Month: August 2014

Movie 3: Fantasia

Movie #3 is up. Fantasia is a Disney masterpiece.

Reviewing All 56 Disney Animated Films And More!

fantasia poster

Production- (If you want to read about the segments skip down to Segments)

In modern movies typically we see a hit followed by a million imitators.  Not the case with Disney.  Even in later, more commercial years they followed Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast with the different feels of Aladdin and Lion King.  However, this was never more true than in the early years.  A mammoth hit of Snow White was followed by 4 films that couldn’t be more different- Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo and Bambi.

Fantasia was the 3rd animated feature film by Walt Disney Studios and it is a bold undertaking to be sure.  Originally Walt was worried the character of Mickey was going to be forgotten by the public and even the studio.  As his master creation Walt didn’t want this to happen and had developed an idea for the Sorcerers Apprentice.  Music had been written…

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Movie 2: Pinocchio

I’m not going to reblog all of these but just while the blog is starting I thought it was a good idea.
So I faced my childhood fears and watched Disney’s second animated feature Pinocchio. It’s pretty intense and bizarre. Check out the review

Reviewing All 56 Disney Animated Films And More!

pinocchioSo now we get to a terrifying moment of my childhood- watching Pinocchio.  And on a rewatching I have to say I was perfectly valid in being scared!  It’s kind of a nutty movie but in a way I now find quite brilliant.

Bambi was originally meant to be Disney’s second animated film but with delays that honor went to Pinocchio.  It debuted in 1940 and was initially a huge flop.  It wasn’t until a re-release in 1945 that the studio began to make back it’s investment.

It won Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Original Song and is considered by some as Walt’s masterpiece.

It was certainly a bold undetaking.  All the post- Snow White movies were very bold.  I think we have an idea of the 30’s- 50’s as being squeaky clean and polished but that’s definitely not the case with Disney.  Snow White, Bambi and Pinocchio…

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Movie 1: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

I am starting a new blog where I am going to review all 57 Disney animated feature films. First one is up Snow White

Reviewing All 56 Disney Animated Films And More!

Snow_White_1937_poster

To begin this project of course we have to start where it all began.  The first full length animated film- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Debuting in 1937, Snow White was not only a creative success but a commercial hit as well.  Earning $8 million dollars in its initial release, making it the highest grossing film at the time.  Walt Disney was given an honorary Oscar in 1939 for his achievement and the 7 Dwarfs became marketing icons on all kinds of merchandise, creating a commercial profitability which film had not seen to that point.

Work on the film began in 1934 with an initial budget of 250k.  For a time it was called ‘Disney’s folly’ because Walt had to mortgage his house and ran up a cost of nearly 1.5 million to produce.

Disney was fond of the 7 Dwarfs and many different personalities were tested including Tubby…

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Depression, Anxiety, Robin Williams

I hesitated to do this post because like when Whitney Houston died I didn’t want to just be one more maudlin grab at attention from tragedy.  Everyone probably knows that Robin Williams died yesterday of an apparent suicide.

It’s strange because if you had asked me if I was a Robin Williams fan before yesterday I would have said ‘not any more’.  His comedic riffs seemed outdated and I was not a fan of his recent show The Crazy One’s.

And yet, when I heard about it I started to cry.  I’m not sure I can even explain it but it impacted me.

The 90’s were golden for Williams and that was when I grew up. Just like with Houston I seemed to have outgrown Robin Williams but when something like this happens you remember and mourn for a little bit of that innocence which is lost.

3 of his films really stand out- Dead Poets Society, Aladdin and Mrs Doubtfire.

These movies all seem very different but they all contain varying degrees of his manic comedic riffing but also had a lot of heart.

Mrs Doubtfire

Along with Home Alone I can’t remember a movie making me laugh more as a younger person but it had real heart too.

Dead Poets Society came out when I was only 8 so I learned about it from friends when I was in high school and it is one of the first tragedies I remember responding too.  Before that the movies were for fantasy, laughter and entertainment.

