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Movie Review: Brave

Mike Finkelstein wants to be a pretty, pretty princess. He wants all the boys of the kingdom to fawn over him and fight for his hand. Sadly, he soon woke up from his dream and realized he still lived somewhere around New York City…eh well. He’ll just have to live out his thoughts on the movie screen. Here is his review for “Brave”.



Mike Finkelstein wants to be a pretty, pretty princess.  He wants all the boys of the kingdom to fawn over him and fight for his hand.  Sadly, he soon woke up from his dream and realized he still lived somewhere around New York City…eh well.  He’ll just have to live out his thoughts on the movie screen.  Here is his review for “Brave”.

PLOT: Princess Merida (Kelly McDonald) is a Scottish princess determined to find her own way in life.  So when her firm, inflexible mother, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson) tells her that it’s time to pick a suitor from the neighboring three clans to marry, Merida decides that she’ll do anything to “fight for her own hand”.  But when that decision leads her to a witch and her deceptive spells, it’s up to Merida to save her mother, her kingdom, and herself.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW:  Pixar is a name synonymous with excellence.  With ten years of movie memories that include such perfections as the TOY STORY trilogy, FINDING NEMO, and UP, we have grown accustom to seeing films complete with flawlessly shaped stories, loveable characters, and a yearning for our childhood.  So when a movie comes around that may not meet that Pixar standard, even though it may be incredible compared to others, we are nothing short of devastated.

Disney’s BRAVE tells the fairytale story of Princess Merida (Kelly Macdonald), the rebellious firstborn child to parents, King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson).  When Queen Elinor reveals that it’s time for Merida to choose a suitor to marry and carry on the kingdom’s legacy, Merida is determined to find a way out and instead choose her own destiny, even if it means using a spell from an evil witch that ends up going horribly wrong…

From the first frame, it is obvious how far Pixar has come in terms of animation.  Within the intro, alone, seeing Merida riding through the forest as she fires her bow from atop her horse is absolutely gorgeous.  Every aspect of the landscape is meticulously detailed, and when it all culminates in her making her way to the top of a crag to drink from the waterfall, the sweeping shot will leave you nothing short of breathless (one of the few short moments when the 3D added to the film….everywhere else, it did nothing besides darken the screen).  And while all the humans are still shaped with their familiar Pixar style, the wilderness animals are completely realistic, and both humans and animals have all the right emotions (or lack thereof) in their eyes at the right moments.

In terms of characters, you could almost say that this is the female version of FINDING NEMO.  Brenda Chapman is the first female director for any Pixar full length film, and with that, brings us the princess and female equivalent of Nemo and Marlin.  Any mother and daughter pair will be able to relate to Merida and Queen Elinor’s testy relationship, and we yet again get a very cute supporting group to back them up, including Merida’s gruff but lovable father, King Fergus (Billy Connolly), absolutely adorable little devil brothers who get away with everything, and three very unique father and son pairings who come to court Merida (and bring their kingdom’s entire armies along with them…)

But with all that, what BRAVE lacks is the aspect that makes a Pixar film stand out from the rest: a complete and fully fleshed out story.  Everything that you’ve seen so far in trailers and commercials is contained within the first twenty minutes of the movie, and then, suddenly, any real originality the film held was replaced with a seemingly clichéd fairytale predicament.  Granted, we hit every systematic beat we need to between the introduction of the problem and the resolution, but there were no real events or character development to really push us to that end.  Suddenly, moods changed.  Suddenly, people understood each other.  Suddenly, things just…happened.

Amusingly enough, that huge problem doesn’t even make a bad movie!  Little girls will absolutely love the film because it is the new princess movie that Disney swore they would stop making, and a welcome addition at that.  Mothers will love seeing it with their daughters because it comments on the relationship they already have, or are sure to have in the future.  And hell, even guys will enjoy it because it’s Pixar.  But when you leave the theater, something inside you will be churning when you realize that a special something is still missing, and while what you just watched would have been amazing by any other studio standards (trust me, there have been some crappy kids movies lately!), it was not at the ridiculously high standard that any Pixar movie is now held to.

