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 Everything we know about Santa Claus and his operation is obsolete.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.