Category Archives: Reviews

Elena of Avalor: Celebrations to Remember DVD

Elena is back with all-new adventures coming to DVD with the release ofElena of Avalor: Celebrations to Remember! [amazon] 

Join Crown Princess Elena, along with her family and friends, as they honor the past, rejoice in the present and greet the future with music, laughter and love. Whether celebrating Navidad, Dia de los Muertos or Carnaval, new and older traditions alike play a part. And even though everyone doesn’t always agree on the best way to get the party started, one thing is perfectly clear: holidays aren’t about what you do; they’re about the special people you spend them with!

This DVD is packed with laughs, new characters to cherish, and heart. Elena of Avalor: Celebrations to Remember [amazon] is a must-own for the entire family! Includes Four Celebration Themed Episodes, Plus Two Bonus Episodes and a FREE Exclusive Elena Locket! (The locket my daughter wears almost everyday FYI!)

 

Game time with YULU’s Safe Breaker and Break Free

Do you have a family game night? Do you kick the kids off minecraft when its time for a playdate? Are you just looking for something really entertaining for the kids to play with that arent electronic? If you answered yes to any of these questions then I’ve got something to talk to you about… way back at Toy Fair I saw this new company YULU they were putting out a few new games and I was really excited about a couple that I saw….

Safe Breaker [Target] is a new electronic game that combines spy skill, memory and a little bit of luck, challenging players to crack the code and break into the safe. This game does requires two or more players.

To start the mission, players pick a card and turn the safe combination to the corresponding number shown. Next, use the fingerprint scanner to test the number. If the light is green, the safe will release some coins. If the light is red, connect the spy listening gear to the safe to hear a top- secret clue to deduce the correct combination code. Clues include mathematical chances and luck elements, allowing for a new experience each round.

BEWARE! Players who release police coins will alert the police and must return all their coins to the safe. The spy who collects the five golden coins or two diamond coins first, wins the game.

The other game was Break Free [Target] which requires two or more players is a new, challenging action skill game full of urgency, suspense and tons of fun. The objective: players must race to pick the lock on their handcuff as quickly as possible and before everyone else!

First, players handcuff themselves together and insert a maze into each handcuff. The game includes three maze colors. Each color represents a different level of difficulty, making each round unpredictable. Using the lock pick, players must try to pick the lock on their handcuff as quickly as possible. The fastest to break free from their handcuff receives a token that corresponds with the maze color. There are points on the back of each token, the player with the most points after playing all three rounds, wins the game.

Now the great thing about both of these games are they’re fun for the kids to play and gets them off of screen time and breaks the typical board game dynamic.  Also the kids can become an official YULU Spy Code Spy? The Spy Code Academy encourages kids to become Spy Masters through the Spy Code episodes featured on spycode.toys. Record and complete the mission at the end of each episode and upload your video using upload it using #YULUTOYS. You may have a chance to be featured on spycode.toys and get exclusive rewards from YULU Toys.

Since both games are rated for ages 6 and up they are the perfect birthday present to give a child.

Now both games are listed on amazon but at double the price of that of Target (which is why I choose to link there)… I was provided product samples but all thoughts are my own.

Niko and the Sword of Light is a magical new show for kids on Amazon Prime Video

I had never heard of Niko before this week… now I’ve binged the entire season and my son is 1/4 the way through the show is that good.  Think a super kid friendly version of Samurai Jack blended with Thundarr the Barbarian.

Niko and the Sword of Light follows 10-year-old Niko, the last of his kind in a strange, fantastical world, as he embarks on an epic quest to defeat the darkness and bring the light back to his land. Armed with his magic sword, brave Niko journeys to the Cursed Volcano, making new friends and powerful foes along the way, all while uncovering secrets about his mysterious past.

