High School Musical – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2006 film High School Musical.

Story

This movie simplifies everything about high school and condenses it into a plot that is much less stressful then the real thing. The loves story, which could have been super annoying, is played low key and the focus is really on expressing yourself through multiple likes and dislikes.

It’s simple and works well to get the message and the music through.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters are desperately trying to not be two dimensional in a one dimensional world. There’s growth and even the main characters that could have been bland were endearing.

They are cleverly built and work perfectly for the movie.

Score: 1

Dialogue

There’s nothing fantastic about the dialogue, but there are a few moments of tenderness between the love interests that is both sweet and genuine.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

This is one of the most lavish high schools I’ve ever seen; it’s beautiful in it’s own right. Add in the singing and dancing and it works really well. I’ve always wondered why they have a camel for this musical. The music is poppy and very mid-2000’s but it has heart and is used to push the story forward.

The character framing for the love interests is always perfect, both reflecting their feelings and in showing them vs the world.

Score: 1

Fun

Despite never wanting to be in the same situation, I love the meet-cute at the beginning and the overall feel of the romance.

I despise the teachers and the complete lack of understanding of theatre and science. I also really dislike the “character says something to shut up friends that is mean and gets them in trouble with the love interest” trope.

I’m also extremely amused that this has one of the most realistic portrayals of computer hacking. (The science girl uses a preset macro program to shut the gym down.)

Score: 0.5

Overall

This is a fun movie that reminds me of high school while not looking anything like my high school. The music and story are fun and overall it’s pretty good.

I do wish that the character of Kelsi was more used, or that she got a spinoff.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars

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

Lilo and Stitch – JenEric Movie Review

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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

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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

Scoob! – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Scoob!

Story

The movie was a fun adventure with a lot of the fun of traditional Scooby-Doo stories but completely lacks in the mystery department. There’s not question as to who the villain is after the first ten minutes.

Score: 0.5

Characters

This had a lot of the 70’s Hanna-Barbera characters. Some felt like great additions to the story like Dee-Dee Skyes as the Blue Falcon’s pilot (she was awesome), others felt a little forced like Captain-Caveman.

The main five characters were all there and shown in much better light than previous movies. They were extremely well cast and well acted. The major problem was that by splitting the group up immediately there was less character interactions between them. It also meant that Fred, Velma, and Daphne all have less screen time and almost no arc.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Scooby-Doo usually contains puns, self-referential humour, and breaking of the 4th wall. This movie didn’t disappoint in that. It was great hearing all the little jokes and will take multiple viewings to catch them all.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The animation was colourful and flashy. It lacked the depth of the older animations or of the big 3D animation studios. I was never caught up in the beauty or in the little background details. The background details being something that I’ve always loved about Scooby-Doo.

The music was good but not memorable. It did its job but didn’t go beyond that.

Score: 0.5

Fun

There were very few dull moments and the movie was entertaining. I enjoyed what was there but missed what wasn’t. It kept my interest and my daughter’s the whole time and even my 1 year old watched it for a while.

Score: 1

Overall

This had all the elements of Scooby-Doo but lacked the mystery and the background details to make it truly authentic. It was a fun movie but lacked depth.

I hope they can make a second movie with the same cast and truly dive into a good mystery.

Alternately I’d love to see a young Mystery Inc. movie.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars

Bratz – JenEric Movie Review

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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

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

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

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