Cirque du Soleil OVO

We had the opportunity to see Cirque du Soleil’s OVO on opening night in SLC. At 7:30pm, the announcer welcomed us to OVO and we were immediately transported into the world of bugs. The performers seemed to be communicating with a mixture of jibberish, French and Italian to which J commented, “I don’t think they’re saying real words. I guess everyone knows that.” 

The music was beautiful and the performers were awe inspiring. The costumes and make up were magical. Each performance was enhanced by the sheer awesomeness of the performers’ outfits. As a novice costume maker myself, I was trying to think of ways that I could incorporate what I was seeing on stage into future costumes for my son. 

From start to finish the audience was mesmerized by the amazing acrobatics and stunts done by the performers. The show was perfect for kids. J was at the edge of his seat during each performance shouting, “that’s IMPRESSIVE, awesome, whoa, cool!” The main storyline was cute, funny, and seemed easy enough for the kids understand. 

Cirque Du Soleil is fun for the whole family. The show’s runtime is about 1 hour 45 minutes with a 20 minute intermission. Tickets range from $25-$135 with parking at the Maverick Center costing an extra $10, so make sure you have cash. There is a Green Line UTA Trax stop near the Maverick Center if you would like to plan ahead so you can avoid traffic and parking. You can check out attendee’s pictures of the OVO by searching #ovocirque on Twitter and Instagram.

**Disclaimer – We were compensated tickets to the show in exchange for the review. I was not told what to say, the thoughts in this review are my own.** 

The LEGO Batman Review

If you are a fan of Batman, or The LEGO Movie then you will absolutely love The LEGO Batman Movie!! The LEGO Batman Movie is definitely a movie that entire families will enjoy together. The jokes are solid, the main storyline tugs at the heart strings, and the voice acting was on point. Be prepared to get your geek on because there are so many non-Batman LEGO cameos that you might feel like you are watching a LEGO Dimensions movie.  The one thing I will say is that I think The LEGO Batman Movie could have been a little shorter. It is 1hr 45min but they could have taken out a few jokes to get it down to the 1hr 30min mark. I am going to leave this review short and sweet so I don’t spoil anything for you readers. We give the LEGO Batman movie 4 1/2 LEGO figures and recommend that everyone with or without children go see this movie. You will not regret seeing it!!

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“Rouge One: A Star Wars Story” Review

ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY Directed by Gareth Edwards; Written by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy; Story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta; Based on Characters and Situations created by George Lucas; Starring Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Riz Ahmed, Donnie Yen, Jiang Wen, Alan Tudyk, Ben Mendelsohn ; Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of sci-fi action and violence; Running time 133 minutes

Rogue One was the first Star Wars movie that I had to skip out on opening night because I made a scheduling error and told my wife that she could plan her work Christmas party on the same night. However, I was lucky enough to see it twice, for free, the next day with the first screening being with my wife and her amazing coworkers and without J. It was kind of nice not seeing my first screening of Rogue One without J because I’m usually checking on him to see how he’s taking in the movie and I usually end up missing some things. It also gave me the chance to catch as many Easter Eggs as I could so I could share those with him when we saw it together, which was an hour after my first screening.

If I had to choose one word to describe Rogue One it would be superb. The story was amazing, the actors were fantastic, and K2SO almost took the top spot for my favorite droid. Rogue One had something for everyone. I believe that even if you’ve never seen a Star Wars movie, that you would enjoy Rogue One. The action sequences were on par with any other Star Wars film (minus the lightsabers), the comedic timing of K2SO was mesmerizing (Thank you Alan Tudyk), and the drama was pulling away at my heart strings the entire time.

There have been a few articles telling parents not to take their younger kids to see Rogue One. While I get that this is one of the franchise’s “darker” films, it is still a Star Wars movie. If your kids know the difference between fantasy and reality, and have seen all of the other Star Wars movies, then they should be able to sit through Rogue One. J (5) saw it with me last night and he absolutely loved the movie. He was catching Easter Eggs like a pro, and was squeezing my hand in excitement throughout most of the movie.  That being said, you know your kids better than I or any other person writing about Rogue One would, so the final say is up to you.

Something that I would recommend that fans of the Saga do, that was recommended to me by Bryan Young from the Full of Sith Podcast, is watch A New Hope one more time before seeing Rogue One. You will never be able to watch it again without having Rogue One on your mind. As a matter of fact, I am watching it right now as I write this and all I am thinking about is Rogue One. I am really looking forward to the next time I watch A New Hope with J.

