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

Jack the Giant Slayer – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2013 movie Jack the Giant Slayer.

Story

The story for this movie is so generic that I and everyone who re-watched it together had forgotten it. Other than the anachronisms and the ridiculous physics, there was nothing that stood out in this movie to make you remember it.

It’s what you’d have expected from an adventure movie in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s, including the sexism and useless damsel.

Score: 0

Characters

The characters were so basic and under-developed as to be boring. If it wasn’t for the exceptional cast they would have been unlikable. Stanley Tucci could probably make any roll watchable and I love it when Ewan McGregor plays silly characters. The rest of the cast was good too, but the writing for these characters was just as generic as the story.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is quite possibly the best part of this movie. It’s quippy and funny. It’s also the only part of the movie that does anything for the story. “Weren’t you in an oven an hour ago?” cracked me up.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Even after only 7 years it’s already looking dated. The CGI is pretty bland and not impressive for a movie of its budget. The scenery is lovely, but not worth the movie. The action is fun and over the top, but overly rushed.

The music could have been sampled from other adventure and fantasy movies and I wouldn’t have noticed.

Score: 0

Fun

It’s an exciting and action packed movie with fantastic actors hamming it up. It’s hard not to get distracted by the inaccuracies in tech or history considering the ending. It’s also hard not to yell at boob armour and the utterly useless plot device that was the female character. Also, why were there no female giants?

Score: 0.5

Overall

This isn’t a good movie, or a very memorable one. That being said it’s watchable and not too offensive.

Final Score: 2 Stars

Legally Blonde – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001 movie Legally Blonde.

Story

This movie takes the usual narrative of the blonde rich girl being a bitch and turns it on its head. Elle is a genuinely sweet person. It has an interesting mix of awkward college movie and legal drama.

The story is great if a little simplistic. It gets its messages across and aged relatively well.

One of the main messages is that you need to love yourself and be with someone who loves the real you. But there’s one scene where Elle pretends to have had a one night stand to make her friend look like he’s good in bed and didn’t call her after. It makes the mean girl the guy was talking to give him a second chance, but feels contrary to everything else in the movie. If she wouldn’t date him and even went as far as insulting him in public, maybe she’s not worth it.

The legal plot was laughably simple with nice coincidences.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Elle, her sorority friends, and most of the characters are really sweet. The “mean” girl and professor guy are the only ones to do much evolution other than Elle.

The characters are mostly good people and that’s great. However that movie is overwhelmingly white and straight. The few LGBTQI+ or POC characters are dated and disturbingly tone death stereotypes, even for 2001.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is very exaggerated for each of the stereotypes and other than a few adorable valley-girl sayings from Elle, it’s all pretty meh. However the body language, especially the amused bemusement of Luke Wilson, is pure awesome.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

I really liked the contrast between the gaudy LA style versus the stuffy Boston law school style. It really made the fish out of water story believable. I also love the evolution of Elle’s wardrobe and how it matches her own character development.

I honestly can’t remember the music at all. I know it was there but I can’t remember it. That means it did it’s job.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This movie rolls together mystery, college, romance, humour, and characters that want to genuinely do good in the world. It’s fun to watch.

Score: 1

Overall

This movie is about empowerment and being yourself, even if it doesn’t fit into the stereotype everyone has for you. It’s about doing something you love for yourself.

It’s got a few cringy scenes (Bend and Snap?) but overall it’s a feel good movie that made me feel better about my current stresses and worries.

Final Score: 3 Stars

Top 5 things Keladry says adorably wrong

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Most of the time when my daughter says things wrong, I correct her. That doesn’t stop me from appreciating how freaking adorable they are.

5. Dandad

Her Grandad is both awesome and one of her favourite people. He was the first person she called by name after Mum. She still had trouble with G’s and R’s.

It’s also one of the only names that haven’t changed.

4. Lepts Hand

She can tell her left from her right, most of the time. Honestly that’s better than me. But for some reason the FT sound escapes her.

3. Bool / Bootiful

She can say beautiful. She just doesn’t. It’s too cute to keep correcting. She also has trouble with blue, but that’s consistent. Oddly, she’s fine with bleu…

2. Boblaws

She already has a level of brand awareness that is impressive. She can tell by logo if we’re going to Walmart, Independent, or Loblaws.

She still says boblaws though…. And it makes me giggle and smile every time.

1. Vegetable Park

This one is really cute but completely random. The park near our house is called Alphabet Park, but she refuses to call it that. It’s always Vegetable Park.

Hope that made you smile,

Éric

Top Five Ways to Argue Like a Toddler

Hello my Imaginary Friends,

This could easily be an article about how to argue on the internet but it’s not. I’m here to teach you the valuable skill of arguing like a toddler.

5. Where is…

I was prepared to answer why, what, whom, and even how… but repeated instances of where, I wasn’t ready. Here’s the way it typically goes.

Dragon: Where is Granny?

Me: At home.

Dragon: Where is Granny home?

Me: Same place it always is.

Dragon: Where?

Me: *Says address*

Dragon: Where is that?

Me: If we go down the street and turn left it’s at the end of that street?

Dragon: I can’t see it. Can you show me?

