HOCUS POCUS 2 (2022)

Directed By: Anne Fletcher

Written by: Jen D’Angelo

Story by: Jen D’Angelo, David Kirschner and Blake Harris

Based on characters created By: Mick Garris and David Kirschner

Cinematography: Elliot Davis

Editor: Julia Wong

Cast: Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Najimy, Sam Richardson, Doug Jones, Tony Hale, Whitney Peak, Belissa Escobedo, Lilia Buckingham 

Three young women accidentally bring back the Sanderson Sisters to modern-day Salem and must figure out how to stop the child-hungry witches from wreaking havoc on the world.


Well, what do you expect? It’s a sequel to HOCUS POCUS. It works for nostalgia’s sake 

This is more a family film that somehow manages to have less character than the original film. It is beloved by many and I even enjoyed it as a child, but i always felt it was good in a corny way that tried something within the Disney formula and might have bombed financially but the audience found it eventually.

For a film that feels like a film made more for the fans. It feels so cookie-cutter and less distinct than the original. This feels more childlike and obviously is more of a family film. As this film seems to eliminate anything that might be even a tad racy. 

It would have been nice if the film tried something more experimental. As it has a built-in audience. Like making it more of a musical that it flirts with at times but ultimately never pulls the trigger. 

Though the film Misses some of the misguided elements that made the original so memorable. Like the trends of the times when it came out. Which came off as pandering to a section of the audience. This one just goes with trying to be universal. 

It offers a diverse cast and is mostly female-focused, but if anything it always comes off more as silly that isn’t offensive. It’s nice that the young female leads are minority characters though not really noted. 

If you are a fan of the original you will probably enjoy this film or if you were excited to see the film in the first place you will probably enjoy it. Though this is more a film for kids and families. 

This is more the Disney ideal. then the original film. As at least that film felt more theatrical, original, and daring. 

A little disappointing for other cast members if the original doesn’t come back. Though there is a nice nod to the late Marshall siblings in this film

JEFF OF THE CINEFILES & UNFINISHED BUSINESS: HALL OF FAME – FILE #0069 – D.A.R.Y.L. (1985)

Directed By: Simon Wincer 
Written By: David Ambrose, Allan Scott & Jeffrey Ellis 
Cinematography: Frank Watts 

Cast: Barret Oliver, Mary Beth Hurt, Michael McKean, Danny Corkill, Amy Linker, Kathryn Walker, Colleen Camp, Josef Sommer, Ron Frazier, Steve Ryan, Hardy Rawls 

A young boy is found wandering without any memory of who he is. A family takes him in and begin to look for clues to help him find his way home. In the meantime, they notice that the boy seems to have certain special abilities, not usually found in kids his age, or even fully-grown adults.


This film is a hidden gem. One that has a special place with me. It immediately takes me to a special place. Some might call it nostalgia, but some might call it a breakthrough 

I will admit this is a film I loved when I was a kid and watched quite a bit with the film CLOAK & DAGGER. I am quite glad it still holds up.

This was the film that introduced me to how great Michael McKeon is as an actor. While watching this film I admired his performance. as he reminded me of mine. 

As this film is more of a family film but it is also a science fiction film that doesn’t talk down to the audience. As it involves technology that is advanced and comes off a bit like wishful thinking or a fantasy, it still feels plausible.

Even as it seems much more aimed at a younger audience. It has a story and characters that any member of the family or any age can identify with. 

Though not an Amblin movie it feels like one as it has wish-fulfillment galore throughout including an ending where a kid flies a jet. It also doesn’t talk down to kids. It’s not goofy or stupid at all and shows children being natural having Adventures making mistakes and even being in danger. Keep in mind this was made in the 1980s so even for a family film it has some course yet innocent use of language. 

While the film is science fiction it doesn’t drag The film down into it. The film here is more about emotions and being human. All that is decent and good. Of course, the military comes off as the villains to a certain degree and the scientists slowly learn to have hearts with their inventions and discovery. 

I will admit to a small bias as this film to me is charming as hell and as it goes along with Daryl learning and getting used to his surroundings. While gathering information and forming emotions. We are kind of brought into that world and learn as he learns. Even though we already know some things.

It also gives plenty of time and scenes to the adults of the film and their reactions to him and his behavior. How it feels at times to deal with a kid who comes across as too perfect that he doesn’t even seem to need them or seems more advanced and emotionally distant from them. 

Though the film does include the usual kid hijinks and mistakes of turn of phrases and blurting out information and secrets at the wrong time. 

It also seems partially an allegory though maybe not meant. A kind of film for children who are autistic or feel that way. Also, a film That tries to dramatize what it might feel like to be a parent of one.

Grade: A

KENNY & COMPANY (1976)

Written, Cinematography, Edited & Directed By: Don Coscarelli 

Cast: Don McCann, A. Michael Baldwin, Jeff Roth, Ralph Richmond, Reggie Bannister, Clay Fuster, Kenneth V. Jones 

 A coming-of-age story about the lives of a teenage boy and his friend as they traverse the highs and lows of boyhood in the run-up to Halloween.


Sure it’s a very dated film, but it is also one of the last movies I have seen in a long time that has a genuine innocence about it.

As this film seems to stay sympathetic to children and view things from their point of view and there is nothing sinister about it. 

Anytime you think you know what’s going to happen or who has a secret agenda or fear. It’s going to turn down a dastardly road, it doesn’t, it stays sweet and sincere. 

This film could never really be made today. It’s not as easy and simple as being a kid today. There seem to be so many fears and safeguards now. Back then it was all about discovery and how one incident could shape the person you become.

Now it seems kids have so much access and information. They know way too much before their time and are on such tight schedules to be successful. They hardly have time to be kids. Use their imaginations more instead of being told what to do, that is why I like this film so much. It was barely released because the studios wanted a skateboard movie originally.

They didn’t realize what a jewel they had in their hands. As it was hard to market. 

The film is an ultra low budget but still looks just as impressive as movies that were made during that period. This film will put a smile on your face and the real shocker is that it was the first movie made by the future master of horror Don Coscarelli of PHANTASM fame. A few of the actors from that movie appear in this film. 

This was writer/director Coscarelli’s second film. The haunted house sequence affected audiences so strongly that it inspired him to make his next film PHANTASM. 

If you haven’t seen this gem, please go out and find it. If you have children watch it with them. If not with your family or someone you are close to. It might seem cliche, but the film is magical

GRADE: B- 

APOLLO 10 1/2: A SPACE AGE CHILDHOOD (2022)

Written & Directed By: Richard Linklater Cinematography: Shane F. Kelly

Editor: Sandra Adair

Cast: Jack Black, Zachary Levi, Glenn Powell, Bill Sage, Milo Coy, Lee Eddy, Josh Wiggins, Natalie L’Amoreaux 

The story of the first moon landing in the summer of 1969 from two interwoven perspectives. It both captures the astronaut and mission control view of the triumphant moment, and the lesser-seen bottom up perspective of what it was like from an excited kid’s perspective, living near NASA but mostly watching it on TV like hundreds of millions of others. It’s ultimately both an exacting re-creation of this special moment in history and a kid’s fantasy about being plucked from his average life in suburbia to secretly train for a covert mission to the moon.


This film feels more like a loving living memory. That is more an autobiographical look back at childhood in 1969. Nothing about the culture, times, and family life of those times.

As obviously this is a project close to writer/director Richard Linklater’s heart. Where the side plot of a kid experiencing space exploration is to give the film more of a center and a kind of big plot to attract audiences.

That eventually makes good on the promise of that story but is treated more as an afterthought. As not only is it more wish fantasy but also is kind of a metaphor for the last days of innocence before getting older and into not only adulthood but young adulthood where responsibilities pile up and things become more concrete. Though it is handled here as just another episode as part of the character’s youth. 

The film uses rotoscoping animation, a technique the director has used before in previous films WAKING LIFE, and his adaptation of A SCANNER DARKLY. Here it is used more personally which gives the film and its characters a more vibrant life and flexibility that might have been harder to create in live-action. Plus it allows for that time to seem more like an otherworldly fantasy. 

Though its use here is not as outlandish and surreal as his previous projects with it. 

