Robinson Crusoe

I have been meaning to write the review for Robinson Crusoe since Saturday morning when we saw it, I haven’t until now for two reasons. One, we weren’t blown away and so I haven’t been inspired to write about it and two, I’ve had tonsillitis (still have tonsillitis) which when combined with the lack of things to shout about this film has, until now, created nothing.

Robinson Crusoe (although, of course it has a different title in the USA, The Wild Life) is a Belgian-French 3D computer-animated adventure action comedy released by Studio Canal.  Maybe this didn’t quite hit the spot as we saw the film in 2D, but I believe that 3D shouldn’t be used to enhance a film, it should be as entertaining and work just as well in 2D, because if a child has autism and 3D is just a bit too much for them why should they miss out on a film being good because of that?

Having now stepped down from my soap box…  It’s not a bad film, the animation is good, typical kids film style, the story line has goodies against baddies and overcoming adversity, typical kids film style, the characters are lovable, moral and build good friendships, typical kids film style, even the baddies as mean bullies are entertaining and comical, in typical kids film style.  The film is aimed at kids aged 6 and under and when I asked my 5 year old if he enjoyed it (as I ask him with all the films we see) he said yes… and that was it! No excitedly telling me about the bits he enjoyed or the who he liked most, just a yes.

The film sticks to the story we all know of Robinson Crusoe, the island, the dog, encountering new animals and pirates but it’s told from the perspective of the animals on the island which is a nice touch. However, you’ll be glad to hear for a kids film, no cannibals, although they were mentioned but not enough to spike the curiosity of my 5 year old to ask what they are.

The story in a nutshell, as written by Studiocanal (as I can’t quite manage to do this as it would take a level of creativity that my brain can’t quite reach at the moment as my tonsils are getting in the  way)

On a tiny exotic island, Tuesday, an outgoing parrot lives with his quirky animal friends in paradise. However, Tuesday can’t stop dreaming about discovering the world. After a violent storm, Tuesday and his friends wake up to find a strange creature on the beach: Robinson Crusoe. Tuesday immediately views Crusoe as his ticket off the island to explore new lands. Likewise, Crusoe soon realizes that the key to surviving on the island is through the help of Tuesday and the other animals. It isn’t always easy at first, as the animals don’t speak “human.” Slowly but surely, they all start living together in harmony, until one day, when their comfortable life is overturned by two savage cats, who wish to take control of the island. A battle ensues between the cats and the group of friends but Crusoe and the animals soon discover the true power of friendship up against all odds (even savage cats).

So to sum it all up this is a typical kids film. The plot is simple and straightforward and maybe that’s why it didn’t inspire us, albeit we saw it in 2D and this may have a bearing (and my tonsils, which are just about ready to move out and get their own place, wont have helped).  My son hasn’t asked a single question about the film since or mentioned any characters from it so we are giving it a 2.5 out of 5.   If you do see it, it’s in cinemas in the UK tomorrow, go for 3D if you can (and let me know if you think it makes it any better) otherwise wait for it to come out on Amazon or Netflix and see it at home of you have 90 minutes to while away.

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Flash

A typical story – rabbit wants to be a police officer, family discourage her as it’s not the family business or in ‘her nature’ but she tries hard for it anyway, graduates and becomes Officer Hop, gets singled out at work for the boring jobs but manages to ride to the top anyway when she volunteers to help a woman find her missing husband.  Expect GI Jane and Erin Brockovich rolled into one…. but as an animal animation.  What more could a child and parent want!?

In the city of Zootropolis where all animals – predator and prey – live peacefully together the first ever rabbit policer office, Judy Hopp must prove her colleagues wrong when they don’t take her seriously.  When hustler Nick Wild, a red fox is framed for a crime he didn’t commit he and Judy work together to uncover a conspiracy.

Both my 5 year old and I loved this film.  A brilliant premise for a story and fantastically executed to keep you glued to the screen all the way through.   Known as Zootopia in some countries this fantastical animation comes from Walt Disney animation pictures, directed by Byron Howard (Tangled, Borther Bear, Bolt) and Rich Moore (The Simpsons, Wreck –it Ralph, Futurama] and stars Ginnifer Goodwin as Judy Hopp, Jason Batemore and Idris Alba amongst many others with Shakira also making an appearance.

We sat on the edge of our seats – well my 5 year old on the edge of my knee that was on the edge of the seat.  Once thing I love about going to the cinema is that my son always wants to sit on my knee which is so snuggly and nice – doubt it will last much longer. Anyway, I digress….

