Archive for Kid-Friendly

Monsters Vs. Aliens

Posted in Movie with tags , , , , , on August 7, 2010 by ldw

I really didn’t like this movie.  I thought it was really dumb.  Now, my nieces love it – but they also like things like SpongeBob and Big Time Rush.  It’s about a girl, named Susan Murphy, who is hit with a comet and becomes huge – bigger than buildings huge – and is put into a government program with other monsters.  Others in the program include, B.O.B., Dr. Cockroach Ph.D., The Missing Link, and Insectosaurus.  These are the monsters that are kept in a secret location so that they couldn’t hurt anyone.  Then the Alien comes.  Gallaxhar is a squid-like alien looking for the comet that hit Susan because it contained a power that he needed to create a multitude of cloned minions.  He gains the power from Susan and makes his clones but don’t worry; all hope is not lost!  Susan learns that she can be independent and strong and she saves the day.

This movie contains the voices of Reese Withersppoon, Seth Rogan, Hough Laurie, Will Arnett, Keifer Sutherland, Rainn Wilson, Steven Colbert, and Paul Rudd.  This A-list cast doesn’t help the movie at all.  Steven Colbert is great as the president and Reese Witherspoon is fun as Susan but that’s about all I can say for this movie.

Anyway, boo.

Rating: 1/2

Hannah Montana: The Movie

Posted in Movie with tags , , , , , , on August 19, 2009 by ldw

Okay … I’ll say it.  I LOVED this movie.  I even cried a little!

So this movie is about Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus) who is secretly the mega superstar Hannah Montana.  Unfortunately for everyone in her life, Stewart has allowed her secret mega super-stardom to go to her head.  She acts entitled around her family and friends and even in front of the media.  She ruins her best friend, Lily’s (Emily Osment) birthday.  She fights for a pair of shoes again Tyra Banks (not sure why anyone would go against Miss Banks … I love you, you feisty woman!)  So to get her head back on straight, Miley’s father, Robbie Ray (Billy Ray Cyrus) “kidnaps” her and takes her back to Tennessee where she grew up before her mother (Brooke Shields) died.  Robbie hopes that once Miley is back in TN she will reconnect with who she truly is.  There is romance, costume changes, the standby “I need to be two people in two places at one time” shtick, great moments of love and tenderness, and all the other things you expect from a Disney movie.

Miley Cyrus was great – better than when she’s on Disney channel – as Miley Stewart.  Emily Osment was (as always) amazing as Lily (I love her and can’t wait to see what else she does).  Lucas Till was decent as Travis Brody but nothing extremely noteworthy.  No one else was any good (except Tyra and Vanessa Williams).

Disney did well with this movie.

Rating: * * * 1/2

Hannah Montana The Movie

Race to Witch Mountain

Posted in Movie with tags , , , , , on June 6, 2009 by ldw

Dwayne Johnson plays an ex-con on the straight and narrow who is trying to turn his life around as a cab driver.  Unfortunately, his former boss isn’t ready to let him go because he is such a great driver.  During one such encounter with the mob boss’ henchmen (who seem to get beat up a lot in this movie) , Jack Bruno (Johnson) receives two very interesting passengers – who snuk into his cab.

They ask him to just drive in a general direction and it takes the three of them on a long drive into the desert.  As Jack drops the kids off he has a bad feeling about things and ends up following the brother and sister team into the abandoned house and into the crazy basement.  It is here that the kids find what they were looking for and the assassin finds them!

Sara (Anna Sophia Robb) and Seth (Alexander Ludwig) and Jack Bruno race out of the house just in time to miss being blown up by the Siphon (assassin).  They get back in their cab and don’t know where to go now.  They decide to go to see Dr. Alex Friedman (Carla Gugino), the foremost scientific expert on UFOs.  The foursome’s time together is cut short so they seek help from a conspiracy theorist who helps them escape the federal agents after them.

Did I mention that Sara and Seth are aliens?  Sara can move objects with her mind and read the minds of those closest to her (including animals).  Seth can manipulate his molecular density to move through things or to take on great impacts (like being hit by a car).  They need whatever they found in the basement in order to stop the total destruction of earth by their home planet.

Now all they have to do is find their ship and get out of here!

The acting is much better than most kid-friendly movies.  I like Dwayne Johnson as and actor and I love Anna Sophia Robb!  I can’t wait to see what else she can do as she grows and matures as a person and an actor.

