Best Family-Friendly Halloween Films

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Halloween is just around the corner! If your family loves spending the holiday together, why not indulge with some classic, family-friendly Halloween flicks? Many horror movies out today will probably scare off children and give them nightmares, but celebrating the Halloween spirit is still possible with these milder, yet still spooky, films. Grab some candy, and happy haunting!

Beetlejuice (1988)

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Beetlejuice is the story of a married couple, the Maitlands, who plan to spend their vacation in their country home, but suddenly, an accident leaves them both dead. As their ghosts realize their fate, they also learn that they cannot leave their home! Their house gets sold soon enough, and a new family moves in, much to their dismay. Annoyed by the new inhabitants, the Maitlands decide to hire a bio-exorcist, who will rid the living from their house. This bio-exorcist, known as Beetlejuice, tries to scare off the new tenants in vain, and his antics leave you with a good number of cackles. Beetlejuice is a classic!

Casper (1995)

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Casper the Friendly Ghost needs no introduction. Most of the adults today know the adorable and friendly ghost who appeared in numerous cartoon shows, comics, and spin offs. Casper is the protagonist in the 1995 film named after him! After years of hiding in a mansion, Casper has grown bored for life as a ghost. When he finds an opportunity to make a friend, he does everything in his power to see it happen; he even tries to bring himself back to life. But not everything goes according to plan, and he soon faces trouble of his own.

The Black Cauldron (1985)

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The Black Cauldron is a quintessential Disney movie!The portrayal of the fierce and heroic Princess Eilonwy is anything but the typical damsel in distress. Enjoy as Taran, Princess, Gurgi, and Fflewddur Fflam try to foil the Horned King’s attempts to use Taran’s magical pig to secure a magical cauldron that brings back the dead to life. With this ancient cauldron at his disposal, the evil king would rule the entire world. The ragtag team lead by Taran is all that stands in the king’s path.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

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The dark animated movie features an interesting mix of comedy, holiday feel, magic, and darkness to make it a great Halloween (or Christmas!) movie. The movie follows the adventures of Jack Skellington, who is the King of Halloween in Halloween Town, which is home to all types of ghost, werewolves, witches, zombies, and other-worldly creatures. Jack has grown tired of following the Halloween routine every year and wants something new in life when he accidentally stumbles across Christmas Town. He immediately likes the town, and tries to take part in its celebrations, but his actions lead to disasters, including the abduction of Santa Claus. Only Jack can bring back the situation to normal in this classic Tim Burton movie.

E.T. (1982)

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This Steven Spielberg masterpiece continues to entertain millions of people every year on Halloween, nearly 35 years after its release. E.T. is the story of an alien who finds himself stranded on earth, and befriends a young boy named Elliot. Elliot helps the alien, named E.T., learn English, build a device to contact his alien friends, and return home. The movie brings out the best of humanity – the innocence, sheer curiosity, and willingness to go above and beyond to help a friend in need. The cute and adorable alien will touch kids’ hearts in the most pleasant way.

Ghostbusters (1984)

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The supernatural comedy movie, Ghostbusters, is an excellent watch during the Halloween season! Three parapsychologists start a ghost-hunting business in New York and create high-tech equipment designed to catch ghosts. They begin to capture ghosts across town and store them in their office. Soon, they are hired by a new client, who is haunted by a spirit that ends up wreaking havoc across the entire New York City. If the battle between Ghostbusters and the supernatural beings is not enough, Bill Murray’s signature humor will bring the laughs.

Monsters, Inc. (2001)

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If your kids are afraid of the dark, closet monsters, and monsters hiding under the bed, then Monsters, Inc. should be your top pick for the Halloween season. This Disney animated comedy takes place in the city of Monstropolis, which is home to all types of scary, but cute, monsters. The city is powered by electricity, which is generated from screams of human children. To get the human children to scream, professional monsters known as “Scarers,” visit the human children from their cupboards and scare them at night. However, the electricity production in Monstropolis begins to drop, because it’s somehow becoming difficult to scare children. Amidst all this, one human child somehow ends up in the factory at Monstropolis, and things begin to get dangerous for her. It is up to Sully, a hairy monster, and his one-eyed buddy, Mike, to save the girl from the monsters who wish to harm her.

