6 Ways that StarWars: Rebels Differs From StarWars: The Clone Wars

Both Star Wars Rebels and Star Wars The Clone Wars have been a wonderful addition to the Star Wars canon. Making serial stories for the small screen has enabled Star Wars storytellers and fans to dig into some of the meaty details and behind-the-scenes plots that just cannot fit into a 2-and-a-half hour movie time.

The Clone Wars took on the great task of filling in the very rich and colorful background that we were given only a taste of in the Prequel films. The world that Anakin experienced as a boy and Jedi was far richer than was the world of Luke Skywalker. The movies only had time to skim the surface of all of this material, but in The Clone Wars we were given a chance to experience this vast world on a episode by episode basis.

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We learned about the clones, senators and rulers, the underworld of Corusant, smugglers and bounty hunters, many different Jedi, and multiple unique races and cultures. Clone Wars gave so much more meaning to the Prequels by filling in  the background and giving us all of the individual stories that fed into the bigger story.

Star Wars Rebels is another great gift to the Star Wars universe, but it is a gift uniquely its own. Here are 6 ways that Rebels is different from The Clone Wars.

1. Rebels Keeps it Simple and Intimate

The Clone Wars was layered and complex. Even though we had a primary group of characters (Obi-Wan, Anakin, Ahsoka, Padme, Captain Rex), we were introduced to literally hundreds of new characters and story lines, and we only got a fraction of the available stories. The Clone Wars was a very busy series.

Rebels by contrast, is very simple and intimate. We have 6 main characters (Hera, Kanan, Zeb, Sabine, Ezra, Chopper) that we stay with all the time. Even our cast of background characters (Ahsoka, Kallus, Rex, Commander Sato) is kept to the minimum. This enables us to just focus on our Rebels, day in and day out. We see everything through their eyes and perspective.

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The Empire destroyed the connections and layers of the Republic. It destroyed trade, government structures, and long-living groups like the Jedi. Even as it encompassed most of the galaxy, the Empire managed to disconnect the peoples in the galaxy more than ever before. Therefore, it makes sense that we are going to experience fewer people at a time, fewer people are having shared experiences that they can communicate about.

This simplicity also sets the stage for our Rebels to begin fighting to join with other rebel forces. The Empire knows it cannot face a united front, so it fights tooth and nail to keep people apart through military and propaganda. In Rebels we get a front-row seat to the beginning of the unifying of the Rebellion. It starts small, but we know it will become something more.

2. Animation

The animation of The Clone Wars was very angular and structured. There were far more harsh angles and lines. This kept up with the fast pace of that series where a large-scale war was constantly raging.

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Rebels by contrast has very soft, rounded animation. It is richly colorful with layers and tones to both the settings and the characters themselves. This animation is very approachable and puts you at your ease with the more focused pace of the series.

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Both series have used the beautiful designs created by the talented Ralph McQuarrie, but the animators also managed to give each series its own unique look, thus separating them in our minds.

3. Rebels Has a Family Structure

This is one of my absolute favorite aspects of Rebels, and it goes along with the smaller cast and more intimate setting.

While The Clone Wars showed us people in all occupations and social levels, we never experienced a “family”. Everything was formality and rules. Sure, we knew that Obi-Wan and Anakin loved each other as brothers. Anakin and Padme carried their love as husband a wife secretly. And we especially know how much Anakin loved and cared for Ahsoka as a mentor and older brother. But none of these things could ever be acknowledged because of stifling rules and protocols that ended up contributing to the downfall of the Jedi and the Republic.

A family unit and affection is the strongest bond known to anyone. It’s stronger than any government, organization, or group. That is part of why our Rebels are so strong and effective, because they are a family first.

The writers have recognized this fact and how much we love it about their show, as a nod to it they even put in beautiful lines and scenes that accent the “family” side of Rebels.

Kanan and Hera love each other deeply. They have this subtle current of love that is built on shared strength and experiences. They function as husband and wife or mom and dad. This gives the rest of the crew something to depend on and take comfort in.

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“Kanan’s family, and we do anything for family.” Hera (Season 1, Ep 15)

“Alright kids, make mom and dad proud.” Hera (Season 2, Ep 1)

“He takes after Hera sometimes.” Kanan (referencing Ezra, Season 2, Ep 9)

“Sabine, you’re sounding more like a Jedi than a Mandalorian.” (Hera)

“Well, I guess I’ve just been raised right.” (Sabine, Season 2, Ep 13)

Hera has a tenderness for those on her crew that is very motherly. She makes Sabine feel acknowledged and understood. Ezra finds deep comfort and sympathy in his and Hera’s shared hope. Zeb and Chopper would be lost without Hera’s gentle compassion and strong leadership.

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Kanan’s attitude towards the crew of The Ghost is one of protection and leadership. He prioritizes their well-being first and values each of their skills. He has taken Ezra under his wing with a very fatherly hand and Ezra soaks it up like a sponge.

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Sabine, Ezra, Zeb, and Chopper fall into place under Kanan and Hera’s strong leadership. They all love each other and fight fiercely together. They are able to be brave because they know their family has their back. Each of them knows what they have lost, and they deeply value what they have gained….a new family. This love drives each of them to be better.

“I already lost my parents, I’m not about to lose my new family.” Ezra (Season 1, Ep 13)

4. Rebels is in a Harsher, more Primitive Setting

The glamor of The Clone Wars seems to be just a distant memory, just like the Republic is.

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All that once was has fallen into ruins and is now under the dark shadow of The Empire. We were introduced to some very poor and desperate corners of the galaxy in The Clone Wars, but since the Empire came into being more systems have fallen into poverty and despair.

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This sets the stage beautifully for the ragged Rebellion that will welcome Luke Skywalker in just a few years.

5. Tying Together the Republic, and the New Hope

The Clone Wars filled in the missing years between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the SithRebels fills in the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New HopeIt sets the stage for not only A New Hope, but also the upcoming story of Rogue 1 where we will get more of the behind-the-scenes story.

Rebels has done its job beautifully in taking the last remnants of the Republic and Clone Wars, and tying that in with the new generation. We have gotten to see beloved characters from the Prequels and Clone Wars series such as Obi-Wan (via hologram, but perhaps more one day), Ahsoka Tano, Captain Rex, Hondo, Sentaor Bail Organa, and Tarkin.

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As we have revisited these old characters and few of their stories, we have also been seamlessly introduced to the new generation of characters. Princess Leia, Lando Calrissian, and more to come in Season 3.

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Rebels has been a place where the past is meeting the future.

6. Rebels Introduces a New Generation of Jedi, One That is Much Stronger

The old Jedi Order has been wiped out. Kanan Jarrus is one of the few remaining Jedi, and he has now taken on Ezra Bridger as a padawan. As far as they know, they are the only ones in the entire galaxy. Kanan, whose training was cut short by Order 66, never officially reached “Jedi Knight” status. He was forced into hiding as a teenager, and since then has developed his own methods of survival and fighting.

Kanan has a much more loose and raw way of fighting than the Jedi of old. He can wield his fists and a blaster as well as he does a lightsaber or the Force. He doesn’t just rely on Jedi knowledge, but also his own wits and tricks of the trade to accomplish his goals. He’s scrappy and agile. And let’s be honest, he’s really, really good at it.

