Film Review: FROZEN 2 (USA 2019) ***

Frozen II Poster

Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. They set out to find the origin of Elsa’s powers in order to save their kingdom.


Chris BuckJennifer Lee


Jennifer Lee (screenplay by), Jennifer Lee (story by) | 4 more credits »

After the phenomenal billion dollar success of 2013 FROZEN, directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee return with their sequel that will surely make more money for the already wealthy company Disney.  

The origin FROZEN was much well loved not only for its memorial musical songs but an incredible story – the type typically found in classic fairy tales.  The story involves two close sisters, princesses, Elsa and Anna, Elsa given ice magical powers that she is unable to control.  It is beneficial to recall the story of the first.  Though not necessary, the story of FROZEN II will make more sense thus enhancing ones entertainment.  So, before venturing to see number 2,  do a little homework and read on the original story.  Most of the characters in the original including the much beloved Olaf, the snowman and Sven the reindeer are present, so fans should not be disappointed.  Again, magic is the key and saving the Kingdom Arendelle is the princesses’ quest.

When the film opens, it is three years after the events of the first film.  Elsa (Idina Menzel) starts to hear a strange sound from the north calling her.  Together with her sister Anna (Kristen Bell), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad) and Sven , they embark on a new journey beyond their homeland of the Kingdom of Arendelle in order to discover the origin of Elsa’s magical powers and thus save their kingdom.

Kristoff is the iceman who plays Anna’s boyfriend, providing the romantic element of the story.  The sister-sister antics which made the original so enchanting is ever present in this one with the two girls always looking after each other.  

The songs are present but occasionally not well spaced out – the first two songs appear too close to each other leading to a a rather slow start for the film.  The humour is only slight at best, provided by Olaf, but nothing extremely goofy or funny.  

FROZEN 2 is heavy plodding while the original is heavy plotting.

Song-wise, no song in FROZEN 2 can match the famous “Let It Go”  of the original, though not for want of trying.  Each character in FROZEN 2 appear to have a song of their own from Elsa’s “Into the Unknown” to Olaf “When I Get Older” to  Anna’s “The Next Right Thing” and lastly to Kristoff’s “Lost in the Woods”.

Directors Lee and Buck keep to the successful formula of the first in terms of mood, atmosphere and  animation effects.  But the film, though visually stunning lacks the innovation and fresh ideas of the original thus leaving it, sorry for the pun, frozen in its delivery.


Film Review: PANDAS (USA 2018) ****

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Pandas Poster

In the mountains of Sichuan, China, a researcher forms a bond with Qian Qian, a panda who is about to experience nature for the first time.


Drew Fellman

Warner Bros. Studios and IMAX take over Disney Studios duties by providing audiences with a spectacular documentary, complete with story about the most adorable animal in the world – PANDAS.

PANDAS is an IMAX original movie.  PANDAS is not a film comprised of short clips but one that contains a story with a solid narrative set in both Sichuan, China and New England, United States.

The story revolves around a Panda called Qian Qian.  She is the star.  And the audience will surely love her.  When the film opens, the narrative (voiced by Kristen Bell) informs of the diminishing number of pandas in the wild – less than two thousand.  Owing to humans destroying their natural habitat, they are forced further and further higher up the mountains in northern China.  It would have been miraculous if the film could have captured shots of wild Pandas.  The film then rests on Pandas born in captivity.  Qian Qian is one such panda.  The goal is to prepare captive born pandas for survival in the wild and let them increase the Panda population.  Qian Qian is chosen.  The film follows her training from cub to young adult.  The heroes of the story are the human being Panda experts Wen Lei Bu, Jacob Owens and Rong Hou who are involved in the training.   They also enlist the help of a New England black bear expert, Ben Kilham to train Qian Qian.  When Qian Qian is released into the wild in the mountains of Sichuan, a collar is put around her neck to monitor her movements and to know when she might be in distress.  This is the Panda story.

The film contains many candid shots.  The best of these is the one in the panda facility where human beings clad in medical outfit feed the 4 baby panda cubs with baby milk bottles.  One other is the panda star, Qian Qian injured up stuck in the tree.

