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Family Fun at the Movies: Paddington 2 Review

Winter is my favorite time to catch a movie indoors with my family. We love heading out to our local theater, sharing some hot popcorn, and catching the latest kid friendly flick. We had the chance to send some of YOU along for an early screening of the brand new Paddington 2 movie before it hit theaters nationwide. Liz, from our iFamilyKC Mom Squad, was along for the ride with you and shares her thoughts today on the blog AND we’ve got an EXCITING giveaway going on this month over on our website! To enter for a Paddington 2 PRIZE PACK, go to iFamilyKC.com and click on the blue “ENTER TO WIN” box on the right hand side of the page. But first, don’t miss this great review from Liz! Take a look…

paddington 2

Paddington 2: A Movie Review!

My 3 year daughter and I could not contain our excitement about seeing this movie. And truly, it did not disappoint. The original Paddington has been played many times in our house. I practically know it by heart, so I could not wait to see how Paddington’s future with the Brown family turns out.

Paddington, now happily settled in with the Brown family and a popular member of the neighborhood picks up odd jobs to buy the perfect present for his Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, only for the gift to be stolen.  The chase to finding the book will have you on the edge of your seat, but the sweet humor and giggles from the little ones around will ease you back into your bucket of popcorn.

No worries if you have missed the first Paddington, which is still sitting in Netflix! The movie takes you back to Paddington’s childhood in Peru and gives a quick summary of all the lives he has touched in London.

This movie is the perfect sequel to the first.  Paddington’s kind and gentle manner will completely steal your heart while forgetting that Paddington is a sweet talking animated bear. Everyone around him cannot help but love the little bear as he finds the good in everyone.

In the words of Paddington, “If we are kind and polite, the world will be right.”

From iFamily to Yours,




“Coco” A Movie in Review

Disney Pixar’s new film Coco, which opened in theaters nationwide for Thanksgiving, is sure to capture your families’ heart this holiday season. The music transports you into a new world of colorful fantasy. We sent Liz, from our Mom Squad team, along with several of you who did our movie pass enter to win to see an advanced screening of the film before it was released in theaters. Check out what Liz has to say about the movie today on the blog. Take a look…

coco movie review

CoCo: A Movie In Review

Colorful, vibrant, charming and feel good magic! My heart was completely filled with excitement after seeing this movie and I could not wait to share my thoughts on this movie with everyone!

About the Movie

The film starts with young Miguel who has aspirations to play the guitar like his music hero Ernesto de la Cruz.  Because of a family curse he is forbidden to have any part of music. Family traditions are an utmost importance in this film especially the Day of the Dead, where families gather in cemeteries to celebrate their deceased relatives. On this day, Miguel sneaks out of the house to compete in a local talent show but instead ends up in the Land of the Dead!

In the upcoming events Miguel is surrounded by his late ancestors as he sets out  to find his musical legend Ernesto in hopes he will bless his ambitions and send him back to the living. Miguel’s journey takes him around the vibrant Land of the Dead with his cute dog, breaking into energetic Spanish songs and teaming up with a new friend Hector as mysteries of his family are revealed.

If you are wondering how scary the skeletons are for younger kids I would honestly say not scary at all. The first time the skeletons appeared my daughter was a little taken back but the lively dressed skeletons are such a huge part of the movie you don’t even think twice. The Land of the Dead is a warm, energetic and enchanting.

Final Thoughts

This movie is full of fun and lighthearted humor.  With its focus on family and traditions it is the perfect way to start off the holiday season. I cannot wait to relive this film again!

From iFamily to Yours,



My Little Pony: The Movie-A Movie the Whole Family Can Enjoy!

The much anticipated My Little Pony movie is finally out nationwide. Are your kids excited?! We sent Ruth, from our iFamilyKC Mom Squad team to catch an early screening last weekend. She shares her thoughts with you today on the blog. Take a look…

My Little Pony: The Movie-A Movie the Whole Family Can Enjoy!

