Movie Reviews

Take Your Toddler To See Cars 3

Like many dads this weekend, I spent part of my weekend going to see Cars 3.  Like many people who have seen the movie, there was one overriding notion that came across – this, and not Cars 2, is the sequel the original movie deserved.

If you have seen the promos, and you got the opportunity to visit the Cars 3 Nationwide Tour, you have an idea of the plot.  Lightning McQueen is trying to figure out how to compete with the next generation of racers.  He is trying to end his career on his own terms rather than being pushed out similar to how Doc Hudson had his own career end.

To make it succinct, if you liked the original movie, you are going to like this movie.  You could argue this move was better than the original.  For what it’s worth, my son seemed to like this one better.

With the G rating, you know it is pretty safe to see the movie, but then again Finding Nemo had the mother dying in the opening scene, and that movie still received the same G rating.  To that end, if you are a parent who are concerned about bringing your child to the movie, don’t be.

Even though Doc has passed, they don’t show his death on the screen.  Now, Doc is one of the central characters and focuses of the movie, and the characters speak about missing him, but no one speaks about the manner of his death.

Overall, the most upsetting part of this movie was the scene where Lightning McQueen crashed.  The Figure 8 race is a bit scary for the kids, but it nothing that leaves them covering their eyes and shuddering.

As a parent in the movie theater, it is an entertaining movie.  If you are stuck at the phase where you are stuck watching a lot of kid movies and shows (like Paw Patrol), this movie is Casablanca.

Now, there are a number of positive messages.  Seeing Lightning McQueen train and train does teach kids the importance of working hard to get the things you want, and how you should never give up.  Seeing the story arc of Cruz Ramirez does instill the importance of believing in yourself.  The Smokey story does instill the importance of listening to your elders as they still have many things to teach you.

With Jackson Storm being better than everyone and being a jerk, it does show the kids how to deal with similar situations.  Want to be better than someone?  Work hard and get better than them.  They insult you?  Don’t let them get to you.  In between all of that, it had all the humor you could expect from a Pixar.

In the end, I was happy I took my son to the movie.  It didnt’ disappoint.  In fact, it was better than I expected.  Having seen it a large part of me hopes we get to see a Cars 4.

Note: We did not see the movie in 3-D as we didn’t want to deal with making sure our son had his glasses on throughout the entire movie. 

Sing Is A Good Movie For Toddlers

Since becoming a parent, one thing that continues to bewilder me is the line of demarcation between movies Rated G and movies Rated PG.  For example, the movie Finding Nemo is Rated G despite the opening scene alluding to Nemo’s mother along with many of her eggs being killed.  Later on in the movie, we have a shark chase as well as Nemo pretending to play dead.  Honestly, when you see a movie like this it at least gives you pause before bringing your three year old to see a movie Rated PG.  Honestly, based upon the Rated G baseline set by Finding Nemo, you are led to believe a PG movie would include war and famine.

Thankfully, none of these were issues with the movie Sing.

When I bring my son to a movie, I typically have one eye on the movie and one eye on him.  I can assure you he had no emotional reactions to anything in Sing like he had to those aforementioned death scenes in Finding Nemo.  Overall, I had no issue taking him to see the movie, and we would watch it again.  If you are looking for issues, they are as follows:

  1. Some scenes of stealing – there is an ape gang and the protagonist uses long extension cords to steal power from nearby businesses
  2. Animals crying – one was afraid of auditioning and one had a breakup with her boyfriend
  3. Bears threatening to harm a mouse and almost eating him
  4. There is a flood and a building collapse with the threat of animals drowning (they don’t)
  5. A minor jail break

There are some other potential issues that you will see elsewhere that aren’t real issues unless you think your toddler saying “Holy Moly!”  One characters false eye keeps popping out, but it is funny.  There are parents that are tough/domineering with their children, but that’s really just life.  There are animals that dress up in speedos and leotards.  If they were on people, it may be sexual in nature, but on the animated animals, it was amusing.