If you can’t tell, we absolutely loved Rogue One and would recommend that every man, woman, child, droid, and Jawa see it. You will leave the theater forever changed, and it is worth it. I have some spoilery things to say, but I will leave that for private messages and Facebook groups. If you’ve seen the movie and you want to talk to someone, send me a message on our Facebook page or Instagram. I’d love to hear what you thought and if you caught the same Easter Eggs as I did.

We hope you have a great holiday season and May the Force be With You. 

J’s Top 10 Netflix Downloads

Netflix has changed holiday road trips forever! Recently Netflix added a certain feature that allows subscribers to download some of it’s vast library to their devices. J has gone through all of the kids movies to help me create a top 10 list of the best downloadable movies on Netflix (for kids under the age of 8, probably).

10) Thomas & Friends: Santa’s Little Engine & Merry Christmas Thomas 

 

These have been  J’s favorites to watch on PBS Kids. In Santa’s little Engine, Thomas helps guide Santa’s sleigh, gets trimmed like a Christmas Tree, and learns about being safe on the snow. Merry Christmas Thomas has Thomas searching for the best tree in Sodor, helping one of his friends out of a snowy jam, and a few other fun stories. J wanted to put both on his list, but didn’t want them to take two spots. So if you’re kids love trains and especially love Thomas, make sure you are a useful engine and download these one for your kids today! Santa’s Little Engine has a 58 minute runtime and Merry Christmas Thomas clocks in at 1 hour.

9) The Cat in the Hat Knows a lot About Christmas ©Random House Children's Entertainment

Another one of J’s PBS Kids favorites has made the list. In the Cat in the Hat Knows a lot About Christmas, Jake, Sally, the Cat, and Fish must help a reindeer find his family after being separated at a Christmas Party. If you grew up loving Dr. Seuss, this is the perfect download for you and you kids. Cat in the Hat Knows a lot About Christmas comes in at 58 minutes.

8) DreamWorks Holiday Classics ©DreamWorks

Do your kids like Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, Madagascar, and of course The Penguins of Madagascar? If yes, they will love DreamWorks Holiday classics. In one story, Donkey creates his own Christmas caroling stage show, in another one Santa crashes his sleigh on the island of Madagascar leaving Alex, Melman, Gloria, and Marty to save Christmas. You can download all 4 shorts for 1 hour and 9 minutes of silence in the car, or your kids can pick and choose which stories they want to download.

7) DreamWorks Kung Fu Panda Holiday ©DreamWorks

This is a fun short for those who are fans of the Kung Fu Panda movies. We see Po struggling to balance his duties as the Dragon Warrior and the holiday traditions of his family as the town prepares for their annual Winter Feast. This short has a runtime of 26 minutes.

6) Puffin Rock: Sliky’s New Friend/The First Snow/Oona’s Cave (Season 2 Episode 7) ©Penguin Random House

J absolutely loves Puffin Rock. Around this time of year, he especially loves shows that have a “Christmasy” feel, meaning anything with some snow. Which is one of the reasons that Puffin Rock made his list. This Episode has a runtime of 19 minutes.

5) The Magic School Bus Holiday Special (Season 3 Episode 10) & The Magic School Bus In the Arctic (Season 3 Episode 1) ©Scholastic

In the Holiday Special, we join Ms. Frizzle and her first cousin as they teach the class all about recycling. In The Magic School Bus In the Arctic, Ms. Frizzle takes the class to the Arctic for a magical field trip to learn about why it gets cold. I love the idea of this episode because on past road trips J has asked why it’s cold, and he never seems to understand when I say it, so maybe Ms. Frizzle can finally teach him what I seem to not be able to. Both episodes have a runtime of 25 minutes, totaling 50 minutes of car silence.

4) Super Why: Twas the Night Before Christmas & Other Stories (Season 1 Episode 17) ©PBS Kids

Another fantastic PBS Kids show has made J’s top 10 list. In this episode, Whyatt wants to know why Santa visits on Christmas. Join Super Why and the Super Readers as they read Twas the Night Before Christmas in hopes of answering Whyatt’s question. This episode has a 26 minute runtime.

3) Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas ©Universal Animation Studios

If you can’t tell, J really likes the PBS Kids shows. Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas has been one of J’s favorites since he was but an infant. In this Curious Christmas special, George and the Man in the Yellow Hat are having a hard time trying to decide what to get each other for christmas. J has always enjoyed Curious George’s methods for solving his problems, and his methods in this special made him smile. This is a great download for the little ones. This special has a 58 minute runtime.

