Vivo – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Vivo.

Story

The beginning was a little predictable in its “Pixar” style twist. The rest was a usual road trip buddy story. It was a fun story.

Score: 0.5

Characters

We don’t see a lot of Cuban or Cuban-American culture in animation. It was nice to see the art, music, and accents take centre stage. The characters were all motivated by relatable emotions.

The character of Vivo is sassy, funny, and filled with heart.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The running commentary by Vivo is both adorable and refreshingly funny. I appreciated the music, situational, word, and absurd humour.

I liked that they treated parts of the dialogue like motifs in music. They repeated or altered certain phrases to create more of an emotional impact and to pull the various parts of the movie together.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie was absolutely beautiful. It might not have been up to Pixar or Disney quality but they captured the Cuban art and colour style fantastically. There are a few times that the face and perspective in that art style didn’t translate well to a 3D animation, but over all, it was great.

The music was Broadway with the Lin-Manuel Miranda twist and a large dollop of Cuban influence. It’s a little reminiscent of his other work, but that doesn’t detract from how good it was.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie was colourful, never wallowed too much, and had multiple levels of humour. It was poignant and had a pretty good message, plus both kids loved it.

Score: 1

Overall

It takes a lot of elements that we’re familiar with in animated and musical movies and mixes them together with a Cuban-American influence making it feel fresh and vibrant. The visuals, music, comedy, and heart warming story make for a wonderful film.

Final Score: 4.5 stars out of 5

Chicken Little – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2005 film Chicken Little.

Story

This is three shorts in one poorly transitioned and linked by nothing but characters. Instead of transition scenes to bring us between family drama, baseball, and aliens; we get fat, fart, ugly, and useless jokes.

Score: 0

Characters

Someone threw darts at a board filled with clichés then picked the ones with the best mock-able attributes. I have never seen so many jokes at the expense of the main characters in any Disney movie before.

The parent who doesn’t believe their child trope needs to go away forever.

Score: 0

Dialogue

There was a lot of clever meta-jokes about the genre. From jokes about the movie Aliens, to Indiana Jones, some were clever, others not so much.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

I’m not sure what style Disney was going for, but the visuals are average to mediocre for the time and abysmal for now. The character design was poorly thought out and the scaling was odd.

The music was a lovely nostalgic hit of the mid-aughts.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The urge to scream at the screen was hard to push down. So much about this annoyed me. The kids liked it enough, although the two year old wasn’t all that interested after an hour.

Score: 0

Overall

This is one of the movies people forget is Disney. I think we should just forget it completely. Abysmal jokes with no connections between the sections. Its writing is more concerned with insults both to its characters and its audience’s intelligence.

Final Score: 1 Star out of 5

Treasure Planet – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2002 film Treasure Planet.

Story

On the surface, this seems like a straight adaptation of the book, but there are a lot of small subtle changes to adapt it to a 2002 audience. Mostly we see it in the way that the main character views the world. Instead of the naive, wide-eyed boy of the book, we get a sullen bad boy wannabe. Both are rutted in a childhood ignorance that mirrors when they were written.

The rest of the changes are just as clever and make the whole movie work in a way that seems improbable, but is quite lovely.

I find it interesting that in the book, we discover that the dad was killed to hide the treasure and that Silver knew him, but that story line is completely dropped in this version. Again, probably a sign of the times, in that an audience for the book would be shocked at a dad who just left instead of dying at sea, while more modern audiences wouldn’t blink an eye.

Score: 1

Characters

The protagonist is just the right level of innocent, sullen, and clever to make him likeable. The rest of the characters range from cartoony to downright terrifying. It’s impressive that the movie can have such a range without it feeling jarring.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The blend of pirate/sea talk, modern dialogue, and science fiction speak is fantastic. It’s at the perfect level to be understandable to anyone yet still have little nods to the original and science fiction movies.

