Music travels with us throughout our lives. It makes the world go round. For many, it is a lifesaver, gateway to the soul and makes up the soundtrack of our lives. Like the great reggae artist, Bob Marley so eloquently says, “When the beat hits, you feel no pain.”
This brings me to the recent release of ‘The Upside‘ a comedy-drama starring funny guy Kevin Hart taking a spin at a serious role opposite thespian Bryan Cranston and Oscar winner Nicole Kidman. The movie which features the music of late music icon, Aretha Franklin is a remake of the 2011 French movie, ‘The Intouchables’ which starred Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet. In this American remake, the concept is kept pretty much the same but lacks the full-on heartwarming charm and inspiration that the French version exuded thanks in parts to Sy. The movie, based on a true story, tells the story of two men from different backgrounds culturally and financially, who change each other lives for the better. Hart plays Dell, an ex-con out on parole hired as the caretaker of Phillip (Cranston), a billionaire and quadriplegic, the result of a paragliding accident. Kidman plays Phillip’s assistant.
The movie is the first comedy-drama released for 2019. That it includes a soundtrack featuring the music of the “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin who passed away in August of 2018 will definitely lend to getting lots of music fans talking and filling theater seats. I had the opportunity to attend a recent screening in New York City, given by the MOMS .
Aretha’s musical chords are woven perfectly into scenes. Hart himself even gives it a go, with a comedic spin, of course, singing on the much beloved “Think”. Four of Franklin’s songs appear on the movie’s soundtrack, each song adding flair to the storyline, like when Dell is overcome with his appreciation of classical music while attending the opera alongside Phillip and hearing Nessun Dorma sung superbly by the Queen of Soul.
Surprisingly, taking the #1 Weekend Box Office opening position away from front runner ‘Aquaman‘ which is holding high with billion dollar sales worldwide, ‘The Upside’ on its Jan 11-13 opening weekend cemented itself to the list of movies featuring Aretha’s music that went on to become memorable.
Like I said music makes everything better. I felt that the music saved the ‘Upside.’ The movie could definitely have been better. If I had to watch the movie again I would probably opt for the French version as Hart and Cranston didn’t fully click like Sy and Cluzet. The movie did showcase that if given more opportunities Kevin Hart should really try dipping into more dramatic roles but without the funny. Finally, I would also ask Hollywood to stop going back to that old drawing board script that depicts black male characters as ex-cons, dead beat dads or not privy to a socially elite lifestyle.
With that being said out of 10 popcorn bowls The Upside gets 5
Want to check out ‘The Upside’ movie soundtrack take a listen here at the website Lyric Soundtrack.
Want to see the 2012 French version ‘The Intouchables’ which starred Omar Sy as the lovable Driss a down and outer from the projects of Paris and Francois Cluzet playing the role of Phillipe. Watch here
For two weekends in a row ‘Kung Fu Panda 3‘s slay at the box office continued. Crushing its competition the film threw down like the Broncos but by weekend 3, and now this past weekend, its fourth week out, competition got tougher for our cuddly hero Po as he went up against the super hottie-hero, Ryan Reynolds in ‘Deadpool‘.
Coming in second for two weekends since Deadpool’s arrival our Kung Fu fighting Panda bear fought hard to retain a top spot even beating out newcomers ” How To Be Single’ and ‘Zoolander.’
Pat on the back to me for taking the kids over the weekend, thuds counting ourselves amongst those helping Po to stay on top at the box office-
I have a confession and will admit that seeing the movie on Saturday was my second helping of KFP3 . Need I say more! It was so nice, I saw it twice!!
For families who haven’t seen this latest installment of the Kung Fu Panda franchise, a trip to the cinema is definitely in order. In this version our dumpling popping Kung Fu hero’s long-lost poppa-Panda materializes. Reunited, he takes Po to a secret Panda village to meet scores of other cute Panda characters. Looming though, to wreck the happy family reunion is the appearance of Kai (J.K. Simmons), an evil villain who has returned from the spirit world to steal the powers of all living Kung Fu Masters. Po’s mission? He must master his chi thus find the secret to his own powers within,in order to stop Kai.
Raking in over $294 mil worldwide thus far, it is obvious to all that this third installment of the cuddly warrior-hero Panda and his posse of kick-butt pals including Tigress (voiced by Angelina Jolie), Viper (Lucy Liu) and newcomer Mei Mei ( Kate Hudson) is destined like its sister installments —Kung Fu Panda and Kung Fu Panda 2 to be a family favorite. A breakdown of the franchise and its box office numbers can be seen here at Box Office Mojo.
