The Secret Kingdom

This week Sam shares with Danielle the 2023 fantasy movie The Secret Kingdom. Peter is your average mopey teen with crippling anxiety and a bubbly younger sister. His family has recently arrived at a new house. We say “arrived” because the real mystery of this movie starts right away as Sam and Danielle try to figure out if the family is moving there, or just there to clean, or what. this mystery is compounded by the fact that when a moving truck arrives the dad drops the bomb that surprise! Their home was foreclosed on, so what does that makes this place? This utterly irrelevant detail completely baffling our hosts really sets the tone for the rest of this movie. Soon Peter’s sister Verity manages to get them both transported to a magic, subterranean kingdom inhabited by large, bipedal pangolins. Verity somehow already speaks their language, and soon Peter is blessed with the pangolin tongue when one of the creatures literally sticks their tongue in his ear. Peter is—surprise, surprise—the chosen one, the prophesied king of the pangolins who must go on an epic quest to defeat a creature of pure evil called the Shroud. How is Peter to do this? Why a fetch-quest of course! He needs to find five pieces of a broken clock hidden around this forgotten world and then fix the clock which will defeat the Shroud. Somehow. No time for questions, they have a quest to do! So off Peter, Verity, and their pangolin companion Pling go through this actually stellar looking world to find the pieces in a quest so utterly simple that it angers Sam and forces Danielle to repeatedly ask “Why couldn’t a pangolin do this?”

La Pluie – Part 2

This week Danielle brings part two of the 2023 Thai drama La Pluie (ฝนตกครั้งนั้น ฉันรักเธอ). When we last left off, Tai had just seen Phat being kissed by Phat’s ex-girlfriend. Shocking as this is, Tai does the adult thing and talks to Phat to clear up any misunder- Kidding! He throws a tantrum and runs off into the mountain wilderness with no jacket or water. Unsurprisingly, by the end of the day Tai is not doing well and everyone else is very worried. Luckily, it starts to rain so Phat hears Tai’s voice, and Tai somehow guides them to his rescue. In a missive twist, Lomfon also hears Tai (and maybe Phat?) in his head. This weird, three-way soulmate phenomenon will go criminally under-examined in this story and is, frankly, a massive missed opportunity to end the show with a throuple. Anyway, drama ensues as Lomfon thinks Tai might be his soulmate, Tai’s bother Thian is hurt by Lomfon’s lack of interest in himself, and Phat becomes uncharacteristically jealous and codependent on Tai. Luckily, the wild coincidences have come to a middle as the following items are revealed, listed here in no particular order: Lomfon was saved from being hit by a car several years ago by a mysterious stranger he’s been in love with ever since. That mysterious person turns out to be Tai. Phat had a next door neighbor several years ago that was going through a rough time since his parents were getting divorced, so he had his grandmother smuggle notes of support back and forth between them, but they never met in person despite literally sharing a fence. That mysterious person turns out to be Tai. Sam basically gives up at this point. Anyway, the rest of the story is pretty much your typical drama shenanigans playing out until everyone is happily paired off. However, Sam and Danielle do create an amazing alternate story about Phat trading a cured animal to a little girl in the style of a back-alley drug deal, so keep an eye out for their next book: Big Phat: Animal Health Dealer.

La Pluie – Part 1

This week Danielle brings the first part of the 2023 Thai drama La Pluie (ฝนตกครั้งนั้น ฉันรักเธอ). Tai is your normal twenty-something, except he has a not-uncommon condition where when it rains he goes deaf, except for the voice in his head which is his soulmate and they can talk in their heads, but only when it’s raining. Got that? As amazingly bonkers as that premise is, unfortunately, the first half of this series isn’t all that interested in answering the many, many questions Sam and Danielle have about this horrifying universe. To make matters worse for Tai, his parents, who are also voice-in-head-when-it-rains soulmates are getting divorced, and it’s caused him to reject the soulmate voice in his own head and he refuses to meet that mystery man. The concept of time, as usual, is a shambles in this TV show, especially as it’s told primarily through flashbacks, but at some point Tai takes a cat to the vet and discovers the super-hot veterinarian Phat is actually his soulmate, and he starts to regret rejecting him. There are also some shenanigans where Tai hears Phat making-out with someone (what a constant horror-show this world is) and pegs him as a bit of a playboy. At another point, Tai’s ridiculous brother Thian blows up at someone named Lomfon in a bookstore for picking up a book. Tai’s smooths things over but, uh oh, it looks like Lomfon may have a crush on Tai, but double uh-oh becuase Lomfon and Thian are in the same film class and Thian might have a crush on Lomfon. It’s at this point Sam taps-out and all but begs for the high-school relationship drama to end and the crazy rain shenanigans to resume. For better or worse, Danielle leaves him wanting more as she promises that part two ratchets up the insanity. But just before ending, she leaves us with this cliffhanger: Tai, after hooking up with Phat, accidentally walks in on him being kissed by his ex-girlfriend, dun dun dunnnnnnnnn! Join us next time for the thrilling, and truly insane, conclusion.