Dead Poets Society

It’s interesting a few weeks ago I did my Disney Tag and I mentioned thinking Aladdin was a bit overrated but since I made the video I’ve actually been thinking about it.  I was going to watch it and see what I thought.  I remember seeing it and laughing at all the jokes and great songs.  I don’t know if those jokes bear frequent repetition but I’m going to watch an old VHS and see.

I did say in that video if I could pick any person from a Disney movie to be my friend it would be Genie. After all ‘you aint never had a friend like’ him.

But even Aladdin had a moment of heart for our Genie

I guess I just want to say one more thing.  I think the reason why I cried yesterday doesn’t really have to do with movies at all.  I have seen addiction and depression wreak havoc on my extended family and I think most of us can say the same.

In fact, I have not been immune from depression and anxiety myself.  I’ve spoken about it many times on this blog.  I had a period of my life where I was so unhappy that I honestly doubted whether I could feel happiness again.  I seemed to be presented with happy things but never felt any real joy from them.

I remember my mother asked me ‘why is this so hard? You’ve faced a lot of hard things.  Why is this so tough for you?’

I said ‘because every other time I could see the out.  I could see the ending but I don’t any more.  I feel like there is a black cloud over my life and it won’t go away’.

It took a nervous breakdown to wake me up and make the changes I needed so I could rescue myself.  I will never forget staring at a plate of spaghetti and thinking ‘why isn’t the rest of my life this good?’ It was really scary to jump into the unknown but it was either that or I hate to think what I would have done further down that road.

Life presented me with a way to rescue myself and just after I quit my job I was unemployed for 6 months.  People kept asking if I was bored and I’d say ‘no way’.  What I didn’t tell them is I was healing.  I was remembering what made me special and happy.

And that was when I started this blog because I was smiling again.

I was rescued and it makes me sad when others are not.  Please try to reach out to those you love and tell them you are there for them.  If someone is going through depression don’t judge, just hug them and help them rescue themselves.  Pray for them.

Anyway, I don’t mean to be sad but it was on my mind and I wanted to share it with you.  God is there for you.  He loves all of us and He wants us to be happy.

 I am donating to St Jude’s hospital in honor of Robin Williams. stjude.org/donate

Guilty Pleasure Movies

Yesterday my friends over at Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys) posted a list of their favorite guilty pleasure movies.

http://jordanandeddie.wordpress.com/2014/08/08/top-10-guilty-pleasure-movies-eddies-take/

I commented on Eddie’s choice of Pearl Harbor, one of my least favorite movies, and it got me thinking.  What movies do I know aren’t great but I have an affection for?

The guys lists are:

Eddie- Phantom Tollbooth, Mouse hunt, Transformers, The Mummy, Pearl Harbor, Death Race, Con Air, Deep Blue Sea, Ave Ventura Pet Detective, Hot Rod

Jordan- Doom, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Doomsday, Kung Pow: Enter the Fists, Mallrats, Bad Taste, Mother of Tears, Man with Two Brains, My Name is Bruce, Resident Evil Franchise (I haven’t seen a single one of Jordan’s choices).

Jordan describes a guilty pleasure as- “There those endlessly rewatchable treats that appeal to some and are despised by others, usually nestled somewhere between bad and terrible”

It was tougher than I thought to come up with a list because there are a lot of movies that I LOVE which most people are lukewarm for such as You’ve Got Mail, Just Like Heaven, or Source Code.  I couldn’t think of that many movies that people really hate that I like.

However, I could think of a lot of made for TV movies I like that people hate.  I don’t know if these should count but I figure a movie is a movie.and it’s my list so who cares!

Guilty Pleasure Movies

Love Comes Softly
Love Comes Softly

1. Love Comes Softly Series-

Starting in 2003 Hallmark released their first Hallmark Hall of Fame movie based on Janette Oak’s novels of a family finding love and hope on the frontier in the 1860s.  Each features a strong willed woman who must support her family emotionally and physically and find love along the way

You can watch the series based on the release date starting with Love Comes Softly, Love’s Enduring Promise, Love’s Long Journey, Love’s Abiding Joy, Love’s Unending Legacy, Love’s Unfolding Dream, Love Takes Wing, Love Finds a Home, Love’s Christmas Journey

or you can watch in chronological order with 2 prequels made in 2011 Love Begins and Love’s Everlasting Courage (I have all 10 films if you want to borrow).