The film is impressive but never quite exciting even though it isn’t designed to be. It more feels like the Billy Joel song WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE. With it being a pop song to groove to but also made up of so many historical references you want to look up the ones you don’t know. So in effect a kind of lesson of sorts also of all that has happened since then. A nice memorial to those times.

Grade: B

ANTZ (1998)

Directed By: Eric Darnell & Tim Johnson 
Written By: Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz & Todd Alcott 
Editor: Stan Webb

Cast: (voices) Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lopez, Christopher Walken, Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtain, Anne Bancroft, Danny Glover, John Mahoney, Paul Mazursky, Grant Shaud, Jim Cummings 

Z, the worker-ant strives to reconcile his own individuality with the communal work ethic of the ant colony. Falling in love with the ant-Princess Bala, Z strives to make social inroads, and then ultimately must save the ant colony from the treacherous schemings of the evil General Mandible that threaten to wipe out the entire worker population. Themes of individuality run rampant.


This was one of the first animated films to really have an all-star cast of voices and really put the film out like a blockbuster with real stars. It is a hit most studios thought that that formula would work. It worked for a short period of time until the audience realized the story matters too. 

While the ensemble all-star cast is here some are odd casting choices that reek of Stunt casting at times and are More like picking actors who would never co-star together regularly.

One of the reasons now anytime an animated film comes out that it is successful for the most part is more than it seems as there are no purely live-action kids films. Animated is usually the only form of children’s entertainment that is coming out unless you count fantasy films though those are aimed at the whole family.

Woody Allen perfectly cast this as his comedy film with broad humor and from an outsider viewpoint amongst his peers, again an unbelievably gorgeous female lead he gets to romance. Though essentially it also feels like a Woody Allen Movie. Only with more action and outside of New York and of course for a younger audience. 

This film came out against the similarly themed A BUGS LIFE life from Pixar.  which I will admit is more impressive visually, but I find this film to be more all-around enjoyable. This is more pedestrian and not as impressive in the animation. This is kind of basic. Not made to be so special. Full of more enjoyment.

A BUG’S LIFE seemed to think visuals first story second believing the audience to be so enraptured by the animation they won’t care about the other details as much. The same type of thinking that reminds me of the film AVATAR

Grade: C+

ANTZ (1998)

Directed By: Eric Darnell & Tim Johnson Written By: Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz & Todd Alcott

Editor: Stan Webb

Cast: (voices) Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lopez, Christopher Walken, Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtain, Anne Bancroft, Danny Glover, John Mahoney, Paul Mazursky, Grant Shaud, Jim Cummings 

Z, the worker-ant strives to reconcile his own individuality with the communal work ethic of the ant colony. Falling in love with the ant-Princess Bala, Z strives to make social inroads, and then ultimately must save the ant colony from the treacherous schemings of the evil General Mandible that threaten to wipe out the entire worker population. Themes of individuality run rampant.


This was one of the first animated films to really have an all-star cast of voices and really put the film out like a blockbuster with real stars. It is a hit most studios thought that that formula would work. It worked for a short period of time until the audience realized the story matters too. 

While the ensemble all-star cast is here some are odd casting choices that reek of Stunt casting at times and are More like picking actors who would never co-star together regularly.

One of the reasons now anytime an animated film comes out that it is successful for the most part is more than it seems as there are no purely live-action kids films. Animated is usually the only form of children’s entertainment that is coming out unless you count fantasy films though those are aimed at the whole family.

Woody Allen perfectly cast this as his comedy film with broad humor and from an outsider viewpoint amongst his peers, again an unbelievably gorgeous female lead he gets to romance. Though essentially it also feels like a Woody Allen Movie. Only with more action and outside of New York and of course for a younger audience. 

This film came out against the similarly themed A BUGS LIFE life from Pixar.  which I will admit is more impressive visually, but I find this film to be more all-around enjoyable. This is more pedestrian and not as impressive in the animation. This is kind of basic. Not made to be so special. Full of more enjoyment.

