The Little Mermaid (2023)– JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2023 film The Little Mermaid.

Story

Disney has been calling these “remakes” but they’re really just copies. That might sound disparaging, but I’ve watched and enjoyed more Cinderella, Musketeer, and Robin Hood movies than I can count.

The changes in this are understandable and it shows that the scriptwriters had a deep love for the animated version. I liked the slight change at the end.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Most of the cast made the roles their own. Ariel was amazing and thankfully less whiny. Triton felt more relatable and Eric was less bland.

The actress who played Vanessa was fantastic.

I’m not impressed with Ursula. I thought the actress might try something original, but instead she did a mediocre impersonation of Pat Carroll.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is very similar but just different enough to sound wrong. It’s not normally a problem but sometimes it was frustrating. The modern updates were good, and again it was nice to see Eric have some more screen time and lines.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The visuals were good but the underwater stuff was a little uncanny valley. It was beautiful but felt wrong.

The music was fantastic and Ioved the extra songs.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The beginning was a little slow but after that it went fast. The kids loved it and the rest of the family enjoyed it. It was fun overall.

Score: 1

Overall

A faithful adaptation to the original that hits all the right notes. It’s unfortunate that Melissa McCarthy’s Ursula was only a poor copy of the original’s soul.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Fantasia 2000 – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2000 film Fantasia 2000.

Story

Like the first, this isn’t a regular movie and feels more like an anthology with various forms of storytelling. It’s creative and absolutely engrossing. Unlike the original, it’s extremely short; over an hour shorter then the first. The rhythm between the stories wasn’t as smooth.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Again, there aren’t many speaking roles in the stories themselves, but the characters were strong and interesting.

Score: 1

Dialogue

I liked that they re-used some of the original narration and added some celebrities. The part with Mickey looking for Donald was particularly funny. Most of the jokes hold up well for being almost 25.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The animation is pretty but there are places they used 3D animation and it didn’t age well. The whales at times looked plastic and poorly rendered. When the shorts were traditionally animated they looked fabulous.

The music is great. I recognized all the pieces and loved how they were put together.

Score: 0.5

Fun

It had enough of the feel of the original to be nostalgic and it was a lot of fun.

The kids liked this one better because they say it has less scary parts.

Score: 1

Overall

An attempt to recreate a classic that almost gets there but like it’s runtime, falls short. On its own it’s still a lot of fun to watch.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Fantasia (1940) – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1940 film Fantasia.

Story

This isn’t a regular movie and feels more like an anthology with various forms of storytelling. It’s creative and absolutely engrossing.

Score: 1

Characters

There are a lot of characters and none of them speak, but they are animated to the music spectacularly.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This one is not applicable for most of it but there is the narrator who introduces the parts. He has some cute dialogue.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The animation is creative, innovative, and very pretty.

The music is iconic and sparked my love of classical music.

Score: 1

Fun

When I was young, my mom bought this on VHS and it had me mesmerized. It was my favourite movie for a long time. (Something my classmates did not understand.)

Other than the science in the dinosaur part, which was dated when I watched it, the movie holds up really well.

The kids say they didn’t like it but were glued to the screen the whole time and completely invested.

Score: 1

Overall

A classic that holds up well because of the timelessness of imagination and music. If you’ve ever loved it in the past you’ll still love it now, and if you didn’t like it before, it might surprise you.

Final Score: 5 Stars out of 5

Crushing It puzzle

Crushing It

There’s this site that allows for any picture to be transformed into a digital puzzle. For free. And you can play for free.

I used it for the cover of Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers. See that puzzle here.

And now, here is the puzzle for Crushing It!

Cover art by @pinkpiggy93 on Tumblr and Instagram

Crushing It by Jen Desmarais is available now!

Physical from Canadian indie bookstoresphysical from Indigo, electronic version

Which Character Are You? Crushing It edition

Crushing It
Cover art by @pinkpiggy93 on Tumblr and Instagram

Crushing It by Jen Desmarais is available now!

Physical from Canadian indie bookstoresphysical from Indigo, electronic version

Mini MSN Chats 8-10

Crushing It

Here follows the accounts of 2003-version MSN chats between Tommy and Carter, set in the middle of Crushing It as they navigate their long-distance relationship.

MSN chat #8
MSN chat #9
MSN chat #10
Cover art by @pinkpiggy93 on Tumblr and Instagram

Crushing It by Jen Desmarais is available now!

Physical from Canadian indie bookstoresphysical from Indigo, electronic version

Haunted Mansion (2023) – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2023 film Haunted Mansion.

Story

The story leans heavily into the feel of the ride and it’s expansive lore, but grounds it in a powerful story about grief and loss. It’s well constructed and everything is wrapped up nicely. There are no unwanted surprises, but lots of good ones.

Score: 1

Characters

It’s hard to give a large cast proper character development, but the movie makes sure to give each of them those little moments of depth. The cast is superb and has amazing comedic timing that balances the scary bits really well.

