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

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

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.

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

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

The Princess Bride – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1987 film Princess Bride.

Story

There are two stories going on in the movie. The boy and his grand father and then the main story. Both are extremely simple. Simplicity in this movie isn’t a bad thing; it’s used to shift the focus away from the plot and towards the characters and dialogue.

The movie has aged well in almost every way except the complete lack of diversity and failing the Bechdel test on all counts.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The movie has some of the most iconic characters and the movie is really about them and their journey. Other than Buttercup and Humperdinck, the major characters see growth and resolution.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The dialogue is quite possibly the most iconic in American cinema. It’s definitely one of the most quoted movies and in my D&D group it competes with Monty Python for quote time.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The scenery is gorgeous as are the costumes. The sets are purposefully simple but still beautiful. The movie has a look that is just borderline cheesy while still being ageless. The sword fighting is exceptional.

The music is lovely, simple but definitely fantasy inspired. It’s very well used in the fight scenes and “Kissing” moments. I was glad it didn’t follow the synth trend of the 80’s.

Score: 1

Fun

I saw this movie for the first time in my twenties and have watched it a handful of times since. It’s extremely fun to watch and easy to enjoy. It really has a little bit of everything.

Score: 1

Overall

The movie isn’t perfect but it’s pretty and a lot of fun. The dialogue is iconic and if you don’t find yourself quoting something from it, I’d be surprised.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars

ParaNorman – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2012 film ParaNorman.

Story

The story is a pretty standard middle-grade mixed with zombie elements. It has a strong message and a great twist. I’m not a fan of the fat jokes but other than a few of those it was a very positive film.

Score: 1

Characters

All the characters were horror stereotypes but done with lots of heart. It’s great characterization that I ended up liking the zombies better than the townspeople.

Norman and his family are extremely believable and I have a soft spot for Neil. I definitely relate to him.

Also big props for Gay representation in 2012. Onward was banned in multiple countries for the same type of thing 8 years later.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The movie is utterly hilarious, balancing horror, humour, and heart, but it’s dialogue is forgotten as soon as it’s said.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The level of visual detail in the movie is utterly stunning. It’s beautiful even when it’s gross and grimy. The work and effect they managed is just fantastic. The blocking and camera work is so much better then most movies.

The music is suitably epic and well used.

Score: 1

Fun

My daughter loved it even though it was, “Kinda Scary”. I found that they created a great rhythm between scares and gags that helped her go from terrified to giggling. I enjoyed the adult jokes, the references to other movies, and the message that was well delivered.

Score: 1

Overall

A wonderful homage to horror movies with lots of heart and a great message. All that with some of the most impressive animation. It’s a perfect movie for October.

Final Score: 4.5

It Came from Outer Space – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1953 movie It Came from Outer Space.

Story

The story was interesting and delivered in a pretty good combination of dialogue and action. It was ridiculously dated, but I liked that it basically came down to the aliens crash landing in a bad neighbourhood and trying to GTFO as soon as possible.

I like the underlying narrative that we as a species are not ready to accept what we can’t understand and that what looks strange isn’t always evil.

Score: 1

Characters

Angry sheriff, writer with an open mind, scream queen, and various others. This was a standard cast for a sci-fi story from the 1940’s and 50’s.

Score: 0

Dialogue

This felt written by two people. The dialogue between the sheriff and the writer was pure Universal horror movie. The dialogue between the writer and the girl was pure Bradbury.

Half of it felt philosophical and high minded and the other half standard horror movie.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

This was a very well shot film. Other than a few odd angles it really did a great job building atmosphere and being pretty.

The music was pretty much a re-hash of other Universal monster movies at the time. I wouldn’t be surprised if everything was from something else.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This was a cerebral science fiction concept that the filmmakers desperately wanted to turn into a creature feature. That being said, I really enjoyed it.

Score: 1

Overall

At 70 years old, it’s a quaint film from a simpler time exploring ideas of what the cosmos might have in store. I love the narration at the beginning.

If this were made today it would either be an indie film or some weird action horror and frankly neither would do it justice.

Final Score: 3 Stars

Sleeping Beauty – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1959 film Sleeping Beauty.

Story

This is a classic. It’s now 61 years old and the 16th animated feature by Disney.

The story is pretty standard fairy tale with a little less death, rape, and horror in it than Grimm liked. A lot of the hour and seventeen minutes is spent of the set up to the big song number in the woods.

Other than some cringe-inducing grabbyness on Phillip’s side and some alcohol jokes that haven’t aged well, it held up pretty well.

The major difference with it and the more modern films is how simple the story is. Something that can be said about a lot of 1950 movies, not just the animated ones.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Poor Aurora had little to no choices in the movie. She was literally tossed around by the forces of fate and faerie.

Phillip was a nice strong hero but also felt young and less 1400 more 1950’s, which I suppose was the point.

The fathers, as is usual, were useless; and Aurora’s mother had almost no part.

Maleficent was a lonely, angry witch who could have used more motivation.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

On average, the dialogue was simple, easy to understand and very forgettable. Maleficent didn’t need to call herself the Mistress of Evil for us to know she was the baddie, but she did.

The narration at the beginning felt over exposition-y and could have been done in dialogue or visually instead.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

This was an absolutely gorgeous movie. Colourful, clean lines, no choppiness in animation. There are plenty of movies that don’t look half as good that came out in the past 10 years. The change in colour with the change in light source was beautiful, if a little over done.

The music was fantastic and catchy. If you don’t get Once Upon a Dream stuck in your head I’ll be surprised… and a little jealous.

Score: 1

Fun

This movie didn’t drag and if I found myself annoyed at the characters, there was always something visually stunning to look at. I had fun the entire time and wasn’t even tempted to look at my phone.

Score: 1

Conclusion

Overall, the movie was fun and beautiful. Some of the jokes fall flat after 60+ years but I didn’t need to pause and talk to my kids about what terrible thing was going on.

Final Score: 3 Stars