The Garfield Movie (2024)

The latest iteration of the seemingly immortal Garfield franchise seems to work less in favor of retelling the classic story of Garfield and more in building a cinematic universe–apparently. Bafflingly, the producers seem to think there’s some merit in building this big world for Jim Davis’ Garfield. While Garfield does have a gallery of characters in his world, I never really thought of his franchise as being this sprawling world with side characters, and spin offs, and one off adventures. I doubt anyone wants a Nermal comedy, or Odie adventure. “The Garfield Movie” misses the key ingredient of what makes this series so beloved, which is Jon Arbuckle.

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IF (2024)

While John Krasinski’s “IF” doesn’t exactly break new ground, nor re-invent the wheel, what he lacks in originality, he makes up for with oodles of charm. John Krasinski has emerged as a very good multi-faceted director, and with “IF” he delivers on a very heartwarming, often entertaining tale about the hardships of growing up and having to say goodbye to certain things that made us happy. “IF” suffers from not having a completely fleshed out idea (it also leaves a sub-plot unresolved), but I loved it mainly for its warmth, good humor, and wholesomeness.

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Ernest & Célestine: A Trip to Gibberitia (Ernest et Célestine: Le voyage en Charabie) (2022) [Blu-Ray]

Now Available from Shout! Factory and GKIDS.

I’ll be the first to admit that I had no idea what “Ernest & Célestine” was or that it had its own series, as well as a feature film. The good thing about “Ernest & Célestine: A Trip to Gibberitia” is that you don’t really have to go back and see the previous material to understand what’s happening. Basically, it’s all so beautifully animated like a moving storybook and is the tale of the love between a big bear and a small female mouse. Named Ernest & Célestine, there is a story of friendship but there’s also an unspoken true love that’s very punctuated in the final scene of the film.

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Shari & Lamb Chop (2023) [Make Believe Film Festival 2024]

The biography of Shari Lewis is long overdue and a story worth telling. It’s a perfect film for people that grew up watching Shari Lewis and Lambchop during various points of her illustrious career. Whether you’re a boomer, Gen X, or Millennial, the odds are you have seen Lambchop at one point in your life. For me, I used to watch her revival show on PBS in the 1990’s and tuned in regularly. I loved Lambchop despite being a tad too old for the intended target audience, but I didn’t care. The story of Shari Lewis is one filled with a lot of happiness, a lot of promise and of course some terrible sadness that befell her later in her life.

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Wonka (2023) [4K UHD/Digital]

Now Streaming on Digital and Available on Physical Media.

What made the 1971 screen version of Willy Wonka so entertaining was that while he was an idealist, he was also a well-worn cynic who hated people as much as he loved them. While he made candy for people, he also understood how ravenous and cut throat they could be. He approached everyone entering his factory with a sense of caution and quiet observation. Even with Charlie he saw something special in the boy but was quick to write him off at a moment’s notice. What’s missing from Timothée Chalamet’s Wonka is that sense of misanthropy; that sense that deep down while he likes people, he understands how nasty that they can be.

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Turning Red (2022)

Will be in Limited Re-Release on February 9th; will be preceded by the Sparkshort Kitbull. Check Local Listings.

You gotta give it to Pixar, when they decide to do something new, they approach it head on and go all the way. Although subtlety was never their strong suit, here “Turning Red’s” one big noticeable element is that it’s about as subtle as a brick on the head. With Domee Shi directing, “Turning Red” is a decidedly very Asian flavored coming of age film that’s drawn in the style of anime and Manga.

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Brave (2012)

It’s shocking how well animated “Brave” is. Brenda Chapman and Mark Andrew’s action drama is filled with an immense scale packed with Scotland terrains as far as the eye can see. “Brave is also packed with great animation featuring our hero Merida’s hair which was intricately narrated for her specific character. All of the ballyhoo about the wonderful animation is all for a narrative that’s—fine. It’s a fine movie. It’s a perfectly mediocre, often confusing movie packed with such a wonderful and brilliant animation style.

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