This is my review of the new Disney film, Cruella. I love Disney. I enjoy watching all of the live-action remakes or retellings. Villian origin stories are particularly compelling, because I love the idea of hearing the stories we know and love from a different point of view. It is also important to remember, that unlike in the movies, people are not all good or all bad. We all fluctuate on the same continuum.

My absolute favorite recent live action Disney film is Maleficent. Angelina Jolie’s portrayal of a different kind of fairy who’s story is much more complicated than Sleeping Beauty would you have you believe is captivating.

Although I love a good villian origin story, I was a little leery of Cruella. How are they going to make someone who desires to kill puppies sympathetic? I absolutely hate movies with any type of animal cruelty. Thankfully, Cruella focuses very little on the dogs. It’s a much more human story with dogs as the side story. A 101 Dalmatians purist may not like that, but for me it made the story much more palatable. Although, this entire movie takes place prior to the story line we see in 101 Dalmatians, so who knows where it could go if they make a second movie.

The movie was really fun. It was full of drama and fashion and fun characters and revenge. I highly recommend it to all Disney movie fans. I enjoyed it more than I expected to and give it a full 5 stars!

The option to see the movie in a theater or through premier access through Disney Plus is great for large groups. It was much cheaper to purchase the Premier Access and watch it with my whole family. We were staying in a cabin in the mountains near Pigeon Forge. Our cabin had a movie room (with old movie seats, not the fancy recliners of today’s theaters and a projector. The perfect way to feel like we were at the movies, while still being able to pause the movie for bathroom breaks or more popcorn!

Pixar’s Soul

We watched the new Pixar movie Soul bright and early this morning after playing with Santa’s gifts for a bit. It is the perfect “looking on the bright side” film for this blog.

Jamie Foxx and Tina Fey star as Joe Gardner and 22 as they journey to find their sparks and soul’s purpose.

It is funny. It is heartwarming. It is jazzy. It is about appreciating the small things in life. It is about staying connected to the important things.

Quarantine Activities and Lists

I love lists.  I love categorizing things and working my way through a list.  I spend more time planning a trip than going on it.  I spend time adding to my to be read book list, sometimes, before reading the several hundred books that are already on it.  I can’t help it.  It’s who I am.

During this time of social distancing at home, I’ve come up with a few ways to have fun with lists.  The first one has been very popular on my social media.  My daughter and I have been Disneybounding from home every day with clothes in our closets.  I first Disneybounded on our most recent trip to WDW earlier this year.  (There is a blog post on it, if you want to check it out.)  For those outfits, I purchased some clothes and accessories to go along with things I already had in my closet to make the perfect outfits for the park. 

For this challenge, we have just been working with the things we already have.  Working our way through lists of Disney characters has been both a delight and a challenge, as we see what we can come up with.  Once we are done, I’m going to put all of our pictures together in a Shutterfly book to remember all of the fun we had.

A long time ago, way before my daughter was born, I worked my way through watching each of the top 100 movies as listed by the American Film Institute.  We’ve been having family movie nights each day.  Usually, we sit around forever trying to agree on a movie to watch together.  So, I came up with a fun challenge to mix it up.  

I wrote down a list of movie genres on small slips of paper and put them in a bag.  Every few days, we draw a new genre out of the bag.  Then each family member is challenged with coming up with a movie for us to watch that meets that category.  So far, we’ve done sports movies, action/adventure movies, animated movies, classic movies, and we are currently on superhero movies.  Once we are done with the genres in the bag, I’ve got even more ideas up my sleeve to keep it going as long as we want.  It’s fun, and each family member gets a turn to pick the movie, so no arguing about the best choice.

Another list that my daughter and I have been working our way through comes from the Usborne book, Step-By-Step Drawing Animals.  My daughter and I are drawing each animal in the book, following the simple instructions.  Together, we sit down and draw the animal.  Then we decorate the background and add them to our stack.  When we have worked our way through the entire book, I plan to connect our drawings somehow into some kind of book for our memories.  It’s a fun activity to do together, and we can see the different interpretations we each have of the same animal.

