Reviews Of What Is In Theaters Now
Most animated kids movies have some quaint little takeaway that hits home at the end of the film. Something like, "family and love are more important than anything else." Then sometimes those films are successful enough to get the green light on a sequel. And then a few of those sequels take that tidy little takeaway from the first film and spend the entire 90 minutes trying to hammer it into your brain like a railroad spike.
This film is that hammer.
I really wish this would have been a better film. The first one was great, and this one has moments of greatness, but overall it is okay at best. There is nothing noteworthy, unique, or worthy of making the trek to see this in the theaters. Especially since there are plenty of family films available right now that are so much better than this one.
It does have a few good laughs and a couple of really fun action scenes, and there are a couple of throwbacks that fans of the first film will enjoy, so if you do end up seeing it, you won't be completely disappointed.
(Theaters and HBO Max)
TROLLS WORLD TOUR
Release Date: April 10, 2020
Director: Walt Dohrn, David P. Smith
Stars: Anna Kendrick, Justin Timberlake, Rachel Bloom, James Corden
Plot: The Pop Trolls find out there are many other Trolls in the world, but the Rock Trolls want to take control over all of the other Trolls
Clint Says: Wait a few months until the rental price drops
Four years ago, I took my daughters, then 4 and 6, to see TROLLS. The music was great, the girls were mostly entertained, but the story was pretty bland. Last night, we had a home movie night and watched TROLLS WORLD TOUR. My girls are now 8 and 10, and the age difference made the difference.
While the 8 year old enjoyed the movie for the most part, she hasn't shown any interest in watching it again even though she knows we can watch it as many times as we want to in 48 hours. The 10 year old was both bored and annoyed by the whole thing. I asked her why, and she told me she couldn't really give me a solid reason, she just didn't like it.
I know why.
This movie was thoroughly useless. The story was so thin that they has to resort to adding in several minutes of weird filler scenes that had nothing to do with advancing the plot. And most of them weren't even funny or entertaining.
Next, the story that was there, was okay, but we see it all of the time in kids' movies. It's the "We're all better together when we are different." Sure, that is a nice and true sentiment, but do we need to have that be the central point of every single kids' flick? No. There are thousands of other compelling and worthy story lines and lessons that can be explored. This one has become stale and tired.
Finally, I'm sure that Rachel Bloom, the voice of the Rock Queen, is a lovely person in real life, but why she was chosen for this role will be a question that can never have a satisfactory answer. The only great things about this movie and the first one is the music. And Rachel can't sing. Believe me when I say, this is not a slight against her. She does the best job that she can, and it is passable, but if you are going to have a character that sings as much at talks, why on earth wouldn't you hire someone with amazing vocal abilities. Someone like Lzzy Hale, or Haley Williams, or Taylor Momsen, (I mean, she's already an actor, too!), would have made this movie so much better.
I know it is a weird time and we are all trying to do whatever we can to keep the kids entertained. But $19.99 is a lot of money to spend on a movie like this. Personally, I would wait until the price drops down below $5 before I would even consider renting this one.
Release Date: March 6, 2020
Director: Dan Scanlon
Stars: Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Octavia Spencer
Plot: Two brothers go on a quest to bring back their dad for one last day together
Clint Says: Wait until after opening weekend, but see this in theaters
Disney/Pixar has an uncanny talent at taking very heavy subject matter and turning into an animated feature that is entertaining for the whole family and still stays true to the emotional depth of the circumstance the hero is in. Films like UP and INSIDE OUT are perfect examples of how they can take what seems to be an impossible task and make it work well.
Now, we can add ONWARD to that list.
My only negative comment about this movie is that it starts off a bit slow. However, after the first 15 or 20 minutes it hits its stride and becomes a fantastic film that the whole family can enjoy. The rest of the film is fun, funny, quirky, heartwarming, and exciting. It's filled with great physical comedy, adventure, fascinating characters and unique world building.
One of the best things about this movie is the twist. It is one that you'll never see coming, but it plays perfectly to the audience.
If you are looking for a fun day out with the family, ONWARD should be on your short list of things to do.
