The Babysitters Club

Posted on July 9, 2020 at 9:11 am

A-
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grade
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Various health-related issues including diabetes and stroke
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: July 7, 2020

Copyright Netflix 2020
You will not see a show for any age this year that is better than this latest version of “The Babysitters Club,” Netflix’s gently updated series inspired by the Ann M. Martin. Delightfully natural performances from an outstanding group of newcomers, backed by adults like Marc Evan Jackson (“The Good Place’s” Shawn) and Alicia Silverstone (“Clueless”), deal with problems from the universal (growing up, learning to make the most of strengths and adapt to or overcome weaknesses) including crushes and puberty) to family upheavals like divorce, remarriage, illness, and loss to resolving differences with friends, family and adults, all handled with sensitivity and maturity. If that maturity is in some cases aspirational (many adults struggle to do as well), it never seems so far out of reach that it is unobtainable. The good humor and loyalty the girls show each other in resolving their conflicts is genuinely heartwarming and instructive for all ages.

The series cleverly maintains some of the books’ beloved traditions, including the landline in the colorful bedroom of one of the girls, Claudia Kishi (adorable Momona Tamada, rocking a high-fashion look that would be a challenge for a less confident performer of any age). And no one girl controls the narrative. We see the stories from different perspectives in each chapter, narratively illuminating and a good way to spark some conversations about empathy and points of view.

7th grader Kristy (Sophie Grace) comes up with the idea for the Babysitters Club, a one-stop or one-call service that provides sitters for local families after her mother (Silverstone) complains about how hard it is to find someone. The first girls to join are her shy best friend Mary Ann (Malia Baker), who lives with her very strict father, a widower (Jackson), a new girl just arrived from New York named Stacy (Shay Rudolph), who is great at math and who is concealing her Type 1 diabetes, and Claudia, a gifted artist who struggles with schoolwork and with her demanding parents and chilly sister but is very close to her grandmother (Takayo Fischer), who loves her the way she is. Later on they are joined by another new girl, the warm-hearted, justice-seeking Dawn (Xochitl Gomez), who arrives with her newly divorced mother.

Various clashes occur about the business, both internally and externally, when some older girls start their own babysitting service to compete. And various clashes occur with parents (and sadness over parents who are not there). But the girls are always committed to finding a way through, even if that sometimes takes a little while. And it is a pleasure to see each of them learn to speak up, especially Mary Ann, who discovers that her father is more vulnerable than she thought, that she can find her voice if it is on behalf of someone else, and that theater gives her an opportunity to be her best. There are also some nifty lessons about running a business, including what to do when your success leads to competition.

It is truly a delight to see these characters brought to life with such care and understanding and I cannot wait for the next season.

Parents should know that this series addresses in an age-appropriate way issues of puberty, trans children, sexual orientation, illness and disability, parental abandonment, death of a parent, bullying, blended families, and class/economic issues.

Family discussion: Can you think of a time when you were upset about something other than what it seemed you were upset about? Who was right, Dawn or Meanie? How did the girls learn to talk about their conflicts? Which one is most like you?

If you like this, try: the 1995 movie and the books, now published as graphic novels

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Based on a book Coming of age Family Issues For the Whole Family Movies Movies Stories About Kids VOD and Streaming

Fandango’s Mega Movie Weekend — Big Discounts for Home Viewing

Posted on May 22, 2020 at 12:37 pm

Copyright A24 2019
FandangoNOW, Fandango’s on-demand streaming service is giving home movie watchers a “Mega Movie Weekend.” Starting today until end of day Monday, May 25th, fans can enjoy renting hundreds of films starting at 99 cents, including critically acclaimed indies, Oscar-winners, and fan favorites.

Movies to Watch for $0.99 include:
The Disaster Artist
Eighth Grade
Escape Plan
Ex Machina
The Expendables 2
The Farewell
Force Majeure
Hereditary
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Lady Bird
The Last Black Man in San Francisco
The Lighthouse
Mandy
Midsommar
Moonlight
The Secret of Kells
Short Circuit
Short Term 12
Sliding Doors
Sophie’s Choice
Waves
Whale Rider

