Penelope (2006, Directed by Mark Palansky) English 6

Starring Christina Ricci, James McAvoy, Nick Frost, Catherine O’Hara, Richard E. Grant, Peter Dinklage, Simon Woods, Reese Witherspoon, Burn Gorman, Russell Brand

Penelope - Movies on Google Play

(6-Good Film)

Agreeable. Light. Undercooked.

Penelope: They always run. Why can’t you accept that? For seven years I’ve been watching them run. Do you have any idea how that makes me feel?

Fairy Tales are an ancient form of storytelling at this point and the idea of a romantic lead being cursed with animal features along with it. Disney reimagined and popularized fairy tales as wish-fulfillment, and now most modern fairy tales, including Penelope, owe more to Disney than they do to the Brothers Grimm or to Beaumont or to whomever else. Penelope is wish-fulfillment. A smart, wonderful girl, the titular Penelope (Ricci), wonders if any man could truly love her as she is, with a nose cursed to resemble a pig’s. The Beast in Disney’s classic not only looked like a beast but acted like one too, and he, of course, found love. I find it amusing that Penelope is virtually flawless aside from her nose and it’s a serious question as to whether or not she’ll find someone. Alas, this is a fantasy. The characters are broad, the reactions extreme. I like Penelope a good deal as entertainment, but find it wanting as a fairy tale. There’s not much depth to the story, whereas the great ones speak volumes.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(950)

Onward (2020, Directed by Dan Scanlon) English 6

Voices of Tom Holland, Chris Pratt, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Octavia Spencer, Ali Wong, John Ratzenberger, Tracey Ullman, Wilmer Valderrama

Pixar's 'Onward' on Disney Plus: The perfect family film to stream ...

(6-Good Film)

Reliable. Promising. Disappointing.

Wilden Lightfoot: Long ago, the world was full of wonder. It was adventurous. It was exciting. And most of all, there was magic.

In an alternate universe closely resembling our own, mythical creatures like elves, pixies, and dwarves have let magic go from the world and are instead reliant on technology and modern invention to get them through their lives. Brothers, Ian and Barley Lightfoot (voiced by Holland and Pratt), live in a suburban corner of this world. They have very relatable problems. Barley’s out of high school and seems reluctant to leave the nest, still living with his mother. Ian lacks confidence. When they discover a magical object that could have the power to bring their deceased father back (for one day), they set out on a quest to find a rare gem needed to complete the process. Onward is solid, sure-footed filmmaking with an ending that strikes the right note. It’s more than anything a film about two brothers bonding, and succeeds in that respect, but I don’t love this film. Full marks for an original premise but the animation giant that is Pixar usually shoots for the moon and Onward doesn’t. It’s more than happy to follow the well-trodden path of family pictures that have come before it.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(928)

Robin Hood (1973, Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman) English 6

Voices of Brian Bedford, Peter Ustinov, Monica Evans, Phil Harris, Roger Miller, Andy Devine, Terry-Thomas, Pat Buttram, Carole Shelley, John Fiedler

Robin Hood Disney Live-Action From Blindspotting Director

(6-Good Film)

Charming. Nostalgic. Insubstantial.

Marian: Oh, Robin, you’re so brave and impetuous.

Disney’s version of Robin Hood may boast the greatest collection of voices ever assembled for one film. Forget that it mixes English and American accents and just appreciate the great distinctive voice acting from Pat Buttram as the Sheriff of Nottingham to Terry-Thomas as Sir Hiss, all the way down to John Fiedler as a church mouse. Top marks, however, go to Peter Ustinov who voices Prince John and makes him one of the funniest characters Disney has ever produced. The rest of the film is mostly unspectacular. The folk-music is a nice touch, memorable and sweet, and the character design is A-1, but the backgrounds are lusterless; undefined. The story is serviceable but prone to bouts of extended action sequences that are pretty dull.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(927)

Holes (2003, Directed by Andrew Davis) English 7

Starring Shia LaBeouf, Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voigt, Tim Blake Nelson, Khleo Thomas, Patricia Arquette, Henry Winkler, Dulé Hill, Eartha Kitt, Roma Maffia, Rick Fox, Siobhan Fallon Hogan

Holes is a Cinematic Masterpiece – The Blue & Gold

(7-Very Good Film)

Idiosyncratic. Faithful. Rich.

Madame Zeroni: If you forget to come back for Madame Zeroni, you and your family will be cursed for always and eternity!

