The Emperor’s New Groove – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2000 film The Emperor’s New Groove.

Story

Irreverent to the point of absurd, this movie does a great job at setting up all its major plot points with clever jokes and gags. Simple plot that seems like unconnected gags at first, but ties everything together by the end.

Score: 1

Characters

I love these characters. Kuzco is a perfect jerk, Pacha is the sweetest, Yzma is great evil, and Kronk is utterly adorable. Each plays their part perfectly and I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing the roles.

That being said, it’s a bunch of white people playing South Americans (with the exception of the kids and the fantastic Eartha Kitt.) The movie is quite clearly supposed to be set in a fictional version of the Incan Empire, but that’s only set dressing and doesn’t mean anything.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue in this is burned into my subconscious and speech patterns. The jokes are so expertly crafted that even after having seen this hundreds of times, I still laugh.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The detail in the animation and the background jokes are excellent. It’s pretty and very well animated.

They got Tom Jones and Sting to do songs for this. If I had a complaint, it’s that a few times the music was a little generic turn of the millennium Disney. But that still means it was excellent.

Score: 1

Fun

We waited a little to let my oldest start to understand the wordplay and it was worth it; she giggled throughout. I laughed a lot, as did the rest of the family. This is just a fun movie.

Score: 1

Overall

A classic comedy that relies as much on word play as it does physical gags. It has aged impressively well and is tightly scripted.

I loved this movie when it came out and still do.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5

The Parent Trap (1961) – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1961 film The Parent Trap.

Story

The transitions between parts of the movie were a little choppy and uneven, but the story was solid. It had the right amount of twists and turns. I’m not sure if some of it is cliché or if it’s just had a huge influence on YA films afterwards. It’s definitely a product of it’s time with some casual racism and sexism.

Score: 0.5

Characters

I really enjoyed the side characters, the grandfather was awesome and so was the cook. I thought the mother and father were a little annoying, but hilarious. I was impressed with how Hayley Mills had different body language, mannerisms, and movements for each of her characters. It was always obvious which was which.

Score: 1

Dialogue

A lot of the slang in this is antiquated to the point that it took me some time to understand what it meant. It’s not unintelligible, but it was an adjustment.

The movie is quite witty and has a lot of fun lines.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie’s green screen is uncomfortable, but other than that, the movie is extremely well done. The split screen and body double work is impressive.

The music is good, especially the opening theme.

Score: 1

Fun

The 5yo didn’t want to watch it at first, but loved it pretty quickly. I had never seen it and it was a fun movie that made me smile. For my wife and mother-in-law it was a nostalgic return. We all had fun.

Score: 1

Overall

Mildly dated with some pacing issues, but overall a very fun and funny movie. The acting from Mills is excellent and the attention to detail is great. Definitely earns its place as a Disney classic.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Magic Key?

Dear Readers,

Here’s a conversation my kids had yesterday. Reminder that Pegasus is two and Dragon is five.

Pegasus: I want a cupcake.

Me: *Clears throat agressively*

Dragon: What’s the magic key?

Pegasus: Magic key?

Me: She means say please.

Pegasus: Please can I have the magic key?

Me: No, say please for the cupcake.

Pegasus: Please for cupcake. *I give him a cupcake* Where’s magic key?

Me: She meant magic word, which is please.

Dragon: The magic key is please.

Pegasus: Can I have magic key please?

Me: There is no key, it’s a word.

Pegasus: What’s magic word?

Me: Please.

Pegasus: *Confused* Can I have magic key please?

Dragon: *Mimes handing him a key* Here you go.

Pegasus: Yay! Magic key!

Me: *Throws hands in the air* Eat your cupcake please.

Some days I feel like an extra in Who’s on First.

Hope that made you smile.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Hotel Transylvania 4: Transformania – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2022 film Hotel Transylvania: Transformania.

Story

The story follows traditional comedy pratfalls. It’s all about ego and misunderstanding. As usual, Dracula means well, but screws everything up. The second half is better, but still dependant on the characters reverting to their pre-development stages.

Score: 0

Characters

Dracula is a controlling, narcissistic, and childish character. I did feel bad for him in the jungle though. He learns his lesson, but its a similar one to the last three movies.

As usual, Mavis needs to save the day. The characters were consistent with the previous movies and did grow, but weren’t that interesting this go-around.

