Tag Archives: Children & Family Movies

Puss in Boots

Voiced by Antonio Banderas, the dauntless feline of legend goes on an animated adventure to purloin a priceless golden-egg-laying goose. To help him on his mission, Puss brings along his friends Humpty Dumpty and the super-stealthy Kitty Softpaws.

Rating: 9 out of 10

This is by far smarter, funnier, more clever, witty, and fun than any of the Shrek films. Each of its unneeded sequels got dumber and dumber, which is why I ignored this spin-off completely. That was a huge mistake.

There were moments where I genuinely laughed out out loud. I delighted in the equisite detail of the animation and the backgrounds that drip with color in a Spanish-inspired fairy tale world. And I adored the theft of classic cowboy and Spanish films that no doubt inspired director Chris Miller (Shrek the Third). There is so much love poured into this film, and it’s obvious in all the detail that layers this movie over and over again.

And the performances are great, from the self-afacing Antonio Benderas, who is lampooning himself in the title role, to Salma Hayek, Zach Galifanakis and Billy Bob Thornton. It’s an awesome cast with a compelling storyline wrapped in a wonderfully crafted film. It’s one of the best animated films I’ve seen in years.

Gnomeo and Juliet

An edgy Shakespeare adaptation like no other, this animated musical transports the classic tale of forbidden romance between two star-crossed lovers from warring families to the unlikely yet hysterical world of garden gnomes. Featuring songs from legendary recording artist Elton John, this movie features the vocal talents of Emily Blunt, James McAvoy, Jason Statham, Patrick Stewart and Michael Caine.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Awwwe. Gnomeo & Juliet is so cute. These angry little garden gnomes live in neighboring English gardens and come to life whenever their owners disappear.

Just like in the original Romeo & Juliet, the two families are feuding but we don’t really know why. Gnomeo is a blue and Juliet is a red but when they first see each other they miss the color of the others hat and fall in love.

Things get complicated when they find out who the other is, but anyone who knows Shakespeare’s story knows what’s coming. Of course this is a cartoon about Gnomes so there isn’t as much sex or death, but the general components of the classic tragedy are there.

The story isn’t the only thing that’s cute. The animation is also unique and creative. The gnomes are all a little scratched and dented, which make them look lifelike.

I should admit, I boycotted the 3D version for the old-fashioned 2D, so I can’t comment there. But I don’t know that any movie needs 3D, let alone Gnomeo & Juliet.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

In the second installment of the two-part conclusion to the überpopular Harry Potter series, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his best friends, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), continue their quest to vanquish the evil Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) once and for all. Just as things begin to look hopeless for the young wizards, Harry discovers a trio of magical objects that endow him with powers to rival Voldemort’s formidable skills.

Rating: 10 out of 10

I have to give credit to both J.K. Rowling and director David Yates. They were given the almost impossible task of resolving all the plot threads from the first 6 books and 7 movies and make it interesting and fun at the same time. Well, they didn’t just hit a home run but a grand slam. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is not only the best film in the entire Harry Potter series but it’s the best film thus far of 2011. In a way, it’s a bit of a relief considering the first part of Deathly Hallows was such a bore. In many ways, it reminded me of Kill Bill Part 1 and 2 in that the two halves feel like completely different movies. Part 1 had tons of dialogue and superfluous scenes where part 2 does not have one wasted moment. The action, storytelling, direction, acting, and writing are top notch all the way around and the last hour is jaw dropping and powerful. We have watched these characters grow from young kids to young adults and for those that are emotionally invested in the series; you’re the beneficiary of great storytelling. It’s difficult for me to expound without spoilers, so I won’t. All I can say is get to your local theaters and witness fantasy film greatness.

Side note: I saw the film in 3D mainly because of time constraints and it was a complete waste of time visually. I highly recommend a 2D showing if you can see it in that format. It’s cheaper too!

Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer

The dark princess is up to no good! She’s snatched the Spectra — the universe’s sole source of light. Without Spectra in its rightful place, all will be plunged into gloom and dreariness unless Rainbow Brite and her friends can defeat the princess. In an animated cosmos of enchanted worlds, spunky Rainbow Brite and her magical horse, Starlite, confront evil by using color, magic, cleverness and joy as ammunition.

Rating: 3 out of 10

As a lark, I put this on Netflix streaming. The next five minutes made my wife and I crack up laughing.

The first five minutes of this movie are absolutely hilarious. They are so over-the-top cheery, from the singing rainbow-colored horse , to the bubbly song, and the obsurdly happy rainbow world. They are so funny we watched them about three times. Really, it’s just priceless. It makes you wonder where Jerry Falwell was when this came out. He missed the boat with Teletubbies.

I posted the intro song in the video clip below, which is totally worth watch. It’s just absurdly happy.

The rest of the movie, however, is pure garbage. It’s got terrible voiceovers, bad animation, a thin story, and very little to offer cihldren other than an opportunity for a company to peddle Rainbow Brite toys to them. Watching this movie was an experience, I can tell you that. But as Rainbow Brite sings, every morning is a rainbow day.

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1

The first installment of the two-part conclusion to the Harry Potter series finds the bespectacled wizard (Daniel Radcliffe) walking away from his last year at Hogwarts to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes, putting an end to Voldemort’s bid for immortality. But with Harry‘s beloved Dumbledore dead and Voldemort’s unscrupulous Death Eaters on the loose, the world is more dangerous than ever.

Rating: 4 out of 10

To call this particular episode the weakest in the series is a drastic understatement. Why is that so?  Is it well directed?  Yes.  Is it well acted? Yes.  Does it have the same high budget polish as the films preceding it?  Definitely.

So, why am I rating this a lowly 4?  Well, I haven’t read the book but this episode is so fucking boring that I’m lead to believe that the only reason this was split into two parts was to line the wallets of the producers.  It starts interesting enough.  After the death of Dumbledore, Voldemort has his group of evil do’ers take over the Ministry of Magic and hunt down Harry Potter.  All of the great characters from the previous films show up to protect Harry and form a rebellion to stop Voldemort and his followers.  Then, about 45 minutes to an hour in, the movie comes to a grinding halt and should have been retitled “Harry Potter and the roasting of marshmallows” because they go camping — yes, camping — for about an hour of the film. What happens during this hour or so of camping?  Almost NOTHING!!  Ron is mad at Harry, Hermione has sexual tension with both of them, Harry reteams with Ron, and blah de blah blah.  When I say nothing happens, I’m not kidding.  Nothing happens!!  What does one do as a viewer for that hour while the three heroes go camping, aside from looking at our watch?  I sat there and tried to think of smart ass titles for the film. “Harry Potter and the tent pitchers” “Harry Potter and the satanic sleeping bag”  “Harry Potter and the struggle to interest the audience.”  You get the idea.  There’s a point where we literally sit and watch Harry think while there’s no dialogue.  Zzzzzzz.  And why did they do this?  Harry Potter’s last book isn’t even the longest one, according to Google.  That honor goes to Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix and they managed to turn that into a very good single film.  So, what are we left with?  A 2 ½ hour film with a couple bright moment marred by a middle section that will induce a coma.  It’s a shame too because I can see a great hour in this flick that could have been paired with the second to create one great film.  According to several Potter fans I know, the producers decided to follow the book almost word for word to create an “ultimate ending” to the franchise.  There is a world of difference between a great book and a great movie.  One is meant to be finished in one sitting and the other is not.