The show features the voice talent of Tom Kenny (SpongeBob SquarePants), Andre Robinson (Doc McStuffins), Steve Blum (Star Wars: Rebels), Kevin Michael Richardson (The Penguins of Madagascar), Jim Cummings (Shrek), and Kari Wahlgren (Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness). Based on the motion graphic comic by Imaginism Studios, Inc., the studio behind character and concept designs for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and Men in Black 3; and Studio NX (The Carrot and Rabbit Show, Tree Fu Tom), Niko and the Sword of Light is animated by Titmouse (Motorcity, Metalocalpyse) and executive produced by Rob Hoegee (Generator RexTeen Titans), who also serves as showrunner.

As of July 21st you’ll be able to stream the entire first season of Niko and the Sword of Light is on Amazon Prime Video. As a bonus you’ll be able to grab a FREE digital comic book from Comixology of Niko and the Sword of Light.

I think this is great for kids ages 6 and up (and total cool dads too) and a perfect fit for Amazon Kids.

 

 

Are you smiling to see The Emoji Movie

Have you ever thought about what the faces on your phone do in their spare time? Or what it must be like to be stuck making the same face and feeling the same emotion constantly? These are the thoughts behind Sony Animation’s The Emoji Movie, starring T.J. Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, and Patrick Stewart. The film follows Gene, a “meh” emoji who feels like he doesn’t fit in with the other residents of Textopolis because he can feel and express emotions other than his predisposed, bored “meh.” Searching for something more than the monotonous daily grind of Textopolis– and compelled to action by a bounty on his head from the villainous Smiler– Gene teams up with his friend Hi-5 to explore the rest of the phone and try to find the hacker Jailbreak, the only one who can help them defeat Smiler.

Gene’s journey takes him through some very familiar territory to anyone with a smartphone, as the movie shows us an Emoji-eye view of apps like Candy Crush, YouTube, Spotify, Just Dance, and Dropbox. There’s plenty for the whole family to enjoy here, as kids will love seeing their favorite apps come to life in a fresh way, while parents can appreciate the humor about the internet and its users. Cleverly-crafted sight gags and puns abound as well, and should elicit more than a few lighthearted chuckles.

While the movie is a lot of fun, it also has heart– and a great message for kids growing up in the internet age. Through the struggles and successes of Gene, Hi-5, and Jailbreak, kids watching The Emoji Movie learn that there are more important things in life than being popular or being the person that everyone else wants you to be. It’s okay– good, in fact– to be who you are and not try to pretend to be anything else in order to be “cool.” Your true friends are the people who love you for who you really are.

Make sure to check out The Emoji Movie in theaters on July 28th!

Now you can bring Zootopia home

unnamedWalt Disney Animation Studios’ comedy-adventure “Zootopia” has broken records worldwide, earning nearly $1 billion at the global box office and becoming one of the highest grossing originalmovies of all time. Critics and audiences of all ages have fallen in love with the wonderfully innovative mammal metropolis of “Zootopia” and the comedic chemistry of rookie rabbit officer Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) and scam-artist fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman). In fact, critics have hailed “Zootopia” as one of the best films of 2016 and Richard Roeper from Chicago Sun-Times calls it “One of the best animated films ever.”unnamed

When the runaway hit arrives home on Digital HD, Blu-ray, Disney Movies Anywhere, DVD and On-Demand platforms on  June 7, 2016, viewers will not only be able to enjoy the vibrant world of Zootopia and reunite with their favorite characters, but also discover more about the evolution of this extraordinary tale through in-depth bonus offerings.

Bonus features include candid conversations with filmmakers and artists behind Zootopia, an alternate opening, never-before-seen characters and deleted scenes, and a sneak peek at some of the hidden Easter Eggs that make reference to Disney Animation’s most beloved films and characters.

