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

I like to play games

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I love games. I love board games, table top games, card games, and video games.

I had never bought myself a video game console. I have an amazing brother who’s bought me a PS3 and PS4 and a lifetime ago we got a free Nintendo Wii with a computer purchase. (Before that, I used my mom’s systems.)

Dragon on her giant Yoshi. (I’m mildly sad she’s stopped calling it sushi.)

Well, last week there was a sale we couldn’t resist and we bought a Nintendo Switch. I worry that it’s about to be replaced, but hopefully there’s a few more good years in them.

Of late, Pegasus has been obsessed with watching me play Mario Kart on my phone. (He’ll climb on my lap and say, “race” although it sounds like “wash”) Dragon has been doing well with Disney Infinity, but I feel she needs games that are a little simpler.

With that in mind, we got Mario Kart 8 deluxe, Switch Fit, Lego Avengers 2, and Just Dance. I’m planning on getting Yoshi’s Crafted World for the kids. I’d also love to get Link’s Awakening and maybe one of the Mario games.

For someone who’s really busy, having something that I don’t have to spend an hour re-learning the controls or several hours doing side quests will be a nice change (Looking at you, Spiderman). To be honest, I’ve missed Nintendo.

So any recommendations for games? Both for a 4 year old with little gaming experience and a 37 year old who loves games, but isn’t very good at them?

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

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

My Kids are cute…

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

My kids are so freaking cute. Seriously look at this:

I’m not boasting, I’m trying to remind myself.

Pegasus is teething his second set of molars so that means more wake-ups and lots of screaming. Dragon is not dealing well with the lack of routine during March break… Basically the two of them have been screaming and being difficult.

I have a headache, Jen has a headache, the kids ache, and I think we’re all looking forward to getting back to a “regular” routine. Normally, I’d have taken them to the park or shopping or maybe even to a museum but *shrugs* Covid.

Next week, I turn back on my work computer, Dragon and Jen go back to doing school and Pegasus goes back to climbing me and trying to help with my work. It sounds soothing and exausting.

This will pass, every day Pegasus starts to talk more and by Christmas we’ll have mini sentences. Dragon is learning more and more words, letters, and sounds. I wouldn’t be surprised if by this time next year she’s reading. That’ll be nice.

My kids are loud, they are very touchy, and those are things I’ll miss, but sometimes it’s all a little too much. It’s important to remember that they are adorable and I love them lots and lots.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

The ULTIMATE Mac & Cheese Test

Hello Mac & Cheese lovers,

I few friends gave us 3 kinds of mac and cheese that they didn’t want, so we decided to make them and our favourite and see which was the BEST MAC & CHEESE.

We had Annie’s Shells and White Cheddar, PC White Cheddar, Annie’s Four Cheese, and Classic KD.

I followed the directions exactly as the boxes said and prepared the 4 different kinds. I found that following the instructions left the KD and PC really liquidy and I had to put them back on the stove to boil away the extra liquid. The Annie’s White Cheddar was slimy even after cooking a little longer and the Four Cheese was too dry.

Tasting

Keladry (4 years old and hates leftovers) loved all four of them equally, according to her.

Adrien (21 months old and eats anything) ate all of them, but said Om-nom-nom for the PC and spit out the last bits of the Four Cheese.

Jen (36 years old and a bit of a picky eater) liked the KD more than she thought she would, but found both of the Annie’s tasted bad. She loved the PC despite me not telling her that was what it was.

Éric (37 years old and self-declared Mac&Cheese lover) was brought back to his childhood with the KD. The PC was delicious as always and both the Annie’s were cloying. Tasted like fake cheese.

Thoughts

I don’t think I’ve prepared Mac & Cheese without stuff in it since the mid-aughts. (My go to are zucchini, mushrooms, bacon, and a little mozzarella, salt, pepper, and some hot sauce.)

I’m fairly certain I’ve never prepared KD or PC Mac & Cheese by following the instructions. It was really watery and needed to be put back on the stove to thicken, but once it was, it was pretty creamy.

I was excited about trying the Annie’s and honestly it was pretty bad. I wouldn’t try it again.

Winner?

Honestly, the best taste on it’s own was definitely the PC White Cheddar, but Kraft Dinner was pretty good and brought me back to my childhood. (I almost went to get the ketchup.) Makes me want to try the new versions of KD and see how they taste. (I did enter the contest for the Pumpkin Spice version but didn’t get any. What? It’s Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, and sometimes cloves.)

None of them of them come close to homemade, but they are fast and easy.

Conclusion

I’m too old to have Mac & Cheese without anything in it (it just doesn’t last me) and I won’t be trying the Annie’s again.


What’s your favourite Mac & Cheese?

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Monster Trucks – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2016 film Monster Trucks.

Story

This felt like a trippy 80’s plotline, however it was much more coherent and actually had some good messages. It’s scientifically ridiculous, but a great parable. I appreciate that they didn’t go into wish fulfilment with the father storyline. I also liked the emotional twist with the stepdad.

Score: 0.5

Character

The main female lead is smart and capable, the male lead isn’t an idiot, the majority of the other characters feel pretty well fleshed out. They’re all a little cartoony, but acted in a believable way.

There’s a huge lack of diversity and I’m not very comfortable with the “Wise Mentor” trope being a black disabled person.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The movie is worth it just for the dialogue and the way the actors deliver it. Jane Levy and Lucas Till are brilliant as are the rest of the cast.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

To balance off the heavy use of special effects, the film makers gave us beautiful nature shots and vistas. Every shot is thought out in advance and works really well.

