Noelle (2019)

noelle-disney-christmas-movie-2019-posterDirector: Marc Lawrence

Genre: Comedy, Family, Fantasy

Runtime: 100 Minutes

Main Cast: Anna Kendrick, Bill Hader, Shirley MacLaine, Chelah Horsdal, Andy Nez, Billy Eichner, Julie Hagerty, Maceo Smedley, Kingsley Ben-Adir

Plot: Nick and Noelle’s father has passed away, leaving Nick to take on his role of Santa Claus. Nick struggles with the pressure however, and after Noelle suggests he takes a weekend away to de-stress, Christmas itself is in jeopardy when he fails to return.

My Thoughts: Christmas has well and truly landed in my house, our tree is up, mince pies are readily available, and I’m consuming as many festive movies as I can! There’s no way I was going to skip Noelle. It combines my favourite time of year and one of my favourite actresses. And! It’s a Disney movie! Can I really ask for anything more? It draws a few comparisons with Elf (2003) for its ‘fish out of water’ vibe, and whilst it’s nowhere near as good, there’s still a lot to like.

What is there to like, you ask? How about the cutest outfits December can buy, an adorable baby reindeer called Snowcone, and Bill Hader leading a festive yoga class? If that’s not enough for you then bah, humbug. Billy Eichner is back, you might know him better as the voice behind Timon in the Lion King remake. I wish he was given a little more free rein, though. I was hoping he would have a hissy fit like he did in Parks & Rec but his character was much more restrained.

For me, a Christmas movie needs to do 3 things. It needs to make me laugh, which this did many a time, even if they were groan-laughs at terrible puns. It needs to make me feel festive, which it did, mainly in the form of outfit envy over Anna Kendrick’s elf getup. Finally, it needs to be so darn sweet it makes me cry and goddamnit did Noelle make me cry. The scenes at the children’s shelter made me sob like a baby.

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Best Bit: I couldn’t even list all of the puns but they are relentless and I love it. Also, the candy cane gavel joke never got old. I also kind of want one.

Worst Bit: This was almost my Best Bit instead because the CGI reindeer at the shopping village were SO TERRIBLE it was actually hilarious. The people in the background weren’t even looking at them in some scenes. Totally took me out of the movie but for funny reasons. Like, that CGI would have looked bad 15 years ago. That’s how much it stood out.

Fun Trivia: In the scene at the store where Noelle is in the freezer, you can see a Disney Duffy doll behind her, and just after that, a guest is seen purchasing a Shellie May doll.

My Rating: 3 and a half iPads which seemingly everyone in this movie wanted for Christmas. To be honest Santa, I wouldn’t say no if you’re offering…

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Frozen II (2019)

frozen-2-movie-poster-review-2019Director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee

Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy, Musical

Runtime: 103 Minutes

Main Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Martha Plimpton, Jason Ritter

Plot: Since the events of Frozen (2013), the city of Arendelle is peaceful. That is, until Elsa begins hearing a strange sound calling her to en enchanted forest surrounded by fog. Together with Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven, the group travel into the unknown.

My Thoughts: I didn’t actually want to write a review for Frozen II to begin with, because as much as I loved it, all I find myself talking about is the bits I didn’t like, and I knew anything I wrote would become a whinge fest. So I want to push out all these positives first. Yes, I was really looking forward to it. Yes, I had an absolute blast watching it! But I didn’t love it as much as the original, and without trying to sound like a hipster, I loved the original before the hype took off.

It largely comes down to two things. The songs were nowhere near as good as the first. I may have had 6 years to listen to the original soundtrack compared with a week for the sequel, but with the exception of Lost In The Woods none of the other songs stuck with me. Elsa gets two powerful numbers this time around but neither are Let It Go. Olaf gets another song of his own showcasing his hilarious naivety, but it’s not as catchy as In Summer. My other gripe is with Anna. She’s my favourite character, and I was really hoping she would get the chance to shine this time around, but her only purpose was to follow Elsa around and beg her to do everything together.

See – I told you I was going to sound negative! It’s still a brilliant movie, though. The plot is more complex and it’s a much more mature story, which is perfect because those little kids who fell in love with the original are teenagers now. My littlest brother sang Olaf’s song in a talent competition when he was 11 years old – and now he’s too cool to even watch Frozen II!

