Sick Day Movies

October 30, 2008

My twins are sick today so we are hosting our own mini Scooby Doo marathon.  Scooby Doo has the most movies they can agree on. 

If it was just my daughter, we’d be watching princess movies all day.  My son would rather spend the day watch movies like Cars and Speed Racer.

But that’s okay, because sick days are meant to snuggle under a blanket, curl up on the couch and watch that one or two movies that really seem to connect to you.

My husband loves to watch the Matrix trilogy when he’s sick.  It’s the only time he really gets to watch them uninterrupted.

My sick day movies are little less cohesive:  Eddie and the Cruisers, The Lost Boys and A Knight’s Tale.

I know that Eddie is a little off beat, probably why I like it.  But I love the music in the show.  The Lost Boys has been a favorite of my since I was a teen.  And I don’t even know why I like A Knight’s Tale, except maybe for the eye candy Heath Ledger.

Yeah, I know it’s a weird collection, but that’s what sick days are for – to bring out those movies that you don’t necessarily watch with family and friends.

What is your favorite sick day movie(s)?


New College Course: Learn to Be a Jedi

September 16, 2008

I’ve always been amazed at the courses available in college.  But even this class surprised me.

The great thing about college is that it gives you a chance to explore.  And I’m thankful that colleges are offering more and more course options for students.  But sometimes it amazing me at what is available.

My husband once took a course in hiking – complete with a lesson in scat.

But I’ve found a new class that tops that and will send sci fi fans running for the college book store with light sabers in hand.

It seems Queens College in Belfast is offering a new course this fall as part of its Open Learning Program – “Feel the Force:  How to Train in the Jedi Way.”  This one-day course is being offered on November 15 and is open to anyone.

Here’s what the course description (page 101) says:

Jedi might not be your religion, but you’re still a fan. Learn the real-life psychological techniques behind Jedi mind-tricks – mindfulness, instinct, serenity, empathy, influence, flow. Examine the larger philosophical issues behind the Star Wars universe – balance, destiny, dualism, fatherhood, fascism and bureaucracy. Discover the academic mythologist who inspired George Lucas’ story.  Battle your dark side fear and aggression. Begin your own heroquest.  Light sabers not provided!

If Star Wars is half as popular in Belfast as it is here in the U.S. then this class will be standing room only. 

But I have to wonder what the final is like.  Do you have to go to a swamp to face your own fear in an obstacle course with a Yoda lookalike proctoring?

What’s the strangest college course you’ve every taken?

Your Favorite Shows Are Finally Back, How Did You Survive?

April 8, 2008

Normally April brings warm showers and the first signs of spring.  But it’s bitterly cold and dreary here.  But nonetheless, I’m singing like a bird.  Because this April marks the return of our favorite television shows after a much too long hiatus brought on by the writer’s strike.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m doing a little happy dance (no video of said dance will be included) because finally television as we know is returning.  And even the threat of an actor’s strike will not overshadow my joy this month.

But in all honesty, I found plenty to do in the absence of my favorite shows.  I cleared off my DVR (it is now primed and ready for the April onslaught of shows), I watched BBC America (who knew I’d like British dramas), I read and read some more (including books on my favorite shows like Supernatural and Heroes), I’ve had plenty of field trips with my kids to museums and parks, and I’ve caught up on last summer’s blockbusters on DVD.

In fact, I’ve enjoyed a little break from my TV set.  But the break is over and I happily welcome the return of my shows.

Here’s a breakdown of the returning shows (source:  TV Guide):


8 p.m.

The Big Bang Theory on CBS, Returned March 17

Bones on Fox, Returns April 14

Gossip Girl on CW, Returns April 21

8:30 p.m.

How I Met Your Mother on CBS, Returned March 17

9 p.m.

Two and a Half Men on CBS, Returned March 17

House on Fox, Returns April 28

9:30 p.m.

Samantha Who? On ABC, Returned April 7

Rules of Engagement on CBS, Returns April 14

10 p.m.

CSI Miami on CBS, Returned March 24



8 p.m.

NCIS on CBS, Returns April 8

9 p.m.

Shark on CBS, Returns April 29

10 p.m.

Boston Legal on ABC, Returns April 8

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit on NBC, Returns April 14

Women’s Murder Club on ABC, Returns April 29


8 p.m.

‘Til Death on Fox, Returns April 15

8:30 p.m.

Back to You on Fox, Returns April 16

9 p.m.

Criminal Minds on CBS, Returned April 2

10 p.m.

CSI:NY on CBS, Returned on April 2

Law & Order on NBC, Returns April 23


8 p.m.

