The Mitchells vs the Machines – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film The Mitchells vs the Machines.

Story

Most road trip movies rely on the ignorance or poor decision making of the characters. That lends to a sort of cringe comedy that I loved as a kid but can’t stand anymore. This movie turned that trope on its head. Instead the characters are lost in their own worldview and have trouble seeing each other.

The entire movie hinges on the family being a little strange, very lucky, and learning to work together. The plot is mildly predictable, surreal, and so much fun anyway.

Score: 1

Characters

For a movie that gives up grounded mid-way, its characters are infinitely relatable. I felt for each of the Mitchells.

The secondary characters are mild caricatures, but serve a good purpose.

I liked that they adopted the two robots into their family. It’s a nice message that genetics don’t make a family and found family is just as powerful.

The subtle inclusion of a gay main character was refreshing, as was the lack of forced romance.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This movie has so many references to memes and internet culture that it’s impressive. I think that the references will age quickly and probably not well.

The humour is surprisingly clever and the dialogue sometimes much deeper than expected.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The animation was done in a style similar to Into the Spiderverse, but with more colourful “internet” things. There were a few times I wanted to pause and just look at all the details and backgrounds. It was stunningly beautiful.

The music was nice and the songs were perfectly chosen. I got a little frustrated with the electronic riff that felt plucked from the Stranger Things intro, but that’s minor.

Score: 1

Fun

The type of movie made it clear that the awkward family drama would have an awesome payoff and it did. This meant that I didn’t spend much time cringing and really enjoyed the ride. The kids were glued to the screen and we all laughed a lot. The giant Furby terrified my 22 month old.

Score: 1

Overall

A good old fashioned road trip and apocalypse movie that ditches the frustrating parts of both. The animation is spectacular and characters relatable. Proper Queer representation and a nod to found family add extra depth to an action-packed and laugh out loud film.

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.

Captain America: The First Avenger – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2011 film Captain America: The First Avenger.

Story

The story is extremely simple and a perfect transition from the simpler superhero movies of the 2000’s to the more complex ones after.

It’s amazing that they managed to have a movie set in WWII that had only 3 Nazis.

The villain is scary smart if over-the-top and the story is wonderfully soothing.

As much as I love the romance between Cap and Carter, the convoluted obstacles are tiresome and unnecessary.

I would also would have liked more nuances on the concept of patriotism, but that would come with the future movies.

Score: 0.5

Characters

This movie was extremely well cast and all the actors play their roles wonderfully. Again I think Red Skull was a little much, but all the others are fantastic.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This movie, more than Iron-Man or Avengers, sets the bar for Marvel dialogue. It’s clever, quotable, and has fantastic depth.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie’s special effects still look amazing a decade later and visually this movie is a treat.

The music is fantastic and works perfectly for the movie.

Score: 1

Fun

Our Blu-ray has a bug where the dynamic range (loudest vs softest sounds) is huge, making me spend most of the movie changing the volume or not being able to understand the words. This is actually pretty common for Marvel movies and really pisses me off.

That being said, the movie kept the attention of the entire family and made me want to re-watch all the Marvel movies.

Score: 1

Overall

The unambiguity of the movie is its strength, bolstered by its fantastic dialogue and acting. It was the last before Avengers changed the landscape and set the bar for storytelling. It is by far the best Marvel Phase 1 film (Arguably Phase 2 also).

Final Score: 4.5

Charlie’s Angels (2000) – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2000 film Charlie’s Angels.

Story

The story relies on the speed of changing scenes and action to distract the viewer from the absurdity. I love silly movies and I remember loving this one and thinking it was super clever. It’s not. It’s obvious and derivative with no idea how technology, romance, or combat works.

Score: 0

Characters

The characters are sacrificed to the alter of plot convenience and need for action. The love stories are shallow and uncompleted. Then then there’s the rampant racism (seen through black/brown face, yellow face) transphobic dialogue, and for a movie that is supposed to be about female empowerment, it doesn’t hesitate to slutshame and use it’s main characters.

Score: 0

Dialogue

This movie revels in it’s own cheese and then doubles down. It also take it to a level that makes no sense. The dialogue is terrible and only the caliber of the actors manages to make it palatable.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

The action is passable and the special effects are good if convoluted. The scenery is lovely and the women have lovely if completely impractical clothing.

The music is a lot of fun, if a little heavy on the angel references.

Score: 1

Fun

There are some really fun action scenes, but overall the movie made me very upset. Did they really not know how a server works? The music was good.

Score: 0.5

Overall

This is a movie aimed at men, with the man’s gaze, that pretends to be about “strong women”. It is awkwardly racist, transphobic, and sexist. The action and awesome actors doesn’t make up for the lack of depth or plot.

Final Score: 1.5 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

Moxie – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Moxie.

Story

The movie walks the line between heartwarming coming of age and showing the real horrors of sexism and racism. In the end it firmly settles on heartwarming coming of age.

It took me much too long to realize what the movie was going for and I kept waiting for the metaphorical axe to fall. I was expecting expulsion, but instead I got successful social action, and the drama came from the angry teen.

Beyond my expectations being skewed, the movie abandoned some threads and didn’t give enough room to some of the characters. Even after adjusting my expectations, it felt too clean and sanatized.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main character is a quiet girl whose whole goal in high school is to fly under the radar. When she gets exposed to some severe racism and sexism, she goes from shy wallflower to passionate SJW.

