A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting.

Story

A by the numbers spy/secret society/urban fantasy first episode. This is an example of not just playing into the tropes but embracing them fully.

The story isn’t new, but it is well executed with extremely good set up. Predictable but fun.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main genre team tropes are all there: the science nerd, the tech nerd, the bad-ass with a tragic backstory, and of course the special kid who was destined to be the hero with a special power. (I like that the power is math.)

Overall, these characters should be flat and boring, copies of copies, but somehow through writing and acting the characters are likeable and unique.

Tom Felton chewed up the scenery, relishing the role, as a weird cross between Jude Law as Pitch in Rise of the Guardians and Michael Keaton’s Beetlejuice.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue was standard YA and with the exception of Tom Felton and the kidnapped kid there wasn’t much good dialogue. Nothing cringe, just bland.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Surprisingly pretty and wonderfully shot. The movie uses every horror trick except the expanding corridor and uses them well. When the movie wasn’t in full horror mode it was bright colours and beautiful sets.

The music was subtle but effective. A lot of half used pop songs but they were effective and pushed the urban fantasy feel.

Score: 1

Fun

I think this was just the perfect scary level for my daughter but she’s a horror fan. It was a little scary for my Mother In-Law though. I found it a lot of fun but it did suffer from the need to set everything up for this movie and the next 2. (Assuming they’re doing all 3 books.)

It was definitely handled better than Society for Second born Royals but not as well as Enola Holmes. That being said, I look forward to re-watching this one.

Score: 1

Overall

A fun movie with a few flaws. Easily a new favourite Halloween movie and I’m excited for the next ones in the series. Not perfect, but a lot of fun.

Final Score: 4 stars out of 5

Igor – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2008 film Igor.

Story

A remake of My Fair Lady but with a Frankenstein twist. This could have been a wonderful satire of sexism, fat-phobia, classism, and racism, but instead they decided to ignore the messages of both My Fair Lady and Frankenstein to create a poorly executed adventure romance.

Score: 0

Characters

The titular character is the stereotypical nerd with a heart of gold. He triumphs by sheer brain power and luck. He manages to change his world without changing anything.

The monster is the most civilized and definitely the one that makes the difference in the story.

The only characters that weren’t bland and honestly saved the movie from being boring were Scamper, the immortal rabbit, and Brain. The sidekicks made the best jokes and insights.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The wry humour of the sidekicks and the referential jokes save this movie. If it wasn’t for those, the movie would get lost in it’s own blandness.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The animation is crude by the standards of it’s time and hasn’t aged well. The monochromatic world don’t help make it visually appealing.

The music is boring and the songs feel like they were chosen by someone who got a bad synopsis and didn’t understand the little amount of plot.

Score: 0

Fun

There were some fantastic jokes and some interesting moments and references to classic monster movies. That was fun but the fat-phobic jokes and constant tropes about beauty sapped the joy for me.

Score: 0.5

Overall

The movie could have used more Scamper and Brain, which are the only parts of the movie that are genuinely funny. Beyond that it’s mostly been done before and I wasn’t impressed.

Final Score: 2 Stars out of 5

Enola Holmes – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Enola Holmes.

Story

There are two main types of mysteries, those that the audience can solve and those that the audience can’t. Holmes, Poirot, Castle, etc they all did both. In the second it’s usually a small detail that the detective sees but the writer omits.

This is more of a coming of age adventure with a bunch of mysteries mixed in, most of which are of the second category. It’s easy enough to guess but not all the pieces are there for us to be sure.

A lot of complaints about this movie are around the fact that it’s not a Holmesian-style mystery and that it includes too many feminist and egalitarian themes. It’s not supposed to be a Holmesian, it’s supposed to be inspired by not copying, as for the other complaints… it seems there’s a lot of sensitive people.

The major flaw in this movie is the amount of time it takes to set up places and events, some of which won’t be explored until the next movie. So much of it feels like a forced prologue instead of an origin story.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Enola Holmes is wonderful character that has a lot of Sherlock’s flaws, like over confidence, and a few extras like being a fish out of water. Sherlock would argue that her empathy and emotions are another flaw. She’s also competent, clever, and funny.

