Movie Review – The Secret Life of Pets 2

 

Movie Review - The Secret Life of PetsSo here is what I hope: The Secret Life of Pets becomes its own universe, much like the Minions, and we can continue to enjoy the antics of Max, Duke and Snowball. There’s so much story left to tell about these citified critters who can’t stop getting into mischief. And now with the addition of Liam, the new kid on the block, there’s so much potential for crazy action and crazy love.

Much credit goes to the writer, Brian Lynch. He fleshed out the characters to the point that they’re very real to us, and that’s what a great movie needs: someone to care about.

The plot of the movie was, although not original, how do city dwellers fare in the great outdoors? We’ve seen this trope played out in television (Green Acres), and movies (City Slickers), and it never gets old. Heck, I’ve been a part of this trope when I graduated from my rural middle school with a student population of 35 kids, to a city high school with a population of over 400. Those first few months were both comical and embarrassing, much like Max’s first few days on the farm.

I whole-heartedly recommend this movie for the entire family, and if you’re not satisfied, feel free to email me at blahblahblah@blahblah.com and I’ll give back to you the 90 minutes spent watching it.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes:

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Secret Life of Pets. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for some action and rude humor
Genres: Adventure, Animation, Comedy

Movie Review – The Secret Life Of Pets

Movie Review – Minions

Despicable Me 2 – movie review

Movie Review – Pokemon Detective Pikachu

Movie Review - Pokemon Detective PikachuPokemon Detective Pikachu is a strange little movie. It’s beautifully done, and a great send up of the Poke-Verse…while also being a mad-cap whodunnit story, albeit one that fizzles a bit. But whether you’ll enjoy this outing depends on your relationship to this particular pop-culture gaming phenomenon.

If you know your Pokemon, you’ll revel in the seamless imagery of beloved creatures, smile a whole lot, laugh at their charm, and marvel at the delight of seeing your favorites come to life. Pikachu himself is a scene-stealer. You can’t beat the engaging Ryan Reynolds as the voice of anything; he gives the pint-sized yellow electric mouse a frenzied, fit-for-the-kids Deadpool sort of energy. This isn’t how I pictured my Pikachu sounding, but Reynolds makes it work with style.

Is the story-line coherent? Barely. It comes together well enough in the end. But that’s not the point. This is a great wish fulfillment film for fans.

If you’re NOT a Pokemon buff, you might want to give Pokemon Detective Pikachu a pass. Most of the pleasure derives from seeing favorites like Charazid, Bulbasaurus (so freaking cute!), Squirtle, Ditto, Eevee, Charmander, Jigglypuff — and even useless old Magicarp — interact with their humans in the real world.

If your eyes glazed over in that last sentence, Pokemon Detective Pikachu will assuredly go over your head. It’s still a cute time at the movies, but it won’t make sense. The story doesn’t stop to explain who or what Pokemon are about — it just tosses you into this world and hopes you’ll swim.

However, kids will take to this movie like a Psyduck to water just for the amazingly creative critters and their antics. They’ll definitely want to start catching Pokemon if they’re new to the game. Be warned: it’s incredibly addictive, but if you can get them playing Pokemon Go, they’ll also get a lot of exercise as a bonus.

As for adults, I still recommend playing Pokemon Go. Chasing Mons took over my life at a particularly rough point, giving me a way to climb out of a sad little hole. I still have a tremendous fondness for the entire enterprise…seeing these guys on the big screen filled my heart with happy little beats.