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Best Bit: As much as I loved Kristoff’s cheesy musical number, nothing at all beats Olaf explaining the plot of the original movie. In fact, I would quite happily watch an Olaf recap of any sequel movie, ever. Disney – can you get Josh Gad on the case of summing up The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi for us?

Worst Bit: I saw what you were trying to do, Disney. You know how much we love that snowman and you wanted to make us cry. But nothing will be sadder than “some people are worth melting for” and so my eyes stayed dryer than the desert that John Wick had to trek through.

Fun Trivia: Exactly like its predecessor Frozen (2013), the final line of the film is Elsa asking “Are you ready?”

My Rating: 3 and a half Oscars that Lost In The Woods deserves for Best Original Song in February!

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Going Off Topic (#21) Thanks, Disney

So the UK finally has a release date for Disney+. It’s 31st March 2020. Aca-scuse me? The END OF MARCH? The entire world will have watched The Mandalorian by that time. Thanks Disney, I’ll be resorting to finding other ways to watching your newest show and come April I’ll still probably end up signing up anyway. Sigh. People on Twitter are complaining that they have to watch MCU shows to fully understand the new movies whilst the UK is sat here wishing they actually could.

Moving swiftly on, welcome to the run-up to Christmas, AKA Adam Driver season! The Report comes out on 15th November, Marriage Story is released on 6th December, and of course Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker on 19th December. Us getting that one day early is the only reason I’m not raging about Disney+ to tell the truth.

You’ve probably noticed I’ve been a little more active around here this week, which is a habit I’m hoping to continue. It helps that there’s a ton of good movies on the horizon, awards season around the corner, and the end of year lists to make that are so much fun. Somewhere in between all of this is Christmas, too!

On Friday I posted my Blind Spot review for Chicago (2002) which you can read here if you missed it. It’s the first Blind Spot review I’ve posted since June, because it’s the first Blind Spot movie I’ve seen since then. The problem is, in December last year when I wrote the list, my July choice was American Beauty (1999), before the Kevin Spacey thing came to light. I don’t know what to do with it now. Do I still want to watch it? If I do, can I review it? Do I address the elephant in the room or ignore it? I try to stay light-hearted on the blog so it’s a tough one.

I’m more inclined to swap it out for a different movie for now and decide what to do later. I’ve tried to complete the Blind Spot Series challenge on 4 different occasions now and I mean to complete it this year. One movie I’ve had on my watch list for a while now is Black Swan (2010). Do you reckon that’s Blind Spot enough, or too recent?

Toy Story 4 (2019)

toy-story-4-movie-review-posterDirector: Josh Cooley

Genre: Family, Adventure, Comedy, Animation

Runtime: 100 Minutes

Main Cast: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale, Keegan Michael-Key, Madeleine McGraw, Christina Hendricks, Jordan Peele, Keanu Reeves, Ally Maki

Plot: Now Andy’s toys have settled in their new home with Bonnie, Woody is finding himself left behind in the closet when it comes to playtime. Ever faithful to his child, when Bonnie is upset about attending Kindergarten Orientation Day, he hitches a ride with her and witnesses the creation of Forky, a toy Bonnie makes out of trash. She’s besotted with him, and Woody makes it his goal to keep Forky safe and Bonnie happy.

My Thoughts: I was one of the first people to rage when Toy Story 4 was announced. Toy Story 3 gave us the perfect ending, and so another movie felt like a cash grab, which would have tainted a perfect trilogy. The hype and my general love of Disney/Pixar and Toy Story won me over in the last few weeks and I was dying to see #4, although I was still slightly hesitant and a little pessimistic about the new character, Forky, who the entire world seems to have gone nuts for.

Well – it took about 5 seconds of Forky’s screen time for me to fall in love. You just can’t help yourself, he’s too funny. I remember feeling the same way about the other sequels that introduced new toys, but Pixar are just too good at what they do. The simple thing of returning to the Toy Story world was just magical, and it was so nice to see the cinema full of other adults who have grown up with these movies. I honestly got goosebumps at the music!

Bo Peep is back – shamefully I don’t even remember her being absent from the last movie but oh my god is Bo Peep a badass! Now a lost toy, she leads a little ragtag bunch of other toys and it reminded me so much of Mad Max. She was a real highlight of the movie, much of which takes place in an antique store, home to the kind of creepy Gabby Gabby with a broken voicebox and her cronies who scared me more than the entirety of Brightburn (2019) which I watched the night before. This movie is a U?! Mind you – Sid’s toys in the original movie were just as scary.

