The Smurfs

The Smurfs Movie 2011When the evil wizard Gargamel chases the tiny blue Smurfs out of their village, they tumble from their magical world into New York City.

Starring:  Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mas, Sofia Vergara, and the voice talents of Jonathan Winters, Alan Cummings, Fred Armisen, Katy Perry, George Lopez, Anton Yelchin etc.

Rating:  PG

I just dare you not to walk around sing La La La La La La after reading this review. 

My family and I really enjoyed this movie.  It was a lot of fun to see these characters from my own youth be brought to life on the big screen.  The graphics were amazing.  The Smurfs were very realistic and the recreation of their village was surprisingly simple and yet charming at the same time.  The creators didn’t go over the top in cuteness in trying to recreate the Smurf homes so it almost felt like it would be totally reasonable to stumble upon this village in the forest. 

Of course, the real show stealer was Hank Azaria.  When I first became aware of Mr. Azaria as an actor, I have to be honest in saying that I found him to be annoying.  Of course, that just means what a great job he was doing.  Since then I have realized that this man wasn’t just a bit actor but a truly talented one.  His portrayal of Gargamel was bang on in my opinion while adding some fun and necessary humour to give the character an updated feel.

Having said all that, this movie is rated PG which is due mainly to mild rude humour and action.  Considering the action is no greater, in fact far less, than let’s say the Road Runner I don’t think it’s much of a concern.

It does make a number of mild jokes that very concerned parents might not like their children to be exposed to although it certainly went over my kids heads.  For example:  one Smurf stands over a furnace vent and the Smurf says the blast of air feels nice on his giblets.

It does contain magic and sorcery and Gargamel is obsessed with sucking out the Smurf’s essence.  Still, I didn’t have a problem letting my four year old watch this movie and everyone really seemed to enjoy it.

Have you seen the Smurfs? What did you think?

Buy Smurfs now on DVD or Blu-Ray in my Amazon Store.

Barbie: A Perfect Christmas


barbieBarbie and her sisters, Skipper, Stacie and Chelsea are headed for New York for the perfect Christmas.  When their plane is diverted due to an unexpected storm, the girls find themselves disappointed, far away from New York and their holiday dreams. In the remote town of Tannenbaum, they find shelter at a magical inn, where they make new friends and give the town the gift of song in exchange for the hospitality they receive. Following a series of magical experiences, the sisters soon realize that the joy of togetherness is all they need for a truly perfect Christmas.


Starring the voice talents of: Diana Kaarina, Jennifer Waris, Rachel Harrison, Nevada Brandt, Lauren Lavoie, Danielle Bessler, Ashlyn Drummond, Luca Vecchio, Maryke Hendrikse, Allie Feder, Aidan Drummond, Alistair Abell, Patricia Drake etc…


Rating:  G


To be Released on DVD on November 8th.


It just wouldn’t be Christmas without another Barbie Christmas movie. My girls were very excited when I told them we’d be watching Barbie’s A Perfect Christmas.

Well Barbie definitely didn’t disappoint with her usual stellar graphics and catchy music tunes.  All the Barbie movies tend to focus on storytelling through music but this one really seemed to be musically inclined as it seemed to break out into song constantly throughout the film.  The upbeat tunes sure got my girls’ attention as they couldn’t help but get up and dance around.  Especially when I played the Perfect Christmas music video for them later from the Special Features section.

While I have to admit that Barbie Christmas Carol was my favourite, I did enjoy this Barbie movie particularly as it has such a great message about Christmas.  The girls were after the perfect Christmas and felt that they wouldn’t get one now that their plans had been ruined.  They learned that Christmas is what you make it and a perfect Christmas can be as simple as just being together. 

This film keeps the wonder of Christmas alive with frequent glimpses of magic and the possibility of the realness of Santa Clause around every corner.  As far as parental concerns go, I had none watching this film.  There were no villains or bad guys at all.  The girls don’t always get along but underneath it all you know they love one another very much and they are working out their relationships continually.

Also included in the Special Features section are outtakes and a Barbie Camping with the Girls short clip. Because if your girls are like mine, they just can’t get enough Barbie.

So I would definitely put this on your “Christmas Movies” to Watch list. If you are thinking of purchasing this film, it is available for pre-order on Amazon at a great deal of $13.99 for the DVD and the Blu-Ray for just $17.99 which is $5.00 off regular price. To buy the DVD on  Amazon click here or the Blu-Ray click here.

Megamind

The supervillain Megamind finally conquers his nemesis, the hero Metro Man... but finds his life pointless without a hero to fight.

Directed by Tom McGrath


Written by Alan J. Schoolcraft and Brent Simons

Starring the voice talents of:  Will Ferrell, Jonah Hill, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey, David Cross, Justin Theroux, Ben Stiller, Jessica Schulte, Tom McGrath, Emily Nordwind, J. K. Simmons etc.


Rating PG for action and mild language.




Reminsicent of early Superman, Megamind is sent hurtling through space by his parents to escape the destruction of his planet.  Only in this twist, Metroman is also sent away by his parents and ends up landing in the lap of luxury on Earth.  Metroman is everything that Megamind is not and so Megamind gives up trying to be good and turns his rather large brain towards evil instead.  Although, one can't help but feel right from the get go that Megamind is not really evil at heart.

While I enjoyed this movie, I didn't think it was the greatest I'd seen in a while.  I felt the themes, especially the one of unrequited love, were a bit too mature for kids.  Granted my kids are under 8 and I have yet to learn what they will be interested in or are even capable of understanding at that age. I did appreciate the humour and as always loved Will Ferrell in his role as Megamind.  I was a bit disappointed not to hear more lines from Brad Pitt, mainly I think because it intrigued me that he was appearing in this type of film. 

