Category Archives: Movie Reviews

The Princess Switch: Switched Again: A Review

The Princess Switch: Switched Again written by Robin Bernheim and Megan Metzger
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

I went into this movie knowing it was bad, however the first movie was one that I enjoyed last year, so I felt that I should give it a chance. I kept myself from reading or watching any of the reviews to attempt to make a fair judgement about it and, since my expectations were really low, my assessment was that it was not that bad.

Sure, the accents are not great, but at one point, Margaret tells who she thinks is Stacy that her accent is much better (was that a self-aware jab?). Also, side note, why do they have British-type accents as they are both rulers of various kingdoms in Europe that are not the United Kingdom. And the introduction of a third lookalike character was completely unnecessary. Yet, there were some sweet “Hallmark” moments and even a couple of funny things (particularly when Frank ninja chopped one of Fiona’s minions, I’ll admit, I chuckled).

The main plot of this particular sequel is that Margaret Delacourt, the royal who convinced baker Stacy to switch in the first movie, is becoming queen. And the relationship with her love interest from the first movie, Kevin, has ended. So, they needed some way to get them back together, so here is Fiona who is a cousin that magically also looks like Margaret who plots a switch of her own in order to get access to the royal bank account. I felt like this was very convoluted and complicated. I know it would have been boring, but if you just took out the Fiona part of the puzzle, it would have played out fine.

And also, why always make the “Antonio” type character, the other possible love interest for Margaret, shady? Margaret could still have stood on her own as queen and made the same decision. His “Hans from Frozen” kind of flip towards the end was kind of weird. Margaret realizes she is in love with Kevin, that it wouldn’t work with Antonio. She could have made that decision without Antonio being a bad character.

It could have been written better. The plot could have been complicated in other ways. It was a disappointing sequel that probably closed the door to any more (which is probably for the best).

No profanity. Chaste kissing and romantic situations. Violent content includes kidnapping with some type of drugging, but mostly slapstick type violence, punching, rolling large casks, karate chop to the neck.

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Story: A Review

Jingle Jangle directed by David E. Talbert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a lovely Christmas movie to add to our list to watch every year! I cried happy tears at the end of this movie. It had the right amount of pacing and humor and love in it. And it wasn’t really relying on past Christmas movies, but stood on its own as a special story of believing in yourself, forgiving yourself and others, and embracing true love (not necessarily romantic love, though).

It gave me serious “Greatest Showman” vibes during the beginning song and dance, especially. Jeronicus Jangle is a toy inventor who is widely known and loved. But one day, his assistant, along with one of his toy creations, steals his book of inventions, leaving him destitute. Soon after, his wife dies and his daughter is estranged, and his magical toy shop is reduced to an unprofitable pawn shop. But when his granddaughter appears just before Christmas, his life is turned upside down and he finds that what was once lost might be redeemed.

The only, smallest, issues I had was in two of the actors in a few scenes. Jeronicus is played by Justin Cornwell at the beginning, and is optimistic and flamboyant, full of energy. Forest Whitaker plays the older version as he becomes less sure of himself, but towards the end, when the magic comes back, I didn’t feel like Whittaker brought that same original energy. And at the very end, no spoilers, when Phylicia Rashad’s character is headed to the factory, I think she seemed a little nervous with the stunt she had to do, but really, none of this took away from the story.

I absolutely adored Buddy and Journey who were my favorite characters. Madalen Mills was perfect for this role and had the right amount of spunk and curiosity. If you haven’t seen this yet, you must. The music is fun. It’s not too scary. And it definitely put some magic into the season this year, which was really needed.

No profanity. There are some suggestive remarks from Ms. Johnston (who is an absolute treasure), but no sexual content other than that. Violence includes a fire that characters escape from, and some chases, but nothing gory or graphic.

Dash & Lily: A Review

Dash & Lily directed by Fred Savage, Pamela Romanowsky, Brad Silberling
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Yay for more Christmas content (and get ready for more this month, obviously)! This show has all the elements I could possibly want in a cheesy, romantic Christmas movie. This was also the first Christmas themed show that wasn’t a movie, but instead used the TV episodic format to really develop the characters further.

