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.

IMG_5366

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.

MaryPoppinsReturns5a9cf5963902e-2

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.

null

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.

Screen Shot 2018-12-19 at 8.39.30 PM

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.

null

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.

null

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

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.

titan

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.

Screen Shot 2018-07-25 at 11.29.26 AM

“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.

Screen Shot 2018-07-25 at 11.29.13 AM

Conan Live at Comic-Con

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

conan tickets.jpg

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

IMG_7139

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

conan

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

Aquaman cast.jpg

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.

 

It’s Panda-monium!

Last week my sons and I got a sneak peak at “Pandas,” an IMAX movie that opens this weekend.

This documentary, which took three years to shoot, has lots of appeal. It’s educational – showing viewers the challenges pandas face in the world in terms of breeding, handling tough terrain and overall survival. Pandas are an endangered species around the world, mostly due to humans developing properties on their land, and the lack of bamboo, their primary food source.

“Pandas” grabs your heart too. It’s hard not to love these cuddling looking bears that we typically only see at the zoo.

When we first meet these cute pandas, they’re newborns, adorable and looking like stuffed animals. We see them cooing as babies and then we watch them – one panda in particular, “Qian Qian,” pronounced Chen Chen – grow up on camera and learn to navigate the world.

The pandas are born at the Chengdu Panda Base in China, a breeding center which has helped breed over 200 baby pandas. In the movie, the scientists interact with the pandas and they explain how they’re tracking the animals and helping them thrive in the wild.

IMG_8752

The movie took three years to shoot. The Chengdu Panda Base, which has helped over 200 baby pandas born during her tenure. Viewers meet the  scientists interacting with the pandas and they explain how they’re tracking the animals and helping them thrive in the wild.

We loved the movie – so fun and interesting. It’s narrated by Kristen Bell – a familiar voice for kids, who recognize her from “Frozen.”

Fun Fact: Giant pandas eat up to 30 pounds of bamboo every day!

We saw the IMAX film at Fleet Science Center in their Heikoff Giant Dome Theater, which has 76-foot wraparound movie screen and 16,000 watts of digital surround sound. Everything looks and feels so close. That experience makes you feel like you’re sitting across from the pandas in the wild in China.

IMG_8764

My sons and I enjoyed playing with the Panda props at Fleet Science Center too!

Fun Fact: Pandas sleep 10 to 16 hours a day! That bamboo they eat isn’t very nutritious and lacks protein, so they don’t have much energy.

“Pandas,” is rated G and opened April 6, 2018. Get tickets.

Check out the trailer below:

Movie Night: “Sherlock Gnomes”

This week is Spring Break in our house and a movie night is a welcome opportunity for fun.

Movie Night: "Sherlock Gnomes"

Last night, my sons and I got to attend a complimentary preview screening of the new animated kids’ movie, “Sherlock Gnomes.” The movie comes out today and it’s an entertaining film for the whole family.

Here’s the premise: garden gnomes in London are disappearing. Detective Sherlock Gnomes and his sidekick, Watson, along with two gnomes named, Gnomeo and Juliet, are searching for clues to find missing garden gnomes.

Among the highlights:

  • Johnny Depp portrays Sherlock Gnomes. He plays the character with a mix of snark and sophistication and I loved it.

Sherlock Gnomes

  • The movie references both “Sherlock Holmes” and “Romeo and Juliet.” My 9-year-old liked how characters from two stories could share the screen. I agree – a nice touch and it familiarizes kids with more literature and characters.

 

  • I really liked how every time Sherlock is thinking about a clue, the screen swirls into a black and white actively-animated dream-like sequence. For example, in one scene, he’s looking at a playing card with a black “9” and a scuff in the corner of the number. He’s trying to remember where he’s seen that “9” and that scuff before. So, in his daydream, we see lots of “9” – the number is in his bed, on an escalator, etc. He’s processing the information and so are we! This daydream is a lovely way of showing kids (and adults) how the brain processes information.

