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Archives for : family film

“Sing” Plays a Familiar Tune

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Prepare yourself for American Idol with pigs, elephants, gorillas and many more animals.

Illumination Entertainment’s newest film, “Sing” follows a koala bear, Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), who’s on the verge of closing down his beloved theatre after back-to-back production flops. He then decides to produce an amateur singing competition in hopes that it will draw in an eager audience. To his luck and a misprinting of the prize money, a long line of hopeful talents come to audition for the show.

Eventually, Buster narrows down his choices to some surprisingly great singers; which include a gangster gorilla, Johnny (Taron Egerton), a housewife pig, Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), a backup singer Porcupine, Ash (Scarlett Johansson), a con artist mouse, Mike (Seth MacFarlane), and an extremely stage frightened elephant, Meena (Tori Kelly).

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Unfortunately, this production does hit a few bumps along the way.  Performers drop out, technical issues arise, and funding seems to be a continuous struggle.
 
But the big picture of this story is really about the usual “following your dreams and taking chances.” Buster followed his dream a long time ago, and with help from his dad was able to own a theatre. All the contestants play it safe in their personal lives, almost playing back up to everyone else in their families. This competition is a chance for them shine and do something that makes them happy. However, the film doesn’t go any deeper than this message.
 
Though the coexistence of different animals might remind you of Disney’s “Zootopia” from earlier this year, it is nowhere near as complex or intriguing. “Sing” is just a much simpler, easy to follow film that should have kids engaged by the music alone. There are plenty of songs to sing along to. Just to name a few, Katy Perry’s Firework, Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off, Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, and Paul Anka’s My Way. But, my personal favorite may have to be Taron Egerton’s rendition of Sam Smith’s Stay With Me. Who knew the “Kingsmen” star had such an amazing voice?
 
It’s hard to say if “Sing” will make the cut come nomination time for the award season. The film has some tough competition with “Zootopia”, “Kubo and the Two Strings”, and the likely front runner, “Moana”. That being said, you cannot discredit this lovable cast and the toe-tapping song choices that makes this film a fun time for the whole family.

Rating: 3/5

“Sing” opens in theaters December 20.

“Sing” Official Trailer HD

 Image result for Sing movie 2016 trailer hd

Movie Review: “The Secret Life of Pets” is a Delightful Treat, But Not Enough Meat

How do our pets act when we’re not around? It’s a question we’re so curious about when we see dogs whimper as we walk out the door. When we see cats comfortably relaxing, and they seem like they could care less as we walk by them. Well, Illumination Entertainment’s newest film, “The Secret Life of Pets” tells us just that. From a cat who raids the fridge, to a dog who loves head-banging to rock music, these are just a few things we get to discover about the daily lives of pets in this film.

The story follows a terrier named Max (Louis C.K.) who has a great relationship with his owner, Katie (Ellie Kemper). And every day when she leaves for work, he anxiously awaits her return. Usually, he kills the time by having some his friends/other pets over to hang out. But his life is turned upside down, when Katie returns home one day with a new dog she got from the pound, Duke (Eric Stonestreet). Max instantly dislikes him, and the two can’t seem to get along. The following day during their group dog walk a fight ensues which results in them getting parted from their dog walker, and leaves them struggling to find their way home.

If this plot sounds somewhat familiar, try replacing the pets with toys. Yes, the premise of the film is essentially the same as “Toy Story”. Unfortunately, “The Secret Life of Pets” just doesn’t properly execute the same heartfelt message.

Don’t get me wrong, “The Secret Life of Pets” is still an enjoyable film and will thoroughly entertain kids. Especially through the biggest standouts of the movie Snowball (Kevin Hart) and Gidget (Jenny Slate), who provide the biggest laughs. Listening to Kevin Hart’s voice on a tiny, cute, little bunny who loathes humans is an ironic and hilarious combination.

I only wish that the film focused a little more on the things that pets do when their owners are gone and when they return home. They graze over the cliché actions we’d expect, but it is quickly over shadowed by a journey of trying to get Max and Duke home.

“The Secret Life of Pets” is absolutely worth the watch, but if you have already seen “Zootopia” or “Finding Dory”, don’t expect this film to come close in comparison. The entertainment value is there, but it lacks the heart and depth that we usually hope for from these family animated movies.

Rating 3/5

“The Secret Life of Pets” hits theaters July 8.

“The Secret Life of Pets” Trailer HD

Movie Review: “Minions” Continue to Charm in the Adorable Animated Prequel

We all loved the villain-worshiping Minions from the hilarious Despicable Me films, but can the Twinkie-looking creatures succeed in starring in their own animated feature? Parents and children rest easy, because the Minions triumph in their leading roles.