This weekend I got to experience the world of Equestria. Five little ponies and their friend Spike took on an epic adventure to save their land from a new villain. The ponies left their home to seek help after their city was imposed upon. During the movie, the ponies learned to lean on each other in a time of need. Visiting new lands in search of the Hippo Queen led them down an interesting road of ups and downs while still being pursued by The Storm King’s crew and their leader Tempest.

Along the way, they helped a band of swashbuckling pirates that had lost their free will and were now forced to carry villain merchandise for sale. This act of bravery landed them some new friends and bought them a little time when they needed a quick escape. The movie had a few twists additional twists and turns, happy moments and more acts of friendship until finally ending on a sweet emotional note. Friendship truly is magic.

My Little Pony: The Movie rose above my expectations of the animated television show that I knew and loved as a child. The new adventure not only caught my attention but delighted my girls as well. I found lots of humor in this movie with discreet references to other movies and shows from my childhood through quick one-liners that mostly 80’s and 90’s kids would recognize. Be sure to listen closely when you go see the movie!

I was impressed with the way things took a turn and became a slightly darker film with more action and villains that I bet would intrigue little boys. I even heard a few laughs from my husband. The film added a bunch of new characters but still carried the same important message of friendship. Director Jayson Thiessen took some creative liberties with this film and invented a new and fascinating story line. Overall, I was impressed by the wit in this film and I would definitely watch it again! Be sure to check out this film. It officially opens in theaters on October 6th.

I want to give a big shout out to the Cinemark 20 Theater in Merriam for hosting the screening, providing quality seating but also had a selection of pony kiddie combos and stuffed toys for purchase. This completed our movie going experience.

From iFamily to Yours,


This Weekend at the Box Office: The Space Between Us

Happy Friday, Kansas City! If you have some teens in your household (or like teen movies yourself), The Space Between Us, might be right up your alley to check out this weekend. Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Darcy, had a chance at a sneak peek and shares her thoughts with us below. Check it out…

This Weekend at the Box Office: The Space Between Us // iFamilyKC Blog

Release Date: 3 February 2017

Run Time: 120 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Peter Chelsom

Cast: Gary Oldman, Asa Butterfield, Carla Gugino


This weekend, The Space Between Us hits theaters. It is a charming story about a boy (Gardner) raised on the planet Mars, who desperately wants to go to Earth. Due to brittle bones and an enlarged heart, scientists are not sure that he would survive Earth’s gravity. Gardner’s mother dies shortly after giving birth to him and so he has been raised by scientists and is desperate to have a real connection with other people. That is where Tulsa comes in; a foster kid Gardner meets online and develops a relationship with. It stars Asa Butterfield (from Hugo and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children) and Britt Robertson (from Tomorrowland and Mother’s Day). Both give good performances, although their characters (especially Robertson’s) do not get all the development they deserve.

Eventually, Gardner makes it to Earth, and to little surprise, sneaks off to find Tulsa. The two of them take off on an adventure and he gets to see some of the most stunning countryside the United States can offer. Perhaps being the mother of young children, I harbored a bit of disbelief that a boy whose body is having difficulties adapting to Earth could do some of the things he did. They must have been giving him a heck of a lot of immunizations on that 7-month trip through space. As he goes through the film, Gardner asks everyone what their favorite thing about Earth is. It’s a charming reminder that often the simplest things are the most meaningful. Eventually his health begins deteriorating and it is clear his time on Earth is coming to an end.

Based on the trailers, I thought this movie was only a teenage romance film, but the story hints at bigger themes with space exploration and the importance of family. And although I didn’t dislike The Space Between Us, I don’t feel like the film reached its full potential. It was directed by Peter Chelsom whose previous movies included Serendipity and Hanna Montana: The Movie. The storyline jumped around at times and it had quite a few plot holes and clichés. If you aren’t looking for anything too serious though, it was still an enjoyable movie. And if your teens are looking for a movie to check out for Valentine’s Day weekend, this may a contender, but I doubt it will get much hype. I think this is a better movie to rent at home. Despite one teen romantic interlude, the film is pretty family friendly (it is rated PG-13). I give The Space Between Us a 3 out of 5.


