Bill & Ted Series – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1989 movie Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the 1991 movie Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, and the 2020 movie Bill & Ted Face the Music.

Story

Excellent Adventure

This story is dated in so many ways but still manages to be fantastic at the end. I’m torn between the poor pacing, homophobia, and sexism; and the fantastic message of love and peace.

Score: 0.5

Bogus Journey

The same message resounds through the second movie as in the first, but again there’s more sexism, homophobia, and transphobia to make things awkward. Again the ending is fantastic.

Score: 0.5

Face the Music

The same message of unity and love are sown throughout this movie like the others but with a little more maturity. The twist is predictable but getting there wasn’t. There was none of the previous movies’ sexism, homophobia, or transphobia, but there was a little bit of an awkward fat joke. (nothing compared to Avengers Endgame)

Score: 0.5

Characters

Excellent Adventure

Bill and Ted are well meaning, mostly kind, but so foolish. They have fantastic vocabularies but they really don’t seem to follow everything going on. They are the personification of the slacker. There was an extremely homophobic joke that was out of character and pretty jarring.

The rest of the characters are a wonderful mix of what-if historical characters showed up in 1988.

Unfortunately the women are all pretty useless.

Score: 0.5

Bogus Journey

Once again we get Bill and Ted as sweet, mostly, caring, and pretty fools. They graduated high school and got jobs at the mall.

The evil people are all very much evil and totalitarian. It’s an interesting switch to see the rebels be the ones who want to be controlled.

Score: 0.5

Face the Music

This is the saddest and the most relatable version of Bill and Ted. They are broken by the weight of their own destiny but still trying anyway.

The introduction of the daughters was great. They are the generation that grew up with music-obsessed slackers. They were both believable and perfect. Both actors managed to mimic the original Bill and Ted’s movements and mannerisms better than the original actors did.

I’m happy they gave the princesses both more story and more screen time.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Excellent Adventure

The dialogue is actually impressively clever. They bypass time travel confusion really well and do really well with making their characters sound unique. It’s endlessly quotable in the way only 80’s movies can be.

Score: 0.5

Bogus Journey

Station! The dialogue doesn’t seem quite as special the second time, but there are some fantastic lines. The time travel battle at the end and speech is fantastic.

Score: 0.5

Face the Music

It’s hard to judge the dialogue of this one compared to the others. It’s a lot of self-referential jokes and quips but there’s some interesting bit in there too. I like the consistency in speech patterns and then impressive impersonations of famous musicians.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Excellent Adventure

The production value on this was fantastic, making each time period look authentic (in an 80’s high school curriculum sort of way).

The music was perfect for the movie and really enjoyable.

Score: 1

Bogus Journey

The nature of them going to hell and heaven make so that everything in this movie is more stylized and a little darker.

The music was okay but not excellent.

Score: 0.5

Face the Music

The special effects were updated and beautiful, the makeup work was fantastic, and everything worked towards the story. The locations were authentic and the shots were well thought out.

The nature of the final twist means that the music is less important than the message, but despite that there’s some fantastic pieces. Especially between the historical figures.

Score: 1

Fun

Excellent Adventure

Despite a little cringe and a few really awkward moments the movie is pure fun.

Score: 1

Bogus Journey

There’s some cringe and a few parts that I think drag but overall the movie is a lot of fun.

Score: 1

Face the Music

For both nostalgic reasons and because it was well written with little to no cringe, this was a lot of fun. It kept the entire family entertained and watching.

Score: 1

Overall

Excellent Adventure

The movie is dated but still really heartwarming. They really want to push the love and peace message and like Bill and Ted themselves they stumble a few times along the way.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Bogus Journey

Like the first movie, it is dated but overall positive. It manages to capture the optimism of the first despite the darker tone.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Face the Music

The movie manages to pay homage to the first two while surpassing them in fun and quality. Definitely my favourite of the series.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 movie Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe.