Directed by Byron Howard (“Tangled,” “Bolt”) and Rich Moore (“Wreck-It Ralph,” “The Simpsons”) and produced by Clark Spencer (“Wreck-It-Ralph,” “Lilo & Stitch”), the progressive mammal metropolis of Zootopia is a melting pot where animals from every habitat live side by side and “anyone can be anything.” But when new rabbit police officer Judy Hopps (voice ofGinnifer Goodwin) arrives in town she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of tough, hulking animals isn’t so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack an unsolved, challenging case even if it means working with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde (voice of Jason Bateman), to solve the mystery. But the case leads these two unlikely partners to an uneasy conclusion that Zootopia’s “evolved” society is being pulled apart by unseen forces determined to use fear to take control of the city by turning predators and prey against each other.
Others who helped bring the world of Zootopia to life, include a remarkable roster of voice talent including Idris Elba (BBC’s “Luther,” Golden Globe®-nominated for Netflix’s “Beasts of No Nation”) as Judy’s no-nonsense cape buffalo boss Chief Bogo, Jenny Slate (“Obvious Child,” “Marcel the Shell”) as Assistant Mayor Bellwether, Nate Torrence (HBO’s “Hello Ladies,” Fox’s “Weird Loners”) as charming cheetah Clawhauser, Bonnie Hunt (“Return to Me,” “Jerry Maguire”) and Don Lake (“Dumb and Dumber To,” “The Bonnie Hunt Show”) as Judy’s anxious, but supportive parents, Tommy Chong (“Up in Smoke,” “That ’70s Show”) as Yax the Yak, J.K. Simmons (“Juno,” Oscar® winner for “Whiplash”) as Mayor Lionheart, Octavia Spencer(“Insurgent,” Oscar® winner for “The Help”) as the distraught Mrs. Otterton, Alan Tudyk(“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Trumbo”) as Duke Weaselton, Shakira as the socially minded international pop star Gazelle, Raymond Persi (“Wreck-It Ralph,” WDAS story artist) as Flash the sloth, Maurice LaMarche (“Pinky and the Brain,” two-time Emmy® winner “Futurama”) as Mr. Big, Tiny Lister (“Friday,” “The Fifth Element”) as Finnick, John DiMaggio (Fox’s “Futurama,” Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time”) as Jerry Jumbeaux Jr., Katie Lowes (ABC’s “Scandal,” “Big Hero 6”) as Dr. Badger, and Jesse Corti (“Frozen,” “Beauty and the Beast”) as Mr. Manchas.

 

Watching the baby at night with the Samsung Techwin’s BrightVIEW Baby Monitor

979Caring for a newborn/toddler can be physically and mentally draining. Whether you’re a first-time parent or an experienced diaper changing dad, it’s impossible to multitask without the crying spells.

To give parents a brief, yet beneficial moment of zen the team over at Samsung Techwin America released the BrightVIEW Baby Video Monitoring System. This addition to the company’s growing, baby monitor portfolio includes a portable 720p HD camera with a 5.0” LCD color touch screen that will enable today’s tech-savvy parents to clearly and securely monitor their babies around the clock. With the HD picture quality and improved night vision capabilities, parents will be feel ok about doing other household chores or taking a moment of serenity without missing a second of their children’s movements.

Key features for the BrightVIEW Baby Video Monitoring System include:

  • HD Audio Enhancements – This baby monitor is equipped with the latest audio enhancements to amplify the two-way talk ability and help parents to coo their babies back to sleep. It also comes with an innovative audio mode feature that conserves battery power while ensuring child safety. While the screen is off, the monitor will continue to detect sound in the vicinity of the camera.
  • Four Built-In Lullabies – Often times, parents don’t have vocal talent to sing lullabies on a nightly basis. The BrightVIEW monitor saves the day by offering four, pre-programmed lullabies – including Brahms Lullaby and Hush Little Baby – to help soothe babies to sleep and allow parents to relax. 

Parents can also schedule alerts through the BrightVIEW monitor to conveniently remind them of their infant or toddler’s next feeding time, which my rules is any time the baby cries.

You can buy your own over on amazon.

Disney’s The Jungle Book is a swinging good time!

