Friday, March 9, 2018

Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection (2015)

Number Rolled: 18
Movie Name/Year: Walt Disney Animation Studios Short Films Collection (2015)
Tagline: None
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
Length: 89 minutes
Rating: TV-G
Production Companies: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Producer: Steven Keller, Baker Bloodworth, Roy Edward Disney, Jean-Luc Florinda, Don Hahn, Tamara Boutcher, John Lasseter, Chuck Williams, Kathy Bond, Dorothy McKim, Makul Wigert, Jennifer Magee-Cook, Aimee Scribner, Kristina Reed, Michele Mazzano, Roy Conli, Peter Del Vecho
Director: Mark Henn, Mike Gabriel, Roger Allers, Kevin Deters, Stevie Wermers, Dean Wellins, Nathan Greno, Byron Howard, John Kahrs, Lauren MacMullan, Patrick Osborne, Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Writer: Shirley Pierce, Broose Johnson, Tim Hodge, Mike Gabriel, Joe Grant, Hans Christian Andersen, Roger Allers, Ed Gombert, Kevin Harkey, Mark Walton, Ralph Zondag, Kevin Deters, Wilbert Plijnaar, Stevie Wermers, Dan Abraham, Josie Trinidad, Burny Mattinson, Dean Wellins, Regina Conroy, Nathan Greno, Byron Howard, Mark Kennedy, Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson, Clio Chiang, Kendelle Hoyer, Lauren MacMullan, Paul Briggs, Nancy Kruse, Raymond S. Persi, Nicole Mitchell, Patrick Osborne, Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Marc Smith
Actors: Alfre Woodard, Geoffrey Jones, Carrie Harrington, Corey Burton, Bill Farmer, Dean Wellins, Betty White, Dave Foley, Derek Richardson, Sarah Chalke, William Morgan Sheppard, Billy Connolly, Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Alan Dale, Paul F. Tompkins, John Kahrs, Kari Wahlgren, Jack Goldenberg, Jeff Turley, Walt Disney, Marcellite Garner, Russi Taylor, Billy Bletcher, Will Ryan, Raymond S. Persi, Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Chris Williams, Paul Briggs

Blurb from Netflix: This collection of 12 short films from Disney includes “Frozen Fever,” the Mickey Mouse short “Get a Horse!” and Oscar winners “Paperman” and “Feast.”

Selina’s Point of View:
I grew up with Disney and I can only think of a handful of their many, many films that I don’t like.

None of those films are part of this collection.

Each short film in this collection had a life and message of its own, and they were all great. John Henry delved into his legend and the truths of those times – without getting too dark (which is very difficult considering it was during slavery). The Ballad of Nessie went into the story of the creation of the Loch Ness and had a nice message for kids. Feast featured an adorable French Bulldog being adopted by a guy and then helping him out when he gets depressed. Paperman made me wish magic was real and Tick Tock Tale showed that the littlest and most different of us could make a huge difference.

Sure, you had the more well-known stories that expanded on the characters from Tangled (2010) and Frozen (2013), but even those were fun to watch – even if they were not entirely unique.

There were also a couple of shorts that really paid homage to classic Disney: How to Hook Up Your Home Theater and Get a Horse!. The latter even featured the archived voice of Walt Disney himself.

The worst of the them was probably Prep & Landing Stocking Stuffer: Operation: Secret Santa and, quite frankly, I’d sit through a full-length version of it, happily.

I loved all the films I got to see, my one issue is that a G rating simply doesn’t feel accurate to me. Sure, for shorts like Feast and Tangled Ever After, a G rating was absolutely fine. Lorenzo, however, was pretty dark for a generalized audience. It could easily scare younger children, because the darkness is understandable enough for even a five-year-old. The Little Match Girl also got dark, but a young child wouldn’t really get the darkness in the end. It was more geared toward adults and teens in that way… so it just looks like a story about imagination to a young child.

I may very well sit through this entire collection again, just for the hell of it.

I might skip The Little Match Girl, though. Not because it was bad, it wasn’t. Just because it absolutely broke me – even with my knowing where it was going.

Cat’s Point of View:
This was a really phenomenal endcap for my week. One thing’s for sure – this collection of short films offers insight and entertainment for the whole family. Most are hilarious and heartwarming, but there’s also a pinch of heartbreak.

