Sunday, January 14, 2018

Rumble in the Jungle

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, Nick Jonas
Director: Jake Kasdan
Released: December 20, 2017
Viewed in theaters: January 7, 2018

Since this is still fairly new, there will be spoilers!

I guess I assumed this was a reboot of the 1995 movie with Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt, and Kirsten Dunst (you can find my review of it here), but it's actually a sequel. It picks up twenty years after the first movie left off. There are enough little shout outs and references to the first movie to satisfy fans of the original, but if you've never seen that one, you won't be lost watching this one. This is its own movie and while the premise is the same, there are enough differences so this isn't a carbon copy of the '95 film.

This one begins in 1996 and a teenaged boy named Alex hears the familiar Jumanji drums (well, familiar to the ones who have seen OG Jumanji!) and he finds the cursed board game. He takes it home with him even though he wonders outloud, "Who still plays game boards?" (Okay, so then why did you take it home with you?) The next day he opens the game and it has magically turned into a video game which he starts to play. We don't see what happens to him (but you can probably guess if you've seen the trailers to this movie!) and instead it cuts to twenty years in the future and we are introduced to our four main characters who will be played by more famous people in about twenty minutes (well, I wasn't familiar with Karen Gillan, but not everybody can be on the same fame level as The Rock!)

Four high school students (two boys and two girls) find themselves getting detention that day. Let's see, we have the jock, we have the weird loner girl, we have the popular girl, and we have the smart kid. We're just missing our Judd Nelson and we would have The Breakfast Club! They are left without any supervision to clean out a room in the basement of the school and they're supposed to take staples out of papers. One of the kids finds an old Nintendo (??) game console with the Jumanji game. I'm not really sure how that game found its way there, but let's not ask silly questions.  There is a TV conveniently located nearby and the two boys hook up the game. They start to choose characters to play in the game. When one of them tries to pick the first character he sees, it won't let him choose that one. We will later find out why that is. They get the girls to join them (by the way, I have never known a game console to have more than two controllers, but I don't play video games, so what do I know?) and the kids are sucked into the game.

This is when we can sit back and have some fun. We had the first twenty minutes or so to introduce us to the characters as their true teenaged selfs, but now we can watch what we all came to the theaters to see. It is very amusing because all the kids have turned into a character that is the complete opposite of who they are. Spencer, the main character and smart kid (he got detention because he wrote the jock kid's history paper) chose an avatar named Dr. Bravestone. He is played by The Rock, excuse me, Dwayne Johnson. Sorry, but he will always be The Rock to me. So we have this nerdy, scrawny kid and he becomes The Rock - you can't get any more opposite than that.

The jock kid is named Fridge and he's very tall and athletic. He's in detention since Spencer did his paper. We get a little backstory that these two used to be friends, but then drifted apart. He chooses a character named Finbar who's a zoologist and is played by Kevin Hart who is known for being short. There's a funny scene where he says, "The top two feet of me is missing!" The character he chooses also is not strong and has no speed, not at all what Fridge is used to in the "real world".

Martha is the awkward girl who doesn't like to interact with anyone and gets detention because she refused to participate in gym class and insulted her P.E. instructor in the process. She becomes Ruby Roundhouse "Killer of Men" (played by Karen Gillan) and becomes a badass who has all the fighting skills, including "dance fighting", whatever that is. She is very self-conscious because she's wearing a halter top, so she's baring some skin and doesn't approve of her outfit for being in the jungle. Her character is obviously an homage to Lara Croft.

Then we have what is probably the best change of all. Bethany is a whole bunch of cliches of the popular teenaged girl. She's self-absorbent, she's constantly taking selfies of herself, she's on her phone during class (the reason she gets detention), she says she is "too pretty" to do any work. If I went to that school, she would be the one person out of these four that I would hate the most. The others don't bother me, but she is just a terrible person. She chooses to become Professor Shelby Oberson whose main strength is being a cartographer, or a "map doctor" as she will later say. Turns out Shelby is short for Sheldon and she is appalled when she finds out she is now "an overweight middle-aged man" (played by Jack Black). Yes, it is very hilarious watching Jack Black play this role. Even though they're now in this video game and they have no idea how they got there and no idea how to get home, the only thing Bethany is worried about is her phone. ("Oh my God, you guys! Where's my phone?") We also immediately see Bethany/Jack Black get eaten by a hippo. The movie knows that she is our least favorite character and we want to see her get some comeuppance.

However, she is not dead (and is still a middle-aged overweight man!) as she comes crashing down from the sky. The kids soon realize that the three bars tattooed on the inside of their arms represent the three lives they get in the game. They will each go through two of their lives, making it more suspenseful if they will get home alive (of course they do, I didn't go in with any spoilers, but even I knew they would all make it out okay). Some of their lives are used for sacrifice, but we have a couple lives that are wasted, for example, when Fridge/Kevin Hart gets into a fight with Spencer/The Rock and Fridge pushes Spencer off a cliff. C'mon, why are you wasting lives like that?

The kids also realize that they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. This is when we find out that Finbar's weaknesses include "strength" and "speed". And cake, for some reason. This game seems very lopsided. If this was a real game (but not TOO real!), nobody would want to be Finbar and EVERYBODY would want to be Dr. Bravestone. His weaknesses are "none". He has no weaknesses! Everyone knows that when you choose a character in a video game, you have at least one weakness or else everybody would want to be that character. We see that Ruby's weakness is "venom" (and she will later sacrifice one of her lives when she is bit by a snake), but isn't EVERYONE'S weakness venom? Anyone can die if they have venom in their system. When Finbar eats a piece of cake (which he thought was bread), he explodes. That makes sense because that is his weakness and for some weird reason, in the game, it kills him. But eating cake won't kill the other characters

They learn that the only way to return home is to return a jewel that was stolen by the bad guy, Van Pelt (played by Bobby Cannavale) - yes, that name may sound familiar because that was the same name of the hunter who was part of the game in the original. They must return it to a huge statue and avoid Van Pelt and all the other dangerous elements along the way. Okay, can I just say this game sounds like something I would have fun playing? I played Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis back in the day (more of a PC game than a video one), and I love those games where you're on an adventure and have to figure out how to get to your next destination. Those fighting video games ala Mortal Kombat? No, thank you.

They come across a pilot named McDonough (played by Nick Jonas). Now you may remember when
our heroes were still high schoolers in 2016 and were about to play the game, they couldn't choose the first character that popped up. That's because it was chosen by teen Alex from 1996. The four characters were trying to find the missing piece to their map and they soon realize that Alex is their missing piece. He tells them he's been there "a few months" (and that really confused me!) and that time is a bit wonky where they are. (Apparently!) We get a shout out to Alan Parrish, the Robin Williams character from the original when he brings them to a shelter in the jungle that Alan built when he was sucked into the game (I guess whether you're sucked into the board game or the video game, it's still the same location). Alex/McDonough tells them he's already used two of his lives trying to cross the canyon. There's a huge hangar full of choices and he's already tried the hot air balloon and the jet, but got shot down both times. I really love the scene where they go to the hangar to attempt to cross the canyon. This really is like a video game. I mentioned Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis earlier and there is a moment where Indy needs something and in order to get it, he needs to have his partner, Sophia, distract this guy so he can get what he needs. This scene totally reminded me of that. Well, not TOTALLY as there was no crazy flirting or fight dancing in the Indiana Jones games! In the film, there are two guards they need to distract so the hot girl in Jack Black's body teaches the awkward girl in the bombshell's body to flirt with them. She ends up being terrible at it, but luckily her skills of "dance fighting" comes in and she beats them up while "Baby I Love Your Way" (the reggae version by Big Mountain) starts playing. Totally random song choice, but I like that song. She single-handedly kicks their asses and anytime a woman kicks some ass, I'm all for it, especially when it's a redhead (but I may be biased!)

This is the scene where the others also learn that Alex hasn't just been there for "a few months". In the span of a minute, he starts spouting off all these '90s references and catch phrases ("getting jiggy with it" and "fly as Cindy Crawford" were the main ones I remembered), so when someone asks him what year he thinks it is, he replies with "1996" and is shocked to learned that his new friends are from twenty years in the future and the others are shocked to learn he's been there that long (he's been there since before they were all born!)

After the guards are down, they go in the hangar to choose their method of travel. Alex wants to use the school bus which was laughable there was even a school bus in there, but they decide on the helicopter. Obviously, this is a game where you need all five characters to beat it. Alex couldn't have made it without the other four and our four main characters couldn't have made it without Alex. Fridge/Finbar has to sacrifice his life when he drops the jewel and in order to get it back, he's killed by a stampede of rhinos (there are some pretty brutal deaths in this game!)

Bethany/Sheldon also sacrifices her life when Alex was stung by a mosquito (his weakness...which is a pretty terrible weakness to have in the freakin' jungle!!) and gives up her second life so he can have one. There's an ongoing joke through the movie where Bethany (in Jack Black's body) has a crush on Alex (because he's played by Nick Jonas) and keeps flirting with him. It is a nice moment that she sacrifices her life for Alex, but you know that if he didn't look like a pop star, she would not have given her one of her lives!

As they get closer to placing the gem in the statue, Martha/Ruby Roundhouse needs to retrieve it in a pit of snakes (super gross) after it's been thrown in there. Our bad guy, Van Pelt shows up and makes her give him the gem, but she purposely gets bitten by a snake and sacrifices her second life (although was it purposely? I feel like she would have gotten bitten by a snake even if she didn't intend to...if you're standing in a pile of snakes, most likely you're gonna get bit!) It was a smart move she made because she falls out of the sky right by the statue and she and Spencer/The Rock are able to place it in its rightful spot and they all yell out, "JUMANJI!" They have won the game and everybody is able to return to their old bodies and where they left off.