SPIES IN DISGUISE
Release Date: December 25, 2019
Director: Nick Bruno and Troy Quane
Stars: Will Smith, Tom Holland, Karen Gillan, Reba McEntire
Plot: The world's greatest spy is accidentally turned into a pigeon, but that doesn't mean he can give up on the case
Clint Says: Wait until after opening weekend, but see this in theaters
I was a little wary of this film when I first saw the trailer. A guy turns into a pigeon, and that's supposed to make for a good movie?
Well, it did.
This one is a ton of fun for kids and adults. It is filled with all sorts of physical humor and potty humor that will keep your child laughing through the end credits. It is exciting, fast-paced, and filled with lots of spy gadgets.
The animation isn't the latest and greatest, but it is just fine.
Some parents may want to check this movie out before you let the little ones see it. It is a spy movie, so there are several fight scenes. There isn't anything overly violent, but you may decide that it is too much for your family.
While this isn't on the same level as a movie like FROZEN II, it is still a fun film. And one that could be a great escape for a couple of hours while the kids are on Winter break.
PLAYMOBIL: THE MOVIE
Release Date: December 6, 2019
Director: Lino DiSalvo
Stars: Anya Taylor-Joy, Gabriel Bateman, Jim Gaffigan, Daniel Radcliffe
Plot: Two siblings get pulled into the Playmobil world and must figure out how to survive and get back to reality
Clint Says: Wait for the digital release and make someone else rent it
If you are hoping this movie is going to be something similar to THE LEGO MOVIE, you need to go ahead and readjust your thoughts immediately. While it is true that PlayMobil made every effort to copy Lego in the movie world, (even down to the live action scenes), they managed to completely miss the mark with this film.
I saw this movie with my family. Three of us hated it. The only one of us that found it slightly interesting was my six year old daughter. And even she wasn't super excited when it was all done.
On some levels this film is targeted to a younger audience, however the opening scene turns very dark, so if you take your younger kids to see it you might have some explaining to do.
As for the plot, this is one of the least entertaining animated films I've seen in a while. It seems like there are one or two animated films that fall flat. This is one of them. I was so thoroughly bored that I was thrilled when my youngest needed a trip to the bathroom. Any reason to escape this nonsense was good enough for me.
If you want to see a movie with the family this weekend, go see FROZEN II again. You'll wish you had if you go see this travesty.
Release Date: November 22, 2019
Director: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Stars: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad
Plot: Trouble comes to Arendelle, and Anna and Elsa must travel to an enchanted forest to find the reason and figure out how to stop it
Clint Says: Drop everything and go see this in theaters now
I love how so many critics love to bash Disney movies in the weeks leading up to the release of the film, then we all sit down for the screening and, inevitably, when it is over they all talk about how pleasantly surprised they are by how good the movie was.
FROZEN II was no exception to this rule.
This movie is so much fun! The animation is great, the songs are great, the story is interesting, the jokes are hilarious, and Olaf completely steals the show once again. The movie also gives us a lot of callbacks to the first movie, so make sure you've seen that one before you see this one.
For adults, the best part of the movie is without a doubt the song by Kristoff. Ladies and gentlemen, he sings an 80's power ballad! And they do a music video to match! There wasn't a single adult in the theater that wasn't laughing hard and wishing they had a lighter to wave high above their heads during that scene. (Our kids were all looking at us like we had lost our minds).
We do get some answers to questions left over from the first film, and I will tell you now that one of the answers wrecks about 3,407,826 different fan theories in one shot. But it is a very powerful and emotional scene.
This film is also significantly darker than the first one. There are moments where I thought my seven year old wasn't going to be able to handle it, but for the most part she was okay. She did have some questions after the movie though, so if you have young ones you may want to check it out before taking them to see it. (For most kids this will be just fine, this is more of an overabundance of caution).
So, go ahead, gather up the whole crew and enjoy this movie in the theaters. And then get ready to go back again because the kids (and adults) are going to love it.
Finally, make sure you stick around for all of the credits. There is an after-credit scene that is totally worth the time.
Release Date: November 1, 2019
Director: Aaron Woodley
Stars: Anjelica Huston, James Franco, Jeremy Renner
Plot: A small arctic fox dreams of becoming a sled dog, but his size isn't the only thing standing in his way
Clint Says: Don't even bother
Somebody needs to check on the health and well-being of all of the actors that worked on this flick. The only reason I can figure out why they would agree to do this movie after reading the screenplay, is that they are either being blackmailed or held captive somewhere. (Okay, probably not, but still this movie is THAT bad).
