Tag Archives: Tim Burton

Movies For Fathers: Big Fish


Every now and then I like to take time to recognize fathers and provide something enriching. My last entry was about an amazing book for dads with daughters, Oh Boy! You’re Having a Girl! by Brian A. Klems. This time I have a great movie recommendation for anyone who has had a father or father figure in their lives, or anyone who is a father.
The film “Big Fish” by Tim Burton is nothing short of a masterpiece about fatherhood. Coupled with Danny Elfman’s soft, loving score, you are guaranteed to shed a tear. If you’re not familiar with the story, it is about a middle aged man returning to his hometown because his father is gravely ill. Father and son have not spoken in many years because the son got tired of his father’s constant tall tales and feels like he never gets the truth from his dad. He comes back to say his goodbyes and, in the process, learns more about his father than he ever knew, including that all of his tall tales were based on actual events that happened to his father. I won’t spoil the ending, but if you have a father you will call him immediately after the film, and if yours is no longer around you will cry yourself to sleep.

Take some time for yourself and connect with who you want to be as a father. It is a very rare thing here in America for men to get introspective about who we are. We’re told to do certain things and be some sort of caricature of fatherhood. View yourself from your kid’s eyes and build yourself the way you wish to be seen. Be yourself and show your kids that it is okay to have fun, have faults, make mistakes, win, lose, laugh and, most importantly, cry. Go watch “Big Fish”, evaluate yourself as a father, and rejoice in being a father.

Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss-PeregrinesI originally heard about this book when Tim Burton was rumored to be directing it’s feature film adaptation. Of course that caused me to immediately click the Buy button on my Kindle and begin reading. For a book with the words ‘Home for Peculiar Children’ in the title one would expect a fantastical world inhabited with imaginative creatures. In fact, the book starts out in a very normal way inhabited by very normal people. The story centers around Jacob, an angsty teenager who wishes he could leave his simple little home town and family behind for grand adventures. As a child he was close to his grandfather, Abe, who used to tell him stories and show him pictures of peculiar children. One could lift heavy objects with ease, another was invisible, and so on. These stories used to be Jacob’s favorite things in the entire world. Until, of course, he grew up and realized that they all had to be made up lies. It is only when he witnesses his grandfather’s death by a pack of vicious, mythical creatures, that Jacob begins to wonder if the stories were true.

Of course, witnessing his grandfather’s grisly demise is extremely traumatic, so his parents send him to counseling to deal with the loss. And then things get weird. Jacob’s grandfather, Abe, gave him a clue as he lay dying. Jacob thought not much of it until he realized it had to do with the stories he was told as a child. After all, if those strange creatures that had killed his grandfather actually exist, why couldn’t these kids? He becomes so obsessed that his psychologist convinces his parents he needs to visit the orphanage on a small island off the coast of Wales where his grandfather grew up in order to restore his sanity.

Soon after Jacob visits the remains of the destroyed orphanage, he finds himself journeying through a time loop where- surprise -the kids actually do exist and Abe was one of them. The rest of the story is yours to discover. I do not want to spoil anything, just get you hungry for the rest of the meal. Time loops, humans who turn into birds, a girl who can create fire in her hands, evil creatures called wights – all of these and more await you on Jacob’s journey to discover the peculiar past of his grandfather.

Ransom Riggs, the author, creates stunningly vivid landscapes with just a few simple words. You are certain to get sucked straight into the locales in this story. As I said previously, the book starts off in a completely different direction than I would have expected, and I feel it takes a tad too long to enter the world of peculiar children, but with a sequel out now, it makes sense to prolong the journey in the first book to get more miles out of the second. The pacing feels a bit bogged down in the beginning and then just breaks away in the later parts of the book.

The characters are fleshed out very well, giving each an endearing quality or, in the case of the bad guys, much to loath. Riggs goes beyond the static descriptions – “here’s the kid who can lift heavy stuff, here’s the invisible guy, here’s the shapeshifter” – and turns them into living, vibrant characters.

I was not expecting it to end on a cliffhanger, so I was quite surprised with the final direction of the story and wonder where else this story can go for another novel. In any case, it will be delightful to enter the world of Miss Peregrine and her peculiar children and see just which direction the story will go.

I highly recommend this book for the young adult in your household, and the parents, too. (You have to know what you’re kids are reading, right?) There are some more grown up themes like death, murder… angst. So keep this one away from the kiddos for a while.

Purchase: “Miss Peregine’s Home for Peculiar Children” and it’s sequel, “Hollow City

Fantastic Halloween Adventure: Beetlejuice – Laugh of the Party

Today’s Fantastic Adventure in family Entertainment brings us to the Neitherworld with the cartoon version of Beeteljuice. In particular, the Halloween episode “Laugh of the Party.”

