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Movie Review: Elf Pets: A Fox Cub’s Christmas Tale

 

The whole idea of “Elf on a Shelf” has really taken off over the years. The elves now how their own clothing, pets, movies and more.

When I was a young girl, my sister and I had elves. My mom never told us that they were watching us for Santa, and she certainly didn’t take the time to set her up around our home doing funny things. For me and my sister they were simply cute little elf decorations.

The one I had went missing a long time ago. To this day I don’t know what happened to it. My mom couldn’t find a suitable alternative, so she bought me a gold elf instead. The gold elf was smaller, but he had the same face as the one that went missing.

Fast forward decades later. I still have the gold elf. Every year when we take our decorations out of storage, I place my gold elf on top of my desk so that he can watch me while I blog.

We also have three new elves that I purchased a few years ago. They look similar to the ones we had back when we were kids (my sister and I). They have that same retro look to them. Those three elves are positioned around our home.

My gold elf is pictured above. It’s not an old photo. When I took the photo (years ago), I used a filter on it to give it an old look.

Back to the Elf on the Shelf craze.

The Elf on a Shelf franchise has released a new movie for the 2019 holiday season, and it’s available now on DVD. The new film is called Elf Pets: A Fox Cub’s Christmas Tale.

The DVD is available at places like Bed, Bath & Beyond, Meijer, Kohl’s and Party City.

A Fox Cub’s Christmas Tale gives an all-new glimpse into the magical world of Santa’s North Pole, and answers the universal question: How does Santa travel the whole world in one night?

Come along with “Newsey Noel,” the North Pole’s ace Scout Elf reporter, as she rides along with Santa on Christmas Eve to learn first-hand how time pauses so Santa can deliver presents undetected and unheard.

This movie was adapted from the book, Elf Pets: An Arctic Fox Tradition, which will launch this holiday season and comes with an arctic fox plush.

I was sent a copy of the film to review.

If you have ever seen any of the other Elf on the Shelf movies, you have an idea of how the film is animated (CGI), as well as the characters. The characters are the same in all films (continuity). And just like with the other films, there are a few songs that are song. If I recall correctly, this film has three songs.

This is a sweet film. In addition to learning how Santa is able to fly across the globe on Christmas Eve without being seen, we also learn about a little boy whose missing his mother, whose in the military and might not be able to make it home for Christmas. I’m sure there are a lot of boys and girls around the world who can relate to that.

Elf Pets: A Fox Cubs Christmas Tale is also available for purchase on the shop.elfontheshelf.com website, for $9.95. The disc includes the 28-minute animated special, as well as the trailer, sing-along version and filmmaker’s commentary.

Be sure to check out the other fun goodies available on the Elf on the Shelf website. They make great gifts and stocking stuffers.

Below is the trailer for the new film.

 

Kimberly

*I received a free screener to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

Movie Review: Goldfinch

 

Available now on Blu-ray, DVD and on digital, is the drama The Goldfinch.

The film stars Ansel Elgort, Nicole Kidman, Oakes Fegley, Jeffrey Wright, Luke Wilson, Sarah Paulson, and Finn Wolfhard, to name a few.

The Goldfinch is based upon the book by the same name, written by Donna Tartt. The book won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2014.

I never read the book, nor have I heard of it until this film. I cannot comment on how well the film mirrors the book.

Theodore Decker (played by Fegley and Elgort, as the young and old version, respectively) lives with his mother. His father is not in the picture.

Theo and his mother visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The museum experiences a terrorist attack, and a bomb goes off, killing Theo’s mom and several others. Theo survives.

When Theo awakens in the rubble, he is given a ring by a dying man, and asked to return it to his partner. Theo also takes a valuable painting of a Goldfinch, by artist Carel Fabritius. It was painted in 1654 and features a Goldfinch bird, chained on a perch.

Theo is sent to live with an upper class family, the Barbours – his estranged friend’s family.

Theo grows close to Mrs. Barbours (Kidman), who is supportive of him.

Theo takes the ring given to him by the dying man to the shop run by the man’s partner, Hobie. It just so happened that the dying man’s niece, Pippa, was also at the museum at the time it was bombed. She was not so fortunate, and she ended up in the hospital. Hobie takes Theo to visit her, and the two become friends. Theo also starts to bond with Hobie.

Theo seems to have the best of both worlds. He is cared for by both the Barbours and by Hobie.

Just when things seem to be going well for Theo, his estranged father and his new wife come back into his life and take him away to live with them in Vegas.

