Girl Vs. Monster – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2012 film Girl Vs. Monster.

Story

This is a fairly simple story about facing your fears. It’s surprisingly well thought out with lots of fun throughout. It has aged much better than I expected.

Score: 1

Charaters

When I first watched it I really liked the assistant and the main character. Watching it now, the best friend is seriously the most awesome character. The parents are annoying but understandable and most of the characters are good but a little shallow. The movie could have done with less secondary charters.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is often a little bit too much on point and is interestingly already dated. It has some nice layers but its mostly just okay.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie uses its sets, cinematography, and special effects very well. The special effects are cheesy, but the sets are well done and I was impressed with the camera work.

The music was good. It was obvious that they had 2 songs and a small score, but it worked and helped move the plot forward instead of just taking time.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I liked this movie the first time I saw it and still liked it this time. I had both kids snuggling into me during the scary parts and both really liked it. They both got really excited at the big music scene. It also kept both of them interested the whole time without snacks. The day after, the 2 year old asked, “Watch Scary Movie?” which is super cute.

Score: 1

Overall

A good intro to horror adventure movies for kids, few scares but no trauma. With it’s strong message and wonderful soundtrack it’s a great cheesy Disney scary movie.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Chicken Little – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2005 film Chicken Little.

Story

This is three shorts in one poorly transitioned and linked by nothing but characters. Instead of transition scenes to bring us between family drama, baseball, and aliens; we get fat, fart, ugly, and useless jokes.

Score: 0

Characters

Someone threw darts at a board filled with clichés then picked the ones with the best mock-able attributes. I have never seen so many jokes at the expense of the main characters in any Disney movie before.

The parent who doesn’t believe their child trope needs to go away forever.

Score: 0

Dialogue

There was a lot of clever meta-jokes about the genre. From jokes about the movie Aliens, to Indiana Jones, some were clever, others not so much.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

I’m not sure what style Disney was going for, but the visuals are average to mediocre for the time and abysmal for now. The character design was poorly thought out and the scaling was odd.

The music was a lovely nostalgic hit of the mid-aughts.

Score: 0.5

Fun

The urge to scream at the screen was hard to push down. So much about this annoyed me. The kids liked it enough, although the two year old wasn’t all that interested after an hour.

Score: 0

Overall

This is one of the movies people forget is Disney. I think we should just forget it completely. Abysmal jokes with no connections between the sections. Its writing is more concerned with insults both to its characters and its audience’s intelligence.

Final Score: 1 Star out of 5

Shameless Birthday Promotion

Hello Readers,

Tomorrow is my birthday. Why not buy yourself something nice in my honour?

Here are a few options:

Books

All of these are available from the following stores:

Preorder my newest novel

Coffee Shop Between the 'Verses
Coffee Shop Between the ‘Verses

Available at the following stores

Coffee

Buy some coffee from JenEric Gourmet Coffee

Other Options

If you’re not comfortable or able to buy anything, why not consider reviewing the books you’ve already read? Review them on the site you bought them and/or GoodReads.

Thank you!

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

The Lion King – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1994 film The Lion King.

Story

The story is an extremely simple retelling of Hamlet with a little less brooding. It’s iconic and still believable. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters are fun and have believable arcs. I find it extremely strange that Simba and Nala have separate voice and song actors. I have also always found Simba miscast at both ages.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue is extremely clever and the one liners are part of any Disney fans vocabulary. There’s little dialogue in the movie that doesn’t have more than one meaning and that’s a lot of fun.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie is beautiful and the animation, especially right at the beginning, is spectacular.

I’ve seen the shows at Disney and heard parts of the Broadway play. Both are a little richer and cleaner. However, the music in this is wonderful. The opening song is one of my favourite opening sequences.

Score: 1

Fun

Older Disney movies are hard for me to judge the fun factor because they are so enmeshed with nostalgia. However, my kids were glued to the screen and my four year old gasped in all the right places.

Score: 1

Overall

Other than a few awkward jokes (and some miscasting in my opinion) the movie has aged extremely well and is worth watching just for the opening sequence. This is a movie that all ages will and have loved.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Wish Dragon – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Wish Dragon.

