Must-Watch TV: Gotta Watch Gortimer Gibbons

Gortimer Gibbons
Borrowed from Amazon.com

We are a TV family. Some families bond over sports, others over games. We bond over TV. Way too much TV, but that’s a story for a different day.

Today, I want to share one of our favorite family-friendly show discoveries – Amazon Video’s Gortimer Gibbons Life on Normal Street.

I will admit that I get very little credit for this show on my own. This came to me as a recommendation from one of our close family friends. She’s always been one step ahead of us on family TV show recos, and we’ve never missed with a show she recommended. Continue reading “Must-Watch TV: Gotta Watch Gortimer Gibbons”

Movie Mania: The Lion King Roars Again

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Theatrical release poster by John Alvin (borrowed from Wikipedia)

Disney released The Lion King in 1994 and it has never lost its magic.

I remember watching it in the movie theater in high school, just as captivated as my younger cousins. Fairly confident that I know every word in the movie and definitely know every song by heart.

Ten years later, when Broadway in Chicago had a touring show of The Lion King on stage, I was there, dragging a very unhappy husband to one of his first shows. HE loved it, and I can still get him to admit it.

Over the last eight years, our Lion King DVD comes out over and over again, and the kids can’t stop watching it. Without fail, all three kids have seen it as toddlers and become obsessed. There is something about Simba, Timon and Pumbaa that just capture the imagination of a 3-year old. The characters are silly, sad, angry, happy – everything that a toddler feels but can’t express. More so, they are heroes that still make mistakes – BIG Mistakes. There is a safety in the chaos of the Pride Lands as kids watch Simba grow from an arrogant kid to a scared adult and king.

The music is extraordinary and is what really solidifies the movie as something that will stand the test of time. A collaboration between Elton John and Tim Rice, it pulls you in from the opening scene through the films end. The cast is ridiculously good. With Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick in the lead, and Whoopi Goldberg, Jeremy Irons, Cheech Marin, and James Earl Jones as supporting players, there really is no way that you can go wrong.

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My youngest discovered The Lion King last month as we were navigating how to keep three kids busy during Winter Break. It has been top of his mind ever since, and you forget how special the movie really is until you watch a two-year old see it for the first time.

He runs around with no pants singing “Hakuna Matata” and in a surprise twist, yells passionately “MURDERER!” at his brother and sister when they make him mad like Simba yells at Scar in the end of the movie. We’re definitely going to need to get that one out of his vocabulary ASAP.

He’s now an avid fan of the new Disney TV show The Lion Guard which is a spin off following Simba’s son, and I’m sure that the Disney machine will find a way to keep this movie classic going and going and going.

If you haven’t had a chance lately, take a few hours and track it down. I promise that if you don’t have it, there will be a neighbor somewhere who does. From the opening musical score, you’ll be lost in the world of the African Pride Lands, Mufasa’s legacy, and Simba’s journey to embrace his true self.

Movies We Love This Week: Home (The Anti-Disney Princess movie)

The Sheehans are a movie family, likely to a fault. I will admit that one of our favorite past times is to cuddle on the couch and have family movie night. This often happens way too often. We’ve broken all the rules around screen time, which is something that we are constantly trying to change and get better at. But ultimately, our family likes movies, we like to snuggle, and overall, the approach works for us.

Home Movie

Over the last few weeks, the kids have rediscovered a movie released earlier this year – Home.   Ironically, my older two kids (8 and 6) saw the movie in theater but it didn’t really blow them away. However, when we rediscovered it a few months ago, opinions changed, mostly because my 2-year old has become obsessed.

This movie is not an award winner. It’s not some beautifully surprising masterpiece that adults and kids will love.  It’s no Up, or Wall-E or Lion King that will stand the test of time and be just as relevant decades from now. It’s a simple kids’ movie. Harmless, fun, and silly, and I think that’s why the kids love it so much.   

Dom and Oh the Alien have become tight
Dom and Oh the Boov have become tight

It tells the story of the Boov, a cowardly alien race that has taken over the earth and displaced all humans to Australia except for one spunky tween girl, Tip.  One of the Boov aliens, Oh, is an outcast constantly getting in trouble, and he ends up on the run from his own people. He and Tip end up together on their own quests – Oh is looking to keep out of trouble and Tip is desperately trying to find her mom.  The good news – everything works out and the world is covered in floating bubbles and cars running on Slurpees.

All jokes aside, there is actually a lot to like about this movie.  The focus of this is about friends and family and the bonds that matter most. The heroine is a tween girl who is tough, independent, smart and brave. She’s an immigrant from Barbados living in New York with her single mom. She doesn’t need a prince, she needs a friend!  In a world full of helpless (or semi-helpless) Disney princesses looking for their prince, this is a welcome change!

