Monthly Archives: May 2022
EVERYDAY ON MY ROUTE TO AND from the office, I pass a house that is up for sale. It has been nearly seven months now that the FOR-SALE sign has been out by the street curb. I do not know how big an acre of land is, but there is enough land around the structure where two more houses could easily be built on it. The land slopes up from the curb to the white painted house, giving off the look of a southern plantation home. With green painted shutters and a thick white pillar on either side of the front door with its brass door knocker, I do not understand why the house has not found a buyer; from my view, it looks like something used on a movie set. When I found the listing for it online, I went through all the photos of the interior, and I was stunned. The rooms were extremely small with just as small doorways. I could not imagine how furniture would fit through any of the doors. The kitchen was nasty looking, with ancient appliances, broken cabinet doors and old fixtures. Upstairs there were four bedrooms and each one was oddly shaped due to the pitch of the roof and the support beams. To look out the window of one of the rooms, one would have to stoop over to avoid hitting their head on the ceiling. This house was in desperate need of a big remodeling. THIS ONE HOUSE HAS CHANGED MY perception of large, fancy homes; or as what I refer to them as, McMansions. The most beautiful homes with perfectly manicured lawns and the best curbside appeal may only be a façade. I am always looking at the homes listed in the real estate section of the newspapers and now wonder what might lie behind their walls. Firstly, I do not understand why someone needs a huge house unless they have a lot of family members living with them. Homes that are over 10,000 square feet with a multitude of bathrooms make no sense to me. Why would the occupants need so many rooms? Then there are the “super” mansions that are massive beyond anything that I would consider being practical. I sit and imagine what rooms get used in a day, week, or month; trying to list in my head every conceivable function that would require its own separate room. Even coming up with obscure hobbies or uses, I can see a maximum of needing maybe twelve rooms and that is including four bedrooms and a den. Keeping up maintenance would be a nightmare; I saw proof of it in this romantic drama. ALLOWING A MOVIE STUDIO TO SET up in their home was more of a necessity for the Grantham family because they needed the funds for repairs. Also, the timing was perfect since they discovered the inheritance of a French villa. With Hugh Bonneville (Paddington franchise, Notting Hill) as Robert Grantham, Jim Carter (The Good Liar, Shakespeare in Love) as Mr. Carson, Michelle Dockery (Non-Stop, The Gentleman) as Lady Mary, Elizabeth McGovern (The Chaperone, The Wife) as Cora Grantham and Allen Leech (Bohemian Rhapsody, The Imitation Game) as Tom Branson; one need not see the first film to enjoy this sequel. I am not familiar with the television series, so the first thirty minutes were a struggle for me; however, I soon settled in to experience a time gone by with the members of this household. The idea for the story was a stretch; I would have been more curious if the writers had gone down the other path, they introduced into the story line regarding Hugh’s character. Either way, fans of the series will not be disappointed with this film. As for me, I wound up enjoying spending the time with the Grantham family, though I wondered what else in the house needed repair.
