I Had the Holiday Blues | Belated Blogmas 2020

Another year, another failed Blogmas. I like to be consistent. 😂 This year my excuse isn’t work because I had less shifts than I’ve ever had in December thanks to 20% capacity in malls. My excuse this year is . . . um . . . well, I’m not actually sure what it is. Lack of motivation? I was excited for the holiday season back in October, but something inside me fizzled as the days went by. I didn’t put up my family’s nativity scene or watch my favorite Christmas movie The Nativity Story. In fact, I barely watched any holiday movies. I did listen to a fair amount of festive music, but that was about it. If you’re feeling left out in the cold over here on my lifestyle blog, I didn’t do Vlogmas for my YouTube channel either. I desperately wanted, nay, needed to be in the Christmas spirit this year, but I just couldn’t muster up the energy to celebrate. Despite an undercurrent of sadness draining my energy, I still managed to have a lovely day at home with family on the 25th. I watched The Santa Clause & played Crash Team Racing with my brother, cooked a repeat of Thanksgiving with my mom, & watched the Lakers game with my dad & brother. The Lakers beat the Mavericks! 💜💛 We ended the festivities with a fire, popcorn, & Wonder Woman 1984. I didn’t like it as much as the first movie, but it was still a lot of fun to watch. Highly recommend! After that my brother & I watched Friends until midnight, the official end of Christmas. I guess all of that is a good metaphor for 2020, feeling down but making the best of the situation. In the words of Hugh Martin & Ralph Blane, “From now on we’ll have to muddle through somehow so have yourself a merry little Christmas now.” 💚 🎄 ❤

H A P P Y   H A N U K K A H  🕎  M E R R Y   C H R I S T M A S  🎄  H A P P Y   N E W   Y E A R  🎉 

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Mulan 2020 | Movie Review

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🎥 Cinematography by Mandy Walker

👗 Costumes by Bina Daigeler

🎬 Directed by Niki Caro

🎞 Edited by David Coulson

🎼 Music by Harry Gregson-Williams

📋 Produced by Chris Bender, Jason T. Reed, & Jake Weiner

📝 Screenplay by Amanda Silver, Elizabeth Martin, Lauren Hynek, & Rick Jaffa

🌟 S T A R R I N G

🐪 Arka Das as Red Fez

🍵 Cheng Pei-pei as the Matchmaker

🗡 Chen Tang as Yao

⚔️ Donnie Yen as Commander Tung

🗡 Doua Moua as Chien-Po

🦅 Gong Li as Xianniang

🐎 Jason Scott Lee as Böri Khan

👑 Jet Li as The Emperor of China

🗡 Jimmy Wong as Ling

🦗 Jun Yu as Cricket

📜 Nelson Lee as The Chancellor

⚔️ Ron Yuan as Sergeant Qiang

👩🏻‍🦱 Rosalind Chao as Hua Li

👨🏻 Tzi Ma as Hua Zhou

👧🏻 Xana Tang as Hua Xiu | Elena Askin as young Xiu

👩🏻 Yifei Liu as Mulan | Crystal Rao as young Mulan

🗡 Yoson An as Chen Honghui

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The final Disney remake I’m reviewing is Mulan, the most recent offering to grace our screens. The original is my favorite Disney princess movie so I’m going to be very thorough & very honest. Buckle up!

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First of all, I’d like to acknowledge that Gong Li has been on this blog before. Check out this Cannes red carpet blog post from 2019. I promise you won’t have to scroll too far!

 Staying consistent with mentioning all the themed intros, a Chinese landscape was added around the castle. I actually wondered if the castle itself was a nod to the Shanghai Disney park so I looked it up. My intuition was correct! It is indeed the Enchanted Storybook Castle from Shanghai Disneyland.

It wouldn’t be right for me to start anywhere other than the cinematography because off the top of my head, there are at least five shots I want to frame & hang up around my bedroom. Seriously, the picturesque scenery is breathtaking. It’s right up there with the New Zealand landscapes that created what we know as Middle Earth. Funnily enough, some of the Mulan scenes were filmed in New Zealand. Small world! 🇳🇿

I am head over heels in love with the costume choices for each part of the movie, especially the vibrant colors in the different cities & villages. One of the most interesting costumes is worn by Xianniang. Her flowing sleeves & metal skirt mimic the feathers & wings of the hawk she transforms into. Her crown & belt are made of bones which is very creepy but also incredibly cool. On top of all that, her hands are talons, even when she takes a human form. I had high hopes for this villain, & you’ll find out my final thoughts later . . .

The score is beautiful & atmospheric, incorporating melodies from the original soundtrack which is a nice dose of nostalgia. Right before the matchmaker scene, Mulan says “I will bring honor to us all,” & the melody of Honor To Us All can be heard. The melody of Reflection plays during the night training scene, & Mulan’s reflection is visible in the water. Many fans were upset about the omission of musical numbers, but this interpretation is meant to stand on its own. I’ve seen people giving bad reviews because the remake deviated from the animated movie, & I don’t think that’s fair because Disney made it very clear that this would be a different kind of Mulan movie. It would not have worked as a musical.

This reimagining of Mulan’s story is narrated by Mulan’s father Hua Zhou, a perfect choice. At the very heart of this movie, you won’t find a romance or even a warrior’s tale; it is the story of a bond between a father and daughter. When everyone else is annoyed by Mulan’s antics and faux pas, her father is always there, supporting her the best that he can. It’s obvious that he’s proud of her, even before she returns home from war a decorated hero. In fact, when that time comes, all he cares about is that she’s back home safe & sound. I’M NOT CRYING, YOU’RE CRYING!! 😭

Mulan’s chi is an early indication that she could be seen as a witch by the general public, her ultimate connection to Xianniang. Hua Zhou tells her chi is meant for warriors, not daughters, & she needs to hide her gift away & silence its voice. Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about this addition to the story. Mixed in with some of the martial arts sequences, it felt very cheesy. For example, young Mulan jumping off the roof or adult Mulan running up & across palace buildings. I just don’t think the spiritual element blended seamlessly; it could’ve been cut completely & not affected the movie at all.

