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Finding Santa (2016)
7/10
Sweet and simple
8 December 2019
This sweet Danish film by TriCoast Entertainment begins with magical music that will put you in the holiday mood. The animation is simple and stylized, providing you with a feeling that you're actually in Denmark long ago. Kids might dismiss it as being old-fashioned, but that's the point!

Several years ago, I got to visit Denmark for the first time. I immediately fell in love with the country and was thrilled to discover that I actually have some Danish ancestors! If you watch this with your children, talk about their ancestry and the Christmas traditions that come from their ancestral homeland.

This children's movie is NOT in theaters, but is currently available on the following digital streaming platforms: Amazon, iTunes, InDemand, DirecTV, Vudu, Vimeo on Demand, FlixFling, AT&T, Hoopla, Google Play, Fandango, and Sling/Dish. TriCoast gave me a complimentary press copy so that I could preview it for you.

You can see my full movie review at Movie Review (dot) com

TIPS FOR PARENTS:

The story takes place at an orphanage. You might want to talk to your children about how much you love being a parent and having them in your life. Consider a service project that you could do to help orphans to feel loved this Christmas season. Kids will learn about the story of Krampus, a terrifying villain who destroys Christmas. In this movie, he isn't super terrifying, but he IS super mean! A character sticks his tongue out when he doesn't like something. The word "poompadoo" is used three times, sometimes lovingly and sometimes as name calling. There is an explanation of how presents can often be found in hiding places before Christmas Eve...

THEMES:

Bullying and teasing Courage Believing in Santa and Christmas Imagination Kindness

THINGS I LIKED:

It really does a great job introducing Danish traditions of Christmas to children. It has some cute visual humor. It's clean and family-friendly.

THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE:

Some of the dialogue is forced and cheesy. Some of the voice acting is really bad. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no mention of the birth of Jesus Christ as the reason for the season. It is all about Santa Clause and Krampus. The music is very sweet.

FUNNY LINES:

* "How can your lips be sealed if you're talking to me right now?" - Julius
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Arctic Dogs (2019)
1/10
A disappointing snore
4 November 2019
This is Entertainment Studio's first animated feature. Directed by Aaron Woodley, this family-friendly movie is a BIG snore. The animation isn't very good and it's hard to get very excited about package deliveries. With a protagonist who has no redeeming qualities and an extremely boring, nonsensical plot, this disappointing movie is one to skip.

The voice talents include Jeremy Renner, Heidi Klum, James Franco, John Cleese, Anjelica Huston, Alec Baldwin, and Omar Sy. Those big names must be where all the budget for this film went. There isn't much texture or detail to the animation. We have been spoiled by excellent animation from Pixar and Disney for years. What a brilliant way to save money on animation...make a white fox in the snow so you only have to draw eyes! Ha ha Most of the humor just isn't very funny. No charm. No warmth (and I don't just say that because it takes place in the Arctic.) None of the characters are particularly inspiring. I like Jeremy Renner, but sadly, his character is a douchebag for most of the film. Walrus with spider legs?

The ending is just a frantic mess. The rest of the movie is just boring and bland. The plot makes no sense. Why would they need dogs to deliver the mail when there is all kinds of technology around them, as well as a big, strong bear who could have done it. This animated universe is just bizarre with no thought put into it. There are some adorable puffins, although they looked more like tropical Toucans from the Amazon jungle. Unfortunately, they're just not funny, especially considering they're supposed to be the equivalent of the entertaining minions in Despicable Me.

This is a perfect example of a girl settling for a guy WAY below her. She's so far out of his league. What a terrible role model for your daughters. This movie feels much longer because it's so bad. You'll find yourself looking at your watch or cell phone. It also feels like a movie that should have gone straight to DVD or Netflix.

You can read the rest of my review at Movie Review Mom or watch my review on my Movie Review Mom YouTube channel.
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Christmas Jars (2019 TV Movie)
9/10
Sweet, inspiring, and surprisingly funny
2 November 2019
Ready for some Christmas spirit? Based on the 2005 New York Times best-selling novel by Jason Wright, this long-awaited, sweet movie has the magic of the holidays in spades. You WILL cry and you WILL be touched. I was surprised how many tissues I went through while watching it. The wet quantity proves I really enjoyed it.

I'm so happy that Jason Wright was able to get his beautiful story turned into a movie. I interviewed him many years ago at a convention we were both attending. I remember he pulled out his cell phone and said, "You complete me." ha ha

His endearing story and movie are about people who fill jars with their extra coins during the year and then anonymously deliver the gift to someone in need during the Christmas season. It's a story of hope, forgiveness, and love. It feels like a Hallmark movie. I mean that in a good way. Some of their movies can be too saccharine sweet and cheesy, but this one is very good. It's as clean and inspiring as you hope it would be. With a little humor, romance, mystery, and compelling inspiration, this family-friendly film is perfect for all ages. It's actually not a Hallmark movie though. It's presented by Fathom Events and BYUtv.

