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December 2016

TRAIN TO BUSAN is Brilliant for Zombie Lovers on Bluray

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Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray from writer/director Sang-ho Yeon and Well Go USA Entertainment comes one of the hottest genre of films so prepare to board the TRAIN TO BUSAN.

Seok-woo (Gong Yoo) is working hard in the business world of South Korea trying to provide a living for daughter Su-an (Kim Soo-ahn) and his mother. Working becomes so much his focus that he doesn’t make time to even make it to Su-an’s recital. As her birthday approaches, the little girl wants nothing more than to see her mother.

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Trying to make amends to Su-an, Seok-woo agrees to take her on the train to Busan to see her mother. Watching the television on the train, he sees that something is happening all around but no one is quite sure what it is. Everyone on the train including Seok-woo will find out horrifyingly fast.

People have become infected with a virus that turns them into flesh eaters and the train isn’t about to get a break from it. A young woman who jumps onto the train trying to get away from a hoard brings the misery aboard.

Now Seok-woo must muster up every ounce of courage if he is to save his daughter. The selfishness he has become accustomed too won’t do in the face of what ever has taken over the train. He begins to work together with the others who also help to protect Su-an to keep the infected at bay long enough to get the train to Busan.

To survive it will take sacrifice and more courage than any of them realized they had!

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Yoo as Seok-woo is definitely a man who wants to control every situation around him. From his job to dealing with an ex-wife, he keeps things moving to the beat of his own drum. That all pretty much changes after seeing the first zombie come to life, but then again I think that would change anyone’s attitude.

Kim Soo-ahn as Su-an is adorable, smart, affectionate and not afraid to tell it like it is, even if it happens with tears in her eyes. She is sharp and knows that something is up even before the other passengers. Su-an doesn’t have much to say so trust me when I tell you that when she speaks – listen!

Director Sang-ho Yeon has been seriously busy wearing both hats as writer and director to other films such as THE KING OF PIGS, THE FAKE and SEOUL STATION (and you can add producer to the latter as well). In TRAIN TO BUSAN I think he has found a creative niche that gave this film serious awesomeness!

Well Go USA Entertainment once again provides the best in action and independent films from the US and around the world. Well Go’s titles can be seen in theatres, digital, subscription and VOD as well as broadcast television. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.wellgousa.com. TRAIN TO BUSAN has a running time of 118 minutes.

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TUBS OF POPCORN: I give TRAIN TO BUSAN five tubs of popcorn out of five. I was totally engaged from start to finish (even if I did want to smack Seok-woo a few times). Every character had their own story and it was allowed to play itself out in such a way that I didn’t feel cheated although I might have done an “awwww really??” a time or two but in a good way.

From a couple expecting their first child, a team of baseball players, two lifelong friends, a greedy corporate passenger and more round out a cast that characterize the panic anyone would have on a train. That’s what also makes this film unique, they are in a confined space with limited options and hunger flesh eaters at every turn.

That’s what makes zombie films so awesome is that there are no set rules which means anything is possible. The zombie affects are frakken amazing in their own right. Every scene from inside the train is magnificently done, the hoard’s of zombies piling together to catch a train had my jaw dropping and the fight from car to car was clever in every sense of the word.

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I’m sure by now everyone knows I’m a huge fan of the zombie genre and will watch anything with the hungry little buggers. TRAIN TO BUSAN is thoroughly cool in that new ideas have been brought into the mix and no one is spared – THAT’S what makes a memorable and talked about zombie film.

The Bluray includes Bonus Features of Behind-the-Scenes, That’s a Wrap and Film Trailer along with English language availability. This one hundred and eighteen minute zombie ride is also subtitled.

In the end – this film takes ticket punching to a whole new level!

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MIRACULOUS: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir – Be Miraculous on DVD

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Jeri Jacquin

Coming to DVD from Shout! Kids Factory is the next installment of the hit series that has captivated kids of all ages with MIRACULOUS: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir – Be Miraculous.

Marinette has just started school in Paris and what she doesn’t know is that a little butterfly kwami named Nooroo is about to change her life! Hawk Moth has Nooroo and is forcing evil powers on people around Marinette.

Master Fu also has a kwami named Wayzz who knows what is happening with Nooroo. Looking to find Ladybug and Cat Noir’s Miraculouses he meets Marinette and Adrien giving them the Miraculouses. Just in time too because classmate Ivan has fallen under Hawk Moth’s spell turning the unsuspecting boy into giant monster Stone Heart.

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Wanting to stop Paris from destruction proves difficult when a mistake makes their job harder. The Eiffel Tower is where the showdown occurs as Ladybug and Cat Noir understand their mistake and put Hawk Moth’s spell in check!

But Hawk Moth isn’t about to give up that easy when Marinette learns Nino has a crush when they are at the zoo. Otis and Kim are also there and after a nasty encounter the evil villain turns Otis into Animan who shape-shifts into any animal.

Marinette is grounded for missing school because her parents don’t realize she is Ladybug! Missing the chance to see her friend Simon compete on a show called The Challenge; she also misses Hawk Moth’s influence turning an upset Simon into a Simon Says.

Vincent is a fan of rocker Jagged Stone and when he discovers that he will be at the Grand Paris hotel tries to get a picture. Turned away Hawk Moth uses Vincent’s anger to create the Pixelator, which has a head-mounted camera to take pictures of people with evil results. This isn’t the only time Jagged Stone causes the creation of trouble as Guitar Villain causes a lot of big headed trouble.

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Finally, Chef Wang Cheng visits Paris to be in a cooking competition and being Marinette’s uncle means she and Adrien can watch. Chloe is on the judge’s panel and after making fun of Chef Cheng he becomes angry and Hawk Moth steps in to create Kung Food with results even Chloe couldn’t have imagined.

Ladybug and Cat Noir is a seriously fun, cool, interesting and adventurous series that has something for everyone. The stories are very family oriented with lessons on friendship. It is brilliantly done and literally never a dull moment. That’s what makes a series such as this a huge hit with kids (and let us not forget big kids too!)

SHOUT! Factory brings the best to fans offering up feature films, classic television series, animation and specials. For more of what they have to offer go to www.shoutfactory.com.

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MIRACULOUS: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir – Be Miraculous is beautifully smooth animation filled with vivid colors. This series is a top show on Nickelodeon and becoming a worldwide phenomenon. I couldn’t agree with it more as I am drawn to a series that offers problem solving, friendships, family loyalty and love. Can’t go wrong with those things at all.

Don’t get me wrong, there is also fun, laughs, jokes and a fair amount of cute which is such an adult thing to say right? Hey, I don’t mind saying there are moments between Marinette and Adrien that are down right adorable. There is also the sweet butterfly kwami and fighting the bad guy which are other elements that are a plus for this series.

The DVD includes the seven episodes Ladybug & Cat Noir (Origins, Part 1), Stone Heart (Origins, Part 2), Animan, Simon Says, Pixelator, Guitar Villain and Kung Food.

In the end – they bring awesome excitement!

THE RED SKELTON HOUR in COLOR from Time Life Comes to DVD

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Jeri Jacquin

Taking me down memory lane from Time Life is the 3-DVD set with never-before-release episodes in full color is THE RED SKELTON HOUR in COLOR.

My first introduction to comedy and serious laughter came from watching Richard Bernard “Red” Skelton. Making me laugh as a kid, it didn’t surprise me that his career began early when at the age of ten he began traveling from shows to burlesque right into vaudeville by 1934.

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By 1937 Skelton was beginning a radio career but quickly found his way to the silver screen in HAVING A WONDERFUL TIME with Ginger Rogers and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. He also starred in one of my personal favorites, the 1946 film ZIEGFELD FOLLIES.

THE RED SKELTON HOUR came about by 1951 and continued until 1971 and in that time he created some of the most memorable and beloved characters. I don’t think I will ever see the likes of his talent ever again in my lifetime.

What most don’t know about this comedic genius is that he was set on bringing his comedy show in color at a time when most shows were still in black and white. Purchasing Charlie Chaplin’s Studios he made that dream a reality. Now, Time Life brings Skelton fans that comedy from a simpler time with never-before-released shows.

