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).
I like the Cinderella movie because it was romantic—–Kameko, 8
Jumping on that iron horse aka a NYC subway train oftentimes can be a hit or miss most days, thus the case last Tuesday when the kids and I headed from Brooklyn into the city to catch a screening of the beauty of all fairy tales, Cinderella.
Getting to the screening took great effort, for we almost didn’t make it on time to Times Square’s Regal E-Walk Theater due to an MTA power outage on our subway line. In addition there was a thundering rainstorm happening but hail, nor rain, could hinder crownheightsmom from getting her kids to the scheduled 5:15pm MOMS and Oral-B and Crest sponsored special Disney Studios screening of Cinderella which was preceded by the Frozen movie short Frozen Fever . The sneak peek, a prime teaser to the sequel of the 2012 worldwide hit.
Stuck underground on an F train at York Street I had to make a decision what to do. Should we stay or should we go . When the conductor finally announced that all A, C and F trains were going to be at a standstill and backed up due to a power outage at the World Trade Center stop in Manhattan.that was it for me.
Trying not to panic as the time slipped closer and closer to the movie start hour we are still in Brooklyn trying to get to Manhattan. The kids, especially my 8-year-old daughter starts to get worried we will miss the screening entirely. I ask ‘should we just go home, forego the trip to the city. I automatically get a resounding “NO” from them both.”
Putting on my supermom hat I took their hands and we join the mass exodus of straphangers exiting the subway station to the street in search of the nearest subway line.. Finding the R train we jump on with what seems like hundreds of people .
We would take this R to Canal Street where we transferred to the Q Express to 42nd Street Times Square where the theater is located.
.Reaching the Regal E-walk theater after 6:30pm we are overjoyed and happy to hear that we didn’t miss the screening and that it was going to start at 7pm. With some free time before the screening I headed to security to give my cellphone in as no mobiles phones, or tablets or ipads of any sort were allowed into the screening room. . We also picked up our free popcorn and water from the concession stand and were just in time to see the presentation of the new Disney Magic Timer app by co-sponsors Oral-B and Crest as seen below in this new ad with actress Kristen Bell.
Pics below from event courtesy of the MOMS
If new live-action remakes of classic fairy tales are the future for family movies then I want more of them, especially if they are anything like the new Cinderella movie.
-I liked the movie because it”s about a girl who was once happy, then her life became sad when her mommy and daddy died, then her life got better and she was happy again.. My favorite part was when she married the prince because it was a happy ending —-Kai, 7.
A whopping $70.05 mil at the box office is what was raked in by the new Cinderella movie this weekend says Box Office Mojo. The count comes after receipts were tallied at 3, 845 movie theater locations nationwide playing the newly revamped children’s classic. See the US trailer below.
I am really happy I decided to defeat the odds and go to this wonderful remake on March 10 with my two small children. For those parents reading this believe me, you are in for a great treat. This release promises a great update to the Disney classic most are familiar with replacing the cartoon characters for live action ones who are not only beautiful but have great screen presence.
Even the wicked stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and her spoiled daughters hold presence on screen.
My 8 year old daughter and my 7 year old son reviewed the movie. Dressed up for the occasion Kai donning a bow tie while Kameko who has outgrown her two Cinderella dresses chose an old Hollywoodesque style dress for the occasion topped with her 30’s style netted pillbox hat.
Out of 5 Popcorn Stars……….. Kameko and Kai gives Cinderella 5 STARS for being romantic and being about love, kindness and forgiveness.
Says 8-year old Kameko .”I thought the Cinderella movie was very romantic . It was sad to see her parents die though and compared to the other Cinderella’s like the cartoon an in the book I have read they have never said how her mum and dad died so it was kinda ok to know how that happened in this movie.
Kameko, 8- I felt that the Prince and Cinderella were a perfect match!
Still dancing in the aisles and singing the catchphrase song from the movie “Lavender’s Blue” (Dilly, Dilly) my two little ones and I head out for home content and happy after retrieving our cell phones from security. It is now 9:30pm and as we head to the subway we are hoping that the MTA ha,s by this tim,e gotten the train service in order.
If you too enjoyed Cinderella’s beautiful song “Lavender’s Blue (Dilly Dilly)” here it is for you.
Modern film musicals are having a huge upswing. Don’t call it a comeback…..call it the future!
I grew up loving musicals. In fact, I remember as a kid growing up in Barbados we would sit in front of the television and watch Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musicals for hours on end. After arriving in America in the early 80’s I was introduced to Carmen Jones, my very first film musical featuring an all black cast. I think I had an instant crush on the ever handsome Harry Belafonte and was just in awe of the jaw dropping beauty and talent of both Dorothy Dandridge and Pearl Bailey .Carmen Jones became that “it” musical for me.
Jump to 2014 and I am still loving film musicals. In January after learning that the studios will be rolling out quite a few you can imagine how psyched I was especially when I heard that Will Smith and his wife Jada alongside Jay Z were behind a new modernized version of Annie . My kids especially, were awaiting this release as it starred Quvenzhané Wallis as the first ever black Annie alongside Jamie Foxx in the Daddy Warbucks role. The movie is refreshing, uses NYC ( Harlem mostly) as its backdrop and isn’t too sappy .It is ultimately a movie for KIDS and about kids.
Following Annie’s release on Dec 19 Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp popped up in the fairytale star-packed film musical Into the Woods commanding over $15 mil in box-office receipts on Christmas Day alone. Fast behind Woods in February moviegoers will be feasted to The Last FiveYears with Anna Kendrick and close behind is London Luck Stiff with Jason Alexander, then American Idiots, a Cats reboot and Guys and Dolls will rounds it out with the hottie Channing Tatum in the lead. Not bad at all! I am excited for all of these.
I must give props to The MOMS‘ Denise Albert and Melissa Musen Gerstein who have consistently showed that they knows how to pick movie winners. When they screened Frozen just before Thanksgiving in 2013 to their mom bloggers and families I remember leaving the screening room thinking this is a winner . We all know how boombastically well that film went on to do . With their Annie screening on Dec 16 I felt the same way. In fact, when they posted that they were screening it RSVPs filled up in minutes with many wait-listed . The MOMS did not disappoint. They partnered with Norwegian Cruise Line for a great event that even included a surprise Q&A and picture taking with the young child actors who play the orphans -(Tessie) Zoe Margaret Colletti, (Mia) Nicolette Pierini, (Isabella) Eden Duncan-Smith and (Pepper)Amanada Troya.
This [one] is more relatable to this generation of kids.It is very modernized. It has social media and such.-actress Eden Duncan-Smith, 15.(Isabella)
My 8-year old daughter Kameko in her fancy red dress reviewed the movie and gave her ratings in Popcorn Stars.
Out of 5 Popcorn Stars – Annie gets 4 popcorn stars says Kameko who saw the movie with six of her classmates. Her only complaint—- she asks why was Foxx called Mr. Stacks. Says Kameko, ” Annie was called Annie and Ms. Hannigan was called Ms. Hannigan so he should have been called Daddy Warbucks.”
Highlights from the movie include “Opportunity” the heart tugging ballad sung by Wallis . Which she says is “really good” .
For a great feel good movie for kids and about kids definitely check out the Annie Movie. Currently playing in a theater near you.