Blood and Chocolate (Movie)

This week Danielle completes a double-feature with the 2007 movie Blood and Chocolate. Hold on to your hats werewolf fans, because we’re back with lycanthropes! If you hoped this movie shares more than a name with the book, prepare to be greatly disappointed. This time, our much more adult werewolf Vivian is in Bucharest, and while breaking into a werewolf church (go with it) she runs into Aiden, a graphic novelist making a new book about werewolves, of course. Aiden is super into Vivian but she doesn’t feel the same at first. That’s the boring stuff, the crazy stuff is that now the city seems to be run by the werewolves now called loups-garoux. They also seem to abduct people, possibly criminals, to hunt for funsies. Vivian is not into the hunts, but her cousin Rafe is, and the pack leader Gabriel really don’t like humans at all. Also, he wants to dump Vivian’s aunt Astrid to hookup with Vivian, but now it’s somehow even creepier than in the book. Anyway, as you might expect, Vivian and Aiden start dating in secret, but that secret doesn’t last long. When Gabriel finds out, he sends Rafe to confront Aiden in the bone cathedral (Sam’s favorite part) and utters possibly the greatest line in cinema history. While the plot seems thin, that’s because the movie is just stuffed full of irrelevant werewolf lore that Danielle loves and Sam is just confused by. So come learn if the movie is as good as the book (spoiler: it’s not). Oh yeah, there’s also a prophecy, but it super doesn’t matter. Enjoy!


This week Danielle brings Sam the 1994 Don Bluth animated feature Thumbelina. In past France, of an indeterminate time ago, a lonely woman secures a magic barley corn which grows a flower which, in turn, an adolescent girl pops out of fully formed but just two inches tall. Unfazed by this nightmare, and possessing a sick sense of humor, the woman names her new “child” Thumbelina. As a teenage girl fresh to the world, Thumbelina is lonely with literally no one in the world she can relate to. Fortunately, the fairy prince (go with it) happens to be out riding his apparently massive bumblebee and sees Thumbelina falling instantly in love with her. After a quick flight on the bee, Thumbelina is on board, and really, he’s definitely her best option. However, while they were out and about a toad named Grundel had also fallen in love with Thumbelina and has his mom (voiced amazingly by Charo) kidnap her to become part of his song troupe/wife. Thumbelina escapes, but is set upon by just so many random animals who all lust after this diminutive human teenager, and Sam is intensely disturbed by all of it. The only creature not wanting to marry Thumbelina is a bird that does all he can to help her except the only thing that would actually help, which is fly her around. With the fairies forced to bring on winter (oh yeah, they control the seasons) after a full two days of autumn, Thumbelina is desperate to find her love the prince before she is forced to either freeze to death or marry a mole at the behest of a mouse voiced by Carol Channing. This movie is bonkers, y’all.