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What makes this so amazing is to see characters that brought me to tears with laughter one again performed by Skelton. From Freddie the Freeloader to Sheriff Deadeye there isn’t a moment on this DVD that won’t have viewers laughing.

His guest star line up was something to be proud of as well as Tim Conway, Boris Karloff, Vincent Prize, Phyllis Diller, George Gobel, Mickey Rooney and another iconic man of his time John Wayne stops by to be a part of the fun.

Skelton was no stranger to awards because in 1952 and 1961 THE RED SKELTON HOUR received Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing Achievement in Comedy from the Primetime Emmy Awards. In 1959 the series won Best TV Show from the Golden Globe Awards. I wasn’t even born yet and he was making American laugh!

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Time Life has brought this never before released anywhere classic collection of the series to fans. For more of what Time Life has to offer fans of classic television visit www.timelife.com.

What brings me so much joy about the 3-DVD set is that I am transported back to a time when my family gathered around the television to laugh together. I honestly don’t believe we missed a single episode weekly and the ritual that came along with it. Early dinner, pajamas and slippers all around, pillows on the floor, big bowls of popcorn and excitement to see what characters Skelton would bring.

Having the ability to bring the family back together again is nothing short of pure joy. It is a grand way to introduce a new generation to the happiness that Red Skelton brought and is bringing once again.

Unseen for more than 50 years, Red Skelton is one of the most legendary comedians with the longest-running variety show and all of what Time Life brings deserves all of our attention.

In the end – there is no business like funny business as America’s clown prince is back!

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The Animated Film LONG WAY NORTH is Even More Striking on Bluray and DVD

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Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Bluray, DVD and Digital Download on January 17th, 2017 from SHOUT! Factory Films is the beautiful story and stunning animation by director Remi Chaye taking the trip LONG WAY NORTH.

Sacha (Chloe Dunn) is a young girl living in 19th century St. Petersburg, Russia. Her Grandfather Olukine (Geoffrey Greenhill) is a sea explorer who is in search of the North Pole on the ship, the Davai. When both he and the ship go missing, the Czar offers a million ruble reward for the discovery of its whereabouts.

Her parents want Sacha to marry and have arranged for her to meet Prince Tomsky at her debut ball. Instead, she has discovered a map and directions to where Sacha believes her grandfather may be. Attempting to discuss it with the prince turns disastrous and the parents are devastated.

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Knowing that no one believes her, Sacha takes it upon herself to head into the Great North. Taking the train as far as it will her, the only way to get further is by ship. She meets Larson who says he is the captain of the Norge and can take her further north. After a major setback, it is Lund (Larsons’ brother) who is the captain that believes in this young girl’s story.

Now, Sacha has a chance to find the grandfather she loves and solve the mystery of the Davai!

Sacha’s adventure are nothing short of courageous. Although her parents do not understand with her obsession with looking for grandfather and the Davai, it is when she doesn’t fall for the Prince that family honor is at stake.

Going out into the world brought this character the courage she needed but also life lessons about responsibility and accountability. That’s what I enjoyed most about LONG WAY NORTH, watching this character of Sacha bloom.

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I would encourage all families to make this film a family night together because finding films that can be enjoyed together is hard sometimes. LONG WAY HOME brings love, family, faith and friendship and loyalty together in a beautiful way.

The voice cast also includes Tom Perkins as Katch, Vivienne Vermes as Olga, Claire Harrison-Bullett as Nadya, Kester Lovelace as Loujine, Bibi Jacobs as Sacha’s Mother, Tom Morton as Prince Tomsky, and Martin Lewis as Sacha’s Father.

SHOUT! Factory has grown into a tremendous multi-platform media company. Releasing new animated features such as the exquisite Long Way North, and the epic fantasy Beauty And The Beast. Also their own original horror film, Fender Bender gives fans a good scare. For more of what SHOUT Factor has to offer please visit www.shoutfactory.com.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give LONG WAY NORTH five tubs of popcorn out of five. This is such a collection of words such as stunning, heart warming, delightful and even charming in its humor.