As we see in the beginning of the film, Minions have been around for centuries and were born to serve a “despicable” master. Finding a leader was easy. But keeping one seemed to be a problem, as death would quickly follow them. Eventually the Minions have no one to serve, and manage to live a “normal life” amongst themselves. Unfortunately, not being able to oblige their true purpose in life has made them feel weary and restless.

Though we see ALL the hundreds of Minions (voiced by Pierre Coffin), we focus on the three hoping to save the group from a meaningless life. Kevin, Stuart, and Bob set out to find a new evil master. It isn’t long before they are recruited by the devious, super-villain, Scarlet Overkill (voiced by Sandra Bullock). But before they can rejoice in the fact that they’ve found a new master and home for their family, they must complete one evil task. Steal The Queen of England’s crown so that Scarlet may take over the world! Or, if they fail to complete this mission- be destroyed.

Unlike Despicable Me, the plot of Minions is thin and there isn’t much depth to the story. However, they do squeeze a lot of lemonade with the one lemon their given. We’re introduced to many new, fun characters. Some of whom are voiced by Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, and Jon Hamm. And yes, you will see a young Gru and find out just how the Minions met their MOST despicable master.

The simple premise is stretched out for a duration of 91 fully entertaining minutes. Maybe it’s the fast pace story-line? Maybe it’s the laughable, slapstick comedy? Or maybe it’s that these little yellow guys are just so darn cute, you can’t help but enjoy watching them no matter what. I can’t really pinpoint it.

Minions doesn’t offer much besides a good time and some chuckles for the audience. Ultimately, it’s interesting to see the origins of Gru’s ever so loyal Minions and find out how they came to meet. For the parents who want to take their kids to the theater this weekend, Minions is not only a safe choice, but it’s a delightful, fun-loving, animated film.

Rating: 3.5/5

Minions opens in theaters July 10.

“Minions” Official Trailer HD

Movie Review: “Blended” is Nothing more than a Desirable Trip to Africa

Let’s begin with the real star of this film, Africa!  It is one of the most beautiful locations to visit for either a romantic getaway or a fun-filled family vacation.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about this generic romantic comedy that sadly does no favors for Happy Madison productions.

We’ve grown accustomed to Adam Sandler’s raunchy and outlandish sense of humor, which for a good period of time produced authentic comedies.   Recently, Sandler’s projects have been quite the disappointment.  Obviously it’s hard to top Billy Madison or Happy Gilmore, but among his past flubs there are some truly wonderful classics.  The Wedding Singer is easily one of his greater films.  It’s the first time we got see an enchanting blend of Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.  The chemistry was there, and I don’t blame Sandler for wanting to continue making movies with the adorable comedic actress.  Seven years after their first collaboration, they reunited for the off-beat comedy, 50 First Dates.  Given this was such a unique story and their chemistry was slightly apparent, I would categorize 50 First Dates in the “wonderful classics” pile.  Not my favorite, but definitely a memorable romantic comedy.  Now, after nine years since their second film, the two have joined forces once again for their new family rom-com, Blended.

After Jim (Adam Sandler) and Lauren (Drew Barrymore) endure a horrible blind date they hope to never cross paths again.  Jim a widowed father with 3 girls is still grieving his deceased wife.   Lauren a divorced mother with 2 boys just wants to bring romance back into her life.  While dealing with their own personal issues, they make sure to put their kids’ happiness first.  So when they get the chance to vacation in a luxurious African resort, the single parents jump at the opportunity hoping their kids will be thrilled.  Unfortunately they have been suckered into a family “blending” vacation, purposely meant to bring families closer together.  Oh no!  But they hate each other… I think you can already see where this is going.

Blended is not as bad as the trailers make it look, especially if you compare it to movies like Jack and Jill or That’s My Boy.  It’s a cute film. The problem is there isn’t anything special about this story to make it stand out.  In fact, his flubs may stand out more just because they were that bad.  This is a forced love story with the most cliché subplots, and the expected slap-stick moments.  The climax had to be the weakest turning point I’ve seen in any romantic comedy.

I did enjoy seeing Adam Sandler play a loving father for once.  And though he and Barrymore still play off each other well, they seemed to have lost their romantic spark in this film.  All the kids did a nice job.   Bella Thorne (Shake It Up) had some laugh out loud moments as the tomboy daughter desperate to show her feminine side.  Terry Crews (White Chicks) makes for some chuckles as the ultra-exuberant, wide-eyed, muscled lead singer of the resort’s Thathoo Harmony Group.  Also, keep an eye out for some familiar faces you’ll recognize from the stars’ past two films.

