Blue’s Big City Adventure is basically the Blue’s Clues version of Spider-Man: No Way Home! Joking aside this was genuinely really charming, I grew up watching Blue’s Clues as a kid so this really brought back a ton of memories. All three of the hosts throughout the show’s life are here Joshua Dela Cruz who plays Josh, Donovan Patten who plays Joe and Steve Burns who plays Steve. All three of which do really solid job in their roles capturing each of the characters and what made the show so iconic in the first place, the movie itself is a musical a very entertaining too. The songs are very catchy and actually well choreographed from the dancers and filled to the brim with energy, there’s a huge level of charm here that is absolutely appealing to the viewer and makes it known the movie hasn’t forgotten the spirit of the show. The story being simple as Josh and Blue traveling to New York City in order to get to in audition to be in a musical is exactly the type of thing you would want in a Blue’s Clues movie, combining Blue’s Clues with the musical genre is like making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They both blend together incredibly well and end with very entertaining results which is exactly what you get here.
Blue’s Big City Adventure is available on Paramount+
Fantasy Football just sort of exists, this is something you would have saw back in the early 2000s, with a premise like a daughter finds out she can magically control her dad who plays football through a video game console just oozes early 2000s family movie antics. And to this movie’s credit at times it is a lot of fun, Marsai Martin and Omari Hardwick are very fun in the leading roles and actually have father and daughter bonding moments that are genuinely very cute. Kelly Rowland isn’t too bad either so there’s a lot of family moments that are genuinely sweet, everything else however is very stale. The rest of the movie really doesn’t take advantage of how bizarre the plot really is and the it remains in the “play it way too safe” area which is a bit unfortunate, as there was a lot of potential to be very creative here but the movie spends a little too much time on family drama that ultimately does feel a bit more of the same from other movies.
I definitely think A Christmas Mystery is a lot better than it could have been, as there are a few things to like about it the standout being Violet McGraw who gives a very delightful performance. She easily steals every single scene she’s in and is even able to carry the movie on her own pretty well, the rest of the cast do a fine enough job, unfortunately what does hold this movie back is it’s way too predictable. While yes it is a kids movie and does play out like a kids mystery movie that really doesn’t change how it’s very predictable and the viewer could easily figure out who stole the bells within the first 20 minutes or so, there just isn’t enough mystery to it and the cast of characters truly make it a bit too obvious who did the crime. Having that said it’s a very non-offensive kids movie that I think kids will enjoy, it’s forgettable but it’s definitely one of the better Christmas movies to come out so far this year (although that’s not saying much).
A Christmas Mystery is available on HBO Max
Holiday Harmony is like if you took any Hallmark Christmas movie and mixed it with a bad fanfiction on Wattpad, outside of Annelise Cepero who gives a decent enough performance and actually has a decent singing voice. The rest of the movie is way too predictable and is the very definition of a Hallmark Christmas movie, including bad writing, terrible pacing, nonsensical story beats and way too drawn out. I think the most surprising thing about this is it’s a HBO Max original, before this I can’t really think of an original from HBO Max that felt like something from the Hallmark channel but I guess nobody is safe. The movie is also a huge product placement for iHeart Radio even when it hurts Gail’s (Annelise Cepero) music label the movie still remains positive to iHeart Radio which completely takes the viewer out of the movie. The movie ends exactly how you expect it to, there’s definitely some cute moments but those appear during the third act which is around the time someone might turn this off. It’s definitely not the worst Christmas movie out there but it is one of the most forgettable.
A Christmas Story Christmas is a sequel to the 1983 film A Christmas Story, meaning this film completely ignores the events of A Christmas Story 2 which released in 2012 and was just a dreadful experience so it’s not a surprise they want to forget about that. Because surprisingly enough A Christmas Story Christmas is surprisingly pretty decent, first off the original cast returns which is great and they all do a pretty solid job here. They capture the spirits of the original characters and actually have fun with them as well, the most noticeable one that doesn’t return however is Darren McGavin because he passed away in 2006, what the film does is pretty interesting rather than recast they decided to have Old Man Parker pass away as well. They did a pretty solid job of working it into the story and actually led to some emotional moments, so I definitely give credit where credit is due. The main flaw mostly stems from the story being a bit too familiar, there’s some nice callbacks and nostalgic moments to help the movie run smoothly, but a lot of what happens ends up being traditional Christmas movie shenanigans such as the parents losing the Christmas presents so now they have to find other ways to celebrate Christmas. However there is absolutely no denying that the movie has a lot of heart as well as a lot of entertainment to it, it’s a genuinely fun movie that compliments the first film very well and uses the characters quite well. A Christmas Story Christmas isn’t going to have the impact like the first movie did, but it is a solid sequel to the original.
