Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale

Barbie:  A Fashion Fairy Tale

"Join Barbie™ in a colorful, modern-day fairytale filled with fashion, friends and fun! Barbie™ and her dog, Sequin™, jet off to visit her aunt’s amazing fashion house in Paris, and much to her surprise it’s about to be shut down forever. After she discovers three enchanting Flairies™ with sparkle-magic powers, Barbie™ comes up with a brilliant idea to save the business. She even inspires Alice, a shy fashion designer, and together they create a dazzling runway fashion show. Barbie™ shows that magic happens when you believe in yourself."

Feature the voice talents of:  Kelly Sheridan and.... to be added later.

Rated:  G

Yes, what can I tell you but it's another Barbie movie set to be released on DVD September 14, 2010.  This could be the reason for the surprising lack of information online I can discover about the details of this film. Sure has a great site informing me of the story line and characters etc... but nowhere can I discover who actually stars in this movie behind the characters.  I can only assume that Kelly Sheridan continues to be the speaking voice for Barbie as she has filled that role since 2001.

My kids loved this movie.  It could only be due to the fabulous colours, adorable Flairies and animals, upbeat music and of course, an over abundance of sparkle.  The storyline was well done, simple and easy to follow, a tad bit predictable but still a good watch.  The fact that the kids asked to watch this movie 3 times over the weekend, including my son I might add, is enough to prove to me that this was a good story.

I loved that the so called bad people in this film weren't really that bad after all, they actually had the graciousness to recognize the error of their ways and apologize for their behaviour at the end.  Off the top of my head, I can't recall a single Barbie movie where the villain of the piece apologize and reconciled with the main character.  I think that's a great message being delivered right there!

Along with the apology comes the standard message of believing in oneself and trying your best and just being you no matter what people think. Let's face it we can tell them this ourselves but really it helps having a cool icon reaffirming it.  I was able to remind her of this message when she told me someone made fun of her hairstyle at school.  Did she like?  Yes.  Then that's all that matters. 

Of course, if you're a cynical kid (or a cynical mom)that message might only seem to ring true if you were wealthy and lived the Hollywood lifestyle that Barbie does.  Fortunately, it goes right over my oldest daughter's head that it requires a lot of money to jet set off to Paris, France at the drop of a hat. 

This movie is rated G and I think that's an apt rating.  I will mention two things that might concern very careful parents.  One is that in the opening scene Barbie plays herself starring in a play when these peas come into the scene dressed like zombies singing a song.  It's pretty mild graphically but if you're opposed to Halloween or Zombies whatsoever then I'd skip the first five minutes. 

The second scene is near the end where Barbie and Ken kiss.  That doesn't bother me because we have stressed to our children that they won't be dating until they are much older etc. but again some parents might have an issue with this. 

Video Stores on the Verge of Extinction?

As most of you know, my husband and I own a video store. You may also recall that I owned another video store with my SIL which we sold last April. So I have, in effect, been in the movie business for the past 6 years.

Move Gallery has recently closed it's rental business and is now in the process of liquidating their stock. I am informed that Blockbuster is about to die as well and even that Roger's wouldn't be doing half so well if they didn't sell cell phones at their locations as well.

The demise of all these top video rental franchises has prompted a series of news reports all in which discuss the demise of the video rental store business. A news report aired today entitled "Why Would You Go to A Video Store?". The premise being why would you leave the comfort of your own home to travel the short distance to your local video store. (Okay some of you live in rural areas but a lot of you if not most live in urban areas). If we were all about convenience from the comfort of our homes then why don't we stay home and make our own coffee instead of going to Tim Horton's or Starbucks.

What these reports do not discuss is the cost of PPV and VOD. While we have been in a recession of the past year and a half, have they cut their costs? No way. Not only are their new release movies more expensive than a rental in my store, they also charge more if you want it in HD. Not to mention, they only offer the top new releases. While those of you in the US may benefit from companies like Netflix etc, those companies are not available to us in Canada and I can't imagine why you'd want to fill out your selection and then wait for titles to arrive in the mail. Maybe if I lived way out in the boonies, it would be convenient.