I didn’t care that the plot was a bit loose, or that the humans were a bit dull, because I had a good time on the journey. Bill Nighy did what he could with the material, and I normally am a HUGE Nighy fan, but he couldn’t elevate the actual plot. Again, not the point. You either bought your ticket to see cute Pokemon scamper in the real world, or because you wanted to hear Ryan Reynolds voicing the iconic Pikachu. In those areas, Pokemon Detective Pikachu delivers nicely.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: I recommend the 2nd Peetime. The plot is straightforward, and I assume anyone who goes see it is there for the Pokemons. So I tried to avoid cool Pokemon scenes in the Peetimes.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Pokemon Detective Pikachu. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for action/peril, some rude and suggestive humor, and thematic elements
Genres: Action, Adventure, Animation

Movie Review – UglyDolls – Best for toddlers, but a good message for all children


Movie Review - UglyDollsUgly Dolls is 87 minutes of bright color, almost constant motion, and singing — so much singing — which will make your toddler dizzy with delight. Parents will need to go to the nearest Starbucks for a jolt of caffeine before driving home.

The theme of the movie — learning to love yourself for who you are — is easily understood by the parents and kids over 6. However, the younger set, all the way down to the ‘still in diapers’ stage, won’t care, because they’ll be glued to the movement and color on the screen.

The songs all had messages in their lyrics, albeit with mixed messages. One sings about how if you’re ugly you’re not worthy of love; another has a happier message telling the listener that being ‘different’ only means you are “special.”

Again, it doesn’t matter — toddlers like sounds, not words. For all they care, the Ugly Dolls could be singing about tax reform, as long as it’s loud and strident.

Parents, here’s my suggestion: wait for the video. For under five dollars you can rent this movie and avoid the cost of tickets and the gold plated popcorn. And here’s the bonus; you can sleep through it.

Grade: C-

About The Peetimes: There’s so much color/action/song going on in this short film that I had to use one of the songs as a Peetime. Since the movie is only 87 minutes long, I felt that one Peetime, coming near the midway point in the story, should be adequate.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of UglyDolls. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for thematic elements and brief action
Genres: Adventure, Animation, Comedy

Movie Review – Missing Link – Fun, will appeal to all ages

Movie Review - Missing LinkLaika Animated Studios has given the fans another film to add to their collection of ‘Must See’ stop-motion movies.

Hiring Zach Galifianakis as the voice of Susan, the missing link, was a stroke of genius. Even though Susan is a large, frightening creature, Zach provided a voice that took away the fright, and replaced it with a calm, gentle, and innocent demeanor that makes us fall in love with the big guy.

Hugh Jackman and Zoe Saldana brought their ‘A’ game, bringing the two main human characters to life with just right amount of attitude, charisma, and love-ability.

The plot of Missing Link is for Susan to find his own kind of species, which takes him on a global search along with Lionel, a self-proclaimed explorer, and Adelina, a strong determined widow and former girlfriend of Lionel’s. Add all of this together, and you’ve got a fun-filled movie that will appeal to all ages.

Grade: B+

About The Peetimes: From opening credits to the end of the movie, is only 1 hour & 25 minutes, so I made a judgment call and felt that only 1 Peetime was needed.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Missing Link. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for action/peril and some mild rude humor
Genres: Adventure, Animation, Comedy

Movie Review – Wonder Park

Movie Review - Wonder ParkI’ve just spent half an hour reading several different reviews for Wonder Park and I just have to laugh, maybe hysterically laugh, at the verbosity spewed forth by the well paid critics.

It’s a toddler movie! Children care nothing about the movie’s conceptual resemblance to Inside Out. And a visual and aural cacophony of frenzied action sequences, is exactly what delights your children.  Loud sounds, and plenty of moving color and light, keep their attention. And the parents aren’t really watching the movie, they have their entertainment right there in their hands. The mother next to me played Solitaire all through the movie. They don’t care either.

All that being said, I enjoyed Wonder Park just fine. Children under eight — and old women with spotty short term memories — will have fun.

I felt that the animation was well done and there were a few catchy little songs that were pleasant. This film won’t win any Oscars, but who cares, the Oscars are dying anyway.