A BUG’S LIFE seemed to think visuals first story second believing the audience to be so enraptured by the animation they won’t care about the other details as much. The same type of thinking that reminds me of the film AVATAR

Grade: C+

NIGHTBOOKS (2021)


Directed By: David Yarovesky 
Written By: Mikki Daughtry & Thomas Iaconis 
Based on the Book by: J.A. White 
Cinematography: Robert McLachlan 
Editor: Peter Gvozdas

Cast: Krysten Ritter, Winslow Fegley, Lydia Jewett 

A young boy named Alex becomes the prisoner of a witch to avoid certain death, he convinces her to let him tell her a scary story every night. Upon meeting the witch’s servant, Yazmin, the two must use their wits to escape her apartment, a magical labyrinth filled with various dangers, before the witch kills them both.


This film feels more like what the GOOSEBUMPS MOVIE franchise should have been. Less goofy with more terror and real-world stakes. So that there feels like there is something truly troubling Constantly and a kind of emotional connection with the audience. Where you actually care about the characters.

A true fantasy film to capture the imagination that can be deadly but also fun and enchanting. 

This film revolves around only a few of them, but it also showcases the power of imagination and through action encourages reading and books. Without really having to spell it out too much.

This film is clearly made for a younger audience but parents and adults could easily appreciate the film. As it does have those moments of danger from the kind of kids in peril movies of the 1980s where parents or guardians are largely absent. 

Krysten Ritter is perfectly cast and shows she is having fun In her role. As she is always engaging and still avid tongued at times literally. Even if one question you might ask is why the platform shoes always.

The film offers animation when stores are being told and sections of the film are always brightly colored. Especially the lad and gardening sections. 

It’s a film that appreciates horror and scary stories. A perfect film for kids around Halloween. As it rises the lie. Between horror and scary for kids. It might be the perfect starter film for them and get them interested more in these types of stories.

Grade: B-

MY GIRL 2 (1994)

Directed By: Howard Zieff 
Written By: Janet Kovalcik 
Based On Characters created by: Laurice Ehlewany 
Cinematography By: Paul Elliott 
Editor: Wendy Greene Bricmont 

Cast: Anna Chlumsky, Austin O’Brein, Richard Mausr, Christine Ebsrsole, Dan Ayckroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis, Gerrit Graham, Ben Stein, Keone Young, Devon Gummersall


Vada Sultenfuss has a holiday coming up, and an assignment: to do an essay on someone she admires and has never met. She decides she wants to do an assignment on her mother, but quickly realizes she knows very little about her. She manages to get her father to agree to let her go to LA to stay with her Uncle Phil and do some research on her mother. Once in LA, she finds herself under the protection of Nick, the son of Phil’s girlfriend, who at first is very annoyed at losing his holidays to escort a hick *girl* around town. However, he soon becomes more involved in the difficult search.


This film is just as warm and charming as the first film. Though weaker overall in feel and subject matter

This is the last film that Howard Zieff directed, because he became increasingly debilitated by Parkinson’s disease. Carrie Fisher was also an uncredited script doctor on this film

It’s character from the first film we feel a connection with and want to see what is happening in their lives, but the movie offers less of a reason. So that it feels more like we are dropping by while something is developing . Which might have. Even the movies aim, it just never feels as compelling and things seem to happen more in a leisurely pace.

Which makes it seem like a film that adults might appreciate more then kids. Unless they are just connected to the characters from seeing the first film.

It goes more into the hippie lifestyle that she is around as well as delving more into a friendship than romance

The thing that is missing is that in the first film it was a coming of age story and we were introduced to her making her way through the world and seeing how her family worked while this outsider came in. As well as including a tragedy that you knew was coming

Though this film feels less needed than that film As it feels more like an unnecessary continuation of a story and characters where we leave half of the character from the original who appear more in a cameo. Which also loses some of the charm. As it’s nice to see them but we don’t get to see as much of them as we would Like.

And now she is dealing more with her uncle form the first film who here has a bigger part and we get to see him more humanized in his relationship with her and a romantic one. So we are dealing with the original character in a whole new landscape which seems smart, but isn’t as precious as the character is older and a lot more knowledgeable. It stays clean but she isn’t as naive.