Warriors of Virtue 2: The Return to Tao

This week the kangafus are back as Sam brings the 2002 movie Warriors of Virtue 2: The Return to Tao. What becomes most apparent in this episode is how bad of and idea it was for Sam not to prepare by listening to the previous Warriors of Virtue episode as he remembers almost nothing about the story, the characters, or even what he and Danielle talked about during that episode. This is extra unfortunate since this movie dives right in expecting you’re already a Warrior of Virtue expert as we rejoin Ryan Jeffers, now in Beijing for the international highschool wushu tournament. After the previous captain of the US team had to drop out, Ryan, who hadn’t even made the team, was brought in as the substitute captain, and already this film is bonkers. You might expect Ryan to be very good at wushu if they brought him in as the new captain, but he is, in fact, quite terrible. Anyway, after he and his buddy bop around Beijing for a few days, entirely unsupervised, Ryan once again finds himself in an abandoned building and being sucked through a portal to the land of Tao. There he meets Yasbin, who serves as the exposition machine of the movie and, true to purpose, tells Ryan that Tao is once again under threat, this time from Dogon and his absolutely incredible henchman. Seriously, that man henches better than anyone Sam has ever seen. Anyway, Ryan goes to see Queen Amythis (who knew Tao has a queen?) and learns that the Warriors of Virtue have been nearly all defeated and captured by Dogon. You’d think the mystical land of Tao would have someone better than a not-very-good-at-wushu teenager from Earth to help them, but nope, Ryan is the best they got apparently. If this plot all seems both dull and convoluted, don’t worry, as the movie progresses things make way less sense and thus are way more fun. Also, be sure to stick around to see Sam at the angriest he’s ever been as this film betrays him on a deeply personal level. Fun!

Cinderella II: Dreams Come True

This week Sam is back on his direct-to-home-video adventure with the 2002 movie Cinderella II: Dreams Come True. Cinderella is back, and this time Sam is doing the previous movie to see if it fixes the timeline that Cinderella III absolutely destroyed (Spoiler: it does not). In this collection of three animated shorts loosely tied together into what could be generously called a “movie”, we start with the mice who have decided to write a book for Cinderella about Cinderella and her adventures. Mice, it turns out, are not very smart. And so they take us through three stories about Cinderella planning parties, because that’s apparently the main (only) export of this kingdom. The individual stories are pretty much what you would expect: Cinderella and her friends learn valuable life lessons, though no one, it seems, had learned the Prince’s name. The good news is that, aside from planning parties, these stories are chock-full of insanity. In no particular order: Jaq gets turned into a human but continues to be stalked by a cat determined to eat him, the Forbidden Curtains in the castle are finally opened, Anastasia finds several fountains to cry over, chocolate pudding is made that almost certainly contains hantavirus, and a horse kicks Anastasia through a building which would certainly kill her. While we never manage to understand the Cinderella timeline any better, we do learn two things from this movie: Cinderella is almost certainly a sociopath, and Pompom is our new favorite character.

Book Reshorts: Partial Recall 6: Back in Time

We kick off the new year with a short! It’s Danielle’s turn to recall any details about the 2007 direct to video Disney threequel Cinderella III: A Twist in Time. Danielle does a decent job, but her holiday-addled brains are no match for the insanity that is Cinderella III. So enjoy as we reminisce about this fairy tale story and then become upset with it all over again.

Book Reshorts: Partial Recall 5: Danielle’s Revenge

In this week’s (not so) short, Partial Recall is back as Danielle challenges Sam to remember what she told him about the 2011 movie Red Riding Hood. Sam begins his recollection by promptly falling flat on his face, and it only goes downhill from there. Danielle relishes her sweet revenge as Sam struggles to recall the most basic plot details, but does somehow remember a werewolf contract was involved. So join us as Sam becomes outraged at this movie all over again.

The Lake House

This week Danielle brings the 2006 time traveling romance movie The Lake House. When Dr. Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock) sells her lake house to apparently no one, she decides to leave a note for the next owners in the mailbox, like a totally normal human being. Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves) moves in and receives her letter. This confuses him, because the letter mentions things about the house—like apparently impossible to remove dog prints in paint—that don’t exist. Instead of just ignoring this letter like a sane person, Alex writes back and puts the letter in the lake house mailbox. After Kate fails to save a man pancaked by a bus in front of her, she decides the best course of action is to return to the lake house and raid the mailbox there and see if the new owners took her letter. She finds the letter from Alex and they start exchanging letters, learning that Alex is writing from 2004, while Kate is writing from 2006. They also seem to have a magic dog that they both have owned for years even though it’s, again, the same dog and they don’t know each other. They engage in more time-communication shenanigans, like Alex planting a tree for Kate that suddenly magically springs into existence before her eyes. It should be noted Sam absolutely hates the nonsensical time mechanics of this movie. Alex engages in some light time-stalking of Kate, and then he kisses her at a birthday party Kate’s not-Alex boyfriend threw for her when she still doesn’t know who Alex is. It should also be noted that both their families know they are having romantic communications through time and, insanely, no one seems to care. So join us for what is amazingly, baffling, the least coherent time travel story ever heard on Book Retorts, which is really saying something.