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Dear Sofia: A Royal Collection

Thank you Disney for Sending us this DVD to review!

Dear Sofia: A Royal Collection DVD features six episodes with wonderful life lessons and special appearances from popular Disney princesses to aide Sofia in times of trouble.  This 114-minute DVD is available on Amazon for less than $13 and is well worth it for any princess loving girls out there.  

Here’s a breakdown of the six episodes on this disc:

  • The Amulet and the Anthem – Sofia is randomly picked to sing the Enchancia Anthem and the privileges that go with it get to her head.    Her friends that were hoping to get picked get tired of her bragging and leave Sofia to her duties.  The only problem is that Sofia suddenly becomes cursed to randomly ribbit!  She discovers that this curse is from her special amulet.  Despite apologizing to her friends, the curse is not lifted.  Admirably, Sofia does not disobey her father to give the amulet to Cedric to undo the curse.  Instead, Belle comes to the rescue and helps Sofia and her friends feel better.  
  • Princesses to the Rescue – Princes James and Jin stumble upon a treasure map of the Jade Jaguar.  They set off to locate the treasure doubting the existence of the Jade Jaguar.  When the kings find out, they set off immediately to stop the young boys.  Unfortunately, they all get caught in the same trap together.  With the advice of the mage, the princesses set out to rescue them by taking a side entrance into the jaguar’s cave.  The path is perilous and all but Sofia want to give up.  Mulan shows up and encourages them to keep going and to think outside of the box to solve many obstacles in their way.
  • Winter’s Gift – Sofia made a wand holder for Cedric, but after hearing him complain about the useless gifts he had received in the past she doesn’t deem her gift worthy and sets off to find another.  On her journey with her rabbit, Clover, they meet a fawn named Winter who is cursed.  Whatever or whomever Winter touches, becomes frozen in enchanted ice.  In order to undo this curse, Winter must appease the mountain witch with a nice gift.  After failing at offering a gift, princess Tiana appears and teaches them that gifts from the heart are worth more than any material thing.
  • Two to Tangu – The princesses are heading to a party and risk taking a magic carpet instead of their royal carriage.  Unfortunately, they get lost on the way and end up in the town’s marketplace instead.  A fortune teller there gives them directions but the two princesses still manage to get stranded because their magic carpet has yet to be tamed.  Jasmine appears and teaches them how to tame their carpet and the princesses discover that some risks are worth taking.
  • Minimus is Missing – Princess Amber is struggling to learn how to ride a flying horse and is on the verge of giving up.  After a lunch break they discover that all of the flying horses have gone missing!  While searching for their horses, Amber learns how to fly a gryphon and learns that sometimes it takes a few tries to learn something, but it’s always worthwhile in the end.
  • Cool Hand Fluke (bonus episode) - Sofia visits and offers to throw a party for the merpeople.  However, Fluke is jealous of Sofia  and tries to one up her and her friends.  In an attempt to get a pearl, he winds up stuck in a giant clam.  When Sofia and Flip rescue him, he is ungrateful and doesn't care that Flip was injured during the process.    Upon learning that mantacorns shed their horns once a year, Fluke gets the (bad) idea to take an old horn to replace Flip's broken one.  Again, Fluke gets trapped and upon rescuing him, everyone learns that jealousy is bad and that asking is always better than taking.


I like how each episode teaches one or more valuable lessons.  Better yet, they're not overly preachy either.   As an added bonus, there is some stationary bundled with this DVD collection.  My daughters, despite getting older,  enjoyed the stationery as well as the episodes.


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Golden Shoes

Thank you MPRM Communications for sending us this DVD to review!

While my kids and I were not necessarily looking forward to watching a sports related movie, we're all glad we gave it a shot.  Golden Shoes is about an eight year old boy named Christian Larou who lives and breathes soccer.   He wants to be like the professional footballer Christiano Ronaldo.   Christian's dad is on active duty in Afghanistan and his mother is working long hours and struggles taking her son to soccer practice.  

For some reason their neighbor, Frank, has a chip on his shoulder and is blackmailing the coach to put his twin boys on the playing field more than Christian. As a result, Christian's athletic abilities are suffering.  Instead of catching a break, Christian's life gets more difficult when his mother is bed-ridden in the hospital for a while.  Since Christian has no relatives and his dad is MIA, he is forced to live in Frank's basement until his mother recuperates.

Much like Cinderella, Christian is treated very poorly compared to Frank's sons and is given some golden soccer shoes that unlock his hidden talent that propels his team into the play-offs.  Not only does Christian become an inspiration to his teammates, he becomes a local hero that attracts the attention of talent scouts, and even the president of the United States.       

As inspiring as this story is, it does falter a bit morally.  I like how Christian obeys his mom's advice by succeeding instead of taking revenge on those who mistreat him.    There is one (poorly acted) scene where Christian talks a teammate out of getting into a fist fight.  While those are great lessons for my kids to learn, I was disappointed by the language they were subjected to in this Dove endorsed film.  Besides hell, my kids got to hear the worse form of "Dang it" and S.O.B. pronounced in its entirety.

If it wasn't for the language, I would encourage families to watch it without hesitation.  While it has a good message and story, it's not a big budget film and it shows at times.  The acting talent is pretty good and includes Eric Roberts, Montel Williams, and John Rhys-Davies.  In the end, Golden Shoes is worth renting and can be added to your DVD collection for less than $10 on Amazon.