Grade: B

About The Peetimes: This was a short movie filled with plenty of action and dialog, making it just a little difficult getting good Peetimes. I have 2, spaced almost 20 minutes apart, and both will serve you well — so let your bladder decide.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Wonder Park. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for some mild thematic elements and action
Genres: Adventure, Animation, Comedy

Movie Review – The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

 

Movie Review - The Lego Movie 2: The Second PartWhat a charming, amusing, engaging, but ultimately fluffy bit of fun The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is. It’s right up there with the enjoyment level of the original Lego film and The Lego Batman Movie, although perhaps a little less sensibly told, narratively, than either.

The story rambles all over the place, with most scenes serving as adorable kiddie sight gags and adulty-level Easter Eggs. Nothing really important happens. ([pullquote]Remember — DUPLOS are the big bad now, so you have to go with that level of absurdly subversive cuteness. Somehow it works. Let your cynicism go.[/pullquote])

I wish there had been more of the kind of Master Builder moments we saw originally — which is kind of what the Lego phenomenon (“Kragle” aside) is about. I think there was one split-second where Lucy has a callback to her Master Building skills, and it’s instantly glossed over. However, note that Master Wrecking is now a thing. The double decker couch does make a return appearance…so yay there. 🙂

[pullquote position=”right”]There’s ultimately a fantastic message in Lego 2, about how your point of view informs your reality. [/pullquote]It’s a timely enough truism for all ages, whether you are a President in charge of the world, or a young kid just wanting to be included.

What else? We don’t get enough Unikitty (NEED MOAR kitty!), MetalBeard, or Benny the Spaceman…although Lucy, Emmet, and Batman do quite well for themselves. Chris Pratt carries off a dual role with his usual big-hearted goofy aplomb. (Most of the runtime showcases Pratt’s two characters talking to each other. It works, but takes away from the initial engaging ensemble appeal.)

There’s also a TON of fantastic minor voice cameos, illustrating how excited many celebrities were to have even a tiny bit to contribute to the Lego spotlight.

Also, if you like science fiction — and especially time travel movies — there’s a little nod to everything notable in that realm of film iconography. [pullquote]Pay close attention, and listen to every throw-away line.[/pullquote] (Example: even Hot Tub Time Machine has a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shoutout, and that’s digging deep into adorkable movie randomness.)

You can tell Chris Pratt, Will Arnett, and Elizabeth Banks — with the welcome addition of Tiffany Haddish — had a GREAT time filming their sequel. They clearly went all in. According to Chris Prat’s latest tweets, he’s thrilled with Lego 2. While Pratt seems legit thrilled with everything in life (he kind of IS Emmet), this is a worthwhile movie event for everyone.

I have no complaints (besides a couple of minor nits to pick, already mentioned), and had an “Awesome” time at the movies.

I even went to the Lego store next-door to my AMC theater immediately afterward, and picked up a mini-figure of Emmet, because I now kind of love him. (And then lost an hour wandering around and fantasizing about assembling Lego Deathstars, Hogwarts Castles, Millennium Falcons, and Jurassic Park set-pieces, but apparently that’s a hobby for the rich. Yikes. It makes me understand the whole “Kragel” business — if I spend that kind of money and time on something, nobody better not mess with it.)

[pullquote position=”right”]Well recommended, and see the 3D version if you can. Great for adults and children alike, although you’ll be a bit lost if you haven’t seen The Lego Movie 1 (“the first part”).[/pullquote]

PS: You don’t need to see Lego Batman to understand Lego 2 (Batman’s solo films is passed off with a toss-away line). And you can ignore The Lego Ninjago Movie entirely. Trust.

PPS: This song is gonna get stuck  inside your head. 

Grade: A-

About The Peetimes: I have 3 decent Peetimes up now and am trying to see if I can squeeze out a better one somewhere. This movie is FULL of Easter Eggs and humor, and it was nearly impossible to find a span of 3 minutes that we’d consider a great Peetime. I had to see this film twice last night. I’m going over my notes to see if I can tweak these to make them better. So far, the 1st Peetime is the best.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for mild action and rude humor
Genres: Action, Adventure, Animation

DVD at Amazon.com

Blue Ray at Amazon.com

Are the Four Lego Movies Sequels, Prequels, or Stand-Alone Films?