The four teens return to the high school and are wondering where Alex is. They go to his childhood house, which used to be boarded up and dreary and is now freshly painted and looks warm and inviting. They see a man in his thirties drive up and right away they know it's Alex. Three different people played this character: somebody played him as a teen in 1996, Nick Jonas played him when he was in the game, and he's played by Colin Hanks as an adult. He knows immediately who these kids are and explains to them that he was sent back to 1996 where he left off so it's nice that he didn't waste twenty years of his life! He tells Bethany he named his daughter after her, "after the person who saved his life".  Awww.

The movie ends with Fridge smashing the video game with a bowling ball, but, c'mon, we all know there's gonna be a sequel!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Little Children

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Director: Joe Johnston
Cast: Rick Moranis, Matt Frewer, Marcia Strassman, Kristine Sutherland, Amy O'Neil, Robert Oliveri, Thomas Brown, Jared Rushton
Released: June 23, 1989

I hadn't seen this movie in a very long time, but I have to say I really enjoyed watching it again. And while there are a few effects that seem very obvious, I think it still holds up quite well for when it was made. If you look at the cast, you may only be familiar with Rick Moranis, but if you ever watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you may notice Kristine Sutherland's name. She played Buffy's mom on that show, Joyce Summers. In this she plays the neighbor to Moranis's scientist character, Wayne Szalinski. 

He has invented a machine that shrinks things, or at least it's supposed to, but it's not quite working. Instead of shrinking things, it explodes them as that is what happens when he tests an apple. We see him giving him a presentation about his new invention, but people in the audience keep leaving and the joke is made that the only thing he's shrinking is the audience. It's actually not a bad idea what he's invented...just think of how much cargo you could get on a ship if everything were greatly reduced in size...of course, you would just have to be able to get those items back to their normal size. And just think how convenient it would be if you moved! You could literally pack up everything you owned into a suitcase! I love it! Although, you probably wouldn't want terrorists getting their hands on this machine. That could spell trouble. This is a movie that could have gone either way - either comedy or flat out horror. But since this is a Disney family film, it's mostly a comedy with a few suspenseful moments. Let's just say if this were the real world, these kids would be dead, dead, dead, and dead! In fact, I was shocked to find out (according to IMDB, not sure where the actual source came from) that there were originally FIVE kids and one of them drowns during the scene the sprinklers are accidentally turned on. Yikes! This is a Disney movie! They're normally not known for being so dark. And I want to know if this kid was part of the Szalinski clan or the Thompson family or if he (or she) was just a another kid from the neighborhood. For what kind of movie it is, I think they made the right call by not adding such a morbid detail!

Wayne Szalinski is so ahead of his time that he even invented texting before texting existed! Well, a very early draft of it. From the kitchen, his children can let him know that it's time to eat, and in return, he can type a message from his computer in the attic where he works and let them know when he'll be down and it's printed out. He just needed to invent auto correct because "I'll be down in five minutes" came out as "I'll be down on fine mimicks."

We have the Szalinskis and the Thompsons who live next door to each other, but don't seem to like each other and the kids aren't really friends with each other. Big Russ Thompson (Matt Frewer) is the one married to Sutherland's character, Mae, and he hates all the noise coming from the Szalinski side since it's usually early in the morning. He has two sons: Little Russ (Thomas Brown) and Ron (Jared Rushton). He finds out his oldest son didn't make the football team (but we later find out he actually quit) because he's too scrawny and is trying to help him with his self-esteem about his size (ah, you see what the movie is doing?) It was bugging me so much because the kid who played Ron looked so familiar to me. I know I had seen him before, so I looked him up. He played Tom Hanks's friend, Billy, in Big, which came out the year prior. Only in that movie he's a redhead and he's a blond in this one. He's a little jerk, always fighting with everyone and causing arguments, although he will have a touching moment later on in the film. The Szalinski children include popular high schooler Amy (Amy O'Neill) who is planning on going to the mall later that day because she is sure she is going to be asked to the dance by the guy she likes. Meanwhile, Russ Jr., who's the same age as her, has a crush on her. Amy's little brother, Nick (Robert Oliveri) is a few years younger than Ron and he's just like his dad: a major nerd and super smart, and he owns it. In fact, he tricks a neighbor kid into mowing the lawn for him, which is his chore. 

Their adventure begins on a day when Wayne is at his convention and his wife (Marcia Strassman) is out and the Thompson family is getting ready for a camping trip and the two adults are too busy to pay any mind to their kids. Ron is playing with his baseball and hits it right into the Zsalinski's attic where it conveniently lands right in front of the shrinking machine. His older brother takes him next door so he can explain what happened. The two young boys go upstairs and when they don't return (because they've been shrunken!), their older siblings go up to see what's going on and they shrink too. Somehow the machine activated when it was hit by the baseball and shrinks all the kids. But before it did that, we see it shrink a couch.

When Wayne comes home, Quark, the Szalinski terrier, barks to lets him know that something is up, but I didn't understand why he didn't go over right to the kids. The damn dog never indicates where the kids are, even though he can smell and hear them while people cannot hear the shrunken kids yelling. I just felt like Quark never tried hard enough to get Wayne's attention about the size of the kids, but I know there would be no movie if Wayne found them and fixed the situation. However, Quark will come in handy in a later scene when Wayne almost becomes a cannibal! Even though I've seen the movie before and know that everything turns out all right in the end, I thought for sure Wayne was going to step on all the kids when he entered the attic. His feet get pretty close to them. The special effects are a lot of fun and this looked like it would have been a fun movie to be in. When Wayne comes home and sees his attic is a mess, he grabs a broom and starts sweeping. All the kids are running from the bristles, but then they grab hold onto them when they can't outrun the broom and are dumped from a dust pan into the outside trash, which is located in the backyard for some weird reason. Don't most people keep their trash in the garage, then bring it out to the curb on trash day? The kids get out of the trash bag and slide down a blade of glass which looked like a lot of fun. Not as fun as the water slide from The Goonies, mind you, but who wouldn't want to slide down a blade of grass?

Nick, our nerdy smart kid calculates that they are a quarter of an inch tall and are sixty four feet from the house which is the equivalent of 3.2 miles (I would have guessed a lot more for how small they are!) This movie could never be made today. Why? Because Nick's calculator also shrunk with him and that's how he was able to figure out the dimensions. If a kid in a current take of this movie was shrunk, they mostly would likely have their phone and could just text their parents and tell them that they can be found on the stone in the middle of the yard. Sure, it might take them awhile to text the message! It would be fun to see a current update on this story, but you would need to find a way to make it so it's not so easy for them to fix the problem.

Ron, our little turd of a character, is whining about how they're supposed to go fishing and Amy replies, "Yeah, right! How are you going, as bait?" And when Amy says, "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto," Ron replies with, "I don't think we're on the food chain anymore, Dorothy." There's a few famous movie quotes in this movie. When they realize that Quark can possible hear them and start whistling to get his attention, Russ doesn't know how to whistle, so Amy tells him, "You just put your lips together and blow."

The majority of the movie takes place in the backyard "jungle". They come across a stream of water which is most likely dog urine (eww!) The kids are separated when Nick is nearly attacked by a bee, but Russ saves him and they both jump on the bee's back and it flies around the backyard several times. We even see them past Wayne and they're screaming at him, but he's just trying to shoo the bee away. The special effects don't quite hold up. It's obvious they shot the actors on the back of a large mechanical bee in front of a green screen.

Now around  this time, Wayne has discovered what's going on and know the kids have been shrunk. His shrunken couch is his first clue that his machine work. I laughed when he told his wife that his machine works and she asked him if the kids knew and he's like, "Yeah, they know." When he does tell her what happened, he just tells her, "I shrunk the kids", omitting the "Honey" from the title. Wayne figures out that he threw out the kids with the trash and they're now somewhere in the backyard. While wearing binoculars, he uses stilts to walk on the grass which doesn't make any sense to me. Sure, there's less area on the leg of a stilt than someone's shoes, but HE COULD STILL SMASH ALL OF THEM TO SMITHEREENS! He will eventually be hooked up to a contraption that swings him around the yard so at least he's not putting any weight on the ground. When he's on the stilts, this is when the sprinklers are turned on accidentally, (and this is when the fifth character would have died), the kids have to run for their lives. Amy nearly does drown, but Russ Jr. saves her by giving her mouth-to-mouth (something he learned in French class - this will become a big joke in the movie).

After Amy is saved by Russ, she starts to see him in a new light. There is a really odd scene we see with the Szalinski parents expressing their concerns for their children when it starts to get dark and there has been no sign of them yet. Is Mrs. Szalinski worried that her kids are only a quarter of an inch tall and could be killed by insects, birds, or small rodents...which mostly come out during the night? Or that the weather could kill them, especially if it rains? Or just the fact that if a person or even a dog or cat walks across the backyard, they could be squashed? No, she's worried that it's dark and that her teenage daughter might be getting it on with the neighbor boy. First of all, before this moment Amy and Russ had never really interacted that much before, it's not like he was her boyfriend. And even if he was, their younger brothers are with them and they're super tiny. I don't think they would even be thinking about that. Now, they do kiss, but that's as far as it goes. But shouldn't have she been worried about a lot more things before she was worried about that? The kids find a Lego piece and end up spending the night in it (very cool!)

