Category Archives: Animation

REVIEW: “THE BAD GUYS” (2022) Dreamworks/Universal

DreamWorks Animation is back with “THE BAD GUYS” movie, based on the beloved children’s book by Aaron Blabey. The film, directed by Pierre Perifel, delivers our favourite book characters  in animation wonderment as they are meticulously animated and modeled. Vibrant visuals and stylistic choice makes this a true feast for your eyes. And doing voice-over justice here are: Sam Rockwell as Mr. Wolf, Marc Maron as  Mr. Snake, Craig Robinson as Mr. Shark, Anthony Ramos as Mr. PiranhaAwkwafina as Ms. Tarantula and lastly, the lovely Zazie Beetz as Gov. Diane Foxington aka The Crimson Paw.

(from left) Wolf (Sam Rockwell), Piranha (Anthony Ramos), Snake (Marc Maron), Tarantula (Awkwafina) and Shark (Craig Robinson) in DreamWorks Animation’s The Bad Guys, directed by Pierre Perifel.

It’s a delightful tale of a crazy gang made up of have been a team of notorious animal criminals that have been together for years, creating havoc around town and feared by all. But when they try to go straight after getting caught at one of their most notorious heists ever attempted where Professor Rupert Marmalade (Richard Ayoade), wins the Dolphin Award for Good Person of the Year, and the Bad Guys set out to steal the trophy. With Police Chief Misty Luggins (Alex Borstein) hot on their heels for a prize arrest, all that can go wrong does and they are caught red-handed. Rupert and Governor Foxington get the gang to undergo a Good Guys transformation to avoid jail time. But trying to fool people into thinking they are now model citizens proves much harder than it seems. That, along with realizing there is a whole new Bad Guy in town, takes us on a whirlwind of a ride.

Now Looney Tunes this is not, as if you’ve ever really sat down and watched those as adults, they have way different themes to you as they did when you watched them as a kid. This film doesn’t have the quick-barbed gags of those toon days, but it does have some decent plot twists that aren’t to hard for the kids to follow, or the adults for that matter. The villains here have hearts of gold, along with being a lot of fun. As an adult you might think the film suffers from a bit of a generic plot, which does knock the film down a few points – but if you have kids, this comes with a high recommendation, and they won’t even notice.  

The animation is stylistic and beautifully done, with maybe only a few quips on editing to speak of, it’s just a good fun time. As well, kids and adults alike will enjoy this one, a true film for the whole family!

Coming to theaters Friday, April 22, 2022 from DreamWorks Animation and Universal – run, don’t walk to get your whole family tickets for this one.

Grade: B

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Cast and Crew review screening: Tuesday, April 12, 2022 ~ courtesy of Universal/DreamWorks Animation

DREAMWORKS ANIMATION/UNIVERSAL “THE BAD GUYS” will be out in theaters Friday, April 22, 2022

REVIEW: “TURNING RED” (2022) Pixar/Disney+

Admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve been a 13 year old girl, yet here I am reliving it and loving almost every moment of Domee Shi’s new venture which captures that adolescence feeling once again in Pixar’s “TURNING RED”. But this little coming of age story does so much more than just take you back to a place in time of your life, as it reaches across not just cultural boundaries not usually seen, but just what being a young girl that is different is all about, and best of all – letting us all know, it’s okay to be different.

With our throwback setting here being Toronto, Canada in 2002, 13-year-old Meilin Lee (voiced by Rosalie Chiang) is a girl on a mission. She is a straight-A student with her group of loyal ride-or-die best friends Miriam (Ava Morse), Priya (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan), and Abby (Hyein Park), by her side, and all they dream of is going to see the hottest boy band on the planet ‘4*Town’ (Jordan Fisher, Finneas O’Connell, Topher Ngo, Grayson Villanueva, and Josh Levi). A kind of apt name considering there are five of them, but isn’t that part of the fun of loving a boy band? Things like these are not valid to adults, but to 13 year old’s ‘in love’ they make perfect sense. On the other side of her life, the family part, there is a bit of a problem though as she feels held back by her overprotective mother, Ming (Sandra Oh). Mei Mei loves her mom, and while they may seem to enjoy doing the same things, noted in the many photos they take together, along with the job they do of keeping the family temple clean, and most of all, they enjoy dad/husband Jin (Orion Lee) cooking, or should we say eating his cooking! But they are worlds apart from having the same mindset, though only one of them is aware of this.

