The latest from our Heart and Soul
The best part of the holidays in our house is the anticipation, the days leading up to the big event. Put the shopping and wrapping and Christmas cards, I’m talking about good ole family fun.
Raincoast Book’s Christmas Scratchers and Hanukkah Scratchers are all about holiday family fun. Each booklet contains 40 interactive cards containing jokes, craft ideas, puzzles and more fun stuff. Just scratch-off the coated area and reveal what your festive fun for the day will be.
We’ve been using the Christmas Scratchers in our home; they are a great way to keep the kids occupied. My 9-year old choose a Home Scavenger Hunt with the Elves. She scratched off each stocking on the card to reveal something she had to find around the house. When everything was collected, the last spot was her challenge: make holiday cards using the materials she found. She loved this, both the hunt and the card making.
All the cards are different. Christmas Charades: scratch off a present to see what you are to act out with your friends. The Gift of Giving: scratch off a star to reveal a festive idea for doing good and giving to others. There are even cards to help you with those difficult holiday decisions – what Christmas themed movie to watch first.
The Hanukkah Scratchers are the same idea but with different themes, like Hanukkah Ha-Ha’s, Spin the Dreidel, Start a New Tradition.
The Christmas Scratchers and Hanukkah Scratchers are like a fun lottery ticket the whole family can enjly. They can be used or given as a full book or you can pull one card out, great to give to classmates and friends. Let the family fun begin!
It’s time to play the music.
It’s time to light the lights.
It’s time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight.
A flashback to my childhood, watching the Muppet Show on TV with its short skits and special guests and silly gag jokes. The Muppet Show was a program that had family appeal, with something for kids and adults alike. I think that’s why I introduced the program to my kids last year when the seasons were released within a DVD boxset. It’s now one of the requested items we pack for road trip viewing (and it’s one I don’t mind hearing over and over again from the front seat).
Yes, we’re Muppet fans. We own all of the past Muppet movies and watch them regularly. EverythingMom included Muppet Christmas Carol in their list of the best holiday family movies.
I’ll admit, when the new Muppet movie was announced I was a little apprehensive. It had been awhile since their last film, Muppets from Space in 1999, and it wasn’t my favourite. I was worried that a new film would degrade my high expectations of the Muppets. But my Muppet loving kids had to see the film.
And I’m glad I did.
Unlike the other Muppet movies, The Muppets is more akin to the original TV series, The Muppet Show.
Scenario from Walt Disney Studios Canada
On vacation in Los Angeles, Walter, the world's biggest Muppet fan, his brother Gary (Jason Segel) and Gary’s girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) from Smalltown, USA, discover the nefarious plan of oilman Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) to raze the Muppet Theatre and drill for the oil recently discovered beneath the Muppets' former stomping grounds. To stage a telethon and raise the $10 million needed to save the theatre, Walter, Mary and Gary help Kermit reunite the Muppets, who have all gone their separate ways: Fozzie now performs with a Reno casino tribute band called the Moopets, Miss Piggy is a plus-size fashion editor at Vogue Paris, Animal is in a Santa Barbara clinic for anger management, and Gonzo is a high-powered plumbing magnate. With signature celebrity cameos, Disney’s “The Muppets” hits the big screen Nov. 23, 2011.
As Kermit and gang work to rebuild the original theatre, I can’t help but remember past episodes of the TV series. My 9-year old even said out loud, in comment to a line about Bob Hope being a past guest star, that she had seen that episode.
Like the past Muppet movies, the friends all band together to solve a problem but tying the task back to the original show was brilliant. The Muppets rekindled a love to something from my childhood and something I have started to share with my own kids. When asked, even Kermit the frog thinks The Muppets will appeal to both old and new fans:
It’s funny, upbeat and full of laughs for everyone… frogs, pigs, bears… even people. For new fans, it’s a chance to see the Muppets in action on the big screen. And for old fans, it’s a chance to get together with old friends… and get a little crazy together.
Sure, there’s the underlining romance between Gary (Jason Segel) and Mary (Amy Adams) and there are a long of singing numbers but it’s really the gang getting back together and resurrecting the family fun variety show that won me over. To be fair, I would probably have enjoyed any movie the Muppets did (how can you not like the Muppets) but the nostalgic pull from The Muppets made me love this movie.
The Muppets opens November 23, 2011 across the Country. If you loved the Muppet Show growing up, then you’ll love The Muppets, right along with your kids. And who couldn’t use a good fart shoe joke?
You can find Walt Disney Studios Canada on Facebook for more fun stuff around The Muppets and other releases.
It may not be a classic Disney movie, but when Cars first came out in 2006 my kids loved it. So when they heard Disney Pixar was releasing a Cars 2 movie, it was on their ‘must watch’ list.