Our first villain sighting is Xianniang taking over a merchant’s body as a disguise, a hint that she’s a witch. Next we see her cohorts, the Rouran army, in black clothing riding black horses toward the outpost where she’s located. Right from the start, they’re portrayed as a brutal group. Xianniang is especially cutthroat during the invasion, killing many soldiers herself & not giving it a second thought. She is very powerful, but the leader Böri Khan sees her as nothing more than a lackey, causing division within their partnership.

I was so excited to see Jet Li as the emperor, but something was not right about his voice & audio. Every time he talked, specifically in the throne room, it seemed like his mouth wasn’t synched with the audio.I hate to say this, but it’s very cringey & something that shouldn’t have been overlooked. Speaking of audio, there’s another mistake in the first throne room scene. The lone soldier who survived the Rouran invasion tells the emperor that Böri Khan is fighting alongside a witch. The problem is that the audio says “woman,” but the actor said “witch” in the original scene. They obviously changed that part of the script & re-dubbed the audio. I know that’s such a small thing, but I’m the kind of the movie watcher who will notice.

Mulan’s horse Black Wind looks exactly like Khan from the animated movie. That detail alone tugs my heartstrings! ♥️

Spotted: Mulan’s cherry blossom comb! I respect the changes made to give this remake it’s own voice, but I also love the details brought over from the 90s movie that make it feel like a familiar book I’ve read over & over again. 🌸

Remember the chaos the spider caused in the matchmaker scene? I felt that in my arachnophobic soul! 🕸 🕷 😱

First of all, it’s incredibly messed up that Mulan’s father is expected to fight with a leg injury. Second, I love that before he bravely commits to fighting, he pointedly says he has no sons but the blessing of two daughters. Later on while he’s  preparing for battle, Mulan says that if she were a son he wouldn’t have to fight. He tells her that he regrets nothing about his life, implying he doesn’t wish his daughters were sons. I must reiterate that their bond is the heart of this story. I cannot praise Tzi Ma’s performance enough! 👏🏻 👏🏻 👏🏻

Around the 25:30 mark, Mulan’s face can be seen in her father’s sword reflected back from the camera. Yifei Liu improvised knowing that would happen, & it was executed so well that it was kept in the movie.

I’ve seen some negative comments about Mulan not cutting her hair. Even Ming Na Wen poked fun at this omission! The crew did this on purpose because Chinese soldiers kept their hair long. Mulan would’ve looked more feminine with short hair, making her disguise useless. I’m not an expert on this subject, but one quick Google search says this is historically accurate, at least for certain dynasties.

Just like the animated movie, Mulan prepares to take her father’s place while the score takes on an 80s vibe. It feels very much like a Rocky training montage before a big fight. I dug it in the 90s, & I dig it now. 🎶

When Mulan walks away from her home dressed in her father’s armor, the shot ends with the white phoenix statue bathed in warm light. Nice touch! Later on a real, colorful phoenix appears & becomes Mulan’s silent guide for the rest of the film. I understand that it was meant to be a more serious replacement for Mushu, but it was too cheesy. Perhaps it would’ve been better as a white spirit like her father’s crest, a bit more subtle than a colorful bird.

 I’m so glad I saw a comment about the character named Cricket because I had no idea he was meant to be a namesake & tribute to Cri-Kee. He is so sweet & adorable! He tells his fellow soldiers that his mother calls him a good luck charm because he was born under an auspicious moon. 🦗

Donny. Freakin’. Yen. That’s literally all I have to say about him. WOW! 💥

The remake isn’t dripping with comedy like the animated movie, but there are bits of humor added at appropriate times for lightness. One such moment is Mulan’s first time in the soldiers’ tent. It doesn’t take long for her to close her eyes & quickly volunteer for guard duty. Hilarious! 😂

I haven’t seen anyone else mention the statue from the 31:30 mark. It’s the same statue seen in the daylight at the 29:10 mark. At night in the darkness, I think it resembles Shan Yu, the villain from the animated movie. I’m not sure if this was purposeful, but it caught my eye.

Before training begins, Sergeant Qiang references lyrics from I’ll Make A Man Out Of You: “We’re gonna make men out of every single one of you.” Later on Commander Tung says “Tranquil with a forest but on fire within.” The line is supposed to be “Tranquil as a forest but on fire within.” I’m not sure if that was a mistake or intentional.

Eagle-eyed fans should be able to spot Yao, Ling, & Chien-Po. Their appearances aren’t exactly the same as their animated counterparts, but they’re easily recognizable based on personality.

During the meal scene, Chien-Po quotes the song A Girl Worth Fighting For. I’m pretty sure there’s a few more lines from this conversation inspired by the animated movie. Please note that Chen Honghui doesn’t laugh when Mulan, disguised as Hua Jun of course, describes his perfect girl as courageous & smart with a sense of humor. *sigh*

The bathing scene is another nod to the animated movie. It’s a little different without Mushu & the rest of the soldiers, but it’s meant to be a serious moment between Mulan and Chen Honghui. Well, as serious as it can be. Obviously it’s still a humorous situation!

I thought the martial arts stunts were a great addition to this movie. I do have a note from my brother John who’s an avid martial arts movie-watcher: “Most international martial arts films have a director and a martial arts director. This movie would’ve benefitted from that.” I’m not sure if this movie had a martial arts director or not, but I think his point was that the martial arts scenes could’ve been better.

I know I mentioned the scenery before, but I need to rave a little more. The landscape in the battle scene when Mulan & Xianniang meet is stunning. The fog, the green hills, the yellow ice (Is that what that is?!). It doesn’t even seem real! . . . probably because it isn’t. The crew searched for a real landscape to fit their sulfurous vision but ultimately built it themselves.

