Moana: A Review


Welp, Moana has been out since 23 November and I’m just seeing it (life of a parent, amirite?). Not only have I seen it, I’ve seen it twice. Cause it’s that good.

Now, I’ve always been a fan of Disney. I grew up on Aladdin, Mulan, Beauty & the Beast (EEE! March 17 can’t come fast enough), and The Little Mermaid. I spent my childhood singing the songs and dreaming of a life of adventure and love, just like the Disney Princesses.

But as I got older, I saw some of the disappointing flaws that plague the Disney line. You know what I’m talking about. The white-washing, the reinforced gender roles, and some questionable choices about teenage weddings. So I was 100% on board with a new Disney movie with a non-white main character, one who didn’t have a love interest. Now as someone who adores a good love story, I thought I’d be a little disappointed.

I was not. Not even a little.

Moana is the story of a Pacific island chieftain’s daughter–not a princess, the main character explicitly states–who isn’t content with the life that has been planned for her. Even though her expected role is island life governing a village, she is suddenly thrust into an adventure that takes her out into the open ocean. While sometimes she reacts to the story, Moana drives her own life. She is a heroine, not a prize. Despite the males that constantly underestimate her, Moana excels.

And I love it for that. She isn’t competing with another woman for love, she isn’t pitted against some evil witch, and she’s not a side character for some male protagonist’s story. She is her own. It’s wonderful.

And that isn’t the only great thing about this movie. Have you heard the music? Pairing traditional music for the Pacific islands with Disney’s full orchestra, there is a little something for everyone. How Far I’ll Go” rivals Frozen‘s “Let It Go” as an inspirational ballad. Jemaine Clement cameos for a creepy song about exterior beauty in “Shiny.” And Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson injects the perfect amount of smugness into “You’re Welcome,” which constantly reminded me of this:

giphy 8.gif

And as much as I am ignorant in other cultures, I did notice some hat tips towards Pacific island culture. Like the Haka War Dance and the islanders’ tattoos. While many consider this minor, these small gestures 1) teach those of us who don’t know about these things and 2) gives representation to those who belong to those cultures. We white, middle-class, Christian folk take for granted that we see ourselves everywhere. For our Canadian friends who don’t belong in that same grouping, I imagine that it’s refreshing to see themselves for once.

I can’t pretend that this movie doesn’t have its problematic moments, though I will need to see it at least three more times to really go through all its messages. Oh dang.

Overall, though, I’d definitely see it if I were you. It’s funny, it’s beautiful, and it’s got Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Three 5 star reasons if there ever were any.


Have you seen it? What’d you think? Let me know!



Doctor Very, Very Strange

Brian and I took the day off yesterday to spend some time together. It’s reading break at university and Brian had a couple of days off so we left the boys at daycare and headed to a movie.

I should preface this with one thing: I do not like Marvel movies. The superhero thing doesn’t do it for me. I don’t like the punch, look over one’s shoulder, say a punny line to no one in particular, and punch again sequence. Explosions don’t excite me and the world has been at stake so many times that I’m ready for it to end. Oh, and I loathe Iron Man. That guy needs to launch into space and stay there.

Anyways, Brian and I went to see Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch (not to be confused with Dr. Strange from 1978). My hopes were pretty low. I saw a couple reviews that pegged it as a way to waste a couple hours with something fun at the end. Brian, I’ll let you know, was more excited than I to see it. He’s a pretty big fan of this seemingly never-ending build-up to a finale of movies that will disappoint us all.

We took our seats at 12:30 with a bag of popcorn and a mostly empty theatre. We got the nice, comfortable d-box seats with our points because the extra leg room is sure nice. And you don’t have to share arm rests! Then the movie began…


So it was like House and Batman Begins and Inception were mashed together into a single movie and then put through a kaleidoscope. We have a brilliant doctor who treats everyone like crap because that’s emerged as another trope we seem to eat up. He works with a less smart, but quite attractive doctor played by Rachel McAdams, who has some kind of romantic relationship with him. I can’t remember her name at all, which is kind of telling. Her character is there to convince the audience that we should care about Stephen Strange, even though he drives like a jerk, he has more money than most country’s GDPs , and he is overwhelmingly selfish.

After an accident that would never let him be a surgeon ever again, Strange searches for a way to restore his body to what it was before. This journey leads him to Nepal where he meets The Ancient One and learns that there’s magic in the world that comes from other dimensions, one of which is threatening to turn our world to darkness. Strange has to learn how to get over himself (just kidding, he doesn’t have to because he’s so incredible that he’s incapable of change) and tap into the magic so that he can save our world.

There are some references to other movies and I’d suggest that you watch Guardians of the Galaxy before watching this movie. The “twist” relies on it.