Jeni Ross is outstanding as Hope, an idealistic, young reporter trying to get her break as a journalist. The casting was actually very good by Ilona Smyth, especially when she selected several little girls to illustrate Hope growing up. They all really looked like her! All of the cast seemed to have good chemistry and the characters are believable and realistic. Ashley Comeau was hilarious as the quirky elementary school teacher, Clara Zacher. It was such an amusing, awkward scene. She reveals the theme of the entire movie in a line she delivers during that scene. Ron Lea is immediately likable as Adam Maxwell. You'll pretty much want to be adopted into his loving film family. Doug Murray nailed his funny role as the salty Lyle Butler. Some of the actors smile a little too much, like they're super excited to be in a movie, you know? I would be too. Krista Jang provided a comedic gal pal to add some entertaining banter at the office. There is also some cute and entertaining background activity in some of the office scenes.

There is quite a bit of humor to balance out the cheese and sugar. Some of the jokes and gags are pretty cheeky, especially lots of cliched tripping. Lovely music by Christopher Guglick. The transitions could have been more interesting and creative, but this is also Jason Wright's directorial debut, so double congrats to him!

You can read the rest of my movie review online or watch my video review on the Movie Review Mom channel on YouTube. I think you'll really enjoy the movie!
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8/10
Fans will get a kick out of it
14 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
In honor of the 10th anniversary of Zombieland, the popular horror/comedy flick is back for seconds! I admit that the first Zombieland was a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, so I was excited for this sequel. Time sure flies. I can't believe it has been 10 years. Since then, the four leads have been pretty busy and have all been nominated for Academy Awards! Emma Stone actually won the prestigious Oscar for her role in La La Land.

So, how do you make a sequel fresh? In this case, make the zombies evolve and find more living humans to add to the story. Oh, and of course, more blood and gore, the same approach taken by The Walking Dead each season until it became completely disgusting. Fans will get a kick out of the film.

TIPS FOR PARENTS:

NOT for children! Lots of blood and gore. Soooooo much. Lots of zombies Violence, killing with a variety of weapons Profanity, including many F-bombs Pre-marital relations Explosions, destruction Marijuana Pop references to Uber, Elvis, Bob Dylan, Garfield, U.S. presidents

THEMES:

"Home isn't a place. It's the people you're with." - Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) Double Tap Travel Light Friendship, family Teamwork "Expect the Unexpected." - Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch)

THINGS I LIKED:

Nice zombie touch with the Columbia logo at the very, very beginning before the movie even started. Ha ha Keep watching when you think the movie has ended for a fun cameo performance that fans will love. Hint: It's someone who was also nominated for an Oscar! Then, keep watching until the very, very end of the rolling credits for more. Funny references to zombie fans of Shaun of the Dead AND The Walking Dead. It was smart to have it come out close to Halloween. There's a little bit of character development. The tone and feel match the first movie. I didn't realize that the lovely Zoey Deutch is the daughter of actress Lea Thompson and director Howard Deutch. She did a really great job. I first noticed her in Before I Fall, a completely different movie from this one!

THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE:

Are people still in to zombies? This sequel should have come out 5-7 years ago. Some of the humor is tired. The plot is pretty simple. I heard Dan Aykroyd was in the movie. I guess I blinked because I missed him. People who haven't seen the first movie will miss the backstories of the characters and inside jokes

You can see the rest of my movie review at Movie Review Mom on YouTube and on my website.
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6/10
Adorable, yet a bit boring
7 October 2019
Picture a Shaun The Sheep - The Movie version of E.T.,The Extra-Terrestrial with no dialogue, and you've got this animated stop-motion comedy that is the first feature length sequel Aardman has ever made. In case you don't remember, Shaun The Sheep - The Movie actually received an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature about 4 years ago, earning over $100 million in box office ticket sales alone.

This adorable clamation film directed by Richard Phelan and Will Becher, was going to be released last spring in the USA but was delayed until December 2019.

While I absolutely adored the Wallace & Gromit in Three Amazing Adventures shorts, the Aardman feature films always leave me a bit disappointed. Don't get me wrong, this movie is super cute, but it just didn't hold my attention.

The stop motion animation is impressive, as always. There are always plenty of cute things to look at in each frame. There is a lot of humor through visual gags and adorable sound effects. Unusual for stop motion, a tiny bit of CGI is used to make Lu-La's floppy ears look sparkly when she's doing something magical. The song that plays on the farmer's radio is called Forever Autumn (From Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of "The War of the Worlds"). There are some visual and audio gags only adults will appreciate. For example, some buttons are pushed that make the musical theme from the movie Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (Original Version) I doubt very many kids have ever seen that movie.