Everything in the movie is seen through her lens, which is a great way to introduce white people, especially young girls, to these issues. However, because of that, there are characters introduced that have no story or very little.

In order to make the movie end on a happy note, the “villains” had to be comical and a mixture of inept and lazy.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is designed to make everyone understand the main topics and hint at some of the others. The dialogue is very cleverly written, being both authentic and educational.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Just like the dialogue, the cinematography is very cleverly done to both illustrate and emphasize the different issues.

The music is well picked and does a great job to enhance the story.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie stressed me out; I kept expecting something predictable and horrible to happen. It didn’t happen, but it did affect my enjoyment. I think a second viewing would be easier.

That being said the romance was cute and the high points were satisfying.

Score: 0.5

Overall

A great introduction to social issues that a lot of privileged people don’t know or want to think about. The issues are wrapped in a predictable coming of age story and shown through the lens of a partially oblivious white girl.

It’s a fun high school romp with a great set of messages, but it’s an overly optimistic and shallow introduction to social issues.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

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

Work It – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Work It.

Story

Someone found an old 90’s sports movie script and decided to gender-swap the cast and make it about dancing. You’ve got all the usual stereotypes, the slightly goofy sex-obsessed best friend, the nerdy driven main character, the beautiful love interest, the parent who pushes too hard, and the forgettable background characters.

Despite being predictable, it still pulled it off pretty well, no huge loose ends or glaring issues.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters were a little stereotypical, but they still felt unique for the most part.

I don’t like that the diva villain is queer-coded. The only remotely queer character being the villain is pretty crappy.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

For a sports movie selling itself as a romance, this had a lot of very clever humour. I doubt it’ll make it’s way into my daily quoting, but it was believable and funny.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Visually the movie was very well shot. The dancing wasn’t always the best, but cinematography was good. Several scenes I could have told you were from a dance movie without having seen the movie.

The music was good. I enjoyed the pop heavy soundtrack and my youngest felt compelled to get up and dance more than once.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The angsty bits weren’t too long and other than the terrible relationship between the mom and daughter, I enjoyed this movie. It’s one of the few I’ve reviewed that had the entire family laughing.

Score: 1

Overall

This is a typical sports movie with a romance. The dancing isn’t exceptional, but the story is a lot a fun and quite funny.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Soul – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Soul.

Story

What does it mean to be human? Do we have a fated purpose? What is life? Do cats have souls? This movie answers and philosophizes left, right, and centre. All while pulling us along a body swap adventure. It’s funny, fun, and has lots to think about.

Despite the trailers making it look it it would, I’m glad the movie didn’t fall into the “Transformed POC” trope.

Story: 1

Characters

The main character is written in such a way that we sympathize with him immediately. There’s no doubting his dream. Then as we see his life through the eyes of another character we start to see his obsession with making it has hurt his ability to live in the moment. It’s a subtle transition that was so well done.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue was mostly okay but in some parts was amazing. The conversation with his mom, the barber, and the double meanings of so many bits of dialogue between him and 22 are extremely well done.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie wasn’t about grand vistas and fantasy landscapes like Onward but instead was a lot more about details and abstract concepts. This movie was beautiful. The wood grain on the mother’s tailor shop to the minimalist interpretation of the great beyond’s light. This was breath taking.

The music was fantastic. I love how the pieces he plays are representative of his character growth. I look forward to buying this album.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie was beautiful and fun. My mind still races at the world building. My daughter (4yo) loved it but my 18 month old didn’t sit through it. I’m not sure why. Either way, it’s not a knock on the film but it certainly isn’t the best for small kids.

Score: 1

Overall

The writing and music alone had me enthralled with their complexity and subtly. This movie is smart, funny, beautiful and certainly full of Soul.

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.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey.

Story

It was a cute Christmas story but was derivative and predictable. Each beat (no pun intended) was expected and the middle bits dragged a little.

The emphasis on the necklace felt like an unused thread, and the “magic” inventor granddaughter proved she was smart and then the plot didn’t let her fix or make anything. It also contained one of my most hated tropes, where the adults don’t listen to the kids.

I’m trying really hard to ignore the moral, ethical, and humane questions of creating sentient toys and being able to mass produce a slave toy race that you can “reprogram” when they don’t behave.

Score: 0

Characters

The acting in the movie is superb. The characters are mostly pretty awesome. I didn’t really like the mail woman / love interest. Her constant mis-naming rubbed me the wrong way. Overall she came off as a male Christmas love interest, which I’m not a fan of.

The Jeronicus and his apprentice storyline is sad but extremely well acted. Journey was a joy and should have had a larger part in the plot.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue was appropriately steampunk meets modern day in a way that only a holiday fable could do. Some overly sappy and some kinda deep.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The sets, clothing, lighting, character design, and worldbuilding are fantastic. The cinematography was amazing and background information on posters, etc is meticulously done.

The music is fantastic, although I would have liked one last big number at the end.

I found the choreography a little repetitive, but not enough to dampen my awe at the music and visuals.

Score: 1

Fun

I was awed by the first few frames and hooked by the first song. It wasn’t until the midway point that I fell a little out of love but it passed fast enough. My family and children were riveted. The 17 month old would stop and watch, or dance, at every song and cooed at the adorable robot.

Score: 1

Overall

One of the most beautiful movies I’ve seen with some amazing songs and more than a little magic. It falls flat if you think about it too long, and all the beauty and wonderful acting doesn’t cover up the lack of original story.

Final Score: 3 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