My Name is Earl on NBC, Returned April 3

Smallville on CW, Returns April 17

Ugly Betty on ABC, Returns April 24

8:30 p.m.

30 Rock on NBC, Returns April 10

9 p.m.

CSI on CBS, Returned April 3

The Office on NBC, Returns April 10

Supernatural on CW, Returns April 24

Grey’s Anatomy on ABC, Returns April 24

9:30 p.m.

Scrubs on NBC, Returns April 10

10 p.m.

Without a Trace on CBS, Returned April 3

ER on NBC, Returns April 10

Lost on ABC, Returns April 24


8 p.m.

Ghost Whisperer on CBS, Returned April 4

9 p.m.

Moonlight on CBS, Returns April 25

10 p.m.

Numbe3rs on CBS, Returned April 4


8:30 p.m.

Aliens in America on CW, Returns April 27

9 p.m.

The Game on CW, Returned March 23

Cold Case on CBS, Returned March 30

Desperate Housewives on ABC, Returns April 13

10 p.m.

Brothers & Sisters on ABC, Returns on April 20

The schedule looks a bit thin, but I think we will all take what we can get.  Mondays and Thursdays seem to be the nights that will pack the biggest punch.

How did you survive the strike?  What returning show are you looking forward to the most?

Taboo TV/Movie Hijinks and Your Childhood

January 26, 2008

I just finished reading the Dennis Hensley’s commentary on MSNBC about how kids today, with the help of DVDs, video iPods and YouTube, can see anything and everything. 

In order for me not to have a coronary or hyperventilate at the thought of how I’m going to monitor my children’s viewing habits in this high-tech age, I instead am reminiscing about the hijinks I pulled as a kid to see what my parents deemed inappropriate.

I wasn’t allowed to watch “Facts of Life” as a girl, but I can remember turning it on when I knew I should be in bed.  When my parents finally realized it was past my bedtime, I would dutifully go off to bed.  When I thought it was safe, I would sneak down the hall and peek around the corner to watch it if they hadn’t changed the channel.

On the weekends my parents played cards with their friends, alternating houses.  When we were at someone else’s house and it was considered past my bedtime, I would be sent to lie down on the couch.  I can remember waiting until my parents were distracted to roll over to sneak peaks at whatever “forbidden” show was on the television.  I think I even watch a late night show in a mirror above the couch once.

R-rated movies were an absolute no no at my house.  I can remember going through school and not knowing what movies like The Last American Virgin and Porky’s were about when all my friends did.  But when I was a freshman in high school we moved next door to a family that had seven kids from 4 to 19.  There was always so much going on in that house, no one ever noticed which VHS movie you were watching.  So I went over there for movie night all the time.

What did you do as a kid to bypass your parents’ limitations of your television and movie viewing options?  What were your must see that were tabooed by your parents?

Disney To Welcome Its First African-American Princess

January 16, 2008

Seventy years ago, Snow White made history for Walt Disney as the star of his first full-length film.  In would be 12 years before another princess followed in her footsteps, but follow they would.  First came Cinderella (1950), then Sleeping Beauty (1959), Ariel (1989) and Belle (1991). 

Princess and the FrogWhat did these five princesses all have it common – they were all white.  It wasn’t until Alladin was released in 1992, that Disney showcased its first non-Caucasian princess with Jasmine.  The diversity continued with Pocahontas (1995) and Mulan (1998).

Now in the 21st Century, Disney will release its first African-American princess in The Princess and the Frog.  Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls) will be the voice of Princess Tiana, a young girl who lives in the French Quarter of New Orleans during the Jazz age.  Expect lots of Cajun charm.

No word on who her prince will be.  But since I’m guessing Disney isn’t ready to tackle interracial couples (at least not in cartoons), I expect the prince to also be African-American.

Dr. Facilier, the villian, will be voiced by Keith David (Delta Force, ER).

The Princess and the Frog is expected to be released in late 2009.

Photo courtesy of Disney.

Review: Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is Simple Fun

November 19, 2007

I took the twins to see Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium this weekend, after all it’s the only G-rated movie out this season.  It was a nice simple family-friendly movie.

Mr. Magorium’s Wonderful EmporiumThe store itself is the real star.  The kind of toy store we all wished for as kids, the emporium is alive with magic that delights children of all ages.  I think my favorite thing in the store was the Big Book.  You just asked the book for what you wanted and if the store had it, it would appear.  If only I could have one of those books to organize my house, life would be so much easier.  The magical door was pretty cool too.  Turn the dial to select which room you wanted and it would be there when you opened the door.  What a cool way to expand your house when space is an issue? 