Story

The story was very well crafted to appeal to both old and new fans. It’s set in the middle-ish of the series and managed to balance character growth without affecting continuity. The humour is the wonderful mix of absurd and heartwarming that we come to expect from Phineas and Ferb. For a movie that has “Against the Universe” in the title, it didn’t feel quite as epic as it could have, more like a really long episode.

Score: 0.5

Characters

These are all the stock P&F characters – there’s little really new. I enjoyed the Isabella vs Doof and the development for Candace is pretty good, but being stuck in the middle means nothing too big or important could happen. (They can’t really wipe their memory again.)

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

This is the distilled power of writers who know their characters and world extremely well, but haven’t lost the love of them. The jokes are sharp and quick. There’s a lot to love from a canoe, to the absurd idea that the aliens explode, to a specific funny noise.

Score: 1

Visuals and music

Beautifully animated, if in a simple style, and fantastic music. The animators know how to use camera angles better than most directors.

The songs are peak P&F and absolutely awesome.

Score: 1

Fun

This series has been around for 13 years and the writers have only improved. It’s a fitting continuation to the show. I laughed and my daughter was glued to the screen.

Score: 1

Overall

A wonderful movie for old fans and great introduction to the show. It’s fun and funny, worth seeing but doesn’t really add anything new.

Final Score: 4 stars out of 5

The Road to El Dorado – JenEric Movie Review

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2000 movie The Road to El Dorado.

Story

It’s rare to get a good buddy comedy where the two main characters are good friends and work well together. A lot of films concentrate on the building of that friendship instead of what happens after.

The story isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s well paced and has some interesting things to think about. I like that they mixed up cultures to make it a unique place that can’t be tied to one group of people.

I was not impressed with the angst between the main characters; it felt forced and overdone.

Score: 0.5

Characters

It was all very simple stock characters but the dynamic between the main two is superb. I would have expected that adding the girl would destroy the dynamic but instead it added a new dimension that worked.

The bad guy is a walking fantasy stereotype and not all that interesting. Same with Cortes.

The chief played being the dumb fat leader and ended up being the smart wise leader. In both roles he was always kind which makes me happy.

Score: 1

Dialogue

There are so many quotable parts of this movie. Wonderful dialogue and quips. It’s the gold standard for this sort of movie along with Emperor’s New Groove.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This was a stunningly animated movie. Beautiful scenery, action, and detail.

The music was okay. It felt very bland and a little overly similar. I kept wondering why I thought of the Lion King. Beyond Elton John (who is always fantastic) it was a very derivative score.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The movie made me want more. Two kind hearted grifters trying to make a score and quipping the whole way. Lots of laughs and lot of beautiful scenery.

Score: 1

Overall

The movie is fun, non-offensive (except maybe a few sex jokes), and keeps you entertained the whole time. It’s something I’d re-watch without hesitation. The dynamic between the three mains is something I hope to be able to emulate in some of my own writing.

Final Score: 4 Stars

Meet the Robinsons – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2007 movie Meet the Robinsons.

Story

The story follows the usual time travel tropes. I like that the main character isn’t the main time traveller. The story is happy, uplifting, and something I’ve needed lately, hopeful. It’s a bubble filled retro-futuristic happy future.

This is an incredibly easy movie to watch and it’s one of my comfort films. It was one of the first movies I saw in theatres with my wife.

All that being said, there are parts that haven’t aged well. Mostly little humour things. They use a lot of ableist language when it comes to mental illness, the whole thing with the future wife saying “I’m always right, even when I’m wrong” is weird, and the puppet aunt who beats her husband is a sad reminder that even now male spousal abuse is played for laughs. There’s also a few fat jokes. All of these come off as dated rather than purposefully hateful, but it’s still cringy.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters are lovable and relatable, mostly. I have a soft spot for Bowler Hat Guy, I too so love checklists. DOR-15 is one of the most terrifying villains in Disney. The interactions between Lewis and Wilbur are excellent.

