Moxie – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Moxie.

Story

The movie walks the line between heartwarming coming of age and showing the real horrors of sexism and racism. In the end it firmly settles on heartwarming coming of age.

It took me much too long to realize what the movie was going for and I kept waiting for the metaphorical axe to fall. I was expecting expulsion, but instead I got successful social action, and the drama came from the angry teen.

Beyond my expectations being skewed, the movie abandoned some threads and didn’t give enough room to some of the characters. Even after adjusting my expectations, it felt too clean and sanatized.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main character is a quiet girl whose whole goal in high school is to fly under the radar. When she gets exposed to some severe racism and sexism, she goes from shy wallflower to passionate SJW.

Everything in the movie is seen through her lens, which is a great way to introduce white people, especially young girls, to these issues. However, because of that, there are characters introduced that have no story or very little.

In order to make the movie end on a happy note, the “villains” had to be comical and a mixture of inept and lazy.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is designed to make everyone understand the main topics and hint at some of the others. The dialogue is very cleverly written, being both authentic and educational.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Just like the dialogue, the cinematography is very cleverly done to both illustrate and emphasize the different issues.

The music is well picked and does a great job to enhance the story.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie stressed me out; I kept expecting something predictable and horrible to happen. It didn’t happen, but it did affect my enjoyment. I think a second viewing would be easier.

That being said the romance was cute and the high points were satisfying.

Score: 0.5

Overall

A great introduction to social issues that a lot of privileged people don’t know or want to think about. The issues are wrapped in a predictable coming of age story and shown through the lens of a partially oblivious white girl.

It’s a fun high school romp with a great set of messages, but it’s an overly optimistic and shallow introduction to social issues.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

The ULTIMATE Mac & Cheese Test

Hello Mac & Cheese lovers,

I few friends gave us 3 kinds of mac and cheese that they didn’t want, so we decided to make them and our favourite and see which was the BEST MAC & CHEESE.

We had Annie’s Shells and White Cheddar, PC White Cheddar, Annie’s Four Cheese, and Classic KD.

I followed the directions exactly as the boxes said and prepared the 4 different kinds. I found that following the instructions left the KD and PC really liquidy and I had to put them back on the stove to boil away the extra liquid. The Annie’s White Cheddar was slimy even after cooking a little longer and the Four Cheese was too dry.

Tasting

Keladry (4 years old and hates leftovers) loved all four of them equally, according to her.

Adrien (21 months old and eats anything) ate all of them, but said Om-nom-nom for the PC and spit out the last bits of the Four Cheese.

Jen (36 years old and a bit of a picky eater) liked the KD more than she thought she would, but found both of the Annie’s tasted bad. She loved the PC despite me not telling her that was what it was.

Éric (37 years old and self-declared Mac&Cheese lover) was brought back to his childhood with the KD. The PC was delicious as always and both the Annie’s were cloying. Tasted like fake cheese.

Thoughts

I don’t think I’ve prepared Mac & Cheese without stuff in it since the mid-aughts. (My go to are zucchini, mushrooms, bacon, and a little mozzarella, salt, pepper, and some hot sauce.)

I’m fairly certain I’ve never prepared KD or PC Mac & Cheese by following the instructions. It was really watery and needed to be put back on the stove to thicken, but once it was, it was pretty creamy.

I was excited about trying the Annie’s and honestly it was pretty bad. I wouldn’t try it again.

Winner?

Honestly, the best taste on it’s own was definitely the PC White Cheddar, but Kraft Dinner was pretty good and brought me back to my childhood. (I almost went to get the ketchup.) Makes me want to try the new versions of KD and see how they taste. (I did enter the contest for the Pumpkin Spice version but didn’t get any. What? It’s Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, and sometimes cloves.)

None of them of them come close to homemade, but they are fast and easy.

Conclusion

I’m too old to have Mac & Cheese without anything in it (it just doesn’t last me) and I won’t be trying the Annie’s again.


