Let’s Talk Dinos!

tyrannosaurus-dinosaurLast night I talked poor Sarabeth’s ear off about all the exciting dinosaur movies coming out next year.

The world of movies as we knew it changed forever in 1993 when Steven Spielberg released Jurassic Park. 

I’ll never forget the first time I heard the words “Jurassic Park.”

I was in the third grade, and my teacher, Mrs. Smart, I believe, must have read the book and must have heard about it being filmed from an evening news clip. She had just read us a story and proceeded to tell the class about the movie centered around a theme park with dinosaurs.

Collectively, I don’t think we were very bright, or we were all just deaf, because we didn’t hear her say the word “movie.” So we ambushed her with a load of questions like,

“When does it open?”jurassic park logo

“Will the dinosaurs move?

“Will it be next to Disneyland?”

And for about ten minutes, Mrs. Smart did her best to explain to us that it was a movie about a theme park.

In our seven- and eight-year-old minds, we couldn’t comprehend why anyone would watch a movie about a theme park when we could just go. 

Well, the next summer, I lost count the amount of times I went to see Jurassic Park with my buddies. And each time, I prayed the dinosaurs wouldn’t escape, but deeper still, I prayed that they would so I could experience that spine-tingling chill the movie still gives us all to this day.

man in boxYou’ll even see where Jurassic Park played a role in inspiring certain scenes in my book The Man in the Box. 

There’s no further agenda to this post except to express my excitement for all the dino fun we’re in for in the next 11 months, starting with a Toy Story television special about dinosaurs airing sometimes this holiday season.

 

And then next Father’s Day, we’ll be graced with Jurassic World, the fourth installment in the sharp-toothed franchise.

And later next year, Pixar is giving us an all new animated feature about …dinosaurs, calledRossGellerFriends413 The Good Dinosaur. 

I think I missed my calling as a paleontologist.

 

 

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Movies as Good as Pixar Movies

It doesn’t take much browsing on my blog to figure out that I’m a devout Pixar enthusiast (Disney included). But there are some movies made by competitors that come awfully close, if not hit right on target, to Pixar’s standards of excellence. Here are my favorite non-Pixar/Disney animated movies that you’re sure to have a good time with.

Shrek-2-card-2004-12Shrek 2 (Dreamworks)

I love the second installment of the Shrek movies. It’s hip, it’s fun, and the soundtrack is awesome. It’s a fairytale within a fairytale, and it doesn’t bash all the other fairytales like its predecessor does. And the pouty Prince Charming is just hilarious.

surfs_up_620x348_0Surf’s Up (Sony Pictures Animation/Columbia)

This one didn’t sit too well with critics and audiences far as I know, and I can’t understand why. It’s a very original animated flick told in the style of a documentary. Sarabeth says you’ve got to have a love for the beach and surfing to enjoy this movie, so she might be right. At any rate, I’ve always said it’s as good as a Pixar movie, if for anything, its originality.

1_0_2008_07_09_05_16_25_65625Horton Hears a Who (Blue Sky Studios/Fox)

This is a fun little movie based off of the Dr. Seuss classic storybook, which I hadn’t read before seeing it. It’s not as sophisticated as other movies, but it’s big, bright, and colorful. Definitely pulls out the child in me, and it’s no chore to sit down and watch it on a rainy weekend.

despicable-me-2-22543-1280x800Despicable Me (Illumination Entertainment/Universal)

There’s nothing truly awe-inspiring about this movie, but it’s fun – just flat-out fun, with a few quotable moments throughout. Another good one for rainy weekends. I think what draws me in so much is the adoption theme. That’ll get me every time.

81AjuXCw9UL._SL1500_How to Train Your Dragon (Dreamworks)

This one probably comes the closest to being on par with Pixar standards. It’s got everything you need to make an animated movie go from really good to exceptional – fast action, witty dialogue, no potty humor, emotional content, and the protagonists lose something dear in the end. I haven’t seen the sequel yet, but I’m sure excited to whenever we get around to it.

What are your favorite non-Pixar/Disney animated movies? 

7 Rules That Can Make “Dumb and Dumber To” Great

dumb-and-dumber-2-poster-fullYou’ve probably seen the Dumb and Dumber To trailer by now, and like most intelligent and level-headed human beings, you’re probably looking forward to seeing the movie as much as I am. You’d be hard-pressed to find an individual who doesn’t laugh themselves silly at the 1994 ultimate comedy of comedies, Dumb and Dumber. 