Just like the animated movie, Mulan’s identity is revealed after an injury. The difference in the live action remake is that Mulan isn’t truly injured, & she decides to reveal who she really is. When she enters the battle as herself, WOW WOW WOW!!! What a warrior moment! I definitely sobbed the first time I saw that scene. After she reveals herself as a woman & kicks butt, the enemy runs away thinking she’s a witch. This is another hint at her connection with Xianniang, setting up the very end of the movie.

I hate to be nit-picky (not really), but I have to mention another audio error. A Rouran soldier yells “Enemy on the ridge” when Mulan shoots an arrow their way. The audio doesn’t match up with whatever he said in the scene, specifically the word “ridge.” It’s possible he messed up the line in the heat of the moment & had to fix it in post.

Just like her animated counterpart, Mulan sets off an avalanche to take out the enemy. It is just as genius when you see it happen with real people. 🏔

When Mulan & Xianniang meet for the 2nd time, the witch invites her to join her cause so they can form a powerful team. Basically, it would be a slap in the face of all the men who’ve held them down. Mulan says no because she is nothing like Xianniang.

I love love LOVE that Chen Honghui doesn’t hesitate to call out Commander Tung’s hypocrisy. He point blank asks why he won’t believe Hua Mulan when he would believe Hua Jun. FACTS!

I knew Jet Li wouldn’t see much action as the emperor, but it was nice to see him fight a little bit. Actually, that’s when he looked most comfortable. 😊

The animated versions of Yao, Ling, & Chien-Po are the comedic relief of the army. I don’t mind that, but it was nice to see something a little different in the remake. They go from weak boys in training camp to brave men on the battlefield. They don’t disguise themselves as women to distract the enemy. They just fight!

In the final battle scene, Mulan is still wearing her red soldier robe. I love the symbolism! She joined the army to take the place of her disabled father. Whether she’s Hua Jun or Hua Mulan, she’s still a soldier.

In their third meeting, Mulan pleads with Xianniang to do the right thing & save the emperor from Böri Khan. This is where the villain arc loses me. Xianniang barely needs convincing to help Mulan. She already didn’t like Böri Khan, but it still seems like way too quick of a turnaround. There are hints throughout the movie leading up to this moment, but it doesn’t hit me emotionally when she takes an arrow to save Mulan. I understand the strong female empowerment message her story arc was meant to embody, but it didn’t work for me. She was brutal as a villain but never reached her full potential therefore her transformation doesn’t feel as dramatic as it should. That would’ve been rectified had we witnessed another brutal villain onscreen, but Böri Khan did not live up to Shan Yu. He had the appearance and intimidation working in his favor, but all that fizzled in the final scene. I didn’t think the martial arts choreography flowed well, and the chi was over the top. Mulan leaping from roof to roof looks like a person being carried through the air by wire, and the sequence of the emperor catching Böri Khan’s arrow & Mulan kicking it into Böri Khan’s chest is too cheesy. Two mediocre villains leading up to an anticlimactic ending left me feeling let down. It was probably my least favorite part of the movie because I thought the villains had so much potential in the beginning.

Speaking of the final scene, I was not a huge fan of the phoenix, but I do love the camera shot of the wings behind Mulan after the emperor tells her to rise up like a Phoenix. Gorgeous! 🔥

I would recommend you have tissues handy for the end of the film. The classic song Reflection plays once again while fireworks erupt in the sky. Inside the palace Mulan is introduced to the emperor by Ming Na Wen, the voice of Mulan in the animated movie. I cannot tell a  lie. This part had me SOBBING! 😭

Fun Fact: When Mulan apologizes to the emperor before rejecting his offer to join the emperor’s guard, Ming Na Wen’s daughter Michaela Zee can be seen in the crowd turning her face toward the camera.

Mulan is not the typical Disney princess so I’m glad this film didn’t rely too heavily on a romance. Mulan & Chen go from rival trainees to respectful colleagues to friends. Their final scene together hints at something more, their true feelings for one another. *SQUEAL* I love that! I also the love the pinkish purple hue of the lighting. Incredibly romantic! 🥰

Mulan’s reunion with her family had me crying AGAIN. Her mom Hua Li gets so emotional despite being so harsh early on. STOP! I didn’t mention this earlier, but I like the addition of her sister Hua Xiu; they obviously have a very special bond. STOP IT! It’s her dad Hua Zhou who really turns on the waterworks for me. In the animated movie Mulan presents her dad with the sword of Shan Yu & her medal from the emperor; he throws them aside to hug her because that’s all he truly cares about. That sentiment is exactly the same in the remake. Mulan apologizes for everything she’s put her family through, & her dad says it is his daughter that means everything to him. STOP IT RIGHT NOW! 😭

The red & black visuals behind the closing credits are stunning & made even better by Christina Aguilera’s new song Loyal Brave True. This is followed by Reflection sung in English by Christina and a Chinese version from Liu Yifei. 🎶

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6PZm8vhm6I

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNprQYHenNI

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxPGNjhpOAc

💬 Closing Thoughts: Even though the martial arts movie shell wasn’t perfectly executed, I think the heart & soul of the story hits deeper than people are giving it credit for. I’ve seen a lot of criticism regarding the acting & lack of connection with the characters. I strongly disagree! I think Mulan’s personal journey & relationship with her father are the best parts, grounding the movie and saving it from being mediocre or worse. Addressing the nostalgic lamenters, most of the elements people missed would not have fit into this version: Cri-Kee, Mushu, musical numbers, etc. I think the element I missed most was Grandmother Fa, but there’s an easy solution: watch the animated movie! Let’s address one more criticism: Many people complained about how many times the word “honor” was said. If I counted correctly, “honor” was said 6 times & “dishonor” 2 times. Personally, I never felt annoyed by it. My biggest issues were the cheesy chi & the mediocre villains. Other than that, I like this remake & definitely see myself watching it again.