I’m having a hard time picking which short I liked the most.

There’s a little something for everyone represented here, and I really enjoyed how the range of shorts that encompass this collection highlighted different styles of animation and storytelling. Sure, there are some of your standard pieces such as Frozen Fever and Tangled Ever After that fit in with an established Disney franchise; but the majority of these shorts stood alone.

There’s also a little introduction to each short film by its production team. I loved how they gave a peek behind the scenes of the making of each and both inspiration and process of bringing their ideas to life.

There are some classic Disney characters involved, too. Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy romp through a couple of shorts that throwback to yesteryear while embracing today.

A couple are a bit on the dark side, but none of them are so weighty that they’ll drag you down. The overall feeling taken away from the collection is an uplifting one.

This might be something ideal to watch during the Holiday Season when kids are out of school due to the particularly Christmas themed one featuring North Pole elves, but otherwise the collection doesn’t pin itself in any particular seasonal niche.

While I was looking up information on the individual shorts, I found the page at for this film collection. There’s a section on the page with fun activities that feature some of the shorts. Some seem to be designed to work interactively with the films, such as a Frozen Fever scavenger hunt.

I would certainly recommend this collection to animation fans of any age, and I’ll probably be watching this again soon!

Speech Available: English, Spanish
Subtitles Available: English, Spanish

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 7.7/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating5/5

Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: PG

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Tallulah (2016)

Number Rolled: 45
Movie Name/Year: Tallulah (2016)
Tagline: Life can be a real mother.
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Length: 111 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production Companies: Maiden Voyage, Ocean Blue Entertainment, Route One Entertainment
Producer: Mark Burton, Paull Cho, Chris Columbus, Eleanor Columbus, Ged Dickersin, Sophia Dilley, Ken H. Keller, Russell Levine, Christopher Lytton, David Newsom, Elliot Page, Heather Rae, Caron Rudner, Michael Tennant, Todd Traina, Charlotte Ubben
Director: Sian Heder
Writer: Sian Heder
Actors: Elliot Page, Allison Janney, Tammy Blanchard, Evan Jonigkeit, Felix Solis, David Zayas, Uzo Aduba, Fredric Lehne, Evangeline Ellis, Liliana Ellis, John Benjamin Hickey, Zachary Quinto, Maddie Corman, Eden Marryshow
Stunt Doubles: Jen Egan, Dina L. Margolin

Blurb from Netflix: While searching for her ex-boyfriend, a young drifter impulsively kidnaps a baby from a neglectful mother and pretends the child is her own.

Selina’s Point of View:
Dramas like this are very hit or miss with me.

With the wrong pacing or bad acting, this kind of drama puts me right to sleep. In the first five minutes of Tallulah, I thought that was the kind of film I was in for. Luckily, I was wrong.

I guess I should have known better. The writer/director, Sian Heder (Dog Eat Dog, Men of a Certain Age, Mother), is great. She’s responsible for writing several episodes of Orange in the New Black (2013-). If you haven’t seen that Netflix original, I urge you to give it a shot. I still haven’t seen the new season, but I loved the rest of it.

I digress.

Tallulah is very badly described in the blurbs on Netflix and IMDb. I can’t blame Netflix for theirs, though. The story is just way too in depth to be broken down to a single sentence. IMDb, however, makes it seem like the mother of the kidnapped child is the main character. She’s not.

This film wound up being heartwarming and interesting. It wasn’t just about a kidnapped kid, it was about people from different walks of life interacting. It was a look at the way circumstances change a person’s perspective.

I liked it, but it’s not likely a film I’d watch again. Mostly because it takes a lot for me to want to sit down and watch a drama. However, it was still really good. Worth a sit-through if it’s the kind of thing you’re into.

Cat’s Point of View:
Monday’s movie, Mercy (2016), must have been a fluke. I say that because Tallulah is everything the other film wasn’t and is a far better representation of the quality movie I’ve come to expect from a Netflix Original.

Talk about a rollercoaster of feels, though. This movie gave me all of them. I laughed, cried, gasped in maternal concern, got angry, deflated in relief, and so much more.