From iFamily to Yours,

This Weekend at the Box Office: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Happy Friday, Kansas City! For those of us who are massive, unashamed Harry Potter nerds, we have been waiting for this day. Today, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them hits theaters, and our Mom Squad Ambassador, Darcy had a chance at a sneak peek, and gives us all the goods. Check it out!

This Weekend at the Box Office: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

This Weekend at the Box Office:

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Release Date: November 18, 2016
Run Time: 133 min
Rating: PG-13
Director: David Yates
Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston


If you had gleefully enjoyed eight years of entering Hogwarts via your local movie theater and their completion left you in a melancholy no number of trips to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter could quite eradicate, then you are in luck! You surely know J.K. Rowlings is back at it again with a series that predates the Harry Potter ones. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens this Friday and we muggles are transported back to a land of magic. However, you will find this land/film much changed.


Fantastic Beasts is set in 1920’s New York. During this time Witches and Wizards are pretty much under ground as the no-majs (American for muggle) are beginning to suspect that magic may exist. Witches and Wizards live in strict secrecy and are not allowed to fraternize with no-majs. Under the same reasoning, nearly all magical beasts have been exterminated to near extinction as the magic folks fear their discovery. This being said, the beginning of the film has very little magic to be found. Viewers that have enjoyed being transported to such a fantastical world may find themselves, like me, disappointed as the minutes plug by without much excitement from the setting, or even from Eddie Redmayne who leads this film, but has very few lines in the first half.


Eddie Redmayne plays Newt Scamander, a magizoologist who travels the globe saving and studying magical creatures. He is an oddity in his world and that combined with the fact that he’s brimming with liberal ideals have kept him fairly isolated from other wizards and witches. He manages, however, to catch the eye of an Auror (Investigator) whom is trying to prove her value to the MACUSA (Magical Congress of the Untied States). She thus drags a reluctant Newt into a magical mystery and some serious drama.


The cast boasts a lot of big names, more than I had realized. Many of them had somewhat small roles hinting at things to come as the series progresses. I read that there are 5 films planned. Queenie (Alison Sudol) and Jacob (Dan Fogler) are two of my favorite characters and bring a lot of heart and humor to the film, but true to J.K. Rowlings’ style, there are many interesting and well-developed characters. If you’d like to learn more about the characters and film, and even download some free posters, you can do so here.


I enjoyed the movie. It was fun and imaginative. The effects are amazing (again- you’ll be waiting awhile to get to them). And yet it doesn’t feel overly Harry Potterish with the change in setting and older characters (none of the main cast is in school any longer). However, many fans of Potter were a similar age as the books and films came out and thus grew up with Harry. If this is you, you will once again be nearly the same age as the main characters. This being the first film of the series, it did spend a lot of time acclimating the audience to a new framework for a new story, so although Fantastic Beasts seemed a little slow to get off the ground, I think it was just a matter of it being the first installment. Many film-goers at the screening turned out in Hogwarts robes and yelled magical phrases throughout the film. If you want to avoid this crowd, maybe don’t hit this film on opening weekend, but I do recommend going to see this movie. It was truly an enjoyable and fun film.

From iFamily to Yours,



This Weekend at the Box Office: Keeping Up With the Joneses

Happy Friday, Kansas City! Zach Galifinakis is at it again with a new comedy, Keeping Up with the Joneses, also starring Jon Hamm, Gal Gadot, and Isla Fischer. Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Becky, had a chance at a sneak peek of the movie and gives you all the details below. Check it out!



This Weekend at the Box Office: Keeping Up With the Joneses



This Weekend at the Box Office:

Keeping Up With the Joneses



Release Date: October 21, 2016
Run Time: 105 min
Rating: PG-13
Director: Greg Mottola
Cast: Zach Galifinakis, Jon Hamm, Isla Fischer, Gal Gadot



I was looking forward to the sneak peek of Keeping Up With the Joneses because I’m a fan of Jon Hamm (Mad Men) and know Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover) can bring the laughs. I expected them to be a dynamic duo in this action comedy about a mainstream suburban couple (Zach Galifianakis and Isla Fisher) who get their cul-de-sac world rocked when their new seemingly perfect neighbors (Jon Hamm and Gal Gadot) turn out to be secret agents.