But if the store is alive then it has feelings too.  And we see those feelings come out when the store loses its owner.

The emporium is owned by the eccentric Mr. Magorium, delightfully portrayed by Dustin Hoffman.  A self-proclaimed toy impresario, magic aficionado and avid shoe wearer, Magorium, at the ripe old age of 243, has lived a full life.  And now that he has worn through his last pair of his favorite shoes, Magorium has decided it’s time for him to go. 

He wants to leave the emporium to Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman).  Mahoney loves the emporium and has managed it for years embracing the magic that it holds.  But believing in magic is not Mahoney’s problem.  Mahoney lacks faith in herself.  Faith she needs to complete her first composition.  Once a child musical phenomenon, Mahoney hasn’t yet lived up to her potential.

But Magorium has plenty of faith in Mahoney to take over the store.  But first his must get the store’s paperwork in order so he hires Henry Weston (Jason Bateman), an accountant to settle his affairs.  As unconventional as they come, Mr. Magorium refers to Henry as mutant since his definition of accountant is a counting mutant.  Unbothered by this nickname, Henry is all business.  He has no time for pretend or anything else associated with the store except its paperwork.

And then there’s the hat collector.  Eric Applebaum (Zach Mills) is nine years old.  He has very few friends and spends all his spare time at the emporium.  But this kid is a believer, a true whiz with the toys and the only one who truly seems to “get” Mr. Magorium.

Now when Mahony and the emporium find out about Magorium’s plans, neither are willing to accept his decision gracefully.

I truly enjoyed the movie, but was not wowed by it.  And when the emporium goes gray, the twins lost interest quickly.   The story itself flows well at that point, but there just wasn’t much here to capture the little ones attention.

The story itself seems a little confused as to who it is really about — the enigmatic Magorium, the timid Mahoney, the non-believer Henry or the delightful Eric.  Personally, I was expecting more about Eric’s story since he seems to be Magorium’s true prodigy, even a younger version of Magorium himself. 

Overall, Mr. Magorium’s is a nice sweet simple tale.  Nothing spectacular, but a cute movie nonetheless.  If you go in with these expectations, you’ll be fine.

At the end one twin was applauding and was was ready to go so I’d say they gave it one thumb up and one thumb down.

Preview of 2007 Family-Friendly Holiday Season Movies

November 10, 2007

With the Writer’s Guild of America on strike and all our favorite television shows going dark, the place to be this holiday season for a little entertainment is the theater.   The holiday season on the big screen is fairing up pretty nicely as an option for family outings to include not only some holiday-themed movies, but some other fun family films.

Again, like this summer, I am surprised to only find one G-rated movie.  Even the chipmunks got a PG rating this year.  The list of family films this season includes only 1 1/2 animated films.  I counted Disney’s unique offering, Enchanted, as half since it’s half animation and half live action.

Without further delay, here’s a rundown by release date:

Bee Movie
Bee MovieIn this animated feature, Barry Benson (Jerry Seinfeld) decides he can’t be like his best friend Adam Flyman (Matthew Broderick) and settle for a typical life in the hive making honey.  But when he set out to discover the rest of the world, he had no idea what an adventure it would be.  Along the way, Barry makes a few new friends, including Mooseblood (Chris Rock), a mosquito headed to Alaska, and a human named Vanessa Bloome (Renee Zellweger).  But with adventure comes mishap and Barry and Vanessa find themselves racing against time to saved the flowers.  For a full review, click here.

Rated PG for mild suggestion humor and a brief depiction of humor.  View Trailer at  Release Date:  Currently in theaters. 

Fred Claus
Fred ClausEvery family has its black sheep.  In the Claus family, it’s Fred (Vince Vaughn), Nicholas’s (Paul Giamatti) older brother.  When Fred’s shady dealings finally land him in jail, Santa steps in to bail his brother out, offering him a job in his toy workshop.  Can this sheep change the color of is wool?  Or will Fred’s antics jeopardize not only his relationship with Nicholas, but the whole Christmas holiday? Kathy Bates stars as Mother Clause and Rachel Weisz is Wanda.

Rated PG for mild language and some rude humor.  View Trailer at  Release Date:  Currently in theaters.

Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
Mr. Magorium’s Wonderful EmporiumWhat throws a worse tantrum than a toddler who has lost his favorite toy?  A toy store that has lost its favorite owner.  Mr. Magoriums’ Wonderl Emporium is a delightfully magic place or at least it was until its 245-year-old owner Mr. Magorium (Dustin Hoffman) leaves the store to his timid manager Molly Mahoney (Natalie Portman).  Together with the help of the doubtful accountant Henry (Jason Bateman) and a nine-year-old (Zach Mills), Molly must find the magic to keep the store alive.  For a full review, click here.

