The Parent Trap (1998) Is a Doubly Symmetrical Film

You’re about to see double, and not just because we’re talking about a movie with twins. The Parent Trap (1998), in addition to being one of my favorite films, is an example of Cinematic Chiasmus. That means that the first half of the film mirrors the second half perfectly. It’s so beautiful once you see it. And that is what we’re going to do. So prepare to get the 411 on how The Parent Trap is a doubly symmetrical film. Continue reading

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5 Quick Ways the Parents in The Parent Trap Could Have Distinguished Annie from Hallie

There’s a scene in The Parent Trap (1998) that always perplexed me. The parents have decided to part ways, but their twin daughters aren’t willing to go along with that plan. So they make it seemingly impossible for their parents to tell them apart, forcing the parents to stay together just a little longer.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely glad this little ruse worked. I want a happy ending for the parents, and the only way for that to happen is for them to get tricked at this critical moment. But part of the fun is knowing that these are two serious adults who are really hard to deceive. If they have several simple tools at their disposal to see through the deception, the victory isn’t as sweet.

Unfortunately, I’ve come up with five very simple ways the parents could have distinguished Annie from Hallie. Continue reading

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My Favorite Scene in Alien

I’m not a huge fan of horror films. Alien is a rare exception. One reason why it appeals to me is because it has so many quiet scenes that allow me to experience the true sense of dread that is either about to unfold or just occurred. It doesn’t overtax my senses with constant blood and gore. But when those moments come, they leave a big impression because of their masterful setup and payoff.

I’d like to talk about my favorite scene in Alien. It’s the one that perfectly sums up everything I love about the movie. You might think it’s the chestburster scene. Sure, that’s what the film is best known for. But it’s hard for me to watch.

Actually, the scene I like best is the one immediately following it. After Kane dies in the most horrific way imaginable, the rest of the characters do a cursory search for the alien that emerged out of their fallen crewmate. But they soon gather in the bridge for a scene of quiet solitude. Continue reading

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Steve McQueen Is the King of Name Placement on Movie Posters

I like listening to music as I write. Sometimes I find great music soundtracks on YouTube and listen to them for hours at a time. And one soundtrack I particularly enjoy is the one from The Magnificent Seven (1960). I’ve been listening to it over and over, and I noticed something odd about the movie poster used for most of the video.

Once I started thinking about it, I realized that it’s indicative of much more than just the placement of names on a movie poster. It says a lot about one man on that poster: Steve McQueen. McQueen was an incredible movie star with a string of hits almost unparalleled before and after him. As a result, he kind of had a big ego.

When he shared top billing with other actors or wasn’t the top-billed actor, he found creative ways to make himself stand out from the crowd. Let’s talk about three examples. Continue reading

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Lightyear Is a Lot of Lego Movie 2 Mixed with a Little Aliens

As I recently watched Lightyear, something became clear. It doesn’t have a very original story. Ironically, Lightyear tried to distance itself from the Toy Story franchise while, at the same time, basing its story on a movie that’s all about toys: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. It’s also funny because the first Lego Movie could be seen in the same vein as Toy Story. But it managed to differentiate itself enough to feel fresh and unique.

Lightyear, on the other hand, feels unfocused and derivative. Not only does it follow basically the same plot as The Lego Movie 2, but it also charts a similar course as another solid sequel: Aliens. Let’s talk about how it compares to those two movies.

Diverted to a Mysterious Planet

At the start of the movie, the spaceship Buzz Lightyear is traveling aboard gets diverted to an uncharted planet. He and a couple of fellow Space Rangers investigate the planet. Then they get attacked by vines and bug-like creatures that sneak up on them.

That’s similar to the start of Alien, in which the Nostromo gets diverted to an uncharted planet on their way to Earth. Three crewmembers investigate a ship on the planet’s surface. Then one of them gets attacked by an alien, which sneaks aboard their ship. And that leads into the plot of Aliens.

Hero Remains Young

Buzz spends decades trying to figure out the correct fuel mixture to allow his downed spaceship to reenter hyperspace and get to its destination. Because of time dilation, he only ages a couple of days while the only person he used to care about grows old and dies.