EVERYTHING I RESEARCHED WAS TRUE ABOUT my travel destination. The weather was perfect for me when I disembarked from the plane, in the 80s with a gentle breeze. I was almost overwhelmed with the about of vegetation everywhere. There were flowers along the streets, blooming bushes in front of buildings, tall hedges surrounding homes; the place was so colorful, like an artist splashing different colored paints all over the place. I arrived at my hotel and was not disappointed. The lobby had live trees that received sunlight from the large geometrical skylight in the roof. There was artwork, paintings, and sculptures, from local artists that was placed throughout the lobby. After checking in and getting the key to my room, I rode the glass elevator up to my floor. The room was clean and bright, with a view overlooking one of the hotel’s swimming pools. On the bed was a couple of cut flowers that gave off a lovely fragrance; I could not have been happier. Because I did not know if it would be hard getting seated at the hotel’s main restaurant, I had made reservations because I knew I was going to be hungry when I landed. BEFORE I HAD ARRIVED, I WAS told what foods to stay away from; so, I did not have as many choices of food as I had hoped for. It was okay since I tend to like simple foods. It turned out the restaurant was full; I was glad I made reservations. When the waitress handed me the bill, I decided I would pay for it in cash. I also wanted to break the large bill so I would have enough change for tips and small purchases. After sitting there for several minutes, I wondered what was keeping the waitress from bringing back my change. I finally had to ask another server to find her. When she finally came back, I asked her for the change from my payment. She acted like she did not know what I was talking about. I described how much my bill was and the payment I gave her, that I was expecting change back. She said she would go check and when she returned, she had my change. I was ticked off but chalked it off to a one-time thing. However, this same thing happened to me at a couple of other restaurants. My second day there a monsoon hit the place and the hotel lobby flooded; I could not leave my room for a few hours. When I finally was able to get to the lobby, a staff employee was standing by the entrance to the pools. He said they were closed due to the staph infection that had occurred after the flooding. I was not done; throughout my visit I was constantly being asked for money. By the time of my return flight, I was ready to go; my trip was not relaxing. That is what the main character should have done in this dramatic horror science fiction film, go home at the first sign of trouble. GETTING AWAY FROM THE TRAGEDY SHE had been enduring back home, a woman retreats to a quiet estate in the country. During her first walk on the grounds, she encountered a man with no clothes. With Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose, The Lost Daughter) as Harper, Rory Kinnear (Quantum of Solace, Penny Dreadful-TV) as Geoffrey, Paapa Essiedu (Gangs of London-TV, I May Destroy You-TV) as James and Gayle Rankin (The Greatest Showman, Glow-TV) as Riley; this movie directed and written by Alex Garland (Ex Machina, Annihilation) left me confused. I thought the acting was wonderful, with Jessie having a commanding screen presence. The filming was shot beautifully throughout the English countryside. However, I felt the script was too ambiguous; I did not quite know what was going on. Individual scenes were well done, but I could not tell you what this movie was about, except maybe it has to do with guilt or man’s relationship to females. I feel if one must work hard to try and make sense of a movie, then it is not entertaining.
1 ¾ stars
IT WAS A TERRIBLE STORM WITH high winds and snow piling up quickly. I remember I stayed home because there was no way I wanted to venture out into the cold, let alone with a blizzard taking place. A friend of mine who I had talked with earlier in the day was driving out to visit his son who was in college, out of state. I mentioned how the weather was not going to let up according to the latest news reports, but he insisted he had to see his son who was performing in the school’s play. Asking if there were multiple performances, my friend said this was the only performance and he had to be there for it. I asked him why; what would be the harm if he missed this one performance; his son would surely understand based on the horrible weather, I added. My friend said he had never missed one of his son’s performances and he was not going to let that happen now, especially since his son was getting close to graduating. He told me how important it was to him, to be there and support his son who was working on attaining his dream. I could not fault him on being such a loving and supportive parent; that he was willing to take such a risk in this awful storm just to be there for his child. It was quite admirable. A SHORT TIME LATER, AN ACQUAITANCE of mine was telling me what she was planning for her son’s high school graduation. Because the school wanted to maintain their safety precautions, it decided it would hold the big celebratory senior dance at the school. According to her, many of the students were disappointed they were not going to a “fancy” location. The mother felt sad for her son so decided to get herself on the decorations committee. I was stunned when she told me about her ideas for the dance; she was going to decorate/build a setting that would look like the courtyard of a Spanish or Mexican house. She wanted some type of fountain in the center, even if it turned out to be the punchbowl, with Spanish moss and twinkling lights hanging from the ceiling and walls. Using large picture frames, she thought about inserting class photos or scenic ones depicting exotic locations. Listening to her descriptions, I could see it in my head. When I asked her if she had enough free time, she said because of her job she would have to do the bulk of the work at night and weekends. I found it touching that she was willing to sacrifice most of her free time to provide a special setting for her son and his graduating class. Here are two parents who would do anything for their child and now I find the mother in this action, adventure drama doing everything she can for her child. HOPING TO SEE HER MISSING DAUGHTER, a soldier agreed to participate in a life-threatening mission. All she would need to do is skate across a frozen lake. With Noomi Rapace (The Secrets We Keep, Angel of Mine) as Caroline Edh, Jakob Oftebro (Kon-Tiki, Agent Hamilton-TV) as Nylund, Dar Salim (The Devil’s Double, Game of Thrones-TV) as Malik and Aliette Opheim (The Deposit, Alone in Space) as Forsberg; I found the story curiously intriguing. Noomi was excellent and I think that was a large part why I stayed engaged with this movie. The idea behind the story was new and different, which grabbed me quickly. On the other hand, the execution of it was typical. There was a bit unevenness in the directing, along with some predictability; however, I stayed interested in the story because of the acting and variety of tense scenes. If nothing else, this movie is watchable just to see what a mother would do for her child.
