The Game Plan (2007)

DVD –  The Game Plan is fun and family friendly. Joe Kingman, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the top scoring quarterback for his professional football team. He is living the high life of a single playboy- sporting a penthouse, owning fancy cars, and enjoying fame. The morning after the biggest play of his game, 8-year-old Peyton arrives on his doorstep claiming to be his daughter, and never knew existed. Many silly things happen as their relationship evolves, from Leaving Peyton behind at a restaurant, to wearing bedazzled clothes to her ballet performance, to rushing to a medical emergency. This movie runs through the gamut of emotions, but relies heavily on the ability to garner laughter.

I found The Game Plan funny and charming. Although categorized as a comedy, the film includes serious scenes that explore family dynamics, trust, friendship, and love. If you are looking for a simple giggle for movie night, I definitely recommend this older gem.

The Brand New Testament (2017)

Movie – To give mankind the awareness of their own death may be an inapprehensible phenomenon, but Ea has done just that. The Brand New Testament is a dark yet humorous film about God, who, by the way lives in Belgium with his wife and daughter. God creates inconveniences and atrocities to all of mankind out of his own boredom. His daughter Ea is not very fond of it and has had enough. After discovering her father’s malicious intentions are being controlled through a dated computer, she rebelliously sends out the death dates to everyone on Earth. What would you do if you knew when your last breath would be? Would you leave the job you dread? Would you spend your life’s savings? Or would you not change a thing? Six very different lives answer just that in Ea’s search for additional apostles to add to the New Testament.
This French film was incredibly thought provoking and had an amusing spin on all things biblical. Although it was in French (English subtitles provided), the dialogue was light enough to truly enjoy the essence of the sheer artistry. The cinematography and plot were engaging. It’s no wonder that the film was up for numerous awards and was generally favorable among critics. If you’re looking for something different but nonetheless refreshing, this is one to see.

Talk to the Paw by Melinda Metz

Book- Jamie is a grade school history teacher, who has had many poor relationships in the past. This year, it’s all about her! Jamie is determined to use the money gifted by her recently deceased mother.  She packs up her apartment and moves to California with her cat MacGyver (Mac). Jaime isn’t interested in the nephews, dentists, or grandsons the nosy neighbors keep trying to get her to date. She is more interested in trying new things like surfing, acting classes, talking to street vendors, and photography to name a few. She is making new friends in her new community, including a quirky Hollywood set designer, baker, TV series actor, and a cranky teenage girl.

MacGyver has other plans. He is determined to find Jamie a pack mate. Living as the superior-being that he is, he knows what she needs and figures out an escape route in the new house. He travels the neighborhood taking items with strong scents (of various types) and gifts them to particular people in need of said items.

This book is a fun easy read, told mainly from Jamie’s point of view, however, MacGyver gets his say as well. Being a crazy cat lady myself, I thought this book was a creative way to tell a story. I highly recommend Talk to the Paw if you are looking to sit back and giggle here and there through a pleasant storyline.

Colossal (2017)

Movie – After coming home so-late-it’s-early and hungover one too many times, Gloria’s boyfriend kicks her out of their New York apartment, and since she’s also out of work, she has no choice but to move back to her parents’ empty house in the town where she grew up. She gets a job tending bar for a guy she knew when they were kids, and shortly after, everyone is glued to the news, watching footage of the giant monster that mysteriously appeared in Seoul, South Korea, tromped through downtown, and disappeared again. When it happens again, Gloria recognizes something in its gestures — and realizes that she is in control of the monster. Sharing her revelation with her new-old friends, however, has unexpected and momentous consequences.

I saw a trailer for this movie that made it look like “rom-com plus Godzilla,” which meant that of course I had to see it, but it turns out it’s even better than that – Gloria’s growth and development does not revolve around her finding the right guy to date. She’s dealing with alcohol problems, an unhealthy relationship with her boss, and mysteriously wielding an unusual amount of supernatural power. It’s an unusual genre mash-up, but if you like stories about women taking control of their lives and also giant monsters, you’ll love it as much as I did.

What We Do In the Shadows (2014)

Movie – Ever wondered if vampires ever get into petty fights with other vampires? If they sometimes forget how old they are? If they establish moral guidelines for who they’ll eat and who they won’t? If they ever hold things up in front of a mirror to giggle at their own lack of reflection? All these questions (and more!) are answered in What We Do In the Shadows, a hilarious mockumentary about a group of vampires (and a few werewolves) living in modern-day New Zealand. It feels very much like a BBC documentary-of-the-week – not especially polished, without much of a plot or narrative angle, but deeply, deeply hilarious, and you kind of wish it were narrated by Richard Atenborough.

Now that director (and star) Taika Waititi is the man behind the best-reviewed Marvel movie since the original Iron Man, you owe it to yourself to see this utterly delightful movie. (Which just had a sequel announced!) Next on my list is The Hunt for the Wilderpeople, his 2016 rural-Australia adventure starring Sam Neill.

Trolls (2017)

Movie – Growing up I was never a big fan of trolls.  The odd little dolls just gave me the heebie jeebies with their creepy, smiling faces.  However, the 2017 movie, Trolls is a whole different story. I adore this film; it’s fun, musical, and just so colorful.  I’ve already watched it three times. Anna Kendrick and Justin Timberlake belt out the lyrics as main characters Poppy and Branch which is a real treat to listen to. I definitely recommend checking out the soundtrack after you watch the film.

