Kubo's Brilliance Makes Laika the Next Pixar for Kid Movies




From the moment I saw the Kubo and the Two Strings trailer with that brilliant use of a Beatles song, I knew I was in.  In fact, I could say, from the moment I saw Coraline or Paranorman, I was in.  I have been following this studio’s (Laika) work since their first major motion picture (Corraline).  While I didn’t love Coraline, I couldn’t wait to see more.  Next was Paranorman which is my favorite Laika film.  The bottom line, is that I cannot say enough about how amazing the animation is coming out of this studio.




To say that Laika is on par with Pixar is probably a bit of an understatement.  While Pixar continues to deliver beautifully animated movies with funny characters and touching moments, I would say Laika one ups them in one area in particular.  The animation is just stunning in a Laika movie.  Yes, it is stop motion animation like Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach and all of those old Rudolph Christmas shorts.  But this animation is just incredible.  We are seeing animation that is unprecedented creatively.  I am telling you, it is that breathtaking.




In addition to creating a beautiful looking movie, Laika has delivered an actual really good movie.  Even if they had not animated a frame of this movie, it would still be a very cool movie to watch.  The story is good, the characters are great, and the writing is funny and touching in all of the right moments.  Just when we thought the summer of 2016 was a bust with underwhelming sequels and reboots, we are blessed with two brilliant kids’ movies.  While Pete’s Dragon was an unexpected Disney delight, Kubo and the Two Strings is as close to pure kid movie genius as we have seen all year.

Wow, this is a quick fun inexpensive board game my family just fell in love with!





Though we normally cover kid movies here we don't mind taking a moment to share a few items that we have found that our kids totally love.  Our latest is a board game from the amazing company Blue Orange games.  Over the years they have put out some games that our family has just loved! 


Well, yesterday, my 8 year old came home from his first day of school in tears.  This did not stop for several hours.  It would seem nothing could console the little guy about his new strange school or his new strange teacher etc.  That is until I brought out the game Gigamons that I had been sent to review.  He LOVED it.  What was surprising was how much the rest of us loved it as well. 


At it's heart this is a game of memory, where you turn over tiles and try to remember where the matching pairs are.  But, do not let that scare you away.  I am easily the worst memory player in my family, and I had a great time playing Gigamons.  The reason for that is that there are so many fun additions that make this take on the classic memory game so much better.








First, you have super powers.  Each time you get a pair of little monsters, you get a superpower that lets you do something cool in the game, like stealing other people's monsters, drawing a random monster for yourself, or sneaking a peak at the tiles already on the board.  Plus, once you get three of the same monster, you evolve your little monster into a big monster.  And, once you get three big monsters, you win!  My kids loved that last game mechanic as it reminded all of us of the evolution mechanic from the Pok√©mon Go game we have been obsessed with in our family lately.


All in all this is an awesome game.  It is simple to set up, to learn, and to play.  The game has beautiful artwork and tons of creativity in making an old game of memory into something my whole family enjoyed and can't wait to play again.  Blue Orange games has done it again!

Is BFG That Great of a Kid's Movie Worthy of the Spielberg Name?





There was a time when Spielberg was really own known for wowing audience with spectacle and heart. He had not yet ventured into his historical serious movie making days. Instead we as an audience were treated to the delight of whatever amazing wonder Spielberg would decide to put on the screen next. Perhaps the pinnacle of this period of Spielberg’s filmmaking was E.T. Well, BFG is a return to this time of innocence and wonder for Spielberg. Heck, he even hired the writer of E.T. to adapt the Roald Dahl story for this movie! That’s right, we have the writer of E.T. writing this thing! Awesome. What other reason do we need to watch it?! Well how about it is actually a really great family movie.

Yes, there are a couple of issues. Perhaps the little girl here is too full of wonder, and too innocent. But really, is that such a bad thing? Leave the cynicism and dark tales to all of the other “children’s” movies. No, Spielberg takes the high road here in many ways and makes a movie that is actually a children’s movie. No wink’s at the parents while they tell a veiled off color joke. No hidden political message in the subplot of the movie. Just a nice feel-good movie about the wonders of friendship. How about that for a Spielberg spectacle?






It should be noted that this movie was truly beautiful to watch. Spielberg spared no expense to bring this magical take to the big screen. The special effects will dazzle you for sure. And the BFG himself totally steals the show. Most kids will leave the theatre hoping to find their very own BFG for their new BFF.

All in all Spielberg and Disney are to be applauded for bring to life one of Dahl’s more subtle stories in a way that is both touching and inspirational to watch as a Kid movie. And somehow they manage to do it in a way that is totally engrossing for parents and children to watch together without pandering to either. How nice is that?

The Secret Life of Pets Reminds Us Why We Love Our Pets!



The Secret Life of Pets is made from the director of Despicable Me 1 and 2, Minions, and The Lorax. There is truly some good pedigree in this director (Get it … pedigree, lol). And The Secret Life of Pets shows it! In particular, when this movie is focusing on the basic premise of the movie (What do pets do when no one else is looking) it completely shines in the way that the minions shined in the first two Despicable Me movies. Seriously, you will crave more of these brilliant funny truisms about our beloved pets. They are so good in fact, I would suspect to see more and more of these moments as animated shorts over the next few years as we lead up to a probable sequel.




