Q and A: Jordana Beatty and Megan McDonald of Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer

It’s a likely scenario: most third graders are probably anticipating on having an exciting, adventure-filled summer.  (I can’t think of anyone who actually plans on having a boring summer…)  With kids counting down the minutes to summer vacation, the Judy Moody movie based on the popular Judy Moody book series by Megan McDonald has an empowering and creative get-out-there and enjoy yourself message that’s relevant for both kids and adults.

In Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, the disheveled red-headed, tomboyish title character is determined to have the best summer ever, and even challenges her besties to a thrill point race.  Amid her own expectations and a little brother named Stink (Parris Mosteller,) Judy’s summer adventures are both epic and outrageous, with a little help from Aunt Opal (Heather Graham) and a pal named Frank (Preston Bailey.)

I had the chance to chat with Jordana Beatty, the 12-year old Australian actress who plays the lead, and Megan McDonald, the author/screenwriter of the Judy Moody books and movie.  I love the premise behind this movie, almost as much as I appreciate seeing a tomboy tween lead.  In my candid Q & A with the effervescent and articulate Jordana, she revealed her most memorable scenes and her own crazy summer adventures.  Likened to the Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume of this generation, Megan McDonald shares her inspiration for her characters and how she enjoys spending her own summer days, which just so happens to be my ideal summer.

Beyond the puke scene and how much fun she had filming, find out what Jordana Beatty wants kids to take away from Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer, which is out today.

Toy Story 3 Hits Theaters Today

Well, the day has finally arrived!  After years of preparation and months of anticipation, Toy Story 3 officially hits the big screen today.

As Andy heads to college, Buzz, Woody and the gang find themselves in a precarious predicament after mom mixes up the trash and the “keep” pile.  The toys find themselves at a daycare where they befriend new pals in an eclectic lineup of other toys from the daycare.

The third film in the wildly popular Toy Story series, TS3, like the earlier installments, is expected to break the bank, and be one of the biggest tickets of the summer.  The original Toy Story earned $191 million with its original release and $363 million worldwide.  As evidenced by the plethora of licenses for towels, shoes, cereal bowls, Pull Up diapers, bread and more, TS3 is quite the hot commodity in children’s gear.  And I’ll be the first to admit that our toy box has been filling up with our own respective gear in anticipation of the film!

Why is this flick so popular?  Well, for many reasons.  In part, what started 15 years ago as a collaboration between Disney and Pixar, has turned into a fleeting success.  Since their initial partnership, the studio has gone on to develop a laundry list of computer animated classics, with the original Toy Story as its springboard.  The story, cast of characters, exceptional graphics and more have kept audiences engaged for well over a decade.  Now, the original audience’s kids, nieces, nephews and perhaps grandkids, are just as excited for the toys’ shenanigans as we were 15 years ago.


Fifteen years ago, I was still in school.  [Let’s just leave it at that ;)]  Today, I’m planning to take my 2 year old who has been harping on Buzz and ‘Wooly’ for months now!  It’s incredible to think how much has changed for me between now and then; but what’s even more incredible is how these characters are still touching lives, even after all these years!

After all of the movie’s clever marketing, the film’s early reviews are looking quite bright!  I can’t wait to share my thoughts, and maybe even a some of our favorite kid gear to boot.  For now, take a look at this pretty cool behind the scenes clip with interviews from some of the voices.  If you go to see Toy Story, be sure to tell me what you thought!



Check it!

Speaking of how much things have changed in 15 years, did you know Disney Pixar has a Facebook app where you can buy Toy Story 3 tickets via Facebook? You FB-obsessed people (like me) don’t even have to leave the site to secure your own movie tickets!  Just head to Disney Together to get the app and click, click and you’re done!

Where the Wild Things Are Opens Today

Well, it’s here! It’s opening day for Where the Wild Things Are! The classic children’s book by Maurice Sendak, which was adapted for film by Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers features Max whose imagination leads him to wild places. Reviews so far have been positive, and I can’t wait to see for myself. I highly doubt my little guy will sit through the entirety of this movie, even though some reviews are saying it’s for “all ages.” Either way, I’m crossing my fingers that we get to check it out soon! Does anyone else plan on seeing this?
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Where the Wild Things Are Video Game

There’s been so much hype for the opening day of one of my most awaited movies, and rightly so!  The movie, Where the Wild Things Are, which is set to release this Friday, is directed by Spike Jones and adapted by Dave Eggers–two of my favorite creative minds. I planned on talking more about this exciting movie later in the week, but in the meantime, I thought I’d mention that the video game is already out.

wildthingsvideogameIn The Where the Wild Things Are video game, players take on Max’s perspective and explore the island, dangerous terrain and battle fierce, er, lovable creatures. The video game follows the same premise as the beloved book, but with a modern twist. The graphics are mysterious, exciting and absolutely incredible. Based on the trailer below, this game looks like something big kids and parents will enjoy.

This video game is rated E10+ and is available for Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, DS.

