Monthly Archives: May 2012

men in black 3


by Jane Louise Boursaw

Reel Rating: 4 out of 5 Reels


MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and brief suggestive content

Released in Theaters: May 25, 2012 (2D, 3D)

Genre: Action, Comedy, Sci-Fi, Sequel

Runtime: 103 minutes

Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld

Cast: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson, Bill Hader, Michael Stuhlbarg

Official Site:

SYNOPSIS:  Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones don the black suits and shades for the third time to battle aliens and save the earth. This installment involves time travel. And pie.

Sex/Nudity: The most offensive scene happens at the beginning of the movie, when an alien man with a freakishly long tongue French kisses a woman, who “sucks” on his tongue (I know, gross). That scene made me cringe, but other than that, mostly flirting between a male and female agent, a correctional officer joking about conjugal visits, and a woman wearing tight clothing with lots of cleavage (in 3D, if you see that version).


Violence/Gore: Weapons include a variety of high-tech space guns and conventional guns. Assorted aliens fight and kill with stingers, brute force and hand-to-hand combat. Men in Black agents kill aliens with a space gun that disintegrates them. The main villain, Boris the Animal, kills people by firing deadly darts at them. He also has a small, bug-like alien living in his hand that he releases to do his dirty work. A climactic fight scene involves Agents J and K and Boris the Animal on a space shuttle gantry as the craft is getting ready to take off.

Profanity: Several uses of “sh*t,” “bullsh*t,” “ass,” “damn,” and “hell.” Insults like “stupid” and “bastard.” One 1960s-era joke uses the term “darkies.” Reference to “pimp-slapping the shiznit” out of someone.


Drugs/Alcohol: Smoking and drinking at a party set in the 1960s.


Which Kids Will Like It? Kids 12 and older who liked the first two Men in Black movies or funny sci-fi films with lots of aliens and special effects (expect lots of alien goo).

Will Parents Like It? Men in Black III is a fun installment to the franchise. The PG-13 rating is mostly on target, except for the opening scene with the above-mentioned French kiss.

REVIEW: I must preface this review by saying that I have a thing for Tommy Lee Jones. Not that I want to marry him or anything, but just that he seems to play the exact same character in every movie and does it so well that people keep hiring him to play that character year after year. It’s really quite awesome when you think about it.

So the fact that this entire movie plays off the fact that Tommy Lee Jones is playing his usual Tommy Lee Jones character seals the deal for me. It’s one of my favorite movies so far this year. That and the fact that there’s pie. But I’ll get to that later.

You don’t need to have seen the previous two Men in Black movies to love this one, nor do you need to know the storylines. All you need to know is that Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent J (Will Smith) have been partners in the covert Men in Black program for many years now, and that they’ve dedicated their lives to saving the planet from aliens.

The story begins with Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) – an alien that Agent K arrested in 1969 – escaping from lunar prison and stealing a time travel device to go back in time and kill the young Agent K (Josh Brolin) in order to carry out his evil plan to destroy Earth.

After Boris erases Agent K from the current timeline, Agent J realizes he must also go back in time to stop Boris from killing K. After one of the wildest falling scenes in cinematic history, J does just that, and learns a few things about his own past in the process.

It’s been a decade since Men in Black II was released, but that doesn’t stop this movie from being totally awesome. In addition to the Tommy Lee Jones thing, we have his buddy-bromance relationship with Will Smith, who has some very funny lines, including one where he gripes about being “fish-slapped” by a humongous alien fish. (And I apologize for the adult-oriented phrasing in this family review, because I did not get the connection to being b-slapped until I just wrote that. Sometimes it takes me a while.)

Special mention must be made of Josh Brolin, who’s carved out a nice reputation as one of the best actors on screen today. He nails everything about Tommy Lee Jones, from his gravelly voice to his steely expressions to his deadpan delivery — though he’s not nearly as grumpy, being four decades younger and less world-weary.