What Critics Think:

The average critic would hate these movies.  The acting isn’t always great.  The stories are predictable and the sentiment is laid on pretty thick.  One reviewer said “abysmal like too little grass spread across too much lawn…”

Why I Like Them:

I know these movies are sappy and predictable but I feel like they tell their stories in a really likable way.  The cinematography is good, the performances are earnest and sometimes quite good.  They also talk about faith without beating it over your head.  They will make you cry and smile and just like a bowl of soup feel good even if you know it’s just a bowl of soup.

high school musical

2. High School Musical-

I actually don’t own high school musical but it is one I turn on when I see it is on TV.  High School Musical was made for the Disney channel in 2006 and became a sensation.  Like a musical from the 60s (or a musical set in the 60s ala Hairspray or Grease) HSM is set in a high school with Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens as two students afraid to try out for the high school musical despite their great voices and chemistry.  There are all the typical characters of a high school including jocks and prima donnas but none of them are done in a mean or heavy-handed way.

The reason why this movie did so well I believe is because it appealed to the pre-teen crowd even though it was set in a high school.  There is so few quality entertainment that is targeted for that demographic.  Most are for either older or younger kids.  With HSM tweens could dance and sing and swoon over Zac Efron.  The songs were catchy and the dancing energetic.

What Critics Think:

One critic said “And although the movie is mindlessly engaging for a while, the whole thing ultimately becomes so overwhelmingly silly and juvenile, it’s difficult to imagine even the most die-hard fan of musicals finding anything here worth embracing.”

Why I Like It:

Well my friendly critic I find much worth embracing.  Again if we look at the high school musicals of the past are they really that much better than this?  They have charm, likable leads and catchy music.  At least HSM actually stars real teens instead of a 30 year old Olivia Newton John.

Glee was obviously a result of HSM’s popularity and I think they would have done better if they had kept some of it’s innocence instead of treating it’s characters like adults.

So I like HSM.  I think it is fun, with engaging performances, dancing and singing. Enough for me.

hallmark christmas

3.  Hallmark Christmas Movies-

So I’m a real sucker for Christmas movies.  In fact, it takes a lot to make a Christmas movie I don’t like (I’m talking to you Four Christmases).  Every Christmas I look forward to the Hallmark channel’s Countdown to Christmas and daily syrupy tales of holiday joy.  They always get capable actors and the stories have charm and bring that Christmas cheer.

Some of my favorites are

The Road to Christmas- stars real life couple Jennifer Grey and Clark Gregg (I believe they met on this film) in an opposites attract,  road trip story, that’s completely cheesy but what can I say sometimes I like my Christmas cheese.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year- stars Brooke Burns, Warren Christy and Henry Winkler.  A sweet story of single Mom who is trying to make a Christmas for her son and her uncle who befriends a man on the plane and ends up inviting said man to enjoy Christmas together when his plane is delayed.

The Christmas Choir, Mrs Miracle movies, The Christmas Card, The Christmas Ornament, The Wishing Tree. etc.

What Critics Say-

Well critics, as you might guess, are not very nice to these movies.  They say they are the same movie made over and over again.  One critic cried out in exasperation “If I have to watch another sappy freaken christmas movie I am going to go POSTAL”

Why I Like Them-

First of all the repetition doesn’t bother me.  The whole joy of the holidays is repeating the same messages and traditions over and over again.

Besides, we know there are 7 plots in storytelling, so really almost all movies are the same as a million other stories.  I can only think of a few times in my life I have seen or read something truly original (The Book Thief, Inception come to mind).  That is such an exciting event when it happens but it is rare.

So, you have to find a type of story that you like and then the repetition won’t bother you. I guess I just like stories of Christmas and family and love and romance and goodwill to mankind.