LONG WAY NORTH is directed by celebrated animator Remi Chaye and has won the coveted Audience Award at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival and the winner of the Grand Prize and the Governor of Tokyo Award at the Tokyo Animation Festival this year.

When asked what made Chaye want to take on this project, he said, “In 2005 I met Claire Paoletti who was teaching courses in screenwriting at La Poudriere. She had a project for a feature-length film. At that point, it all fit on one page; a young girl of the Russian aristocracy leaving to find her grandfather who is lost on the ice. Not long before that I had read the logbook of Ernest Shackelton and about his extraordinary odyssey. The expedition was to cross the Antarctic from sea to sea and an early winter caught them in the ice.”

He continues, “When Claire told me about a ship caught in the ice, I got excited. I also really liked the idea of making a film that takes place in the 19th century…a period film like Jules Verne novels, Gustave Doree’s etching or Daumier’s lithographs. Her project had all the elements that interested me.”

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All of that comes into focus with the animated film that tells the story of a young girl’s journey to find her grandfather and the ship. But that isn’t all, it’s a story of explorers and the heart it takes to go into a part of the world that others wouldn’t.

The animation is so well done and to say it’s beautiful would be an understatement. The music was created by Jonathan Morali and songwriter Syd Matters. The lyrics are so expressive when is comes to Sacha’s scenes. Also, director Chaye kept the Russian ambiance for this animated adventure film.

From SHOUT! Factory films is adventure beyond the edge of the world and a young girl shares her faith, hope and love on a voyage like no other.

The Bluray and DVD combo pack contains amazing bonus content including Conceptual Pilot, Behind-the-Scenes Featurette, Interview with director Remi Chaye and producer Henri Magalon, Still Gallery with Character Design, Still Gallery with Concept Art and Animated Storyboards.

In the end – it is a matter of family honor!

SNOWDEN Spills on Onto Bluray

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Jeri Jacquin

This week from director Oliver Stone is the Bluray regarding the life of Edward Snowden as Universal Pictures Home Entertainment brings SNOWDEN.

It is 2013 and in a hotel room, Edward Snowden (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has gathered reporters Laura Poitras (Melissa Leo), Glenn Greenwald (Zachary Quinto) and Ewen MacAskill (Tom Wilkinson). There he begins to tell his story with the beginning of his time at boot camp.

It quickly becomes clear that something is wrong with his legs. Disappointed that he can’t continue, the doctor tells him there is other ways to “serve his country”. That way turned into a job interview with the CIA.

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He trains at ‘The Hill’ under the watchful eye of Corbin O’Brian (Rhys Ifans), Snowden speaks to Hank Forrester (Nicolas Cage) who encourages him to keep his eyes open as to what is happening around him. Snowden meets his online tech-mate Lindsay Mills (Shailene Woodley).  He shares that he works for the government and they can’t really discuss what he does. That doesn’t seem to stop the couple from becoming a couple.

Embraced by both O’Brian and Forrester, Snowden quickly moves up the ranks. Taking a position in Geneva, he is in the section that deals with security. This is where he learns that the world is being watched through the internet.

Really wanting to work on a case, he bugs an agent who finally has clearance asking Snowden to get banking information from guests at a gathering. His lack of social skills makes him uncomfortably awkward and needs to be saved by girlfriend Lindsay.

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When he realizes what it takes to be involved in a case, he resigns from the CIA, he goes to Japan to work for Dell and Lindsay joins him. This is around the time Obama is running for President and Snowden believes the new Commander-in-Chief can change things. Upset that everything he is doing is under the umbrella of terrorism, he continues to work but not quite sure why he has to spy on everyone.

In 2011 they return to the United States and Snowden goes back to the CIA as a contractor. That’s when he hears that people are coming out whistle blowing on the government. Still unhappy, he hangs with instructor O’Brian sharing his disappointment.

When offered a position in Hawaii that is created specifically for him, Lindsay isn’t happy that she once again is really on the back burner. Right before they leave, the couple discovers Snowden has a medical issue. That scare changes Lindsay’s mind to move to Hawaii for his health.

While in Hawaii, Edward figures out that those in charge are watching him but more importantly he is caught spying on his own girlfriend. Now more paranoid than ever he decides he needs to get the information off his computer and give it to journalists.

Back to 2013 as Snowden watches as the journalists put it out to the world and spends days watching the news with his face plastered everywhere. Snowden knows he must go into hiding making his way from Hong Kong to Russia.

Levitt as Snowden does a remarkable job of looking and sounding nothing like himself. Wrapping himself up in this role Levitt is given the opportunity to do something I have not seen him do before – help me forget that he is an actor playing a real person.

Woodley as Lindsay is a spirited and open person from the moment she meets Edward. That is the flip side to the quiet and secretive Edward. She gives up a lot of her life for his career and even puts her own career on hold – I’m not sure I would do that but Woodley made me believe she would.

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Cage as Forrester gets a few minutes in the beginning and a few minutes at the end where he cheers without actually cheering when Snowden goes public.

Richardson as Janine gets a tongue lashing from Quinto’s character as if a journalist would talk to an editor that way and still have a job. Olyphant gets to be a cool James Bond for a few scenes as CIA Agent Geneva and he does look amazing.

Leo as Laura babies Snowden every chance she gets, Quinto as Greenwald is hot tempered and intense. Wilkinson character only wants the story – period. He is cautious and careful but biting at the bit to be the first and right!

Ifans as Corbin O’Brian is the scary ‘villain’ created by Snowden. Ifans gives his character a frightening element that doesn’t shift gears. There are moments where this character edges on being a softer human being and then snaps out of it. Loved his performance which is weird.

The tagline says ‘you don’t have to pick a side, but you will’ giving us choices of soldier, traitor, spy, hero, hacker and patriot. This is a film that each person who views it will have to make their own decision on Snowden’s actions.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us all to experience and re-experience in our own home theatres. There are films of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.uphe.com.

The Bluray and DVD Bonus Features include Deleted Scenes, Finding the Truth: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, and Oliver Stone discuss what attracted them to the project and how they worked together to tell Edward Snowden’s story, and Snowden: Q&A: A panel discussion about the film featuring Edward Snowden, Oliver Stone, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Shailene Woodley moderated by Matt Zoller Seitz.

In the end – it is one nation under surveillance for liberty and justice for all.

THE DISAPPOINTMENTS ROOM Creeps onto Bluray

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Jeri Jacquin

This week from director-writer D.J. Caruso and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment is a house that has everything a family could want including a THE DISAPPOINTMENTS ROOM.

In the aftermath of a family tragedy, architect Dana (Kate Beckinsale), husband David (Mel Raido) and their son Lucas (Duncan Joiner) move to an isolated home in the country.

The house needs serious renovations and Dana takes on the challenge quickly discovering a room that isn’t on the blueprints. That isn’t the only odd thing happening on the property when Dana sees rustles and mists around the home as well with no explanation.

Film Title: The Disappointments Room

Going into town the family meets Ms. Judith (Marcia DeRousse) who explains that the room not on the blueprints is called a Disappointments Room. It is a room built to hide the secrets of children with conditions found embarrassing to a family.

Dana also learns that the house once belonged to Judge Blacker (Gerald McRaney) and almost immediately she begins to see the Blacker family’s secret. The problem is that Dana is the only one that can see these spirits which puts husband David in a worrisome position.

Now she must find a way to save her own family when it becomes clear that Judge Blacker wants everyone gone and will stop at nothing to make that happen.

Beckinsale as Dana takes the steps to look drastically different in this film. She embraces the difficulties that this woman faces trying to start over and be the wife and mother that her family needs. Hoping to get away by moving to a secluded location, Beckinsale’s character almost instantly knows something isn’t quite right.

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Raido as husband David keeps his feelings of the family tragedy quiet feeling that he needs to be strong for Dana. When she begins acting strangely he reaches out for help but it might be too late.