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I haven’t mentioned the man of the moment yet – Keanu Reeves, who I couldn’t avoid lately even if I wanted to. Keanu voices Duke Caboom, a Canadian stunt driver who was ditched after his commercial oversold him. Guess what toy my little girl is going to be treated to come payday? My husband is going to kill me…

Best Bit: When Forky is brought home and doesn’t understand that he’s a toy, he keeps shouting ‘trash!’ and jumping into whatever wastebin he can find, leaving poor Woody up all night every night throwing him back onto the bed into Bonnie’s arms. It was just too funny, and oh Woody, I feel for you!

Worst Bit: Curse my STUPID Mum feelings – I cried 3 times during this movie. The ending got me, of course, I think you’d have to be a monster to not get a little emotional at the ending, but the occasions where a little girl was upset and crying? My heart actually hurt just watching it. I can’t deal with it!

Fun Trivia: Boo from Monsters Inc (2001) can be seen behind Bonnie at kindergarten orientation when she creates Forky.
I THOUGHT that was Boo! I didn’t spot the pizza planet truck though, good job I’m going to see the movie again this weekend.

My Rating: 5 out of 5 bins of trash…hide them from Forky!

toy-story-4-review-trash-can-forky

Aladdin (2019)

aladdin-movie-poster-review-2019Director: Guy Ritchie

Genre: Family, Adventure, Comedy

Runtime: 128 Minutes

Main Cast: Will Smith, Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad, Billy Magnussen, Numan Acar

Plot: “Street Rat” Aladdin is convinced by the Vizier Jafar to venture into the Cave of Wonders to seek out the magic lamp – with the power to make wishes come true.

My Thoughts: It feels like the internet has been complaining about Will Smith playing the Genie for years now – and now we can finally see him in the role! I honestly felt neutral about the casting choice…I mean, would anyone have been happy with any casting choice? All I ever saw were complaints, not suggestions. Anyway – I thought Will Smith did a brilliant job. The Genie’s story was slightly changed anyway, and I thought Will brought a ‘Fresh Prince’ vibe to the character that really worked. Colour me impressed!

In fact, with the exception of Jafar (he shouldn’t have been so young and good-looking!) the casting choices here were second to none. Mena Massoud is adorable as Aladdin, he has the boyish charms he was meant to have, and Naomi Scott takes the already wonderful character of Jasmine and gives her this sense of power that she never had before.

I feel like the general consensus is that people don’t want these remakes but honestly? Keep them coming, Disney! Will they ever replace the originals? Absolutely not – but if they’re bringing a new, younger audience to these beloved stories who don’t want to watch ‘dated’ animated movies, then I don’t see what’s wrong with that.

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Best Bit: Guy Ritchie as Director seemed like an odd choice but he’s injected a lot of humour into the movie that wasn’t there before, and it works so well. My favourite moment will always be the A Whole New World sequence, but Prince Ali introducing himself at the palace comes a very, very close second.

Worst Bit: It was a bit too long (how is this almost 40 minutes longer than the original, there isn’t that much new content!) and Jafar is the weak link here. He isn’t menacing, and I thought his unsightly appearance in the original added a lot to his character. Am I complaining because Jafar is hot in 2019? Yes, I guess I am.

Fun Trivia: During the scene when Aladdin asks Genie to “make him a prince”, Genie produces an actual prince in the background. The prince is dressed in colors of pink & lime green, the same colors in the title logo & a nod to Will Smith’s comedy The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990). So, the Genie created the Fresh Prince for Aladdin.

My Rating: 4 and a half jars of jam that Prince Ali can’t stop talking about – better get some bread!

aladdin-2019-jams-mena-massoud

Dumbo (2019)

dumbo-movie-review-2019-disneyDirector: Tim Burton

Genre: Adventure, Family, Fantasy

Runtime: 112 Minutes

Main Cast: Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Alan Arkin, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins, Roshan Seth, Sharon Rooney

Plot: Dumbo the elephant is born into the circus and although initially shunned for his extraordinarily large ears, he soon becomes the star of the show thanks to his ability to fly. The circus is bought out by a wealthy man with sinister plans, and all Dumbo wants is to find his Mother.

My Thoughts: I was never a huge fan of the original Dumbo as a child, it just didn’t appeal to me. However, Disney are running at full speed with their live-action remakes right now and as a Disney fan, there’s not going to be a single remake I don’t go and see within a week of its opening. I’m weak! I’ve mostly really enjoyed the remakes so far but I didn’t love Dumbo.