 

  • The movie features lots of Elton John songs and – spoiler alert – in one scene early on in the film, there’s a garden gnome that very much resembles the “Tiny Dancer” singer. At the end credits, I realized Elton John is one of the executive producers of the movie. His music is timeless and I’m happy this is a way to introduce his music to a new generation.

Sherlock Gnomes is rated PG and runs 86 minutes.

Loving LUZIA! Cirque du Soleil’s LUZIA: A Waking Dream of Mexico

Recently my boys and I got a complimentary preview of Cirque du Soleil’s LUZIA: A Waking Dream of Mexico, at the OC Fair & Event Center in Costa Mesa.

IMG_7313

Like all Cirque shows, LUZIA is a treat for the senses. There are multiple performers from trapeze artists to high climbers to a contortionist. This show is told with music, movement, and even, water!

LUZIA’s look and feel blends old-world Mexico with modern times, as well as some mythical animals and imagery. The music is lovely and varies throughout the show to match the different scenes.

IMG_7330

The colorful backdrop mirrors the show’s theme: a sensory treat as if you’re dreaming in Mexico, where the big stars are the “luz” meaning light and the “lluvia” or rain.

IMG_7341

As if stunning choreography and aerobatics weren’t enough, LUZIA ups the ante. That’s because throughout the show, water is integrated into the acts. It’s impressive to watch as an aerialist – suspended from a trapeze – twist and turn in the middle of this “rain.”

Water also plays a comical role, with the gimmick being the lead character is thirsty throughout the show. He never seems to have water and when he finds it, it’s elusive to catch. My kids and I, as well as everyone in attendance, giggled as the character struggled to get a sip throughout the show.

IMG_7395

LUZIA is consistently entertaining.

IMG_7355

There’s suspense and excitement in many acts showcasing balancing, hoop diving and even stunts while moving on treadmills. Check out the juggling…

Watch below for even more nerves and fun as performers jump from swing to swing!

The show runs through March 25. Check it out. It’s fun for the whole family.

IMG_7294.jpg

 

A Marvelous Treat! Checking Out Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes 

IMG_7279What a fun night! My boys and I were invited to attend media night for Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes, which was opening night in San Diego at Valley View Casino Center.

IMG_7178IMG_7280

You don’t even have to be a superhero fan to appreciate this performance! The lights, smoke, music and video screens propel this live action show, which lasts nearly two hours.

IMG_7204IMG_7213IMG_7206

Here’s the premise: bad guys, Green Goblin, Loki and Nebula are causing trouble so Doctor Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy come to the rescue.  That means we got to see all our favorite good guys in action, including Captain America, Spiderman, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Black Panther and Black Widow.

The show’s opening is impressive. The entire arena is in darkness, with stars dotting the crowd. On the stage? A dramatic introduction to all the exciting superheroes you’ll meet during the show.

 

Marvel Universe LIVE! Age of Heroes blends live action dare devil skills like aerial skills, flips, fights, motorcycle stunts with stunning choreography.

 

The video projection sets the scene throughout the show, moving the story from fantastical Savage Land to New York City and Asia and beyond. There’s never a dull moment in this show – kids and adults will be impressed.

IMG_7261

The show runs through this Sunday, August 27. To find out tour dates, locations and buy tickets, go to MarvelUniverseLIVE.com.

 

Farewell! The Main Street Electrical Parade at Disneyland Closes this Weekend

I’m going to miss the Main Street Electrical Parade at Disneyland! This is the last weekend for this vintage parade.

IMG_7441

I love the music, which has a throwback vibe, and all the old school floats. I’ve always enjoyed the mushroom and butterfly float, as well as the train, steered by Goofy, or course!

IMG_7442

The Parade, which entertained Disneyland guests from 1972 to 1996, was in Florida at the Walt Disney World Resort until January of this year when it returned to Disneyland. It closes this Sunday, August 20, 2017.

I first saw the parade as a kid at DisneyWorld. I’ve had a soft spot for it ever since…

The patriotic ending is one of my favorite moments of the 20-minute parade.

IMG_6596IMG_6597