CBG’s Netflix Suggestions – July 2017

It’s hard to believe that summer is already here, but yet here it is. The kids are finishing up school, the days are longer, and there seems to be more time to go outside and enjoy the beautiful world around us.

But what do we do when it’s raining? We turn to NETFLIX, of course!! And believe me…there are a LOT of reasons to turn to Netflix in July. There are too many to mention, so I’m going to provide some of my recommendations here:

Friends From College

July 14

I had no idea what this Netflix Original was about until I saw the trailer and I gotta say…I’m so glad that I did!! 

This looks to be the exact type of quirky, well-written, well-acted “dram-edy” that I enjoy watching from time to time. The cast looks fantastic (Colbie Smulders! Keegan-Michael Key! Fred Savage??), it’s from the director of one of my favourite movies (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), and the trailer makes this series look REALLY good.

Basically, it’s about a group of friends from Harvard who are facing down their forties. The show has interwoven and complicated relationships in a comedic exploration of old friendships, former romantic entanglements, and balancing adult life with nostalgia for the past. 

I hope my expectations aren’t too high…but right now I can’t wait!!

Ghost

July 6

This classic love story is back and available on Netflix the first week of July! It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen this blockbuster, so I’m hoping it hasn’t aged poorly.

Starring Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, and Whoopi Goldberg, the premise of the movie sounds really cheesy and REALLY bad. The movie is about a young man who is murdered, but then finds that his spirit stays behind to warn his lover of impending danger…all with the help of a reluctant psychic. 

When you read it, it kind of sounds like a goofy 80’s comedy. It’s not, though…so if you’re looking for a romantic evening with your significant other, this is highly recommended!

Snowden

July 1

I’ve heard a lot about Edward Snowden…from theories on why he is an American traitor to explanations on why he is an American hero. With a cast headlined by the incredibly talented Joseph Gordon-Levitt, I’m really intrigued to watch this and see the story unfold.

Of course, where it’s an Oliver Stone movie I’ll have to take it with a grain of salt as his versions of “the truth” can sometimes be a bit slanted, but with a 61% rating on Rotten Tomatoes I’m willing to take a chance that I’ll still be entertained.

Pixels

July 11

I know, I know…it’s an Adam Sandler movie and was critically panned (only a 17% rating on Rotten Tomatoes), but my son LOVED this flick. And yes, I realize that it wasn’t the best acting or storyline in the world, but if you want to turn off your brain with your kids for a couple of hours, this is the perfect movie for that. 

Plus it’s kinda fun to re-live some of the older arcade games that I grew up with come to live as actual alien invaders!

Castlevania

July 7

This is a Netflix original series that is based off of the very popular classic video game series. Castlevania is a dark medieval fantasy that follows the last surviving member of the disgraced Belmont clan as he tries to save Eastern Europe from extinction at the hands of Dracula himself! 

Adi Shankar, producer of the series, recently stated that the series is “very much done in the vein of Game of Thrones.” Taking that into consider in addition to (a) being familiar with the story and (b) having watched the trailer, I’m certainly willing to give this series a shot. 

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

July 14

My wife and I watched the first Jack Reacher movie with zero expectations and were pleasantly suprised. Tom Cruise was riveting in the role…even though we weren’t exactly sure what that role was. Months later, we couldn’t tell you what the movie was about…but we could still remember that we liked it a lot.

We entered the sequel with slightly higher expectations.  Again, don’t ask us what the movie was about (I know it co-stars Colbie Smulders, though!), but we both ended up liking it again. 

So if you like your action “straight-up” and not “in your face”, I think you’ll really enjoy this movie. Cruise may be on autopilot here, but it’s still a great performance.

Arrival

July 28

I feel as though this movie was just in theatres a couple of months ago, so I think it’s pretty awesome that it’s already available on Netflix.

The plot of the movie is that twelve mysterious spacecraft have appeared around the world (I know…haven’t we been here before?). But instead of a Will Smith-led war movie for the ages, this is MUCh more subdued as linguistics professor Louise Banks (played by the awesome Amy Adams) is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors.

The movie co-stars Jeremy Renner and Forrest Whitaker, so the cast is top notch. If you think you’ve seen this type of “alien invasion” movie before, you haven’t. This movie was one of those “quietly successful” blockbusters that kind of took people by surprise because it was that good of a movie. Definitely recommended!

