"Encanto" is Disney's 60th full-length animated feature, and one of the only ones to not feature a typical "villain." It works, instead centering on the idea of family and community, drawing its drama out of a young girl's inward exploration of how exactly she fits into her eccentric family.
Anyone with a family (dysfunctional or functional) will relate to the themes of "Encanto," and while it feels different than most other Disney animated films, it's another successful entry into the studio's massive canon of films that will appeal to the young and old alike...and is also a wondrous celebration of Colombian culture.
Movie reviews for films like "Clifford the Big Red Dog" are a bit pointless...like, who is this for? The target audience for the movie (children under the age of six or Guantanamo Bay prisoners) are not going to be checking RottenTomatoes to see if this is a film worth checking out. Is a negative or (gasp!) a positive review of this film going to deter parents from taking their young ones to the movie? Most likely no. So for real...what's the point?
If you're a parent, you likely have more access and insight to "kids movies" than the average movie-goer who only gets to see what comes to multiplexes...most of those without children have never experienced or explored the depth of the unlimited amount of movies aimed at young children that can be found in the dark abyss of streaming sites like Disney+ or Paramount+. So there is a BIG difference between a "good" kids movie and a terrible one...we've all seen both. The best kid movies are able to keep the attention of a young child, and at best, offer a valuable life lesson about friendship, family, teamwork, compassion or love. At worst, this kind of film is still watchable by children, but will make parents want to gouge their eyes out. Because let's face it: Children will watch almost anything, especially with a bag of popcorn and some candy on their laps.
It's just been a few weeks since the last horse feature hit theaters, the live-action "Dream Horse," and following somewhere behind is "Spirit Untamed." It's a spin-off of the 2002 animated film, "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron," but set in a different era, the Old West, somewhere in the wide-open frontier.
"Spirit Untamed" is harmless, and may be a good way to pass time, or get you and your children out of the Summer heat. But it's surprisingly tame for a movie about a wild animal, and inexplicably clunky-looking for an animated film seeing release in 2021.
Opening this weekend at The Maple Theater in Bloomfield is film intended for the whole family. "Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog" evokes memories of the Oscar-winning 1997 film, "Life Is Beautiful." In that movie, a Jewish father (played by Roberto Benigni) tries to make life bearable for his young child, despite the horrors going on around them.
"Shepherd" may not win the same awards or be quite as highly regarded when all is said and done, but it accomplishes something that is not at all an easy feat: It tells a story about the horrors of WWII, The Holocaust and the affront on Jews living in Germany and Europe at that time, by finding an angle that is accessible for a younger audiences and their parents. It teaches truths through the journey of a dog, and draws incredible parallels between the treatment of this Shepherd and how Jews were treated by Hitler's Nazi army.
I'm not exactly sure why, but the "horse movie" genre continues to thrive. It seems each and every year, we're given at least two (2021 will be no different, with the animated "Spirit Untamed" coming to Netflix this Summer as well).
The latest entry out of the gate is "Dream Horse," and here is the copy/paste description fitting of all horse movies: An unlikely horse, groomed by an unlikely person who is almost entirely out of their element, becomes a sensation after a lot of hard work, dedication and training montages...the evil businessmen of the "establishment" get in the way, but never so much as to knock the film from its PG-rating.
So if horse films are your bale of hay, then you'll probably love the familiar rhythms of "Dream Horse." For everyone else, you'll most likely want to avoid this for the manipulative, steaming pile of horse manure that it is.
The only negative thing I could say about the new documentary, "Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street," is that i didn't like the end...in that I wish it could have gone on forever.
That's how I felt watching it. This incredibly insightful, hilarious and heart-warming documentary is one part origin story, describing how a group of tremendously talented and motivated people all got together at just the right time and place in history to create something timeless. It's also a celebration of what was created, and what was achieved, in a television landscape that was like the Wild West, unexplored and primed for pioneering. Then it's an inspirational trip down memory lane...nostalgia served up in delicious spoonfuls...that made me long for simpler times.
Watching "Street Gang," I was a kid again, and was made to feel thankful that I - like millions of other children - grew up on "Sesame Street." But as an adult looking back, the love and appreciation is deeper by a hundredfold, especially when you realize just how daring, bold and innovative "Sesame Street" really was.
"Sesame Street," as one person puts it in the film, "is Television if Television loved the audience, instead of just trying to sell to it." This love permeates through "Street Gang" and makes it one of the most effective, insightful and yes even important documentaries of our time.
"Sesame Street" has been chasing the clouds away for over 50 years, and tonight, ABC plans to celebrate with a two-hour documentary, aptly named "Sesame Street: 50 Years of Sunny Days." (airing on ABC at 8pm ET).
The deciding factor as to whether a family-friendly comedy is "good," usually comes down to this: Is it something that can be simultaneously enjoyed by kids and adults alike? With "Yes Day," the answer to this question is an emphatic "no."
"The Croods: A New Age," I guess, is harmless fun...that is, unless you decide to go see this in theaters with your family during a global pandemic. It's the follow-up to the 2013 film that no one really asked for, but one that had been kicked around in Hollywood for nearly 7 years before landing at our feet just in time for Thanksgiving (rumor has it, "The Croods: A New Age" will debut on streaming platforms in mid-December but as of now this has not been confirmed).
Who could forget the classic "Star Wars Holiday Special" that aired on CBS during the Christmas holiday of 1978? The answer is, even if you were lucky enough to have seen it when it originally aired, you would have tried forgetting about it almost immediately. The special is famously BAD, despite starring the cast from the films, including Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher. It was so terrible that it never aired again, and has never, ever seen an official release, making it all the more of a cult-favorite item when VHS recordings of it would pop up at conventions years later.
Knowing full-well how legendary that special has become, to commemorate the 42nd anniversary of its airing, Disney+ is releasing an all-new "LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special." This new version features the recent Star Wars heroes like Rey, Finn and Poe in their own "Life Day" adventure. as it honors the entire saga new and old, poking fun at the famous special in which it is based all the while.
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