Overall, it was a funny movie with enough in it to keep the parents entertained.  There was a wide spectrum of songs from Katy Perry to Elton John to Frank Sinatra.  There were a number of moments with the mother pig that gave you an extra chuckle or two.  Speaking of the mother, she created an ingenious way to care for her kids while she was auditioning that is going to make you go home and try to figure out how to put all of your child’s toys to good use.

Mainly, this was a really good movie to bring your toddler to see.  The over-riding themes of the movie were to: (1) never give up on your dreams; (2) it takes hard work to accomplish your goals; and (3) overcoming your fears is a worthwhile endeavor.  These are all things you want to instill in your children.

One interesting side note is since we saw the movie, my son has become re-focused in his love of music.  He is now much more prone to play his piano or pick up his guitar at home and sing a song.


In the end, I am happy we saw the movie as a family.  I hope that you get the time to go out and see this movie as a family as well.

Tears of Joy Was Not Good

Supposedly, this documentary was directed at Mets fans.  As such, I really wanted to like it. With that said, wow that completely missed the mark. 

Yes, completely. I know it’s an hour show. However, it missed so many HUGE storylines. First, there was no real mention of Matt Harvey. Seriously?  He was coming back from Tommy John surgery. It was the reason for the flip-flopping on the six man rotation all season. There was the Yankee game. There was the innings limit drama. There was the whole keeping him in too long in Game 5. Harvey was a huge, important, and at times, divisive figure.  He barely received a blurb. 

Speaking of pitching. This could’ve been the year Jacob deGrom became the staff ace. He was utterly dominant in the first half. He was the story of the All Star Game. He opened the postseason with a 13 strikeout performance. He somehow gutted out Game 5 of the NLDS, which is known as The Murphy Game

Both pitchers got less coverage than Steven Matz‘s debut and his grandfather. It was a big moment in the season, but also lost there was the Mets mismanaging his injury in a season of the Mets mismanaging injuries. Heck, Matz got more coverage than any pitcher. That includes Noah Syndergaard, who was probably standing 60′ 6′ away.  It also includes Jeurys Familia, who got thrust into the closer’s role due to two Jenrry Mejia PED suspensions. Familia was arguably the team MVP, but you wouldn’t know if from any of this. 

Speaking of MVPs, if he wasn’t interviewed, I wouldn’t have known Curtis Granderson was even on the team. Granderson may have been the sole professional bat on an injury ridden deplorable offense. We heard about David Wright‘s back, but we didn’t hear about any of the other injuries (even in passing) that led to John Mayberry, Jr. and Eric Campbell hitting in the middle of the lineup. How do you miss this?  Ask any Mets fan, and they will tell you that was a seminal moment in the season. 

It was part of the whole Mets mockery of the fans with Panic City. It lead to an important Mike Vaccaro column about the Mets malpractice. This column really touched upon what it meant to be a Mets fan since the Madoff scandal. We were angry. Very angry. There was a campaign to buy a billboard did the Wilpons to sell the team. That side of the story wasn’t voiced, not even with Joe & Evan. 

Instead, we got The 7 Line Army story. I mean no disrespect to Darren Meenan and what he’s created, but why was The 7 Lime Army featured more than anything else?  The 7 Line Army got more coverage than Yoenis Cespedes being the hottest hitter anyone has ever seen.  Seriously, when Cespedes hit the NLDS homer, we saw The 7 Line Army celebrating instead of an epic bat flip. Interview Darren Meenan?  Absolutely. He’s a fan, and he’s made a successful business out of his fandom. However, I’m sorry. The 7 Line Army was not the defining story of the 2015 season. Yet, it got a lot of coverage. Maybe the most coverage. 

With that, a lot was missed. Think about it. There were many key games this past season. If you take longer than a nanosecond to pinpoint the Padres game as the nadir, you’re a casual fan. If you don’t know the game to which I’m referring, you’re not a Mets fan. That game  set the stage for the exhilaration fans felt after the Cespedes’ trade. No matter your feelings about the trade, you were excited to se degree that the Mets were remade and going for it. 

