movie

It’s a Critique for “The Santa Clause” (1994)

Warning: contains spoilers***

Tim Allen plays a guy named Scott Calvin who has a son named Charlie. Charlie firmly believes in Santa Claus, but his dad is a bit rebellious against it. After an incident occurs, Scott Calvin has to become the next Santa Claus.

I haven’t seen this movie for years until recently. So, I picked up some new details. Here are the elements that pleased me and those I felt could’ve been better.

1: The plot

The storyline is similar to that of “Evan Almighty”, which was released several years later in 2007. The way Charlie and his dad got along progressed well. At first, Scott would be a bit tough on Charlie and then their relationship improved over time. The scene where Charlie is sad when his dad has to leave him as he has become Santa Claus was very emotional. Another element that felt believable to me was when Charlie’s mother and her boyfriend, Neil, were suspicious of Scott Calvin when Charlie was telling stories about him being at the North Pole. Scott Calvin was suspended from being with Charlie.

2: The humor

The movie was very funny. It had great dialogue and the characters’ decisions often cracked me up. I laughed throughout much of the film.

Now onto the parts that could have been portrayed better.

1: The characters’ reactions at times

When Santa fell off the roof, he died and somehow vanished. Charlie and his dad didn’t react strongly enough nor believably. In fact, they accepted it too much like it was no big deal. Um…Santa lost his life. And no one seemed stressed out about it.

Other examples of weak reactions include when a kid in Charlie’s class at school called a girl stupid for asking Scott Calvin if he made the toys. And the teacher was way to relaxed and gentle about it. She even smiled. A truly responsible and believable teacher would’ve gotten angry and said something like, “Excuse me, we don’t call others stupid. That’s not nice. Apologize to (whatever the person’s name is).”

And when Calvin gained weight as he was turning into Santa Claus, one of his co-workers commented on it and Scott seemed to casually accept that. Hey, other guy, that’s not your business that Scott was gaining weight. He should’ve known better.

2: Why do the elves look like human children?

Not only do the characters in the movie mistake the elves as kids, but so did I when I first saw it many years ago. The elves are apparently more than a thousand years old. So, why do they look like human children? Bernard, the elf who was involved with Charlie and his father, resembles a teenager.

I am pretty sure elves aren’t supposed to look like human kids. I think the portrayal of them in the movie, “Elf”, that came out years after in 2003, is far more accurate.

3: The bizarre special effects

Okay, okay—I get it. This was released in the 90’s, when special effects were still in their infancy. But seeing the shape changes for plot convenience, such as when Scott’s form alters so that he can fit inside a pipe, looked weird to me. It reminded me of something that would have occurred in a kiddie show, such as “Barney and Friends”. But whatever.

Regardless of the flaws, I enjoyed “The Santa Clause” very much. I would rate it 5 out of 5 stars.

movie

Review for “A Christmas Story” (1983)

A man named Ralphie narrates a time from his childhood many years ago, when he was 9 years old. He is preparing for Christmas and wants a BB-gun, but is constantly told, “You’ll shoot your eye out.” Yet, Ralphie remains determined.

This film was a pretty difficult watch. Not only is it because it’s about a kid who wants a weapon, which wouldn’t be acceptable today, but also that the characters are too unlikable and stereotypical. It wasn’t until after I watched it that the unbelievable characters were done on purpose. It turns out that Ralphie’s memories were exaggerated. However, that doesn’t make it more enjoyable for me.

For instance, Ralphie says a four-letter word when he makes a mistake as he and his dad are getting a Christmas tree. He gets in an extreme amount of trouble for that. On the other hand, when the pure-evil bullies taunted him, he beat one of them to the point that the other boy bled. And he seemed to be praised for that.

Another moment that bugged me was when the mall was closing, the elf people and Santa scared the kids who came up to him. Yet the line didn’t shorten, no one complained, or tried to report the people in elf and Santa costumes to authorities. I don’t know if that would have happened in the 1940’s, when the film is set. But the children should’ve left, horrified—at the very least.