Stanley Yelnats IV (LaBeouf) has been cursed since the day he was born. His whole family bears the curse, or at least the men, ever since Elya Yelnats failed to fulfill his end of a bargain with Madame Zeroni (Kitt) back in the old country. Now the youngest Stanley is headed to Camp Green Lake, an ironic name for a hellish juvenile delinquent program, where he’ll have to dig a hole (5 feet by 5 feet) every day for the next 18 months, and did I mention he didn’t even commit the crime that he’s sentenced for? Holes is a faithful adaptation of a classic novel I read as a child. I was enchanted with its sense of mystery, foreshadowing, adventure, dark humor and thrills. It’s certainly a favorite of mine and the movie absolutely does it justice. Shia LaBeouf is a very natural performer and he’s surrounded by a tremendous cast of veteran actors.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(925)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988, Directed by Robert Zemeckis) English 9

Starring Bob Hoskins, Christopher Lloyd, Joanna Cassidy, Stubby Kaye, Alan Tilvern Voices of Charles Fleischer, Kathleen Turner

10 Things You Didn't Know About Who Framed Roger Rabbit – Laser Time

(9-Great Film)

Inventive. Seamless. Entertaining.

Lt. Santino: Just like a toon to drop a safe on a guy’s head.

Nobody loves private detective fiction more than me but if you told me the idea for Who Framed Roger Rabbit before it was made, I would have called you crazy. Merging the private eye thriller with golden age style animation into a Disney family film is crazy but Who Framed Roger Rabbit proves to be terrific entertainment and a technical marvel. The cartoons and live-action stars interact seamlessly throughout this comically dark mystery as slumping gumshoe, Eddie Valiant (Hoskins), reluctantly agrees to help cartoon star, Roger Rabbit. Roger’s been framed for the murder of his boss, Marvin Acme (Kaye), with Roger being the most obvious suspect since Marvin was spending so much time with his wife, Jessica Rabbit (voiced by Turner), but the case goes much deeper than infidelity as Eddie finds out the more he investigates. Super clever entertainment with a host of double-entendres and sly references.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(921)

Rookie of the Year (1993, Directed by Daniel Stern) English 5

Starring Thomas Ian Nicholas, Gary Busey, Daniel Stern, Amy Morton, Bruce Altman, Eddie Bracken, Dan Hedaya, W. Earl Brown, Colombe Jacobsen, Albert Hall, Robert Hy Gorman, John Candy

Rookie of the Year - Movies - Special Screenings - The Austin ...

(5-Okay Film)

Nice. Winning. Wish-fulfillment.

Chet Steadman: Henry, don’t take this serious. But its nothing to joke about. But one day, your gift will be gone.

Imagine being a 12-year-old pitching in the MLB. Most kids probably do imagine some version of that, whether it be baseball or football or any other sport. That’s why Rookie of the Year works as a solid kids’ film. It’s classic wish-fulfillment. Henry (Ian Nicholas) is a normal kid with little athletic ability, or perhaps just little confidence, until a freak accident blesses him with an arm capable of pitching over 100 mph. The struggling Chicago Cubs, his hometown team, in need of an attendance boost, sign him to their roster, but Henry quickly proves to be more than just a gimmick as he leads the Cubs into the playoffs. Gary Busey, at this point in his career, was playing a lot of psychos and weirdos, but he’s surprisingly appealing as the kind mentor figure here. This is a very likable film with a few juvenile moments but it proves to be a winning family flick.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(920)

Muppet Treasure Island (1996, Directed by Brian Henson) English 6

Starring Tim Curry, Jennifer Saunders, Billy Connolly, Frank Oz, Steve Whitmire, Kevin Bishop

Muppet Treasure Island (1996) - Titlovi.com

(6-Good Film)

Irreverant. Vibrant. Enjoyable.

Rizzo: He died? And this is supposed to be a kids’ movie

Legendary creator, Jim Henson, had already been dead for several years but The Muppets were in good hands with his son Brian Henson. Muppet Treasure Island is a fun romp and musical mixed in with Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel. A young boy, Jim Hawkins (Bishop), sets sail on an adventure to find a long lost treasure with the help of his newly acquired map. The problem is, when there’s treasure involved, it’s hard to know whom you can trust. Along for the voyage are Long John Silver (Curry) and the crew he recommended. Kermit the Frog plays the ship’s captain. It’s all a lot of fun. If you love the characters of both the Muppets and Treasure Island as I do, then Muppet Treasure Island is a slam dunk. Not to be outdone, Tim Curry never holds back no matter how ridiculous the material.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(914)