Crownheightsmom aloing with a number of other mom bloggers caught up with stars Lucy Liu and Kate Hudson during the stars’ press stop in New York to promote KFP3 earlier this month . The actors, both parents popped in together to chat with Melissa Gerstein of the MOMS after a screening of the movie at the Regal Union Square theater. Liu, dressed in an elegant knee high black dress and Hudson in a baby pink pantsuit paired with a grey cashmere sweater were all smiles and excited to be chatting it up about the movie and their involvement.
Hudson sitting crossed legged shared with the audience, “when I saw the character she was so fun and funny.” Hudson voices the girl diva Panda,, Mei Mei.
“I got a call from Jeffrey Katzenberg who said ‘we would you like you to come play the part of Mei Mei.’ It all kinda happened last minute and having known Jeffrey forever I said yeah sure, why not! “
“To get one [character] that is so funny, I got really excited because she is so adorable.”
The conversations with the two mom stars ventured from the movie and onto parenting. When Gerstein touched upon mom regrets in parenting, Hudson shared about the time she took her now 11 year old son Ryder–he was 5 or 6 at the time —along with her to see American Idiot, the Green Day play on Broadway.
“When Ryder was younger he loved Green Day .So I took him to the play.” Recalls Hudson , “as I enter the theater everyone is looking at me like, ‘why does Kate Hudson have her young child at this play? ”
“So a few minutes into the play and here I am with my sweatshirt over his [Ryder’s] head and I am like ‘I am out! ” she tells us laughing.
Lui didn’t share any parenting faux pas but she did dish on why she loves doing animation flicks. KFP3 is Liu’s third ride alongside Jack Black and Angelina Jolie .
For Liu, she shared , there is comfort in doing animation. “You get to show up in your sweatpants.”
“You are also in a room by yourself and I was in NYC so I would do skype and facetime session with the director, [Jennifer Yu Nelson] and that is how she directed me. ” Adds Liu, “you really have a limited idea of what they want in terms of the visual aspect because the film isn’t done at that point .so they were very flexible.
Liu also talked a bit about her ethnicity telling the audience. “Everybody is always asking me how is it to be an Asian American actress. I am like, I really don’t know! I really don’t want to talk about it anymore. I can talk about being an actress .I can talk about being an artist. About being someone in the industry but I do not want to talk about the fact that I am Asian American and an actress because it is the same thing .”In the end it is about talent and that is what really stands out.”
While sitting inside the Dolby Screening Room at a recent MOMS screening of Disney Pixar’s animated movie ‘Inside Out‘ three pairs of eyes looked over at me to see if I was crying. I had taken my 9-year old daughter, Kameko, my 7-year old son Kai and his friend Lexi Anne also 7, along to the screening.
At a particular point in the movie Kai and Lexi Anne began whispering to each .I then noticed that they were staring intently at me to see if I had tears streaming down. I quickly said before they could say anything, “Hey, guys are those tears I see in YOUR eyes? ” They each quickly replied “No”, with Kai admitting soon after with, “Oh just a little. That was a sad part.” I in turn replied, “Yes that was a sad part and I did cry just a little.” My daughter Kameko hearing our whispers chose then to announce matter-of-factly, with Kai in the background nodding, “Mommy cries a lot at movies. She likes to let her feelings out. She also cried during [Rihanna’s movie] Home, and at [ Michael Rapaport’s] Little Boy.
” Shhh, don’t tell anyone, I say to Kameko as Lexi Anne looks on and a mom sitting in earshot turns around and smiles at me.
I learned then that kids are always paying full attention and especially taking in our emotions. Yup, my kids are definitely paying attention to mine.Which gets me back to Inside Out.
I truly enjoyed this film and so did the kids. They have already asked to see it again and I have promised a movie night over the summer break. I definitely see it becoming one of our Pixar family faves the same way, Toy Story and Wall-E has become. I also already know that this movie including all its merchandising products will be on their Xmas lists this year.
About the movie if you haven’t seen it yet. The movie centers around pre-teen Riley, an 11-year-old girl who is uprooted from her Midwest home and life as she knows it -to now reside in the urban city landscape of San Francisco when her dad takes a new job transplanting the family almost 2,000 miles away.
For Riley this couldn’t come at a worst life stage- the pre-teen years – a ball of emotions . Her feelings of being taken away from life-long friends, from ice-hockey games on the lake — to now being the new kid having to make new friends and at a new school .Overwhelming? To her , it’s the end of the world.
But this is where it gets interesting – Yes , Inside Out is about 11-year-old Riley, but behind the scenes the real stars that take center stage are her emotions that are wrecking havoc in her brain — enter the five brightly colored characters that represent joy, sadness, anger, fear and disgust . Riley’s emotions.