Listen up: Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack

Spike Jonze’s adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic, “Where the Wild Things” continues to create buzz. This time, there’s been some rumblings of the highly anticipated movie’s soundtrack. wild

Specifically, what caught MY attention is the fact that the Karen O, the frontlady of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, is just one of the many rockstars that will be featured on the soundtrack. According to Rolling Stone, the soundtrack will also feature:

Karen O’s YYYs bandmates Brian Chase and Nick Zinner along with Tristan Bechet (Services), Bradford Cox (Deerhunter), Dean Fertita (Queens of the Stone Age, The Dead Weather, The Raconteurs), Aaron Hemphill (Liars), Greg Kurstin (The Bird and the Bee), Jack Lawrence (The Dead Weather, The Raconteurs, The Greenhornes), Oscar Michel (Gris Gris), Imaad Wasif (New Folk Implosion, Alaska). An untrained children’s choir contributes to the songs and soundscapes.

The soundtrack will be released on September 29th and first single “All Is Love” will come out August 25th digitally.

Where the Wild Things is gearing up to not only be a movie to be seen, but also to be heard! In case you haven’t seen the trailer, be sure to check it out!

I just love that one of my favorite books ever is being made into a movie by one of my favorite directors and writers! I seriously can’t wait for this one!

Children’s Book Week

cbw-4c-2009Children’s Book Week is well underway this week, which got me thinking about all of our current favorite books, as well as my own classic favorites.  The Elmo books, the Sandra Boynton books and the Barefoot books, they’re all great.  But as a book lover, who’s now a mom, I hope my love for books rubs off.  I try to foster good reading habits with frequent visits to the library, reading as often as I can and reading WITH him daily.  I love being surrounded by newspapers, magazines and books–lots of books.  Judging by the way the kid scales the couch to get to our bookcase to “read” my books, I think we’re on to something.

One of my all time favorite children’s books is, hands down, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I love that book and can’t WAIT to relive the story with the kid.   Max’s adventures illuminated my imagination as a kid, and it’s sure to illuminate many more kids’ lives with the movie version’s October release.  I love how the book is described as, one of those truly rare books that can be enjoyed equally by a child and a grown-up.  As exciting as it is that Where the Wild Things was made into a movie, (by one of my favorite directors no less –Spike Jonze who’s done everything from Beastie Boys videos to award winning movies like Being John Malkovich) the book version will always be my favorite.

But, check out the trailer!  It looks pretty good!

So, favorite children’s books?  I want to hear ’em.  What excites you? What are yours and what are the kids’ favorites?

It’s time to Shell-abrate!

The Tribeca Film Festival is set to kickoff this weekend in NYC, with all kinds of kid-friendly activities to boot.
But one highlight caught my attention: Tribeca Film Festival will screen the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film to celebrate…wait for it….25 years of Turtle Power.
In addition to tonight’s screening, the Turtles’ year long celebration began when they flipped the switch this morning atop the Empire State Building. The Empire State Building’s lights will go green in honor of Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo.wallpaper_b_tb

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), directed by Steve Barron, was selected as the Drive-in movie feature at the Tribeca Film Festival. The outdoor screening is scheduled for tonight at 8:15 PM at the World Financial Center Plaza (200 Vesey Street). Open to the public, pre-activities starting at 5:00 PM include a pizza party, face-painting, photo opportunities with the Turtles, dancing, and martial arts demonstrations with the TMNT and The American Taekwondo Association. And of course, The Turtles’ pal, April O’Neil, will join in the fun.

25 years, really? I officially feel old.

Monsters vs. Aliens takes top spot

200px-monsters-vs-aliens-posterDreamWorks Animation’s 3-D animated movie, Monsters vs. Aliens opened in first place taking in $58.2m reports are saying. With a marketing campaign this huge, in an economy this bad, it’s great to hear people went out to see a fun family flick. In case you missed it, Monsters vs. Aliens debuted its 3-D trailer before this year’s Superbowl. Thanks to the beauty of DVR (and not having enough 3-D glasses) we watched that trailer multiple times and enjoyed it!

The consensus so far seems to be that it’s an ok movie that was somewhat funny, and entertaining for both kids and parents. Some reviews are saying the movie was great because of the 3-D technology, others simply said that it was lukewarm at best.

Interesting detail about Monsters vs. Aliens:  this is the first computer animated movie produced in 3-D using InTru3D technology, instead of converting the film into 3-D after it is finished. Some of my favorite actors’ voices are featured in the film: Reese Witherspoon, Seth Rogen, Hugh Laurie, Will Arnett, Rainn Wilson, Kiefer Sutherland, and Stephen Colbert.

There are various reviews floating around, but the best one I read so far was over at Geekdad:

Monster vs Aliens includes a ton of references to geek culture, 50s monster movies, science fiction and current events. Most of these references were left hanging, either with silence, or a dark and/or awkward situation. I don’t know if the writers failed to develop this well enough, or if parts got cut in production, but the result was an average fun movie that could have been awesome.

Overall Monsters vs Aliens was a funny movie, but it had some strange and often awkward moments. Imprisonment, accidental death and wanton destruction aren’t usually funny. This movie didn’t quite manage to make them so.

Did any of you see the movie? Did anyone see it in 3-D? If you did see it, I’d love to hear your thoughts.