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🍅 Rotten Tomatoes: 73% Critics | 50% Audience

🏆 Major Awards: TBD

❓ Original or Remake: The remake should be applauded for its efforts to be different. However, the original movie is perfect so this decision is easy. Original!

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Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KK8FHdFluOQ

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Alice in Wonderland 2010 | Movie Review

Maleficent 2014 | Movie Review

Cinderella 2015 | Movie Review

The Jungle Book 2016 | Movie Review

Alice Through the Looking Glass 2016 | Movie Review

Pete’s Dragon 2016 | Movie Review

Beauty and the Beast 2017 | Movie Review

Christopher Robin 2018 | Movie Review

Dumbo 2019 | Movie Review

Aladdin 2019 | Movie Review

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil 2019 | Movie Review

Lady and the Tramp 2019 | Movie Review

The Lion King 2019 | Movie Review

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🎥 Stay tuned for my final rankings tomorrow! 🍿

• 🇨🇳 •🍃 •🌾 •🌸 •🏔 •🔥 •👩🏻 •🗡 •🐎•🎇 • 🇨🇳 • 🍃 • 🌾 • 🌸 • 🏔 • 🔥 • 👩🏻 • 🗡 • 🐎 • 🎇 •

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Revisiting Beauty and the Beast 2017

• 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 🐗 • 💘 • 👸🏻 • 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 •

🎥 Cinematography by Tobias A. Schliessler

👗 Costumes by Jacqueline Durran

🎬 Directed by Bill Condon

🎞 Edited by Virginia Katz

🎼 Music by Alan Menken

📋 Produced by David Hoberman & Todd Lieberman

📝 Screenplay by Evan Spiliotopoulos & Stephen Chbosky

🌟 S T A R R I N G

👗 Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe

🐗 Dan Stevens as Beast / The Prince

☕ Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts

👸🏻 Emma Watson as Belle

🕯 Ewan McGregor as Lumiére

💋 Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette

🧙🏻‍♀️ Hattie Morahan as Agathe / Enchantress

🕰 Ian McKellen as Cogsworth

🎭 Josh Gad as LeFou

🔨 Kevin Kline as Maurice

💪🏻 Luke Evans Gaston

☕ Nathan Mack as Chip

🎹 Stanley Tucci as Cadenza

• 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 🐗 • 💘 • 👸🏻 • 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 

Back in March 2017, I saw this movie in theaters & reviewed it. I’m going to revisit my original thoughts & see if I still feel the same way. This was my 2nd viewing:

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Beauty and the Beast was one of my favorite Disney movies growing up. The love story goes beyond girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy. Belle is the first human, not counting the enchanted objects, to look past Beast’s exterior. Her attention and kindness encourages him to become more human, making his inner transformation just as important as his outer change. They develop a friendship first and then fall in love. I am ashamed to say that despite being initially excited, I allowed myself to be swayed by critics giving their opinion based on the trailers. Once the movie was released and I heard great feedback from lifelong fans, I started to relax and get excited again. I finally saw the movie last Wednesday. When the title card filled the movie screen, I got chills and teared up. In that moment I realized how emotional the experience was going to be for my inner child.

• In the name of consistency, I have an obligation to tell you that fireworks go off over Beast’s castle instead of Sleeping Beauty’s castle. We love a themed castle intro on this blog! I was less emotional in the beginning then I was in the movie theater back in 2017 because there wasn’t as much adrenaline running through me. To be honest, I was thinking of the things I didn’t like before & bracing myself for the movie to be much worse than I remembered. Boy oh boy was I in for a surprise! 

The sets are stunning. The village is like the picturesque interior of a snowglobe isolated from the rest of the world. There are golden, ornamental baroque details all over Beast’s castle, specifically French Rococo. Under the curse, the exterior is dark and dramatic; the word gothic comes to mind. As the centerpiece of the story, the enchanted rose is as striking as it needs to be. The theme is appropriately weaved into other parts of the film; Maurice attempts to pick a white rose from Beast’s garden, and Belle’s baby rattle is a red rose. Don’t even get me started on the final scene. The flower-draped ceiling is GORGEOUS!! The entire ballroom looks like springtime, airy & bright.

• Yes yes yes!!! This movie is indeed gorgeous, especially the scenes that take place in the castle. And that final ballroom scene? *faints from the beauty* 😍 

Belle is the same beloved character but with a few modifications. Her day-to-day outfits are a quirky mix of materials and patterns, and combat boots are her footwear of choice. The wardrobe update matches her new role as an inventor just like her father Maurice. The yellow ballgown is a simpler design than it’s 1991 counterpart, but when you see how it moves onscreen, doubts will fly out of your mind. The gold touches make it shine, and the skirt floats through the air as if it were weightless. The look wouldn’t be complete without the gold ear-cuff, a subtle nod to Belle’s unconventional style. There is no need to say much about the celebration dress. The way it looks and moves in the ballroom during the final scene will take your breath away. Belle’s hairstyles are simple but very beautiful. My personal favorite is her updo in the library scene accessorized with a blue headband. Of course I have to mention Beast’s wardrobe which goes through a transformation of its own; it becomes more refined and princely as the movie goes on. Costume designer Jacqueline Durran deserves a lot of credit because she came up with outfits for a character who is animated during most of the film. A lot of work went into making sure the animated garments had the depth and detail of tangible clothing. The animators did a phenomenal job.

• I mostly feel the same. I didn’t love the gold ear cuff as much this time around, but I can overlook that one small detail without much hesitation. I know the yellow dress is controversial, & I agree it could’ve been better. However, I don’t hate it as much as the majority. You know why? The celebration dress is stunning enough to erase past sins. The pure white gown embellished with romantic pink flowers is a springtime vision paired with the prince’s powder blue ensemble. 