The CGI wasn’t bad either – it wasn’t perfect but it worked well.  The car chases are exciting but not too scary for kids.  The action is fun and adventurous.  And the story line is almost deep!

It’s funny and sad and hopeful and just plain old good!

Rating: * * * *

race_to_witch_mountain

Hotel For Dogs

Posted in Movie with tags , , , , , , , on June 5, 2009 by ldw

So this isn’t some extreme movie that will change the world, but it was super cute.

It’s about an orphaned brother and sister who are best friends and refuse to be separated.  This leads to some crappy foster home placements and lots of acting out for them.  They aren’t acting out because they’re “bad kids” but because they have a secret pet dog who they are trying to feed and care for without their foster parents finding out.  This isn’t easy to do – as you can imagine – so they get in trouble a lot for the shenanigans they plan.

During one such romps, their dog sneaks into an abandoned hotel and all their adventures begin!

Bruce (Jake T Austin) is a creative little kid who can make just about anything you may need with a little ingenuity and elbow grease.  He starts building things for Friday (the dog) and the two other dogs living in the hotel.  As his contraptions begin to work, Bruce and Andi (Emma Roberts) – along with new friends Dave (Johnny Simmons), Heather (Kyla Pratt), and Mark (Troy Gentile) – start rescuing stray dogs all over the city.  In the end there are about thirty dogs living at the hotel and the kids feel like a real family for the first time in a long time.  *tear*

But then one of Bruce’s contraptions stops working – and it’s the one that feeds the dogs!  Well, the dogs go crazy and destroy everything in the hotel and alert the dog catchers who round up all the dogs – even Friday – and take them to the pound.  But the kids have a plan to rescue the dogs once and for all!

Watch the movie to see what happens!

The storyline is cheesy but cute and it teaches kids an important lesson about being yourself no matter what others think!  It also teaches them that doing what is right is the most important thing!  And that with a little creativity and good friends you can accomplish anything you’re heart desires.  All of these are messages that our kids aren’t hearing enough!  In fact in many cases they are hearing the opposite of this!

The acting is good – Emma Roberts  is great and I heart her dark hair!  I mean they are kid actors who are just starting out but I didn’t hate the acting.

There is nothing stellar about the cinematography – just another kids’ movie.  But it was cool to see all the contraptions they built and to watch the dogs act!  Dogs are just so cute!

Rating: * * *

Hotel For Dogs

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Posted in Movie with tags , , , , , on June 4, 2009 by ldw

Brendan Fraser gets a bad rap … mostly because his movie choices are horrible, but this time was different.  I didn’t want to see this movie because of Fraser but I’m glad I did.  Fraser stars as Prof. Trevor Anderson who takes his nephew, Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) on the adventure of a life time.  Sean’s dad beleived that Jules Verne’s book “Journey to the Center of the Earth” was not solely a science fiction novel but a map to find the center of the earth.  He spent his entire career and life searching for proof.  Trevor took over the search when his brother never returned from a trip to find the center.

It’s been a few years and Sean is coming to see his uncle when something changes on one of the many readouts Trevor is working on.  The two quickly fly to the location of the change and find another scientist – Hannah Asgeirsson (Anita Briem).  Hannah’s father had been collegues with Trevor’s brother and had also gone missing on the expedition where Sean lost his father.  The three of them start out for the specific location of the temperature change and from there the real adventure begins!

They fall through a hole in the earth and after many miles … are still falling.  They finally come to a stop after riding a river roller coaster.  They find an entire world under the surface of our own!  There are plants and an ocean and animals and bugs and food and everything.  They find the house that the missing scientists built along with their journals and other belongings solidifying once and for all that the men were dead.

Well, after spending a few minutes in this surreal world, they decide to leave.  Oh, and it’s getting hotter by the minute – literally.  They can’t find a way out and are beginning to panic until they decide to sail across the ocean.  They make it but get seperated in the process.  Then there’s a dinosaur (A NOTE TO HOLLYWOOD – T-REX WASN’T THE KING OF THE DINOSAURS.  HE WAS PROBABLY A SAVENGING BEAST … THINK THE VULTURES OF THE DINO WORLD.  STOP MAKING HIM THE BIG BAD DINO!!!  IT’S JUST UNREALISTIC.).

