The Wonderful World of Zootopia

You want to know why your mother and I are so happy?

Because we gave up on our dreams and we settled.

So begins the plot of the latest Disney animated flick about the bullied bunny daughter of two carrot farmers as she heads to the big city of Zootopia to become the first bunny police officer. Ginnifer Goodwin’s sweet and innocent voice lends itself to the character of Judy Hopps perfectly, and compliments the sass of Jason Bateman’s foxy Nick Wilde.

Zootopia is beautiful

©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

While the message of inclusion feels a little heavy handed at times (think Fern Gully and Happy Feet), it’s a good message and one of being able to do anything regardless of who you or what others perceive of you. Shakira’s Gazelle character sings an upbeat song about trying everything, which serves as one of the main themes of the movie.

The imagery is visually stunning with vibrant colors and intricate animation depicting the tiniest details of the many climate controlled districts designed to accommodate anthropomorphic mammals of all walks of life from the arctic Tundratown to the deserts of Sahara Square.

Judy recruits hustler Nick to help her in a case which she promises the wife of a victim to help solve, despite the near loss of her job for doing so.

The film is ripe with clever one liners and adult jokes to keep childless grownups like me happy, but cute and sweet enough that I want to take my niece and nephews to see it.

Life isn’t an animated show where you sing a little song and your insipid dreams come true.

You’ll also find a few Frozen nods if you look closely enough. In one scene, two little elephants are dressed up as Anna and Elsa.

Zootopia Anna and Elsa Frozen Easter Egg

ZOOTOPIA – TUNDRATOWN. ©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Zootopia Easter Egg Anna and Elsa Frozen

©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Even one of the characters, Duke Weasleton, voiced by Alan Tudyk, is a subtle nod to Anna and Elsa’s foe, the Duke of Wesselton (also voiced by Tudyk).

You play cribbage with a weasel
And he cheats

A lot of stereotyping animals occurs throughout the film, but of course, my favorite scene is still the DMV sloths. Sure, they may be slow, but they are the most adorable, funniest creatures in the movie. They just look so happy! And Flash is the man.

Zootopia Sloths - Flash

©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved. I love him so hard.

The movie includes sloths (which I’m seriously hoping means there will be more sloth toys and accessories for me to collect as a result of this movie) and mention cheese; the only thing missing from my favorite things was dolphins, but maybe we’ll see Zootopia 2: Under the Sea coming soon.

Oh sweet cheese and crackers.

Zootopia Slothursday Snapchat filter

Even Snapchat was all, “Chrissy, the sloths love you and want to dance with you.” (Follow quirkychrissy on Snapchat for more weird snaps)

As Judy and Nick follow leads through Zootopia, an unlikely friendship between Predator and Prey occurs despite Judy’s fox away spray. But hey, at least she didn’t opt for the fox taser.

Oh come on; when is there not a need for a fox taser?

Zootopia Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps

©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

In the end, Zootopia acknowledges our flaws, through its humanless world and looks to a brighter future, as long as there are good guy fighting the way.

The world has always been broken; that’s why we need good cops like you.

Have you seen Zootopia yet? What animals are you most looking forward to watching on the big screen? What’s your favorite Disney movie to date?

Zootopia opens in theaters everywhere on March 4. No one paid me to say nice things, but I was able to see an early screening of the movie in order to review it. I went because of the sloth trailer. Can you blame me?

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Dreamers Need to Stick Together

Disney has been knocking them out of the park with magic lately. Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to see a pre-screening of Disney’s Tomorrowland, which hits theaters today. It was worth every second. The premise of Tomorrowland begins with a parallel universe of dreamers that welcomes young inventor, Frank Walker (George Clooney), after he sneaks through the front door. The movie jumps back and forth from Walker’s childhood and the story of Casey Newtown (Britt Robertson), who stumbles upon a glimpse of Tomorrowland through a magic pin and looks to Walker to help her get back in.

Photo used with permission of Walt Disney Studios

Photo used with permission of Walt Disney Studios

After Casey discovers the existence of Tomorrowland, Athena guides her to Frank, an unwilling participant in the return to the future. Much of the movie is spent escaping killer robots on earth as Frank, Casey, and Athena eventually  work together to return to Tthe titular universe.

Photo used with permission of Walt Disney Studios

Photo used with permission of Walt Disney Studios

Tomorrowland is a place where anything is possible if you just dream it. Very innovative Disney. You’ll note a few odes to classic Disney, and I have to admit I cried a little bit when they showed a scene featuring the “It’s a Small World” ride. I can’t help it. Disney World makes me cry nostalgic tears.