I will say that I didn’t really miss Adam Sandler and thought the new guy was fantastic.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Where this movie shines is in the one liners and quips. They’re often silly, but there are a few laugh out loud ones.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The visuals are good. They didn’t try to change or improve the style, but they did some interesting thing with the crystal cave.

I barely remember the music which means it did what was needed and that’s okay.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Once you get over the stupidity of the main character and that he literally causes all the problems, it’s a fun fluffy movie. Not much here other than the moral of speaking to your spouse before doing something stupid.

The kids loved it and the rest of us had a relaxing movie.

Score: 1

Overall

A possibly superfluous sequel with a lot of the same feel and jokes of the others. It’s fun, but doesn’t break new ground.

Final Score: 3 stars out of 5

Ron’s Gone Wrong – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Ron’s Gone Wrong.

Story

Ignoring the fact that technology just doesn’t work like the movie portrays, there’s a lot about the movie that really bothers me. The basic premise is cool, but the world building went from ridiculously accurate to completely unbelievable really quickly.

The idea of spontaneously developing artificial intelligence has been done before. The movie doesn’t even acknowledge that it happens, going for a weird commentary on social media instead.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The tech CEO and his partner felt underplayed while the family, kids, cops, were all overdone. The main character doesn’t learn to embrace and love his culture and family so much as tolerate and use them. The kids are all shown as having social media addictions and the cure wasn’t logical.

Old east-block grandma that is completely unhinged was a character type that was overplayed in the 80’s; now it just comes off as anti-immigrant.

Ron was funny but obviously dangerous, and that was never addressed.

Score: 0

Dialogue

The dialogue was clever and had a lot of references to older movies in the same genre. I liked the literalness of Ron and how they showed him grow in understanding language.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This was a well animated movie with some great concepts. Bubble was well designed and unique and the colourfulness of the B-bots was awesome.

The score was so much more epic than expected and really helped punch up the emotion.

Score: 1

Fun

I just couldn’t help wondering where all the adult’s B-bots were. I don’t care if they were made for kids, we all know people would buy some for themselves. People who truly have trouble making friends are the 30+ crowd, not kids.

My daughter and son both got bored part way through.

Beyond that, the movie was entertaining, but left me uncomfortable at the lack of comeuppance for the tech company’s misdeeds, the release of a rogue AI, and the deflection of serious social media issues.

I don’t think this will be a rewatching kind of movie.

Score: 0

Overall

The movie tries really hard to go beyond slapstick comedy and doesn’t succeed. It’s a fun movie if you don’t think about it, but it misses the mark on serious issues and ethics. The conclusion felt trite and horrifying instead of heartwarming. However, there are quite a few good gags and jokes along the way.

Final Score: 2.5 stars out of 5

Muppets Haunted Mansion – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 special Muppets Haunted Mansion.

Story

This was a love story to the beloved ride. The story is a bare bones outline of the ride with some touching moments in between.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main characters are Gonzo and Pepe. I find Pepe extremely annoying, I’ve never been a fan of the womanizing characters. I understand why they used him for this story, though.

Gonzo goes through a good story arc and speaks to older fans and younger ones as well.

The rest of the muppets have nice cameos.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

It was everything a good muppets movie should be. It had music, puns, and lots of jokes. I especially liked the shameless use of quotes from the ride.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

It was a very well shot and designed film. The background details are designed for that cross-section of Haunted Mansion fans and Muppet fans. Down to muppet-a-fying the wallpaper.

The music is a lot of fun and I wish there had been more. I liked the spooky muppet show opening song version at the end.

Score: 1

Fun

Be warned that although this isn’t scary, it does have a lot of jump scares. The kids liked it, although the five year old found it too scary due to the jump scares.

It was nice and nostalgic for those of us that grew up with the muppets show and movies.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a wonderful mix of classic Muppet humour and nostalgia for the Haunted Mansion ride. The littles might dislike the jump scares, but overall it’s a lot of fun.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5.

Free Guy – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Free Guy.

Story

The story was deceptively simple but had lots of layers. It had a surprisingly upbeat message considering how the majority of humans are truly awful in the movie. I like the melding of a classic hero’s narrative with shades of fairy tales, otherworld stories, and a shade of 80’s techno thriller.

Score: 1

Characters

It would have been much too simple to make the characters stereotypes. The movie avoids that with everyone except the main villain who is geniusly played.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue is witty and wonderfully steeped in video game and online culture without being so dense as to be unintelligible to people who don’t play.