The acting is *shrug*. Cumberbatch is not as fun to watch when we are deprived of his accent. And his beard during his training is just… no. Tilda Swinton is as marvelous as ever, even though I’m not impressed that they cast a white woman to be the leader of monks in Nepal. And I know they “fixed” it with one line of dialogue that she is actually an ancient Celt (with a very British accent) who inherited the monastery, but it still rubs me a the wrong way. Why not have the monastery in Ireland? Why do we always have to associate Asia with “mystic” and “exotic?” I can’t tell if this is to be true to the comics (which I haven’t read) or because it’s easy. Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo was fun to watch. I’ve always been a fan since his appearance on Serenity, but they gave him some weird accent that we all know is phony and borders on insensitive.

The CGI people had a field day with this movie. If you get motion sickness easily, maybe don’t see this in 3D because I was definitely feeling woozy half-way through. But as crazy as the effects were, I never looked at it and thought, wow this is pretty.

I think that was really it for me. It was okay. It didn’t blow my mind, nor did it make me angry so I guess that’s a plus. And I didn’t spend the movie wondering when it would be over. This movie is another in the long line of Marvel movies that is only there to introduce the character so that when they group up in yet another Avengers movie, we don’t have to go into backstory. We can just have more explosions.

If you love Marvel movies, I imagine you’ll enjoy this. If you have a couple of hours you’d like to burn, this isn’t a bad way to do it. If you just want to get away from reality right now, this will definitely remove you from it. But if you’re looking for a movie that passes the Bechdel test, that breaks the mold, that has fully fleshed out characters, look elsewhere.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Think I shouldn’t have reviewed this movie because I’m so biased? Let me know below!


“Zootopia” – A Review

“One year when I was a teenager, my family had gathered together for a meal. Thanksgiving, maybe? We were talking about some news story where police shot a suspect as he ran from them.

“He must be guilty,” we said, “because you don’t run from the police unless you have something to hide.”

Ignorant, we were, of our privilege. My uncle, an adopted non-white man, spoke up. “I don’t know about that. I have friends who have had run-ins with police just because of what they look like.”

No one had anything to say. What could we say? We, a group of white, middle class people sitting in the living room of a house fully paid for in the nice part of a town that boasted a very, very large majority of white people, had absolutely no idea about what racism really was.

What does this have to do with a children’s movie?


Zootopia is a film about a little bunny named Judy Hopps who dreams of leaving her small town to become a police officer in the big city of Zootopia. The problem is that there has never been a rabbit police officer and the rest of the animal kingdom doesn’t think that there ever will be. Still, she works her tail off (tee hee), rising to the top of her class at the police academy and sent to Zootopia to begin her new life… where she’s immediately put on meter maid duty. However, there is a slew of missing animals and Judy is determined to find out what is happening to these animals with the reluctant help from Nick Wilde, a cynical, wily fox who spends his days buying giant popsicles, melting them down, re-freezing them into smaller popsicles, and selling those refrozen popsicles for a significant profit.

Sounds like a fun children’s movie, right? It is. But that’s not all.

I don’t want to spoil the movie, but I’m going to talk a bit about the message behind the story. The focus here is prejudice. Judy wants to be a police officer, but no one thinks she can do it. Not because she’s not talented, not because she doesn’t have the drive, not because she’s not athletic, but because she’s a rabbit. Nick wants to buy a popsicle, but the rhino serving ice cream refuses (with a sign saying management can refuse anyone they like) to serve him because he’s a fox. Later in the movie, prey animals are turned against predators in a peaceful society because “violence is in their DNA.” It’s a little hard to elaborate on without spoiling the movie. Huh. I didn’t think about that when I decided to write this review.

How about this. I’m going to give you some lines out of context and see if that helps:

  • Judy Hopps: [Approaches reception desk where Clawhauser is munching on cereal] Excuse me… Down here… Hi.Clawhauser: O. M. Goodness, they really did hire a bunny. Ho-whop! I gotta tell you, you’re even cuter than I thought you’d be.Judy Hopps: Ooh, ah, you probably didn’t know, but a bunny can call another bunny ‘cute’, but when other animals do it, that’s a little…

    Clawhauser: [Mortified] Hoo, I’m so sorry! Me, Benjamin Clawhauser, the guy everyone thinks is just a flabby donut-loving cop stereotyping you.

  • “Sir, I’m not just some token bunny.”

Okay there are more, but it’s hard to get the wording right when you saw the movie several hours ago. At one point, Judy points out how articulate Nick is (implying that foxes aren’t generally able to speak “articulately” and whatever they do speak is somehow worth less than what Judy speaks). At another, the villain talks about uniting the 90% of the population against the common enemy that is the 10% because “fear always works” when it comes to getting power. There are a thousand references to racism, sexism, and prejudice in general. Let me tell you, this movie is not subtle.

