Category Archives: Katie

Wreck-It Ralph (2012) PG

51mtooacrwl-_sy445_Once Litwik’s Family Fun Center and Arcade closes for the night, the characters of each game visit each other and meet in a power strip that connects them all.  Wreck-It Ralph, the antagonist of the game Fix-It Felix Jr., is tired of being the bad guy in his game.  When he’s challenged to earn the game characters’ respect by gaining a medal like Felix, Ralph enters various video games causing chaos and hilarity.

I can’t believe that I missed Wreck-It Ralph when it first premiered in 2012.  I am so glad that the sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet came out to remind me to find the original. This is a fantastic comedic adventure that will engage the whole family.  Kids will root for Princess Vanellope, who they will likely relate to as she’s constantly told “no” and left out of the race. Ralph will make them laugh and gain their support by the end of the movie — a “bad” guy that everyone loves.  Adults will enjoy moments like the bad guy support group meetings and the Diet Coke/mentos mountain — a chemical reaction that yields some fantastic YouTube videos.

Definitely give this a re-watch before the sequel comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray in February.

RBG (2018) PG

81njbw6zvql-_sy445_It’s no surprise to people who know me well that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is one of my personal heroes (and in the immortal words of The Notorious B.I.G. via Lin-Manuel Miranda — “and if ya don’t know, now ya know“).  When I found out that there was a documentary coming out on her life, I knew I would be seeing that in the theaters—but now RBG is out on DVD for everyone to enjoy!  The documentary includes interviews with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, her family members, political figures, authors of the book The Notorious RBG, and many more.  It covers her life from childhood to current service and includes footage from her confirmation hearing, as well as audio files from court cases.  What struck me as the best part of the film though were the moments that we, the public, don’t always get to see — Ruth Bader Ginsburg interacting with her granddaughter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg watching Kate McKinnon play her on Saturday Night Live, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life with her beloved husband. I also have to admit that I was delighted to see information on her pop culture influence, including one of the best baby costumes ever: Baby RBG.

I think this is an important documentary for anyone with a political interest to see.  U. S. Supreme Court Justice Bader Ginsburg’s friendship with Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, despite their political oppositions, is something we can all learn from.

Moana (2016) PG

moana_dvd_coverMoana is a spectacular adventure movie.  Charged with returning the heart of the goddess Te Fiti, Moana leaves her island nation and sails away on her mission.  I absolutely love the animation of this movie.  The ocean is a character in and of itself because of the creative team’s work.  Some of my favorite moments though are those of Moana’s introspection and self-realization.  Moana is a very different Disney “princess.”  First of all, she rejects the word princess, and she has her own agenda, making the decision to follow her draw to the ocean. Also, she alone solves the mystery of Te Ka in order to save Te Fiti.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the wonderful music that sets Moana soaring.  While I love Auliʻi Cravalho‘s voice (the voice of Moana) and “How Far I’ll Go,” my favorite songs are the ones that are sung in Tokelauan.  Lastly, I would encourage you to seek out reviews from Pacific Islander reviewers to speak to the culture represented in the movie.  This Buzzfeed article is a great round-up of dialogue, and so is this review from Strange Horizons.

All in all, I think Moana is a genuine, worthwhile story and a great Disney film that will stay with you long after the credits roll.

Love, Simon (2018) PG-13

91uzbb9mbbl-_sy445_One of my favorite things in the entire world is seeing a book turned into a movie and comparing the two.  I am the girl in the theater who turns to her friend afterward and says, “But they didn’t say who the Marauders are!” (Sorry, that’s a Harry Potter reference.)  I almost always find the movie to be less than the book.  Love, Simon is the best movie adaptation of a book I’ve ever seen.  It gives such life to Becky Albertalli’s novel, Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda (review here!).  Nick Robinson is perfectly cast as Simon. And any nitpicky things that I thought as I watched the rest of the cast announced (Leah’s not how I pictured!) disappeared with Katherine Langford‘s performance.

Seeing the movie in theaters was like attending a giant slumber party where the whole audience was rooting for Simon and cheering.  At home, it feels comforting and like a true teen rom-com, you’re just hoping it will end with a “happily ever after”.

Make sure to check out Love, Simon from the library today.

 

 

 

Rockabye Baby! Lullaby renditions of songs from Hamilton (2017)

rockaby-babyTo all the caregivers and parents out there who want to listen to their own tunes while riding in the car with their babies, but worry about the adult language or themes…I give you Rockabye Baby.

