Some of you might be asking: Reel Mama, where have you been? A great question! When I’m not working on my blog, I work as a web strategist for the state of Massachusetts. I’m parenting my preschooler and grade schooler. I’m the wife of a neurology resident, and we are getting ready to move to the City of Angels!
But my passion for blogging about movies and parenting never goes away. ReelMama.com is celebrating its eight-year anniversary this month!
Let’s start things off with Stinky and Dirty.
Stinky and Dirty (Amazon series for preschoolers)
I am cheering because my 3-year-old has finally caught on to this amazing series. Amazon has plenty of series about vehicles. They are mesmerizing for toddlers, but they have no educational value or storytelling.
Lucky for us, Stinky and Dirty has all of this and much more. Based on the acclaimed children’s book series by Jim and Kate McMullen, Stinky and Dirty has life lessons galore for the preschool set. It’s just brimming with enthusiasm. Teamwork, trying again after failing, and creativity are just a few of the values the show celebrates. Plus, it’s nice for kids to see that it’s okay to get dirty every once in a while: maybe it will inspire them to get outside and experience the real thing.
Stinky and Dirty’s friendship is very sweet. If your child has an obsession with anything with wheels, this show is for you. Stinky and Dirty received Common Sense Media’s prestigious Great for Families seal of approval.
Next we have Ugly Dolls, now playing in theaters. I love the message shared in the marketing campaign: be unique, be yourself, let your freak flag fly!
But the movie itself didn’t deliver on the hype. First, it borrowed too much from movies and shows that did it better, especially Toy Story, to the point of becoming formulaic. Second, it feels like a gigantic marketing extravaganza for the so-“ugly”-they’re-cute dolls.
And third, Ugly Dolls delivered mix messages: the “be-unique” message was watered down quite a bit. The “perfect” dolls have several songs pointing out the so-called imperfections of the ugly dolls. They are so long and repetitive that the point about celebrating differences, when it’s finally made, gets lost.
Finally, the perfect dolls wear school uniforms. I personally resented the implication that kids who attend schools requiring uniforms embody some kind of stereotypical and unrealistic standard of beauty. The reality is that kids who wear uniforms come in all colors, sizes, and economic backgrounds.
Kelly Clarkson injected as much spunk as she could into the main character of Moxie. But the filmmakers could have put a lot more thought and creativity into this story. It’s a missed opportunity.
And finally, Dumbo! It’s still playing in theaters. If you haven’t treated yourself to this live action adaptation of the Disney classic, do it. I know the trailer looks scary and even sinister. With Tim Burton, famous for classics like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride, at the helm, that dark element might seem inevitable. Luckily, it’s not as bad as you might think. Yes, there are some moments that are frightening. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the movie for young children who are sensitive to intense scenes.
But overall, this movie is dazzling, and Burton did a nice job of expanding the 1941 animated classic into a compelling live action adventure story.