Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1999 film Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century.

Story

At it’s core, this story is one that Disney and countless others have done a million times before and since, painted with a shiny sci-fi veneer.

It includes my most hated trope, parents who don’t believe their children.

Score: 0

Characters

The parents are frustrating and made me yell at the TV, but I enjoyed Zenon herself. She was confident, smart, amazingly lucky, and competent. Despite the overuse, I do like the competent child trope.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is both fascinating and cringe-worthy. The made up slang mixed with turn of the millenium slang just really interests me. I like that they made sure to have seperate styles of slang for earth vs the space station. A lot more thought went into this than I would have thought.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The special effects were okay for the time period despite some major misunderstandings of physics. The costuming was clever and the music was ok.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The parents and adults being about as smart as rocks took some of the fun out of it for me. I enjoyed the main character and the other kids.

Score: 0.5

Overall

The movie is a fascinating time capsule of retro sci-fi that has a wonderful main character. Unfortunately, the entire story is overly dependent on the aggressive stupidity of the adults and them not believing her.

Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

Secret Magic Control Agency – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Secret Magic Control Agency.

Story

Plenty of action and plenty of intrigue, but very little plot. The story is mostly just a vehicle for the next location and mini-story.

There are a few tiny twists, but overall it’s overly simple.

Score: 0

Character

The two main characters had a little depth but the rest of them were pretty cookie cutter (pun intended.)

I liked the brother-sister relationship, but the interactions felt shoehorned and not given enough time to truly develop.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

There were a few clever bits and the banter was acceptable but there wasn’t anything particularly interesting or exciting.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The visuals were all over the place. You’d have sworn that some of it was from a different movie. The locations were gorgeous but the characters bland and derivative.

The music was acceptable but not particularly interesting.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I enjoyed the nods to the fairy tales and to other movies in the same genre, it was pretty, and there was some fun action. The kids loved it.

Score: 1

Overall

Despite being derivative and predictable, the movie was beautiful and a lot of fun. Not great, but inoffensive with a few laughs along the way.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

A Week Away – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film A Week Away.

Story

I’m sure someone thought the name of the camp was a clever joke, but in 2021 we should be beyond to the inherent racism of mocking native languages.

This is a camp movie musical first and a christian movie second, but that doesn’t mean that God isn’t all over the place. They at least have the grace to use it for some jokes.

The basic story is as cliched as possible and adds nothing new to the musical, romance, or teen genres. That being said, the movie is obviously paying respect to many of the previous movies that it takes inspiration.

The overall story is mildly pedantic, but overall heartwarming.

Score: 0

Characters

The movie has all the traditional characters from movies in the past; the awkward geek who’s in love, the Troy Bolton bad boy with a heart of gold, and the good Christian girl.

It would have been easy to make these characters bad copies, but instead, through the writing and acting, they made them likeable. The main girl is hyper competitive and still dealing with the death of her mom, the geek is funny and a good musician. The bad guy admits his faults and actually apologizes.

I greatly appreciate that the movie spent time building the brotherly relationship between the two main men.

The lack of Queer characters was glaring and awkward.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Clever quotes and quippy dialogue with lots of double meanings made me happy. There’s a few cringe dialogue moments, but most of it is well done.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The visuals were unique. They used a lot of surreal shots that are reminiscent of music videos. I liked it, but it felt jarring when it wasn’t at the beginning of a song.

The movie also used a lot of scenes from movies both in the genre and not (the Mr. and Mrs. Smith scene was a lot of fun.)

The music was okay, I liked it while it was on, but it didn’t make me dash out to buy the soundtrack. I’m particularly annoyed at the use of autotune for a campfire song. (Mostly, the music made me want to rewatch Julie and the Phantoms.)

Score: 0.5

Fun

This was a fun movie, but as a queer man with lots of queer friends, I had trouble settling into the fun of it. The complete lack of any form of queer character made me uncomfortable.

It did remind me of some great memories from high school franco camps and I greatly appreciate the lack of massive angst.

Score: 0.5

Overall

The movie has great respect for other films and treats us to some great non-romance relationships as a bonus, but the casual racism towards native people and lack of queer characters make it hard to believe in 2021.

That being said, it’s a warm and fuzzy camp musical with a talented young cast.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

The Gnome-Mobile – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1967 movie The Gnome-Mobile.

