Family Films

Jennifer Lee

Seeing as Wreck-It Ralph was Disney Animation’s most well-received movie in quite a while, the studio has wasted no time in getting one of its main creative talents to work on a new project. Today they announced in a press release [via ComingSoon] that Ralph co-writer Jennifer Lee is not only going to be handling some writing duties on their upcoming animated feature, Frozen, but that she will also be serving as co-director alongside studio vet Chris Buck (Tarzan, Surf’s Up). Frozen is an adventure tale about a magical kingdom that’s suffering under a spell that keeps it trapped in a perpetual winter. Its main characters are a brave young girl named Anna, a burly mountain man named Kristoff, and a reindeer sidekick named Sven. The main thrust of the film’s narrative is said to be this trio’s journey to find the Snow Queen and find a way to reverse her spell, which of course leads to them encountering treacherous mountain passes, all sorts of magical whatsits, mystical trolls, comical snowmen, and who knows how many other examples of weirdness along the way. Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s Kristen Bell and Enchanted’s Idina Menzel are already on board to supply voices.

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Over Under - Large

By the time 1993 rolled around, Tim Burton already had projects like Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, and Edward Scissorhands under his belt, and had firmly established himself as an auteur director of quirky, weird films. It was probably that year’s The Nightmare Before Christmas – a movie that Burton produced and didn’t even direct – that firmly established him as being a filmmaker with a cult of personality following, and has become his most enduring work, however. A stop-motion animated feature directed by Henry Selick (with strong creative input from Burton) and produced by Disney’s Touchstone Pictures, The Nightmare Before Christmas mixed up Halloween and Christmas imagery in iconic ways (Mickey Mouse has his fingers in all the holiday pies), it captured the imaginations of an entire generation, and it can still be seen advertised all over the backpacks and binders of eyeliner wearing teenagers to this day. That same year another Halloween-themed family film came out of another wing of the Disney conglomerate called Hocus Pocus. But, despite that fact that it starred a trio of actresses who were fairly big names at the time, it hasn’t enjoyed nearly as much attention over the years as Nightmare. And, unless you happen to be a devotee of the movie Newsies (which I know some of you are), chances are you’ve never heard of its director, Kenny Ortega. Sure, Hocus Pocus still gets played on the Disney channel around Halloween every year, as it’s probably cheap programming for the company, but […]

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Junkfood Cinema - Large

Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema; the only thing we haunt is casino breakfast buffets. You’ve arrived at the most unsettling of bad movie columns on the perfidious den of wickedness known as the interwebs. Every week we present for your viewing displeasure a particularly ghastly piece of cinematic schlock unearthed from the vaults of unspeakable horror (alias the Rubbermaid trash can full of VHS in the garage). As we force your unsuspecting eyes to behold the nightmarish horrors of the movie’s shortcomings, we cackle with sinister delight. We go so far as to then reveal our morbid appreciation for said filmic abomination. To top off the torture, we will force a fiendishly tasty snack food, themed to the film, down your cowering gullets. This boys and ghouls, is Junkfood Horror. October is the month that everyone watches horror movies. From the hardcore weirdos to the sissiest of sissy babies, for at least a few weeks, we all enjoy a good scare. As we sit on the front porch of Junkfood Labs, devouring bag after bag of “fun”-sized Snickers because the trick-or-treaters apparently won’t be showing up for several hours, and several days, it occurred to us that there is really no getting away from the horror genre. When November 1st arrives, you can lock away all your copies of The Exoricist and Amityville and Maid in Manhattan, but the irrepressible evil there contained will not relent. “Oh wait,” you say interrupting my column with your smelly internal monologue, “I can […]

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Kevin Durant Thunderstruck Movie

Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder are waiting to see whether they’ll face Miami or Boston in the finals, so in the meantime, Durant is most likely working on emoting and memorizing lines. The forward has pulled an MJ by starring in a new family-friendly movie called Thunderstruck. Instead of the old body-switching model, he (playing himself) faces difficulty because of a talent-transfer which leaves him as terrible as a small child. On the other end of that swap is Brian (Taylor Gray), a kid obsessed with basketball, Durant and making his school team. When he gets Durant’s talent, that last bit comes easy. Why he wants to join a team coached by Jim Belushi is unclear. It sounds low-rent, but the trailer proves that expectation wrong. Produced by Warners, it’s got a sort of Air Bud feel to it (except with a human instead of a Golden Retriever Receiver). It’s probably more than a little cheesy, but imagine you’re 10-years-old and dream of playing in the NBA. This movie is going to be magic for kids. Check out the trailer:

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While Tim Burton’s recent live-action films have still been raking in gobs of cash, they’ve also taken a bit of a downturn in quality that have left longtime Burton fans feeling a bit cold. Affection for his stop-motion animation efforts seem to still be ever-present and warm, however, so this new trailer for Burton’s Frankenweenie should play as a fun, bow-wrapped surprise to a lot of people. Check it out after the break, you might just be in for a pleasant shock.

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Over Under: A New Perspective on Films New and Old

Back in ’82 this little movie came out about a boy who found an alien in his backyard. It was called E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Ever heard of it? He phoned home and whatnot? This was basically the movie that solidified Steven Spielberg as being not just a guy who was making great movies everybody liked, but as being the most important director in the world: the guy. When you see that Amblin Entertainment logo you know you’re in for a certain kind of movie designed to appeal to everyone, and it’s an image from E.T. that gets the job done. Russkies came out in ’87, when the outbreak of Spielberg imitator movies about kids going on adventures was in full swing. This one is about a group of kids who find a Russian naval officer who has washed up on the coast of their Florida town. Even Spielberg knockoffs as bad as Mac and Me still get mentioned when people start talking about the good old days of the 80s, when family programming was king, but I’ve never in my life heard anyone bring up Russkies. Considering two of the main three kids in this movie are a young Joaquin Phoenix (pre-hobo beard) and Peter Billingsley (pretty much the king of 80s nostalgia), how is this movie completely forgotten?

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The world first learned about Jason Segel’s love of puppetry when he performed an all-puppet Dracula musical during the climactic moments of Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Segel then parlayed the success of that film into the fulfillment of a lifelong dream when he got handed the reins of Jim Henson’s iconic stable of puppet characters The Muppets for his upcoming film…The Muppets. Though all pre-release indicators point to the fact that Segel has gotten the voice of The Muppets just right and had a great time making not only the movie, but also the neverending tidal wave of ancillary marketing stuff, it still doesn’t seem like he’s gotten his fill of working with puppets just yet. As a matter of fact, this may be only the beginning. When talking to The Playlist about what he plans on doing next, Segel told an anecdote about reacquiring the first film he ever sold, “I actually just got back into possession my first script I ever sold when I was 21-years-old. It sat on a shelf and they didn’t know that it was the same Jason Segel. I came to them because the contract was up and I went to buy it up and they were like, ‘No, wait, that was you? That was your script?’ And I was like, ‘Yep, sorry dudes.’ So I now own it and I want to make it. It’s a kids adventure movie in the style of Goonies or Labyrinth or something like that. I think that’s the next […]

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Back in 1985, releasing a family film that was directed by Superman’s Richard Donner and had Steven Spielberg’s name plastered all over it as a writer and producer was pretty much the antithesis of a risky proposition. At this point in the mid 80s Spielberg and his crew of cohorts were at the height of their powers, churning out family friendly blockbusters one after another. So The Goonies never really had an uphill battle to climb. It was probably always going to be a success. The way that it took the ball and has continued to run with it, even twenty-six years later, is a little astounding though. This is a huge movie. If ever someone admits to not having seen it, they instantly get hit with an incredulous, “WHAT? YOU HAVEN’T SEEN GOONIES?” It’s almost to the point where the DVD gets sent to suburbanites in the mail with Peter Frampton records and samples of Tide. On the other end of the spectrum, The Monster Squad is a total cult movie. While it’s loved passionately by a small group of geeks, a normal person would have to very randomly stumble across something deep within the heart of the Internet to ever realize that this movie even exists. There aren’t any college frat boys wearing out their copy of Monster Squad like they are their copies of Goonies. There isn’t a new generation of young kids catching on to Fat Kid and Frankenstein the way they are Chunk and Sloth. […]

