The Little Prince Movie Opens August 5

littleprinceBased on the beloved book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince is an animated feature that will be released on Netflix and in select theaters simultaneously this Friday, August 5. Using both CGI and stop motion animation (using paper and clay in different scenes), the film brings the story to modern audiences by nesting it inside a new story.

A Little Girl, voiced by Mackenzie Foy (famous for playing the love child of a vampire and a human in Twilight: Breaking Dawn), strives to live up to her Single Mom’s exacting standards, hopping out of bed right on time and keeping to a rigorous schedule of study and exercise, all in preparation for her first day at a new school in an industrious town of workers, where every house looks the same. Except one. Their neighbor, The Aviator, lives in a quirky treehouse-like home next door, where he tinkers with his old airplane and eventually makes friends with The Little Girl. She is curious and entertained by his story about a Little Prince he met a long time ago, so she gradually gives up on her schedule and simply plays and explores like a regular child.

As The Aviator relates his tale to the Little Girl, the pair grows closer, but of course, in their tidy world such things cannot last. Single Mom gets wind of their unusual relationship and forbids it. The Aviator grows older and gets ill. But bolstered by the wonders of the story, the Little Girl takes matters into her own hands, refusing to believe that the Little Prince is no longer out there.

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Actor Mackenzie Foy and director Mark Osborne at press interview for The Little Prince

Director Mark Osborne (Kung Fu Panda) assembled a star-studded cast, with Jeff Bridges as The Aviator, Rachel McAdams as the Mother, and a long list of other noteworthy names playing the friends that the Little Prince encounters on his trip around the cosmos. The Little Prince himself is voiced by the director’s son, Riley Osborne, whose scratch tracks proved remarkably perfect for the feeling the filmmaker wanted to create. Riley is 15 now, but he was 11 when the voices were recorded, and even in foreign-language versions of the movie, the boy’s voice remains. For Osborne, who spent many years working on this film, that captured laughter is a gift that will last.

I took my own children (little Princes, themselves) to see a screening of the movie, and I recommend you go see it in the theater if you can. It’ll be great to replay it on Netflix, but the experience of seeing a film in a theater is so special and grand, and The Little Prince is visually beautiful. On the big screen you will be able to see details that you might look for on repeated viewings at home – one that caught my eye was that the pages of the Aviator’s story are written in French. Osborne told me that was a nod to the French heritage of the book – he actually hired a forger to copy de Saint-Exupéry’s handwriting so that it could be recreated in animation.

The film is also very moving, emotionally. Touching on themes of friendship, love, and loss, the movie made me more than a little bit teary, and when I looked over at my kids I saw at least one of them wiping a tear away, too. If you haven’t had the chance to read The Little Prince to or with your kids, this is a great opportunity to get to know the story together, and then dive into the text to get a deeper level of appreciation for this classic title.

Frontier Treats Thousand Oaks to Star Trek Beyond

Cable company takes local guests to the final Frontier by treating them to a free screening of Star Trek Beyond. (See what I did there?)

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Last week my family and I got to see a pre-release screening of Star Trek Beyond at Muvico in Thousand Oaks. Frontier Communications brought this special experience to the community as a way of introducing themselves as a leading cable, internet, and phone service provider in our area. I must say, this was way better than a simple postcard in the mailbox!

The Experience

As events go, this screening was run smoothly by friendly professionals. The first things we saw outside the theater were a Frontier truck and a photo op area set up by Frontier for guests to pose for silly pix before they went inside.

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There were some funny Star Trek props, and people really got into the spirit!

Inside, friendly and professional staffers checked guests in quickly, and got everyone into their seats with popcorn, drinks, and 3D glasses far ahead of the 7pm showtime. Check-in was easy and quick, and we were given these pretty tickets and some vouchers for snacks.

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As a fun bonus, Frontier VP of Marketing Cameron Christian gave a short speech to the waiting audience, and he and his young daughter, “a total Trekkie,” he said to a round of chuckles in the theater, pulled a raffle winner from the pot of tickets that was distributed to guests as they checked in. The winner got a big bag of fun swag including Star Trek merchandise, and branded goodies from Frontier and Epix, a cable movie channel that partnered with the provider for this event.

The Movie

I love watching movies at the theater. Besides the impact of the big screen and the awesome audio, there’s something about seeing a film with a large group of people who are also sitting there hoping that the movie is really good. When everyone applauds at the end of film, you know it was a crowd pleaser. Well, a loud round of applause broke out at the end of Star Trek Beyond, even after we sat for a while waiting for the movie to start.

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This was the first Star Trek installment that my kids, who are 9 and 11, got to see on the big screen. They were blown away by the action and suspense, even if the tradition was lost on them. Nostalgia was a big part of the experience for me and my husband, who was amused by the deliberately cheesy touches: really big rocks for Captain Kirk and his crew to climb on and hike through, drab ugly uniforms, groan-worthy humor. I loved that Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty, was one of the screenwriters. I also loved seeing Sulu embrace his male companion and their young child on a space station break, and that the iconic voiceover, played at the end of the film, includes the line “…where no one has gone before” instead of “where no man has gone before.”

