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

 

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.

Rita Moreno article-Mediaplanet
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

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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LUZIA is consistently entertaining.

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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.

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#MotivationMonday, Halloween edition

Check out my this #MondayMotivation message featured on my son’s #pumpkin. He wrote: “Be…fun, silly, wacky, creative, YOU!!”IMG_0935

We were decorating pumpkins last weekend – doing the usual thing of making eyes, mouth, nose, etc.

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Then my son got inspired to write a personal note. I love his sentiment and it’s perfect for Halloween, when everyone wants to dress up to be “someone else.” So go ahead, this Halloween and every day, Be Yourself! 

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.

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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.

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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.

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