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Why “Better Call Saul” is Better than “Breaking Bad”

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Breaking Bad has been deemed one of the best television series of all time and boasts a huge following, even after its finale aired in 2013. So when a spinoff was announced shortly after the series finale, it did not seem like a good idea at all. The whole idea of making a prequel to the legendary series sounded like a big mistake. However, Better Call Saul is not exactly a prequel in the traditional sense: it’s a dramady that shows how the con artist Jimmy McGill becomes the sleazy attorney, Saul Goodman, who most Breaking Bad fans were always curious about. The plot of the prequel does not mess with the precious plot of Breaking Bad, so fans became excited. Even though Better Call Saul is still on the air, it has proved to already be better than Breaking Bad in certain areas, and that is no small feat.

Better Call Saul really takes its time with its characters and focuses on character development: the show mainly follows the slow transformation from Jimmy to Saul, and serves as a deep character study of Jimmy McGill. Breaking Bad, on the other hand, was a fast-paced show. It was frequented by decisive situations, where the fate of the characters changed in an instant. There were a few episodes where Rian Johnson took the pedal off the accelerator; it was mostly high speed drama. Whenever Vince Gilligan, the man behind both shows, is asked about the slow pace of Better Call Saul, he mentions he was losing sleep that the show was moving too quickly.

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Apart from the more natural pace of Better Call Saul, the series also shows a lot of restraint in showcasing violence on screen. Breaking Bad certainly had its share of extreme violence: whether it was burning a body in acid or Walt’s machine gun scene in season 5, they were all unnecessarily gory. Sure, Breaking Bad was full of criminal minds, but Better Call Saul also flaunts of a whole brigade of bad guys. However, they do not break into violent behavior at every opportunity. This violence restraint makes the scenes that do showcase violence even more impactful. The scene where Tuco and Mike get into a fight in season 2, Tuco was left swollen and injured for multiple episodes; this confrontation was many notches above any violent scene that appeared in Breaking Bad.

Breaking Bad gave the TV audience legendary characters, but the show’s primary focus was limited to Walt and Jesse. There were a slew of supporting characters including Skyler, Hank, Walt Jr, and Gus, but all of them were simply there to be supporting cast. On the other hand, Better Call Saul has developed each of its characters in a way that they have all become a significant part of the story. Take Kim, for example: when she was introduced, she could be seen just hanging around with Jimmy, but now, she is one of the lead characters on the show. Even after five seasons of Breaking Bad, you could only remember Walt and Jesse, but only after two seasons of Better Call Saul, the show has given you a lot of characters to think of, such as Kim and Nacho. So, Better Call Saul is doing a better job at being an ensemble show than Breaking Bad was, even though Breaking Bad never intended to become an ensemble show.

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The story of Walter White was a man cheating death as long as he could, so there was always an inherent urgency attached to Breaking Bad.  However, Better Call Saul is not be restricted by time. Instead of running after money to leave for his family after his death like Walter did, Better Call Saul is a rather simple story (superficially though) of a man who tries to become a lawyer. He is a lost but lovable character who tries to make sense of life through his relationships. Better Call Saul may appear to be a rather uncomplicated story, but it is exactly the opposite of that. Breaking Bad was a story of a man for whom death uncovered his inner monster, but Better Call Saul creates a journey to understand much more complex characters and takes its time with it. Additionally, the comedy in the show makes the journey more interesting.

Both Walt and Jimmy desperately try to do something with their lives that they have never done before. It’s exciting to watch them strive to achieve their goals, and that’s why both the shows make for such a compelling watch. Walter’s journey is fast-paced and his goals are really not that defined; while Jimmy wants a flourishing law career, Walt wants power and money at all costs. Jimmy’s journey is more relatable than Walt’s. An average viewer may (in some twisted way) want to be Walt, but they can actually relate to Jimmy fighting for a career.