The suburban couple goes from jealous to suspicious of their Hollywood-like neighbors. And when some snooping reveals the new neighbors are definitely not what they seem, Mr. and Mrs. Suburban find themselves along for the ride (literally) of the neighbors’ secret mission whether they like it or not.


So here’s the good news, Jon Hamm is still easy on the eyes (as is Gal Gadot, if we’re being totally honest) and there were a couple laugh-out-loud moments in the film. The bad news? That’s the end of the good news.


It wasn’t funny, but not for a lack of trying. Seemed like every other line was trying to grab a laugh but fell short. The comedy and action picked up quite a bit about halfway through the film but nowhere near enough to save it.


I give it a D for comedy and a C for action. If you’re in the mood to head to the movies this weekend, skip this one and keep looking.



Becky is a creative director, mother of three and blogs at PartyBoxKC.com/blog.


From iFamily to Yours,


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This Weekend at the Movies: Girl On The Train

If you’re anything like me (a psychological suspense movie lover who is in dire need of a mom’s night out), you’ve probably been waiting for the box office release of “The Girl On The Train”. I’m dying to see the film and wonder if it’s as good as the previews make it out to be. iFamilyKC Mom Squad blogger Becky had the chance to catch an early release of the film this week and shares her thoughts with us tonight on the blog. Take a look…

Girl on the train

If you’ve read the book “The Girl on the Train” (is there anyone left who hasn’t read the book?), then you’re familiar with the premise:

Alcoholic Rachel Watson obsesses with the lives of her ex-husband, his new family and his “picture-perfect” neighbors who live a few houses down mostly from the train window during her daily commute. When Rachel witnesses the neighbor having an affair just before disappearing, she not only gets involved in solving the crime, she’s suspected of being involved in the crime.

The book is a deep, deep dive into the characters’ messed up lives and twisted psyche. Readers are privy to the characters’ darkest thoughts and detailed backstories which I found really interesting and gives the story a lot of depth.

For those who were fans of the book and looking forward to the movie release, I’ve got bad news. That kind of storytelling is just not something Hollywood can come anywhere near cracking in under two hours. I missed the intimate details about the characters that provided context to the twists and turns to the story. I also thought the movie rushed through the best part of the story. Before the suspense had time to build, the mystery unpacked itself very quickly at the end. A little too quickly. The movie went from dark, depressing and a bit haunting to almost campy at the very end.

The acting was solid (yay for strong female lead roles) and it was beautifully shot, but the cast and director weren’t enough to save the script. Just like “Gone Girl” this screenplay doesn’t do the book justice. Skip this movie and spend your time with another book instead.

The Girl on the Train opens today, Friday, Oct. 7, and runs 1 hour and 52 minutes.

Becky Ervin is a creative director, mother of three and blogs at PartyBoxKC.com/blog.

From iFamily to Yours,


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This Weekend at the Box Office: Operation Avalanche

Hello, Kansas City! Fall is a great time to get out to the movies, especially for the lesser-known, independent films. Operation Avalanche entered theaters September 16th and is playing in select locations. Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Erin, got a chance to check out the film and gives us a run down of what to expect. Check it out!

This Weekend at the Box Office: Operation Avalanche

This Weekend at the Box Office: Operation Avalanche

Release Date: 16 September 2016

Run Time: 94 minutes

MPAA Rating: R (for language including a brief sexual reference)

Director: Matt Johnson

Cast: Matt Johnson, Owen Williams, Josh Boles


Operation Avalanche star Matt Johnson and Owen Williams, who play CIA agents that go undercover at NASA to try to find a Russian mole within the organization. In this found-footage documentary style movie, which by the way is not based on a true story, the agents discover that NASA cannot make it to the moon by the 1969 deadline. They decide to create “Operation Avalanche” and to film a fake moon landing and release it as the real thing.


I thought this film was just ok. I didn’t feel a real connection to any of the characters so when certain events played out (which I won’t give away) I didn’t care too much. Several people watching it actually walked out of the theater about 30-45 minutes in to the film. I’m not sure why, as this film was definitely known as a” conspiracy thriller.” It kept my interest enough in it’s 94 minutes, which I thought was the perfect length. Any longer and I may have checked out early. I love a good conspiracy theory movie and to me this could have been way better than it was.