This is the dictionary definition of a Hollywood cash grab. The studio decided they could put out an animated flick, no matter what the story was about, and make a couple of million bucks. There is no passion behind this project. It looks and feels like it was put together in a executive board room with zero considerations for anything other than the bottom line.
The story is astonishingly underwhelming. To the point that I kept waiting for some big twist to happen that never came. It just plays out in this slow and unbearable way. By 40 minutes into the screening literally every kid in the theater was bored. Half of them weren't even watching by then. The only person in the theater having any fun at all was the 5 year old that kept running away from his mom.
Also, note to Hollywood casting directors. Do not, under any circumstances, ever cast Heidi Klum to do voice work. Seriously, her character would have been better if it had been voiced by the new intern that has never been in a recording studio. (And cheaper, too). You could tell that she was reading her lines word for word. It was painful.
Throw on top of that a useless villain with no real reason for ding what he is doing and a bunch of super-preachy adult political crap and this one ends up on the bottom of the 2019 movie pile. I'm guessing this one has a really good shot at making my 10 worst list this year.
Release Date: September 27, 2019
Director: Jill Culton and Todd Wilderman
Stars: Chloe Bennet, Albert Tsai, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, Eddie Izzard
Plot: A girl finds a Yeti hiding near her house and goes on a journey to return him to his home
Clint Says: Drop everything and see this in theaters now
I love it when DreamWorks comes out with a new animated film because I know they are going to raise the bar once again. They did it with SHREK, they did it with HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, and they did it with TROLLS.
And now they've done it again with ABOMINABLE.
This film is fun and exciting. I was pulled into the story right from the start and stayed interested throughout the whole film. The kids I was with were even more enthralled than I was. They were leaning forward and bouncing on the edge of their seats with excitement.
It is magical in story-line and in the visuals on-screen. I was fascinated by how crisp, clean, and detailed the animation was. Even the smallest details were visible and beautiful. And when Everest the Yeti does his magic the whole screen jumps to life. At times I didn't even know where to look because I wanted to see all of it at once.
The story is pretty formulaic, but that is okay. This is a movie made for kids around the age of 8-10. They haven't seen this story play out dozens of times like adults have. But even as an adult, and knowing where the story was going, I was still happy to be on the journey with the characters.
The kids will find this film to be exciting, magical, adventurous, and suspenseful. Parents will find it to be the same.
This movie should have it's name changed from ABOMINABLE to ADORABLE. Take the whole family and enjoy.
THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE 2
Release Date: August 13, 2019
Director: Thurop Van Orman
Stars: Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Leslie Jones, Bill Hader
Plot: The birds and pigs must work together when a new threat promises to take out both of their islands
Clint Says: Wait for the digital release
This is one of those times where Hollywood should have walked away when it had the chance. The first ANGRY BIRDS movie was a lot of fun, and funny. This one feels like nothing more than a poorly written cash grab. I saw it in a theater with a bunch of kids and their parents. I might as well have been in a library with how quiet the place was.
I guess on the one hand, maybe that means the kids were captivated enough by the movie to sit quiet and still for 100 minutes, but it also means that all of the comedy landed flat. There wasn't a single moment where I heard crowd laughter.
It's slow-paced, barely funny, and annoyingly similar to the first film in look and story.
There is nothing innovative, special, or unique about this movie. It offers nothing that makes it worth spending your money to see it in theaters. Just wait for the digital release. That way, when your kids get bored with it, you can turn it off and not feel bad about wasting all of that money.
TOY STORY 4
Release Date: June 21, 2019
Director: Josh Cooley
Stars: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Annie Potts, Tony Hale
Plot: Woody and his friends must do everything they can to find and return Forky, Bonnie's favorite toy, to her
Clint Says: Drop everything and go see this in theaters now
It's hard to believe, but it has been nine years since the last TOY STORY film hit the big screen.
It was worth the wait.
This new film is another classic in what could be considered one of the best kids' movie franchises ever. It's not the best of the four, but it will be for some people.
