Feeling Emotional?! It’s Not Your Fault: There Are Tiny Little People LIVING IN YOUR BRAIN!!!

Inside Out

Starring: Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Phyliss Smith

Runtime: 94 Minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Hooray! Pixar is back! It has been almost 5 years since Pixar touched greatness. “Toy Story 3″ came out in late 2010 and it it had clever humor, an exciting prison break sequence, and all of the emotions. Pixar seemed like an unstoppable machine. Then “Cars 2″ happened, and it was sort of okay (and by “sort of”, I mean I don’t want to offend the studio because I kind of love them).

It was the first Pixar movie that was mostly appealing for kids and didn’t seem to have a real purpose except for making more money and selling more toys.  “Brave” was really great (girl power!), “Monsters University” was fine but only slightly more necessary than “Cars 2″.  To find it’s heart again, Pixar went back to Pete Docter who wrote and directed “Up”, one of the Pixar most emotionally powerful films. I am happy to say that in “Inside Out”, Docter outdoes himself and once again creates something great.

Those who have seen the rest of Pixar movies know that a world within the world is a common theme.  “Finding Nemo”, the “Toy Story” trilogy, “A Bug’s Life” and “Monsters Inc” all feature a sub-universe that happens within and interacts with a mostly oblivious human universe (this human interaction, incidentally, is what is missing from both Cars movies and “Monsters University”).

“Inside Out” uses this plot device again but does so in a completely different way. Much of the film is set inside the brain of an 11 year old girl named Riley where 5 personified emotions – Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust and Anger – must work together to help guide Riley through difficult life changes.

While many tv episodes and movies have occurred inside the body, I don’t recall many occurring within the brain. When the body is the setting there are things that we are basically familiar with. We can imagine blood streams and the heart and lungs, and even white blood cells fighting germs. In “Inside Out”, Docter and his animation team had to create a brand new world. They created an entire infrastructure showing how are memories and our emotions interact. The result is entertaining and extremely creative.

Another strength of the film is the voice performances. Sure, there is a lot of type casting happening (of course Lewis Black voices Anger) but when your characters are personified emotions  typecasting is kind of the point and it works.  Amy Poehler (obviously channeling Leslie Knope) does a particular great job and pulls off the difficult task of being ridiculously optimistic while remaining very likable.

I could keep going, but I’ll just say that everything here works. The story is well constructed and the characters learn and grow in very interesting and thought provoking ways.  While people of all ages can enjoy this film, some of what’s happening will likely be too heavy or complex to be fully appreciated by very young viewers. They will still enjoy it, but they could probably watch it every couple years and get more out of it, which is actually a strength. This will definitely be one that we end up owning in our household and it shows that Pixar has still got it.

On the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale from one to ten where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “Inside Out’ an almost perfect 4.96234712 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of: WOW

Rebel Wilson Flashes Nation, Wins Americas Heart.

Pitch Perfect 2

Release Date: Friday May 15, 2015

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow

Running Time: 115 Minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for innuendo and language

Hey ya hey ya hey ya hey ya” Fans who liked the way they worked it in 2012 will no doubt be flocking to the theaters to catch the release of “Pitch Perfect 2″, which hit theaters nationwide on Friday. But do the Bellas rise to the occasion in this sequel or is the tone a little flat?!

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After an embarrassing performance that gets national attention, the Barton Bellas are put on probation leaving them unable to perform their duties as national champions or host auditions to replace the graduating seniors. With the future of their sisterhood at risk, the Barton Bellas set out to regain their position in the world of Acapella and clear their name for good. The seemingly impossible task is made more difficult by their leading competitors, a German acapella group that’s a fan favorite. The girls, led by Becca (Anna Kendrick) and Chloe (Brittany Snow) have to dig deep to find their roots, strengthen their bond, and overcome the monumental task of winning the world championship.

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One of the things that I always worry about with any sequel is whether or not the writers and director will be able to re-create the same things that made the original so enjoyable in the first place. The first “Pitch Perfect” was such a flawless adventure, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect with the second. Between the comedic timing of Rebel Wilson’s character, “Fat Amy” to the enjoyable performances, I was far from disappointed with this sequel. There were a few aspects of the story that I felt the film could have survived without but, overall, this movie was a winner. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (possibly), and you’ll definitely want to sing along the whole way through.