To The Bone

July 14

I’ve heard really good things about this Netflix original (it was a pick-up from the Sundance Film Festival and currently has an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes). So even though this type of movie is “not my jam”, I’m willing to give it a shot.

The film shares the story of 20-year-old Ellen (played by Lily Collins) and her battle with anorexia. Ellen enters a group home run by an unconventional doctor (Keanu Reeves) where she and the other residents go on a sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing journey – navigating their addictions and finding the path to choosing life.

Finally…July 2017 sees the Netflix Canada debut of…

ROGUE ONE:

A Star Wars Story

July 18

I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome it is to have Star Wars movies streaming on Netflix. Sure, I own the blu-rays (as I owned the dvd’s and the VHS versions before that!), but there’s something about the convenience of watching it thru Netflix that just makes things more fun.

If you haven’t seen this movie, you are in for a treat. This takes place in the short time before the original Star Wars: A New Hope, as it tells the story about how the Rebel Alliance actually captured the plans to the Death Star and placed them into R2-D2 and C3-PO…thus launching a movie universe that is ever expanding.

And if I can be 100% honest here…Rogue One is one of the best movies in the entire franchise. I’d dare say it’s even in my “Top 3” in terms of Star Wars movies, and for a life-long fan that’s really saying something!

Want to see what else is coming to Netflix Canada in July? 

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Have I missed any? Are there any of your own “must sees” coming out in July? If you have any suggestions of your own, please don’t hesitate to let me know as I would love to hear them. You can always hit me up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and email.

I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team, but all opinions are my own.

 

CBG’s Netflix Suggestions – Hidden Gems

I don’t know about you, but I don’t always take the advice of friends or co-workers when it comes to Netflix recommendations. Sometimes I feel as though if EVERYBODY loves it, then I will probably be disappointed when I finally get around to watching it. Of course, when I’m part of “the movement” and am one of those people recommending a show, then it’s completely different.

Of course, when you have your own blog to sound off on about Netflix recommendations then it doesn’t matter if people are actually interested or not. I figure if you’re here reading this, then you may want to know my thoughts on a few Netflix recommendations that you may not have heard about already.

So here we go…

COMEDY – Grace & Frankie

I’ll absolutely be the first one to admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of this show when I initially reviewed it a couple of years ago. Sure, I wanted to promote it and all, but I just didn’t think it was that funny and didn’t finish watching the first season.

My wife ended up watching it on her own and fell in love with it. I ended up watching the second half of the third season with her and was intrigued by the characters and the humour, so we both watched all three seasons from the beginning all over again.

Without question, this is one of the most uniquely quirky and enjoyable comedies on television. Jane Fonda is fantastic as Grace, Lily Tomlin is brilliant as Frankie, and Martin Sheen is 100% believable as Robert. While I’m still not completely convinced by Sam Waterston’s portrayal of Sol, the rest of the supporting case more than makes up for it.

The first season saw this show have difficulties finding its footing. The second and third season saw it off and running. If you are tired of the mindless “comedies” on network television, I highly recommend this one as an alternative.

THRILLER – Black Mirror

I wish I could adequately describe this show and give it the type of justice that it deserves. My new manager threw this suggestion out to me during our initial “get to know me” meeting about a month ago. She was a big Netflix fan and said this show would throw her and her boyfriend into a “tizzy” afterwards because it made them think so much.

Basically, this is a science fiction / fantasy series that revolves around the unexpected consequences of new technology (but not in a “20+ years from now” type of way…but in a “few years from now” type of way that makes you wonder if this could actually happen within our lifetimes.  Every single episode (which are completely standalone and separate from each other) can be pretty dark with satirical themes that circle around society today and where we’re going as “humanity” in the future, even if that future is next year.

While some of the episodes are extremely hard to watch (if you can get past the first episode and appreciate it for the messages it is conveying and not simply seeing it as what they’re presenting), my wife and I ended up watching and loving this entire series. There is a new season coming at some point in 2017 and it’s definitely going to be on our “weekend binge” list.

DRAMAThe Fundamentals of Caring

I gotta be honest…I was NOT looking forward to this movie based on the title alone. But every other Friday my wife and I take turns choosing a movie and the other one has to watch it without complaint (at least until it’s over), and one Friday night this was her choice. I’m so glad that it was!