Alan Menken is a musical genius so it’s a no-brainer that I like all of the new songs, especially Evermore. In terms of flow, Days in the Sun is a nice song, but it feels unnecessary. There is no nice way to say this so I’ll just rip off the band-aid. Many of the vocals are heavily edited, and I suspect it has more to do with lack of vocal ability than over-zealous audio editors. It is a fact that Dan Stevens hired a vocal coach to learn how to sing for this movie, and Emma Watson has never sung professionally. I am thrilled with their acting performances, but the vocals leave a lot to be desired; they sound robotic and lack emotion. I found myself holding my breath every time they sang because I desperately wanted it to sound good but knew it probably wouldn’t. A few times I was pleasantly surprised. Emma did a good job with Belle (Reprise), and Beast sounded much better in the second verse of Evermore. I saw a comment on YouTube regarding Emma’s vocals that was well put. I can’t remember the exact words, but this is the basic idea: The original songs, written for an experienced singer, are above Emma’s capabilities. She sounded better singing the songs written for her portrayal of Belle. I had the same problem with Ewan McGregor and Emma Thompson. Ewan has sung before in a film, and for the most part his vocals sound good. I know Emma can sing, and I think she was a great choice for Mrs. Potts. The issue is inconsistency. Sometimes the vocals sound good, and other times they sound heavily autotuned. Since both roles require a certain voice, it is possible that manipulation was required to help Ewan and Emma stay in character while singing. The song Beauty and the Beast is a turning point in the story, and Mrs. Potts’ singing voice ruins a bit of the magic in what is an otherwise beautiful scene. Listening to it again, the vocals sound better than I remembered, but there are still some parts that don’t sound as nice as they should. Knowing that Emma has a great voice makes this even more of a heartbreaking disappointment. I love the cast, but this movie is a musical. Acting and vocals should be split 50/50 when considering the potential actors. Perfection was well within reach for this film, and lack of vocal ability was the one and only roadblock. Consider the rave reviews that Josh Gad and Luke Evans are receiving. Why do you think that is? Not only are their acting performances spot-on, but their vocals are spectacular. That is why they are the most successful part of this musical film. I want to end my rant by mentioning that I find the entire soundtrack to be over-edited, even the experienced voices such as Kevin Kline. I would have preferred less effects and rough edges. At least the final result would have sounded more genuine.

• I have notes to add as well as some revisions:

I’m not sure what didn’t click the first time, but Days in the Sun is a lovely song which adds to the story of the objects. 

I still love the song Evermore. One detail I failed to mention is the 28-second instrumental intro which all Beauty and the Beast fans should know because it plays as the original 1991 movie begins; a shorter version opens the 2017 movie. I didn’t catch that connection until I rewatched the animated movie which is exactly why I’m watching both the originals & remakes for this series. I love those nerdy details! I still prefer Josh Groban’s version of the song, but considering Dan Stevens took voice lessons for this movie, he did a good job. My biggest complaint is the overediting. I know an effect was used to aid the Beast voice, but I don’t think his singing had to sound robotic as a sacrifice. 

I have the same complaint regarding Emma Watson as Belle. I will continue to say this over & over again: If she wasn’t going to have a singing double or go through intense vocal training, I would’ve preferred that autotune take a backseat to a soft, rough around the edges voice. Rewatching the movie gave me this epiphany: It sounds like Emma recorded the songs alone in a large room with major echo. It doesn’t match what Belle is doing onscreen, whether that be walking through the village or exploring the castle. There are a few parts that sound okay, but that’s just not enough. I’m seriously considering a petition to request that Disney rerecord the singing & use a light hand with editing. Honestly, that change would make it near perfect because I love everything else about this film.

The sound editing for Emma as Mrs. Potts & Ewan as Lumière isn’t as bad as I remembered. They are both experienced singers & sound great in character. The same goes for Kevin Kline who only sings one song How Does a Moment Last Forever, an emotional moment that tugs at the heartstrings. I think I was being nit-picky about the audio because of Beast & Belle’s voices, but now that I’ve calmed down, every other character was fine with only a few rough spots. 

Animation was the perfect medium for this story because it is a fairy tale that is not at all grounded in reality. When considering a live action version, you have to ask yourself if the story will translate. I commend the crew because I was a believer every step of the way. I like the realistic design of each enchanted object. They fit the style of the movie and still feel like the same beloved characters. I love the way the friendship develops between Beast and Belle.  There are so many amazing scenes I could mention such as the library and Belle’s childhood home in Paris, but I will stick with one. Up until the ballroom scene, I was fully invested in the budding friendship. During the waltz when Beast lifts Belle, I felt a strong wave of emotion and instantly knew the relationship had become a love story. I was worried about the transformation because I wanted to be in the moment; I didn’t want to only see Dan Stevens in a wig. I am so relieved that the scene came together because it cemented the couple’s chemistry. I know that Belle’s final quote is controversial, but I LOVED it. I found the playful moment to be cute and relatable.

👸🏻 Belle: “How would you feel about growing a beard?”  😘

🐗 Beast: “GROWL!”  😉

• Yes yes yes!!! I still agree with everything I said about the art direction, the enchanted object designs, & the relationship between Beast & Belle. Dan & Emma have great onscreen chemistry which worked well before & after the beast-to-prince transformation.

💬 Closing Thoughts: There are details that disappoint and frustrate me, and I’m not afraid to talk about them. However, I can’t change anything so there’s no use dwelling on the negative. My emotional reaction speaks volumes, and I will definitely be watching this movie again. Please go and see it before you form an opinion. You might be pleasantly surprised! 

