Pixar is bringing back the characters we all love and know in the ultimate “Flashback Friday” to the college days of Mike, Sulley, and a whole new crew. Travel back in time to the moment where Mike and Sulley meet in MONSTERS UNIVERSITY, and are instant rivals from the start. Their rivalry gets them in the least scary fraternity, the Oozma Kappas, abbreviated “OK”. Can Mike and Sulley overcome their differences and lead their team to victory in the famed Scare Games?
I am a huge fan of Pixar and Disney, and I especially love not only the characters from MONSTERS, INC., but the very concept itself. Who would have ever thought that a movie about children’s nightmares would ever be so popular? The storyline itself is absurd, laughable even, and that’s the great thing about Pixar – they do the impossible and create an entire, wonderful universe centered on a fresh, out-of-this-world idea. That’s why I looked forward to this movie. In the middle, I realized that Pixar’s goal for this movie shifted just a bit. Although the core idea is no longer new, MONSTERS U is meant to bring back feelings of nostalgia. We can connect to the well-established characters on an even deeper level.
There are many times in the movie when I get so sucked in that I nearly stand up and cheer loudly. I rooted for Mike and Sulley from the bottom of my heart. The visuals are top-notch – I could see all the textures of the Sulley’s fur to Mike’s hat as clear as day. I absolutely loved the score, which went perfectly with the movie – either upbeat and classy, or shiver-inducing and chilling when needed. Voice-overs by Billy Crystal and John Goodman are, of course, hilarious and heartfelt. And you can’t forget the all-important scare-factor, but if kids enjoyed MONSTERS, INC., MU should not be too frightening for them.
MONSTERS UNIVERSITY is a clear step-up from Pixar’s last movie BRAVE. I raise my glass to you, Pixar, for raising the bar and bringing back the standards of TOY STORY, WALL-E, FINDING NEMO, etc. My paradox is clear: If Pixar made more movies each year, my life would be complete, but their standards would probably drop. For now, the anticipation of one excellent movie a year is enough. MU is a movie for the entire family to enjoy! Ages 5+
First Published @kidspickflicks
Earthy and ethereal at the same time, this feel-good Disney summer movie directed by Peter Hedges will sweep you off your feet. You may not have heard much about this film, but it is certainly a true gem that I didn’t expect.
Cindy and Jim Green (Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton), a married couple, bury a box of their greatest wishes for their dream child, expecting to move on after finding Cindy cannot conceive. However, when a young quirky boy Timothy Green (CJ Adams) magically sprouts from the garden, Cindy and Jim along with the rest of their small town of Stanleyville realize that the unexpected is a miracle that must be cherished.
This “dramedy” gracefully switches gears between two emotions, which had me laughing heartily one moment and sniffling in the next. I couldn’t help but fall in love with the family and root for the Greens to succeed through the joys and sorrows of life.
Timothy Green is not just a force of nature, but he brings a breeze of tender feeling that parents can relate to. Cindy and Jim aren’t perfect parents, but they shine light on a different perspective of parenthood: they don’t want their child to be perfect, but they want his childhood to be perfect.
As for the leading cast, Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton’s on-screen chemistry is believable as the blundering, loving, and humorous Green couple. CJ Adams (Timothy Green) has a special twinkle in his eyes that is innocent, silly, and touching, capturing my heart from the start.
The fantastic supporting cast presents the town’s citizens as real, down-to-earth people who each have their own faults – a reality rarely reflected in a magical tale.
One especially stood out to me – newcomer Odeya Rush plays Timothy’s love interest, Joni Jerome, bringing a certain vibrancy and radiance to her character. Their friendship is a refreshing break from Hollywood’s shallow puppy-love romances.
Along with the splendid performances, I was also enchanted by the enthralling cinematography which will move audiences with marvelous shots of nature that showcase the visual analysis of the plot. The picturesque natural color palette astounded me as well.
This quiet little movie is directed towards parents, although the whole family can enjoy it together. The movie addresses many heartwarming themes, such as loyalty, honesty, and accepting others for who they are. Timothy brings out the best in others, and hopefully this movie will do the same. Younger viewers may not relate to the story, but teens, mom, and dad can walk out of the theater inspired to live a life worth living.
First Published @ www.kidspickflicks
Set in the Scottish kingdom of DunBroch, Merida is a headstrong princess who loves archery living with her triplet devilish brothers, her father, King Fergus and her mother, Queen Elinor. In Merida’s opinion, she and her mother couldn’t have been more unlike each other – especially when Elinor invites three clan leaders to present their first-borns to compete for Merida’s hand. This leads to a big falling out and Merida heads into the forest. She meets a woodcutter witch – your typical Disney hag complete with the warts and broomstick – who offers to change her mom in order to change her fate about the marriage.