Kanan’s version of being a “Jedi” is also far more familiar and less formal than the Jedi of old. He doesn’t hold Ezra and those around him at arms length and keep all emotion at bay. Kanan engages his feelings for those he cares about, and he isn’t hindered by those emotions, he is empowered by them. This is so much more natural than the emotional sterility that the Jedi of old attempted to practice.

Kanan is the perfect mentor and father figure to Ezra, who is also scrappy and skilled. Ezra is very down to earth, he feels things very deeply, and he has skills outside of just being a Jedi. These two are a master/padawan match made for each other. Ezra loves his master like a father. He trusts Kanan, he takes comfort in Kanan.

My favorite scenes involving these two is when Ezra experiences something so horrible or sad that he starts to weep. Kanan doesn’t tell him to be quiet or get control, he holds Ezra in his arms and comforts him. This is natural, the Jedi of old were not.

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Kanan and Ezra open the doors to introduce the new breed of Jedi, a breed that isn’t steeped in stale tradition and zero emotion. This new kind of Jedi is more compatible with the galaxy as it is and far more effective than the aloof old Jedi. Kanan, Ezra, Luke Skywalker, Rey, Finn, and hopefully more in the future are all members of this “new” order.

Rebels has been a delight for Star Wars fans old and new. A major shout-out and thank-you to the makers (we love you Dave Filoni) and actors behind this amazing series. You have given us a new Star Wars family to fall in love with and cheer on.

*****

Star Wars Rebels Season 3 premieres Saturday, September 24th on Disney XD! And I for one, cannot wait to return to a galaxy, far, far away. Keep fighting Rebels!

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The Need for a Sparring Partner- Part 2

Sparring partners can come in many forms. They can be good friends and allies. They are often love interests. Many sparring partners actually come in the form of villains who, by adding negative pressure, force the hero to get stronger. A sparring partner can also come in the form of a setting or circumstance.

Here are a few examples of good sparring partners.

Love Interest Sparring Partners

Han Solo and Princess Leia

There is no question that Han’s interest in Leia opened the door for him to reveal his big heart and put it out on his sleeve. Han’s drive to fight for Leia, Luke, and the Rebellion pushed him to greater things and more selflessness than ever before.

Leia’s love for Han opened up places in her heart that she had carefully shielded. She is a more well-rounded person because of him.

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And let us all just recognize the masterpiece that are Han and Leia’s verbal exchanges. I think some of the most legendary film dialogue ever written takes place in The Empire Strikes Back.

Finn and Rey

In the course of just a few days, Finn goes from being a frightened Stormtrooper to charging fearlessly into Starkiller Base and dueling with a Dark Side warrior. Finn makes this incredible 180 turnaround because of one person: Rey. Rey simply being who she is pushes Finn to desire to be better, to be more. And that mighty person is exactly what he becomes.

Likewise, Finn touches Rey’s heart by being the first person in her life who has shown her concern, care, and friendship. His choices regarding her make a huge impact on her chosen direction. Finn was a catalyst in Rey’s life that helped move her down the path she is destined for.

Barry Allen and Iris West 

I wish I had time to cover everything I have to say on the subject of West-Allen. I promise you, there is a juicy article in the works.

Barry Allen has been in love with Iris West since forever. Iris has always believed in Barry, even when he didn’t believe in himself. The combination of these two is dynamite.

Barry runs faster, punches harder, and doesn’t give up because he knows that Iris believes in him. She is his inspiration as well as his home.

Iris has always been inspired by Barry, she has always believed in him, even before he became the Flash. Her relationship with Barry throughout the years has helped shape her into a compassionate and mighty person who makes things happen. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind to Barry, even when he doesn’t want to listen.

Like I said, dynamite.

Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter

*Sigh*, we’ve lived this story so many times and it always hurts. But it still wows me.

Steve Rogers immediately saw the strength, dignity, and heart in Peggy Carter. She was everything he could have ever dreamed for in a woman. Knowing her made him want to be better all the time. He carries a picture of her in his compass because Peggy is his true north, his guide, even after her death her words and heart still reach him at his core.

Peggy Carter was almost instantaneously impacted by Steve Rogers. She fell in love with him on Day 1 and his memory inspired pretty much her entire life. She felt that no one, including her, could ever hope to be everything that Steve was. Keeping him in mind, Peggy lived a legendary life that inspired others.

Best Friends

Steve and Bucky

They are with each other “To the end of the line.” 

Growing up, Bucky kept Steve alive. He never failed to have Steve’s back. He took punches, fought battles, and held his friend up through anything. Knowing that scrawny kid from Brooklyn with the massive heart made Bucky into the best friend everyone dreams of. He is a total hero. Without Bucky, there never would have been Captain America

Steve had the best friend in the world, one he could always depend on. When Steve thought he lost Bucky, he kept going with Bucky still sitting in his heart. The knowledge of who Bucky was and the sacrifices he willingly made hugely impacted Steve’s life choices. Later on, when Steve learned Bucky wasn’t actually dead but now a brainwashed assassin, Steve didn’t write his friend off. He walked through fire and ice to save his friend, without hesitation.

Hiccup and Toothless

Hiccup Haddock began to come into his own as soon as he met Toothless. While Hiccup already had many unrecognized talents and abilities, he never had a reason to bring them forward until he met his dragon. Toothless made Hiccup grow into a selfless leader who is constantly improving. Hiccup never settles or stays stagnant, he is always improving, always growing.

Bonding with Hiccup pushed Toothless beyond the bounds of ordinary dragons. Toothless was already an extraordinary dragon, but his great love for Hiccup has pushed him to do things that go even against his own biological instinct. The greatest example of this is when he challenges the Alpha Bewilderbeast in order to protect Hiccup.

Hiccup and Toothless are stronger together, they inspire and push each other to greater heights all the time.

Woody and Buzz

Despite a rough beginning, Woody and Buzz have a friendship that real life people are jealous of. While Woody at first felt threatened by Buzz’s strong presence, he has since grown to appreciate and lean on this brave little space ranger’s shoulder. Woody helped Buzz face reality, learn resourcefulness, and taught him the joy of being a child’s toy.

Buzz is Woody’s backbone. When Woody needs support, Buzz is there. When Woody can’t lead the other toys, Buzz steps up to the plate. When Woody forgets who he is and what being a toy means, Buzz is there to remind him. Great friends remind each other who they are when one has forgotten.

Woody and Buzz make each other better, they fill each other out and made one heck of a team.

Enemies

Flash and Reverse Flash

Run, Barry, run!

Eobard Thawne (aka Harrison Wells/The Reverse Flash) is a top example of a how a villain can be an excellent sparring partner.

Thawne is incredibly layered and complex because he has been the friend, mentor, villain, and created circumstances that have all shaped Barry and forced him to become better. Thawne is constantly moving around and changing up his strategy to manipulate Barry’s actions. That being said, everything that Thawne has done has still made Barry faster, stronger, and smarter.