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Lego Star Wars: The New Yoda Chronicles

Thank you Disney for sending us this DVD to review!

Almost everyone likes Star Wars and kids love Legos.  So mixing them together is a match made in heaven.  Add in everyone's favorite characters with their famous lines, a solid script, and it'll be 92 minutes well spent.   The humor in this series had both kids and adults cracking up.

Darth Vader had many funny moments with his voice getting messed up due to a short in his wiring.  His cape also got in his way often and choked him while flying his pod racer.  Another great moment was when he scolded a storm trooper for being clumsy and then tripped over him!  I dare say that these episodes are more entertaining than the original movies.

Here's a synopsis of the four episodes in this DVD:

  • Escape From The Jedi Temple - Luke and his friends are nearly captured by Darth Vader and after they escape, Yoda and Obi-Wan's ghost believe that further training with the help of the Holocrons is required.
  • Race For The Holocrons - Luke Skywalker needs to retrieve the Holocrons that Obi-Wan hid to complete his Jedi training.  Darth Vader is looking for them as well.  Who will get to them first?
  • Raid On Coruscant - With the Holocrons in their possession, the Sith empire can locate and root out the Rebel Alliance.  The Rebel Alliance must fight back to re-claim the Holocrons.
  • Clash Of The Skywalkers - After the Sith's defeat, the Sith set out on a mission to put an end to Luke Skywalker for once and for all.

My kids and I are now officially fans of this series and highly recommend checking it out on TV or in its DVD form.  The DVD sells for less than $13 on Amazon and is worth every penny.


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Mickey's Monster Musical

Thank you Click Communications for sending us this DVD to review!

This 115 minute DVD features three problem solving and singing episodes that involve ghosts, pirates, and your favorite Disney characters. Included in the DVD is a trick or treat bag that is more of a novelty than useful given its small size.  Thankfully, my kids still enjoyed the DVD regardless. 

In the first episode Mickey has a surprise picnic planned for Minnie and hopes that she will say yes. She does and they start on their way. The weather starts out beautiful, but that soon changes.  Upon trying to turn around, their car breaks down and gets two flat tires.  A creepy castle is just up ahead; they or course they go there seeking help.  

Once inside, they meet the flying Count Mickula who is very helpful and offers to help fix their car while they stay at his castle. The only downside is that Count Mickula believes that his castle is haunted. In return for helping them fix their car, Minnie and Mickey offer to help explore the castle to confirm or deny that suspicion.  

Along the way Mickey and Minnie will gather various tools used to solve riddles throughout the show.  The kids are encouraged to deduce which tool will solve each dilemma presented to them.  There is also plenty of singing and dancing they're asked to participate in as well.  The songs and atmosphere reminds me of the Rocky Horror Picture Show with much cleaner lyrics and characters of course!  

In the second episode Mickey and his friends want to go to the beach to do some surfing.  They have fun surfing, building sand castles and playing volleyball until a sailor drops off a tuba for Goofy that was found at sea.  The tuba has a note from his grandfather talking about a treasure that will save his home.  Goofy's friend's and the pirate, Peg Leg Pete offer to assist in the treasure hunt.  They will have to work together quickly to retrieve the treasure before the island sinks into the sea.

The third episode takes place at the farm fair and the mouseketeers compete in various challenges to see which team is the most nimble.  I truly hope that younger kids don't imitate the egg and spoon race from this episode.

Other than a potential egg mess, I highly recommend this DVD for younger children that don't mind talking back to the television.  Though my kids didn't talk back to the TV, they did enjoy the show.   The DVD sells for less than $15 on Amazon and is worth it for Mickey Mouse Club fans.


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Miles From Tomorrowland - Let's Rocket!

Thank you Click Communications for sending us this DVD!

Miles From Tomorrowland is a futuristic space themed animated series on Disney Junior.  It came out in February of 2015 and has some recurring characters with famous voice actors including Bill Nye, Alton Brown, Wil Wheaton, George Takei, and Mark Hamill.  The main character, Miles, is an enthusiastic and curious kid that often finds himself in and out of trouble.  His sister, Loretta, is the complete opposite and follows the rules and is the smarter of the two kids.  Their mother, Phoebe, is the spaceship's captain with their father, Leo, as the ship's engineer.  The parents work for Tomorrowland's Transit Authority and undertake many missions to keep outer space safe for all of its travelers.

The Let's Rocket DVD contains ten episodes including:

  • Runaway Shuttle -There's an out of control ice cream truck heading to one of Jupiter's smoldering moons, Io.  The Callistos have been summoned to assist their former schoolmate, Lucky, who is trapped in the ice cream vehicle.   

  • Surfing the Whirlpool - Miles wants to go surfing with his dad where he used to hang out as a younger surfer dude.  While the mother and daughter stay behind, they learn of a huge gamma ray burst heading straight for Miles and his dad.

  • Ocean in Motion - The Callistos have been summoned to figure out why a probe has received water damage.  The most unusual part of this mystery is the planet that the probe is on, doesn't have any water.  Or does it?

  • Explorer Exchange - Blodger Blopp visits the Callisto family as part of a Cosmic Explorers exchange program.  

