The Couch Potato Report

It’s cold again, so warm yourself with FROZEN!!

The Couch Potato Report – March 22nd, 2014

Too often kid’s movies come out that the young ones watch repeatedly for days and at a time, that offer little to no entertainment value for adults. But every once in a while, one comes out that is good for the whole family. An animated film that everyone can watch, repeatedly.

This week is one of those once in a whiles as the Academy Award winning Best Animated Feature FROZEN is now available to watch at home.

Believe it or not, with their decades of groundbreaking animation history, prior to FROZEN winning Best Animated Feature at this year’s Oscars, Walt Disney’s Animation Studios had never won that award.

Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen, and featuring the voices of Kristen Bell from VERONICA MARS, Idina Menzel from WICKED and ENCHANTED, and Josh Gad of THE BOOK OF MORMON, FROZEN is about young princess Ana who must try and convince her estranged sister, Queen Elsa, to reverse the spell she has unleashed that turned their kingdom to eternal winter.

There is so much to love about FROZEN, but the two main things I enjoyed the most were the songs, including the Academy Award winning song LET IT GO.

And the other thing I really enjoyed about FROZEN was snowman sidekick Olaf, who loves warm hugs and can’t wait to experience his first Summer.

FROZEN is fun for the whole family and I can highly recommend it both for one viewing, and one hundred, on repeat.

Even the special features are fun!!

No, prior to winning the Oscar for FROZEN, Disney had never won the Best Animated Feature trophy. But the studio has won Academy Awards over the years, many of them, including five in 1965 for MARY POPPINS. This film about a magic nanny who goes to work for a cold banker’s unhappy family is a true classic.

The film made about the making of MARY POPPINS may not be a classic itself, and it may not all be true, but it is pretty good.


This story about the making of MARY POPPINS, featuring the man the studio is named after, was made by the Walt Disney studio, so you know that it isn’t overly critical. Instead it offers up the story of how Disney convinced the reluctant author of the books to give him the rights with plenty of sweetness and sugar.

And as we learned from Mary Poppins herself, a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.

The cast of SAVING MR. BANKS is what ultimately saves the film from just being a Disney story about a Disney story. Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks and especially Paul Giamatti are all great and while the film itself is not great, I still enjoyed it and can recommend it.

The first time I saw director David O. Russell’s AMERICAN HUSTLE, I said to the friends I was with that I knew I would really enjoy it the second time.

Between the weight that came with it as Russell’s follow up to Academy Award winning films THE FIGHTER and SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, and the all-star cast, my expectations were so high the first time that it couldn’t have met them.

But that second time, that second time I loved AMERICAN HUSTLE!!

Christian Bale and Amy Adams are con artists who are forced by an FBI agent – played by Bradley Cooper – to set up an elaborate sting operation on corrupt politicians, including the mayor of Camden, New Jersey, who Jeremy Renner from THE AVENGERS brings to life. Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence plays the blunt, very unpredictable wife of Bale’s character.

AMERICAN HUSTLE is smart and funny and interesting and one that you shouldn’t miss…and if you don’t like it the first time, come back to it and give it a second shot. THat second time around is what counts with this one.

“Long Walk to Freedom” is the name of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography. First published in 1995, it profiles his early life, coming of age, education and the 27 years he spent in prison.

Under the apartheid government, Mandela was regarded as a terrorist and jailed on the infamous Robben Island for his role as a leader of the then-outlawed African National Congress.

Upon his release he achieved international recognition for his leadership as president in rebuilding the country’s once segregated society.

The last chapters of the book describe his political ascension, and his belief that the struggle continues against apartheid in South Africa.

The book is 656 pages long, so it has the room to cover his whole life. The movie based on the book – MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM – tries to do the same, cover his whole life, but movie scripts are usually about 100-120 pages so it has to leave a lot out, and it should have left a lot more out, because some of what it covers, happens way too fast to make much of an impression.

MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM is not a bad movie, and it features some tremendous performances from Idris Elba and Naomie Harris, but it tries to cover way too much and ultimately it is hard to connect with the movie.

The man himself is a true icon, the film about him is only okay.

My suggestion, skip the movie, read the man’s autobiography instead, and then share it with a friend.

The last film I have for you this week is a true classic, the 1965 Academy Award nominated drama THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY.

Directed by Academy Award winner Carol Reed – who also gave us THE THIRD MAN – THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY stars Charlton Heston as Michelangelo and Rex Harrison as Pope Julius II.

Partly based on Irving Stone’s biographical novel of the same name this is the story of the conflicts between the two men during the painting of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.

THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY starts with a great twelve minute history lesson on Michelangelo and his work, and I enjoyed every second of that, and the film itself.

It is now available on blu-ray in HD and I highly recommend it.

The still classic film THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY; the well-meaning and well-acted, but not great biopic MANDELA LONG WALK TO FREEDOM; the great crime drama AMERICAN HUSTLE; the mildly entertaining Disney history lesson SAVING MR. BANKS and the great – for the whole family – Academy Award Winning Frozen are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

And that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.

Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here again next time on The Couch!