Posts Tagged ‘Kids’

LEGO Double Feature: The LEGO Movie (2014) and Beyond the Brick: A LEGO Brickumentary (2014)

August 14, 2014

legomovieI saw The LEGO Movie last February and loved it so thoroughly much I decided to hold off on reviewing it and make one of the characters a Boyfriend of the Week.  I wanted to tie the write-up and the review into one big metaphoric LEGO brick I then metaphorically pitched through your metaphoric windows with a gigantic, delightful metaphoric crash.

BUT, as these things do(n’t), that didn’t end up coming together.  Poor MetalBeard; loved and forgotten, all in a span of only about 5 months.  That just ain’t right. (Though, alas, it is all too common — I have 7 (!) unfinished write-ups right now and I can’t seem to focus my attention on any of them long enough to wrap them up!  So many Boyfriends, so little time for foolin’ around!)

Delaying the review, however, ended up being kind of lucky, because when the Seattle International Film Festival came around again this year, I got a chance to see a new LEGO documentary called Beyond the Brick, which was even BETTER than The LEGO Movie, making this pretty much the most perfect double-feature write-up of blissfulness ever.

These two films have two things in common (aside from the obvious theme): they both star a mini-fig, which is awesome because minifigs are my favorite part of LEGO (Beyond the Brick is narrated by Jason Bateman in LEGO form, which is just about the most delightful thing of all time, and The LEGO Movie’s stars are all mini-figs, of course), and both are incredibly funny and completely charming.

Okay, that’s three things. Stop checking my work, nitpickers!

The LEGO Movie was the film I saw first, so let’s start with that one.  It was a huge, delightful surprise!  I was expecting a full-on kid movie, and instead, what I got was a movie very obviously written by someone more or less my age.  The pop culture references were spot-on for my generation, and even the inside jokes about LEGO were things adults were much more likely to pick up on than kids.  Judging from the audience I saw it with, I’m not alone in this, either — the kids in the theater were giggling, but the adults were absolutely roaring.

The plot is nothing unique — it’s about an accidental hero and the buddies who make his heroism possible — but the plot isn’t the point; the characters and the humor are the point, and the point is an incredibly great way to spend 100 minutes of your time.  All the little details are fantastically fun, and the “moral” of the story, that being creative is awesome!, is a great reminder for movie watchers of all ages.  If you’re a fan of interlocking brick systems — or even if you were when you were a kid and you’ve never looked back since — dollars to LEGO croissants, you’re going to get a big kick out of this movie.  And that’s all I’m going to say about it, because I don’t think I need say anything more. IT IS GREAT.

beyondthebrickBeyond the Brick, on the other hand, is not only entertaining, but also utterly fascinating.  This documentary tells the story of the origins of The LEGO Group, which began as a toy company in Denmark in 1949, manufacturing toys made primarily out of wood (like, little wooden ducks on wheels, for example). Then one day, while at some kind of toy expo, the owner saw a demo of a plastic molding machine and got a really great idea.

Since the dawn of the basic 2×4 brick, these toys have been used for a variety of things completely unrelated to play. Engineers and architects use LEGO to build models of new structures, math professors use them to illustrate problems (how many unique configurations can you make with 3 2×4 bricks, e.g.), and they’re used by artists to create all kinds of amazing, creative works (you’ve probably seen Nathan Sawaya’s stuff before).

In one of the most powerful scenes in the film, we’re also introduced to a child psychologist who uses LEGO to help severely autistic children interact with each other and with their therapists.  Kids are put into groups and given a project to build together, each with a specific task.  By following such a direct, clearly defined plan, children who typically have an extraordinarily difficult time engaging with others are able to talk to each other, work together, and create something as a team.  This scene alone makes the film worth the price of admission, if you ask me — what a genius idea, and what an amazing tool for positive change.  TOYS!  They are the best.

The film also has an interesting focus on adult LEGO “play,” too.  It profiles a number of grown-ups famous in the Brick Con (LEGO convention) world for their fantastical creations and structures, as well as people who have created their own LEGO-based businesses, like the Washingtonian guy (a friend of my brother’s, coincidentally) who designs, presses, and sells historical guns and other weaponry (LEGO itself mostly only makes Old West and sci-fi guns).

After all these enterprising adults started to monkey around with the LEGO brand, making their own accessories and builds and even selling some of them for profit, LEGO was forced into a not-so-unusual dilemma in the corporate world: do they go after the people profiting off their brand and sue the pants off ’em?  Or do they embrace the creativity of their fans and try to find a way to work together?