 

Barry continually overcomes obstacles and springs back up. Whenever Thawne thinks he has won, or at least stolen something from Barry, the strength of Barry’s will and heart still carry the day. Thawne continually has to change and evolve his strategy because he just can’t seem to take a good Barry down.

Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader

There are dozens of articles waiting to happen regarding the Skywalker family. I’ll try to keep it simple here for now.

Luke Skywalker came onto the scene as a whiny kid who had raw talent and Force abilities. And he was in WAY OVER HIS HEAD. Still, he had a enough mentoring in the form of Obi-Wan to jump-start his Jedi career. He also adopted his own personal enemy, the scary guy known as Darth Vader.

Luke was driven to conquer Vader for multiple reasons. He knew Vader to be the villain that destroyed his father (whom Luke worships), Vader killed his mentor (Obi-Wan), and Luke knows that in order to become a powerful Jedi, defeating Vader is his primary concern.

This drive to defeat Vader pushes Luke to train. His time spent on Dagobah was all geared towards his impending confrontation with Vader. Mentally, and physically, Luke was preparing himself for the sole goal of defeating Vader. And then, SURPRISE!

This was a huge moment for Luke’s character. Everything could have fallen apart right here, but lucky for us Luke was smart enough to fall down a ventilation shaft and get the heck outta there.

By the sixth movie, Luke’s goal and drive was to win his father back. He was calm, focused, and frighteningly strong. He faced down Vader and the Emperor without fear. He declared himself to be a true Jedi and confirmed his belief in the good left in Anakin Skywalker. Because of his back and forth battle with Vader, emotionally, physically, and mentally, Luke walks out of Return of the Jedi a total superstar.

 

Darth Vader was trapped. He was evil, he hated the Emperor, and he hated himself. But he was too weak to do anything about it. Until he met Luke.

“The Force is strong with this one.” He becomes obsessed with tracking Luke down and bringing Luke over to his side to join him and overthrow the Emperor.

But that Luke is just too darned determined! He’s slippery, he has good friends who have his back, and Luke is surprisingly strong. Vader has to keep thinking outside of the carbonite chamber in order to track Luke down.

He tries to play the “I’m your Daddy, I know you have Daddy issues” card and his kid purposely falls down a ventilation shaft to get away.

Luke awakens something in Vader. He awakens whatever is left of Anakin that is buried inside of this dark Sith lord.

Vader is in awe of this kid, his kid, who keeps popping back up and just getting stronger all the time. Vader is at war within himself, the Dark and Light side are both tugging at him. One side is his enslaved mind to his Master, and on the other side is his love and admiration for his son.

Luke’s faithfulness and strength are strong enough to make Darth Vader shake himself out of years of darkness and slavery, and overcome the evil that is both himself and the Emperor.

If Luke had never been forced to face Vader, he wouldn’t be so strong. And if Luke hadn’t been so strong, Vader never would have returned to being Anakin. That right there is a showcase of the great power of a excellent sparring partner.

Vader and Luke were sparring partners from the very beginning, even though the nature of their interaction with each other evolved and changed throughout the story.

Setting/Circumstance

Mars and Mark Watney

The Martian has to be one of the best films I have ever seen. It was man vs. Mars wrapped up in a dramatic, yet lighthearted and educational package..

There is no villain in The Martian, but there is an antagonist, and one heck of a sparring partner: Mars.

An inanimate object, a thing with no mind, will, or emotions still takes on the role of the opposition. In order to stay alive, Mark Watney has to essentially beat Mars. He has to out-think, out-math, out-science, out-wit, and out-mental Mars.

Mars proves to be a pretty tough sparring partner. It constantly throws things Mark’s way that almost kill him.

Mark jumps through hoops, solves seemingly impossible equations, and comes up with gadgets and gizmos that would make MacGyver weep. Mark also grows very mentally strong during this ordeal. While he faces heartache, loneliness, despair, and fear, he never gives up.

The Mark Watney who went into space with his buddies is not the same Mark Watney that comes back to earth. He has conquered the unimaginable and come out victorious.

Mark still has an affection for Mars. Even though just about every aspect of Mars was trying to kill him on a regular basis, Mark appreciated the beauty and wonder of Mars. Mars was practically became a character in its own right.

Mark’s character sparred with Mars and he grew exponentially. Those watching Mark grew. Mark’s goal to stay in the match (stay alive) with Mars created a ripple effect that went all the way down to earth. Thousands of people were effected and made stronger by the match with Mars.

Jurassic Park Movies- Man Vs. Nature

Yet another series that I have so much to say on, but now is not the time.

The Jurassic Park films are an amazing example of using setting/circumstance as a sparring partner. I put the dinosaurs into the category of setting because the dinosaurs are not dangerous for any emotional or personal reason. This takes the soul and emotion out of the situation, fitting it more into the category of an emotionless setting or circumstance rather than an emotionally-driven character.

While there are human villains in these films, those humans and their effective harm pale in comparison to the dinosaurs and the damage they cause.

Yes, a dinosaur is a living creature, but it is a creature without a spirit and soul. The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are merely behaving out of their instincts, making them less personal, but no-less deadly. This of course was changed in Jurassic World, when the Indominus Rex began to rampage beyond the need for food or defense, but instead merely for sport.

The characters in the first 3 Jurassic films often go into the situation with wide-eyes and little wisdom.

It doesn’t take long for them to realize that they are pretty well out-matched and they are going to have to adapt and learn fast if they want to live.

The ones who make it out do so because their characters had a growth spurt. They learned to stop underestimating these animals. They learn the animals’ strengths and weaknesses.

The animals also change and adapt. The velociraptors in particular. They experience new circumstances, absorb the information, and then adapt to the new situation. More than any other dinosaur species in this movie series, the velociraptors prove that they are not stagnant and will continue to change and grow. That makes them ever-increasingly difficult to defeat.

This is an incredibly unique set-up, one where an animal is the human’s great sparring partner/enemy, but the non-emotional creature is also learning and growing because of the human’s involvement.

*****

The need for good sparring partners is vital for any story, be it a film, a book, or your real life. I draw a lot from studying these interactions on screen, and I hope now you can too.

What type of sparring partners do you enjoy the most? Villains and heroes? Love interests? Best friends? Setting/circumstance? What are some of your favorite sparring partners on screen? Do you have great real life sparring partners that help you grow and mature?

I’d love to hear your stories and your opinions. Share what you love, I want to know what you think.

And if you missed my previous article, you can find it here.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons We Love Flynn Rider

It’s no secret that Tangled‘s Flynn Rider has been a favorite among Disney fans since his introduction in 2010. He was one of the key elements that made Tangled a level above it’s predecessor Disney movies.

Flynn really broke out of the mold of boring and backstory-less Disney men and is really one of the most engaging characters to date. He wasn’t just a pretty face (let’s be honest, though, he is incredibly pretty), there was so much more to his character.

I could go into greater depth about the brilliance and complexities of his character, but I’ll save that for a later date. Today, let’s just enjoy a few of the primary reasons that we all love Flynn Rider.

1. The Smolder

Tangled really ushered in a new era for Disney. While many beautiful and charming movies had been made before it, Tangled introduced a finer 3D level of animation to the big studio. Pixar had been doing this kind of amazing animation for a long time now, and I think it is greatly due to Pixar’s involvement in this project that it turned out so well.