Movies for $1.99 include:
2001: A Space Odyssey
A Star is Born (2018)
About Time
Air Force One
Annabelle: Creation
Apocalypse Now
Back to the Beach
Bad Moms
Beverly Hills Cop
The Big Sick
Carol
Chef
Chinatown
The Conjuring
Couples Retreat
Crazy, Stupid, Love
Dirty Dancing
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Get Him to the Greek
Glory
Gravity
Hacksaw Ridge
Hamburger Hill
The Hangover
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Horrible Bosses
Inception
It’s a Wonderful Life
Red
Last Flag Flying
Lucy
Magic Mike
Mud
Mission: Impossible
Mission: Impossible II
Mission: Impossible III
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
The Notebook
The Nun
Oblivion
The Patriot
Rambo
The Shack
Silver Linings Playbook
Sisters
Snowpiercer
Spotlight
Stripes
Summer School
Terminator 2: Judgment day
Tortilla Soup
Transformers
Twilight
The Twilight Saga: New Moon
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part I
Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part II
The Wall
Wonder

Movies for $2.99 include:
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Bombshell
Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who
The Good Liar
Ip Man 4
Knives Out
The Last Full Measure
Like a Boss
Midway (2019)
The Peanut Butter Falcon
Pitch Perfect 3
Playing with Fire
Rio
Rio 2
Terminator: Dark Fate

Movies for $3.99 include:
Ford v Ferrari
Jojo Rabbit
Bong Joon Ho Collection (3-film collection includes “Mother,” “The Host” and “Barking Dogs Never Bite”)

Collections for $6.99 include:
Influential Women: a 6-film collection (“RBG,” “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am,” “Iris,” “Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins”, “Kusama: Infinity” and “Venus and Serena”)

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VOD and Streaming

Scoob!

Posted on May 15, 2020 at 3:15 am

B-
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for some action, language and rude/suggestive humor
Profanity: Some schoolyard language, brief strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Cartoon-style peril and action, some scary monsters, no one hurt
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters and issues of diversity
Date Released to Theaters: May 15, 2020

Copyright Warner Brothers 2020
Oh, jinkies, here they are again. You might think that the Scooby-Doo clan has exhausted every possible storyline for the members of Mystery, Inc. or, to put it another way, you might think that they have exhausted every possible variable on the theme of figuring out that what looks like some sort of paranormal phenomenon turns out to be some ordinary (but evil) person who would have gotten away with it except for those meddling kids.

If so, you’re pretty much right. But the gang’s first feature-length animated film sticks to the formula but winks at it a little bit, too. And those who have wondered how the gang first got together will get a chance to see them as kids on the fateful Halloween night when they met and solved their first mystery. You’ll even get to find out Shaggy’s real name.

We first see a lonely young Shaggy, maybe about 10 or 11 years old, walking to the beach and listening to songs about loneliness and a podcast from Ira Glass (as himself) about the importance of friends. The best Shaggy can manage is to start a conversation with two mounds of sand on the beach.

Hiding in one of the mounds with some gyro meat he stole is a puppy who can talk. Soon they are sharing an exotic sandwich that includes gummy bears and tater tots, Shaggy has named him after a packet of Scooby snacks, and they are the best of friends. They go trick or treating together as Shaggy’s favorite superhero, Blue Falcon and his sidekick Dyno-Mutt. When bullies steal his candy and throw it into the local spooky house, three kids come to the rescue: Fred (dressed as a knight), Daphne (Wonder Woman), and brainy Velma as Supreme Court (Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg). The kids retrieve the candy and solve the mystery of the creepy house. “We’ll go into the haunted house this one time, but we’re not going to make a habit of it,” Shaggy inaccurately predicts. In just a few moment, they’ve solved the mystery and unmasked the culprit, who says, come on, say it with me, “I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids.” Cue the theme song.

And cut to present day, when the Mystery Inc. crew (Zac Efron as Fred, Will Forte as Shaggy, Amanda Seyfried as Daphne, and Gina Rodriguez as Velma) is seeking some investment funds to fix up the van and expand their operations. Simon Cowell (as himself) says he can see the value of Fred (muscle), Daphne (people person), and Velma (brains), but like many observers, he notes that Shaggy and Scooby don’t do much but eat sandwiches and get scared. And so, Shaggy and Scooby go off on their own adventure, which includes a new partnership with Blue Falcon (Mark Wahlberg), Dyno-Mutt (a delightfully dry Ken Jeong), and his pilot (the charming Kiersey Clemons of “Hearts Beat Loud” and the live action “Lady and the Tramp”). But this is the son of Blue Falcon, not quite the man his father was. Then there’s Dick Dastedly (Jason Isaacs, Lucious Malfoy in the Harry Potter films), who has all of the essentials for a supervillain, cool technology, an evil guy mustache, and a British accent. He’s after Shaggy and Scooby. Can the rest of the Mystery Inc. crew save them in time?