With rising gas costs it seems that everyone around us are raising their prices, from the pop guy to the candy man to the chip guy. However, if we raise our prices barely 25cents we'd have a mutiny on our hands. Change our programs or day specials a wee bit and literally customers have left slamming down their movies and walking out. They always think that there is a better deal down the road and some times there is but most often we feel we're pretty reasonable. We're not getting rich, we're supporting our family... barely.

Still the perception out there is that with VOD and PPV out there that it is only a matter of time before stores like mine are closing. Indeed at the pig roast this weekend, I was questioned by two different sets of people throughout the afternoon as to whether or not we could actually make a living running a video store. I thought this bordered on rudeness. After all, I wouldn't go up to any one in construction and ask how much money they made, whether they could support their family.

What people don't realize is that VOD, PPV, Netflix and downloads are only a small portion of the multibillion dollar industry. Even if their portion of the revenues added up to as much as 5%, it still leaves plenty of room for DVD sales and rentals for the rest of us. And believe me, they are not attracting more than 5% of the market at this point.

People also don't realize that the power behind things like VOD, PPV and Netflix are movie studios who want to cut out the middle man as much as possible. In fact, they are constantly discussing ideas like providing all new releases to Blockbuster and VOD 30 days before they allow the rest of us to rent them. By the time, I would be allowed to rent the movies, I might as well save my money. Why would they do that when Video Stores provide them with the biggest revenues even over and above what even Walmart generates? I just don't get it.

I am not completely naive. I realize that eventually we will get to the point where everything is done online and that even one day we won't even refer to it is as being online (it's not for nothing that I've watched 1984), it will just always be there. I just don't think it will be as fast as people say. If it was free, maybe but so long as we are having to pay to be online, pay for cable, pay to order movies, I think we have quite a few more years still. I think it's those who are really into ordering or downloading movies (often illegally) that spin up this whole hype thing that the mom and pops video stores are dying.

So why are places like Movie Gallery and Blockbuster suffering? One, they are publicly traded companies. Once you go public you have to pay presidents, vice presidents, CEOs, stockholders etc. It becomes extremely expensive for them to run. These companies are extremely top heavy and when trouble hits they aren't able to make the cuts necessary. Add to that that it is often difficult to keep stores running well when they are not owner run. Most successful business have their owners involved in the day to day business. I have seen more businesses go under because of an absent owner relying heavily on a manager who doesn't always have your best interests at heart. Think about it. How many times have you gone into one of these stores and been disappointed by the quality of service and the 3 or 4 giggling teenagers gossiping behind the counter who could care less about helping you. I'm not saying all stores are like that but many are.

Then they eliminated late fees. That was a huge mistake. Think about it, you tell your customers that it's okay to keep your movies out late, you won't be charged until 30 days go by and then they will charge your credit card the price of the movie. Okay. you keep your movie out for 29 days, take it back and all is forgiven. Tell me how much potential revenue did they just lose on that one movie that was unavailable for rent? Sure, BB and MG have tons of copies but only of the top new movies. So if they had 100 copies and you can bet they have an average of 2000 customers or more going through their store a week, what happens to the other 1900 customers who wanted to see the big new movie?

What it we were to go to the public library and take out as many books as we wanted and just kept them for as however long we wanted, no charge. The library would be empty.

Yet people constantly bitch at us about our high late fees (we charge $1.00 a day) and how MG was so much better. Yeah, and they went out of business. Then people like to make snide comments of how we make all our money off them being late and how we must just rake it in because they are so bad at returning movies. Um yeah, that's right. Would you like a tour through my mansion or even take a look at my $9.99 fake weddinng ring from Walmart because I can't afford to get my real ones sized, or how about that wonderful staycation we're taking this year. Don't even get me started on people who say they've returned movies when they actually didn't only they argue with you, swear at you and then 3 days later show up with the movie and no apology.

The point of this whole post is to make people aware that there is more to these companies going under than just a decline in rentals. Part of a successful business these days means you have to be diversified and we try to do that by bringing in movie related products and electronics for sale. It's true that if we want to stay afloat we need to turn our business into an "entertainment destination" rather than just a mere video rental store.