Photo used with permission of Walt Disney Studios

Photo used with permission of Walt Disney Studios

I honestly didn’t know what to expect; I just knew I wanted to see this flick. You know how I feel about Disney. The action sequences are fun, and the humanistic robots are pretty entertaining to watch (look for some SERIOUSLY entertaining cheesy grins). There are some incredibly inspirational lines that made my heart burst.

-Dreamers need to stick together-

Clooney is a convincing pessimist who’s lost all hope while Roberston shows us that optimism is full of hope. Raffey Cassidy is bright and full of life as the mysterious little girl, Athena. Hugh Laurie (omg House!) plays a phenomenal bad guy who gives you just enough of an impression that he’s doing it for the greater good but…is he? You’ll have to find out for yourself.

Photo used with permission of Walt Disney Studios

Photo used with permission of Walt Disney Studios

The story is all about believing, dreaming, and never giving up. All my favorite themes of whimsy. As a writer and a dreamer, I sometimes need reminders not to give up. This was a good one. Fun for the whole family, this movie is full of fun, action, friendship, and innovation. Because jetpacks were designed to inspire people, right?

Are you looking forward to seeing Tomorrowland? Are you a Disneyphile like me? What types of movies energize you?

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I Believe in Magic. And Kindness. And Courage.

Happy movie Friday!  Today, Cinderella, in all its live action Disney glory, comes out in theaters, and I can’t even begin to tell you how perfectly lovely it was.

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Brian and I had the opportunity to see it a few weeks ago and I couldn’t wait for it to come to the theater so, at the very least, I could see it again. This delightful movie takes a beloved classic and adds a depth to each of the characters that will allow itself to withstand the test of time. The theme throughout the movie is “have courage and be kind.” And Cinderella does that with grace and elegance.

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Lily James sparkles with the perfect combination of strength and whimsy. Her performance warmed my soul. They couldn’t have cast a more lovely, vibrant Cinderella. Richard Madden (hello King Rob Stark, drool) is a heart-stealing Prince Charming who matches Lily’s Cinderella with a romantic and witty chemistry.

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Helena Bonham Carter has so much fun with her role that you can’t help but adore Cinderella’s fairy godmother. She’s bright and flighty in one big pouf.

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Cate Blanchett plays a chilling evil stepmother, with a background story that makes you hate her just a little less (though not much, because she’s so freaking wicked).

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I loved this movie with all my Disney heart. Fans of the cartoon will find carefully placed hat tips to the original while still making it their own.

Yes. There are mice. And yes, I swear they talk! Brian asked me after if I could understand what they were saying, because he was SURE they were speaking throughout the movie. I couldn’t make it out. And for lovers of the mice, Gus Gus is featured (& often partnered with cheese).

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The costumes were amazing. From the ugly sepsisters’ clashing ensembles to the magical fairytale gowns, the clothing was unbelievable.

Look for a fast cameo that I’m 95% sure is an uncredited Brandy Norwood as a nod to Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Brian couldn’t understand why I was dancing in my chair or tapping his arm, so he definitely can’t confirm the cameo.

Stay until the end of the credits for a few soundtrack wins, including Cinderella animated favorites sung by Lily James and Helena Bonham Carter. As we left the theater, I kept thinking about how magical and wonderful it truly was and how much it made me believe that magic does exist.

And of course, if you venture out to catch Cinderella, you’ll also get a viewing of the new Frozen short, Frozen Fever, in which Elsa and the gang celebrate Anna’s birthday with an original song.

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Are you looking forward to seeing Cinderella? What’s your favorite Disney animated feature? Would you love to see it live action?

I did see this movie at an advanced screening as part of the media. I was not compensated for this post, though there may be affiliate links used. As always, all opinions are expressly mine. All images are used with the permission of Walt Disney Studios.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Big Hero 6: It’s Hip to be a Square

Science!
Tech!
Nerds!

Big Hero 6 Review

A year after Disney knocked it out of the park with Frozen, they’re bringing me something just as magical in its very own light. Bringing the Marvel world into animated Disney is a big step, and it worked really well this time around. Big Hero 6 delivers the beginning of a beautiful friendship franchise with the lovable medical marshmallow, Baymax, and his creator’s little brother, Hiro. Together, they form a team of super-smart, science-nerd superheroes to take on the mysterious masked bad guy.

The film starts with a very young high school graduate (13 years young and unbelievably brilliant to boot) named Hiro who has little direction in his life. With the help of his big brother, a med robot, and his friends, Hiro finds his ultimate path in life.

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Without giving too much else away, I’m going to go ahead and recommend this one to cartoon and comic loving adults everywhere. As seems to be my Disney MO, I laughed, I cried, and I cheered. I sat on the edge of my seat through half the movie, eagerly and nervously anticipating what would come next. The emotional, feel-all-the-feels aspects of this movie really got to me, so if you have sensitive tiny humans, you may want to give them a year or two before checking this one out.

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Big Hero 6 takes you on an emotional rollercoaster that you’ll willingly jump on again and again. Baymax proves to be a robot of solid character and Hiro learns one of those important, and sometimes cliche lessons. Hiro is accompanied by his crew of newly found besties as they work together to think outside the box and save San Fransokyo.

San Fransokyo concept art

San Fransokyo concept art from Walt Disney Studios

I loved it.

Brian did too.

And DEFINITELY stay until the end of the credits. You won’t want to miss this one.

Way to go, Disney. I love that you’re making it cool to be a nerd.

Are you planning on catching Big Hero 6 this weekend? Have you read the comics?

I received zero compensation to write this review. I have a love of all things Disney, and was invited to see a pre-screening of the movie as part of the media. All images are used with the permission of Walt Disney Studios to discuss and share with you.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

If You Have a Soul, You’ll Love Million Dollar Arm

Maybe that title is a little much…but I REALLY enjoyed this movie. My girlfriend, CC and I went to see it earlier this week courtesy of Disney and the movie people who sometimes let me see movies before they hit the theaters.

Jon Hamm in Million Dollar Arm

I saw a commercial for this movie last night and it said “audiences everywhere are cheering!” And I believed it. Because I was cheering too. This is one of those movies that hits you with all the feels. The happy, the sad, the angry, the hopeful, the funny, and the dreamy.

Jon Hamm in Million Dollar Arm

Million Dollar Arm gives baseball one of its most heartwarming films since…um… if I said Rookie of the Year, would you hate me?

Jon Hamm in Million Dollar Arm

This movie is the true story of sports agent, JB Bernstein, and his plot to turn 2 Indian cricket players into baseball pitchers. Not to spoil the ending for you, but he eventually succeeded, and in the process, became a better human being for it. I LOVE true stories with happy endings and a real-life love story (oh yeah, there’s that too).

Million Dollar Arm

Of course, CC and I were laughing more than anyone else in the theater…but we didn’t care. There were some great fish out of water moments that had us in stitches.

So go see this. If you have a soul, you’ll adore Million Dollar Arm.

I did.

No one paid me to say nice things. The images used in this post are borrowed with permission from Disney. I have a soul. It feels happy when I share movies I adore.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Real Jungle Harmony…Just the Bare Necessities Around Here…

Day 9 of the 25 Days of 25 songs really sung to me (puntended).

A song that gives you hope.

I knew it had to be a Disney song, because nothing makes me happier than Disney music.

And while I was getting my lunch ready with my pal, CC, we were talking about my incessant need to dig my back/shoulder into the corner of the wall to get the knots out…and she told me I was just like Baloo…

And Brian and Baloo ARE buddies…

Brian and Baloo

Then she started singing The Bare Necessities…

Done.

“Forget about your worries and your strife!”

“You’re workin’ too hard!”

Blog Friends, what songs give you hope?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Chesh: The Untold Story and Why Disney Thinks I’m a Villain 

I’ve got a very special guest post today brought to you by a random Facebook conversation and a classy group of bloggers. You’re welcome. I think.

Greetings. You may know me as Chesh or The Cheshire Cat. Recently, I’ve been seen consorting with a slew of Disney villains in the Monopoly world, and honestly, I’d like to speak on my behalf.

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It’s hard to fit in with this Disney world. There’s not a lot of room for the morally gray. You’re either a princess or a villain. There’s very little in-between. Even Alice gets honorary princess status among those other hoity toity teens.

I liked Alice. She was silly and irresponsible. It was especially fun to play with her in the presence of the Red Queen. But now, she’s a princess (of sorts), and I’m a villain.

Villain. HA!

I’ll admit it. I’m a trickster. A prankster, at best. I’ve never done much wrong. Nobody’s perfect. And yes, I am quite mad. But I’m not angry. Or even crazy. And most certainly not a villain.