Things do not go well for Theo in Vegas. He even gets involved with drugs.

Theo eventually makes his way back to New York City, and under Hobie’s wing, Theo learns to restore antiques.

One day a client accuses Theo of selling him a fake piece of art. He also lets it be known that he believes that Theo has in his possession the missing Goldfinch piece of art. Theo believes the painting is safely tucked away inside a storage locker – or is it?

What is so important significance of that painting for Theo? At what lengths will he go to keep the painting? To find out, you need to purchase or rent The Goldfinch. Look for it wherever movies are sold or rented.

This film has a two and a half hour run time. It was a bit long for my husband, but I was OK with it. My husband can sit through the Godfather films, which are like a million hours long (ha ha), so I don’t know why he said this film dragged on too long. I think he “checked out” about an hour and a half into it, only occasionally peaking up from his phone to see what was going on.

This is a “deep” film. I tend to watch mostly horror films and comedies, but every now and then I can use a film that makes you think. This was such a film.

When the movie was over, I felt “heavy,” like I needed time to process what I just watched. There is a lot going on in this film, and not much of it is happy. If anything, have some tissues handy. You might need them (I did!).

This is not a “family friendly” film. It’s just way too involved and frankly, scary for children. From the bombing to the drug use… this is not a film for kids.

Both Elgort and Fegley did an amazing job as their rendition of Theo. I especially give kudos to Fegley for taking on such a serious part.

I think there are a lot of morals or meanings to this film. One I can think of is that everything happens for a reason, no matter how big or small, and that there are moments in life that can shape our destinies. There are also other “themes” that go throughout this movie like love, compassion, friendship, hope, despair, redemption… so many come to mind. This is the type of film that makes you feel, as well as think.

I did not find an official website for the film, but I did find a Facebook page. I did come across a Twitter account, but I am not sure if it’s the official movie Twitter account.

Here is the film’s trailer for your enjoyment.

 

Kimberly

*I received a free screener copy to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

Movie Review: Grand Isle

 

Now playing in select theaters, as well as On Demand, is Stephen S. Campanelli’s southern gothic thriller Grand Isle.

The film stars Nicolas Cage, Kelsey Grammer, Luke Benward and KaDee Strickland.

Buddy (Benward) is a young, married father. He’s recently finished up his time in the Navy. Now he’s struggling to find work to provide for his family.

Buddy accepts a job at a home on the other side of the town. He has been hired to repair a broken fence by a man named Walter (Cage) and his wife Fancy (Strickland).

It seems rather peculiar to repair a broken fence with a hurricane expect to hit the area within hours. Walter even goes so far as to offer Buddy extra money if he can complete the job before the hurricane hits.

Buddy finds Walter very disturbing. He’s a mean alcoholic. He’s also put off by Walter’s wife Fancy, he is a bit too flirtatious, especially in front of Walter, and knowing that Buddy is married.

The hurricane is just about to strike, and Buddy gives up fixing the fence. He tells Walter he’ll come back next week to finish up. Unfortunately, Buddy’s truck won’t start, and there is no way he can walk home in time before the hurricane hits. Begrudgingly, Walter allows Buddy to stay.

What transpires that night will alter Buddy’s life forever. There is much more to Walter and Fancy then meets the eye. Buddy also suspects that his truck not starting, and being allowed to spend the night, was not a coincidence.

In the end, it’s a fight for his life, and for his freedom.

Buddy will have to recall all the events of that horrific night in order to prove his innocence against murder, all while fighting to save his marriage.

What exactly happened that night on Grand Isle? Will Buddy’s life ever be the same again? To find out, you need to go see, or rent On Demand, Grand Isle.

Once again, Nicholas Cage proves that he’s a versatile actor. He also plays “creepy” and “crazy” very well. Almost a little TOO well.

I would not say this is one of Cage’s best roles. Not at all. It seems like his star is not shining as brightly in Hollywood anymore. It’s sad because I like him as an actor.

It was nice to see Kelsey Grammar appear in a film. I have not seen him in anything for a long time. I found it amusing to listen to his very heavy southern drawl. I’m used to him as the well educated, well spoken, Fraiser from his television series. He really mastered the southern drawl in this film.

Grand Isle was a bit predictable at times. However, it’s the ending that totally threw me off. I’m a bit confused as to what exactly happened in the end. Meaning, I’m not sure what Walter and Fancy’s hidden secret was. There were clues to it, but I never really understood what they were hiding. As the Police descended the basement stairs, I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation as to what was down there, only to be disappointed that they showed nothing (how the one Police office in high heels descended the stairs without tripping impressed me).