But, just as with every other anticipated sequel, we all have our concerns that it won’t live up to its predecessor. I’ve put together a list of 7 rules the Farrelly brothers should follow if they want their sequel to measure up to their ingeniously-dumb and whacky magnum opus.

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1. Little to no plot

The best recipe for a comedy is having very little to no plot. On the extremely rare occasion that I sit down for a comedy, I want to turn my brain off and watch well-written jokes – not follow a mediocre story. Just look at Napoleon Dynamite for a great example of how no plot can work wonders in a comedy’s favor.

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2. Lots of mindless tangents

Now, in order for anything to be filmed or written, there does have to be some sort of story. But, hopefully Dumb and Dumber To will keep it second priority like the original did, and not shy away from countless detours.

dumb-and-dumber-2-starts-filming-and-will-top-the-original

3. Naivety with 21st century technology 

A lot has happened in twenty years, and it looks like one of the comic duo has squandered his time on a two-decade long prank being locked away from the outside world. Now, while I hope this movie doesn’t go all Blast From the Past on us, it would be nice to see what kind of dumbness can come out of Harry and Lloyd figuring out other people’s iPads and iPhones and Androids.

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4. Not being too crude

Part of the charm of the first movie was that it never really crossed the line into easy sexual innuendos or jokes. That’s a big part of what makes the movie a classic because it hardly falls prey to “easy” jokes. I’ll admit that the end of DDT’s trailer – the scene with the grandma – was a bit off-putting, but I did read somewhere that that’s the only awkward and cringe-worthy scene of the movie. But still, it’s the 21st century – our tolerance level has raised a bit, so we’ll see.

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5. Horrifyingly terrible acts done out of naivety 

Mary Sanson called the culprits who sold their dead bird to a blind kid “sick people.” Sick, yes. But also completely clueless, which is what makes Harry and Lloyd so much fun to watch.

dumb-and-dumber

6. Overdoing adolescent boy fantasies

I think most boys have had dreams like Lloyd’s where he’s fighting off would-be perverts with no consequences and making nonsensical jokes at gatherings and being the life of the party for it. I think the sequel would do well to have another sequence like this one.

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7. Make no reference to 2003’s disaster, Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd 

Let’s just pretend that one didn’t happen. And if we can’t, then we’ll readily forgive the writers if they can pull this one off.

dumb-and-dumber-old-lady

8. Welcome rude and ignorant comments

“Don’t you go dyin’ on me,” seems to be a favorite line from DD. True, it’s mean and extremely ignorant, but remember – the fun is in the cluelessness. In the case of Dumb and Dumber, ignorance really is bliss. (Oh, and if the victims get their payback, that’s nice, too.)

How do you think Dumb and Dumber To can be just as good as the original? Share your thoughts below!

The Best Father’s Day Movies

Father’s Day is coming up. The holiday holds true for many people in different walks of life. Maybe you’re still living with your father, or you’re far away from him. Maybe your father died. Perhaps, even, you’re a father yourself now, as this will be my first Father’s Day as a dad. As you well know, there are many movies about father/child relationships. I’ve compiled a short list of some of my favorite movies about dads and their relationship with their kids.

After all, if you’re struggling with planning the perfect Father’s Day, keep in mind that sometimes the best thing a father can have is a couch, a box of pizza, and a movie.

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Big Fish – This may be my favorite Tim Burton movie; it’s a bit weird, but not at all creepy. It’s the story of a grown son trying to put together his dad’s fabrications of life in the truest sense.

Best line: “A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal.”

bill cosby

Bill Cosby, Himself – This is a hysterical standup done by Bill Cosby. As engaging as any 90-minute movie, and funnier than most comedies I’ve seen. Cosby takes the audience on a whirlwind adventure from dating to marriage to childbirth to kicking the kids out of the house. It’s impossible not to crack up, especially if you’ve “been there.”

Best line: “We [parentes] don’t want justice. We want quiet!” 

dan_jpg_627x325_crop_upscale_q85_jpg_627x325_crop_upscale_q85_jpg_627x325_crop_upscale_q85Dan in Real Life – A sweet movie about a widowed father trying to raise his three daughters while visiting the extended family. Steve Carrell shows a bit of his serious/charming side in this one.