So if you're tempted to order PPV or VOD just remember that sometimes it's better to have spent the money upfront than to get a whopping big bill at the end of the month. Also, don't forget that the little video store around the corner is some guy or gal just trying to make a living. Cut them a break and give them a chance to get to know you by name. Going out to the local store becomes more than just an errand, it becomes an opportunity to socialize and you never know who you might run into.

What do you think? Do you VOD or PPV?

Hawthorne TV Series -Giveaway

I am hosting a giveaway of season one of the exciting new drama series called Hawthorne starringJada Pinkett-Smith on my other blog, In the Mommy Trenches.  Stop by and enter.  Hawthorne Giveaway

Alice in Wonderland

19-year-old Alice returns to the magical world from her childhood adventure, where she reunites with her old friends and learns of her true destiny: to end the Red Queen's reign of terror.

Starring:  Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Anne Hathaway, Crispin Glover, Matt Lucas, Stephen Fry, Alan Rickman, etc.

Rating:  PG

This was a difficult movie to review.  While I enjoyed the film, my husband did not.  But then I have rather bizarre tastes and the quirky nature and fantasized nature of the film rather suit those. 

Not having read any further Alice stories other than the original Alice in Wonderland, I did find myself rather lost at first and had to try and stop trying to figure it all out and just enjoy the film.  I did not overly care for the Alice character.  While I like women to be strong, I found her just to be a tad too odd.  For instance, she attended a garden party without proper undergarments and was extremely socially naive despite the fact that this had been her home all her life

I didn't expect to like the Mad Hatter character as it seemed quite scary and odd in the previews but as usual Johnny Depp did an excellent job. Not only was it well done but he made it fit the storyline.  It doesn't take a genius to see that there was more to his nonsensical sayings than mere silliness. 

Helena Bonham Carter, an actress whom I admire quite a bit for her range in talent, did a great job playing the queen.  Kind of made me think of Cate Blanchett's portrayal of Queen Elizabeth. 

Like I said I enjoyed the fantastical part of the movie.  My only real criticism of the film is the rating.  The film is rated pg for "fantasy action/violence involving scary images and situations and for a caterpillar smoking". 

I really have to argue with their terminology.  If this had been an animated film like Ice Age, then okay... it fits.  But this is NOT an animated film.  Yes, much of it is filmed in front of the so called blue screen (it's green, why do they call it blue?) but still, everything is depicted as realistic as possible.

The violence starts with a very scary beast chasing Alice and the animals.  Alice gets attacked and wounded, a mouse actually stabs the beast and removes one of it's eyes.  The Queen of Hearts has a moat around her castle filled with the heads of her decapitated victims.  They look pale and stone like without blood but it is still a grizzly scene especially as Alice using them as a stepping stone to get to the castle and her foot even slips and falls into the mouth of one of the heads.  Do you not think that is a trifle grizzly for an 8 year old?  The White Queen practices witch craft using stumps of fingers and horse urine to make a potion.  In the end, Alice has to fight a large dragon like creature, she cuts off it's tongue and then beheads it in a grizzly move that mimics a scene from LOTR where the Nazgul's beast gets it's head sliced off. 

I realize that children are watching more and more violent shows these days. For example, a customer told me the other day that her 5 year old had watched Avatar and that it's his favourite film. ?!?! Alrighty then. 

Still, my recommendation for this film is PG 13 - Minimum. 

Princess and the Frog

Planet 51

When Chuck the astronaut (Dwayne Johnson) lands on a distant planet filled with little green people, he is surprised to discover that we are not alone in the galaxy. But he gets the shock of his life when the residents of Planet 51 mistakenly believe that his presence is the start of an alien invasion of the human kind! Luckily, Lem (Justin Long) quickly realizes that Chuck is friendly and makes it his personal mission to help him return safely to his ship.

Featuring the voice talents of:  Dwayne Johnson, Jessica Biel, Justin Long, Gary Oldman, Sean William Scott, John Cleese to name a few.

Rating:  pg 

This is one of the reasons why I love owning a video store.  Even though my children aren't old enough to watch these films, I still get to view them as part of my "work". 