Cage and Grammar are two seasoned actors. Sadly, they only interact briefly at the end of the film.

I’m not sure why Grammar got top billing over Benwald. Benwald was the main character of the films, along with Cage. Grammar was a secondary character.

In the end, I’m on the fence about this film. I liked it, and I was entertained by it (mostly because of how well Nicolas Cage played the crazy character), but I am not sure if I would go out of my way to watch it again. If I happened to stumble across it while flicking through the television channels, I would most likely stop and watch it again. But I doubt I would buy the DVD and pop it in my player to watch it again. Hopefully that makes some sense?

I could not find an official website for the film. I found a Facebook page, but it only has 13 followers, so I doubt it’s an official Facebook page for the film.

Below is the film’s trailer for your enjoyment.

 

Kimberly

*I received a free screener in order to review this film. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

Movie Review: Santa Fake

 

Available now on DVD and on digital, is the holiday film, Santa Fake.

The film stars Damian McGinty (“Glee;” Celtic Thunder), Heather Morris (“Glee”), John Rhys-Davies (The Lord of the Rings; Indiana Jones), and Judd Nelson (“Empire;” The Breakfast Club; St. Elmo’s Fire).

Pat grew up in an orphanage in Ireland. He was an infant when he was given to the orphanage by his mother after his father passed away. He has no family.

When Pat was old enough and aged out of the orphanage, he did jobs here and there until he was able to make his way to the United States.

Pat had no job and no paperwork. Thankfully he was able to secure a job doing bussing and doing little jobs around a bar. The bar was run by Joe, an Irish mob boss.

Pat had his suspicions about Joe and the type of “work” he did, but he never questioned it. He had a job, so that was fine with him.

One evening, Joe asks Pat to take a couple of brief cases to the train station, where he was to meet up with someone who would take them from him. The station was only a few blocks away.

Joe offered Pat $10,000 to do that small favor for him. Pat was a bit reluctant, because he knew Joe was a mob boss, but the thought of $10,000, and the fact it was just a few blocks away, Pat figured he could do it. Not only that, Joe pressured him into doing it.

Unbeknownst to Pat, Joe knew there was the possibly Pat could get caught with briefcases. Joe knew Pat would be too afraid to snitch on him, and he has no legal paperwork, so once Pat finished a stint in jail, he would soon be departed.

Feeling like he was in trouble, Pat hoped on the first bus that was leaving the station. The bus ends up taking Pat to Sante Fe, New Mexico.

Feeling guilty, and concerned for his safety, Pat calls Joe. Joe demands he returns the briefcases right away, or else he will send someone to find him and kill him. That brief phone call helps Joe to determine that Pat is in Sante Fe.

Upset that Pat took the briefcases from Joe, Joe sends two of his men – Seb (Judd Nelson) and Jim (Jeff Fahey) to Sante Fe to find him, kill him and bring back the briefcases. Since Pat has no family, no one would know he was missing.

Pat ends up in a boarding house run by Mrs. Oretga. He also builds up the nerve to open the brief cases (he thought they contained body parts of a missing employee), only to find they contained a lot of cash.

While at a local mall buying clothes, Pat mistakenly calls Joe again. Joe notifies Pat that his thugs are already in Sante Fe, and when they find him, they will kill him.

Scared for his life, Pat goes to flee the mall. That is until he bumps into Emily. Emily is in charge of the mall’s Santa and is in dire need of a Santa. Pat just happened to be the right size to fit the suit. Scared, Pat agrees to put on the suit, knowing that it will disguise him and keep him safe from Seb and Jim.

For the next several days, Pat continues to be the mall’s “fake Santa,” in hopes he can hide from Seb and Jim, who are hot on his trail.

Will Seb and Jim find him? Will Pat be able to hide from them until he can think of an escape plan? After all, once the holiday is over, Pat won’t have the Santa costume to hide behind. To find out, look for Santa Fake. You can find it on digital and on DVD.

I would consider this film a “dramady” – part drama, part comedy. It’s mostly a comedy, but there are some dramatic instances in the film (at least in my opinion).

I don’t know who Damian McGinty is. I have never heard of him until now. He has the move beautiful voice. He sings several songs throughout the film.

Here is a clip of McGinty from the film singing “O Holy Night.” Check out his beautiful voice.