Happily, they went in the latter direction, not only allowing those businesses to continue, but also launching a platform several years ago called “Cuusoo” (Japanese for a concept similar to the word “wish”), in which builders from all over the world design LEGO sets, fans vote on the ones they like the best, and LEGO picks a winner and then develops, markets, and sells the set.  I lack the words to fully express how much I love the whole Cuusoo concept (it’s now called “LEGO Ideas,” by the way).  It’s simply one of the coolest things a huge corporation has ever done for its fans, andpoking around on the site looking at everybody’s designs and voting on my favorites is one my favorite ways to unwind in the evenings (if you have a moment, by the way, register on the site and then vote for the LEGO Hubble telescope, because HOW COOL IS THAT?).

meglegoAll in all, LEGO is sure having a pretty great year on the big screen.  I highly, highly recommend both these movies, especially to all you adult fans out there.  Kids will love The LEGO Movie, to be sure, but you grown-ups will love it even more (unless you have hearts made of plastic). And nobody won’t love Beyond the Brick, because it’s pure perfection. That one isn’t available at the moment, but — best news of all — it’s been picked up by a distribution company  and should be more widely released in late 2014 or early 2015 (according to the producer, who was at the screening I attended answering questions)!  Woo!

LEGO + MEG 4-EVA!

[Netflix LEGO Movie | Buy/Rent it on Amazon | Beyond the Brick site]

Genre: Kids, Documentary, Comedy
Cast (LEGO Movie): Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Cobie Smulders, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Morgan Freeman, Will Ferrell, Liam Neeson, Nick Offerman

MOVIE: Big Miracle (2012)

March 11, 2014

bigmiracleA few weeks ago, I was stuck at home sick for a couple of days.  Lying around on the couch feeling crappy, I couldn’t find anything on Amazon Prime or Netflix I wanted to watch (rawr!), and I was getting more and more cranky and annoyed as the morning progressed (“rawr!” is often my state of mine when I’m home sick — I lack patience for illness).

We had recently signed up for HBO, so in a last ditch attempt to find something with which to occupy myself (OCCUPY MEG STREET!), I activated their HBO Go app on our Smart TV and started flipping through the options.

While poking around in there, I came across the movie Big Miracle, a “family” movie starring Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski. The description said it based on a true story about a pod of gray whales that got trapped in the ice outside Barrow, Alaska in the late 1980s.

I love both Drew and John (not to mention Rob Riggle, Tim Blake Nelson, Kristen Bell, and Ted Danson, who are also all in this film), I’ve always liked stories about whales, AND I’ve always been utterly fascinated by Barrow, Alaska (it’s weird, I know, especially considering how much I hate being cold).  I’ve always wanted to go there — I’m drawn to it for some reason I can’t even begin to explain.  I’ll watch anything set there — from cheesy stuff like 30 Days of Night to the thought-provoking indie film On the Ice (highly recommended, by the way).

In other words, this movie sounded like it was exactly what I needed.  FIRED UP! FEELS GOOD!  Pass me some juice; let’s do this thing!

I’m pleased to report I ended up finding this movie exactly as entertaining as I’d hoped it would be, and I don’t think it’s because I’d hit rock-bottom-boredom right before I turned it on (though, that’s certainly possible).

The screenplay is based on the non-fiction book Freeing the Whales by Tom Rose and is about what became known as “Operation Breakthrough” (OB).  In October 1988, an Inupiaq hunter in Barrow came across a mid-sized hole in the iced-over Beaufort Sea where three whales (two adults and a baby) were trapped.  Because whales have to breathe air, they couldn’t leave the area — the ice had frozen over before they had gotten out to open sea and they wouldn’t be able to hold their breaths long enough to get from the hole they were stuck in all the way out.

The hunter immediately reported the pod, and soon reporters and activists were flying in from all over.  As each attempt to get the whales out fails, the group of residents and outsiders start coming together to pool their ideas and try to find a solution, learning an  important lesson about letting bygones be bygones for the sake of the greater good (for example, the corporate CEO has to learn to work with the Greenpeace lady — two people not typically palling around a lot in real life).  Also, there is a sweet little romantic subplot, which is always nice.

How they end up freeing the whales is pretty amazing, and though the movie ends on a more optimistic note than the “real” story did, that’s what I want in a movie when I’m sick anyway — I want optimism, goddamn it! — so that was fine by me.

All in all, this is a really sweet, good-natured movie that would be extremely appealing to kids and adults alike.  Definitely one to rent on family movie night, I would say.  Recommended!

