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Eenie Meenie Miney Movies: July 2011



Here's the lowdown on family-friendly movies premiering or screening in Austin this July.

Zookeeper (in theaters now, PG) -- On a recent visit to the San Antonio Zoo, I saw a marketing team giving away t-shirts to promote this film. Even the promise of a free t-shirt didn't seem to convince the crowd. You can read Mike Saulters' review here. Based on that (he calls it "Pookeeper") I think you'll have more fun actually going to the zoo (even in these temperatures) than you will watching this movie.

Eenie Meenie Miney Movies: June 2011


Judy Moody

As far as the movies are concerned, Summer is officially here and there are a ton of opportunities to get your kids – and yourself - out of the house and in front of a big screen near you.

Notable Theatrical Releases in Austin (June)

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (in theaters June 10, PG) -- Live-action kid flicks don't normally inspire a lot of confidence for me, but this one (pictured at top) has an infectious glee I find intriguing. No, wait, that's just Heather Graham. Still, there are worse reasons for a dad to take his daughter to see a summer popcorn flick, right?

Eenie Meenie Miney Movies: May 2011


Spy Kids

Yes friends, it's May, which means the "summer" movie season is upon us. Join me as we hack our way through this month's uneven crop of cinematic offerings for families.

Notable Theatrical Releases in Austin (May)

Hoodwinked Too: Hood VS. Evil (in theaters now, PG) -- Somehow the original Hoodwinked slipped by me, but based on the 11 percent Tomatometer rating for this sequel, I'm not at all upset about it. The trailer for Hoodwinked Too informs us that there's a covert agency dedicated to ensuring happy endings to fairy tales. That's about all I absorbed before a cavalcade of dumb, offensive jokes made me lose interest. No kidding: a two-and-a-half-minute trailer managed to squeeze in multiple fart jokes, homophobia, ageism, racism, out-of-date movie references, and (perhaps worst of all) the hackneyed comedy phrase "awkwaaard!" that South Park lampooned in the Funnybot episode just two weeks ago. (NSFW clip here.) Oh, and they stole one of those fart jokes from Kevin Smith circa 2001 (also NSFW – I should clean up my act). Not that I'm really all that upset about it; the first 10 seconds of sub-par animation told me all I needed to know about this movie. I can't recall seeing a well-written, poorly animated family film. If they're skimping in one department they're probably skimping in all the rest. Check out the trailer to see for yourself.

Eenie Meenie Miney Movies: April 2011


Muppet Movie

Eliot thought April was the cruellest month but this year it has some very kind signs for parents (and kids) who love movies.

Notable Theatrical Releases in Austin (April)

Hop (In theaters now, PG, wide release) -- This movie has been flying pretty low under my personal radar but Russell Brand -- who voices the teenage son of the Easter Bunny in this animated/live-action hybrid -- has been making the talkshow rounds and my curiosity is piqued. I'm curious to see whether Kaley Cuoco shows promise outside of the sitcom world of Big Bang Theory, and even more curious to see what the film does with a cast that includes Hank Azaria, Gary Cole, Elizabeth Perkins, David Hasselhoff, and Hugh Laurie. Hop opened on the first of the month and should be around until Easter at least.

Eenie Meenie Miney Movies: March 2011


Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind

Notable Theatrical Releases in Austin (March)

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey (At SXSW, not rated) -- I had the good fortune to see Being Elmo at Sundance and I'm happy to say that if you're a Muppets fan, this is a real treat. (Even if you're one of those old school curmudgeons who don't dig Elmo.) I don't know what the festival's age guidelines are for admission but your best bet is probably to catch it on Wednesday, March 16, at the Westgate satellite screening, away from the crowds downtown.

Eenie Meenie Miney Movies: January 2011


Summer Wars

The New Year doesn't start out with a bang for kids' movies. It's kinda like facing the refrigerator at this time of year -- a lot of leftovers from the previous month of debauchery. Maybe they're not as wonderful the second time around but still tasty.