Some of the dialogue was genuinely funny but even so both my husband and I started to drift off somewhere in the middle.  Granted, that could merely be due to the busy lives we lead or too much supper or maybe this movie is better seen in 3D in the Theatre than at home.  Still, given that the biggest issues of the film was the action, we felt okay with allowing our children to watch this film.  

Parental Concerns: 

Sex and Nudity:  Roxanne and Megamind (disguised as a different man) kiss.


Violence & Gore Comical violence; lots of fighting between Megamind and Superhero.

Profanity:  2 uses of freaking, 2 religious exclamations, Highway to Hell (song) played in background.

Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking Roxanne and Megamind (disguised as a different man) drink champagne
Frightening/Intense Scenes : A Character is thought to be killed and a skeleton is shown.
Titan declares that there is no Easter Bunny and there is no Tooth Fairy, which may upset younger viewers.


 
Our children did enjoy watching this film but like I said, I thought it was just okay.  While the movie was upbeat and well animated, the following day I had two sick kids at home and neither of them wanted to watch it again.  Hmm.

So what have you seen lately?

Despicable Me

When a criminal mastermind uses a trio of orphan girls as pawns for a grand scheme, he finds himself profoundly changed by the growing love between them.


Written by Ken Daurio (screenplay), Sergio Pablos (story) and Cinco Paul (screenplay)
Directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud

Starring the voice talents of:  Steve Carrell, Jason Segel, Julie Andrews, Russell Brand, Will Arnet, Kristen Wiig, Miranda Cosgove, Dana Gaier, Elsie Fisher, Jemaine Clement, Pierre Coffin, Chris Renaud etc.

Rating:  PG for rude humour and mild action

 
I had been really looking forwad to the release of this DVD and have to say that I got a real kick out of it. I especially appreciated the dark humour brought to this film as much as I enjoyed the sweet comedy of the orphans and slapstick zaniness of the minions.  I love Steve Carrell's take on the Gru character and can't help but try to mimic his accent around the house. Julie Andrew's plays her part so well, that I had to re think the entire movie through to figure out what character she played.  Once I knew she was in it, it wasn't hard to figure out she played Gru's mother but the fact that I missed it the first time around was something since I'm usually dead on picking out voices. 

The theme while certainly not a new one is reminiscent of the old Spy vs. Spy comics.  It also plays on the old standard theme of bad guy turns good.  Still, there is so much going on in this film, twists and turns of the plot, that it keeps even the adults interested right to the end.  Your heart warms to the plight of the three little orphans and can easily sympathize with Gru and his desire to be successful even it is at being bad. 

Having said all that, lets discuss the parental concerns. The rating for this movie is PG.  Now given the level of violence in the old Bugs Bunny and Road Runner shows not to mention many more contemporary kids shows to date, I can't help but feel it's somewhat over rated.  I did allow my children (7, 5 and 3.5) to watch this film and can't say I regret doing so. 

I did talk to one mom who said she didn't like the movie very much because what stood out to her was all the lying the characters did to one another and I have to say that is a valid point. Gru tells a lot of lies to adopt the orphans, lies to the girls and lies to his helper.  Even Dr. Nefarious lies to get the girls sent back to the orphanage. 

So those that are more desirous of sheltering their children should be aware of the following concerns:

Violence and Gore:  Mild slapstick humor throughout. A lot of the gags are derived from the unusual and dangerous surroundings that they are now living in. IE, a child steps into an iron maiden which then closes on her. What looks to be blood is seen leaking from inside and the other girls are horrified.  When the iron maiden is re-opened it turns out her juice box was pierced and leaking.

Profanity:  Very mild language; "fart", "butt", etc.


Frightening/Intense Scenes

There is a chase scene near the end of the film. Girls lives are endangered. 

Adoption or Group Homes are portrayed in a negative light.  Children are forced to sell cookies for the orphanage and those that fail are put in the box of shame.  Maybe somewhat disconcerting to children about to enter into foster care system.  But not a new theme by any means. 

Sex and Nudity:   Minions draw a picture of Gru sitting on a toilet.  At one point the Minions are sitting on a photocopier taking copies of their butts.

As always, if you have concerns about a movie, my best recommendation to you is to pre-screen it before showing it to your children.  Time and time again we've been glad we did.

What have you watched lately?

Timmy Time: Timmy Steals the Show

Don't you just love it when they come out with a cartoon that you enjoy watching as much as the kids? One of those shows for me is Shaun the Sheep. I just love everything about it. The characters, the non-dialogue approach to storytelling, the claymation. Obviously, my kids just love it too. They will watch the same episode over and over again. I think the lack of dialogue really forces the kids to pay attention to whats going on onscreen. Nobody is laying out the story for them, they have to watch and figure out the clues as to what's happening. Every time they watch it, it's like they notice something different.


One of the lovable characters of the farm is Timmy, a baby lamb, who gets into all sorts of mishief. He's absolutely adorable, complete with sou sou. Well the Oscar winning Aardman Studios felt Timmy deserved his own show, hence Timmy is off to pre-school in his own series.

For the first time Timmy Time is being released on February 22nd in Timmy Time: Timmy Steals the Show.

"Timmy Time follows the adventures of Timmy, a little lamb with a lot to learn as he enters preschool. Fans of Aardman’s hit children’s series Shaun the Sheep will recognize Timmy as the baby lamb on the farm who is frequently drawn into all kinds of chaotic adventures by the mischievous older sheep. Used to having his way by being “the only lamb in the flock,” Timmy is now heading to preschool to graze on some important life lessons about playing nicely with others, namely his fellow classmates of the furry, feathered and spiky types."

Haven't seen or heard of Timmy Time? Here's a clip. (Note audio wouldn't work for me but maybe it will for you. Let me know if it doesn't so I can switch the clip. Thanks.)


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