Here the character is doing research more into her deceased mother which is what take up most of the films actions and time. She is also in a strange location for her. So she is exploring new territory. While being around the counter culture she still manages to stay innocent.

Strangely though older she is less boy crazy and fascinated by relationships. Which seems to be why by the end she finds herself in a minor one. Though still not really having any female friends. Which the film starts with her having but losing them to jealousy.

Anna Chlumsky has always been an earnest actress her performances have always felt truthful and soulful full of confidence. She is charming and is energetic in her performance. That feels adventurous and guides each performance she has. Though at least throughout she stay confident. Which leaves a good message and role model for little girls watching it and seeing themselves In the character. Luckily over the years she has come back as a major actress in adulthood and been Emmy nominated quite a few times on the award winning television show VEEP

Maybe it is that I grew up watching and dealing with the first film emotionally so that when the sequel was finally announced. –I looked forward to it and built it up on my head so that when i finally saw it I couldn’t help but find it disappointing. More as me and other might have grown out of it. As it came too little too late.

Now this is not a bad movie at all. If anything it feels heartwarming

Though it works as a continuation of a character like in the films MY AMERICAN COUSIN to AMERICAN BOYFRIENDS, also THE YEAR MY VOICE BROKE to FLIRTING, only skewing younger. Though offers motivation and moving into more adult themes for the characters here it maintains an innocence for everyone

The supporting characters are fun if not too memorable. The investigation is not that interesting or encompassing they seem only there to keep the story moving and the characters moving allowing for some developments.

Not too much of a side story by introducing another suitor for the uncle’s girlfriend.

This was a sequel that I was looking Forward to even though I was old enough to be skeptical and think how were they going to be able to equal the power (at least for me) of the original. As one Wanted to see the further adventures of Vada. 

Which is exactly what this film does. She is a little older abd the film transports her out of her hometown into sprawling San Francisco. Bigger city for bigger adventures. As this film comes off more as episodic.

The seed are planeted early in the film. When her friend who we last saw her playing. With st the end of the original. Is jealous and ditches her for a boy who seems to constantly be flirting by with vada and vada In turn has no interest in nor picks up on it. 

So as she searches for stories about her mother. The movie revolves around relationships. Her uncle and his girlfriends. Her and the girlfriends son who accompanies her everywhere In her fact finding mission and even her relationship with her mother and accepting her stepmother and her soon to be born Sibling.

That is what most films are about relationships. This one offers a bit of romance between her and the girlfriends son but other then a kids that is as deep as it gets.

One of the charms of the original so is that it came out of nowhere and had a more natural sense of character as well as generally good innocent humor for the most part. So that it felt like a gem out of nowhere that was also felt classical in A small town novel way. It felt comfortable.

Where as this film feels like most of the film it is stretching and feels way too planned out. It feels more designed then coming off natural and it kind of spoils it.

The film Still has some off the wall charm but not enough to make this film feel like it is worth the effort.

Though then Again I might be wrong as I was younger when the first film Came out and more cynical when the sequel came out and might have believed I was above it all. Kids might actually like it. So might those who took the first film to heart. Even though I did and still found myself disliking the sequels

Grade: C

JACK (1996)

Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola
Written by: James DeMonaco & Gary Nadeau
Cinematography: John Toll
Editor: Barry Malkin

Cast: Robin Williams, Diane Lane, Jennifer Lopez, Brain Kerwin, Bill Cosby, Fran Drescher, Adam Zolotin, Todd Bosley, Jurnee Smollett,  Michael Mckean, Don Novello, Keone Young, Seth Smith, Mario Yedidia, Jer Adrianne Lelliott

Because of an unusual disorder that has aged him four times faster than a typical human being, a boy looks like a 40-year-old man as he starts fifth grade at public school after being homeschooled.


This is a feel-good movie that feels at times too artificial.

A kids movie, more from an adult’s point of view that families will enjoy. That tries to capture the winsomeness of youth but reeks of sentimentality and a kind of contempt with an over the top earnestness. That works for the audience but feels pointed and over intellectual at times just to try to explain things in a plausible way. While taking itself too seriously.