The list that I have been working my way through since the very beginning of this quarantine is watching the Cincinnati Zoo’s daily home safaris.  It started as a family activity that we did together.  The three of us would sit down to learn about a new animal at the zoo each day.  My family eventually started to lose interest, so we got behind schedule.  I’ve started watching them again on my own, but I am still catching up for time away.  Learning about all the animals is fascinating to me and makes me wish that I was a zookeeper.

a grainy pic of my TV

What kind of fun, new activities have you been doing during quarantine?  Is anybody else working their way through a list?


I just got back from the new Pixar movie, Onward, which came out today. Like all Pixar movies, it was adorable. It was both funny and heartfelt. I may have teared up at the end.

I wouldn’t say it’s one of the best Pixar movies, but it was still a fun watch with a great message. I was shocked by the short that played before the movie. It was entertaining, but unexpected. I won’t say more, in case you like to be surprised.

Onward is a story about family and brothers. It’s a story about loss. It’s a story about magic. It’s a story about finding your true self and courage. It’s the perfect story for a “Looking on the Bright Side” kind of life!

Dear Evan Hansen

Yesterday, I saw the Broadway play Dear Evan Hansen here in New Orleans.  It was amazing, of course.  I had first listened to the soundtrack a couple years ago after the show won at the Tonys, but I had to read plot summaries to get a feel for the whole story between the songs.  Seeing the show performed really brought it all together.

It was funny.  It was inspiring.  It was sad. Walking out of the theater after the show, it was obvious that many tears had been shed among the audience.

The play is very relevant to the experience of today’s teen.  The power of the internet is a big part of the show. Our interconnectedness can be used for good and can also keep us apart.

It’s a story about depression, but even more, it’s a story about how each of us matters.  It’s a reminder that it does get better.

The show is amazing and powerful.  If you ever have the opportunity to see it, I highly recommend it.  The cast is small, but we really get to know each character. The set design and effects are really cool and evocative of how social media is so ever-present in our lives. Ultimately, it is about connection between people.

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

Tonight, the Maleficent sequel came out and my family was there to see it. The first Maleficent film was the first movie I went to see in theaters after my daughter was born. If you have not seen it, it is amazing! It is probably my favorite live action Disney film.

It is a villain back story that shows good vs. evil is not always black and white. In that way, it is like the Broadway musical, Wicked, which is also excellent if you have not seen it. I am actually surprised that Disney has not put out more villain back story movies, as they seem to be cranking out live action films so regularly.

When I first saw the previews for the sequel, I was a bit put off as the previews all focused on Maleficent as evil. It annoyed me, because that was in direct contrast to the first film’s premise. One can tell in the preview that Michelle Pfeiffer’s character would probably end up being the actual bad guy (which is true), but it only showed Maleficent getting angry.

Of course, the preview does not tell the whole story. This was a film about war vs peace. Acceptance over intolerance. The film is stunningly beautiful. The visuals are enchanting.

The movie may be a bit dark for many young children, although my daughter loves both of them. Angelina Jolie is perfect as Maleficent.

We love Maleficent in my family. My daughter just recently did a Maleficent themed photo shoot. I can’t wait to see all of the pictures. She was gorgeous and is a great model. I also ordered a headpiece so that I can be Maleficent for Halloween this year. My daughter is going as Mal from the Descendants, so my husband and I will be her parents (Maleficent and Hades).

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil is a beautiful fantasy film with a great message. I love it!

Seize the Day

Musical Theater.  It is the absolute best.  They take a story and tell it through song, and it goes from good to great.  I think it is because songs tap into a deep emotional side of us. Add in some drama and dance and you are good to go.

Last night, I went to see Theatre Baton Rouge’s production of Disney’s Newsies.  I had never seen Newsies before, neither on stage or the film. I know – I’m behind the times.  It was excellent, like every musical I’ve seen at TBR is. There is something extra special about community theatre.  Seeing all that amazing talent and knowing that these are the kids, doctors, teachers, etc. who reside and work right here in Baton Rouge.  