Story

I was completely invested until about twenty minutes in when it changed from a gnome-mobile road trip movie to a horror of mental institutes. The idea that a lone psychiatrist, in a for-profit institute, interviewing someone who thinks they’re talking to a private eye, without legal counsel or family involved, can strip someone of all their rights… it’s creepy and terrifying.

Then the movie turned into some sort of little people orgy fantasy that was heavy on the misogyny.

Score: 0

Character

Not much character development or character in general. The actors however acted the heck out of very poorly defined characters. Each role was done extremely well, even though the characters were pretty bland.

The problem with having two kids in a movie is that you risk them becoming one character. That’s what happened here. Had there been only one kid, we’d have almost the exact same story.

Don’t get me started on the misogyny of the gnome-maiden that was the most desireable was the demure and shy one while the strong, competitive ones were painted as mean.

Score: 0

Dialogue

There were a lot of words and yelling, but overall it was the little jokes and quips that made it worth watching. Between long, boring yelling sections, you got parts with genuine humour.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie is extremely impressive for it’s time. The special effects used and the camera work was excellent. Add to that the car chase and it’s really impressive.

Something else that has to be added is the backgrounds. To fill in the backgrounds to make it look like they were actually in a forest and not the backlot, they had elaborate paintings. These were not noticable if you weren’t looking, but they were absolutely gorgeous.

The music was catchy and cute.

Score: 1

Fun

I have to admit it was fun. Both kids and the rest of the family enjoyed it. I had issues with the predictability and mental health aspects and the rampant misogyny which took away the fun for me.

Score: 0.5

Overall

This is a movie where the special effects, dialogue, and acting are far better than the story deserves. It’s awkward, creepy, and frustrating.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

We Can Be Heroes – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film We Can Be Heroes.

Story

This is a weird combination of superhero origin, kids saving parents, and invasion movie. It doesn’t quite work and is really slow in some parts. The first twist was well set up and had a great reveal, the second twist felt too easy and much too contrived.

Score: 0

Character

This is where the movie shines. The characters are extremely likeable and for such a huge cast and regular length movie they are well developed.

My favourite was the little girl water bender.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue is the best and worst you get from a superhero movie combined with the weirdness that is this director’s style. It doesn’t land very well most of the time.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

This movie was the next step after Spy Kids in style and borderline archaic special effects. The aesthetic was there and it was kinda pretty, but still not great.

The music was good but unremarkable.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I enjoyed the movie. I like when the powerless kid doesn’t get super powered at the end. And overall it was a lot of fun. A little slow and that ending just doesn’t sit right with me. It felt too easy and invalidated the kids’ work.

Score: 0.5

Overall

An okay movie with great characters and an unfulfilling ending.

Final Score: 2.5 stars out of 5

Ocean’s Eleven – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001 film Ocean’s Eleven.

Story

This movie was fascinating. The heist was extremely well done (cinematographically) and the characters, although a lot of them, felt very distinct. The love story felt trite and forced and there were a few borderline racist casting choices.

The heist is great if you don’t think about the details and how much could have gone wrong. And should have gone wrong.

Score: 0.5

Characters

When I watch a reality show it takes me more than half it’s run before I start telling the people apart. That didn’t happen here and I’m going to credit that each character is distinct and could in theory lead their own movie.

That being said, the movie was ridiculously male heavy, where the only women were strippers or love interests needing to be saved from themselves.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The banter and friendship of the main two characters is fantastic. The overall back and forth between characters and even with the “villain” is pretty good too. The nature of the movie means that you never get too long dialogue pieces which works for this movie, but makes it feel like we’re constantly missing something.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

This movie was washed out, with a weird reddish-orange filter. It’s shot well to keep the plot’s secrets and surprises, but it’s not a pretty movie.

The music is okay but there are some weird choices and I’m sad they didn’t use the a modern version of the original’s theme in the credits.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I had a lot of fun laughing at how old the tech looks in this movie. It’s clearly trying really hard to look like all the security is cutting edge tech. It’s certainly dated now.

It’s still a lot of fun to watch the whole thing unfold and see all the moving pieces in the plot.

Score: 0.5

Overall

There’s something particularly satisfying about watching a heist go off so well. I also appreciate that they didn’t use the original’s depressing ending. But for me, there’s too many characters, the love story is terrible, and I have trouble not nit-picking the details of the plan.

This is a good movie but not my favourite.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars

Night at the Museum Series – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2006 movie Night at the Museum, the 2009 movie Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, and the 2014 Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

*I reviewed Battle of the Smithsonian in 2009* I didn’t re-read that review when writing this one. Ratings may vary, I’m grumpier and older.