Reminds me of a certain character named Ripley. She accidentally spends 57 years in her escape pod that she took to escape from the Nostromo after the alien killed the rest of her crew. By the time she gets rescued, her only daughter is old and dead, even though Ripley has hardly aged at all.

Communication Cut Off

Shortly after Buzz returns from his final test mission, he discovers that all communication with Star Command has been cut off. It turns out to be because they are under attack by robots.

Shortly after Ripley returns to Earth from her alien encounter, she learns that all communication with a colony on the alien planet has been cut off. It turns out to be because they are under attack by aliens.

Entering a Bug Nest

Buzz enters a storage area that has been turned into a nest of eggs by the bug-like creatures. They start to hatch, putting Buzz in a lot of danger. A few other soldiers join him, and he tries to get them to leave the same way they came. They use cloaking devices to avoid detection, but it eventually wears off, forcing them to run for their lives. The bugs cut off the soldiers’ escape route, so they turn around to get onto Buzz’s ship.

A group of colonial marines enter an atmosphere processing plant, which has been turned into a nest of eggs by the aliens. An alien pops out of a cocooned colonist’s chest, forcing them to use a flamethrower on it. Aliens surround them, blending into the walls and avoiding infrared detection. The aliens cut off the marines’ escape route, so Ripley races in to rescue them with an armored personnel carrier.

That’s all of the Aliens similarities. From here on, it’s The Lego Movie 2.

Building in a Wasteland

Within a year of being stranded on the barren planet, the engineers’ aboard Buzz’s ship are able to construct a colony. The vines and bug-like creatures keep trying to attack them, but they find ways to fight them off.

Five years after their first contact with the planet Duplo, Emmett’s master-builder friends have been forced to retreat into a hidden base. Each time they tried to construct buildings like they had before, the Duplos would demolish them.

Hero Unaffected by Changing Times

Buzz is different than everyone around him. He has an old mentality, and he’s focused on getting off the planet. But everyone around him eventually accepts their fate as being stuck on the planet with no hope of rescue. For many of them, all they’ve ever known is life on that planet, so Buzz is basically forced to change with the times.

Emmett is different than everyone around him. He has retained his cheerful demeanor, despite all of the chaos he experiences. But everyone around him has toughened up to deal with the rough reality they experience every day. For many of them, their old happy life is a distant memory, and Emmett has to choose whether or not to change with the times.


Spoiler time. The villain of Lightyear is identical to the one in The Lego Movie 2. The leader of the robots following Buzz, and attacking the colony that the crew of his spaceship established, turns out to be none other than Buzz. An older, angrier version of the hero. In his timeline, he came back after his final successful test mission, and he was about to be arrested for disobeying orders. So he left and traveled through the stars for centuries until he found a spaceship full of robots ready to do his bidding. Then he traveled back in time to just before the younger Buzz got back from his final test mission. He’s angry at being mistreated and wants to travel even further back to prevent himself from getting stranded on that planet in the first place.

For most of The Lego Movie 2, we think that Rex Dangervest is a good guy. He saves Emmett from crashing into an asteroid while Emmett is on his way to save his friends. But Rex turns out to be an older, angrier version of the hero. In his timeline, he crashed into the asteroid and got stranded under a dryer for years. He became bitter at his friends for forgetting him. So he developed the ability to move in the real world, and he changed his appearance to look tougher, and then he built a time machine. He populated it with velociraptors who would do his bidding. After that, he traveled back to the moment Emmett was about to hit the asteroid and saved him. He wants to make everyone miserable like he was.

The Difference Between Zurg and Rex

Both of the villains changed their names. Buzz became Zurg because all of the robots add “urg” to the end everything they say. Thus, when they called him “Buzz,” they would pronounce it “Buzz-urg.” Rex Dangervest likes dinosaurs, danger, and vests, so that’s likely where his name came from. The real difference between Zurg and Rex is that we get to spend a lot of time with Rex learning about his feelings and motivations. It’s an actual surprise when he reveals himself as the villain because he seemed to be helping Emmett the whole time. But he was really only helping himself… by pretending to help his younger self. Boy, time travel is confusing sometimes.

On the other hand, Zurg is a total mystery for most of the movie. He’s just a generic bad guy until he finally reveals himself to Buzz. We, the audience, have no idea what he’s trying to do, so his reveal as being the villain at the end inspires a shoulder shrug more than anything. He’s just not interesting enough to warrant anything else.