Here are a few reasons to see PANDAS:

the pandas especially the baby cubs are cute beyond comparison and this is the only way to be able to see them play and up close.  (I went to the Toronto Zoo to see the pandas and the new cub.  The public was not allowed to see the cub as it was still too fragile  and the adult panda was too far in the pen to be observed clearly.)

the film is in glorious IMAX

the film provides a good solid story of pandas

the film is a feel good movie celebrating the bond between animals and human beings.  It is inspirational to see human beings devote themselves for the good of the animal Kingdom

a good perspective is given on the life of Pandas

stunning shots of the natural beauty and landscape of northern China

The doc is quite short with a running time of 50 minutes or so.  It is a question of quality vs. quantity.  PANDAS come highly recommended!



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Film Review: A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS (USA 2017)

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A Bad Moms Christmas Poster

A Bad Moms Christmas follows our three under-appreciated and over-burdened women as they rebel against the challenges and expectations of the Super Bowl for moms: Christmas.


Jon LucasScott Moore


Christmas comes early this year with Hollywood’s first Christmas comedy opening on November the 1st.  And it is a nightmare – a nightmare before Christmas.  When Publicity handed out sheets of an embargo to be signed with the embargo lifted at 9 am on opening day, the critics attending knew that something about the film must be amiss.  A BAD MOMS CHRISTMAS is really bad, and a major turn of events considering that BAD MOMS was really funny and that the entire crew responsible for the first successful comedy hit returned for this dud.

Once again, under-appreciated and overburdened moms Amy (Mila Kunis), Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) rebel against the challenges and expectations of Christmas.  As if creating the perfect holiday for their families is not hard enough, they will have to do it tho time around while hosting and entertaining their own respective mothers (Christine Baranski, Cheryl Hines and Susan Sarandon) when they come to visit.  But in the moms’ own words, they want to reclaim Christmas for themselves, very much the same way they did in the first movie.

When the three moms in the first movie decided to take back their own lives, it was funny and fresh.  Here, the freshness has changed to stale.  All the perkiness and naughtiness, especially with the Kathryn Hahn’s character rubs totally the wrong way – especially in a Christmas movie.  The stripper dance during the Christmas dinner (at the end of the film) with the kids present is the perfect example of humour gone wrong.  Kahn is obviously trying too hard her and the directors Lucas and Moore given her too much to do after her first success.  Waxing too many vaginas in her job at the spa where she works, her foul language, her way with men and her drunkenness and loudness in public have been reduced from funny to annoyance.  The romance element of Carla and her new stripper boyfriend is both unfunny and silly.  Also missing in this sequel is Christina Applegate who played the bitchy head of the PTA who fought with the BAD MOMS.

Also to keep with the spirit of Christmas films, the film has to bring in the expected sentiment of good cheer, with too much material falling into cliched territory.  As expected, each mom is told off by each respective daughter, for whatever reason – not being able to let go of mommy strings; borrowing money and then comes the reconciliation, one of them done in the midst of a church service, as if no one in the congregation minded or noticed.  The worst sentimental crap is Amy’s father (Peter Gallagher) given his daughter the speech on how special her mother is.

Oddly the moms’ moms are funnier.  The only decent scene is the one where Sarandon, Hines and Baranski end up in church as they help each other out with their daughters amidst insulting each other.  But the film ends with the three bad grandmothers  heading for Las Vegas – which makes for a terrible thought – the possibility of two sequels in the making. 


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BAD MOMS (USA 2016) ***

bad_momsBAD MOMS (USA 2016) ***

Directors: Jon Lucas, Scott Moore

Stars: Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Kristen Bell, Christina Applegate

Review by Gilbert Seah

he story centres on a young mother, Amy Mitchell (Mila Kunis) who appears to have the perfect family. She has a good mortgage broker husband, two smart over-achieving children and a career. But she is overworked and the husband does not do much except maybe watch porn. She catches him, kicks him out and finally has had it at being a good mom. Teaming with two friends Carla (Kathyrn Hahn) and Kiki (Kristen Bell) who she gets drunk with, she decides, with them to f*** it and become BAD MOMS. Amy does not make breakfast for her kids anymore and stops going to her meaningless job meetings.

The film picks picks up when the three meet the good moms headed by the head of the PTA, Gwendolyn Jones (Christina Applegate). The war starts when Amy decide to run for the post of the head of the PTA.

If the film sound trivial, it actually is. But the script by Lucas and and Moore, treats its subject very seriously. This is the comedy duo that did the successful HANGOVER male raunchy comedies. BAD MOMS does the same for the opposite sex. So expect lots of foul language and lewd humour. The moms here get drunk, laid and stoned. For the most part, the males (husbands) in the film are all idiots (like the black school principal), clueless (Amy’s husband) or sexual objects (sexy latino Jay Hernandez s Amy’s fling). But as the script is written by two guys, some redeeming qualities are written into Amy’s husband’s character as the two do share a moment and hug, after a big quarrel.

