Cars 3 – Your Must See Movie of the Summer

Cars 3 – Your Must See Movie of the Summer

Cars 3 Movie ReviewThe movie Cars debuted on my son Avery’s 3rd birthday. My husband and I had seen the trailer months before and knew that Avery would love it … and what better way to celebrate being 3 then to go to a big theater and watch a movie about something you love – CARS! We had no idea when we stepped foot into that theater how the movie would change our lives.

Avery fell in love with Cars. I can’t even put into words how much he loved everything about the movie. The characters, the music, the storyline – our family lived and breathed every minute of the film over and over. One of my fondest childhood memories of Avery is hearing him sing “Life is a Highway” from the Cars soundtrack. His little voice with the perfect mimic of the inflection from Rascal Flatts – it was like a little angel was singing it.

We have had Lightning McQueen birthday parties, Sally birthday parties, Christmases filled with every Cars toy manufactured that year … If it has been made with the Cars logo, I feel confident in saying that we own it.

Cars 3 Movie Review

In April, our family was invited to attend an event called Cars 3: Road to the Races tour. We were excited to see what the new movie would bring and – fingers crossed – we were set to again become the biggest fans of the film.

At the event, we were able to take photos with the new characters and see a trailer of the film. Take a peak:

My husband and son were lucky enough to get to screen the movie on behalf of StephanieClick.com earlier this week. They were blown away at every aspect of the film with my husband even admitting that he teared up a couple of times.

Cars 3 Movie ReviewMy son, Avery, said “The visuals were stunning, especially the mud. The movie brought us many new characters, who each had their own story to tell. The introduction of each character and place was added in seamlessly and expertly. It brought out emotions I hadn’t seen from Pixar since the original Cars movie. The settings were both visually and emotionally pleasing. I can’t wait to see it again!”

As far as the music, my husband raved about the soundtrack. (It’s available now on Amazon!)

Here’s the jist of the film: Lightning McQueen is back on the big screen, but he’s not a rookie anymore. Blindsided by a new general on of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Piston-Cup champion finds himself suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. “The next-gen racers are cool,” says director Brian Fee. “You can see instantly that cars like Jackson Storm are effortlessly fast. We designed these younger, faster cars to be sleek and aerodynamic—and they’re a sharp contrast to Lightning McQueen.

While Lightning is still the same self-assured, determined and fun loving race car audiences fell in love with, his confidence is being tested by the new cars on the track. “When we first met Lightning McQueen, he was a young rookie—a superhero,” says Fee. “He had his whole life ahead of him. And while he’s done well since we last saw him, he’s not a young hotshot racer anymore. We kept circling the idea of what happens when an athlete like Lightning is in the twilight of his career.

Enter Cruz Ramirez. Tasked with getting Lightning McQueen back on track after a devastating setback, Cruz isn’t shy. Her training style is high-tech, enthusiastic and steadfast—she’s not afraid to apply a little tough love. But there’s more to Cruz than meets the eye. “I love Cruz’s story,” says co-producer Andrea Warren. “She’s such an admirable, likable character. She’s so passionate about racing and her role to create champions. The movie isn’t just about Lightning McQueen—it’s Cruz’s story, in many ways.”

As a mom, I love the fact that there are so many great characters for our kids (and now teens) to fall in love with. This is a movie that everyone can enjoy, laugh, cry and identify with. We need more movies like Cars 3! Although it’s just mid-June, I feel safe labeling this as the “Must-See Movie of the Summer of 2017“!

Crazy 8 Sale On Now!

Cars 3 movie review
Beauty & the Beast Final Trailer

Beauty & the Beast Final Trailer

beauty and the beast

I have been so excited to see the new Beauty and the Beast movie! I didn’t think anything could beat the animated version until I saw the first trailer that was leaked months ago, and then — wow!!! I was instantly hooked! Now that the Beauty and the Beast final trailer is out, I literally can’t wait another second to see this film!

Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is a live-action re-telling of the studio’s animated classic which refashions the classic characters from the tale as old as time for a contemporary audience, staying true to the original music while updating the score with several new songs.

Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” is a live-action re-telling of the studio’s animated classic which refashions the classic characters from the tale as old as time for a contemporary audience, staying true to the original music while updating the score with several new songs. “Beauty and the Beast” is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince within. The film stars: Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Oscar® winner Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s eccentric, but lovable father; Josh Gad as Lefou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Golden Globe® nominee Ewan McGregor as Lumiere, the candelabra; Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Oscar nominee Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and two-time Academy Award® winner Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts.