When thought of as a children’s movie, BRAVE hits the nail right on the head.  It has a fun, relevant story with hilarious, adorable characters, and a team of animators that can beat anyone in the business right now.  But what it lacks is the wonderful story and character development that Pixar has been defined by for almost two decades.  We all dug out our toys after TOY STORY 3.  We sobbed uncontrollably within the first ten minutes of UP.  We hugged our fathers after FINDING NEMO.  I have no doubt we will feel those emotions again soon.  This time, however, I’ll smile, nod, and throw this one in the pile next to DESPICABLE ME and KUNG FU PANDA.


Mike’s LIKES:

1) STUNNING VISUALS: Pixar has come such a long way over the past two decades.  When you see Merida riding through the forest and climbing that crag, it is nothing short of breathtaking.  I tip my hat.

2) THREE LITTLE BROTHERS: These three are the equivalent of HAPPY FEET’s baby penguins, or the minions in DESPICABLE ME.  They are absolutely adorable and always ready with the perfect moment to make us giggle.

3) BEAUTIFUL MOTHER/DAUGHTER STORY: The female version of FINDING NEMO, mothers and daughters will have a great time together as they see their own relationship in Merida and Queen Elinor.  A must see for any pair…get ready to bond.

4) SUPPORTING CHARACTERS: From King Fergus to the three suitors and their fathers and the evil witch, all the supporting characters bring the funny, and give us another great batch to remember for years to come.

5) LA LUNA: This short film is absolutely spectacular.  Picking up the baton from “Day & Night” before TOY STORY 3, we have yet another beautiful, emotional short that is breathtaking both in its vision of family, as well as its visuals.  This one is a new peak of perfection in the world of Pixar shorts.


1) 3D: Besides the first scene of Merida riding through the forest (stunning), the 3D was absolutely useless.  It just made the screen darker and harder to see, and with such robust colors filling the screen, I’d rather sacrifice the depth for the imagery.

2) PLOT DEVELOPMENT: The first half hour may have been on the right track, but somewhere along the line, the plot development seemed to disappear.  Plot points were hit because they had to be hit, not because the characters got there.

3) NOT A PIXAR MOVIE: Pixar seems to be the golden standard of animation.  To be a Pixar movie says a lot about your film.  While BRAVE was an excellent film by any other standards, a Pixar movie it was not.


1) The Pizza Planet truck, which can be spotted in every Pixar movie except THE INCREDIBLES, can be spotted in the Witch’s Hut.

2) The first Pixar film to have two directors, as well as a female director.  Brenda Chapman left the film in the middle of production, due to creative differences…I wonder how the film would have turned out if she had stayed…

Editor's Pick

VIDEO:Rolled Ice Cream, Cheetos Bagels And Grasshoppers Are Just Some Of The Unusual Things Brian Balthazar Has Eaten On ‘The Wendy Williams Show’



You’ve seen pop culture expert, Brian Balthazar, appear on The Wendy Williams Show quite a bit over the last few years. He even co-hosted the show on three separate occasions. It wasn’t until his last visit where he and Jason Biggs chowed down on a KFC Cheetos Chicken Sandwich that it hit me: Being on the daytime talk show makes Brian Balthazar hungry!

The proof is in the pudding…pun definitely intended. Carla Hall made sure to bring some snacks for Brian when they cohosted together.

Sure, Wendy is known for telling us to “grab a snack and come on back”…

But you’d have to be absolutely famished to want to eat fish sliders at 10am.

He’s gotten so hungry he resorted to eating GRASSHOPPER TACOS on the show!

Could it be that Brian isn’t actually hungry though? Could he just be a brave soul willing to be the taste tester so we don’t have to? Could my theory be flawed?!

I suddenly feel like maybe we owe Brian a big thanks…

Either way, it’s fun to watch! Click below to take a look at a compilation of all the fun stuff Brian Balthazar has eaten on The Wendy Williams Show!

