MMT December 2015 Netflix Picks

Merry Christmas Eve MMT Fam! I decided to curate this month’s picks with the holidays and winter break in mind, so I have chosen selections that would be safe viewing for the family.

My first pick this month is a good choice for the little ones (under 13) and one of my 2015 faves, the animated film HOME – featuring the voices of Rihanna, Jim Parsons, Steve Martin and Jennifer Lopez. You can read the quick review I posted back in March here, but I’d also like to share a few additional reasons why I loved this movie so much:

  • The diversity – this film is filled with beautiful human characters of various colors and traits. And the main character, Tip (Rihanna), being a girl of color with a natural hairstyle was EVERYTHING!
  • The lessons – the Jim Parson-voiced character, Oh, has to be one of the most unaccepted, unpopular characters in child film history! But, HOME follows Oh, along with Tip, as he learns valuable lessons on acceptance, trust, and love – and as his alien kind, the Boov, learn a lesson or two regarding truth and acceptance.
  • The music – the movie includes a fun soundtrack and really cute character dance scenes.

HOME is rated PG for mild action and some rude humor; however I took MMT’s youngest contributor, and my littlest bestie, Jayla – who was two and soon turning three – to the advanced screening. She was engaged during the film, and there weren’t any parts that I felt were inappropriate for her viewing. And if I’m not mistaken, that rude humor involves a couple potty jokes (apparently Boov’s have number one, two, and three’s, LOL) – so there is nothing too raunchy that would make me not recommend this film for the little ones.

My next picks both are composed of amazing casts and are great stories for pre-teens and up. Down in the Delta was directed by the late, great Maya Angelou and boasts an all-star cast – including Alfre Woodard, Mary Alice, Loretta Devine, and the late actors Esther Rolle and Al Freeman, Jr.

“Down in the Delta” tells the story of a struggling mother (Woodard) who takes her children to her family’s hometown in the Mississippi Delta and learns some key lessons on her heritage and building a future. The film is rated PG-13 for some drug related material; however it is an uplifting family story, rich with lessons on family bonds and cultural appreciation.

Life of a King is a movie I reviewed back in January of last year.  The film stars Cuba Gooding Jr., with a supporting cast that includes Dennis Haysbert (Dear White People, LUV) , LisaGay Hamilton (Grey’s Anatomy, Law & Order: SVU), Richard T. Jones (Concussion, Why Did I Get Married Too). Based on a true story, “Life of King” highlights Eugene Brown (Gooding Jr.), an ex-felon who created a chess club to teach inner city teenagers to “envision the end game” and prepare themselves to meet future goals. This movie is also rated PG-13 for some drug related material and brief violence – both involving teenagers.

Oh, and I’ll throw in one more for good measure! I watched a very cute movie with my 8-year-old nephew and 6-year-old niece called The Mistle-tones! – starring Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Tori Spelling. The film tells the story of a young singer (Mowry-Hardrict) who starts her own group after being rejected for a spot in a legendary Christmas group founded by her late mother. Filled with good comedic moments and fun music, my niece and nephew absolutely loved watching this film. It’s rated TV-PG, and is really safe viewing for the entire family.

Alright MMT Family, let me know if you watch any of these recommendations – and leave your thoughts in the comments! And have a safe and blessed holiday! 🙂

Until next thought, Thomasena

 

MMT Quick Review of ‘HOME’

Home (photo: DreamWorks)

Happy Friday MMT Family! I had the opportunity to screen the new DreamWorks film HOME earlier this week. The film tells the story of Oh (Jim Parsons), who goes on the run after his alien kind, the Boov, invades Earth and finds an unlikely companion in Tip (Rihanna) – who was separated from her mother during the invasion. The story follows the two on their quest to get Oh back in the good graces of the Boov and locate Tip’s mother – Lucy who is voiced by Jennifer Lopez

HOME has a great balance of little, kid and big humor. And by big, I don’t mean the borderline suspect humor like some of its predecessors where I questioned who the film was really for – the kids or the adults. There are some potty jokes in the film, but that’s as “much” as it gets.   The movie displays solid lessons on love, friendship, acceptance, and courage – that are also balanced for the youngest movie goers.

I believe Jim Parsons was the perfect pick for Oh. He has just the personality to voice the silly/sensitive/serious lines and have you rooting for his character the entire time.  And I think it goes without saying that Steve Martin, as Boov leader Captain Smek, was hilarious! His special kind of funny comes across even with voice animation.

I also thought Rihanna was a great choice to voice the Tip character. She brought a feisty and fun energy to the role. And as a proud “cat mommy,” I enjoyed Tip’s bond and feline love for the third most prominent character – Tip’s cat Pig.

So, remember my youngest “bestie” Jayla from the Annie screening? She’s sort of become my “unofficial” litmus test with these kid films! 🙂   So how’d she fair?  Well, she’s a two-year-old and needed one bathroom break, but watched the movie very intently and followed along well. She even laughed at a couple of jokes I thought she wouldn’t get, but they were Steve Martin silly so no reason we wouldn’t both chuckle!

HOME opened today in theaters nationwide. You can watch the trailer below, and get additional info about the movie at the official website here.