Score: 1

Visuals and music

The blending of animation techniques works so well that despite the early 3D animation this is still absolutely stunning. From the textures to the starscapes, everything looks amazing. The 3D is used extremely well for shots that just would be impossible in traditional animation.

The music is a nice mix of early 2000’s, epic science fiction, and pirate movie.

Score: 1

Fun

I enjoyed the movie and always love the nuances of the characters. My 2 year repeated the title and ‘cook’ for the first half. Not sure why, but he still watched. My four year old loved it.

Score: 1

Overall

The movie has all the buckle and swash you’d want with just a nice pinch of science fiction cleverness. Definitely one of the most underrated Disney movies.

If you enjoy pirates in space, this is the movie for you.

Final Score: 5 Stars out of 5*


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.

Jungle Cruise – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Jungle Cruise.

Story

The story is an interesting combination of jungle adventure and period piece. Overall, it was well done. I like that they’re looking for a plant and not an ancient artifact to plunder. It’s Indiana Jones with a twist and a little more modern (despite being set before).

Score: 1

Characters

It’s about time that Disney started adding more LGBTQ+ characters into its films. It was doubly nice that he wasn’t killed and that it was stated in the movie, not by the director or actor.

The two main cast members have almost no romantic chemistry, but make up for it in ridiculous amounts of charisma.

The supernatural villains are relatable but boring and tragic, while the German prince was funny but a little too moustache twirly for my taste.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

I would have been saddened if they hadn’t included the ride’s puns. The puns, the jokes, the banter, and even the dramatic tension, were all fantastic and make me want to re-watch it.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Overall the film was beautiful, but there are some parts of it that looked wrong or overly CGI. The jaguar and the flowers, along with some of the wildlife, felt like it was over-saturated and not properly lit. Made them, and even the villains, feel like they weren’t really part of the movie’s world.

The music was spectacular. I look forward to listening to it again.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I did a few summers in University as a tour guide / captain for the Ottawa Canal. I helped develop a much more pun intensive tour. That’s always made me have a soft spot for the Jungle Cruise ride and has certainly translated to the movie. It was a lot of pun and lots of laughs.

The entire family liked it. The two year old watched most of it and the four year old was enthralled.

Score: 1

Overall

For those who love the ride, the movie will be extra sweet, but it has a lot of goofy (pun induced) fun for those who haven’t been on the ride. It’s exciting, funny, and it’s weaknesses are minor compared to the charisma and banter of it’s three leads.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

The House with a Clock in Its Walls – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2018 film The House with a Clock in Its Walls.

Story

I was very impressed. The movie had the right level of intrigue and excitement and the pace was a great balance between Gothic horror and kids horror. The plot was relatively simple and gave space for the characters’ backstories and the world building.

Score: 1

Characters

A lot of times, stories like this will neglect character development for the adults or the kids, but this one did a great job balancing it. The villain was surprisingly sympathetic for a corpse.

Cate Blanchett was amazing in her role and really made me feel for the character.

Jack Black managed to do what he does best and make a loud, arrogant, character who is both sympathetic and likeable.

Owen Vaccaro was wonderful as the quirky kid. I am a little sad they cut the fat-phobia story, but it’s probably for the best.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Quirky, weird, and definitely memorable. The skills of the writer (who wrote for the first five seasons of Supernatural) were definitely well used.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The visuals were beautiful and creepy. I wasn’t a fan of the abundant poop jokes however.

The music was atmospheric and fun.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I watched this with my 2 year old and he loved it. Kept saying “scary… fun!” In the actually scary parts he hugged me. I think my 4 year old would have yelled at the screen when the cabinet was opened and flailed like an angry octopus.

Its exactly the kind of kid’s horror that I grew up with and it felt like something I would have watched in the 90’s, but better in almost every way.

Score: 1

Overall

Fun, exciting, and scary with more heart and better acting then expected. This is a movie made by horror fans for future fans. It’s a great introduction for those kids that can handle and enjoy the scary moments. It’s also a great nostalgic feel for those of us that grew up with this style of storytelling.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Monsters University – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2013 film Monsters University.