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Get The Look! A Buyer’s Guide To Brian Balthazar’s Philadelphia Home Redesign



As the world was forced to spend more time at home, Brian Balthazar found himself in a position where he had sold a house before the lockdown and had to find a new one.

“We sold our home with all the furniture in it, so not only did we find ourselves struggling to find a new place, once we found one we didn’t have any furniture to put in it.”

And so, Brian and partner Dennis got resourceful, turning to refurbishing and buying store floor models. They were inspired to make bold, fun choices in color and style when they started shopping around for wallpaper.

Below is the segment as it appeared on the Today Show, and further down, a rundown of where you can find the pieces or ones with a similar look!


Let’s start with the Dining Room!

Move the slider dividing the image to see all of the before or all of the after!

Brian saysThe dining room was the first space we wanted to do. I haven’t had a true dining room since I was a kid, and I’ve always wanted a big table for dinner parties! There were no tables within the price range we wanted, so we found a floor model at one of our favorite go-to stores, Arhaus. We easily saved 75 percent on this table by getting the one that they weren’t going to carry anymore. The chairs are from Wayfair.  On each side of the fireplace (not seen in the photo, but visible in the Today Show video) are two black tall lanterns flanking the fireplace. I got them at Target. I can’t currently find them on their app, but similar versions pop up every year. Get thee to Homegoods! Homegoods and Homesense (same parent company) are my go-to spots for home accessories for virtually every room in the house. You never know what you’re going to find, which is part of the fun.

But let’s focus on the real WOW element to this room – the wallpaper! This pattern is called Bellewood, by RebelWalls.   As you will soon see, I’m sort of obsessed with their patterns. To me, this room is magical with the added whimsy of this forest pattern. (They also have a more muted version with grays and even one with blues.) I also love that by hanging the paper from the chair rail up, you almost get the feeling that you’re standing on a balcony overlooking the forest. I surrounded the whole room with this paper, which I love, but you could easily add the same magical feeling by just doing one feature wall. Their website shows how it can translate to a bedroom or office. You might be intimidated by hanging wallpaper but don’t be! This pattern has so much going on that it really looks perfect when it goes up!



Brian says: The guest bedroom is on the top floor of the house, so it’s got roof lines on two sides that make it a tricky space to navigate if you’re not careful. The planning of this space alone resulted in a few bonked heads. On the upside, the wall where the bed goes is tall, so it was an obvious place to create some visual pop. Again, the wallpaper takes the spotlight.  Called “Nude Roses,” also by RebelWalls, I love this design. Floral wallpaper was ‘big’ in popularity back in the 1920s when this house was built, but the patterns at that time were smaller, repeated more often, and were often really bold in color. This interpretation is so fun to me! Gone are the small roses in favor of oversized blooms, and the bold colors are more subdued pink and gray hues, with touches of dark green and creamy whites.

While roses can inherently feel feminine, the plaid bedding (30 dollars for a queen set from Target) are a surprising complement that keeps everything from feeling a little stereotypical. The side tables are mismatched – partly because we didn’t want to go too “matchy=matchy” – but also to save some money – the one on the left side (hard to catch here) was from West Elm. Normally $199, we got it for half off as the floor model. The one on the right we found in the trash. It was perfectly fine, clearly someone had just gotten tired of it! Nothing some disinfectant can’t fix. That gave us some extra money to spend – To reduce the softeness we went with industrial lamps and edison bulbs. The lamps  are called “Ginyard,” from Wayfair. The headboard was on sale at Arhaus. The dark gray takes balances out the pink hues well. The pillows are from Target and Homegoods.

For the 360 degree view of this room, watch the Instagram reel below!  You’ll see the dresser, on sale for $599 from Arhaus, a lamp from Homegoods, and mobiles from Amazon which we fashioned into a ‘piece of art’ that keeps you from hitting your head on the angled wall opposite the bed. Watch the video to check it out!