The facial expressions in this movie are just amazing. I always say about Tangled, “They told an entire story using eyebrows.”

By far the most prominent eyebrows belong to the one and only Flynn Rider. His facial expressions are just amazing, and with the slightest tweak of an eyebrow he completely changes the mood.

And what is the top Flynn Rider facial expression? I don’t really need to answer that for you, because we all know.

His face is so ridiculously fluid. In one 45 second clip he makes multiple, hilarious facial expressions with just the slightest twitch. Flynn Rider is like the poster child for amazing facial expressions.

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2. His Love/Hate Relationships with Animals

It seems like everyone in Disney is some kind of animal whisperer (Snow White, I’m looking at you). How many of us have had unrealistic expectations set for our human/animal interactions because of Disney movies? Seriously, I could whistle until my lips bled and still no birds would show up to help me clean my room.

Flynn Rider is not your typical Disney character. He actually seems weirded out by the hyper-intelligence of classic Disney animals. His interactions with Pascal and Maximus are hilarious.

He goes through 3 stages of animal interaction in this movie.

(1) Flynn’s face is one big question, “WHAT IS HAPPENING?!?”

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(2) He  moves on to feeling the need to justify himself.

“You should know that this is the strangest thing I have ever done!”

(3) He starts talking to animals even more casually and normally than the other characters. He doesn’t have the sparkly, awe-like interaction that other Disney characters have with their animals. He moves right on to normal, person-to-person interaction. He and Maximus might as well be brothers who grew up tussling with each other.

3. Breaking Disney Men Cliches

(1) He’s a thief, not a prince, general, or warrior.

Yes, I know Aladdin also fits this qualifications, but Aladdin was immediately more selfless to start than Flynn is. *For the record, I adore Aladdin as a character and his movie is my favorite of the older, Disney “princess” movies. More on that another time.

Flynn stole a crown and left his partners in crime to the hangman’s noose. His only goal for the beginning of the movie is to get that crown and make a fortune. He tries to discourage Rapunzel from following her dream so that he can fulfill his sooner.

(2) He didn’t fall in love at first sight. More on this at the end.

(3) Again, he’s not really sure about these hyper-intelligent animals. See above.

(4) He doesn’t SING, not on his own initiative anyway.

(5) He has a deeply compelling backstory.

Very few Disney men are given interesting backstories, they are more the eye candy for whatever princess is doing her thing. I think Disney is starting to get the picture that maybe we want interesting men and women characters, it has been announced that Prince Charming will be getting his own backstory made into a live action film

The reveal of Eugene Fitzherbert, the orphan boy who loved the book about Flynnigan Rider was precious and compelling. It opened the door for Flynn to soften his heart and let a new, golden dream in. This moment was huge for his character development and setup for that glorious sacrificial scene at the end of the movie.

(6) He freaks out. Many times.

(7) He looks, GOOD. And he’s not afraid to admit it.

All Disney princes are gloriously beautiful (hold back the dimples, Eric, we can’t handle dimples that deep), but none of them ever acknowledge it.

Flynn knows how gorgeous he is, and he completely uses that to his advantage. Don’t get me wrong, I love men with humility, but this very real character flaw of Flynn’s was fresh and hilarious.

4. Best Lines

Flynn Rider has just got some great, very quotable lines, and his delivery could not be more perfect. He’s like the animated Han Solo of great line delivery.

Flynn Rider- You smell that? Take a deep breath through the nose.
[Breathes through nose]
Flynn Rider: Really let that seep in. What are you getting? Because to me, that’s part man-smell, and the other part is really bad man-smell. I don’t know why, but overall it just smells like the color brown. Your thoughts?

Flynn Rider- [sword-fighting with Maximus] You should know that this is the strangest thing I’ve ever done!
[Max flicks the frying-pan from Flynn’s hands]
Flynn Rider- … How ’bout best two out of three?

Flynn Rider- [Flynn looking at his ‘Wanted’ poster] No… no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, this is bad, this is very very bad, this is really bad… They just can’t get my nose right!
Stabbington Brother- Who cares?
Flynn Rider- Well, it’s easy for you to say…
[Looking at the Stabbington Brothers’ ‘Wanted’ poster]
Flynn Rider- [in awe] … You guys look amazing.

Flynn Rider- All right, listen! I didn’t want to have to do this, but you leave me no choice. Here comes the smolder.
[Flynn puts on a pout, hoping to charm Rapunzel. She just looks at him sternly]
Flynn Rider- This is kind of an off-day for me. This doesn’t normally happen.

5. Not Love at First Sight

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in love at first sight.

But, if we were to take Disney’s word for it, love at first sight is the only way any beautiful romances happen.

That’s not the case for Flynn and Rapunzel, however. Flynn did notice Rapunzel’s pretty face when she first stepped out of the shadows, but a second later the first hint of awe wears off and he’s trying to sweet talk her to get his way.

He gains a hint of respect for her when she faces down the goons at the Ugly Duckling, turning the whole place into an impromptu Broadway performance; but it’s more of just admiration at the moment, love has not yet begun to bloom.

The evolution of Flynn’s love for Rapunzel was gradual. He didn’t let down his guard a bit until he thought they were going to drown. And then he shares something very precious and personal with her: his name.

Eugene represents the softest, realest heart of who he is. It’s the most vulnerable part of him, it represents a little orphan boy who never had enough but dreamed big. Rapunzel recognizes how precious that name is and uses it with great respect and gentleness. This attracts Flynn.

He sees the sweet innocence and beauty of her heart at the Festival of Lights. She soaks up every single moment with the joy of a child. Her pure beauty and warm heart are magnetic to Flynn. She is the most real, colorful thing he has ever experienced. She makes his dream of fortune seem black and white by comparison.

And then, he celebrates her dream with her. He spares no expense to make this moment the most special moment in her life. He understands how much these lights mean to her, he understands that they reflect her soul, which has felt trapped and captive. She trusts him with her most vulnerable place, and he treats her like a princess.

This scene is legendary and makes my throat ache.

He’s ready to go all in. He wants nothing in the world except to be with this beautiful, precious girl in front of him. He’s even willing to turn in the crown to the Stabbington brothers without a second thought. This is symbolic of him giving up his previous dream for a new one.

We know what happens. Evil Mother Gothel scheme, Flynn in prison, Rapunzel back to her captive tower, etc.

Flynn has an energy and desperation that he didn’t have before. Now, he’s not just fighting for himself, he is fighting for someone else. He’s always been resourceful and scrappy, but he’s never been in love.

He rushes back to the tower to save Rapunzel, only to be stabbed by Mother Gothel.

I gasped out loud when I saw this scene the first time. I did NOT expect that level of violence in a Disney movie. It scared me to death, a cardinal rule had just been broken and I didn’t know what to expect next. For all I knew, Maximus would kick the bucket the following scene.

Rapunzel willingly sacrifices her freedom for life in order to save the life of Flynn. I shall continue to call him Flynn, as I feel Eugene is really a special name that only Rapunzel should get to call him.

Flynn was bleeding out on the floor. He wasn’t exactly in top physical condition, no one would have blamed him if he was unable to do anything. He’s already gone above and beyond who he was at the beginning of the movie.

