February Favorite #8: Disney Doorables

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I’ll admit that I am a bit of a kid. I love blind boxes and I love cute things. Disney Doorables checks both of those boxes. You can buy them separately in playsets or you can buy the big blind box. I prefer the blind box, of course. But what are Disney Doorables, you ask? Well!

The Doorables are tiny little Disney figures. They feature everyone from Mickey Mouse to Winnie the Pooh to Rapunzel to Marshmallow. (You know, the giant snowmonster from Frozen.) Most of the figures feature sparkly eyes or glitter dresses. However, in each series, one of the character groups are all fuzzy. In the first series, all of the Winnie The Pooh characters were fuzzy. It is pretty awesome.

Whenever my daughter and I go to Target, we pick up at least one box of Doorables. The big box has anywhere from 5 to 7 figures inside. (You can get them at Walmart and Five Below as well but I’ve never seen them there.) While we have a lot of figures, we haven’t quite completed the first series yet. The second series released recently so I’m hoping we’ll still be able to get more boxes of the first series. I want to complete the set!

For the record, our favorite figure so far is Boo from Monsters Inc. So cute!

Disney's Descendants

Disney's heavily hyped Descedants movie aired Friday night. While everyone in my family has been on the fence about actually watching it, we ended up spending the day Sunday sitting through the 2-hour movie. Was it worth it? Well...

In case you have been living under a rock, here is the premise of the movie: The fairy tale villains have been shipped off to a desolate island to live out their years. In the meantime, Beauty (Belle) and the Beast have united all of the kingdoms and everyone is living happily ever after. Fast forward to everyone having 16-year old kids. The children of the villains have all grown up as good-for-nothing scamps while the good children have grown up in boarding school. Ben, the son of Belle and the Beast, is about to be crowned king. His first proclamation is to bring four of the villain-kids to Auradon to go to school. After all, they are not their parents.

So. The characters. The four villain-kids are Mal (daughter of Maleficent), Evie (daughter of the Evil Queen), Carlos (son of Cruella deVil), and Jay (son of Jafar). The main good-kids are Ben (son of Beauty and the Beast), Audrey (daughter of Aurora, Sleeping Beauty), Jane (daughter of the Fairy Godmother), and Doug (son of Dopey). There are a few more good-kids hanging around but they aren't particularly important to the plot. 

Maleficent sees this school transfer as an opportunity to get Mal to steal the Fairy Godmother's wand, which will give her tremendous power. Fairy Godmother is the head mistress of the academy so it shouldn't be too difficult, right?

OK. I think we have everything laid out now. First, I'd like to say that the movie wasn't as awful as I thought it was going to be. That said, it isn't particularly good either. There are problems and there are a lot of them.

I'm not sure why they picked these particular villains as the main characters. I understand Maleficent and the Evil Queen. They are usually the first baddies you think of when you think Disney. I'll even give Cruella a pass. But Jafar? Of all of the Disney baddies, they picked Jafar? It wasn't a good choice. 

And while we're talking about the characters, let's address their names. Every single kid is somehow named after their parents. Mal is Maleficent's daughter, Evie is the Evil Queen's daughter, Lonnie is Mulan's daughter...the list goes on and on. While I could understand one or two narcissistic princes/princesses/queens naming their kids directly after them, I can't believe that every single parent would be like "How can I make my baby a direct comparison to myself?" Insert facepalm.

Next up, let's talk plot. Maleficent is the big baddie here. The other three villains simply go along with her. Everyone is afraid of her. Except the other three kids. They are only afraid of their parents, even if those parents haven't actually shown any reason for the kids to be frightened. Everything seems to hinge on the sole fact that they were the villains in their stories. 

Most of the plot is typical Disney fare: the kids are (slightly) shunned by the other kids because they are villian-kids. The villain-kids do "bad" things like stuff their faces with chocolate. The good-parents are shocked when their kids get along with the bad kids. Prince Ben and Mal fall in love. Love conquers all. You know the story.

Then we get to the songs. Man, there were some stinkers in there. Mal and the gang are introduced through a song - "Rotten To The Core." Where none of them really do anything rotten beyond walking on some tables. OK, at the end, Mal does steal a lollipop from a baby but it wasn't particularly difficult nor did it come off as a terrible act. We were just supposed to THINK it was terrible. The best song of the bunch was a remake of "Be Our Guest" that the good-kids sing when their parents come to visitation day. Sigh.

In the end, the movie was just barely tolerable. They should have gotten rid of Carlos (for serious, Cameron Boyce is NOT a good actor. Get rid of him!) and Jay (though Booboo Stewart did a really good job with the crap he was given) for more interesting villains. Mal should have been way more evil in the beginning. I get the evil-turned-good plot device but she wasn't all that evil to begin with. To be honest, the best villian-kid was Evie. She was never in it to BE evil. She just wanted to be beautiful and marry a prince, just like every other kid in the kingdom. Her turmoil was the most honest. The movie's ending suggested a sequel. I hope not. I can't see this getting any better. 

