A Spectacular View of Another Culture

Review of the Pixar Movie Coco

coco

Pixar has wowed us once again! Their newest film Coco is an exquisite look at the Mexican observance of Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), an annual holiday that honors deceased loved ones. As usual, Pixar has created not only a visual masterpiece but also a story that appeals to kids and adults.

Despite his family’s baffling generations-old ban on music, Miguel (voice of newcomer Anthony Gonzalez) dreams of becoming an accomplished musician like his hero, Ernesto de la Cruz (voice of Benjamin Bratt). Desperate to prove his talent, Miguel finds himself in the stunning and colorful Land of the Dead following a mysterious chain of events. Along the way, he meets charming trickster Hector (voice of Gael García Bernal), and together, they set off on an extraordinary journey to unlock the real story behind Miguel’s family history.

I happen to be married to a guitar player, and he and my son are going to see the movie tonight for my son’s birthday. I just know my husband is going to be thrilled with the film’s attention to musical detail.

Jody and I had the opportunity to go see the film before it hit theaters, and as we left, we talked about how much we loved it, but how we are also pretty sure there’s a whole section of the Christian community who will avoid it because of it’s spiritual depictions. Here’s our take on it. If a family feels a particular conviction about avoiding any subject matter that portrays different religious views, then we would say it’s best to sit this one out.

As for us, we are comfortable giving our kids a glimpse of other cultures and then having discussions about how their beliefs differ from ours. We’ve always found these conversations to be great faith builders for our kids, and we have felt that it is important for our children to understand different cultures. So, if you’re unsure, just pray. God will show you what’s best for your family.

The one caution we would offer is that it might be best to keep very young ones home. There are parts of the film that may be scary for little children.

On the whole, we give this film a big thumbs up for its gorgeous animation, engaging story (it’s The Book of Life meets Kubo and The Two Strings) and fascinating look at the Mexican culture.

Directed by Lee Unkrich (“Toy Story 3”), co-directed by Adrian Molina (story artist “Monsters University”) and produced by Darla K. Anderson (“Toy Story 3”), Disney•Pixar’s “Coco” opened in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2017.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Catch a Rising Star This Weekend!

A movie review of The Star

the star

If your family wasn’t already planning to go to the movies this weekend, I hope this post will change your mind. Sony Pictures Animation’s The Star looks like it is going to be a blast! We are planning to take both our families, and after watching the trailers and the behind the scenes footage, it looks like everyone from Pappy Tony (that’s Jody’s husband) down to the babies (Rhema and Ari) are going to LOVE it.

Pappy Tony and Baby Ari

Rhema Joy

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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A Must See for Marvel Fans

Thor Ragnarok Review

thor ragnarok

Thor Ragnarok was to my pleasant surprise a smashing departure from the usual Marvel fare. I was fully expecting the usual formula. You know…origin to hero, or crisis to new found purpose, maybe even a little bit of hang-up -the-powers- because-doing-good-hurts-some, thrown in. Instead, we actually get a story. As big as this movie was, it also zoomed in close enough to see the characters develop and interact with each other — and not just with punches.

As we open up to our hero in one of his usual scenarios, seemingly bested and about to be monologued to death, a new element in Marvel storytelling appears. We actually get some dialogue. This installment takes on the air of a great dialogue movie. But each scene is also carried by the stunning 3-D visuals and a well crafted script. Our primary characters shows up on the scene carrying the full weight of their backstory, a backstory that is revealed at a good pace and enhances the main plot.

Thor was never my favorite Marvel hero, but after this movie, he is definitely a favorite now. Once again we see him face impossible odds, which this time cause him to make hard choices and suffer great loss. He discovers new depths of strength, and we see a hero mature on the screen. We also see the return of old friends like Loki and Hulk along with some new surprises. With a confirmation of a Thor appearance in the forthcoming Infinity War, I can’t wait.

If you have the chance, see this one in 3-D. The visuals are absolutely stunning. From the battle scenes to the wide camera shots, this one is worth the upgrade. The only negative I can think of is that sometimes the comic relief crosses the line and detracts from the scene, but for the most part the comedy gamble pays off.

The bottom line is that this is a must see for any fan of the Marvel universe. I got the opportunity to see the prescreening with my oldest son. Check out his YouTube Review.

Matthew Stahlmann

Matthew Stahlmann is Jenni’s husband. Together they have seven amazing kids. A lead guitar player for more than 25 years, Matt is passionate about music and worship.

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