Be sure to stop back and share a thought or two after you see the film!

Until next thought, Thomasena

Grammys and BET Honors, Oh My!

Grammy pic

Good Morning Music Movie Family!  So the 55th Annual Grammy Awards will air tonight 8pm EST on CBS, and to be honest I’m not overly excited.  But, there are a few moments I am looking forward to, including the Sting, Bruno Mars, and Rihanna performance.  Why you ask?  Well I don’t know about you but every time I hear “Locked Out of Heaven,” I’m wishing that “Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” follows!  Don’t necessarily know how Rihanna fits into the Grammy equation; but I guess we will all find out tonight won’t we?

I’m also looking forward to the Song of the Year category and would love to see Miguel win for “Adorn,” but am feeling the songwriting team behind that Kelly Clarkson hit “Stronger” or Carly Rae Jepsen, songwriter of that bubble gum hit “Call Me Maybe” heard EVERYWHERE, might walk away with the award. You can check out the rest of the Grammy nomination list at http://www.grammy.com/nominees.

Chaka-Khan-BET-Honors-2013

What I’m most excited about is one of my all time favorite singers, the legendary Chaka Khan who celebrates 40 years in the music industry this year, receive her tribute on tomorrow’s BET Honors. The broadcast will air Monday night at 9pm EST on BET.  Now there are several artists who performed and paid tribute to the honorees, including Brandy, Mint Condition, Alicia Keys, and the SOS Band featuring Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.  But my girls Erykah Badu and Ledisi were also in the house, and I’m willing to bet they sang the heaven into a Chaka song!  Can’t wait to see, how about you?  Also included this year as BET Honorees are Halle Berry, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Lisa Leslie, and music industry legend Clarence Avant (if you don’t know his name, look him up!).

Alright that’s it for me Music Movie Lovers.  Stop back by and let me know what you liked, or didn’t, about the shows.  Going to leave you with some of that Bruno Mars below 🙂

Until next thought, Thomasena

Will Battleship Sink or Float at the Box Office?

I’ll first start by admitting that I was more of a Connect Four, Trivial Pursuit, Clue, Boggle kind of Hasbro/Milton Bradley kid, oh and I can’t forget that everyone in my house wanted to “be a winner in the game of Life!” 🙂  I played Battleship maybe once or twice, learned I was not a strategic master at it, and threw up the white flag to that board game forever.  Yet, I must admit I became quite nostalgic when attending last Tuesday night’s screening for Battleship, especially when the Hasbro logo appeared in opening credits :P.  The theater was packed with what seemed like one big family night demographic, with young and old sitting in anticipation to see what was in store.

Directed by Peter Berg (Hancock, The Kingdom, Friday Night Lights), with stars that include Taylor Kitsch (John Carter, X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Alexander Skarsgard (HBO’s True Blood, Straw Dogs), Grammy award-winning singer Rihanna, Liam Neeson (Taken, The Grey) and a wonderfully assembled international cast, and shot mostly on location in beautiful Hawaii, Battleship has all the makings of a traditional Hollywood blockbuster.  As far as hero movies go, it follows a typical format: bad guy working to go good/get life together, gets girlfriend, then goes into epic navy battle against aliens.  Won’t go into further detail, or give any spoilers, but you get the idea.

Now I enjoy action/sci-fi films, and with respect to action Battleship does not disappoint.  What was disappointing for me was where I felt the story fell short, I mean I’m still not sure why the aliens decided to invade our planet.  It’s explained early on in the film that the US communicated with their planet (assuming it was uninhabited) via NASA satellites and yada yada yada, but never exactly details why we were under attack.  Did the aliens need resources for a dying planet like the V series, or was it for sport like the Predator series?  Not sure.  But since the movie offered plenty of well scripted jokes/punch lines, and major heroic moments that gave the audience a lot to cheer, I left the theater feeling mostly satisfied.

What was the biggest highlight for me?  What?  You said Rihanna because the blog is called music movies thoughts?  Well you’d be wrong if you did!  I thought Rihanna’s début performance was fair, and enjoyed that she portrayed a rugged and smart good girl character, versus the good girl gone bad image her songstress persona has adopted.  But I would give four thumbs, if I had that many, for the début performance of Army Colonel Gregory D. Gadson,  a real life veteran and armed services hero who plays the role of Mick.  I also enjoyed watching the real life WWII navy veterans, or “Old Salts” as they are affectionately called, who were cast in a pivotal scene on the Battleship Missouri in the movie.

To sum up, Battleship is a great action film that is family friendly and would make a fitting Memorial Day outing.  It’s not a savvy sci-fi story, so those more in tune with a Stars Wars or Fifth Element might be disappointed.  But if you enjoyed Hancock, consider Battleship to be Independence Day, minus Will Smith and on speed (with regard to special effects).  And if you’re old enough to remember the board game, and actually were good at it, you probably will appreciate a few more of the battle scenes than most.  The movie opens in theaters today.  If you go check it out, leave me a comment.  I would love to hear your thoughts, especially if you figure out why the aliens attacked! 😛

Until next thought family, Thomasena