Concert: Zendaya

Last night, my daughter and I went to the Zendaya concert at the Keswick Theater in Glenside, PA. I was actually quite surprised to see that Zendaya was touring. I didn't even realize she had put out a solo album. Since my daughter likes her music, we bought the album and headed off to the concert. The Keswick is a rather small venue for a concert. It only has about 1300 seats. I believe this makes it the smallest concert my daughter has attended. Thanks to this, we were able to get seats rather close to the stage. We were about six rows from the stage on the left side. The funniest part of the show was the mere fact that there was an MC. Miss Kim came out to introduce the opening act, then she came out when he was finished to plug all of his stuff (website, Facebook, album, blah, blah, blah). After the intermission, she came back out to introduce Zendaya and again at the end to plug her stuff. I've never seen an MC at a concert so it was kinda weird but cute.

Liam Lis was the opening act. He played three or four songs. I liked one. No, I don't even remember the name of it. Liam is a 12-year old boy that looks like he really wants to be Justin Bieber. He came out wearing an oversized parka vest and a stupidly huge truckers hat that read MERCY across the front. He had two male backup dancers and a rap...sidekick, I guess? The whole thing was terribly confusing and looked really out of place for a 12-year old. I wish him well but maybe he should wait a few more years.

Zendaya, meanwhile, was awesome. My daughter and I have seen quite a few "tween" concerts, including Selena Gomez, Victoria Justice, and Miranda Cosgrove. We officially ranked Zendaya second best, just behind Selena Gomez. Zendaya danced all over the stage, interacted with the crowd, and was just a joy to watch. She had four backup dancers (including two poor guys who had to wear the same shirt-dress-things the girls wore except the guys had pants on underneath) and even they were awesome. Everyone looked like they were having the time of their lives. I know it sounds lame but that really does make a concert better.

Not only were they all having fun, but Zendaya can sing. Sure, the other Disney/Nick stars can sing but not nearly as well as Zendaya. Pop is fairly easy. Zendaya has a bit more of an R&B vibe to her voice that just fills a room. I hope that, like Selena Gomez, she can turn this into a real music career so I can see her on stage again. Go Zendaya!

Favorite Friday

As you read this, I am on my way to New York City to see the new Disney Broadway play, Aladdin. My daughter, my aunt, and I will be spending three days roaming around the city. While I won't be blogging over the weekend, there will probably be some new photos on my Instagram account and I will be posting about our travels next week. Until then, enjoy this preview of the show.

Tron: Legacy 3D

Yesterday, my husband, my daughter and I went to see Tron: Legacy 3D. My daughter doesn't particularly enjoy 3D movies, but we had no choice since it wasn't available in 2D anywhere near us. Twenty years ago, Kevin Flynn disappeared. He left behind a 7-year old son, Sam, and a major computer software/video game company, ENCOM. Today, Sam has grown into a man disappointed by what his father's company has become, yet he is not ready to take the reigns as the major stockholder. When Kevin's friend, Alan, gets a page from this missing man, Sam goes to his father's old arcade to find out what is going on. Little does he know that his father has been trapped inside a computer program, The Grid, this entire time. With help from a program named Quorra, Sam tries to rescue his father from CLU, the program currently running The Grid.

Like many people my age, I have a fondness for the original Tron. When I heard they were making a sequel, I had my doubts. However, I was determined to not make a decision before seeing the movie. Graphically, the movie is beautiful. The reality scenes are in 2D while the scenes inside The Grid are 3D. I think that made the differences between the two worlds easier to understand. Unfortunately, I found most of the movie boring. (I actually almost fell asleep three times.) The Daft Punk soundtrack is awesome, but the storyline is bland. Absolutely everything is spelled out for the viewer. Even the 'twists' were easily predicted. Perhaps it would have been better with a few more fights. Instead, the movie is almost entirely a game of cat-and-mouse. In short, pretty but dull.

Movie review: The Princess and The Frog

I took some time last night to watch The Princess and The Frog with my daughter. While the basics of the original fairy tale are included, the story is mostly a big twist. Tiana is a little black girl growing up in (apparently mostly white) New Orleans with her seamstress mother and hard-working father. While it is never revealed what her father does for a living, the main plot point revolves around a restaurant named Tiana's Palace that he dreams of opening. As a child, she played princesses with her friend Charlotte ('Lottie'), who just happens to be the daughter of one of the richest men in New Orleans. However, where Lottie was given everything she wanted, Tiana was taught that hard work would make her dreams come true. When Prince Naveen comes to town, Lottie insists on throwing a party in order to get him to propose to her. Freewheeling Naveen has an unfortunate encounter with "The Shadow Man," a voodoo man, on his way to the costume ball and ends up a frog. Thinking that Tiana is a real princess, he talks her into kissing him, which only turns HER into a frog as well!