[Netflix it | Amazon Buy/Rent]

Genre:  Kids, Drama
Cast: Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski, Kristen Bell, Vinessa Shaw, Stephen Root, Ted Danson, Dermot Mulroney, Rob Riggle, Michael Gaston, Tim Blake Nelson

MOVIE: Monsters University (2013)

July 18, 2013

Look at this picture of the insanely adorable little-kid version of Mike Wazowski.  Do I really need to say anything else?

  mikewkid

I thought not.

Three Roar-Omega-Roaring thumbs up from me, my 7 year old nephew, and my 5 year old niece!  (Also: Nathan Fillion! as a sexy beast!  as usual!)

[Prequeue at Netflix | Watch trailer]

Genre:  Animation, Kids
Cast: John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, Dave Foley, Julia Sweeney, Nathan Fillion, Helen Mirren, Tyler Labine.

MOVIE: Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

May 4, 2012

Note: This review was written by my 6 year-old nephew, Luke, who watched the movie with me last weekend.

Text reads (sic where needed, he’s SIX for pity’s sake):

I wosh the movie Kung Fu Panda 2. It is fun. It is osum!

My comment:  I could not agree more, oh wise one.  This is an excellent, succinct movie review.  You have a job here, sir, if you ever want one.  p.s. Aunt Meg loves you very much.

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre: Animation, Kids, Comedy
Cast:  Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Gary Oldman, Seth Rogen, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, David Cross, Lucy Liu, Michelle Yeoh, Dennis Haysbert

MOVIE: Rango (2011)

March 13, 2011

Okay, professional movie critics (Ebert exempted — he loved it), what IS your problem?  This extremely kooky and delightful film got kind of trashed by most of the reviewers I read regularly, and the primary reason for it seemed to be that the cartoon critters weren’t cute enough.

What the. . .?  What do you have against warts, whiskers, and waddles?  Lizard bigots.  Sheesh.

This entertaining, clever Western is about a chameleon who is on a road trip through the desert with his human family when the car swerves after hitting an armadillo (who was pretty ugly, I’ll grant you, but hey, looks aren’t everything!), sending our new amigo flying out the back.

Totally lost and completely out of his element, he starts walking and eventually stumbles across a little town named Dirt full of a variety of other desert animals.  He moseys into the local saloon in search of a glass of water, and is immediately approached by a gang of locals who ain’t too keen on strangers.  This gives the chameleon an idea — he loves to act, so he decides to pretend to be a gunslinger named Rango, regaling the saloon’s sots with a Wild West tale about the time he took out seven bad guys with a single bullet.

As Rango settles into town, eventually given the rather dubious honor of being named sheriff (none of the other sheriffs have lived too long, he’s told AFTER accepting the gig), he begins to pick up on the fact Dirt is in trouble.  It’s the middle of a terrible drought and the town is nearly out of water.  But when he and his new gal pal, a lizard lady named Beans, start to notice strange things going on (what looks like a large dumping of water outside of town, the fact the mayor doesn’t seem terribly worried, the robbery of the last of the town’s water), they begin to suspect a conspiracy.

Can Rango and Beans figure out who’s keeping the town dry (and why) before the bad guy comes after them?

Well, of course they can, duh — this is a kid’s movie, after all; it’ll have a happy ending (though I want to note here that this movie is really more suitable for older kids than little ones — there are a lot of truly scary scenes and I’m also not sure little kids will be able to follow the story).

Any fan of Westerns will get a kick out of this smart, satirical flick, which affectionately incorporates almost every classic Western element, from rolling tumbleweeds, angry mobs, bank robbers, posses, and High Noon duels, to bar brawls, a rancher who won’t give up her land, a bad guy who wants to keep the town squished flat under his thumb, and a romance between a drifter and the woman who seems destined to help him put down roots.

There were also some pretty clever additional touches for adults, including a cameo by Dr. Gonzo and Raoul Duke (on their way to or from Vegas, no doubt), a batty take on the helicopter scene from Apocalypse Now, and a sweet hat-tip to The Man With No Name (voiced perfectly by Timothy Olyphant, who really does a mighty fine Clint Eastwood).

The animation is absolutely gorgeous too — there were several scenic shots that were true works of art, in my opinion, and though the critters might, in fact, be a bit on the homely side, they’re intricately drawn, with tons of character in their faces, and even the ugliest of the ugly good guys had an irresistible charm that will win you over by the end.

