movie

Most Memorable Moments in Disney’s “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas” and “Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas”

Warning: contains spoilers***

These Disney holiday classics have some memorable moments, aside from not being full-length films. Rather, they are broken up into short specials. So, without further ado, I will list the parts that stand out to me.

First with “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas

1: When Huey, Dewy, and Louie opened presents early

This is bad manners in real life. But on screen, it was funny. Huey, Dewy, and Louie get so excited on Christmas morning that they open their gifts early. Then Donald Duck comes and says to them, “Shouldn’t you wait for the family?” Shortly after that, Daisy, Scrooge McDuck, and some other character whose name I don’t remember arrive, wishing the boys a Merry Christmas.

2: That same special resembling a plot of “The Fairly OddParents” Christmas special, “Christmas Every Day”

Although this was released before “The Fairly OddParents” first aired, the plot of the special above reminded me, as well as another friend of mine, of “Christmas Every Day.” There, Timmy wishes it was Christmas every day, but that made it unfair to the other holidays. In “Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas,” Huey, Dewy, and Louie also wish it were Christmas every day, but upon a shooting star. It also recycles the same events that happen on the actual day of Christmas.

Now onto “Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas

1: The fact that it’s CG-animated rather than 2D

Who hasn’t had enough of CG-animation, especially since that’s pretty much the only type these days, except the occasional stop-motion? Anyway, the sequel came out in 2001, when 2D animation was still common, whether with Disney or other companies. Not only did this surprise me, but it also kind of disappointed me, too. I miss 2D animation.

2: The special where Donald Duck wants peace and quiet during the holidays

I totally do not blame him for that. In fact, I can relate a lot. Not to sound like a grinch or anything, but I get overwhelmed by Christmas music and even the spirit at times, too. Sometimes, I will go to the Kosher deli, Ben’s, where you won’t hear Christmas music. That is a save haven for me when I experience the Christmas overkill.

That being said, I still appreciate Christmas. When I was little, I used to get jealous of houses that had lots of Christmas decorations, and mine had none.

Anyway, as Donald Duck tries to get a break from the Christmas spirit, different characters and objects play, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” which gets him to change. The fact that even inanimate items would play that song cracked me up a bit.

Bonus:

The endings of both movies

Both films conclude with the sensational six, as well as a few other characters, like Goofy’s son, Max, singing a Christmas melody, combining the songs, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” “Deck the Halls,” and “Jingle Bells.”

Writing

Writers, Should You Hire a Beta Reader?

Image from Pixabay

What is a beta reader? It’s someone who gives you feedback on your story and its literary elements, such as plot, characterization, conflict, etc. They don’t edit your work or rewrite weak sentences.

So, if you are considering hiring a beta reader, here are some aspects you should be aware of.

Pros

Cheaper than traditional editors

Many book editors, especially those who have worked with big-name best-selling authors (like Stephen King), can charge lots of money for their services. They can range from hundreds to even thousands of dollars.

There are people with that kind of money. But unless you are one of them, start off with a beta reader.

Can return work more quickly 

Depending on the editor and the work, it can take at least a week or month to have the project returned to the client. From my experience, though, beta readers may take less time before they give the customers feedback. This can vary, however, depending on the reader and other factors.

Cons

Might not necessarily answer the writer’s specific questions 

With my last beta reader experience, I sent a bunch of questions to the person that concerned specific issues in my manuscript. The beta reader clarified that she was not an editor, so I said that she could answer the questions she felt were relevant. Sadly, she didn’t answer any.

Can be tough

Despite working on my manuscript for nearly 5 years, the beta reader said it needed a ton of work. Other beta readers bashed my projects, too. However, when I showed them to editors, the stories pleased them. For my current WIP, an editor said that it was strong and only needed minor editing.

I don’t know how typical it is for beta readers to be super-tough, but I am giving my manuscript to other beta readers as well as a developmental editor.

Remember to do what you think will work for you.

movie

Let’s Get Rocking with This Review of “School of Rock” (2003)

I just watched this movie at a friend’s house, recently. I didn’t know much about it before. But now here is the review.

A man named Dewey is performing with a rock band at a club. He jumps into the crowd, but gets hurt. After a little time has gone by, Dewey’s roommates wake him up to complain about the rent situation, which is due soon. But Dewey is defensive about it. Shortly after that, his band votes him out of the group.

When Horace Green Prep School calls for a substitute teacher position, asking for Ned Scheebly, Dewey claims he is Ned and takes the position. He teaches the children his own curriculum, though, and trains them to be rock band performers. He also has the students hide their music from the principal, Ms. Mullins, who is pretty strict and sophisticated.