Dash is alone on Christmas. His divorced parents both think he is with the other, so he stays at his dad’s bachelor pad, planning to celebrate the holidays breaking into his dad’s liquor cabinet, catching up on reading, and hanging out at a local pizza place where his best friend works. He hates Christmas.

Lily, on the other hand, loves Christmas. But this year, her parents are going to Fiji for a second honeymoon, so she throws herself into the Christmas holidays. And most of her friends, okay all of her friends, are adults. She seems happy on the outside, but there is more to her story than first impressions.

I loved the story. The fact that it begins with a scavenger hunt through The Strand (a popular indie bookstore in New York). That it continues to explore New York City through various dares written in this book. The friendship to lovers trope. And themes about not just being yourself, but being confident in who you are, and not get caught in how things are supposed to be.

There may be a few words of profanity, but it is not significant. Sexual content includes suggestive scenes of walking in on her brother and a boy under the sheets, some kissing, and lewd humor. There isn’t really any violent content, though Lily does attack a snowman at one point.

Alex Rider: A Review

Alex Rider created by Guy Burt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This probably showed up in a random advertisement, either on Amazon Prime or Imdb.com, but it immediately was intriguing. British spy movies about a boy who isn’t technically a spy, but seems to have been unknowingly trained to be one will always be on the “To Be Watched” list. Apparently, it is based on a book series from the early 2000s, and the plot of the first book was already made into a movie in 2006.

Compared to the trailer of the 2006 film, the new series is a bit darker. It uses gadgets less (which apparently was a big deal in the books), and it contains less well known actors. But it has its merits.

The plot of the series revolves around Alex Rider, an orphaned teen who lives with his uncle and a family friend (not sure the connection between the two). When Alex’s uncle dies unexpectedly, a series of events throws Alex in the middle of the undercover world. In order to find out why his uncle died, he has to go undercover to reveal a nefarious plot.

The writing was fun. The action was intense, though it was a bit predictable. The main character did feel a bit flat in both expression and energy. The other characters were much more charismatic which carried the muted demeanor of the main character. The stunts and resourcefulness were pretty cool as well.

It was a nice escape full of action and adventure. It was surprising that it was an IMDBTV original, because I didn’t even know IMDB made content. Overall, it was fun and I look forward to a second season.

There may be a few words of profanity, but it is not significant. Sexual content includes some light kissing at a party. Violent content includes shootings, stabbings, blood, and a flatlining scene.

Holidate: A Review

Holidate directed by John Whitesell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is Christmas Rom-Com time! This is the first, but certainly not the last, new Christmas film on Netflix (more have already been added to the list). And in a nutshell, it is one of those very self-aware movies.

Emma Roberts plays Sloane, a work from home admin of some sort who is unlucky in love. Her last boyfriend left her for a barista, and she is the last single in her family. She meets Jackson (played by Luke Bracey), an Australian golf pro who seemingly works at a golf course, maybe? They decide to be each other’s Holidate, a person who accompanies one to various holiday parties and get-togethers.

The premise was a little fantastical for a year like 2020, as the big end of year holidays are approaching. It was weird to see big parties and family events without the social distancing and masks. However, that will be a common theme in most of the Christmas movies this year.

The movie was very self-aware, making jokes about tropes in romantic comedies and relationships. But then they go ahead and do the tropes they complained about, to perhaps show the walls coming down for Sloane. There were some very hilarious moments, and some very cringe moments, but overall, a great start to what will hopefully be a season of sappy love stories filled with plot holes and silly tropes that resolve too neatly within the 2 hour time line until the last second of 2020 is over.

There is a lot of profanity in this film. It even becomes a joke towards the end. There is some grinding and “sexy” dancing at one point, and there is one sex scene but not incredibly steamy. Violence includes a lot of slapstick, like losing a finger while shooting off fireworks. It’s lighthearted and silly for the most part.

Secret Society of Second Born Royals: A Review

Secret Society of Second Born Royals directed by Anna Mastro
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

This Disney+ film came out in the summer. It was on the list of “To Be Watched” films that finally got scratched off at the end of October. It is similar to most made for TV movies by Disney in that it is full of cheese and weird plot holes.