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Overall, on the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “Pitch Perfect 2″ a glowing 6.348379487 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of “Fa la la la la ba da rah bah!”

A Running Diary: Reactions To “The D Train” Movie @TheDTrainMovie

Howdy, Folks!

I want to try something new tonight – – I’m sitting in my pajamas about to pop in a screener DVD of the new film “The D Train”, which is out for limited release NOW (you’ll have to check to see if it’s playing at a theater near you because I’m far too lazy to pull up a list).

Rather than giving you my typical synopsis and brief commentary on the film – I thought it might be fun to change things up a bit by live tweeting my thoughts on the movie as I watch it. You can find me at @AnOrdinaryBlog_ (because someone took ItsAnOrdinaryBlog – like a jerk). Without further adieu – – let’s do this thing.

The D Train

If you’re thinking about hitting the theaters to catch this new film, here are a few things you should know: The movie starts out with a little promise. The lead character (played by Jack Black) heads up the steering committee for his high school reunion while juggling a career and family life. Long story short, he creates an elaborate lie in order to convince an old classmate, who stars in a commercial for Banana Boat (which apparently makes a person famous), to attend the class reunion. Things turn from mildly entertaining to awkward to improbable and sad about an hour into the film where we see the life of a nearly-40 year old spiral out of control. The movie begs the question: How far would you go to plan your 20-year high school reunion?!

Honestly, for me, not far…but the same can’t be said for Jack Black’s character. Overall, the movie was interesting in the same way that watching a train wreck is interesting: You know that what’s coming isn’t going to be pretty but you just can’t look away. I’m not entirely certain what the creators of this movie were trying to accomplish but if awkwardly-entertaining-and-oddly-inappropriate is their thing: Let’s call it a success.

It’s An Ordinary Blog on Vacation! Part 2: B Resort in Orlando Florida #IAOBVacation2014 #BResortOrlando

Hello, Friends!

As you might remember, I’ve struggled to get back into the blogging world over the last few months. I’ve been sitting on several posts that highlight some of the wonderful parts of our journey to Florida. In case you missed the first post (or forgot because it’s been so long), you can find my post about Sarasota, Florida here. Go ahead, I’ll wait until you come back (I need to get some chocolate water anyway).

Orlando “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas 2014 anymore”. 

Obviously we’ve settled nicely into 2015 at this point but the not too distant memory of 2014 should still be fresh on our minds. As we gear up for Summer and think about travel with family, the memories from my late 2014 vacation are still very fresh in my mind. I wrote previously about what happened at the tail end of our vacation which has made it hard to revisit. Prior to that point; however, our vacation was fantastic and I’m really excited to share some of those memories with you.

BResortOrlando2

Walt Disney World has been (and likely always will be) a classic family vacation spot. Every time I visit the parks, I enjoy a new and magical experience. It’s a place we enjoy going because there’s something for everyone. My daughter can dress up and pose for pictures with her favorite characters and the adults can Disneybound. All of that magic, however, comes at a cost. There are some expenses that are unavoidable (park tickets) so one of the things that I recommend when planning your WDW trip is to explore all of your options and plan ahead to make Disney work no matter what kind of budget you’re working with.

One of the best ways to save on your Disney trip (and what we did) is to consider your hotel options. Our hotel, the B Resort in Orlando, is a relative newcomer to the competitive Orlando hotel landscape and offers many of the benefits of staying at a Disney resort while delivering more bang for your buck.

The B Resort is located on Disney property within a stone’s throw to Downtown Disney which gave us great dining, shopping, and nightlife options the day before and after we visited the park. The on-site amenities such as the pool, lounge for families, spa, and restaurant were wonderful options for times when we felt Downtown Disney might be too packed.

The resort offers daily complimentary shuttle service to and from each of the theme parks. This is a great alternative to staying off site and paying for parking each day. If you’re booking a trip and plan to utilize this service – I would suggest mapping out your day in advance (maybe that’s a little too “Type A” for you, I don’t know…) so that you’re still able to make it to the parks when the gates open (if that’s your thing).

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There are lots of places you can stay while vacationing that offer a comfortable bed to sleep in, fresh linens, and a great view but where B Resort really stands out is with the amenities they provide to guests. The zero entry pool is a great option for families with young swimmers. The outdoor space provided for a peaceful area to relax. There is an on-site shop for snacks, ice cream, and coffee as well as a full-service restaurant with one of the best breakfast buffets I’ve had to date. Among the things that stood out to me during my visit was the lounge (pictured above) with video games, seating, foosball, and flat screen televisions that makes for a really cool hangout for adults kids to relax and play together.