A great film for ages 5 and upwards although there are some scenes with threatening behaviour and a few twists and turns that were just about understandable for a 5 year old.  Two major jump in your seat moments, one involving a panther and another, an otter that were just about tolerable for my 5 year old.  A small scene around drug cultivation and manufacture but this is overshadowed by the disastrous effects and twists in the story.

There has been much discussion about the film since we saw it a few days ago with themes around trying your best and following your dreams, as well as being nice and not mean and how people can seam nice but actually aren’t….. but they might be being mean because someone has been mean to them, but that’s not a nice thing to do and you shouldn’t judge someone by generalisations (i.e. the animal nature) or stereotypes… and breath.  The conversation has been constant with my 5 year old as he made sense of the story.

I’m not going to add any spoilers as it’s just too good to spoil but my sons favourite part was near the end which is a really brilliant twist that also involved a lot of discussion afterwards for him to get his head around.  It was also the only part that scared him too so a real mix of emotions for him.

And my favourite part, the sloths at the DMV – Department of Mammal Vehicles.  Flash the fastest sloth at the DMV should have his own film………..

Zootropolis, released tomorrow in the UK! (Already released in Belgium, Finland Spain, France and the US) If there any film you see over the bank holiday weekend, make it this one.

 

PEANUTSIt feels like it’s been quite a while! Hello there!

There has been a lot going on, such as Christmas and New Year (HAPPY NEW YEAR!!) so it feels like it’s been a long time since there have been any films released that my 5-year-old son wanted to see.  However, we did go and see Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie on the 13th December (that was last year!).  It’s been three weeks, I know, but as there isn’t really anything to say about it other than it’s a Charlie Brown and Snoopy movie and as you would expect, nothing is new and nothing has changed which, for some will be great but for others (like me) a bit dull, I haven’t been motivated to write about it.  It wasn’t great enough for us to get excited about and it wasn’t bad enough that we had to tell people about it either.  I know Peanuts is a classic and it shouldn’t be changed but it makes me wonder if it should have been made into a film… (the box office says it should have as it smashed the estimated figures)

My 5-year-old, did enjoyed it but he wasn’t excited about it.  He got fidgety half way through and so did I. Maybe the slower pace just doesn’t cut it anymore to keep us entertained?  Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t bad, we weren’t looking to leave half way through but well there just isn’t much to say about it. It’s a typical Charlie Brown plot line – this time Charlie brown struggles with feelings of inadequacy whilst dealing with a crush on the little red haired girl who has moved in next door. He decides to do this by taking on a number of new activities all with the help from his best friend Snoopy who, after finding a typewriter in a dumpster writes the next part in his alter ego’s story – an aerial mission to get the girl whilst in combat with the Red Baron.

It’s a nice story and great for little ones as there are no jump in the seat moments but also not much pull on the emotions either.  It’s just, well, nice. Which is what Charlie Brown and Snoopy is all about.  Themes to talk about around trying your best and never giving up come up for conversation but there wasn’t anything that my 5-year-old wanted to ask when we came out of the film.

If you’re a Peanuts fan, then go see it and bring back some childhood memories but if not then this might be one to hold off on until it’s out on rental…..

The Good Dinosaur

What would happen if that big old catastrophic asteroid that collided with Earth actually missed the planet completely and dinosaurs never became extinct? Well, the Good Dinosaur shows us exactly what.  Families of dinosaurs would be found working the land, using their size and strength to sow and harvest enough food to keep their whole family fed for the year and they would have to have the determination and grit to ‘make their mark’ and do something great.  Something Arlo the Apatosaurus struggles with but when he makes an unlikely friend everything starts to change.  A story of courage, determination, friendship and families.

This month’s cinema experience started with a short film called Sanjay’s super team, which didn’t have anything to do with The Good Dinosaur.  Showing short films before the actual film is something I’ve noticed is now becoming the norm.  Not a bad thing – unless your child is impatient!  This was pretty scary for pre-schoolers and just-started-schoolers – not sure if this is show before every showing of The Good Dinosaur, but my 5-year-old (our little man has turned 5 recently!) asked me to let him know when it was over so he could uncover his ears and look up from where his eyes were buried in his knees. A nice little story but a bit too scary for my 5-year-old and made him jump in his seat a number of times.

Saying that, the Good Dinosaur had one or two potential jump in the seat moments but when I looked over to my son they didn’t seem to faze him so either he scares less easily than he did a month ago or I’m over eager about those potential moments.  Although what this film did have was a lot of emotion.  My little boy not only cried twice during the film but then cried on the way home too as, SPOILER ALERT, he missed his Daddy. The film made him think about what it would be like if he lost his dad and had a real emotional effect on him for the rest of the day! Bonus snuggles for Daddy though!

