Hidden Gem- Something Wicked This Way Comes

something-wickedOver on my youtube channel I have been doing a Disney Scares month for Family Movie Night. With October being a 5 Monday month I decided on Black Hole, Watcher in the Woods, Frankenweenie, Something Wicked This Way Comes and Dragonslayer. It’s been particularly fun to watch these films from the 80s that hardly seem like Disney films at all. Watcher in the Woods has some questionable acting but the rest of the production is fantastic. Black Hole ended up being more of a sci-fi movie than horror but I really enjoyed it. It reminded me of a good episode of Star Trek more than a horror movie like I was expecting. But this Sunday I will post my review of Something Wicked This Way Comes and spoiler alert I LOVED IT!

Rarely do I watch a movie that excites me as much as Something Wicked This Way Comes did. If you like Stranger Things than rent this film. I think you will really love it. It’s not hokey fun like Watcher in the Woods but just chilling and thoughtful and extremely well acted.

something-wicked5Something Wicked This Way Comes is based on a novel by Ray Bradbury and it focuses on 2 boys named Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade from a small isolated town where everyone knows each other. The boys are a bit rebellious but there is also an innocence to them. They are instantly likable without being too adorable child-actorish. Will is particularly interesting because his father is an older man (Jason Robards) who worries he can’t play ball and be there for his child the way he wants. To me it was interesting to have a parent more insecure about his child than the child. Usually in most movies it’s the unaware, workaholic parent and the damaged child.

something-wicked3The movie does a great job setting up insecurities of many of the townspeople. The school teacher who was once beautiful. The storekeeper who lost limbs in the war but was once the town football star. These aren’t just cliches but characters we grow to care about in their brief screen time. They all have this mixture of innocence and darker desires that the movie explores.

Then one day a carnival comes into town- something wicked you might say! This is ran by a man named Mr Dark who is played brilliantly by Jonathan Pryce. This is the kind of role that Tim Burton would muck up with exposition and a tragic backstory. Not here. We get very little about him, which makes him unpredictable and scary.

something-wicked-this-way-comesThe carnival at first seems like an innocent diversion but it of course is not. I don’t want to give away too much but it was so surprising. Each step of the carnival was both a temptation and curse. Some things like a carousel which can change your age appear very appealing but as always is the case there is a price to be paid. The trailer says “never whisper your dreams” and that is such a good tagline for this film. Dreams are where we are often most vulnerable.

something-wicked-2What was so great is not everything was explained and I’m sure someone could point out plotholes and inconsistencies but we are dealing with dark magic here. It really worked. There are some incredibly chilling scenes with everything from psychological scares to creatures in the night. Some scares were even quite devastating like when Will’s Dad is confronted with his insecurities as a father or the school teacher in her lost youth. I cried which is saying something in a scary movie.

Everything works in this film. The cinematography by Stephen H Burum is perfect mixture of Americana and Burtonesque carnival scenes. The music by James Horner is quiet when it needs to be. The sets and special effects held up and were scary and the acting is top rate. Jason Robards, Jonathan Price, Diane Ladd, Pam Grier, and all the small roles including the boys Vidal Peterson and Shawn Carson are all fantastic.

I loved this movie. I mean loved it. It builds tension so well and draws you into the story and characters. I just wanted to give you guys a heads up if you are looking for family appropriate Halloween fare to check this out. It is definitely one of Disney’s most hidden gems.

I will go into more detail on my youtube review on Sunday but trust me on this one. It is a fantastic film. Have any of you seen it? Were you as impressed as I was? Let me know in the comments. Thanks

Family Movie Night: Song of the Sea

This week on my family movie night video I put another plug for you all to see Song of the Sea.

I can’t say enough good things about this film.  It’s still the best movie I’ve seen all year including Inside Out.  In my opinion Song of the Sea is a true new masterpiece and I love it more each time I see it.  It’s emotional, peaceful, tense, sweet, scary and everything else.  The journey that Ben takes in dealing with the loss of his Mother is engrossing and devastating at times.  There is magic and unexpected characters and the animation is stunning.

Please watch it!!!  It is available as a free stream if you are an amazon prime member.

Have you seen it?  What did you think?

The music by Bruno Calais and Kila is so moving as well.  I have the soundtrack and enjoy listening to it throughout the day.  It has a calming effect over me.

What would you say is a new masterpiece released in the last 3 or 4 years.  I would put last year’s Boyhood in that discussion and Inside Out would be on the short list.