Now Dumbo himself is absolutely adorable. Why all these people in the movie mocked him I don’t know! The biggest problem is that the movie focuses too much on the human characters and not Dumbo himself. Colin Farrell is fun to watch as a struggling Father, and Danny DeVito is right at the top of his game, his character was one of the best parts of the whole movie. The kids are quite annoying though and Michael Keaton’s character was so terrible he was funny in the wrong sense. I thought at several moments that his hair was about to slide off his head!

It gets better as it goes on though, and I did enjoy it on the whole. Considering how I wasn’t fussed about the original I liked the remake more than I expected to, it just felt lacking. Where was the ol’ Disney humour? Also, this is directed by Tim Burton. Really? One of the reasons I worried about the remake was that he would make it too weird, but nothing about the movie cried Tim Burton to me.

dumbo-2019-flying-elephant-live-action-remake

Best Bit: There was a kid sat near me, no older than 5, who had already been told off by his parents for being a general nuisance. 10 minutes into the movie he shouted out “I’ve finished my sweets, I’ve finished my popcorn, and now I’ve got nothing else to do but watch this boring movie!” I damn near choked from laughter!
But seriously, there’s an adorable scene where Dumbo watches these dancing bubbles in the shape of elephants…and it’s so, so beautiful.

Worst Bit: I mentioned Michael Keaton already, didn’t I? I mean, he looked like he was having a grand old time but he was just so ridiculous. There’s also a moment where Colin Farrell seemingly travels on a horse through a busy city just as fast as Dumbo flies over the water…yeah, okay.

Fun Trivia: There was a swear jar on set. Whenever an actor cursed, they needed to put money in the jar. At the end of shooting, the total was given to charity. Allegedly, Colin Farrell was the worst offender and was responsible for the majority of the money.

My Rating: 3 out of 5 feathers…I don’t know whether it’s those or my hayfever kicking in but I can’t stop sneezing today!

dumbo-movie-review-feathers-flying

Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)

ralph-breaks-the-internet-movie-2018Director: Phil Johnston, Rich Moore

Genre: Family, Animation, Comedy

Runtime: 112 Minutes

Main Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P. Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O’Neill, Bill Hader

Plot: When Vanellope’s game is broken and at risk of being taken away for good, she and Ralph venture into the Internet in order to save it.

My Thoughts: I’m always cautious of sequels but I was so excited by the trailers for Ralph Breaks the Internet that I couldn’t help but get myself hyped up. There is so much to love about this movie, and the creativity behind bringing the Internet to life was brilliant. I’m one of the few that didn’t hate The Emoji Movie, but regardless, Disney have outdone themselves here. There are so many details it would be impossible to list them all, but highlights of mine include the Search Bar (including several autofill jokes), the eBay layout and the way some video game characters move.

Other things to love? The moment Ralph and Vanellope enter Oh My Disney. I wanted so much more of that. Of course we already knew the princesses would be making an appearance but it doesn’t get old. We even get Stormtroopers! And who else here is guilty of taking at least one ‘Which Dinsey princess are you?’ quiz?

I realise that the target audience here is children but where the movie fell flat for me was the moral message behind it all. Yes, there’s an interesting story here of how best friends move on, but I don’t think it was handled in the best way, and since when was Ralph quite so insecure?

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Best Bit: Vanellope gets her own musical number in this movie, and it could not be more glorious. Disney have been great in the last few years and poking fun at themselves, and that’s what makes ‘A Place Called Slaughter Race’ so amazing. Is it available on Spotify? I had to check, I couldn’t wait to find out the answer…IT IS. Apologies to any passenger I happen to have in my car over the next 2 weeks – this is going to be on repeat.

Worst Bit: The big ‘virus’ scene at the end just went on a bit too long, and you know what? It was so creepy! I honestly felt worried for the small kids in our screen, it really was the stuff of nightmares. Plus, we were told how the virus could be destroyed, but that’s not how it ended up happening? Nit-picking I know, but still…

Fun Trivia: When an Internet advertisement tells Ralph “Sassy housewives want to meet you,” the woman on the image is Aunt Cass from Big Hero 6 (2014).

My Rating: 4 out of 5 glass slippers, which Cinderella isn’t afraid to smash in order to shank you!

ralph-breaks-the-internet-cinderella-glass-slipper