Better Call Saul, overall, is a lighthearted show in comparison to the hardcore Breaking Bad. This may be sighted as a shortcoming of the show by Breaking Bad loyalists, but this is exactly the factor that allows Better Call Saul much more growth than Breaking Bad. However, it still remains to be seen if Better Call Saul will leave a legacy worthy of being called Breaking Bad’s successor.

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How Comedians Cope with the 2016 Presidential Race

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Political satire and comedy have always been an integral part of U.S. Presidential elections in the recent era; American comedians have often guided voters through confusing and challenging times in an election and made light of situations. There is information coming at us from all directions, and an election year can be quite maddening. Comedians strive to help us make sense of it all and smile a little in the process. This year’s presidential race is no different, but it has definitely been one of the most interesting elections to watch unfold.

New York, the center of all things comedy, has seen a stark rise in the interest in onstage political comedy, because of the spike in interest in the presidential race this year. The heavy media coverage of the two frontrunners has only added more fuel to the fire. In fact, comedy club owners think that if Donald Trump is elected as president, it would be dream run for them and the comedians (at a terrible cost though). The absurdity of the election has created good business for comedians and provided them with endless material.

Donald Trump has certainly provided comedians with useful material since he was declare the Republican nominee. Saturday Night Live welcomed its 41st season with a jibe at Trump; Taran Killam donned the role of Trump on the show, and more recently, Alec Baldwin appeared with a hilarious rendition of the nominee. Melania Trump was not forgotten in the sketch; Cecily Strong did a great job portraying Mrs. Trump. When comedians imitate/mock candidates like Trump, it just reinforces the image of Trump that many voters have in mind. For instance, Trump is known for not delving into the finer details whenever questions about national policies are put out to him. On Saturday Night Live, Trump was also seen following in his own footsteps: when asked about his plans as president, he answered, “You want to know my plan? Here’s my plan: ‘I got the smartest guys.’” A good amount of time was also dedicated to Trump’s constant efforts to villainize the Latino community.

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Then, there was John Oliver’s masterstroke against the Donald Trump campaign. In an incredibly honest episode that set out to critically analyze the popularity of Donald Trump, Oliver credited Trump last and implied many negative things about his business acumen as well. The best part of the show was the revelation that Trump’s original family name was Drumpf. He urged the American people to vote for the man that he is and not for the illusion of grandeur that his last name creates. Such was the popularity of the episode that Donald Drumpf became the second-most Googled candidate name. Even Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, or Marco Rubio could not match the popularity of Donald Drumpf! The only name with more searches than Donald Drumpf was Donald Trump.

However, Trump is a comedian’s conundrum too; the satire is lost on him. There’s no way comedians can come up with any exaggeration to make the joke memorable, because Trump is truly the over-dramatized version of himself, and many people cannot believe he’s actually a nominee. Trump has been all over the news and comedy circuits for his antics, mannerisms, and of course, his toupee. But there are times when comedians do not have to work on making jokes to mock him – his own words are enough. In fact, Democrats may want Trump to be in the news as a butt of jokes, which ensures he is projected as a joker rather than a serious presidential nominee. Whether this strategy works in their favor or backfires will be hard to say because jokes on Trump don’t stick. Appearance after appearance, he outdoes himself on the comedy front, while his supporters cheer away.

Hillary Clinton has been on the radar of the comedians as well, but she is no match for all the entertainment Donald Trump satire has to offer. Most jokes on her have pointed at her stance on different matters of national interest, or about her marriage rather than her appearance. Gilbert Gottfried recently jibed, “What punishment should she get for her conduct in the email scandal? Probably the guillotine….” One of the best impersonations of Clinton was delivered by the talented Kate McKinnon on Saturday Night Live. Comedian Camille Theobald joked about the candidates recently in NYC, and gave some valuable insight on the role of comedians in the election process, and called them ‘society’s truth tellers.’ She said it was their job to make significant issues interesting, so that potential voters will actually pay attention.

