A Week Away – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film A Week Away.

Story

I’m sure someone thought the name of the camp was a clever joke, but in 2021 we should be beyond to the inherent racism of mocking native languages.

This is a camp movie musical first and a christian movie second, but that doesn’t mean that God isn’t all over the place. They at least have the grace to use it for some jokes.

The basic story is as cliched as possible and adds nothing new to the musical, romance, or teen genres. That being said, the movie is obviously paying respect to many of the previous movies that it takes inspiration.

The overall story is mildly pedantic, but overall heartwarming.

Score: 0

Characters

The movie has all the traditional characters from movies in the past; the awkward geek who’s in love, the Troy Bolton bad boy with a heart of gold, and the good Christian girl.

It would have been easy to make these characters bad copies, but instead, through the writing and acting, they made them likeable. The main girl is hyper competitive and still dealing with the death of her mom, the geek is funny and a good musician. The bad guy admits his faults and actually apologizes.

I greatly appreciate that the movie spent time building the brotherly relationship between the two main men.

The lack of Queer characters was glaring and awkward.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Clever quotes and quippy dialogue with lots of double meanings made me happy. There’s a few cringe dialogue moments, but most of it is well done.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The visuals were unique. They used a lot of surreal shots that are reminiscent of music videos. I liked it, but it felt jarring when it wasn’t at the beginning of a song.

The movie also used a lot of scenes from movies both in the genre and not (the Mr. and Mrs. Smith scene was a lot of fun.)

The music was okay, I liked it while it was on, but it didn’t make me dash out to buy the soundtrack. I’m particularly annoyed at the use of autotune for a campfire song. (Mostly, the music made me want to rewatch Julie and the Phantoms.)

Score: 0.5

Fun

This was a fun movie, but as a queer man with lots of queer friends, I had trouble settling into the fun of it. The complete lack of any form of queer character made me uncomfortable.

It did remind me of some great memories from high school franco camps and I greatly appreciate the lack of massive angst.

Score: 0.5

Overall

The movie has great respect for other films and treats us to some great non-romance relationships as a bonus, but the casual racism towards native people and lack of queer characters make it hard to believe in 2021.

That being said, it’s a warm and fuzzy camp musical with a talented young cast.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 5

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

Over the Moon – JenEric Movie Review

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 film Over the Moon.

Story

This has all the elements of a wonderful Doorway-style story. (Doorways stories are about youths that find a method of travelling to a fantastic world. Think Alice or Dorothy.) The near-Pixar style sadness at the beginning and the Olaf clone are well done and don’t feel trope-y.

Unfortunately the concept is prettier than the story, and once they reach the moon, the story is disjointed and thin, giving too much room to world building and action.

The ending and the moral are heavy handed and uninspired.

Score: 0

Characters

The kids were interesting and realistic for an animation. It’s great to show a character that is into myth and STEM equally, something that isn’t explored enough. I didn’t really like the whole, “I have a super power” story line, since it was done for cheap laughs and a non-funny gag.

The animal sidekicks are plenty and cute, never detracting from the story or getting too annoying.

The woman on the moon was supposed to feel mythological, like dealing with a god or magic power. She came off more as whiny, entitled, and not too bright. Less like a force of nature and more like a toddler.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue was okay. It served its purpose but compared to the complexity of other animated movies I felt like it was a little simplistic. The word humour was well done and the sassyness of the kids was a mirror of reality.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Pearl has now, after two movies, established itself as a studio that can do quality animation. This movie is stunningly beautiful. The detail, lighting, and cinematography are all beyond anything anyone else is doing outside of top tier Disney and Pixar.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I think making this a musical was the wrong choice. I think it detracted from the emotion and story. The music was however very good, catchy, and insightful.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie was a lot of fun to watch. My kids were enthralled, my wife and I cried, and I still have some of the songs stuck in my head.

Score: 1

Overall

Stunningly beautiful with a mediocre story. The movie could have been so much better, but is still a lot of fun to watch.

Final Score: 3 stars out of 5

Lemonade Mouth – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2011 movie Lemonade Mouth.

Story

This movie surprised me multiple times. It was well thought out and had some nice twists. There were a few lulls that annoyed me but overall I was pleased by the story.

This is basically a Band AU of Breakfast Club and I love that about it.

Score: 0.5

Characters

There was a few awkward moments and I feel like the characters didn’t get enough attention making them more caricature then they already are. However, as far as they did get they were lovely and the actors did a fantastic job.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue in this is adorable, layered, and well thought out. It feels authentic and the line, “I’m not the same person I was two months ago.” reminds me of my high school days.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Very well shot with great stages and it avoided that “Disney Channel Sitcom” look that a lot of the original movies have.

The music was fantastic and got me to buy the soundtrack the night I watched it. Absolutely one of the catchiest and most interesting Disney Channel movie soundtracks.

It’s also great when they cast actors that can sing, dance, and play instruments.

Score: 1

Fun

This has all the fun of a band movie, with the fun of a detention movie, mixed with a happy teen drama. Honestly, I loved every moment.