Unusual for stop motion, a tiny bit of CGI is used to make Lu-La's floppy ears look sparkly when she's doing something magical. Keep watching past the end credits for one final musical gag. I'm surprised more creativity wasn't used to design the alien Lu-La. She just basically looked like a blue dog. Many of the references offer a respectful nod to the magic of Spielberg; however, some moments and even characters seem like rip-offs from movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey or Wall-E The musical montages seem a bit out of place with the rest of the film. You can see my full movie review on YouTube or at Movie Review Mom
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8/10
LDS Western with heart
14 September 2019
IN A NUTSHELL: The movie begins in 1838 right after Joseph Smith and other religious leaders surrender to the Missouri Militia under threat of extermination and end up in Liberty Jail, a very ironic name for a prison with horrible conditions. Joseph and several other leaders in the church were held there for 155 days while members of the church outside the prison walls were terrorized by mobs. The film is based on actual recorded accounts.

Those who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will most likely be unfamiliar with this part of church history and the people involved in the telling of it. It's not the preachy movie you might be expecting but feels more like a Western with surprising heart.

TIPS FOR PARENTS: Kids might be bored quickly. So will some adults. Shooting with guns. Talk of mobs eager to kill people

THEMES: Blinded by hate Justice "The loudest voice is that of public opinion." - Shawn Stevens Obeying the law vs. following your heart Perspective

THINGS I LIKED: Some beautifully artistic details with camera work by Jeremy Prusso and direction by Garrett Batty. I love Jasen Wade in any movie he does. He's always the best actor in any cast. In this film, he plays Samuel Tiller, the jailer, and it is from his point of view the story is uniquely told. You've probably seen him in movies like 17 MIRACLES, SAINTS AND SOLDIERS: AIRBORNE CREED, THE COKEVILLE MIRACLE, although he has been in many more LDS films. I appreciated Corbin Allred's accurate portrayal of Porter Rockwell's high-pitched voice. Most people will recognize him from his roles in the movies THE SARATOV APPROACH and SAINTS and SOLDIERs AIRBORNE CREED. Did you know he was actually in the movie ROBIN HOOD MEN IN TIGHTS ? The scene when the wives visited their husbands in Liberty Jail was very touching and even got me teary-eyed. I recently heard Carrie Wrigley speak and sing at BYU Education Week, so it was fun to see her in this movie, even for just a brief moment. The music is absolutely lovely, scored by Robert Allen Elliott. I always love it when information is shared with the audience at the end of the movie to explain what happened next with the real people portrayed in the film. I only wish more had been offered with this movie. The cast includes Larry Bagby, Adam Johnson, Corbin Allred, Brandon Ray Olive, Shawn Stevens, Brock Roberts, Cyrus Daniels, Eric Wood, Morgan Gunter, Carrie Wrigley, and the fantastic Jasen Wade. Emily Jacobson did a nice job with costume design. Sometimes period pieces can look more like costumes than authentic clothing to set the tone. I noticed that a Kickstarter fund was used to get this movie going. Isn't it amazing what can be done when we all pitch in? If you're a fan of GENTRI: The Gentlemen Trio, you'll love seeing Casey Elliott in the movie as Hyrum Smith. Sidney Rigdon is portrayed as a self-serving coward. In fact, many of these men held captive in Liberty Jail are not represented in the best light, like most LDS films usually do. Instead, the movie captures their lowest moments as they struggle with their faith. That is what makes this movie powerful, different, and insightful.

THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE: Brandon Ray Olive did a fine job as Joseph Smith, although he looks less like the Mormon prophet than I've ever seen in any other movie about him. He is not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint, but I'm told he was very careful to portray Joseph with respect and kindness. You might have seen him before in LOGAN LUCKY, NCIS, CSI, or HBO's MOSAIC. Some movie-goers will hope for lots of action and may be disappointed that it's one of those "talking" movies. Lots of disgusting and humorous talk and display of feces. Some of the acting isn't very good. You can read the rest of my movie review at Movie Review Mom
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3/10
Not as good as it thinks it is
3 September 2019
IN A NUTSHELL: This Sci-fi horror/thriller is Allice Waddington's directorial debut. The film debuted at this year's Sundance Film Festival and quickly afterward, Samuel Goldwyn Films acquired the distribution rights. Unfortunately, it's not as good as it thinks it is.

TIPS FOR PARENTS: Some crude language and 1 F-bomb. Some violence

THINGS I LIKED: I'm a sucker for Milla Jovovich. I've been seeing Emma Roberts all over the place lately. Good for her. She sings in the movie too. A-lister Julia Roberts must be one proud auntie. The young cast includes Danielle MacDonald, Awkwafina, Jeremy Irvine, and Eliza Gonzalez. Fun and creative costume design. The fantastical set designs were intriguing.

THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE: The sound kind of drove me nuts. Some of the acting wasn't very good. I've seen many of the actors do much better in other movies, so I was disappointed. It had everything to do with the poor script. I feel terrible saying this, but I was bored. Some of the scenes take place in dim moonlight, so it'll be hard to see what's going on if you watch this on a small device once the film goes to streaming or DVD. It takes itself way too seriously. Many things are totally random and just don't make any sense at all. If they're symbolic, then I totally missed it. Everything just seemed really dumb and self-indulgent to me. You can read the rest of my review at Movie Review Mom.
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Bennett's War (2019)
7/10
Family-friendly and feel-good drama
3 September 2019
While the plot isn't very unique, the story is still enjoyable and worthy of family-friendly view time. The movie is written and directed by Alex Ranarivelo. It won't win any awards or blow anyone's mind, but you'll leave the theater feeling inspired. You can't pre-order the DVD yet, but I'm sure it'll be on Amazon and other stores soon since it had a very limited theater release. If you're into Motorcross, you'll enjoy some of the impressive race scenes. What a great smile Michael Roark has. He did a great job as a soldier, wounded vet, and Motorcross racer.