Story

Night at the Museum 1

The concept for this story is fantastic, a wonderful idea. The story is a little uneven I really can’t stand the interludes of stupid humour.

Score: 0.5

Night at the Museum 2

The story was an entertaining modern D&D adventure. It was cute and clever but there was something unsettling about the shoehorned love plot. It was also terribly busy and seemed to ignore parts of the first movie. (If Dick Van Dyke can turn the tablet off, why can’t Stiller?)

Also the Smithsonian has the worst security in existence. Why was Ben Stiller not arrested, he should have been on a million cameras.

Score: 0.5

Night at the Museum 3

This is a movie that knew it was the last in a series, but left a lot of openings for spin-offs. (Thank goodness that didn’t happen.) The story was a slight variation on the previous ones with a London twist. Definitely the weakest of the group.

Score: 0

Characters

Night at the Museum 1

The self awareness of Teddy Roosevelt along with the stellar cast and characters makes this movie. Roles that could have been boring or cliché are brought to life with depth and heart. It’s also nice that there wasn’t a romantic subplot with the historian. I truly hate dumb characters and needless bosses which made this less fun. Ben Stiller and Ricky Gervais’s antics are frustrating at best and boring at worst.

Score: 0.5

Night at the Museum 2

Ben Stiller is still annoying but there’s less of him. I felt like leaving the room when he talked with Jonah Hill or the monkeys. There was certainly not enough time given to the characters from the first movie.

That being said, Amy Adams was spectacular as was Hank Azaria. It was also nice to see that Stiller’s character had evolved not reverted which is common for movies.

Score: 0.5

Night at the Museum 3

Ben Stiller’s humour is still not my thing and there were two of him in this. I would have taken another six of him over Rebel Wilson. Not my style of comedy. The rest of the cast, as usual, did a great job. This is Robin Williams’ last live action movie and he’s great. The new additions are funny and well done. It was nice to see the trio of nightguards again.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Night at the Museum 1

There are gags and moments of true depth in this movie. Everything from Robin Williams is gold and a lot of the other secondary characters dialogue is wonderful.

Score: 0.5

Night at the Museum 2

The dialogue was much more developed in this one, lots of fantastic banter between the characters.

Score: 1

Night at the Museum 3

When they weren’t making melting nose jokes or peeing monkey commentary the movie had some very funny lines and a few very deep moments.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Night at the Museum 1

The special effects are a little dated but still hold the beauty and wonder of a museum coming to life. The cinematography has a few moments of genius.

The music is epic and grandiose and used perfectly.

Score: 1

Night at the Museum 2

This movie took all the beautiful visuals from the first one and doubled down. The special effects are bigger and prettier. The hall of paintings was excellent world building. Visually this was wonderful to watch. And that fight scene at the end was fantastic.

The music didn’t disappoint and although I won’t be running out to buy the soundtrack, it was suitably epic.

Score: 1

Night at the Museum 3

The movie is beautiful and absolutely well done visually. The Esher painting scene and the snake dragon thing fight were stunningly beautiful. It was a beautiful movie that was well shot.

The music once again elevated the silliest gag to epic.

Score: 1

Fun

Night at the Museum 1

This movie is entertaining nearly throughout. Again I dislike Stiller and Gervais but the rest made up for it.

Score: 0.5

Night at the Museum 2

There’s a little cringe at the beginning and the whole Brundan thing took too long, but after that it was a fun thrill ride. I still was uncomfortable with the love story though, and that took some pleasure out of it.

Score: 0.5

Night at the Museum 3

This movie had more awkward in it and longer anoying gags. It’s the shortest of the three but felt like the longest. It also felt like it took a long time getting to any sort of plot.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Night at the Museum 1

This is a lovely movie with a good message and some exceptional actors doing their comedic best. It’s fun and despite a few really dumb moments, it’s a classic. I also have to give the film makers credit for a racially diverse group that is actually properly cast.

Finals Score: 3 Stars

Night at the Museum 2

This was a good sequel that built on the first and brought some fantastic action and visuals. Amy Adams is spectacular as is Hank Azaria. Definitely worth a watch.

Finale Score: 3.5 Stars

Okay, so I went and looked at my previous review and it’s pretty consistent.

Night at the Museum 3

It’s a fitting end to a series of movies that was okay but not great. It didn’t fully live up to its potential, but was elevated by brilliant actors.

