Coco

From the opening Disney title screen to the end, Disney/Pixar’s Coco had me running the gauntlet of emotions. The movie opened with a mariachi rendition of the Disney classic “When You Wish Upon a Star” and I was immediately hooked, and the movie held J and I all the way through the message telling people to learn more about Dia de Los Muertos.

Coco follows Miguel Rivera (voiced by the talented Anthony Gonzales) as he embarks on a journey to become a famous musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. The catch to this tale is that Miguel’s family of shoe makers are not very fond of music or musicians. Miguel’s family wants him to continue the family legacy as a shoe maker, and his abuela tells him that his family will show him how when they visit from the land of the dead on Dia de los Muertos. How will Miguel live his dreams? I guess you’ll have to get your tickets and find out.

Coco is a beautiful film directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina that Disney/Pixar fans of all ages will love. The design of the land of the dead is beautiful and the music (composed by Michael Giacchino) was excellent. The casting department did such an amazing job with this cast. With Benjamin Bratt, Gael García Bernal, Edward James Olmos, Cheech Marin, Jaime Camil, Renee Victor, Alanna Ubach, John Ratzenberger (it is a Pixar), and more, this almost fully Latino cast brought the metaphorical house down. That being said my favorite voice actor had to be Ana Ofelia Murguía. The way she voiced her character brought a lot of emotions up in me. Mainly because she reminded me of my abuela who suffered from Alzheimer’s.

The story is fantastic, and is one that people of all ages will love. Coco felt like home. There were so many comparisons I was making between the film and my own life. Many of the characters in Coco that reminded me of my own family, especially Miguel’s chancla throwing abuela. The family shoe business reminded me of my grandma’s breakfast burrito/tamale delivery business. Seeing Miguel’s abuela’s tamales reminded me of all the hours that my brothers and I spent tying little strands of husk around tamales that would be devoured in seconds. Hearing Miguel’s abuela say, “you’ll feel better after you eat,” brought back even more memories.

Even though Coco has heavy themes surrounding family, I feel that the biggest theme is about remembering. With the track “Remember Me” being everyone in the town’s favorite song and with the movie focusing so much on the land of the dead, it’s hard not to notice it. It can feel like the theme is being hammered into your brain, but I feel like this is a theme that needs to do that every now and then.

Do not forget that this is a Pixar film, and that usually means you will need a Costco size box of tissues to make it all the way through Coco. There are so many happy and sad moments in Coco that I can’t really explain without spoiling the film, so I’ll just say that you need to be prepared to cry.

While there is Spanish dropped here and there, you don’t need to know the language to fully enjoy Coco as context will help you understand. I loved that the writers sprinkled Spanish in the script. I felt like it made some of the scenes pop more than if they just used the English equivalent. While the movie is based around traditions of Dia de los Muertos, Coco is not an educational film. It is meant to get people who may not know the customs interested, hence the disclaimer at the end of the credits.

My one negative comment actually has nothing to do with Coco, but with the Olaf short film in front of Coco. It was way too long and it seemed like Disney put it in front of Coco to get the white audience interested in seeing Coco. Just don’t leave after the Olaf feature. Stay for Coco. I promise that you will enjoy it.

Coco is Rated PG for thematic elements. Coco was written by Matthew Aldrich and Adrian Molina, and was directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina.

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“Spoiler-Free” Justice League Review

DC fans rejoice, the team up movie we’ve been waiting for has finally come. Well, rejoice might be a strong word. It’s no secret that I am not s Zac Snyder fan. I think his movies have an interesting look, but the editing is always choppy and the movies tend to be longer than they need to be. While Justice League suffers from some of the same choppiness as Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, one of things the movie doesn’t suffer from is its length. At just under 2 hours, Justice League is a movie you can sit through without worrying about having to take a few bathroom breaks throughout. Justice League has some pacing issues, but I felt that the story was more solid than anything Snyder did with Man of Steel or Batman v Superman.