The Cast of Voices for The Lego Movie 2 – The Second Part

The Lego Movie 2 – Video and Lyrics to Catchy Song (This is song is gonna get stuck inside your head)

Chris Pratt and the Lego Cast go to Space Camp

Lego Movie 2 Holiday Short – Christmas is Awesome

Movie Review – The LEGO Batman Movie – One of the BEST Batman films, ever

Everything is Awesome – Video and Lyrics to The Lego Movie Theme Song

Movie Review – The LEGO Movie

Movie Review – How to Train Your Dragon 3 – The Hidden World – No Spoilers (A newbie’s initial review)

 

Movie Review - How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden WorldThis stunning third Dragon movie needs to be seen if you like the series, or even if you’re new to the series but ‘grown-up’ enough to long for dragons to bind with and fly with in your own right. In other words, you don’t even need an excuse to drag a kid along to Dreamworks anymore!

It’s not just a Pixar/Disney phenomenon. Really. Grownups can eat children’s cereals and watch animated films without societal permission.

The filmation here is glorious and the sentiment is never sappy. These ARE Vikings, ya’ll.

I’ve only seen the 3rd film, but I have the entire series in front of me to enjoy. So please excuse my initial Peetimes – I’ll update them with the insight of background, as I breeze thru the series this month.

[pullquote position=”right”]I suggest you catch the limited showing today,  at midday Feb 2, at your local AMC, or check times/tickets on Fandango. [/pullquote]You won’t be able to see this until the Wide Release showing until Feb 22 if you miss today’s.

[pullquote]Tissues Alert: you might get misty eyes, but probably won’t outright sob in this feel-good film, bearing an important message.[/pullquote]

___

I loved it for now. Let’s table the real review until I am up to date on each part of the trilogy. Be good, dragonriders!

Grade: A-

About The Peetimes: This movie isn’t released in the USA until February 22nd, although there is a small early nationwide Saturday release on Feb 2. I did manage to get to an early screening the day before. There’s a perfect Peetime at 37 minutes in, and you should take that if you can. The 2nd Peetime occurs before the climax and is easy to summarize, but is such a pretty scene that I gave it an Emergency status rating.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for adventure action and some mild rude humor
Genres: Action, Adventure, Animation

Other great animated films by Dreamworks Studios:

Movie Review – How to Train Your Dragon (No Spoilers)

Movie Review – The Boss Baby – Adults Love This More Than Infants

Movie Review – The Croods – Enough Fun and Humor for Adults Too

Movie Review – Turbo – Faster & Funnier Than a Snail’s Pace

Movie Review – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Movie Review - Spider-Man: Into the Spider-VerseAs my faithful followers know, I always review a movie based on the response of the target audience. Okay, that being said, I saw this movie with my 6 year old great-granddaughter. The child never took her eyes off the screen; she even forgot about the candy I purchased for her at the concession stand; only an ‘A’ movie could make her do that.

There’s so much good in this movie I don’t know where to begin. For me, watching this was a little like watching an animated version of Inception. Throughout the movie there would be scenes of color, movement, and music that would almost make you dizzy. It was wonderful.

The comic book character of Spider-Man absolutely screamed, “Animate me”. In animation, anything is possible; not so if the director is restricted by human form. In Spider-Verse we got to see Miles do outstanding things that wouldn’t be possible in a live-action movie.

This is the perfect holiday movie for the entire family, so while you’re at the mall, fighting crowds just to find that perfect gift (which will end up in the back of someone’s closet), take time to stop by the theater and spend two hours being wholeheartedly entertained.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: I have 2 good Peetimes. Neither one is really any better than the other, so use which ever is more suitable to your needs.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Movie Review – Ralph Breaks the Internet

 

Movie Review - Ralph Breaks the InternetI didn’t see the first Ralph movie, but it turns out that doesn’t matter. Everything interesting is explained, and the fun begins immediately.