Regardless of the flaws, there are some good moments in this movie. As Ralphie and his family were leaving the mall, four people in “Wizard of Oz” outfits did their “We’re off to see the wizard” dance behind them. There was also a parade with Snow White and Mickey Mouse. And despite the other characters lacking appeal to me, Ralphie was developed well and was, perhaps, the most believable and relatable person.

I would rate “A Christmas Story” 3 out of 5 stars. If a movie is supposed to exaggerate their characters and not make them 100 percent accurate to a person’s memory, they should state that before the opening scene. No one should have to rely on outside material to watch or read anything.

TV show

Hold on Your Diapees, Babies, We’re Going to Analyze “Rugrats”

Anyone born in the 90’s probably watched, or at least heard of “Rugrats”, the show about talking-babies. Well—they also speak to each other, but never the adults, except Angelica and her peers, Susie and Edwin, and possibly a third kid. I can’t recall.

Anyway, there are many memorable moments. One is where Chuckie dreamt about what life would be like if he was never born and he had a guardian angel, which he called a garden angel. It was pretty sad since Tommy was stuck in the garage, his parents were slaves to Angelica, who was obese and would force Dee and Stew, the parents and aunt and uncle to her, to bring her cookies.

Speaking of which, there is a Passover episode, since one family is Jewish, and Angelica is told that she couldn’t have cookies during that time since bread isn’t allowed during that holiday range. Angelica pointed out that cookies didn’t have bread in them, but then learned and understood why she couldn’t eat them during Passover. Regardless of her lesson, that’s pretty mature for a 3-year-old. Most real children that age would unlikely understand that and throw a tantrum to get what they want.

In the episode where Angelica gets in trouble for playing in her dad’s study, she sneaks out, takes her little jeep around town, and then orders the babies to get her some cookies. Sadly, the box is too high for them to reach. So, instead, they give her dog biscuits, which she enjoys until she finds out what they are.

There was also an episode where the family goes somewhere where Reptar the dinosaur is, but the group goes to Goober, another character. What I found cruel, and would definitely result in penalties in real life, is that some staff grabbed Tommy’s Reptar toy from him, made him cry, and gave him a Goober doll instead. Not cool.

Another aspect that would usually be too mature in a children’s show is death. Chuckie had lost his mother before the events of the series began. In “Rugrats in Paris”, while on the plane, Chuckie looks out the window and envisions memories of his mother. Now here comes some spoilers***

Chuckie’s dad marries Kira, who becomes Chuckie’s stepmother, and Kimmy becomes his stepsister. From that point on, the intro theme updates and includes Kira and Kimmy. Then there’s the sequel show, “All Grown Up”, where the babies are older and in junior high. I’ve seen a little bit of it, but not enough to discuss my thoughts on the show.

Speaking of older, there was an episode about Tommy liking to be naked and Phil and Lil undressed themselves. Now that I’m older, I realize that that’s too inappropriate for kids.

Anyhow, I could go on and on about more memorable moments. But I’ve seen so many episodes, as well the specials and movies, that I feel it’s too much to list here.

While I watched “Rugrats” when I was younger, I have lost strong feelings about much of the premise and moments. However, the ones I discussed still stand out to me.

movie

It was “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and Won’t You Please Read My Review for this Movie (2019)?

Despite not watching the TV show as a child and not hearing about it till many years later, I saw this film with a bunch of friends and ended up liking it.

It starts with what probably was the opening to the TV program and introduced the latest Mr. Rogers, played by Tom Hanks. Mr. Rogers introduces different pictures and then focuses on a guy named Lloyd.

Lloyd has a wife called Andrea and a newborn named Gavin. They are going to attend a wedding. While there, Lloyd’s father says something unpleasing and Lloyd hurts him, which ends up becoming a fight involving a few other people. Lloyd ends up with a cut on his nose.

Lloyd’s editor assigns him to interview the children’s TV host, Mr. Rogers, and write a 400-word entry about it. But Lloyd doesn’t look forward to it. Nevertheless, he does it.

