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.

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.

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.

The Knight Before Christmas

I didn’t actually watch this Netflix movie (actually, I walked in at the end of it – twice!), but my sisters did. They said it was extremely cute and innocent. They liked it so much they watched it again with our cousin.

The story is about a British knight who goes on a quest and finds himself transported to present day New York. On his journey to become a true knight and return to England, he touches the lives of everyone in the town, helping to spread joy, happiness, and Christmas spirit.

In terms of quality, this is akin to a Hallmark film. So if you need a light-hearted, kid-friendly, holiday movie to veg out to, you might want to give The Knight Before Christmas a try.

Klaus

Christmas isn’t over yet! Not until January 5! So, there is still time to catch up on some Christmas movies.

Klaus is the best new Christmas movie I’ve seen in a long time! It was cute, funny, very clever, and in my opinion, a unique telling of the origins of Santa Claus.

The story focuses on a young man, Jesper, who has grown up (well, that part is debatable), in the lap of luxury, thanks to his father’s prosperous postal business. Disgusted by his son’s lazy, spoiled behavior, Jesper’s father sends him to the town of Smeerensburg with instructions to mail 6,000 letters in one year or he will be cut from the family fortune.

Upon his arrival in Smeerensburg, Jesper discovers a depressed and unfriendly town whose two major families are engaged in a bitter feud (not unlike the Hatfields and McCoys.) This family feud puts Jesper’s dreams of returning home in jeopardy as no one writes letters. Determined not to remain in this frozen-dung-heap of a town forever, Jesper concocts a clever scheme to reach his postal quota, and consequently, Santa is born!

Definitely worth a watch, this film is full of laughs and family fun!

P.S. It is going on my “favorites” list.