 

I thought Heather Morris would have sung too, since she was in the television series “Glee,” but she didn’t.

The film was slightly predictable (in a good way), but it had a surprise ending that I didn’t see coming. It’s a different kind of a holiday movie. Most holiday movies don’t involve an Irish mob boss and a young man hiding from thugs trying to kill him.

If you would like to learn more about this film, check out the social media accounts (below). I’ve also included the film’s trailer for your enjoyment.

Twitter: @SantaFakeMovie
Instagram: @santafake_official
Facebook: facebook.com/SantaFakeMovie/
Hashtag: #SantaFakeMovie

Also releasing as companions to the film are the soundtrack EP from the star Damian McGinty and a children’s picture book, SANTA FAKE: You Are Never Alone at Christmas, which will be available in e-book and print.

 

Kimberly

*I received a free screener link in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

Movie Review: A New Christmas

 

Now available in select theaters, on digital and On Demand, is the holiday film, A New Christmas.

The film stars Prashantt Guptha (The Tashkent Files), Grace Wacuka (“Say Anything”), Preeti Gupta (Unfreedom), Aurora Heimbach (Soul to Keep, Loud Places), Carl Garrisson (1 Angry Black Man), and was directed by Dani Tenenbaum (Landing Up).

Kabir is not looking forward to Christmas this year. His mother passed away a year ago, and Kabir has not been able to get over his devastating loss.

For most of Kabir’s life, it’s been just the two of them. His father died when he was very young.

Christmas was a favorite holiday of Kabir’s mom. Kabir wasn’t into it as much as she was (the reason why is later explained in the movie).

Kabir hasn’t even taken down the decorations from last Christmas. The dusty, fake tree his mom lovingly put up still sits in the living room.

Kabir is married, but him and his wife are estranged. She tries her best to get through to him and help him, but he wants no part of it.

A few days before Christmas, Kabir meets a young lady named Kioni. She is here in the U.S. from Kenya. She is studying filmography at a local university.

Kioni loves Christmas, and wants to see all the sights of New York City, including the tree at Rockefeller Center and the window displays up and down 5th Avenue.

Instead of giving Kioni directions, Kabir offers to take her. This sets off an entire day (and night), exploring all the sights and sounds of New York City, even venturing into Brooklyn. Not only does Kabir get to experience the holiday in the city through her eyes, but the pair also have some deep, heartfelt conversations.

Will Kioni help Kabir have a different outlook on Christmas? Will Christmas forever be Kabir’s least favorite holiday, since it reminds him of his mother who passed away during the Christmas holiday? And what about Kabri’s wife? What will she think of Kabir’s new friend? To find out you need to look for A New Christmas in select theaters, digital or On Demand.

I have to be honest with you. I thought this was going to be a Hallmark Channel-like movie. You know how they go – boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, something happens to challenge their love, then they live happily ever after. This is NOT a Hallmark Channel-like movie. There are some similar qualities, but this movie is much more than that.

There are two “curse” words (if I recall correctly), in this film, which is no big deal. There is no sex or nudity, but there are two people in bed after having sex. I am not sure of the rating, but I would guess this film is a PG-13.

This film has a lovely soundtrack. There are two songs I heard in the film that I really like.

I was pleasantly surprised by the film. In the beginning it seemed to go a bit slow. That pace continued, however, the slow progression of the film was necessary to tell the story.

If you are looking for a high octane, “bang-bang-shoot-’em-up” kind of film, this is not it. This film is more about the spectacular images around New York City during the Christmas season, including the skating rink and Christmas tree in Rockefeller center, as well as other magical holiday displays and decorations. The film is also about what Christmas means to the main characters – Kabir and Kioni – and if their belief and experiences would “rub off” on each other, in a good way or bad way.

I enjoyed the film. In fact, I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I was also surprised by the ending of the film. I thought it was going to end in an entirely different way.

I did find the film on Facebook, but I could not find any other social media pages for the film, or a dedicated website.

Below is the film’s trailer for your enjoyment.

 

Kimberly

*I was provided with a free screener link in order to view the film for this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

The Peanut Butter Falcon – Now available on Blu-ray, DVD and on Digital

 

 

Now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and on Digital is the smash hit comedy, The Peanut Butter Falcon. 

The film stars Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, Bruce Dern, Thomas Haden Church and introduces Zack Gottsagen.

The Peanut Butter Falcon is a “buddy” film, but it’s so much more than that. Much, much more.