Rated G.  View the trailer at  Release Date:  November 16

August Rush
August RushThis drama follows the young and musically talented August Rush (Freddie Highmore) on his search to find his parents — Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a Irish singer and guitarist, and Loyla Novacek (Keri Russell), a privileged cellist with an overprotective father (William Sadler).  Drawn together by their love of music, Louis and Loyla had shared one magical night together in New York 12 years ago, but due to an unfortunate turn of event the two were separated from each other and August.  Living on the street and under the protection of the Wizard (Robin Williams), August is determined to find his parents through his music.  Terrence Howard stars as social worker Richard Jeffries. 

Rated PG for thematic elements, mild violence and language.  View the trailer at  Release Date:  November 21.

Christmas in WonderlandChristmas in Wonderland
Patrick Swayze stars in the comedy as Wayne Saunders, a father who moves his three kids from to LA to Edmonton, where the kids think they’ll die of boredom.  But they are in for the adventure of a lifetime when they head to West Edmonton Mall for some Christmas shopping, but find a bag of counterfeit money instead.

Rated PG for rude humor.  View the trailer at  Release date:  November 21

EnchantedWhat happens when a fairytale comes true — or in Enchanted‘s case, comes alive?  We find out when the evil Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon) pushes an animated Princess Giselle (Amy Adams) down a well and she winds up in modern day New York in living color.  Will the gritty streets of New York change Giselle’s romantic look on life?  Will Giselle trade her storybook prince, Edward (James Marsden), for a real life romance with Robert (Patrick Dempsey), a handsome lawyer?

Rated PG for scary images and mild innuendo.  View the trailer at  Release date:  November 21

The Golden Compass
The Golden CompassBased on Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy, this fantasy follows Lyra Belacqua (Dakota Blue Richards), a rebellious orphan, on her quest through a parallel word full of shape-shifting creatures and witches to find her best friend, Roger (Ben Walker), who has been kidnapped by the government for experiments.  But with the coming war, Lyra might be destined to save more than her friend — her world and all the parallel worlds connected to it.  Daniel Craig stars as her explorer uncle, Lord Asriel, and Nicole Kidman is his colleague, Mrs. Coulter.

Not Yet Rated.  View the trailer a  Release date:  December 7

The Perfect Holiday
The Perfect HolidayNarrated by Queen Latifah, this sweet little tale is about Emily (Khail Bryant), the youngest of three children, whose only Christmas wish is for her single mom, Nancy (Gabrielle Union), to be happy.  So she asks Santa for the one thing she overhears her mom wish for — a nice normal man.  Benjamin (Morris Chestnut), an aspiring songwriter working as the mall Santa, is more than happy to fulfill this Christmas wish.

Rated PG for brief language and some suggestive humor.  View the trailer at  Release date:  December 12

Alvin and the Chipmunks
Alvin & the ChipmunksA live action/CGI version of the 1980s cartoon about how songwriter David Seville (Jason Lee) turns three chipmunks — Alvin, Simon and Theodore — into pop stars while the trio turns David’s house and life upside down.  Fun fact: the Chipmunks were named after Liberty Records executives — Alvin Bennett, Simon Waronker, and Theodore Keep.

Rated PG for rude humor.  View the trailer at  Release date:  December 14

National Treasure:  Book of Secrets
National TreasureA highly anticipated sequel to the 2004 hit, Book of Secrets promises even more intrigue and action as Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage) sets out to defend his family name when a missing page from John Wilkes Booth’s diary reappears and implicates Ben’s great-great-great grandfather in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  Look for more mysteries and puzzles as Ben and his crew travel to Paris and London before returning to the states.  Jon Voight reprises his role as Ben’s father, Patrick.  Also returning is Diane Kruger as Abigail Chase, Ben’s love interest from the first movie.

Rated PG for some violence and action.  View the trailer at  Release date:  December 21

The Water Horse:  Legend of the Deep
Water HorseDiscover the magical beginning of one of Scotland’s most famous legends when a young boy discovers a very unique egg, one that takes him on an enchanted journey when it hatches into a water horse.  Walden Media, the company that brought you the Chronicles of Narnia, promises another fantastical tale.

Rated PG for action/peril, mild language and brief smoking.  View the trailer at  Release date:  December 25

Well I think I can find several good options to fill the lulls in my holiday shopping schedule.  Hope you find one or two you enjoy too.  See you in the concession lines!