Bringing the story to 1969 allows for some fun references, including the fact that Andy Warhol (Bill Hader from Saturday Night Live) is actually a secret agent itching to shed his pop culture persona. We also get a little romance between Agent K and Agent O (Emma Thompson, deviating from her usual Merchant-Ivory type British roles).

I recommend that you see Men in Black III in 3D, a sentence you rarely ever read in my reviews. The special effects and aliens are 3D-worthy, and the aforementioned jump scene must be seen in 3D to be fully appreciated. The backstory: Agent J doesn’t realize that a time-jump means you actually have to jump – and from a very high place like the Chrysler Building.

And then there’s pie. In addition to Tommy Lee Jones, I also have a thing for pie. So to hear him utter the words “We need pie,” and then watch him actually eat a piece of pie at a diner … well, my world is now complete. I completely agree: When things get crazy, sometimes you just need to stop and eat a piece of pie to clear your head. That’s our philosophy in this household, and I can tell you it works wonders to stave off panic and drama. Try it sometime.


One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.

Two Reels – Coulda been a contender

Three Reels – Something to talk about.

Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!

Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.


Jane Boursaw is a family entertainment writer specializing in movies and TV. Visit her at ReelLifeWithJane; follow her on Twitter; become a friend on Facebook; email

Childhood Obesity

One in every 6 child or teen is overweight or obese.  Children can’t change their exercise and eating habits by themselves.  They need the help and support of families and other caregivers.  Childhood obesity is usually caused by kids eating too much and exercising too little.  Here are a few tips to get your started:

Change Family Behavior

It’s not a race.  The first rule of change is to not make changes too quickly.  It takes time and dedication to unlearn unhealthy behaviors and to develop new, healthy ones.

  • Think small.  Small, gradual changes are easiest to follow and incorporate into your daily lives.  For example, turning off the TV while eating, switching from soda to skim milk or water, or taking a walk after dinner three times a week.
  • Get moving.  A good rule of thumb is to work up to an hour of physical activity every day.  This could be as simple as unstructured play like riding a bike with friends or a structured activity such as soccer or dance class.

Set Individual and Family Goals

Goals need to be achievable and measurable.  For example, your child’s goal might be to eat fresh fruit and vegetables for snacks while the family’s goal might be to eat fast food once a week.

  • Start with two simple goals and work your way up.  Having too many goals sets you up for failure.
  • Give rewards when goals are achieved.  Rewards should be consistent and given either daily or weekly.  Do not make food a reward or punishment.  Also, avoid something like a new video game that encourages less activity.

Seek Professional Help

If you are concerned about your child’s weight, it is best to first have them evaluated by a physician.  For diet information and support, seek the services of the nutrition expert, the Registered Dietitian.

Written by Tiffany Glenn, a registered dietitian that lives in Texas with her husband and three very active kids.  Good health is important from the inside, out.  Visit to learn more.
Tiffany Glenn, M.S., R.D., L.D.

Registered Dietitian

Invisible Clutter

Do you wish your clutter were invisible?  It may be more invisible than you think – especially to you.  When we live with items and see them day-in-and-day-out, they tend to dissolve into the background of our lives.  Want to see your clutter with new eyes?  Take a photo and post it on a social media site.  Your clutter in all its glory will quickly appear.


If you would like to see your clutter without revealing yourself to the entire internet, try sitting in a different spot or in a rolling chair.  Sit and observe your environment from places other than the normal place.  Stand on a chair in the middle of the room or even lie on the floor and look up.


Now that you have found your clutter it is time to do something with it.  How long has it been hiding?  Is it covered in dust?  If it has been years since you have laid eyes upon your newly found treasure, put it straight into the donation box.  (If you don’t have one, make one right away.)  If you think you will use it – notice I didn’t say “might use it” – clean it off and move to its proper home.


Not sure if you want to see the clutter?  Just remember that your guests sure will.  When all else fails, invite a friend over to be brutally honest about your clutter.  You have to see it before you can address it.


Jennifer Snyder

Neat as a Pin! Organizing Experts



Jennifer Snyder

Owner & Organizer

Neat as a Pin! Organizing Experts

(254) 715-3888

Pool Hair!