It has some ridiculously silly lines that wouldn’t work without the expert delivery of the actors.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie has so much going on in the background that it is impossible to catch everything in one viewing. I was impressed how this never distracted from the plot or the character development. It was also stunningly done with a beautiful mix of traditional and modern special effects. Special shoutout to them filming the real world and the game world with different camera lenses. Combined with the extra saturation in the game, it added a nice touch of separation.

If you’re a music nerd and a Disney fan, you’ll maybe have noticed that Guy’s theme is the same as the protagonist’s from the short film Paperman. The short’s music was written by the same composer and the short premiered before Wreck-It Ralph, another videogame movie.

Score: 1

Fun

My two year old sat through most of it, but got bored near the end. He spent the next day saying, “Free Guy Awesome.” My five year old spent the entire movie glued to the screen. My father-in-law was a little confused by some things since he’s never been into video games.

I had a lot of fun with this and found myself completely engrossed. It’s a rare movie that has me so sucked in that I feel disoriented when I get out of it.

Score: 1

Overall

This movie is exciting, heartwarming, and lots of fun. The blending of meta narrative with action adventure, Truman Show, and a little Sleeping Beauty makes for a fascinating story. All of which would be terrible without the amazing performances of the actors.

I highly recommend this one.

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.

Cinderella (2021) – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Cinderella.

Story

The story is pretty standard. I liked the additional backstory on the evil step-mother and the addition of a dream for Ella.

That being said, it was very surface level and didn’t add much to the original.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters were fun, but not deep. It was a playful movie with witty banter. I liked that they joked about Pierce Brosnan’s singing.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The best way to describe the dialogue is mildly witty. It’s not bad, but it’s not great. There’s no double meanings or witty back and forths.

Score: 0.5

Music and Visuals

Nearly everything in the movie was anachronistic and it works to bring a sense of whimsy to the film. From the Baritone Sax to the impressive range of styles. It’s all in fun.

I truly appreciated the use of colour after so many colourless period films of late.

The music wasn’t Moulin Rouge level, but was a lot of fun. The duet dance to Ed Sheeran’s Perfect lived up to its name.

Score: 1

Fun

It had a good beat in both the music and the pacing. Little to no awkward moments and the actors could sing. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. We had the main song stuck in our heads for the rest of the night.

Score: 1

Overall

Cinderella is a story that’s been told so often that it’s no longer a story as much as an archetype. This movie doesn’t add anything original to the story, but instead re-mixes it with fun music. It’s fun and will have you tapping your foot.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Jungle Cruise – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Jungle Cruise.

Story

The story is an interesting combination of jungle adventure and period piece. Overall, it was well done. I like that they’re looking for a plant and not an ancient artifact to plunder. It’s Indiana Jones with a twist and a little more modern (despite being set before).

Score: 1

Characters

It’s about time that Disney started adding more LGBTQ+ characters into its films. It was doubly nice that he wasn’t killed and that it was stated in the movie, not by the director or actor.

The two main cast members have almost no romantic chemistry, but make up for it in ridiculous amounts of charisma.

The supernatural villains are relatable but boring and tragic, while the German prince was funny but a little too moustache twirly for my taste.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

I would have been saddened if they hadn’t included the ride’s puns. The puns, the jokes, the banter, and even the dramatic tension, were all fantastic and make me want to re-watch it.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Overall the film was beautiful, but there are some parts of it that looked wrong or overly CGI. The jaguar and the flowers, along with some of the wildlife, felt like it was over-saturated and not properly lit. Made them, and even the villains, feel like they weren’t really part of the movie’s world.

The music was spectacular. I look forward to listening to it again.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I did a few summers in University as a tour guide / captain for the Ottawa Canal. I helped develop a much more pun intensive tour. That’s always made me have a soft spot for the Jungle Cruise ride and has certainly translated to the movie. It was a lot of pun and lots of laughs.

The entire family liked it. The two year old watched most of it and the four year old was enthralled.

Score: 1

Overall

For those who love the ride, the movie will be extra sweet, but it has a lot of goofy (pun induced) fun for those who haven’t been on the ride. It’s exciting, funny, and it’s weaknesses are minor compared to the charisma and banter of it’s three leads.

Final Score: 4 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