They move in for the kiss, and BAM! He slices her hair off, rescuing her and sacrificing himself.

Respect. Vulnerability. Attraction. Sacrifice.

This is such a well-written, well-rounded model for falling in love. The romance in this movie had so much more depth and maturity than any of the previous Disney Princess films. It opened the door for other amazing romances like Frozen’s Kristoff and Anna in the future.

*****

Flynn Rider was an amazing character all on his own. He had his own set of circumstances, beliefs, and goals before he ever met Rapunzel. She didn’t change him immediately, but in time, being around her altered his priorities.

He was bold and sacrificial. His rescue of Rapunzel in no way diminished her strength as a character or threatened her capability, it only added to the rich interaction. Flynn Rider was a strong male character, paired with a strong female character, and the result was the best Disney princess movie anyone had seen.

Eugene Fitzherbert would be happy to know that he is every bit as legendary as his fictional hero, Flynnagin Rider. His fame has spread far and wide and we still enjoy his story.

What did you love about Flynn Rider? What did you love about Tangled? What did you see that they did differently in this movie from their previous fairytale films?

25 of My Favorite Movie Lines

It is the 25th post on reellifebygrace today! I thought I would have some fun with this number and keep it simple by sharing 25 of my favorite movie lines. These are in no particular order and are merely here to make you smile.

1.”It’s like America, but south!” (Ellie, Up)

I am a big South America fangirl. I understand the deep wonder and excitement that Ellie and Carl have for that mysterious continent. Not to mention, this scene is just the cutest thing ever.

2. “I love you.” “I know.” (Han Solo/Leia, The Empire Strikes Back)

Han and Leia’s romance is one of the top movie romances in the world. I love, LOVE their interaction. This scene is so iconic to Star Wars fans for so many reasons. My favorite bit of trivia about this scene is that Harrison Ford came up with his classic I know response on the spot, and a legendary line was born.

To top this amazing line off, the roles are later reversed in Return of the Jedi when Han says “I love you” to Leia. She gets a twinkle in her eye as she replies “I know.” What a great tie-in between the two movies.

3. “Uh, mebbe I shoulda hooked him up to Bessie, an then took the boot off.” (Mater, Cars)

A classic “DUH” moment that is made totally adorable by Mater. He takes Lightening McQueen’s handcuff “boot” off before he hooked McQueen up to Bessie, the enormous asphalt machine.  My dad always laughs at this part, so it is a fond moment for me.

4. “My mother was a caterpillar, my father was a worm, but I’m okay with that now.” (Khalil, Veggie Tales: Jonah)

If you have never seen Khalil the caterpillar, look up some clips on Youtube. He is utterly hilarious and a top-quote character for Veggie Tales fans.

5. “I am expressing multiple attitudes simultaneously. To which are you referring?” (Spock, Star Trek: Into the Darkness)

SPOCK SASS! I love Spock.

6. “I think I heard a whoosh.” (Emmet, The LEGO Movie)

Emmet is totally adorable, and this line cracks me up. I can just see Chris Pratt saying this himself. I’d be willing to bet Chris Pratt really is Emmet in so many ways. I feel like if we went inside of Chris Pratt’s mind we would find a double-decker couch in there somewhere.

There are a million hilarious and quotable lines from this movie, I had to just grab one off the cuff.

7. “You hesitated.” (Olaf, Frozen)

Again, so many quotable lines to choose from in Frozen, but this one always cracks me up because of the timing. Anna’s hair is turning white and it’s freaking Kristoff out. Her cute little feminine query, “Does it look bad?” is something so many gals can identify with. Poor Kristoff waits a half second longer than he should to reply, and his fate is sealed. So many males identify with this.

Haha, Olaf isn’t buying it.

8. “I’m just a kid from Brooklyn….I can do this all day.” (Steve Rogers, Captain America: The First Avenger)

I make no secret about my love for this guy. I really feel like these two lines (they are really a part of the same thought) entirely sum up this extraordinary guy.

It’s even better because of all of the follow-up times when Steve uses his signature lines. He never gives up. It’s the Steve Roger’s version of just keep swimming. 

How do you compete with that?

9. “Obviously. Yes, I am. I’m with the Resistance, yeah, *whispers* I am with the Resistance.” (Finn, The Force Awakens)

This kid is so stinkin’ adorable. I fell in love with him on like Line 3. He was so unlike any of the previous Star Wars main heroes. He was so not confident he felt so normal and human. His instant crush on Rey is all the cuter as he seeks to impress her with his “Resistance” status.

Aren’t they adorable?

10. “What do you still have it for?!? I can’t believe you had THAT in your purse!” (Rocket Raccoon, Guardians of the Galaxy)

Obviously I just picked out one gem among that treasure trove of quotable lines that is Guardians of the Galaxy. This one however, cracks me up even when I’m not watching the movie.

The orb just blew up and the Guardians are all in shock. Rocket’s line is hilarious enough, but it’s made even more hilarious by the fact that he and Peter Quill start having the purse vs. knapsack argument right then and there.

11. “Dishonor on you, dishonor on your cow!” (Mushu, Mulan)

Using this line as a comeback will either end the argument with your opponent defeated, or you will make a new best Disney friend.

12. “Great, where are we going?” (Pippin, The Fellowship of the Ring)

I’m going for more comical than deep today. Pippin is a great moment of comedic relief in the epic but exhausting saga that is Lord of the Rings. This line is so hilarious in that you-have-no-idea-kid kind of way. It’s even funnier because this stupid line totally breaks up the solemn and dramatic gravity of Elrond’s “you shall be the Fellowship of the Ring” statement.

What an adorable idiot!

13. “And Daddy! He stole my boot!” (Jane, Tarzan)

Jane is a highly underrated Disney lady. She’s charming, adorable, and says the cutest things. She has the most rambling way of getting to the point. It’s even cuter how her round and squishy little professor Daddy follows her bizarre thoughts easily.

This line is when Jane returns from  having met “the wild man” Tarzan. She’s babbling away about this strange creature, only to stop in the middle of her ramble to talk about the theft of her boot. I do this sometimes, so this line always cracks me up. I can’t find this particular line, but here’s a cute scene that will give you a great example of her adorable dialogue.

14. “These mashed potatoes are SO creamy!” (Midge, While You Were Sleeping)

I cheated by using this line to introduce one whole scene full of hilarious lines. Lucy is eating dinner with Peter’s family and about 3 different conversations are happening at once. She and Jack never say a word but smile at each other through the chaos. It’s a hilarious scene, one that I completely understand because I grew up in a large family. I promise you, this is completely realistic.

This movie is priceless!

15. “Whaaaaattt???” (Minion, Despicable Me)

This gif works for EVERYTHING.

16. “You should know, that this is the strangest thing I’ve ever done!” (Flynn Rider, Tangled)

Flynn Rider broke so many rules for Disney guys, I think that’s why he is so beloved. This scene is hilarious.

17. “I shall call him Squishy, and he shall be mine, and he shall be my Squishy.” (Dory, Finding Nemo)

This is everyone literally every time they see something adorable.