I was surprised by how the “Mr. Rogers” universe looked more like a toy universe instead of a real one. While I’m sure it was deliberate and meant to attract kids, to me, it appeared bizarre.

That being said, the show’s format was well-thought out and the lessons were great. Tom Hanks did an amazing job portraying Mr. Rogers, who happens to also be a distant relative of him. The real Fred Rogers would have been proud.

The characters were likable, but sometimes, I felt there were silent moments for a little too long as well as not enough emotional tension at times.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the movie and would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

movie

I’m Out of the Unknown with this “Frozen 2” Review (2019)

The film begins with Anna and Elsa as little kids, around the ages they were when the first “Frozen” movie was released in 2013, but before Anna’s memories of Elsa’s magic were wiped. Their parents are telling them about an enchanted forest that was a place to visit, but then got hidden.

Many years go by; apparently three years have passed since the main “Frozen” film had ended. Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Kristoff, Sven, and everyone else in Arendelle is having a grand time. As the main characters play charades, Elsa hears a voice and eventually follows it. Arendelle ends up in trouble. Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf go with Elsa to the enchanted forest Anna and Elsa’s parents had told them about when they were small. They meet the natives there. Then things happen.

While I enjoyed the first “Frozen”, that one was more of a 4-star film for me as it wasn’t nearly as engaging as this one. Speaking of which, there are a few moments where the events from the first movie are being revealed. One is where Olaf acts out all the main parts in a funny way.

The characters have developed and changed as well, especially Kristoff. He is far friendlier and romance-worthy than in the previous movie, where he isn’t exactly the most favorable. There is a song he sings about separating from Anna, and I must admit, it sounds like a 90’s boy band song, such as one written by N-SYNC.

There are also a lot of twists and turns, some happy and some sad. I won’t spoil anything, though.

I would rate this sequel 5 out of 5 stars.

movie

Review of “Harriet” (2019)

A young woman named Araminta Ross (Harriet Tubman, later) is lying on the ground, having flashbacks about her past. She is a slave with a mean master. Despite loving her family, she makes a plan to escape and eventually free all slaves. At some point, she calls herself “Harriet Tubman”.

The movie was pretty interesting. The cruel master looked and sounded a lot like the mini cowboy figurine in the “Night at the Museum” films. Maybe it was the same actor.

Anyway, while “Harriet” was a decent film with some possible changes to what really happened, unfortunately, certain parts were too historically accurate. Those include things like the use of the N-word, something you would think wouldn’t be allowed today, and a purely evil master. Also, there are weapons used by the figures to get what they want. That also isn’t a good example for today.

Regardless of that, the way Harriet handles her confidence was done well. She also really supported her family and would even sacrifice her desires to save them.

Overall, I would rate this film 3.5 out of 5 stars. While I was kind of familiar with the events revolving around Harriet Tubman (I did learn about her in school), the movie also didn’t engage me fully.

Would I recommend this? Maybe. I got very uncomfortable with the racism and how the slaves were treated, even if it’s historically accurate. But there were some good morals and examples set, as well.

movie

It’s Anything but Ooky, “The Addams Family” Review (2019)

Warning: contains spoilers***

Morticia and Gomez are getting married, but the civilians are crashing their wedding as an angry mob. They move to a house on the top of a hill and have a Frankenstein-like servant.

Thirteen years later and the Addams couple has two children. Pugsley is being forced to train for a sword-fighting event he doesn’t seem to value and is pretty unprepared for. Wednesday is her usual grim self who tries to kill or hurt Pugsley.

But one of the family members discovers a commercial where a woman named Margaux Needler offers a service to renovate people’s houses in any way they like. Unfortunately, when the Addams family leaves their home and go out in public, everybody is afraid of them. Wednesday, however, befriends Margaux’s daughter, Parker, and attends school with her. Stakes raise from there.

I was surprised how short this film was. As a fiction writer myself, I was able to point out all the major plot points, which kind of made the duration predictable. Due to past movie-watching experiences, I kind of predicted that Margaux would turn out to be the villain.