I’ll leave it there – now you’ll only know if they get out by watching the movie! *evil laughter*

Fraser is great in this movie – he really should stop making Mummy remakes and stick to comedic family-friendly films.  He is believeable as the awkward uncle to work ubsessed to care who learns from his ways.  Josh Hutcherson is a great little actor.  I’m excited to see what else he may have to offer outside of the family movie genre.  Anita was even good as the overly beautiful but extremely smart scientist who “saves the boys” and “wins the hearts of all.”

I even enjoyed the crazy CGI.  I mean the Dino looks ridiculously fake but it’s fun.  Some of the CGI was excellent but it didn’t matter because they made it work and it made the story even better!  I love the imagination of Jules Verne as well as the computer geeks who brought it to the silver screen.

It was good clean fun and an enjoyable movie!

Rating: * * * 3/4

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Speed Racer

Posted in Movie with tags , , , , , , on May 19, 2009 by ldw

I was not excited about seeing Speed Racer, but I buckled down(pun intended)  and put in on my Netflix account and when it came I actually enjoyed it!

I LOVED the colors and the CGI.  It’s Speed Racer – it’s supposed to look like that!  I thought the cinematography continued the story through the pictures and animation and action.  It pulled me into the story and sucked me into the Racer family!

Emile Hersch plays Speed and I thought he was perfect.  I mean he had just finished Into the Wild and he jumped into this role.  It really showed his versatility as an actor.  I believed Speed and I thought he really cared deeply about his family.

The rest of the cast was perfect – Susan Sarandon as Mom Racer, John Goodman as Pops Racer, Paulie Litt as Spritle Racer, Scott Porter as Rex Racer, Matthew Fox as Racer X, and Christina Ricci as Trixie.  The ensemble cast was stellar too! I enjoyed watching them act.

Speed is a great racecar driver just like his older brother Rex.  The entire Racer family is involved in the racing world!  But when Rex dies in a racing accident, Speed takes it extremely hard.  He plans to avenge his brothers death by becoming the best racer EVER!  But he falls into the same ills as Rex – being good enough to be pursued by a Professional Racing Team.  Speed uses this and his family and friends to bring down the corrupt racing industry so that the true racers can get back to what they love!

It has a great message of family and values not to mention the idea that good triumphs no matter how powerful or rich evil is.  It was a fun and interesting movie that made you think and feel and laugh.  It did everything a movie is supposed to do and they did it without cursing, sex, or other negative things.

Rating: * * * *

Speed Racer

City of Ember

Posted in Movie with tags , , , on May 16, 2009 by ldw

I read this book right before I saw the movie and unfortunately the book is better.  Most people would say that is always the case, but I would disagree.  Many times a book is better but there have been movies from books that the movie is the preferred choice – it may not be because they reenacted the book perfectly but because they held on to all the greatness of the book.  City of Ember did not do that.

Usually I can seperate myself from the book when I watch a movie but I could not do that this time!

There were so many times I caught myself thinking or saying “That didn’t really happen” or “What about xyz!”  It was frustrating because I thought the acting was decent and I was too distracted to really appreciate it.

Saoirse Ronan (Lina Mayfleet) was a perfect choice for this role.  She is our heroine and the benefactor of the people of Ember.   She is helped by Harry Treadaway (Doon Harlow), her old school mate.  Unfortunately the characters are not developed in a way that allows these child actors to really bring them out.  There were many times I felt I was watching Ronan play Briony from Atonement – it was hard to see her exclusively as Lina.

The City of Ember is an underground place where the people live in relative ignorance and darkness – figuratively and literally.  The city was created by the “Builders” many years ago to save the world.  The people in Ember were supposed to exit the city after 200 years but the instructions for leaving were lost along the way and now the city is running out of everything – food, electricity, light bulbs – and they have no way to get out.  In fact the citizens of Ember don’t even know they are supposed to leave!  Lina finds the missing instructions but only after her baby sister has chewed on them creating a puzzle.

Together Doon and Lina figure out the instructions and escape Ember for the real world.  They learn that Ember was created during WWII from fear of atomic bombs.  Now it is up to these two children to save the people of Ember!

It’s a great story for kids and younger teens – both the book and the movie!  It empowers them to pursue their dreams and fight for what they want in life.  No one should stop you from reaching your goal!

Overall, very cute movie – see it BEFORE reading the book.

Rating: * * * 1/2

City of Ember