These five conflicting emotions literally take over the pre-teen’s life as she attempts to try to fit in to her new surroundings but her emotional “headquarters ” where these five characters reside is full of non stop activity. Joy ( voice of Poehler ) the mother hen, leader and voice of reason tries to keep Riley happy and positive while the other emotions each vying to be the “top-dog emotion ” to dominate Riley’s inner life, they just seem to complicate matters sending everything into a tailspin and lending to a movie that is laugh-out-loud, funny, exciting, colorful and splashed with traces of sadness mixed in.
It will definitely be a walk down childhood’s memory lane and filled with nostalgia for most adults .
Seeming to be at the forefront though is the message that sadness and joy can work hand in hand for an outcome of happiness and good. In reality, we do go through sadness or loss in order to encounter happiness at the end of the rainbow. This message though, might go over kids’ heads as they are watching the movie with it brightly colored and cute as ever characters. So the take-away lesson of, “it may take sadness before you get happy” may be a bit too much for them to take in –older ones will get it – but this is one of the messages I found to be recurring.
Stopping by just before the start of the screening for a quick Q&A with the MOMS’ co-creators, Denise Albert and Melissa Musen Gerstein was actor Bill Hader. The actor plays the voice of Fear in the movie.
Speaking to the kids Hader says , “When you see Fear come in , thats my voice, ” adding “Do you know that this ( movie) is from the same guys that made “Toy Story ” and “Monsters Inc” and “Up?”
On how he snagged his role Hader recently told PEOPLE he “stalked” Pixar execs . He did say at the screening, “I was such a fan of Pixar [their] movies that I went to where they worked and I asked, ‘Can you please put me in one if your movies’. I wouldn’t leave and now because of my persistence, I play Fear in the movie.”
The actor also told the kids that he’s done some other well known kid movies. ” I have been in “Cloudy and a Chance of Meatballs,” I played Lachlan,” he says.
On his favorite character in the movie and no, it is not his character! Hader declares, “My favorite character is a character by the name of Bing Bong.” Adds the former SNL star, “When Bing Bong shows up just brace yourselves. He’s the best character in the movie!”
The movie took a few years to make . ” It took five years . I’m not kidding, says Hader of the making of Inside Out. Adds Hader, “Back in 2011, I went to Pixar and I started recording with Amy Poehler who plays Joy and Mindy Palin who play Disgust and others. So five years of recording. That’s how long it takes to make one of these movies.”
To finally see it Hader says, “It is a beautiful, beautiful film and we are so happy.” Say the father of three, “The cast and film-makers all got to see the finished product three months ago. We all went to Skywalker Ranch, that’s George Lucas’ ranch where all the Star Wars stuff is. We got to watch the movie in a room(screening room) like this and we were laughing and crying.”
Yes the movie will make you laugh and cry.
I recommend that families go together to see Inside Out. I loved that the movie in a special way lets both children and adults know feelings of joy, sadness, anger disgust, or even fear do work harmoniously together inside of us .
The kids gives their ratings. Inside Out gets 5 out of 5 POPCORN STARS! .
The kids summed up their feelings in this pic below:
Also read what they had to say about the movie below:
I loved that sadness and joy worked as a team even though they are opposites— KAMEKO, 9
Anger always made me laugh…KAI, 7
I loved that Joy was alway happy and never gave up on Riley and holding on to her happy memories.–KAMEKO, 9
Joy is always happy. I like when people are happy. LEXI ANNE, 7
Even though Sadness is always sad, she has courage.–KAI, 7
It was a very emotional movie and it was about emotions. It actually made me feel sad at some places.—-KAI, 7
My favorite part of the movie was when Riley was a little girl and she had an imaginary friend named Bing Bong. I liked how Riley made up a song about her imaginary friend.—LEXI ANNE, 7
The Lyrics to Riley’s and Bing Bong’s song….
Who’s your friend who likes to play?
Bing Bong, Bing Bong
His rocket makes you want to yell hooray
Bing Bong, Bing Bong
Who’s the best at every way, and wants to sing this song to say
Bing Bong, Bing BONG!
Check out the trailer below and go see ‘Inside Out’ at your nearest movie theater in your city ,See Fandango for listings
INSIDE OUT is now playing WITH THE VOICES OF: Amy Poehler (Joy), Phyllis Smith (Sadness), Richard Kind (Bing Bong), Bill Hader (Fear), Lewis Black (Anger), Mindy Kaling (Disgust), Kaitlyn Dias (Riley), Diane Lane (Mom), Kyle MacLachlan (Dad).