With the beautiful days of summer just weeks away, we’re all ready for a little fun in the sun. As pools across town beckon to you and your brood, remember that chlorine can have a profound effect on hair. Don’t let your hair care take a summer vacation.

Chlorine can dry hair out, leaving it straw-like and green in color. Unless those chemicals are washed out with a good shampoo, the hair will continue smelling like your local swimming pool. The hair care experts at Pigtails & Crewcuts in Westminster, CO recommend following a swim with Pigtails & Crewcuts Summertime Scrub. This gentle shampoo gets the chlorine out, leaving hair soft and shiny (returning it to its natural color). Next, work in any of our Pigtails & Crewcuts or Circle of Friends conditioners, which come in delicious smells, such as pineapple, melon, grape and more, and you and your family can worry less about the practical distractions of summer, and more about the important things, like lemonade stands and mud pies.

kids reading

Home is Where the Story Begins

By Jennifer Vickery

Summer is officially here. The kids have been marking days off the calendar like inmates waiting for parole. So if we ask our kids what they are looking forward to the most this summer, they may say anything that pertains to playing, playing, and when they’re done playing, they will top it off with more playing.  However, it’s very seldom we will hear our child say, “I can’t wait to spend my summer reading books!” For most kids, reading a book during the summer is like checking in with the parole officer.  Here are some ideas that may help get your kids excited about reading and ready for fall semester.

Getting back to basics- Kids learn by example. If mom, dad, brother, and sister aren’t reading, then odds are little Timmy won’t be reading either. C’mon mom and dad, let’s hit the books, we can make this fun for you too!  Unlike our children, we are allowed to read outside of our age group. If the grown-up fiction or non-fiction is just boring you to tears, then take a trip with your child to their section. Re-reading books you used to love as a child. Your excitement will show and it will inspire your children to read what you are reading. The rewards of connecting with your child through books you read together is priceless.

Reading really can be fun- Associating reading with doing something fun will make them want to read again and again. Find out about upcoming kid events or summer programs from your local library or book shops which offer summer reading clubs that will help keep your child motivated about reading.

Helping reluctant readers to read- Would your child rather go to the dentist than pick up a book? You may think there is just no hope of getting your child to read but you will prevail! There is always a way around cracking a hard nut and one way is to allow your child to choose what he wants to read. Perhaps your child is a fanatic for superheroes, take your child to the comic section at your local library or book shop, you may be surprised with a request for more. Finding books that appeal to your child’s interests or passions is a great motivator.

Struggling Readers- If your child has difficulty reading, they may be more likely to turn on the television than open the book. If this is the case, turn on your closed captioning. This will help children with pronunciation on words that are more difficult for them. Many parents have claimed this method has done wonders for their children who are slower readers.

Is the book really better than the movie?- Theatres are filling seats with blockbuster hits from best-selling books like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Twilight Series, and a slew of others. Challenge your older readers to find out if the book is truly better than the movie. After they finish a book, have a movie night at the theatre or at home and let them be the judge.

Positive Reinforcement- We all love rewards for a job well done. Our children are no different. Local libraries may offer contest prizes for the most books read this summer. If you live in a rural area where going to a library everyday is not an option, then have a rewards program of your own. One idea is making a goody basket with a video game, sweet treats, and a gift card. Remember, the more hype about the prize, the more response you are likely to get. Some other prize ideas are iTunes gift cards, movie tickets, or more books by their new favorite author.

The most important thing to remember when motivating your child to read is to make their experience fun and happy. Yelling, threatening, or using reading as a punishment will make your child dread opening a book by associating negative memories now and in years to come.

“Mary Had a Little Lamb” room mural theme

A few weeks ago, I had a client with a vision of what her new baby girl’s room should look like. She described a feminine room with soft colors and something “different” from what everybody else has from their shopping trips to Pottery Barn! This expectant mom was thinking of an old-fashioned nursery rhyme theme and I was happy to oblige.

