Vivo – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Vivo.

Story

The beginning was a little predictable in its “Pixar” style twist. The rest was a usual road trip buddy story. It was a fun story.

Score: 0.5

Characters

We don’t see a lot of Cuban or Cuban-American culture in animation. It was nice to see the art, music, and accents take centre stage. The characters were all motivated by relatable emotions.

The character of Vivo is sassy, funny, and filled with heart.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The running commentary by Vivo is both adorable and refreshingly funny. I appreciated the music, situational, word, and absurd humour.

I liked that they treated parts of the dialogue like motifs in music. They repeated or altered certain phrases to create more of an emotional impact and to pull the various parts of the movie together.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie was absolutely beautiful. It might not have been up to Pixar or Disney quality but they captured the Cuban art and colour style fantastically. There are a few times that the face and perspective in that art style didn’t translate well to a 3D animation, but over all, it was great.

The music was Broadway with the Lin-Manuel Miranda twist and a large dollop of Cuban influence. It’s a little reminiscent of his other work, but that doesn’t detract from how good it was.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie was colourful, never wallowed too much, and had multiple levels of humour. It was poignant and had a pretty good message, plus both kids loved it.

Score: 1

Overall

It takes a lot of elements that we’re familiar with in animated and musical movies and mixes them together with a Cuban-American influence making it feel fresh and vibrant. The visuals, music, comedy, and heart warming story make for a wonderful film.

Final Score: 4.5 stars out of 5

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

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

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

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

Being an Adult

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’ve been thinking about being an adult. Not actually being an adult, but what it means to be an adult.

There are multiple kinds of attitudes about what it means. Doing your own laundry, groceries, taxes, or finances. Some say you’re not an adult until you have kids, a car, or a mortgage.

Once, a long time ago (when cell phones were still dumb and Facebook was still sorted by time-posted) a co-worker saw my geeky office stuff and said, “I used to be into all that, but I had to give it up. It’s not right for an adult.”

I smiled and nodded. They had decided that Pixar movies and Disney were not something adults should be interested in and there was nothing I could do to change their mind.

It’s an attitude I’ve heard a lot since I was young. People telling me that I was now too old to read Goosebumps or Babysitter’s club.

Most annoying are the people who complain about having to watch animated movies with their kids. They’ve made up their minds that they are boring and stupid. Meanwhile, I’ve seen, in theatres, most of the animated movies to come out in the past fifteen years.

Here’s the two-part secret of being a real adult:

First: Respect other’s tastes and opinions and let them enjoy what they will.

Second: Let yourself enjoy those things that make you happy.

Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for enjoying the things you did as a child or that are targeted towards children. Now excuse me as I go re-watch Gummi Bears with my wife and daughter.

 

Later Days,

Éric