I’m just tricky. I like to have a little fun every now and then. Sure, I’ve got a cynical side, but doesn’t everyone?

A few years back, I tried hanging out with The Sinister Cat Club, but they didn’t like my style. Those Siamese cats couldn’t handle my disappearing act. It was quite amusing, really. One would see my tail and the other would see my grin…they’d each pounce and *poof* they’d be pouncing on each other without even noticing that I was laughing on the other side of the room.

So I went to find Alice. She was having her nails done with Jasmine. I thought this would the perfect opportunity to acquaint myself with Rajah and Dinah. Rajah was alright, albeit a little whiny, but Dinah was insufferable.

Luckily, that little monkey with the hat (his name escapes me) was there to make me laugh. Until I stole his little hat. Then, some genie came after me with little regard for my disassembled body. He grabbed my tail, eyes and grin and tossed me out of the salon so fast, I didn’t even know what was happening.

So I don’t fit with the villains. And I don’t fit in with the princesses. I decided to come to the real world and hang out with some real life bloggers, instead. That Quirky Chrissy and Words for Worms Katie are the bee’s knees, in my book. Who needs Disney, anyway?

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Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Our Silly Valentine’s Day Tradition

V-day isn’t a big deal for me. Not really. The best part about Valentine’s Day is the anniversary of my godson’s birth. But having a boyfriend who’s awesome makes me kind of want to enjoy a day that Hallmark created about love and romance. So I will.

The Valentine for all of my lady friends

The Valentine for all of my lady friends

Every year, Brian and I go out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. We enjoy a meal that usually involves dark and devious beer (for me), cider (for him), cheese and other tasty food.

Then we head home and watch a Disney princess movie. Yes. My boyfriend loves me that disgustingly much. He sucks it up and watches ONE princess movie a year. Unless there’s one out in the theater…and then he’ll go watch with me, like he did for Frozen.

So far, we’ve watched Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, and Sleeping Beauty.

With a week until our Valentine’s Day tradition, my question for you guys:

What Disney movie should I make my boyfriend watch this year?

Also, what are your Valentine’s Day traditions? With friends, family, or your significant other?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Walt Disney in Chicago – I Think I’m Going to Cry (Happy Tears, Guys)

Roy and Walt Disney’s  birth home, right here in Chicago, is about to be restored and transformed in an private historic museum-type community place designed to enhance and explore childhood creativity.

This may be one of the happiest days of my life.

Happy birthday Walt Disney

Oh, and today is Walt Disney’s birthday.

This afternoon, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel proclaimed today, December 5, 2013, Walt Disney Day in Chicago. 112 year ago, one of the most creative minds of our lifetime was born in the second floor of that home, designed by Flora Disney and built by Elias Disney.

You may or may not know that I’m a little bit Disney crazy. Or a lot bit Disney crazy. I guess it depends on your perspective. And how much time you spend with me. And really if you live with me at all. The creative genius behind Disney makes me cry happy tears just thinking about it.

One Man’s Dream is one of my favorite attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (nee MGM), where I learned about Disney’s creativity, imagination, and ingenuity. His work inspires millions of children and adults every day.

So when I received an e-mail about the press conference at 2156 N. Tripp Ave., I couldn’t very well say “no,” this time. Of course, knowing that something special would be happening today, on Disney’s birthday, before I knew what the purpose of the press conference was…I imagined life living mere miles from the newest Disney park. Brian, of course, told me it was completely illogical. Dream Crusher.

But a museum and preserved home are a close second. And I was present at today’s groundbreaking press conference.

Walt Disney Birthplace Restoration

Dina Benadon and Brent Young of Los Angeles purchased the home with the intent to restore it to its original splendor and turn it into a museum that will encourage children to be the creative innovators that Roy and Walt Disney were.

Dina Benadon and Brent Young

Dina Benadon, Brent Young and their 3-year-old son

With the support of Roy P. Disney, the grandson of Roy and great nephew of Walt, Benadon and Young are launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise $500,000 for restoration and renovation of the Chicago Disney home.

The Walt Disney Birthplace

An artistic rendering of the future historical preservation site

Today, on the 112th anniversary of Walt Disney’s birth, the couple joined Alderman Rey Colon, William Delgado (Illinois State Senator), Betsy Steinberg (Director of the Illinois Film Office), Charles Pipal (Preservation architect), Tim Samuelson (Chicago Cultural Historian), Timothy Barton (Zoning Historic Preservation consultant), and the 4th grade class of William Nixon Elementary School.