Welcome to a world full of never-ending happiness, music, and love! The Trolls are the most joyful creatures who love throwing parties, breaking into song, and most of all, hugs!  Poppy is their beloved ruler, and the very best party thrower. However, these lively beings have a dark past. Years ago, the trolls were attacked by a miserable beastly species called the Bergens.  Since their escape, there have been no Bergen sightings for a long time. When the Bergens suddenly return and kidnap a bunch of trolls, it is up to Poppy to rescue them.  Poppy pairs up with Branch, an intolerable, grumpy troll, and they set off to save their friends. It’s an adventure featuring with unlikely duo, unexpected twists and turns, and fantastic musical numbers.

Everything about this movie makes me happy. The setting is so vibrant and colorful, and I love, love, love all of the trolls and their individual personalities. It’s a quirky, fun story that makes you want to get up and dance! By far one of my favorite films this year, and the best kid’s movie I’ve seen in awhile.

 

The Boss Baby (2017)

Movie – DreamWorks is at it again with The Boss Baby. Alec Baldwin is voice of Boss Baby – an Armani suit-wearing, briefcase-carrying infant, who is out to learn why most of the world’s love is going to puppies and not babies. Tim, the older 8-year-old brother is absolutely not impressed with the new baby. He has a feeling something is up with this baby and tries desperately to get his parents to see that something is wrong. After a comical battle, the two decide to join forces and get the answers that Boss Baby needs, so he can leave.

I think that this movie is more for adults than elementary school age kids. Only adults would understand the nostalgic points and older jokes. I do feel that children will appreciate this movie, but not to the extent that I did.  If Alec Baldwin’s humor is not your taste, move on. If so, definitely check this out.

Parks and Recreation (2009-2015)

TV Series Parks and Recreation is my life.  I am not ashamed to admit that.  I’ve stopped counting how many times I’ve binge-watched the series from start to finish, and I’m proud of that.

Parks and Recreation is filmed in the same mockumentary style of The Office (another phenomenal tv series). Set at the Parks and Recreation Department of Pawnee, Indiana,  we follow deputy director, Leslie Knope as she works hard to beautify her beloved town of Pawnee (aka: “The Best City in the World”). With her best friend and beautiful nurse, Ann Perkins, Leslie embarks on a new project to create a park in a sad empty lot.  The endeavor proves to be more work than anyone could have imagined, but with the support of her friends and coworkers, there’s nothing Leslie can’t do.  Amy Poehler is a vision as leading lady Leslie Knope, and the entire cast is dynamite and full of spunk.

I aspire to have the passion and determination of Leslie Knope, the innovative mind of Tom Haverford, the woodworking skills and outdoorsmanship of Ron Swanson, the bubbling positivity of Chris Traeger, the adorable nerdiness of Ben Wyatt, the dark humor of April Ludgate, and the hysterical antics of Andy Dwyer.  Basically, I aspire to become the cast of Parks and Rec, but especially my hero, Leslie Knope.

All of our favorite dramas have those moments that put us in emotional turmoil, or make us question what we did to deserve the wrath of the writers.  While I believe Parks and Rec possesses a few of these moments, I can forgive the writers, because I adore this series.

Check-out some great memoirs by this stellar cast: Yes, Please by Amy Poehler, Gumption, Good Clean Fun, and Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman, and Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari.

 

No Manches Frida (WTH Frida?!?!) (2016)

Movie – In a new take on a German film, No Manches Frida is a story about a con man, a group of at risk high school kids, and a teacher who needs help to reach them. Zequi just got out of prison for bank robbery. They never found the money he stole. Zequi hid it so well even he cannot get to it. Buried under a school gymnasium, Zequi needs to figure out how to retrieve the money, payoff an associate, and stay out of jail.

Zequi goes for a janitor position interview at the school and ends up with a teaching position. He is placed in charge of the most troublesome students on the campus. His job is to keep them in line and out of trouble. On his first day though, he runs screaming from them and vows never to return. Convinced to stay he comes prepared with some very unorthodox methods of keeping them inline. Paintballs, shaming, and a field trip to see what becomes of unruly high school students; the students begin to respect Zequi and believe they can succeed.

Set in Mexico, the movie is a feel good, help the misguided, romance story. At a time when all the stories coming out from there are about narco-traffickers, kidnapping, disappearances, and government corruption, this movie doesn’t really address any of those issues. Instead it demonstrates how anyone from any background can make a difference sharing their experiences. There is a lot of vulgar language in the movie and some questionable teaching methods. It is not for everyone. If you like over the top foreign comedies with profane language, them this is your type of movie.  The movie is in Spanish with English subtitles.

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

Book – I tend to forgo reading the “Message to The Reader” section that authors sometimes include in their novels, instead going straight to the meat of the story.  But Amazon had a free preview of The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan, so I took advantage of the few pages I could indulge in.  The author’s “Message to Readers”  is brilliant, funny, and overall a wonderful addition to the book. Colgan describes the best places to read her book, necessitating comfort as the top priority.  I loved her witty sense of humor and thought the excerpt was a great introduction to the story.

And the story begins with Nina, a librarian in a small library that’s going under in a world that no longer wants physical books.  While her coworkers join the newly joined “library center,” Nina decides for once in her life to take a chance on her dream job: opening a mobile bookstore.  She impulsively buys a van, and travels to a small town miles away to start a new life for herself.  A romance blossoms when she meets a poetic train conductor, and a whole new adventure begins.

I love the premise behind this book: Girl Loves Books, Girl Loses Job, Girl Buys Van, Girl Turns Van into Bookstore, Girl Falls For Guy, etcetera…insanity ensuing.  However, the story started losing me about halfway through and I felt that it was dragging.  I stuck it out, hoping the pace would pick up, and though the story gained some interesting turns, it still left me feeling just a tad let down.

Jenny Colgan is still one of my favorite authors, and I especially adore The Little Beach Street Bakery and its sequel, Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery.