RSS Feed

Category Archives: Children’s

The Goonies

Posted on

Image credit: The Goonies, 1985

As a child of the 1980s, I feel a certain responsibility to honor the inexplicable love my generation has for The Goonies (Disc/Download). I may have come along too late to really understand why this movie was and is such a big deal (I was only two when it premiered), but nevertheless, people still go nuts for this group of extremely loud kids and their Pacific Northwest pirate adventure. Let’s pour one out and deconstruct.

Conceived by Steven Spielberg, directed by Richard Donner, and written by Chris Columbus, this movie was practically guaranteed to be a blockbuster. These guys know storytelling. The fact that the plot is 100% ludicrous doesn’t really matter—we must keep watching to see if these kids can find the pirate treasure hidden under an Italian restaurant, escape the criminals trying to murder them, and save their family homes from foreclosure. Where things unfortunately fall apart for me is with the character of Sloth, which seems like a lame excuse for special effects and makeup in a movie that doesn’t really need them. I would even argue that we don’t need the Fratelli family at all—there’s enough action surrounding the booby-trapped treasure hunt to keep things exciting. The whole movie is one giant Rube Goldberg machine full of adventurous production design that makes you feel like you just played a game of chutes and ladders, under a steady PNW drizzle.

Having never seen this before in its entirety (I know, I KNOW!!), I was delighted to find so many tiki influences. The pirate ship, Chunk’s Hawaiian shirt, all the skulls and buried treasure—it’s like Don the Beachcomber died and went to Oregon. On that note, let’s try a cocktail that’s perfect while counting your doubloons, the Pearl Diver.

Pearl Diver

1 ½ oz Gold Puerto Rican Rum

¾ oz Demerara Rum

½ oz Gold Jamaican Rum

1 tsp Falernum

¾ oz Lime Juice

1 oz Orange Juice

¾ oz Gardenia Mix (people with more time on their hands might want to make their own. I am not that person)

1 cup ice

Fresh orchid (for garnish)

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend for about 15 seconds, then strain through a wire mesh into a Pearl Diver glass filled with fresh crushed ice. Garnish with orchid.

Even though I don’t hold an abiding love for The Goonies like a lot of people my age, I recognize its impact. It was a movie that appealed to the youth market, but adults could feel comfortable enjoying it too. Perhaps that’s what’s given it so much staying power— ‘80s kids may have grown up, but we’re still looking for an adventure. Cheers!

The Jungle Book

Posted on
Image credit: The Jungle Book, 1967

As I conclude my brief journey through 1967, I want to feature a movie from the 2022 Turner Classic Movies Festival (which I was very pleased to attend for the first time this year!!!), Walt Disney’s animated The Jungle Book (Disc/Download). As often happens in the world of film criticism, we tend to forget about children’s fare, but artistically, this movie takes animation in an exciting new direction. Revolution by dancing animals (and not the live ones that peed all over the Doctor Dolittle sets).

Based on the stories by Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book is one of the more visually exciting classic Disney films, similar to The Sword and the Stone with its sketchy style. Although not one of my favorite movies plot-wise, this is still a joy to watch at any age because it’s akin to seeing a painting come to life. And while we now recognize some of the harmful racial coding in several scenes, it still feels like an important transitional film for Disney in many ways. In reality, it would be the final animated film of Walt Disney’s life, the great innovator having died during production. With The Jungle Book, the Disney studio would leave tales of western royals and little-girl fantasies behind, in favor of stories that depicted a wide world of adventure. The romantic in me is glad they returned to their happily-ever-after’s with the movies of the early-1990s, but the curious animal lover in me is pretty excited to see a bear scratch his back with a palm tree. And boy, that Louis Prima track on the soundtrack still slaps.

Although tempted to defer to one of my top-five favorite cocktails (the Jungle Bird) for this movie, I decided to switch it up the flavor with Pimm’s No. 1. Plus, the addition of Ginger Beer gives it a fiery kick, perfect for swingin’ jungle VIPs. While watching The Jungle Book, I recommend drinking this Feathered Friend.

Feathered Friend

1 oz Pimm’s No. 1

1 oz Campari

½ oz Dark Rum

½ oz Lime Juice

½ oz Simple Syrup

1 oz Pineapple Juice

1 fresh strawberry

2 oz Ginger Beer

Muddle strawberry at the bottom of a shaker with lime juice and simple syrup. Add ice, Pimm’s, Campari, Rum, and Pineapple juice, and shake until chilled. Double strain into a glass with fresh ice, and top with Ginger Beer.