The literal “change” casts a spell on her mother and threatens Merida’s family along with the entire kingdom. Merida sets about a journey filled with magic, danger, and love to undo her selfish actions.
I would go as far as to say that this has been Pixar’s darkest movie yet. It’s a fresh heart-warming tale about mother-and-daughter bonding with comic relief provided by the mischievous triplets – however, I regretted bringing my 5-year-old cousin with me to the theaters. Her eyes were squeezed shut whenever the vicious bear Mor’du appeared on screen. Pixar did a fantastic job of building up anticipation in every scene – I kept expecting some unforeseen danger to pop up even in the light-hearted scenes. At some points, the entire spell-changing fate kerfuffle was quite disturbing – the idea that someone as dignified as Queen Elinor could turn into a wild bear may be unsettling for younger viewers.
Even so, my other 7-year-old cousin cried and sniffed loudly during one of the poignant mother and daughter moments. Brave offers many important life-lessons about relationships and responsibility, to have the courage to face one’s mistakes. Merida breaks the tradition of the Disney princesses. She’s not your typical princess but I see her as the youngest and the most relatable. Her spontaneous and courageous personality will draw viewers of all ages.
Though Brave may not be the next Finding Nemo, Toy Story, or Monsters Inc., Merida adds some good to the world with her sweet, stubborn, impulsive presence. This new addition to Pixar’s filmography is not to be missed – for Disney lovers, Pixar fans, and lasses and lads everywhere. Don’t be a bunch of galoots and follow the Will O’ The Wisps to your fate. Brave is a PickIT! Ages 7+
First published @ Kidspickflicks
By Cassandra Hsiao
On Stranger Tides in Disney Digital 3D™
Opens: Friday, May 20, 2011
Running Time: 141 min
When Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides sails into theaters this May 20, it won’t start on a pirate ship, or in the Caribbean. In fact, it starts in London.
Actor Johnny Depp returns to the symbolic role of Jack Sparrow—ahem, Captain Jack Sparrow—as he makes his exit out of London in a dynamic escape, only to find himself on the ship of legendary pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane). Jack soon finds himself on an unexpected journey and race to the Fountain of Youth.
Pirate fans will be hit with fresh spray of seawater—the unfathomable Angelica (Penelope Cruz) is the first female pirate to be included in the series. She is every bit as tricky and cunning as Jack, so perhaps Jack has finally found his equal.
When she forces him onto the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard’s ship, Jack must outwit Blackbeard, sly Angelica, deadly zombies, and a cunning mermaid.
Geoffrey Rush returns as Captain Barbossa and Kevin R. McNally as Jack’s comrade Joshamee Gibbs. New characters include British actor Sam Claflin as young Phillip, a missionary, and French actress Astrid Berges-Frisbey as the mystifying, alluring mermaid.
There are stunning visuals in this film, and I caught my breath in wonder at the beautiful Fountain of Youth. A fight scene between Captain Jack and Barbossa on an unbalanced ship protruding from a high cliff is simply thrilling. It kept the audience on the edge of their seats.
The film was also witty, with the humorous dialogue and swashbuckling antics of Jack Sparrow and the pirates. Some of the dialogue is garbled or hard to catch due to the half-dozen different accents in the movie.
The plot gives the audience a series of unexpected turns and twists. This fourth film of the Pirates franchise is less gory and disturbing than the other three. The only thing that may be disturbing to younger viewers is the concept of the mermaids.
These are not the mermaids of Disney’s Little Mermaid. These mermaids are beautiful women on land, but at the same time vile creatures underwater, doing whatever it takes to seduce the pirates. Parents need to know that there are a few scenes that could be intense and downright scary for younger viewers.
All of the Pirates movies have been rated PG-13, which is intended for older audiences who can tell the difference between fantasy and reality. The mermaid scene was quite alarming, and there were some points when I couldn’t bear to watch. On the other hand, I was amazed by the depth of character that Astrid Berges-Frisbey brought to Syrena, the main mermaid in the movie.
In my opinion, the best part of the film is the characters themselves. Angelica is full of contradictions. She is manipulative, wily, and devious, yet she has another side of her that is fair and kind. Jack Sparrow is once again bold and daring, having plenty of pirate in him. The feeling is certainly contagious.
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Rob Marshall, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in Disney Digital 3D will sail you through the high seas of the Caribbean to the Fountain of Youth. Who will attain the magical potion that just takes one sip to eternal life? Will Jack be the one who lives forever? Start sailing with the pirates on Friday, May 20, 2011 to find out!
Check out Kid Reporter Cassandra Hsiao’s video coverage on the black carpet at the Disneyland premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides!Also, find out what was happening on the black carpet and who else this Kid Reporter talked to! @Scholastic, INC First Published at http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3756202