This is a Netflix original movie that stars Paul Rudd (a writer turned caregiver), Craig Roberts (as a sarcastic 18 year old who suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy), and Selena Gomez (as Dot, a mysterious hitchhiker) about how a simple road trip helps two men both learn about life from the people they meet along the way. It’s a “dramedy” that blends drama and comedy together in a very believable way.

I realize my description makes this sound extremely cliché in nature, but trust me…this is a surprisingly entertaining movie with some great performances by both Rudd and Roberts. It’s got a 77% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (with an 83% audience score) and a 7.4/10 on IMDB, so I’m not just blowing smoke here. It’s definitely worth a shot.

AWESOMENESSWentworth

If you’ve been on Netflix for any time whatsoever, you may have already binge-watched every season of Orange is the New Black. And with good reason, too! OITNB is quite simply one of the best programs on television and has to be considered revolutionary for its portrayal of women.

But one program that you might not be aware of is Wentworth. While some may call it “Orange is the New Black – Australia Version”, that’s really too simplistic of a description. Let’s put it this way…if OITNB was grittier, darker, less comedic but even more all-around awesome, it would be Wentworth.

The show is set in modern-day Australia and focuses on Bea Smith when she first enters prison after being charged with attempted murder of her husband. While it has a lot of similarities with OITNB, the supporting cast and ensuing storylines are completely different. Quite frankly, if given the option of choosing only one, I would probably pick Wentworth simply because of the incredible directing of the program (almost every episode in the first season looks like a “miniature movie” in how it’s directed). I think you’ll be a lover of Wentworth, as well, once you finish that first season. And thankfully, the show hasn’t gone downhill since!

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So these are just some of my Netflix recommendations for programs that you may not be overly aware of. If you have any suggestions of your own, please don’t hesitate to let me know as I would love to hear them. You can always hit me up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and email.

I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team, but all opinions are my own.

Why Parents Should Watch ’13 Reasons Why’

I am a remarried father with an incredible wife and a blended family of five children. Mind you, those kids aren’t with us 100% of the time…but they all get along and we truly see ourselves as a family when we’re all together. This is important because the ages of the kids are 10, 12, 14, 18, and 20…so it’s always been a battle to relate to them as they grew up, but even more so now because they are all developing (or already have) individual and different personalities.

When 13 Reasons Why was announced as a series coming to Netflix, I didn’t think much of it. I knew that it was previously a book but that was about all I had heard about it. Let’s face it; as a 43 year old man I didn’t really think that I was the demographic that this show is aimed at.

But that’s where I was wrong.

As a parent with kids either entering their teens or just leaving their teens, this is EXACTLY the type of show that I need to be watching. This program really shows how kids are living their daily lives in 2017. The reality that I have in my head simply isn’t the case, and it’s important as a parent to be as aware as possible of what my kids are going through on a daily basis…even if it is only a dramatic telling and not reality.

I was picked on as a kid by bullies. Hell…I was picked on as a kid by my friends. While I don’t think I ever had suicidal thoughts, I did have other dark thoughts about how I wanted to respond to those bullies and “get back” at them. I went through some bad times as a teenager and did my best to hide them by being the overly animated extrovert that people knew me as. Needless to say, I know what it feels like to be so down and depressed and hating yourself that you don’t know how you’re going to get out of bed the next morning and go to school to face everyone.

And while this type of situation doesn’t happen to every kid in high school, I’ve witnessed my stepdaughters get picked on or ostracized by their own friends in elementary school and middle school. So to know that they could possibly be thinking along the lines of Hannah Baker terrifies me. Thankfully, this show helped me confront that possibility in a way that was disturbingly realistic without coming off as “preachy”.

This show doesn’t glorify suicide in any way. If you believe that, then you either haven’t actually seen all thirteen episodes or you didn’t really pay attention when you did watch them. Suicide is never a heroic or romantic act. Although some might watch 13RW and see Hannah in that way, there is nothing heroic in 13 Reasons Why. In fact, this show should be viewed as a tragedy. Hannah may be the star who tells the world why she committed suicide through a series of audio recordings, but the end result (and extremely disturbing suicide scene) isn’t seen as “heroic” or “the only way out”. It’s seen as a choice that ended up hurting a LOT of people unnecessarily…especially when there were people there ready, willing, and able to help pick Hannah up and help her get through these horrific days that she was going through. 