The trick with this is to keep asking the same question no matter how absurd it sounds. Really throws people through a loop.

4. Scream louder

Trying to talk to my wife from another room is now followed by, “Don’t yell at MUM!” the same thing happens if my wife replies; “Don’t yell at PAPA!”

If I say something to her sternly my daughter sometimes counters with, “Don’t yell at me.” Then she yells louder over me, ignoring what I’m saying.

This is advanced, and definitely common online. The goal is to just keep saying what you’re saying while telling people to stop being mean.

3. Walk away and pout

When she knows she’s done something wrong but doesn’t want to admit it, she’ll pout and walk away. Stand in a corner or just glare at us from across the room.

Me: Please pick up your toys before dinner.

Dragon: No.

Me: Please pick up your toys.

Dragon: No.

Me: Now.

Dragon: *Walks away and pouts*

You wouldn’t think this was useful in adult life or online, but suddenly turning around and ignoring someone throws all the power to you for a small amount of time.

2. Ask again… and again and again

She normally does this if she really wants to eat or do something. She’ll say, “I NEED candy!” I’ll reply with, “Not now” or “no.” She then says, “Can I have candy?”, “Candy?”, or she’ll repeat I need. The less attention we pay to her the louder and more repetitive she gets.

This is similar to 4 but more insistent. When using it, make sure everyone knows what you want. Over and over again.

1. Because Yes/No

This is quite possibly the hardest possible thing to argue with.

Me: Why did you throw your teddy bear?

Dragon: Because Yes.

Or

Dragon: I NEED orange!

Me: You just ate 2 oranges. Do you really need another one?

Dragon: Because yes?

Because Yes and Because No, will stop the conversation and make the other person question why they’re arguing with you. It’s a wonderful way to argue when you don’t really care about educating but really want to annoy.


Okay so arguing with a toddler is very similar to arguing online. I think I might start using #1.

Later days,

Éric

Five Things Kubo and the Two Strings Did Right

I saw Kubo and the Two Strings and it was magical! A solid 4.5 out of 5.

The wonderful thing about Laika is their attention to detail, both in the animation and the story.

The story is well crafted and beautiful but not perfect. If you enjoy fantasy, animated movies, or a good cry, this movie is for you. Go see it and help its box-office totals.

*Warning Spoilers*

kubo

5. Not Afraid of Sadness

From the first scene of the movie, you know this isn’t going to be a light hearted comedy. It’s dark, magical, and ends with a baby who’s missing an eye.

Throughout the movie there are scenes where the writers could have avoided sadness or pain, both for the audience and for the main character. They don’t avoid it at all, and I cried a few times during the movie.

It’s not just cheap tricks, but genuinely heart hurting moments. Watching Kubo take care of his mother who seems to be losing her mind or watching him pray to his father were cry-worthy.

4. Balance

The movie balances the sadness with humour while avoiding useless slapstick. (Although there is a part with a fire breathing chicken that is slapstick-ish but hilarious.)

The humour flows from the characters, not from the jokes. It means each joke has a reason and helps balance the intensity of the rest of the story.

I laughed a lot.

3. Nuanced Characters

When I saw the trailers I assumed the Beetle Samurai would be a cross between Kronk from Emperor’s New Groove and Donkey from Shrek. I was wrong. He, like the rest of the characters, was well balanced and so very human.

It’s important for a writer to understand why their characters exist and what pushes them. In a lot of comedies, the only answer is humour. At no point could Kubo and the Two Strings be considered a traditional comedy.

2. No Useless Information

There is a lot that happens in the movie and at the beginning you’re given a lot of information. Some of that information is purely visual and easy to ignore. Every detail, from the stories to the landscape is important. It’s a tightness that is hard to do in writing without giving too much away.

Everything is important; every line has a double meaning. It’s beautiful.

1. Strong Ending

The ending threatens to undermine the entire message(s) in the movie and for a split second I was ready to be extremely angry. After the fake out, the story ended the best way it could and made me extremely happy. Like the humour, the ending was driven from the characters.

Throughout the movie, despite terrible things happening, there is a strong message of love and hope; both for the character and humanity.

There was joy, even in death, and that’s something that we don’t see very often.

Caveat

If you haven’t guessed, I loved this movie but it wasn’t perfect. The end of the second act dragged a little and there were a few parts that luxuriated in the animation (which is spectacular).

The biggest issue I had was that none of the main cast, or writers, were Japanese, or even Asian. There were some of the extras that were played by Asian characters and George Takei does have a few lines, but overall it’s all white people.

You can argue, as the producers have, that it doesn’t matter as much in animation because the voice is the important part and not the look. I think that’s taking the easy defense. There are plenty of great Japanese actors that could have done the voices.

 

Despite my minor reservations, this was a spectacular movie that I look forward to owning and watching again and again. Solid 4.5 out of 5.

What did you think of Kubo and the Two Strings?

Éric

Recommendation Wednesday – Video Game High School

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8ScNjBd118&w=560&h=315]

A few weeks back a friend recommended I look up Video Game High School and I was instantly hooked.

My productivity was completely destroyed for two days as I plowed through the two seasons on Youtube.

The show has its issues but it’s a lot of fun to watch and extremely funny.

Go Enjoy!

Éric