One of the best things about BAD MOMS is actress Kathryn Hahn. She has a supporting role as Carla, one of Amy’s best friends who drinks and sleeps her way as a ultra bad mom. Hahn has the ability to do both drama and comedy exceptionally well. In the recent CAPTAIN FANTASTIC, she played the victimized mom at the dinner table. In BAD MOMS she proves she is versatile also as an antagonist, Carla. When not spurring Amy on to do bad things, her character is hounding other victims. Hahn brings the most laughs in the movie, steals very scene and still has the audience wanting for more. It would be difficult to imagine how funny the film would be without her.

The product placements (Arby’s and Bed Bath and Beyond) are a little too obvious. The supermarket sequence where the three go on a drunken shopping spree is simply priceless. Hahn is the funniest of the three. This segment alone is worth the price of the ticket. The film includes two cameos by Martha Stewart (very funny) and Wanda Sykes (not so funny).

BAD MOMS ends up a guilty pleasure for all mothers. There are quite a lot of mothers out there that make up a good target audience number. The film should do for females what The HANGOVER films did for the males. Even the males can sit through and laugh through BAD MOMS.

Happy Birthday: Kristen Bell

kristenbell.jpgHappy Birthday actor Kristen Bell

Born: July 18, 1980 in Huntington Woods, Michigan, USA

Married to: Dax Shepard (17 October 2013 – present) (2 children)




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Jennifer Lee
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Josh Gad
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and Husband
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Movie Review: THE BOSS. Starring Melissa McCarthy

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theboss.jpg 2016) **
Directed by Ben Falcone

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Bell, Peter Dinklage

Review by Gilbert Seah

THE BOSS is yet another nasty male comedy in which the male is replaced by the fairer sex. Melissa McCarthy seems to have cornered this market with the nasty girls comedies like BRIDESMAIDS, TAMMY, THE HEAT and her most successful SPY. But SPY, THE HEAT and BRIDESMAIDS were directed by the talented Paul Feig whereas THE BOSS and TAMMY fare into McCarthy’s not-so-successful territory. But she does manage a few laughs though, to her credit.

Michelle Darnell is an orphan. She is returned from adoption to the orphanage just too many times. This gives the girl an incentive to become ‘someone’ and not let anybody drag her down. Orphan Darnell morphs into Melissa McCarthy, super successful female businesswoman and 47th richest (why 47th?) in the whole world. But a former business partner, Renault (Peter Dinklage) takes her down with insider trading. After serving a prison sentence, she forces herself on her former personal assistant, Claire (Kristen Bell) whose daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson) she learns to grow very fond of. Michelle ends up starting a new business from Claire’s delicious brownies recruiting Rachel’s schoolmates in the process.

THE BOSS is pure McCarthy comedy. The only character in the story providing the laughs is her character, Darnell. Everyone else, are her straight men (or women as the case may be). Non-fans of McCarthy should stay away. At least in SPY, Jason Statham generated laughs playing against type. The only character that provides a few laughs besides Darnell is the Kathy Bates, Ida Marquette character. Unfortunately, there is not enough of Bates, her character last seen riding away on her horse, Butter.

There are, noticeably no jokes in this film and in her last (SPY) that poke fun at McCarthy’s weight. In fact this point is so obvious that her costume designer has not once allowed McCarthy’s neck to be shown on screen, making McCarthy’s outfits looking a bit weird. Also noticeable is Darnell questioning her prodigy, Claire as to the length of time she had sex. Nothing is mentioned of herself.

THE BOSS does have its hilarious segments such as the girl fight between the Darnell Darlings and the Daffodil Girls or the beginning show when Darnell goes on stage strutting her stuff. The Dardell character is a foul-mouthed, obnoxious and loud person. So, it is not surprising that the film’s best moments has her pitting these qualities against a super-bitch -mother, Helen (Annie Mumolo) who becomes a rival in the brownie business.

But the bits trying to insert some action into the film like the swordfight at the end do not work well. There are a lot of comedic segments (the leg tanning; the bra adjustment/shoving) involving McCarthy spewing vulgarities non-stop. Whether these are funny depends on ones individual taste.

Still, THE BOSS is a film with a lazy script based on a tried formula – obnoxious person making good using his/her bad qualities. THE BOSS is essentially just made up of a series of skits with the loose theme, banging on McCarthy’s draw to make the movie.




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