stitch a relevant character in Walt Disney World long after the movie has faded from the public conscience.  We had breakfast at Disney's Polynesian Resort with Mickey, Pluto, Lilo & Stitch. To the kids, this was just like meeting a real big-time celebrity. Decked out in their Stitch ball caps and t shirts, not to mention the Stitch plush Tanner carried around for most of the trip, the boys were stoked to get to meet Stitch. The presence of Lilo & Stitch even prompted the kids to join in the morning breakfast parade around the restaurant. Participation in such things is generally avoided by both my children.

Then there is the attraction, Stitch's Great Escape. If you ask me, it's one of the few bad attractions in all of Disney World. It's not a ride, it's more like a show - which is a watered down version of a really scary show they used to have in the same space. The new show, which has Stitch getting loose and running around a room in the dark with you, makes little sense and feels a bit dated. Nonetheless, the entire duration of the show brought nothing but huge smiles and giggles from both Elias and Tanner. They ate it all up and wanted to go back for seconds....which we did. Then later...thirds...which we did! I experienced that attraction more times in one trip than I have in all other visits to the Magic Kingdom combined. However, after the first show we noted where Stitch spits into the audience and claimed those seats for performances two and three so that Elias could receive a face full of alien spit smack dab in the middle of his face. He loved it. Again, he was proud. The joy and happiness in my two little buddies made one of the least enjoyable attractions at the park one of the most enjoyable.

The kids also got some personal one-on-one time with Stitch at Club 626, a show where Stitch dances out in the audience with everybody. Stitch stole Tanner's Stitch hat and made off with it, later giving it back in exchange for plenty of hugs. Tanner was out of this world excited!

#3) Getting to Preview New Fantasyland  We booked our trip around a four day weekend the kids had in their school schedule, so I didn't really pay attention to much else than that when booking. Then shortly after paying off the trip I realized that we were going to miss all the new Fantasyland expansion goodies by just a few weeks. So, going down not thinking we were going to do all that stuff made it all the more thrilling when it turned out that we got to experience a handful of the new attractions before they are open to the public!

I had read online that Disney was doing some previews of their new walk-through attraction Enchanted Tales With Belle. I dragged the family by the area of the new attraction every time we walked through Fantasyland. One one such go-round, I noticed a little bit of extra foot traffic in the area, so we quickly made our way over to what appeared to be just a row of shrubs. There, a single cast member was standing and I asked her about the Beauty and the Beast attraction. She invited us behind the greenery and told us if we didn't mind taking up 45 minutes of our day we could have a chance to experience to new show. Of course we did, making it one of only a few lines we waited in our whole trip.

The new attraction is a walk-through experience which can best be described as taking the Princess Meeting to a whole new level. You enter through Belle's house and see all her father's inventions. A magic mirror the Beast's castle hangs on the wall and soon enough the mirror expands and you walk through the mirror and end up standing inside the castle! There is an audio animatronic of the Wardrobe from the movie which is just about the most amazing piece of technology you've ever seen until you enter the Beast's Library and see a Lumiere animatronic which is even more amazing! The event is very audience participation and several people get GREAT photos with Belle which I don't see how anyone could pass up not spending several hundred dollars on prints of the event.

Surrounding the Belle attraction is the entire village from Beauty and the Beast and nearby sits scenes from The Little Mermaid which were all behind ropes and/or construction walls. I joked with a cast member about letting me on the new Little Mermaid ride to which she responded she hadn't even seen it yet.

So, of course I was beside myself with excitement when we were at the Magic Kingdom later that week and found New Fantasyland open for a Dress Rehearsal. The new Little Mermaid ride, which is very similar to the one at Disney's California Adventure Park, is awesome! You ride in a Clammobile under the sea and ride through all the songs from the movie. I'd by lying if I didn't say I was so excited that I didn't even comprehend everything that was going on around me!

The Beauty and the Beast village was open too. We got to see Gaston's Tavern which is done in great detail. There is a new B&B gift shop as well as a full service restaurant which is not yet open for service but we got to see the interior. They even have a popcorn cart outside which looks like it was built by Belle's father.

New Fantasyland also features Storybook Circus which holds the new double capacity Dumbo ride, a rethemed Goofy roller coaster, the East Coast debut of Casey, Jr. in the form of a splash playground and some other neat circus themed shopping and character greets.

#2) Meeting Ariel   But the icing on the cake to the whole New Fantasyland experience was the Ariel Meet and Greet after the Little Mermaid ride. Now, I've been a huge Little Mermaid fan since the movie came out in 1989. You've been able to meet Ariel for years but I've never done it before. My family was very gracious to go along with it and we waited in line for maybe 15 minutes. You have to wind your way through some tunnels in the rock work around Prince Eric's castle to get to Ariel. She's kind of hidden back there. Now, let me set this scene....

One of the things I love about Walt Disney World is how it can bring out the kid in adults. I'll never forget the first time I took my wife to Disney World and she was so excited to see Pooh. I've seen it in my friends that I've visited with too. I don't really experience that first hand because I wear my childhood on my sleeve. I'm excited about everything in Disney World and I'm all over the place with wide eyed excitement and wonder. But....when it was our turn to go up to Ariel's big shell and she invited me to sit down with her....I just turned into a 6 year old kid. I bought into the whole thing hook, line and sinker (no fish pun intended) and was totally mesmerized by the whole experience. Both my wife and the Disney PhotoPass photographer snapped great pictures of me and Ariel talking like the rest of the dry world didn't exist. I was honestly, on a complete Disney High for several hours afterwards. It was the last day of our trip, so it was the perfect way to end our week of Disney Awesomeness.

#1) Spending Time With My Family  No matter how many big shiny rides you build, no matter how many different foods they can make in the shape of Mickey Mouse's head, no matter how many ways you can shove The Little Mermaid in my face...there is nothing better on the face of the Earth than spending quality fun time with the people I love the most: My wife and my kids! We didn't have my stepson Joey with us on this trip, and we missed him. Joey and I would often squeeze in a few more hours while everybody else went back to the hotel. Elias stepped into that role nicely but we all just had so much fun. Seeing the expressions on the kids faces, their excitement over things to come and passing on experiences that I had as kid to my kids. Good times!

It was an exhausting, bank breaking week - Can't wait to do it again!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

30 Days 30 Films Wrap Up

As the writting exercise it was designed to be, 30 Days 30 Films was a massive disaster. As an excuse to shove as many movies as I could into my eyeholes, it was a rousing success! As you may recall, my pointless challenge set for myself, by myself was to watch 30 movies in the course of one month and write about the films and the challenges of fitting a movie a day into my schedule - on a daily basis. Only once, did I write about the evening's movie - but I did manage to watch a staggering 32 movies in the span of a month.
In order to achive this meaninless goal, I needed to watch a movie a day for the month of September. I started off the month with a bang getting ahead of myself in the first weekend, due to an unexpected child-free weekend. But most of the month I was only up or down by one movie. Of course whenever you turn pleasure into a chore, you start to lose the fun in it and by the end of the month I was just about good on needing a movie a night.
Anywho...here's a brief rundown of what I saw:
  1. The Campaign (2012) Started the month of at the movies with this pretty decent comedy about politics with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. The problem with the picture is both Will and Zach have been in much funnier movies so you can't help but feel let down by this comedy pairing.
  2. Films of Fury: The Kung Fu Movie Movie (2011) Instead of film historians weighing in on the history of Kung Fu cinema, this documentary is basically some dude just telling you everything he knows about Kung Fu movies. Loaded with plenty of clips of the movies discussed, I've seen way better film history documentaries.
  3. Black Dynamite (2009) A dead-on spoof of Blacksploitation films of the 70's, this visually accurate and often hilarious comedy overstays it's welcome by about 20 minutes.
  4. Alien (1979) Obviously this sci-fi classic is a good film. This was my first time seeing it and not only have I seen so many knock-off's, one of my all-time favorite movies, SPACESHIP, is an almost scene for scene parody of Alien. I've seen SPACESHIP 1,000 times and I never once knew they were borrowing so heavy from ALIEN. Good fun, but distracting for me to watch.
  5. Disorderlies (1987) I used to love this movie as a kid. Rap group The Fat Boys play three stupid orderlies hired to accidentaly kill off their charge. Twentysome-odd years later I could barely sit though it. Awful!
  6. Violets Are Blue (1986) The only movie this month I actually wrote about the night I watched it. Scroll back a few posts and find my review.
  7. House Party (1990) I remember loving this high school party movie alot when I was actually in high school. Revisiting it after my years, it's ok...but not as great as I remembered it.
  8. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012) Really fun family adventure film which might be completly implausable, but it's a heck of an enjoyable ride anyway. You gotta love any movie that puts The Rock to good use.
  9. The Wizard (1989) One of those movies that has just slipped by me all these years. I watched it with my video game obsessed kids and they enjoyed this extended commercial for Nintendo.
  10. Oh, God! Book II (1980) From the list of movies I used to watch a million times off HBO when I was a kid, George Burns as God still holds up!
  11. The Maltese Bippy (1969) A sillly horror spoof staring Rowan & Martin from Laugh-In.
  12. House Party 2 (1991) Because this one is dumber, it might hold up better than the original.
  13. Radio Rebel (2012) Pointless Disney Channel movie about a girl who runs a popular podcast from her bedroom. Not very good, but then again not made to be watched by 39 year old males.
  14. Chimpanzee (2012) My favorite of the Disneynature films so far, I loved it. My biggest gripe with the previous films in this series is the grandious narration which doesn't really add to the experience. Tim Allen does narration duty here with a cute and focused story on Oscar the chimpanzee whose mother is killed and then he is adopted by the alpha-male of their group. Good stuff!
  15. House Party 3 (1994) Whatever steam the House Party films had, it was all completely lost by #3 where you can tell everyone just showed up to collect a pay check. Horrible.
  16. Young Doctors in Love (1982) I love this movie. In the world of comedies, this might be a near perfect film.
  17. What To Expect When You're Expecting (2012) Don't expect a good movie if you see this scatter-shot comedy based on a non-fiction book about pregnancy. A handful of stories go nowhere fast in this pretty lame delivery.
  18. Katy Perry: Part of Me (2012) One of three movies I really wanted to see this summer and I missed it in theaters, Perry's 2001 concert tour looks amazing and is captured well in this fun documentary that bounces between on-stage energy, backstage hijinks and Behind The Music style biography.
  19. Finding Nemo 3D (2003) The very rare exception where 3D technology actually enhances a magnificent film experience.
  20. Cujo (1983) First time seeing this Stephen King classic. It's hard to take a movie seriously when the dog is named Cujo. The name has become synonamus with killer dogs so everybody in this movie just seems stupid hanging around a bloddy dog named Cujo.
  21. Who's That Girl (1987) I'm happy to report that this Madonna helmed screwball comedy still holds up as one of my all-time favorite movies after having not seen it in 15 years. I laughed from begining to end and even remembered most of the lines. Great movie!
  22. Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates (1962) A boy enters a skating race to earn money for a brain procedure his dad needs. In 1962, this was enough of a story to make a movie.
  23. Aladdin (1992) Pure Classic. However, I must be one of the few people for who this movie reminds me of every party in college.
  24. Mansome (2012) Pretty flat documentary about men and their obsession with appearance.
  25. Van Wilder: Freshman Year (2009) A compitently made crappy direct-to-DVD cash in on the Van Wilder franchise, it offers some half decent laughs and plenty of boobies.
  26. The Artist (2011) I was surprised at how much I adored the Best Picture Oscar winner of last year. Black & White, Silent and totally captivating and enjoyable. One of the best movies I've seen in a long time.
  27. Madonna: Innocence Lost (1994) A rare FOX made-for-TV movie about Madonna's rise to stardom. Not very good.
  28. The Hunger Games (2012) I hate to admit it, not only did I
  29. A Night in Casablanca (1946)
  30. Big Miracle (2012)
  31. Hotel Transylvania (2012)
  32. Mary Poppins (1964)