One thing I found a bit strange was that the setting was changed to modern times, like this decade, despite how this was originally created in the mid-twentieth century. I understand the creators probably wanted to make this more relatable to young audiences today. But since it’s animated, they wouldn’t have needed to struggle with finding outdated technology as much as if this were live-action. I could be wrong, though.

That being said, there are many moments that I admire, such as when Wednesday brought the dead frogs in science class back to life. There was also a reference to “It” by Stephen King. One moment I found a bit strange was when Uncle Fester compared a certain woman’s breath to a baby’s diaper. I sure hope he meant a clean one.

Anyway, in spite of not being too familiar with the original “Addams Family” show, I enjoyed this just enough. Some of it wasn’t super engaging. Nevertheless, it was still, overall, a good watch. I’d rate this 4 out of 5 stars.

movie

An Adventure Awaits with My Review of “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” (2014)

I have been a huge fan of the “Night at the Museum” franchise since the first film was released in 2006. Also, as great of a film this is, as well as the first two, this was also Robin Williams’s last movie before he died.

Anyway, let’s get to the review. The movie starts with a flashback of Western and Arab men. There is also a little boy named CJ. CJ’s father forces him to go somewhere and wait, but CJ ends up falling into something. He discovers the tablet, which brings the museum figures to life.

Fast forward to the present, and Larry Daley is presenting the figures at a formal event. However, the figures get out of control and the people panic. Larry gives the figures a lecture about their behavior. Not long after, he and his son, Nick, are whisked away to London to get the tablet fixed. They meet new figures, including Lancelot, who seems caring to Nick about his values. But things get out of hand again.

This movie was very funny as usual. The characters are still humorous. I especially love the scene where the little cowboy and Roman gladiator figurines are watching a cat video on YouTube and they use a special ancient machine to write a comment. The scene where the caveman eats the packing peanuts was also hilarious.

Of course, like every creative work, this film does have some flaws, such as the “kid holding party while his or her parents are out and gets in trouble when they come home” cliché. Not to mention that it really isn’t believable, especially with characters who are minors. No parent would ever allow their underage child to go to an unsupervised party. So, Nick wouldn’t have had the unsupervised party if this were more credible.

Another moment in this film that isn’t believable is when Lancelot runs onto a stage in a theater where “Camelot” is being performed. The actors are like, “Can I help you?” and explaining to Lancelot that they are just actors. This isn’t the best example, as running on stage during a show performance in real life would get you arrested, even if you just stand there and say nothing. The actors would’ve yelled at Lancelot to get off the stage, security would’ve taken him away, and then the cops would’ve arrested him. But that couldn’t happen, because—plot convenience.

Nevertheless, I very much enjoyed the film and would rate it 5 out of 5 stars.

travel

Can Vacations Spoil You?

Image from Pixabay

My family doesn’t travel that much anymore. However, we’ve traveled so much that I have memorized all the airplane safety guidelines. I don’t pay attention to the demos when they’re live because I already know the rules.

Anyway, sometimes my brain has “rotted” a bit when I was out of town. One time, I couldn’t complete a social studies take-home-quiz in high school while I was in Florida, I believe. My mind was in vacation-mode. That wasn’t good.

Family trips have also spoiled me with luxury hotels and resorts, first-class seats in flights, and fun activities. That rarely happens these days. It has been years since I stayed in a fancy place. Now my family usually does cheaper hotels or sometimes apartment-like suites.

But when we did stay in luxurious places, they made me let-down by hostel-like buildings and quick sandwich and salad cafes instead of fine dining restaurants. That was with Girl Scouts when we stayed at a hostel in London and would’ve eaten at a quick café instead of a bistro on a trip that ended up being canceled. It turned out that many of the other girls didn’t have the amount of money my family had. So, in the later Girl Scout days, I was kind of the “spoiled rich kid”. Not terribly, though. But I didn’t like when the others said that hotels were too expensive.