MOTHER, PLEASE! — Disney and Pixar’s all-new original feature film “Turning Red” will debut exclusively on Disney+ © 2022 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Taking all this into mind, imagine how Mei feels when she discovers she transforms into a giant red panda when she can’t contain her emotions and then finds out that not only her mom has had this happen to her, but her aunties and grandma (Wai Ching Ho), as well. The trick is to control it, but that isn’t as easy as it seems. From here, we are taken on a fun little journey of just what the girls all do to get themselves to see their musical loves. In between the up and down journey is where there are a few slip ups here and there with some adult panda transformation material, that to reveal would give away all the spoiler points of the story. But otherwise the catchy soundtrack that you will be singing for awhile after it ends, will also bring back some fun memories of the early 2000’s as the music is almost a character in and of itself.

WE’VE GOT YOUR (FLUFFY) BACK © 2022 Disney/Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

There are moments where the discussions that take place that in truth, are refreshing to see and hear as things like this should be done and made more acceptable, instead of girls always having to feel shame at things like starting menstruation and what it all entails. Along with some fun comedic moments, ‘Turning Red’ all in all, is an incredibly cute coming of age story. In a world where girls aren’t afraid to be smart or different any more, along with the cultural influences and point of view that we don’t usually get to see on screen, this is one not to miss on Disney Plus for all ages.

Grade: B-

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Review Screening: Courtesy of Disney

TURNING RED ARRIVES ON MARCH 11, 2022 ON DISNEY+.

REVIEW: “THE BOSS BABY: FAMILY BUSINESS” (2021) DreamWorks

The Baby’s are back and bossing us around again this time with director Tom McGrath’s take in “THE BOSS BABY: FAMILY BUSINESS”.

There are few things more certain in this world than sequels, no matter how old the character gets and The latest Boss Baby adventure is no exception to this rule. And get this, the Boss Baby isn’t a baby anymore though not to worry, what would the story be if he didn’t become a baby again, but it’s all in good fun.

Family Business has the Templeton brothers, Tim (James Marsden/Jimmy Kimmel) and his former Boss Baby little bro Ted (Alec Baldwin), as adults with Tim now married to Carol (Eva Longoria). Tim is now a stay-at-home dad raising his two daughters, Tabitha (Ariana Greenblatt), and baby daughter Tina (Amy Sedaris) who, based on the ending of the last one, is a ‘Baby Boss’ as well. Ted, to no ones surprise, is a hedge fund CEO. The two have drifted apart from each other and rarely even speak. But infant Tina decides she must reunite the brothers and turn them back into their younger selves to infiltrate Tabitha’s school which is being ran by Dr. Edwin Armstrong (Jeff Goldblum), who is definitely up to no good. The only way to do this ‘Benjamin Button’ transformation back into babies is quite fun – as it’s all done through a baby formula that only lasts for just 48 ‘teensy weensie’ hours. Tim takes it upon himself to come along and the two brothers wrestle for the formula, getting younger and younger.

The Boss Baby has a lot going on within it. There is the witty banter and sibling relationship issues between the two brothers which can be very fun at times especially when they are back to being their younger selves; There is Precious a pretty pony, a classmate identified only as “Creepy Girl”; there are baby ninjas, and lastly, a tiny toy Wizard named Wizzie (James McGrath), that comes to life. All this goes on while the school putting on a pageant in which Tabitha is terrified of doing a solo performance and Dr. Armstrong is plotting his world-parent takeover. But this movie isn’t just about brothers Ted and Tim. It is also about Tina and Tabitha, and the pressures of school and finding a balance for family, school and life, and not wanting the feeling of disappointing anyone, including ourselves or family.