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Brian says: The idea for the basement game room was to create a space that feels like a lounge you might find if you went out with friends. When you go into this basement it definitely feels like you’ve gone someplace unique! Believe it or not, I found out the Today Show had invited me to to record my house tour just a few days in advance, and so we turned around this spot in just THREE days! There was literally no pool table at the time, (although it had already been scheduled to come on Friday, the wallpaper came on Saturday, (as well as the floor tiles!) and by Sunday we were covered in paint and glue and drinking wine to celebrate it’s completion! I recorded the final video that Monday.

Some people might not think to take a bright basement and make it dark, but that was our first instinct. Clubs are dark and moody, and we wanted this to feel like that. We painted the walls Wrought Iron by Benjamin Moore, which is a very dark gray that seems to take on different hues based on where you paint it and the light that shines on it. We painted the ceiling black. This was Thursday night! Then Friday the pool table came. The floor tiles (“Tweed Indeed” in black by Flor) hadn’t arrived until the next day, so when they did arrive I meticulously trimmed four tiles to fit around the pool table legs so it looks like they were there the whole time. I had ordered the pool table online weeks before from and by sheer coincidence it was scheduled to arrive in time for me to shoot the redesign. This was the second time I have ordered a pool table from them (which was initially scary because you’re not even seeing it beforehand!) but it always arrives in perfect condition to your specific selections. I love that the felt jet black and keeps things dark and moody. In the time that has passed since this photo was taken, I’ve added more of the carpet tiles to make the carpeted floor area darker and bigger.

But once again, the wall mural steals the show in a marvelous way! This mural is called “A Priori” from Rebelwalls, and is inspired by The Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power, a famous fresco by Italian artist Pietro da Cortona. Fitting, because this house is Italian in style on the outside. You can’t see it from this photo but the wallpaper runs up part of the ceiling as well. It truly gives the room a wow factor when you enter it. The lamps are from Homegoods, (we’ve since added some industrial floor lamps for extra mood lighting) and the piano was something we brought with us. The bar tables are from Amazon ($72 each) and the stools we brought with us – they were discards from someone who didn’t like their original bright colors and thought they were dated! We covered them ourselves with gray plaid fabric and they’re better than they were new!


So there you have it! Hope you enjoyed the rooms and find something you like!

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The Pentagon Has Released Official UFO Videos Because 2020 Is The Absolute Worst



Aren’t swarms of locusts supposed to be the next installment of this plague?!

Can we finally declare 2020 as the worst year ever? In January there were fears of a third World War. In February the coronavirus began its rapid spread. In March the world essentially shut down due to social distancing and quarantining. And now in April…with only two days left in the month…we have official government footage of unidentified flying objects. I’m sorry but Milton Bradley’s game of “Life” never prepared me for any of this!

The Pentagon has confirmed the authenticity of three videos that have been circulating the web but didn’t really answer what is visible in them. In the videos, now declassified by the Department of Defense, navy pilots capture “unidentified aerial phenomena” aka unidentified flying objects aka UFOs! Pentagon officials were sure to state that the videos do not show “any sensitive capabilities or systems,” meaning we probably won’t be seeing any little green men any time soon.

The first video dates back to November 2004 and the other two from January 2015. Of the Pentagon’s confirmation of authenticity, Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough said the videos were released “in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos.”

So great. We now know that these strange videos are real but what exactly are we looking at? Well, the Department of Defense says it has no concrete answer as to what might be floating around the skies and has classified the phenomena as “unidentified.” And…just like that I suddenly feel less defended.

Social media is having a field day with this revelation of course. The #AliensAreReal has been trending high on Twitter since the news broke. One user referenced Independence Day and said the aliens are “getting ready for July 4th.” Of the bad timing, another wrote “Et tu aliens?” And finally one user couldn’t help avoid sarcasm and wrote”Where’s the space force when you need it?”

Well 2020, you have worked your awful black magic once again. What’s next, cat videos get banned from the internet?! You’ve taken everything else from us!

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