Sam is a royal princess of Illyria, the second born daughter. Because her older sister is destined for the throne, and all the responsibility that entails, Sam is allowed to do pretty much whatever she wants, which mostly includes playing gigs with her friend, Mike that include a lot of “Down with the Monarchy” content. She is a good kid with a rebellious streak.

And it is revealed (in the trailer) that she has superpowers. Apparently, every second born child of a royal family has them, and they are sent to an elite training summer camp to either hone their skills or have them removed by the end of summer. Some powers are interesting, like controlling bugs (similar to Antman) and others were pretty typical (like invisibility). But all of them pretty much lived up to mediocre expectation when it came to actually using these powers.

Most of the cast was pretty new, though Skylar Astin (from Pitch Perfect) and Greg Bryk (from Bitten) were notable. Their acting was good and carried most of the scenes they were in. All of the emotion, especially in Bryk’s character, seemed limited, stunted. This is a Disney, straight-to-video, film so to speak, but there never seemed enough time to really develop any of the relationships making all of the choices seem stilted and lacking in tension.

And there were so many plot holes. The backstory, the relationship between Inmate 34 and Sam, where exactly all these other royals were from and why they wouldn’t be invited to a royal coronation, and the whole DNA thing towards the end were just a few of the confusing twists the film tried and failed to make. It pulled the viewer out of the movie completely.

The film is cute, but it would have worked better in a shorter TV series format, allowing for more relationship development and at least a little tension. Ignoring all of the blatant plot holes and confusing connections made throughout the film in order to show that teamwork is important and listening to family is cool can make the film a fun viewing on a bored Saturday afternoon. But honestly, there is better content, even just on the Disney+ platform.

There is no profanity in the film. No sexual content, other than making puppy dog eyes between two characters. Violent content mostly included heavily choreographed fights and a lot of CGI, nothing graphic, grotesque, or detailed. It is Disney+ after all.

The Babysitters Club: A Review

The Babysitters Club created by Rachel Shukert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought sharing something light might be appropriate with all the crazy chaos lately. I was familiar with these books from childhood, as well as the original TV show, but I didn’t know much of the details. This new reboot of the franchise is light and fun, specifically directed towards young girls around 11 to 13.

It definitely has been updated a bit. For example, there is an episode that touches on transgender issues as part of the storyline. But for the most part, it pays homage to the original books. Each episode leading to the last two (which is a two part finale), focuses on one of the girls, and some sort of character growth she experiences. It culminates to a finale that incorporates the friendships created as well as lessons learned through the season.

Some of the content dragged for me, but that is probably because it is not meant for me. I loved the focus on standing up for others, playing as a team, and believing in yourself and your friends as main themes throughout the show. Definitely recommend watching it together if you have a daughter or child in your life that fits the demographic, because of some of the issues that are discussed. But overall, just a fun, light show!

There is no profanity in the film. Sexual content consists of a few chaste kisses. No violent content either, though the finale does include a “curse” over the theater at the camp, which may be a little scary for some.

Whose Vote Counts, Explained: A Review

Whose Vote Counts, Explained produced by Vox on Netflix
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Since tomorrow is Election Day, this limited series on Netflix would be appropriate to watch and review. The series is produced by Vox and Netflix. And they really tried to maintain a nonpartisan perspective while answering a lot of questions heard on social media and straight from voters, themselves.

The series is divided into three parts. The first episode covers a lot of the history of voting, how at first voting was a privilege of the wealthy, white, male landowners (though, surprisingly, there were instances in some states that included black and women landowners before they were shut down in favor of the majority), and the ways voting has evolved and devolved throughout the years.

The second episode was about money. Whether elections can be bought (they can’t but advertising, social media, and politicians can influence you, and there is a lot of money in that). They talk about the nonprofit political groups, the Super PACs, and ideas on how to get smaller donors more involved as well as the average voter.

The third episode was about how votes can matter differently? They cover gerrymandering that specifically affects the House districts and can make the minority have a majority of representation. This also happens because of where we decide to live as well. And why swing states are swing states, and how other states could become swing states. This was a fascinating episode.