Perhaps the best part of this movie is the addition of the new characters. Of course we have Forky, voiced by the hilarious Tony Hale. He is central to the plot and gives us a fun new take on learning that he is a toy. We also get to meet Duke Caboom, Canadian Stuntman, played by Keanu Reeves. To say that Keanu is on a hot streak right now would be an understatement. And he proves it once again by voicing a bit character that steals every scene he is in. Finally, we are introduced to Ducky and Bunny, voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. Their impromptu banter is fantastically funny and steals the whole movie.
While the story may seem similar to the other films, (one character gets lost and the rest have to rescue them), this one feels and is different. There is some pretty amazing character development going on for a kids' movie, as well as some pretty deep philosophical thoughts, but it all plays well for the younger crowd.
As with the former TOY STORY films this one will have you laughing until your jaw hurts, but it will also have you crying into your bucket of popcorn. And I'm not talking happy little tears during a sentimental moment. No, I'm talking three-tissue, ugly sobbing. So come prepared.
If you are looking for something to do with the kids this week, this has to be your #1 choice. You don't want to miss out on one of the best movies of the Summer, and possibly the best animated film of the year.
THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS 2
Release Date: June 7, 2019
Director: Chris Renaud, Jonathan del Val
Stars: Patton Oswalt, Kevin Hart, Tiffany Haddish, Harrison Ford
Plot: The dogs have a kid in the house now and are doing everything they can to protect him
Clint Says: Wait until after opening weekend, but see this in theaters
Here is all you need to know about this movie. My young daughter is a much harsher movie critic than I am. I loved this film and so did she. Therefore this may be one of the greatest movies ever made.
Okay, that's taking it too far, but it is a very good movie.
There are two greatest things about this film, First, it is laugh out loud funny. There are tons of jokes and sight gags for kids and adults. Several times during the screening I attended the entire crowd was laughing. Even my hard to please child was doubled over with laughter on a couple of occasions.
Second, it is mercifully short for parents. The running time is listed at 86 minutes. And because the pacing is fast and even, the time flies by. I never felt like I was bored. The short time also has another benefit. I didn't see a steady stream of parents chasing after their kids on the way to the bathroom. It seems we may have scientifically proven that young children can watch an 86 minute long film without needing a potty break as long as the movie is really good.
This sequel was also much less dark than the first one. You may recall the first film had several pretty scary and suspenseful moments for younger kids. This one still has some of that, but overall it is much more lighthearted and fun.
If you are looking for a good reason to get the kids out of the house for a couple of hours this is a great way to spend the time. You'll laugh a lot and you won't feel like you've wasted your time or money.
Release Date: May 3, 2019
Director: Kelly Asbury
Stars: Kelly Clarkson, Blake Shelton, Nick Jonas, Janelle Monae
Plot: Several misfit toys go on an adventure to find children to love them, but the perfect toys are trying to keep the misfits from being found
Clint Says: Save some money and see a matinee
What do you get when you put together a huge list of A-list actors and musicians, a unique animation style, and a bunch of factory-reject fuzzy dolls? You get an okay movie with some great songs.
Kelly Clarkson leads the way as the rejected doll that refuses to give up hope that she will, one day, be held in the arms of a child that needs her. She, along with her band of misfits, set out to make her dream a reality.
The film is targeted to children about 6-8 years old, and it does very little to try to keep the adults entertained. Throughout the entire movie I heard kids laughing, but very few adults were reacting to it. So, if you are planning on taking your kids to see this, you might want to have something else to do for yourself.
The animation is interesting, it isn't complicated or groundbreaking, but it is eye-catching because the scenery is made out of quilt work and cardboard. It almost feels like you are watching a young child build an imaginary world out of the things they have in their room. It gives the film a simple and innocent feel.
The best part of the movie is the music. Almost every song is super catchy and fun. And since they are sung by people like Kelly Clarkson, Janelle Monae, and Nick Jonas they sound amazing. The one time Blake Shelton sings leaves a lot to be desired, thankfully his part is short.
This is not a great animated movie by any standard, but it will entertain the younger kids for 90 minutes. You won't be mad that you spent the money to see it in theaters, but you'll be a lot happier with the savings if you wait for the digital release.