Rated PG this film does have some adult themes in it which I couldn’t work out if were an attempt to target the adults and give them a little humour or not.  For example, SPOILER ALERT, eating wild berries and tripping out and then hitting come down.  My 5-year-old asked what was happening at this point and so the conversation ensued about the effects some ‘berries’ can have on the body and mind.  Even later on he told me that we shouldn’t eat berries from trees or bushes if they are red, blue, orange or yellow as they can make you feel funny and might make you poorly.  Brilliant advice taken literally!

Written by Pixar, this isn’t the usual animation you’d expect from them but I thought it was a nice refreshing change and added something a little different to this film.  Others might disagree.  In all, a lovely film with issues to discuss around the death of loved ones, friendships, making judgements and facing your fears.  Has a feel of the Lion King about it, bar the evil uncle, so felt somewhat unoriginal in story line but it kept my 5-year-old stuck to his seat the whole way through.  If you’re looking for something to see at the cinema with the kids then a good one to watch, if not or time is short, then I reckon you could wait till it comes out on DVD or download.

We have two days left until school starts and we have managed all but one (sort of) of our 10 things to do with mummy/daddy before school starts.

Since the last time we have…

…Face Painting DIY style.

This can only be described as ‘interesting’.  My son loved it, but my face painting skills are somewhat lacking – quite a lot.  When I showed friends the pictures and asked what our son was meant to be, I got a range of answers from ‘I have no idea – what is that?’ to random guesses ‘Spiderman?’ ‘Tortoise?’

They are meant to be dragon and snake! You can see it now right? Maybe not.  Either way our son loved this and I can only get better surely.

face painting

…Climbed a tree.

Well we couldn’t find a climbable tree so we opted for the climbing wall and ropes in the park!  But it just wasn’t quite the same as being able to find a tree so we have made a pact to look for a climbable tree wherever we go and climb it!

climbing

…Play in the park like children, Like REALLY play like children.

Ooo this was fun – some things made me feel slightly ill (why is that as you get older any spinning or swinging feels awful!?) and we got a lot of smiles our way.  Either people were thinking ‘ah that’s nice’ or ‘wow that is one childish crazy mum!’  I’m now going to play in the park like this every time and if our son has to wait his turn until I’ve finished then so be it J

parkpark

We didn’t manage to camp in the garden.  BUT we do have the tent.  Something was stopping me – I wasn’t quite comfortable with sleeping somewhere that wasn’t necessarily secure.  Yes we have a lockable gate on our garden but it can be jumped over. I also got a slight possibly irrational fear that the foxes that always seem to be in our garden would come and maul our son.  I can’t decide if I am right to have this security fear or not.  What would you do in this situation?  Have you camped in your garden before?  And so that leads me to think ‘why am I OK with camping in campsite but not in our own garden?’ Thoughts on a postcard please.

So we managed all but 2 really – but I think we can say we ticked 8.5 out of 10 of the list if we half count the climbing a tree?  And now school starts!  That’s a whole other blog post.

  1. Grow some butterflies (sons idea)
  2. Camp in the garden (my idea)
  3. Cook a meal – main and dessert ( a mixture – I say cook he says bake)
  4. Build a den using things we already have at home
  5. Go to the theatre
  6. Grow something we can eat
  7. Climb a tree
  8. Create something from cardboard boxes
  9. All play in the park like children, like REALLY play like children all of us
  10. Face painting DIY style

Hope you have had a good summer and your kids, whether their first day or starting back to school after the summer, are all happy and settling in well.

xxx

Little girl playing with mothers makeup

I’m not sure if it’s just me but does anyone else find pamper parties for children that are 4 years old just plain wrong?  Even up to the age of 8 I wouldn’t feel comfortable – maybe age 12 would be OK, when they start senior school? Although I know I’m being a bit naive there when I think about what makeup I used to wear when I was 12 and what some of my friends were getting up to.

I have to admit I have a little boy but if I had a little girl and she or my son were invited to a pamper party where he could get his nails and makeup done, that would be one party he wouldn’t be going to.   Take the fact that applying makeup so young is surely not good for such young skin out of the equation, what about the message they are getting about their appearance at that age.  Shouldn’t 4 year olds be outside playing or playing on the cbeebies app rather than thinking about how they look?  Are we not breeding a generation of kids hung up on looks?  Should we not be talking to them about what they see in the media and all around them so they feel confident in themselves and have self-esteem as they naturally are rather than encouraging them to use makeup and cosmetics to make them look different?