I must admit how great this movie was, especially the humor presented. I laughed my brains out several times, particularly since Dewey acted so chill and unprofessional in a funny manner. Jack Black did a fantastic job with the comedic portrayal of a substitute “teacher”. Aside from the immature questions he asked Ms. Mullins, Dewey also took a student’s sandwich and ate it. Obviously, that would not be funny in real life.

Besides the slapstick, the film also taught some things about rock music, which was pretty interesting. The advice was also useful, too, like to use your mind and other important parts of your body, both external and internal, to improve your music and singing skills. I feel like a good number of those could apply to learning rock in real life.

There were also a lot of neat twists and turns, especially later in the movie. I won’t spoil them, though. But some of the content was a bit predictable, too.

I would rate “School of Rock” 5 out of 5 stars. If you love slapstick, and especially rock, this movie would satisfy you very much.

movie

That’s How You Know This “Enchanted” (2007) Critique Will Teach You My Thoughts on it

Warning: contains spoilers***

The story starts off with a princess named Giselle who longs to meet her prince, which is a usual fairytale. However, the evil sorceress and queen, called Narissa, forces Giselle into a place where there are no happily-ever-afters. That is real-life New York City. Giselle looks for help, and is found by a man named Robert. He lets her stay with him.

Now onto the moments I admired.

1: The musical numbers

The songs were fantastic. I enjoyed the “That’s How You Know” scene, especially the Calypso drumming moments done by the park musicians. The other numbers, such as the one at the beginning that Giselle sings, were also good.

2: The Plot Twists

One notable example is where Giselle rescues Robert from the Queen Narissa after she turns into a dragon. I appreciate fairytale twists straying away from the traditional approaches. In this instance, the princess rescues the male.

Another interesting twist is the ending. Although I didn’t think Nancy was so bad, Robert’s 6-year-old daughter, Morgan, doesn’t really like her. She enjoys Giselle more. So, Giselle ends up marrying Robert and Nancy weds the prince instead. I particularly loved when Nancy’s phone went off in the cartoon fairytale world and she acknowledged how she somehow received signal.

3: Giselle’s development

She starts off as a stereotypical Disney princess who acts very strangely, but grows into a different person when in the real-life world. She learns about dating, how love takes time, and develops feelings for Robert rather than the prince, whom she originally wanted to marry.

And now onto the parts that could have been improved.

1: Robert’s reactions to Giselle’s behavior in his apartment

Giselle does some pretty naughty things in Robert’s apartment, such as make clothes from his curtains, sing to call animals to do the chores, yet end up with bugs, rats, and pigeons, and more. But Robert’s reactions were too casual and relaxed. He would have kicked her out and reported her to law enforcement in real life. However, plot convenience mattered more.

2: Why did Giselle’s hair have to be cut?

When Giselle first appears, her hair flows to the waist and hip area. But when she goes to a ball near the end, it’s mid-back length. Yes, Morgan teaches her about neatness and makeovers. However, I don’t see the significance of Giselle’s haircut and why it needed to happen. I can’t imagine that it would have messed up the storyline had she not cut her locks.

I hope you enjoyed this critique. I would rate “Enchanted” 4.5 out of 5 stars.

fiction

Today is Where My First Book Review Begins: And it’s Called “Unwritten” by Tara Gilboy

Up until this point, despite being a writer, I haven’t read a lot. However, I am reading more these days and am trying to get myself back into it. So, now I am going to post book reviews here. Let the thoughts come out.

“Unwritten” by Tara Gilboy

Twelve-year-old Gracie longs to know about her life before living in the real, typical world. She and her mom left it when Gracie was a baby. However, her mother refuses to share information about it. And she strictly forbids her to see the author, Gertrude Winters. Regardless of her mom’s demand, Gracie sneaks out to the bookstore. She not only meets Gertrude Winters, but also tries to receive more information about the book she wrote where Gracie came from. Gertrude Winters disappears, and it makes it to the news. From then on, things don’t go well.

I enjoyed this book as well as the characters. I didn’t like when Gracie’s mom was unfair to her in the beginning, though, as I don’t like adults treating children that way. But the writing kept me engaged and wanting to know what happened next.

That being said, there were some passive writing moments at times. But that didn’t keep me from giving up. I still would recommend this book.

I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

movie

Oh, I Just Can’t Wait to Compare and Contrast “The Lion King” Adaptations (1994 and 2019)

Pretty much everyone I’ve met has enjoyed 1994’s “The Lion King”. Many consider it their favorite movie. Only one person I’ve met has said that she wasn’t really into “The Lion King.”

Obviously, I’ve seen the cartoon of it and enjoyed it. In fact, as a high school senior, I enjoyed the film so much that I performed the end credit version of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” at a school spotlight night (like a talent show).

Anyway, the cartoon depicted and released a lot of emotional experiences to the audience. The songs are great, the characters are well-developed, and the mood is powerful.