18. “School mascot by day, but by night….I am also a school mascot.” (Fred, Big Hero 6)

He’s so hilarious!

19. “I’ve never put on pantyhose, but it sounds dangerous.” (Joseph, The Princess Diaries)

Fellas, you just have no idea the truth of this statement. I laugh really hard at this line because pantyhose are HORRIBLE! They itch, they pull, they rip, they slip, and you have no guarantees about the length of your life when you start putting them on. They are DANGEROUS!

20. “Thank you for nothing, you useless reptile.” (Hiccup, How to Train Your Dragon)

Hiccup Haddock is one of the greatest things animation has ever brought the world. I flat-out adore this guy. His dry and sarcastic sense of humor is one of the best aspects of this character.

21. “I was with the Navy, not the Navajo.” (Owen, Jurassic World)

There’s a reason Chris Pratt keeps sneaking in here. He’s amazing. I love Owen’s face when Claire looks expectantly at him after asking him to track down her nephews. He gives her this look repeatedly throughout the movie.

22. “Well done, you just decapitated your grandfather.” (Loki, Thor: The Dark World)

Loki gets the best lines.

23. “The word I’m searching for, I can’t say because there’s preschool toys present.” (Woody, Toy Story)

This is a great way to express your emotions in a situation without getting profane.

24. “So yeah, I blew myself up.” (Mark, The Martian)

Mark’s running dialogue for this movie was utterly amazing. He had a great sense of humor that kept things from getting too heavy. Amazing!

25. “If I see one, I shall inform you immediately.” (Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl)

This is one of my favorite little interchanges throughout this funny movie.

And there you have it! 25 great movie lines from some wonderful movies. This was actually far more complicated than I had anticipated. Good thing I chose to do this post for my 25th instead of my 100th. Merry movie-watching to you all!

 

Keeping the Voice Authentic: Spirit

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron is a movie about a wild stallion who finds himself taken into captivity by humans. Spirit’s primary objective in the film is to regain his freedom and return home to his wild herd.

It’s a magnificent movie on so many levels. The story is beautiful and unique. The characters are deeply engaging. The music grabs your soul and will not let go. Spirit is a character that stirs the deepest parts of you and makes you want to stand up and fight. This was one of my favorite childhood films for all of these reasons.

But looking at this film as an adult, I can now appreciate it at a whole new level. Watching it again, I noticed something that I had instinctively felt as a child, but could never put into words.

Spirit is a movie about a horse, told with the voice of a horse.

In every story there is a primary voice that is telling the tale. This voice can take on many forms, and it can come from any character; but it is this voice that filters every single detail in any story. It is this voice that will lead you-the viewer- in knowing how to think and how to feel. This voice determines the message of the story. Without a clear voice, a story will feel limp and useless because it lacks direction and a strong foundation.

Spirit did so many things right on every level of cinematic storytelling. Why? Because the voice in Spirit was authentic and spoken through every single detail of the movie. Here are some specific examples of how the voice in Spirit was made authentic.

Body Language

Horses communicate via body language. Ears forward=alert. Ears laid back flat= aggressive, etc. Snorts, whinnies, stamping; all of these communicate different thoughts, emotions, and instincts being expressed.

Spirit was a movie where a horse was the primary character. We saw the world through Spirit’s eyes; in order to put ourselves into his hooves we had to understand communication the way he did.

Spirit made use of every body movement and sound that horses make. We clearly understand what all of the horse characters were thinking and feeling even though very few of us naturally speak “horse”. Not a single horse character ever spoke words, thank goodness, or this whole movie would have felt cheesy and stupid. No, in order to live and breath this story we didn’t need the horses to speak our language, we needed to be able to understand theirs.

Narration Via Spirit’s Inner Dialogue

Even though so much was communicated through the horses’ body language, we still needed some sort of narration to happen in order to bring us through the story. Given that Spirit himself is the one telling his story, it would make sense for him to do the narrating.

They could have done this where Spirit chimed in with a comment every few seconds, or told us the story from start to finish while we merely watched the motions. Both ways would have made this movie less than it was.

The way the filmmakers chose was incredibly brilliant. Our narration was Spirit’s inner dialogue, his thoughts so to speak. His impression of a situation, his instinctive reactions to things, etc. This put us inside of Spirit’s head and heart in a way that no other narration could have done.

These thoughts had to be clear enough for us to follow them, but it was vital that they stay as true as possible to the authentic “horse” voice. The writers did this in multiple ways.

  • Spirit never uses proper nouns. The one time he uses a specific name for someone is when he is referencing the term the soldiers use for his Indian friend, Little Creek. Instead of using specific terms, Spirit uses vague generalities. They, he, him, her, she, I. We always know of whom he is speaking, but he never calls them by name, that is reserved for the human characters of this story. While horses do understand commands and recognize differences in people and other animals, I don’t imagine that they think of those people by name. It’s more about how those people smell, sound, and feel. It’s more about visceral things than intellectual categorizing. Spirit takes in his world in a vaguer way, trying to understand it, but he doesn’t intellectualize it.
  • Spirit doesn’t narrate all of the time. There are very long sequences when all of his communication happens with his actions; again, he is speaking as a real horse would. This puts us into the mind of an animal instead of a human mind. Human minds have a constant running dialogue. Spirit’s mind is more instinctive, and physical. He doesn’t have five million little details running amok in his brain. His one driving force and thought for most of this movie is to regain his freedom.
  • Spirit’s thoughts are never connected to his mouth. If this were a movie with a “talking horse” it would have been utterly cheesy and failed in delivering authenticity. Yes, we do know what Spirit is thinking, but it is almost as if his mind is a separate entity from his body. We are in the first-person perspective of this horse. We feel what he feels, we want what he wants, we struggle when he struggles. And we do it the way he does it, as a horse. Yes, a horse with heightened emotions and soul, but still a horse.

Sound

The sounds of this movie are very gritty and earthy. I mentioned above how much of the story is told through the horses’ body language. That body language makes a lot of noise. Stamping, chomping, snorting, running with hooves on the ground, whinnies, nickers, shrieks, we hear it all as if we were there experiencing it firsthand.

The sounds of this movie are very natural, after all, it’s a horse’s world we are entering. The sounds of the military fort feel unnatural. The marching of iron-shod hoof beats in formation feel strange compared to the more random fall of hooves for a wild herd of horses. There are whips cracking, the shouting out of military drills, and bugles. And then when Spirit is tied to the post for three days there is an eerie and still the silence in the night.

The wind whooshes, the water roars, the eagle shrieks high up in the mountain air. The bison snort, a mountain lion roars. The thunder of pounding hooves raises your heartbeat. You are a part of this story, body and soul. You hear it as if it were happening around you, your heart becomes connected to this land, this place on a sensory level, exactly how Spirit feels.

I hear the wind, call my name

The sound that leads me home again

It sparks up the fire- a flame that still burns

To you, I will always return….

….You run like the river-you shine like the sun

You fly like an eagle

You are the one

I’ve seen every sunset

And with all that I’ve learned

Oh, it’s to you, I will always return

Music

Bryan Adams and Hans Zimmer delivered on this movie. The music reaches that wild part of your soul and pulls you into Spirit’s soul. The music is also an excellent part of the narration, almost as if Spirit’s soul had created a soundtrack that put words and melodies to the deepest instincts of his heart.