  • Game On - While a new highway is being setup in an uncharted quadrant, the Callistos are sent to introduce themselves to the alien races in that sector to start an alliance.  They get captured as prisoners instead.

  • How I saved My Summer Vacation - The Callisto family is on vacation, but the vacant planet they visit is nothing like the pamphlets describe it.    

  • Who Stole The Stellosphere?  While Miles is left behind to clean his room, his family's spaceship is stolen.  Can Miles stall the thief to help his uncle and family reclaim their ship?

  • Rock N' Roll - Miles is finally big enough to use the Exoflex.  His whole family is certified to use it, and it adds pressure for Miles to learn how to use it quickly.  Unfortunately, he's not the natural he had hoped he would be.  Miles will have to overcome his doubts and save his family from a rock slide on the moon using the Exoflex.

  • The Goldilocks Zone - Miles gets reunited with a former skating buddy of his. As sweet at the reunion is, the situation could have been better since his friend's home planet was destroyed.

  • Hiccup In The Plan - The Callistos accept a mission to locate a missing beacon.  However, the mission would be a lot easier to accomplish if Merc, the robotic ostrich, didn't have ship shaking hiccups.


My kids enjoyed this two hour DVD and are new fans of the Miles From Tomorrowland series.  My son liked the bundled blastboard flashlight.    The DVD sells for a little over $12 on Amazon and is worth buying for any kid that likes outer space.


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Where Hope Grows

Thank you Rogers and Cowen for sending us this DVD to review!

Calvin Campbell is a former professional baseball player who would rather go drinking with his friends than spend time with his seventeen year old daughter who needs him in her life.  She is dating a guy that is older than her and has a one track mind.  She knows her father doesn't approve of him, but when he doesn't spend time with her,  she's running into her boyfriend's arms instead.  

While shopping at the local grocery store for some food and alcohol, Calvin Campbell meets an employee there with Down syndrome.  He goes by the name Produce and just so happens to work in the produce department.  Produce is a good employee that knows the SKU numbers for every fruit and vegetable in the store.  As much as he longs for the employee of the month recognition, the honor always seems to elude him.  Despite the lack of recognition, Produce is very friendly and makes many friends at the store.  One of those friendships is with Calvin who can use a good friend to help him get his life back in order.  

Where Hope Grows tells a good story about redemption and spending more time with your loved ones.  Because of the language, heavy drinking, and sexual situations, I don't recommend this movie for young children.  It's accurately rated PG-13.  With that said, I highly recommend it for everyone else.  The picture quality and acting is well done.  I recognized the actors Alan Powell from The Song and William Zabka from Karate Kid.  Sometimes the actor for Produce, David DeSanctis, was a little hard to understand, but he still did an excellent job and made his character lovable.  I like how the movie and cast vowed to stop using the "R" word to describe people with Down syndrome.   The message of not under-estimating or giving up on people is clear and needs to be shared.  The DVD sells for less than $13 and the Blu-Ray goes for $18 on Amazon.


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Descendants

Thank you Disney for sending us this movie to review!

Unlike previous Disney movies, Descendants opens up with a story from a tablet instead of a book.  When Belle and Beast married they rounded up all of the villains and cast them away on an island with no Wifi and no escape.  That is until Belle and Beast's son, Ben, is crowned king of Auradon and gives the offspring of the most notorious villains a chance to live a normal life in his kingdom.  Their parents Evil Queen (Snow White), Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty), Jafar (Aladdin), and Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmations) eagerly await their kids efforts to reclaim the fairy godmother's wand to undo the protection magic on the Isle of the Lost. 

Getting their hands on the wand is no easy task since it is locked down in a museum.  The misfits will have to make friends at the boarding school and become acquainted with the offspring of Dopey, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Mulan, and the fairy godmother.  Sadly many of the friendships are one sided as the descendants are using their social engineering skills and magic to get what they want.  

They're not all bad once they step away from their parent's shadows though.  I like how this movie teaches about forgiveness and redemption.  Each of the descendants learns to accomplish things on their own and they become well aware of good and evil and its consequences.  Some of the treatment the descendants get is well deserved, but not all of it is.

Without spoiling the story I'll refrain from going into more detail.  I do however, highly recommend this film for anyone who enjoys Disney's animated classics.  The characters are well developed and the songs (though obviously lip synched) and costumes are vibrant and well done.  I enjoyed the rap remake of Be Our Guest.   All three of my kids liked this film and  I'm sure other families will enjoy it as well.


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Patterns of Evidence

Thank you Rogers and Cowan for sending us this DVD to review!

Skepticism is on the rise and Christianity has been under attack from scientists, scholars, and archaeologists.  Many consider the Bible to be nothing more than a history book or just a bunch of fairy tales.  For more than fifty years, many prominent archaeologists believe that there is no solid evidence for the events in Exodus taking place as the Bible claims.  This view is so widespread that prominent rabbis like David Wolpe consider the book of Exodus to be "historical fiction."

If the book of Exodus is myth then the rest of the Bible loses its credibility and purpose.  Director Timothy Mahoney sets out to validate or disprove the Bible's account of Exodus in a twelve year archaeological journey to Egypt and around the world. Throughout this documentary (narrated by Kevin Sorbo) there are interviews with prominent Egyptologists, historians, archaeologists, authors, and even the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Shimon Peres, the president of Israel.