I’m not a fan of some of the secondary characters. Both for what I said in the previous section and because they feel weird and cooky just to be weird and cooky. That’s not a good character motivation and makes them irrelevant to the plot. You can replace each of of them with any other similar family and you’d get little difference but the bit-gags.

I did enjoy that the lady taking care of the orphanage was a nice person who genuinely cared for her charges. It’s a nice break from the “Evil Orphanage” trope.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

From, “Keep Moving Forward!” to, “I can’t take you seriously in that hat” this movie has a lot of quotable dialogue that just hits the perfect tone between silly and insightful.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie was pretty. The animation was okay for the time but not great. We watched the blu-ray edition and it did some upgrades to the rendering that make it stand up pretty well. Overall it’s a pretty and colourful movie.

The music in this is fantastic. Danny Elfman did a great job with the music. It’s a blend of 50’s sci-fi and Disney that works. The soundtrack includes a great list of late 2000’s bands doing great songs.

Score: 1

Fun

This is an immensely fun movie. It’s never too cringy, and is funny. I can watch this one over and over without getting bored or annoyed.

Score: 1

Overall

This a movie I really enjoy. Even more so for the nostalgia of having seen it with my wife when we were first dating. It’s a time travel story plot with a great, hopeful message. Some aspects didn’t age well but they’re secondary to the main story and message.

Final Score: 4 Stars

Lemonade Mouth – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2011 movie Lemonade Mouth.

Story

This movie surprised me multiple times. It was well thought out and had some nice twists. There were a few lulls that annoyed me but overall I was pleased by the story.

This is basically a Band AU of Breakfast Club and I love that about it.

Score: 0.5

Characters

There was a few awkward moments and I feel like the characters didn’t get enough attention making them more caricature then they already are. However, as far as they did get they were lovely and the actors did a fantastic job.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue in this is adorable, layered, and well thought out. It feels authentic and the line, “I’m not the same person I was two months ago.” reminds me of my high school days.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Very well shot with great stages and it avoided that “Disney Channel Sitcom” look that a lot of the original movies have.

The music was fantastic and got me to buy the soundtrack the night I watched it. Absolutely one of the catchiest and most interesting Disney Channel movie soundtracks.

It’s also great when they cast actors that can sing, dance, and play instruments.

Score: 1

Fun

This has all the fun of a band movie, with the fun of a detention movie, mixed with a happy teen drama. Honestly, I loved every moment.

Score: 1

Overall

One of the better original movies from Disney Channel. I wish I had watched it as a kid, or even when it came out.

Final Score: 4 Stars

Spy Kids and Spy Kids 2 – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001 and 2002 movies Spy Kids and Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams.

Story

Spy Kids

I was expecting this to be silly and juvenile. It was, but it owned it to a degree that I never expected. The story is a near perfectly crafted spy adventure, with just the right amount of twists and surprises. What elevates the movie is the purposeful overdoing of literally everything. This is a lovingly crafted homage to spy movies that manages to amp up the silly.

Score: 1

Spy Kids 2

The sequel suffers from the tightness of the firsts writing. Expanding to include more spies and more gadgets and more of everything. It did manage to capture the joy and charm of the first one but it took a while.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Spy Kids

Each character is built as a caricature of a standard spy trope and each one manages to overcome it through depth of character and some surprisingly good acting.

Score: 1

Spy Kids 2

The main actors reprise their roles well if not as well as the first. The characters are a little less intricate to make room for the plot and special effects. The inclusion of Buscemi, Montalban, and Taylor to the cast adds skill and gravitas but doesn’t save from the rest of the poor characters and some truly terrible acting from the villians.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Spy Kids

Overall the dialogue is hammy and overblown. It’s fun but nothing extremely special.

Score: 0

Spy Kids 2

The dialogue in this movie is best described as a pale imitation of the first movie.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

Spy Kids

This was a pretty solid movie for a low budget 2001 film it still looked good. The music was okay both are acceptable.