Go see Jungle Book as soon as you can. This live-action-CG hybrid, directed by Jon Favreau, makes the story of Mowgli, the surviving human boy, raised by wolves in the jungle, hunted by the meanest tiger, guided by the panther, finding the big bouncy bear, scared by the python and the giant ape, a real life adventure filled with our own fears, our own humor, and a couple of songs that we remember. Rudyard Kipling will be read again by a new generation who go to see this movie and want to see more of his stories.   Co-starring Bill Murray, Christopher Walken, Ben Kingsley, Scarlett Johansson, and Lupita Nyong’o and starring Neel Sethi as Mowgli, and thousands of CG artists, this is a must see movie for one and all. The adventure of the boy who becomes a man, the family who loves, the competitors who know to live in peace, the respect for elephants and the ecology, and the evil that creates obstacles to the desires of the characters we follow, all create a story that once you see, you’ll want to see again. Disney, using it’s Jim Henson division, and technologies that keep improving makes this story the closest we’ve seen to cross live animation and live action.
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I saw the movie in 3D, which I recommend, and Dolby surround sound which adds so much especially when the theater shakes when elephants walk by or when the surprise of the next scene comes from behind you, again technology and spectacular effects add to this movie but don’t define it. It is still defined by the story, the Rudyard Kipling classic story.

Welcome to the first summer blockbuster of the year. And next year, during Oscar time, I’m betting there will be a few awards, which will make me feel much better than all those awards that went to Mad Max this year.

Did I mention that I recommend that you go to see it? Take your kids; take your parents; make it a date night; and go to see it.

If you want a little entertainment for the kids – here is a Jungle Book Maze PDF

 

Let’s celebrate another Big Fat Greek Wedding!

MBFGW2-Poster My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 is a movie about finding strength in who you are.  Opening to full national release on March 25, with a few selected theaters playing it now, we recommend this perfect family film for anyone who is a member of a family.   This sequel to the blockbuster of 15 years ago brings the Portokalos family forward to the next generation.  Nia Vardalos found the sparks for the next story from her own personal journey and the trials and tribulations that occur in life.

Starting with Toula (Nia Vardalos) and her husband Ian (John Corbett) dealing with their daughter, Paris, (Elena Kampouris) a high school senior waiting to hear from colleges.  Rebellious, trying to be independent, but still a product of her family environment, she works, begrudgingly at the family restaurant, should she go to a school near home or a thousand miles away.  Elena is a star to watch.  Her beautiful face, big bright eyes, and warm smile light up every scene she’s in especially as her character softens as she finds her own positivity which gives her an evolved strength in her own decisions.  Toula and Ian have their own problems as their busy lives have taken the spark out of their marriage.  Try though they may, it doesn’t come back to them as easily as they might want.  Her lesson in her own life, and in writing this script was that she needed to lose balance in her life to know what to look for to find balance.

Toula’s parents reprised by Lainie Kazan and Michael Constantine, are perfectly paired as the couple that have been together for three generations and are in love not for any reason other than they are husband and wife.  But circumstances occur which tests that love and their marriage and it being a warm and fun movie it will be no spoiler to tell you they find their love renewed and restored.

Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) plays the strong leader of the family in every crisis.  She explains her guide was her own aunt who taught her to go head strong through any situation and don’t let anyone stop you.  She gives gratitude to her aunt not only for being the role model for Aunt Voula but for advice to her to get over her own insecurities to become an actor.   Joey Fatone, a long time stand up comic, who plays Nia’s brother, informs about a truth in acting, “the art of acting is how your character reacts to the line just handed to you.”  All the family members as unbearable as it seems are just totally loveable.

The rest of the family members have issues, which I won’t reveal and friends come by with other plot complications and twists.  In the end this is simply a story about family bonds, inner strength, and the importance of love no matter your age.  Go see it with or without your entire family, but go with someone you love, you might get lucky when you get home.