Suicide is not a common response to life’s challenges or adversity. The vast majority of people who experience bullying, the death of a friend, or any other adversity described in 13 Reasons Why do not die by suicide. In fact, most reach out, talk to others and seek help or find other productive ways of coping. They go on to lead healthy, normal lives.

The show also attempts to slap the faces of those who do the bullying, even if they don’t see themselves as bullies. Yes, some terrible things end up happening to Hannah and some of the supporting characters (ex: sexual assault, drug abuse, public humiliation) but at the end of the day if the people on these tapes simply took a minute to rethink their actions, maybe they could have saved a life.

This series isn’t glorifying Hannah’s choice to end her life; it’s emphasizing the need to not be the ones responsible for this type of situation happening to begin with. If Clay had only told Hannah about his feelings for her or if Justin hadn’t shown anybody that “crotch shot” photo of her or if Zach had only not taken Hannah’s rejection to date so hard and didn’t try to “get back” at her or if Sheri hadn’t lied about the accident or if Ryan hadn’t published her intimate poem without her consent…if ANY of those things hadn’t happened or if ANY of those characters had tried to make amends for doing something wrong, maybe Hannah wouldn’t have made the selfish decision to end her pain.

And let’s not kid ourselves…suicide is NOT the cool thing to do. It takes a selfish person to do this type of act as a way to (a) not have to deal with the bad shit that happens to them and (b) hurt those who hurt them to begin with. It really isn’t brave or anything to be looked favorably upon for any reason. And to me, at least, this series really emphasized that.

At the end of the day, all parents should watch this show to see what life is like for their teenage kids in 2017. I don’t know if I’d recommend watching it WITH your kids as some of the language and sexual content could make any family feel awkward (which would take away from the reason to watch the show in the first place).

Listen, 70% of parents worldwide wish they had more to talk about with teenagers. A recent Netflix study revealed a new place where you can find common ground: entertainment.

Canadian parents (82%) are already watching teen shows to feel closer to them and teens around the world (74%) are on board, saying that they’d be interested in talking to parents about the shows they watch. With the majority (89%) of Canadian parents agreeing entertainment would give them something to talk about, why not let a hard-hitting and impactful show like 13 Reasons Why be the catalyst for communication?

But if this program can encourage discussion and communication to take place between parents and teenagers, then that’s really the best result that can take place.

This series isn’t for everybody, but if you truly want to have a solid relationship with your teenager on a level that is more than what I grew up with back in the 70s and 80s, you really owe it to yourself to watch this and really try to walk away with a better understanding of how precious life is and how quickly one or two poor decisions can change everything…but so can one or two good decisions.

If you’re thinking of watching 13 Reasons Why with your teen and are looking for additional information, here are some resources to help navigate the conversation:

13 Reasons Why Talking Points

13 Reasons Why: Beyond The Reasons (an “after-show”)

If you are immediately concerned about a teen in your life, you can find a list of local market resources on the 13 Reasons Why Global Resource Website.

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If you have any thoughts of your own about 13 Reasons Why, please don’t hesitate to start up a conversation as I would love to hear from you. You can always hit me up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and email.

I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team, but all opinions are my own.

CBG’s Netflix Suggestions – January 2017

It’s a whole new year and it’s time to kick-start those resolutions! For me, those resolutions include catching up on some of the Netflix programs that I wanted to watch in 2016 but never got around to doing it.

Therefore, my picks for January are some of the programs available on Netflix that I really want to see but haven’t had the opportunity to as of yet…

Marvel’s Luke Cage

I remember reading the comic adventures of Power Man & Iron Fist when I was a kid, so when I heard that Netflix was going to make series of both superheroes, I was really excited to see how a modern take on the characters would look.

I’ve watched and loved the series of both Daredevil and Jessica Jones, so I am fully aware of what Netflix brings to the table in terms of quality programming and a realistic take on these incredible human beings. So you may be asking yourselves why I haven’t yet watched this series?

Well…I’ve started it, so I guess that’s why this is the top pick for me. After watching the first couple of episodes, I’m really loving the gritty realism that Netflix brought to this series. I’m definitely “all in” and I can’t wait to finish watching how Luke Cage deals with both Cottonmouth and his own morals at the same time.