Story

An interesting re-imagining of the wishing trope. The main character is adorable and actually as innocent as he seems. The dragon is both funny and has an interesting backstory.

The movie does get bogged down by forced awkwardness and ridiculous drama. The story is at it’s best when it’s exploring family and community and at it’s worst when it veers to close to romance.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main character is adorable and only does stupid stuff because he’s very trusting of the magical dragon.The dragon is over the top and completely out of his depth. The friend is the definition of dutiful and conflicted about it.

The goon villains are cute and scary while the main villain was a nice surpise.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Clever and funny, but not extremely memorable, the dialogue serves its purpose. There are a few good lines, especially the dialogue between the main characters.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie looks very similar to what other top studios are doing, character design looks pulled from Pearl Studios or Blue Sky Studios. There are moments of pure beauty, however.

The music is lovely and really accentuates the story.

Score: 1

Fun

Overall, the movie is a lot of fun. The kids loved it and other than that annoying middle part, it was a joy to watch. I was excited to have a movie all about friends and felt a little betrayed when they played with the possibility of the characters becoming love interests.

Score: 1

Overall

A wonderful addition to the animated “genie” genre. It is a lot of fun, but sacrifices some depth for awkward humour and a few too many chase scenes. In the end it’s pretty, has a great moral and is fun to watch.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

I Tried a Meal Kit Delivery Service and I Wasn’t Impressed

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I had grand plans on making this a series where I tried a bunch of meal kits and gave you my honest review of each. I even had a grading system and everything planned out.

Then I tried one and decided I didn’t have the time, energy, or will to do more than one.

I was not paid to do this review and will not include any links. I am an experienced home cook who’s been cooking for over twenty years and have a very well stocked kitchen.

Chef’s Plate Meal Kit Review

I got a massive discount on trying this and decided to give it 2 boxes. So far I’ve only done 1 box which was 2 separate meals.

Thai Fried rice in 4 bowls

The box was outside in the heat for more time than I’d like but none of the ingredients suffered.

Portions

The portions for both the Thai Fried Rice and the BBQ Salmon were impressive. It’s equivalent to what you’d get in a restaurant. We made the mistake of ordering the 4 person portion and the kids did not eat enough to make it worth it.

Score: 20/20

Level of Complexity

This isn’t for your absolute beginner. The instructions are simple, but the tools and timing needed are harder to master. Not to mention that nothing is defined.

If you get this and you don’t have a well stocked kitchen, you’ll be running out to get tools or pans.

I’d also say that they use way too many pans. The Thai Fried Rice had 4 pans in the instructions. I used my rice cooker for the rice and 1 pan for the rest. Same thing for the BBQ salmon. It needed 3 pans and the BBQ.

One piece of equipment that they do not mention in the instructions that I found invaluable was a good pair of scissors. EVERYTHING is packaged in these tiny little bags that are practically impenetrable. Wasteful and annoying.

Finally my biggest complaint was that it wasn’t formatted like a recipe. I would have been fine with it if there had been more detail, but this is not something you give or use if you don’t already know how to cook.

My entire family has some interesting allergies and I was downright angry that all the ingredients were not published in the kit. I took the chance on me and my wife since they rarely add chocolate to a spice mix, but I couldn’t have served this to my in-laws. I also skipped the Mediterranean spices in case it would affect my wife.

I repeat; none of the spice mixes or sauces had ingredient lists.

Score: 5/20

Quality

I was not impressed with the quality of the produce, but the meat was nice. The overall product wasn’t bad and I’d say it was a decent quality meal.

The packaging was a pain from start to finish though.

Score: 10/20

Taste

This should be the most important category. When it comes to cooking for kids, it isn’t always, unfortunately.

Either way, the Fried rice and the Salmon were good in the sense that I didn’t hate them. My daughter gave the Fried rice a thumbs up but didn’t finish her plate and refused leftovers the next day.

My son loved the roasted red peppers and zucchini, but that was literally all he’d eat. My wife seemed moderately pleased which is not her default for my cooking.

I would have been better off going to pick up Thai Express or just cooking myself.