But overall, I felt pure moviegoer joy during the scene with the giant tube wave and the blaring, totally awesome use of The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” deployed as a weapon in an epic moment. A new character, alien Jaylah, enjoys “the beats and shouting,” and knew exactly what track to play when it was needed. Enterprise crew actually called it “classical music!” You’ll have to see the film to understand. I hope you do!

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Jaylah. This year’s Halloween costume?

Frontier Communications

Frontier Communications acquired Verizon FiOS and provides internet, phone, and TV service in California. Learn more at FrontierSoCal. Personally, I wasn’t familiar with the brand, and I was delighted to meet them in this way! Our whole family had a great time before, during, and after the movie as we chattered about it together during the ride home. (We had to explain to the kids what “Live long and prosper” means.) It’s rare that all four of us enjoy the same entertainment, but Frontier’s screening of Star Trek Beyond was one of those delightful occasions. Now we are looking forward to going back to where it all began with original Star Trek TV series!

Have you seen Star Trek Beyond yet? What did you think?

This post is sponsored by Frontier Communications. All opinions are my own. Jaylah photo from Paramount Pictures.

Pushing Motherhood – a Documentary About Waiting

Sybil and Linda are best friends. They met as dancers — working dancers who toured the world with big name acts, who appeared in TV shows and movies, and produced their own Hollywood titles too. The demands, both physical and otherwise, of such careers left no room for family in these women’s lives.

Until just a few years ago.

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Sybil Azur and Linda Cevallos-French directed and produced the documentary “Pushing Motherhood,” which chronicles their late-in-life journeys to get pregnant and start their families. Available only on Vimeo, “Pushing Motherhood” is $3.99 to rent and $9.99 to buy. I was 35 when I had my second and last son, so I was technically considered “Advanced Maternal Age,” but since both of my pregnancies were textbook “normal,” I wondered if I would find this film interesting.

I was riveted.

Both women decided to get married and have babies around the same time – both were older, having delayed family planning until after their careers were well-established. They had waited long enough that their doctors measured their hormone levels even before they tried to conceive, to make sure their eggs were still viable. The tests showed that they were.

But that’s where their experiences began to differ. Sybil and her husband were able to conceive fairly quickly with no medical intervention. Still, the documentary does a very good job of communicating the worry that an older first-time mother experiences, even when things go well. Even younger women in the prime of their fertile years experience that worry, so they will relate to this story, too.

Meanwhile, Linda and her husband, the film’s co-producer and editor Brian French, weren’t having such an easy time of it. They went through artificial insemination, then in vitro fertilization without a successful pregnancy. By now I’ve known many people who have undergone these costly, emotional, and physically taxing processes, but I never knew quite how involved they were until I saw this film. The camera – sometimes handled by Linda herself mid-procedure – captures her shots, her needles, her vials and bottles and syringes. Close up shots of her skin, trying to find a place to inject the daily doses of hormones that are meant to prepare her body for a pregnancy. In the film, Linda is a good sport. I can imagine that her hormonal monster may have gotten left on the cutting room floor, so to speak. If I were Linda, I would certainly make that executive decision. But she does leave in the emotional scenes when she learns from her doctors that not all of the embryos created during the IVF process would be viable, or that she was not indeed pregnant, as she had hoped.

Most of all, what struck me was Linda and Brian’s almost palpable sense of hope. Even as she wept after receiving sad news, Linda remained hopeful. The film gets all the way to the end, and there she is with her big eyes and her bright smile, and her ever-supportive husband.

By then, Sybil has had one baby, and is pregnant with a second. Their stories have diverged. Both women have happy endings, as the viewer learns while the credits roll, but I’ll save the content of that part for you to experience if you watch the film.

“Pushing Motherhood” also includes interviews with other women who waited until they were older to try to have babies and doctors who help these women conceive, and facts that flash on the screen to educate the viewer about just how hard it is to get pregnant when you are older than 35, and why. That so many of the women didn’t expect it to be difficult to conceive is surprising to me, considering all the people I know in my life who have had similar troubles. But we all think we’ll be the exception, don’t we?

For me, a woman whose baby-making days are done and done, I found “Pushing Motherhood” an elegant, eye-opening film made personal through the stories of Sybil and Linda. I really never knew just how trying the fertility battle of an older mother can be. For younger women, this film should be an inspiration, a reminder of what a miracle conception is, and how even the best efforts of the most skilled scientists and doctors can fail at mimicking what nature does. That, and girls, you’ve been warned. If you wait until you’re 40, it could be a lot harder than just throwing your birth control pills away.

Pushing Motherhood Trailer:

Pushing Motherhood from Tempo Entertainment on Vimeo.