Back to the Futuring

Zurg tempts Buzz to travel back in time to undo the damage done to their ship in the first place. That way, they can rescue all of their friends. But Buzz resists and chooses to remain stranded because he doesn’t want some of his new friends to cease to exist by creating a new timeline.

Rex inspires Emmett to disrupt the wedding of Batman and Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi. That way, they can rescue all their friends. But it turns out to be a trick. Emmett and his friends resist and get out of their stranded situations. By doing so, they make Rex cease to exist by eliminating his old timeline.

To Infinity and Be- *Yawned*

As you can see, there’s really nothing new in Lightyear. It covers the same ground that other films have covered perfectly well in the past. I’m sure people could argue that I’ve missed lots of key points where the films don’t compare well. After all, I barely even mentioned important characters, like Sox the cat or Izzy. In fact, I could have made a lot more comparisons of those. Sox is quite similar to Ash/Bishop. Izzy is basically a stand-in for Newt. The panicky rookie reminds me of Hudson. The old convict is rather reminiscent of Vasquez. They even put Vasquez’s catchphrase on a robot: “El riesgo siempre vive.”

Lightyear is bad for a number of reasons. It’s unfocused, lacks a compelling villain, fails to land most of its jokes, has no clear stakes, and is ultimately a dull retelling of superior films. It certainly doesn’t live up to the Toy Story films. Ironically, I can’t imagine Lightyear inspiring Andy, or any other kid, to buy a Buzz Lightyear toy.

This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.

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Ode to the Bank

Question: What do you a call a tribute to getting out of debt?

Answer: Ode!

And I felt I owed it to my wonderful readers to share this poem I wrote in the midst of paying off my mortgage at the start of this month. I now have zero debt. Such a momentous occasion deserves an ode. And I call this “Ode to the Bank.”

I hope you enjoy it.

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I’m a Little Late Paying Off My Mortgage

I have moved a mountain. It wasn’t as fast as it was for Enoch simply telling mountains to flee from before him. But it happened, nonetheless. I feel like there’s only one song that can sum up my feelings right now.

In September 2016, I wrote a HuffPost article predicting I would be debt-free in five years. That prediction failed to come true. Instead, it took five years and 11 months. As of August 3, 2022, I have paid my mortgage in full. That was my last debt. I have no student loan, car loan, or personal loan. Not even a credit card. In one sense, I’m a little late paying off my mortgage. But in another, I’m a little ahead of schedule. Continue reading

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The Hasty Rewrite of My Last Article

I have never done anything like this before. But I want to share it because it was such an interesting experience. Since the beginning of the Deja Reviewer in 2011, I’ve almost always published a new article on Tuesdays. The reason I do that is to give myself leeway in preparing images and formatting articles over the weekend.

If something ever goes catastrophically wrong, I prefer to have a couple of days to fix it, hence why I don’t publish on Mondays, right after the weekend. Late at night last weekend, something went catastrophically wrong. Continue reading

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A Wonderful Detail I Never Noticed Before in The Parent Trap (1998)

We are going to talk about one of my favorite movies today. When I find a movie I really enjoy, I often wind up watching it obsessively. Over and over. It’s kind of a blessing and a curse. Because I miss out on a lot of other good quality entertainment by zeroing in on just one thing. At the same time, though, it enables me to pick up on little details I otherwise would have missed.

For example, The Parent Trap. I absolutely love the 1998 remake. It’s the right way to update an old classic. I thought I had already talked about all the reasons why I love this movie. But there’s something wonderful I had totally missed in it until recently.

Continue reading

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This Film Scene Sums Up Elon Musk and Twitter Right Now

I need to write something light and fun. And it just so happens I read about something that, while outwardly serious, easily lends itself to comedy.

For a while now, Twitter has been fighting Elon Musk’s attempts to purchase it, likely because they feared he would expose the company’s dirty little secrets. But he made them an offer their shareholders couldn’t refuse, and it looked like he was going to own the company.

After a few months of looking at their books, though, Musk is now saying he wants to back out of the deal. And Twitter is threatening to sue him to force him to buy the company. This move will almost certainly reveal all its hidden censorship and fake users in the form of discovery if it actually proceeds to trial. Continue reading

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