September Movie Count: 32
Best New Movies: The Hunger Games & The Artist
Worst New Movie:  House Party 3
Best Rewatch: Who's That Girl
2012 Movie Count: 191

Friday, September 21, 2012

Freddy Flintstone Sells Firewood

I'm always on the lookout for unusual & homemade tributes to The Flintstones. While on vacation this summer, somewhere in the backwoods of Western Pennsylvania I spotted this old sign advertising firewood for sale. I quickly spun the car around and circled back to snap a picture. The sign features Freddy Flintstone from the late 80's series The Flintstone Kids, chopping away at some wood. It's not often you see anyone take the time to immortalize the Flintstone clan in their younger days.
Also check out The Flintstone Wall that I found in Virginia a few years ago.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Flight 93 National Memorial

Last month, my family and I visited the Flight 93 National Memorial located at the crash site of United Airlines Flight 93 in an open field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
The Memorial sits about 3 1/2 miles off the main road. Near the parking lot is a small plaza with some information about 9/11, the plane, the flight, the area you are standing in and the people on board the aircraft. You can scan the signs with your smart phone to access narration and additional information. The plaza also features a Visitors Shed.

 The white marble wall is laid out in the flight path of Flight 93 moments before it crashed.
 The crash left a crater in the Earth which was filled in after investigation. The boulder was placed in the approximate spot where the plane impacted.
At one vantage point behind the white wall there is a better view of the impact site, with the grass cut leading to the spot. At this point, you are standing in the exact spot where the plane was a second before it crashed.
The white marble wall is made up of 40 individual slabs, each made out of a different type of marble. Each wall segment displays the name of a passenger or crew member.

The wall along the walkway leading to the main part of the memorial is lined with areas where people can leave memorials. Everything left is collected and archived.

This photo is from the Visitors Shed where you can leave a message.
Overall, a very chilling and somber experience.


Friday, September 07, 2012

#6 - Violets Are Blue (1986)

Sissy Spacek returns to her childhood home of Ocean City, MD where she rekindles a romance with her high school boyfriend (Kevin Kline) who happens to be happily married with children. As their secret romance blossoms, one thing remains the same - the sound of carousel music. At least 80% of the romantic yarn is scored with the constant sound of a carousel. If one were to view this film, without the knowledge of the geography of Ocean City, he or she would come to the conclusion that there is either a merry-go-round on every corner of the city, or the one merry-go-round pictured is the loudest amusement park ride every constructed by man.

At night, when dining with Kline's family, the amusements from Ocean City can be seen in the distance cross the bay. Easily a few miles away, yet dinner music is provided by the carousel. Never mind the fact that Spacek decides she's going to walk home, even though her home has got to be at least 4 or 5 miles away.

In fact, the only time where the two of them get anywhere near the Ocean City carousel, is during an amusement park rides montage which is legally bound to require generic 1980's "having fun" music:

Don't worry...family values win out in the end. The carousel never kills anyone, and Kevin Kline eventually decides to return to his wife and child. That is after he has sex with old girlfriend in a sand dune while wild ponies watch on and he shows us his bare rear end.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

30 Days 30 Films: An Introduction

I'll admit right off the bat that this project is kind of stupid and totally pointless. My goal is to watch 30 films during the 30 days of September. I realize this is not a major task. There are plenty of movie buffs out there who watch dozens of movies a week. I assume that these movie buffs don't have children. I do. Now that they are back in school, I'm devoting my stay-at-home parent time into getting our house ready to put back on the market. So while I do have more time on my hands than the average working Joe, finding the time every day to watch a movie is not always an easy thing to do.

Obviously to watch 30 movies in 30 days I need to average one movie a day. As soon as I miss a day, I become backed up and then have at least one day where I need to watch two movies. If several days go by, I can get back logged very easily. Last year I kept track of all the films I had seen. When all was said and done I had watched 204 movies throughout 2011. That's an average of 17 movies a month. I've got some stuff on the calendar for the month of September, including a week where I have something pretty fun planned for almost every night of the week, so it's won't all be a piece of cake!

Before you say to yourself, "Why doesn't he do something useful with his time?" let me just add that besides the fact that I love movies, I don't watch/follow sports and I don't watch much television. Most days, I don't turn the TV on for my own benefit until 9 or 10 o'clock at night, and that's usually to watch a movie. I'm not a big fan of running the TV for background noise nor do I ever flip channels and just watch "whatever is on." When I sit down to watch television (be it a show or movie) I usually watch something from beginning to end. After a day of chasing around two kids, arguing with them and listening to a nonstop barrage of noise and yelling, I look forward to a quite 90 minutes to two hours in front of a good movie at the end of my day.

There's no rhyme or reason as to what movies will be viewed in these 30 days. It could be anything from a new release to an old favorite I've seen a thousand times.

The main purpose of this project is not to watch 30 movies. I'm hoping this silly little endeavor will provide me with a writing challenge and project. Not only will it give me something to write about but it will give me the drive to work on writing about film. It will also give the dominant creative side of my brain something to think about while I'm cleaning out the garage and packing boxes of stuff. Hopefully along the way there will be some good news to share about the sale of our house.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, August 31, 2012

My Week In Movies - August Wrap Up

The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012) Disney's latest film deals with every kid's favorite topics of infertility and adoption. A young boy mysteriously emerges from the garden of a couple who have given up hope trying to have a child of their own. The boy teaches his new parents and everyone else in town a little something about themselves and each other. While not terribly compelling, this well made family drama should fit the bill if you're ever looking for a family drama.

Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012) I always say, I only ask one thing of a movie - be funny from beginning to end. This stop-motion feature from the folks who do Wallace & Gromit is hilarious from the very first scene up until the last. A band of pirates help their fearless leader, Pirate Captain, win the coveted title of Pirate of the Year. Very smart humor is mixed with some solid sight gags and plenty of slapstick, my kids and I loved this movie!

Casa de mi Padre (2012) Parody is a dying art form. The likes of Mad TV and the Date/Epic/Disaster Movies has reduced parody to just mentioning something from pop culture and then farting. Casa de mi Padre is Will Ferrel's take on Spanish telenovelas, crime movies, and Westerns. There's not a lot of jokes as in one liners or funny situations, it's all in the style of the film and the sincerity and conviction that Will Ferrel holds his own with an entire Spanish speaking cast while he converses in the foreign tongue for the entire 90 minuets. Don't worry, it's subtitled. As the poster says, "It's the funniest movie you'll ever read!"

Superman Vs. The Elite (2012) Love, love, LOVED this new DC animated flick which pits Supes against a group of vigilante super heroes. I was hooked on this movie from the retro opening title sequence, but the humor runs throughout the picture. The relationship between Superman/Clark and Lois Lane is fresh and the message of the film is strong and powerful. I even liked how DC wasn't afraid to take this cartoon to a more adult level with actual cursing and some sexual material. Still, I wasn't bothered with my 6 and 9 year old kids watching it. They loved it too. It's very well done and was worthy of a theatrical release.

The Dictator (2012) This is another strike-out for Sasha Baron Cohen. Da Ali G Show and Borat are both so painfully funny, but he can't seem to capture the magic again with Bruno and now this. The Dictator is scripted, so the outragousness doesn't seem quite so outrageous this time around, and the Hollywood story it's all wrapped up in is just plain stupid.

American Reunion (2012) I laughed once in the two hours this film lumbered across my TV screen.

Friends With Kids (2011) Pretty good Woody Allen-esque comedy about two friends who decide to have a kid together and cut through all the romantic BS of a relationship. It works really well and then with 10 minutes left to go it just derails onto Romantic Comedy Auto-Pilot. It ends on kind of a down note, but otherwise a very good movie.

Step Up 3
Step Up 3 (2010) Ok, this one was just silly...but I still enjoyed it.

Meatballs Part II (1984) I've been meaning to rewatch this great summer camp movie for years and I finally did on the last night of Summer Vacation. It still holds up!

The Silencers (1966) Dean Martin plays Matt Helm in the first of four movies where he pretty much channels his inner 007. That's 007 if he constantly drank and made out with girls.