We have made it to J’s top 2 downloads, and as you will see these are not Christmasy movies. These are movies that J loves to watch and would watch all day if given a chance. So far we’ve given about 7 or 8 hours of car silence for your big upcoming road trip. These last two movies may put you in the 11-12 hour range, so lets get to the reveal!

2) The Angry Birds Movie ©Rovio ©Columbia Pictures

That’s right, the app that took the world by storm a few years ago is now one of J’s favorite movies. He knows all the birds’ names and will sing the song at the top of his lungs. I know what you are thinking, “could a movie based off an app be that good?” Well, it definitely has it’s moments. I found myself laughing at some of the jokes and the movie got me playing the game again. So download the movie and let your kids join Red and the other birds as they fight the evil pigs and try to get their eggs back! This movie has a runtime of 1 hour and 37 minutes.

1) YO KAI WATCH: THE MOVIE ©LMYWP2014

This has to be the TV Movie of the Year in J’s eyes. J has loved following Nate on his journey to discover all the Yo Kai (invisible beings that cause all of life’s little mishaps), so of course he would love a movie expanding that story leading into Season 2. I never really watched the show with J all that much, but I thought the movie was funny while also tugging at the heart strings. If your kids are anything like J, you will want to download YO KAI WATCH: THE MOVIE before your road trip for 1 hour and 35 minutes of silence with the occasional whoop and holler. If you need any more convincing, check out this trailer for YO KAI WATCH: THE MOVIE.

There you have it, J’s (and a little bit of mine) Top 10 (or 12) Netflix Downloads for your upcoming holiday road trip. While silence is nice sometimes when you are on the road, make sure you engage with your kids. Don’t just let them stare at the screen for 8-12 hours, have them take breaks in between each show/movie so you can sing a road trip song or two. You could even talk with them about what they watched. Take an interest in what your kids are watching. You might enjoy some of it. Travel safe, and travel smart this holiday season. If you made it this far, thank you for joining J and I on this wonderful journey. Merry Holidays everyone!!

Zelda Symphony of the Goddess

My wife and I rarely take in the symphony, but when we do it’s usually for a great show. Recently, we were lucky enough to attend Zelda Symphony of the Goddess at the Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, thanks to our friends at Utah Valley Online. I’ve played a few Legend of Zelda games in my time, but Zelda Symphony of the Goddess showed me there are many games that I have yet to play.

The show started off with a bang, and held your hand through 30 years of nostalgia. The orchestra was on point and the Zelda Symphony choir was fantastic. Conductor/Music Director Amy Andersson and Producer Jason Michael Paul put together one unforgettable show. The crowd was into every medley, cheering for their favorite songs and for some of the clips from their favorite games. Quite a few fans showed up in cosplay and they were put up on the big screen before the show and during intermission.

I asked a friend of mine, who took his kids, what he thought of the show.

  NaHD: As a parent who enjoys video games, how did it feel bringing your kids to Zelda                        Symphony of the Goddess?

  Mike:  I grew up playing Zelda on the NES. My kids grew up playing Zelda games.                                  Sharing this experience and listening to the music performed live with my kids was pretty  emotional. They’ll remember this for a long time.   

Mike’s kids even had some amazing things to say about the show.

  Serenity (13): I’m not a huge fan of Legend of Zelda, but I do play cello and other instruments.           After tonight, I definitely want to start playing the game. I loved it.

  Kolo (14):  It was unbelievable. It was life-changing. I would definitely go see this again.

After the show, I was lucky enough to have a quick chat with Zelda Symphony of the Goddess Producer Jason Michael Paul.

  NaHD:  What made you want to put together Zelda Symphony of the Goddess?

   JMP:  Well, I’ve been doing Zelda since about 2006 as part of another concert series that also featured Super Mario and Metroid. The premiere concert I’m talking about, Play! A Video Game Symphony, actually had Koji Kondo come down from Japan and he acutally performed. So, I’ve been working with Nintendo through that concert series and then when the 25th Anniversary rolled around, they contacted me to create a show and the rest is as they say history.

  NaHD:  What were you interested in more first? Classical Music or Video Game Soundtracks?

  JMP:  I created a concept with Final Fantasy in 2004, and prior to that I had been working in the video game industry, Square and also Playstation, and at the same time I was also having my hands in working with Luciano Pavarotti, so I kind of had both things going on in a very pivotal moment of my life and so I was successfully able to pitch the concept to Square Enix to do the concerts and they loved the idea and, of course, that is the launching pad for where we are today.

