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.
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.
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.
Ready for a fun movie? The Angry Birds Movie 2 opened this week and it’s a cute summer flick with humor, a great soundtrack and a new inspiring character. My kids and I got a sneak peek and we loved it!
Even if you didn’t see the first Angry Birds movie, you’ll quickly catch up to meet the crew. Last time the angry birds, guided by Red who’s played by Jason Sudeikis, battled the green piggies led by Leonard, who’s voiced by Bill Hader.
This time they have to join forces to take on a new nemesis – Eagle Island’s Zeta, played by Leslie Jones. Zeta is fed up living in frozen conditions so she decides she’s going to take over Bird and Piggy Islands for her own paradise. She blasts ice bombs at the birds and pigs but instead of surrendering, the once-enemies, band together to fight for their homes.
Red wants to be the hero but instead it’s Silver, voiced by Rachel Bloom, who has all the good insights, calm demeanor and scientific know-how.
Silver is cool under pressure and shows being smart is awesome. She’s girl power through and through. In the end, Red isn’t threatened by her. Instead they work together, making a great team.
Kids and adults will enjoy Angry Birds Movie 2 – it’s lighthearted but it still has lots of heart and some nice lessons too.
In Disney-fashion, the new version of “Dumbo” is shot well, has great sound and graphics. Directed by Tim Burton, the film is dark and moody.
There are many nods to the 1941 original Dumbo, which was animated. For example, in one of the early scenes, we see a stork fly over the train car signifying that Mrs. Jumbo has given birth to Dumbo, just like in the classic. Also, in the beginning and again at the end, we see some white mice, a tribute to Timothy Q. Mouse, the small white mouse that helps Dumbo soar in the animated original.
The premise of the film is similar to the original: a baby elephant with oversized ears is the joke of traveling circus. When the kids discover Dumbo can fly, they make him an instant success at the circus.
Soon, others want to cash in on Dumbo’s success. Enter over-the-top entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere, played by Michael Keaton, who makes Dumbo the star of his theme park, Dreamland. Aerial artist Colette Marchant portrayed by Eva Green plays Dumbo’s co-star as they fly around Dreamland. But the park isn’t as dreamy as it seems.
The themes of this movie are relatable. First, there’s the strong bond between parent and child as exhibited between Dumbo and his mother. It’s emotional when Mrs. Jumbo and Dumbo are separated.
The circus owner, Danny DeVito who’s well cast as Max Medici, decides to sell Mrs. Jumbo once he sees her baby has big ears. Devito has the perfect persona, attitude and energy for the role.
This theme plays out with the human characters, as well. Children Milly, played by Nico Parker and Joe, played by Finley Hobbins reunite with their father, Holt Farrier, portrayed by Colin Farrell, who has just returned home from war and is missing an arm. The character’s wife has died while he was deployed.
The next message is about the importance of respecting and taking care of animals. For example, a circus worker who does not respect Mrs. Jumbo, suffers a dramatic fate. Karma perhaps for not respecting the pachyderm.
I liked the film but I did have a problem with how they handled time periods. There are many anachronistic things that trouble me. For example, in the beginning of the film, we’re told the timeframe is 1919 but then Dreamland seems far too advanced for that time period. And the ringleader is voiced by the “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble” guy who announced, “Let’s Get Ready for Dumbo.”
Overall, the film was enjoyable and a pretty nice adaptation from the animated classic Disney fans have loved for years. The movie opens today – March 29, 2019.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Emily Blunt, as the leading lady and Lin-Manuel Miranda as a Jack, a lamplighter, are fabulous in their starring roles.
Lin-Manuel Miranda is jack in Disney’s MARY POPPINS RETURNS, a sequel to the 1964 MARY POPPINS, which takes audiences on an entirely new adventure with the practically perfect nanny and the Banks family.
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.
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.
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.
My kids and I thoroughly enjoyed “Mary Poppins Returns.” I’m sure we’ll see it again soon.
Getting ready for Christmas? There’s nothing like a holiday movie to get you in the mood to celebrate the season.
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.
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.)
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.
Cindy-Lou Who (Cameron Seely) gets ready to mail her letter to Santa in “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” from Illumination.
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.
Kenan Thompson voices the Grinch’s closest neighbor, the relentlessly cheerful Bricklebaum, in “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” from Illumination.
This week is Spring Break in our house and a movie night is a welcome opportunity for fun.
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.
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.