Movie Review: The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

Many of us find the struggle of picking a movie to watch relatable. Unlike other movies, The Pursuit of Happyness emotionally moves the audience as it is inspired by a true story.

Following Chris Gardner’s life in poverty, the movie captures the sense of chaos and struggles he faces. Chris, as a single father, does anything and everything for his (adorable) son to keep him happy. Will Smith’s acting along with his son, Jaden Smith’s acting makes the audience keep their eyes glued to the screen.

This family movie is a breath of fresh air in a world of chaos and fast-pasted materialism. It makes the audience empathize with the hard work and failures that Chris faces. From sleeping at a public restroom to chasing a bus, the main character’s efforts inspire the audience.

Chris’s optimism and spontaneous trait despite his situation can move viewers to heart-felt tears. The famous scene of Chris telling his son to never give up uplifts all our spirits:

“Don’t ever let somebody tell you you can’t do something. Not even me…People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.”

Also, the movie reminds us of how short life truly is to not be as happy as we can be. We forget to be grateful in this fast-paced world, and this movie reminds us just that. Reality can break you, but it is up to you how you deal with it all. For me, it reminded me to be thankful for being with the ones I love.

Overall, the movie teaches that happiness is something that we often try to pursue when we miss the smaller “happiness” in our lives. Personally, this message in the movie was exactly what I needed to hear.

If you find yourself bored or you feel helpless or down during quarantine, sit together with your family and watch “The Pursuit of Happyness.” You can thank me later!

-Zohal N.

The Pursuit of Happyness is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

TV Show Review: The Office

Starring Steve Carell, John Krasinski, and Rainn Wilson, The Office is about a group of staff members who work for a Dunder Mifflin Paper Company branch in Scranton, Pennsylvania. The group is followed around by a documentary crew that is filming them for a PBS special. This series is an adaptation of the show The Office from BBC.

Throughout the show, you will witness the love drama of Jim and Pam, pranks made by Jim and Michael, as well as funny office gossip. Steve Carell plays Michael Scott, the obnoxious boss who rose to the level of incompetence. Michael Scott frustrates anyone he comes in contact with, even his boss Jan Levinson. Meanwhile, Jim (played by John Krasinski) and Dwight (played by Rainn Wilson) have an ongoing battle. Jim is always playing pranks on Dwight, trying to disturb and anger him. You have most likely seen scenes of these famous pranks on social media. Dwight, throughout the whole series, tries to land a Branch Manager job, but Michael demotes him to “Assistant to the regional manager” instead of “Assistant regional manager.” The entire staff makes fun of him for this and brings it up any time they can.

Like in any typical American Office, there is a sales team, which includes Jim and Dwight, an accountant team, who includes Angela, Oscar, and Kevin as well as human resources and costumer service with Toby and Kelley. Later on in the show we meet some new characters like Andy Bernard aka the Nard Dog (played by Ed Helms) and Karen Filippelli (played by Rashida Jones).

I have watched this series many times before and I laugh each time I watch. Especially in these times of uncertainty, people need light, funny shows to keep them sane and have a good laugh, and The Office is no doubt one of those shows. I recommend to watch this show soon because they are taking it off of Netflix on January 1st 2021. However there is talk that The Office might movie to the streaming service Peacock. If you don’t have either of those streaming networks, the series is always playing on comedy central.

-Giovanna S.

Movie Review: Knives Out

Boy, oh boy, was this a good movie. I wanted to wait until the official end of awards season to write this review, so I could add in any awards it won or was nominated for. It didn’t win any, but I think it deserved far more.

If you weren’t already aware, Knives Out is something of a whodunit film, with innumerable red herrings and so many (and I mean SO many) twists. Due to the mysterious nature of the film, I’m going to refrain from revealing too much of the plot. Plus, the point of this review is to entice you just enough to go see it yourself and spoiling the movie would spoil the effect of that enticement.