That trade flipped the script on the season for the fans . . . perhaps for the team as well. The Mets went from an under-.500 team falling apart at the seams to real contenders. They went from a laughingstock with the Carlos Gomez trade debacle to a force to be reckoned. The documentary took the incredible, real-life drama that unfolded and omitted it. You could do a mini-series on July 30th and July 31st. Instead, we get a snarky Tom Verducci comment about Mets fans not being happy. I would say the quote was taken out of context, but really, how could it be?  Until that trade, the Mets had cheap owners and an under-.500 ball club. Any fan had a right to be angry. 

That’s the thing overall. You simply cannot discuss the fans without capturing their anger. It’s an example of how passionate Mets fans are. We’re not the hapless bunch we were presented as to the world. We are fans that have lived through nightmares. There was the worst team ever assembled. The Midnight Massacre. There were the misses in the 80’s.  The Worst Team Money Can Buy. Kenny Rogers walked in the series winning run. Mike Piazza‘s ball died on the warning track. Carlos Beltran struck out looking followed by two collapses. All hope was then seemingly lost with the Madoff scandal. 

However, Mets fans have seen enough magic to believe in anything. The Miracle Mets. Ya Gotta Believe! A little roller up the first base line. The Grand Slam Single. Overall, Mets fans don’t expect the worst. We’re not Cubs fans or pre-2004 Red Sox fans. No, we believe anything can and will happen. It’s a feeling that was awoken with Harvey’s right arm. It’s a feeling that’s not going away. 

So no, Tears of Joy didn’t tell the world about Mets fans. It missed the mark despite excellent work by Anthony DiComo, Jared Diamond, and Jim Breuer. 

Also, it didn’t tell me about the team or the season. From my understanding of Tears of Joy, Daniel Murphy had a hot streak before losing the World Series with an error. All 27 homerun Lucas Duda did was make a poor throw home. I could go on and on ad nauseum, but you get it. You watched the season. You know just as well as I do that Tears of Joy didn’t do a good job describing the ups and [mostly] downs of the season. 

No, overall it mostly failed to capture the season or the fans. It’s disappointing really, just as the end of the 2015 season was. I guess there it at least hit the right tone. 

The Force Has Awoken

While I’m not planning on actually discussing major plot points here, there will be at least some allusions to what happened in the movie. If you haven’t seen it, please come back at another time. Yes, I know this blog isn’t about Star Wars, but it was an important event, and I felt compelled to write something. I’ll go back to the regularly scheduled programming later. 

Before proceeding, I think it’s important to put my fandom in context. Obviously, I have seen all the movies more than once. Yes, even The Phantom Menace. I had some Star Wars toys as a kid. I vaguely remember being an Ewok for Halloween one year. I recall reading one or two books, but they didn’t leave any impression on me. I’m not an expert in the Expanded Universe, but I was generally aware of the Thrawn Trilogy and Luke Skywalker turning to the Dark Side. Also, I got pretty good at Star Wars Trivial Pursuit. That’s my perspective. 

Now, this is your last chance to check out before any spoilers arise. 

Personally, I loved the movie. Honestly, I think the movie went the direction it had to go even if the plot was a little too much the plot of A New Hope with some sprinkling in of Empire Strikes Back.  For some this is a criticism. Did others, it’s a point of praise. Either way, I will say it was much better written than A New Hope. 

In any event, the Rey-Luke parallels were obvious. Both from desert planets off the main grid. Both abandoned there (at least Luke had guardians). Both accidentally come across a droid with important information. Both didn’t know they were powerful with the Force. I thought the movie did a good job of not beating you over the head with it, but if you have seen the movies the parallels were obvious. 

Speaking of obvious, I love that they didn’t try to change who Han Solo and Princess Leia were. Did we really expect that 30 years later they would’ve settled down in a little cottage on Naboo?  Did we expect they would’ve had anything but a rocky relationship?  Of course not. In essence, this is what The Force Awakens gets right. They know the characters, and they didn’t change them to try to make them something they weren’t. 

