Film Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: the Long Haul

This weekend we went to an advance screening of the latest chapter in the Dairy of a Wimpy Kid franchise. This was hotly anticipated in our house because my kids absolutely love the other films and the books are some of the few which my reluctant reader loves. You can go along this weekend and see it as it opens in cinemas on 20th May.

In this film the Heffley family go on a road trip to his grandma’s 90th birthday party and a few things happen along the way.

One of the things which the children were worried about was whether or not a new cast would work. Greg from the other films is just more likeable somehow and the rest of the cast dont have the same chemistry as the cast from the other films. I liked Alicia Silverstones’s mum who frankly reminded me of someone I know, she even has the same glasses. However, on re-watching a bit of the first film in the franchise I can see that this cast just haven’t captured the essence of the books at all.

My daughter (8) pointed out to me that Rowley doesn’t feature really at all in this film. This is a massive shame as he does feature so heavily in the books and she would have liked to have seen more of him.

Greg is asked for a selfie thanks to his ‘diaper hands’ fame

In terms of the storyline, I enjoyed it and thought there were some laugh out loud moments. The rest of the family not so much, I think its because I haven’t read the books or really watched the other films so for me its quite a stand alone movie. A bit like National Lampoon but without the chemistry, or the 1980’s.

Its hard to review a film which is such an iconic part of a franchise and is an entirely new cast because it is never going to live up to the original. One the one hand, it wasn’t the best film i’ve watched this year, however it did have me laughing out loud at several points. On the other hand, the kids who are massive fans thought it was ok, but didn’t live up to the books and the casting didn’t quite match their expectations. As a result I’d suggest that this is a wet Sunday afternoon sort of film, its not offensive (apart from the scene with the fairground ride and sick incident which nearly caused my daughter to leave the cinema) but its not something to rush and see with high expectations.

My last thought- how did I get so old that Alicia Silverstone is now playing a mum to teenagers?

Learn to draw like Jeff Kinney:

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Film Review: The Boss Baby

This Easter there is a fab new must see film for you to enjoy. The Boss Baby is a new  comedy  from Twentieth Century Fox, DreamWorks Animation and the director of Madagascar about the arrival of a new baby to the household told from the baby’s point of view. We’re really excited about going to see this one, after we saw the trailer the older kids thought it was just like their little brother who was and still is, the boss in our household!

“Let’s just say… I’m the boss!” – The Boss Baby (Alec Baldwin)

Featuring the voice talents of Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Jimmy Kimmel and Lisa Kudrow and from the director of Madagascar, The Boss Baby is due to arrive in cinemas this weekend.

Have a look at the trailer here and do leave a comment when you see it, i’d love to hear your thoughts.

T

Film Review: Sing

We were really fortunate to go along before Christmas to a screening of Universal’s new movie SING. This is set to be THE movie to see this half term and its been eagerly anticipated by every child I know. SING tells the story of a failing theatre owner who decides to run one of those Saturday night style talent contests and follows several different animals and their journey together.

Its an upbeat story with plenty of things for kids and adults to associate with and a brilliant soundtrack. If you want a really light hearted, fun, (if slightly predictable) movie and your children are good fans of X-Factor then you wont find better at half term. We’re off to see it again!

Have a look at the trailer here

To celebrate the release of the movie Universal really kindly sent the kids some fantastic SING merchandise to help them have their own karaoke party. They were delighted and I have to say we had SO much fun with this activity it has been the best thing we’ve done all year. Who thought that a karaoke machine could bring so much fun into the house, it was like having our own SING/ X-Factor auditions. I suspect the karaoke machine is going to come out lots of times this year! I’d urge you to try a SING party this weekend or just after seeing the film, so much more fun that just watching others sing the songs on TV!


 

The Blurb
SING is out on 27th January (previews this weekend), featuring the voices of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Tori Kelly  and Scarlett Johansson. It follows a group of animals, who enter a singing competition hosted by a Koala called Buster, who hopes the funds raised will save his theatre. There’s a character for everyone – a shy elephant with stage fright, a busy mum, a sensitive gorilla, a punk rock porcupine…and everyone who has seen it, has loved it so far.
As well as being hilarious, it’s got a great cast (Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson) and a soundtrack featuring everyone from Taylor Swift to Stevie Wonder.
I’d love to hear what you thought about the movie; did you enjoy it? Which character did your kids most identify with? (mine liked Ash pictured above). Let me know in the comments.

Featured Post: E.ON’s Winter Watching Challenge

There is nothing we like more in this house than settling down with family and friends for a special movie night in and according to research 46 % of Brits look forward to snuggling up on the sofa. I was absolutely thrilled when E.ON challenged us to create a really special night in as it gave me the opportunity to ramp things up another level as to be honest i’m really suffering from a bit of Pre- Christmas burn out. The aim of E.ON’s Winter Watching Challenge is to create the perfect movie night in.

After a small vote on potential themes (Spy, Christmas, animals, superhero) we opted for an unsurprising movie marathon:

The Food

My daughter is on a low sugar diet and so we have to be quite innovative with our snacks and treats. She was determined that we would have some cake but we opted for Davina’s Low Sugar Sponge Cake we have her low sugar cookery book and its full of yummy recipes.

Low Sugar Cake

You can’t have a Christmas movie night without a huge bowl of mixed nuts- these are my secret weapon in our war on unhealthy healthy eating. We also treated ourselves to popcorn crisps and since its Christmas had a Christmas cake option as well!