  NaHD:  My son is really drawn to the soundtracks of video games and movies, do you have any thoughts about kids being exposed to soundtracks at such an early age?

  JMP:  This concert is hopefully a gateway to other symphonic performances or other Utah Symphony concerts. When I first came up with the concept, it was really about trying to create a project that would really help get people back in the symphony halls. We’ve had a lot of success in not only bringing in a younger audience, but also getting them to appreciate classical music. I think a lot of young kids are inspired to play instruments and Zelda being that inspiration is great. This concert is designed so you don’t have to be a Zelda fan, you can close your eyes and just sit back and the music stands on it’s own.

  NaHD:  Is there a game, besides Zelda, that you just love listening to the music?

  JMP:  There’s all kinds. Skyrim, Kingdom Hearts, Chrono Cross, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, Journey, Bio Shock, the list really goes on and on. Metroid has great music, Pikmin has good music. I’m a big fan gaming music in particular, but I am also more into the music that I can shape into a concert. That’s what I’m always thinking about. How can I present it as part of a concert.

  NaHD:  Are there any other games that you want to bring into a concert?

  JMP:  I’ve pretty much done them all, but in terms of scale in whether or not they’re like, for example, a Zelda only concert or a Final Fantasy only concert, that’s kind of where we are at right now. I don’t know of any other franchises that can be as prolific or garner as much interest, so in that sense I’m a little hesitant. I am working on it. I have some great ideas. I really think it depends on the cooperation with the game development team and the publishers. That’s really what’s going to ultimately drive the success of the concerts. Especially when you don’t have a brand like Zelda.

  NaHD: What has been the crowd reaction to Zelda Symphony of the Goddess?

  JMP:  I’m blessed. Pretty much every city we go to we have not lukewarm responses. People are very boisterous, very devoted to Zelda and Nintendo for that matter, you know they are just extremely passionate. It’s a very captive audience. It’s great. It’s exciting.

  NaHD: What advice would you have for young symphony musicians?

  JMP:  Practice. A lot of great orchestras hold auditions you know, but you gotta obviously study and be in that loop. At that level if you are great at what you do, it’s almost impossible to not be noticed. There’s a lot of great orchestras out there with musicians who are getting older and their seats need to be filled. Make sure to study a lot of the classics, but also mix it up with new rep, stuff that’s more contemporary.

  NaHD:  Last Question. Do you ever just turn on a game and just sit back, close your eyes and enjoy the music?

  JMP:  I have, but it’s kind of difficult unless the game play is pretty fluid. But, yeah absolutely I have done that.

I don’t think I can recommend Zelda Symphony of the Goddess enough. If you are reading this, you should hop on their website, check the remaining dates of the tour, and if there is a show happening near you, buy yourself some tickets. You will not regret it. A big thank you to Utah Valley Online for sending my wife and I to such an amazing show, and a big thank you to Jason Michael Paul, Amy Andersson, and the fantastic musicians for such a magical night. Check out our Instagram page to see some pictures from the Salt Lake City performance. 

*This is a sponsored post. Utah Valley Online provided us tickets to Zelda Symphony of the Goddess.*

YO-KAI WATCH: THE MOVIE Review

If you are as big a fan of YO-KAI WATCH as J, you were probably over the moon when the announcement for YO-KAI WATCH 2 and YO-KAI WATCH: THE MOVIE (in select theaters October 15, 2016) came out. J has been wanting to play the game, but is unable to because his DS is broken. However, he jumped at the chance to watch and review the movie, that has tie-ins to the new game.

YO-KAI WATCH: THE MOVIE is an action packed, adventure filled, heart string tugging animated feature that fans of the series and games will love. Join Nate, Jibanyan, Whisper and some new friends as they take on The Wicked and try to save the world! YO-KAI WATCH: THE MOVIE had J at the edge of seat and laughing for almost the entire 95 minute run time.

As a casual watcher of the YO-KAI WATCH series, I really enjoyed the movie. I thought that there were some amazing lessons for kids about bravery, friendship, and hard work. YO-KAI WATCH: THE MOVIE is something that I really think kids can enjoy with their parents.

I asked J some questions about YO-KAI WATCH: THE MOVIE, and here’s what he had to say;

Me: What do you think of YO-KAI WATCH: THE MOVIE?

J: I think it was so awesome!! I’ve never seen so much YO-KAI action!! 

Me: What was your favorite thing about YO-KAI WATCH: THE MOVIE?

J: It was really funny and just really cool!!

Me: Do you think everyone will like YO-KAI WATCH: THE MOVIE?