Notable theatrical releases in Austin (January)

Looking out over the new release list for January I can honestly say there isn't a single new theatrical  release that looks appropriate for kids. Disappointing, certainly, but not at all surprising. If you absolutely have to go out to see a movie with your kids, might I suggest Tangled for a third time? Or maybe it's time to give the new Narnia movie a try. There are a few events below you might want to check out.

Summer Wars (Jan. 10-12, Alamo Ritz, subtitled) – This Fantastic Fest 2010 selection pictured at top is a delightful animated movie from director Mamoru Hosoda (check out The Girl Who Leapt Through Time) and is appropriate for older kids (think PG -- mostly for romantic innuendo). The best way I can think to describe this is as a Japanese animated science-fiction romantic family comedy. It's surreal, entertaining, and just a ton of fun. Highly recommended for adults as well. The dubbed version will be coming to the Lamar location for a week-long run. Read Jette's fest review for more info.

Eenie Meenie Miney Movies: December 2010



One month in and I've already dropped a deadline, but as the next two weeks are crucial  – the kids are out of school and need entertaining – let's review this month's cinematic offerings for the little ones.

Notable theatrical releases in Austin (December)

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (Dec. 3, R, limited release) -- This one isn't for the wee ones, but pre-teens will probably get a kick out of this Christmas-themed holiday monster action movie. If you don't mind a little non-sexual full-frontal old man nudity (hence the R rating) and some subtitles, this one's a lot of fun. I saw it at Fantastic Fest and the opportunity to see this in a theater probably won't come around again. Alamo South Lamar is still playing it through Tuesday. [Read Debbie's review for more details.]

Eenie Meenie Miney Movies: November 2010



Parenting and film nerdery can often be at odds. So many movies are inappropriate for kids and the cost of a babysitter can inflate the price of a movie ticket beyond what one might reasonably want to pay. One great allure of movies, after all, is that they are relatively cheap entertainment. It's not that there is any dearth of movies for kids -- quite the opposite, of course. The problem is that so few of the "kids movies" out there are suitable for parents. Children will watch damn near anything, but finding a film in theaters that will entertain me, my wife and my four-year-old daughter Elizabeth is like striking gold. The last movie that fit those criteria was Toy Story 3 -- and that was back in June.

A few days ago Elizabeth said to me that she wanted to see more movies in the theater (insert your own "chip off the old block" metaphor here). "Well, this is Austin," I thought. "It's a pretty good town for movies -- maybe I'm just not trying hard enough to find flicks in the theaters that we could go see together." I'll post the results of my research here along with upcoming and recent DVD releases for those weekends when you're feeling like a night in is more your speed.

D-Box Motion Code Seats at Galaxy Highland - Bring the Dramamine


Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

This past Wednesday I attended a reception held by D-Box Motion Code and the Galaxy Highland 20 Theaters in Austin celebrating the installation of twenty D-Box motion seats in one of the theater's auditoriums. The seats use three motors and "intelligent vibrations" to bring a new element to movie watching: coordinated motion and vibrations timed to the picture's soundtrack. The result is something like those flight simulator rides at amusement parks (MGM's Star Tours comes to mind), which use the power of visual suggestion combined with motion to convey a moderately intense physical experience.

The reception included both a standalone demo unit (the two seats pictured together) and a full-immersion experience using about fifteen minutes of the new film Terminator: Salvation. While the seats deliver the expected bumps and rolls during explosions and car chases, there are a few more subtle touches that I actually found quite clever. When one character starts a car, the seat vibrates slightly to the purr of the engine while the characters hold a conversation.

Alamo Drafthouse July Previews Reel


Sometimes blogging means taking the lazy way out. In this case that means a quick embed of the previews reel video for the July events at the various branches of the Alamo Drafthouse. Sometimes I miss the individualized promo trailers for the various events, but I like the consolidated approach since it means I learn about all the upcoming events at once. Missing something just because I hadn't seen the right set of trailers used to drive me nuts.

July's Alamo Previews from Henri Mazza on Vimeo.

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