Her house is a 1920s bungalow in Denver that she and her husband have completely updated while maintaining the character of the old house. First thing we needed to tackle was the color palette: We discussed painting the entire room a soft honey gold, while keeping the original crown moldings white. Curtains would be long and girly pink, and a sage green rug would soften the wood floors.

Knowing the theme, I was able to locate a fabulous toile crib skirt featuring old-fashioned nursery rhyme drawings. The company allowed us to order additional fabric that will be made into curtain tiebacks and cushions for the rocking chair.

The key feature to the room was, of course, the hand-painted mural. We chose “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and utilized the color palette of the rest of the room: sage green for the grass, soft pink for Mary’s dress, and dusty blue for the sky. Mary’s dress with the ruffled bottom, puffy sleeves, and old-fashioned pinafores underneath was an important part of the original design and meant to be the focal point of the mural. Everything was kept soft and sweet.

In the end, the client was happy. Her baby girl is due in July and will be welcomed into an amazing, original nursery. I hope that during those middle-of-the-night feedings, my client appreciates the cozy soft environment we created together!


Gina Heumann, Artist & Designer

MadLand’s Playhouse, LLC


5 More Trendy Party Supplies

We hope you enjoyed our post “5 Trendy Party Supplies.” Here
is part two of items that we have been seeing used all over the
place for special occasions and celebrations.

Eco-Friendly Utensils

These bamboo fork, spoons and knives are not only eco-friendly,
but they are so much cuter than plastic and easier to match to
any color scheme. Also, I haven’t tried it yet, but have seen
other DIYer’s pictures, these can be fancied up by stamping the
handles with “happy birthday” or “celebrate” or use felt markers
to draw on stripes, polka dots, etc.

Food Flags and Party Picks

Stick them in pieces of cut fruit, mini cakes or pies or cubes of
cheese for a finger-friendly food buffet.

Cupcake Toppers

Well if you haven’t seen the cupcake over cake trend, you
probably haven’t been to many parties lately. Dress up those
individual dessert servings with a themed cupcake topper like
these ones.

Push Up Pop Containers

Photo from Push Up Pops Book
Remember those cardboard, ice cream filled push ups that you
used to get from the local ice cream truck? Well these re-usable
containers can be filled with cake ingredients, pie fillings, candy,
there are even recipes for cocktail slushies just for grown ups!

Mason Jar Cup Lids

Photo from I Heart Nap Time
This DIY Mason Jar Trend is another article all on its own, but
have you seen these ingenious Mason Jar Lids that will turn
mason jars into sippy cups? Fill with lemonade, tea, mint
juleps? Add a paper straw and voila, a perfect addition to your
vintage or rustic styled event!
Find more party ideas, trends, tips, décor and supplies at

How to read Nutrition Label Claims

Nutrition Label Claims

Have you ever looked at a nutrition label and wondered what it all means?  Nutrient Content Claims use a variety of descriptive terms on labels.  The FDA has made an effort to make these terms meaningful.  Regulations have reduced the number of potentially misleading label statements making it easier to make healthier family choices .  Here are some of claims you may see and what they mean:

Free:  food contains no amount or trivial amounts.  Low:  food can be eaten frequently without exceeding dietary guidelines for one of more of the components below:

Fat free:  less than 0.5 g fat/serving, Low fat:  3 g or less/serving

Saturated fat free:  less than 0.5 f of saturated fat or trans fat/serving,   Low saturated fat:  1 g or less of saturated fat/serving or no more than 15% of calories from saturated fat.  Cholesterol free:  less than 2 mg of cholesterol or 2g less of saturated fat/serving, Low cholesterol:  20 mg or less and 2 g or less of saturated fat/serving, Sodium free:  less than 5 mg of sodium/serving, Low sodium:  140 mg or less/serving, Very low sodium:  35 mg or less/serving, Sugar free:  less than 0. 5 mg of sugar/serving, Calorie free:  less than 5 calories/serving, Low calorie:  40 calories or less/serving.