That being said, someone pointed out that there might be some damsel-in-distress moments. The person said that rather than resolving Scar’s abuse of power on their own, the female lions wait for Simba to return. He was assumed dead, though. Yet, when Nala found him and he refused to come back since he thought he was responsible for his father, Mufasa’s death, Nala didn’t seem to take a lot of action on her own.

Another moment that stands out to me is the line Mufasa says to Simba after he goes to the elephant graveyard, “You deliberately disobeyed me.” Yes, they were different tones, but I consider that kind of lazy, unless there’s a purpose (i.e. “My boy, my little Hercules,” from 1997’s “Hercules”). It was as if the writers copied and pasted that same line, whether or not Microsoft Word existed.

Nevertheless, the animated version of “The Lion King” pleased me very much. Sadly, when the live-action remake came out, it didn’t cause any emotional reactions or anything nearly as much the way the cartoon did. In fact, it was pretty much a carbon copy of the 1994 adaptation. Most scenes were the same shots, but in a “live-action” way. It was mostly realistic CGI, except for one scene, and obviously, because getting those types of animals to act is too dangerous. Despite that, animators need to draw from live models of those creatures, and who knows how those animals stay calm and not maul or hurt anyone?

While the remake did reduce the “You deliberately disobeyed me” line to one use, the facial expressions were quite limited, and I couldn’t get into it nearly as much as the animated movie.

I would rate the cartoon 5 out of 5 stars, but the reboot 2.5 out of 5 stars. Even my friends didn’t enjoy it too much, either.

TV show

What TV Show Are These Top Episodes From? “SpongeBob SquarePants”

I am a fan of “SpongeBob SquarePants”, although not a longtime one. For many years, I’ve lost interest in it, but then I got back into it. Now I play songs from the show a lot, like when I wash dishes or lift weights.

Anyway, here are my top 3 favorite episodes.

3: “Employee of the Month”

SpongeBob has been awarded as employee of the month several times. But Squidward might be nominated this time. Both he and SpongeBob aggressively compete.

The way Squidward and SpongeBob handle the situation was crazy and extreme at times, but still funny. This is one of the episodes that made me laugh my brains out.

2: “Band Geeks”

This is an all-time favorite from many fans. And I am one of them.

Squidward wants to conduct a band to play at the bubble bowl since another octopus desires the same thing. However, none of the others can play instruments. Rather, they fight with each other.

Dang, this episode cracked me up several times. And one of my favorite moments is when Patrick asks, “Is mayonnaise an instrument?” Lol, who doesn’t love that line?

And finally…

1: “Goo-goo Gas”

Okay, you may be looking at this like I have two heads. It came out when the episodes were no longer considered good. While those I didn’t see could be bad, this one made me laugh the most and hardest.

After Mr. Krabs catches Plankton trying to steal the secret formula to the crabby patties, Plankton decides to turn him into a baby with a special gas he calls goo-goo gas. However, his gas doesn’t work the way he wants, so he brainstorms other ideas.

I laughed so hard at this episode, that my mom made me take deep breaths. I love this episode very much. In fact, when I first saw it, I had not known that the “SpongeBob” episodes that came out after the 2004 film were unpopular. But now, except for this one and a couple of other exceptions, I probably won’t see the episodes that were released after the “SpongeBob SquarePants Movie.”

There you have it.  

movie

Boom, Baby! And Check Out My Review of “The Emperor’s New Groove” (2000)

I enjoyed this film as a child and re-watched it after many years. The story is about a young emperor, named Kuzco, who wants to build a summer resort for his 18th birthday. But he gets turned into a llama and ends up away from his palace. Meanwhile, his advisor, Yzma, wants to become the next ruler. There is even a funeral scene, similar to that part in “The Lion King” after Mufasa dies.

There are many great moments from this film. I loved the idea of a theme-song guy for the movie’s opening as well as the clever and humorous dialogue. Other enjoyable scenes include the made-up Happy Birthday song (“Happy, happy birthday, make all your dreams come true…”) the waiters sang to Yzma (but for some reason, she didn’t tell her assistant, Kronk, about it), the “Wizard of Oz” reference in one scene, and the squirrel with the balloon animal. Who knows how the creature got it?

That being said, there is one aspect that didn’t please me, and that was Kuzco. Okay, okay, I know he’s the main character. But I thought he was very unlikable with how he treated others. Although he didn’t yell (he even reminded me of the trash planet ruler in “Thor: Ragnarok”), he was a jerk to everybody and kind of abused his power at times. He didn’t care about ruining the peasant, Pacha’s, home, when he wanted to build his summer place…on the same area as Pacha’s small house. I felt frustrated when Kuzco refused to change his mind over and over again, even when he turned into a llama and wanted to return to his palace. He asked Pacha to help, but Pacha refused.

Pacha was more likable, and he reminded me of Sully from “Monster’s Inc”. Not just because the same man who voiced him also voiced Sully, but his behavior was quite similar to Sully’s.