When snobby Claire Brewster excludes Lydia and her friends from a popular kids’ Halloween party, Lydia decides to have one of her own. But when Delia takes over the planning, it looks like disaster is imminent until Beetlejuice — as Mr. Beetleman — offers his catering service. Armed with party supplies from the Neitherworld, he’s ready for anything…except the discovery that one of his decorations, Party People in a Can, shouldn’t be used during a full moon. He and Lydia must hunt down the missing Party People before they wreak havoc on all of Peaceful Pines.
Why it is a fantastic adventure: Your kids will obviously love the zany antics of Beetlejuice and will be able to relate to mom taking over the planning of a party (sorry, moms!). As in most children’s cartoons, there is a message to teach the kiddos. In this case, the message is one that beet_zps9c65355ayou will enjoy as a parent. You see, Beetlejuice ends up getting on over his head (another good lesson) and Lydia has to help him clean it up (lesson number two). But the big lesson is that it is usually for the best when your bumbling but helpful parents plan your party because they know what they are doing.
Another fun aspect of this show is the animation. There is something very comforting about hand drawn animation from the late 80s and early 90s. Maybe it’s just the overload of horrible CGI in cartoons these days, but seeing hand drawn animation is very inviting. Plus, the animation style of this show is very unique. Your kids will hopefully appreciate the old animation style, as it is creepy, colorful and fun all at the same time.
You can buy Beetlejuice on DVD from Amazon.com

Spooky Halloween Music: Sleepy Hollow

410W7VCTC2LThere is a lot of Halloween related music out there. Most CDs you will find in party stores will feature the usual ‘Monster Mash’ and the like. I’d like to introduce you to a different take on Halloween music. In this case, an instrumental movie score.

It’s hard to review music without the reader listening to it, so check out the video below for part of this score.

The score to Sleepy Hollow by Danny Elfman definitely stands out as one of my most inspirational pieces of music. It is both haunting and beautiful, inspiring and foreboding. There are pieces in this score that will truly send shivers down your spine. But most importantly, there are moments that, when you close your eyes, you can place yourself directly into a sleepy little town on Halloween. For me, no other piece of music comes close to creating images of Halloween in my mind. I hope it does the same for you.
Put this score on and truly listen to it. Best of all, it is all instrumental so it is safe for the entire family , if not a little spooky in some spots. But hey, that’s what Halloween is all about. Better yet, put this score on on Halloween night while the kids come trick or treating to your door.
Again, words cannot do it justice, so give it a listen below and then purchase it at Amazon.com

Halloween Party Ideas for the Entire Family

There is nothing quite like a Halloween party. Whether its bobbing for apples, carving pumpkins or eating caramel apples, there is never a dull moment for kids and parents. Here are a few spooky ideas for a hauntingly great Halloween party! (How many more Halloween clichés can I post this month? I think I’m running out!)
Halloween Music Collection by Midnight Syndicate. Put on this CD and get ready for some of the creepiest music you will ever hear. Midnight Syndicate  is a band that plays nothing but creepy music for Halloween. This CD is sure to send some chills down your spine.



Jack-o’-lantern…lanterns. Okay, the name leaves a little to be desired. But hey, these paper lanterns are a very easy way to add Halloween flair to your backyard or front porch. They are also practical in that they provide light! How about that?



Jack-O’-Lantern Chair Covers. I’m sensing a jack-o’-lantern theme here. Apparently I really like them. These are a clever way to add some Halloween to your otherwise boring and bare dining room table chairs.




Little Monsters Photo Door Banner. What happens every time you go to a fair or theme park and your kids see those wooden cutouts to stick their face in? They run to it every time. And demand lots of pictures to be taken at every single one they encounter. Now you can have one in your own home! Seriously, kids love this and your house will forever be known as the photo house.



Skeleton Butler with Tray. Place this guy jus outside of your kitchen, bar, or wherever it is you serve your drinks for the party. Place a few drinks on here and you have your own skeleton butler holding drinks for every one. The parents will love having easy access to drinks and the kids will get a kick out of a 5 foot skeleton greeting them (and they can’t reach the drinks).



Frankenweenie Stand Up. Okay, I’m putting this one in here because I love Tim Burton and I think this is a great idea. What kid wouldn’t want Sparky to attend his Halloween party?



Fantastic Adventure #7: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

I am doing a bit of a hybrid for my next pick. I am combining the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with the newer film. Reading the book is mandatory for all young children, and the Tim Burton film version really brings it to life in much better detail than the 1970s Gene Wilder musical. Both mediums put together will create an immersive experience for your children.

A perfectly colorful and inspiring landscape

Why it is a fantastic adventure: The book goes into great detail in classic Roald Dahl style. there are made up words for made up creatures. There are made up words for everyday activities like washing dishes or even passing gas! The use of unfamiliar words to describe very familiar things is a great way to capture your kids’ attentions and never let go. Once they see a funny new word they will be looking for the rest of them throughout the book. Of course, this is also a great way to spark your kids’ imaginations. Try to get them to come up with new names for everyday items around your house.
Children revel in the dark and spooky side of things, which is one reason why Halloween is so popular (more on that in a future post). Tim Burton’s vision in this film is not quite as dark as some of his others. It brings a much lighter color scheme inside the chocolate factory than out in the streets of the world. The scene in which the doors open to the chocolate waterfall room is reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz when the film goes from black and white to color.
There are many unique songs throughout the film, based on Roald Dahl’s poems in the book. These will surely entertain and get your kids dancing around the living room like an oompa-loompa. (There is even a Dance-Along special feature on the DVD).
Most importantly, the book and the film are two great sources of creativity and should be used as such.