Thinking about the year 1967, the main word that comes to mind is change. Yes, the films were all over the place that year, and the studio system was disappearing before our eyes. But in looking at what came after, part of me thinks that this needed to happen, like a slash-and-burn of crops. The stuff that grew before was undeniably beautiful and impressive; however, we didn’t experience the truly wild, interesting flavors until new things emerged from the ashes. Cheers!

Doctor Dolittle

Posted on
Image credit: Doctor Doolittle, 1967

Having previously imbibed through the other four Academy Award-nominated films of 1967 (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, The Graduate, In the Heat of the Night, and Bonnie and Clyde, respectively), I decided I may as well complete the ballot with one of the most maligned movies of all time, Doctor Dolittle (Disc/Download). I know what you’re thinking: one of these is not like the others. And gosh, isn’t that the understatement of the year!

 For all the criticism it receives, let me come right out and say that I don’t think Doctor Dolittle isn’t nearly as bad as people say. Yes, it’s long. Yes, the songs are weird (and not even in a good way). Yes, the special effects are a little cheesy. But for all those faults, there’s nevertheless a fun, deadpan humor to the whole thing, particularly in the way Dolittle banters with his animal friends. Just the idea that a duck would have a “missus” he has to get home to, or that a Great Pink Sea Snail has a cousin in Scotland he’s been meaning to visit (Nessy, in case you were wondering), genuinely makes me chuckle. I can probably go the rest of my life without hearing the vegetarian song, or see Rex Harrison sing-speak an uncomfortable love ballad to a seal dressed in Victorian garb, but I am here for the quaint English homes, the beautiful beaches of Sea Star Island, and the teased crown of Samantha Eggar’s hair. You can take the girl out of the sixties, but you can’t take the hairspray out of Hollywood.

At 2 ½ hrs, you’ll probably need several cocktails to get through this movie. Let’s take inspiration from the living quarters of a snail shell with this perfectly pink drink- the Snail Mail.

Snail Mail

2 oz Malfy Rosa grapefruit gin

¼ oz Aperol

¼ oz Grenadine

½ oz Lime Juice

½ oz Simple Syrup

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass.

When you compare Doctor Dolittle to live-action Disney films of the era, it comes up short. Without the catchy songs of the Sherman Brothers and the uncannily great casting Walt’s team seemed to deliver, we’re missing a lot of the magic that made films like Mary Poppins and Bedknobs and Broomsticks so good. But I’ll tell you what—I’ll still take Dolittle and his two-headed llama over films like Camelot or The Music Man any day of the week. If this was the end of the big-budget studio musical, at least we went out on the strangest note possible. Cheers!

Beauty and the Beast

Posted on
Image credit: Beauty and the Beast, 2017

Ask any female bookworm who grew up in the ’90s what her favorite Disney movie was, and you’d probably get the same answer- Beauty and the Beast (Disc/Download). Smart, shy girl doesn’t fit in with the people in her small town, longs for the type of adventure she’s only read about in stories, but feels resigned to a quiet life with her dad and his gadgets. Then, a gruff hero comes into her life and woos her with a library and fancy soup. To say that I idolized this character in 1991 would be an understatement. I had Belle dolls, Belle posters, Belle Halloween costumes, and even a prized Belle Trapper Keeper gracing my desk. I also had a Beast doll you could pull the head off of to make him magically transform into a human (which, looking back on it, was a little creepy). In short, I was A FAN. I was skeptical that a live action version of this tale could ever work, but I should have known Disney would make all my adult Belle dreams come true too.

I remember the first time I saw this adaptation in the theater a few years ago. Emma Watson opened her mouth to sing “Little town, it’s a quiet village….” and reader, I got goosebumps. These songs were so ingrained in my memory that I could recall every word and note with perfect precision. It was like a trip back to childhood, where movies seemed completely wondrous, and characters lived in your head in a way they simply don’t when you’re an adult. I loved A Star Is Born, but let’s just say I don’t have Jackson or Ally dolls in my bedroom. But hey, if Disney wants to make a Dan Stevens “Beast” doll, or even a Luke Evans “Gaston” doll with that show-stopping baritone voice recorded on a pull string, they’ve still got a buyer in me.

Taking place in a small French village, and featuring a magic rose that slowly drops its petals, this movie deserves the kind of cocktail you could enjoy sipping for hours in a gigantic library by the light of a talking candelabra. While watching Beauty and the Beast, I recommend drinking a Rosewater Gimlet.

Rosewater Gimlet

2 oz Gin

1 oz Lime Juice

¾ oz Simple Syrup

½ oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

3 drops Rosewater

Rose Petal garnish

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass containing an ice ball. Garnish with a rose petal.