What Tim discovers is that many people assume the Biblical Exodus took place during the New Kingdom era of Rameses II.  There is no evidence of a famine, infanticide, or vacating and destruction of Biblical cites in that time period.  However, if you examine the previous era, the Middle Kingdom, there is evidence that matches up perfectly with the Bible time frame and historical accounts.  The problem with these findings is that it would mean that all of the dating to this point would be inaccurate and this is a tough pill to swallow for  Egyptologists, historians, and archaeologists.  

The evidence is pretty compelling and this DVD is extremely well thought out and goes about this process from a scientific approach.  The arguments made are logical and validated by the Bible and archaeological evidence taken from the Middle kingdom era.  I highly recommend watching this $20 DVD/$25 Blu-Ray and seeing this journey unfold for yourself.   

 

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Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection

Thank you Click Communications for sending us this Blu-Ray to review!

The Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection contains twelve short films that are bound to make you and your family laugh, cry, and stay on the edge of your seat.  Even though my family owns several Disney movies, we have only seen two of the short films beforehand.  The collection includes:

 

  • Frozen Fever - Elsa wants to make up for lost time and throw her sister a birthday party that she'll never forget.  The only problem is that Elsa isn't feeling that well.
  • Feast - A dog is enjoying the bachelor life style with his owner and all of the junk food that goes along with it.  Things change when the owner gets a health conscious girlfriend and hilarity ensues.  
  • Get a Horse - The classic black and white Disney characters get a 3D CGI-makeover in this silly short.
  • Paperman - A couple falls in love at first sight and suddenly get separated - can paper airplanes reunite them?
  • Tangled Ever After - Pascal and Maximus lose the rings for Rapunzel and  Flynn Rider's wedding.  They go through a lot of effort and humiliation to retrieve them.
  • The Ballad Of Nessie - The origin of Loch Ness is explained in this story about a dragon who was kicked out of her happy pond when a mini golf course took over the region.
  • Prep & Landing - Operation: Secret Santa - Christmas is just around the corner and Mrs. Claus needs the help of some tech savvy elves to put together a gift for Santa.
  • Tick Tock Tale - Clocks can live an exciting life too, especially when the owner of a clock shop leaves for the day.
  • How To Hook Up Your Home Theater - Goofy just wants to watch a football game on a good sized television in the comfort of his own home.  Little does he know how complicated setting up a home theater can be!
  • The Little Match Girl - In the dead of winter a poor girl is trying to sustain herself by selling matches.  Unfortunately nobody seems to be interested in buying them or helping her stay warm.  Perhaps her matches can comfort her?  
  • Lorenzo - A gluttonous cat enjoys eating in front of starving cats starting at him from his window.  As a tail-less cat walks by, Lorenzo makes fun of it.  He is then cursed with a tail that has a mind of its own that likes to dance the Tango.  
  • John Henry - Recently freed slaves are promised land for helping construct rail road tracks. The deadline is quickly looming and they may lose this opportunity.  The legendary John Henry with his super strength gives it his all to  help secure better lives for his family and friends. 

 

All of the shorts are entertaining and fun to watch for young and old alike.  Like many cartoons there is some silly violence and a couple of the shorts end with the death of the main character.  Fortunately, most of them are lighthearted.  The Blu-Ray/DVD combo sells for $20 on Amazon and is well worth the price if you don't own the shorts already on other Disney movies.


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Brother's Keeper

Thank you Falco Ink for sending us this blu-ray to review!

Brother's Keeper tells the compelling story of identical twins, Andy and Pete Goodwyn who tragically lost their parents at a young age.  As a result, they rely on each other and go in completely opposite directions with their lives.  With their high school graduation drawing near, Pete is planning for his future by making arrangements to marry his girlfriend and attending a seminary to become a preacher.  His brother on the other hand, has no plans other than picking fights with those that look at him the wrong way.  

Both of their lives are forever changed when Pete is framed for a murder that he did not commit.  To complicate matters further, the town's police and witnesses are bribed to pursue the death penalty for Pete.  As a devout Christian, Pete's faith is greatly challenged as his situation is getting more and more dire.

Though he doesn't notice it right away, Pete does make a positive impact on the people he interacts with in prison.  Not to mention the transformation that his brother, Andy goes through.  Pete does have his dark moments and a fellow believing inmate (played by Travis Tritt), offers him some solid and Biblical advice.  

While Brother's Keeper tells a powerful story about forgiveness, it's best enjoyed by a mature audience.  There are adult themes including murder, adultery, drinking/drunkenness, and smoking.  The story is engaging,  but predictable at times.  Some things still caught me by surprise though.  

Brother's Keeper is one of the better Christian movies I have seen and I highly recommend renting it at the very least.  It sells for less than $13 on DVD and the blu-ray version goes for $25.  


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Adventure Time Season 5

Thank you Cartoon Network for sending us this Blu-ray to review!

Unlike previous seasons, the disc set for season five has twice the number of episodes in it. There are fifty-two action packed and wacky episodes in this collection.  There are shows about love, breaking up, getting married and becoming parents.  This season has it all!

Even though Jake and Rainicorn become parents in this season, they are not the ones getting married.  That honor goes to Tree Trunks and Mr. Pig and it's officiated by the king of Ooo.  Princess Bubblegum doesn't like this impostor king and nearly ruins the wedding trying to discredit him.  