Without giving anything away, Harrison Ford seemed as overjoyed playing Han Solo again as much as Han Solo seemed overjoyed to finally be in the mix of things again. Part of the reason might be because he got what he wanted. The good thing there was what happened was organic to the story, and it actually drove the plot of the movie and perhaps the new trilogy along. 

That’s the thing. The Force Awakens really respects the characters and what happened in the original trilogy. It didn’t try to make anything they weren’t, nor did it try to shock you for shock’s value. The one thing less talked about was how the characters were reflective of the fans. 

The older fans were Han Solo. We had our moment in the sun with the original trilogy. In reality, we were hoping for more while never really expecting to get it. We’re overjoyed being in a comfortable place like the Millenium Falcon. We’re excited to see our old friends and make new ones. Like Han, we’re answering a million questions about the Jedi and Luke Skywalker. We may seem perturbed, but deep down we love it. We want tons back in the mix while handing it off to the next generation. 

Rey is the new Star Wars fans. They’ve heard of the Jedi. They’ve heard of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. They have seen the movies, but they didn’t experience them the way their parents and grandparents did. When Rey is all wide-eyed in amazement that she’s actually talking to Han Solo about Luke Skywalker, I thought of my son getting his own trilogy to experience and to cherish. 

That’s the best part of the movie. It transitioned. Yes, Luke is bound to have a massive role in Episode VIII, but the focus of the movies have now shifted. The original trilogy and the prequels made it readily apparent Star Wars was about Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. Many of us were more interested in Han, Luke, and Leia. 

I can comfortably say Episode VII changed the focus from the aforementioned group to Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren. I will be disappointed if Kylo Ren’s character arc mirrors Darth Vader’s. I’ll be disappointed if Rey’s is a carbon copy to Luke’s. Keep in mind, there’s some danger there with Rey apparently on a remote planet looking to train to become a Jedi, and the First Order’s Starkiller now destroyed. 

There’s room for separation here. Kylo Ren is still training whereas Vader was already an accomplished Sith Lord. For her part, Rey has a more full fledged back story that Luke didn’t have. Luke thought he was with his aunt and uncle because Darth Vader killed his father. All Rey knows is she was abandoned, and she doesn’t know why. I’m going to be really aggravated if we find out that Rey and Ben were twins.  I say this having already accepted we’ll see a “Rey, I am your father” scene. Yes, I know that’s not the quote

Overall, The Force Awakens was a success. It respected the characters and the history. It was a terrific movie. It transitioned from the new to the old. It made you excited not only to see it again and again, but it also made you excited to see the next one. The bar was set very high for this movie, and at a minimum, the movie cleared that bar. I think it went much further than that. I think it created a new story that could conceivably go anywhere it wants. It’s not, nor should it feel tied down to, the arc of the original trilogy. 

May the Force be with you. 

Rookie of the Year Was a Terrible Movie

All season long, we’ve heard Cubs fans talking about how they’ll win the 2015 World Series because Back to the Future, Part II said they would (it didn’t). I’m sure they will next point to Rookie of the Year because in that movie the Cubs beat the Mets on the way to winning the World Series. God help us. 

Lets sum up this dredge of a movie. Basically, the Cubs are such a joke of a franchise that a 12 year old pitcher named Henry Rowengartner can make their team. Sure, he could throw hard due to an arm injury, but he’s still 12. He makes the team, and he’s some sort of Aroldis Chapman. However, unlike real life, the closer is the reason why the team becomes competitive. 

The only team standing in their way is the 1993 Mets with a strange player named Heddo, who looked like a failed Frankenstein experiment to combine Howard Johnson and Ogre. It all comes down to the final day of the season. The Cubs start their aging ace, Chet Steadman to start the game:

Seriously, look at that throwing motion. It’s terrible. He really couldn’t get it over 50 MPH. Maybe that’s why when Henry falls, magically healing his arm, that Heddo can’t hit the ball. I know the 1993 Mets were horrendous, but I’m pretty sure they could hit anything thrown under 70 MPH with no movement. Okay, maybe not Tito Navarro, but you get the point. 