A bit long in runtime at an hour and 47 minutes with young kids who might get antsy can happen. While it also might just tick off the boxes when it comes to actual points of The Boss Baby itself, it’s truly sweet moments with the young daughters and brothers bonding that make it worth the watch for families.

C+

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Review Screening: Monday, June 28, 2021 ~ Courtesy of DreamWorks Animation & Universal Pictures

“THE BOSS BABY: FAMILY BUSINESS” IS IN THEATERS AND STREAMING ON PEACOCK AS OF FRIDAY, JULY 2, 2021

REVIEW: “WOLFWALKERS” (2020) APPLE FILMS/GKIDS

With everyone loving on this new animated film from two-time Academy Award nominated Tomm Moore and his co-director Ross Stewart, my excitement and expectations were high on getting this screener and giving it a watch. Then my internet went out and has been spotty ever since so it took me a moment and after watching I felt as though the title said it all. Not that it’s bad, it’s not bad at all and it could be all about taste as this type of animation is so very different than what we are used too, what could be called ‘very mature animation’ and it took me a moment to adjust as it’s doesn’t really feel like a children’s movie.

Story line sum up is in 1650, a hunter named Bill Goodfellowe (Sean Bean) and his daughter Robyn (Honor Kneafsey) have to move from England to this small Irish town as he has been hired to hunt/kill the wolves who are threatening the small village. Bill goes out each day to do his job while he makes Honor stay in the village so she is safe from them. However she sees herself as a wolfhunter as well and wants to help her father kill the wolves, so she sneaks out of the town and happens to come across a young girl wolfwalker named Mebh (Eva Whittaker), who can transform into a wolf when she is asleep. They start a bond as friends that gets severely tested as the Lord Protector (Simon McBurney) is trying to get rid of all wolves to protect his town, so Robyn has to convince his father that Wolfwalkers are real and must do what she can to save her friend and the wolves.

While the backgrounds are so beautifully done and so is the music, the plot lacks in spots and in places where the characters are supposed to be charming, they came off as annoying. That along with a lot of it dragging in the middle and being somewhat cliche in lots of places, left it still with a somewhat satisfying ending leaving open many possibilities in which to possibly explore in a follow up.

So, the good parts you ask? The villain Lord Protector was done well not only in character but in design in keeping him feeling mysterious, intimidating and keeping the audience engaged with scenes he was in. With Robin’s dad was being the most likeable character, little Robin’s friendship with Mebh has good heart and sweet humour and it’s themes of loyalty, trust, and family truly resonate.

All in all though, after the amazing opening pace the story lacks for a good portion of the movie, losing the magic it held at the beginning in favour of just being characters chasing after each other.

Grade: C+

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Review screening: Courtesy of 42 West

“WOLFWALKERS” NOW PLAYING IN THEATERS/DRIVE-INS WHERE AVAILBLE  ~ COMING TO APPLE TV+

 

REVIEW: “THE CROODS: A NEW AGE (2020) Universal Pictures

The Croods: A New Age is the sequel to 2013’s The Croods which centered on a family of Neanderthals trying to survive in a cold and barren world. This time around the film focuses on his now teenage daughter Eep’s (Emma Stone) romance with Guy (Ryan Reynolds), and her dad Grug’s (Nicolas Cage) worrying thoughts that he might lose her as the two look to starting their own clan.

Luckily for those that can’t remember the ending of the previous film (ahem..me!), The Croods: A New Age picks up pretty much exactly where the first film ended and this fun prehistoric family, which also includes Catherine Keener reprising her role as Ugga, Gran (Cloris Leachman) and younger brother Thunk (Clark Duke) who are going all out in fending off insane creatures and attempting to survive one catastrophe after another.