“No man can walk out of his own story” is a great moral to this classic tale, and I think Rango is a movie both kids and grown-ups will really enjoy (though, again, it’s rated PG, not G, for a reason).

Also glorious:  it was made in 2D and it’s being shown in 2D and there is NO OPTION to see it in 3D.  Utterly refreshing.

And highly recommended!

[Prequeue at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre:  Animation, Western, Kids
Cast:  Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Harry Dean Stanton, Timothy Olyphant, Ray Winstone

MOVIE: Megamind (2010)

March 12, 2011

Super-powered aliens Megamind (Will Ferrell) and Metro Man (Brad Pitt) grew up together in Metro City after crash-landing (separately) on Earth as infants.  In school, Metro Man was constantly being honored for using his powers and considerable charm for good (you can tell he’s the good guy by his hulking, square chin), while Megamind, blue-headed being of the puny jaw, was continually punished for acting out.

After years of being picked on and, in his opinion, unfairly judged as “bad,” Megamind decided it was time for a change — he was going to become as famous as Metro Man.  Only he was going to become a famous super VILLAIN instead.

Thus began years of conflict between the two supers, as Megamind developed dastardly plot after dastardly plot, all foiled time and again by Metro Man.

Then one day, Megamind came up with the perfect plan — well, okay, technically he didn’t come up with it; it was “perfect” plan mostly by accident.  But NO MATTER.  Victory was finally his and Metro Man was kaput.

At first, Megamind was ecstatic — now he was the ruling super of Metro City (which he pronounces “Metrocity,” rhymes with “atrocity”).  Only, as it turned out, being an evil genius without a nemesis is pretty, well . . . dull.

So, Megamind and his minion, Minion (a fish with a robot body), decided to create a new superhero to combat, turning a dorky news cameraman named Hal into the super-powerful Titan.

What Megamind didn’t count on, however, was Titan’s reaction to his new abilities.  And before you could recite Megamind’s “presidential” motto, “No you can’t,” Titan had gone over to the dark side.

This animated film is a true delight with tons of quirky humor, much of it clearly designed for parents my age — references to Marlon Brando as Superman’s dad, Donkey Kong, the Karate Kid, and more.  And it’s loaded with all the stuff kids love too — silly jokes, archetypal battles of good vs. evil, and ridiculous cuteness.  Stellar voiceover work by Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, and Jonah Hill and bright, colorful animation round the picture out, making it a blast for the whole family.

I had a great time watching this one, and so did my 6 and 4 year-old nephew and niece.  Definitely recommended!

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre:  Kids, Animation
Cast:  Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, David Cross, Justin Theroux, Ben Stiller, Jessica Schulte, J.K. Simmons

MOVIE: Despicable Me (2010)

July 25, 2010

Well, okay.  It’s no Pixar movie, that’s for sure.   And while I didn’t hate it, I was pretty disappointed by this one overall.

Despicable Me is a predictable, extremely-cheesy animated film is about a dastardly villain, Gru (voiced by Steve Carell and oddly looking a lot like him at times), who is about to lose all his villainous funding if he doesn’t commit the theft of the century.  His position as the baddest bad guy on Earth is being threatened by a young up-and-comer named Vector — a nerd turned evil whose recent theft of the Great Pyramid has the entire world abuzz.

Gru decides the best way to reestablish himself as Nemesis of the Year is to steal a shrink ray gun currently being developed by a nameless Asian government, and then use it to shrink and then steal the moon.  But when Vector gets his hands on the gun first, Gru must find a way to get inside his heavily armed fortress to steal it back.

He decides the best way in is through three little girls who have been roaming the neighborhood selling cookies for their orphanage.  So, he disguises himself as a dentist and adopts the trio of pawns.  The older girl, Margot, is a bit suspicious, but the other two, especially the little one, Agnes, fall head-over-heels for Gru immediately.  And, of course, though he tries to resist their precious charms, he’s no match for the adorableness of children, and it’s not long before the foursome is a family and Gru decides to give up his life of crime for a life of puppies and rainbows instead.

Pixar movies (like the recent Toy Story 3, which I loved) somehow always manage to be extremely satisfying for me as an adult, while still remaining completely successful for kids.  The writing is always strong, the stories always entertaining, the characters usually well-developed, the jokes a good mix of dumb and clever.  This one, not so much.  I found myself getting impatient with it, in part because it has a lot of unnecessary “cute” filler scenes (the whole little-yellow-guys-in-supermarket scene = thumb-twiddler), but also because the story is one I feel like I’ve seen a thousand times.  It brought nothing new to the table, not even in terms of the characters’ cartoon technology.   With all the possibilities animation opens up to you, the best you’ve got is a freeze ray?  A shrink ray?  A squid gun?   Yawn.