I give this movie a 6 out of 10, with 10 being the best. I don’t recommend this movie for anyone under age 16 because I simply don’t think kids will be interested in the subject matter. Operation Avalanche had it’s moments of excitement and thrill and if you are interested in conspiracies and historical events I would definitely check it out. Otherwise, you probably aren’t missing much.


From iFamily to Yours,


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This Weekend at the Box Office: Masterminds

Happy Saturday, Kansas City! The newest comedy to hit theaters is Masterminds, starring Zach Galifinakis, Kristen Wiig, and an all-star comedic cast. Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Darcy, had a chance to check out a sneak peek, and gives us a few thoughts on the film. Check it out!

This Weekend at the Box Office: Masterminds



This Weekend at the Box Office: Masterminds

Release Date: September 30, 2016
Run time: 94 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Director: Jared Hess
Cast: Kate McKinnon, Zach Galifinakis, Kristen Wiig




Masterminds is a comedy based on a real-life bank heist. Zach Galifianakis plays a kind, unsuspecting guard who gets talked into stealing millions of dollars by the woman he is in love with (Kristen Wiig). He is just a pawn to “Geppetto” (Owen Wilson) who takes all the money and leaves Galifianakis on the lam in Mexico with no help. Jason Sudeikis is also in the film, playing a sadistic hit man. Out of all the performances, only Wiig seems to bring any real emotion to her character.


The movie works on paper. It has a ‘dumb criminals’ angle, an awkward family photos moment, and some huge comedic talent. However, the movie never seems to get off the ground. I chuckled throughout the film, but never got a good laugh out it. The funniest part of the movie is the blooper reel at the end. Be sure to watch that! Jared Hess, who also directed Napoleon Dynamite, directs the film. In that same vein, not all comedies have to be laugh-out-loud to work, but this one misses the mark. It doesn’t play to the strengths of the cast, which I think could have made this a better comedy.


I wouldn’t run to the theaters to see Masterminds. It’s worth a watch, but there’s a lot of competition at the movie theater right now, and there are better films to spend the money on.


From iFamily to Yours,


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This Weekend at the Box Office: Bridget Jones’s Baby

Looking for a movie to check out with the girls? You’re in luck because Bridget Jones is back at it with Bridget Jones’s Baby. It opens today (September 16th), and brings back some old loves, as well as some new eye candy. Our Mom Squad Ambassador got to check out a sneak peek and gives us the low down. Take a look…

This Weekend at the Box Office: Bridget Jones's Baby


This Weekend at the Box Office: Bridget Jones’s Baby

Release Date: September 16, 2016
Run Time: 2 hr 2 min
Rating: R
Director: Sharon Maguire
Cast: Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey


Bridget Jones is back with her usual shenanigans. In the third installment of Bridget Jones, Bridget and Darcy are apart and have pretty much gotten back to where they were in the first film. All of Bridget’s old friends are married with children, which makes it even tougher on Bridget to be alone at 43. Luckily, she has found an outrageous new best friend whom encourages Bridget to, well, sleep around.


Bridget ends up pregnant and doesn’t know if it’s Darcy’s or an American billionaire named Jack’s. After seeing the needle for the amniocentesis, Bridget freaks and refuses to do a DNA test before the baby is born. This leaves both men competing for Bridget’s affection and a role in the baby’s (whom they both want to be theirs) life.


Bridget Jones movies are like Bridget herself. Unapologetically unrefined, good-natured, extreme, and humorous. Spectacular pieces of cinema they are not, and there are more twists and turns then could ever be remotely believable. But they are good natured and fun romantic comedies. If you liked the first Bridget Jones movies, you will enjoy this one. It gets a bit fantastical like the second film did- but not so much so.


I feel like this is a good movie to rent, I wouldn’t rush to see it in the theaters. Unless of course you’re absolutely in love with Mr. Darcy, like the woman seated next to me last night was. But then, you probably already have your ticket.


From iFamily to Yours,


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