So basically, the movie is centered around this extremely wealthy family, and all their wealth comes from their patriarch, mystery author, and owner of a successful publishing company Harlan Thrombey. The morning after his 85th birthday, Harlan is found in his study with a slit throat, and police deem it a suicide; however, an anonymous party calls Benoit Blanc, a renowned private detective, to the scene because they suspect foul play. There definitely was foul play at hand, but the viewer finds that every member of Harlan’s family had a strained relation with him, and so they all had a theoretical motive.

The movie follows Blanc through his case with subplots surrounding Marta, who was Harlan Thrombey’s caretaker. The viewer has no idea what could possibly happen next, right up to the very last scene. The plots take riveting and unexpected turns, and the whole movie is the best kind of roller coaster. I won’t give any explicit spoilers, but the ending of the movie was absolute gold and gave me almost complete close (I am holding out for a sequel!) If you are looking for a movie that will have you glued to your seat and pondering for hours afterward, or even just something to watch on family movie night, Knives Out is definitely a contender.

-Arushi S. 

Knives Out is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Movie Review: Spectral

If ghost and ghost hunting is your thing, then I recommend the movie Spectral on Netflix. I will firstly say that the movie is PG-13, so please do not watch if violent movies are not your thing (contrary to the previous sentence). 

Basically, researcher Dr. Mark Clyne is approached by a military general, showing him a video from a fallen soldier’s goggles. Visible in the video is a mysterious, almost translucent apparition that had suddenly attacked the soldier, killing almost instantaneously. These “anomalies” were later named as Arratare.

These “ghosts” were invisible to the naked eye and were completely bulletproof, making even the strongest military weapons useless. 

Clyne is sent to Moldova (bordered by Romania and Ukraine), where the US military is currently deployed. Clyne and CIA officer Fran Madison begin to work with the Delta Force in order to come up with a plan to defeat the anomalies with weapons that actually had an effect. 

After further observation and a scary encounter with the Arratare, Clyne realizes that these anomalies are actually man made, meaning that there was a way to stop the anomalies before they kill anymore people. 

This movie has so many unexpected twists and turns (even though I may have given away some crucial information… sorry). 

I give this movie a 8.5/10, and totally recommend watching this movie to chase away the boring days of quarantine. 

-Phoebe L. 

Film Review: The Mule

Earl Stone is a senescent horticulturist and veteran from the Korean War. For all of his life, he has dedicated his time to nurturing his plants and prioritizing work before anything. Due to this reason, he is greatly estranged from his daughter and his wife Mary. At the beginning of the movie, Earl is still earning popularity and money by selling plants to people. However, as the years passed, the internet is the new way of how people sell stuff. Due to this reason, Earl’s business has greatly fallen behind and he was facing a financial crisis. After a heated argument with his wife on how he missed his daughter’s graduation and even the wedding, Earl was headed out of the house. Nevertheless, one strange man approached him and told him to transport some cargoes which can earn him plenty of money. Earl easily agreed and that’s how he came to be the courier of illegal drugs.

There are two reasons why I believe this movie deserves some attention and views. First, it has a central theme of racism that is not outright spoken but can be clearly felt. Due to Earl’s identity as a white man, police officers didn’t bother to check his truck even after the dog has barked after the smell of the drugs. He easily believed Earl when he claims that the dog barks because of the liniment he applies to his hands for medication purposes. The second time the police officers arrested the two Hispanic bodyguards along with him but didn’t arrest Earl due to his race. The third time the police officers directly skipped Earl’s hotel room and only interrogated people of color.

The second reason is that although this movie mainly focuses on crime, its central theme is family. Earl never knows how important family is to him until he attended the performance of his granddaughter. The money he paid for her tuition is illegally earned, but it made him feel special and purposeful about being appreciated by his family members. When his wife Mary died, he deeply regrets the limited amount of time and attention he spent on her until she’s no longer with him.

Therefore, it is important that we recognize and cherish the people and things around us before they are gone.

-Coreen C.

The Mule is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

TV Show Review: Seinfeld

I’ve only seen the first two seasons of Seinfeld so far, but I’m greatly enjoying the show.

Jerry Seinfeld, the main character, is a stand-up comedian who lives in New York. Many of his performances are inspired by events or people in the show, and we get to see these performances at the beginning, middle, and end of each episode. The three other main characters are George, Elaine, and Kramer, who lives in the same apartment complex as Jerry and frequently pays him visits. Jerry and his friends are always making comments about the strange habits of humans no one else seems to address.