The Ambiance

I thought I’d take the opportunity to splash out on some nice new throws to snuggle under, these can make such a difference helping to create the Hyge vibe. We found some fantastic ones in Debenhams but i’ve also got my eye on some faux fur ones in Sainsbury.  You may have noticed in the video Fifi has a fantastic mermaids tail blanket, these seem to be all over the shops!

treeAt the moment the Christmas tree is a focal point in our room so we made sure the lights were on and turned off all the other lights to make the room seem magical. We all love doing this at Christmas, it makes it a very special time and of course, its always nicest to watch a movie in the dark!

The Movies

In the survey for E.ON Brits were asked which films they most like to step into for a day the top five were:

  1. Its a Wonderful Life
  2. The Holiday
  3. Love Actually
  4. Serendipity
  5. A Christmas Carol

Of course, children being children when presented with this list they rejected every single one of them. Instead we had a Star Wars marathon, its the fault of Rogue One, the only way we can get our eldest to come to the cinema to watch it is to enable him to refresh his knowledge of the series.

This year we’ve been to see some fantastic things at the cinema which we will also be re-watching in the comfort of our home. These include Kung Fu Panda 3, The Jungle Book and the boys current favourite film of all time Captain America Civil War. Having been inspired by the list above i’m also aiming for a night with the husband, Love Actually and a nice take-away.

We had a fab time planning and holding our movie night. Somehow with a bit of planning it became much more special than just watching a movie at home! If you’d like to get thinking about your own movie night then E.ON have created some top tips to help you get in the mood. You’ll find them here on the fab E.ON blog. Here is a sneak preview

eon

I’d love to hear about your perfect movie night in. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations for us?

E.ON is now proud sponsor of Sky Cinema and Premiere Sky Cinema Family.

Film Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

fantastic-beasts-cast-xlarge

Unless you’ve been in an underground bunker for the last few months you’ll know that the release of J.K Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is imminent. This Friday in fact. Along with Star Wars Rogue One, it’s tipped to be one of the top films of the year, so expectations were high as we fastened our seatbelts to drive around the M25 to the O2 for an advanced screening last night.

It turns out that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the perfect tonic for a two and a half hour car ride at an average speed of 20 miles an hour, followed by 40 minutes of queuing outside a cinema screen in a corridor bereft of air-conditioning but with no shortage of other people.

Yes, I wasn’t in the best frame of mind when I finally sat down in the cinema with Fifi, the boy and one of their Harry Potter mad friends yesterday but fortunately once the opening credits rolled, everything was put right. I’ll get it out of the way up front, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is, erm, fantastic.

Since Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is based around the concept of a textbook of magical creatures, it is able to create it’s own characters and story in an entirely different manner to a straightforward book adaptation, thereby neatly sidestepping any pacing issues that adapting a 500+ page novel into a two hour film might suffer from. To this end there is a fairly strong argument that it’s a better movie than the majority of the Harry Potter films because it doesn’t have to remain true to a narrative book whilst cutting massive sections of it out.

The story follows wizard and magizoologist Newt Scamander as he arrives in America to release a beast he’s freed from captivity. Through a series of amusing incidents, his magic briefcase that’s full of beasties gets swapped and a load of the creatures get released by mistake. Newt and his new made friends Jacob (a Muggle), Tina and her sister Queenie go through various scrapes to try and recover them, whilst the New York wizarding community also fight against unexplained manifestations of magic that threaten outright war.

Although there are a group of four lead characters, who you’ll see in the majority of posters, this film is really about Newt, played by Eddie Redmayne who seems to be doing his darnedest to channel Matt Smith’s Doctor Who, (costume, check, TARDIS/briefcase that’s bigger on the inside, check, wand/sonic screwdriver that gets him out of a tight corner, check) but then that’s not a bad thing and Redmayne is great.

I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan, I’ve watched the films and am currently (tortuously) reading The Prison of Azkaban to the kids at a rate of two pages a night, but that didn’t matter as the story is self contained-there are continuity nods all the way through: Dumbledore is mentioned, apparently the wand maker from the HP films is name checked etc, but if you miss these, you’ve not missed out and they’re not shoehorned in too obviously.

The film looks wonderful, the 1920’s New York setting is done perfectly, there are plenty of great performances too and the characters interact well with the CGI, which helps make for a believable world. Since the film deals with adults, there is no need to explain everything to the protagonists, which at times hampered the Harry Potter films, everybody just gets on with stuff. The majority of the magic used is of the teleportation, things moving on their own, broken stuff repairing itself or wand waving followed by an explosion, so it doesn’t require exposition of what the spell is or means. This lets the plot flow without any unnatural pauses.

The film gets a thumbs up from me but to put it properly to the test, I asked the kids. Despite the film finishing at around quarter past nine on a school night, they loved it. The kids friend was literally bouncing up and down with excitement in her Harry Potter t-shirt afterwards (a continuation of the bouncing beforehand that had to stop once we sat down). The kids had a long discussion over the best of the beasts and the funniest way they were recaptured. Fifi said there were one of two scary bits that were quite intense but overall she loved it- she’s the one out of the three kids with the least Harry Potter exposure, so that bodes well the films mass appeal.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is out on Friday 18 November, with a 12A rating.