A Christmas Story Christmas is available on HBO Max!
Gigi & Nate isn’t as bad as anticipated however it has a baffling switch in tone during midway through the movie. The first part is about a man who ends up in a wheelchair needs a service animal so he bonds with this monkey named Gigi. There’s plenty of cute moments here that you would expect from these types of movies, Charlie Rowe gives a fine enough performance. Although it’s worth mentioning that he doesn’t use a wheelchair, which it’s a bit irritating since the movie does pride itself in that it casted extras who have disabilities. So it’s very questionable as to why they didn’t do the same for the lead, but as I said before Rowe does give a decent performance which mostly comes from his interactions with the rest of the cast and the monkey. The real show stealer however is Diane Ladd you would think with how funny and charming her performance is that somebody’s grandma walked on set and started making jokes. It’s a genuine performance that really puts a smile on your face. Then the second half rolls around and turns into a animal rights activists Vs the Gibson family even to the point where there’s a courtroom scene. The main problem here is the movie doesn’t have anyway of nuance, it portrays the animal rights activists as cartoony villains. The movie is supposedly based on a true story however a lot of it feels very dramatized, particularly the courtroom stuff that has this made for tv feel to it that wants the audience to get up and clap. The message of the movie is fine enough but by the end I’m not 100% sure the movie even knows what it’s trying to say anymore.
I reviewed Spirit Halloween: The Movie last week where I talked a bit about gateway horror or scary films meant for kids. The Curse Of Bridge Hollow is definitely in the same vein, funnily enough this movie is also about possessed Halloween decorations attacking people. Curse Of Bridge Hallow is definitely the better of the two mostly due to the movie actually using it’s premise decently…at least for some parts of the movie. The acting here is not great Marlon Waynes definitely tries his best and admittedly it’s one of his better performances in the comedies he’s recently done. However it’s really not enough to be noteworthy, there are definitely moments where it does feel like a Disney Channel original movie that became a Netflix original. This is also Jeff Wadlow’s most tolerable in a very long time, honestly what really hurts this movie is that it’s forgettable. It’s one of those Netflix movies where you watch it and 4 hours later you forget half of what happened, there’s fun to be had and it’s very inoffensive to kids. But between the poor acting and the terrible jokes this one will be quickly forgotten.
The Curse Of Bridge Hollow is available on Netflix.
Lyle Lyle Crocodile is exactly what you expect it’s going to be, it’s a very familiar story that’s been told before. A kid who is lonely finds a special friend and then wacky antics pursue, however this one is very charming and you really can’t help but smile at the movie. Shawn Mendes’s charming performance as Lyle plus his singing voice combined with the songs is genuinely a lot of fun. It’s hands down the part that completely sells this movie and really brings it altogether, Top Of The World is easily the standout song here as the scene it’s used in is an absolute blast and filled to the brim of personality, plus a lot of the other songs follow suit as well. Javier Bardem is a lot of fun as well and Brett Gelman plays a cartoony neighbor that really works here. There really isn’t much else to say here, the film is straightforward, has a ton of heart and is definitely something kids will absolutely love. It’s not going to break any new ground but it doesn’t have to.
How do you take a concept such as a group of kids being trapped in A Spirit Of Halloween story and some of the decorations come to life and attack them so dull? Well apparently this movie has the answer to that, outside of a fun appearance from Christopher Lloyd and Rachel Leigh Cook there truly is nothing here that’s very memorable. They really do the bare minimum with the concept, sure there’s a few decorations that come to life but the main issue here is the writing and characters. The writing is just flat out unremarkable, there’s absolutely no substance to anything being shown on screen. The most the movie does with it’s writing is try to give a very surface level explanation of why everything is coming to life, the characters are incredibly one dimensional and are pretty much your typical kid friend group in these types of movies. Only where as other characters of those types are actually fun (such as the ones in the Goosebumps movies) these ones have absolutely nothing to them outside of their one character trait. The movie is clearly made for younger audiences in mind which is perfectly fine, however when it comes to gateway horror movies there is so much lacking here, it’s really a collection of kid horror movie cliches presented as an interesting idea. Overall Spirit Of Halloween: The Movie has a few moments of fun and decent performances from Cook and Lloyd but is overall very forgettable plus it wastes such an interesting concept that could have been a movie worth coming back to.