Little House on the Prairie (1974) The pilot movie for the long running series is a really tight, sometimes intense story of the Ingalls family moving from their Little House in the Big Woods to Indian Country in Kansas. I read the first book in the series with my kids this summer and we all really liked it. It's surprising I never read the book before because my mother was a HUGE Laura Ingalls Wilder fan, but I wish I had read it when she was alive. She would have gotten a huge thrill out of discussing it with the boys and I.

Bloodlust! (1961) Mike Brady and three of his younger friends get stuck on a tropical island owned by a crazy millionaire who wants to set them loose in the jungle and hunt them down. As cheesy as any horror movie from 1961 is going to be, I actually quite enjoyed the film - with a brief running time of 68 minutes, it told it's story quickly and entertainingly.

August Movie Count: 26
Best New Movie: Pirates! Band of Misfits
Worst New Movie: American Reunion
Best Rewatch: In & Out
2012 Movie Count: 159

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Week In Movies - August; Weeks 2 & 3

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (2012) The third film in the franchise combines books 3 & 4 into one story about summer and responsibilities. There's some pretty solid laughs even if a few of the situations are beyond silly and simple.

The Lion King (1994) What do you need to say about one of the greatest movies of all time? We saw this at an outdoor screening while camping and it's the perfect movie for the venue - seen it 1,000 times so I don't care if the projection is not great but such a good movie that I can sit though it again in less than favorable conditions.

This part really happened!
Pocahontas (1995) I always forget how good Disney's Pocahontas is. It's not quite on par with the masterpieces the studio put out between 1989 and 1994, but it's still darn good. The songs aren't as memorable as The Lion King, but they are a heck of alot better than Disney's next feature "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

Pocahontas II: Journey To A New World (1998) This is one of the few Disney DVD Sequels that I had not seen, and it was actually pretty good. It turns out (according to my brief Internet research) that this film is a bit more factually accurate than the first film. Pocahontas travels to England to represent her people to the King. There she meets John Rowlfe, who she actually married. However, what didn't happen in real life is that Pocahontas did not take her pet raccoon and hummingbird to England with her. Which brings me to my big beef with this film: How do you take a hummingbird anywhere, yet alone a Trans-Atlantic voyage? And I'm pretty sure even back then you couldn't take a raccoon from America to England. The raccoon would have mated with a British raccoon (with a delightful accent but bad teeth) and started some horrible mutant race of raccoons. Surely, this was not the impression that the Native Americans wanted to make on the world. Also, while I enjoyed the film...the songs are so bad, I'm pretty sure some of them were actually written by raccoons.

Bandolero! (1968) Attention any guy reading this stupid blog! Every once in a while, you just gotta watch a good old fashioned western to put some hair on your chest. I really wish my Grandfather was still alive. He loved westerns, and it would have been so much fun to watch some with him and learn about the genre from him. As it stands, the only things I remember watching with him were The Great Muppet Caper and an episode of Bossom Buddies. Anywho, Bandolero! stars Jimmy Stewart along side Dean Martin, George Kennedy and the beautiful Raquel Welch. Whats' great about this film is that it starts out as a comedy and ends up as a nail-biting action packed western. Stewart helps his brother, Martin, escape from jail. While Dean makes his getaway with Welch as his hostage, Jimmy knocks over the bank and meets up with his bro. Sheriff Kennedy goes after them and the chase in on. Good stuff!

Bikini Spring Break (2012) There are no bikinis on display here, nor is anyone on Spring Break. Sure, they talk about Spring Break and while there might not be any bikinis there are certainly plenty of bras and nudity. A marching band heading to Florida for the National Championships encounters one set back after another trying to get to the big competition. Their antics are fueled by their need to pay for bus repairs. You would think you could call your school and they would financially figure out how to get their students either home or to the big competition. But instead the girls resort to stripping, jello wrestling and any other half naked way you can think of to raise money. The plot is stupid but the script tries to be funny and manages to do so throughout the picture.