However, as funny as those pets being pets scenes are, you cannot just have 90 minutes of funny cat and dogs getting into mischief. Instead, the modern audience demands a plot line of some type. Thankful for us, the main plotline of this movie is a fun chase movie through the marvelously animated dangerous city streets. The city has never looked so magnificent!




I am not sure if it was my growing up with pets, or that I worked for two veterinarians, but I LOVED this movie! I just had a grin from ear to ear the entire movie. There was so many little mannerisms of cats and dogs that were just so spot on and funny to me. Plus, I have never been a huge Kevin Heart fan, but I adored him in this movie. Playing the street tough bunny with a secret desire to be cuddled was just brilliant and I laughed nearly every time he was on screen.



Also, it should be noted that the music scenes are just fantastic! We have everything from BeeGees, to Beastie Boys, to a completely weird and awesomely funny sausage factory scene set to We Belong Together from Grease! All of these music moments were such fun, and I just couldn't get enough of them. So fun!

I am not sure if it was my growing up with pets, or that I worked for two veterinarians, but I LOVED this movie! I just had a grin from ear to ear the entire movie. There was so many little mannerisms of cats and dogs that were just so spot on and funny to me. Plus, I have never been a huge Kevin Heart fan, but I adored him in this movie. Playing the street tough bunny with a secret desire to be cuddled was just brilliant and I laughed nearly every time he was on screen.

Also, it should be noted that the music scenes are just fantastic! We have everything from BeeGees, to Beastie Boys, to a completely weird and awesomely funny sausage factory scene set to We Belong Together from Grease! All of these music moments were such fun, and I just couldn't get enough of them. So fun!
All in all, this is a fun animated movie! Plus, it is completely awe inspiring to look at if you just love good animation. Probably the best compliment of all is that it is safe to say kids will absolutely adore this movie with its cute and funny animal characters that remind us all of our own wonderful furry companions back home that we love so dearly.

A Review of Netflix's Entry Into Kid Movies: The New Animated Little Prince!




So basically, we have two separate kid movies here. We have one movie that takes place in the present day with present day animation. Then we have the actual story from the actual Little Prince book told in glorious and beautiful stop motion animation. Fortunately, the movie that actually follows the little Prince is just brilliant. The animation is incredible, the story is great and touching. All things work well in this world. But then there is this whole other present day movie happening.

The present day story line is weirdly my favorite part! I would say it is every bit as great as the stop-motion Little Prince stuff. The voice talent here is really amazing, which makes the present day story line even better. For me the actual Little Prince stuff is amazing looking in that it is a unique look to it separate from today's regular cg animation. This is cool. However, there is a major problem with the Little Prince parts. They are a little deep. As a parent, you will probably be doing some explanation of the some of the concepts being espoused in the movie as metaphors to real life. For example, one of the core messages of the movie (told again and again) is that it is quite special to tame someone because that makes them unique to you. What?! As an adult with a PhD in marriage and family relationships, I had to think a while to understand what that means. You can imagine that may be a deep concept for a child to apply to relationships.




Is this a kid movie worth a free watch on Netflix where it is initially being released? Absolutely. Is it worth the full ticket price at the movie theater? Meh. Will your kids love it and think it rocks? Most certainly. Will they "get" everything in the movie? No way.

So, in the end, if you are a fan of the original story, this is the best version of that story ever made. And, I am happy that we get the bonus of another present day story to go along with it! Just know that you may need to help the little ones to wade through some of the deeper concepts being taught here. Kind of like the Little Prince book itself.

Disney's Pete's Dragon Is Really The Best Kid Movie of The Summer?



When I was a kid, I LOVED Pete’s Dragon.  I thought it was just great.  I loved that idea of a real life dragon that only a boy could see.  Plus, Elliot the dragon was just the cutest nicest dragon around.  Not to mention the song Candle On the Water would make anyone shed a tear.  Fast forward to watching that beloved movie with my own children:  To make a long story short, it was terrible!  I really could not believe how awful the original was when seen in today’s light.  So, while at first, I was worried that this new version of Pete’s Dragon would not be following the original (the director has famously said he has not ever even seen the original), I am now quite pleased to say that it doesn’t follow the original and it is wonderful!


The new film is quite content to only take the premise of a boy named Pete and his Dragon and create an entirely different movie.  Surprisingly enough, this is now considered one of the biggest surprises, most emotionally moving, and best kid movies of the summer.  That was a lot of bests!  When you think about the promise of the summer with Superman V Batman, Captain America: Civil War, Spielberg’s BFG, Finding Dory, Secret Life of Pets, etc., it is saying a lot to say that Disney’s updated version of Pete’s Dragon comes out on top in all of those categories. 


However, the dragon is instantly loveable as is all of the characters.  The first half of the movie has some of the most touching moments in a kid’s movie in a long time.  So great.  The second half includes lots of fun action, but the film never forgets that it is trying to make an emotionally touching movie hat can be inspirational to kids and adults.  And it SUCCEEDS!
All in all, I was worried when I heard about the new direction of Pete’s Dragon, but am delighted with the end result which delivers a true new Disney classic.  Awesome!

Lovely piece of Buzz Lightyear Disney art!