Elstree 1976

I am a MASSIVE Star Wars fan and have been since watching the original on the big screen way back in 1977 shortly after it premiered. So I do whatever I can to gather information on stuff from behind the scenes whenever possible (it’s my “nerdy side” coming through, I guess).

This is a documentary where actors and extras reminisce about their time on the set of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope and how making the film affected their lives. It shows “Then and Now” footage of bit players who appeared in the movie and tells the story of how the film and its legions of fans changed their lives forever.

While I’ve always watched stories from the stars of the movies reminiscing about creating these films, I’ve never heard the tales from extras and “bit players”. So needless to say, I’m really looking forward to seeing this one.

Roman Empire: Reign of Blood

I gotta be honest…I don’t really know a lot about this series. What I do know, however, is that almost every new take on the Roman Empire (ex: Rome, Spartacus: War of the Damned, etc.) has been excellent, so I am definitely looking forward to seeing this play out. 

Now, what makes this intriguing is that it’s not a “series” with a new spin on it…it’s a docuseries based on historical events. I like that because sometimes new versions can go off the rails in their attempts to “entertain” as well as educate.

Reign of Blood is done in six parts and derives its origins from the historical Roman Empire and tells the story of Commodus, who was Roman Emperor from 180 to 192. He was the son of Rome’s greatest philosopher king, but he was also the fool who brought down an empire.

The Big Short

I have heard a TON of really good things about this movie, but for whatever reason I just haven’t gotten around to watching it yet.

Four men, who are in the world of high-finance, predict the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s. However, the big banks don’t have the same foresight so they decide to take on the big banks and walk away with unbelievable wealth.

The cast is what really intrigues me…Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, and Steve Carrell. Wow…talk about a great group of actors! Needless to say I’ve got to find the time to watch this Academy Award winning movie.

Gotham

I’ve been extremely hesitant to watch any of the television series that deal with superheros because, quite frankly, the film versions are better 99% of the time. As much as I love the Marvel cinematic universe, I’ve never watched a single episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Of course, having said that let’s not ignore the fact that Netflix has done an incredible job with Marvel characters thus far (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and what I’ve seen of Luke Cage to this point have been stellar series). But with the floodgates seemingly opened on television (ex: The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, etc.),  I just didn’t know if I’d want to dive into another series.

But from everything I’ve heard, Gotham is an excellent series on its own. It’s a unique twist on the Batman tale where we meet Commissioner Gordon and Bruce Wayne before Batman has even been created. The stories are really focused on the origins of many of Batman’s eventual arch-villain nemesis’s: including Penguin, RiddlerCatwomanPoison IvyTwo-Face, Scarecrow, Mr. Freeze, Hugo Strange, Mad Hatter, and Ra’s al Ghul

To me, this sounds like a crazy way to introduce all of these bad guys…where they really all around Gotham in the years before Bruce Wayne turned into Batman? Well…from everything I’ve read and have been told, the series does a great job of introducing everybody without being too over-the-top. So for that reason alone, I’m willing to give it a shot.

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That makes up my “2017 Netflix Resolution” list. Are there any shows that you’ve been wanting to watch but just haven’t had the time yet? If you have any suggestions of your own, please don’t hesitate to let me know as I would love to hear them. You can always hit me up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and email.

I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team, but all opinions are my own.

Walking With The Dead – Binge Watching on Netflix

the-walking-dead-on-netflixAs October 23rd fast approaches, the millions of The Walking Dead fans are getting more and more excited. Why? Well it’s the debut episode of Season 7, of course!! And we’ll finally get the answer to the question we’ve all been asking ourselves: Who does Negan kill??

I’ve got my theories, but I’m not going to discuss them today. Instead, I’m going to happily let you know that Netflix now has every episode from Season 6 available for you to binge-watch this week!!

Netflix members around the world are making their own rules when it comes to watching TV. Instead of one episode per week, Netflix members choose to binge watch their way through a series – that is, on average, finishing an entire season in one week. Though binge watching is clearly the new normal, not all series are enjoyed the same way. Netflix recently unveiled The Binge Scale, revealing which shows we devour and which we savor.