I’ll say, right off the bat, that this movie is worth seeing on the big screen, although I look forward to having this on DVD so I can start and stop each frame at my leisure. I don’t think there’s another movie with this many in-jokes , asides, and easter-eggs crammed into each part of the story. It IS about the internet, after all.

In fact, right after the film ended, I went up to the  larger-than-life movie marquee poster and examined it for about ten minutes, to catch all the little internet allusions without stress.

I was there so long one woman asked me to get out of the way so her family could take a photo in front of it. Oops. I moved away with alacrity and some embarrassment. I’m supposed to be a grownup and not excited by cartoons, right? LOL. [pullquote]I’m (proudly) geeky enough to announce that this film was a big treat and not only to me: the audience roared with laughter the entire runtime.[/pullquote] It made finding Peetimes a challenge.

You do NOT want to miss the Disney section, at all, with the Princesses and the Star Wars characters. And I can happily report that almost everyone playing their original characters showed up for a voice cameo. And then some!

[pullquote position=”right”]Look at the cast credits as they scroll, and see if you picked up on any of the many celebrity voices. You’ll have to sit there until the end in anyway, to catch the prankish extra scene.[/pullquote]

Ralph 2 simply rocked. See this in 3-D if you can, but see it on the big screen no matter what. This movie is ginormous fun and should not be missed.

If you take the family to see this on the holiday season, I promise that kiddos and adults alike will have a great time.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: Note: my showing had a ‘thank you to the fans’ segment before the film began. Don’t start the timer at this point. Wait until the Disney Castle fades afterward. I’d recommend the 1st Peetime if possible. The movie is so chock-full of great things to see in the internet-verse, with so many in-jokes that are truly amusing — you won’t want to miss much of this film.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Ralph Breaks the Internet. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Movie Review – The Grinch (2018)

 

Movie Review - The Grinch
Max the dog was cute. So was Fred the Reindeer. So, not a total loss.

It’s time to cease re-doing The Grinch. Full stop.

I can’t believe I was sucked into thinking this movie would add anything to the tale that wasn’t done perfectly already in the 1966 Xmas Special. What can I say, except to watch that perfect, iconic 26-minute version again, and to skip this bit of ‘meh.’. SKIP IT. YOU HEAR ME? It’s simply not good. Everything funny was shown in the trailer, and anything emotionally resonant still lies in that long ago Special that still holds up, after all this time.

If you want to feel touched by the Grinch’s heart growing three times, return to the original, and use that as your annual holiday touchstone. You’ll get misty-eyed, and walk away feeling good about life. Not so with this flick. This Grinch had great animated hair, and that’s all I can really say about it.

Moreso, egregiously, none of the genius grinchy musical numbers made it into this feature. It’s too bad, as I was ready to sing along with the audience. This was a just a big waste of time. I’m actually mad about it. STOP rebooting the Grinch, Hollywood! Is anybody listening?

The entire Cindy Lou Who subplot was a boring, meandering, meaningless misfire. Her “big” question for Santa underwhelmed, and her friends had no personality. What was the point of introducing them?

I honestly don’t know why the producers thought they could improve on the animated classic with this dreck. Even the lamented Jim Carrey live-action version was better, and that’s saying a lot.

I LOVE the classic Grinch story from Dr. Seuss, but can’t understand why this 2018 movie was necessary. Stick with the 1957 book or the 1966 TV special, and you’ll understand why this story is so important, so enduring. Loneliness and alienation are real concerns, and that first story offers hope for us all, even if we are sometimes humbugs where Christmas is concerned.

What did work in this film: Max the dog and Fred the reindeer. They had the most laughs from the young audience. As for the Grinch, not even Benedict Cumberbatch could make this film work.

Grade: D+

About The Peetimes: This is a short movie, and only 2 of the Peetimes are workable. The 1st one is really nice and long. The 2nd is fine too. Don’t use the 3rd Peetime if you don’t know the story of the Grinch — it’s just for emergencies.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of The Grinch. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

The Grinch Who Keeps Stealing Christmas