What’s your favourite Mac & Cheese?

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Finding ‘Ohana

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 Finding ‘Ohana.

Story

This is the way to pay homage and still make something original at the same time. Obviously influenced and lovingly made in the style of 80’s summer adventures.

I loved the respect they had for culture and family.

Score: 1

Characters

The brother sister relationship was both annoying and heartwarming (just like real family), the romance was a little over the top but cute, the mother-grandfather relationship was amazing. Basically, this movie is all about family and family relationships and it’s done wonderfully.

Score: 1

Dialogue

A great combination between campy, 80’s, and heartwarming. The dialogue was fun funny, and had enough references to old movies to make me smile.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The locations were utterly gorgeous, but that’s to be expected of Hawaii in movies. The caves, shot in Thailand, were well staged and fun.

The music wasn’t particularly great, but it did what it needed to do.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie was filled with heart and adventure. The whole family loved it. Even the slower scenes had everyone glued to the screen.

Overall

A fun 80’s style adventure with lots of heart. It’s exciting and fun with lots of respect for culture. A near perfect family movie.

Score: 5 Stars out of 5

Damien Robitaille or How the future is stranger than I expected

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I had a surreal moment yesterday. It takes a little setup so check the full story after the picture.

First let me shout out Damien Robitaille who had a concert yesterday and it was awesome. If you enjoy music check out his webpage and facebook, he posts new covers almost every day.

Pegasus and I watching a live concert on the Google nest hub while I make snacks.

A lifetime ago, I worked at a little radio station CFRH Radio Penetanguishene. I was a student radio host, and honestly was way out of my depth. The people I worked with were fantastic at their jobs.

One of the people was Damien; he was in his last year of university or college and he was a lot of fun to work with. A really down to earth and friendly guy. At a party, I mentioned that I was feeling like I wasn’t good enough for the job. Damien told me that I was doing fine and then said something that stuck with me since. He said that the next few years (meaning university) would be a big adventure and that I’d grow a lot. It was good advice and helped me relax and not worry so much about feeling less mature than my coworkers or later those older than me.

Fast forward fifteen years, and I see his face in an ad for his fourth album on amazon. I wasn’t sure it was him so I checked his wikipedia page and yeah, it was. (I have 5 published books, when do I get a wikipedia page?)

Yesterday was a hard day, my stomach was upset and the toddler was getting super restless, so I checked facebook and saw Damien was playing a concert. So I sent the stream to my kitchen hub and we watched while I made us toast to snack on.

The whole situation was mildly surreal for me. First, that I’m of the age to have met people twenty years ago who are now famous (wikipedia page famous anyway).

Second was that I could watch a live concert that was being streamed by almost a thousand people around the world and share that with my son while making toast, while the musician was in his home studio. How cool is that? It was a surreal moment for me.

I’m sure he doesn’t remember me and it really doesn’t matter. I think the whole situation was something special. I am extremely jealous that he can play drums, piano, and sing all at the same time. I have trouble walking and talking at the same time.

Be kind and stay safe,

Éric

Ending of a book

Hello,

Normally the last few chapters in a book that I’m writing take me a long time to write. Parasomnia took me four months to write up to the last three chapters and then another four months to finish. A Study in Aether took four weeks to write all but that last 10k words and then another year to finish.

It’s not that I think endings are hard. I just don’t like leaving the worlds of my books. I don’t like ending things. (Probably why I keep adding books to series)

Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers has been a quick ride. Three months of planning and three months of writing. It’s been exhausting and exiting and really awesome. I’m now on the last chapter and I don’t want it to end. Is this why some authors never finish their novels?

Hopefully I’ll take less time to finish this chapter than I have other novels.

Anyways, I should head back to writing.

Wish me luck!

Stay safe and stay kind,

Éric

Raya and the Last Dragon – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Raya and the Last Dragon.

Story

The story was a nice combination of fetch quest, found family, and post apocalypse. The message was nice and I like the way they ended it. I feel like there was something missing, but that could just be my love for the Moana twist and complexity of Frozen II.