In & Out (1997)  A fantastic film, that I hadn't seen in quite a while, that separately lampoons Hollywood and our own perceptions of homosexuality. At 15 years old, some of the film's jokes/references and general attitudes towards gays are a little bit outdated - but the funny is all still there. Featuring an all-star cast, the standout for me has always been Bob Newhart as the high school principal who has to deal with parents and the media when one of his teachers is outed on national television. Hilarious movie from beginning to end!

Under The Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story (2010) The history of how the popular board game came to be is pretty interesting, unfortunately that only makes up a small bit of this rather dry documentary that celebrates all things Monopoly. At the core of the picture is ESPN-style coverage of the 2009 World Monopoly Championship Tournament which gets kind of old after a while. The film really shines when it features memories of playing the game as a kid, collectors of Monopoly memorabilia and an impressive collection of film and television clips featuring the classic real estate game. (Look for an appearance by a certain Modern Stone Age Family!)

Friday, August 17, 2012

My week in Movies; August Week 1

Piranha DD (2012) The 3D Piranha remake from 2010 is a masterpiece of goofy gratuitous nudity and violence. The filmmakers strive to cram as much blood and boobs into 90 minutes as they could that the film plays as a parody of the horror genre. The clever title for the sequel, Piranha 3DD, suggests even more over the top amounts of skin and guts - however it just doesn't deliver. Still an enjoyable silly film, the follow-up is almost too self aware of it's silliness and never really goes anywhere. The man eating fish make their way into a water park, and all hell breaks loose yet again. A few of the actors from the first film turn up in small roles and there is still buckets of blood and larger breasts on hand, but as with many sequels it shows that the first film was lightning in a bottle.

LOL (2012) Here we have a mess of film as Miley Cyrus navigates her way through her senior year of high school. I saw the trailer a while back and wanted to see it, then it just showed up on WalMart shelves and Redbox. I should have taken that as a warning. Totally pointless voyage through waters we've already sailed before.

Step Up (2006) I usually like dance and music related films, but I don't always go out of my way to see them. But when a film series rolls around to it's fourth instalment, then I sit up and take notice. How can a silly movie about dancing generate three more sequels? Well, I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable Step Up 1 is. The story is nothing new, about a juvenile delinquent proving himself worthy in a performing arts school, but the performances are very good and the light tone and pace keeps things moving at a solid pace. There's some silly side story about some dude's brother dying, but the dancing is what it's all about. I enjoyed it.

Step Up 2: The Streets (2008) However, I enjoyed #2 even more. Why? Because it was even more generic in it's storyline about a dance competition to prove who's the best street dancer in Baltimore. More silly than the first and loaded with way more music/dance interludes, this unnecessary sequel got more hooked on the whole franchise.

Leroy & Stitch (2006) In the fourth and final chapter in the Lilo & Stitch saga, the duo wrap up loose ends after capturing all of the 624 experiments they were tasked with. Still funny and creative after years of churning out Stitch content, this direct-to-DVD flick is well worth a visit.

Bring It On Again (2004) I was saddened when I went to watch Step Up 3 on my DVR and the satellite had gone out preventing it from recording. So, I popped in a copy of another silly franchise that I have no business enjoying - the second Bring It On. The original Bring It On is somewhat of a modern classic, and the DVD sequels they keep churning out are fun and close to the spirit of the original. In Chapter 2, a different bunch of cheerleaders attend college and form a squad to compete with the school's snotty and well funded Varsity squad. Bring It On style hi jinks are then brought on.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Sunday, August 05, 2012

My Week In Movies - July Wrap Up

Blue Crush (2002) I know I've mentioned it before, but I'll say it again - I love this movie.

Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977) Quite possibly the 4,000th time I've seen this 3rd Peanuts big screen adventure. I'm pretty sure most of this film's score has been the soundtrack to my nightmares for the past 30-some years.

Gimme An 'F' (1984) Somehow, this low-brow cheerleader comedy for the 80's had escaped being a fixture of my youth. I imagine, had I seen it at an impressionable age I would have a fondness for it to this day, however coming to this flick this late in life - I found the tale of a troubled cheerleading squad trying to outsmart the leader of a cheerleading camp - a bit tedious but overall just not funny. However, you've gotta give big 80's credit to any movie that enforces stereotypes by playing a gong sound every time Asian businessmen characters arrive on screen.