As a whole, I enjoyed the movie. Though I admit that I was waiting for the "poor black family" theme to bash me over the head. Luckily, that never really came. Yes, Tiana and her family are not rich and we see the juxtaposition with Charlotte's huge white mansion and her plethora of princess dresses. However, the messages are "You can do anything if you work hard" and "Don't forget what is important in life - loved ones, not money." In my opinion, this is what blasts Tiana way ahead any of the other Disney "princesses." (I actually find it kind of sad that she'll be lumped in with Snow White and Cinderella. She deserves better.) I would definitely recommend this to any parent with a little girl. Watch it together! You won't regret it.

Music review: Donald & Daisy Duck - Bicycle Built For Two

donalddaisy.gif Artist: Donald Duck and Daisy Duck Album: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse soundtrack Release date: 10/3/06

Lyrics: (Spoken parts are bold) Donald: Hiya, Daisy! Daisy: Hello there, Donald. Donald: Would you like to go for a bicycle ride? Daisy: A bicycle ride? Why sure. Donald: Daisy, Daisy Give me your answer do (Daisy: What is it?) I'm half crazy All for the love of you (Daisy: Oh, Donald) It won't be a stylish marriage (Daisy: It won't?) I can't afford a carriage (Daisy: But you promised) But you'll look sweet Upon the seat Of a bicycle built for two Daisy: Well, a bicycle built for two is better than a bicycle built for one anyway Donald: You said it! Daisy: Now I have a question for you Donald Donald: OK Daisy: Donald, Donald Give me your answer do (Donald: OK) I'm half crazy All for the love of you (Donald: Awww) It won't be a stylish marriage (Donald: What?!) You can't afford a carriage (Donald quacks incoherently) But you'll look sweet Upon the seat Of a bicycle for two

Together: Yes you'll look sweet Upon the seat Of a bicycle built for two

Daisy: Oh, Donald

About the song: For those of you without kids, here's the rundown on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Daisy and Pluto all hang out at the technologically advanced Clubhouse. Each episode has the gang solving problems with the help of "Mouseketools" - four different objects that will solve one of four puzzles in the episode. The opening and ending theme songs are sung by They Might Be Giants. The rest of the soundtrack is filled with songs by various Disney characters.

Bicycle Built For Two is a good song for young children since it has simple lyrics. However, that makes it fairly annoying for parents since it just repeats the chorus of the song. That usually means that parents will hear the kids singing it over and over and over. There are a couple of good songs on the soundtrack but this is not one of them.

TV review: Hannah Montana

Thanks to her friends at school, my daughter has recently started watching Hannah Montana. For those of you without kids, Hannah Montana is a Disney Channel show about a girl that lives a dual life as a pop star and a normal teenager. During the day, she is brown-haired Miley Stewart who goes to school and hangs out with her friends. Fabulous secret powers were revealed to her the day she held aloft her mighty....OK, she doesn't transform into She-Ra. However, with the quick donning of a blonde wig, she does transform into teen pop sensation Hannah Montana. The only people that know her secret are her father/manager, her brother, her bodyguard and her two best friends.

I think most parents have an automatic inclination to dislike any television show that their kid likes. Especially if said kid is in preschool and leftover visions of Teletubbies are dancing in your head. There are some terrible shows in the afternoon/evening blocks on The Disney Channel. (The Suite Life of Zack and Cody? I'm looking right at you.) Hannah Montana isn't so bad. The show's father/daughter pair are played by real life father and daughter Billy Ray Cyrus and Miley Cyrus. This leaves the door wide open to poke fun of Billy Ray's Achy Breaky days and the show takes full advantage of it. I found myself chuckling when Lily, Miley's best friend on the show, made a joke about Billy Ray's old mullet. Sure, the songs on the show are a bit cheesy but they all have a decent message behind them. Besides, I have to give the show props for giving Miley a wig to use to become Hannah. How many times have we, as an audience, been asked to believe that a pair of glasses or a fake mustache have the ability to make everyone around the main character suddenly think they are a completely different person?

I attempted to figure out when new episodes of the series are aired but came up with nothing. Reruns are shown daily in a variety of time slots. We generally watch it at 7PM. I think new episodes come out on Saturdays, though they also seem to come out on Fridays and Sundays. If you check your local listings for The Disney Channel, you are bound to come up with at least a couple of episodes. Give it a try. I bet you'll be finding yourself humming along to some Hannah songs in no time.