Score: 1

Characters

Raya and Namaari had really nice character arcs, but the others felt like they were there for merch or to fill space. I know it’s only a single movie but I would have liked more development for the other characters. That said, what they did have was fantastic.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The movie was an epic fantasy with elements of westerns and post apocalypse. The dialogue was so modern as to be jarring to start with. I’m not sure why it hit me harder than Emperor’s New Groove, Aladdin or Frozen’s but it felt very new lingo filled (it could also be that I’m getting old). It just really felt out of place.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Wow. This movie is spectacularly beautiful, the animation is unparalleled. I wanted to rewind just to watch a character walk through a puddle.

The music was wonderfully evocative. It captured the setting and the cultures while still being Disney. I did miss the musical aspects of some of the previous movies, but it wouldn’t have fit.

Score: 1

Fun

The worldbuilding was beautiful and the strong but traumatized hero was a wonderful change. The whole family was riveted and it was absolutely beautiful. I enjoyed the whole thing and look forward to rewatching it.

Score: 1

Overall

A spectacular fantasy movie that deviates enough from Disney that hardcore Princess fans will be upset while not deviating enough to make disney critics like it. Taken on it’s own without it’s studio’s baggage, it is absolutely stunning and a wonderful watch.

Final Score: 4 stars out of 5

Dear Pegasus – Park, play, and pandemic

Dear Pegasus,

You’ve now spent a year in quarantine (about 60% of your life). By the time you read this, we should have a better idea if we were overprotective or justifiably cautious.

We’re lucky in that mum’s job is extra slow since no one wants to travel in a pandemic (except politicians), so she can help your sister with homeschooling. I hope we don’t have to worry about your first year like this.

Today mum suggested that you pretend to bring the dollhouse people to their park. You looked at her confused and when she asked if you knew what the park was, you just shook your head.

It makes me sad that you didn’t get the chance to do the things your sister did. I makes me feel guilty that you’re not getting as much attention as we’d hoped.

In a perfect world, Dragon was supposed to be at school this year and you were going to get the majority of mum’s attention. It didn’t work that way and now mum spends most of the day in the basement for Dragon’s school and you spend the day with me. I deal with a lot of the house stuff, this blog (although mum is supplying her half of the content), coffee things, writing, oh, and my full time job. I’m lucky that I can work from home, but it means you spend a lot of time playing on your own or sitting in on work meetings.

An Angry Pegasus. I get this face when I get coffee or do work.

I feel bad that we don’t have the energy and time to dedicate to you that we did your sister. I feel bad that you haven’t seen another kid in person since you were eight months old. I have no idea what this will do in the long term. I’m hoping that you’ll bounce back once everyone (including you) are vaccinated. (I’m hoping Keladry will be okay going into first grade full time. Maybe even the second semester of senior kindergarten.)

I’m sorry for the things you’ve missed, but I am not sorry that you haven’t contracted the virus or the side effects (even if they are rare) that come with it.

Life has been very different for you this year compared to before where you did 3 cons, a trip to Disney, and a lot of social activities. This coming year will probably be similar, but the year after holds hope for us.

To steal the 2020 word of the year, these are unprecedented times, and we’re all doing our best.

My pillow is very wiggly.

One of the good things that this year has brought is the extra time we’ve had together.

I love you little Pegasus,

Your worried Papa

Cancel Culture and Bullying

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’m sure you’ve heard about Mr. Potato Head and Dr. Seuss. If you haven’t, let me explain quickly. Dr. Seuss has some books with extremely racist imagery and his estate has decided not to publish them anymore. Mr. Potato Head has changed the brand to Potato Head and will sell the base set as gender neutral to make it possible to build any sort of family. Unfortunately, the press release forgot to mention they were still going to sell the legacy Mr. Potato Head and Mrs. Potato Head.