Since the show takes place in ’90s New York, it’s interesting to see the difference in style in terms of hair, technology, clothing, and more.

What I like about the show is that it’s very light-hearted and entertaining. There’s no real plot to the series, but that’s what makes it fun. For instance, the entirety of one episode takes place in a restaurant. However, it’s far from boring. The characters and the jokes keep the audience interested and amused.

Though the show might seem similar to Friends since both shows include single characters living in New York, the differences in characters, story, and humor set them apart from each other. Unlike Seinfeld, Friends has a more complex plot and I think the characters have more complicated relationships with each other (although, as I’ve only seen the first two seasons of Seinfeld, this might change). However, I still enjoy both shows!

I would suggest the show to fans of Friends and The Office, or anyone looking for a TV series that is light-hearted and comforting.

– Mia T.

Why a Met on Demand Subscription is Better Than Any Other Streaming Service

Have you heard of the Met Opera on Demand streaming service?! Let’s be real, probably not. But I know many people who have Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime to stream from… so I think this is might interest y’all, teens! It’s award-winning, recent, full length, HD performances from the Metropolitan Opera House. And it’s the best thing ever. Stop using Netflix. Cancel that Hulu subscription. Forget your Amazon Prime password. This is all you need in your life right now. Here’s why the Met Opera on Demand is better than any other streaming service.

1. You Can Learn a New Language

Operas are in English, Italian, French, German, and loads more languages! They have subtitles in English, German, French, Spanish, Russian, and Swedish! Opera is slow and repetitive, so it’s a great way to learn languages! If you’re learning German, for example, it might be useful to have English subtitles on an opera like Die Zauberflöte (which side note is a beautiful production… it’s just so pretty to watch, it’s like watching a moving painting). You’ll understand all the German being sung with the English subtitles, and some new vocab might stick in your brain if it’s being sung in a catchy tune over and over. I think learning a language through song is a great way to learn new vocabulary, and get an ear for the language. “Comic operas” like Die Zauberflöte and Carmen even have spoken dialogue. The opera singers’ pronunciation is amazing when singing and speaking!

2. You Can Learn History

Opera loves to take place in ancient times, and tries to be as authentic to the time period as possible! When learning history, sometimes it’s hard to picture the time period. Watching an opera in the time period you’re learning about really helps you picture what you’re learning. Also, many operas are based on true stories. For example, there are three operas about Adrienne Lecouvreur, a French actress who mysteriously died in 1730. Or Boris Godunov, an opera about real events in 1584 surrounding a real Russian tsar. Or Doctor Atomic! It’s an opera about the test of the first atomic bomb. And all of these have full HD videos of the performances! There’s so much history to learn with this subscription.

3. You Can Learn About Books

Reading Shakespeare in school and struggling to picture the action? Well, Met on Demand has you covered! HamletMacbethA Midsummer Night’s Dream, and more are full-length operas that come with this subscription!

Der Ring des Nibelungen (although Tolkein denies it) is the basis for The Lord of the Rings. Don’t believe me?! Watch it on Met on Demand to see the shocking similarities.

The opera Marnie is based on the book that inspired the Hitchcock classic of the same name. (the 60s movie where the lady gets stabbed in the shower to strings going EEK EEK EEK).

There is also audio of operas based on The Great Gatsby and An American Tragedy, which are books titled of the same name.

If you look up the operas on the website, I’m sure you can find more book-related stuff.

4. It’s Relaxing

The Met’s performances are beautiful. The performances are visually dazzling, and the singing is world-renowned. It’s a nice thing to just have on quietly in the background. If the stunning video is too much, there are recordings dating back

-Jessica F.

Comparison: High School Musical vs. High School Musical: The Musical: The Series

Flashback: It’s January 20, 2006, you’re sitting in front of the TV, as the beginning credits play for the new Disney Channel Original Movie: High School Musical. Now fast forward 13 years (crazy isn’t it?), you have the Disney+ app opened on your device, about to play the first episode of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.