Actor/producer Ali Afshar did a great job as the loyal friend and comic relief. He actually owns the GMC Syclone that is shown in the movie. I love it when directors throw in little tidbits of interest in their movies. For example, producer Christina Moore appears in a picture as Marshall Bennett's mother. Ranarivelo chose the number 32 to be Marshall's number because one of his personal favorite cars is the Mark IV Volkswagen R32. I liked Allison Paige's feisty personality as Marshall's wife. She was believable as the worried wife, as well as the supportive wife. The movie poster and trailer basically give away the end of the movie. The dialogue and story are both super formulaic and predictable. The close-up scenes with the bike riders wearing their masks always cracked me up because you couldn't see their faces. That's better than having them not wear goggles or helmets though so that you could see their faces because that wouldn't be realistic. You can read the rest of my movie review at Movie Review Mom or watch my video review on YouTube.
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Wild Rose (2018)
9/10
Fantastic performance and heartache that country songs are made of
8 August 2019
Jessie Buckley appears to be a real "star is born" actress. BAFTA named Jessie Buckley as one of their Rising Stars this year. After you've seen the movie, you'll understand why.

The movie is directed by Tom Harper, written by Nicole Taylor, and made of the heartache country songs are made of. Just like a rose, the movie is beautiful with some thorns.

THINGS I LIKED:

I thought it was cute when Rose-Lynn was cleaning the house and the band appeared around her to accompany her in her imagination. Jessie Buckley was born in the same county in Ireland where they screened the movie in Ireland. You get to hear some great country music. Rose-Lynn's dream is to get to Nashville. My husband and I went last year for a conference and were wowed by the main street where you can hear fantastic performers every 20 feet you walk. Such great entertainment.

It's really hard to understand the super thick Scottish accent. It's charming, just hard to understand. We all love an underdog, but it's tough to watch a selfish, single mother neglect her children.

TIPS FOR PARENTS:

Within the first 4 minutes, a young woman drops an F-bomb, you see a naked man's rear end, a sex scene, and people smoke a joint. Profanity and F-bombs. A young woman gets out of jail but behaves very badly outside of prison. Rose-Lynn tells some nice kids in their school uniforms that they look like they're something out of The Shining. A kid gets hurt and goes to the hospital. Alcohol

You can read my full movie review at Movie Review Mom
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Definitely no The Lego Movie but cute for kids
8 August 2019
It's definitely not as witty as #TheLegoMovie, but #PlaymobilTheMovie is a colorful mix between a musical animation and live action, perfect for kids under double digits.

THINGS I LIKED:

I like Anya Taylor-Joy and thought she did a great job. There were, however, a few times when she said her lines so fast that I couldn't understand what she said. The talented musical cast includes Meghan Trainor, Adam Lambert, Anya Taylor-Joy. Other non-singing highlights include Daniel Radcliffe and Kenan Thompson. This is Daniel Radcliffe's first animated film. Comedian Jim Gaffigan! Yes! I just wrote in my recent movie review of THEM THAT FOLLOW that it always catches me off guard when I see him in a serious drama. He always does a great job in drama or comedy. Now he can add "musical" to his filmography. He has a fantastic voice for animation and has the funniest lines in the movie. Gabriel Bateman does a good job as live action and voice talent. It was cute to see a burly Viking with a little kid voice. Parents will appreciate the female "Jabba the Hut" character from the original Star Wars: A New Hope. Kids will enjoy the variety of environments and lands.

THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE:

It doesn't have the humor and zip that the Lego movies have. The songs are enjoyable but not very memorable. Some of the voices don't quite match what the characters look like. More punchy humor would have helped.

TIPS FOR PARENTS:

There is a sad moment when people die, although you don't see it happen. A boy says that something "sucks" and his sister says, "Language!" A boy and his sister play with some Playmobil figures. Your kids are probably going to want to buy some. This movie is filled with merchandising. A boy says tattoos are cool. Fighting among Playmobil characters. A character drinks alcohol. Toys in danger. Your kids may want a passport.

You can read the rest of my review at Movie Review Mom.
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8/10
Coming-of-Age drama of faith
5 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
IN A NUTSHELL:

This "slow burn" thriller is also a coming-of-age story of a young woman whose family belongs to a religious group that uses snakes in their worship. Dan Madison Savage and Britt Poulton are the writers and directors of this thought-provoking drama that respectfully presents a Christian sect and sub-culture that very few people have been exposed to. It earned a 10-minute standing ovation when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

Like a poisonous snake, this movie will bite you in the brain and heart. If you don't like snakes, don't watch this movie!