Spirit Halloween: The Movie is available on all VOD platforms.
Hocus Pocus 2 finally releases after several years of the being on those “sequels that should have been a thing by now but haven’t” lists, there’s honestly not a whole lot to comment on here as Hocus Pocus 2 is about the same as the original. Which might be good for people who absolutely adored the first movie, I was never a huge Hocus Pocus fan it’s a fun little movie but that’s all it really was for me. Hocus Pocus 2 falls in the same line, Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy are still quite fantastic as the Sanderson sisters and are clearly having a blast, the entertaining atmosphere is still quite great and keeps a lot of the atmosphere from the first one, the flaws mostly come from the characters and the jokes really not being as strong, I get they wanted to put in the whole modern setting idea in the movie and at times it works. But other times it really mirrors what a lot of other movies do with this exact plot line, so it definitely leads to a lot of “seen that and it’s been done better before” type of moments. The overall message is charming enough and there’s some cute moments towards the end that did put a smile on my face, there’s definitely some level of charm that went into this movie that can be appreciated. It just falls a little short of being a little too identical to the first movie.
There isn’t a whole lot to say about Ivy + Bean since it is basically a 56 minute kids movie that really doesn’t do anything new. However that doesn’t make it bad at, Madison Skye Validum and Keslee Blalock are both fantastic here and have a wonderful chemistry, they really do capture two kids starting a friendship. The movie itself has a nostalgic feel to it, the type where you made friends with other kids around the neighborhood and the movie does such a good job of showing that. Some of the jokes actually land quite well to the point where I found myself actually chuckling at times, the movie doesn’t overstay it’s welcome either. It establishes what it wants to do early on and does that quite well, as I said before Ivy + Bean is not going to break any new ground and it is very formulaic. But if you have 56 minutes to spare and are looking for a very easy watch this is most certainly not a bad option.
Ivy + Bean is available on Netflix.
Ivy + Bean: The Ghost That Had To Go is the second of the Ivy + Bean movie and is probably the best one, I say probably because all three movies are about the same (although I do think the third movie is the weakest). It might be because this one is a kid horror movie a subgenre (if you want to call it that) that I’m glad exists. Once again Madison Skye Validum and Keslee Blalock are fantastic here, the chemistry is still very strong and they are both genuinely hilarious. The kid horror elements are actually quite great here, I was a bit worried that they wouldn’t completely work and would stick out like a sore thumb. But luckily the elements are worked into the story and actually blend in quite well with the cutesy atmosphere the movie started with, Jane Lynch is one of my favorite parts about this movie by far. I’m not sure if I’ve said this before but Jane Lynch is such a fun actress even when the script she is given isn’t always great, she finds a way to make it entertaining and here is no exception. The script while once again isn’t going to break any new ground but is still genuinely fun and Jane Lynch’s parts are truly great, this movie definitely has the spirit of a Halloween special I would have saw back when I was a kid. It’s a genuinely fun little movie that like the previous movie is a quick and easy watch.
Ivy + Bean: The Ghost That Had To Go is available on Netflix.
Ivy + Bean: Doomed To Dance is the third Ivy + Bean movie and as I said in the previous review I do think this one is the weakest. Madison Skye Validum and Keslee Blalock are fantastic yet again and like in the other movies have great chemistry, by this point you are already sold that they have a very grounded friendship. There’s some decent jokes here and the movie does get quite creative as well with certain scenes, this one falls a little short mainly due to the pacing being very uneven and it’s more less the same thing as the other two movies except with a dance theme to it. The pacing is very weird here the beginning and ending are smooth sailing but the middle moves way too slowly, while I get what they were going for with the dance theme as it is a very common plot that a lot of kids media uses. It’s very flat here and doesn’t do anything very interesting that invests the viewer at all, with the other two movies yes you can argue that those plots are also used quite a lot in kids media. But at least the other two movies made themselves interesting and genuinely fun, Doomed To Dance just sort of exists because they needed a third movie and only releasing two movies would look and feel incomplete. Having that said Doomed To Dance is very harmless to kids, it’s just not something I would call good.
Ivy + Bean: Doomed To Dance is available on Netflix.