Easter Baskets Full of Movies

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

This past Easter Sunday was a nice, quiet day.  The Syracuse Orange college basketball team  moved onto the Final Four the day before so I was in a good mood, and my family wasn’t planning on going anywhere.  I also got some great stuff in my two, yes, count them, two baskets!  Also included were some great movies!  My mother and I sat down to enjoy three of them.

My favorite movie of the three (and my mom’s, too!) was Rise of the Guardians , a DreamWorks movie about a group of magical characters including Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and new member Jack Frost, who come together to protect children everywhere from the nightmare-inducing Pitch Black.  I wasn’t sure what to expect; I had seen a few trailers but not much else.  The description on the back of the DVD case made the movie a bit more interesting for me when I came across the villain’s name which was given as simply Pitch, which I recognized as an old name for the devil, something I thought was a bit unusual for a family movie.  Everything in the film was full of magic and wonder.  The settings of each of the Guardians’ homes and the town they visited looked fantastic, the characters were lively, funny, and touching when the moment called for it, and following Jack Frost’s journey from aloof prankster to rightful hero was very inspirational to me.  This film was a great one for me to get lost in, and I would love to see a sequel.

Hotel Transylvania was a much wackier film than Rise of the Guardians, but it hit another of my sweet spots.  The premise of Dracula running a hotel for monsters and his daughter Mavis falling in love with a human were solid in my view.  To me, the film felt like a two-dimensional cartoon even though it was really a computer-animated movie.  With the way the characters were bouncing around, it reminded me of an old Tex Avery cartoon at some points.  The jokes were also consistently funny all the way through; my favorite joke was one of the Wolfman’s daughters, a very young girl, giving Drac and his friends detailed directions to the airport.  Both this movie and the Guardians film had very cute characters, causing me and my mom to go “Awwwww!” every few minutes.  On a day where cute things are very welcome, these two films had some of the most adorable things I have ever seen and made me feel very happy.

The last movie my mom and I watched on Easter Sunday was Wreck-It Ralph, a tale of redemption which I now think was appropriate to watch at the end of a day concerned with rebirth and renewal.  In the movie, the title character, tired of being endlessly humiliated as the villain in a popular Donkey Kong-like arcade game, leaves his home and goes “game jumping” into other arcade machines in the hope of obtaining a medal which he believes will make the other characters in his home game accept him as a hero.  Along the way, he meets up with a little but feisty girl named Vanellope who, in turn, helps him to save the entire arcade from a massive infestation of murderous virtual bugs.  In true Disney movie fashion, he soon finds out the true meaning of heroism.  This is is the only film of the three which I previously watched in a movie theater, but it was fun to watch it again at home and be able to see a lot of details I hadn’t noticed before.  It was my favorite movie of 2012, at least of the movies I actually saw last year.  However, after watching the other two movies and being astounded by those, I couldn’t help but be a little underwhelmed with this one in comparison.  I already knew how Ralph’s story went, and I was a little less excited to watch it again after seeing what the Guardians movie had to offer.  All things considered, though, I think it was a nice way to end the day, and it is still one of the best Disney movies I have seen in quite a while.

I enjoyed all three of these movies and they made for a great Sunday triple matinee.  I believe they all had a theme of “bad seeds” (Jack Frost, Dracula, and Ralph) finding better paths for their lives which come to benefit everyone around them; what better message could you give on Easter?  How was your Easter Sunday (if you celebrated it, that is?)  Did you do anything special?  Let me know in the comments.

Real Advice for Fictional Characters No. 2: Me Need Help

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

question-mark-63979_150For the second installment of the feature in which I give famous (and occasionally infamous) fictional characters some sound advice, we have a mix of characters from film and television.  As with last week’s letters, the writer’s identities have been replaced with nicknames, but those nicknames will be linked to Wikipedia pages about the real McCoys for everyone playing along.