July Movie Count: 17
Best New Movie: 21 Jump Street
Best Rewatch: The Cannonball Run
Worst Movie: Dennis The Menace
2012 Movie Count: 133

Friday, July 27, 2012

My Week In Movies - July; Week 3

The Great Outdoors (1988) Do yourself a favor and go back and watch an old John Candy movie that you haven't seen in a while. Man, he was a great talent who is missed. We really don't have anyone like him anymore. I hadn't seen this summer vacation picture since it came out and don't remember it too fondly but rewatching it now I enjoyed the heck out of it. John Candy and Dan Aykroid take their families on vacation in a cabin in the woods. It's all the standard B-grade storylines running, but it's just innocent, silly fun that all works together.

Mannequin (1987) I hadn't seen this one in a long time either. What a great cast, in addition to the two stars Andrew McCarthy and Kim Cattrall there's also Meshac Taylor, G.W. Bailey, James Spader and the always great Estelle Getty. This is another round of silly 80's fun with a department story mannequin coming to life in the form of Cattrall and romancing store employee McCarthy. As with every 80's comedy, there is an extending music video scene where she tries on different outfits. That scene is always a winner.

Rascal (1969) My kids are on a big kick about raccoons right now, so we watched this vintage Disney comedy about a young boy who adopts a raccoon as a pet even though the whole town tells him a varmint can't make a good pet. Not much time is spent on the relationship between the boy and his new pet, instead there is a storyline involving the town pastor and teacher getting involved with the boy's upbringing and a totally odd and tacked on side story about a car race. Not a very engaging film even for a die hard Disney fan like myself. (The kids fell asleep within the first 30 minutes.)

Stop! Look! And Laugh (1960) I love movies that serve as odd time capsules. At one time, ventriloquist Paul Winchell hosted a Saturday morning kid's show featuring Three Stooges shorts. So, somebody decided to make a movie version of the show. Paul lives at home with a couple of his dummies and he tells them various stories which end up just dissolving into a greatest hits collection of Three Stooges shorts. It's very strange, but both the vintage shorts and the new material work...and work well. My kids were howling at the puppet bits and enjoyed the Three Stooges shorts as well.

Madea's Big Happy Family (2011) This was my first venture into the world of Tyler Perry and Madea. If you're not familiar with Madea, she's a large elderly black woman played by a large younger black man in minimal drag. She's stared in a dozen or so plays and a more recently a handful of movies. I'm always intrigued by characters moving from film to film (a la' Ernest) so I gave this Madea entry a try on Netflix Instant. I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed the film. The writing isn't that great, and alot of the characters are more style than substance...but overall, the film doesn't shoot too high and it works at it's own level. A woman discovers she has only a few weeks to live and she wants to gather her family together to tell them all at once. Everybody in the family has their own dysfunctional story and every attempt at a get together falls apart before the news is sprung. So, the woman asks Madea to gather everyone up for her. I like a good simple story with some heart and big laughs, Madea's Big Happy Family provided in all departments.

Support Your Local Gunfighter (1971) I wasn't really sure what was going on in this charming western comedy, but everybody on screen looked like they were having so much fun that it was hard not to enjoy myself too. James Garner arrives in town and gets mixed up in a plot to...well, I honestly really don't know. But it's fun. The great Jack Elm (who is in my all-time favorite The Cannonball Run) is awesome in this movie, as well as Suzanne Pleshette and Harry Morgan. This movie also features the most well lighted town in the wild west.

Man of the House (2005) Big studio comedies don't get much worse than this horrible attempt at laughter with Tommy Lee Jones playing his Tommy Lee Jones character assigned to protect a cheerleading squad who have witnessed a murder. Any film that explores the wonderful world of cheerleading and can't come up entertaining is a very sad story indeed. I think I laughed once during the painful 100 minutes of film I subjected myself to. Bad.
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