4. Hallmark Hall of Fame Movies-

hallmark romance

This is a bit of cheat because I just had Love Comes Softly and Hallmark Christmas but these bi-monthly films satisfy my need for romantic comedies about nice people falling in love.  In a world where the rom-com is dead what’s a girl to do?

I won’t go into these because the explanation is basically the same as my affection for Hallmark Christmas but some of my favorites are

For the Love of Grace, Love Notes, Romancing the Bride, The Love Letter, The Lost Valentine, Remember Sunday, The 7 Year Hitch, How to Fall in Love, Good Witch, Puppy Love, I Married Who, Flirting with Forty. (Those are not all hall of fame movies but I think they are all Hallmark.  Could be wrong about Flirty).  Lifetime movies are not always as good but still enjoyable.

But honestly I pretty much like them all.  Tonight is one starring James Denton.  Love him…

Friends With Kids main

5 . Friends with Kids-

This movie is technically fresh on rotten tomatoes but it seems like the people who hated it really hated it but I liked it.  It’s not perfect but I really liked what it was trying to do even if it didn’t quite get there.

The movie is about a group of college friends in their early 30s starting to get married and have families.  The ensemble includes Maya Rudolph, Jennifer Westfeldt (starred, wrote and directed), Adam Scott, Kristen Wiig, Chris O’Dowd, Megan Fox and Edward Burns.

2 of the group Julie (Westfeldt)  and Jason (Adam Scott) remain single while the others get married.  They see their friends new lives and on one hand are insanely jealous (and probably a little left out of the concerns and problems they talk about).

On the same breath they are horrified by the chaos and quarreling they see in their married friends.  I so relate to that and I have yet to see a movie really tackle that idea. I honestly think it could be done even better than this movie but I enjoyed it.

What Critics Said-

They are a 65% on RT so a lot of critics liked it but then some hated it.  One said “I’d rather have my head stuck in a vise than be forced to sit through another viewing”

Oh well!

What I Liked About it-

I did not enjoy the routine plot of Julie and Jason deciding to have a platonic child together.  That was boring but the observations about life and their friends I totally bought and as that is the majority of the movie I really liked it.  I think it is a hidden gem and if you are single in your 30s check it out.  I bet you will relate too.

It does have a lot of language so you’ve been warned.

win a date

6. Win a Date with Tad Hamilton-

The kind of sweet simple movie that used to be made all the time but almost never is now (except on Hallmark channel).  Stars Kate Bosworth as a midwest fan girl who gets a chance to go to LA and go on a date with her celebrity crush played by Josh Duhamel.  Meanwhile back home her manager Topher Grace has long had feelings for Rosalee.  What will she decide  the glitzy life of Hollywood or the ordinary man who really loves her? hmmm…

All the leads are endearing and fun.  Ginnifer Goodwin and Sean Hayes also give nice supporting work.  It is completely predictable but in a likable way.

What Critics Thought-

Most gave it a pass as harmless and likable (53% on RT) but a few had stronger words.  One critic said “There is no reason on God’s good Earth to see this movie”

Why I Like it-

It’s sweet love story with likable performances even from Duhamel- a role that would usually be a jerk or diva but he is very human.  But mostly I just like Topher Grace a lot.  He’s won me over way back to That’s 70 Show days.  He’s sweet and earnest and just so darn cute.  Enough for me!

Napoleon-Dynamite

7. Napoleon Dynamite-

This is another movie it seems like you either go with and love or hate because of it’s pacing and style.  It’s stupid no question but it made me laugh a lot.  Maybe part of it is it skewers small town Idaho which isn’t too far away from Utah where I live.  The performances are funny.  The style is slow and deliberate but it works and Napoleon is the coolest nerds before nerds became cool.  He’s not even self-aware that he is a nerd.  He’s just himself and the world responds to him.

I find with most any comedy it will either make you laugh or not and there is no guessing what will set any of us off. So in the end I thought it was funny.

A lot of critics actually liked it at 71% but there was also some backlash after it was so popular but go back and watch it I bet it will hold up for you.