They are now closer to the house because they had help getting to the Lego piece. They had come across a huge Hostess oatmeal cookie (you know, the ones with the cream filling in the they even still make those?) The kids are excited and run towards it as they are super hungry. Ron had even mentioned that he was so hungry that he could eat a corn dog the size of a truck and his brother comments that a regular one WOULD be the size of a truck! Now, I don't know how long this oatmeal cookie had been lying in the grass, but it is a shock that it wasn't SWARMING with ants. However one ant does show up and they run away, scared. This is a baby ant (not sure how they know that) and it's bigger than them! Somehow they tame the ant, name it Anty (how original), and use a piece of the cookie to guide it towards their house until they reach the Lego and decide to camp out in it. They tell Anty to go home, but the ant has bonded with them, especially Ron, who's crying as he tells Anty to "Go on!" and "Get out of here!" He even tells Anty that his mom will never let him keep him and I'm thinking, Uh, it's an ant...she probably would't even know if you had one!

The next morning the kids are awoken to a terrifying site when they are attacked by a...scorpion! Uh, what the hell? Do most people find scorpions in their backyard like that? I have never (thank god!) seen a scorpion in real life in my life. It just seemed very out of place. The scorpion attacks Ron who is still in the Lego while the other kids have managed to escape. These Legos weren't exactly accurate because there are two holes which Ron manages to escape out of one since the other hole is blocked by the arachnid. Oh, and who should come to the rescue? It's Anty! There's a fight between a baby ant and a full grown scorpion. Yeah, it's the most unfair fight ever, but Anty puts up a good fight. Even though the scorpion backs up and scuttles away when the kids start throwing dirt at it, it's not enough to save Anty, who got stung. Yes, Anty died! While watching this, I said outloud, "He died?", then burst into tears. No, I didn't burst into tears, but my voice wavered and I did feel really sad! And I HATE ants! They're so disgusting! I once had an ant infestation in a place where I used to live and I had to buy a whole bunch of Raid, and oh, God, it was so gross. They were everywhere. But this made me feel really bad for the kids who had grown an attachment to this little gross insect. But I guess it's better for the ant to die, than, you know, an actual human being!

RIP Anty
June 22, 1989 - June 23, 1989
The kids are so close to their home now and even see Wayne's face peering down at them as he continues the search for them the next morning, but of course he can't hear them when they're yelling at him. There's still one more obstacle the kids have to get through (at least in the backyard) before they make it out of there. Remember when Nick got a neighbor kid to mow the lawn for him? Well, it just so happens he comes over the next morning and the Szalinski parents hear the sound of a motor when they're trying to fix the shrinking machine and realize the terrible thing that's going on in their backyard. They're screaming at the kid to stop, but he's wearing headphones and can't hear them. We have another near-death experience where the kids are nearly hacked to death by the blade, but it stops just in the nick of time.

The kids call for Quark again and he comes out to rescue him. When they called for him the other day, he tried to go to them, but he was scared off by the Thompson cat. This time, he just trotted by the cat. Go, Quark! The kids grab onto his fur which more looks like shag carpet when
we get a close up of it and Quark brings them into the kitchen. Here is the scene where he finally brings attention to Wayne when Nick falls into a bowl of Cheerios and Wayne unknowingly scoops his youngest child up onto his spoon and is ABOUT TO EAT HIM and Quark, thank God, bites his leg so he drops the spoon and then notices the minuscule child in his Cheerios. Can we just all give Quark some major kudos here? A man was about to EAT HIS CHILD, but Quark saved the day! Yay, Quark! For the kid in the bowl of Cheerios scene, they had the actor swim in a tank filled with water and food thickener to make it look like milk and the Cheerios were tractor tires with foam around them. I love it!

Now that Wayne has found the kids, all he has to do is bring them back to their original size, but first he wants to test his machine on a living organism to make sure it's safe. There's a funny scene where the dog runs out of the room when he hears that. Wayne is about to do it himself, but Mr. Thompson (the Thompson parents are well aware of what's going on and come over when they find out their kids have been found) tells him he'll be the guinea pig since Wayne needs to control the machine. Of course, everything is fine and the machine works on him and the kids are returned to their normal size.

Despite some outdated effects and the fact that the insects look super fake, and the parents didn't really seem that concerned about their kids being super small, I really enjoyed this movie and had a lot of fun watching it and it was a lot of fun to go back and revisit it. And let's give it up for Quark one last time!

Good dog!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Loco for 'Coco'

Directors: Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina
Voice Talent: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach, Jaime Camil, Edward James Olmos
Released: November 21, 2017
Viewed in theaters: December 27, 2017

Pixar has done it again! They've managed to a) make another great movie, and b) make me cry while watching it! The last Pixar movie that made me do that was Inside Out which was the last Pixar movie I saw in theaters (in 2015). I have seen Finding Dory on Netflix, but I missed out on The Good Dinosaur and whatever Car sequels came out between now and then. I saw a commerical for this movie where a reviewer said Coco was the best Pixar movie since Toy Story 3', and I'm thinking, Uh, did they not see Inside Out? I saw this with my mom and my five-year-old niece and my mom gave it high praise saying it's "the best movie she's seen all year".  That doesn't surprise me because she also took Gracie to see Boss Baby and The Emoji Movie and I've heard the latter is one of the worst movies of the year!

The movie starts with a prologue of a young Mexican boy, Miguel Rivera (voiced by Anthony Gonzalez), telling the audience about his family and he goes wayyy back to his great, great grandma and how his family became a bunch of shoemakers because of her.  We find out that Mama Imelda (the great, great grandmother) was married to a musician and they had a daughter (his great grandmother, Coco, whom the movie is named after), but her husband left her and Imelda had to raise her daughter by herself. She learned how to make shoes and taught her daughter who would go on to teach her children and so on. The Rivera family has a strict rule: absolutely no music. They don't want to listen to it, they don't want anybody to play it. I have to wonder: what if Imelda's husband had been a chef? Would they have a strict no food rule? I know you don't need music to survive, but that seems a little extreme to cut away something like music that's everywhere and hard to avoid unless you only go to places like the library. 

The Rivera family seem to know this and this is why they don't like Miguel going to the Plaza because they know there's always a lot of street musicians out there. The young boy (or, should I say, muchacho) has a passion and talent for music and plays his guitar in private. He has a secret shrine set up to his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz, who was a huge star in his native Mexico until he was killed when a large bell fell on him during one of his performances (and I admit: that made me LOL). 

It takes place during the Day of the Dead holiday where Mexicans honor and celebrate their deceased relatives. The Riveras have all the photos of their long-gone, but not forgotten relatives out and they go all the way from the most recently departed to a picture of Mama Imelda with Coco when she was a little girl and a man whose head has been cut out of the photo - obviously her husband (Mama Imelda was REALLY angry with him). Now maybe some of you can go as far back as Miguel can on your family tree, but me? Ehh... I know the names of my grandparents, but I could not tell you then names of my parents' grandparents, but I'm sure if I heard them mention the names, then I would find them familiar. I definitely do not know the names of my grandparents' grandparents! 

After doing some research, Miguel becomes convinced that de la Cruz is his great, great grandfather. And the clues do seem to point to that. He wants to perform at a music festival being held in the Plaza, but his grandmother finds out and smashes his guitar, which seems a bit extreme! He frantically runs around, asking people if he can borrow their instrument, but to no avail. He ends up stealing de la Cruz's guitar which is above his tomb in his mausoleum. Somehow, doing this makes him end up in the Land of the Dead. I've mentioned in my review of  The Black Cauldron how the Skeleton Army scared me - any age me! The skeletons in Coco are not like that at all (you don't want to be scaring your audience when they're probably primarily children!) and they're more "fun", which I believe is the word my mom used to describe them. A skeleton could could seamlessly take apart their bones and put them back together again, like a puzzle. 

Miguel meets up with all his deceased relatives who are happy to see him, but he needs to be sent back to where he came from before sunrise or he will forever remain in the Land of the Dead (yikes!) He needs a family member's blessing in order to play music, but is not given it. He is returned to the Mausoleum, right before he stole the guitar, but ends up stealing it again and once again lands back in the Land of the Dead. Miguel runs away from his dead relatives, in hopes to find de la Cruz (voiced by Benjamin Bratt) because he knows he will get his blessing.

Meanwhile, we meet another character named Hector, a skeleton who is trying to cross a check point, but is not able to because his picture was not put up by his relatives. In this world, after you have died, if your family does put up a picture of you, you are not able to cross over to join the other members of your family because they have forgotten you so you are alone forever! It's so sad! I knew Hector was going to be an important part of the story because he's voiced by Gael Garcia Bernal and you don't use him for just a scene or two. Miguel overhears him telling someone that he know de la Cruz so he enlists Hector's help, who in turn, wants Miguel to put up his picture so he can see his family.

Before they begin their adventure, Hector paints Miguel's face and hands so he looks like a skeleton, otherwise he kinda stands out as being living in the Land of the Dead! They think the best way to get de la Cruz's attention is to win an American Idol-type talent show where there's a big showcase of skeletons playing different instruments and/or singing. Miguel does win, but he's quickly discovered by his deceased relatives and runs away again. His great, great grandmother does find him and warns him that it's too dangerous, but he ignores her and goes to find de la Cruz.