The singing, dancing, acting, and production were all great.  It is an inspirational tale of the Newsboys strike of 1899. If you haven’t seen it yet, they added two dates next week that still have tickets.  I guess I need to get around to watching the movie now.

I’m not a toy!

My daughter and I went to the first showing of Toy Story 4 this morning. Like everyone else, I’ve been a fan of Toy Story since the release of the first film 24 years ago. Each of the films has been great, including this one. I think that spacing them out this much really ups the nostalgia factor, but they are each great movies on their own. (The trailer for Frozen’s sequel, however, is looking a bit intense.)

The movie is funny and full of all of our old loveable favorite characters. Several new characters are also introduced, including Duke Kaboom and of course, the loveable Forky! I thought Forky was just going to be a funny side character, but he actually turns out to be a major part of the movie.

Ultimately, this movie is about Woody, Andy’s original favorite toy. If you are emotionally attached to Disney movies (as I am), the ending is bittersweet. You may even cry.

I was the only person in the theater who stayed all the way until the end of the credits for the final post-credit scene. The four teenage movie theater employees stood by and waited for me to leave so that they could start their clean-up of the theater. There are several different scenes during the credits. The one at the very end is cute, but not worth staying for if you’re not really into that sort of a thing. It’s just an extra joke. But I like to get the full experience.

Now to just save my money for a trip to Disney World, so that I can experience Toy Story Land!

Come From Away Review

A little over a year ago, I decided to listen to the Come From Away album, knowing nothing about the Broadway musical.  I put it on in my car and was immediately like, “woah, this is good.”  I literally hadn’t known the topic of the play or anything and found myself getting emotional.  Each year, my sister and I look at the list of Broadway shows coming to the Saengar Theatre in New Orleans.  We pick our top shows to attend, knowing that we cannot afford to see them all. We are fortunate that we are usually able to attend about half of the shows each season.  My sister had never heard of Come From Away, but I told her that we needed to add it to our list.

Last night, we saw the show.  It was amazing. If you ever get the opportunity to see it, I highly recommend it.  Come From Away is about the terrorist attacks on 9-11.  Super cheery subject, right? But it is a story of hope, community, the goodness of people, and how we are more alike than we are different.  It is funny, uplifting, and touching. The musical tells the true story of the 7000 people whose planes were diverted to a tiny town in Newfoundland when the airspace was closed following the attacks on the twin towers.  These people from all over the world are forced to come together. The welcoming Newfoundlanders took care of them. Friendships were formed in a time of crisis.

Twelve actors play all of the different roles.  The scenery is simple as the actors move a few tables and chairs around the stage in each scene.  But it is powerful. It is powerful because it is a story about the goodness of people. It is a story about how we are more alike than we are different.  It reminds me of that famous quote from Mr. Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

Aladdin (2019) Film Review

I went to see the new live action remake of Disney’s Aladdin yesterday, on opening night.  I love Disney movies, and appreciate the new interpretations and added storylines that come with the new live action films.  Aladdin was not my favorite of the recent remakes.  That honor would probably go to Maleficent or Beauty and the Beast.  Aladdin was, however, an enjoyable ride (on a magic carpet).

Will Smith’s Genie was not as funny as the character made famous by Robin Williams, but it was still fun to see his take on the all-powerful master of the lamp.  I love when the remakes give us a literal live-action interpretation of the original, but I also appreciate the added storyline elements and new songs. One of the main additions to Aladdin was a heightened focus on Princess Jasmine’s wish to rule her father’s kingdom after him.  The new original song in the film is entitled Speechless.  It is a feminist anthem about the power of a woman’s voice. It might have been interesting to have the film have an even larger focus on Jasmine and her storyline.

Overall, I quite enjoyed the movie, but not quite as much as the recent Broadway musical production of Disney’s Aladdin.  That performance took my breath away.  It was so beautiful, funny, and entertaining.  If you ever get a chance to check it out, I highly recommend it.  As for the new live action film, I highly recommend it for fans of Disney, musicals, and remakes.  I’m all three, so for me, it was an enjoyable night.