Kristen Bell

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Movie Review: Frozen.

Published December 11, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring the voices of:  Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk.

Rated: PG.  Animated.  Running Time: 1 hour 48 minutes.

If you follow MRSRAG at all, you know that we see a lot of kids movies with my son Ethan.  You also know that Maria longs for the musical animated classics of her childhood: The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King.  Well, her wish has come true with the amazing Frozen.  During the very first scene when we meet the two young princesses Anna and Elsa, discovering that one has the gift of creating frozen wonders with just the touch of her hands; I was rolling my eyes when they broke into song.  I’m not the fan of the musical genre that Maria is (I found the recent remake of Les Miserables unwatchable), but quickly Frozen won me over in a huge way.  In predictable Disney fashion, they killed off the parents, The King and Queen tout de suite, orphaning our two heroines.  That is the last predictable thing about Frozen, the writers expertly use our preconceived notions “against” us, and we’re left with a delightfully witty, funny, twisty tale that is sure to become another Disney classic.

I loved it.  I’m not a huge fan of musicals either, but Disney musical?  Oh yes, thank you.  I have been missing all the wonderfully written little ditties that used to be the signature addition to any ’90’s Disney feature.  I am so happy that they waited until they had a tale worthy of featuring some musical accompaniment.  The songs were funny, poignant and impressively belted.  The story of these two sisters who are so much the same and yet very different has an effortless charm.  It beautifully depicts the depth of love, hostility and confusion that make up sisterhood.  You can believe that assessment coming from the youngest of six children, three of them being girls.  Frozen follows these two young royals as they venture on the path of finding out who they truly are as individuals and they end up finding out a lot about each other as well.  Of course, Disney includes a sweet love story, a couple of bad guys and a few surprises along the way.  My favorite thing about Frozen is that it follows along a similar path as Brave.  It portrays its female characters as two strong and independent women.  We are no longer being poured into the mold of damsel in distress.  And it focuses on the bond of sisterhood and the importance of family, something that I personally believe will benefit the children who are lucky enough to view it.  Even if the themes are over their head at this point, they may find a lasting appreciation for the movie and rediscover it again in later years.  It was as close to a classic as anything I’ve seen in years.

Earlier this year we reviewed Despicable Me 2 (which will be released soon on DVD), and I felt that movie was a leading candidate for animated film of the year.  I still feel that way and would recommend you rent or buy it this Xmas season, but Frozen is now easily my new frontrunner.  While the cast list of many of Pixar and Disney’s animated offerings are loaded with A-List movie stars, a quick peruse of the Frozen crew yields nary a one.  No need to fret, every voice was perfectly cast, with my personal favorite (and I’m guessing most who see it) being the plucky, hilarious, heroic snowman Olaf (Gad).  Sure to join the likes of Zazu, Apu, Tow Mater, Donkey, The Genie, King Julian, et al, as a beloved sidekick for the ages.  He sings a solo about his eagerness to see summer that will leave you in stitches.  Far from a one man show, Anna (Bell), Elsa (Menzel), and Kristoff (Groff) carry us along on this non-stop, action packed, laugh-fest with heart and soul.  The songs don’t get in the way, they blend seamlessly with the story.  Animated movies just don’t get better than Frozen, young, old, girl or boy, you will all love it.  In my opinion, a lock for the Oscar.  

I agree with everything that my writing sidekick has said.  Olaf was hysterical.  I haven’t laughed this hard at one of the kid’s movies in ages.  I don’t want to ruin anything for our readers, but a line from one of the songs has stuck with me throughout the weekend.  “I’m not sure if I’m gassy or just elated.”  What a clever touch it was to have one of the girls sing out this gem.  Another great lesson for children: chicks fart.  The animation was not to be ignored either.  Technology has come a long way since “Steamboat Willy”.  Frozen embodied all the best things about children’s film: great moral value, emotionally evoking storyline and incredible fun.  This movie is a must-see, especially for the family.  It has certainly kicked off our holiday cheer this season.  Happy holidays…and do yourself a favor – go see Frozen and melt away any holiday blues.

Ross’ Rating: 5 Gummy Bears out of 5.

Maria’s Rating: 5 Gummies.