Does Kuzco become a better character? You’ll have to see the movie to find out. But regardless of his not-so-great attitudes, I would still rate “The Emperor’s New Groove” 5 out of 5 stars.

movie

A “Cinderella” Critique is a List Your Brain Makes…When You’re Evaluating the 1950 Film

Warning: contains spoilers***

I haven’t watched the whole version of this Disney classic in years. I’ve watched it regularly as a small child. But now that I’m an adult, I can understand and pick up on stories and their elements more easily.

We all know the story. A young maiden is a servant to her mean stepfamily, and then she gets an opportunity to go to the ball hosted by the royals.

Okay, onto the critique. First, the strengths:

1: Cinderella’s character

Although she’s abused, Cinderella remains gentle and likable. Her stepsisters scream for her to serve them and she remains calm. Although I found that a bit unbelievable, there were times she sounded a little annoyed, which made her more realistic.

2: The “Sweet Nightingale” Number and it’s humor

Of course, all the songs in “Cinderella” are good. But this one was kind of humorous. The stepsister, I think Drizzella, sounded not-so-great when singing this song (which seems kind of unimportant, but I could be wrong). Meanwhile, Cinderella’s voice was beautiful when she sang it, even though she was cleaning.

3: The fact that Cinderella has loyal companions

Yes, they’re all animals, with the exceptions of the fairy godmother and prince later on. But at least the mice, dog, chickens, and horse show sympathy and respect for Cinderella. Gus was funny when he tried to advocate for Cinderella loudly and Jacque had to quiet him.

After the stepsisters destroyed Cinderella’s dress and made her cry, it was so sweet how the fairy godmother came to comfort her and ensure she gets to the ball.

Speaking of which…

1: There are some deus ex machina moments

Unfortunately, that includes the fairy godmother moment. While it’s great that she was there to help Cinderella, her actions felt too convenient for the plot, especially when she turned her mice into horses, and the other animals into people. And they seemed to function perfectly.

All right, there probably wasn’t a lot of time to explain the magic laws and how turning animals into humans would be no problem. Still.

2: Cinderella’s lips changed tones

This was probably an animation error. I’m also likely one of the few to notice this inconsistency. Sometimes, Cinderella’s lips were muted magenta, and other times, they were light red.

3: Lucifer’s character

Obviously, every story needs conflict and an antagonist. But with Lucifer, I feel his scary appearance and actions went too far. Okay, okay, this was released in 1950 and likely produced in the late 1940’s. But for today, I thought Lucifer was too pure evil in not only his looks and actions, but also his name (the meaning and where it originated from).

While it was nice reuniting with this movie, I will admit it wasn’t super-engaging either. Because of that, I would rate it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

However, I don’t think it’s discouraging. There are a good number of strengths and nice moments, too, aside from what I mentioned.

movie

Check Out this Review of “Christopher Robin” (2018)

Warning: contains spoilers***

Young Christopher Robin is spending the last moments with Pooh and friends. The animals even throw him a goodbye party before he goes off to boarding school.

Thirty years go by to the point that Christopher Robin is now an adult trying to get something done for his job. His wife, Evelyn, points out that he isn’t spending enough time with his daughter, Madeleine. But Christopher still focuses on his work.

Pooh-Bear spots Christopher in a local park, making him shocked. Christopher forces Pooh back to Hundred-Acre Wood, claiming that he is a grown man and has other responsibilities. Later he runs back into the other creatures from Hundred-Acre Wood, who also go into the regular world. Things go in unexpected directions.

I found this film to be a good watch. I admire how it communicates the importance of family and how family is more crucial than work.

That being said, when Madeleine ran away to London via train, I was predicting that she was going to be grounded for a long time for doing something super-irresponsible and dangerous. Add the fact that she lost her dad’s important papers, and she would have received more severe punishments. But, instead, her parents comforted her and her father shrugged off his work documents as nothing essential. I get that this is meant to teach the audience about how family matters far more than work and how Christopher grows and changes to acknowledge that. However, it isn’t believable. If a kid does that in real life, he or she would get the beating of his or her life and be as severely punished as possible. Not to mention that the parents would be in trouble with authorities.

Another lesson portrays the importance of reliving your childhood. Christopher Robin, Evelyn, and Madeleine eventually spend time in Hundred-Acre Wood with Pooh and friends. While that is a sweet moment, I felt that Christopher Robin’s reaction to Pooh returning to him after thirty years was how most people would react. In real life, we move on from things very quickly. We grow, change, drift in different directions, and much more.

For instance, after graduating high school, it is common for people to move on from their friends then in as little as a few years. Although it would be nice for old memories to be relived, it’s very, very rare.

Nevertheless, I would rate “Christopher Robin” 4 out of 5 stars.