• Because of my rants about the singing & effects, you probably think this movie isn’t highly ranked. This is where I surprise both you & me. There are many things to consider. First, this film is close to being a shot for shot remake with very few changes, even in dialogue. Second, I was more emotional during the remake, crying at least three times; I only cried once during my rewatch of the animated movie. Third, I can say without hesitation that the animated movie is better because it has no vocal shortcomings. However, if the singing voices were fixed, I would choose the remake. GASP! I took this review one step further & timed how long Belle sings onscreen. In the span of 120 minutes, she sings for approximately . . . FOUR MINUTES!! That’s only 1/30th of the movie. Stepping back & looking at the big picture, her voice is an important one but wasn’t featured much in an otherwise great movie. Going the extra mile yet again, I watched the movie for a third time with my brother, a frequent movie watcher who is brutally honest. He’s not a fan of musicals, but at the end he told me the criticisms had been too harsh. He didn’t even cringe or say one negative thing the entire film! So, where does that leave my ranking? I won’t reveal anything right now, but you should be prepared for this movie to land very high on the list, higher than even I thought it would be.

• 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 🐗 • 💘 • 👸🏻 • 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 •

🍅 Rotten Tomatoes: 71% Critics | 80% Audience

🏆 Major Awards: Best Costume Design (Jacqueline Durran) & Best Production Design (Katie Spencer & Sarah Greenwood) Oscar nominations

❓ Original or Remake: Repeating what I already said, my choice is the original, but if the singing voices & sound editing were fixed, I would choose the remake.

• 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 🐗 • 💘 • 👸🏻 • 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 •

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3Nl_TCQXuw

• 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 🐗 • 💘 • 👸🏻 • 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 •

Alice in Wonderland 2010 | Movie Review

Maleficent 2014 | Movie Review

Cinderella 2015 | Movie Review

The Jungle Book 2016 | Movie Review

Alice Through the Looking Glass 2016 | Movie Review

Pete’s Dragon 2016 | Movie Review

• 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 🐗 • 💘 • 👸🏻 • 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 •

🎥 Stay tuned for another movie review tomorrow! 🍿

• 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 • 🐗 • 💘 • 👸🏻 • 📖 • 🏰 • 🧙🏻‍♀️ • 🌹 • 🕯 • 🕰 • ☕️ • 🎹 •

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Disney+ Marathon Day 30 | December 11

10:30am – Rise & shine! 🌞

11am – Hallmark Christmas Movie Marathon 🎄

1pm – Getting Ready For Work + High School Musical 3: Senior Year 💄 

1:45pm – Driving to Work + High School Musical 3: Senior Year 🚗 

2:30pm – Work 🛍

4:15pm – 15 Minute Break + High School Musical 3: Senior Year ⏰ 

6pm – Lunch Break + High School Musical 3: Senior Year 🍽 

8pm – Driving Home From Work + High School Musical 3: Senior Year 🚗 

I didn’t think they could top the past two soundtracks . . . I was wrong! 🎶

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDSEUrbI5DA

Chad’s face after Troy makes him push his truck back to his house is HILARIOUS!

Troy: I’m saving for a new fuel pump.

Chad: Mmmhmm. Save faster! 😂   😂  😂

Chad asking Taylor to be his prom date on top of a table in the cafeteria is SOOO ADORABLE! 💕 She put him through the wringer, but it pushed him to dig deep & find his inner Romeo. 😉

What did we do to deserve this musical number?!! Chad & Troy. Together. In a junkyard. Dancing & singing. Reliving their childhood. Did I die & go to Heaven?!!

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ-trvAlxds

We thought Bet On It was peak Zac Efron . . . and then he blessed us with Scream!!

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1CPNCbk5k0

Ms. Darbus is the High School Musical equivalent of Professor McGonagall in Harry Potter. She’s dramatic but loves what she does & the kids in her care. ♥️

HSM 3 came out two weeks before my 15th birthday. Two of my best friends joined me for dinner & a movie theater date. I even made HSM-themed gift bags! Yes, I was THAT superfan. 😂

Final thoughts for the day: I forgot to update you on Disney Plus issues so buckle up. I didn’t experience that many problems in the beginning like other people, but it’s gone a bit downhill since then. Every time I add to my watchlist, previous items disappear. I have to search for certain movies & shows which defeats the purpose of having everything in one place on a watchlist. A recent update added a “Continue Watching” feature, but that hasn’t been working smoothly. For example, I could pause what I’m watching, exit out of the app for a little bit, & come back to the very beginning of that same show or film. Add that to the spinning blue circle of death, and it’s very frustrating to skim through & film clips for a vlog. 😂 I understand the bugs of a brand new app so I want to make it clear that none of this is a dealbreaker. I just want to be honest about how the app is performing right now.

That is it for my 30-day Disney+ marathon. I hope you’ve enjoyed geeking out over Disney with me. If you need more ME in your life, I’m doing a Hallmark Christmas movie marathon. 🎄 Thank you so much for your support! You’ll be hearing from me very soon. 💕

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D I S N E Y +   M A R A T H O N   D A Y   T H I R T Y   A R T 

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Disney+ Marathon Day 29 | December 10

8:30am – Rise & shine! 🌞

10am – Work 🛍

4:15pm – Hallmark Christmas Movie Marathon 🎄

9pm – Blogging + High School Musical 2 💻 

0:25 is the moment our jaws dropped to the ground realizing Zac Efron has the voice of an angel. The moment we scratched our heads in confusion over why he didn’t sing on his own in the first movie. This is a hill I will die on: ZAC EFRON SHOULD’VE SUNG IN THE FIRST HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL MOVIE!! I know there are stories about him not feeling confident enough in his own abilities. That’s a lie from the pit of hell! Zac Efron can SAAANG, & nobody can sway my opinion.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hOP7qPDyI4

“Can’t be Gabriella. Whenever she calls, he just blushes.” Love this moment & quote from Coach Bolton. 😂

“I’m saving up for a car so I can take that lil’ hottie on a proper date.” *sigh* We didn’t give Corbin Bleu the attention he deserved. I’ve always been in love with him, but I know that Zac got most of the spotlight. For what it’s worth, Corbin is still 🔥 😍 If you need evidence, watch this scene:

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdSI5W44gWM

You have to watch the scene to really get the context & emotion, but it’s too hilarious not to mention here. 😆

Mr. Fulton: “Distribute these in the staff area, but not until the end of shift.”