The music is used perfectly, as a movie where the monster isn’t supposed to be scary, the use of music makes all the difference in the early scenes. Had they used more dramatic music it would have been terrifying, had they used lighter it would have been ridiculous.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie was designed to be fun and slip in some environmental and emotional messages. It succeeds and has more than one awesome moment. Both kids were glued to the screen and my wife and I laughed a lot.

Score: 1

Overall

This movie is much better than it has any right to be considering the premise. It’s an exciting and wholesome movie with great comedic moments and awesome action sequences. The moral and environmental questions are subtle, but present and the movie values intelligent characters. Plus the monsters are really cute.

Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Ups and Downs

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’m having a hard week. Winter feels interminable, we’re at the start of the third wave, vaccines are being distributed by a disorganized Flash (from Zootopia, not DC), and people are starting to discuss the possibility that maybe under 10 years of age kids don’t need a vaccine. Thankfully the medical community is pushing for it, but without public and government pushing, how long will it be?

I’m not comfortable exposing my children to Covid. Even though the chances are low that they get any serious side effects, I’m not willing to risk it.

Quarantine has its ups and downs; I’m currently experiencing a down. It’s been a hard week preceded by a hard weekend. Right now I want to curl into a ball and binge-watch Stargate SG1.

With time and patience it’ll get better, but right now I’m angry, frustrated, and just tired. I look forward to watching this thing (gestures around wildly at everything) from the future and being glad it’s over.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go make myself another coffee and hope it wakes me up and de-grumps me.

Enjoy this adorable picture of Pegasus stuck inside a chair.

Picture of the almost 20 month Pegasus stuck in a patio chair and giving me an annoyed look.
The chair is a metaphor…

Be safe and be kind,

Éric

Took two days off

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Taking time off while in lockdown is odd. I took two days off cause I was feeling a little frayed and poor work paid for it. Came back to 50+ emails. Poor boss that had to cover for me.

My days consist of watching Adrien while working and doing house stuff. On breaks, I’ll try to write or edit. It’s exhausting.

My two days off were pretty much a writing marathon trying to get chapter 15 of The Untitled Mystery Book Project finished. It was in my head and I needed to get it out.

Unfortunately, I also crashed physically. Full migraine, nausea, aches, and weakness. It’s like I just needed to get that chapter out and then my body said, “You’re not going to rest unless I force you.” So the weekend was painful. I hate migraines, I lost all peripheral vision on my left side for two days and every time the kids shrieked, I just saw red-ish static.

I’m feeling better today and the time off was restful, but taking time off with the kids home and lockdown going on is hard. At least I didn’t have a full social calendar.

It’s also why I forgot to prepare a post for today until just now.

All said and done, what you should take from this is that with me finishing chapter 15 and Jen finishing 16 we’re at 16/26, which is 2 chapters away from the end of the second act and that means we’re 2/3’s done. YAY.

Writing with Jen has been awesome, but that’s another post.

Be safe and be kind,

Éric

The Sleepover – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film The Sleepover.

Story

The main plot seemed to be that the kids needed to save their parents… except they didn’t need to nor did they save them.

Someone took a bad “I’m a secret spy” movie and mushed it with a decent Adventures in Babysitting ripoff.

There’s nothing I dislike more than having competent kids end up being useless.

Chekhov would be very disappointed in the laser pen and alarm underwear.

Score: 0

Characters

There were two characters out of 7 that actually got a story arc and growth. The rest were just there to prop up the plot and make jokes. Mim started out as an amazing and fun character but had to be toned down to make the main girl look more awesome. The dad was goofy and fun and then he became a complete idiot.

Score: 0

Dialogue

The dialogue wasn’t bad. A lot of over acting, but that was a bonus in this genre. It wasn’t particularly great but not bad.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

This movie was stylish and had some impressive action scenes. It also had a significant amount of vomit which loses it points in my book.

The music was good and had a small moment of great, but overall was derivative.

Score: 0.5

Fun

There were times I enjoyed the movie, but the complete lack of agency in the kids at the end and the vomit scene really took my enjoyment away.

Score: 0

Overall

This movie wanted real hard to be a spy movie and then forgot to do anything like a spy movie. The excellent actors were underused, characters were changed for plot, and the awkward bodily humour wasn’t much fun.

Final Score: 1 star out of 5

Changing tastes

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Little Dragon is going through a phase of discovering what she likes. It’s quite frustrating since it changes ALL-THE-TIME but I understand it’s because she’s trying to figure out what she likes and who she is.

“I really don’t like spicy,” she’ll say and then turn around and ask for Jalapeno cheese or extra hot sauce on her meal.

It’s as adorable as it’s frustrating. I know it’ll even out, but it’s hard to guess what she’ll eat. Sometimes when I ask her she changes her mind by the time it’s in front of her.

In the same vein, I’ve noticed that my tastes have changed in music at least. The Mystery Book Project is set in 2002 and we made a music playlist appropriate for the time.

There’s a lot of music from the time that I really enjoy and then there’s some others. At the time I enjoyed Eminem and Nine Inch Nails. They spoke to a part of me back then. Now not so much, it’s either a lot of whining and noise that sounds either entitled, pretentious, or both.

It’s interesting how tastes change over time, some over a couple of decades and some over a couple of minutes.

Ok. I have a lot of writing to do.

Be safe and be kind,

Éric