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Netflix examined the global viewing of more than 100 serialized TV series across more than 190 countries and found that when members are focused on finishing a series, they watch a little over two hours a day to complete a season. As you can imagine, some very interesting trends and patterns can emerge from this data. 

  • stranger-thingsSeries like Stranger Things grab you, assault your senses, and make it hard to pull away.
  • The classic elements of horror and thrillers go straight for the gut, pushing the placement of series like The Walking Dead the devour end of the scale.
  • Likewise, comedies with a dramatic bent, like Orange is the New Black, seem to tickle our fancy and make it easy to say ‘just one more.’
  • Complex narratives like House of Cards are indulged at an unhurried pace.
  • Viewers take care to appreciate the details of dramas set in bygone eras, like Mad Men.

season-6So if you’re anything like me, you’ll be devouring Season 6 of The Walking Dead in an effort to (a) remember a really great season, and (b) mentally prepare yourself for the “shock and awe” that is inevitably going to come from the Season 7 premiere this weekend.

And if you happen to be one of “those people” that don’t have Netflix, what in the world are you waiting for? There is so much for you to watch and re-watch that I just can’t see how it’s possible to NOT find something you’ll like.

But if you are someone that has Netflix, what shows are on YOUR Binge Scale? For me, the list over the past few months has included…

  • luke-cageThe Walking Dead (duh!)
  • House of Lies
  • Bob Ross: Beauty Is Everywhere (seriously!)
  • House of Cards
  • Stranger Things (you HAVE to watch this!!)
  • Luke Cage
  • Archer
  • Making a Murderer

My only problem is that there never seems enough time for me to watch everything I want to, as I still haven’t finished five of the series listed above! That’s okay, though…The Walking Dead with get a thorough binge watch from me this week!

The Best Time Of The Year!

Netflix CanadaI know, I know…most people say that the holidays are the “most wonderful time of the year”. But if you’re anything like me, you’re not one for the summer heat. In fact, if you’re like me, you’re the kind of person who LOVES the fall…and September is the time when summer begins to end, the autumn begins, and all seems right with the world.

Oh…my birthday’s in September, too.

So to quickly recap, it’s the best time of the year because it’s my birthday, the kids have gone back to school, and the temperatures are beginning to dip just a little bit each night. But in addition to that, Netflix has a GREAT schedule of new movies being released in September that has a little bit of something for everyone (but more on that later).

family-netflixHonestly…one of the great things that our family enjoys doing is getting together a couple times of month to enjoy “Family Movie Night“. While some families just sit around and stare, we’re constantly talking and laughing and joking and actually having some bonding time (which sometimes requires me to press the pause button during the movie, but that’s just part of the fun). 

We normally jump into our pajamas (everybody in the family wears them), pop some popcorn (or collect some other tasty munchies), and snuggle on the couch. Something we want to try differently this month, though, is Netflix BINGO!!

netflix-bingo

Netflix has provided their Stream Team with five different bingo cards to use while the family watches a movie. Obviously, not everything is going to happen in every movie, but it looks like it will be a LOT of fun!

The only question is…what movies should we watch? Here are some of the new releases Netflix has for September:

  • zootopiaAlvin & The Chipmunks: Road Chip. I gotta be honest…this series of movies stopped being entertaining for me after the first one. But hey…if the kids want to watch it, I’ll buckle in.
  • Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters wasn’t quite as good as the first movie, but with epic adventures and magical creatures, it’s something the kids will enjoy.
  • Zootopia is one of the most entertaining animated movies to come out in the past decade. The family will have no problem watching it again while playing BINGO.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is something you may want to watch knowing that there is a FIFTH Pirates movie coming out in 2017. Might as well continue to enjoy the crazy antics of Captain Jack Sparrow as he searches for the Fountain of Youth.
  • Zoolander 2 is the long-awaited (?) sequel to Ben Stiller’s original comedy about clueless models saving the world. My wife loved the first one…I can only imagine how the family will react to the second.
  • Maleficent wasn’t a movie I expected to like, but Angelina Jolie plays the character in such a way as to not be completely over-the-top, which makes it a massively entertaining twist to the tale of Sleeping Beauty.
  • Daddy’s Home is a very entertaining family comedy starring Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell. 