Blended is a sweet and at times heartfelt film that is exceptionally fun while watching, but when it’s over you’ll remember the scenery and not necessarily the scenes.

Rating: 2.5/5

Blended hits theaters May 23.

 “Blended” Official Trailer HD

Originally posted on RedCarpetCrash.com

Movie Review: “Chef” is an Appetizing Delight

Jon Favreau’s recent passion project takes the audience on a charming and delectable ride of self-discovery.

Carl Casper (Favreau) is a high strung chef who has spent years building up his name within the food industry.  But when one bad online review by the top food critic in LA gets blasted all over twitter Carl seems to take it personally and can’t shake the negative remarks.  This leads him to get on twitter himself, and start a fight with the well-known critic who has quite the following.  Eventually, the two are face to face in the restaurant and Carl has a major breakdown.  He completely goes off on a screaming rampage.

Unfortunately for Carl, the general public was there to witness and film the entire thing.  After the video of his explosion goes viral, Carl is unable to find work in any LA restaurant.  But this downfall goes uphill quick, once Carl recognizes that this is really a blessing in disguise.  The truth is he’s dreadfully unhappy with his life.  Besides the fact that he has been unable to truly share his unique culinary skills, he is also divorced from his wife (Sofia Vergara) and barely knows his son (Emjay Anthony).

During a last minute trip to Miami, he is inspired by the cooking that started it all and decides to start up a food truck.  Thus, beginning the predictable yet heartwarming road trip of father/son bonding and realizing what really makes you happy in life. Chef also showed how a “hater’s” words can also be the fuel that pushes you to succeed at your dreams.

The magnificent ensemble cast is rounded out by Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, and many more.  You can’t help but fall for the charisma of this film.  It is easily relatable to anyone who feels passionate about doing anything they love.  And as a film critic myself, I felt motivated by the fact that Carl was making his love for cooking a career no matter what the stipulations were.  I also felt a little bit of guilt for any bad review I have given in the past.  Obviously I can’t stop, but know that all reviews from an objective standpoint.

The film also greatly exemplifies the use of social media.  It is amazing how fast one tweet or Facebook post can become an internet sensation.  And if used correctly, it can be the best marketing tool.

Be sure to either eat before or dine during, because the mouth-watering dishes prepared throughout the film will have your stomachs growling.  And honestly, there is nothing you can eat after this movie that will be as satisfying as the dishes you have just seen. (Speaking of, can I get the recipe to EVERYTHING that was cooked in this film?)

Chef is a simple story that isn’t looking to compete with box office blockbusters (However, I did enjoy it more than Godzilla).  It’s a fun family film with a star-studded cast that includes plenty of laughs and a sincere message about following your heart.

Rating: 4/5

Chef opens in select theaters May 16.

“Chef” Official Trailer HD

Originally posted on RedCarpetCrash.com

Movie Review: “Mom’s Night Out” Pays a Great Homage to Mothers

It’s the film that will have every mother holding back tears as they are recognized and assured that their job as a care taker of their family is valued.

Being a mom is a 24 hour job.  And for Allyson (Sarah Drew), a stay at home mother with 3 children, the chaos never stops.  She is on the verge of a nervous breakdown and questioning her happiness in life.  All of her “dreams” have come true, yet she is miserable?  This is why when her always traveling husband (Sean Astin) is finally in town, she quickly schedules a girl’s night out with her two best friends.  Allyson, her longtime friend Izzy (Logan White) and the pastor’s wife, Sondra (Patricia Heaton) get all gussied up and ready to use their groupon for the most talked about new restaurant.  But of course, this wouldn’t be a fun family film without its obstacles.  What begins with a reservation mix up, goes onto become a night of madness involving car chases, no cell phones, dislocated shoulders, and a search for a missing baby!

It may sound like a lot to take in, but it is all handled in a controlled approach.  You won’t ever really be on the edge of your seat in this film.  The moment you almost think you’re in for some suspense,  it will quickly be squashed by a reaffirming scene that guarantees everything is okay.  Luckily, Mom’s Night Out’s main focus is not about the mystery or how everything can go wrong in one night.  This film is sending a message, surprisingly, a spiritual one that is delivered through small doses of liberal Christian sermons.  These sermons try to disguise themselves as casual conversation that somehow never feels out of place.  Early in the film we meet the three women at church and you are aware this is going to be a faith-based film, geared to resonate with young parents and multigenerational families.