William P. Nixon Elementary

The kids sang Happy Birthday to Disney before cutting into a large cake baked by Chicago’s TipsyCake, shaped like Walt Disney’s birth home.

Walt Disney Birthplace Cake

You can find out more about The Walt Disney Birthplace Restoration by checking out their website.

Videos from the Walt Disney Birthplace restoration press conference




Walt Disney inspires me every single day. Who inspires you?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Do You Want to Build a Snow Man? Movie Review of Disney’s Frozen

You guys.

Today, Frozen comes out. If I weren’t so darn busy this weekend, it would be a MASSIVE priority to take my niece and nephew to see this puppy. Luckily for me…I’ve already seen it.

Because wow.

Disney's Frozen Movie Review

First and foremost, if you’re going to see this movie, MAKE SURE YOU GO IN 3D.

I can’t stress this enough. Brian can’t stress this enough. Just do it. And note that you’re doing it for the short that precedes the movie. Brian was so impressed that he wanted to tell you all about it immediately. And of course, he wanted to spoil it for you so I said, “No, Brian. I’m writing this review. And I’m going to tell them that the short is awesome, and the coolest thing you’ve ever seen. But I’m not going to tell THEM about it. It’ll ruin the awesome.”

Frozen Costumes are HERE! Find Elsa Dress, Anna Coronation Costume in girls and women's sizes. Guaranteed to sell out - Shop Now!

In all seriousness, Blog Friends, Brian really enjoyed the movie, but mostly he was obsessed with the short. It was really cute.

Now, on to Frozen.

The premise of Frozen is one of my favorite fairy tales of all time, The Snow Queen. I would make my mom rent the Fairy Tale Theatre version from Blockbuster EVERY time I was sick at home because I loved it so much.

"FROZEN" (Pictured) ELSA. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

This story takes a much different turn on the Snow Queen, but it’s just as lovable. Two sisters, Elsa and Anna grow up as princesses, and one is set to become queen. She’s got some crazy cool powers, but can’t seem to get them under control…and accidentally freezes the entire village. Anna must try to help her sister before it’s too late! (Did I do a good job avoiding spoilers? I hope so.)

"FROZEN" (Pictured) ANNA. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Anyways, the movie was wonderful. I laughed. I cried. I laughed some more. You all know how much I love Kristen Bell (hello adorable sloth-loving friend!) Well, what I didn’t know was that she’s got a Broadway musical background and a stellar voice. Idina Menzel anyone? I saw her live over the summer and she’s as funny in real life as she is musically talented.

 

The two princesses belt out into the best Disney musical soundtrack since the golden age of Disney. It renewed my dream of writing Disney lyrics. They’re witty and whimsical with the perfect hint of grown-up language to help build children’s vocabularies.  I stand by the fact that Disney made me smarter.

Anna reminded me a little of Rapunzel, but with a little bit more worldly experience (even though she hadn’t really had any either). Elsa was sad and beautiful, but took a stand to be her own person, much like Ariel, though not on a hunt for her dream prince.

"FROZEN" (Pictured) OLAF. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

The comic relief comes from everyone, but Olaf the Snowman who couldn’t wait for summer was super fun. Kristoff and his reindeer Sven were also fantastic. Kristoff talks to his reindeer, but Sven never talks, much like Prince Charming’s horse in Sleeping Beauty. Of course, the difference is that Kristoff responds on behalf of his reindeer. And it’s fun. Look for the sassy pants trolls to add a little extra joy to an already wonderful movie.

Go forth and see this movie. And stay through the very end of the credits. There’s an extra clip!

Frozen opens Wednesday, November 27, 2013.

Website: Disney.com/Frozen
Facebook: facebook.com/DisneyFrozen
Twitter: Twitter.com/DisneyAnimation
 
FROZEN (In 3D)
DISNEY
Genre: Animated Comedy/Adventure
Rating: PG
U.S. Release Date: November 27, 2013
Voice Cast: Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Alan Tudyk, Ciarán Hinds
Directors: Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
Producer: Peter Del Vecho
Screenplay by: Jennifer Lee
Original Songs by: Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
Original Score Composed by: Christophe Beck
 
I was not compensated to write this review, though I was given the opportunity to see the movie prior to its opening to facilitate this review.
Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!