Although there are some new tunes added to this version, the standout song is still “Tale as Old as Time”, sung here by Emma Thompson instead of Angela Lansbury. Really, this is the perfect anthem, for what’s more classic than an enemies-to-lovers story featuring a plucky girl and a gruff hero with a heart of gold? Thirty years later and it’s still bringing me as much joy as it did when I was eight. Cheers!

The Addams Family

Posted on
Image credit: The Addams Family, 1991

They’re creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky. No, not the First Family; I’m talking about… The Addams Family! (Disc/Download) Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, this 1991 adaptation of the comic strip and hit 1960s television show is exactly the level of scary I want in my Halloween movies. That is to say—none at all.

While this film lacks a delightful jingle, it hits a lot of high notes with clever one-liners and stellar acting. Angelica Huston is radiant as Morticia Addams, the glamorous goth mom who always finds her light, and Raul Julia, who brings such joy to the role of Gomez that I want him to be my permanent drinking buddy. These two characters are supposed to be obsessed with death and the occult, but their chemistry makes this one of the happiest, healthiest marriages in the history of popular culture. And then there’s precocious little Christina Ricci as their daughter Wednesday, who enjoys electrocuting her brother and poisoning the neighborhood Girl Scouts. I feel absolutely no shame in admitting that I wanted to be Wednesday as a little girl. Hell, I still want to be her. There’s a ludicrous plot involving amnesia and stolen treasure, but obviously we’re all just here for the deliciously macabre set, black roses, and a disembodied hand named Thing.

Rounding out the Addams Family is Uncle Fester, played by an almost unrecognizable Christopher Lloyd. We’re supposed to believe he’s been lost in the Bermuda Triangle for decades despite the fact that he’s practically transparent from lack of a tan. Let’s give a toast to Fester’s #islandlyfe with this Black Sand tiki cocktail!

Black Sand

¾ oz Lime Juice

¾ oz Coconut Cream

Pinch of activated charcoal powder

1 ½ oz Pineapple Juice

2 oz Dark Rum

In the bottom of a shaker, dissolve charcoal powder in the lime juice and coconut cream. After well combined, add ice, pineapple juice, and rum. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass.

“Fleshlette” hand sculpture by http://paynescultpures.com

I can’t end this post without mentioning Cousin It, who like many of us in quarantine, is in desperate need of a haircut. If you need a break from reality right now, treat yourself to a little absurdity. The Addams Family is ready to welcome you with a lethal drink and an antique torture device. Cheers!

The Bad News Bears

Posted on

Bad News Bears

Image credit: The Bad News Bears, 1976

I have absolutely no idea what’s happening in the world of professional sports right now, but I’m guessing things are not normal. If you’re missing your peanuts and CrackerJack, and starting to wonder if you’ll ever get back, then allow Cinema Sips to tide you over with a classic baseball flick, The Bad News Bears (Disc/Download). Featuring an alcoholic coach, a feminist pitcher, and a ton of salty language, this 1976 ode to Little League and Southern California will have you experiencing all the flavors of summer.

In this perfect time capsule of a movie, Walter Matthau plays Buttermaker, a retired Minor League pitcher and current pool cleaner of the San Fernando Valley. He accepts a gig coaching a team of all the kids who weren’t good enough to play on the existing Little League teams, thinking it’ll be an easy day in the dugout with a cooler full of beer. As the misfits and all their schoolyard problems start to get under his skin, he realizes he has an opportunity to give these kids a badly needed confidence boost. He recruits the talented Amanda (Tatum O’Neal) for her golden arm, motorcycle-riding delinquent Kelly Leak (Jackie Earle Haley) for his stellar batting average, and brainy Ogilvie (Alfred Lutter) to help him Moneyball the heck out of this league. Buttermaker’s strategy works, and eventually the Bears start winning games. The script is genius, but it’s the realistic performances that make me come back to this film year after year. I feel like I get to journey back to an era where people went inside a Pizza Hut to have dinner without irony, and a towheaded kid named Lupus could mix you the perfect martini.

Speaking of alcohol, it’s kind of amazing that Coach Buttermaker could hand out brewskies to a group of eleven-year-olds after the game and it wasn’t all over social media the next morning. I’m sure he still got to keep his job, and I bet those kids didn’t even care that they lost. While watching The Bad News Bears, join in the fun with this Honey-Bear Shandy.