TIPS FOR PARENTS:

An unmarried woman pees on the ground to take a pregnancy test. Someone gets bit by a snake, cuts the bloody skin, and sucks out the venom. Someone gets his arm sawed off. Thankfully, you don't have to see it in detail, but you know it's happening. Pre-marital "relations." People put a snake on them to show their faith. If you see this movie with your children, please talk to them about "safe" ways to show our faith.

THEMES:

"We all got our sins, don't we?" - Hope (Olivia Coleman) "Who you choose, girl, chooses your whole life." - Hope "You need someone to see the truth even when you don't." - Hope

THINGS I LIKED:

Olivia Colman is outstanding, but that's no surprise since she won the 2019 Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in The Favourite. What is surprising is how she has transformed into a backwoods store owner and community matriarch with a southern twang. She's amazing. Walton Goggins is the perfect southern pastor in his role as Lemuel. He's creepy and sincere at the same time. Australian actress Alice Englert gives a subtle but powerful performance. Kaitlyn Dever was great in Booksmart although I hated that movie. You can read my movie review of Booksmart here. Her character is the polar opposite in this movie, attesting to her talent. The movie was filmed in Youngstown and Salem, Ohio although the story is supposed to take place in Appalachia. I love symbolism. The snakes in this movie are real, but they also represent the first "sin" of Adam and Eve., as well as being deceived.

THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE:

This is not everyone's cup of tea. Many will say that nothing really happens and that it's boring. It's always a bit odd to see comedian Jim Gaffigan in dramatic movies. I absolutely love his stand-up comedy specials. The first time I saw him in a drama was in the movie Chappaquiddick. I'm not saying he doesn't do a good job in dramas. He does. It always just throws me off. Good for him for being such a versatile performer. No humor at all. So much time was spent on the characters and yet we still didn't know that much about them in the end. It seemed like so much more could have been done to play with symbolism and/or explore the religion on a deeper level. Because of the presence of Oscar-winning Olivia Coleman, I expected the movie to be really fantastic. It was good, but not as phenomenal as I had hoped.
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9/10
An inspiring film that reminds us to simply be kind and show respect to everyone
4 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Remember films presents a family-friendly movie based on the true story of Williard & Rebecca Bean who served a 24-year mission in Palmyra, New York. The movie takes place 80 years after the "Mormons" living there had fled for their lives due to persecution. The leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints asked the Beans to serve a very unique mission there to heal old wounds and attempt to purchase the Hill Cumorah, a site very sacred to members of the church.

I watched this movie soon after I had just taken a trip to Palmyra for the first time a couple of weeks ago, so it was especially meaningful and touching to me. Today, the church hosts an outdoor pageant on the Hill Cumorah for thousands of audience members in the summertime. The message of the pageant and this movie is that Jesus Christ is the redeemer of the world and to love others as He taught us.

Directed by T.C. Christensen, the film is geared toward current members of the church, yet offers a universal message of love and faith that everyone can enjoy. He calls this movie "the greatest story in church history that you've never heard of." I hadn't! It was fascinating to learn more about the miracles that occurred at the Smith home. The movie also attempts to point out that Mormons do not worship Joseph Smith but strive to be true followers of Jesus Christ.

TIPS FOR PARENTS: There is a cute scene when a Palmyra man yells profanities at Mr. Bean but a cow nearby moos to bleep out the bad words. Some fighting in and out of the boxing ring Bullying Name-calling

THEMES: Pure love Service to others "Maybe sometimes the best way to fight is with love." - Rebecca Bean (Cassidy Hubert) "Warm friendship, like the setting sun shines light on everyone." - q saying on the wall that someone had cross-stiched as a decoration. Rebecca quotes a scripture in the Book of Mormon (Jacob 7:26) that says, "the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream." The older I get, the more I can definitely relate to that sentiment. Life sure flies by. Just keep swinging. Respect for others, even if they have different beliefs.

THINGS I LIKED:

David McConnell plays Willard Bean, the fighting preacher. He's certainly likable and carries the film very well. I wanted to make him a pie. He actually broke a rib in one of the boxing scenes. David's chemistry with Cassidy Hubert (who plays his wife) is believable. She is lovely and seemed noticeably younger than him, but that's how it was in real life too.

Scarlett Hazen plays their daughter Palmyra and is totally adorable. She did a fantastic job and I hope to see her in more films. It's both strange and sweet that they named their daughter Palmyra. She takes some missionaries to the Sacred Grove. This is a picture I took of it when I was recently there! It's beautiful, peaceful, and compels you to look up to heaven.

I loved learning about some of the miracles that occurred at the Smith house during that time. Director T. C. Christensen has often told epic stories of faith amidst challenges. In this movie, he dives inward into the soul of a man and his spiritual journey to connect with his fellow man and God. True facts, photos, and video clips are shown at the end of the movie. I always love that. Members of the Latter-day Saint church will get a kick out of seeing a young Gordon B. Hinckley as a missionary. He later became the beloved 15th president of the church. Some will say that the movie is saccharine sweet, but many parents will be thrilled to find a family-friendly film that is uplifting and reminds us to be kind to others.

THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE:

Some of the dialogue is very clunky. If you're not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you won't quite understand the significance of several things that happen in the film. It's helpful to know a little bit about "Mormon" history before watching the movie. Did it really take the Beans 6 years to figure out that they should just love and serve their neighbors? Not all of the humor works. Surprisingly, the movie was filmed in Utah! These are some pictures I took of the real Smith house in Palmyra on my recent trip.

You can read the rest of my movie review and see photos of the real Smith house in Palmyra that I took when I visited there 2 weeks ago at Movie Review Mom!
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Luce (2019)
10/10
Provocative film that begs you to talk about it when it's over
4 August 2019
IN A NUTSHELL:

This psychological thriller is a movie that begs you to talk about it afterward. The cast is brilliant and the story is provocative, skillfully addressing some fascinating themes and questions about society and our identities. I can often tell what's going to happen in a movie, but this drama kept me guessing the entire time. It challenges you to think and look at what's happening from several different perspectives. Julius Onah directed the movie that is based on the play by J. C. Lee.

TIPS FOR PARENTS:

Some profanity, including F-bombs. Talk of racism, sexism, tokenism, privilege, assimilation Crude language and sexual references One of the high school girls talks about a terrible game that was played at a party. I sure hope that game doesn't really exist, but I fear that it does. You see a topless woman in a short shower scene and a completely naked woman in a long scene. Two times, you see and hear blurred sex scenes. Talk of assault. Vandalism

THEMES:

"We should speak our mind, no matter the cost." - Luce (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) Violation of privacy Limits Family Accusations Truth vs. rumor vs. what we think we know Being put in a box Identity Trust Parenting choices

THINGS I LIKED:

The cast was absolutely fantastic and includes Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer and Academy Award nominee Naomi Watts. Also included are Tim Roth, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Deshaun Meeks, and Andrea Bang. I imagine we're going to see some Oscar nominations arriving in a few months that congratulate these performances. Kelvin Harrison Jr. is really great and has a bright future in film. Fans of Lie to Me: Season 1 will enjoy seeing Tim Roth. I loved the first season of that show and then it started going south. Luce means "light". Luce said that his adoptive American parents named him that because he had some light in him even though he had a dark past in war-torn Eritrea.

THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE:

I hated that pounding drum sound effect that went on and on in several scenes. This is a serious drama with no humor. We didn't have to see all that flesh. I much prefer scenes that are subtle and imply certain actions rather than showing you everything. It definitely takes its time to unwind the story. Some people might be confused and wonder what happened.

You can read the rest of my movie review at Movie Review Mom.
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Stuber (2019)
8/10
Not as terrible as everyone says
14 July 2019
It was only a matter of time that we were going to get a movie about an Uber driver, right? This isn't quite a 5-star ride, but it has moments that will make you laugh out loud. Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani make an unlikely, but entertaining duo. If you're looking for an excuse to eat buttery popcorn in an air-conditioned theater, go for it. Otherwise, this one can wait until live streaming or Redbox. I wonder how much Uber paid to be connected with this movie.

TIPS FOR PARENTS:

Crude jokes Lots of profanity, including F-bombs LOTS of bloody fighting Bloody, gory deaths, dead bodies People in peril Destruction



THEMES:

Family, fatherhood "Real men listen to their feelings." - Stuber (Kumail Nanjiani) "Sometimes people need help and it's not a sign of weakness to ask for it." - Stuber



THINGS I LIKED:

I'm happy to see Dave Bautista get a movie with him as the starring role. I really like him and hope he has a successful movie career like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. These wrestlers are performers at heart, right? There's a funny line in the movie about what Dave Bautista's ethnicity is from. He's actually an American from Washington D.C. Kumail Nanjiani has established himself as a reliable comedian who can throw out some dramatic pauses, like in The Big Sick He does a great job in this movie. Fans of Guardians of the Galaxy (Theatrical) will get a kick out of seeing Karen Gillan and Dave Bautista together in the beginning without all of that MCU makeup on. There's a lot of action. Be prepared for John Wick style, rated-R action with blood and guts. A lot of it features the talented Iko Uwais who was actually National Champion of Silat martial arts in 2005. I've always loved the song Come Sail Away by Styxx, so it was fun to hear it in the movie as a running gag. I hadn't seen Mira Sorvino in a while and I like Natalie Morales, so I was good to see both of them in the film. Lots of humor with quotable one-liners.

THINGS I DIDN'T LIKE:

Betty Gilpin's character is a complete trashy skank that makes girls look overly emotional and dumb. Her character provides some of the urgency and motivation for Stuber, so I get it. Full of every cop cliche: death of a partner, unlikely partners, mole in the force, frustrated family member, flawed hero, etc. Some of the scenes in the trailer aren't even in the movie. I love the line: "It's a baby gun. It allows you to shoot while crying." Sadly, that one wasn't in the film. The plot wanders around. Jimmy Tatro plays a real duche-bag who had some of the most vulgar lines in the movie. Despite that, he added a funny side character. #Stuber is a #comedy #movie with some hardcore #action scenes that will probably make you laugh and squirm.