The Cars 2 movie takes Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) and his best bud Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) out of Radiator Springs and overseas into a world of Grand Prix racing and espionage. Many of the characters your kids may love from Disney Pixar’s Cars movie, like Sally or Sheriff, only play bit parts in Cars 2, at the beginning and near the end. However, Lightning McQueen’s original pit crew members, Luigi and Guido, do travel overseas to be part of the Cars 2 pit crew. This movie really focuses on Lightning McQueen and Mater and a cast of new characters: Finn McMissile (Michael Caine), Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer), and Francesco Bernoulli (John Turturro) to name a few.
The original Cars movie was more of a story about best friends and working as a team. The Cars 2 movie also touches on the theme of friendship but I found this movie had more action to it, almost like James Bond film for kids. Funny enough, the spy story seems to play without Lightning McQueen really knowing. You’ll still hear the fun banter between Lightning McQueen and Mater throughout the movie but the racing story is secondary in Disney Pixar’s Cars 2 movie. The main story is about spies and espionage. There are double-crosses and secret weapons and guns, lots of guns.
I bring this point up because, unlike the original Cars movie that was about sneaky tricks to win a race, Cars 2 involves mobsters that break into gunfight in dark alleys and plot to ‘take out’ other cars in the race. This tone is very different than the first movie and sort of took me by surprise. Although the characters in Cars 2 are cartoon vehicles, the movie has added human characteristics and emotions to them. It’s what makes us cheer for Lightning McQueen to win and sad when we think he’s abandoned his friend. But it also makes us uneasy when a spy car is ‘tortured’ by the bad guys in one scene.
Don’t get me wrong; I loved Disney Pixar’s Cars 2 movie, even more so than the first movie. My three kids would agree, especially my 7 and 9 year old. They felt the spy action was far more entertaining than the race in the first Cars movie. They loved the technology used by the spies, turning into submarine or flying cars, shooting grappling hooks from under the hood, transforming into disguises. Though my 4 year old found it very loud and wasn't a fan of the 3D version. But, good or bad, my kids have been exposed to action-oriented movies like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. The gunplay didn’t faze them too much. But for younger fans that might be expecting Cars, they might be in for a shock.
My advice to parents, if your kids liked Disney Pixar’s Cars movie, then they will probably enjoy Cars 2, maybe even more so than the original film, like my kids did. But with the change in tone and the addition of guns, parents with younger kids might want to keep this in mind when deciding if seeing Cars 2 is appropriate for them. Especially when the action as well as sound, will be magnified exponentially on a movie theatre screen compared to on your TV screen.
I want to thank the folks at Walt Disney Studios Canada for inviting my family to see Disney Pixar’s Cars 2.
It’s amazing how J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books have captured the attention of so many readers, young and old alike. Our family hasn’t read all of the books in the Harry Potter series but we have enjoyed the author’s incredible tale through the various Harry Potter movies. And now the story comes to a close with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2).
As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t read all of the Harry Potter books so I can’t comment on how the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow (Part 2) does at recreating J.K. Rowling’s story but I have found that with each movie, the Harry Potter tale does get darker and scarier, as Harry gets closer to confronting Lord Voldemort in the final epic showdown told in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2).
As expected the story includes some the characters you love, including Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood and Professor McGonagall, along with characters you love to hate, Bellatrix Lestrange, Draco Malfoy and Severus Snape, but Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger are the main characters throughout.
I was please to see the story was filled with action from the opening scene until the credits; opening right where Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1) left off versus including a lot of back story. With the bad guys taking over, you know the movie will be dark and foreboding, with Harry, Hermione and Ron encountering near misses with death a few times.
Even expecting the movie to be dark, there are a few scenes that will make you jump. One snake attack scene is very upsetting. You don’t see what happens but know what is going on by the sounds and the distorted view. If you or your children have read the story Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2) is based on, you probably know the scene I’m referring too but that doesn’t make the scene any easier to watch. Some favourite and entrenched characters do die as well, though not until near the very end of the movie.
The cost of seeing a movie is getting so expensive, making it an activity that many families will think twice about partaking in, waiting for a movie release to come out on DVD. But some movies you have to see on the big screen. The action scenes make Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2) a movie worth the price of a theatre ticket. My husband and 7-year old son were invited to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallow (Part 2) in 3D thanks to the folks at American Express, Front of the Line. The 3D treatment added more depth to the film according to my husband.