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By and far the thing I was most impressed with during my stay was the resort’s attention to detail in everything they do. I love (LOVE) when companies are intentional in their brand, their service, and their message and B Resort is the perfect example of that. Their commitment to guests is demonstrated through the exemplary customer service they provide, the care they put into making sure the hotel smells (yes, smells) fresh and comfortable, and the peaceful atmosphere that permeates throughout the lounge.

The hotel lobby is scented and lit to set the tone for a relaxing and peaceful stay. The rooms are well equipped for traveling families and their commitment to the larger community around them is evidenced by their support of local conservation organizations (you can find more details on that here).

We couldn’t have asked for better accommodations than what we had staying at B Resort during our trip to Orlando. Traveling with a little one can be daunting and knowing that we had a nice, relaxing hotel to come back to in the evenings was great. I would encourage you to check out the photos of their guest rooms online. We stayed on a high floor with a balcony and were able to see the fireworks at Epcot from our room at night (which was great since our daughter was sleeping).

I can’t wait to share more about the trip we took coming up on the blog.

Connect with me on Facebook for more pictures (coming soon) from our trip! 

Until next time,

Holli

Stop Right Now, Thank You Very Much! 90’s Sing-Along At Alamo Drafthouse!

 

Think back to your adolescence – the fun times with friends at the mall shopping, the sleepovers where we played “M A S H” and talked about all the cute boys in school, and the obnoxious dance parties where we sang our favorite songs at the TOP of our lungs. Do you guys remember how much FUN that was?!

I do and, quite frankly, I’m not ashamed to admit that I still remember ALL of the lyrics to my favorite Spice Girls songs. If you’re like me – you know you wanna (<—Spice Girls reference) re-live the fun time from your earlier years so grab a few of your closest gal pals and join me at Alamo Drafthouse for a 90’s Pop Princess Sing-Along starring the Spice Girls.

Maybe you need a night out – maybe you never got to see your all time favorite girl band in concert when you were a teenager and you’re still bitter about it to this day – maybe you’re just up for a little fun…no matter what your reasoning behind attending – be there or be square (details below).

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“This all-new Sing-Along Music Video party celebrates all of their greatest hits, and your VJs will be sprinkling in a mix of additional ’90s Pop Princesses to round out the party. Spice up your life with the Action Pack and come out to the Alamo Drafthouse for an evening of unprecedented excitement. Say You’ll Be There?”

Visit Alamo Drafthouse for showtimes and ticket information.

A Civilization In Need Of a New Home Relocates The People Already Living There – – And It’s Not a History Lesson

“Home”

Home (2015) Poster

Release Date: March 27th, 2015

Runtime: 94 Minutes

Cast: Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez

In the future that is the setting of “Home”, an alien race called the Boov, on the run from their enemies, have invaded earth and relocate humanity to other parts of the planet, taking the homes of those that they relocated.   One of the Boov, Oh (voiced by Jim Parsons) finds himself on the run from his own people and eventually befriends a precocious human named Tip (voiced by Rihanna).  The two share an adventure and learn the meaning of home.

It’s a post-apocalyptic alien invasion buddy comedy, and it’s adorable.

In the post Pixar world, there are two kinds of animated movies: those (like the early Pixar movies) that mix in more sophisticated jokes and plot to achieve a more universal appeal and those that mainly appeal to kids.  “Home” is firmly in the latter category, and that’s ok.  I thought it was cute, but I recognize it was not made for me.  It was made for my 4 year old daughter, and she absolutely loved it. She sat through the entire thing (not always a sure thing) and continues to talk about how much she loved it.

The humor is mainly fueled by the enthusiastic voice performance by Parsons. Steve Martin, who admittedly can do no wrong in my eyes, also does a great job as the voice of Captain Smek, the leader of the Boov.

Older kids will probably be bored by a relative lack of tension and predictable plot, but for kids under 10, “Home” is cute and captivating and teaches positive lessons about overcoming fears and understanding the perspective of outsiders

On the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale from one to ten where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “Home” a 3.624324362541989213 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of “awwwwwww”.

The Truth Behind Sean Penn’s Philanthropy Revealed On The Big Screen. Hint: He’s A Badass.

There are many reasons to love Sean Penn. From the diversity of his roles in “Fast Times At Ridgemont High”, “I Am Sam”, “Milk”, and “Mystic River” to his devotion to giving back to philanthropic organizations such as Cinema For Peace and UNICEF, Penn’s presence has made an impact on the World around him. In his latest role, “The Gunman”, Penn unveils what some* have thought to be his true identity in life: Undeniable badass.

The Gunman

Release Date: Friday March 20th, 2015

Running Time: 115 Minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated “R” for strong violence, language, and some sexuality.

In “The Gunman”, Sean Penn plays Terrier, a mercenary assassin disguised as a non-profit aid worker on a mission to assassinate the Minister of Mines in the Congo with one shot. That single shot created a ripple effect that triggered civil unrest and chaos in the Congo leaving Terrier with no means of re-entry into the country for several years. Unfortunately his orders also meant abandoning the love of his life, Annie which prompted Terrier to leave the world of violence behind…or so he thought.

Fast forward several years when Terrier finds himself, once again, working in the Congo for a (legit, no jokes this time) non-governmental organization providing relief and support to the people in the area. Having moved on from his time hunting others for profit, Terrier discovers that he, himself, has become the hunted.

In an attempt to protect his life, and the lives of his former colleagues, Terrier sets out on a mission to discover who is behind the bounty on his head. He reconnects with Annie (awww), has some pretty hard-core hand-to-hand combat scenes, and ultimately figures it all out (duh).

The film, like many others in its genre, isn’t without its flaws but, taken at face value, it’s a winner. “The Gunman” is an entertaining depiction of a far fetched version of what mercenary life is all about. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the film is witnessing Sean Penn in that type of role – total badass.

Overall, on my It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “The Gunman” a 3.349830498340394809 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of “You get ’em, tiger!”.

*By some, I mean me. Just me. I think Sean Penn is a badass.

It’s Been A Couple of Months…Let’s Talk.

Hello, Everyone.

As I sit here, trying to find the right words for this post (please bear with me as I stumble my way through this) I am deeply humbled. It’s been a few months since I last spent time writing this blog and I feel like I’ve been a tremendous let down…and yet, you’re still coming here to read. For that, I thank you. I also feel like I owe you an explanation and I’m finally ready to address the elephant in the room.

I’ve been sitting on posts from December. Posts that highlight an amazing trip I took with my family where we spent a couple of weeks enjoying beautiful, sunny Florida. We enjoyed the stunning beaches in Sarasota, spent a few days at a fabulous hotel in Orlando, took our daughter to Disney World for the first time, and witnessed the beauty of marine life at Sea World. You might be wondering why, given all of that, I’ve been unable to finish documenting my journey. Why I haven’t mustered up the courage to hit “publish” on those posts? 

On our last day in Florida, tragedy struck in my family. My grandmother had been rushed to the emergency room and wasn’t expected to live. She’d gone in for a knee replacement surgery and had a series of complications that ultimately led to her untimely death. It just doesn’t feel right sharing the details about a fun trip knowing how it ended and I haven’t been ready to share my feelings with all of you until now.

Karen Isabell was a lively spirit. She was funny, she was strong, she cared deeply for others, and now she’s gone. Death is a concept that I struggle with a lot and my grandmother’s passing was (and is) particularly difficult for me to deal with.

The funny thing about life is that we always think that we have more time. More time for hugs, laughter, memories, and love. Those are things I long for more of with my grandma. I wish I could have her back, even if it’s just for a few minutes, to tell her that I love her. I wish I’d had more time so that she could’ve known my daughter more – so that my daughter could have known her. I wish I’d made more of an effort to call on a regular basis. I wish I’d had more time to visit with her. I wish…I wish. I wish she could still be with us.

My grandma and I had a somewhat distant relationship for several years while I was in college. It wasn’t after my daughter was born, when we went back East for a family reunion, that Grandma and I started to get closer. We really bonded on that trip – we had some deep discussions – and for that, I will always be grateful. That was a turning point for us and, from that point on, our relationship was pretty good.

We missed the opportunity to spend time with my grandparents in October since I’d just attended a conference in Atlanta and so we had been talking about the possibility of them coming out to see us this Spring. I was really looking forward to that trip. I was looking forward to spending some quality time with my grandmother, showing her around Kansas City, creating memories, and having the chance for my daughter to get to know her better.

