Schmigadoon!

Posted on July 15, 2021 at 4:06 pm

A-
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
Profanity: Strong language and explicit references to anatomy
Alcohol/ Drugs: Alcohol
Violence/ Scariness: Mild comic peril, gun
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: July 16, 2021

Copyright AppleTV+ 2021
“Schmigadoon!” is a loving parody and an even more loving tribute to classic Broadway and Hollywood musicals, from “Oklahoma” to “The Music Man,” “The Sound of Music,” and the musical that inspired this title, “Brigadoon.” Each of the six episodes of around 30 minutes has Broadway-level singing and dancing, with tuneful, clever songs performed by some of the biggest stars from the Great White Way. The more you love musicals, the more you will love “Schmigadoon!”

Cecily Strong (“Saturday Night Live”) and Keegan-Michael Key (“Key and Peele,” “Keanu,” “Prom”) play surgeons who meet by a hospital candy machine and fall for each other. A few years later, their relationship is under some strain when they go on a couples hiking retreat. Lost in the rain, they happen on a cheerful 19th-century town where the citizens burst into song and elaborately choreographed dance numbers. They’re told by a magical leprechaun (Martin Short) that they cannot leave until they find true love.

The people they meet include Mayor Menlove (Alan Cummings), whose name could be a clue to his clear discomfort in a heteronormative community. Further discomfort could be the result of his dominating, judgmental wife Mildred (Kristin Chenoweth). (Compare them to Mayor Shinn and his wife Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn in “The Music Man.”) There’s the rapscallion carny Danny Bailey (Aaron Tveit). (Think Billy in “Carousel.”) and the teacher in the one-room schoolhouse, who lives with her lisping little brother (similar to Marion and Winthrop Paroo in “The Music Man”). Later on, they meet a beautiful blonde countess (Jane Krakowski) (compare to the Baroness in “The Sound of Music”) and a handsome, widowed doctor (Jaime Camil, a bit of Captain von Trapp). And there’s a pappy with a shotgun that he uses to protect his nubile young (how young?) daughters, including Dove Cameron as Betsy (maybe Daisy Mae in “Li’l Abner”).

Writers Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul are clearly the nerdiest of theater kids at heart and every bit of the series is imaginative, tuneful, thoughtful and detailed. Look behind the schoolteacher at the schedule of parent-teacher conferences on the blackboard. All the names are famous musical-creators. Some of the musical numbers are in direct conversation with classics, like Mildred’s solo, a witty riff on “Music Man’s” “Trouble.” Others are romantic or just pure fun.

Whether you are a theater nerd who can trace the history of the first act “I Want” song from “Show Boat” to “The Little Mermaid” or are just looking for a clever, warm-hearted, romantic adventure filled with supremely talented people giving their all, “Schmigadoon!” is one of 2021’s most delicious delights.

Parents should know that this movie has sexual references including out-of-wedlock pregancy and explicit language about reproduction and body parts, as well as relationship stress, strong language, and some alcohol.

Family discussion: What’s your favorite musical and why? What did Josh and Melissa learn about love?

If you like this, try: the musicals that inspired it as well as others like “My Fair Lady,” “Once Upon a Mattress,” “Bells are Ringing,” “West Side Story,” and “The Pajama Game”

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Trailer: Strange Magic, A New Animated Film from George Lucas

Posted on December 8, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Coming next month — a long-term passion project from George Lucas, “Strange Magic” features the voices of Kristin Chenoweth, Evan Rachel Wood, Alan Cummings, Maya Rudolph, Alfred Molina, and Elijah Kelley.

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Rio 2

Posted on April 10, 2014 at 6:00 pm

B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating: G
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Peril and cartoon-style violence, bad guy swallowed by snake, discussion of risks to the environment and species
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: April 11, 2014
Date Released to DVD: July 14, 2014
Amazon.com ASIN: B00I6JEPF8

rio2Just because a South American frog has toxic venom that can cause instant death does not mean she cannot be adorably lovesick.  Broadway belter Kristin Chenoweth (“Wicked,” “Glee”) steals the show right under the Brazil nut-cracking beaks of our old friends the macaws Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) and Jewel (Anne Hathaway) as Gabi, a tiny little tree frog whose sweet nature is challenged by (1) the fact that she is poisonous and (2) the subject of her utter but perhaps misplaced devotion is the cockatoo villain of the original “Rio,” Nigel (Jermaine Clement).  Although at times over-plotted and slow to get going, this sequel is bright and entertaining, with musical numbers that rock the rainforest.

rio2 gabi

Blu, Jewel, and their three macaw chicks are living happily in the bird sanctuary set up for them by their human friends Linda (Leslie Mann) and Tulio (Rodrigo Santoro). Blu, raised in Linda’s home, enjoys making pancakes for breakfast but Jewel, raised in the wild, wants to show their children the beauty of the world she came from. Think “Green Acres,” with Blu as Eva Gabor.  When Tulio and Linda find evidence that there are macaws living in the rainforest, Jewel persuades Blu that they should go for a visit. Blu loads up his fanny pack with bug spray, water purifier, bandaids and GPS and they go off to the Amazon, taking along some of their feathered friends.

This time, the problem is not smugglers but three separate threats that are far more dire. Illegal loggers are destroying the rainforest. Nigel, with Gabi’s help, wants revenge following his injuries in the climax of the last film, which left him unable to fly and working as a Shakespearean actor. But he is determined to get revenge and Gabi will do anything to help him.. And when Jewel finds that the newly discovered macaws are her father (Andy Garcia) and the community she thought had been destroyed, she wants to turn the brief visit into a permanent stay. Blu misses the comforts of home and feels a lot of competition from Jewel’s old friend Roberto (Bruno Mars), who has all of the confidence and ease at fitting in that Blu envies.  There’s also a turf war between the red and blue macaws as the food sources shrink.

It takes a while to get going and once it does too much seems to happen at once.  But it is bright and colorful and sweet and funny.  And that little frog is a hoot and a half.

Parents should know that this film has some potty humor, comic, cartoon-style violence and mild peril, a bad guy swallowed by a snake, a spider, a poisonous frog, a skeleton, and environmental issues.

Family discussion: What can we do to protect the plants and animals of the rainforest? What does Gabi like about Nigel?  Why do Blu and Jewel each think the other is “weird” about humans?  Why is Eduardo tough on Blu?

If you like this, try: “Rio” and “Despicable Me”

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