It attempts to be a feel-good film so much that it feels like a cop-out or set up to watch Robin Williams be wacky with kids while supposedly being a kid. Letting him loose to be wild and showcase his improv talent while still playing a character convincingly.

If you are a fan or completist of his works then this film is great. As I can admit a favorable bias when it comes to Robin Williams performances. This feels almost like the greatest hits collection. As it shows his range fully in character. As this is a role seemingly written for him. So it is perfect casting with him is the lead being unpredictable and always having a certain playfulness. Though as you watch you get a sense that he is better than the material. Even as the movie is more or less built around him. 

While Francis Ford Coppola tries to make the material and the film more enriched then it is or deserved to be. As to not embarrass himself. Plus gives him the chance to work with Robin Williams. Though the film Still feels disappointing as he tries to bring tone and atmosphere to the material. Just as he did in his previous for hire film THE RAINMAKER.

The film tries to show the joy of youth and ends up coming off more obvious than anything. While some comedic scenes seem misplaced even though they are supposed to be in a kind of reality seem silly more than anything.

Child actor Todd Bodley does his similar oddball schtick he did in the movie LITTLE GIANTS. Though he used his talents better in the kids film LLOYD then here.

Bill Cosby plays a supporting role as a child psychiatrist that feels more like a special guest star and is filmed in a warm loving way. That set the time for his reputation more. That watching the film now is almost sad and scary knowing what we know and scars the movie a bit. In which his performance and character are some of the better things in it.

The film is an interesting contrast of the two comedians working together though mostly in dramatic scenes.

As towards the end the film takes a more dramatic and sad turn, but it also ends up being a life-affirming film for the whole family. As even in It’s More adult scenes it comes off as silly and innocent 

The film in the end is definitely a crowd-pleaser. That you can’t help but smile and giggle at least once or twice.

Grade: C

DORA AND THE LOST CITY OF GOLD (2019)

 Directed By: James Bobin
Written By: Nicholas Stoller & Matthew Robinson
Story by: Tom Wheeler & Nicholas Stoller
Based on the television series “DORA THE EXPLORER” Created by:  Valerie Walsh, Chris Gifford & Eric Weiner
Cinematography: Javier Aguirresarobe
Editor: Mark Everson

Cast: Isabelle Moner, Eva Longoria, Michael Pena, Adriana Barraza, Eugenio Derbez, Benicio Del Toro (voice), Danny Trejo (voice), Temuera Morrison, Q’orianka Kilcher, Madeline Madden, Nicholas Coombe, Jeff Wahlberg, 

Having spent most of her life exploring the jungle with her parents, nothing could prepare Dora for her most dangerous adventure ever: high school. Always the explorer, Dora quickly finds herself leading Boots, Diego, a mysterious jungle inhabitant, and a ragtag group of teens on a live-action adventure to save her parents and solve the impossible mystery behind a lost Inca civilization.


This movie is for those who grew up on Dora and are now teenagers. So they make it the same way and to explain her kind of arrested development of sorts. It is explained that she has been growing up in the jungle. So regular civilization and especially high school and its rules and culture are foreign to her. 

This film comes across as cute mroe than anything else. As it offers plenty of danger but also plenty of fun and entertainment.

You know what type of movie you are going to get from the get-go. As this is a film more made for pre-teens that is the kid. If adventure films that have been missing for that audience that offer kids being heroes and while under adult supervision end up being mroe the wise ones.

This is like a modern-day Amblin film. Where there is the threat of danger even though you know there isn’t probably going to be any even for the fates of villains. 

Also, credit must be given to a film that has a psychedelic sequence that is animated. Where the kids trip out from mushrooms and a scene where two scorpions mate on someone’s head.  

What really puts the film in a high is having Benicio Del Toro steak the film With him voicing the character of Swiper the Fox. And Eugenio Debrez provides plenty of comedic Relief as the inept explorer helping Dora and her crew.

While the film has many callbacks to the original animated show that come off as Jokes most of the time. This is a nice wholesome and fun family film. That has little to no cynicism and is rather simple. 

Though would expect nothing less from Director James Bobin director of many modern muppet movies and shows. 

Grade: C+