Animated Spy Movie “Spies In Disguise” Thrills the Whole Family

Spies in Disguise is the kid’s version of a James Bond movie. It has lots of heart and humor too, for kids and adults.

My family and I attended a preview screening of  the animated comedy from 20th Century Fox. Will Smith plays super spy Lance Sterling, a smooth agent who prides himself on working alone.  He relies on gadgets made by CIA-like scientists. Enter millennial scientist Walter Beckett, played by Tom Holland. He’s been using his stem skills to create and innovate since he was a little kid.

Spies in Disguise

Flash forward the present day and Walter is working in a government lab, tasked with making gadgets for secret agents. Lance needs those gadgets to get his missions completed quickly and efficiently. Even though his job is to build gadgets to take down bad guys, Walter encourages non-violence whenever possible. Many of his inventions are so mesmerizing that they cause bad guys and the audience to say, “aww.” Glitter is a theme.

At one point Lance needs helps and relies on Walter, who promises to make Lance invisible. Walter’s invention makes it happen but hijinks ensues when he turns Lance into a pigeon. The high-action secret mission continues for both Lance and Walter, who make an unlikely spy duo.

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This animated movie is very entertaining. The characters are great and animation is well done. Plus, the soundtrack from Mark Ronson is a hit. I predict this film is poised for a sequel or two.

Spies in Disguise opens Christmas Day.

Frozen is Back! Frozen2

I was invited to attend a media preview of Frozen II​. The Disney film is back with familiar characters and new adventures.

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This time, Elsa hears a voice that no one else hears. She and her sister Anna, as well as Kristoff, Olaf and Sven go on a journey through enchanted forests and dark seas to find the truth behind that voice.

Along the way they make new friends and sing some fun songs. My favorite new song is called “Something’s Never Change.” #Frozen2 is rated PG and opens Friday, November 22.

Photo credits: Disney

Kicking off the Christmas Season with “Klaus”

It’s only November 2, but who can pass up the opportunity to hang out with Santa? 🎅🏻

Today my family and I attended a sneak peak of the new Netflixfilm’s movie, which premieres November 15 on the streaming service.

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This cute holiday movie has lots of heart. The theme? Every good deed sparks another good deed.  My kids, my husband and I really enjoyed it. 🎅🏻  These festive Klaus cupcakes were delicious too!

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Life Skills Kids Need to Foster Independence

I’m always telling why kids they need to learn life skills, like cooking, cleaning, finances and more. While my kids probably roll their eyes, there’s truth to this statement. Where else and when else will children learn the skills they’ll need as adults? They rely on their parents, teachers and other adults now to help them develop skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives.

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That’s why I pitched this article idea to my editor at San Diego Family Magazine. The resulting article breaks down the five life skills kids need to foster independence.

The article is the cover story for the October issue of San Diego Family Magazine and I’m really proud of the article. Pick up the magazine at one of over 1500 locations throughout San Diego, including local schools and libraries. Or check out this link.

 

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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Staying Organized

I’m old school about keeping track of information. I handwrite notes, keep to-do lists and organize my life with a calendar.

Sure, I track things in my smartphone – from business meetings and appointments to events, date nights and family activities – but I also like having a hardcopy of my schedule.

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I was pretty excited to check out Day Designer, a strategic planner and daily agenda. They sent me a complimentary 2018 planner and I’m loving it.

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First of all, it’s a hardcover, spiral book – nothing flimsy about this calendar! Plus, it has a durable pocket in the front, which is ideal for stashing those post-it notes and do-lists I make.

Here’s what else I love about this planner – there’s a two-page calendar for every month, as well as individual pages for each day.

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On the daily pages, there are prompts to keep me focused: “Today’s Top Three,” “Notes,” and “Daily Gratitude,” as well as “To-Do” and “Don’t Forget.”

IMG_8002There are daily inspirational quotes too, like, Samuel Johnson’s, ”Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance,” and the proverb, “It is better to begin in the evening than not at all.”

Do you keep a hardcopy planner or calendar?