Finn still has feelings for Princess Bubblegum and tries to woo her after his relationship with the Flame Princess goes cold.  Speaking of cold, the Ice King makes many appearances this season as he is living with Finn and Jake since they destroyed his ice castle in the previous season.  There are many flash backs regarding him and his attempts at raising Marceline and keeping his sanity while wielding the power of his crown.  True to his corrupted self, he still kidnaps princesses and tries to get them to marry him.  *spoiler alert* When those attempts fail, he marries his foot instead. /*spoiler alert*

In case you haven't noticed, these episodes are just as wacky as ever.  Sadly, in this season there some episodes that go against Christian values and teachings. In the episode “The Suitor” Peppermint Butler uses dark magic and summons a demon to take control of Cinnamon Bun.  Reincarnation is also introduced in the episode “The Vault” where Finn helps solve a mystery from his former life as a girl named Shoko.  The cartoon violence and potty humor from seasons past is still a given.

Christian parents may want to screen these episodes before letting their kids watch them.  If the moral issues are of no concern, the humor is just as wacky and this set is sure to crack many smiles and giggles.  The Blu-ray currently sells for $32 and the DVD bundle is less than $25.  Fans of the show will find plenty of value in owning these episodes.


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Any Day

Thank you Falco Ink for sending us this DVD to review!

Any Day is the story of a boxer named Vian (Sean Bean), who was recently released from prison after serving twelve years for killing a man with his bare hands.  Now that he is free, he must find a place to live and a job to get back on his feet.  His sister, who is a single mom, lets him stay in her garage for a couple of weeks as long as he stays sober.  Her son Jimmy bonds with Vian instantly and appreciates his staying there since he does not have any friends or a father to talk to.

Finding work is difficult for Vian since most places don't want to hire an ex-convict.   Vian does eventually find work at a pizzeria that many school kids hang out at. His boss (Tom Arnold) is a recovering alcoholic that instantly trusts Vian enough to offer him a partnership opportunity if he can come up with $15,000.  

Since Vian doesn't have $15,000, a house, or a car of his own, the partnership opportunity seems unlikely unless a miracle happens.  God is brought up several times and it seems that everyone is a Christian with the exception of Vian.  Even though God is clearly at work in his life, Vian doesn't acknowledge his handiwork.  

Despite the religious references, Any Day is a mature movie and should not be seen around kids.  There are alcohol and drug references along with language and violent scenes.  While Vian doesn't have much going for him, he does manage to win over a woman out of his league (Eva Longoria) and a sex scene is shown as a result.  

Because of the appropriateness issues, I doubt conservative Christians will enjoy this movie.  For everyone else, the story is mediocre and worth a rental at best.  I will admit that there was one scene that brought tears to my eyes, but I won't spoil the story here.   Lastly, the picture/editing quality could have been better as there were scenes that flickered black that made my hubby wonder if there was something wrong with our projector.  Since it was repeatable, we discovered it's a movie quality issue.  Overall, the story and the editing  could have used more work.  I recommend renting this movie before buying it.


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Call Me Lucky

Thank you Sunshine Sachs for sending us a screener of this movie to review!

Call Me Lucky is a film directed by Bobcat Goldthwait who was inspired by Barry Crimmins in many ways.  Barry used to go by the nickname "Bear Cat" to which Bobcat Goldthwait followed suit.  Besides helping Bobcat stay sober, Barry has helped launch many successful comedians in his Boston area comedy clubs.  Some of the comedians he worked with include Kevin Meany, Steven Wright, Dennis Leary, Steve Sweeney,  Paula Poundstone, Jimmy Tingle and many more. 

Barry was known for being a political satirist in the '70s and '80s and he didn't hold back in bashing our government and the Catholic church.  Since the pope has joined twitter, Barry has tweeted him daily asking to be excommunicated.  Barry holds an understandable grudge against the church because he was abused by both a family friend and by a priest as a young boy.

While Barry vented on stage and cursed often, he had a gentler side that helped give a voice to those who needed to be heard.  He visited wounded children in Nicaragua during Reagan's term and he helped the government and AOL toughen their policies and prosecute pedophiles when the interest was in its infancy stages.  Thanks to his efforts  thousands of pedophiles have been arrested.

Until Call Me Lucky, I wasn't familiar with Barry Crimmins.  I did watch many skits from his protégées though. Perhaps my parents didn't let me watch Barry's  skits because of the constant swearing and tirades he would go on.  His jabs at the government were direct and laced with information that wasn't as accessible as it is today with the resources of the internet.  While the documentary is interesting, sad, and insightful, I cannot recommend it to a younger audience because of the language and mature content.

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Teen Beach 2

Thank you Click Communications for sending us a DVD to review!

After a wonderful summer together, Brady and Mack (Mackenzie) are heading back to school together.  Even though they're celebrating their three month "meetaversary", their relationship is about to be seriously tested as they discover that they are complete opposites when it comes to their academic studies.    

Mack has her future planned out with wanting to become a marine biologist.  She already knows which college she wants to go to while Brady doesn't even know what he's going to have for dinner at night.  Even though biology isn't Brady's strongest subject, he's not stupid.  In fact, he's designing many great surfboards.  The problem is that he's lost his confidence and doesn't want to share his passion with his girlfriend for fear of being rejected.  