Rockabye Baby takes popular music and transforms it into soothing instrumental lullabies.

I personally like to jam out to the Hamilton original cast recording by myself, but when my nieces and nephews are around, I’ll put on the Rockabye Baby Hamilton edition so I can listen to something appropriate and also what I want at the same time.

This label has EIGHTY different albums released, with more coming every day. Check out all of them upstairs in the K&T department. We’ll get you Beyonce or Coldplay lullaby-style and you’ll be on your way.

Everything, Everything (2017) PG-13

everything_everything_posterMaddy has severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)—and that means she has lived her entire life in her house. She spends her time writing blogs, playing Scrabble games with her mom, and taking classes online. But all of that changes when a new neighbor named Olly moves in next door, and Maddy starts to be drawn to the outside world.

I thought that Everything, Everything, the movie adaptation of Nicola Yoon’s teen novel was done really well. The film stars teen movie veterans Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) and Nick Robinson (The 5th Wave; Love, Simon) and their chemistry carries the story. I was concerned that since so much of the story is told through texts and emails that the movie wouldn’t work as well, but the director and crew found great ways to work around that aspect of the book.

While I enjoyed this movie and the book, you should be aware that the portrayal of SCID isn’t factually accurate. This article, written in Variety, explains this in more detail. However, don’t read it until you’ve seen the movie since it does contain spoilers.

If you have enjoyed the book or movie of Everything, Everything, make sure to read Yoon’s other book, The Sun Is Also a Star.

Fun Home: A New Broadway Musical (2015)

funhomeostCheck out the soundtrack to Fun Home, the 2015 Tony Award-winning Best Musical based off the graphic novel memoir by Alison Bechdel.

It tells the story of Alison’s experiences growing up with her family, in college, and as a 43-year-old adult. The musical uses three different actors to play Alison.

The music ranges from funny and humorous to poignant as it conveys all three viewpoints of Alison. My favorite song is the anthem “Ring of Keys” when young Alison realizes that she recognizes herself in an older lesbian.

I definitely recommend reading the graphic novel memoir, as well as getting some insight into the musical since not every scene is on the CD. You can do that by listening to the podcast Broadway Backstory or investigating the musical’s website.

Recommended for fans of RENT, In the Heights, and Spring Awakening.

 

The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band (2010)

laurieberknerIf there is one children’s music CD that I absolutely cannot live without, it is The Best of the Laurie Berkner Band.

It contains great imaginative songs that kids can play with (Track 4: “We Are the Dinosaurs” and Track 13: “The Goldfish”); update songs with great tempos (Track 1: “Bumblebee” and Track 16: “I Know a Chicken”); and even a fantastic lullaby (Track 6: “Moon, Moon, Moon”).

Laurie’s website is a great resource to keep us with what she’s currently working on.

You might recognize her name if you attend our weekly Shake, Shimmy, & Dance program. Either way, make sure that you add it to your checkout list today!

 

Coco (2017) PG

coco_posterCoco is Disney/Pixar’s newest movie out on DVD/Blu-Ray and it is spectacular!

The animation is crisp and immediately grounds the story in modern-day Mexico before whisking viewers away to the Land of the Dead. The colors and details in the Land of the Dead were vibrant and truly captured the celebratory spirit of the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos.

And this wouldn’t be a true Pixar movie without its heart — family and love and dreams. And bonus — soaring music! Seriously, check out the CD (or Hoopla). If you’re looking for a family movie, add Coco to your list.

[Fair warning to those who get teary during movies, this was definitely a two-tissue movie for me!]

 

The Crown. Season 1 (2016) TV-MA

the-crown-2016For anyone obsessed with Britain’s royal family (like me!), The Crown is a perfect blend of drama and actual history, creating a highly enjoyable television series.

The first season of The Crown covers the years 1947-1955, which includes famous events such as Princess Elizabeth’s marriage to Philip, King George VI’s passing, and Queen Elizabeth’s coronation. But there are also a fair amount of things I had no idea happened in England, like the Great Smog of 1952.

I spent a lot of time after episodes doing research and now you don’t have to; a companion book was released that documents the differences between series and true history.

If you’re waiting on the third royal baby to be born in April or Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s marriage in May, this is a fabulous way to pass the time!

Watch season 1 of The Crown on DVD or borrow a Roku to stream it via Netflix. Stay tuned—next week, Jez reviews season 2.