Honey-Bear Shandy

1 oz Vodka

1 oz Orange Juice

½ oz Lemon Juice

½ oz Honey Syrup (2 parts Honey to 1 part Water, boiled and cooled)

5 oz Hefeweizen Beer

Orange Slice for garnish

Combine vodka, honey syrup, orange juice, and lemon juice in a shaker filled with ice. Shake well until chilled, then strain into a glass filled with crushed ice. Add beer, stirring to combine. Garnish with an orange slice.

Honeybear Shandy

If you’ve ever known what it is to get picked last in gym class, if you’ve ever been underestimated because you’re a girl, or if you’ve ever felt like you’ll never live up to the expectations someone has for you, then you’ll probably relate to this film. I always say, I love baseball movies not because of the sport, but because of the sportsmanship. This year may be full of bad news, but we’ll always have the Bears. Cheers!

The World of Henry Orient

The World of Henry Orient

Image credit: The World of Henry Orient, 1964.

YA literature of the 1950’s and ‘60’s knew what girls wanted. I think of it as the three F’s:  Friendship, Freedom, and Fun. Some of my favorite authors of the time period, including Jane Trahey (The Trouble With Angels), Mary Rogers (Freaky Friday), and Beverly Cleary (Ramona books) covered the three F’s so well that their books and movie adaptations will always be timeless.  Such is the case with this week’s film, based on the novel by Nora Johnson, The World of Henry Orient (Disc/Download).

In many ways, this movie displays a fairy-tale version of Manhattan.  Two teenage girls roam freely through Central Park, leaping over sidewalk trash cans, having grand and glorious adventures under the shadow of skyscrapers and brownstones without fear of being raped, murdered, or mugged. Marian and Viv are like charming characters from a Wes Anderson film (down to the fur coat worn by disaffected Viv); more concerned with meeting heartthrob pianist Henry Orient (played by Peter Sellers) than they are with their parents’ divorces.  In fact, it’s only when Viv’s adulterous mother (played by a sexxxxxxy Angela Lansbury) has an affair with Orient that the adult world starts to seep into their halcyon afternoons.  They’re suddenly forced to grow up, to realize that the people who are supposed to protect them aren’t doing such a good job of it.  Maybe all a girl can really count on is her BFF. And, a cuddly Tom Bosley.

The Peter Sellers character Henry Orient is a strange bird.  He spends most of his time having affairs and playing piano very, very badly. His name gives rise to some Asian-influenced style choices by the girls, including one scene with conical hats, and his apartment is very red and very lacquered.  He also sounds like he hails from either Italy or New Jersey, depending on the scene and the sentence.  Truly, a man of mystery.  While watching The World of Henry Orient, I suggest drinking this Red Lotus cocktail

Red Lotus

1.5 oz Vodka

1.5 oz Hana Lychee Sake

1.5 oz Cranberry juice

1.5 oz Lime Juice

.5 oz Grenadine

Combine ingredients in a shaker filled with ice, shake until chilled, then strain into a martini glass. 

Red Lotus

There’s something about these vintage teen girl stories which resonates even stronger with me than the YA literature we know today. In discovering The World of Henry Orient as an adult, I’ve found a tale that feels like a cool wind whipping through the leaves of Central Park. It allows me to imagine an innocent place where precocious girls giggle, whisper, and “adventure” long after the sun has set, experiencing the heady rush of true freedom. Cheers!

Isle of Dogs

Isle of Dogs

Image credit: Isle of Dogs, 2018.

Sorry cat-lovers, you’re out of luck. Wes Anderson takes a hard line in this week’s film Isle of Dogs (Download), and it’s one I happen to agree with. Cats are evil, and dogs are wonderful human-like creatures full of empathy, intelligence, and courage. For those who disagree, I hear there’s a nonsensical, star-studded musical coming out this Christmas, just for you….

It’s rare to find an animated film that appeals to adults, but this is Wes Anderson we’re talking about. Isle of Dogs isn’t just a stop-motion animation film. It’s a quirky, delightful journey full of humor, pathos, and heart that’ll make you want to snuggle your four-footed friend extra hard. Because nobody wants to see dogs relegated to Trash Island, where they eat bags of garbage and fight each other for rancid fish. We want a world where every dog is entitled to a memory foam bed and endless puppy snaps. And the thing is, every dog should have the good life, because that’s what they give their humans. Comfort in the dark times, laughter during the good, and an ever-present companion for whatever comes your way. This movie about a boy rescuing his dog from Trash Island shows us what animal-lovers have known all along—it’s usually our pets who rescue us right back.

Because this film takes place in the Japanese archipelago, it’s a great excuse for a sake cocktail. This riff on a Greyhound uses the Japanese rice wine in place of vodka, resulting in a tasty variation. While watching Isle of Dogs, I recommend drinking a Megasaki-Sake.