Overall, I like the background info on the tablet but it made me wish for a TV show spinoff starring a kooky off-the-wall librarian museum curator and his 3 apprentices.

Final Score: 2.5

Camp Rock and Camp Rock 2 – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2008 and 2010 Movies Camp Rock and Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam.

Story

Camp Rock 1

The story in this couldn’t be more cliché if they tried. I’ve been over the “lying to be popular” since I did it in first grade. It always blows up and it rarely ends as happily as it does in this movie.

Score: 0

Camp Rock 2

Just as cliché a the first but much less angst.

Score: 0

Characters

Camp Rock 1

The characters are so cookie cutter as to be boring. However the young actors manage to bring something watchable to their characters.

Score: 0.5

Camp Rock 2

The characters have changed, if not evolved, to suit the story. Once again the actors are much too good for the script.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Camp Rock 1

The majority of the movie made me cringe, however the Mom and the two romantic leads manage to make the dialogue acceptable.

Score: 0.5

Camp Rock 2

I can’t tell if the dialogue got better because of the writing or because the actors grew. It wasn’t enough to make this movie memorable though.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Camp Rock 1

There’s a camp and it’s filmed in standard Disney Channel style for the late 2000’s. It’s not as colourful as it could be and most of the shots are either frantic or boring.

The music is barely okay. It’s not bad but it shows that other then the main cast, these are not singers.

Score: 0

Camp Rock 2

This is where the sequel starts to get better. It’s better shot and has more coherent musical numbers, actually using the dancers in the cast.

The music for the main cast is catchy and likeable while the rest is still hum-drum.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Camp Rock 1

I spent the majority of the movie groaning or sighing. It’s not much fun.

Score: 0.5

Camp Rock 2

The story was predictable but in a fun way and despite a few lulls, I enjoyed this one.

Score: 1

Overall

Camp Rock 1

This movie is angsty and cliché. I really hope my daughter doesn’t want to watch it too often. The only thing that makes it anything beyond truly boring are the main actors.

Final Score: 1.5 Stars

Camp Rock 2

It’s not great but it’s fun and if I want a camp movie that has music I might consider it.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars

George of the Jungle – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1997 movie George of the Jungle.

Story

The story is riddled with puns, fart jokes, 4th wall breaking, and silly slapstick. Some of that is good, some of that is bad. It’s a story that doesn’t take itself seriously but has some interesting things to say as subtext. Great moments where the script flips the tropes on their heads, especially those of toxic masculinity and ignorance.

Score: 0.5

Characters

George is a lovable idiot with a better understanding of how to respect others then the rest of the characters.

Ursula was the stand in for the every man-character and bland because of it. The rest were a mixture of tropes and silliness.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue in this, specifically the narrator, makes me laugh every time. Despite the silliness, the movie does a great job at not overdoing the dialogue. It’s not perfect but it’s certainly quotable.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The visuals were okay. Scenery was pretty and the special effects held up well.

The music was so 1990’s it hurt. Even the theme song was a punk rock late 1990’s cover.

There was nothing special here but nothing terrible.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I have fond memories of this movie as a kid. Brendan Fraser is charming (as always) and the movie still has some of my favourite gags, but also has a lot more crotch punch and fart jokes then I remembered.

Score: 0.5

Overall

This is a fun movie, not great, not terrible but definitely fun. It has less awkward sexism or racism than a lot of movies from it’s time, and even has some good feminist messages.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars

The Spy Next Door – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2010 movie The Spy Next Door.

Story

The story is cute. Sort of a Uncle Buck meets Jackie Chan. It was just as formulaic as you can expect from a “fighting guy takes care of kids” type of movie.

You don’t watch this for the story.

Score: 0

Characters

Nerdy boy, angsty teen, and cute little kid. They all did well and their was some surprising depth in the characters. Although I did get annoyed at how young the 4 year old acted and was frustrated by the old trope of the Hispanic character being the mole.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Overall it was stilted and awkward. Some of it made me cringe.

However Jackie Chan was both adorable and hilarious.

Score: 0.5

Visual and Music

The fighting was top notch, the rest was okay.

The music wasn’t great and sometimes jarring.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This movie had Jackie Chan signing a lullaby and using stunts to get kids ready for school. It had him beating up a future MacGyver. It had heart, humour, and great action.

Fun for everyone.

Score: 1

Overall

The movie isn’t great cinema but it is a lot of fun and if you’re looking for a cute action movie, or if your child is currently in a spy obsession, this a great choice.

Overall Score: 2.5 Stars