Basically, voting can be a really complicated process. There are a lot of ways it can go wrong, and there are other countries who are also democratic that do some things better than we do (or at least have found policies that help their particular problems better than our policies help us, if that makes sense). But there is always hope for reforms or adjustments to the current rules and regulations on the horizon, which is why it is so important to participate in the current process.

Registering to vote in most states have met their deadlines (except in North Dakota where there is no registration), but if you are registered, don’t forget to vote tomorrow! It is an important process, not just for the federal government, but your local one as well.

There is no profanity in the film. No sexual content, either. There are mentions of school shootings and violence against protestors as covered by news media outlets.

A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting: A Review

A Babysitter’s Guide to Monster Hunting directed by Rachel Talalay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wanted to review a Halloween movie for this week, but I don’t really like scary movies. However, when I saw the trailer for this movie, I figured it was pretty safe since it was directed towards a younger crowd. I was also curious to see how scary kids movies were, since the ones I watched growing up petrified me (particularly Witches which I saw got a reboot on HBO Max, and I will in no way be seeking out that new release).

The story follows a girl names Kelly Ferguson who is really smart, to almost a superpower capability, particularly in seeing patterns in mathematical formulas, able to do them in her head. She is also teased because when she was five, she claims a monster in her closet attacked her. So, she has the nickname Monster Girl. There is also a typical school crush and a mean girl and a silly best friend, who are all pretty one-dimensional and are more props than characters.

But the adventure begins when she babysits for her mom’s boss. And the little boy, Jacob, gets taken by the monsters set on releasing nightmares into the world. We are then introduced to the secret society of The Babysitters whose sole purpose is to protect those left in their charge. These characters have a lot more depth to them, but overall everything is pretty light.

The movie is based on a three book series by Joe Ballarini. Knowing that it was based on a book series gave a little grace to some of the awkward emphasis on how smart Kelley is or some of the pacing of the movie at times. There are some moments I feel were missed opportunities to make the film just a little deeper in meaning, but overall, it is a fun movie about bravery and believing in yourself and standing up for your unique qualities.

This was pretty mild for a scary, Halloween movie. Not that I would want my toddler in the room for this particular film, but it is easily meant for the elementary/preteen crowd. The main scariness of this movie are the monsters hiding in your closet or under your bed. But there are some silly moments interwoven in those scenes to cut the scary aspect down a bit. Definitely a fun family movie night!

There is no profanity in the film. (They even referred to a week of initiation into the Society as “heck week”. No sexual content, not even a chaste kiss between the main character and her crush. Violence is a slight factor, but nothing gruesome. Some kicking and attacking with weapons, but even when a monster is vanquished, they dissipate into light, nothing remotely graphic.

The Booksellers: A Review

The Booksellers directed by DW Young
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

This was an absolutely lovely documentary about the book world, specifically the rare book dealer world. It focused less on the stories within books and more on the stories of the books themselves. The only negative was that the film was too short, needing a more in-depth look into the collections of these booksellers.

The film focused on specific booksellers in New York City, but also about the history of book collecting and book binding. Did you know that there are books bound in human skin? Most of these books have made it into museums and libraries, but there are still a few collectors still in the game.

There has been a decline in collecting, though. Part of it is limited supply, and part of it is limited demand. Booksellers are having to pivot to keep up with the changes brought on by the internet and technology as a whole. Older booksellers would say the whole industry is dying, but there a still young people with a lot of ideas to keep it alive.

Book collecting is different than just buying a lot of books to add to a growing TBR. The libraries are curated to a specific theme. One collection may have just women writers, while another follows the history of hip-hop. And it is usually more than just the books, but other items that support the history they are collecting.

So book collectors are essentially historians with a love of their items. First editions aren’t always the best, sometimes it’s annotated copies or signed copies (especially signed to specific people). There was this infectious love of the search. The search that has been dampened by the internet, but it still out there.

It might have taken 20 years to find a particular book at one point, and now it may only take minutes on eBay or a bookseller site. But the love of books, the growing collections of books, is still a loved past time. It has definitely changed the way I will look at my own bookshelves and how I want those shelves to reflect me the next time I am ready to cull back or add to my own library.

There is no significant profanity in the film. Maybe some brief nude images on the cover of books for some of the stranger book collections. No violent content, either, though there is a section discussing how they wish their collections will be handled when they die.