 

The Setting Is A Part of Spirit’s Character

Spirit is a wild horse that lives in the vast West. The landscape is as much a part of who he is as his organs. He is the wind, the sky, the grasses, the rolling hills. He is the eagle that flies free. He does fly at the end of the movie when he makes his fantastic leap for freedom.

Spirit is the fierce and rushing water, and the gentle warmth of the afternoon sunshine. He’s the cold snow, the fire, he’s all of it. This is his world that he interacts with on a very personal level. It reflects him and this journey that he is on.

Humans rarely interact with an outdoor setting like this, but this is a wild horse’s world. We needed to understand and interact with that world as Spirit did in order to understand him. We needed to love and depend upon this wild place the same way he does. This world is in his blood, and by the end of the movie, it’s in ours as well.

*****

I have not come across another movie quite like this one. It is unique and authentic. This movie made in impression on my soul like few others have. I used to ache for wide open spaces and dream in my sleep about running across hills and mountains. I understand Spirit’s desires so well because they were like some of my own. When I watched this film, I fully entered into Spirit’s character. I became him for a time.

That is the power of an authentic voice. You can communicate so well with your audience that they feel they have become a part of your story/character/world. This is powerful way to connect and communicate.

If you are a storyteller, find the voice that will communicate your message the clearest. Use that voice to filter every aspect of your story, doing so will bind your story together tightly and deliver a powerful impact.

If you are a viewer, look for the voice in the stories you love to watch. Seek out the voices that have spoken the most deeply to you and dig deeper. You will be amazed at what you learn about yourself.

I am so thrilled that I was able to share this post with you. This is a subject and movie dear to my heart. I hope this post can touch you as well.

You too have a voice, how are you using it to tell your story?

 

 

7 Ways to Enjoy More Movies

What do I watch now?

Ever been in a show-hole? Ever had a really good movie run that ended before film studios could come out with the sequels, three-quels, and spinoff titles?

Our ability to consume movies is much faster-paced than the ability for film companies to produce new films. This can leave you feeling hungry for more movies, with no immediate way to solve the problem.

I decided to share a few ideas today about how you might open up your movie world to include more films; giving yourself a longer runway before you run out of stories to watch. These are tricks of the trade that have proved very enjoyable for me and my family, and hopefully they can open up your world a little bit more as well.

1. Watch Old Movies

The African Queen (Humphrey Bogart, Katherine Hepburn), Going My Way (Bing Crosby), Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart), The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (Ingrid Bergman), Roman Holiday (Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck), Gentleman’s Agreement (Gregory Peck, Dorothy McGuire), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (Jimmy Stewart), Holiday Inn (Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire), The Inspector General (Danny Kaye) Bedtime for Bonzo (Ronald Reagan), The Magnificent Seven (Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson), The Great Escape (Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson) Desperate Journey (Ronald Reagan, Errol Flynn) Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston), Foreign Correspondent (Joel McCrea, Laraine Day), Never a Dull Moment (Dick Van Dyke)

These are just a few little nuggets of gold in the goldmine that is old movies. A movie being made decades before your birth in no way diminishes its value. Watching old movies can be a delightful way to experience the evolution of films earlier on. You can also get a taste for normal life and cultural mindsets in previous decades. There are endless possibilities and literally hundreds upon hundreds of films available.

I have discovered amazing stories, endearing characters, and a heartbeat in some old films that I could have just passed over. Human beings have not changed in who we are at our core, only our technology has changed. There were compelling stories being told long before the days of green screen, CGI, and high definition.

Don’t limit yourself, try something “new” for a change.  After all, in this day when retro is cool, old is the new new.

Retro

2. Expand Your Genres

Picky eaters and picky viewers have this in common, they have very few options available.

Opening yourself up to new genres can open up hundreds of new movies titles for you to browse and enjoy. Even if the new genres you try are not as dear to you as your favorite genre, you still may find that you actually enjoy a lot more than you thought possible. Keeping an open and non-cynical mind about movies can do wonders for your viewing soul.

3. Enjoy Each Story For It’s Own Value, Not Another Story’s Value

This trick has been incredibly useful in my own family where we have many different ages. It can be hard to find a film that’s safe and enjoyable for everyone. My mom worked really hard to teach us the perspective of enjoying each story for its own value.

This means I can enjoy Cars, The Avengersand the Indian-made film LagaanThey are all across the board in purpose, message, and storytelling. Cars is a sweet and humorous story that is a mix of speed and taking its time. The Avengers is flashy and showy with superheroes, alien invasions, and explosions. Lagaan is hot, dusty, and not even in English-you have to read the subtitles-but it is a compelling story nonetheless.

I have enjoyed each one of these films, because I enjoyed them for their own, individual value. If I used the same criteria for evaluating Lagaan as I did The Avengers, I would be disappointed. Why? Because Lagaan was never intended to be The Avengers, therefore, it will only fail to meet my Avengers standards.

This way of looking at things is actually really useful in life, especially when looking at people. If I judge one person based on the criteria used for another, completely separate individual, I will be disappointed. The same principal applies to movies.

Enjoy each story for its own merits, gifts, and yes, even its flaws. This will open up many more movies for you as you set your expectations accordingly.

 

 

4. Watch Movies You’ve Seen Before

If you are like me, then you already love to watch some of the same movies over, and over, and over again. Not everyone enjoys this, and once they’ve seen a film they may not care to see it again.

Let me encourage you to revisit movies you’ve seen before. It is possible to enjoy a movie the second time through, sometimes it is just about the amount of effort you are willing to put into it. There are multiple ways to enjoy movies again.

Look for details in the backgrounds, costumes, or electronics of the film. Pick a topic and pay attention to it.

Research for a few minutes online for trivia involving the film. Then look for the moments mentioned. I have done this at movie marathons with friends and it gives you an entirely new perspective on the film.

Invite friends over who have also seen the film and keep a running commentary going with them. I love watching movies I’ve seen a million times with friends because you feel the freedom to talk all that you want. This is a really fun way to enjoy a film and relational time with other people. You will have a good time and create memories.

*Who cares if you’ve seen it 11 times, there is always a fresh way to enjoy something. Don’t box yourself in!

5. Just For Kids, I Don’t Think So

So what, you’re 35, 46, 73? I don’t care, try a “kids” movie. The mistake many adults are making nowadays is believing that movies geared toward children are only for children. WRONG! I dare you to watch any Pixar film and have your mind blown.

Children’s films often have soft, approachable layers of storytelling and clear truths that adult movies don’t have. What is simple and understood in a children’s film is often lost in the chaos and complications of an adult film.

Many children’s films are often quite profound and touching. There is a special sense of wonder about them that adult films rarely seem to grasp. There is a reason we remember our favorite films from childhood, because they touched our hearts in a way that changed us. Who knows, you may actually need to hear a simple truth from a children’s film more now than you ever did when you were 7.

Open up your heart, you can still enjoy some Bourne movies while also diving into the delightful world of “children’s” films. After all, adults are just kids a bit older and bigger, right?

