FROZEN II (Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck, 2019)

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The story felt too complex for the young ones (“Dad, what’s permafrost?”), but might also not be as engaging to the older crowd (the mother sitting next to me had a well-deserved hour of nap before she tends again to her kids for all of eternity).

I really liked the 80’s vibe of Lost in the Woods and almost everyone was humming/singing Into the Unknown as they stepped out of the theater. The rest of the songs were not as catchy, although they would fit right in a Broadway musical.

Plus one star for Olaf’s hilarious recap alone (don’t miss his post-credits scene). Oh, and those gorgeous new dresses of Elsa would be perfect for Halloween 2020. Get your wallets ready, dear parents!!

Rating: ★★★☆☆

COCO (Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina, 2017)

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After years of hearing the words Remember Me and immediately thinking/singing “kapag nag-iisa, kapag ika’y nalulungkot, huwag kang mag-alala…”, I was so happy that it had finally been replaced by the lovely theme song of this equally lovely animated film from Disney/Pixar. No more odd memories of Renz Verano, just me sobbing uncontrollably while Miguel crooned to his great-grandmother.

Truth be told, as soon as I saw old great-grandma Coco on her wheelchair, I was already tearing up. I really thought yung bata si Coco talaga. I was not prepared for a lola story because this would always hit close to home. When she started singing along with him, I had to close my eyes or my hagulgol would have probably scared the young kids playing along the aisle.

I obviously enjoyed this heartwarming tale of a young Mexican kid that had to choose between his family and his passion for music. Very much like The Book of Life which was also set during the Day of the Dead, everything onscreen was just bright and festive and completely interesting. And those glorious songs! Note to self: memorize the lyrics of Un Poco Loco.

This was really the kind of film that you need to watch with your entire family. Just not with a baon of chorizo.

(And why was everyone hating on that long Frozen short? I actually liked it. Olaf deserved his own spin-off movie.)

Rating: ★★★★☆

A DOG’S PURPOSE (Lasse Hallström, 2017)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on A Dog’s Purpose:

1. I learned about death at a young age when my puppy Bubbles (breed unknown, probably an askal like most of our dogs back then) met her frozen demise outside our home. I could clearly remember stepping out of our front door that morning and seeing this furry creature lying on its back with all four legs stiffly pointed up. I didn’t scream or call my parents, but I did exactly what I learned from reading all of my fairy tale books: I forced myself to cry. I thought that if my innocent tears were to fall in those dead round eyes, my cute pet would magically come back to life.

She was buried hours later in the then vacant lot across the street. I wonder if our new neighbor ever knew that their house was actually built on top of a pet sematary.

2. I developed an allergy to fur years later (plus I had a traumatic rabid dog experience while biking in our village) so my interactions with animals grew less and less and now had been limited to watching their funny videos on Facebook.

This harmless movie provided very much the same kind of viewing experience. People audibly “Awww”-ed every time a puppy would be onscreen (especially ones that could do awesome tricks) and cried every time one of them would get sick and die. I really wished that there was more to the story though other than the basic one shown in the trailer (that already had me in tears).

3. It felt a bit weird hearing all of the dogs talk like Olaf, but Josh Gad made most of the cheesy lines bearable (and actually funny) like when Bailey Bailey Bailey Bailey first saw his new owner and declared, “I’ve decided right there and then, I’m keeping this boy”.

4. Although it didn’t answer if all dogs indeed go to heaven, it provided a twist on the concept of reincarnation. Did this mean that dogs have souls? What did that make of people that thought they were dogs in their previous lives? Could dogs also have been humans in the past? Would that explain why sometimes I feel like I’m wagging an invisible tail?

5. A lot of time was spent on the least interesting characters that included a boy, his abusive father, doormat mother, and lame love interest. Even if they were needed to tie up the ending, everything that happened to them felt weightless and disposable. Besides, KJ Apa as teenage Ethan had more chemistry with his abs than with the dog. He would better serve his purpose back in Riverdale.

Among the various stories, I felt most connected with the lonely cop. He was onscreen with the dog for a good ten minutes and I instantly understood their bond. That was the only time I actually bawled my eyes out while watching (a disappointment for a Dennis Quaid movie, considering that his previous films were infamous for making grown men turn into a puddle of tears).

6. Even if it crossed over to teleserye territory, it still wasn’t as effective as previous doggie flicks like Marley and Me or Hachiko. Also, there was a scene played for laughs where Bailey dug up a dead cat and brought it back to the kitchen. Your thoughts, cat lovers?

7. So the controversial scene that PETA made a big deal out of wasn’t true after all. I wish the same could be said about that Oro issue. “Lick the ones you love” just had an entirely different meaning. RIP Azucena.

Rating: ★★★☆☆