And if just the wife and I want to play Netflix BINGO, we can try out some of these new releases:

  • inceptionNeighbors is described as a “raunchy comedy” starring Seth Rogan and Zac Efron.
  • Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle was the movie that resurrected the incredible career of Neil Patrick Harris, even though he wasn’t even considered one of the stars of the movie. 
  • Inception is, simply put, one of the most incredible movies ever made. The acting, special effects, directing, and story are all amazing and it’s definitely worth your time to sit back and watch.
  • American Pie 2 wasn’t nearly as good as the original, but it’s been so long since I’ve seen it that I imagine my wife and I will have a blast re-living the hilarious exploits of Jim, Oz, Stiffler, & the rest of the gang.
  • The Revenant is a movie my wife couldn’t watch all of the way through, but I was mesmerized by the Oscar-winning performance of Leonardo DiCaprio. I’d totally watch it again!

So there you go…plenty to choose from! If you have the opportunity to play BINGO with your family (or just with your “better half”), what movie would you pick?

The Family Movie Night In

 

Winter 2015
Are we having fun yet?

It’s winter, which means for the majority of the northern hemisphere it’s cold and snowy and there isn’t really a lot to do outside. When the day ends and the family is inside the house, there isn’t normally a ton of things to go out and do. Sure…there are activities like skating and hiking and skiing and sledding, but not every family does that every single night of the week that they’re together. In addition, poor weather can result in more time spent shoveling than anything else (at left is our front doorstep last winter…and yes, the snow was over 4-feet high WITHOUT drifts).

NetflixUsually once or twice a week, my family gets together for a couple of hours to either watch some pre-recorded television or something on Netflix. I don’t know about you, but we have our own little set of rituals that have…something that my own family growing up didn’t really have (eat supper during the news; don’t talk; watch tv with the folks after supper or go to your room if you want to watch something you’re actually interested in). The fact that I’ve got rituals with my wife and awesome stepdaughters makes me have “all the feels”. I’m really glad to be a dad, even if it is time spent inside instead of outside.

PIZZASo what we normally do is have a “quickie meal” for dinner. It could be something like pizza grilled cheese sandwiches (which is a grilled cheese sandwich with pepperoni inside, then cut up into squares and dipped into pizza sauce) or pizza (made from scratch, of course…lol) or even Shepherd’s Pie…as long as it’s something that can easily be devoured while sitting on the couch and doesn’t take too long to make after the work day is done.

Netflix on Apple TVWe have one couch and two small chairs for the girls. We usually have me sitting on the left-hand side of the couch, Sunshine sitting on the right-hand side, and one of the girls sitting in between us while the other girl sits off to the right in a chair. Halfway through the evening, the girls will switch spots in order to get their “snuggle time” in. Our television is in the corner of the living room. It’s not super-huge, but it’s 32″ and that’s definitely big enough for us (for now, anyway). The set-up is small and cozy and fits our family to a “t”. 

We all change out of our work/school clothes and put on t-shirts and pajamas. It’s really a LOT more comfortable wearing pj’s at home, and one of the fun things the girls have done over the years is buy me silly pajama bottoms to wear (ex: Smurfs, Muppets, superheroes, etc.). It also gives us that feeling of comfort…that we’re all there to relax and enjoy what we’re about to watch.

How I Met Your MotherLately we’ve been watching How I Met Your Mother (the girls LOVE Barney, the character played by Neil Patrick Harris) and we’ve been introducing them to the glory that is Friends (my wife and I watched the entire 10-season run last year in a couple of months). Both of those series help us laugh together as a family…and that’s really important to me.

inside outIn addition, there have been some great family films that we’ve been watching together: Inside Out makes the girls cry EVERY time (lol), I really think that The Lego Movie is just brilliant and I find myself catching more tiny details every time I watch it, Tomorrowland is a movie I think that deserves a viewing but could have been a bit better defined storyline, and even The Avengers: Age of Ultron helps me bond with the oldest stepdaughter because she’s really into the “superhero movies” right now.


Sometimes we’ll pop some fresh popcorn, other times we’ll share a bag or two of chips. We may not even snack at all…it really just depends. At the end of the day the only thing that matters is the fact that we’re spending time together during a time of the year when we might just be each doing our own thing in the house…strangers living under the same roof.

Netflix - CBGI, for one, would much rather spend time together in a room talking and laughing and acting silly while watching Netflix than doing our own thing. It’s all about family time…something I didn’t experience when I was young.