The CGI animation style is a departure from the traditional Scooby-Do Saturday morning aesthetic. But it is colorful, just the right mix of adventure and comedy, it benefits from top-notch voice talent (Tracy Morgan is a very funny caveman) and it is even witty at times, with some meta-commentary along with the usual silly wisecracks. A character describes Shaggy’s use of “like” all the time as “some middle-aged man’s idea pf how a teenage hippie talks.” There are the classic elements the fans will want like an abandoned amusement park and some un-masking, but also some new ideas, like the struggles of Blue Falcon 2.0 to be the hero his dad was. It is traditional enough to please the fans but contemporary enough to address (I’m not kidding) toxic masculinity and of course some nice reminders about the importance of friendship. And of the fun of movies for the whole family.

Parents should know that this film includes extended action-style peril and violence with some scary monsters. Characters use schoolyard language and make some threats and the movie has some potty and body part humor.

Family discussion: Why did Scooby leave when Shaggy asked him to stay? What kind of hero blames other people for his problems? Was there a time when you were scared or made a mistake but then learned to be braver or do better?

If you like this, try: The many, many other Scooby-Doo stories, especially “Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island” and “Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School”

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Animation Fantasy Movies Movies Mystery Series/Sequel Talking animals VOD and Streaming

Scoob Watch Party!

Posted on May 11, 2020 at 8:15 pm

Copyright Warner Brothers 2020
“Scoob” is coming to your home this week and Warner Brothers wants to make it a party.

On Friday, May 15 everyone is invited to the Twitter #ScoobMovieNight premiere event, hosted by the big dog himself, to celebrate the release of the brand new, fully animated, full-length action adventure feature “SCOOB!” on Premium Video on Demand or Premium Digital Ownership. Starting at 7p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, this Twitter special event preshow for all audiences features fun Scoob moments with stars from the movie, including Will Forte, Gina Rodriguez, Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried, Kiersey Clemons, Ken Jeong, Tracy Morgan, Frank Welker, Iain Armitage, Arianna Greenblatt, Mckenna Grace and Pierce Gagnon, and director Tony Cervone. Lennon Stella will exclusively premiere an acoustic version of lead single “Summer Feelings” featuring Charlie Puth, while Thomas Rhett, Kane Brown and Ava Max will be on hand to showcase their newly released single “On Me,” both from “SCOOB! The Album,” the movie’s official musical companion arriving this Friday and available to pre-save now here. Check out TikTok dance videos from the hugely popular #ScoobDance challenge that has over 3 billion views; plus Scoob trivia questions, interviews and, yes, in honor of the beloved Great Dane with the great big heart…dogs, dogs and more adorable dogs; along with a new Scoob-themed PSA from Best Friends Animal Society (bestfriends.org) about helping homeless dogs and cats find their own best friends, just like Scooby and Shaggy did.

Following the preshow, fans across the U.S. and Canada who then want to watch the movie can rent or buy “SCOOB!” and share Tweets about their favorite moments using #ScoobMovieNight. “SCOOB!” will be available for a 48-hour rental via Premium Video On Demand for $19.99, or premium digital ownership for $24.99, beginning on Friday, May 15.

Enjoy the movie even more with a fun family activity pack.

“SCOOB!” reveals the never-before-told story of Scooby’s origins. It shows how one of history’s most famous friendships began when an adorable, homeless puppy met a lonesome young boy named Shaggy, and how the two of them joined forces with aspiring young detectives Fred, Velma and Daphne to become the celebrated Mystery Inc. Now, with hundreds of cases solved and adventures shared, Scooby and the gang face the biggest and most challenging mystery of their careers: a plot that will unleash the legendary ghost dog Cerberus upon the world. As they race to stop this “dogpocalypse,” they discover that Scooby has a secret legacy and an epic destiny greater than anyone imagined.

“SCOOB!” features an all-star ensemble cast led by Will Forte, two-time Oscar nominee Mark Wahlberg, Jason Isaacs, Gina Rodriguez, Zac Efron, Amanda Seyfried, Kiersey Clemons, Ken Jeong, Tracy Morgan, Simon Cowell, and Frank Welker.

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VOD and Streaming

Newsies the Musical on Disney Plus!

Posted on April 17, 2020 at 8:00 am

First it was a movie with a young Christian Bale that never found an audience. Then it became something of a hit on video. Then it was a Broadway  musical. And now that musical is available on Disney Plus.

And of course you can watch the original, too.

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Epic/Historical Inspired by a true story Musical VOD and Streaming
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