Anyway, the Cubs win. Steadman and Rowengartner can’t pitch in the playoffs, but the Cubs win the World Series. Ummm, okay. Sure. As a kid, I was disappointed because the Mets lost. I couldn’t root against the Mets, especially when they got this great new first baseman, Heddo. 

I know, I know. It’s just a movie. It’s purely fictional. Just like the Cubs beating the Mets wn route to winning the World Series. 

Everyday Granderson?

Sometimes it’s hard to get a read on what Terry Collins is doing with the lineup. Even with all the moves, Collins has stuck by Curtis Granderson. He’s been the leadoff hitter for a majority of the season. Only recently, he has moved him down in the lineup against lefties. In those scenarios, he’s gone with his preference of leading off Juan Lagares and batting Granderson second. 

There’s a lot of merit to moving Granderson lower in the lineup. For his career, he has a triple slash of .223/.293/.397. That’s terrible especially when compared to his triple slash line against righties of .270/.356/.505. These splits are even more pronounced this season with .159/.202/.253 against lefties and .286/.388/.524 against righties. In sum, he’s great against righties and terrible against lefties. 

Now, Michael Cuddyer has had a rough first year with the Mets similar to Granderson, Carlos Beltran, and seemingly every free agent signing the Mets have ever made. Regardless of the rough year, he’s has  a triple slash of .240/.293/.623 against lefties. Surprisingly, these numbers are worse than his numbers against righties. For his career, Cuddyer hits lefties to the tune of .288/.376/.494. 

The only other option would be Michael Conforto, but the Mets don’t seem inclined to permit him to play against lefties. 

Now here’s where Sabermetrics come into conflict with the need for a player to have the faith of his manager and the clubhouse. For the season, Granderson is hitting .257/.348/.459. It’s much higher than what he’s hitting against lefties, but it’s also considerably lower than what he’s hitting off of righties. What we don’t know is what his numbers would be if he only batted against righties. 

We don’t know if playing everyday keeps him sharp. We don’t know if having the faith of his manager and team helps propel his terrific numbers against righties. Fact is, there’s a lot we don’t know about managing and running a team. It’s easy for me to say Granderson must sit against lefties, but I don’t know the full impact of that decision. 

What I do know is that Granderson is having a good year, and the Mets shouldn’t do anything to mess this up. If Granderson needs to play everyday, let him play everyday. 

Trouble with Making a Good Baseball Movie

There was absolutely no baseball on TV last night, and no I don’t count minor league games. I’m not a scout. Don’t get me wrong, I love baseball. This is why I always know how to get the best shaded seats at a baseball game because I care about the best viewing experience when I am at the game. This way I can make sure our company is handing out Custom Baseballs at every corporate event we attend. Because the smartest baseball fans enjoy the shade and those are the kinds of people I want to work with. In fairness, they always go down well with clients and customers alike. However, the only baseball I’ll watching is MLB. So with no baseball, I decided to watch a movie on the MLB Network about a crusty old scout called:

Now as you can see above, this movie should be in the wheelhouse for this blog because it’s the story of a parent and child through the prism of baseball. Or was it a rom com between Amy Adams and Justin Timberlake? Possibly, it was a repudiation of Moneyball. All I know was it committed the biggest baseball movie sin.

They talked about trading draft picks. Seriously? Everyone goes nuts you can’t trade draft picks in baseball, yet somehow this fact eludes everyone involved with the movie. Also, Amy Adams mentions offhand that the curveball is Randy Johnson’s best pitch. I don’t know when Hollywood will figure out that baseball fans go to baseball movies. If you make a movie for them get the basic stuff right. If you don’t, they don’t go to the movie.

I really can’t get into any of the movie because I want you to continue to read this blog, and I don’t think an in depth analysis of this movie will bring you back. Needless to say baseball not only saved the parent-child relationship, it also saved Amy Adams from herself. If only the remote wasn’t out of reach, I could’ve been saved from this movie.

If you’re interested in baseball my friend recommended giving fantasy baseball a go! He says he loves it and its a great way to engage with the game.