Story

The story is a great subversion of the traditional college movie. I like how much it plays with our expectations from knowing the first movie. The messages of “it’s okay to change your dream” and “there are many paths” are more poignant to me now than they were when the movie came out, making me enjoy it a lot more.

Score: 1

Characters

As much as I like the story and the movie itself is very consistent with it’s characters, I find Sulley feels off. His greatest character trait from the first movie was how much he cared for people and monsters. His empathy and genuine niceness was impressive and played at odds with his scaring. Making him an entitled rich kid works for this movie, but we don’t see any hint of it in the original and his turn around feels a little unmotivated.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The writing is extremely well done and the dialogue really reflects the lived experience of a lot of animators and writers. Especially the parts where someone says, “You just don’t have it.”

The humour is clever and delivered perfectly.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The original was spectacular for it’s time and is starting to look a little dated. After almost a decade, this movie still looks better than a lot of other animations that came out this year. It’s spectacular and beautiful in all its detail.

The music takes a shift away from jazzy to more orchestral which works extremely well both for the plot and the location.

Score: 1

Fun

Once I let go of my precious nostalgia, this movie was fantastic. I laughed and cheered throughout. My kids both loved it with the two year old laughing at everything Mike did.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a prequel and as such suffers a little at having to fit in the world and story of the first movie. It is, however, a fantastic watch and worth every moment. It’s a beautiful and poignant movie with lots of laughs.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Space Jam – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1996 film Space Jam.

Story

The movie is a basic underdog sports story with a little bit of cartoon magic. It’s cute and over the top in a way that only Bugs and pals can handle.

I am sad they didn’t include a proper training montage though.

It’s written in a way that even people like me who know nothing about 1990’s basketball can still follow easily.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main charater is Michael Jordan and he does a great job of playing the cool, Roll-with-it kind of character. The Looney Tunes are mostly alright, although I find the portrayal of Lola Bunny disturbing. She’s a odd combination of damsel, useless, and competent.

Bill Murray playing Bill Murray will always be a treat.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

There are quite a lot of one liners in this and most of them stick about as well as you’d expect from the Looney Toons. There are a lot of great adult jokes and I love the bits with the basketball players who lost their abilities.

Overall it’s pretty forgettable dialogue.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The visuals are clean and well shot. They are definitely dated by style and by limits of the 3D tech at the time.

The music is wonderfully nostalgic and well chosen for the oomph needed in a sports movie.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Despite it’s flaws, this movie is a lot of fun and hits all the right beats for a sports movie. It’s exciting, funny, and overall easy to watch. Both my kids were trying to sing the title song by the end.

Score: 1

Overall

Space Jam is a product of it’s time and as such is a strange mashup of timeless sports movie chained to 1996. It’s entertaining and has plenty of background jokes for the basketball fans and the cartoon fans. It’s fun and quirky and easy to watch. In the end, however, it’s also utterly forgettable in everything but nostalgic soundtrack.

Final Score: 3

Luca – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Luca

Story

An interesting mix of coming of age and fish out of water (pun intended) stories. It had me wondering how they were going to resolve the plot with a happy ending. They managed a satisfying ending and I’m impressed with how heart warming it is.

Score: 1

Characters

The characters acted and reacted like they were in a stereotypical kids story. The parents didn’t listen, the kids didn’t know what they were doing, the stakes felt high, but in a well obviously nothing’s going to happen, kinda way.

There wasn’t one character I didn’t get annoyed with at some point for doing the most dramatic thing possible.

Although I felt for the trio, I didn’t really like them or feel they were in any kind of trouble.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Although played out both in fiction and in reality, the boisterous exaggerator who is covering for trauma, is still relevant and we all knew a kid like that when we were young. It’s done in such a believable way with the dialogue that it shows the writers have dealt with kids.