Directed by Oscar® winner Bill Condon based on the 1991 animated film, “Beauty and the Beast” is produced by Mandeville Films’ David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman with eight-time Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken, who won two Academy Awards® (Best Original Score and Best Song) for the 1991 animated film, providing the score, which will include new recordings of the original songs written by Menken and Howard Ashman, as well as several new songs written by Menken and three-time Oscar winner Tim Rice. “Beauty and the Beast” will be released in U.S. theaters on March 17, 2017

Are you planning to see this film in the theater? Our family CANNOT wait!!!


Inside Out Movie Review

Inside Out

We were so lucky to see Pixar’s newest animated movie Inside Out last week. Our screening took place on June 9 – my son’s birthday. He’s 12, but don’t let that fool you – he’s a huge Pixar fan! All of us were itching to see this newest creation by our favorite film-making team.

As always, the short at the beginning – Lava – was amazing. Lava is the story of a volcano that is in the ocean all alone. It’s a heart-wrenching musical tribute to living life searching for love – knowing it’s close, but so far away. Bring a tissue and prepare to be moved.

Inside Out is an instant classic in my opinion. Is it as good as Toy Story, Nemo, or Cars? I’ll leave everyone to their own thoughts, but it is great. The character development is quick, the animation is impeccable, and the voicing is spot-on.

In this movie, the main characters are the emotions that live inside your head. We are led to believe that there are little “people” that control our joy, sadness, anger, disgust, and fear. They interact with one another and through their interactions, we respond and thus create our memories. It’s such a fun concept and is truly unique!

What I love most is that this story, in true Pixar fashion, speaks to parents and children in different ways:

As a child, they can completely relate. Good days and bad days with parents and with friends. Moving across the country and the fear/feelings that brings. New school. New house. Even if kids haven’t faced those things personally – it’s presented in such a way that every child (and adult) can grab hold!

As a parent, it made me really reflect on what my child’s core memories are. If 5 memories that shape their life fell out of their mind right now, what would they be? But also, what is their sadness button? What makes them anxious? What brings them immediate joy?

This movie took me through all of my emotions – I laughed, I reflected, and yes – I cried. I loved it. It’s a great summer movie.

My recommendation – best for school-aged children. A definite go-see.

Movie Review: Disney’s Frozen

Frozen Movie PosterDisney’s latest feature film Frozen hits theaters today. My family was able to preview this film a few days ago. I think you’ll agree that Frozen is a great holiday film.

Here’s the official statement:

In “Frozen,” fearless optimist Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) teams up with rugged mountain man Kristoff (voice of Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer Sven in an epic journey, encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf (voice of Josh Gad)in a race to find Anna’s sister Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter. 

The first thing you’ll see in this movie is the famous short. In Get A Horse, you’ll feel like you’ve been taken back to a time when Walt Disney himself was in charge. The theater erupted in laughter several times, so I’d definitely could this as a hit!

Once the film begins, you’ll immediately notice how beautiful the imagery is. Once you get beyond that, you’ll be mesmerized by soundtrack. Several times, I thought to myself “I can’t wait to buy this album.” Not for the hit pop single by Demi Lavato (“Let it Go”), but for the amazing orchestral score and the OTHER songs that will never hit the radio. They are amazing.

As the credits rolled, Don and I jumped from our seats when we saw that the songs were written and composed by husband and wife team Robert and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. They are also the masterminds behind Nemo-The Musical at Animal Kingdom. This is, by far, our most favorite show on Disney property. If you love this show, you’ll love the music in Frozen. Here’s a link to the soundtrack to Frozen (Deluxe). Amazon is offering this as a CD with a free mp3 download! That’s an awesome deal!

In Frozen, you meet two beautiful sister princesses – Anna and Elsa. They are beautiful with gorgeous, captivating eyes and incredible singing voices. The script introduces them so well and gives us a great glimpse of their relationship and history together. The writers do such a great job of pulling you into the sister-bond. You will be grasped into the story for the rest of the movie.

OlafWe all agreed that our favorite character in the movie was the snowman Olaf (played by Josh Gad). Olaf gained fame because he, along with reindeer, Sven were featured in the trailer. He was so funny. Not that corny-I-can’t-believe-I’m-laughing-at-this funny, but clean comedy. I won’t give it away, but there is a one liner that Olaf has with the Marshmellow monster that my kids have quoted at least 1,000 times since we saw it!

This film is based on Hans Christian Anderson’s book The Snow Queen which I am not familiar with. I caught myself – about half way through the film – thinking that I had it figured out. I’m so glad that I stayed tuned in. I most definitely did not expect the twist that occurred.

Everyone loves a good Disney love story, but I dare say the “love” that saves this story is the best I’ve seen in a while. I can’t say much more than that without giving away the twist, but it’s a nice change of pace.

Elsa : FrozenWatching Frozen from a parent’s perspective was great. I only got one elbow from Piper, because Olaf says “butt”. We say “bottom” in our house, but other than that – you need not worry about the language or violence. You can sit back and just enjoy.

In closing, I’ll say that Frozen is a perfect Christmas release for Disney. It’s not my favorite Disney movie, but it is certainly the best one since Tangled.

Is it worth seeing in the theater? Yes.

Is it worth seeing in 3-D? It definitely had some great parts in 3-D. If you can afford it, yes. If not, then you’ll still really enjoy it.

For more information on Frozen, visit their official movie site or Facebook page.

* Affiliate links used.
* My family was provided with tickets for this movie free of charge. I was not required to write a review. All opinions are my own.

 

 

Disney’s Planes – A Mom’s Movie Review

Disney's Planes Logo*This mom’s review of Disney’s movie, Planes – in my own words. I was provided 3 tickets to an advanced screening with no further compensation. 

Let me begin by saying that the largest part of the past 10 years of my life has been consumed by the movie, Cars. Pixar’s blockbuster premiered on my son’s 3rd birthday and since that time, we have accumulated over 200 of the die cast cars, race tracks, sheet sets, lunch boxes, novelties, and I dare say at least one of everything that the Cars marketing team has had the creativity to dream up. So, when I found out that the movie Planes was going to be hitting theaters, I shuttered to think of why in the world Disney would allow such a rip-off movie to even get off the ground.

I thoroughly expected to hate this film. I will honestly say that I went into this viewing with a negative attitude, but the kids wanted to see it and were honestly so excited that I didn’t express one ounce of negativity so as not to sway them.

If you aren’t familiar with this movie that is opening on August 9, 2013, here’s a brief trailer:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/Ch39vLdQi1g[/youtube]

The film is directed by Klay Hall with executive producers Klay Hall, Jeffrey M. Howard, and my personal favorite John Lasseter (of Cars, Toy Story, and A Bug’s Life to name a few). Key voices include the likes of Dane Cook, Stacy Keach, Teri Hatcher, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Priyanka Chopra, John Cleese, Cedric the Entertainer, Val Kilmer, and Sinbad. Truly, an all-star cast.

Planes clipThe movie itself is not overly creative and is utterly predictable. It is taking what worked best about Cars and changing the vehicle to a plane. There’s a love story. There’s a has-been plane that becomes a teacher to the up-and-coming racer. There are foreign accents that are delightfully funny. There’s even some tractor/cow-tipping.

I was a little surprised by the characters. Obviously, the main characters are airplanes. (If you have a child that is into planes, this movie is for them. There are crop dusters, jets, commercial planes, single engine, etc. They will love naming them all as they appear.) What caught me off guard were the cars. There are TONS of cars in this movie. Most are replicas of Luigi or Guido from the movie, Cars. I guess because I thought that Disney would really go out of their way to try to make this movie completely different, I was a little taken back when a scene would have as many cars in it as planes. On the same note, you will feel like you are right back in Radiator Springs, as well. Whenever a landscape shot is in view, you will catch yourself looking for the Cozy Cone Motel sign. Watch yourself, it will happen! I promise!

What is nice about Planes is that it makes you feel good. Even though, as an adult, you know what’s coming next, it’s done in such a good way that you can tolerate it. I laughed out loud more than once, and the kids belly laughed at several points.

The positive messaging in the film continues on in pure Disney fashion. At one point, Dusty (the main character) has crashed due to a cheating competitor. The other planes come together to graciously help him – sacrificing their own higher quality parts to help him be able to win again. These lessons are throughout and are a great thing for kids to see and remember.

Disney's Planes FriendsThere are a few little moments that made me raise my eyebrows a bit. At one point, a German car says something to the effect of “You sad. You drink.” Eek. That one got a lot of laughs out of the crowd in our theater, but I think Disney could have come up another one liner in that case.

My kids, ages 10 and “nearly” 9,  loved it and would gladly see it again. They did, however, say that they liked Turbo more. I did, too, truth be told!

To wrap it up, I hate to just completely bag on Planes – it is a cute movie. Will we watch it in the theater again? No. Would I have been upset if we had paid to watch it in the theater the first time? Probably not. (Definitely worth matinee price). Will I buy it on DVD? Yes.