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we talk with The Hangover Part II screenwriter Craig Mazin and continue the screenwriting/sequel theme with Kung Fu Panda 2 writers Jon Aibel and Glenn Berger. Plus, Katey Rich from Cinema Blend battles Jordan Raup of The Film Stage in the Movie News Pop Quiz Arena of Death. The result? You’ll have to listen to find out, but we end up talking about the bad week that 3D has been having. Reject Radio brings it on home this week, so kick off you shoes and stay awhile. Listen Here: Download This Episode

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New Line and Mandaly Pictures are the heroes the day because they announced through Variety that they plan to make Furry Friday, the exact movie that you’re imagining right now in your mind based on the pun title. A dog and a cat swap bodies. It’s live-action. It cannot be a bad idea. Mandaly producer (and Oscar winner) Cathy Schulman’s script is getting a rewrite from writer David H. Steinberg. It’s an interesting choice considering that much of his work has been in the teenage world of American Pie 2 and the slightly out of teenage world of Slackers (which remains an underrated gem). He’s also the writer responsible for the forthcoming Puss in Boots movie. To reiterate: this is a movie about a dog and a cat switching bodies. You may scoff, but to the right is photographic proof that live-action animal movies can work incredibly well. Furry Friday will undoubtedly be a family-focused flick, and there’s nothing wrong with that. At the very least, we should be glad they aren’t trying to pun off of the Schulman-produced Darfur Now. Seriously. It would be so easy. They must have at least had a meeting about it.

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Editor’s Note: This review first ran as part of our Fantastic Fest 2010 coverage, but Rare Exports sees a limited release this weekend, so we so it fit to re-run it for those interested. As we all know, Santa Claus is not to be trusted. He sneaks into our homes in the middle of the night, and doles out punishment for those who have been naughty during the year. If you’ve been nice, he leaves a gift as a symbolis reminder that he’ll be back, and he’ll be watching. Rare Exports takes a look at the darker side of the Santa Claus myth (which is totally real if you’re younger than 8 years old) by displaying the frightening origins of a magic man who steals bad children. After all, Claus is a type of boogeyman. He’s a figure talked about around the campfire to spook children into behaving. He’s a lot like Keyser Soze. We seem to have forgotten that in America (what with all the Tim Allen movies we can stand), but thankfully it’s something they haven’t forgotten in Finland.

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ff-Thevampiresassistant

Darren and Steve are best friends despite different upbringings and personalities. They both attend a mysterious Freak Show populated by fantastical beings, and Darren joins the ranks of the undead by becoming a vampire, but Steve will have his own, darker journey to go through.

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Ever fantasized about Salma Hayek with a giant beard? Of course you haven’t (wink), but if you’re still curious about it, check out the new trailer for The Vampire’s Assistant.

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FSR

Kevin Carr breaks down the week’s releases, looking at G-Force, The Ugly Truth, and Orphan.

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charles-gibson-vfx

In a pitch that sounds eerily like a 1980s Disney television movie, Charles Gibson will step behind the main lens for the first time with The Goblin.

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stretcharmstrong-1

Universal launches its opening toy-made film salvo with Stretch Armstrong arriving in early 2011. Should the public respond by throwing their money back?

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Boiling Point: Family Films

Beverly Hills Chihuahua tops the box office again and Robert Fure’s got something to say, though you may not believe it ’til you read it.

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