Now here is the time where I need to put up some big spoiler warnings. This movie is still relatively new and I know not everybody has seen it, so here is your chance to see it if you haven't yet. And I highly recommend it. It is definitely Pixar's best since Inside Out (or, Toy Story 3 if you didn't care for Inside Out like that reviewer apparently didn't!) So far I haven't really spoiled anything major, but I am about to so you have been warned!

But before we do that, can we talk about the Frozen short that was shown before the movie? Actually, I was very fortunate that they didn't even show it before our showing. I had completely forgotten about it and had just forgotten that a short animated film is usually shown before any Pixar or Disney movie. I remember seeing Tweets around the time Coco came out about how everyone hated the Frozen short (which features five songs, I think?), but I didn't think anything of it. However, after listening to podcast reviews of Coco where many of the reviewers did see the short (and everyone hated it), I found out it's 22 minutes long! Holy Guacamole! That is NOT a short! That is an episode of a sitcom! A short is suppose to be 3-4 minutes long. I found out that it was pulled on December 8 because everyone hated it! I am so thankful I didn't have to see it! And I'm going to say it: Coco is better than Frozen


There are quite a few twists and turns this movie takes and I didn't see any of them coming! First of all, even before Miguel meets de la Cruz, he finds out that Hector knew him because they were partners: Hector wrote the music that de la Cruz sung. We all know that de la Cruz was killed by a fallen bell and throughout the movie, we just figured Hector died from food poisoning, but it turns out he was killed from actual poison put there in his food by de la Cruz himself! So not only is Miguel's great great grandfather a famous musician, but he's also a murderer!

But wait...there's more. Things take a serious turn when it is revealed that de la Cruz is NOT Miguel's great great grandfather, but rather it is Hector! For a minute, I seriously thought that Imelda WAS married to de la Cruz, but had an affair with Hector and Coco was a result of that, but no, I had to remind myself that a) this is a kids' film, and b) that would be way too convoluted. No, Hector was the headless man in that photo all along (and the reason he couldn't get past the checkpoint as his full picture was not put up). We find out that Hector had plans all along to return to his family, the same one he left in order to pursue his music career, but realized he made a mistake and wanted to return to them. De la Cruz found out about this and this is why he killed his friend/partner. He also took all the credit for all the songs Hector wrote.

Miguel and Hector are trapped in the pit de la Cruz threw them in (nice guy), but are rescued by Miguel's family. They make sure that EVERYONE in the Land of the Dead learns the truth about de la Cruz and he is once again killed by a bell (even though he was already dead in the first place, but it was a nice touch for a horrible character). During this whole time, de la Cruz was trying to get the photo Miguel had of Hector in order for him to spend eternity on one side. Unfortunately the photo was lost and Miguel did not have time to retrieve it because he had to be sent back before he wasn't able to return anymore. This time his great great grandmother gives her blessing and Hector wants him to make sure that Coco, his daughter won't forget him.

This is about the time the tears are forming and from here on out, I'll be a big blubbering mess! Miguel runs to his great grandmother's room with his guitar. I for sure thought he was going to play and sing the song that her father wrote for her called "Remember Me" (which Hector played for Miguel in the Land of the Dead), but it takes awhile to get there. When he does start playing, this is when she gets life in her eye and starts to sing along, and oh Lord, I am crying! Mama Coco says "Papa" and has a picture of Hector tucked away so he is now able to be put up on the shrine.

The movie ends with Mama Coco passing away (pretty sure she was nearing 100, so not a huge shock) and showing the next Day of the Dead holiday where the Rivera family now has her portrait up and we see her reunited with her parents in the Land of the Dead. :::sniffle:::

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Merry  Christmas, everyone! Here is a Christmas montage I made, so please enjoy:

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Quartet of Christmas Movies

I've been watching some Christmas movies on Netflix, so I thought I would share my thoughts about them. Spoilers ahoy (if you really care that much!)

A Christmas Prince (2017) - If you have Netflix, you are probably familiar with this because they've been promoting it hardcore. It was okay, but nothing great. It stars Rose McIver as a journalist named Amber who is suppose to travel to the fictional country of Andovia to get a story on Prince Richard. When I heard "Andovia", I thought for sure they had stolen the country from The Princess Diaries, but I guess that's Genovia. They sound exactly alike except for the first syllable! The King has recently died and Prince Richard, his oldest son, is suppose to be taking the throne and the crown on his coronation, which is Christmas Eve. He has a reputation with the press for being a play boy and is never around to take questions from them. To worm herself into the Palace, Amber pretends to be the tutor for Princess Emily, the little sister of Richard. They were expecting a tutor from Minnesota, but thought she wouldn't be arriving until AFTER the New Year. Amber just tells them she's the tutor without having to show any proof of ID and they believe her. Lucky for her, they don't seem to know what a Minnesotan accent is suppose to sound like! At first Princess Emily is a little snot to Amber and doesn't like her, but that only lasts one scene and in the next scene they have become friends. Emily also has found out that Amber isn't really a tutor (I'm sure she figured out that really fast because it was obvious she had no idea what she was doing when she was trying to teach Emily calculus) and finds out she's a journalist. She makes a deal with Amber, saying she won't say who she really is as long as Amber writes "the truth" about her brother. Apparently, Prince Richard is very kind-hearted and generous, giving to charities and playing with the homeless children. I'm not sure why the press says he's a playboy if there's no evidence of him ever being one. As you can guess, Amber starts to fall for the Prince. Of course we can't have a movie without having a couple of villains. This includes Simon, the cousin of Richard and Emily who is second in line to the throne, and Sophia, Richard's ex, who was only dating him in hopes of becoming the Queen someday.

There is this scene that is totally stolen from Beauty and the Beast (animated or live action, take your pick) where Amber is horse back riding by herself (she's following the Prince) and gets thrown from the horse while in the woods. A wolf growls at her and comes towards her and all she can do is just sit against a tree. Guess who comes by and saves her? Yep, the Prince. He shoots his gun to scare away the wolf. I thought it was going to be revealed the wolf was a family pet and it was going to start licking her face and being all cute, but nope.

Amber happens to stumble across some documents that reveal Richard is actually adopted (but Emily is still their own child) and therefore he wouldn't be able to take the throne. She tells her newspaper co-workers/friends back home in New York and they tell her she has a great story, but she doesn't want to betray the Prince like that. Like a moron, she leaves the papers out in the open in her bedroom, so while she's gone, Sophia and Simon start snooping around in there cuz they know something is up with her. They find the papers and at Richard's coronation, just before it is asked if anyone has any objections to him being the King (does it really work that way?), Simon brings out the adoption papers and the Queen admits it's true. Richard cannot be King, thus making Simon the rightful owner of the crown and throne. He marries Sophia the next day, Christmas, and demands to be made the King right that moment.

Meanwhile, Richard is angry at Amber because it is revealed she found the papers. She's on her way back home and calls her dad at the airport who tells her something that makes her think of something. In a previous scene when the Royal Family was decorating the tree, the Queen tells her about an acorn ornament her husband loved and Amber thinks there is a clue inside of it. She is right and there is a message from the King before he died saying he wants his son, even though he was adopted, to inherit the throne. Amber makes it just in time right before Simon is knighted and Richard becomes the rightful King! Yay!

The end scene was so bad. Amber is now back in New York at her dad's diner. It's about ten minutes to midnight on New Year's and guess who happens to be in town? Yep, the Prince, er King. And he asks Amber to marry him, telling her "There can't be a King without his Queen." And even though they only knew each other for a month, Amber says "yes." But then she tells him she can's leave her dad and he's like, "Bring him along too! We'll build a diner in Andovia." It is sooo ridiculous.

Get Santa (2014) - This was my favorite of the ones I'm reviewing. It's a cute family British movie about a young boy, Tom, and his dad, Steve, who are trying to get Santa out of prison. Steve has been in prison for the last couple of years because he was the get away driver in a burglary, but, as his parole officer pointed out, he was not able to get away. It's the day before Christmas when Steve is released and he gets a call from Tom, telling him that Santa (Jim Broadbent) is in their garden shed and needs help finding his sled. It's the middle of the night when Steve gets this call, so of course he's very concerned that his son is alone with a man claiming he's Santa and tells him to get his mother, but Tom refuses to wake her up. Steve comes over and dismisses the man's claims saying he's the real Santa and tells him to leave.

Santa is arrested when he's trying to get his reindeer out of the animal pound. It was a big story in London that a few days earlier a bunch of reindeer were wandering around the city. The news reporter joked that if these were Santa's reindeer, then a lot of kids were going to be disappointed on Christmas Day. If she only knew! Santa being arrested makes the news and on their first day together since Steve's released from prison, Tom wants him to take him to see Santa. Although when his son told him that, he just assumed he wanted to see Santa at the mall, but, no, his son wants to go to prison (the same one where Steve was held) to visit the man from the night before. Santa, now dressed in prison garb, tells them he wants them to save Christmas and he needs them to find his reindeer, who can communicate and they'll know what to do. I think it's Dasher who's the head reindeer and will be able to help them. Steve is still not buying any of this. There is a funny moment where he calls the old man "Nick" and he tells him that he sometimes go by that name and how did he know that?

To humor his son, they drive around until they find the reindeer. They don't talk, but they start farting and Tom is convinced this is the way they communicate. He asks a question and they all start farting. Yeah, it's pretty juvenile, but it made me laugh. I don't know what it is about farting reindeer. This was also a reoccurring theme in The Santa Clause movies . They find Santa's sled and this is around the time Steve thinks that this actually COULD be the real Santa. He accidentally dumps out all the magic powder, but, Santa tells him on the phone that he keeps a manual in his glove department (which is an oversized mitten, haha). There's a map to a tower that will help them. Meanwhile, Steve has already missed his parole meeting, has trespassed on the grounds where the reindeer were, and has knocked out a police officer (although it was the reindeer that did that), so the police are after him. While all this is going on, I'm thinking, Wouldn't it be kinda crazy if this were like The Game, (don't read ahead if you don't want to be spoiled by that movie!) that David Fincher movie where all of this crazy stuff is set up to make Steve believe it's all real, but in reality, EVERYBODY is in on it? That would have been so cool! They need to make a Christmas themed The Game movie! But I knew that wasn't what was going on because a) this is a kid's movie, and b), the next scene completely demolished any notions of that because Steve and his son find a magical slide that takes them to the North Pole (aka Lapland). I don't think there's any way you could explain that! When they arrive, they meet Santa's elves who tells them they can't ride in the sleigh because if they go more than a thousand feet in the air, they'll explode! With only one reindeer (poor reindeer!) to fly the sleigh, the elves instruct Steve how to control it. It's pretty cool how they get started because they start on a huge platform with a giant slide and go down it to gain momentum. There's also a loop-de-loop which I don't understand, but it's all part of the fun and charm, I guess. They're on their way to prison to get Santa. There's a really funny moment where Santa, with the help of  Sully, a littler person (Warwick Davis) escapes and they find a hole that Sully had dug through. There's a poster of a woman in a bathing suit and it's ripped to reveal the hole ala The Shawshank Redemption. Very clever movie, very clever. Of course they are able to get Santa back to his sleigh and save Christmas. This is a very cute movie and I just happened to stumble across it because it was the first movie that popped up when I looked for Christmas movies!

The Christmas Project (2016) - This is a movie that you could tell wanted to be A Christmas Story because there a lot of moments that totally reminded me of that film, but misses the mark. It was a fine movie, but I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it or anything. It's about a group of four brothers, the Buckley's, who are bullied by the Hagbart kids. There's three girls and one boy and they're really only bullied by the boy, Finn. The two older sisters aren't very nice, but they don't beat anyone up or do any mean pranks like their brother and the little sister is pretty harmless.

Mrs. Buckley, who is pregnant with her fifth child (who, to her delight, will be a daughter), wants them to "Elf" the Hagbart family this year. To Elf someone is to leave gifts like candy and mittens on someone's porch, ring the bell, and then hide to watch their expressions. It's clear that the Hagbart family is poor and their mother left them a long time ago. I thought we were going to find out that the father is abusive, but that wasn't the case. He just works a lot so he's never home. In fact, even though we hear about him, we never see him in the movie. Whenever they Elf the Hagbart family, they see the happy expressions on their faces and it makes them feel good, but Finn keeps on being a bully to all of them, especially Matthew, the kid in his grade and the one narrating the story as an adult (another reason this reminded me of A Christmas Story). Finn is a pretty sh*tty kid. He beats up Matthew's older brother, he steals cookies from his younger brother, he pins Matthew's underwear to a map so the class sees it when the teacher pulls the map down and it says "Buckley's bloomers" and he steals and takes credit for the project Matthew made for the egg drop challenge (you know, when you build something to protect an egg when you drop it from a certain height. I never had to do it in school, but this seems to be in a lot of movies and TV shows). However, we're supposed to feel bad for Finn because he's poor and has no mother or something like that. Yeah, he and Matthew become friends at the end, or at least he stops tormenting Matthew all the time, but gimme a break! This kid was a little twerp and never got in trouble for what he did. Everyone (like the teacher and Mrs. Buckley) felt sorry for him.

That was the main storyline, but there were also little subplots such as the Buckleys' getting new neighbors and Matthew and his older brother falling for one of the daughters, Juniper, who looks like Blake Lively's not-as-pretty younger sister.  Her older sister bakes them cookies and they are nasty because there's no sugar in them and very hard when they bite into them. It was a really weird scene because when Matthew's older brother was eating the cookie, the girl was standing really close to him, watching him intently as he eats it. Like, who does that? Later in the movie, Matthew tricks Finn by making cookies that have toothpaste in the middle so when Finn steals them and gives them to his teacher, she'll get mad at him. However, why didn't they use these gross cookies the older sister made? That's where I thought the movie was going with that, but nope. There were some little vignettes peppered in, like one where one of the brothers becomes attached to a chicken (they have chickens for some reason) and his dad accidentally kills it and serves it for dinner because he couldn't tell that one apart from the other ones. And there's an ongoing storyline about "the Christmas catalogue" and if it came in the mail yet and who has it.

It wasn't a terrible movie, but it was clear it was trying too hard to A Christmas Story.

Christmas in the City (2013) - This had to have come from Lifetime or the Hallmark channel. It was a very paint by numbers Christmas movie. It's about a young single woman, Wendy, and her six-year-old daughter, Grace, who move to the city after her dad's candy store is going under foreclosure. It's about three weeks until Christmas, so she decides if she gets a job at a department store (where her friend from the city, Angie, works) then she can make enough money to send home to her mother so she can keep the store running. I thought the city in question was New York, but it was Los Angeles. I was wondering why there was no snow until I realized this. When you think of Christmas city settings, you think of New York or London or Chicago. You don't think of L.A.! But I'm guessing it was set there because it was filmed there, so therefore it was easiest to do that. The only person in this movie who I was familiar with was Ashanti (and even then, even though I know she's a singer, I couldn't tell you the name of any of her songs) who plays this really bitchy woman who has been brought on by the head of the department store to fix things so they can achieve higher sales. Nobody likes her because she's a real hard-ass and everyone calls her Cruella DeVil because she wears a lot of furs. Her ideas to fix the store is to get rid of all the Christmas-y stuff like the decorations, the piano, the carolers, even Santa! She then proceeds to put up more sexy decorations like posters of buff, shirtless guys wearing Santa hats and she has models in slinky dresses serving h'or doeurves on platters. This is a little weird, but whatever, sex sells, right? But what's really weird is that she puts the posters of shirtless buff guys and has shirtless buff male models walking around in the TOY department (the department where Wendy starts because that's where Angie works). WTF? No kid would care about that, unless they're trying to get the attention of the mothers? It's so weird. Everyone is mad at all these changes, but nobody will do anything to stop Ashanti (I don't remember her character's name), so they pretty much let her get away with making the toy department a male stripper show. Wendy falls for the son of the guy who is the head of the Department Store (whose name I've also forgotten) and of course, they fall in love. The little girl is pretty cute (and a good little ice skater, I'm guessing that's why she was cast because that's a little subplot of the movie), but she would whore her mother out to any single dude they came across. This includes the son of Department Store Guy and her bus driver. She would just tell the guy, "Isn't she prrrreeettttyyy?" Wendy's mother ends up selling the candy store, but guess what, Wendy's new boyfriend buys them out and wants to set up their own candy store at the department store where he wants Wendy to be the manager of, so she ends moving back to L.A. so she can live her happy life. Blah. And Ashanti was fired, in case you were wondering. But we all knew that was coming. Terrible movie, but kinda fun to watch because it was so bad. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Too Many Clauses

The Santa Clause
Director: John Pasquin
Cast: Tim Allen, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, Eric Lloyd, David Krumholtz
Released: Novemer 11, 1994

The Santa Clause 2
Director: Michael Lembeck
Cast: Tim Allen, Elizabeth Mitchell, David Krumholtz, Spencer Breslin, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, Eric Lloyd
Released: November 1, 2002

The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause
Director: Michael Lembeck
Cast: Tim Allen, Martin Short, Elizabeth Mitchell, Alan Arkin, Ann-Margaret, Judge Reinhold, Wendy Crewson, Eric Lloyd, Spencer Breslin
Released: November 3, 2006

Oh, boy. This is a Christmas trilogy that gets considerably worse with each movie. I saw that they were all on Netflix and watched all of them in a span of two days. I had only seen the first one, but it had been a very long time since I had revisited it. All I had remembered was that Tim Allen kills Santa Claus (accidentally, of course, as this IS a Disney movie) and becomes him. There are a lot of unanswered questions and things that don't make sense, but they just brush over all of these.

The movie begins on Christmas Eve where Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) is spending the day with his six-year-old son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd). His ex-wife, Laura (Wendy Crewson) and her new psychiatrist husband, Neil (Judge Reinhold) drop him off. Scott is upset because apparently Neil has told Charlie that Santa isn't real, but Scott tells his son that he IS real and, just to humor his son, tells him he believes in him too. This movie would have made more sense if it had been Scott who told his son there was no Santa Claus. 

While there are no funny moments in the sequels (well, there are, but none of them made me laugh), there were some funny moments in the first movie. One of them is when Scott is reading his son "The Night Before Christmas" and when he sees Charlie is (seemingly) asleep, he yada-yadas through the last few pages. However, since it's Christmas Eve, of course Charlie is still awake. They both hear something on the roof and go outside to check it out. Scott sees a man dressed as Santa and yells at him. The man slips and falls off the roof with Charlie exclaiming, "You killed Santa!" Scott pulls out a business card from the man that says "Santa Claus North Pole" and there's a little riddle on the back telling the person who finds the card whoever puts on the suit will become Santa. There's also some very fine print on the border of the card that goes into more detail. Scott, like any sensible adult, is trying to make sense of it and just thinks it was some dude dressed up as Santa. I think he's more concerned that there's a dead guy on his front lawn than that it was actually Santa. However, he can't explain how a sleigh and eight reindeer (why does Rudolph always get the shaft?) and the body somehow seems to disappear.  He doesn't want to put on the Santa suit, but his son convinces him to do so and he becomes Santa Claus, delivering the rest of the presents. Apparently, it looked like the previous Santa was 99.9% done with delivering his gifts because Scott only goes to about three homes before the (scary CGI) reindeer take him and Charlie "home" to the North Pole.

None of the elves (who are all played by children, in fact, there's even a shot of a baby dressed in an elf costume at one point!) seem upset that the previous Santa had died. They welcome their new Santa with no questions. I thought for sure they were going to be upset that their Santa had died and wouldn't be accepting of the new guy, but nope that isn't the case. They just go on with business as usual. I had just assumed the Santa Claus who fell off the roof had been Santa for eternity, but we don't discover until the third movie that there have been thousands upon thousands of Santas throughout time. We know this because Santa Scott shows his ex-wife's daughter who she had with her new husband (the little girl refers to Scott as her uncle) a room filled with thousands of snow globes and tells her each one represents every Santa Claus that has ever been. Does this mean that being Santa Claus is like being a Vampire Slayer? When one dies, the next one takes its place? What if a Santa dies, but is revived? Does that mean there are two Santas? (Actually, that wouldn't be a bad could do the Northern hemisphere and the other could do the Southern. Why am I asking such stupid questions?) Also, why have there been so many damn Santas? No way Santa didn't exist back in the cave man day. Also, we know he has a long life span. We meet ones of his elves who tells Santa Scott that she has been perfecting her hot cocoa recipe for twelve hundred years. There shouldn't have been thousands of Santa...unless the original was the only magical one who could live for thousands of years and when he did finally die, he passed on his powers to just mere mortals who only lived out the rest of their lives. But what happens if a woman puts on the suit? Or a child? I'm so confused. Why do I have so many stupid questions about this movie?

Anyhoo....Santa Scott (btw, notice Scott Calvin has the same initials as Santa Claus) and his son land at the North Pole and he meets Bernard (David Krumholtz), the Head Elf. He explains to him about the Santa Clause, showing him the fine print on the card. He also tells him that he's free to leave tomorrow to get his "affairs in order" and is due back at Thanksgiving to get ready for the holiday season. Now in the sequels, he lives at the North Pole year round, so I guess when they're making the transformation, they're allowed to go back to their real lives to make changes.

Scott wakes ups the next morning in his own bed and just thinks he had a crazy vivid dream. Okay, that does make sense, but shouldn't it send warning signals that his son is also talking about visiting the North Pole and his dad turning into Santa? It's pretty funny when Laura and Neil come to pick up Charlie the next morning who's blabbering on about this and they're just giving Scott a strange look.

Scott goes through some physical changes he can't do anything about on his first hiatus as Santa. For one thing, he gains a lot of weight. So much so that he can only fit into sweatpants and sweatshirts and even goes to an office meeting in a sweatsuit. Nobody believes him when he tells them he's all bloated because he got stung by a bee. And especially not after he orders a bunch of desserts when he's giving his lunch order. Supposedly in this universe, Santa loves his sweets. A LOT. When he goes to the doctor about his weight gain (among other changes), he tells the doctor that he's only been eating cookies and milk. Okay, real talk: If you visited billions of homes once a night (oh, and by the way, in case you really care, they explain how Santa is able to visit so many homes in one night by saying there's a space-time continuum) and ate all the cookies and milk the kids left out for you, would you want to eat cookies any other time of the year? No, I don't think so! I would think Santa would get so damn sick of all the sugar, he'd want to only eat vegetables the rest of the year! But, nope! According to this Santa lore, he loves the sweets! I like cookies too, but, ugh! Even Cookie Monster would get sick of all them cookies! Another physical change is that no matter how many times he keeps shaving, a beard keeps growing on his face and eventually turns into the snowy white  beard we all associate with Santa. There's even a scene where he has just shaven it, looks in the mirror and pats his face dry, and the beard automatically grows back. His doctor dismisses it as "a hormonal imbalance".  But even more concerning is that his doctor also dismisses the fact that when he listens to his heartbeat, he hears it thumping to the tune of Jingle Bells. Uh, you should have this man on the operating table, STAT!

Fed-Ex sends Scott a ton of boxes filled with the names of all the children in the world and whether they're on the naughty or nice list. While it's a funny visual gag because we see his house is just filled with all these boxes, from floor to ceiling, it just doesn't make sense. This is a world where Santa has magic so shouldn't it just be a magical scroll that has every name of all the children on it? (Also, wouldn't it be a pain in the ass to update that sucker every year?) And is Fed-Ex in on this?

The movie takes a bit of a weird, dark turn when Charlie's mom and stepdad are worried that he truly thinks his dad really is Santa Claus and want to take away his visitation rights. I had totally forgotten about that part. They also think Scott is intentionally changing his appearance so he does look like Santa. Someone made this great trailer of The Santa Clause as a horror/thriller and it's super creepy considering that they used footage and dialogue from the actual movie, a Disney family comedy! Now if they had made this movie, it would have been way more interesting! Click here to watch.

So clearly this is set in a universe where Santa does exist. I have no problems with movies like this, but if that is the case that he DOES exist, then why are people, like in this movie, so skeptical that he does exist? How do they explain the presents under the tree the next morning? Unless Santa skips the houses where he knows they don't believe in him because he knows the parents have the presents covered? Or do the parents just assume their spouse put the gifts under the tree while they slept? I am so confused by this. Also, over the course of the three movies, a lot of people find out about Santa, so they're not keeping him top secret or anything.

Scott seems to accept his duties as Santa without question and is fine taking on such a big responsibility. It's too bad there's not some way he can get out of this job he never asked for in the place...oh, wait, we'll get to that later! By the time next Christmas comes along, he does much better than last Christmas. There is a funny moment the first time he's Santa he tells a little girl he's lactose intolerant, hence why he doesn't drink the glass of milk she left out for him. The next Christmas she has soy milk for him because she remembered what he told her.

Laura and Neil realize that Charlie was telling the truth about his dad being Santa all along and give Scott (even though he is now Santa, he still goes by Scott throughout the movies...only the kids and elves seem to call him Santa) back his visitation rights. They now believe in Santa because Laura gets her Mystery Date game she always wanted and Neil gets the "weenie whistle" he always wanted when he was three, but never got, hence the reason he doesn't believe in Santa. A few things:

1. If there REALLY is a Santa, wouldn't he know what Laura and Neil wanted when they were kids? Duh.
2. Neil's parents couldn't splurge for a stupid "weenie whistle?" (BTW, if you don't know what that it, it's a whistle in the shape of a hotdog).
3. Isn't a whistle a choking hazard for a three year old? This one is especially small. That's probably why you didn't get it, Neil! Although, that doesn't explain why Laura never got her board game.
4. Who stops believing in Santa when they're three?
5. Who even remembers anything when they're three?

I did laugh at the end of the movie when Charlie says he wants to go into the "family business." Um, is he going to kill his dad so he can be Santa? Oh, one more thing. This movie came out during prime Home Improvement time so of course get a scene of Tim Allen grunting "Ho, ho, ho" like he did on that show. No kid watching this movie today or in the future will get that at all. Also, in an early scene before he turns into Santa, we see a store in the background called something Timone. This is a cute little Easter egg (um, Christmas cookie?) because Timone is a character from The Lion King, another Disney movie from 1994 and it stars Allen's TV son, JTT!

Okay, it's time to move on to the second movie. The third one is probably the worst in the trilogy, but
this one might be my least favorite. The main premise of this one is that Scott can't continue on being Santa unless he gets married because he needs a Mrs. Claus! Ugh! Can you imagine if the roles were reversed and this was a movie about a woman who couldn't keep her job unless she got married? Also, um, I don't remember the previous Santa being married because we never met his wife in the first movie! Unless, when you die as Santa, Mrs. Claus automatically dies as well!

Santa Scott goes back to wherever he was from from in the United States for two reasons:
1) to find a wife
2) his son, Charlie, now in high school, is now on the naughty list because he's been spray painting around the school. And he's super surprised when Bernard tells him this (or maybe it was Spencer Breslin, who plays the next-in-line elf, who told him...I don't remember). Um, you're Santa Claus. You're the one making the naughty or nice lists! Shouldn't you know this? Especially your own kid?

There is an amusing scene where Scott's ex sets him up with one of her friends (Molly Shannon is a terrible blonde wig) who is obsessed with Christmas. She wears a sweatshirt with a huge print of Santa's face and shows him her Christmas charm bracelet. Nevertheless the date is a bust. While Scott is in "the real world", he begins to look like his old self and thus looses weight and gets rid of the awful beard so he no longer looks like a Santa doppleganger. This is probably only for him to attract a mate, because, let's be honest? Who would be attracted to Santa Claus?

Guess who he ends up falling for? The principal of Charlie's school, Carol (Elizabeth Mitchell aka Juliette from Lost).  They bond over Christmas or something...IDK. I could really care less. Scott ends up telling her, after their first date that he's Santa Claus, but she doesn't believe him. Not until Charlie shows her the snow globe that makes her believe. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention the damn snow globe. It's kind of an important thing in the movies. Get this: whenever Charlie wants to see his dad (since he lives so far away in the North Pole), all he has to do is shake the snow globe and his dad will appear. However, in the third movie we find out the snow globe is locked in a special room in Santa's workshop. So why is it there and not with Charlie? Did he give it back when he got older and didn't care about seeing his dad that much anymore? These movies make no sense.

While Scott is gone, he makes this really creepy clone of himself (played by Tim Allen with a weird plastic head) because they still need to have someone in charge of the elves since it's so close to Christmas and they need to continue making toys. Why didn't he just put Bernard in charge? All of these elves are really stupid because they believe he's the real Santa. He slowly becomes a dictator and it's a really weird B plot line and it's just best to forget about it.

Somehow Carol goes back to the North Pole with Santa Scott and, after, like a month of dating, he asks her to marry him and she's like, "Of course! Yes!" Excuse my langague, but what the f**k? Who decides to marry someone after only knowing the for a month? And who would uproot their whole entire life to move to a cold, remote location with the only company being a bunch of elves and a jolly fat man who eats sweets all day? No, thank you! I would much rather live on the Lost island! They are married right there on the spot and Scott automatically turns back into Santa. You know, I never really thought of this, but I was listening to a podcast and someone pointed out while Scott physically turns into Santa, Carol (haha, I almost typed Juliette) doesn't become a Mrs. Claus type: elderly plump woman with gray hair and round glasses, but rather she stays young, thin, and blonde. So yes, they are married on Christmas Eve, exactly the deadline he needed to be hitched by, and hurry! Christmas is saved! Ugh!

In the third and (hopefully!) final movie, we learn there is an Escape Claus where, if in the event the person who assumes the role of Santa, does NOT want to be Santa, all he has to do if hold the super special Snow Globe and say "I wish I were never Santa" and everything goes back to the way it is. Gee, they conveniently left this out of the first movie! They never told Scott there was a way out of this. Of course, by this time, twelve years later, Scott loves being Santa and blah, blah, blah. He is now married to Carol and they are expecting a baby, and eww...I don't want to think of Santa procreating. Besides, it seems really unfair that Santa has his own child. You just know this kid is going to be the most spoiled kid in the world! He has every single toy right at his fingertips! What kind of bs is that?

In the second movie we were introduced to the Council of Legendary Figures (or whatever they were called) which includes Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, Mother Nature, and Father Time. (Hey! Where is the Hanukah Armadillo?) In this movie we are introduced to Jack Frost (Martin Short) who wants to take over Christmas and become Santa. I know "jack frost" is mentioned in The Christmas Song ("jack frost nipping at your nose"), but I don't think of it as a legendary holiday figure. Apparently he's the one who gives children their runny noses. He ends up tricking Santa into making him not be Santa anymore (and it takes awhile to get there) so he can take over the job. Scott is now back to his old self and we learn that he and his son are no longer close, his ex-wife divorced her new husband (yet their daughter was still born...I thought for sure in this timeline she wouldn't exist) and everything and everyone is so miserable. We also learn that Jack Frost as Santa Claus has made the North Pole into a theme park, charging everyone to come and visit. Scott tricks the Santa Frost into saying he wished he never became Santa and they go back in time to when Scott first became Santa. I thought for sure Scott was going to find a way to save the original Santa, the one who fell off the roof in the first movie, so he would continue on being Santa and Scott would remain himself and still maintain a good relationship with his son and ex-wife AND marry Carol, but live a nice, normal life in Wherever, USA. But no. He was destined to be Santa Claus.

There's also this stupid subplot where Carol's parents (played by Alan Arkin and Ann-Margaret) are coming to visit for her upcoming birth. They, of course, have no idea she's married to Santa Claus and think her husband works at a toy company in Canada. To trick them, they make signs all over saying they are in Canada and everyone says "Eh!" at the end of every sentence. Santa Scott brings the Sandman with him so he can make Carol's parents fall asleep while they're riding in the sled.

Yeah, these movies are terrible. Maybe I would have liked them better if they came out when I was a kid. The first one has its moments and is the most interesting so I would slightly recommend that one as a movie to watch around the holidays, but definitely skip its sequels!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Director: Joe Dante
Cast: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Corey Feldman, Polly Holliday
Released: June 8, 1984

This movie is INSANE, y'all! I first saw it when I was eight or nine and it scared the everliving crap out of me! I have seen it again since then, but the last time I saw it was probably in the early 2000s, so it has been awhile. In fact, it's been so long that there were quite a few things I didn't remember or remembered wrong. I'll address those when I come to them. Even though this movie is 33 years old, I'm sure there is an entire generation who hasn't seen it so there are spoilers! Like The Goonies (which came out a year later and has its own Gremlins reference), it was also written by Chris Columbus, produced by Steven Spielberg, and Corey Feldman is in it.

The movie begins with the father of the main character, Mr. Peltzer (Hoyt Axton), looking for a Christmas gift for his son. He's in Chinatown looking through an old shop with lots of strange and mystic stuff while an old wise Chinese man oversees him (the whole thing reeks of stereotypes) and he comes across a strange (and SUPER ADORABLE!!) creature known as a Mogwai. I didn't remember it ever being called a Mogwai, I always just thought the creatures were known as Gremlins whether they were in the cute and furry stage or the, ahem, monstrous stage. Peltzer tells the shopkeeper he has to have it and "it's exactly what [he's] been looking for." Wait a sec. A strange creature he has never heard of or seen in his entire life is exactly what he's been looking for? How is that even possible? He says he'll pay $100 for it, then ups it to $200. The shopkeeper tells him a firm no because he really is wise. He tells Mr. Peltzer that a Mogwai "comes with much responsibility" (and boy, does it!)  However, his young grandson tells Mr. Peltzer to meet him around back and secretly sells him the strange creature because they need the money. There are three rules (simple rules, really!) when it comes to owning a Mogwai:

1. Keep it out of light, especially sunlight. It could kill the Mogwai.
2. Don't get it wet.
3. And most importantly, whatever you do, never, ever, EVER feed it after midnight.

I, like many, as I'm sure, have a few issues with these rules and I will address these more as I continue on with my review. You'll notice the kid only tells what happens if you don't keep the Mogwai out of sunlight: it will die (which seems way more important than the third rule!) He never says what happens if you get it wet or feed it after midnight. Maybe if he did, then the Peltzers would be a little more careful with their new pet! Hmm, you think? Oh, and guess how long it takes before the rules are broken?

Because Mr. Peltzer is an inventor (and a crappy one at that - he's invented a "bathroom buddy" that's way too bulky and shoots out toothpaste, a juicer that explodes when you put the fruit in it, a coffee maker that pours out sludge, and a wireless phone (hey, I guess he was before his time, but if it only worked!)), he names the Mogwai Gizmo and gives it to his son, Billy (Zach Galligan), that evening, a few days before Christmas. I could have sworn that Billy was a young kid. I would have guessed anywhere between eight and thirteen years old. But he's not! Billy Peltzer has a job at the bank, he drives, he hangs out at a bar. I'm not sure exactly how old he is (Galligan was 19 when he filmed this), but he can't be any younger than eighteen. When we were first introduced to Billy working at the bank, I just assumed he was the older brother of the main character and he was going to be involved in the plot. I didn't realize he WAS the main character until his father gives him the gift. I think this movie would have worked much better with a younger protagonist. I really can't see a teenager (or someone in their early twenties) wanting a pet for Christmas. (Especially if they already have one, as Billy has a loyal dog named Barney). A teenager wants a car or something cool to wear to impress everyone. Now it's possible I was thinking of Corey Feldman who was probably 11 or 12 when he filmed this, but I do remember him not being in this movie as much as he was in The Goonies or Stand By Me or The Lost Boys (he only has a couple scenes). I guess I just assumed he plays the friend to a kid, who is, you know, his own age!

Billy opens his gift and this is when the audience is first shown Gizmo and OMG HE IS THE CUTEST LITTLE THING EVER!! He's so wittle and cute!!! I want one so bad!! Well, maybe not. As we will find out, this adorably cute little guy can cause A LOT of problems, especially if you don't follow the rules (And, obviously, I would follow these rules!) I also want to point out that NONE of the mayhem that will soon occur is Gizmo's fault, NONE OF IT. He is perfectly blameless in all of this mess. He is an innocent little bystander. They created Gizmo and the Gremlins with puppetry and animatronics. As you can see in the film, Gizmo is super tiny. When they showed close ups of just his face they used a large animatronic head. Sure, there are some scenes where it's super obvious Gizmo isn't real, but you have to admire they weren't using CGI (since this IS 1984) and had to create something that was actually in all the scenes with the actors.

Billy's dad tells him the rules of owning a Mogwai. You know, I felt really bad for Barney because Billy has dropped him like a hot potato and is spending all his time with Gizmo. Barney is probably thinking, I've been Billy's loyal pet for however many years and now I'm being pushed away for a cuter pet who can play the piano AND talk. (Gizmo is voiced by Howie Mandel. I thought that name was familiar and realized I know him best as the host of Deal or No Deal. Haha, remember that game show from the mid-2000s?) He can't talk in full sentences, but he does say phrases. Whenever Billy turns on a light, he'll say, "Bright light, bright light!" so Billy can turn it off. He also says "Uh-oh!" a lot (and with good reason!)

When Gizmo gets a boo-boo on his head (because he falls into the trash because Billy shows him his reflection in the mirror after putting on a Santa hat, so this is all BIlly's fault, mind you), Billy takes him to the freaking bathroom of all places to put a bandage on him. Now, I don't know about you, but my bathroom sink and counter is usually wet! WTF are you thinking, Billy? Can't you leave Gizmo in your room and get the bandages from the bathroom? I thought for sure something was going to happen in this scene, but it doesn't. Gizmo is so cute!!! I just wanna cuddle him and give him kisses on the top of his head, awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!!!! He's so cute, he makes me cry.