I really like the parallels between the characters growth and how it revolves around grief. It’s easy to forget what makes the idea of real ghosts sad and scary is dealing with our own loss.

Score: 1

Dialogue

They only used the word “Quantum” once in the movie and I’m glad for that.

Beyond that, the dialogue is a wonderful mix of silly, weird, and deeply moving. Each of the characters have their own style and tone, so much so that they could be from different times or movies, but somehow it works.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie is completely saturated with references to the ride and expanded lore. It’s both glorious and at times makes you spend more effort looking at the backgrounds in fear of missing something. Which might not be an issue for casual viewers. That being said, it’s a beautifully shot movie with great visuals.

The music is a great mixture of New Orleans jazz, creepy music, remixes from the ride, and originals that fall into all three.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie is fun, but we’re all big Haunted Mansion fans in our house. Everyone loved it, despite a few screams. I’m going to want this movie and its soundtrack.

Score: 1

Overall

A must watch for anyone who loves the Haunted Mansion ride or creepy family friendly scares. The movie has heart and depth that is surprising and touching.

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.

Discussion Questions for Crushing It

Crushing It

Download the printable Discussion Guide

  1. Crushing It is set in 2003. How would the story be different if it was set in the present day?
  2. Throughout the book, Tommy is completely unaware of the magical world surrounding him in Westmeath. Do you think it would have changed anything if he had noticed?
  3. Tommy and his mother are at odds at the beginning of the book. Who do you feel more empathy for? Can you see the other’s point of view?
  4. Icebreakers are a staple of camps. How do they make you feel? What type do you prefer?
  5. Do you think Tommy’s reactions and feelings when he realized he was gay were relatable? Have you ever had a crush on someone you didn’t expect? How did you feel and react?
  6. The technology in Westmeath is much more advanced than it was in real life in 2003. How does this affect the story?
  7. We only see Carter’s point of view at three points during the book. How would the story have been different if it had been equal parts from his POV?
  8. Long distance relationships are difficult, but in what ways is it a good thing for Tommy and Carter? How is it a struggle?
  9. Two themes that tie the book together are music and science. Can you think of more?
  10. The world isn’t ending in the book. Do you think it being low-stakes, or cosy, is a strength or a weakness?
  11. Suppose Crushing It became a movie or a TV show. Who would you pick to play the roles? (You can check out my dream casting for ideas) What aspects of the book would you want to see more of? What would be the most difficult part of filming?
Cover art by @pinkpiggy93 on Tumblr and Instagram

Crushing It by Jen Desmarais is available now!

Physical from Canadian indie bookstoresphysical from Indigo, electronic version

“Crushing It” Review 6

Crushing It was sent out for reviews in May, and I’ve received some in return. Here’s one from author S.M. Carriere:

Cover art by @pinkpiggy93 on Tumblr and Instagram

Crushing It by Jen Desmarais is available now!

Physical from Canadian indie bookstoresphysical from Indigo, electronic version

The Hidden Magical World in Westmeath

Crushing It

How do you write an urban fantasy if your main protagonist has no idea that he lives in a magical world? How do you let the readers who are introduced to the Aetherverse in Crushing It know that there even is a magical world, if your protagonist is unaware that it exists?

I had to figure out the answers to these questions once I realized that this book was, well, a book.

I decided to bookend the main content with a secondary point of view; that of Carter, the love interest. He grew up in the magical community and knows almost everything there is to know about it.

In the prologue, he and Kennedy are talking about the imminent arrival of her brother, who Jason wants to keep in the dark regarding the magical community. It’s Jason’s perogative; as the soon to be brother-in-law, he wants to get a feel for Tommy’s character before introducing life-changing information.

Then the interlude shows Carter’s anxiety over keeping such a big secret from Tommy. Will he be upset once he finds out? He won’t be told until the wedding, which doesn’t happen in this book!

Finally, the epilogue is a letter from Carter to Tommy counting down the days until the wedding. His excitement over finally getting to tell the secret is obvious.

The novellette at the end of the book, also from Carter’s POV, starts to really show his strengths and skills… and mistakes.

One of the benefits of leaving the main character out of the loop regarding the magical community: in book 2, I can introduce it to both the readers and the character at once. Not only does this happen in book 2 of Lucky in Love, but the explanation is in book 2 of The Gates of Westmeath as well as a nice little recap! Win-win, in my book! (Pun intended)

I don’t want to spoil too many surprises now, in the hopes that book 2 will be published in the future, but if you want to sneak a peek at what our magical world looks like (and you want to keep it in the Young Adult category), check out Éric’s Baker City Mysteries series! Book 4 came out this year!

Cover art by @pinkpiggy93 on Tumblr and Instagram

Crushing It by Jen Desmarais is available now!

Physical from Canadian indie bookstoresphysical from Indigo, electronic version

The Mystery of the Dancing Lights by Éric Desmarais is available now!
Physical from Canadian indie bookstores, physical from Indigo, electronic version