Score: 1

Spy Kids 2

This did not age well. The special effects look terrible and the constant 3D gimmicks actually hurt the composition of most scenes.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Spy Kids

This movie was fun and consistently so throughout the movie. Wonderful commentary on kids entertainment, spy movies, and family.

Score: 1

Spy Kids 2

This was uneven and there were several times I wished I wasn’t watching it. It really wasn’t terrible.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Spy Kids

Lovely little film that explorers what it is to be family with an impressive absurdity.

Final Score: 4 Stars

Spy Kids 2

It fails to capture the whimsical absurdity of the first and almost completely loses the heart. It’s not a bad movie but it’s not very good.

Final Score: 2 Stars

Onward – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Onward.

Story

I had heard reviews about this movie that said it was the herald that Pixar had lost it’s magic and just become another copy of Disney. (Which I think is unfair since modern Disney owes a lot to Pixar.) This movie didn’t disappoint me. Like the vast majority, it left me crying.

I think the story itself is fairly simple but the world and buildup are fantastic. There’s very little in the movie that isn’t used or exploited again.

That all being said… It was a little predictable. The structure of a Quest or road trip movie, dictates that no matter what they choose, it’ll be wrong but end up pushing the character development. I guessed every twist in advance, which is uncommon for a Pixar.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The story is the characters. That’s really what Pixar is best at, engaging, flawed, lovable, characters that grow because of the story.

From the awkward Mom’s boyfriend to the retired adventurer, they all have depths. I mean, they somehow managed to make a character who was just a bottom half, have a loving and endearing personality.

Score: 1

Dialogue

“You’ll never be ready. Now Merge!” is probably one of the most inspiring things I’ve heard. As someone without his license, it’s also terrifying.

The dialogue is true and it’s certainly authentic; but it’s not extremely memorable after a first watch.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie’s description call it a Suburban Fantasy and the visuals never let you forget it. Anytime you see a lush, beautiful, fantasy moment, the visuals will throw in a plane or road sign or manhole cover.

It’s a great balancing act that makes the entire movie visually coherent. I love the look and feel of this world. It’s beautiful and ugly in all the right ways.

The music is mostly variations on fantasy themes with a bunch of classic rock inspired music thrown in. The combination gives a quirky feel but is definitely authentic its Dungeons & Dragons influence.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie had everything I wanted and didn’t try to jam in an awkward romance.

It was exciting, pretty, and a lot of fun.

Score: 1

Overall

This movie feels like it was made to entertain me and pull at my heartstrings. It won’t hit everyone the same way but it is an extremely fun road trip movie set in a suburban fantasy. Plus there’s a gelatinous cube.

Score: 4 stars

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 movie Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

This is supposed to be a sequel to the 2016 Suicide Squad. I reviewed that at the time and was extremely generous in my rating.

Story

The story was overly simple which was a good thing but also telegraphed what was going to happen. This wasn’t a movie that left me guessing, it told you early on what was going to happen and then those things happened.

As with any anti-hero story, there were a few morally awkward moments and a lot of humour.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The movie truly shines through its characters, all written and acted superbly. It was nice that they remembered that Harley is smart. I hate smart characters doing dumb things, but Harley did dumb things because she was hurt, broken, sad, and disturbed.

All that other characters were fantastic and left you feeling like they were well rounded (Although definitely in need of a hug and a paid vacation).

Score: 1

Dialogue

Some of the dialogue was brilliant, the narration was awesome, but not everything was great. All the actors had moments were their natural accents slipped, some of the turns of phrase felt like they were meant for someone else to say, and when Harley wasn’t there or narrating, the movie took a dive towards bad cop drama.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The action pieces, aesthetic, and music were fantabulous. The simplicity of the story led to those big action set pieces. I don’t think I’ve seen better action than that scene in the evidence locker. I also desperately want this soundtrack.

Score: 1

Fun

Other than a few moments were it started dragging (usually non-narrated story parts for the BOP) this was a thoroughly fun movie. Action, humour, drama, and great music.

