Strange World (in theaters)
“Strange World” is absolutely bombing at the Box Office, but it’s NOT because it’s not a really fun movie. I took my 11 year old daughter and two of her besties to see it this weekend, and we loved it! “Strange World” centers around the Clade family. They are a legendary family of explorers whose differences now threaten to topple their latest and most crucial mission.
Dennis Quaid (Frequency, Great Balls of Fire) voices legendary explorer/adventurer Jaegar Clade, whose lifelong mission is to make it over the mountain range that separates his “world” from the rest of the world. His son, Searcher Clade, is voiced by Jake Gyllenhaal (Ambulance, Brokeback Mountain) goes another direction in life, and clashes with his dad. Some of this is the age-old story of a child wanting to forge his/her own path and not just take over the family business.
When Searcher grows up, he marries Meridian, who is voiced by the great Gabrielle Union (Bring It On, Bad Boys 2) and they have a son, Ethan, who is voiced by Jaboukie Young-White (Rough Night, Set It Up.) Ethan also wants to forge his own path in life. Ethan is also a gay teen, and I believe this is Disney’s first openly gay teen character. Unfortunately, this may also be the reason the movie is not doing so well at the box office, at least in certain parts of the country. Go figure.
Anyway, I think it’s a great movie. The animation is really great. The depictions of the underground universe they explore are beautiful, and the movie has several great subplots that give the opportunity for conversation including sexuality and acceptance, the environment, and father/son relationships. There is depth in the movie’s relationships, and the characters genuinely care about these issues. I thought the ending was also really great.
Don’t just take my word for it though. Three 11-year-old girls all gave it 2 thumbs up! Overall, I think this is a great addition to Disney’s animation library.
“Strange World” is rated PG for action/peril and some thematic elements. I’m giving this one a solid 4.1/5.
A Christmas Story Christmas (streaming on HBO Max)
I am absolutely going to watch as many Christmas movies as humanly possible between now and the big day- both new ones and the classics. We’ve already watched “Elf,” “Home Alone,” and “A Christmas Story.” I love them all, but admittedly, “A Christmas Story” has never been one of my favorites. It’s a classic for sure, but it’s not in my Top 5. I wanted to check out this new chapter of the story though, and BOY am I glad I did!!!
“A Christmas Story Christmas” follows Ralphie 30+ years later. He’s all grown up now with a wife and kids of his own. In this new chapter of the story, Ralphie returns to the old house on Cleveland Street to give his kids a magical Christmas like the one he had as a child, reconnecting with childhood friends, and reconciling the passing of his Old Man.
Y’all, there is so much heart and soul in this movie. There are also a lot of laughs, but this is absolutely the heartwarming Christmas movie of the season! There. I said it. Don’t just take my word for it though. My sister-in-law, Lori, is the biggest “A Christmas Story” fan I know. She LOVES the original movie so much, and she watches it an absurd amount each year. I was most curious as to what she would say about this one, and she loved it too!
So many of the original cast is back too! Of course, there’s Ralphie. And might I say he looks exactly the same all these years later. EXACTLY THE SAME! You’ll also see Flick and Schwartz and Farkus and Randy Parker. The main two original characters that didn’t return for this movie are Ralphie’s parents- Melinda Dillon (A Christmas Story, Close Encounters of the Third Kind) and the late Darren McGavin (A Christmas Story, Billy Madison.) Dillon was replaced by Julie Hagerty (Airplane, A Marriage Story) as Ralphie’s mom in this new movie, and of course since McGavin has passed, the storyline is that Ralphie’s dad has passed. That “hole” in the family is the heart and soul of the movie.
To me, one of the great things about this movie is that it has the same vibe as the original. It has so many wonderful nods to the original and the spirit of the original and even the aesthetic of the original, but it also stands on it’s own. You could watch this and love it even if you’d never seen the original movie.
All-in-all, this is a MUST-WATCH this holiday season! In fact, watch it tonight if you can! “A Christmas Story Christmas” is rated PG for some language and some rude material/behavior. I’m giving it a solid 5/5! We will definitely be watching it again at my house before the season is over.
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