McRaney as Judge Blacker is creepy scary with the darkest performance I think I’ve seen from this actor. Joiner as the young Lucas is in the middle of the family tragedy and I think we will be seeing more of him in the future.

DeRousse as Ms. Judith is informative yet hilarious as she tells the history of families with Disappointment Room but doesn’t hesitate to throw in her own two cents. Wanting to help Dana discover the truth she just might be too late!

Other cast includes: Lucas Till as Ben, Michaela Conlin as Jules, Michael Landes as Teddy, Ella Jones as Laura, and Jennifer Leigh Mann as Mrs. Blacker.

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Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment brings award-winning global product and new entertainment to DVD, Bluray, and Digital HD. There amazing collection offers fans an opportunity to expand their own home libraries with the best films. To discover what other titles they have please visit www.fox.com.

THE DISAPPOINTMENTS ROOM is a spooky tale that is wrapped in a mystery thriller with a few unexpected jolts. I enjoy these kinds of films with a history behind it that just surprises me. There is much to know about these actual Disappointment rooms and it is fascinating to read about them and the stories.

The film gives a heart-pounding good time so might I suggest turning the lights out and cuddling up because that is the best way to enjoy! The DVD includes the Special Features of Unwanted: Inside The Disappointments Room.

In the end – some mysteries should not be unlocked!

 

SING Does Exactly That!

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Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this week from directors Christophe Lordelet and Gareth Jennings along with Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures is a story about those who have a dream to SING.

Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) is a koala with a dream! Given a theatre by his father, Buster has been busting his furry self trying to bring in talent that will bring people in. The theatre has fallen into some disrepair and he doesn’t have money to pay anyone so he is one step ahead of falling into a pit. His one solid employee is Ms. Crawley (Gareth Jennings) who is probably older than the theatre itself!

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Buster has the brilliant idea to hold a contest with the winner receiving $1,000 but Ms. Crawley makes an error on the flyer putting the winnings much higher. The next day the theatre is filled with the brim with performers wanting their chance at the cash but some are actually there to be heard!

When Buster begins to whittle down the talent his top contends include Eddie (Seth MacFarlane) a mouth with a crooners song and an attitude for trouble, shy Meena (Tori Kelly) the elephant who can’t seem to find her voice in the crowd, Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) who is a Mom of 25 piglets needing to remember herself in the chaos of family life, Ash (Scarlett Johansson) the rocker porcupine who discovers she is just fine making music on her own and Johnny (Taron Egerton) the singing gorilla thug who wants more than the illegal family business.

Now the show can be put together but they need help as Buster turns to his friend Eddie (John C. Reilly) to talk his rich Nana (Jennifer Saunders) into investing in the show. When Buster puts together a dry run show for Nana, it is Eddie whose shenanigans bring in angry animals to tear up the theatre bringing it down to the ground. Sometimes you have to fall down hard to get back up – when you do make sure you SING!

McConaughey as Buster is a smooth talking koala who just wants to keep the theatre that he considers to be his whole life. Jumping through hoops to make that happen, it is those same hoops that trip him up. The good news is that this isn’t a koala that is going to go down easy. This character is so enjoyable and funny and if vocals are any indication, McConaughey sounded like he had a very good time doing this animated film.

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MacFarlane as Eddie is everything cool in a white suit and bow tie. He can sing and schmooze the lady’s all at the same time. Now if he’d just lay off the gambling things might have gone a little easier for everyone. Kelly as Meena is shy, sweet and doesn’t want to let down her very proud family so finds another way to become an indispensable part of the group.

Witherspoon as Rosita is going to be very wife/Mom-relatable in that sometimes being those two important things leaves out individuality so when Rosita lets loose – look out! Johansson as Ash is a pure rocker chick who discovers that she doesn’t need anyone to rely on her talents, just a belief in herself. Egerton as Johnny is such a sweet gorilla who happens to be in a family of very large and very loud criminals. He wants more in life and finding a way to make the family understand that may take a trick or two.