Pamper parties are all around now though.  Within my family and circle of friends, parents are having pamper parties for their 4 and 5 year olds. While at the hairdressers the other day having my locks cut off they were preparing for a birthday pamper party. It looked great! Cocktail glasses full of mocktails, nail bar set up with an array of nail varnish colours to choose from and a range of hair styles to pick from that I couldn’t get my head around how they would possible pull the styles off. Plaits and braids that looked out of this world! But the kids were a group of 6 year olds.  For a business I understand that its big money and so it’s at the parent’s discretion, but for parents is it about pester power or peer pressure?  If I had a little girl would I end up letting her have a pamper party giving into peer pressure and pester power?

Let me know your thoughts.  Have you had a pamper party for your little one?  What was your thinking behind it? I’m interested to know if I’m alone in my thoughts or if you think little ones should be getting their hair, makeup and nails done.

The Gruffalo – every parent (nursery worker and reception class teacher) knows all the words by heart – I promise you that.  If you are one of the above and you don’t then how have you got away with that?!  I’d like to know your secret.  We have read the book, along with the Gruffalos Child, more times than I would like to remember, seen the films, have the Gruffalo soft toy and the Gruffalo Childs fancy dress.  And now we have been to see the theater production!

gruffalo

A lovely end to Kids Week (if you don’t know about Kids week in London check it out here and get ready for next year). A fantastic production with 3 fantastic actors, a great set that moved adding an extra element to the scene, perfectly used ambient lighting and wonderful costumes. The production was an hour long but it whizzed by as although it used the wording from the book and the story line it was intermingled with the  odd catchy song and some silly messing about which was actually funny, mainly as it wasn’t too childish or over the top.  (No inappropriate adult humor which we have found in some productions) Our 4 year old found it hilarious and even got the giggles at one point.

As always with a children’s production there is some interaction with audience and some children and parents found themselves sitting next to the Gruffalo for a short time. This wasn’t over the top in length which meant it was fun for the children not directly involved to watch too.

An awesome production, as we have found with other Julia Donaldson’s books which have been turned into theater productions – all created by Tall Stories.  A definite must see! It’s on at London’s Lyric Theater until 6th September and then takes a tour round the country.  Check out where here.

And our 4 years olds favourite bit – “the funny big Gruffalo” (of course it was!)

The-Gruffalo-Lyric-Theatre

We have two weeks left until school starts (I feel school is starting quite late for us) but we have managed to only cross off 3 more items from our ‘Ten things to do with Mummy and/or Daddy before I start school’ list, leaving 4 more items to complete!  Camping is starting to look unlikely, as is climbing a tree as we can’t find a tree that is possible to climb – there is time though! (Does being lifted onto the lowest branch count? maybe not)

Over the last few weeks we have…

…Gone to the theatre – twice!

Hopefully you’ve seen the Dinosaur Zoo review.  If not check it out here! And today we went to see Gruffalo (review for this coming soon) which was fantastic.  There is something magical about taking a 4 year old to the theatre.  For a while before we first went to the theatre our 4 year old didn’t understand that it wasn’t the cinema – he was in awe when he saw what happened.  The hour long performances for kids theatre is just about enough depending on what the performance is and it’s such a great trip out and something different, but I always end up giving in to the merchandise!

theatre

…Grown something we can eat.

This wasn’t quite as we wanted it to be.  We had visions of potatoes and carrots and maybe even tomatoes but alas I had left it too late to do any of those things so we opted for a fast growing herb.  Cress! What we learnt from this – don’t leave things to the last minute and our 4 year old doesn’t like egg & cress sandwiches.

cress

…Created something from cardboard boxes. (actually just one big box!)

We could have played at this for days! Opted for a train created out of a big ole box we recently had a delivery in and a few things from around the house (stools, electricians tape, cushions…). It has taken on many guises over the last few weeks, even having its own canopy at one point and is now a storage box for a few toys. We were going to paint it and as the box was big needed to do this outside but the rain stopped us 😦  We’re planning a full set of carriages next time – better get ordering some large items that will come in boxes big enough for us to use!

cardboard boxes

This leaves 4 items on the list.  We are determined to cross everything off!

Here is what we have left.

  1. Grow some butterflies (sons idea)
  2. Camp in the garden (my idea)
  3. Cook a meal – main and dessert ( a mixture – I say cook he says bake)
  4. Build a den using things we already have at home
  5. Go to the theatre
  6. Grow something we can eat
  7. Climb a tree
  8. Create something from cardboard boxes
  9. All play in the park like children, like REALLY play like children all of us
  10. Face painting DIY style

Last 2 weeks are going to be busy!  Look out for the next blog to see if we managed it.