The only part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2) that I wasn’t a fan of was the inclusion of the epilogue. I realize this was part of the book, giving readers a peek into the character’s lives 19 years later, but I didn’t need to see this at the end of the movie. The final battle was enough for me to bring closure to the story. Plus seeing Harry, Hermione, Ron and Malfoy 19 years later looked more like kids playing dress-up versus actual seeing them as adults. It was a hooky way to end such a great movie. That said, my 9-year old loved that the epiloge was included.
I really enjoyed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2), as did my two older kids (7 and 9). My 4-year old is also a big Harry Potter fan but I find the large screen can amplify the dark and scary scenes in a movie. She’ll have to wait until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2) comes out on DVD.
It's a rainy afternoon and the kids stuck inside are driving you crazy. Sounds like a perfect opportunity to pop some pop corn and settle down to watch a movie together. We had the chance to view some of the latest family flicks from 20th Century Fox.
Strawberry Shortcake: The Berryfest Princess
Kids-Animated, Not rated, 64 mins (available on DVD)
It’s time for the annual Berryfest Spring Festival but with Princess Berrykins away, the town needs to elect a new Berryfest Princess. Strawberry Shortcake and her friend Orange Blossom are up for the same positon but only one can win. No matter who wins, the girls are determined to still be friends in the end. Good thing too because the role of Berryfest Princess is much harder than it sounds. The friends eventually learn to work together to make a successful Berryfest Spring Festival for everyone
This film is obviously going to appeal to the younger aged girls, perfect for my 3-year-old who not only loves Strawberry Shortcake but princesses too. However, I was surprised that my 5-year-old and 7-year-old also enjoyed watching the film. The disc also includes some printable colouring pages (for your computer) and a sing-along.
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
Family, Not Rated, 89 mins (available on DVD and Blu-ray)
The singing chipmunk brothers Alvin, Simon and Theadore return for another funny adventure the whole family will enjoy. While their manager Dave recovers in hospital from a concert mishap, the boys take a break from the music scene and enroll in school as a way to try and fit in with kids their own age. But music doesn’t take a back seat for long. The Chipmunks enter a school talent contest and meet the Chipettes, who are managed by the boys’ evil ex-manager Ian.
It didn’t really matter what the movie was about, if it has the Chipmunks in it my kids will love it. They loved the first movie and we’re excited to see the ‘Squeakquel’. My 3-year-old and 5-year-old loved the silly situations the Chipmunks got themselves into; they especially loved Alvin and would often quote him during (and after) the movie. My 7-year-old loved the film too but her favourite part was the singing; she loved the songs and that they were popular dance songs she knows from the radio. She couldn’t help but sing along.
Starring Jason Lee (voice of Alvin and the Chipmunks), Zach Levi, David Cross, Justin Long, Anna Faris, Amy Poehler, Christina Applegate, Jessie McCartney
Family, Rated PG,
Carrie, a teen from the city, is sent to live with Hank, her estranged father on his horse ranch. Feeling out of her element, she's more comfortable on her skateboard surrounded by steel and concrete in the city than the dirt and wide-open spaces of the country, Carrie makes an unlikely friend in the form of a wild horse named Flicka.
The extra features include an interview with Clint Black, how the film was made as well as some footage on real wild horses; great for the horse enthusiast.
This movie seemed to have something for everyone in my family: my 5-year-old son loved the whole cowboy, living on a ranch lifestyle; my 3-year-old loved that it was a story about horses; my 8-year-old loved the innocent romance between Carrie and the ranch hand who taught her how to ride a horse. Also be prepared to cry, I did. Animal movies seem to be either tear-jerkers or comedies. Flicka 2 is the later but everything turns out in the end.
Starring Tamara Sursok, Patrick Warburton, Clint Black
Family, Rated PG, 120 mins (available on DVD and Blu-ray)
Derek is one of the toughest hockey players around, which is obvious from his nickname The Tooth Fairy (he's know for knocking his opponent’s teeth out when on the ice). But his nickname takes on new meaning when Derek is sentenced to one week's hard labour as the actual Tooth Fairy. Even though he has to sport frilly wings, Derek is determined to play the Tooth Fairy his way.
Along with the standard theatrical trailers and sneak peeks found in the Extra Features section, Dwayne Johnson’s ‘Fairyoke’ was funny to watch (once) and Tooth Fairy Training Academy is a little workout for kids under the guise of training to be a Tooth Fairy (includes clips from the movie too).
All 3 of my kids laughed at Derek's antics in his attempt to play the Tooth Fairy. The especially loved the Tooth Fairy’s arsenal of tools (shrinking paste, amnesia dust, barking pills to name a few). My kids laughed out loud throughout the film and retell parts of it to their friends often. A fun film.
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Julie Andrews, Billy Crystal, Ashley Judd
* These movie titles were provided for the purpose of this review