But that’s the point. We have clearly gone passed the point of subtlety. When Donald Trump can call for a wall on the Mexican border to keep the rapists out to screams of agreement, we know we are passed. When we protest Canada accepting refugees into our country, we are passed. When we don’t investigate the death of a black woman in police custody after getting flagged for a traffic violation, we are passed. When the leader of the opposition party in Alberta jokes about “beating” our female premier, we are passed.

And the movie tried to expose the prejudice in ourselves when we identify with Judy. We feel bad that everyone around her told her she’s not enough just because of what she is. We cheer when she works passed the naysayers and follows her dream. We get angry at her setbacks. And then she shows her inherent prejudices against predator animals, causing backlash to an entire segment of the population based on the actions of a very, very few. Suddenly, the character that we have projected ourselves into has made a mistake that every single one of us has made. And we have to deal with it.

The movie isn’t perfect. Its message gets muddled with its metaphor. Predator animals were once violent creatures, the movie concedes, but now they’re not. Minorities didn’t kill white people and nor do they ignore their “base instincts” to live among white people. And talking about predators “going savage” is using language that has often been used by white people talking about people of colour.

Then there’s Nick. While it seems that every other character in the movie understands that they have prejudices from their upbringings, life experiences, or the media they consume and then works to correct it, Nick stays the same. He gives Judy a diminutive nickname (“carrots”) and talks about her driving skills reflecting on all rabbits, while she respectfully calls him by his name and apologizes for how she acted. The interactions between them remind me very much of the charming rogue who has zero respect for women and the heroine who decides to look passed his flaws and care for him just the same. Ugh. The movie makes every excuse for Nick’s behaviour, just like Judy’s, but condemns her and exonerates him. If she was supposed to be a stand-in for white people and he was the stand-in for non-whites, and if their social problems were based solely on the relationships between the races, I’d understand. But there are definite sexist undertones that the movie tries to condemn, but then forgets about halfway through.

If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, think about a time when a stranger called you “sweetheart” patronizingly while he tells you how to do your job. Ask a lady friend how it feels to be called “baby” by a man who looks her up and down like he wants to consume her. Nick talks to Judy in a similar way, but never changes. He doesn’t have to confront his own prejudices, which diminishes the whole message of the movie.


The message is a hard one to talk about. It makes us confront a part of ourselves that we don’t like, a part of ourselves that we don’t want to take responsibility for. We moan and groan about political correctness so that we don’t have to change our problematic behaviour. But it’s something that most of us don’t know we have inside of us. Not until someone tells us. For me, it was my uncle. And I hope this movie will tell others. I hope that it helps children confront their own prejudices early so that they don’t grow up believing that people can be “other.”

I did enjoy this movie even though the message wasn’t entirely presented in the way that I’d have liked. I laughed quite a bit and I was in awe of the animation (seriously, the bunny fur is beautiful). I loved the little Easter Eggs that were hidden in the movie (like Kristen Bell playing a sloth, which she famously loves [if you haven’t seen “Kristen Bell Sloth Meltdown” you need to click that link]). The movie stayed away from the sexual innuendos that are rampant in our children’s movies and opted instead for references and innocent humor. I definitely recommend that you see it and take your children with you (though the five year old girl sitting next to me had to sit on her dad’s lap because one part got too scary for her). This is what you will look like when you watch it:

giphy (1).gif

So I Saw Deadpool

So I saw Deadpool today. Brian and I have been planning at least one date night out of the house each month since Eggs was born (cause if you don’t  plan it, you won’t do it) and today the date included Ryan Reynolds and a lot of penis jokes. 

You should probably know a couple things about me before you read my review. I’m not a big fan of superheroes. I love Batman, especially Christian Bale’s Batman, though I’m also partial to Adam West’s. I don’t mind Spiderman, except for the loathsome performance by Tobey Maguire. Captain America and Thor are alright. I love the idea of X-Men, but the movies were only so-so. I cannot stand the sight of Iron Man and therefore haven’t seen any of the Avengers movies and I only saw the third Iron Man movie because it was for a birthday (and I seethed the whole time).

So I was a bit apprehensive going to see Deadpool. My understanding of the overall fan reverence for Deadpool is that he can say and do whatever he wants, which is appealing to people who are tired of being polite and decent to one another (especially appealing this year with the media obsession of the ultimate douchecanoe: Donald Trump). The fans of Deadpool, I’ve noticed, are the same people who love Iron Man, a character fueled by greed, lust, and alcoholic beverages. He’s a character worshipped for his ability to once in a while overcome his complete selfishness, but only for one woman who pretty much has to mother him because he’s a giant man-child who gets to be morally bankrupt due to his wealth. Yeah, like I said, I’m not a huge fan.

