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

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.

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

The Gnome-Mobile – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 1967 movie The Gnome-Mobile.

Story

I was completely invested until about twenty minutes in when it changed from a gnome-mobile road trip movie to a horror of mental institutes. The idea that a lone psychiatrist, in a for-profit institute, interviewing someone who thinks they’re talking to a private eye, without legal counsel or family involved, can strip someone of all their rights… it’s creepy and terrifying.

Then the movie turned into some sort of little people orgy fantasy that was heavy on the misogyny.

Score: 0

Character

Not much character development or character in general. The actors however acted the heck out of very poorly defined characters. Each role was done extremely well, even though the characters were pretty bland.

The problem with having two kids in a movie is that you risk them becoming one character. That’s what happened here. Had there been only one kid, we’d have almost the exact same story.

Don’t get me started on the misogyny of the gnome-maiden that was the most desireable was the demure and shy one while the strong, competitive ones were painted as mean.

Score: 0

Dialogue

There were a lot of words and yelling, but overall it was the little jokes and quips that made it worth watching. Between long, boring yelling sections, you got parts with genuine humour.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie is extremely impressive for it’s time. The special effects used and the camera work was excellent. Add to that the car chase and it’s really impressive.

Something else that has to be added is the backgrounds. To fill in the backgrounds to make it look like they were actually in a forest and not the backlot, they had elaborate paintings. These were not noticable if you weren’t looking, but they were absolutely gorgeous.

The music was catchy and cute.

Score: 1

Fun

I have to admit it was fun. Both kids and the rest of the family enjoyed it. I had issues with the predictability and mental health aspects and the rampant misogyny which took away the fun for me.

Score: 0.5

Overall

This is a movie where the special effects, dialogue, and acting are far better than the story deserves. It’s awkward, creepy, and frustrating.

Final Score: 2.5 Stars out of 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

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

Lord of the Rings Extended Trilogy – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2001-2003 films Lord of the Rings Extended Trilogy.


*Disclaimer* I have watched these films as a marathon every year since 2007. They’re basically part of my holiday ritual and I’m completely not objective.


Story

The story is an interpretation of one of the greatest influences on modern Western fantasy. It’s hard to judge the story critically when it is so foundational.

That being said, I think there’s some seriously problematic connotations about people of colour and women.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The movies are filled with fantastic characters. As much as I hate Frodo and the archetypal everyman character, the movies made each character unique and memorable.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Infinitely quotable to the nerds among us. The movie doesn’t deviate too much from the wonderful dialogue of the books and when it does, improves it.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

For a nearly 20 year old movie the visuals hold up spectacularly (we watched the 4K version and it was worth it.) New Zealand is gorgeous, the practical effects hold up better than some more recent movies, and the CGI looks pretty good. There are some lighting issues and world interaction issues with the CGI.

The music… holy shit the music. The layering and themes… gah, it’s so beautiful.

Score: 1

Fun

The 12 hours were a little hard on the kids, but the adults were as enthralled as ever. I’m constantly amazed at how the movie keeps people’s attention and sparks conversation.

Score: 1

Overall

These movies are a staple of our holiday season; I’ve probably seen them two dozen times since they released and I still find new things every year. Upgrading to the 4K was more than worth it for the colour and sound correction that was done.

They are some of my favourite movies and I admit that I am nowhere near objective.

Final Score: 4.5 Stars out of 5