The cast was great. I was worried that the studio would make Flash a darker character in order to fit him more into this cinematic universe that DC and Warner Bros have created. Luckily, they chose to have a closer to comic version of Barry Allen. Ezra Miller did a fantastic job as the scarlet speedster. Batfleck did a great job and still holds his spot close to the top of my favorite Batman portrayals. Ray Fisher was a good choice for the cinematic version of Cyborg, I was hoping for more of a Khary Payton “Teen Titans” Cyborg, but that would not have fit this universe. Gal Gadot did a fantastic job reprising her role as Wonder Woman, although I wish Patty Jenkins would have directed Gal Gadot’s scenes. Then there was Aquaman. What can I say about Jason Momoa’s Aquaman? It was a fresh take on the King of Atlantis, and I loved it! Because of Momoa’s performance, I have a new found respect for Aquaman.

I think all that I can say without getting into spoiler territory is that Justice League is a good movie that people should see in theaters at least one time. If you were a fan of Snyder’s previous DC films, you will love Justice League. For everyone else, I think that Justice League is enjoyable. If you are thinking about taking your kids, just know that there are scenes that might scare the young ones. There are also long scenes that might bore younger children. If your kids were able to sit through Man of Steel or Batman v Superman, they should be able to sit through and enjoy Justice League.

Keep your eyes peeled, there are quite a few easter eggs that will make all the DC fans smile from ear to ear. Be prepared to sit through the credits because you get a mid credit and an end credit scene that you do not want to miss. Because of the choppiness of film, I would say Justice League sits at a “B-” from me. There were scenes that I personally thought could have been shorter and some that even seemed unnecessary.

Let me know what you think about Justice League. Comment here or on any of our social media pages.

Justice League is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action.

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.** 

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!!

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*

Play Pokémon GO With Family

Pokémon GO has been available for a few days now. People are getting out and accidentally exercising while doing something they’ve wanted to do for the past 20 years, feel like real life Pokémon trainers. With the release of this new interactive app, parents can take the opportunity to share something they loved from their childhood with their children.

Sometimes it’s hard to get up and just walk around the neighbor hood with your kids, especially if they are younger. Some kids lose focus, get tired (fast), and sometimes they just want their technology. Thanks to Pokémon GO, kids have a way to distract their kids on long walks.

In the past 3 days, J and I have walked 10 miles around the city. We have the app on “Battery Saver” mode, and I have an ear bud in so we can enjoy our walk together while still being notified when Pokémon are near. We set up lures when we are planning on being at our favorite coffee shop (Watchtower Cafe) for more than 30 minutes and hang out with friends while catching Pokémon.

Pokémon GO, for me, has brought back the feeling of community and comradery that the Pokémon trading card game had back in the day. While I understand that some people see Pokémon GO as a silly game meant for kids, but I see this as a way for people to come together. People are meeting up at parks, making friends, going out on Pokémon hunts and just having fun. In a time when there is so much sadness in the world, why wouldn’t you want your kids to see people coming together having fun and laughing together.

If you are not a fan of Pokémon, and you have young kids, I would highly recommend downloading the app and trying it out with your kids. It really is a way to get in some good walking time mixed in with some good old family fun. We have had a blast these last few days and we think that everyone who plays Pokémon GO will have an amazing time making new friendships and fun memories with your family.

Finding Dory Review

J and I were lucky enough to go to an early screening of Finding Dory thanks to our friends at X96. We were so excited that we watched Finding Nemo before we went to the theater.

Just like all other Disney/Pixar features, Finding Dory starts with a short. Piper is the short that kicks off Finding Dory. Piper is a story about overcoming fear and never giving up. Piper is a little sandpiper bird who must learn how to fend for herself now that she is too big for her mama to feed her.

Finding Dory takes us on an adventure. We get to see Dory’s origin story up to her meeting Marlin in Finding Nemo. From there we are taken to a year later where Dory is living right next to Nemo and Marlin. Throughout the movie, things are happening to unlock memories of Dory’s family. Dory, Marlin, and Nemo set out on a journey to reconnect Dory with the family that she lost and forgot. Finding Dory introduces a lot of fun and helpful characters, J’s favorite is Hank the octopus. Like Piper, Finding Dory shares a message that “you can do anything you put your mind to,” and gives you a new way to solve problems by asking yourself “What Would Dory Do?”

Parents beware, there are some loud suspenseful parts of the movie that may frighten younger children. So, sit close and be prepared for arm squeezing throughout the movie. Other than that, this is a perfect movie to take the kids, grandkids, nephews, and nieces to. The IMAX 3D is pretty interesting if you get a good center seat. If you can’t get a good center seat, standard 2D will be more than enough for Finding Dory.

Do yourself a favor this weekend and go see Piper and Finding Dory.