The 2016 election is probably the most insane and interesting race to the presidency that America has seen in ages. On one side, there’s Trump, a treasure chest of jokes with his ridiculous behavior. Then there’s Clinton, whose supporters are ready to heckle comedians who make fun of her. However, that will clearly not stop comedians from taking shots at the Presidential candidates – Americans, enjoy the humor while it lasts.

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What to Expect from “Stranger Things” Season 2

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The wildly popular Netflix show, Stranger Things, will return next year with its second season. The second season will feature nine episodes, one more than the eight episodes of the first season. Ross and Matt Duffer will continue writing for the show; the brothers are also the executive producers of the show, along with Dan Cohen and Shawn Levy. Shooting for the next season is yet to begin and therefore, there is not a whole lot of information regarding what the Duffer Brothers have planned for their viewers this season. However, there are plenty of breadcrumbs that will give curious audience members something to speculate.

The pre-season trailer of the show has added to the excitement: it features nine titles, and the fans are convinced that these are the titles of the nine episodes of season two. The producer and director of the show, Shawn Levy, said that the show will put forth some ‘next level stuff’ and that the show will mature and evolve with its young characters. In a recent interview, he said that with a show as popular as Stranger Things, it becomes really challenging for the creators to make a follow up season and not think about expectations. Referring to Hollywood, he said a part 2 of a movie can disappoint the viewers, because it is too similar to the first part. On the other hand, if the producers try and do something very different, it may backfire as well, so it’s a fine line they have to tread. As he puts it, the second season will have a lot of ‘crazy stuff,’ but the beloved characters of the show will be there for the audience to enjoy.

Other than that, the season 2 of the show has been labeled as a sequel, taking inspiration from the Academy Award winning filmmaker, James Cameron. What the showrunners love about the legendary director’s style is that he is able to keep the essence of the original intact, while giving a new direction to the story and characters in his follow up movies. They want to replicate that with Stranger Things. So, while there will certainly be new characters in the show, the story of Stranger Things will still follow the same young protagonists the fans love so much. However, Levy said that the show obviously cannot follow the characters as kids forever, and there ought to be changes on that front. The actors will grow and the characters will evolve with them.

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Also, the new season is going to take place almost a year after the first one. The season one was set in the winter of 1983, while this season will take place in 1984. When the second season was on the drawing board, the discussions did sway toward a longer time jump with adult characters. But eventually, they decided on a small jump because the showrunners believe that there is still a lot of potential left in the current timeline. However, there is little information about how the show plans to fill in the audiences about the gap. All the producers have to say is that the audience members will easily know what happened in the past year.

All the lead actors are expected to reprise their roles in the sequel as well, including Finn Wolfhard, Winona Ryder, Millie Bobby Brown, and Gaten Matarazzo. Millie Bobby Brown (Eleven) is rumored to be a huge part of the nine episodes of the upcoming season; however, fans will have to wait to really get an insight on how her character will exactly evolve. There is not much information about who the new characters will be and how will they play out in the story.

This season, the story is ready to go bigger now that the show has created a huge fanbase for itself. Netflix does not reveal viewership number, but according to an independent agency, Stranger Things attracted as many as 14.07 million adults in the first 35 days of its release.

Ross Duffer has made fans more inquisitive by putting out a lot of puzzles for them; he pointed out the gate to the other dimension that is open in the town of Hawkins and how it can affect the future. There can be so many mysteries hidden behind the door waiting to be solved, which is exciting for fans. He also hinted about the probability of the Monster being alive, and more curiously, about the possibility of more monsters. Now, this last bit about the ‘monsters’ is particularly interesting because the brothers had stated earlier that only one Monster was in existence. So, if there are more monsters, how did they come to be? How it will impact the story and how this development will affect the beloved characters will engage the viewers the most.

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