I can’t even imagine the soul-wrenching experience of my child going missing. OK, scratch that. I don’t WANT to imagine it. It’s one of my deep seeded fears, and I know I’m not alone with it. My daughter used to give me minor heart attacks while inflicting karma upon me by hiding in the center of clothing racks in stores. (I did the same to my mom. Kids and the things they think are ‘fun,’ right?) That moment where your heart stops because they’re not where you thought they were, I swear, takes a few years off your life.

This movie captured that emotional response in spades.

Allison Janney (Get on Up, The DUFF, The Girl on the Train) and Elliot Page (Inception, Into the Forest, Flatliners) made magic here. This isn’t the first time they’ve worked together, and I imagine that added some extra depth to their performances here. I’m actually interested in going back and seeing some of their former joint projects that I might have missed.

I loved that this film wove the light-hearted and imaginative moments into the fabric of the tale rather than being heavy-handed with the gut-punch feelings. The movie has great wit as it plays with light and shade.

This is definitely a quality movie I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend; and I may just give it another watch at some point.

Speech Available: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Subtitles Available: English, French, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 84%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 69%
Metascore - 63/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.5/10
IMDB Score – 6.7/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating3.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, March 5, 2018

Mercy (2016)

Number Rolled: 97
Movie Name/Year: Mercy (2016)
Tagline: None
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Length: 87 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production Companies: Uncorked Productions, XYZ Films
Producer: Robyn K. Bennett, Ian Bricke, Andrew Corkin, Kyle Franke, Matt Levin, Missy Moyer, Chloe Olman, Nick Spicer
Director: Chris Sparling
Writer: Chris Sparling
Actors: James Wolk, Caitlin FitzGerald, Tom Lipinski, Dan Ziskie, Michael Godere, Mike Donovan, Constance Barron, Hilary R. Walker
Stunts: Jordan Rosas, A.J. Verel, Brandyn T. Williams

Blurb from Netflix: Two brothers clash with their half-siblings when a visit home to see their dying mother surfaces and becomes a fight for survival.

Selina’s Point of View:
I expect more from Netflix.

Seriously, they’ve built a hell of a name for themselves. With movies and shows that go above and beyond anything we’ve gotten to see in theaters in a long time, Netflix has trained me to expect nothing but gold when I see their name attached to something original. That means I get even more upset when something by them has to be put in the fail category.

In this case, there were significant issues that cause me to look back on it with dislike.

I’m going to ignore the fact that it’s a recipe film, because I could have looked passed that if the rest of the issues weren’t a factor.

There were pacing issues in the start. I’d say about one-third of the film was so slow that I was actively falling asleep. It took real effort to stay awake. The ending was interested, it was a twist I don’t recall seeing before, but it was delivered so poorly that I actually wonder if the issue with it was the editing. I think there might be scenes on the cutting room floor that should have been left in.

The entire core plot of the movie never really gets any closure, either… and that’s a problem. It’s not just an open ending that you can discuss. That would have been fine. Instead, it has so many unanswered questions that the entire film feels utterly pointless.

Even at it’s acceptable length, it’s not worth it. If you want something like it, watch You’re Next (2011) instead.

Cat’s Point of View:
What did I just watch?!

Really, if anyone has a clue – give it to me, because I’m so confused. I felt like I was taking a test I didn’t study for. If you like movies that drop you into the middle of something going on, but never really explains, then this might be right up your alley.

I can tell you that it certainly isn’t mine.

There was such potential here to fill out the layers that the film kept trying to create. The problem was that the whole thing felt like an incomplete thought. Sure, some things gave a lightbulb moment or so – but I still don’t have any inkling WHY things went down the way they did.

This might just drive me nuts for a bit.

I’m afraid that even explaining what is the most maddening to me would give away spoilers for what little there is of a plot.

I don’t think I have anything negative to note about the acting, even if I don’t really understand all of the characters’ motivations fully. I did appreciate when things switched gears to give a little bit of a different perspective to events. Unfortunately, it didn’t shine enough light on what was going on aside from the fact that it was a tragic clusterfuck that may or may not have been karmic comeuppance.

Don’t even get me started on the ending. I can’t remember the last time I was so unfulfilled and discontented after watching a Netflix Original – I think this is the first one, really. I certainly hope it’s the last that leaves me this sour.

Speech Available: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish
Subtitles Available: English, French, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 9%
Metascore - None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 4.1/10

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating1.5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating2/5

Movie Trailer: