Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Good Dinosaur - A Disney/Pixar Film

Author: Jose G. Barr

Disney Pixar has done it again with another great film. The Good Dinosaur was directed by Peter Sohn and written by Meg LeFauve. Peter Sohn has worked his magic on his latest effort for Pixar. While this is much darker than his other work, it is well balanced.

The story begins with the meteor that caused the extinction of giant dinosaurs missing earth completely.  The resulting world is very different from the one we know. This is an animated story that appears to have been seamlessly placed in the real world. Kudos to the animation team for such an amazing piece of work. It will be a hit with fans of all ages.

The main character is Arlo, an Apatosaurus, who is the runt of the family. He wants to be like his poppa, but cant seem to find the courage to make his mark, running away in fear from the chickens he must feed each day.  When Arlo is given the job of killing the critter that is eating their winter food, he fully intends to do the job and make his mark. But when he traps the critter, he finds that it is a small human and, rather than kill it, he lets him go free.  Poppa is incensed and sets out, with Arlo at his side, to find and kill the critter. Heartbreak comes early in the film as a sudden flash flood takes the life of poppa.  Arlo is sick with grief, knowing that by letting the critter go, he caused his poppas's death.

The adventure to get back home is laced with darkness, death lurking around every corner. Arlo and Spot (the critter turned companion) journey through storms and past dangerous creatures, facing death many times before the end of the story. The movie is also full of wonderful moments and plenty of laughs. One of the funniest moments comes when the duo eat rotten fruit that have psychedelic properties and has them hallucinating. They learn a valuable lesson in the hangover they suffer soon after.

My son loved the movie while my wife found it a bit slow in places. I enjoyed it and believe that it is worthy of joining the other Pixar hits in their library. The bottom line is that it is a good film worth taking the kids to see it.

Until next time my friends, love your kids,
Cherish your family.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

GizmoGadget - A Fathers Review of New Kid Tech

Author: Jose G. Barr

Several months ago I reviewed the GizmoPal GPS tracking device that we purchased for my son.  My son thought it was the best thing ever, especially since he was able to call mom and dad whenever he needed to or wanted.  As he got used to it, we started to hear the grumbling. He is almost 8 years old and the GizmoPal looks like a little kids watch.  There was nothing I could really say to him about that, the original GizmoPal was designed for younger children and is very limited.

With the introduction of the GizmoPal 2 and GizmoGadget by LG, Verizon has introduced the next generation of cool and functional tech for the kids.  Each device is designed for a specific age range, with the GizmoPal 2 being for the younger kids (ages 3 to 7) and the GizmoGadget (for kids 8 and up).

The gizmoPal 2 is the next generation of the original. It does not have a screen, but LG added LED's to allow the kids to know when a call or message is incoming.  A new feature for the little ones is the ability to record their voices and play them back as a silly voice. The device keeps its original functionality, allow parents to set geo-fencing and alerts when their child leaves a specified area. It allows the kids to call one of 4 programmed as well as receive calls from those numbers. phone numbers Parents can access all the functionality through the GizmoHub App available at the App Store and Google Play Store.

The GizmoGadget is the kids version of mom and dads smart watch. It features a 1.3 inch touch screen with various watch face themes built in. The kids will be able to send pre-programmed text messages and emoji's. The GizmoGadget allows for up to 10 numbers to be programmed into the watch, giving your older children more choices on who to call or message.  Just like its little brother, the GizmoGadget allows parents to set a geo-fence around a specific area and receive alerts if their child goes beyond those boundaries (through the GizmoHub).

We have picked up the new watch for our son for his 8th birthday in a few weeks.  He will be excited to be receiving a real big boy watch like mom and dad.  This is one purchase that was not difficult for us, its fun for our son and allows us to know our sons location when he is not with or near us.

The GizmoPal 2 retails for about $80 and the GizmoGadget $159 and require a $5 monthly service fee on your Verizon account.

Until next time my friends, love your kids,
Cherish your family.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Peanuts Movie

Author: Jose G. Barr

The last time a Peanuts movie was released was May 30, 1980. With the release of "The Peanuts Movie" there are now five movies in all. What sets this one apart from the rest is that it was meant for the big screen, and the quality of shines.  20th Century Fox and Blue Sky Studios got it right. They kept the movie simple and adorable, in tune with the qualities that Peanuts fans have come to love from the comic strip by Charles M. Schulz.

I remember being a child and watching the Peanuts holiday specials. My sister and I never missed a chance to watch the Peanuts gang during the holidays.  "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" is the one that always comes to mind for me.  This latest installment in the Peanuts TV programs and movies took me back to my childhood. I sat with my wife and son and felt like a kid again.

Whats truly interesting is the message that is a significant part of the movie. My son has been learning about making ethical choices as part of his religious education. The movie delves into some interesting dilemmas for Charlie Brown, and how he handles them. It is truly heartwarming when he chooses to do something nice for someone else, even though it will not be good for him.

Joseph with The Gang
When the Little Red-Haired Girl moves into the neighborhood, Charlie Brown is smitten with her and is determined to make a good impression. Having grown up with the Peanuts gang, I expected to see the same results, but I was happily surprised to see the gang do something different, not a departure from who they have always been, but a natural progression of what we have come to love.

Snoopy The Ace WW1 Pilot
One of the most iconic characters in gang is Snoopy. He spends most of the movie writing a book about a World War 1 Ace who battles the Red Baron, in this case for the love of Fifi, a French poodle pilot taken prisoner by the Red Baron.

Overall this is one for the entire family. The kids will fall in love with the characters and the adults will, at least for 92 minutes, be taken back to their childhood. This is one of those movies that makes you feel good and connects adults and children by its lovable characters and simple theme.

Until next time my friends, love your kids,
Cherish your family.