Fairly Recent DVD Release: Movie 43

Published September 5, 2013 by mrsrag

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear, Common, Charlie Saxton, Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Live Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Anna Faris, Chris Pratt, J.B. Smoove, Emma Stone, Kieran Culkin, Richard Gere, Kate Bosworth, Jack McBryer, Aasif Mandvi, Justin Long, Jason Sudeikis, Uma Thurman, Bobby Cannavale, Kristen Bell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloe Grace Moretz, Gerard Butler, Johnny Knoxville, Sean William Scott, Halle Berry, Stephen Merchant, Terrence Howard, Josh Duhamel, and Elizabeth Banks.

Rated: R. Comedy. Running Time: 1 hour & 34 minutes.

Ross and I rented Movie 43 on a whim.  We were en route to our home from cocktails & dinner.  Neither of us was expecting much at all.  I remember seeing the previews and thinking, “Wow, that’s some cast” (see above listing).  But then it fell off the radar.  And I figured, if no one is talking about it, could it really be worth watching?  The answer is: YES.  The movie makes up for any later transgression in the first skit.  Five minutes in, Ross and I were laughing so hard that neither of us could speak or breathe.  That being said, if you don’t like immature humor, skip this one and you should probably leave my blog for good.  We had no idea what to expect, but what unfolded on the screen left us bewildered, delighted and quite intrigued.  Once the movie got rolling, we realized it was a series of interconnected sketches featuring some of Hollywood’s biggest stars.  I kept asking myself, “How did they get all these people!”  There were some promising moments of hilarity & ingenuity…but taken in its entirety – this movie was bad.

I had no idea what we were in for when we rented Movie 43, but with that cast, you had to expect something decent.  I don’t know if I agree with Maria that the movie was bad.  If a movie entertains, makes you laugh or cry or feel exhilarated, I think that’s enough.  I will say the premise, an ever increasingly insane Dennis Quaid (playing a version of himself?) pitching his movie idea to a generic movie executive, Kinnear, is silly.  The “movie” is just a series of skits.  There is no way anyone could think they could make a coherent, full standing movie.  However, many of the vignettes are clever and hilarious.  None more than the first one, a first date for Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet.  If you follow MRSRAG at all, you know that Maria and I rarely, if ever, give out spoilers, and we’re not going to do it here.  But this first skit has a shocking surprise, a side splittingly funny one that keeps on giving.  Beyond the great opener, a few of my favorites were, Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts as parents who are homeschooling their teenaged son, complete with all of high school’s worst possible scenarios.  A girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) getting her  period for the first time.  And Terrence Howard as a basketball coach circa the 1960’s (think Pleasantville or Hoosiers) giving a pep talk to his all black team before their first game against an all white squad.  While maybe “bad” isn’t the right word to describe Movie 43, it is hard to believe the creators convinced all these “A” list actors to associate their names with it.  

It was entertaining, but at times, hard to watch.  I’m actually surprised that Ross enjoyed it more than me, since he has some difficulty with awkward humor.  I will say that Movie 43 is like nothing I’ve ever seen.  And the “A” list actors is what put some of the skits over the edge for me.  Watching these Academy Award nominees and winners act out these absurd storylines was not only amusing, but shocking.  It took me a full day to get over the movie.  I kept asking Ross, “Was that real?”, “How did they get everyone to sign on?”, “Did I drink a lot last night?”!  It is in one word: unbelievable.  There were several vignettes, most of which my partner has described, that were pure comic genius.  They must be viewed.  But if I really look at this film in its entirety, it missed the mark.  And that is truly unfortunate because it contains so much potential.  Bottom line, go rent this for a $1.27.  The belly laughs are well worth that price.

An extremely tough movie to review.  Ultimately I have to recommend that you see it.  If you’re in the mood for some raunchy, clever, original comedy, Movie 43 should get the job done.  It certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and it won’t end up on your Top 20 list, but it’s not quite like anything you’ve ever seen before.  And, you will probably never see a larger collection of stars in one project.  There is one last scene I have to mention; a skit where a man is obviously going to propose marriage to his girlfriend.  “I have something I want to say.”  “Me too”, she replies.  “Ok, let’s say it together.  One. Two. Three….”  She beats him to the punch, and I almost fell off the couch!  You may want to keep some pillows handy for that one.

Maria’s Rating:  2.5 Gummy Bears out of 5. (Mostly for Jackman & Winslet)

Ross’ Rating:  3.25 Gummies.