An Extremely Goofy Movie Review

This post was previously posted on my column over at ldsblogs.com.  I’d love if you guys took a look at the post and gave a comment or two.  Thanks!  Tomorrow my Family Movie Night pick will be last years Boxtrolls so that should be fun.  If you have any suggestions or ideas for Netflix picks I could use I would love it. Thanks!

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This week on my Facebook page I was delighted to see lots of back to school pictures from my friends with children starting off the school year.  Seeing these images and the smiling (and a little bit nervous) looks on kids’ faces made me want to come up with a family movie night pick they might like and that has a back to school element.  I also wanted to pick a movie which I thought boys would like since they are a little bit harder to come by on Netflix kids.  After much thought, I went with the fun but imperfect An Extremely Goofy Movie.

Made in 2000, An Extremely Goofy Movie is a sequel to the 1995 film A Goofy Movie (Netflix only has Extremely not the original).  Both films were made by the Disneytoons division which is the studio that makes the lesser-known, often straight to DVD films for Disney.  They are behind the terrible sequels in the 2000s like Bambi 2 and the horrifically bad Hunchback of Notre Dame 2 (that’s available on Netflix and I promise you it’s awful.  Don’t watch it!).   Honestly the Goofy, Tinker Bell and Winnie the Pooh franchises are the standouts over at Disneytoons.

I could see someone really eviscerating An Extremely Goofy Movie and it isn’t without its flaws.  First of all, it is dated and stuck in the year 2000.  Everything is extreme including extreme sports like skateboarding and BMX biking (even the name is Extreme!).  It also has a lot of lame jokes about coffee and Starbucks that feel very dated.

But if you can get beyond that junk there are things to like in An Extremely Goofy Movie.  The plot is Max is now 18 and going off to college (even though he looks exactly the same as in the previous film).  He is naturally very excited to be on his own and away from his overprotective but well-meaning Dad.  Unfortunately for him, Dad loses his job and has to go back to college for the year. This means Max has to put up with Goofy for the entire school year.

Things get further complicated when a rival fraternity (led by Bradley Uppercrust who is just as snobby as he sounds) challenges Max and friends to an XGames show-down.   Goofy also meets a love interest named Sylvia and they share a common infatuation with anything 1970s and are actually quite funny together.

Whether it is in the movies or on The Goof Troop TV show, I’ve always liked the relationship between Goofy and Max and can relate to that dichotomy of needing your parents but wanting them to be as far away as possible.  I think it’s good for kids to talk about their parents as real people with feelings that make mistakes and Goofy is such a character.  There is no doubt his heart is always in the right place.

They decided to not have any original songs like A Goofy Movie but I don’t really mind that because I’m not a huge fan of those songs.  Instead they have a bunch of classic rock songs from the 70s featuring Pat Benatar, Peaches and Herb, Carmen Carter, John Avila, The Specials, The Partridge Family and more.  I’m impressed for a direct to DVD movie they would pay so much for the copyright to songs like C’Mon Get Happy.  They can’t be cheap.

goofy dream

Overall, I feel like they really tried to make a good movie.  The animation is solid (definitely much better than most of the Disney sequels from Disneytoons).  There is a cool sequence where Goofy is trying to take a test but is so focused on Max he has kind of a hallucinogenic dream. I like when Disney animators get nutty and weird for no apparent reason.  It’s like the animators creativity bursting through the screen! (Another example is the yodeling song in Home on the Range.  It’s like they couldn’t help themselves).

The voicecast they got also shows effort.  Bill Farmer is of course great as Goofy but we get James Marsden, Jim Cummings, Brad Garrett, Vicki Lewis, Bebe Neuwirth (my favorite as Sylvia), Pauly Shore and Rob Paulsen.

To see the rest of Rachel's reviews, click here.
To see the rest of Rachel’s reviews, click here.

Not all the humor works in this film but I still laughed.   Kids will like the slapstick jokes but I thought some of the writing was funny.  My favorite was when one of the boys says “And why are we always wearing these gloves?”! Hasn’t everyone been wondering that all these years?

The most important part of An Extremely Goofy Movie is its heart.  The relationship between Goofy and Max is one I think most families will be able to relate too and perhaps have some discussions about communication and accepting each other’s differences.  Movies don’t have to be perfect to be worth a watch, and An Extremely Goofy Movie is a film I’d certainly like to watch with my family at the beginning of the school year.