REVIEW: ‘Turning Red’ absolutely rocks

Pixar has went back-to-back with great coming of age films, following up last year’s “Luca” with this superb animated feature.

Domee Shi, who helmed the Academy Award-winning short film “Bao”from 2018, directed and co-wrote this Pixar film. The movie is set in Toronto during 2002 and centers on Mei (Rosalie Chiang), a straight-A student who works hard to meet the high standards set by her mother (Sandra Oh).

At the same time, Mei is also a typical 13-year-old. She hangs out with a group of best friends and they enjoy boy bands and have crushes. She has a pretty good balance going on, but that begins to change when a mystical family spell that passes generation-to-generation turns her into a giant red panda.

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REVIEW: Don’t bother checking in to fourth ‘Hotel Transylvania’ film

The fourth and final “Hotel Transylvania” was initially set for a theatrical release, but this approach was later cancelled, with Sony Pictures instead taking a digital route.

It makes sense, because this has all the makings of a straight-to-home-video animated movie.

The installment takes place not long after the events of the third movie. Dracula (voiced now by Brian Hull), is still running the hotel and is now living there with his wife Erica Van Helsing (Kathryn Hahn). At the movie’s outset, Dracula is considering retiring, and in the process, handing the keys to his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) and son-in-law Johnny (Andy Samberg).

However, Dracula is nervous about doing so, as Johnny is not a monster. Johnny soon learns this and decides find  a way to turn himself into a monster. He succeeds, but this move accidentally turns other monsters, including Dracula, into humans. Determined to set things back to normal, Dracula and Johnny set off on an adventure.

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REVIEW: ‘Mitchells Vs The Machines’ never rises above mediocre

This movie and the new “Matrix” in a few weeks is only reinforcing my concern about a robot uprising.

As the title implies, this movie is about a family, named the Mitchells, taking on evil bots. While the whole family is included, though, the main focus is on Katie (Abbi Jacobson), a teen who’s preparing to go to college in California to study film. Her academic path has put her at odds with her dad Rick (Danny McBride), though, who’s never been interested in technology and enjoys the outdoors much more.

Knowing that he has one last chance to connect with his daughter before she leaves for school, Rick decides to take Katie, as well as his son Aaron (Michael Rianda) and wife Linda (Maya Rudolph) on a college move-in road trip. Unfortunately, their journey is interrupted by the robots who’re in the midst of a global takeover because of an A.I. gone bad.

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REVIEW: Disney’s ‘Encanto’ is mostly average

“Encanto” invites audiences to spend time at a home where residents have various super powers.

It’s like a less intense version of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.

Mirabel (Stephanie Beatriz) is the main character in “Encanto,” and also happens to be the one member of her family without powers, making her the odd one out. For generations, her family has been gifted with powers, allowing them to create a safe, comfortable community in Columbia.

In most cases, Mirabel is overshadowed in her family, especially by her older sisters Luisa (Jessica Darrow) and Isabela (Diane Guerrero). However, she uncovers an issue with the source of her family’s magic and becomes the one person determined to set things right, even without powers.

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REVIEW: There’s nothing sweet about ‘Home Sweet Home Alone’

I’d rather watch “Jingle All the Way.”

Pam (Ellie Kemper) and Jeff (Rob Delaney) are a married couple facing some adversity during the Christmas season. Jeff is between jobs and it means they may have to sell their house, a home they both love. Their financial issues have a potential solution, though, as they have an antique which could sell for a lot of money.

However, during a chance encounter, they believe the antique fell into the hands of a kid named Max (Archie Yates). Around the same time, it turns out Max has been left home alone, with his family leaving for vacation. While it seems great at first, Max becomes worried when Pam and Jeff start snooping around, as the couple has hopes to get the antique back.

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REVIEW: Lead performance and fun adventure push ‘Afterlife’ above average

Unlike the 2016 “Ghostbusters,” which was a reboot, this latest film serves as a direct sequel, set decades after the events of the 1989 picture.

The movie introduces viewers to Callie (Carrie Coon), the daughter of Dr. Egon Spengler, and her two children, Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard). At the movie’s outset, Dr. Spengler passes away and the death notice is sent to Callie. After the update, Callie and her kids travel to rural Oklahoma, where Spengler left a farmstead to his family.

Upon arrival, Callie and Trevor are mostly unimpressed by the small town and rundown house. However, Phoebe, who’s interested in science, begins finding Ghostbuster equipment and her interest is piqued even more as there are several abnormal earthquakes in the area. To investigate what’s going on, Phoebe teams up with one of her classmates, who simply goes by “Podcast” because he produces one (Logan Kim).

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REVIEW: Pixar’s ‘Luca’ is a winner

Pixar has another great movie on its resume.

The latest film from the Disney-owned studio takes place in and around a small town on the Italian Riviera. The titular character, voiced by Jacob Tremblay, is a young humanoid sea creature who lives beneath the waves with his mother (Maya Rudolph), father (Jim Gaffigan) and grandma (Sandy Martin). The family has a strict rule about not visiting the surface, as humans have been known to be dangerous, but Luca is fascinated by the world above.

At the film’s start, Luca is given a chance to explore the Italian turf when he meets another “sea monster,” Alberto (Jack Dylan Grazer). The duo become fast friends and, with growing frustration toward his parents’ rules, Luca decides to travel to the Italian village with Alberto, in human disguise. There, they become friends with a girl named Giulia (Emma Berman), who wants to enter a local triathlon.

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REVIEW: ‘Tom and Jerry’ is a total loss

“Tom and Jerry” were never my favorite series of classic animated shorts. With this movie, though, I had hope that maybe a modern take on the characters could result in a fun family flick mixing live action with animation.

I was so, so wrong.

As the title suggests, this follows the well known cat and mouse duo of Tom and Jerry. The film starts off with the two now living in New York City. In the Big Apple, Jerry is considering where he’d like to live, while Tom has a dream of being a piano player and has been working on his craft in Central Park. The two eventually run into each other, though, and a bit of chaos ensues.

Eventually, through a series of events, Jerry finds himself at a fancy hotel and decides to settle down. At the same time a young woman who’s looking for work and is known for hustling, ends up getting hired at the hotel just as it’s ready to hold a celebrity wedding. The woman, Kayla (Chloe Grace Moretz), starts the job and is soon tasked with getting rid of Jerry, as the hotel’s reputation can’t handle a mouse being there. To help the situation, she enlists Tom to help.

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REVIEW: ‘Raya and the Last Dragon’ is an enjoyable, mythical ride

Swords, princesses and dragons aren’t exactly new to Disney animated films. But how they’re portrayed here in “Raya and the Last Dragon” is somewhat refreshing.

The movie follows the story of Raya (voiced by Kelly Marie Tran), a young woman exploring a rather desolate land that is made up of five tribes. In the past, the land was much more tranquil and lively, but an event between the five tribes led to an important stone being shattered, which led to the release of evil beings which can turn people to stone.

Only a legendary dragon named Sisu can destroy the evil by putting magic back into the stone once it’s back together. Early in the film, Raya does succeed in finding Sisu (voiced by Nora “Awkwafina” Lum). However, a larger task is getting all of the stone pieces, each held by leaders of the different tribes, and none of them trust each other. Raya and Sisu set off on adventure to accomplish this task, though.

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REVIEW: Character issues make ‘Over the Moon’ a misfire

The year 2020 hasn’t been my favorite for animation and unfortunately, “Over the Moon” hasn’t helped that case.

The picture, released on Netflix, tells the story of Fei Fei (Cathy Ang), a young girl who became fascinated by the Moon because of stories told by her late mother. At the film’s outset, following the death of her mother, Fei Fei is working with her father at their small pastry company.

Life seems to be carrying on for the family, but the pain of loss still lingers for Fei Fei. That pain is reinforced when her father begins spending time with a woman, Ms. Zhong (Sandra Oh), as the Moon Festival approaches. Eventually, she learns that her father plans to marry Ms Zhong, and as a result, she will likely be getting an annoying step brother in the deal.

Hoping to fix the situation, she builds a craft capable of reaching the moon to speak with an ancient being who resides there. The plan goes a little haywire, though, when it turns out her step-brother-to-be, Chin (Robert Chiu), tagged along for the ride.

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