Reilly as Eddie is as laid back as any spoiled kid would be but at least he stays true to his life long friendship with Eddie. Now Saunders as Nana is hilarious and I just loved watching her be grumpy and stubborn. Saunders gives her character grit and a bit of no-nonsense that keeps everybody but Buster at furs length.

Other characters include: Jennifer Hudson as Young Nana, Peter Serafinowicz as Big Daddy, Nick Kroll as Gunter, Beck Bennett as Lance, Jay Pharaoh as Meena’s Grandfather and Nick Offerman as Norman.

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TUBS OF POPCORN: I give SING four tubs of popcorn out of five. This is definitely a family film filled with every family issue imaginable! It must be said first off that the animation is absolutely gorgeous and the characters are loveable and talented. My granddaughter is a toddler who loves music and loves animation so anytime you can put those two together I can absolutely guarantee you she will be thrilled with the results and SING is no exception. The songs are recognizable yet when these characters sing them it is a whole new look, sound and feel.

It is fanciful, very charming and there isn’t anyone walking into the theatre that isn’t going to walk out with a smile on their face. This is a wonderful example of the work that Illumination Entertainment puts into their animated films with a resume that includes DESPICABLE ME and THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS (both of which are on full rotation in my house). SING brings comedy, friendship, love and music through amazing characters that are in time to join your family for the holidays.

Gather up the family and make it a night before Christmas filled with joy as SING gets everyone toe tapping and hand clapping.

In the end – let the auditions begin!

PASSENGERS Takes on the Universe!

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Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this holiday week from director Morten Tyldum and Columbia Pictures is a journey gone wrong, especially when you are only a PASSENGER.

Heading toward the new planet of Homestead II is a ship called the Avalon making a 120 year journey. Aboard this ship in hibernation are 300 crew and 5,000 passengers who are embarking on a new life on this distant planet. The Avalon is on auto-pilot of sorts with the mission objective of waking up the crew a few months before arriving at their new home. After an incident in space, one kryotube is disrupted and Jim Preston (Chris Pratt) is suddenly awakened ninety years too soon.

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After realizing that he is the only one, Jim goes about learning all he can about the ship but is stumped at how to restart his kryotube or how to get into the ships computer. He does, however, have a bit of company in Arthur (Michael Sheen), a bartender who offers Jim a few friendly words of advice now and then. Trying to decide what to do next, Jim comes across Aurora Lane (Jennifer Lawrence) asleep in her kryotube and has nothing but time to learn about her. In the next moment, Aurora is awake and finds herself in the same thought processes as Jim!

The two fall in love but let’s face it; this is space where nothing is predictable. They are surprised when Gus Mancuso (Lawrence Fishburne) announces that he is also awake and a member of the ships crew. This couldn’t come at a more perfect time since the Avalon needs someone who knows the ship. Now all three must work together to make sure the Avalon reaches its destination before it’s too late!

Pratt as Jim is a joy to watch, especially as he wanders around the ship learning how to make the best use of his time alone. His creativity only goes so far, as it would for anyone, but is mentally saved when Aurora joins him. Pratt is a triple threat in that he has a great sense of the comedic but can flip the switch and become very vulnerable and jump into selfless super hero mode all in a two hour film. Not that I wasn’t a fan before but Pratt really showed his stuff in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY taking the lead and having his moment to shine. He does well in PASSENGERS and absolutely won’t disappoint.

Lawrence as Aurora is smart, funny, beautiful and every bit a realist when it comes to her journey through space. She doesn’t let the character of Aurora outshine but instead is on a totally level playing field with Pratt. That is what I appreciated about her role here because her character had moments but pulled it together when she needed to the most. I have to give Lawrence credit also for just playing this role so super cool and subtly sexy.

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Sheen as Arthur is hilarious as well as impeccably dressed and has all the smooth lines one would expect from a bartender. There is something about Sheen that just draws me in and of course I’m sure the awesome accent has something to do with it or perhaps the soulful eyes, what ever it is, when he is on screen I dang well pay attention. With the recent news that he is taking a break from acting to focus on politics gives my heart pause and a serious frowny face. Yes, it’s like that! Fishburne as Mancuso has a small role but it speaks volumes because, as Fishburne has a tendency to do.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give PASSENGERS four tubs of popcorn out of five. This space adventure has remnants of other space films that I actually happen to like so I embraced this adventure/romance/jaunt into a world that once you are in it there is no control no matter how spiffy the ship’s accommodations are. The special effects are well done, especially when it comes to gravity or lack thereof. I certainly wouldn’t mind taking a swim in a pool in space – the view is fantastic.

