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.
When we are first introduced to Bailey, the lovable narrator in A Dog’s Purpose, he’s a spunky newborn pup full of wonder and curiosity. He asks, “What is this place and why am I here?” As his story unfolds, these questions are answered, and we come to understand all the wonderful reasons dogs exist in our lives. This movie weaves together the separate stories of Bailey’s nine lives and explains how the humans he accompanies on each life’s journey have a unique reason for needing and loving a dog.
I loved this sweet movie for the message it shared, but be warned, it will leave you and your children in tears. Keep a box of tissues nearby! If you love A Dog’s Purpose as much as I did, you’ll find more movies featuring our furry, four-legged friends here.
If you want an action movie with low stakes, look no further than Tag. Based on a true story, five friends have been playing the same game of tag since childhood. Now in their mid-30s, these men dedicate a month each year to continuing the game, pulling all kinds of tricks in order to tag someone. A reporter from The Wall Street Journal is doing a piece on Bob (Jon Hamm) when he’s tagged and decides the game is the more interesting story.
One friend, Jerry (Jeremy Renner), has never once been it, so the other four are determined to make this the year it finally happens. Full of ridiculous action scenes that beautifully spoof Renner’s other movies, this is a fun film with lots of recognizable comedy faces, including Ed Helm, Hannibal Buress, Jake Johnson, Rashida Jones, and Isla Fisher.
Big Hero 6 is a superhero movie that adults would enjoy watching with the whole family. The plot revolves around orphans Hiro and Tadashi, technological whiz kids living with their aunt. College-age Tadashi created an inflatable robot named Baymax, whose purpose is to act as a portable paramedic/doctor. When someone steals younger brother Hiro’s invention to use for evil, Hiro gives Baymax a few superhero upgrades. Also, check out our list, Great Movies: Kid Movies for Adults.
Moana 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.
Neo (Keanu Reeves) is a computer hacker with a somewhat ordinary life…but all is not as it seems. When government agents suddenly show up at his work looking for him, Neo is forced to enlist the aid of a mysterious man named Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne), who promises to reveal the true nature of reality—the Matrix. Should Neo join Morpheus’s secret group? The Matrix is full of amazing visual effects with a mind-blowing plot that will keep you on the edge of your seat right ‘til the end.
If you’re a Firefly fan, then you’ll definitely love Cowboy Bebop. Both are space-westerns with a sassy, devil-may-care crew. Join Spike Spiegel, Faye Valentine, Jet Black, Edward, and last but not least welsh corgi, Ein, on their adventures bounty-hunting their way through space. If you enjoy comedic action/adventures with a dramatic flair, this is the anime for you.
Last month, I covered Pacific Rim. In the second film, Pacific Rim: Uprising, we meet Pentecost’s son, Jake (John Boyega), who is constantly getting into trouble in a post-dystopian world. He tries to steal tech from an abandoned jaeger and is thwarted by Amara (Cailee Spaeny), a young girl building her own jaeger, which is against the law. Mako—now a major player in the war on kaiju—does her best to keep her adoptive brother in line and eventually offers Jake and Amara a choice: prison or returning to the jaeger academy to help train new recruits. Though the war is supposedly over, a new enemy—a human one—threatens to reopen the rift and allow the kaiju back into our world.
Both movies are full of action and memorable characters and, honestly, who doesn’t love giant robots? Check out both films today and make it an adventure double feature. By the end, you’ll be hoping it doesn’t take another five years for the next movie to be released.
In Pacific Rim, we’re introduced to a world plagued by monsters called “kaiju,” which are breaking through a dimensional rift and seem intent on destroying all life on Earth. The world’s militaries have found the only logical way to fight back against the kaiju: giant robots (“jaegers”). Former jaeger pilot Raleigh (Charlie Hunnam) is called out of retirement to help in the war and gets teamed up with a young recruit, Mako Mori (Rinko Kinkuchi), the adoptive daughter of the Marshal, Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba). The two are able to mentally bond through a process called “drifting,” which is required to operate a jaeger. Meanwhile, two scientists Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) and Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) study the kaijus and find a way to drift with a kaiju brain, giving them inside information on the coming attacks. Battles ensue as the humans fight for the fate of their planet and try to close the rift.
Come back next month for my review of the sequel, Pacific Rim Uprising.
A beautiful animated film wrapped up in the traditions and folklore of Mexico’s Dia de los Muertes (Day of the Dead). Twelve-year-old Miguel wants to be a musician, but his family has banned music from their lives for several generations. Intent on pursuing his dream, his ends up in The Land of the Dead on Dia de los Muertes to find his great-great-grandfather who was a famous musician. Miguel not only discovers his family’s real history but also finds out the importance of family in his life.
Coco won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song (for “Remember Me”). Check out the soundtrack on CD and on Hoopla.