My only true hope is that when they makes Planes 2 – and you know that they will – that they do a better job of it then they did with Cars 2. But, until then, grab those matinee tickets and a popcorn and race off with Dusty in Planes.

Justin Bieber: Believe Concert Review

Justin Bieber: Believe Concert Review

Photo Credit: CultureMap.com

Ohhhh …. Justin Bieber. You have taken over the airwaves, the merchandising, and the hearts of little girls all over the globe. Your presence is definitely felt in my house. (And, I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a fan, too!)

I first became a huge Justin Bieber fan when I saw the movie, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. The movie was released into theaters and I was under the impression that it was a one night only event. Piper really wanted to see it. Don was out of town and we had no plans, so we went. I fell in love with this boy … what a great story, charming personality, fabulous family, and brilliant management team. (If you haven’t seen the movie – I highly recommend it. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can stream it free or you can stream it on Netflix.) In fact, we loved the movie so much – we went back to see it again in the theater once we found out that it was actually showing for weeks — Seeing a movie twice in a theater is something we NEVER do!

We’ve all had Bieber Fever since then … buying the albums, following him on Twitter and Instagram, gobbling up the merchandise … you know, the typical stuff that you do when you have a nearly-tween daughter in your house and a closet Bieber-fan son.

Fast forward to May 1ish, 2012: Justin’s tour dates are announced and Houston is on the list. I immediately knew that we wanted to go and didn’t even think twice about the ticket cost. (Because I didn’t know what it was!) We did know that there would be a pre-sale on May 23 to American Express holders (and I’m not one). The remaining tickets would go on sale – what was left of them – on June 2.

On May 23, it was Awards Day for Avery’s class. I had taken a couple of hours off of work and was in his class.  My phone was blowing up from my sweet BFF Erin. As soon as I cleared the school zone (no phones in school zones in TX), I called her back. She’s an American Express card holder and had figured out that she could secure 8 tickets using her and her husbands cards together! Praise you, my dear friend! (And, really, isn’t that the best of friends?) She had already purchased 4 (2 for her and 2 for another of our bests), and was ready to purchase 4 for us if I wanted. Our seats wouldn’t be right next to each other, but we’d be within waving distance. Perfect. Sold. What a friend!!!!

“How much do I owe you?”

“$452”

“OMG! OK … This is the Beatles of their generation, right?” I needed reassurance.

Admitting this might swipe me of my part-time frugal blogger status, I’m afraid. But, we didn’t want seats in the stratosphere – we wanted to see the boy dance! And, we all knew that we couldn’t afford floor seats … so first level seats we got.

The concert was October 30 and Piper’s birthday was October 28, so it was a no-brainer that she was getting these as a gift. Her portion of the ticket cost is what we would have spent on her anyway. The second part of her gift is that she got to take us all with us!

Piper had asked several times about the concert and I always told her that it was just too expensive and we couldn’t go. She completely understood and never balked at that excuse, but I knew she really wanted to go … especially since two of her best friends were going as well.

I love (and am shocked) that we were able to keep the tickets a secret from her. It was a sweet surprise when she opened the final gift at her birthday party and realized that she DID have tickets and was getting to go just 2 days later.

Talk about a happy 8 year old girl … downright joyful.

We arrived at the Toyota Center in downtown Houston around 6. The concert was set to begin with Opening Act Carly Rae Jepsen at 7:00 PM, and since she’s had a great couple of months with chart-topping songs and lots of radio play – the place was swarming with people. Everyone wanted to see her act as well.

We arrived before our friends and took our time people watching and taking advantage of the Justin Bieber dance and sing-alongs that were happening at the Radio Disney booth. There were photo ops with Justin Bieber cutouts and some giveaways to the lucky folks who could finish the lyrics to songs, etc.

Lots of fans had made homemade signs and were probably seeing if any of the management from Justin’s team would allow them the opportunity to go backstage to meet the popstar live-and-in-person!

The music from Radio Disney and other pop stations was blaring … all of their speakers seemed to be pointing at one another. It was loud, so if you are going to a concert in another city … beware. The loud doesn’t start when JB takes the stage – it’s way before that!

I  noted (and also saw this at the Taylor Swift concert) that the posterboard signs are NOT allowed inside the arena. I’m sure this is so they don’t obstruct people’s view. [Thank you!] So, don’t spend a fortune at Hobby Lobby and work all weekend on it. Unless you just want it for the courtyard experience, you are wasting money.

About this same time, our friends arrived! The kids were so excited to see each other – it had been 30 hours – and couldn’t wait to experience this whole event together!