The hardest thing about the finality of death, especially when it’s unexpected like this, is the agonizing desire for more time. I know the only thing I can do is to look back on the memories that I do have and cherish them and so that’s what I’m really trying to do.

If death teaches us anything (which I believe that it does), it’s that love is all that matters. We ought to spend less time in this life worried about trivial matters and more time loving on those around us – because we never know when the opportunity to do so will be gone.

Thanks for sticking with me through this. XoXo

Film About A Love Affair Turned Bad Hits Big Screen & It Feels Like You’ve Seen It Before (Because You Have)

The Boy Next Door

The Boy Next Door

Release Date: Friday January 23, 2015

Running Time: 1 Hour, 31 Minutes

CastJennifer Lopez, Ryan Guzman, Kristin Chenoweth

MPAA Rating: Rated “R” for violence, sexual content/nudity and language

Fans of stalker-thrillers looking for their next fix will likely be flocking to the theater late at night to see the latest film which hit the big screen nationwide today.

But does “The Boy Next Door” hit the spot?! 

In the midst of a separation following the infidelity of her husband, Claire Peterson (played by Jennifer Lopez) is emotionally vulnerable when she first meets Noah Sandborn (played by Ryan Guzman), the sexy eye-candy who moves in next door. Noah who is oddly still just a high school senior a few months shy of his 20th birthday (an age, perhaps, that makes the cougars feel a little bit better) is, at first glance, the perfect guy. He’s attractive, smart, kind, helpful, and strong so it’s easy to see how Claire is so easily seduced by him that fateful night when her entire world was turned upside down.

After sleeping with Noah, Claire tries to move on with her life. She emerses herself in her work, attempts to patch things up with her estranged husband, and vows never to make the same mistake again but Noah doesn’t share the same desire to let go of their one-time fling. Noah’s infatuation with Claire becomes alarming, things get pretty awkward, and I think we can all guess how the remainder of the story goes…because we’ve seen it before.

Following in the footsteps of predecessors like “Fatal Attraction” and “Swimfan”, “The Boy Next Door” follows a very formulaic script that is highly predictable and leaves you wanting more…of a plot, better acting, and perhaps something new. No matter how attractive the cast is and how steamy the one-time love affair might be, it just doesn’t make up for the lack luster storyline which was this film’s downfall.

Overall, on the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again, I give “The Boy Next Door” a 9.350943132095 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of: “Woah, Ryan Guzman is HOT!”

Man With No Friends Has Wedding: Hilarity Ensues

The Wedding Ringer

Wedding Ringer

Release Date: Friday January 16th, 2015

Cast: Kevin Hart, Josh Gad, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting

Running Time: 101 Minutes

MPAA Rating: Rated R for crude and sexual content, language throughout, some drug use and brief graphic nudity

Josh Gad has no friends.

From “Bridesmaids” to “The Hangover”, audiences have seen their fair share of wedding related comedies depicting the lengths some will go in the name of friendship. “The Wedding Ringer”, which hit theaters nationwide yesterday, isn’t exactly like those other movies…

“The Wedding Ringer” tells the story of Doug Harris (played by Josh Gad), a workaholic groom-to-be who, at the behest of his fiancee (played by Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting) , is forced to locate and recruit seven of his closest male friends for the wedding party. The only problem is that he doesn’t have seven close male friends. He doesn’t even have three. He doesn’t have one. He doesn’t have any friends. He’s also out of time. With just about a week until he ties the knot, Doug is out of options. Or is he?!

That’s where Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart) comes into play. Jimmy is a professional best man – someone who rents himself out for faux-best friendship for weddings (and, apparently, funerals). Doug meets Jimmy, Jimmy meets the future in-laws, someone catches on fire, and hilarity ensues. Josh Gad and Kevin Hart have a great bromantic chemistry that enables them to deliver a dynamite performance in a silly, funny movie (emphasis on silly).

Although I don’t see any awards being handed out for this film, I thought (for what it was) it was pretty good. It’s funny and it doesn’t take itself too seriously – which is something that I happen to really enjoy.  Overall, on the It’s An Ordinary Blog movie review scale where one is the worst, five is the best, and ten is the worst again: I give “The Wedding Ringer” a 6.89803498304981098 with an emoticon based sub-ranking of “hahaha ahhhhhhhhhh”.