Mycroft and Sherlock are both a little different than in other interpretations. The first being more of a dick and the second being more caring. Both can easily be explained by family dynamics and the fact that the story is told from Enola’s point of view.

She doesn’t see the brilliant politician and spy that is Mycroft because he acts like a petulant child who’s always been compared to his siblings and been found wanting.

She might not see the cold, calculating, and sometimes cruel Sherlock because with her he remembers caring and he feels guilty that she’s a lot like him. I have to say it was refreshing not to see another interpretation of Sherlock as a frantic, addled, mess.

The rest of the cast is interesting, but it’s the siblings that make the movie special.

Score: 1

Dialogue

There are times that I feel the dialogue slipped out of its period authenticity but I really don’t care. Again this isn’t a historical drama, it’s an adventure story.

Enola narrates in an almost jarring 4th wall breaking style throughout the movie and at first I wasn’t a fan. As it went on, I realized this was like her diary, her narration would have had much less impact and humour had it been done traditionally. This added a little humour and made the audience feel like it was being included.

The word play and puns were delightful.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The setting is mostly historical London but there’s almost a Romantic era love for nature that’s included. The nature scenes are lovely and the overall filming was very well done. The fight scenes were nicely shot.

The music was cleverly Holmesian with a modern twist. Adventurous, mysterious, with a little cheekiness added in.

Score: 1

Fun

Ten minutes in as they were still world building and telling us what Enola was like, my daughter proclaimed that she didn’t like the movie. She sat through it anyway and by the end said it was her favourite movie ever. (Like Holmes, her favourite is the last one she experienced.)

I enjoyed the beginning although I feel it was a little long and could have been trimmed and enjoyed the rest. It was a fun adventure with lots of great nods to Holmes.

Score: 1

Overall

Suffering a little from over explaining and too much set up, the movie is still delightful all the way through. If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes and not precious on all the details you’ll enjoy this. If you’re not a fan of Holmes but love a good adventure and strong character this is also a good choice.

Final Score: 4.5 stars out of 5

Secret Society of Second-Born Royals – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Secret Society of Second-Born Royals.

Story

An interesting mix of Kingsman and Sky High with very little original content. It’s fun but neither complex or original. I called the twists way before I should have and felt disappointed rather than proud that I did.

It also suffered from excess world building, making it feel like a pilot episode rather than a movie.

Score: 0

Characters

The characters were pretty much a mixture of superhero and high school stereotypes but they were very well played. The actors made some awkward character arcs seem more believable than they should have.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Neither bad nor memorable, the dialogue was passable. There were a few standout moments between the kids and the narrator/teacher and a great scene between the main character and her future queen sister.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The special effects were okay, but the scenery was great. The camera angles and cinematography were good but not great.

The music was mostly pretty bland until there was someone playing on screen, then it was great. A weird mixture of styles and feels like they’d originally made this a musical and then changed their minds but couldn’t let go of some of the music.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I enjoyed myself and liked watching the characters develop, but it wasn’t gripping.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Bogged down by world building and a derivative script, the movie felt like its goal was to set up the characters and world for a TV show. Nothing about it was terrible, but it wasn’t very good. I’d watch it again for the rock music and impressive actors.

Final Score: 2 Stars out of 5

Journey to the Center of the Earth and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2008 movie Journey to the Center of the Earth and the 2012 movie Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.

Story

Journey 1

The movie adheres really closely to the original novel. I’m impressed that they were able to create a world where the book exists and then manage to follow almost exactly the same plot.

I’m impressed at the funeral scene where they spent the time to let the two male characters grieve and cry on camera. It’s not often you see men show emotions.

I like that they made the guide a woman and made her hyper competent, but I could have done without the awkward love story.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The movie doesn’t follow the story line of the book but that’s probably a good thing. The code breaking at the beginning and the diverse cast is awesome. I found the movie lagged a little as they traipsed around the island from one set piece to another.

The emotion in this one felt a little stilted compared to the first. The “pecs” talk was awkward until the berry part.

It’s a very linear movie without much surprise.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Journey 1

There are three characters in the movie. The dorky scientist that morphs into an action hero, the scared kid who goes on an adventure, and the beautiful and competent mountain guide with daddy issues. The movie spends very little time on any development for the characters, even forgetting the scientists awkwardness mid-movie in order to have him punching things and ripping off his sleeves. They are static but not offensive or flat.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The sullen kid became a sullen teen. The rest of the cast is entertaining if borderline annoying. The Rock infuses his character with enough charisma to make him likeable as does Michael Caine.