Megasaki-Sake

2 oz Dry Sake

1 oz Lime Juice

1 oz Ginger simple syrup

2 oz Grapefruit Juice

Lime Twist

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a lime twist.

As a pet owner myself, I believe that dogs should ALWAYS be named after food. My girl Peaches is a prime example, but let’s not forget Nutmeg and Peppermint in this film. Sometimes I wonder how Peaches would describe her life if she could talk like these cinema hounds do. Probably brag about all the puppy snaps she gets.  And complain that we don’t throw the tennis ball enough.  Cheers!

Hugo

Posted on

Hugo

Image credit: Hugo, 2011

There are few things I love more than movies about movies, so imagine my delight when I first realized Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (DVD/Download) was a love letter to the works of silent cinema artist/pioneer/magician Georges Méliès. I went into this film thinking I’d be watching an Oliver Twist-like tale about an adorable Paris street urchin; I left gutted, and enthralled by the magic of the cinema.

Based on the graphic novel about young orphan Hugo Cabret, this film takes the viewer on a journey from a bustling train station all the way back to the earliest days of silent cinema. Stealing random parts to fix an automaton his deceased father left him, Hugo serendipitously meets the aging Georges Méliès, brought low after interest in his beautiful films like A Trip to the Moon has faded. In fixing the automaton, Hugo finds a connection to his father, to Méliès, and to his dreams. And as this story lovingly points out, that’s what silent cinema was- our dreams come to life.

As a tribute to Georges Méliès and his awe-inspiring A Trip to the Moon, I’ll be mixing up a moon-inspired cocktail. Crème de Violette gives it such a pretty color, almost like the hand-painted celluloid from those early Méliès films . While watching Hugo, I recommend drinking a classic Blue Moon cocktail.

Blue Moon

2 oz gin

½ oz Crème de Violette

½ oz lemon juice

Lemon twist

Mix gin, crème de violette, and lemon juice in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Blue Moon

When you get into the business of film criticism (even boozy, lighthearted film criticism), you sometimes forget about what drew you to the medium in the first place. Hugo is the reminder I needed that movies really are magic. In the right hands, they have the ability to delight, inspire, and transport. And sometimes, like this week, they even bring tears to your eyes when you realize just how much they’ve shaped your life. Cheers!

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Posted on

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Image Credit: Who Framed Roger Rabbit, 1988

Cartoons have all the fun. At least, that’s the impression I get from this week’s film Who Framed Roger Rabbit (DVD/Download). While the human citizens of Los Angeles are busy drinking themselves to death and designing freeways, their animated neighbors get to play patty cake and dance in a Silly Symphony. Who needs Hollywoodland when you’ve got Toontown?

Who Framed Roger Rabbit ushered in a lot of firsts for me. It was the first time I saw Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse in a movie TOGETHER, the first time I learned what “sexy” was supposed to look like (thanks for that impossible bar, Jessica Rabbit), and the first time I had cinema-induced nightmares (again, thanks for that re-inflated, waxy Christopher Lloyd). At 5 years old, my young mind soaked up this picture like a slapstick-starved sponge, delighting in Roger Rabbit and his fellow ‘toons’ antics. As an adult, I gravitate toward gumshoe Eddie Valiant (played by Bob Hoskins), who’s too old for this crap but needs a distraction to keep himself out of the whiskey bottle.   Nevertheless, the kid in me still can’t resist a good “Shave and a Haircut” joke.

If I were an entertainment mogul, the first thing on my agenda would be to build a real life Ink & Paint Club. Seriously- a speakeasy filled with dueling pianos and Betty Boop? Genius. My drink of choice? Something lethal. While watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit, I recommend drinking Dip.

Dip

2 oz Gin

¼ oz Dry Vermouth

¼ oz Absinthe

Lemon Twist

Stir together first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice until well chilled. Strain into a martini glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.

Dip

Side note: I have been waiting YEARS to feel justified in keeping this ugly martini glass in my house. Roger Rabbit just gave me my excuse.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is such a love letter to classic Hollywood and the golden age of animation, that I just want to wrap it up in a bear hug until its eyes pop out. The great thing about this movie is that by mixing cartoons and live actors, the fantastic becomes real. Suddenly, you start to believe that you could get ferried around town in a potty-mouthed taxi, or that the bullets in a gun are actually slow-moving dum-dums with the voice of Yosemite Sam. I know it’s not true, but isn’t it fun to pretend, just for a little bit? Cheers!