Big Hero Six Review

BIG HERO 6Finally got to watch Disney’s newest animated movie Big Hero 6.

Not surprisingly, I loved it. And yes, that could be due to the fact that I’m biased toward Disney movies once again (I mean, who hasn’t been the last ten years?).

I think it’s great that Disney is expanding its universe into unfamiliar (to me, anyway) territories such as anime comics, which is what Big Hero 6 is based off of.

Who’d have known Anime could be so much fun and original? Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Disney took some major creative liberties to get it up on screen, but the fact that they’re reaching out and making unknown stories known, I think is a good thing.

Now about the movie itself. While it doesn’t linger long in your mind like Frozen did, and it’s not as emotionally gut-wrenching as Meet the RobinsonsBig Hero 6 delivers in all the ways a Disney movie should – with some new twists and extremely poignant scenes.

You’ll no doubt fall in love with Baymax and Hiro the moment they’re introduced, and the lesson about letting go is a really tough one to teach kids and teenagers, and I think Disney does a superb job of getting the point across and creative an avenue for parents to talk to their kids about death.

Lots of fun. Great visuals, tons of humor, and dark action make this an awesome film for your next family movie night. Keep ’em coming, Disney. Share your thoughts of Big Hero 6 below.

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2015 Movies That Will Likely Kick Butt

A friend of mine mentioned that we need to take advantage of $5 movie nights more often, so that got me wondering what all’s coming out next year. Here’s a list of 2015 movies I’m super excited about and will gladly spend $5 or more to see in theaters. These are listed in order of release. (Click on the titles to be taken to the trailer.)

heart of sea


In the Heart of the Sea

Ron Howard, one of the greatest directors of all time in my opinion, returns to what he’s best at doing in this story about a crew of whale hunters who set out to find the real Moby Dick.




Brad Bird, a Toy family favorite (Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, M:I – Ghost Protocol) returns to Disney and directs a movie that is sure to garner reinterst in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland.


Jurassic World

I have to be honest. I don’t care if this turns out to be as bad as the second Jurassic movie. The point is, it’s dinosaurs. And they’re chasing people. It comes out on Father’s Day and I told my wife that’s what I’d like to do that Sunday. She didn’t like that idea. I mean, I’ve been waiting 65 million years for this, amiright?

inside out

Inside Out

It will have been two years with no new Pixar movie. I’m going to need this. As, I’m sure, every other Pixar fan in the world will as well.



There have been some great Peter Pan movies in the past (Hook, Finding Neverland) and others that have fallen flat. But when I stumbled across this trailer, I’ve got to say, I can see this as being added to our growing Peter Pan collection.


The Cobbler

With the exception of Reign Over Me, I have not been a fan of Adam Sandler since I became a grown-up (pun semi-intended). But this one actually looks promising with a pretty heavy strong emotional pull. To be honest, as a writer, I was pretty frustrated that I didn’t come up with this idea myself.


The Walk

Good news!! Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, The Polar Express) is actually filming another live-action movie!! Hopefully he’s done with those ugly motion-sencored animated movies for good and sticks with what he’s actually good at.

Untitled Cold War Spy Thriller

They had me at Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.



I can get on board with this as long as they don’t try to make it all hip and modern.


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part II

Good news about having to wait until Part I comes on video next year is that my wife and I won’t have to wait too terribly long to see this one. We just have to find a babysitter by then.


The Good Dinosaur

What’s the only thing that can possibly be better than two Pixar movies in one year? A Pixar movie about dinosaurs, of course! (I’m gonna need a little boy in the family so I can have someone to share my dinosaur enthusiasm with.)


Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

I’m not a huge Star Wars fan, per say, but I don’t hate the franchise, either (okay, the acting is consistently bad throughout). But with Disney and J.J. Abrams pairing up, I am 100% excited about this movie. I can’t see how it can possibly be bad.


Mission: Impossible – 5

Hated the first two Mission:Impossible movies, but 3 and 4 rocked my world (this coming from a guy who doesn’t like action movies). Bring it.

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Movies to Drive Home the Holidays

I went and saw Dumb and Dumber To last week and, with the exception of adumb 2 couple of really awkward scenes, I really enjoyed it. So naturally I re-watched the original, being my all-time favorite comedy and found it just as funny as it was twenty years ago and Harry and Lloyd graced the world with their stupidity.

With Thanksgiving approaching, I made it a point to also watch another favorite, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. At about the part where Steve Martin’s rental car isn’t in the parking lot and he starts throwing a fit chasing after the bus, I realized, I’ve really been watching a lot of road-trip movies lately. 

And then it made me think how appropriate a road trip movie is this time of year since road trips promote closeness and conversation… Or highway pranks, burnt cars, being sideswiped by semi trucks, going a sixth of the way in the wrong direction… Well, many just a lot of laughs.