You can read my full movie review at Movie Review Mom and on see it on YouTube too!
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Yesterday (III) (2019)
10/10
Charming and not a superhero movie
1 July 2019
While I love superhero movies, it sure was nice to see something DIFFERENT! Yesterday is charming and imaginative. My biggest complaint was why on earth would anyone cast the lovely and talented Lily James in a musical movie and not let her sing?!!!

You can read my full movie review at Movie Review Mom (dot) com.
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10/10
I was a weepy mess
1 July 2019
If you saw the first movie The Other Side of Heaven, you will remember the sweet spirit of the storytelling and the heart of the beautiful Tongan people. This sequel is a heartwarming reunion with more inspiration and miracles. Bring tissues. I was a weepy mess.

The film is filled with lessons for us to learn, and not just for "Mormons." While the movie will have special meaning for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, everyone can enjoy it and be touched by it. As we're told in this movie, if you wait long enough, all stories have happy endings.

You can read my full movie review at MovieReviewMom (dot com) or on my YouTube channel. Here are a few of the highlights: Christopher Gorham is absolutely fantastic. He reminds me of Chris Evans as Captain America: his goodness. Director Mitch Davis chose Christopher because "he has a very gentle soul." He learned to speak Tongan very well in the first movie and his speech coach said his accent was perfect. Did you know that he is a trained auctioneer like his grandfather?

The funeral scene was touching and heartbreaking. Abigail, the goat, in a dress. Adorable. The moment that really got me to tear up was after the storm when Nancy yelled, "Hoorah for Israel!" From then on, I went through quite a few tissues. I loved hearing the Tongan people sing often in the movie.

When they were interviewing actors to play Thomas S. Monson, the moment they first saw Russell Dixon, they knew he was the right man for the job. After the real Thomas S. Monson watched the first The Other Side of Heaven movie in 2001, he immediately asked, "When are you going to make the second movie?" John Groberg said to director Mitch Davis, "I'm not getting any younger and neither are you, so it's time!"

I always love it when you get to see pictures and video of the real people of a true story in movies. You get to see a lot of that during the rolling credits, as well as a photo update of the principle "characters" in the movie. The film was made in Fiji because the tax rebate to film there was 47 percent. There is some humor, which is always appreciated. You don't need to have seen the first movie, but it certainly helps in order to appreciate the history and significance of some of the relationships. The music is noticeably good and sweeps with emotion. Some Christian movies are heavy-handed and even cheesy at times, but this one will fill your soul and make you feel.
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Toy Story 4 (2019)
10/10
The sequel we didn't know we wanted
21 June 2019
Adorable, funny, and heartwarming, #ToyStory4 is the #sequel we never knew we wanted. You can watch my YouTube review on Movie Review Mom
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8/10
Skarsgard deserves an Oscar nom for Best Supporting Actor
11 June 2019
This financial crime drama premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was directed by Kim Nguyen. It almost feels like a true high-tech story because it's done so well. It's smart and darkly witty, packing a powerful and profound emotional punch you don't expect.

Jesse Eisenberg is in his full-form awesomeness. He memorized the entire script before they even started filming. He kind of plays the same character in every movie he does, but this movie needed him and that character. I didn't even recognize Alexander Skarsgard! He has never played a role like this before and was absolutely fantastic. Hopefully, he'll earn an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for this code-crunching character. Salma Hayak is always fun to watch. The FBI scene was hilarious. The last scene was perfectly poetic. Some dark, comedic moments. People will, undoubtedly, compare this movie to The Big Short but they are more like cousins than sisters. Some beautiful camera angles with a clever perspective. Entertaining dialogue. The trailer is intriguing. To read the rest of my movie review, go to Movie Review Mom.
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Dark Phoenix (2019)
6/10
Not as grand as it should have been for a grand finale
7 June 2019
Marvel attempts to connect former movies and their loose ends in the X-Men franchise with this grand finale. Unfortunately, as a finale, it's not as grand as fans hoped it would be, especially considering they spent $200 million to make this film.

The marketing and build-up were sparse at best. I readily admit that I just have never been much into the X-Men franchise, certainly not like the Marvel's The Avengers fan that I am. Sadly, this movie will make no new fans. Technically, there will still be more spin-offs in the franchise, but this is the last of the team movies. You can see my full movie review at Movie Review Mom
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9/10
Why all the haters?
6 June 2019
"Long live the king!" This is a sequel to the 2014 Godzilla (2014) and it even has reference to the 2017 Kong: Skull Island . A stand-off featuring Godzilla and King Kong is currently being filmed and will be released in 2020. Are three movies enough to call this a Monster Cinematic Universe?

