And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

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Review: The Bad Guys

The Bad Guys… aint so bad. And neither is their movie. The film is basically an animated animal version of Oceans 11. A heist movie for the under 12 set, paced to keep both kids and adults at least moderately entertained. The plot revolves around a menagerie of outlaws who get a kick out of grand larceny. Their lifestyle choice is more about the camaraderie than the crime. They just happen to be very good at being bad. Until the law finally catches up with them and they are forced to rethink what they do, who they are, and what they want to be. Good? Bad? A little of both perhaps?

Review: Better NATE than Ever

The DUMBO in the room with Disney’s family-friendly musical dramedy Better NATE Than Ever is the irony of timing–as the film’s release just happens to coincide with the passage of Florida’s ridiculous ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill. Nate is a charming little message movie that draws from the likes of Billy Elliott, Adventures in Babysitting, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off— if Ferris were in middle school, and a musical theater geek struggling to find his place and his people. That place is Broadway baby!

Review: King Richard

If you’re at all into tennis, this is a must see. Even if you’re not, you can’t help but be aware of the amazing Williams sisters, Venus and Serena. King Richard is their origin story, and at the center is their father Richard played by Will Smith in what is sure to be an awards contender performance. I remember when they exploded onto the scene in the 90s. The media made a lot of their dad and his presence and his style. A lot of it was not positive. This film serves as a corrective to that depiction, showing a devoted and driven father with an audacious plan, a family who bought into his dream for them, and two extremely talented young Black girls who broke the mold when it came to the polite white tennis world. It’s a totally uplifting flick!

Quickie Review: Werewolves Within

Searching for the right flick to give you those Halloween chills? This horror/comedy based on a video game is your ticket! In it Forest Ranger Finn Wheeler (Sam Richardson, “Veep”, “Ted Lasso”) arrives in the remote town of Beaverfield in the middle of winter just in time for a series of gruesome attacks. It begins with a dog but escalates quickly and, as the title gives away, it turns out there’s a werewolf among the dwindling population of quirky townsfolk, and soon everyone is trying to figure out who it is before they’re all supper. Then the power is cut off, and there’s a blizzard.

Review: Cinderella

This latest take on the fairytale classic is actually quite entertaining and refreshingly different while still retaining a comfortable air of familiarity. Just don’t expect to hear the enduring, trademark songs of Rodgers & Hammerstein. 2021’s Cinderella features a modern twist, with modern music that includes some original songs and a bunch of covers, from Madonna to Queen and stuff in-between. The contemporary live-action film opens with a toe-tapping production number showcasing a hip array of subjects in the Kingdom of Rhythm Nation, where Ella (Camila Cabello) resides in the basement of a home with her stepmother (Idina Menzel) and step-sisters (Maddie Baillio, Charlotte Spencer). The ‘steps’ aren’t exactly evil in the tradition of most “Cinderella” tales, but they aren’t a loving, supportive bunch either.  Jealous much? 

Review: Jungle Cruise

Is it safe to cruise again? Cinematically speaking, yes. Jungle Cruise is a fun ride, thanks in large part – okay, almost entirely – to the likability of its stars, Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt. The film is loosely based on a Disneyland theme park ride that takes travelers downriver, through a jungle filled with wild animals and supernatural stuff. I don’t recall ever taking the ride, but I’m pretty sure that’s where the similarities end. As a movie, Jungle Cruise skims across the water as a lightweight family-friendly comedy adventure in the vein of Pirates of the Caribbean (also a Disney ride), Indiana Jones, The Mummy and National Treasure. And if you like puns, as I do, you’re guaranteed a good chuckle at least every few minutes.

Review: The Boss Baby: Family Business

“What happens on the playground stays on the playground.” Lines like this are what made the first Boss Baby a cute little hit in 2017, and what makes its sequel, The Boss Baby: Family Business easily watchable now for kids and adults. There is a caveat however. While Boss Baby 2 is entertaining enough for a family film night, it’s no Boss Baby 1. The magic is gone – largely because we already know the drill. And, there’s simply not enough (for my taste) of the bitterly sarcastic talking wizard alarm clock “Wizzy”!

Review: Disney-Pixar’s Luca

Disney-Pixar’s Luca is Finding Nemo meets Splash meets Pinocchio meets a whole bunch of other well-worn concepts, delivered with a dash of fresh Italian seasoning. There’s pasta! Gelato! Vespas! Picturesque land and sea! Combine that with themes of friendship, family, community and staying true to one’s self, and you’ve got the makings of a satisfying dish to add to the large table of appealing Disney-Pixar movies. Luca will leave you sated in a “I’ve had this meal before but still really like it” sort of way. So Buon Appetito!

Review: Cruella

Cruella is a campy comedy crime caper that tells the origin story of one of the most iconic villains in cinematic history – especially if you’re a dog lover. It’s a prequel to the 1996 live action adaptation of Disney’s 1961 animated classic 101 Dalmatians based on the 1956 novel by Dodie Smith. Got all that? Like the character herself, there are a couple of different sides to Cruella the film. It’s based on a “kids movie” but is rated PG-13 and has a soundtrack that will land squarely in the wheelhouse of many adult viewers. The dialogue is witty and the themes are dark. And it stars two Emmas — Stone and Thompson — who both know how to land a dramatic punch and a punchline. Cruella could use a nip and a tuck here and there to bring the film under two hours (it runs 134 minutes) but overall it’s a fun watch.

Quickie Review: Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street

“Sesame Street” is a timeless classic and this documentary helps explain why. Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street takes a deep dive into the heart and soul of the long-running children’s show, with a focus on its creators, including socially conscious television executive Joan Ganz Cooney, Sesame Workshop co-founder Lloyd Morrisett, writer/director Jon Stone and the name most people are familiar with, Muppets creator Jim Henson. Just as I learned a lot as a kid watching “Sesame Street,” I learned a lot watching this documentary, including how it got the name Sesame Street; the vital integration of music into the program; the very deliberate and trailblazing efforts to show diversity and reach inner-city kids; the crafting of the show’s curriculum, carefully cultivated by a team of professional educators and television writers; and the cast of characters on-camera and behind the scenes who became a family themselves. And who knew that Holly Robinson Peete’s father played the original “Gordon” on the show?!