Best line: “Love is not a feeling, Mr. Burns. It’s an ability.”

despicalbe meDespicable Me – Another Steve Carrell favorite, more on the silly side. Despicable Me is considered, in our house, to be nearly as good as a Pixar movie. Maybe it’s the whole adoption thing we like so much. After all, three adorable girls can soften even the hardest of hearts, right?

Best line: “It’s so fluffy I’m gonna die!” (That was for you, Sarabeth)

fiddler on roofFiddler on the Roof – And while we’re talking about movies with dads raising three daughters, I’ll throw in this gem. What man can’t relate to Tevye, who just wants a little more money, who just wants to keep his wife’s affections, and who just wants to keep his daughters at home? I’ll admit, as funny as this movie can be, some scenes are pretty tough to get through, especially if you have daughters of your own.

Best line: [To God] “If money is a curse, then smite me with it!”

MSDFAOF EC079Father of the Bride – If you haven’t seen this a million times already… I just don’t know what to say to you.

Best line: “This was the moment I’d been dreading for the past six months. Well, actually for the past 22 years.”

finding nemoFinding Nemo – Search the entire ocean to find my lost son? No problem. Letting him grow up… eh, not so easy.

Best line: “Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.”

GoofyMovieA Goofy Movie – You know, I’ve met some people who didn’t like Lord of the Rings (they’re not my friends). I’ve also heard of some people not liking pizza. But I have never heard of anybody – ever – not liking A Goofy Movie. My dad, in fact, would sit and watch this with me growing up, and getting him to watch any cartoon was like pulling teeth. Yeah, this is the ultimate Father’s Day movie.

Best line: Goofy: “You look just like I did at your age.” Max: “Please don’t say that, Dad.”

mrs-doubtfireMrs. Doubtfire – Dress up as a woman to see your kids everyday? Er, um, sure thing. I think most dads would get this. Robin Williams at his absolute best here. (BTW, they’re working on a sequel… what do you think about that?)

Best line: “My first day as a woman and I’m getting hot flashes.”

parenthoodParenthood – Another Steve Martin favorite and directed by Ron Howard (what a pair, huh?). This is the movie that inspired NBC’s awesome show Parenthood. Just a good flick about how parenthood never ever ends – and there’s never a break. (Ironically, don’t watch this with the kids around.)

Best line: Karen: “Do you really have to go?” Gil: “My whole life is have to.”

shrek-forever-afterShrek Forever After – In an effort to erase the deplorable Shrek the Third from existence, Dreamworks puts together a valiant effort in this fourth installment. Shrek is in over his head with this whole fatherhood thing, and he gets his wish to have everything back the way it was before he got married.

Best line: “Are my kids cute or do they make people uncomfortable?” 

What are your favorite movies about fathers? List ‘em bellow, I’d love to hear them!

 

A Hero Was Born

Schindler,_OskarOn this day in 1908 a hero was born – a man who would ultimately save 1,200 lives during the Holocaust.

Oskar Schindler was anything but a moral man as the 1993 movie, Schindler’s List suggests, and which Thomas Keneally’s book emphasizes. He was a womanizer and adulterer. He drank excessively, but never showed signs of drunkenness.

But one wonders if, at least in the eyes of mortals, if those sins can be overruled by his achievements to thwart Hitler’s war efforts and provide a safe haven for hundreds of Jews who would have otherwise been slaughtered in the camps.

Today there are 7,000 descendants of Schindler’s Jews living in the U.S. and Europe, and many in Israel. 

They are all alive because of Herr Schindler’s courageous acts of rebellion against The Party and his ingenious maneuvers to woo himself into the SS men’s good graces (if, indeed, they had any).

The most interesting thing about Herr Schindler is that, though he harbored utter contempt and justified hatred toward the Nazis, he never once showed it. He bestowed upon them grace and gifts and humored them with his charming presence and quick wit.

He was the life of their parties, many of which he threw for them.

And even to their deaths, they claimed that Herr Schindler would vouch for their “humane treatment” of the Jews once the the Soviets took over. This, he did not do.

Despite his personal weaknesses, Herr Schindler is a man worth honoring and remembering.

And for ourselves, let us not allow our shortcomings to get in the way of us doing good for others.

It very well may be that our compassion could “save the world entire.”