Score: 10/20

Fun

I was hoping this would work out to be a fun activity. I had an image of sitting around the laptop deciding on the meals and everyone getting excited. Big NOPE there. Choosing the meals was exactly like meal planning. No one agreed or no one cared.

I was also hoping to get an Ikea Effect from the meal. I did not. I was mostly annoyed and swearing at the instructions for making more dishes to clean then needed.

I did like the colour and that the meals looked like their pictures.

Score: 10/20

Overall

This wasn’t a terrible experience, but it wasn’t a lot of fun. I don’t find it saved much time and at full price with shipping it will cost more than a quick restaurant.

I wanted this to not need to stress about meal planning and prep. Unfortunately, it didn’t help and added an extra frustration in the prep. This is great for those who can’t prep or shop for themselves, but not my thing.

Final Score: 55/100

Final Words

The experience told me that what I need is to find better delivery options that are local. This wasn’t for me and no one was all that happy about it.

What I’ll remember most (other than those annoying bags) is my almost two year old saying, “Couscous” over and over again.

Stay Safe and be kind,

Éric

Stress and Viewing Habits

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

If you haven’t guessed from previous blog posts, I’m a big fan of stories. I love to read, write, watch TV, watch movies, and just enjoy stories in general.

In 2020, the family and I watched 73 movies. I had so many movies that I had to do two reviews a week for a while and we did series as one post.

This year is completely different. I’m watching one movie a week and it’s often because I need a review for that weekend.

On the flip side, last year, we barely watched any television other than HGTV and Food network shows, DC’s Stargirl, Just Add Magic, and a few Disney shows. To some that would seem like a lot, but it’s nothing compared to this year. We’re still watching the HGTV and Food Network shows, but have added a binge of Leverage, Superman and Lois, Kung Fu, Bureau of Magical Things, WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and High School Musical The Musical The Series. We’ll be adding more as stuff ends and new things start.

It’s interesting to me that we’ve transitioned from movies to TV. Was it that there was nothing to watch? or did our needs change?

I think that for the better part of 2020, we felt like we were in a holding pattern, waiting to see what would happen. This led us to not wanting to invest time in something we might not be able to finish. So we binged a bunch of movies. With cinemas still closed but being used to the routine, we’ve started expanding our tastes to things that we don’t have to learn new characters every couple of days.

Basically we went from too stressed to commit to a TV series to just stressed enough that we don’t want to deal with new characters every few days.

The idea of watching a movie and learning the stories and personalities of the characters sounds exhausting when I could just watch a couple of episodes of Leverage, where I know the characters and can concentrate on the fun of the story.

If you need movie ideas and ranks check out the JenEric Movie Reviews every Saturday.

No matter what you’re watching, I hope you’re having fun.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Flora & Ulysses – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 Film Flora & Ulysses.

Story

A very simple mixture of “cute pet” and “superhero origin story” combined with some top notch narration. The story flows well and is pretty solid. It’s a wonderful example of a post-modern plot taking inspiration from multiple other stories. It wasn’t perfect and had some awkward story points and things that weren’t fully explored.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The movie is about the characters more than the plot. The multiple journeys and stories are all very well acted and despite some seriously silly moments, the characters are likeable and grow. As both parents were writers of a sort, I certainly felt for them.

Score: 1

Dialogue

This movie has jokes within jokes and is seriously much funnier than it should be. Some of the lines are ridiculously YA, but overall it’s better written dialogue than many adult movies.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

It’s a surprisingly beautiful movie with well thought out cinematographic. The music was suitably heroic with wonderful callbacks to the MCU.

Score: 1

Fun

I went into this expecting another YA insult to cinema like Stargirl. I was not only pleasantly surprised, I laughed harder than I have in a long time. Both kids were glued to the TV and my wife, mother-in-law, and I laughed a lot.

Score: 1

Overall

A heartwarming film with plenty of Easter eggs for any diehard superhero fan. It’s a movie that will keep kids’ attention and keep the parents laughing throughout. A great combination of physical and wordplay comedy along with a fantastic cast make this one of the best comedies I’ve seen in a long time.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5

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