 

6. Don’t Be A Critic

Yeah, I know this one sounds a little hypocritical coming from the woman who is running a blog where she analyzes movies. But there is a difference between analyzing in order to understand and engage a story, vs critiquing a story and only looking for the faults.

One can enrich your mind and help you understand stories and people better, the other can make you cynical and jaded. Why? Because there is no perfect movie, and the ones that make the cut as being “good enough” in professional critic’s minds are far and few in-between, even if regular audiences loved the films.

I often think that professional critics must have a hard time enjoying movies anymore. When you are paid to go see a movie with a critical eye, that will soon become the lens that you view everything with. How many caustic and sarcastic critic reviews have you read from professionals? I’ve gotten to the point where I read what normal, everyday viewers thought of the movie before I would read a critic’s take on it. I trust a fan’s perspective more than I do a professional’s.

Granted, I do critique movies sometimes. I find fault with them, and I point those things out. I will even do so many times on this website. But, critiquing is not my top priority here. My top priority is to engage in movies and discuss them through the eyes of a storyteller and a fan.

I never want to lose my joy in movies, be they perfect or largely imperfect. And I don’t want you to lose that either by being overly-critical.

So, did that car chase seem a bit far-fetched? Sure. Were the special FX in that film from 1965 kinda hokey? Yeah, so, what? Put down the critic’s chart and just watch the movie. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be enjoyable.

7. Chill Out, Lighten Up

This one is really a compilation of all of my previous suggestions. The best way to limit your viewing options is to have a very narrow set of standards and criteria when it comes to what you will view.

Now, please don’t hear me telling you to violate your conscience. I would never, ever do that. When I say “standards”, I am speaking artistically. Here are a few phrases that might explain what I am saying.

The graphics are terrible on that, this was pre-CGI. Forget it!

That would never happen in real life. (This one is so ridiculous it makes me laugh. Dude, what do you think movies are, reality caught on camera after make-up and  costuming?)

I’m too old for that.

No, none of us are going to enjoy everything in every genre. We are each going to develop our own set of likes and dislikes that will exclude some films. But you can open yourself up to many, many more films if you will relax and give them a chance. Will you still dislike certain films after watching them? Of course, but at least you gave it a shot.

We can get too “sophisticated” for our own good, and it is limiting our viewing options and making our movie diet too strict. Having variety is good and healthy for our perspective and for our movie-watching list.

Explore, step out of your comfort zone, make the old new again, lay down the critic clipboard and watch the dang movie! Life is too short to be uptight when you don’t have to be.

Chill out meme

*****

I hope that these ideas will can help breath a little fresh life into your movie-watching experience. They have worked wonders for me, and I hope that you can also benefit from them. Movies are an amazing and unnecessary gift that we often take for granted. Here’s to the hope that we can all appreciate them more!

So, do you have any ideas on how to enjoy more movies? Have you tried any of these options before? What was a movie experience where you tried something new and loved it? I would love to hear from you.

Like and share! Let’s open up our movie cabinets and our minds together!

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Dory – Parental Review

I must admit, I was a bit skeptical about Finding Dory going in. I know that’s crazy given Pixar’s incredible track record, but give me a break, Finding Nemo was just so great I had a hard time imagining FInding Dory could live up to it’s predecessor.

And you know what? It didn’t, and that’s why it was perfect.

Pixar was smart enough to recognize that Finding Nemo was beautiful, unique, and could not be replicated. So, they didn’t even try to make a Finding Nemo 2 featuring Dory. Instead, they took the magnificent characters from Nemo and gave Dory a story that was completely her own.

In terms of likability, I think I love Finding Nemo and Finding Dory about the same. I can enjoy them equally because they are two very different movies. I personally found Finding Nemo to be more desperate with higher stakes and rawer emotions. Given that Marlin was the primary character in that film, it makes sense that we would all feel more stress. The idea of a baby fish  being kidnapped and taken across the ocean to be given to a bratty child is pretty scary.

Finding Dory was far less frightening more of the time than Finding Nemo was, but it never failed to hold my interest or keep me engaged. The emotions expressed by the characters were less desperate, but no less real. One aspect that really stood out to me was how they portrayed Dory’s short-term memory loss. Dory is such a cute and cheerful character that we often see her in a comical light, especially her short-term memory loss. After all, she’s Miss “Just Keep Swimming” who never gives up and never loses faith.

Since this was her movie, I think Pixar did a great job of showing what the downsides of memory loss can look like. And truthfully, it was heartbreaking. Dory, through no fault of her own, has had terrible things happen in her life because of her memory loss. She rarely lets herself get down about it, but it does have negative effects. Sometimes, Dory starts to forget something she KNOWS is important, and she begins to panic, knowing that she needs to remember, but can’t. It tears her up to know that she may have forgotten something, or someone she cares about. Dory also expresses fear of being left alone without someone to guide her.

These moments stood out to me and caused me to really put myself in her shoes. How horrible would it be to forget where you came from? Who your parents were? What if you forgot how to get back home?

I walked out of the movie with a greater level of awareness and compassion for people who suffer from memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. Their lives have to feel so scary. Memories are such a precious, precious gift that many of us take for granted. I think Finding Dory found a beautiful way to communicate that to children (and adults) in a way that was heartwarming and engaging.

This movie is sheer delight. I laughed so many times. Pixar stayed true to their characters and fully respected all of these fish that we have come to love. Dory is such a sweet and persevering character, she is truly inspiring and a great role model.

The Pixar short Piper is one of, or maybe it IS their finest short film. I laughed so hard and smiled all the way through. It was a purely delightful little story that drew you in immediately and left an impression on the “sand” of your heart.

Sex/Nudity- Warning, this movie is completely full of naked fish. If this will be an issue for your children you may want to wait until they are older. 😉

Violence/Gore- Hardly any. There is one moment of peril involving Marlin, Nemo, and Dory that may upset little viewers (I think I heard a child crying in the theater during that part). You can calm your children by telling them the truth that everything will be okay and that this movie has a happy ending.

Language/Profanity- The word “carp” is used once. Go ahead, chuckle to yourself.

Heroes and Role Models- Dory is a brave and caring fish who has never let her problems get her down. This isn’t only shown in her life, but her positive attitude has rubbed off on those that know and love her. Marlin, while stressing sometimes, is a good friend who wants to do right by Dory. Nemo has matured a lot since his movie, and is a good son to Marlin and a great friend to Dory. Dory manages to rally all of the other primary characters around her through her spunk and perseverance.

Talking Points- There are so many great talking points and discussions that this movie can introduce for your family.

  • Why is it important to persevere and “keep swimming”?
  • How should we treat those that have a problem that can make them difficult to be around sometimes? How can we make their life easier and help them know that they aren’t alone?
  • How can we encourage people to be brave?
  • When we are scared and panicking, how can we calm down and get back on track?
  • How do we overcome obstacles in our life?
  • How do we maintain a positive attitude?
  • How can we learn to think creatively and be resourceful?
  • Why is it important to learn from other peoples’ strengths?

Finding Dory is a lovely movie and another gem put out by Pixar. I highly recommend it for any age group and give it my full approval!

And always remember, just keep swimming.