Other guys are taking notice of Mackenzie and Brady is getting jealous of the attention she is getting.  Between the jealousy and the secrets, Mack is wanting some time away from Brady.  Back in Brady's favorite '60s movie, Wet Side Story (a surfers versus bikers rendition of West Side Story), the main characters Lela and Tanner are sensing some trouble between Mack and Brady and come to the future (our present day) to save them. 

Hilarity ensues when Lela and Tanner arrive and don't know how to interact with cell phones, scuba divers, and aggressive jocks.  They try their best to blend in and sing whenever the opportunity arises.  Just like the first Teen Beach movie, the sequel is very much a musical. 

Lela is adjusting well to the modern era and enjoys discovering her true self and untapped intellect.  Tanner on the other hand is very conceited and flaky.  Later, he does come around and learn to put others before himself.  Other lessons include being and believing in yourself and not keeping secrets from a loved one.  

If your family enjoyed the first movie, the sequel is worth checking out.  It's kid safe and my children enjoyed the movie even though they are not teenagers yet.  The wacky humor and silly songs were enough to keep them tuned in.  My daughters fought over the included necklace which is rather stylish.  The price is a reasonable $15, and if you don't like the movie, you still get a nice necklace out of the deal.  


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Guest — Paige
Nice little synopsis. I haven't seen the first movie, but I have heard it is pretty good. I'll have to check both out. Thanks for ... Read More
Monday, 20 July 2015 17:39
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Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle

Thank you Universal Pictures for sending us this DVD to review!

Curious George is back and up to his usual unintended trouble making.  The story begins with George and Ted (the man in the yellow hat) flying a kite in a park.  For most people the worst case scenario is losing the kite to a tree, but for George it's a very expensive excursion with many food vendors  getting their carts knocked over and losing any chance of  turning  a profit.  The man in the yellow hat hands out yellow contact cards with his insurance information to those impacted by George's kite flying.  It makes me wonder what his insurance premiums are.  

Later George and his owner head back to the museum where Ted works and they are greeted by Mr. Houston.   There is an opening for an astronaut to go on a mission to alleviate the massive flooding in Africa.    George is eager to go, but the man in the yellow hat isn't sold on the idea right away.  Fortunately for George, he relents and lets him go on the mission.

Sadly, the mission doesn't go as planned and George gets lost in Africa.  Houston and his team estimate George's location within a 500 mile radius.  Not surprisingly, most of the movie revolves around locating George.   Even though George starts off alone, it's short lived as he befriends many unlikely wild animals.  

While this movie teaches the value of friendship, it has a very dangerous ending that involves flying a metal framed kite in the middle of a thunderstorm.  Other than that, I recommend this film for kids of all ages.  The music is catchy and arranged by Heitor Pereira.  Besides the movie, the sound track is worth looking into as well!


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Strange Magic

Thank you Click Communications for sending us this DVD to review!

Strange Magic is a CGI animated musical that borrows from Shakepeare's "A Midsummer’s Night Dream" and Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont's "Beauty and the Beast." After seeing George Lucas's attempt at romance in Star Wars II Attack of the Clones, I wasn't expecting much.  I began watching this movie with three of my kids and one of them left half way through to read a book instead. Of the two that remained to the end, only one liked the movie.   My son wasn't a fan of it.  Then again, George Lucas was inspired by his daughters to make Strange Magic.

The movie begins with a fairy princess, Mary Ann, preparing for her wedding day.  Along the way of her collecting materials for her fiancé's boutonnière, she runs into her husband-to-be kissing another fairy.  Not surprisingly, the wedding was called off and her father, the king, wants Mary Anne  to make amends with her ex, Roland.   Instead Mary Anne vows to be independent and swears off love entirely.  

Mary Anne is not the only one uninterested in love.  In the nearby Dark Kingdom, the wretched insectiod King Bog has forbidden anyone to fall in love and use of love potions is forbidden.  To ensure that his ban remains in effect, he sealed away the sugar plum fairy who is the only one that can concoct love potions.  

Roland, still set on getting the crown and a powerful army, conspires with an elf to get a love potion.  The elf agrees to the plan because he loves Mary Ann's boy crazy sister, Dawn.  While they manage to get the potion, things don't go as planned.  I won't spoil any details but I think it's safe to say that the movie's plot is not very hard to predict.  In the end, everyone in the movie learns that love has to be true and not rushed.  

While I recognized many of the songs sung in this movie (I Gotta Feeling, Sugar Pie Huniebunch, Fools Rush In, Tell Him, Wild Thing, Love is Strange),  they didn't have much significance for my kids. The only song my kids knew was Lady Gaga's Lovegame being used as a marching song by Roland's army.  

My kids were obviously not into the music, but the animation was well done.  The story is predictable and unoriginal.  Since only one of my kids actually enjoyed the movie, I can't really recommend it.  If you see it on sale it may be worth considering though.


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Maya The Bee

Thank you Shout Factory for sending us this movie to review!

Maya the Bee was originally a German fairytale that dates back to 1912.  Since then it has been published into other languages, has become a TV show, and now it's getting the Hollywood treatment.  While the movie is a bit different than the book, much of the story remains the same.