High:  food contains 20% or more of the Daily Value for a particular nutrient/serving

Good source:  food contains 10 – 19% of the Daily Value for a particular nutrient/serving

Lean or extra lean:  Describe the fat of meal and main dish products, seafood and game meat products.  Lean:  less than 10g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat and less than 95 mg of cholesterol/serving

Reduced:  nutritionally altered food contains at least 25% less of a nutrient or of calories in the regular product.

Light:  1/3 fewer calories or ½ the fat of the reference food or sodium has been reduced by 50%.

Information retrieved from Discovering Nutrition, 3rd edition.

Written by Tiffany Glenn, a registered dietitian that lives in Texas with her husband and three very active kids.  Good health is important from the inside, out.  Visit to learn more.


by Jane Louise Boursaw

Reel Rating: 3 out of 5 Reels


MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, action and destruction, and for language

Released in Theaters: May 18, 2012

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Based on a Board Game

Runtime: 131 minutes

Directed by: Peter Berg

Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Rihanna, Brooklyn Decker, Tadanobu Asano, Hamish Linklater, Liam Neeson, Peter MacNicol, John Tui, Jesse Plemons, Gregory D. Gadson

Official Site:

SYNOPSIS: Battleship bears little resemblance to the Milton Bradley board game upon which it’s based, but star Taylor Kitsch gives this special effects-heavy flick panache. It’s a showdown of military personnel vs. aliens.

Sex/Nudity: One scene of a couple in bed; the guy is shown wearing just a towel after coming out of the shower. A female physical therapist wears form-fitting or revealing clothes, including one scene in which she wears a string bikini top and short shorts. A few passionate kisses.

Violence/Gore: High body count, tense action, and lots of explosions and artillery warfare on naval ships. Humanoid aliens in giant robotic crafts wipe out entire ships and towns, causing panic in Hawaii, China and across the globe. Characters are shown bloody and wounded, and a few secondary characters die. Minor brawls between naval officers.

Profanity: “Sh*t,” “ass,” “hell,” “bitch,” “damn,” “oh my God,” and insults like “idiot.” Two uses of “motherf**ker,” although the last part is covered up by an explosion.

Drugs/Alcohol: A bar scene includes people drinking, and two adult brothers do shots for a birthday. A main character gets drunk and makes questionable decisions.

Which Kids Will Like It? Kids 13 and older who like sci-fi action movies with aliens, military tactics, and massive ships with heavy artillery.

Will Parents Like It? Battleship isn’t the best action movie of the year, but the special effects are memorable (especially the aliens) and there are some cool scenes involving military personnel and aging veterans.

REVIEW: I’ve been a fan of Taylor Kitsch ever since I interviewed him when Friday Night Lights premiered on TV in the fall of 2006. Some people just have that special “something,” and you know they’re destined to be a big star. Kitsch, who excels at playing handsome rogue with a heart of gold characters, has that, even in a movie like Battleshipwhich, for all practical purposes, is a big cheesy popcorn flick with cliché dialogue like “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” and “We’re gonna need a new planet.”

But look, what can you expect from a movie that bears so little resemblance to the 81-year-old Milton Bradley game of strategy on which it’s based that you might as well be playing Candyland. Some of us might remember the board game released in 1967, but Battleship was originally a pencil and paper guessing game that pre-dates World War I.

But of course, that’s not nearly exciting enough for this day and age, so you have to add aliens in big metal machines, special effects galore, a slacker kid brother, a gorgeous love interest, and Liam Neeson in his usual god-like role. Blockbuster? Well, maybe, depending on your definition of blockbuster.

Kitsch plays Hawaiian beach bum Alex Hopper, who on his 26th birthday gets a message from his older brother Stone (True Blood’s Alexander Skarsgard): “Clean up your act or join the Navy.”

So Alex joins the Navy, where Stone is an officer, and four years later, he’s a hot-headed lieutenant trying to summon the courage to ask the Admiral (Neeson) for his daughter’s (Brooklyn Decker) hand in marriage. Alex chickens out, and soon finds himself in the middle of a war games exercise with the Japanese when a group of unidentifiable objects appear in the Pacific Ocean and create an impenetrable field around three ships.