The rest of the dialogue ranges from silly to hilarious and I was quite impressed.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie was typical Pixar beauty. The backgrounds, textures, and world were absolutely gorgeous.

The music was good accentuating and enhancing the story and made the kids want to dance.

I was also ridiculously impressed with the voices underwater being a little muffled. That was a nice touch.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie had some awkward angst that I found forced and made me lose interest, the relationship with the parents was uncomfortable to watch, and the entire thing with the uncle felt like a gross out joke gone to far.

That being said the kids were riveted, as were the other adults. It was exciting, cute, funny, and satisfying.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Pixar creates another wonderful story filled with beautiful animation. Despite a few forced moments and some awkward jokes it’s a fun movie with something for everyone. Warning, you might want a Vespa afterwards.

Final Score: 4 stars out of 5

Wish Dragon – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Wish Dragon.

Story

An interesting re-imagining of the wishing trope. The main character is adorable and actually as innocent as he seems. The dragon is both funny and has an interesting backstory.

The movie does get bogged down by forced awkwardness and ridiculous drama. The story is at it’s best when it’s exploring family and community and at it’s worst when it veers to close to romance.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main character is adorable and only does stupid stuff because he’s very trusting of the magical dragon.The dragon is over the top and completely out of his depth. The friend is the definition of dutiful and conflicted about it.

The goon villains are cute and scary while the main villain was a nice surpise.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Clever and funny, but not extremely memorable, the dialogue serves its purpose. There are a few good lines, especially the dialogue between the main characters.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie looks very similar to what other top studios are doing, character design looks pulled from Pearl Studios or Blue Sky Studios. There are moments of pure beauty, however.

The music is lovely and really accentuates the story.

Score: 1

Fun

Overall, the movie is a lot of fun. The kids loved it and other than that annoying middle part, it was a joy to watch. I was excited to have a movie all about friends and felt a little betrayed when they played with the possibility of the characters becoming love interests.

Score: 1

Overall

A wonderful addition to the animated “genie” genre. It is a lot of fun, but sacrifices some depth for awkward humour and a few too many chase scenes. In the end it’s pretty, has a great moral and is fun to watch.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Monsters, Inc. – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001 Monsters, Inc.

Story

Behind a cutesy story there’s a lot of great messages and social commentary. I’m a huge fan of the moment Sully realizes that what he’s always been told was the right thing to do actually hurt people. That moment was extremely relatable. The subtext of child labour, exploitation of others, and being a good person doesn’t mean you always do good things, are still very powerful.

Score: 1

Characters

A little bit of an odd couple, but with a great friendship, Sully and Mike are the heart of the movie. They are genuinely nice people who’ve been socialized to do bad things. It’s a wonderful dichotomy. The rest of the cast are a little less nuanced, but show different aspects of how this society molds people.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Every time I watch this movie I’m shocked by the amount of things in it that I’ve integrated into my everyday. From “Put that thing back where you found it or so help me” to “Follow the sultry sounds of my voice.”

The wonderful thing about the dialogue is that most of it does double or triple duty; humour, character development, and world building.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

At now 20 years old, the 3D rendering does look dated. Especially compared to newer Disney or Pixar. That being said, the hair particles and snow are stunning. The character design is well balanced between creepy and funny. Even dated, it looks great and the attention to detail is amazing.

Score: 1

Fun

This is the hardest category to judge. I watched this one in theatres and it’s a staple in our house. My daughter was glued to the screen when she was younger and she was still glued this time. My son sat and watched the entire time, although he was pretty freaked out at the beginning. He loved Boo and kept asking for her when she wasn’t on screen.

Score: 1

Overall

A classic film with all the heart and levels that Pixar is so great at. Its warmth and humour make it a joy to watch. Even twenty years after, the hair and snow animations are amazing. I’ll be honest, I’m not objective since this is one of my top ten movies of all time.

Final Score: 5*


*A 5 star review doesn’t mean the movie was perfect nor that it is perfect for everyone but it is a movie I believe is as close to perfect as possible.