Intentionally or unintentionally, the voice actors reinforce that theme of independent strength. Tip is voiced by Rihanna, and she’s projects that perfect mix of strength and vulnerability. Her mom is voiced by Jennifer Lopez. Do I need to say more???? And, Oh, the hapless but loving Boov alien who helps save the day, is voiced by Jim Parsons of Big Bang Theory fame.

What makes the movie stick in your head is not the story itself but the soundtrack that goes with it. The film features some great songs by both Rihanna and J. Lo that really fit the tone of the movie and yet are catchy enough that you can listen to them on their own.  Thanks to Spotify, the Home soundtrack has almost reached Frozen soundtrack proportions because multiple children enjoy them in the house.

Overall, Home is definitely worth a family watch if you haven’t seen it yet, particularly if you have kids under 10.  Enjoy!

The US Latino Story in Film: The Best and What’s Missing

Did you know that a US Latino (man or woman) has not been nominated for a major Academy Award of any kind on their own in over 22 years? According to the US Census, Hispanics account for 17.4% of the US population. How is it possible that not one of us has even been nominated for an Academy Award in decades?  Hollywood – WE HAVE A PROBLEM.

My intention for this blog post was not to be “political,” and I apologize for my moment of shocked outrage. We are in the midst of Hispanic Heritage Month, which was started in the 60s, to honor the achievements of those in the US of Hispanic decent.  I had a vision this week of writing a “Top XX List” for movies that celebrated the story of the US Latino. I even reached out on my personal Facebook page for recommendations.

As I was developing my list, I decided to include any Academy-Award nominated movies that celebrate the US Latino story. There are none. Not one!

Ironically, I got the idea for this blog while watching Viola Davis give an amazing speech after becoming the first African-American woman to win an Emmy for Best Actress in a Drama Series. I had tears running down my cheek as she eloquently said that “you can’t win an Emmy if the roles don’t exist.” This is true for all people, regardless of the color of their skin, their religion, or any of their differences.  However, in this case, it is especially true for US Latinos.

In a business centered in a city with a Spanish name, Hollywood has made gestures to foreign-born Latinos, including awarding Mexico’s Alejandro Inarritu with the Best Director award last year for Birdman. Yet, it seems that Hollywood has failed those in its own backyard.

I digress. Share this! Help me call Hollywood out! 

Even without the awards, here is a list of powerful movies – both dramatic and funny – that represent US Latino culture and life. Movies that make me think of home and family, and illustrate both the best and the worst of growing up Latino in the US over the last century.

I challenge you to watch one of these movies over the next month. You can find them online if you can’t find them on TV – Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc. Help me show Hollywood that our actors are worth hiring, our stories are worth telling, and our culture is worth investing in.

Let’s start a social networking movement! #Latinofilmnow

Must Watch - The Classics

The Must Watch Movies that Celebrate US Latino Life

  • Stand and Deliver
  • La Bamba
  • My Family (Mi Familia)
  • El Norte
  • Selena
  • Nothing Like the Holidays
  • Fools Rush In
  • Spare Parts
  • McFarland, USA
  • Day Without A Mexican
  • Real Women Have Curves
  • West Side Story
  • El Super
  • Sin Nombre
  • Cesar Chavez
  • Tortilla Soup
  • The Milagro Beanfield War

I intentionally left numbers off this list.  They are all amazing, and I know there are so many that I’ve missed. Let me know your favorites and let people know on Facebook or Twitter when you’ve watched a movie! Remember #Latinofilmnow

Books that I Love – The Martian by Andy Weir

I just finished reading The Martian by Andy Weir. I love this book!!!

Weir tells the story of Mark Watney, a space botanist and mechanical engineer, who gets stranded and injured on the surface of Mars during a dust storm in which his team has to immediately escape to safety or die.  I promise that I’m not giving away any spoilers here. It all happens in the first 25 or 30 pages of the book.

Mark’s story occurs in what appears to be the not-to-distant future, which actually makes it even better for any of us nerds that dreamed about going into space until they realized that Thermodynamics and Physics just SUCK unless you are brilliant.

The character development in this book was phenomenal.  You get a true sense of  a multi-dimensional Mark Watney. He’s funny and smart. Creative and obnoxious. Hopeful and hopeless. But most of all, he’s terrified but refuses to give up…ever. There is so much strength in that type of courage that you can’t help but be sucked into his story.  Beyond that, though, Weir works hard to really introduce you to the key characters that work to find a way to try to rescue Mark after they discover that his is still alive and stuck on Mars.

I won’t give everything away, but if you are looking for a fun, easy, quick read, then put this on your list.  And, as a bonus, you get to see Matt Damon as Mark Watney in the upcoming movie version of the book.  I cannot wait!

http://www.foxmovies.com/movies/the-martian
http://www.foxmovies.com/movies/the-martian