So, can vacations spoil you? It depends on various circumstances. If you barely travel, then probably not. It’s how you handle certain aspects of the trips.

movie

Ranking of Disney Princess’s Fathers

While mothers rarely exist in Disney films, fathers often do. Some are likable, and others aren’t.

I know I said I would rank the Disney princess’s dads. However, I am not going to do all of them. Some don’t have paternal figures in their movies, such as Snow White and Cinderella—they have evil stepmothers. Anyway, the princess’s fathers I will rank will include King Triton, Ariel’s father, Maurice, Belle’s dad, the sultan, Jasmine’s dad, and Powhattan, Pocahontas’s father.

Note that these are only my personal opinions with the ranking from least to most likable. Also, be warned that there are spoilers below.

4: King Triton

I find King Triton to be one of the least likable fathers in Disney films. He has a terrible prejudice toward humans (even though he and the other merfolk are all half humans as well as half fish), a very hot temper, especially with Ariel, and doesn’t seem to suffer consequences for his actions, such as destroying the things in Ariel’s grotto. That moment made him so evil, I hated him more than Ursula. No wonder some YouTube video considered King Triton a good character who was actually a villain.

If Atlantica had CPS, and they penalized King Triton for the destruction of Ariel’s grotto as well as his other major flaws, and took all his daughters away, including those (possibly) over 18, I would have supported that. We all should be responsible with our actions and if we can’t, we suffer consequences.

Destroying your child’s huge collection out of anger is the equivalent to setting someone’s house on fire. Not only did I find it disappointing that King Triton never apologized to Ariel for the destruction of her stuff as well as either re-created it with his rake or provided her new items, but also never paying the price for that. That doesn’t include him trading places with Ariel to be Ursula’s polyp prisoner or when his seahorse messenger told him that he couldn’t find Ariel, Flounder, or Sebastian.

On the bright side, King Triton does advocate for Ariel when Ursula tries to hurt her after she went from being a human back to a mermaid, and allows Ariel to become a person with legs again to rejoin Eric. At least he changes his views on humans.

3: The Sultan

While not nearly as hot-tempered as King Triton (if anything, the opposite), he neglects Jasmine’s access outside the palace. The “Aladdin” live-action remake states that the sultan forbids Jasmine to leave the palace because her mother was killed out there. However, in the animated version, it’s only because she’s a princess. Couldn’t he just require Jasmine to be escorted by bodyguards instead? That’s how it is in real life for the royals, president and his family, as well as other highly elite people. Secret service bodyguards are mandatory for them.

Another flaw is that he forces Jasmine to get married by a certain year in her life (either her 15th or 16th) within a few days from when she first appears in the animated movie. And the guys who come to the palace and try to ask for her blessing are all old enough to be her dad, except Aladdin when he is disguised as Prince Ali. The sultan seemed to acknowledge him as the first young male to come as a suiter for Jasmine.

Since Jasmine is a minor, this whole situation is actually forced child marriage. I know it’s an ancient time period and a female getting married at no younger than 18 would probably be the equivalent of a woman getting married for the first time at age 50 today. Still, there are dangers to forced child marriage. Having a minor forced into marriage could be insensitive to those were forced to get married before the age of consent. There are still countries where that happens.

While the sultan is drastically more likable than King Triton, he still could do for some improvement (not counting the end of “Aladdin”, when he changes the law and lets the princess marry whomever she wants, even if he is not royal).

2: Powhattan

Powhattan allows Pocahontas the freedom to explore and wander, except during dangerous times. While he doesn’t have a temper and is usually patient with his daughter, he does have prejudice toward the English settlers. Luckily, that changes.

1: Maurice

Maurice is patient, sweet, and tolerates all types of people, including those who don’t understand him and consider him crazy. His relation to his daughter, Belle, is very heartwarming. Belle loves her father enough that she is willing to take his place as the beast’s prisoner. Out of all the fathers on this list, Maurice is the only one I feel sorry for. The villagers think he is so insane, he and Belle are almost taken to an asylum.

So, there you have it.