Until then, toodlepip  x

Dinosaur Zoo

Today we went to see Dinosaur Zoo at the Kings Cross Theatre as part of Kids Week.  A lovely theatre, all decked out for the Railway Children but really lovely all the same and quite different from what you would normally expect from a theatre but in a very good way.  It’s a shame Dinosaur Zoo didn’t give us the same feeling.   We had been waiting for weeks for this and maybe our expectations were too high?

A brilliant idea and the puppets were unbelievably real.  The interaction was wonderful with children and parents, but the chat and trying to be funny for the adults in between was too much and made the hour drag.  There were four sections dedicated to four different dinosaurs (the first actually being babies, which was mightily cute).  The first half was fast paced, with three types of dinosaurs on stage but the second half really did start to drag.  Two more types of dinosaur could probably have featured in there if the inane chat had been less and the second half hour wasn’t dedicated to one dinosaur – albeit it was the Tyrannosaurus Rex, but still.  This section, dedicated to the Tyrannosaurs, just went on and on for far too long too.  My four year old kept asking when they would move onto the next dinosaur and could we just go home, not only as he was a little scared but he just got bored after a while.  I understand it costs a lot to make puppets as brilliant as they are but they could have made the experience so much more for kids that love dinosaurs and know a huge range of them.  (Of course I’m biased as my 4 year old knows the names of dinosaurs that I didn’t even know existed!)

After spending a little time in the foyer with the baby Triceratops, after the production – this was a lovely touch, allowing all the children to pet the dinosaurs – I asked my 4 year old if he had a nice time and enjoyed it and he gave me a flat No.  The Tyrannosaurus part seemed to take over for him and as they scared him a little and went on for what seemed like an eternity it was just a bit too much for him. He even had a little cry about it as he was so frustrated 😦

What would be a wonderful follow up, and they would not need too many more puppets for this, would be a production of Julia Donaldson’s Tyrannosaurus Drip. Now that would be fantastic! And talking of Julia Donaldson, we are off to see The Gruffalo in a couple of weeks, so we shall let you know how that one is too.  Again we have high expectations especially after Room on the Broom was so great!

Final thoughts – don’t bother going to see Dinosaur Zoo unless your child is over 5 or maybe even 6 years old, the pace slows just that little bit too much in the second half with too much emphasis on the scariest dinosaur of all to keep the little ones in their seats.

I feel like I’m Inside Out sometimes – why it when you ask your child to hurry up, they slow down?  I remembered that this happens as we were late for our showing of Inside Out.  ‘Anger’ was jumping up and own in my mind trying to take over my actions console but ‘Joy’ wasn’t letting her as thoughts of ‘It’s OK, we just won’t have to sit through the adverts and trailers which is no bad thing’ raced through my mind. And on the outside I was nice and calm and encouraging and joyful…..

Inside Out

Inside Out has to be the most colourful films we have seen in a long time.  From Pixar, this film tells the story of five emotions jostling for position in 11 year old Riley’s mind.  All is going well and is led by Joy (Amy Poehler) until Riley’s world is turned upside down when she moves to San Francisco with her parents.   Although her emotions try to guide her through the difficult time it becomes apparent that Sadness (Phyllis Smith) is a lot more important than Joy previously thought when they are accidentally swept away from headquarters and into the outside world of Riley’s mind.  Anger (Lewis Black), Fear (Bill Hader) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) are left to run headquarters alone as Joy and Sadness embark on the journey back, taking care to bring all Riley’s core memories with them.

A brilliant and original film but I can’t help but feel it is more for adults than children.  Wonderfully thought out and brilliantly executed, who knew our memories were stored in big shelving units and disposed of in a hoover?!?!?!  BUT it was just a bit too much for my 4 year old to understand.   Saying that an 8 year old would love the whole thing and it was very entertaining for my son – he didn’t fidget at all and enjoyed it a lot. (Even the little film at the beginning about a volcano looking for love – nothing to do with Inside Out but great all the same.  Actually, it was better than some full films I have seen, but I digress) My 4 year olds best bit was (SPOILER ALERT) when Riley came home again and his favourite character was ‘the green girl’ i.e. Disgust. There were no jump in the seat moments (one in the short volcano film though) although the clown was pretty scary and both of us decided this as the bit we enjoyed the least.

Quite a lot to talk to your child about in this film, if they are old enough to understand it.  Emotion is a powerful thing but they combine in many situations and nothing is clear up – one emotion or another.  No conversation with my son about this film though past his best and worst bit.  But overall a brilliant film and I wouldn’t mind seeing it again, especially as I get the feeling it’s one of those films you need to see a couple of times to fully appreciate everything in it.

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