The acting is what saves this film from being a potentially cheesy predictable comedy.  Sarah Drew does a great job embodying a frantic mother who is just about ready to explode at any minute.  While Sean Astin plays a more subtle and less comedic supporting husband role.  I personally enjoyed the relationship between Patricia Heaton’s character and her teenage daughter (Sammi Hanratty).  The two played off each other well, and portrayed one of the more genuine arguments in parenting.  Country singer, Trace Adkins, plays a biker tattoo artist that comes to the women’s rescue at their time of desperation.  He fails when trying to deliver moments of laughter.  But in a climactic scene that is both touching and revealing to the film’s theme, Adkins gives an effortless speech that seemingly comes from the heart as he mentions Jesus and his own mom.  He explains to Allyson that she shouldn’t be so hard on herself, questioning whether or not she’s doing things right.  He continues to say that Allyson’s role as a mom is not one that she chose, but was chosen for her by God.

Mom’s Night Out is specifically meant for moms.  I can’t say a group of teens or even young adults will want to choose this film over Neighbors, or some of the other movies opening this weekend.  But for all the moms who want to feel a great sense of appreciation this Mother’s Day, you would be most satisfied with Mom’s Night Out.

Rating: 3/5

Mom’s Night Out hits theaters May 9.

Mom’s Night Out Official Trailer HD

Originally posted on RedCarpetCrash.com

Special Features: “The Nut Job” already Lands Sequel!

“THE NUT JOB 2” WILL HIT THEATERS JANUARY 15, 2016

OPEN ROAD FILMS PARTNERS WITH REDROVER CO., LTD., TOONBOX ENTERTAINMENT LTD., AND GULFSTREAM PICTURES FOR A SEQUEL TO THE HIT FILM “THE NUT JOB,” THE #1 FAMILY FILM IN AMERICA

LOS ANGELES, CA, January 23, 2014 – Open Road Films, Redrover Co., Ltd., ToonBox Entertainment Ltd., and Gulfstream Pictures are pleased to announce that THE NUT JOB 2, a sequel to the hit film THE NUT JOB – which opened on January 17, 2014, taking in over $25,700,00 at the holiday weekend box-office as the biggest independent animated film opening of all time – will hit theaters January 15, 2016.  The announcement was made today by Tom Ortenberg, CEO of Open Road Films and Hoe-jin Ha, CEO and President of Redrover Co., Ltd.

In animated 3D, THE NUT JOB is an action-packed comedy that follows Surly (voiced by Will Arnett), a mischievous squirrel, who must plan a heist to get into his town’s biggest nut shop in order to help his pals in the park gather food to survive the winter. Together with his sidekick, Buddy, Surly assembles a ragtag crew to help him get inside – and takes them on a fun-filled adventure that they’ll never forget.  In addition to Will Arnett as Surly, THE NUT JOB also features the voices of Brendan Fraser, Liam Neeson, Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph, Stephen Lang, Jeff Dunham, Gabriel Iglesias and Sarah Gadon.

Directed by Peter Lepeniotis from a screenplay by Lorne Cameron and Lepeniotis, the hit film THE NUT JOB was produced by Wookyung Jung and Graham Moloy.  Executive producers are Daniel Woo, Hong Kim, and Jay Ahn as well as Bill Bindley and Mike Karz of Gulfstream Pictures. THE NUT JOB was a collaboration of Redrover Co., Ltd., ToonBox Entertainment Ltd. and Gulfstream Pictures.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled about THE NUT JOB,” stated Ortenberg.  “It has been a pleasure working with the teams at Redrover, ToonBox and Gulfstream and we are delighted to re-team with them for THE NUT JOB 2.”

“We are very proud of what we have accomplished in Hollywood as an independent production company,” commented Ha. “Our compliments go out to ToonBox and Gulfstream for their endeavor in the co-production and to Open Road for their successful campaign and teamwork. We are looking forward to working with them on THE NUT JOB 2.”

“We’re thrilled that audiences have embraced these characters and it is exciting to anticipate their return for another adventure in THE NUT JOB 2,” said Karz. “The entire team behind this movie did a fantastic job and we’re looking forward to working with them again.”

The deal was negotiated on behalf of Open Road Films by Ortenberg, Elliott Kleinberg, COO and Peter Lawson, Executive Vice President of Production and Acquisitions.  Susan Williams and Stephen Zager of Loeb and Loeb negotiated on behalf of Redrover Co., Ltd., ToonBox Entertainment Ltd., and Gulfstream Pictures.