A_Walk_to_Remember_Poster

8. Walk to Remember-

Most people give Nicholas Sparks a pass on The Notebook which is a fine movie; but, if I had to pick a Sparks adaptation as my favorite I would chose A Walk to Remember.  It contains all the Sparksian ingredients- young love, glistening charismatic actors, dewy locals and terminal illness.  However, there is good chemistry between the stars Mandy Moore and Shane West and I love the music.

What Critics Thought-

Walk to Remember gets a 27% on RT.  Most dismissed it as sentimental teen romance but others were harsher saying “A monstrosity of a movie that I am all too eager to forget”

Why I Liked it-

Like I said it’s sweet and I bought the simple romance.  It maybe belonged on Hallmark but the music takes it to a higher level for me.  I really like the songs and Sparks has certainly produced much worse cheese since this so I wonder if those critics might be a little nicer to it in retrospect?

better off dead

9. Better Off Dead-

This movie actually rates pretty high on RT (82%) but I put it on the list because I know it is completely stupid. but….it makes me laugh.  So many of the jokes work.  Whether it’s the Chinese men who learned to talk from Howard Cosell or the neurotic coupon obsessed brother or the strange concoctions his mother cooks, it makes me laugh every time!

The story is about Lane Meyers who is obsessed with his girlfriend (all the high schoolers look 36 in this) who dumps him for the ski team captain.  In revenge he decides to ski the k12, the hardest hill in the town and all hijinks begin.

What Critics Thought-

Like I said most of them liked it.  One critic, Brad Laiman said “I’ve rarely met anyone who didn’t secretly love it passionately.”  Isn’t that the definition of a guilty pleasure?

Why I Like it-

It’s pretty simple.  It makes me laugh.  It has been since 2012 that a comedy came out I wanted to see.  Most nowdays are hard Rs or children’s movies.  The family friendly or teenage friendly comedy is a rarity.   Please bring it back Hollywood.  I miss it!

miss congeniality

10. Miss Congeniality-

This is another one that simply made me laugh.  It’s a silly story of an FBI agent who goes undercover to find a bombing suspect at the fictional Miss United States pageant.  The idea of Sandra Bullock being an ugly woman is silly but they make it work and the scenes with Michael Cain are very good.  Benjamin Bratt is a charming love interest and Heather Burns scores a  lot of laughs as Miss Rhode Island.

Candice Bergen and William Shatner play the heads of the pageant and it gets weaker when they are on screen.  Sandra Bullock makes this movie work.  She’s just so darn likable.

What Critics Thought-

Critics aren’t as harsh on this as I would have thought.  42% on RT.  Most said pleasant, entertaining, harmless etc.  One said “Like most beauty pageant contestants themselves, Miss Congeniality is all charm and little substance.”

Why I Liked It-

I’d actually agree with the above quote.  It’s totally charm over substance but it was charming enough for me to overlook the silly plot.  If you have likable characters with some funny dialogue than I don’t need a huge substantial plot.  In fact, sometimes that can make a rom com feel muddled and pretentious.

cutting edge

11. Cutting Edge-

This is one I have nostalgia for.  I know it isn’t a great movie but it’s ice skating and the Olympics and opposites attract and romance.  I loved it when I was younger and I still enjoy it today.  I have also seen all of the sequels.  That’s right all of them and they are basically exactly the same movie and since I like it I like those although less than the original of course.

DB Sweeney is the hockey player who is forced to train in figure skating with Moira Kelly for the Olympics.  he’s gruff hockey and she’s elegant skating.  Will they ever get along?  Love it!

What Critics Thought-

The critics were pretty nice on this one 60% on RT.  Most said it was silly but charming.  One said  ” A guilty-pleasure ’90s romance you can skate to”  So I guess it belongs on this list! .

Why I Like It-

I am an Olympics junkie and there are surprisingly few movies about the Olympics.  This is what I call a sleepover movie.  Meaning it is one of the movies my girlfriends would watch when we were having a sleepover.  Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Dance with Me, Dirty Dancing (Dance is a general theme) as well as Emma, Clueless and more made the list.

Like I said before.  It is cheesy but sometimes I feel like some cheese!  Nice chemistry, decent skating scenes and a ton of fun.