Now, if you were a big fan of HSM like I was when you were younger, chances are, there probably was some speculation, wondering if the new HSM would be just as good as the original. In my opinion, I personally think that the new version is actually quite good. It’s not as good as the original, of course, but it isn’t a complete fail.

Basically, the new version is like a musical inside of a musical (if that makes sense). It’s kind of like in Teen Beach Movie, where the main characters were stuck inside of the movie, in the actual movie. It revolves around the kids who attend the actual East High School, and are putting on their own rendition of the musical itself. The characters of the actual show (Ricky, Nini, EJ, Gina, Big Red, Kourtney, etc.), then audition for the parts they want (Troy, Gabriella, Sharpay, Ryan, Chad, Taylor, etc.).

So far, there have only been four episodes released, packed with tons of drama, comedy, romance, heartbreak, and of course, tons of singing. If you were a High School Musical fan when you were younger, the new version might be a little too young for you, but it doesn’t hurt to give it a try.

-Phoebe L.

Film Review: The Secret Life of Pets 2

The Secret Life of Pets 2 (2019) Final Poster.jpg

I know it might sound a little bit childish for some of the people out there, but The Secret Life of Pets 2 was definitely a very good movie for me. At least, in my opinion, the addition of more characters added more flavor to the movie as a whole. Not only was it funny, but it also portrayed the theme of family, love, friendship, and loyalty

To start off, family has always been a big thing throughout the two movies. It was first the introduction of Duke, and then Liam the son of the family. By overcoming jealousy and eventually falling in love with the new members of the family, Max has demonstrated what the firstborn of many families have gone through.

And as for love, it would be the next stage of family. For one thing, Max became overprotective over Liam and was unwilling to let him cross the street, run into people and different things, and go to preschool. It was not after when Max himself was trained by Rooster to save the little lamb hanging on a branch did he know how important independence is to a person.

Friendship has always been a big thing for the movie series. From Max saving Hu to Daisy fighting off the wolves, it’s all revolving around friendship. And again, through a series of adventures and dangers, the white tiger cub was saved.

Lastly, what I really wanted to mention in this movie is something people normally don’t pay attention to—the wolves. They might look very evil, malicious, and atrocious, but at the same time, they are very loyal to Sergei no matter what he does to them. I’m pretty sure they could’ve just run away since they weren’t chained anyways. Under the threat of killing them and not giving meals, the wolves still strived to complete their missions and obey every single command Sergei the circus owner gives. This way, I think that they resemble dogs for their loyalty but not amiability.

-Coreen C.

Film Review: Spider-Man: Far From Home

Warning: Spoilers Ahead

In this action-packed sequel, Tom Holland reprises his role as Peter Parker aka Spider-Man. This movie was as amazing and mind-blowing as the first movie and was a beautiful masterpiece created.

The story starts off in Ixtenco, Mexico, where an unnatural “elemental storm” is investigated by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), where they meet Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal). Back in New York, Peter Parker reunites with his classmates five years after the “Blip”/Snap. Peter’s school arranges a field trip to Europe where Peter plans to confess his feelings towards MJ (Zendaya). While in Venice for his class field trip, the Water Elemental wreaks havoc in the city. Quentin Beck jumps in and destroys the monster and claims that he’s from completely different earth (multiverse) and that the Elementals destroyed his family.

Peter, still distraught over Tony Stark’s death (we still are), begins to see Beck as a mentor and someone that he trusts and ultimately hands over E.D.I.T.H., an artificial intelligence glasses gifted by Tony, to Beck. Beck is revealed to be a former ex-Stark employee and uses projectors in order to portray the Elementals. Peter ultimately battles Beck and ends up killing him and takes back E.D.I.T.H. One of Beck’s assistants escapes and ends up revealing Spiderman’s true identity after portraying him as the one behind all the attacks.

The idea behind this movie, with the projectors and holograms manipulating the eye, was incredible and extremely well thought out and completely unexpected. It caught me completely off guard.

I absolutely 100% recommend this movie and strongly believe that everyone can enjoy this movie!

-Phoebe L.