Everything changes when they break down a wall and stumble upon a valley paradise that has food aplenty. Much to everyone’s surprise this utopia valley is occupied by another family – the Betterman’s – Phil (Peter Dinklage), Hope (Leslie Mann) and Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran), who live in a simply amazing and vastly huge treehouse complete with toilets an elevator and a ‘picture screen’. As it turns out, the Betterman’s knew Guy’s family as they all grew up together and they welcome him home with open arms. All the while having a eye out for him getting into a relationship with Dawn and not even attempting to acknowledge the possibility of him and Eep. This is all done with a bit of arrogance as they are keeping the rest of the family at arm’s length and giving subtle hints with a ‘moving basket’ of food for the road while wanting Guy to stay back with them and all their creature comforts. This immediately creates a rift of which ensues some cute fun moments with a cast of characters that include punch monkeys and the inevitable ‘monster.’ But the biggest question posed for Guy is a toss up between what he ‘should do’ or what ‘he wants to do’ as this decision will affect them all.

While the clan faces all kinds of perilous moments, most of them are over-the-top and slapstick fun as things like fending off wild beasts is just another day in this family’s life. The movie is sure to be a nonstop delight for kids as there isn’t the usual frenetic pacing and pop culture references that go over most kids (as well as some adults) heads. It’s full of bright, colorful visuals with a storyline where there are clear themes of courage, teamwork, and the importance of being yourself. There are also some great “girl power” moments when Eep and the other female characters become the Thunder Girls and have to rescue the captive guys.

All in all, this is a cute, decent holiday watch that while not be for all the adults in the room – it is for the kids and that’s how it really should be.

Grade: B+

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Review screening: Courtesy of Universal Pictures

“THE CROODS: A NEW AGE” NOW PLAYING ONLY IN THEATERS/DRIVE-INS WHERE AVAILBLE STARTING WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2020 ~ COMING TO VOD FOR CHRISTMAS

INSTA-REVIEW: “TOY STORY 4” (2019) Disney

Over the weekend I got to see this fourth incarnation in the Toy Story series. While a fun little jaunt for all our memories..again, I had trouble remembering where the last one left off and this one picks up..oh wait..that’s because the last one ended..with an ending that seemed so final. Ahh well..seems its wasn’t and the gang is all back with a few new friends on a search to get back ‘Forky’ who has been lost by Woody.

Along the way he meets back up with Bo Peep & these crazy scary ventriloquist dummies that honestly got to me..I thought for a moment we had switched to the ‘IT’ movie!! But alas, as with all kids movies there is a message.. that we all grow up and move on and so do our toys.
This movie is perfect for both kids and adults alike as all will find enjoyment in it and no little innuendos that fly over kids heads.

As for favourite characters..Woody is always a safe bet. Buzz didnt have as much to do this time around and our new favourite, Duke Caboom gives for a few good laughs.

Grade: B
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REVIEW: “THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2” (2019) Universal/Illumination

“THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2” is another fun filled little romp for the kids.  With a few new additions to the cast, most notably Harrison Ford as farm dog Rooster.  But the biggest of all additions, a baby is added to the family much to the disgruntlement of our lead dog Max (Patton Oswalt).  This sequel actually divides our team into three smaller stories with a somewhat vague theme tying it all together.  But it works as you never feel you lost track of what is happening in any of them.

The first plotline involves Max’s owner Katie (Ellie Kemperer) getting married and having a little boy named Liam. Max, whose dislike of children is made very clear, falls in love at first sight and becomes very protective over Liam, to the point of scratching himself out of the anxiety he feels to the point of getting a dog cone.  The relationship that forms here is fun and it’s a dog and a baby – who can dislike that?

Max, Duke and the family end up going out to the country where they meet farm dog Rooster and to say in the least, Rooster is not impressed with ‘city-dog’ Max,  nor his cowardice at the farm animals.  And while the outcome might be predictable, it’s charming and sweet to watch as Rooster helps encourage Max to face his fears and have more confidence.

While the family is at the farm our second subplot comes into play.  It’s about my favourite little pet, Gidget (Jenny Slate) as she trying to retrieve a bumblebee toy Max gave her to guard while he is away. The problem is the toy is stuck in the home of  the crazy cat lady downstairs who literally fits the persona to a tee,  as she literally has dozens of cats.  She even talks the incredible Chloe (my other favorite pet), into giving her lessons on how to be a cat. This has some really fun comedic slapstick that made for some good laughs from the entire audience.