Vanessa Hudgens is great but has no real reason to fall for the charmless main hero. Luis Guzmán’s character is absolutely fantastic, funny and relatable.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Journey 1

The banter between the three characters ranges from dumb to entertaining. Thankfully there’s a lot more quips than awkward flirting.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The dialogue between the love interests is stilted and awkward, hopefully on purpose, same with the dialogue overall. Other than a few good lines it was pretty bad.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

Journey 1

This movie was designed to be shown in 3D in the height of 3D stupidity. To the point where they added extra gags just for the effect. I hate that. The technology and special effects should always work for the story not the other way around. Despite that, the special effects were passable and the scenery was cool.

The music was utterly forgettable but not bad.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The special effects are enhanced and take much too much time from the meagre story. (I sound like a grumpy critic.) It’s pretty, but not great. Again, the 3D for 3D’s sake is tiresome.

The soundtrack is meh, nothing exciting. I enjoyed the songs.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Journey 1

I like the book, I liked the old movie from the 50’s, and I had fun with this one. There’s thrills and adventure throughout along with two very pretty leads. I also enjoyed how much my daughter got into the film and reacted to the young boy’s perils.

Score: 1

Journey 2

I’m not as big a fan of the books this was based on. I liked Treasure Island, hated Gulliver’s Travels, and was indifferent towards Mysterious Island. There were a lot of exciting moments but the fun was in the, rarer, character interactions.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Journey 1

This is a fun, easy, and exciting movie. Not the greatest and maybe a little forgettable but fun to watch.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Journey 2

There was too much time spent of visual gags and action set pieces when this sort of story is supposed to showcase the characters in between. The action often replaces character development instead of accelerating it.

Overall it was fun, but lacked substance.

Final Score: 2 Stars out of 5


S.M. Carrière and I discussed and reviewed Journey to the Center of the Earth from 1958 on the Night at the Round Table. Have a look here:

Muppet Treasure Island – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1996 Muppet Treasure Island.

Story

The story is disturbingly faithful to the original; as with all Muppet movies they add mostly flavour and silliness to the mix.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Other than the Muppets, we have two main human characters. The innocent, daddy issue laden Jim; and the devilishly handsome Long John Silver. Both are portrayed with nuance and depth that is impressive. The Muppets themselves do a great job as well, but the nature of the story and the lack of time between gags means the characters feel less fleshed out than they should.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The Muppets almost never disappoint when it comes to quippy, quotable, and cute dialogue. This was no exception.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This was a beautiful movie and the ship scenes set my childhood brain’s idea of pirate ships. The music was definitely an influence on future pirate movies. The songs however fell a little flat. Tim Curry is a fantastic singer and they definitely underused him and the actor who played Jim had a nasally falsetto that irked me. The rest of the songs were forgettable with the exception of Cabin Fever.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The majority of the time the Muppets deliver on fun. This is no exception. It had my daughter glued to the screen and me laughing most of the way.

Score: 1

Overall

This is one of my favourite Muppet movies and I enjoyed rewatching it. It’s nice watching a movie you loved as a kid and finding out it doesn’t suck.

If you want a fun watch with pirates and Muppets, this is your choice.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars

Lilo and Stitch – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2002 film Lilo and Stitch.

Story

I’ve seen this movie a lot. It’s one of my feel good movies. It’s easy to dismiss this movie because it’s such a happy, and a little silly, story. It has a surprising amount to say about racism and colonialism. The aliens don’t even consider humans intelligent, Stitch is treated as a monster simply for existing, and you have to wonder if a white girl trying to take care of her sister would have as much trouble and scrutiny as Nani does.

It does a great job of showing off the problems in the child protective services system and the mindset that people are what they were born.

There’s also a lot in this about found family, sibling love, deciding who you are, and loving people for who they are.

Score: 1

Characters

Lilo never mocks anyone (except Nani). She genuinely seems to love those around her, even those that treat her terribly. She is a believable kid in pain. There’s a lot of talk that she is coded as autistic but I can’t speak to that.