This movie is receiving mixed reviews. Some say it's the greatest Godzilla movie ever while others have been extremely critical of it, saying it feels like the creators just created a bunch of fight sequences and then tried to build a plot around them. I'm certainly no expert on the legends of Godzilla: King of the Monsters but I got a kick out of it. If you want to see monsters battle each other, you won't be disappointed. You can see my full movie review at Movie Review Mom.
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Rocketman (I) (2019)
10/10
Fantastical biopic of the genius that is Elton John
4 June 2019
"My name is Elton Hercules John." This musical biopic is skillfully guided by actor-turned-director Dexter Fletcher who also worked on Bohemian Rhapsody, a biopic of Freddie Mercury in Queen. This film is timed perfectly to coincide with Elton John's 4-year retirement tour.

It's important to know that many of the moments of the movie are not in correct chronological order, just in case you thought this was a factual retelling of sorts. Rocketman has been described by many as more of a fantasy than truth, more of a painting than a mirror. The presentation style of the story was perfect to honor the creativity of the genius that is Elton John.

The acting is fantastic and will, hopefully, earn Taron Egerton an Oscar nomination. You can see my full movie review at Movie Review Mom.
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5/10
Definitely not up to Disney, Pixar, or Illumination standards, but beautiful animation
3 June 2019
Viva Kids studio brings The Boonie Bears, a colorful children's movie, to the Big Screen with some beautiful animation, fantastical creatures, and a magical adventure that kids might enjoy. The family-friendly film opens June 14, 2019 and on DirecTV. You can see my full movie review at Movie Review Mom. Here are a few highlights. Things I liked: Beautiful animation, especially of nature. The leaves, rocks, and plants had such great detail. Some of the animated people looked so real when they were in "their" world. In fact, I had to look closely because I thought it might actually be live-action mixed with animation. Impressive. Voice talents include Mario Lopez and Josh Peck. The creative world building reminded me of the movie Avatar. Fantastica was really pretty and wonderous. Some original songs. The floating mushroom creatures were adorable and kind of reminded me of Spirited Away and Avatar. The Matrix-looking fight scene made me laugh out loud. Young girls will be inspired by the strong female lead. I like that Vick reads the book "The Road To Success" in order to improve himself. Talk to your kids about how they think they could become better each day. You can even continue the conversation by sharing some of your favorite self-development material with them.

Things I didn't like: This movie makes you remember why Pixar, Illumination, and Disney are so great. The animation was really good except for the mouths and voices being disconnected. That was super distracting. The voices of some of the characters were strange and didn't match the characters' appearances or personality at all. Maybe that was a deliberate attempt at humor, but it just felt off. Some of the editing was choppy. There is a bizarre musical montage with forced tears. The pacing felt really off. I'm writing the word "off" a lot in this review, eh? It takes 39 minutes before you get to see Fantastica. Some of the characters' motivations are unclear and even confusing. It sounded like an old Saturday morning cartoon. Not in a good way. There is a character with an Iron Man-like jacket that seemed super random. Some things are simply not explained which could be confusing for kids or frustrating for parents. Some of the characters at the beginning completely disappear and we never see them again.
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The Mustang (2019)
9/10
Predictable, yet still satisfying
31 May 2019
We're told at the beginning of the movie that over 100,000 wild mustangs, an icon of the American West, still roam across the United States. The words on the screen tell you, "Overpopulation, limited resources, and privatization of public lands now threaten their existence. In response, the federal government rounds up thousands of mustangs a year to help with population control. A few hundred are sent to prisons to be trained by inmates for sale at public auction."

Written and directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, this film is the story of a man in prison in Nevada who is selected to work with a particularly unbreakable mustang. Robert Redford's Sundance Institute had a hand in discovering Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre's talent in her directorial debut.

This movie really flew under the radar in theaters, but because of the strong performances, it's worth a look at. Cowboys and horse lovers will especially enjoy this film. You can read my full movie review at Movie Review Mom
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7/10
You can't deny it's totally cute
31 May 2019
So colorful. So many details. So many ridiculous moments that will make you laugh out loud. This doggone sequel is totally adorable and even better than the first in many ways. Kids will get a kick out of the outlandish shenanigans and parents will laugh enough to tolerate it. There are many of your favorite characters from the first SECRET LIFE OF PETS but plenty of new ones to add new adventures. This is Illumination's first sequel since the DESPICABLE ME franchise. You can read my full movie review at Movie Review Mom
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3/10
I get the humor. It was just boring.
30 May 2019
I kind of thought the whole zombie craze was over now, especially with the end of The Walking Dead Season 9 DVD and it seems like this movie should have come out a few years ago, if at all. It has the elements for a fun, knowing comedy: dry and dark humor, Bill Murray, Adam Driver, quirkiness, zombies, and a capable director (Jim Jarmusch), but they just don't add up to anything great. You hear the phrase, "This is going to end badly" several times and, you know what? It does.

If you want a really fun comedy zombie movie with Bill Murray, watch Zombieland instead. It's way better. To read my full movie review, go to Movie Review Mom.
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