The next day Corey Feldman comes over to deliver their Christmas tree. He grabs a glass of water and goes upstairs to Billy's room, which is in the attic, where Billy introduces him to Gizmo. Corey, his glass of water, and Gizmo are all on the bed. Seriously, why isn't Billy saying, "Damnit, Corey Feldman, get your glass of water away from my pet." Cuz that glass is tipping towards the Mogwai. But nothing happens...yet. Billy takes him over to his table where he likes to paint. There is a glass of water for cleaning brushes. Guess who clumsily knocks over the glass and spills water all over poor Gizmo? Now you can blame Corey Feldman all you want, but I'm blaming this all on Billy. Corey didn't know about the rules. Billy, however does know about the rules and brings Gizmo over to a table that has a glass of water on it. Moron. The water causes Gizmo to shriek in pain and his fur starts to boil and a small ball of fur (a hair ball, you could say) pops out of his back. Billy and Corey are more interested in the small ball of fur and don't seem to care that Gizmo is writhing in pain. I wanted to smack Billy so hard across his face. Four more of these small balls of fur pop out of Gizmo's back and start to grow until they become the size of Gizmo. Billy now has five more Mogwai! While all this is going on, Barney seems very concerned. In fact, the damn dog (and Gizmo, of course) is the only one who seems concerned about this. Poor Gizmo looks so sad and is shaking his head. He knows what's up! (And it isn't good!) Corey wants one since there are now five more, but changes his mind when one of them bites him when he tries to pet it. This one has a stripe of white fur across his head and he will eventually become the leader and go by the name Stripe.

Billy tells his father about what happened and he thinks this will be a great way to create and sell more Mogwai to kids and that it will become the new popular pet. Their plans for this will soon be sidetracked, but how would that even work? You might be able to sell a couple, but if other kids wanted one, they could just ask their friends for one and all they would have to do is throw water on their Mogwai. If you can make things multiply by five just by adding water to it, then it wouldn't be that rare! Billy also brings one to his science teacher and multiples another Mogwai. The teacher asks if he can keep one so he can run tests on it.

Now I remembered these creatures being good when they were in the cute and furry Mogwai stage and thought they only turned evil when they became the scary lizard-looking monsters, but that's not the case. Even when Stripe and the others are in the Mogwai stage, they are all mischievous and up to no good and have a sinister look in their eyes. In their Mogwai form, Stripe spits at Gizmo (so mean and uncalled for, Stripe!), ties up Barney in Christmas lights (totally uncalled for and how did five little creatures manage to do that to a pretty good sized-dog? They must have super strength? Also, why didn't Barney start barking the minute the Mogwai had him? He doesn't start whimpering until after he'd been tied up), AND they trick Billy into feeding them after midnight. They had unplugged his clock so when they're all begging for food, he think it's only 11:35 and grabs them a plate of chicken which they all eat like they're piranhas. See, this is a reason you could never make this movie today because all he would have to do is look at his phone! The feeding after midnight rule is a little confusing, because when, exactly can you feed them again? When the sun comes up? But, technically, it's still after midnight. Also, even if Billy does think there's still twenty five minutes left before midnight, doesn't he need to account for the food being swallowed and digested? I know, I know, I'm reading way too much into this. Point is, the Mogwai trick him and he feeds them after midnight. He even offers Gizmo some chicken, but he refuses. Meanwhile, at the lab, the stupid science teacher leaves his sandwich in plain sight right in front of the cage where he's testing the Mogwai so he's able to easily grab it. ("Yum, yum!") Now, to be fair, I don't think Billy ever told him about the rules. Geeze, Billy, when you introduce people to the Mogwai, you think you might want to tell people about the three rules?

The next morning when Billy wakes us, he sees these weird pod things. He shows his mother and realizes that the cord to his alarm clock was chewed through and that he did, in fact, feed the Mogwai after midnight. He seems to have no concern at all that these weird shells are in his room. He goes to the school to speak to the science teacher where he's looking at the pod in the cage. Now, until this moment, the movie has been a cute story about a boy and his strange pet ala E.T., but from now on it turns into a straight up horror show. Sh*t is about to hit the fan (and a couple of Gremlins too, ba-ba-ba). Billy's mom hears something coming from upstairs. She gets a phone call from Billy warning her to get out of the house after the Gremlin at school has killed the teacher with a lethal dose of something (why is something so dangerous at a school, anyway?), but one of the Gremlins has disconnected the phone. She then hears Do You Hear What I Hear? playing downstairs. Hands down, that is my favorite Christmas song of all time (I'm partial to the Whitney Houston version), but man, is it ever creepy when they play it in this scene! Mama Peltzer has her carving knife (from baking gingerbread cookies...don't ask) and she's about to go to town on these little demon monsters. Let's see: she throws one into a huge industrial blender, she sprays bug spray into the eyes of another until it backs up in the microwave and she nukes it until it explodes, she straight up stabs another one...Mama P. don't play around! She is attacked by the fourth one, but Billy comes home in time to knock it off of her and send it into the fire. Fun fact: this movie (and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom) is the reason the PG-13 rating exists. The studio didn't think this movie should have been rated R, but it was defintely way darker for the PG rating it did get, so thus became PG-13. This movie almost got an R rating because it was supposed to be A LOT darker than it turned out to be. For one thing, the poor dog and mom were supposed to be killed by the Gremlins (and in quite gruesome ways!)

Stripe is the only Gremlin left and he runs to the YMCA where he jumps into the pool, producing hundreds of other Gremlins. I would have guessed that these creatures are only able to multiply when they're in the Mogwai form, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Stripe and the rest of the Gremlins wreck havoc on the town of Kingston Falls. This includes terrorizing Mrs. Deagle (Polly Holliday), the old mean lady who lives in town. We have been introduced to her earlier, and, boy, is she a nasty old witch. She threatens to kill Billy's dog (more than once) and she doesn't care about anyone. You just know she's going to get a nasty comeuppance, and boy, does she! She has one of those mechanical chairs attached to the wall that takes her upstairs/downstairs and a Gremlin messes with the mechanics of it and when she sits on it to go upstairs, it speeds out of control and she goes around and around (the house is only two stories, but she is going up way more than that) and it sends her flying out the window and crashing into the snow. A pretty horrifying, yet satisfying and hilarious death for a horrid character. Oh! Speaking of snow, all the Gremlins are all out in it. Why aren't they multiplying?

Billy, Gizmo, and Kate (Phoebe Cates), the girl Billy works with at the bank and has a crush on try to stop the Gremlins. Kate tells Billy that this is just another reason for her to hate Christmas. Why does Kate hate Christmas, you ask? (Oh, as if you didn't know!) Even if you haven't seen this movie, you're probably familiar with this crazy monologue Kate tells about the day she discovered Santa Claus wasn't real...which is the same day her father died. When she was nine, he had dressed up as Santa and gone down the chimney, but had slipped and broken his neck and died instantly. They didn't discover him until they had started a fire and smelled something and the firemen came out and pulled out his body. Just a few questions: why was Kate's dad so stupid? And how did he fit down the chimney? I'm pretty sure nobody can fit down a chimney. Everyone knows Santa uses magic to go down them, duh!

All the Gremlins have assembled at a movie theater where they're watching Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (I was surprised Disney gave a Warner Brothers movie permission to use one of their films) and Billy and Kate sneak into the broiler room where they set off an explosion, killing all the Gremlins except for Stripe who has managed to escape to a nearby Montgomery Ward. While Billy is trying to ward (no pun intended, honest!) off the little demon monster, Kate is trying to find a light switch. Stripe has a chain saw and is going after Billy who is holding up a bat to stop the chainsaw. You would think the saw would easily go through a bat, which is made out of wood, but nope. I mean, it does go through it, but quite slowly so Billy has time to escape when Kate finally is able to turn on the lights. Also, Billy is a bit of a wuss. Here is his mother who singlehandedly butchered four of these creatures in a matter of minutes and he can't stop a little two foot creature from throwing balls at him. Just kick it. Stop being a baby, Billy! However, it's Gizmo who saves the day by pulling up a shade when Stripe has put his hand in a fountain and is about to produce more offspring. I laughed so hard when Gizmo pulls the shade because it's so freaking obvious they just attached a Gizmo-like stuffed animal to the cord and it just sort of falls. OMG, it is the funniest thing! It was also really super cute when he says "Bye-bye!" Spike is killed and all is well. Interestingly, Gizmo was supposed to be the evil leader (obviously he was intended to change into a Gremlin), but Spielberg knew that the audience would (rightly) fall in love with him and wanted to keep him pure and good (and super adorable!)

The old wise Chinese man comes to claim Gizmo, saying Billy isn't ready for a Mogwai. Yes, I agree, but where was he in the first place? A couple days has passed since his grandson sold Gizmo to Mr. Peltzer. Surely he noticed the Mogwai was missing before then? Billy is a little upset that Gizmo is being taken away from him, but if I were him, I would be bawling! Gizmo is so freaking adorable and he can talk and play the piano! And he's soooooo cuuuuute! Super cute! However, I was all for the old Chinese man taking him back. Aside from the mother, these Peltzers don't know how to take care of a Mogwai.

An '80s classic for sure!