 

Hollywood Dachshunds

In our five-and-a-half years of marriage, Sarabeth and I have had four dachshunds living with us, so it goes without saying that we are dachshund lovers through and through. As such, it’s fun to find our favorite breed featured in some of our favorite movies. Here’s a few examples of dachshund cameos we’ve found. See if you can think of some more.

frost:nixon

Frost/Nixon – This pooch catches President Nixon’s attention right after his on-air confession that he batched up his presidency. You can see that even this dachshund is too revolted to be softed by such a creeper.

 

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The Truman Show – Yup. Every day on his walk through town Truman Burbank passes a dog walker walking – you guessed it – a couple-a dachshunds.

 

all dogs Heaven

All Dogs Go to Heaven – Remember this Don Bluth tear-jerker? Itchy Itchiford is a moody, yet loyal dachshund only looking out for his money-grubbing German Shepherd dog pal. Them Germans gotta stick togetha, ja?

 

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The Toy Story trilogy – Those guys at Pixar certainly have good taste in dogs, I must say! Remember Buster and Slinky?

 

bolt-disneyscreencaps.com-3031Bolt – It’s not a very long scene (pun), but there’s a dachshund featured in Disney’s Bolt nonetheless.

 

ugly dachshund

The Ugly Dachshund – You might not have heard of this movie before. Sarabeth introduced this old Disney classic to me recently. Basically it’s about a Great Dane trying to fit in with five mischievous, pampered, spoiled dachshunds. But of course, no one spoils their dachshunds like that in real life, right? 

Can you come up with any other dachshund cameos in films?

Visit my wife’s Dachshund Blog for pics and stories about our pups.

Your Favorite Movie Teacher

The school year will be nearing an end soon and each of us has had a teacher at some point in our academic careers that have made a lasting impression on us. Let’s take a look back at a few movies that pay homage to our favorite kinds of teachers. Which one would have been your favorite?

keating

Mr. Keating, Dead Poet’s Society

Eccentric and passionate, Mr. Keating would tell you to go after your dreams even if all the world were standing against you. He has an uncanny way of relating poetry, an otherwise dry medium to most of us, to our major milestones in life, big and small.

Best quote: “Language was developed for one endeavor, and that is … to woo women!”

 

mrHollandsOpus

Mr. Holland, Mr. Holland’s Opus

You wouldn’t want to have Mr. Holland as your teacher during the earlier part of his career, as it takes him many years to grow into his role and find his niche as a music appreciation teacher. But if, and only if, you actually showed any semblance of appreciation for music, he will go out of his way to expand your mind and your heart to appreciating all forms of music.

Best quote: Vice principal Wolters: “If I’m forced to choose between Mozart and reading and writing and long division, I choose long division.”

 Glen Holland: “Well, I guess you can cut the arts as much as you want, Gene. Sooner or later, these kids aren’t going to have anything to read or write about.”

(By the way, if I can recommend two movies for you to watch from this list, I couldn’t recommend Dead Poets and Mr. Holland enough.)

 

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Mr. “Schneebly”, School of Rock

Sure, he isn’t qualified to be a teacher, he’s not even qualified for the subbing job he’s posing for. But he sure knows his material – as long as it’s rock ‘n’ roll. But underneath his crazy, quirky exterior, there’s a real talent for making his passion contagious to even the most reluctant students. After all, in the end, isn’t that what makes the best teachers?

Best quote: “I pledge allegiance… to the band… of Mr. Schneebly… and will not fight him… for creative control… and will defer to him on all issues related to the musical direction of the band.”

 

dangerous minds

Ms. Johnson, Dangerous Minds

She’s tricked into teaching a more unruly class than she signed up for, but she rises up to the challenge in this teacher movie that’s not for the faint of heart.

Best quote: “There are no victims in this classroom.”

 

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Mr. Escalante, Stand and Deliver

His students are likely to drop out. Most success stories like this are because the teacher is teaching poetry, writing, music, you know something that sparks the imagination and brings enjoyment to life. However, how could someone do that with calculous, of all subjects?

Best quote: “You have math in your blood.”

 

freedomwriters

Mrs. Gruwell, Freedom Writers

Another teacher up against the odds with a classroom full of would-be drop-outs, Her subject is writing and she successfully teaches her students about tolerance and the danger and stupidity of gangs and organized crime, linking them to the most notorious gang in history – the Nazis.

Best quote: “I’m a teacher. It doesn’t matter what color I am.”

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