UP

Wow! What a difference 5 years can make!

I didn’t like Up the first time I saw it. But recently, I was craving a good animation. Tired of all my Disney Pixar regulars like Inside Out and Monster’s Inc., I decided to give Up a second chance. To my surprise, I really enjoyed it.

UP tells the story of an elderly man, Carl Fredricksen, who spirals into depression and bitterness upon the death of his wife, Ellie. Ellie and Carl dreamed of and went on many adventures over the course of their marriage. However, there was one adventure they never took, and that was Ellie’s dream trip to Paradise Falls. Feeling as if he failed his wife, Carl resolves to take Ellie, even if only in spirit, to Paradise Falls. Spurred to action by the threat of entering a retirement home, he attaches balloons to his house, causing it to rip from the ground and sail away.

Unbeknownst to Carl, one of the neighborhood kids, Russell, is on his porch when the house is ripped from the earth. Now, not only is Carl on a journey to South America, Russell is joining him. Russell’s enthusiasm and incessant chatter are not exactly what Carl had in mind when he set-off on this adventure. Russell is annoying, an obstacle in Carl’s path to fulfilling his wife’s dream. It is not until the end that Carl realizes dreams change, and sometimes, living with the one you love is the greatest adventure of all.

Blessed Among Us

BlessedAmongUs.jpgBlessed Among Us is a collection of short biographies (3 paragraphs at most) of individuals who, through their lives, exemplified virtues such as service to others, humility, courage, compassion, etc. Written by Robert Eslberg for the Give Us This Day monthly publication, they were eventually compiled into a book.

This book covers people from all walks of life. While this book predominantly focuses on the lives of Catholic Saints and Catholic individuals, it does not limit the biographies to solely Catholics, featuring biographies of individuals like Martin Luther King Jr., Anne Frank, Fred Rogers, and Mohandas Gandhi to name a few. The purpose of this book is not to promote one denomination as superior, but to show how individual lives can change the world simply by making selfless choices.

Often times, when I read stories about people from history, religious or not, I do not feel as if I can relate to them. Their deeds are far beyond anything I believe I am capable of or their experiences are not comparable to my life. I find it discouraging – how can I ever hope to make a difference when I’m not special or talented or gifted?

This is one of the reasons why I enjoy Blessed Among Us so much. While some of the individuals featured are naturally gifted, extremely brave or devout, or make some extraordinary discovery, many of those featured are simply “normal” (at least by my standards). They didn’t discover a cure or save somebody’s life; they just lived – lived a life doing what they could with what they had to make the world a better place.

Aladdin (2019)

I saw this movie when it came out in theaters. Of all the Disney remakes thus far (with the exception of Dumbo which I haven’t seen), I like this one the best. I thought it stayed true to the original story*. Even though they added a solo for Jasmine, it fit the movie well, even if the style didn’t match 100%.

The actor who played Jafar did a good job. My only regret is that he didn’t get his solo. I was looking forward to hearing him sing Jafar’s song.

Overall, I was impressed, and while it is not one that I will buy. I will definitely watch it with my family now that it’s on Disney+.

*The Lion King remake seemed to follow the original movie as well; however, it was not one of my favorites growing up, and I was not as intimately familiar with it as I am Aladdin.

Castle

Castle is an ABC television series that aired from 2009 – 2016. The series centers around Richard Castle, a famous novelist, as he accompanies the NYPD on their homicide investigations.

When we first meet Richard Castle, he is experiencing writer’s block and has killed off the main character in his profitable murder mysteries series – Derrick Storm. Unbeknownst to Castle, someone is killing people, using his stories for inspiration. Castle is interrogated by the police and ends up assisting them, much to the annoyance of Detective Kate Beckett, in their investigation.

In finding the murder suspect, Castle also finds the solution to his writer’s block – Kate Beckett. Inspired by her feisty personality, Castle decides to base his next series off of her.

With the permission of the New York mayor and despite Beckett’s objections, Castle tags along, accompanying Beckett and her team on their homicide investigations. Inevitably, Castle becomes an integral part of the NYPD, even if he does drive Beckett insane.

The show is full of humor, but does contain adult content. Castle is rated TV-14. Compared to some of the other mystery shows I’ve watched (like NCIS), there are more bedroom scenes and adult references. While they aren’t found in every episode, and you may go several episodes without any, they do occur more regularly than I would like. Consequently, if you have young teens you might want to watch the episodes beforehand before showing it to them.

Jumanji: The Next Level

I must say, I really liked Jumanj: The Next Level. I honestly wasn’t expecting it to be any good as is the way with most sequels. However, I was pleasantly surprised. In fact, I think I enjoyed this one more than Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (the first Jumanji sequel). This one is more funny, although it could be because I had the benefit of watching it in a packed theater. There is something about sitting in a full theater with a laughing crowd.

The premise of Jumanji: The Next Level is that one of the main characters – Spencer – is dissatisfied with his life, and so he resurrects Jumanji, which is the last place he recalls feeling important. His friends, concerned when they cannot get a hold of him, realize what he has done and go in after him. However, things don’t go quite as planned and Spencer’s granddad (played by Danny DeVito) and an elderly friend (Danny Glover) get sucked in to the game as well.

What I found most hilarious was watching Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart channel Danny DeVito and Danny Glover, respectively. It was funny to see adult men pretending to be older men in a younger body. Kevin Hart in particular did a great job of maintaining Danny Glover’s calm demeanor and personality.

While the movie was funny, my favorite thing about the movie was the message. Eddie, Spencer’s grandfather, is aging. He is recovering from hip surgery and doesn’t want to let anyone help him. He is an old, cranky man who resents growing old. However, by the end of the movie, he realizes that maybe getting old isn’t such a bad thing. My favorite line in the movie is Eddie’s statement:

Getting old is a gift. I forget that sometimes, but it is. What more could a guy possibly want?

In a world where we are so focused on remaining young in appearance, it is nice to be reminded that aging truly is a gift. It is a sign of a life lived and adventures had. Not everyone lives long enough to grow old; be thankful for the life you’ve lived.

Parents should note that there is some crude humor referencing male anatomy as well as some profanity.