When two of the ships are destroyed by the objects – identified as aliens – Alex ends up as senior officer and must cooperate with the Japanese to bring down the aliens before they destroy the planet.

Sigh … There’s really only so much you can do with aliens at this stage of the game. Everything’s been done before (though we’ll see what the upcoming Prometheus brings). So that’s where the characters come into play, and Kitsch is the star attraction here. As mentioned, Liam Neeson is playing his usual god-like role, Alexander Skarsgard is tough to see as anything other than vampire Eric on True Blood, Brooklyn Decker is the sexy girlfriend, and Rihanna, who plays a tough-as-nails weapons officer … well, she should probably stick to singing.

It’s not all bad news, though. There’s a very funny scene where some real-life aging veterans, some in their 90s, spring into action with AC/DC’s Thunderstruck playing in the background. That alone is worth the ticket price. Gregory Gadson, a bilateral above-the-knee amputee, real-life 20-year Army veteran, and director of the Army’s Wounded Warrior Program, is a real scene stealer battling the aliens. And it’s hard to completely dislike a movie where Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is a key plotpoint.

And the characters have several redeeming qualities, like displaying leadership and courage under fire, learning to work with others, even sacrificing themselves for the greater good. It’s a great movie to release right around Memorial Day.

Be sure to stay through the credits, and watch for one of the old veterans uttering a version of that classic line from the 1960s Battleship commercial: “You sunk my battleship!”


One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.

Two Reels – Coulda been a contender

Three Reels – Something to talk about.

Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!

Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.


Jane Boursaw is a family entertainment writer specializing in movies and TV. Visit her at ReelLifeWithJane; follow her on Twitter; become a friend on Facebook; email


by Jane Louise Boursaw

Reel Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Reels


MPAA Rating: PG-13 for comic horror violence, sexual content, some drug use, language and smoking

Released in Theaters: May 11, 2012

Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Horror, Based on a TV Show

Runtime: 113 minutes

Directed by: Tim Burton

Cast: Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Eva Green, Jackie Earle Haley, Jonny Lee Miller, Chloe Grace Moretz

Official Site:

SYNOPSIS: Based on the campy gothic-soap from the late 1960s, Johnny Depp steps into the role of Barnabas Collins, the cursed vampire who’s freed from his prison tomb after two centuries only to find his dysfunctional descendents dealing with their own secrets.

Sex/Nudity: Tons of innuendos, including references to people touching themselves, making noises, passionate kissing, and sexual encounters (some of them violently passionate). No outright nudity, but a female character rips off her top to reveal cleavage and lingerie, then places Barnabas’ hand on her covered breast. Barnabas has sex with a witch, and they crash around the walls and ceiling of a room, breaking everything in their path. A female character lowers her head off-screen, presumably to give a male character oral sex. Also, 15-year-old Chloe Grace Moretz is sexualized in the way she dances and talks.

Violence/Gore: Though the trailer made this movie seem comical, it’s a very dark comedy with plenty of violence and scary creatures, including a ghost. When Barnabas is freed from his coffin tomb, he attacks a crew of construction workers, kills them and drinks their blood. A supernatural fight between characters involves green projectile vomit, a human who turns into a creepy werewolf, and a house that “bleeds” (blood drips down the walls). A human walks deliberately off a cliff and plummets to their death. In a flashback, parents ship their little girl off to a scary asylum where she’s locked in a cell and receives shock treatments.

Profanity: “Shit” is used several times, also “bitch,” “damn,” “a**hole,” “hell,” “bastard,” “whore,” and “balls” (used as a double meaning). Insults include “harlot,” “succubus,” “hooker,” and “stupid.”

Drugs/Alcohol: A female character has a drinking and prescription pill problem, and she’s always drunk and/or hung over. A group of hippies smoke pot and act high around a campfire. A 15-year-old girl asks an adult if he’s stoned.