Zak (Gottsagen) is a young man with Downs Syndrome that resides in a state nursing home. He has no family, relatives or friends to care for him.

Zak is obsessed with wrestling. He wants to attend a wrestling school so that he can become a wrestler. He is especially interested in a wrestler named  Salt Water Redneck (Church). He watches a video put out by Salt Water Redneck over and over again. Zak has even tried to escape a few times to find Salt Water Redneck. For that reason he is labeled as a “flight risk.”

Zak’s room mate, Carl (Dern) is fed up having to watch the same video all the time, and encourages Zak to try and escape the facility yet again. In fact, he even helps Zak to escape.

Zak takes off and soon takes shelter under the tarp on an old boat. The boat gets commandeered by a young man named Tyler (LaBeouf). He discovers his stowaway while trying to outrun his rival crab fisherman, Duncan, down the river.

Initially, Tyler is not too keen on the uninvited guest, but as time goes by he can sympathize with Zac’s desire to find Salt Water Redneck. He even offers to help Zac find him. He also teaches Zac how to do things, like shoot a gun. They also eat a lot of peanut butter, because that is pretty much all they can afford.

Meanwhile, a worker from the facility that befriended Zac, Eleanor (Johnson), sets out to find Zac before her boss places the order to have Zac placed in a state run hospital with a horrible reputation.

After some time, Eleanor is able to track down Zac and his new friend, Tyler. Tyler is instantly smitten with Eleanor. He even convinces her to join them on their quest to find Salt Water Redneck. She eventually agrees, under the condition that once he meets Salt Water Redneck, that he’s returns with her.

Will the trio ever track down Salt Water Redneck? Will Zac be able to learn how to wrestle from his hero before he’s returned to the hospital? What will become of his newfound friendship with Tyler? And where does the film’s title, The Peanut Butter Falcon, come from? To find the answers you need to purchase or rent The Peanut Butter Falcon. Look for it where ever movies are sold or rented.

I learned from something I watched on television about this film that Zack Gottsagen practically had this film written with him in mind. I saw an interview (I forgot who was interviewed) that Zack met someone associated with the film that he wanted to be in a movie. Since there were no movies in the works that required an actor with Downs Syndrome, the film was made with Zack in mind. Apparently other actors auditioned for the role of Zac, but no one was more convince able than Zack himself. After all, Zack has Downs Syndrome himself (in real life).

Zack Gottsagen stole the whole film. Sure, Johnson and LaBeouf did well with their respective characters, but no one did a better job than Zack. He’s charming and genuine. He brought something to this role that no other actor (actors without Downs Sydrome) could have accomplished. Zack made his character real. In all intensive purposes, his character IS real because he’s somewhat a reflection of himself.

It’s such a shame that Hollywood doesn’t tap into the wealth of talent that people with different abilities have. Gottsagen proves that just because he maybe be a little different, doesn’t mean that he cannot act (and act incredibly well, with great humor) just as well as other Hollywood actors. Maybe some actors need to take some acting lessons from Gottsagen.

I enjoyed LaBeouf in Transformers, Holes, Disturbia and Even Stevens. He’s done a lot of films, but none really stood out to me except what was mentioned. However, after seeing him in this film I have a new appreciation for him.

I’ve only ever seen Dakota Johnson in the Fifty Shades films. Who knew she could do comedy.

The movie’s cinematography really adds to the look and feel of the film. The locations the film was shot are beautiful. It made me want to hop on a boat and sail down river myself.

There is something very “authentic” about this film (for lack of a better description). It’s more about the characters and story line than fancy special effects and crazy plots. It seems like it could really happen.

The Peanut Butter Falcon is one of those rare films that will make you laugh, cry, cheer for joy, get you angry, all in the same film. I actually liked this film so much that I’ve already watched it twice. It’s a feel good movie. It truly is.

Check out these fun branded items I received along with the review copy of the film. I received two Peanut Butter Falcon t-shirts and Peanut Butter Falcon peanut butter (we LOVE peanut butter and have already started to use this jar). I love it!

If you would like to learn more about the film, you can visit it’s official website, ThePeanutButterFalconMovie.com. The film can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Those links are found on the top right corner of the film’s home page.

The official hashtag is #ThePeanutButterFalcon.

Did you see the film? If so, what did YOU think about it? Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.

 

Kimberly

*I received a free screener copy and other branded materials to facilitate my review. There was no compensation. THe opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.