Ernie And Cerbie: Family Film Mixes Spiritual Elements, Good Message

3.5 out of 5 stars (above average)

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Family entertainment is harder to find than an honest politician.  Most “family” films rely on kid-only humor, leaving their parents waiting anxiously for the credits.  Film producer Tammy Williams (through her production company Tammy Dele Films) made her directorial debut with The Chronicles of Ernie and Cerbie, a film that will actually entertain the entire family without crude jokes or pop culture references and balances humor, drama, and spiritual elements to create a unique experience.

The film follows young Ernie (Brogan Hall) and his dog Cerbie (voiced by an energetic Arlen Dewaine Griffin) who come out of a local lake before being taken to a children’s orphanage.  However, Ernie is no ordinary boy; he is actually an angel who gave up his life in heaven so he could experience the different kinds of love on Earth, unfortunately losing his memory in the process.  It also doesn’t help when bully Leto (John Whitley) begins to pick on Ernie, forcing him to confront his newfound human emotions.  All the while, police Detective Meyers (Dominic Pace) attempts to find out who Ernie is.

The Chronicles of Ernie and Cerbie is a sterling directorial debut.  Williams’ knowledge and experience with film shines through, as she directs the story with ease and gets some legitimately great performances out of her cast, especially the kids and animals.  I’ve seen many a film ruined by a child’s inability to act, but the young cast members possess unexpected range for their ages and hopefully have long careers ahead.  Best of all, the film’s message (no spoilers) is one that both parents and kids should connect with.  The Chronicles of Ernie and Cerbie is a funny, well-executed blend of genres that proves the family film can actually entertain the entire family.  Purchase the DVD on

“Penelope”: Down and snout

2 out of 5 stars (has some good moments, but is overall bad)

penelope poster 400 pixelPenelope (played by Christina Ricci) is a girl with a pig snout for a nose. Many years before she was born, a witch put a curse on her family: the next newborn girl would have the face of a pig. The curse would only be broken when “one of her own kind” would come to love her for who she is.

Penelope’s mother Jessica (Catherine O’Hara) and father Franklin (Richard E. Grant) have kept her inside their mansion ever since a news reporter named Lemon (Peter Dinklage) tried to run a story about Penelope’s pig face. Only men who might break the pig curse are allowed to see Penelope. They always run away, however, because of Penelope’s pig snout, leaving her sad and alone.

Lemon teams up with Edward (Simon Woods), a man who also tried to tell people about Penelope to no avail. The two get a broke gambler named Max (James McAvoy) to take a picture of Penelope to prove to the world they aren’t crazy. Yet, instead of getting a picture of Penelope, Max unintentionally makes things worse by making Penelope run away, driving her mother crazy.

Will Penelope get a real nose? Will she come back to her mother? Will she fall in love? The ending surprised me and I hope it does the same for you.

However, I thought this movie stunk like a pig pen. Some parts kind of bored me, and the film wasn’t a comedy like I was expecting. There were a few funny moments here and there but not enough. I don’t think little kids will like the grown-up parts of the movie after Penelope runs away, and I’m not sure who is supposed to like this film.

Rated PG for thematic elements and mild language.