Our final plot centers around Snowball, the Kevin Hart voiced bunny who is convinced he is actually a super-bunny because of the way his owner plays with him. He meets a new doggie named Daisy (Tiffany Haddish). Daisy is upset because she saw a baby tiger get taken by a bad man at the circus. Snowball and the team of pets must save the tiger and restore order to the city.

The characters throughout Pet’s are adorable and there are enough laughs and heart to keep the interest level during the film. The  vocal performances are all good and the message on overcoming fears is really sweet.  The ending credits are also a must-see!!  I have no doubt The Secret Life of Pets 2 will make a boat-load of money but for once it is deserved.

‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’ is fun, fast moving and best of all, kids and adults will both be entertained. P.S.  Cats RULE!! 🙂

Grade: B

@pegsatthemovoes

 

Media Review Screening: Tuesday, June 4, 2019 ~ Courtesy of Universal/Illumination

‘THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2’ IS IN THEATERS WORLDWIDE FRIDAY, JUNE 7, 2019

 

REVIEW: “DARK PHOENIX” (2019) 20th Century Fox

As a die-hard X-Men Cartoon fan, the movies have definitely made it harder to keep up with my beloved teen-time cartoon.  Walking into “Dark Phoenix”  realizing with shame, I had no idea where the last film actually left off.   ‘Logan’ while being the last one in theaters,  is actually a spin-off of the Wolverine character.  So which one was it really as again the franchise has jumped around in its own history, undertaken a few time travel stories and even recast many characters while keeping others the same. This makes it a little hard to pin down which films follow which, and which are set in which timeline. Alas, “X-Men Apocalypse” is the last one, but in all honesty, it’s tough to remember exactly what happened, where it left off and what time-line frame it was in though a quick bit of research reminded me it was a 1983 timeline.  Moving on…

Dark Phoenix is set mostly in and around 1992, though we do go backwards in time to where the movie actually starts us off  with a young Jean Grey getting in a car crash with her two parents. After the rescue, we find out that her powers were responsible and she feels guilty for killing her mother but with her memory unclear and Prof. Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) to the rescue,  Jean comes to his children’s home for mutant kids.  From here we dramatically switch over to an Apollo spacecraft being launched and in profound trouble in space with the President enlisting the help of Xavier, Beast/Hank Mc Coy (Nicholas Hoult), Raven/Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Scott Summer/Cylops (Tye Sheridan), Storm (Alexandra Shipp), Peter/Quicksilver (Evan Peters), and Kurt/Nighcrawler (Kodi Smit–McPhee) are all aboard when they realize that the ship with the astronauts is being spun by a cosmic force, and lest we forget that this film storyline is all about Jean Grey aka Phoenix, she steps in to save the last of the crew while being enveloped completely by this cosmic force.

It doesn’t take long for this to start affecting Jean’s life and the life of everyone around her.  And while I won’t say who lives and who doesn’t, there are a few major deaths in this final story as most would expect there to be.  Once Jean realizes with this new found cosmic powers that make her the more powerful than ever, she finds her dad,  John Grey (Scott Shepard) is alive and that Charles has lied to her about her both of her parents being dead. What Jean doesn’t realize yet is that Charles lied because her father didn’t want her anymore. Getting really edgy at this point and as we see that her dad is still alive through her mind-reading flashbacks with Charles, she escapes the mansion via an emotional roller-coaster to find him.  With no where to go, she ends up on Erik/Magneto’s (Michael Fassbender) private island given to him by the US government, but soon wears out her welcome there also when he finds out what she did when leaving the mansion and this sends Magneto on a rage after her also.

You might think this telling is off-kilter in so many ways,, but this is truly how the film is moving along.  Everything is jumping time-lines and places again, though not so simply followed as in previous films.  We finally get to the point where we realize what Jean’s powers are really meant for when we meet aliens Vuk (Jessica Chastain) and Jones (Ato Essandoh).  They need her to restart their planet and their people with said power.

