Review: “The LEGO® Movie 2: The Second Part”

Everything is awesome again…or is it?

Last week my family and I got a sneak peek of “The LEGO® Movie 2: The Second Part,” and it didn’t disappoint. The movie opens this weekend and kids and adults will enjoy catching up with the animated crew.

Emmet, Lucy, Batman (voiced by Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks and Will Arnett, respectively) and the Lego friends are back but this time they have a new foe: LEGO DUPLO® invaders from outer space, who seem to be on a mission to ruin everything we know and love about Bricksburg.

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Five years ago, we met the team that worked together to make everything awesome but now that awesomeness is in jeopardy. There are new characters (including a character voiced by Tiffany Haddish, who’s constantly morphing into new looks) and yes, new songs that definitely will get stuck in your head.

There’s a big theme: all of the characters want one thing – not to get relegated to the bin or storage, where the fun and awesomeness would cease. The whole family will enjoy watching as new and old LEGO friends work together to prevent that sad fate.

“The LEGO Movie 2” brings out many emotions: it’s silly and sentimental; fun and imaginative; and it makes kids and adults feel wistful about growing up.

These characters definitely have more stories to tell. I have a feeling there will be a third LEGO movie.

“Mary Poppins Returns” Is Movie Magic

It’s fitting that “Mary Poppins Returns” is opening right before Christmas. This cheery musical, based in 1930’s London, is a delightful gift for Disney fans of all ages.

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The plot is simple: The Banks family is struggling to keep their home after their mother died. Michael Banks, whose childhood nanny was Mary Poppins, is widowed and struggling to pay his mortgage. The bank is ready to foreclose on the home. That’s when Mary Poppins flies in to assist the family whose home is on 17 Cherry Tree Lane.

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Emily Blunt, as the leading lady and Lin-Manuel Miranda as a Jack, a lamplighter, are fabulous in their starring roles.

Even 92-year-old Dick Van Dyke, an original cast member from “Mary Poppins,” has a cameo in the new film. The audience cheered when he was first seen on screen. A joy then and now, Van Dyke still has impeccable dancing and singing skills.

My kids and I attended a media preview and loved the film. Fun and upbeat, it’s poised to become a new Disney classic.  There are moments of melancholy, like when the three Banks children are sad and miss their mother. But with Poppins’ magic, life lessons prevail – good triumphs over evil and family is everything.

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The movie is based on “Mary Poppins” stories by author PL Travers. Like the 1964 original film, this one is packed with catchy, memorable songs and dances. It has a lot of heart and I’m sure the soundtrack will do well. One of my favorite scenes was for a song called, “A Cover Is Not the Book,” where Blunt and Miranda merrily sing and dance about books.

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Throughout the musical, the costumes are colorful and the design is detailed. A few fun facts:

  • All the animation in the film is two dimensional and hand-drawn/hand-painted, just as it was in the original “Mary Poppins.”
  • Every costume Blunt wears features a bow at the neck of her blouse. The bows are a tribute to costume designer Tony Walton’s work in the original movie.

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My kids and I thoroughly enjoyed “Mary Poppins Returns.” I’m sure we’ll see it again soon.

Review: “The Grinch”

Getting ready for Christmas? There’s nothing like a holiday movie to get you in the mood to celebrate the season.

Film Title: Dr. Seuss' The Grinch

The other night, my sons and I got a sneak peek of “The Grinch,” which opens today.

This animated movie by Illumination, which is based on Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is the latest iteration of the Grinch, chronicling a cranky green guy who hates Christmas.

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This Grinch isn’t portrayed as mean, evil or even very spiteful. Instead he’s a loner, who seems more sad, than anything else. (In a fun moment, he wallows in self-pity, playing “All By Myself” on the organ, next to his beloved dog, Max.)

Film Title: Dr. Seuss' The Grinch

His Who-ville neighbors are far too happy about the holiday and Grinch just wants the jolly season to end. Grinch, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, decides to pose as Santa so he can steal Christmas. His plan backfires when the town’s little darling, Cindy-Lou Who has a special request for Santa. The theory is that Grinch’s heart is two sizes too small. After his encounter with Cindy-Lou Who, Grinch’s heart grows.

Grinch is a loner, who seems more sad, than anything else.

Narrated by Pharrell Williams, “The Grinch” has an impressive cast. We enjoyed Kenan Thompson as Mr. Bricklebaum, the over-the-top Who-ville neighbor who loves to decorate; and Rashida Jones, who plays Donna Who, Cindy-Loo’s overworked single mother.

Film Title: Dr. Seuss' The Grinch

This “Grinch” was a fun start to the season. www.grinchmovie.com

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Rated: PG

 

Staying Organized While On the Go

Holiday travel season is almost here. That means packing suitcases, carry-ons and managing accessories while on-the-go. More than ever, it’s important to be organized.

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I recently traveled for work and before I went to the airport, I prearranged the essentials including my tickets, ID, money and gadgets.  Instead of stashing everything in my purse or computer bag, I kept it all neatly packed away in a rollup bag.

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Great Useful Stuff sent me their TechAway Travel Roll, a tote that has a place for all the basics you need to have handy when traveling, including charging cords, earbuds, passport, sunglasses and other gear.

 

The TechAway Travel Rolls come in three colors: black, hunter green and the cabernet red. I received the cabernet red, a sophisticated deep burgundy shade. The bag retails for $25, an affordable price for keeping all the essentials in one handy, secure place.

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It’s sturdy and held all my gear and gadgets. I’m already planning my next trip and know this travel roll will be making the trek with me.

On Trend: 2018 Fall Fashion

Ready for animal prints, power tailoring and sequins? Sounds like you’re ready for fall fashion 2018!

Autumn is here and I’m excited to show you the hot looks for this cool time of year. Neiman Marcus invited me to their fall fashion preview so here’s what you can expect when you’re shopping this season.

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This season, women are going to be wearing a lot of what Alex Yáñez, stylist for Neiman Marcus at San Diego’s Fashion Valley, calls “peacock colors.” That means saturated blues and greens for a bold, eye-catching pallet.

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The power pantsuit is back too. Tailored suiting, including double-breasted jackets and strong shoulders, is very in vogue.

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Leather is making a big statement this season as well. Whether you choose matte or patent leather, you can rock this look head-to-toe.

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Get ready to roar! Autumn is all about animal prints including zebra, tiger, and leopard, as well as other amazing prints. Feel free to mix, match and layer this wild and sexy style.

Who says sequins or just for parties and night time? Yáñez and his team at Neiman Marcus say you can wear sequins day or night – shine any time you want.

When it comes to accessories, expect to see western wear like cowboy boots a lot this year, as well as lace up boots. It’s a 90’s throwback but a definite must this season.

Top flap handbags both slouchy and structured are going to be the it bag.

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And when it comes to jewelry, look out for crystals and jet black jewelry – very dramatic! Finish your ensemble with a glow. Luminous skin is going to be all the rage this fall.

For men, autumn is all about tech tailoring. Thank innovative suits that blend both performance and function.

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Guys will be rocking turtlenecks, velvet and velour too. Men will bundle up during cold weather with a performance parka – both cozy and cool.

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For accessories, men will be wearing chunky runner shoes with an exaggerated sole. That’s definitely fun and functional footwear.

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Men’s styling is going to include a lot of utilitarian details including cargo pockets camouflage this time of year. Expect accent colors in shades of wine, burgundy and blue.

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What fall fashion pieces and trends are your “must-have” looks this season?

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

September is Hispanic Heritage month. I was honored to write a number of articles for Mediaplanet’s “Hispanic Heritage” report, published recently in The Los Angeles Times and PeriódicoHOY.

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Photo credit: Austin Hargrave

The cover story was about #EGOT award winner Rita Moreno, who​ discusses her passion for her Puerto Rican roots and her 70-year career, including her role as Anita in “West Side Story​.” Check out the article here.

Here are some of the other articles I wrote for this Hispanic Heritage report:

How Hispanic Real Estate Professionals Are Helping Boost Hispanic Homeownership

Actress Katherine Castro On Her Hispanic Heritage: “It’s Who I Am”

Meet Lizzie Velasquez: Latina YouTuber Who’s Focused On Positivity

Why Participation In Clinical Trials is a Must for Hispanics

Hispanic Actress & Immigration Advocate Francia Raisa’s Call for Unity

 

 

Food Swaps: Cooking Substitutions

Even the best cooks sometimes run out of ingredients or simply want to replace an item in a recipe. Luckily there are many tasty alternative ingredients.

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Did you know avocado makes a great substitution for mayo and butter? My Creators Syndicate article breaks down these substitutions and more food swaps, like cooking with prunes, beans and Greek yogurt.

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Most of these substitutions are healthy. Plus they’re practical – some of these items may already be in your pantry or refrigerator which saves you a trip to the grocery store.

What’s your favorite food substitution?

 

Go See “Teen Titans Go to the Movies”

Fun and at times irreverent, “Teen Titans Go to the Movies,” is a cute film that’s appealing to kids and adults.

I attended the preview with my sons and they loved this film.

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The premise is easy to understand: Robin is tired of just being seen as Batman’s sidekick. He wants to star in movies and save the day like all the Justice League superheroes he sees. Robin, paired up with his Teen Titan crew, struggles to be taken seriously in his life and on screen.

Robin wants the movie director, voiced by Kristen Bell to give him a shot as a movie star. She’s reluctant to do so unless the Boy Wonder can have a great adversary. He finds that rival in Slade, played by Will Arnett, who is also “Teen Titans Go to the Movies” producer.

Slade tries to manipulate Robin and the Teen Titans with mind games. But they see beyond his gimmicks. The theme resonates with kids and parents: you don’t have to be a superhero, you just have to be yourself.

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“Teen Titans Go to the Movies” was full of potty humor, fart jokes and booty shaking. The jokes are targeted to kids but much of the humor gets laughs from adults too.

The soundtrack is filled with many great 80’s hits, including Huey Lewis’ “Back in Time.” There’s also an “Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life” by Michael Bolton, which is cheesy, silly and perfect all at the same time.

Teen Titans Go to the Movie,” rated PG, opens Friday, July 27.

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Conan Live at Comic-Con

I had so much fun attending a taping of the Conan show at The Spreckels Theatre during Comic Con.

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Conan tapes four shows in San Diego every July during Comic Con.

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My husband I attended Conan’s final Comic Con-themed episode for this year.

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The episode we watched featured the cast of  the upcoming “Aquaman” movie. The taping last almost an hour an a half.

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What a fun experience!

I’ve watched Conan on TV for years – I love his self-deprecating humor and he didn’t disappoint in-person! Can’t wait for next year’s Conan visit to Comic Con and San Diego.