All this has brought back cries of “Cancel Culture” (I talked about this back when a certain millionaire author felt cancelled. Part 1 and Part 2, I also talked about being problematic here.).

There’s a lot of stuff to unpack when it comes to Cancel Culture and I don’t have the energy to write a book about it. Instead I’ll tell you a story.

I’m a Geek or Nerd, whatever you want to call me. I live in pop culture and spend way more time reading about tech than is necessary for me. A few years ago, someone confronted me about how problematic the idea of “Talk Like a Pirate Day” was, considering their ancestors had been kidnapped and enslaved by real life pirates. (Pirates, corsairs, and privateers were a big part of the slave trade.)

I thought they were kidding; it wasn’t about real pirates, but just a silly internet meme based off cartoon versions. I swear I went through the full gamut of grief. I still have no idea why I was so attached to the damn thing.

In the end, a friend messaged me and said something like, “I get that you’re upset but maybe you should listen to the victim about what bothers them.” I’m sure it was better worded than that, but it’s what made me stop and think. I don’t have the right to question what hurts other people. With that and a cooler head, I realized that, yeah, the day was glorifying a group of people who stole people from their homes and families. Beyond that, they facilitated the complete erasure of multiple cultures. That’s stories, myths, religions, customs, food, etc, everything that makes people feel like people. That’s horrific, and if you don’t think so you need to think some more.

Being told that something hurts others when you thought it was part of you makes you feel like you’re the one to blame. It causes an internal struggle that makes you have to choose between something you think is part of you and another person’s pain. It’s guilt and sorrow and it’s completely on your shoulders.

It’s our responsibility as privileged people to listen to those who have been hurt and try to be compassionate. If something that hurts others is part of you, it might be time to consider if it’s that important and at the very least, admit that it’s a problem.

The calls of “Cancel Culture Gone MAD” and other bullshit is a self defence reflex, but it serves a major purpose, it’s a form of bullying.

Yelling and writing article after article about how sensitive people are and how they should just leave “culture” alone is a backlash that is meant to silence victims and make them question their own hurt. It’s also a way of bullying victims into having to defend their reasons for being hurt.

Next time you are confronted by something that makes you feel like you have to defend yourself against a victim, take the time to think about their point of view and why you have internalized something that was hurtful.

Be safe and be kind,

Éric

Upside-Down Magic – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Upside-Down Magic.

Story

It’s probably not fair of me, but after Secret Society of Second-Born Royals, I wasn’t too hopeful for this one.

Boy was I surprised. It has the feel and tone of good YA, while also poking subtle fun at the genre’s recent prevalent tropes. The story doesn’t get bogged down by any of the usual annoyances, and despite a pretty predictable plot, it’s a lot of fun with some decent worldbuilding.

Score: 0.5

Characters

There are many tropes and archetypes in YA. This movie takes the most prevalent ones of the insecure super-powerful main character and the quirky super-positive sidekick and switches them places, leaving us with an extremely interesting main character that doesn’t mope. It’s nice.

The rest of the cast are a little underdeveloped, but diverse and entertaining.

I also have to talk about the grumpy teacher turns out to be a softy trope. It’s really one of my favourites and works extremely well here.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue is young, but not condescending. It has some pretty smart moments and great banter. There are also more than a few lines that are so generic that they could be part of a YA magic school generator.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The visuals are really well done. The special effects budget was obviously not big, but they used it efficiently. I enjoyed the use of camera angles and colours to guide the viewer.

The music did what it needed and, other than the little singing in the movie, was not extremely noticeable.

Score: 1

Fun

For my four year old this was amazing, for the toddler he was glued to the screen. For me it had enough fresh material and awesome characters. It never really dragged and had a nice little twist. The movie made me want more and add the books to my TBR pile.

Score: 1

Overall

A thoroughly charming, self aware, and fun young adult magic school adventure. The characters, world, and magic are great. Refreshing not have a forced love story and reinforcing the strength of friendship. I look forward to reading the books.

Final Score: 4 stars out of 5