Score: 1

Conclusion

This movie was fantastic and if you can handle brutal action, I highly recommend it. I definitely look forward to re-watching it.

Much better than Suicide Squad, which I’ll have to re-watch and re-review.

Final Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Spies in Disguise – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2019 movie Spies in Disguise.

Story

The movie starts as a standard spy thriller reminiscent of older James Bond. It even has a Bond-style intro sequence. There’s a car chase, stakeout, and they add a great twist by inserting an awkward and slightly out there scientist and gadget maker.

The movie exploits the tropes of Spy Thrillers, Accidental Spy, and buddy comedy in a way that could have easily been cringe worthy but wasn’t.

The themes of the movie seem to be a combination of violence begets violence and to challenge tradition. Which is pretty subtle and backed up with some spectacular action sequences.

That being said, it was a little predictable.

Score: .5

Characters

The tough guy scared by loss who’s a super spy is a tired cliché and is used to make you dislike the character to start with and redeem him in the long run. Will Smith does a great job with a character that could have been less likeable than Daniel Craig’s Bond. Unfortunately the character spends far too much of the movie on bravado and complaining. It gets annoying.

The geeky scientist who is driven by a sad backstory is normally the villain. He has every earmark of turning bad, but the writers never even let you think it a possibility. He’s a stalwart believer in a non-fatal form of justice. (Spider-Man, is that you?)

The secondary characters are entertaining but the villain is utterly forgettable.

Score: .5

Dialogue

Quipy, intelligent, and delightful. The movie shines in it’s dialogue and visuals.

A nice bonus for both an animated movie and a spy story was that the techno-babble was coherent and based in real science.

Score: 1

Visuals

It was a beautiful movie. Using visuals to move the story forward and add humour. It’s a beautiful movie that would be hilarious even without sound.

Score: 1

Fun

Other than a few times I wanted to slap the Spy character or the spy agency people, I really enjoyed this movie. There’s action, adventure, humour, and a feeling that everything will work out.

Score: 1

Conclusion

This is one of the better spy spoofs that I’ve seen. It avoids a lot of the pratfalls of awkwardness and really delivers some clever laughs. Dragon laughed a lot and sat the entire time.

Final Score: 4 Stars

2019 Book Rankings

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

This year I read 21 books, one of which was mine.

If you like Fantasy and Adventure, try Everdome By Éric Desmarais

5 Stars

  1. That Ain’t Witchcraft (InCryptid, #8) By McGuire, Seanan
  2. Star-Crossed By Dee, Barbara
  3. Skylark By Carrière, S.M.
  4. The Measure of a Monster By McGuire, Seanan
  5. Justice Calling (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress, #1) By Bellet, Annie
  6. My Teacher Glows in the Dark (My Teacher Is an Alien, #3) By Coville, Bruce
  7. My Teacher Fried My Brains (My Teacher Is an Alien, #2) By Coville, Bruce

4 Stars

  1. The Unkindest Tide (October Daye, #13) By McGuire, Seanan
  2. The Red Trailer Mystery (Trixie Belden, #2) By Campbell, Julie
  3. The Secret of the Mansion By Campbell, Julie
  4. Midnight at Madame Leota’s (Tales from the Haunted Mansion #2) By Arcane, Amicus
  5. Voltron: Legendary Defender #3 (of 5) By Hedrick, Tim
  6. Hope is Swift By McGuire, Seanan
  7. An Adventurer’s Guide to Eberron By Bonner, Logan
  8. The Gatehouse Mystery (Trixie Belden #3) By Campbell, Julie
  9. Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider, Vol. 1: Spider-Geddon By McGuire, Seanan

3 Stars

  1. Pack of Lies (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress #3) By Bellet, Annie
  2. Murder of Crows (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress, #2) By Bellet, Annie

2 Stars

  1. Disney After Dark By Pearson, Ridley
  2. Strawberry Cream Cupcake & Murder (Dana Sweet #1) By Marie, Ann S.

What was your favourite book?

Éric