Maya is born into an unstable beehive.  The aging queen is seen as "too soft" by her advisor and she schemes to replace her.  Meanwhile Maya is having trouble trying to find her role in the bee community.  Nobody seems to be as carefree as her and she seems to cause more trouble than is useful.  

After exploring the Meadows without permission from her teacher, she befriends a grasshopper and other insects.  It's here that the story borrows a bit from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.  Wasps and bees are hostile towards each other and any reason will suffice for starting a war with the opposing side.  Young bees and wasps are instructed not to communicate with other insects, but especially not bees or wasps.

Naturally, Maya and her best friend, Willy, meet a young wasp and save his life from a spider.  To save face from his angry father, he confesses that they saved his life, but denies his friendship with them.  They meet up later in the movie and he apologizes for that.

Later on in the movie a war is brewing between the wasps and the bees and they plan on attacking each others' homes.  The young friends unite despite their differences and rally insects from all over the meadow to stop the unnecessary violence.  

I don't want to give away the causes or the outcome of this battle as you should see this movie for yourself and benefit from the silly humor within.  My three kids enjoyed and laughed throughout the story.  There is some potty humor with the dung beetle rolling around what he's known for.  Maya is brave, charming, and loveable; my kids are looking forward to watching more of her adventures.    


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The Good Lie

Thank you to Alcon Entertainment for sending us this film to review!

I knew nothing about this film when I sat down to watch it, other than the title, which intrigued me.  Telling a lie is rarely a good thing.  Depending on the circumstances a single lie can contain the power to completely destroy your life, not to mention collateral damage caused to others.  Other lies, commonly referred to as "white lies" are generally considered unharmful, focusing on keeping social interactions civil or inoffensive.  "Does this dress make my bum look too big?"  {Slight pause - often without even looking at said dress or it's effect on one's spouse's bum} "NO! Of COURSE not!  You look great!"  The repercussions of a "white lie" may be minor (like having an annoyed spouse for an evening), but that does not mean telling one is "good."

So what kind of lie is a good one?  The film answers this question brilliantly: The kind that saves other people's lives at the risk of your own.  A couple of biblical references to this come to mind immediately.  The most notable is in Exodus Chapter 1 where Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt sees his slave population growing more numerous than his ability to effectively control.  His solution: infanticide.  All baby boys of the Hebrews are sentenced to death by exposure.  Well, the midwives (ladies who are in charge of overseeing births, like Lamaze coaches and nurses combined) take issue with Pharaoh's solution.  But what's a powerless midwife to do when faced with the choice between disobeying the ruler, who will execute you for disobedience as callously as he kills babies, and doing what they know to be the righteous thing?  You lie.  The midwives tell Pharaoh that the Hebrew ladies are so tough that they pop those baby boys out before they even get there.

Woman, "Honey, my water just broke!"

Man, "What do I do?"

Woman, "GET THE MIDWIFE!"

Man, "But... if it's a boy, Pharaoh said,"

Woman, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWW!"

Man, "Alright! Be right back! Hang on dear!"

Man runs down the street, frantic, to his Lamaze coach's house, retrieves her, and they run back.  He is gone a total of fifteen minutes.

Man, "Honey, the midwife is here!"

Woman, "You lazy bum!  You took too long!  I had to push this little guy out all by myself!  It was ten whole minutes of agony!"

Man,"Sorry Lamaze, but I guess we don't need your help today.  Sorry for waking you up at two in the morning."

So, the midwives tell Pharaoh a reasonably obvious lie, one which is almost unbelievable.  But, the Bible says that Pharaoh was duped by this story, and that God BLESSED the midwives for lying... or rather for telling a good lie.  Not good as in believable, effective, or clever, but good in intent.  A lie intended to save the lives of the Hebrew baby boys, at the risk of their own lives.

Many other examples of such lies could be made.  Examples of this are plentiful during the Holocaust for instance.  "The Good Lie," tells a story of one such event during the Second Sudanese Civil War.

In this story, several Sudanese children are orphaned after their village is massacred. They are Theo, the oldest and their leader, his younger brother Mamere, their sister Abital, and two other villagers Paul and Jeremiah.  They band together and make a long journey through the desert enduring hardship, dodging the rebel forces, and nearly dying until they reach safety in a refugee camp in Kenya.  Along the way Theo tells a good lie.  They are stumbled upon by the enemy soldiers while the group was sleeping in the plain.  The leader's younger brother Mamere is seen briefly before he hides in the grass.  In order to save his younger brother, Theo stands up and surrenders to the soldiers.  He is hauled off by them, and presumed killed, but the soldiers don't find the rest of his group because he lied and told them he was alone.

Years later, these youths are among 3,600 refugees selected for resettlement in America.  The four remaining survivors of their village petition to have them all stay together since they are basically family.  Once in America, they are told that they have to split up and their sister Abital is sent to Boston, while the three surviving boys must make a new life in Kansas City. 

Together, Mamere, Paul, and Jeremiah must adjust to a new and different culture, go to school, get jobs, and try to reconnect with their sister even as the emotional pain of losing Theo haunts them.  Mamere, who feels responsible for his brother's presumed death learns of a good lie in school from a literature class studying "Huckleberry Finn."  In that instance, Huck tells a lie to save Jim from slave hunters.  This example of a good lie inspires Mamere and helps him realize that the guilt he is feeling is not right.  It was not his choice, it was his brother Theo's.  The lie that Theo told to save him and the rest of his group was a good one to tell.