Honorable mentions- Legally Blonde, Kate and Leopold, An Affair to Remember, Blind Side, Some Kind of Wonderful, Moonstruck, Mamma Mia, Christy, Steel Magnolias, Miracle, Dirty Dancing, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Valley Girl, Princess Diaries, What a Girl Wants, Sydney White, Hope Floats, Something New

So that’s my list!  What would you say is a guilty pleasure movie of yours?  Do you agree with any on my list?  Please check out the Movie Guy’s lists as they inspired me to create my own.

Thanks and watch a guilty pleasure movie on me!

Missing My Race

Friends, I feel sad.

I’m still in a lot of pain but that has become fairly normal.  What makes me sad is missing my race.  For the last 3 years the Deer Creek Open Water Swim has been one of my favorite things to do during the entire year.  I looked forward to it like Christmas, maybe more so, and now it is out of the question.

I was able to sell my spot which is good but it is still a serious bummer. I was just reading a post on facebook and it all sounds like so much fun.  I guess they have awesome finisher medals and are doing the kayak raffle again.  I’m sure they will get a good turn out like last year.

If there was any way I could do it I would, but I can’t even stand straight right now.  Moving my leg hurts let alone kicking in the water.

That’s it. I’m just sad.

But there is a lot to be grateful for. I’m grateful for good friends who have been so supportive.  I’m grateful for all the prayers from family, friends, and my internet community. I’m grateful to anyone who has given me a ride or helped me out especially my friend Stacia and my roommate Regan.

What do you guys think I should do Saturday instead of just stewing on my missing the race?  I don’t have many options and everyone seems to be busy.  Any creative ideas?

I remember thinking in June that my life was going so well and wondering how long it could all last.  Well, July threw me a curve ball I wasn’t expecting.  Sometimes that’s the way life is. The Lord builds you up so you are ready for something hard (and I realize in the grand scheme of things my hard thing isn’t that hard but still it’s been tough for me).

I just wish I could swim in that race…Sigh.

On to next year!

Injured Routine and Microwaves

This was just too perfect!
This was just too perfect!

So I injured my knee on the 18th and came home from California on the 23rd. So that means we are going into 13 days injured, 9 days at my house.

In that time I have basically adjusted to living upstairs like some kind of hermit, trying to move my leg just enough.  I’m admittedly sick of microwave food but it is better than nothing.

I have gotten to the point where I go downstairs once a day and then work there for a while and then come upstairs.  It is tough going though and very painful .

The doctor said it looks like it is a torn or strained MCL and we will know more next week after an MRI.  It’s still very painful but improving each day too so I’m optimistic.

Sadly though I will not be able to do the Deer Creek swim.  😦 .  I’ve done it every year since 2011 and am very heart broken to miss it, both for the athletics and the social atmosphere. Will have to wait for GSL in 2015 for next race…

What is interesting to me is with this strange life I’ve already developed a kind of routine. Wake up, nuke some breakfast, work, nuke some lunch (or a lunchable), and then head downstairs slowly, work down there, get a ride to the mail and bank and then eat dinner downstairs and slowly head upstairs.  It actually has begun to feel kind of normal which is strange.

It’s just amazing how the human body and brain can adapt to new situations so easily.

But I need ideas friends of meals that require little to know cutting, chopping, dishes or anything else with standing.  Preferably pre-made meals.

What are the best in your opinion?  What would you do if you were stuck with only a microwave and fridge for half the day? I know some of you don’t comment much but I could really use feedback in this case, so thanks.

I did get back to doing my videos today which I’m proud of.  Take a look.

I am getting kind of stir crazy because I feel fine, just in pain.  If anyone wants to come over to visit or watch a movie with me that would be amazing.

It’s interesting because I felt like my winning streak was going to die out.  I had such a great June.  On the other hand, it could have been much worse.  Unless the MRI shows a complete tear I won’t have to get surgery which is a blessing.

Plus I am so grateful to my work for being so flexible.

Anyway, please send me your microwave/fridge ideas.  Thanks!

microwave