I figured Deadpool was the ultimate fantasy of getting to be a jerk to people with little to no consequences. So I figured his movie would cater to those people, plus lots of nudity and dick jokes for the fourteen-year-old boys in the audience. And it was that. But I also laughed and somehow didn’t get as offended as I thought I would.

First though, THIS SHOULD NOT BE A 14A MOVIE! I’m serious. There is no way in the entire world that I would let a young teen see this movie. When I thought that, I wondered if I was just growing old and considering teenagers more like children than I ought to. So I checked out what movies were 18A (the rating I think this movie should have gotten) when I was 18. The first one I saw on a list of 2006-07 top grossing 18A movies was 300. Now that was based on a graphic novel and featured super-muscled men fighting a bunch of other men and dying gratuitously. There’s a couple of women topless in that movie and a man’s butt. There’s a sex scene that I considered pretty scandalous when I was 18. The violence is graphic, but fantastic so it’s obvious that it’s not real (focusing on battle technique rather than physical pain). It’s stylized so that it looks more like a moving graphic novel than a reflection of real life.

That movie was rated 18A.

Deadpool has full frontal male and female nudity (female nudity is in sexual context, while the male nudity is not). There’s not a minute that goes by that doesn’t have some sort of sexual joke in it. There’s enough f-bombs to destroy a small country. The sex scene is… ummm… well… it’s there. Definitely more, umm, descriptive than the one in 300. I don’t really want to go more into it since my mom reads my blog sometimes.

The violence in Deadpool was similar to 300. There was lots, but it was mostly meant to provoke laughs or to shock. There is some torture, which I had a hard time stomaching, but I’m very, very adverse to violence. Some of it was ridiculous, like when a man explodes on a traffic sign. Some of it was sickening, like nearly suffocating someone for days. I could handle the first half, but not the second. But I think the reason I could stomach the first is kind of gross. When you don’t have to witness the pain or fear in someone who is dying, then it’s easy to brush off.

The language and the sexual content were definitely what I expected in this movie. You have an idea of what you’re getting into when the movie poster is a handgun mimicking a penis with a tagline that implies that the viewing is about be giving the poster oral sex.

You thought I was kidding…

I’m not going to elaborate on the jokes and tell you which ones I thought were funny and which ones weren’t. I’m going to say that if the poster makes you uncomfortable, then I’m going to bet that the movie will too.

Now before you judge me for at least half enjoying this film, there are some things that were very well done. We all love reference jokes, that’s why Family Guy has been on the air so long. When the movie references something you’ve seen or enjoyed, you get to feel like you’re “in” on an inside joke. That little thrill of being in the know. Like there’s a reference to Liam Neeson’s Taken movies, calling him a bad parent. I’m not going to pretend I’m immune to those jokes. I love them. And since Deadpool constantly breaks the fourth wall, he can use those jokes without breaking character (and how funny is it to see jokes about Ryan Reynolds being told by Ryan Reynolds?).

Ryan Reynolds is actually one of the best things about this film. Yes, he’s super attractive, but he’s also able to deliver the fast-talking lines needed to play the “merc with a mouth.” There’s always been something about him that makes him easy to relate to, whether it’s because he can make puppy-dog eyes with the best of them or because he’s been in enough romantic comedies that when he confesses his love we all swoon, it doesn’t matter. Plus he’s Canadian, which gives him a special place in my heart.

Morena Baccarin was also flawless. When I saw she was cast as a major role in a movie that was guaranteed to do well, I was a little surprised. I mean, she’s gorgeous and funny and talented, but she’s also 37, which in Hollywood years, is nearly retired. I’m very happy she was in this movie and I wouldn’t have cast it any other way. This is not an “in spite of her age” thing. She was truly incredible. She was the perfect match to Ryan Reynolds. Funny, smart, and not the damsel I’m used to seeing in movies. She talked just as dirty, worked just as hard, and was an integral part to the film.

And she wasn’t the only woman in the film! While it did fail the Bechdel Test, each woman was important in her own right and could have easily replaced by men, which happens all too frequently. None of them were the idealized beacon of femininity either. As someone with the ability to swear like a sailor and a past that’s not too squeaky clean, I related to those ladies.

So, the big question: will you like this movie? For the majority of people that read this blog, I’m going to say no. Unless you have a side that likes nudity, bad language, and gratuitous violence. If you have kids that want to see it, maybe have a talk with them about why cause, in my opinion, it’s rating is way too low. I think you either need to be an adult or escorted by one to see this stuff.

Have you seen Deadpool? Do you agree with me? Disagree? Let me know! Just don’t post any spoilers, please.