Overall, the film was moving, gave the viewer an emotional connection to the characters, and presented the historical atrocities of the Sudanese Civil War in honest terms.  The actors who portray the Sudanese refugees are all actually Sudanese refugees who became actors (as opposed to the machinists and grocery store clerks they become in the film).  The American actors are Reese Witherspoon who plays Carrie Davis, the boys' job placement agent and Corey Stole who plays Jack, Carrie's boss.  Both of these characters are initially apathetic to the plight of the Sudanese refugees, but eventually help them adjust to American culture and by the end of the film they adopt a sympathetic posture towards their situation.  

Carrie's change is the most abrupt.  When first introduced to her, she is abrasive and unlikable, selfish, and easily put-off by anything that remotely inconveniences her.  By the end of the film she orchestrates reuniting the boys with their sister Abital by sponsoring Abital to live in her own home.  The self-sacrifice she makes in order to help those three boys was extremely uncharacteristic of her early character and clearly represents the change that occurred in her heart to cause her to help the people that were previously just an annoyance to her.

The film is rated PG-13 for violence, language and drug use.  I would concur that it deserves a PG-13 rating based on those factors.

I enjoyed the film a lot, and would recommend it if you like dramas, or movies with a positive message of self-sacrificial love.


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WWJD: The Journey Continues

Thank you Bender/Helper/Impact for sending us this movie to review!

When I was growing up, I used to watch a show called The Hitchhiker which featured a hitchhiker (gasp!) who opened and closed each show, but did not star in the random thriller story in between.  The shows often revolved upon mankind's depravity and sometimes had supernatural plots.  Since I have not seen the original WWJD movie, The Hitchhiker television show is the closest comparison I can make.  

WWJD: The Journey Continues has the same drifter from the original movie, but the main story is completely different this time around.     The movie begins with the drifter catching a ride to a random location.   Meanwhile a young man promises his mother in her final moments that he would take care of his brother.   His adopted brother's prison sentence is nearly finished. Later that night, a church in the midst of being renovated in a rough neighborhood gets robbed.  The pastor, fearing for the lives of himself and his wife, abandons the church and  suggests they hire a pastor with no family to worry about.  Cue in the young man who happens to be a pastor and his parolee brother.  As luck would have it, the pastor's brother is  a carpenter when he's not breaking the law. 

The pastor's brother is not saved and it shows with his quick temper and wanting to pick fights with some trouble-making brothers who vandalize the church. The young pastor has a tight deadline to get the church up and running and financially stable.  Everything is on track until there is a robbery in the church and the pastor's brother pays the ultimate price.  Fortunately, he accepted Christ in his last moments of life.  

The pastor grows bitter and the townspeople take notice.  How can he bring people to the Lord when his faith is shattered?  The drifter comes to town and doesn't get a warm welcome and finds himself chased off by the pastor and the trouble making boys.  He keeps coming back and asking people "What would Jesus do?"  Some townspeople get the message while others take a little more time.

Besides the main message of trusting God, there are many instances of forgiveness. The movie also takes some time to discourage premarital sex.  While WWJD: The Journey Continues is not rated, I would recommend it for teens and older because of the violence and mature themes.  The story is predictable at times but decent.  If you like heartwarming Christian movies, WWJD: The Journey Continues has you covered.


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Confessions of a Prodigal Son

Thank you Bender/Helper Impact for sending us a DVD of this movie to review!

Confessions of a Prodigal Son was successfully Kickstarted in the spring of 2013.  The fundraising goal was a meager ten thousand dollars and Nathan Clarkson, the lead actor and project lead, raised $13,835.00 to make it a reality.  While the low budget aspect is hard to hide, the story told is timeliness and teaches about God's love, forgiveness, and redemption.  

Many college age kids are tired of being told what to do by their parents.  As a preacher's kid, Sean wanted to escape from his father's (Kevin Sorbo) shadow. Instead of attending a Christian college to become a pastor, he desired to go to a public college and do his own thing.  Sean's parents relented and paid for two years of college and promised to pay the other half if he didn't squander the funds and keep a grade A average.

Getting an A in his English class will be no easy task as his teacher is very strict and not very tolerant of Sean's chronic tardiness.  Sean is going to have to get his partying under control and figure out what he wants in life and what his goals are.  Not only does he need to do this for his own good, but he has to write a paper about his life story.  He still doesn't know what his is, all he does know is that he wants to be free and not told what to do by anyone else.   

Unfortunately, I couldn't relate with Sean's character and found him to be more shallow than lost.  Why the drastic rebellion?  There's not much of a back story with him and his parents other than him being a preacher's kid.  Sean's best friend in the movie is a womanizer who doesn't have much going for him other than partying and popping pills.  The most complex character in the movie is Sean's love interest (Rachael Lee) whose dad left her when she was just a toddler and is trying to forgive her father.   She turns to God for strength and encourages Sean to re-consider his relationship with God.

While the story is modernized from the Biblical parable, I feel that it could have been better.  The characters didn't click with me and there were too many holes in the story it was trying to tell.  Even though I'm impressed with what was accomplished with limited funding, I think that it could have benefited from more seasoned writers and acting talent.


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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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