Which Kids Will Like It? Kids 15 and older who like Johnny Depp or Chloe Grace Moretz, or are familiar with the classic TV series.

Will Parents Like It? It’s an odd mix of comedy, fantasy and horror, but fans of Burton/Depp collaborations like Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland will find something to love about this movie. The PG-13 rating edges toward an R in some scenes.

REVIEW: About half-way through Dark Shadows, I pulled out my phone to double-check the rating on my Fandango app (judiciously, that is – I swear I’m not one of those people with their phone out in a dark theater all the time).

Yep, it was PG-13, but parts of it definitely veered towards an R rating, especially one scene when Barnabas and Angelique have violent sex. We don’t actually see them in the act, but it’s certainly implied as they strip down and roll around the floor and walls and ceiling, breaking everything in their path.

The violence is also an issue, including a scene at the very beginning where Barnabas kills an entire construction crew and drinks their blood. Dark Shadows is one of those movies that would have benefited from a PG-15 rating. It’s not quite R caliber, but still too intense for PG-13.

And if you’re thinking this movie is an extended version of the cult TV show that aired from 1966 to 1971, they’re really two different animals. Some of the same characters, but the movie is definitely a stand-alone story.

The story begins in 1760, with Joshua and Naomi Collins and their young son Barnabas setting sail from Liverpool, England to start a new life in Collinsport, Maine. Two decades pass, and Barnabas is a rich playboy with the world at his feet – until he crosses a servant named Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green) who turns out to be a witch. When he breaks her heart, she dooms him to a fate worse than death: turns him into a ghoulish vampire and buries him alive.

Two centuries later, Barnabas is inadvertently freed from his tomb and emerges into the world of 1972, complete with Lava Lamps, hippies, and shag carpeting. His once grand Collinwood Manor is in ruins, run by a ragtag family of dysfunctional descendents harboring their own secrets.

There’s matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer), her husband Roger (Jonny Lee Miller), children Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz) and David (Gulliver McGrath), handyman Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley), and live-in psychiatrist Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter).

Unbeknownst to them, the family is still under the curse of Angelique. Her Angelbay Seafood company has driven the Collins family right out of business, and they’ll have to pull together to set things right again.

Having grown up in the 1960s and 70s, it’s really fun to see all the references in this movie: toy trolls (remember those?), Wheaties, Operation (the board game), vintage Scooby-Doo cartoons, and a soundtrack that includes Tommy Bolin, Alice Cooper (who makes a cameo), Curtis

Mayfield, The Moody Blues, The Carpenters, and Donovan’s Season of the Witch. It’s a bit of a love letter to that era.

Johnny Depp has this unique ability to be confident, vulnerable and slightly disturbing all at the same time, but that’s partly because of director Tim Burton’s influence. Whenever those two get together, anything can happen. Throw Helena Bonham Carter into the mix, and it’s a virtual free-for-all. At this point, those three probably read each others’ thoughts.

It also occurs to me that someone should create a brand new genre for Tim Burton movies, because they defy any particular category. Dark Shadows is a mix of comedy, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, drama, and supernatural thriller. It’s certainly entertaining, but also a bit disjointed, because you never know what’s going to happen in the next scene. One minute a young family is boarding a ship to America, and the next, a creepy vampire is killing an entire crew of construction workers.

That said, there’s a message here: Family is the only true wealth, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a vampire, a werewolf, or a ghost. If you’re family, then you should put aside your issues and pull together for the greater good.

Look close, and you’ll see a few cast members from the TV show at the Collinwood Manor ball: Jonathan Frid (the original Barnabas), Lara Parker (Angelique), David Selby (Quentin Collins) and Kathryn Leigh Scott (Josette DuPres). Sadly, this was Frid’s last movie, as he passed away on April 13, 2012 at the age of 87.


One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.

Two Reels – Coulda been a contender

Three Reels – Something to talk about.

Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!

Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.

Jane Boursaw is a family entertainment writer specializing in movies and TV. Visit her at ReelLifeWithJane; follow her on Twitter; become a friend on Facebook; email

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