Taylor McKessie: “What? Wait!”

Mr. Fulton: “No discussion, Miss McKessie. This is a business. Welcome to the world of adults who wish to keep their jobs because they have mortgages they wish to pay, tuition bills, car payments, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So, sometimes, we have to perform tasks, however unpleasant, that are necessary for that all-too-important paycheck to land in our all-too-empty pockets!”

Taylor: “May I get you a cup of tea Mr. Fulton?

Mr. Fulton: Chamomile would be lovely.

More proof that ZAC SHOULD’VE SUNG IN THE FIRST MOVIE! My friend Katie got me a birthday card that sang this song. Poor Troy can’t sing anymore because I played the song so much. 😂

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxZ11xebuBM

At the end of the movie when the cast climbs up the pool’s rock formation/waterfall to sing All For One, Chad’s microphone falls off the stand. Pay close attention at 0:18. 🎤

The female dancer at the 3:30 mark is Kimberly, sister of choreographer Chucky Klapow. He can be seen in the blue tank top to her left, our right. They make an appearance in all three HSM movies. 🕺💃

At 3:43, Chucky is dancing with Miley Cyrus. ⬇️

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rNXpgA5JUQ

High School Musical 2 premiered on August 17, 2007. I coordinated a sleepover for me & two of my best friends. I wore an HSM shirt & painted my nails red & white in honor of the East High Wildcats. We made ice cream sundaes & ate popcorn & screamed until we lost our voices. It was one of the best nights of my life.

Final thoughts for the day: ONE MORE DAY! ONE MORE DAY! ONE MORE DAY! Are you ready for my Disney+ marathon to end? I’m sure you’ve all loved reading my ramblings everyday. 😂 On a serious note, I truly appreciate those of you who’ve supported me for 30 days. If you’re a new follower, I hope you’ll stick around to see what else my lifestyle blog has to offer. See you tomorrow! 👋

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Disney+ Marathon Day 28 | December 9

11:30am – Rise & shine! 🌞

12pm – Hallmark Christmas Movie Marathon 🎄

10pm – Bath + High School Musical

HSM was directed by Kenny Ortega. I don’t need to tell you who that is. 🌟 If you don’t know, you don’t deserve to know. 😂

It’s not a secret that Drew Seeley provided Troy Bolton’s singing voice. Please hold. ☎️ I will provide my feelings tomorrow . . . 😑

In the beginning of the film when Troy arrives for the first day of school, Chad Danforth says “. . . it’s gonna be a happy wildcat new year man! Because in two weeks we’re going to the championships with you leading us to infinity and beyond.” To infinity and beyond. Buzz Lightyear. Toy Story. 🧸

Ms. Darbus might actually be my favorite HSM character. She’s dramatic & reminds me of my film teacher in college. She also has the best quotes, & her banter with Coach Bolton is hilarious. 😂

*Chad is holding a basketball* – “Mr. Danforth! This is a place of learning, not a hockey arena.”

“And while we are working, let us probe the mounting evils of cell phones. Perhaps the most heinous example of cell phone use is ringing in the theatre. The theatre is a chapel of arts, a precious cornucopia of creative energy.”

“It’s called crime and punishment, Bolton. Besides, proximity to the arts is cleansing for the soul.”

*Referencing the basketball team* – “This school is about more than just young men in baggy shorts flinging balls for touchdowns.”

“Now, I give every student an even chance, which is a long and honorable tradition in the theatre, something that you wouldn’t understand, but if he is planning some sort of a practical joke in my chapel of the arts . . . I will not allow my ‘Twinkle Town Musicale’ to be made into a farce.”

“This morning, during free period, will be your chance for the musicale auditions. Both singles and pairs. I will be in the theatre until noon for those of you bold enough to extend the wingspan of your creative spirit.”

“Casting the leads of a show is both a challenge and a responsibility, a joy and a burden. I commend you and all other young artists to hold out for the moon, the sun, and the stars. Shall we soar together?”

If you’re an HSM superfan, you know better than to skim past Chad Danforth’s wardrobe. Every graphic t-shirt he wears features a fun/funny quote such as “I come with my own background music.”

Remember the vocal warm-ups that Ryan & Sharpay Evans do?? I’ve been doing those ever since I saw the movie for the first time. I also sing Troy & Gabriella’s version of What I’ve Been Looking For. No voice lesson is complete without either of those things. 🎤

After they perform What I’ve Been Looking For, Sharpay reminds Ryan that she told him not to do the jazz square. He replies with “It’s a crowd favorite. Everybody loves a good jazz square.” My friends & I quoted this in dance class every time we did jazz squares across the floor or in a routine. 😂

During the montage of Troy & Gabriella preparing for their callback, I’m pretty sure Zac Efron’s singing voice was used for Breaking Free. When they perform the entire song at the end of the movie, the first few lines also sound like Zac. Listen carefully! I really do think it’s him & not Drew. And yes, I do know that his voice was mixed with Drew’s. The majority is still Drew. I can’t talk about it. You’ll find out why tomorrow. 🤭

📣 G – O – D – R – A – M – A – C – L – U – B – EXCLAMATION POINT! 😂 

I saw something in the credits that legitimately surprised me. I didn’t know that Drew Seeley, credited as Andrew Seeley, helped write Get’cha Head in the Game. 🎼

Final thoughts for the day: I’ve already said a lot so I will bid you goodnight & stop talking. I hope you enjoyed my HSM lovefest because there are two days left, & there’s really only one way to end this marathon. 😉

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Disney+ Marathon Day 27 | December 8

6:30am – Rise & shine! 🌞

8:30am – Work 🛍

5:20pm – Blogging + Newsies 💻 

Newsies is directed by Kenny Ortega, director of The Cheetah Girls 2, the Descendants trilogy, the High School Musical trilogy, & Hocus Pocus. If that isn’t enough, he choreographed for Dirty Dancing, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, & Pretty in Pink, three classic films.