Dear Kellogg Thoughts,

I’m feeling a bit down in the dumps right now (literally; I live in a dump, you see).  For over thirty years, I’ve been stuck in the same dead-end job.  I was actually very happy with it at first because it paid very well (lots of quarters) and it was easy work.  Now, however, I’m getting tired of the daily grind.  Sometimes I feel like all that I’m good at is punching the clock (and bricks, and walls, and pretty much anything else you put in front of me).  I want to think outside the box and broaden my horizons, to break away from the same old routine.  I’ve been beating myself up about it for a long time, but now it’s time for some action.  Do you have any suggestions?  Don’t say, “Make some friends,” because I tried that already with some people at work, but I don’t think they really appreciated anything I had to offer.  Signed, Nervous Wreck 

Dear Nervous,

I’m not surprised at all that you’ve become tired of your work routine after thirty years; a lot of other people have, and sometimes sooner than you.  I’m going to level with you: I actually was thinking about suggesting a healthy friendship, even if you seem to have already lost a few points in that department; one good friendship is all some people need to improve their lives.  I agree with you that heading out into the world would be a good thing, too, but there is one question I have about your case.  Has all of your time just been spent at your job?  It seems to me like you’ve never even been more than ten feet from your house!  If you are as keen on heading outside as you say you are, then please, for the sake of your co-workers, bring a buddy along who knows the ropes.  Also, try to find a more worthwhile avenue for your aggression.  Too much pent-up anger can be quite unhealthy.  By the way, what does your family think about all this?  I don’t think you’d make your mother very proud with all of the sulking you’re doing right now.  Go grab life by the bullhorns and make something of yourself.  Enjoy the sweet things life has to offer, and don’t be too concerned about rewards or honors because life isn’t always centered around getting medals.  Put family first and find somewhere you belong, and you should do all right after that.  Thanks for writing, and game on!  Ben


Dear Kellogg Thoughts,

I have recently been swept off of my feet and into a new place I never would have dreamed existed.  It’s the most wonderful place, all emerald and yellow, very pretty colors.   I’ve met some great friends along the way, too, but now I want to go home.  We were going to see someone who I think can help me get back to my family (I think he’s going to be simply wizard!), but there’s just one problem.  There is a really mean woman trying to stop us from reaching our goal, and I fear she’s going to do something horrible to us (but especially my dog; she seems to have an unhealthy obsession with him) if she isn’t stopped.  I’m telling you, she’s a real witch!  I wish I could just click my heels three times and say, “There’s no place like home,” and then I’m home, but that only happens in fairy tales, right?  I’m so confused, and I feel like a raging tornado of emotions inside.  Please help me!  Signed, Twisted with Toto

Dear Twisted,

Your letter has given me a lot of questions, but very few answers are coming to me.  Are you sure this “witch” (Such a derogatory term!) is really as bad as you believe she is?  Have you tried talking to her yet?  Maybe she just wants to compliment you on your dog.  It couldn’t hurt to ask.  Even if she turns out to be a jerk, don’t let her get in the way of enjoying your time in this new land.  You’re only feeling homesick.  Making good friends seems to have made you feel a little better, but you can do more.  Go around and see the sights.  Go down the yellow brick roads less traveled, look at the cities glowing like emeralds.  I can’t guarantee you’ll see any flying monkeys or anything like that, but what you do see should be very magical.  Enjoy your stay, and have a heart (and some brains and steady nerves while you’re at it)!  Ben


Dear Kellogg Thoughts,

Me writing because me had massive hunger attack this morning shortly after breakfast, but there nothing me want to eat!  Me okay with fruits and veggies most of the time, but right now, me want something sweet, daring, practically forbidden!  Me been considering cake, but that leave frosting all over me fingers, very messy.  Cupcakes and muffins no good, they too small.  Me out of options!  What me do? WHAT ME D…  What that?  On dat table over dere?  Big plate full of chocolate chippy, round, delicious…  YES!  COOKIES!  That what me been looking for all this time!  This gonna hit the spot!  Cowabunga!  Please kindly disregard this letter.  Signed, (there’s a huge hole at the spot where the signature would normally go; all that remains is a big letter C that looks vaguely like a crescent moon-shaped cookie with a huge bite taken out of it)

Dear whoever you are,

Ummm… thanks for solving your own problem, I guess.  I’m craving something myself after reading your letter.  I think I’ll have a plate of little peanut butter and cracker sandwiches to tide me over until dinner.  Thanks for writing in, and remember to write to us again if life ever bites back!  Ben    

Well, that’s it for this week folks!  Did you like the advice I gave?  What would you suggest to these characters?  What other characters would you like to see in this space?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.