I should probably also confess that the timing of my viewing of this film may have impacted my experience of it as well.  I saw it right after I’d spent an hour listening to a trusted confidant tell me the obvious solution to all my problems is having a baby.  I didn’t really appreciate this, to be honest.  And before I had a chance to move past it, suddenly there was Steve Carell essentially telling me the same damn thing.

Hey, guess what?  Not so much, Steve Carell.

I think kids will really enjoy this one, don’t get me wrong.  It’s funny in a good kid-humor kind of way, it’s got some entertaining little yellow dorky creatures, the villains blow lots of stuff up, etc.  But adults?  I don’t know.

It’s no Pixar movie.  That’s for sure.

[Pre-queue at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre:  Animation, Kids
Cast:  Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Miranda Cosgrove, Elsie Fisher, Kristen Wiig, Julie Andrews, Will Arnett

MOVIE: Toy Story 3 (2010)

July 15, 2010

You know what’s even better than Toy Story and Toy Story 2

TOY STORY 3.

That’s right, you heard me correctly:  far and away the best of the series.  How often does THAT happen with sequels?  Especially threequels?  I can’t think of a single one.  Not even Jaws 3-D, which holds a special Dennis Quaid-sized place in my heart.

This hilarious and delightful film takes us back to the world of our favorite pals, Woody, Buzz, Jessie (who I met earlier this year at Disneyland, by the way — see photo here.  She’s super sweet in person, I must say, though her head is bizarrely humongous), and the rest, as their owner Andy is preparing to head off for college, leaving the fate of his toys uncertain.

When a mix-up leaves everybody but Woody in a box destined for donation to a local daycare center, the adventure begins.  Will the gang get to stay together?  Will they be split apart?  Will they have to live the rest of their toy lives in a box in Andy’s attic?  Or worse, suffer the horrors of the Caterpillar Room at the daycare center, where the toddlers too young to know better beat and bash them around?

And, man, what’s up with that big fat purple bear guy anyway?  Take a ‘lude, dude.

Pixar movies never fail to impress the heck out of me.  Not only do they feature sharp writing,  gorgeous animation, and delightful characters, but they also brilliantly manage to work just as well for adults as they do for kids.  There was a joke in this film — I wish I could remember what it was — that only adults my age and older are going to get, for one thing.  And the bittersweet ending is something I think only adults are going to appreciate fully too.   You know, those of us who have grown up and left home.  Or, even more painfully, those of us who have kids who will be doing that someday themselves.  (For example, there’s a scene at the end where Andy’s mom stands next to him, surveying his now-empty room, and it reminded me of when my older brother left for college and my mother began to cry when she saw he’d made his bed before he left.  Awwwww!  Moms are the best. . .)

Little kids will laugh like crazy, get a little teared up at a few points perhaps, and root for the good guys.  Teenagers will snort and chuckle, maybe think a little about playing with their own dusty old toys one more time when they get home.  But adults — well, those of us who do this sort of thing anyway — are going to bawl their eyes out and hold their babies a little bit closer (or, in my case, my borrowed baby:  my sister’s 4 year-old son Luke, who was  snuggled up in my lap the whole time.  Don’t be fooled into thinking the only reason I loved every minute of Toy Story 3 was directly related to the film itself.  Two hours with that boy in my lap is, to me, far more magical than any film could ever be.  Miss you, Dukes.  By which I mean: love you.).

Another perfect, perfect movie from Pixar.   Go see this one before it leaves theaters!

(Note for parents:  There’s one scene in this film I would describe as potentially too scary for little ones.  It involves a big fire pit and the imminent death of all our intrepid heroes.  But it doesn’t last long and both my 4 year-old nephew and 2 year-old niece weathered it just fine (and aren’t huge movie watchers, either, so it’s not really a question of their exposure to scary things in general).  Just thought this information might be helpful.  Enjoy!)

[Prequeue at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre:  Kids, Animation, Comedy
Cast:  Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Estelle Harris

MOVIE: Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

April 4, 2010

I’m going to start this review out by saying exactly the same thing I always say whenever I watch and then review an animated film:  “I don’t really like animated films all that much.  I mean, I like them okay, but I rarely seek them out specifically.”