👁 Spotted: Baby Christian Bale! He is  A D O R A B L E 😍 Also, his voice is so sweet. 🎶

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6cAan3WYAg

👁 Spotted: Arvie Lowe Jr. as Boots Arbus | He portrayed Mr. Dig on Lizzie McGuire. 👨🏽‍🏫

7:30pm – Hallmark Christmas Movie Marathon 🎄

Final thoughts for the day: I’m a little upset that no one told me to watch this movie sooner, but better late than never. I loved it, & the soundtrack immediately went on my Spotify playlist.

🎵  When I dream, on my own, I’m alone, but I ain’t lonely. For a dreamer, night’s the only time of day when the city’s finally sleepin’. And my thoughts begin to stray, and I’m on the train that’s bound for Santa Fe.  🎶

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D I S N E Y +   M A R A T H O N   D A Y   T W E N T Y   S E V E N   A R T 

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Disney+ Marathon Day 26 | December 7

8:30am – Rise & shine! 🌞

9am – Hallmark Christmas Movie Marathon 🎄

12:30pm – Getting Ready For Work + Bambi 💄 

2pm – Work 🛍

4pm – 15 Minute Break + Bambi ⏰ 

7:15pm – Lunch Break + Bambi 🍽 

Final thoughts for the day: I never watch Bambi because it makes me so sad, but I have no regrets. The characters are stinkin’ adorable, & the animation is beautiful. My Disney+ marathon is winding down. How’s everyone feeling? I must admit I’m very tired & a bit of a grinch at the moment. Hopefully I can get some much needed rest & relaxation soon. See you tomorrow! 👋

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D I S N E Y +   M A R A T H O N   D A Y   T W E N T Y   S I X   A R T 

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– Lauren Michele ❤

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Disney+ Marathon Day 25 | December 6

5:30am – Rise & shine! 🌞

7am – Work 🛍

2:45pm – Hallmark Christmas Movie Marathon 🎄

8:45am – Bath + Ducktales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp 🛀 

Final thoughts for the day: Unfortunately I don’t have much to say tonight. Look at that wake-up time! I am EXHAUSTED. 😴 It was nice to relax in a nice, warm bath & enjoy a nostalgic adventure with some of my favorite ducks. I don’t think I ever watched this movie as a kid so it was cool to finally see it. More Ducktales is never a bad thing!

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D I S N E Y +   M A R A T H O N   D A Y   T W E N T Y   F I V E   A R T 

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Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele ❤

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Disney+ Marathon Day 21 | December 2

9am – Rise & shine! 🌞

9:30am – Hallmark Christmas Movie Marathon 🎄

12:20pm – Getting Ready For Work + A Goofy Movie 💄 

1:15pm – Driving to Work + A Goofy Movie 🚗 

Fun Fact: Growing up, I spent a lot of time at the church where my dad worked. There was a TV, VHS player, & kid-friendly movies that anybody could watch. One of those VHS tapes was A Goofy Movie so I watched it a lot as a kid. 🧡

Jason Marsden, the voice of Max Goof, voiced the side character Mungo in my favorite Disney movie Tarzan. Kevin Lima, the co-director of Tarzan, is the director of A Goofy Movie. The more you know! 💡

The voice of Goofy is, of course, Bill Farmer, & Pete is voiced by Jim Cummings, the voice of my generation. Seriously, he’s voiced a character in everything imaginable!

🧀 LEANING TOWER OF CHEEZA!! 🧀 

It is implied that the Goofy universe is the same as that of both Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck. Max mentions that Donald Duck is Goofy’s best friend. During Goofy & Max’s road trip, Donald Duck & Mickey Mouse can be seen hitchhiking. Mickey Mouse is visible in the audience at the Powerline concert. It is important to note that while the duck universe is more than just ducks, the Goofy universe appears to be mostly, if not all, dogs. Interesting!

During a car game, Goofy guesses that the person Max is thinking of is Walt Disney. ✨

These are lyrics from On The Open Road:

“I’ve got no strings on me. I’m feelin’ fancy-free.”

The first part references Pinocchio. The second part might be a reference to the musical film Fun and Fancy Free.

During the song, a limo passes by Goofy’s car, & a shiny glove pops out of the sunroof. There’s only one person, past or present, that wore a shiny glove on his hand. 🤔

👂 Heard: Director Kevin Lima as Lester the Possum, the mascot of Lester’s Possum Park.

👂 Heard: Frank Welker as Bigfoot | His voiceover resume is looooong so I’ll just mention that he’s the voice of beloved crime-solving great dane Scooby-Doo. 🐕

Powerline is the popstar we need! 🎤 Why doesn’t he exist?? 😭

2pm – Work 🛍

8:20pm – Hallmark Christmas Movie Marathon 🎄

Final thoughts for the day: I’ve already said a lot about the movie so I won’t ramble anymore. It deserves more attention, & I’ll leave it at that. See you tomorrow for day 22!

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D I S N E Y +   M A R A T H O N   D A Y   T W E N T Y   O N E   A R T 

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Subscribe to my blog to receive email notifications, and check out my other links listed below.

– Lauren Michele ❤

⬇ Important Links ⬇

• Previous Post: Disney+ Marathon Day 20 | December 1

• Previous Video: Cozy Thanksgiving Night

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