I know there’s plenty others out there, but these are the ones I find myself returning to on a regular basis. Share your favorite below!

The Best Road Trip Movies


Dumb and Dumber

Best line: “If I know Mary as well as I think I do, she’ll invite us right in for tea and strumpets.”


Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Best line: “Those aren’t pillows!” Read last year’s blog here.


Tommy Boy

Best line: “Did you eat a lot of paint chips as a kid?”


A Goofy Movie

Best line: “How many cups of sugar does it take to get to the moon?”

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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? 

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?


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!”



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.)



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.”



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.”



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.”

The Thrilling Three

You’re all familiar with Disney’s phenomenal five (Mermaid, Beauty, Aladdin, Lion, and Frozen). But let’s look at the other end of the genre spectrum – suspense and thrillers.

There are three movies that I think are the masters of suspense, and they conveniently fall into three of the seven narrative conflicts (man vs. man, man vs. God, man vs. nature, man vs. science, man vs. technology, man vs. self, man vs. supernatural).

Let’s take a look at my top three picks.


Jurassic Park  (m v. s) –  You can watch almost any of Spielberg’s movies and rightly claim that it’s his best. Jurassic Park is certainly one such movie. He builds suspense in the first half of the movie by giving the allusion that something is about to go terribly wrong in the amusement park. And in the second half, when the electricity goes out, that anxiety and those nerve pay off. I still consider Jurassic Park to be amongst one of the greatest thrillers of all time. (By the way, who’s pumped about JPIV??)



Speed  (m v. m) – For man v. man, this was a toss up between Speed and River Wild. You’d think that River Wild would have come out on top, considering how badly Dennis Hopper butchers his character (and how naturally creepy Kevin Bacon is), but it’s just a little easier to believe in a highjacked bus than a family vacation gone wrong where the bad guys could very well just walk along the river to their freedom.


Twister (m v. n) – Am I really outdated for still liking this movie? I’ve seen plenty of disaster films from Dante’s Peak to 2012. But nothing has yet to come close to Helen Hunt’s desperation to get the Dorothy to fly and warn neighbors of the impending doom. Plus, the soundtrack is awesome to listen to when you’re driving through a wild storm in the summer.

(A fun fact: Those three movies are all related. Twister was made by the producer of Jurassic Park and the director of Speed.)

I’ve yet to come up with the ultimate movies for man v. God, man v. supernatural, man v. society, man v. technology, and man v. self (can I nominate my book The Man in the Box for this last one?).

Do you agree with my three picks? Do you have any suggestions for the other narrative conflicts (book or movie)? If so, list them below!

Review: Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks

saving-mr-banks-570A couple of weeks ago I posted my top 10 tear-jerkers. Well, make that 11.

Sarabeth and I watched Saving Mr. Banks this last weekend. Actually we bought it without ever having seen it (such is the amount of faith I put in Disney movies). It was worth every penny.

However, I feel a qualifier must be made. There are two types of people who will not like this movie at all.

1) Kids

2) Anyone who doesn’t care about Disney stuff

This movie, though it’s a Walt Disney production, will likely bore kids to tears, and if you’re more of a Dreamworks/Fast and Furious kind of person then I’d steer clear of this movie.

It was so refreshing to finally see old Walt himself (not “Mr. Disney”, mind you) portrayed on screen (and by none other than the great Tom Hanks).

I read a few comments from people on the Internet back when this movie was being marketed and many people complained that if they were going to make a movie about Walt Disney, they need to make it about his whole life.

Years ago I read Neal Gabler’s titanic biography on Walt Disney and I told my wife before I ever knew about Saving Mr. Banks that if they were going to make a movie about Walt Disney it’d absolutely have to be about the chapter of his life with Mrs. P.L. Travers, the author of Mary Poppins.

The battle for him to get the rights to make the film was almost epic, and it took him 20 years to seduce her to get her to sign over the rights.

Now, let me also make clear, I do not particularly enjoy the movie Mary Poppins. I think many of the sequences are too drawn out, and most of the scenes are just many long tangents from the bigger picture. I do own many of the songs, as they are exceptional. But as far as Julie Andrews musicals go, I far prefer The Sound of Music a hundred times over Mary Poppins. 

But I enjoy the redemptive ending of Poppins. And Saving Mr. Banks is really a movie about how the writers came up with that ending.

Director John Lee Hancock (The Rookie, The Blindside) is known for being very factual in his movies, and only taking liberations when it will serve a bigger purpose. He does just that in Mr. Banks, and I look forward to what else he’s got up his sleeve for the future.

So, this weekend, after a hard week of work, watch Frozen (again) with the kids (you know you love it), then watch Saving Mr. Banks when the kids are in bed and have that box of tissues ready.


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