Score: 1

Overall

One of the better original movies from Disney Channel. I wish I had watched it as a kid, or even when it came out.

Final Score: 4 Stars

Camp Rock and Camp Rock 2 – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2008 and 2010 Movies Camp Rock and Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam.

Story

Camp Rock 1

The story in this couldn’t be more cliché if they tried. I’ve been over the “lying to be popular” since I did it in first grade. It always blows up and it rarely ends as happily as it does in this movie.

Score: 0

Camp Rock 2

Just as cliché a the first but much less angst.

Score: 0

Characters

Camp Rock 1

The characters are so cookie cutter as to be boring. However the young actors manage to bring something watchable to their characters.

Score: 0.5

Camp Rock 2

The characters have changed, if not evolved, to suit the story. Once again the actors are much too good for the script.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Camp Rock 1

The majority of the movie made me cringe, however the Mom and the two romantic leads manage to make the dialogue acceptable.

Score: 0.5

Camp Rock 2

I can’t tell if the dialogue got better because of the writing or because the actors grew. It wasn’t enough to make this movie memorable though.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

Camp Rock 1

There’s a camp and it’s filmed in standard Disney Channel style for the late 2000’s. It’s not as colourful as it could be and most of the shots are either frantic or boring.

The music is barely okay. It’s not bad but it shows that other then the main cast, these are not singers.

Score: 0

Camp Rock 2

This is where the sequel starts to get better. It’s better shot and has more coherent musical numbers, actually using the dancers in the cast.

The music for the main cast is catchy and likeable while the rest is still hum-drum.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Camp Rock 1

I spent the majority of the movie groaning or sighing. It’s not much fun.

Score: 0.5

Camp Rock 2

The story was predictable but in a fun way and despite a few lulls, I enjoyed this one.

Score: 1

Overall

Camp Rock 1

This movie is angsty and cliché. I really hope my daughter doesn’t want to watch it too often. The only thing that makes it anything beyond truly boring are the main actors.

Final Score: 1.5 Stars

Camp Rock 2

It’s not great but it’s fun and if I want a camp movie that has music I might consider it.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars

Teen Beach 2 – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2013 Disney Channel movie Teen Beach 2

I reviewed the first one and gave it a 3.5

Story

While the first movie pretty much wrote the most basic story and used it as a love letter to musicals, this one decides to amp up the drama and show what happens after the endless summer.

This movie is the embarrassed child of the first one. It is ashamed of where it came from but can’t seem to forget it. The plot is basic teen angst until a third of the way in, then it shifts into fish out of water, then it sort of gets lost and forgets where it was going.

At the end, it really doesn’t matter, because through magic, the entire movie and it’s predecessor are wiped from existence.

It does however attempt to have a self-empowerment storyline and spends a lot of time talking about being yourself and accepting others even if they are different. It’s a positive message that I can get behind.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters are different. They don’t act or feel all that much like they did in the first one. They almost feel like caricatures of the originals, which were caricatures to start with.

Nothing is explicitly cancelled out, but liberties were taken with personalities and actions.

Again, it really doesn’t matter because they aren’t the same people at the end of the movie.

Score: 0

Dialogue

The dialogue is updated for modern times and loses the cheese that made the first a lot of fun.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

The movie was pretty, the people were pretty, the clothes were pretty. I found that the contrast between worlds was lost and I missed the glossy Gidget-style look.

The music was adorable and the dances were great. This movie is only redeemed in it’s music.

Score: 1

Fun

I’m really sour about the ending and it kind of ruined the rest of the movie for me. I hate it when time travel etc re-writes the characters that we spent 3 hours getting to know. I feel cheated.

Score: 0.5 (Only because I loved the songs)

Overall

This movie isn’t hateful, but it isn’t particularly good. I’ll watch the dances on youtube instead of rewatching the movie.

If you loved the first one, be prepared to be disappointed. However, it’s not something I have to worry about showing my kids.

Final Score: 2 Stars

Teen Beach Movie – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2013 Disney Channel movie Teen Beach Movie.

There are a few movies about people getting sucked into their favourite movie, book, or game. I’m not sure what this niche genre is called but I obviously love it since I wrote a book in the same genre. Go check out Everdome.

Story

The movie’s plot is simple and too the point. It’s almost completely unimportant and used as a vehicle for the music, whimsy, and references.

Score: 0

Characters

The main characters in this movie are basically Disney Channel cutouts that develop as time goes by.

Oddly enough the “real” world characters have less depths then the stereotypes in the movie world.

They are however very sweet and extremely fun to watch.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

This movie is pure and utter cheese and ham. The movie revels in some of the best cheese lines.

The dialogue is delightful.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie is surprisingly pretty. They really worked towards making it over saturated and beach movie like.

The music is a love letter to teen love stories and classic movie musicals.

Score: 1

Fun

Fun music, cool concept, and extremely entertaining dialogue. This movie has a very low cringe factor and a lot of fun.

Score: 1

Overall

If you’re a fan of musicals and classic beach movies you’ll love this one. I’ve seen it twice and it’s the kind of movie I’d watch without being annoyed. I will also absolutely sing along.

Final Score: 3.5