This films cast is stacked high with star profile, but there is also moments when you realize they have failed somewhat to do the hard work of character development that the cartoon and the comics both accomplished.  It had been around a long time before the Dark Phoenix saga of Jean Grey had even begun and we felt we knew her character well enough to care.  In the cartoon/comics this story kicked off even more adventures for the X-Men, giving the characters time to come to terms with Jean Grey’s transformation and the damage inflicted.  With this film, we barely know Turner’s version as this is only her second showing, and yet, a whole film is devoted here.

But this new movie isn’t the beginning of another chapter, it’s a definitive end.  Amid the  expected ending of an all in/all out CGI battle between the X-Men and aliens not being up to par with what we have come to expect with such films,  the aliens that aren’t done in a way to make them exciting in the least, though they do shape-shift into humans, we can say the same about the mutants.  It’s an ending that could have led into something so much more spectacular had Fox not been sold to Disney and we now know a hard reboot is happening and everything is going to change. The rest of Dark Phoenix‘s plot is very much taking liberties with the original saga in order to contain and connect the narrative, for better or worse. And for better or worse we can only wait and see.

Grade: C

@pegsatthemovies

 

Media Review Screening: Monday, June 3, 2019 ~ Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

‘DARK PHOENIX’ OPENS IN THEATERS WORLD-WIDE – FRIDAY, JUNE 7, 2019

INSTA-REVIEW: “UGLY DOLLS” (2019) STX Entertainment

“Ugly Dolls” brings a wonderful adaptation of the kids books to the big screen. It’s sweet story with a wonderful message behind it all, that is actually for kids!! No double entendre here nor is it filled with references like a few other kids movies, that go right over their heads..nope..this one is truly for the kids and its lovely.

Also different and very enjoyable, is the voice cast is made up almost entirely of music superstars. Kelly Clarkson voices our plucky pink doll heroine Moxy with Janelle Monáe coming in as Mandy, Moxy’s ally.  Nick Jonas and Blake Shelton offer up their voices as rivals Lou and Ox, the leaders of their respective town’s of Perfection and Uglyville. And most surprising, is a fun debut by Pitbull as Ugly Dog who is one slick rapper!! 😁

The storyline of Moxy wanting to break out of Uglyville and find a child who will love her for all her imperfections could be any one of us charting our way thru life. Being held back at all points by people telling you only the perfect ‘dolls’ can pass thru life and find true happiness, only to learn to embrace herself and fearlessly show others how to love themselves and flaws can be special and there is truly someone out there to love us all.. it’s a sweet, strong message that all children should be taught.

The music/songs are wonderful and catchy tunes you will find yourself singing long after the movie is over. My message to you is to take your kids and yourself to see this one..you will be happy you did.

Grade: B
@pegsatthemovies

Media Premiere Review Screening: Saturday, April 27, 2019 ~ Courtesy of STX Entertainment (post carnival event was absolutely amazing with giant slide, fun house, face painting and so much more for the kids!)

“UGLY DOLLS” IS IN THEATERS NATIONWIDE FRIDAY, MAY 3, 2019

Side note: Running into Kelly Clarkson & Gwen Stefani on the side street while walking up as they were having a nice chat – was a good highlight! 🙂

INSTA-REVIEW: “HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD” (2019) Universal

Four and a half years since we last saw our dragons, they are back in #HowToTrainYourDragon : The Hidden World.  In this one we have little older and wiser Hiccup (JayBaruchel)and he is still leading the effort to save dragons with Astrid AmericaFerrera. Yet not everything is golden as new villain Grimmel the Grisley FMurrayAbraham is out to get them. In between we have a little love affair brewing between #Toothless and new white-scaled dragon #LightFury .

While all of it is fun and it’s a beautifully done film and the Dragons franchise are some of the best animated films ever – it does come up a bit short at achieving the highs of its predecessors.

There is a little lack of the emotional punch in comparison to the first two. And while it might not shine as bright as the two previous works, the few shortcomings the story line has, they don’t overshadow the charm the characters and story bring you.

Grade: B-

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Media Review Screening: Tuesday, February 19, 2019 ~ Courtesy of Universal Pictures