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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. 

Dora and the Lost City of Gold

 

It seems like Hollywood is obsessed with turning animated animated films and television shows into live action movies. Disney started the trend. It seems like other movie studios have jumped on the “animation-to-live-action” bandwagon. The latest entry is a live action film of a popular animated television series – Dora the Explorer.

Dora the Explorer was an animated series back when my kids were little. It first premiered on Nickelodeon on August 14, 2000. I believe it’s one of Nickelodeon’s longest running series (I could be wrong). Dora still airs on television, but she has grown up since back in the day when my kids used to watch the series pretty much every day.

Dora is a young girl from South America who enjoys exploring. With the help of her best friend, Boots the monkey, her backpack and map, Dora solves puzzles and gets around obstacles. Along the way she teaches children how to say things in Spanish. Admittedly I learned a lot of Spanish words and phrases by watching Dora the Explorer, and I’m an adult!

I learned how to say “Happy Birthday” in Spanish, compliments of Dora (“Feliz Compleanos”).

 

I was a bit surprised to see that Dora the Explorer was being made into a live action, full length movie. What next? A Barney movie and/or a Teletubbie movie coming to a theater near you?

Honestly, I didn’t hold out much hope for a movie based on Dora the Explorer. To my surprise, the first time I saw the official trailer, I quickly changed my mind. Dare I say that the movie could be, good?

Based on Rotten Tomatoes (84% Tomatometer, 88% Audience Score), Dora and the Lost City of Gold is a hit.

Dora and the Lost City of Gold is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital. I was sent a copy of the film to review, along with some fun supplies that can be used to go on my own exploration adventures (more on that later).

Dora and the Lost City of Gold stars Isabela Moner (Dora), Eva Longoria and Michael Peña (Dora’s parents), Jeff Wahlberg (Dora’s cousin Diego), Eugenio Derbez (Alejandro), Benicio Del Toro (voice of Swiper the Fox) and Danny Trejo (voice of Boots the monkey).

Dora lives with her parents in the Amazon jungle in South America. Her cousin and best friend Diego used to live with them too, but his parents moved to the “big city” (Los Angeles, California).

Dora has always love to explorer, even on her own. Being an explorer is in her blood, thanks to her professor parents.

Her parents discover the possible whereabouts of a lost city of gold, Parapata. They feel as though Dora is not ready to go with them, so they send her to live with her aunt, uncle and cousin Diego in the “big city.”

Adjusting to regular life, most especially high school, is the hardest “adventure” Dora has ever had to go on. People are not very kind or accepting of her. In fact, they make fun of her for being difference, and for having a positive outlook and a overly perky personality. Even her cousin Diego is put off by Dora just being herself. When asked to make changes, Dora simply replies that all she knows is to how to be herself.

On a field trip, Dora, Diego, a nerdy classmate and a snooty classmate who doesn’t like Dora at all, end up getting kidnapped and taken to South America.

Once in South America, Dora learns that she was kidnapped to help them find her parents. They have no interest in finding her parents. All they care about is finding Parapata and they know the Dora’s parents know where the City of Gold is located.

Dora, Diego and their classmates were able to escape thanks to a mysterious “friend of her parents” named  Alejandro Gutierrez.

Now it’s a race against time to find her parents before the rebels find them or the Lost City of Gold. But the surviving the jungle is not that easy, especially for Dora’s classmates who have no experience being in the jungle.

Will Dora find her parents before it’s too late? Does Parpata really exist? Will Dora ever be able to return her life back to the way it was before venturing to the big city? To find out you need top pick up, download or rent Dora and the Lost City of Gold. Look for it where ever movies are sold or rented.

In the beginning I thought the movie was a bit too “dorky” (for lack of a better description). Young Dora even goes so far as to say a word and look directly at the camera and ask viewers if they can say the word too (reminience of her animated television series). Between that and a poor CGI version of Boots, I wasn’t holding out much hope for this film. But… I gave it a fair shot, so I kept on watching it.

As each minute passed, the film got more and more entertaining. Sure, there were still some goofy parts, but for the most part I found myself very entertaining, especially towards the end of the film where the story peaks.

I’m very impressed by Isabela Moner. She IS Dora. She has the look, the manerisms and the overall “vibe” of being Dora the Explorer. She was the perfect choice to play that role.

In real life Isabela is 18 years old, yet she comes across as a few years younger in the film. By the way, the REAL animated Dora does make a cameo in the film.

I enjoy Eugenio Derbez. I have seen him in a few films and I have always enjoyed them. He’s a funny comedian, not only with his acting, but also with the expressions on his face.

I first thought this would be a film only five year olds would enjoy, but by the time the time the film had ended I realized that it’s a fun, family film for all ages – even adults.

The film is rated PG. I honestly don’t recall any foul language, and there is no nudity or sexual situations (two teens give an innocent kiss, that’s about it). I think the PG mostly comes from intense action scenes.

Along with the screener copy of the film, I also received a backpack filled with essentials one would need to take with them when going on an exploration. The backpack included;

  • Dora and the Lost City of Gold backpack
  • Young Explorer drawstring bag
  • Boots tote bag
  • Whistle
  • Compass
  • Binoculars
  • Magnifying glass
  • Crayons
  • Flashlight that powers up when you push down on the side of it.
  • And a beautiful flashlight from Maglite.

I may not be an explorer like Dora, but these goodies will come in very handy. The Mini Maglite flashlight will be helpful in case of a power outage, which we happened to have last night (transformer blew – most of the county lost power!).

The flashlight that powers up using the “button” you push on the side of it, is currently in the glove box in my car. You never know when you’ll need a flashlight when you are out and about.

The compass is also in my car. After all, you never know when you might need it.

The binoculars I am holding on to since that I can use them to do some bird watching from our balcony window.

You can never have enough crayons, especially if you want to do some Dora and the Lost City of Gold activity sheets. I have included the activity sheets (below). It’s a zip file.

Dora Activity Sheets

The whistle I have been using at work to get the attention of my “work kids,” most especially for fire drills.

If you would like to learn more about the film, check out the film’s Facebook page. The film is also on Twitter and Instagram. The official hashtag is #DoraMovie.

Below is the film’s trailer for your enjoyment. Please note that this is the theatrical trailer. The film is no longer in theaters.

 

Kimberly

*I received a copy of the film as well as other goodies. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.