The line that seemed very long when we first walked up had gone down some, but went very quickly. We entered the arena and found our seats. We were in sections 116 and 117, rows 23 and 22 respectively … we were literally across the aisle from one another – spitting distance as we would say in Kentucky.

The seats were perfect. Low enough that we could see the stage without depending solely on the monitors, but high enough that we could get the effect of the “extras” without looking straight up! I’m definitely making a note of where we were … the seats were well worth the money.

Carly Rae Jepsen took the stage at 7:15 PM. She was good. Definitely a nice choice for an opening act since she appeals to the same fan base. I thought her treble mix was way too high, but I’m no audio engineer.

Her set list was: Sweetie, Tiny Little Bows, Good Time, Tonight I’m Getting Over You, This Kiss,Your Heart is a Muscle, Hurt So Good, and the ever-popular Call Me Maybe.

I managed to get the last bit of Call Me Maybe recorded:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/TuXWmd9xwfc[/youtube]

Following Carly’s act, there was a 35 minute break as they prepared for Justin’s part. I took that time to go and tackle the merchandise line. I left Don and the kids in their seats in case I was still there when the next show started. There was a timer which was very helpful and much appreciated.

There was a ton of merchandise to choose from, as you can imagine. There were roaming vendors that were selling programs ($25), lanyards, and light up toys. If that’s all you wanted – it kept you out of the line which was a nice plus!

There were 8 check out stations at the booth that I chose and I still stood for 35 minutes. Houston loves them some Bieber shirts – he made a bloody fortune.

As for us, I bought Piper a shirt ($35), a shirt for myself ($35), a lanyard for Avery and a poster for his BFF that is a huge fan and my total was $95. Not a cheap venture.

All 19,300 seats in the Toyota Center were sold out for this concert. It is a complete miracle that the entire city of Houston did not hear the roar or squeals, rather, when Justin Bieber took the stage. It was like nothing I have ever heard before. The kid has some fans … and they adore him!

Justin enters the arena in the huge wings that are pictured at the top of this post and jumpstarts the concert with All Around the World. The stage is multi-level and the lights are everywhere. It’s a cool setup and allows him lots of versatility.

The setlist went like this:  All Around the World; Take You; Catching Feelings: Medley: One Time/Eenie Meenie/Somebody to Love; Love Me Like You Do; She Don’t Like the Lights; Die in Your Arms; Beautiful (with Carly Rae Jepsen); Out of Town Girl; Be Alright; Fall; Never Say Never; Beauty and a Beat; One Less Lonely Girl; As Long as You Love Me; Believe. Encore: Boyfriend and Baby. 

Being such a huge fan of the Never Say Never and My World albums, I loved that he included the medley: One Time/Eenie Meenie/Somebody to Love. Eenie Meenie is my favorite Justin Bieber song. Here’s a little clip:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/PzTVqYHs6Dg[/youtube]

Here’s one undeniable fact and I don’t care if you like Justin Bieber or not, the boy can dance. Not only that … he has surrounded himself with others that can dance. And choreographers that are beyond brilliant. These dancers are complete artists. They performed to the entire arena. I’m not talking about their placement on the stages or where they were physically – I’m meaning that their energy hit me in my seat … 1/4 mile from the stage (give or take a few feet). They were so entertaining!

You can see the dancers in some of the video that I took, especially if you focus on the large upper monitor. (In person, it was really easy to see them from where we sat.) But, I wanted you to get the idea of how great they are, so I found this clip. You MUST watch it.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/CVnhEzwPLb8[/youtube]

Overall, I thought the show was worth every penny! Truthfully. I’d also say that it was one of the best concert tours I’ve seen. Don thought that Justin was too grateful to the crowd – he did a lot of thanking everyone for coming. Don thought that was too much; I thought it was sincere. The mix was good and Justin sounds great live! No real obvious moments of lip synching and a good blend of old/new songs.

Oh, and what did the girls think?

… they loved it. (Avery, the closet Bieber fan, loved it too! Sang along with every single song!!!)

Piper has gotten over the fact that she wasn’t the One Less Lonely Girl and is pretty sure it’s only because she’s too young. “He’ll come around when I’m older.”

It was a great night, and again – worth every red cent. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Especially when I see smiles like the one in the picture just above!

For a final treat, I leave you with the entire encore. Thanks iPhone 5 for an extended battery life 🙂 This is Boyfriend and Baby!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJGgrNDmS7w&feature=share&list=UU-0kSiqOk6Sy4lqjGS7kFHw[/youtube]