J: Yes!!

Me: Is there anything you want people to know about YO-KAI WATCH: THE MOVIE?

J: Be prepared to dance during the credits!! 

If your kids are fans of the show, I would highly recommend that you buy tickets to the Fathom Events premier of YO-KAI WATCH: THE MOVIE. As a plus, attendees will have a chance to receive a special YO-KAI WATCH medal (while supplies last) that will work with Hasbro’s new YO-KAI WATCH Model Zero toy, and the QR code can be scanned for a special reward in the YO-KAI WATCH 2 video game. Click here to find a theater near you and to purchase your tickets today!!

YO-KAI WATCH: THE MOVIE will be released on October 15, 2016 as a one day only Fathom Events screening. It is rated NR (suitable for families), and has a 1 hr and 35 min run time. YO-KAI WATCH: THE MOVIE  was made by ELEVEN ARTS & Level-5 abby.

*Disclaimer: We were provided an advanced screener for YO-KAI WATCH: THE MOVIE*

Taking Kids to See Ghostbusters

Preparing for Ticket Purchase

Before buying our tickets to Ghostbusters, my wife and I had to decide whether we should take J (5) to the theater or not. Ghostbusters is rated PG-13 for supernatural action and crude humor, so we had a lot of researching to do before buying J a ticket. J and I have sat down multiple times to watch the 1984 classic original Ghostbusters (rated PG) to determine if the ghosts in that type of story would scare him, and then we watched trailers for the reboot to see the differences in the ghosts. I’ve talked with J a lot about the difference between fantasy and reality, and that the ghosts we would see in Ghostbusters aren’t real, but are just part of the story. After a few conversations, it was determined that J would be able to handle Ghostbusters. Immediately after purchasing our tickets, J and I sat down to watch the 1984 Ghostbusters one more time before seeing the reboot.

Going to the Movie

On our way to the theater, J and I talked a lot about ghosts and Ghostbusters. J was singing the Ghostbusters theme song at the top of his lungs on the train. J would stop singing to tell me that he was excited to see a new Ghostbusters movie, and he would tell the other passengers on the train that they should “really go see the new Ghostbusters” because “it looks really good.” We met mommy at the theater and got some snacks and drinks before taking our seats toward the back of the theater. I chose those seats as a precaution, just incase it got too scary and I had to take him out of the theater.

Movie Time

J started the movie sitting in my wife’s lap. The beginning of the reboot seemed like a nod to the original. You had a haunting that led into the theme song. During the first “scary” scene, J gave a squeeze and leaned deeper into my wife’s lap, but once that theme music started, J had his dancing pants on and started grooving to the music. The rest of the movie was pretty tame on the ghost part. There were a couple suspenseful scenes where J had to squeeze my arm, but we never got scared enough that he screamed or wanted to be taken out of the movie. As far as the crude humor goes, those jokes will go over a young kid’s head. Personally I was surprised that the humor was part of the reason for the PG-13 rating. There were a couple jokes, but I feel like the original could be seen as more “crude” than the reboot.

After the Movie

After the movie, I asked J some questions about Ghostbusters. He absolutely loved the movie, and the fact that women were the Ghostbusters did phase him one bit. He liked the ghosts, but was most impressed with the new arsenal that were created for the Ghostbusters. J gave Ghostbusters 10 thumbs up, he said there were some ghosts next to him giving some thumbs up next to his.

Overall Thoughts

Overall, I thought Ghostbusters was amazing. In my opinion, the writing was great, and the cast was spot on. There were a few nods to the original with some great cameos from the original cast, yes even the late Harold Ramis in bust form. Chris Hemsworth was amazing as the “not to bright” receptionist, and Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy were great as a ghost hunting duo. But, the show stealers in my opinion have to be Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. I love these two in Saturday Night Live and they are easily my two favorite cast members. Leslie and Kate are a breath of fresh air and give the audience some amazing laugh lines.

Don’t let the online hate that Ghostbusters has been getting stop you from seeing this movie. Give it a chance and you will be pleasantly surprised. As you can see we loved the movie. Before taking kids younger than 7, I would suggest sitting down with them, watching the original, and then talking about ghosts with them. Just because it was okay for J (5) doesn’t mean it would be good for all 5 year olds. Remember all kids have different personalities and will react different to the movie.

Ghostbusters stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, and Chris Hemsworth. It’s directed by Paul Feig, and written by Paul Feig and Kate Dippold. Ghostbusters is rated PG-13 for supernatural action and crude humor and has a run time of 2 hours and 5 minutes.