Then, as usual, I will continue on by saying:  “The weird thing is, whenever I see one, I almost always LOVE IT.  Why am I so stupid?  Why don’t I seek these out?  When will I learn that I love them?  Will I learn this time?  Pfft, doubtful.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.”

I don’t know why I’m always so mean to myself about it.  Really?  “Stupid,” Meg?  That’s not very nice.  Just seeking.  Just learning.  Still learning.  Working on it.

And Fantastic Mr. Fox is an excellent lesson.  This movie is brilliant — strange, clever, engaging, and hilarious.  Perfectly so.  I can’t think of a single thing I did not love about it.  Not one.

Based on the Roald Dahl tale of the same name, it’s about a young fox named Ash (Jason Schwartzman) trying to earn the respect of his father, Mr. Fox (George Clooney), a newspaperman who is also “a wild animal” addicted to the thrill of stealing squab.  Ash is small and cerebral, and when his cousin, karate expert Kristofferson (Eric Chase Anderson) shows up and starts getting all the praise from Mr. Fox that Ash wanted for himself, he is spurred into taking greater and greater risks.  Pushing himself.  Trying to find the Ash he wants to be.  Or, at least, the Ash he thinks his father wants him to be.  (Don’t worry, parents, he learns the right lesson about that in the end.)

It’s a great, classic story, and it’s translated to the big screen wonderfully here by Wes Anderson’s weird, awesome brain.  The animation is stop-motion, which is a format I’m not terribly familiar with and found extremely impressive (I couldn’t figure out how they did some of it, in fact, like when the characters do flips and there isn’t a single break in the motion — amazing!) and the dialogue is absolutely sharp as a cussin’ tack.

If you, like me, are sort of hum-dee-hum-hum about animated films, do yourself an enormous favor tonight and go rent this one.  Watch it with your kids (though, warning, there are a few scary scenes in this), watch it with your spouse, watch it with your neighbor who you barely know but wish you could be friends with.

I envy you — you’re about to have a perfectly splendid evening.

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre:  Kids, Animation
Cast:  George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Eric Anderson, Owen Wilson

MOVIE: Kung Fu Panda (2008)

February 26, 2009

kungfupandaSorry the blog has been radio-silent for the last week or so — I went out of town for several days of sunshine, warmth, and adorableness (my 1 year-old niece and 3 year-old nephew and 35 year-old twin sister and 29 year-old mother (hi, Mom!)), and neglected to alert you all to the fact I’d be out of commission for a bit.  Sorry about that!  I had lofty plans to get a lot of reviews written while I was out of town, but at the last minute had to leave my laptop at home (I’m nursing an injured shoulder and it was just too heavy!).  Such is life when you are a blogger with lots of broken body parts.

In any case, I’m making it up to you by telling you to go rent Kung Fu Panda this weekend.  Because it’s HILARIOUS.  And extremely entertaining and fun.  All that AND it stars a big fat panda who does kung fu — voiced by Jack Black!  Things just don’t get much better!

The story is about an evil snow leopard warrior named Tai Lung (the awesome Ian McShane, who is an upcoming Boyfriend of the Week, incidentally) who has just escaped from prison and is on his way to destroy the Valley of Peace.  To protect the Valley, Kung Fu Master Oogway decides it is time to hold the ceremony that selects the Dragon Warrior, a kung fu sooooper genius who, it is believed, will be the only one capable of defeating Tai Lung.

Meanwhile, there’s this big fat panda named Po who works with his dad in a noodle restaurant and spends his days dreaming of being a kung fu warrior himself.  When Po hears Master Oogway is going to hold the Dragon Warrior selection ceremony, he races out of the restaurant to go watch — and soon finds himself sort of accidentally selected!  Even though he doesn’t know any real kung fu!

The rest of the famous Furious Five (kung fu warriors), Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Mantis (Seth Rogan), Viper (Lucy Liu), and Crane (David Cross), are not too impressed with Po but ultimately decide the best way to get rid of him is to try to train him and let him fail.

But, of course, that completely backfires, due to Po’s AWESOMENESS. Something for which he does not charge.

SKIDOOSH!!

My brother told me his five year-old son was laughing so hard at this movie that he was crying and that, therefore, I needed to watch it immediately.  Since I find many of the same things hilarious that the five year-old does (which either means I’m really childish or he’s very precocious — or some combination of both), I thought that was a pretty decent recommendation.

I now pass the same recommendation along to you.  Do with this information what you will.  As long as what you will is to rent and watch Kung Fu Panda as soon as possible.

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre: Animation, Kids
Cast:  Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogan, David Cross