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.

Jungle Beat: The Movie – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Jungle Beat: The Movie.

Story

The humour was uneven and the story really predictable, but the subtext of anti-colonialism was entertaining. They had a few moments of great consent and then had to go and ruin it. The entire ending being built on forced hugs, “because they really want it,” is super creepy.

Score: 0

Characters

The animals are sweet and extremely supportive. Great examples for kids. The alien is cute and wants to do the right thing. Overall a very positive group of characters.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue is all over the place, from deep to dumb, from funny to ridiculous. It has some seriously awesome lines and some really tedious sections.

Score: 0.5

Music and Visuals

Both the visuals and the music are uneven. Some is great, some not so much.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The adults laughed, the four year old was distracted and the two year old was bored. I’m not sure how that works, but apparently preschoolers aren’t big fans. (Not sure you should judge by my kids since they’ll sit still for Top Chef Canada and Leverage.)

My biggest issue was the consent thing. An entire planet cannot be made to feel love by forced hugs. That’s just wrong and gives kids a really bad message.

Score: 0.5

Overall

A funny and interesting kids movie that manages to both have a very pro-friendship message and undercut it by disregarding consent. It’s cute, has a lot of good jokes, and some of the most supportive characters I’ve ever seen, but be prepared to have a talk about forced hugs with the kids.

Final Score: 2.5

Flora & Ulysses – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 Film Flora & Ulysses.

Story

A very simple mixture of “cute pet” and “superhero origin story” combined with some top notch narration. The story flows well and is pretty solid. It’s a wonderful example of a post-modern plot taking inspiration from multiple other stories. It wasn’t perfect and had some awkward story points and things that weren’t fully explored.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The movie is about the characters more than the plot. The multiple journeys and stories are all very well acted and despite some seriously silly moments, the characters are likeable and grow. As both parents were writers of a sort, I certainly felt for them.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This movie has jokes within jokes and is seriously much funnier than it should be. Some of the lines are ridiculously YA, but overall it’s better written dialogue than many adult movies.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

It’s a surprisingly beautiful movie with well thought out cinematographic. The music was suitably heroic with wonderful callbacks to the MCU.

Score: 1

Fun

I went into this expecting another YA insult to cinema like Stargirl. I was not only pleasantly surprised, I laughed harder than I have in a long time. Both kids were glued to the TV and my wife, mother-in-law, and I laughed a lot.

Score: 1

Overall

A heartwarming film with plenty of Easter eggs for any diehard superhero fan. It’s a movie that will keep kids’ attention and keep the parents laughing throughout. A great combination of physical and wordplay comedy along with a fantastic cast make this one of the best comedies I’ve seen in a long time.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Palm Springs – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 Film Palm Springs.

Story

I love time loop movies (writing a time loop book is hard though). This is a passable example. A lot of the awkwardness and swearing felt made just to shock and bring up the rating.

There’s some fascinating concepts on time and they started examining what would happen with the limits of human memory, but then backtracked and just made the character a liar.

It’s a mixed bag with all the awkwardness of an adult comedy and a few cool ideas.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Adult comedies and time loop movies have a commonality of character: likeable but selfish protagonists that make very bad decisions. In a good time loop movie, the character learns and grows through the ordeal. These characters learned very little other than to love each other. They end still selfish and making bad decisions. It’s very frustrating.

That being said, the actors managed to make them likeable and even fun to watch.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

So much swearing with none of the finesse or charisma of Deadpool.

Beyond that there are a few really funny lines and some interesting dialogue, but since more than half of what the the main characters say are lies, it makes it hard to care.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

It’s a very pretty and stylistic movie that definitely has a surreal quality.

The music is acceptable but nothing special.

Score: 0.5

Fun

So glad I didn’t watch this with the kids. It was pretty awkward to watch at times, other than the “gives up and has fun” phase. It had some cool ideas, but was bogged down by its need to be adult.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Fantastic comedy actors in a mediocre time loop story that is more interested in its adult gags and swearing than finishing any of its substance. Anything new they bring into the genre, they undermine with lies and characters making more bad decisions.

Final Score: 2 Stars out of 5

The Mitchells vs the Machines – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film The Mitchells vs the Machines.

Story

Most road trip movies rely on the ignorance or poor decision making of the characters. That lends to a sort of cringe comedy that I loved as a kid but can’t stand anymore. This movie turned that trope on its head. Instead the characters are lost in their own worldview and have trouble seeing each other.

The entire movie hinges on the family being a little strange, very lucky, and learning to work together. The plot is mildly predictable, surreal, and so much fun anyway.

Score: 1

Characters

For a movie that gives up grounded mid-way, its characters are infinitely relatable. I felt for each of the Mitchells.

The secondary characters are mild caricatures, but serve a good purpose.

I liked that they adopted the two robots into their family. It’s a nice message that genetics don’t make a family and found family is just as powerful.

The subtle inclusion of a gay main character was refreshing, as was the lack of forced romance.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This movie has so many references to memes and internet culture that it’s impressive. I think that the references will age quickly and probably not well.

The humour is surprisingly clever and the dialogue sometimes much deeper than expected.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The animation was done in a style similar to Into the Spiderverse, but with more colourful “internet” things. There were a few times I wanted to pause and just look at all the details and backgrounds. It was stunningly beautiful.

The music was nice and the songs were perfectly chosen. I got a little frustrated with the electronic riff that felt plucked from the Stranger Things intro, but that’s minor.

Score: 1

Fun

The type of movie made it clear that the awkward family drama would have an awesome payoff and it did. This meant that I didn’t spend much time cringing and really enjoyed the ride. The kids were glued to the screen and we all laughed a lot. The giant Furby terrified my 22 month old.

Score: 1

Overall

A good old fashioned road trip and apocalypse movie that ditches the frustrating parts of both. The animation is spectacular and characters relatable. Proper Queer representation and a nod to found family add extra depth to an action-packed and laugh out loud film.

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.