This was a moderately funny film.  While some cast up the fact that it's not a Pixar film and all that, I enjoyed the bright colors and clear graphics.  Yes, they are very 2 dimensional but still they are fun.  I especially enjoyed the way they portrayed the aliens and how the added a lot of kitchy 1950's style into the Alien world.  Indeed the very opening of the movie is reminiscent of those early 1950's cheesy, horror flicks.

I would definitely say that the pg rating is accurate.  The opening scene consists of a film of their planet being attacked, lots of shooting and fight scenes with aliens being disintegrated.  Also, in many scenes the Astronaut is considered to be dangerous and there are a lot of references made about eating brains and turning into mind zombies and is repeatedly shot at.  The main point of the aliens in capturing the astronaut is killing him and removing his brains.

Otherwise, there is very little else that could be questionable in this movie.  There is one use of the word "friggin" and in one scene an alien stumbles over the word astronaut saying "ass" when another alien quickly jumps in with "stronaut", so it's barely noticeable.  Two aliens in the end scene kiss.  That's about it. 

If your children watch mildly violent shows already like batman etc, then this film would be fine for you.  Personally I waver on this type of film but when I think about the number of questions that are certainly to crop up with my children like "why do they want to take out their brains" etc, I think it's best to wait awhile.

Movie Mama

Meet Me At the Corner Review

Just wanted to give you a heads up on a great site for kids called Meet Me at the Corner

Literally, it's virtual field trips of fascinating people and places around the world.  These free podcasts are short and simple and best of all are submitted by children.  Initially the podcasts highlighted New York City but has now grown to include podcasts from California, Colorado, North Carolina, Texas and Maryland.  

Want to see your home town on that list?   Meet Me at the Corner are always open to new video submissions.  Simply head over to their site, create an account and start exploring.  

What I liked about this site was that my children were able to see places that I know we probably would never get to visit in real life.   My son loved to watch the San Diego Railroad Museum and to see all the model trains.  Plus seeing the kids hosting these videos, I think is encouraging to other children and shows them what they too could do.  It encourages children to get out there and discover their own community in order to share it with others. 

I think this would be a great resource for homeschooling parents.  

Job well done!

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

When Flint Lockwood's latest contraption accidentally destroys the town square and rockets up into the clouds, he thinks his inventing career is over.  Then, something amazing happens as delicious cheesburgers start raining from the sky.  His machine actually works.  But when people greedily ask for more and more food, the machine starts to run amok, unleashing spaghettie tornadoes and giant meatballs that threaten the world!  Now it's up to Flint, with the help of weather girl Sam Sparks and Steve, his talking monkey assistant, to find some way to shut down the machine before the world is covered in super-sized meatballs!

Starring the voice talents of:  Bill Hader, Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Bruce Campbell, Mr. T., Bobb'e J Thompson, Benjamin Bratt, Neil Patrick Harris, Al Roker, Lauren Graham for full list see

Rating:  G

I thought this movie looked like fun.  Unfortunately I personally did not get to watch with my children.  Insteand my husband and I had previewed the film the night before.  Maybe that's why we weren't all that thrilled with it, maybe we just weren't in the right mood for it. 

Sure the premise is fun and the animation as usual is very well done.  It's just that the story left us feeling that it was an odd film.  It was ... okay.  An underlying theme through this movie is the difficult relationship that Flint has with his dad.  Flint and his dad are two completely different people and as often happens conflict arises.  A second theme through this film is the one where success initially goes to Flint's head and he turns his back briefly on what he should be doing.  In the end he gets everyone out of the jam but if he had made different choices in the first place, none of it would have happened.  A hard lesson.

The next day my husband let the kids watch it and sure enough, they all thought it was great.  This is definitely one of those movies that kids enjoy more than the grownups.  It was just silly enough to engage their interest.

As for content, it was full of the usual cartoon violence.  No one gets hurt and it's mostly for comedic affect. For language there was one each of damn, hellhole and crap.  As for frightening and intense scenes, several roasted chickens in the end come alive and starts attacking the main characters, with the last 35 minutes of the film being the most intense as the main characters are attempting to shut down the machine and the people in the town are trying to avoid being crushed by the large piles of food. 

This movie is probably recommended for seriously younger viewers but from say 4 and up I think this film is just fine.