Nani makes me think of my older brother and I can’t imagine the stress and pain she’s going through.

Stitch is sassy, adorable, and more relatable then you’d expect. He’s also cute and fluffy.

The rest of the characters are both surprising and fascinating in their own way.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This movie is quoted a lot in our family. It’s heartfelt and funny.

If I ever get a fish, I’m calling it Pudge.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie is a stunning example of 2D animation. The rich landscapes of Hawaii along with the colourful aliens works so well. The plane chase sequence at the end is fantastic considering they had to remake it due to 9/11.

The music is fabulous and the use of Elvis is both jarring and perfect at the same time.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie doesn’t let you get bored. The placement of scenes is such that you get enough time to feel the emotion, but not enough to get bored. It’s a great use of emotion in scenes.

The overall feel of the movie is hopeful and happy.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a classic movie that is just overall a lot of fun. If I could only take 10 movies with me to re-watch forever this would absolutely make the list.

Overall Score: 5* Stars


*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.

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

Feel the Beat – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Feel the Beat.

Story

Other than a few little surprises this movie is a sports comeback by the numbers. If you know the type of movie, you’ll know what happens. There’s some fun dances along the way and a few good cheese jokes.

The script could have been tighter. There was a character arc that seemed to be completely forgotten after set-up and a few missed opportunities for inspiring the main character to have fun with dance. Both of which could have been fixed with short scenes.

There was one scene that was completely unnecessary and felt forced where the dads get into a fight with the rivals dads. It felt like the film equivalent of saying the toxic, “Yes, they like dance and are supportive, but they’re not gay.”

Watching this with a family that has danced informed me that the fact that the characters came up with new dances for each stage of the competition is unrealistic. I understand why they did it but it’s a little grating to have it treated like a series of concerts instead of dance.

Score: 0

Characters

The main character is utterly despicable to start and slowly gets better. The kids are pathetic and useless but slowly get better. The dad does the dad thing really well. And the gay best friend is fabulous. Oh and the love interest is pretty and pining.

All these characters we’ve seen before. They’re comfortable to the point of being boring. Thankfully the attention they missed in tightening the story was spent in making the characters feel like they had their own lives, motivations, and interests. No one was a cardboard cut-out and the actors brought a warmth to even the blandest character.

I was impressed that even though the main character was a jerk, she never mocked anyone’s appearance, disability, or ethnicity. The diversity in the dancers was great and motivated the characters. It was nice to see a dancer who was deaf and treated the same as the others.

The dance dads in the movie were extra awesome and other than the dumb fight, I like how accepting and supportive they were. Same with the town.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Ranging from cringe-y cheesy to sweet and funny. The movie dialogue was best when it wasn’t trying to be sappy or important.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

There were some fantastic scenes outdoors and the dances were shot really well. It’s always impressive to me how Toronto can look like Wisconsin and New York at the same time.

The music was ok. The pieces chosen for the dances were fun and not overdone.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Once we were over the part where the main character is a total dick, I started to enjoy myself. I had told my family they could stop it if they were bored or annoyed but I think I would have had a mini riot if I had stopped it.

Watching it with dancers and a 3 year old was a good choice. They enjoyed it and there was an impromptu ballet class after.

Score: 1

Overall

The story isn’t anything new, the characters are fun, and the rest was enjoyable. If you like sports movies or love dance you’ll enjoy this one.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Bratz – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2007 movie Bratz.

Story

Very basic, the plot doesn’t have much to it. The characters have little time to themselves and even less development. This is the kind of story that is written for middle grade girls by people who don’t understand how intelligent middle grade kids can be.

Score: 0

Characters

Little development, lots of tropes, and very generic but I do have to give it credit for being both inclusive and diverse in it’s cast. They have a deaf character who isn’t defined by his deafness and a bunch of different races.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is what an adult from 2007 thought teens talked like. It’s awkward and so dated. It has a few great insults however.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Visually and musically this movie tries very hard and almost succeeds. It not bad but blah.

Score: 0.5

Fun

It’s not cringy and has some yay moments.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Its not a bad movie. I’ll watch it if it’s on or if my kids insist. Not much to say since there’s not much here.

Final Score: 2 Stars