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That being said there is the dealing with solitude, decisions made on fear, love, betrayal and survival all rolled into the film. If I was to bring in one thing that bothered me a bit was there is a bit of predictability here that I wish wasn’t there. It didn’t pull me off the film it just made me wish for something a little different in a few places.

Pratt also came to San Diego for an exclusive screening for the military and their families recently at the Marie Corps Airbase. He met with the service men and women making them feel special and as a way of thanking them for their service.

PASSENGERS is one of many choices for the Christmas weekend and if you are looking for a beautiful walk in space with Pratt and Lawrence then this is the film to be buying a ticket for. The space scenes are literally out of this world and stunning and the chemistry between these two actors is worthy of admission.

In the end – every moment counts!

Chris Pratt brings PASSENGERS to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar

LA LA LAND Brings Splendor to the Silver Screen

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Jeri Jacquin

On the big screen this week from writer/director Damien Chazelle and Lionsgate is a story of love, song and dreams that happen in LA LA LAND.

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a misunderstood Jazz musician who wants to more than just playing in dive bars or parties. Still upset over not being able to open a place of his own, he has no choice but to get jobs where he can.

Mia (Emma Stone) is an actress going from audition to audition while working at serving coffee from a café on the studio lot. Working on her craft as much as possible she is frustrated by her dreams but still not ready to give up.

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Mia meets Sebastian and a relationship blossoms into love. Things begin to change when Sebastian convinces Mia to write her own piece for the stage and she jumps right in. He also runs into fellow musician friend Keith (John Legend) who invites Sebastian to bring his jazz to a wider audience.

Now begins a long distance relationship as success begins to happen for them both as Sebastian becomes a success and Mia’s play leads to something even bigger on the horizon.

Their love and dreams are put to the test!

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Stone as Mia is so amazing that I could not get enough of her character. Mia is funny, determined and believes in everyone, even if no so much in herself. I love this character because she sees Sebastian’s flaws but still encourages him to be more than he could have imagined. Stone is so lovely but when she cries it definitely tugs at the heart.

Gosling as Sebastian is quirky, unexpected and a little off in a charming way. He wants Mia to reach for her dream and tells her if no one else will give her a role, that she should create one for herself. That is a boyfriend worth hanging on to right? Gosling dances with ease next to Stone and I loved watching every moment of his performance.

Other cast include Terry Walters as Linda, Callie Hernandez as Tracy, Rosemarie DeWitt as Laura, Finn Wittrock as Greg, Josh Pence as Josh and J.K. Simmons as Bill.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give LA LA LAND five tubs of popcorn out of five. I can say with ease that this film is number three on my Top Ten list for 2016 and deserves to be there with bells on. From beginning to end LA LA LAND is beautiful, funny, charming, endearing, musical, toe tapping dance moves and a trip down memory lane.

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My mother introduced me to the likes of Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers when I was but a wee curly headed kid who loved music. I was enthralled with all films that brought music and dance into stories that left their mark in my memory to this day.

I love that the film is carried by the talent of Stone and Gosling and although there are a few performances like that of J.K. Simmons (who I adore!), all eyes are on the two career driven lovers.

LA LA LAND brings it all to the screen! Gosling and Stone couldn’t be more brilliant if they tried and made their characters instantly believable. The audience screening with me were completely transfixed and taken away for every one of the 128 minutes on the screen.

That’s what LA LA LAND has to offer theatre goers who are looking for something amazing, unique and a story that will shoe slide straight into their heart. Cheer and shed a tear for Mia and Sebastian while mentally dancing along with their dreams. I will be watching this film again and again!

In the end – here’s to the fools who dream!

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