2 ¼ stars
THERE WERE SEVERAL MISSED NOTES, BUT I continued sitting there with a smile on my face. The little girl was playing a song on the piano; something that was unfamiliar to me. Her mother had asked me to sit down and listen to her daughter play, adding she believed her little girl had a gift for playing the piano. That is not how I would have described her piano playing, but I understood she was proud of her daughter. After the girl was done playing, I applauded and complimented her. She thanked me then headed out of the room. I turned my attention back to the little girl’s mother, who was sitting there with the biggest smile on her face and her hands clasped together by her heart. I hoped she was not about to do something that I find annoying, but my hope was quickly dashed. She said, “Isn’t her piano playing exceptional?” I ask you, how could I sit there and not say something complimentary about her daughter’s playing, even if it wasn’t true?” And that is exactly what I find annoying; parents bragging about their children and expecting guests to agree with them. Why put guests in an uncomfortable position by seeking out compliments from them? What guest would not say something favorable about a parent’s child? To me the whole thing is a setup. EARLY ON, I REALIZED EVERY PARENT thinks their child is special and unique. There is nothing wrong with that; I only hope they create a supportive and loving environment for their children. Bragging to me shows a sign of insecurity in a person. Fishing for compliments tells me the person does not have enough confidence to believe in themselves. That is why I find bragging about children distasteful. It puts the child in a compromising position, where they are pressured to perform. I recall the years I took piano lessons, I never asked anyone to listen to me play. In fact, I avoided going to the piano recitals my teacher would hold with all his students. It is funny, I am just remembering a few scenes from the talent reality shows I have seen. Standing on stage is a 20- year-old who is singing off key. The performance was dreadful; yet he felt he did a wonderful job. His parents encouraged him to audition because they said he was such a good singer. I am all for supporting a child’s dreams; but how far does it go when there is an obvious lack of talent. As the judges critiqued the singer, I wondered if the parents had been fair towards their child. Heck, even the parents in this dramatic, horror sci-fi film did not want to brag about their child even though their child was indeed extraordinary. AS THEIR DAUGHTER WAS HEADING TOWARD adolescence, it was only a matter of time before her special talent would get her noticed. This was something the parents were trying to avoid; no one needed to know about their daughter as far as they were concerned. With Zac Efron (The Greatest Showman, The Beach Bum) as Andy McGee, Ryan Kiera Armstrong (The Tomorrow War, Black Widow) as Charlie McGee, Sydney Lemmon (Fear the Walking Dead-TV, Helstrom-TV) as Vicky McGee, Michae Greyeyes (Kissed by Lightning, True Detective-TV) as Rainbird and Gloria Reuben (Lincoln, Who We are Now) as Captain Hollister; this updated version of the Stephen King novel started out poor and remained there. I found Zac to be an odd choice for his character. He was too young looking and his lines were dull. The script tried to freshen up the original story and truthfully there were a few scenes that worked; however, I was bored watching this picture. I liked the musical soundtrack, but obviously that was not enough to draw me into the story. With having an unusual character in the script, one would hope there would be some high exciting drama. Sadly, this flaming film shined as bright as a low ember.
1 ¾ stars
HEAVEN ON EARTH FOR ME IS anyplace that sells soft-serve, custard ice cream. There is such a feeling of comfort and joy that comes over me when eating the stuff. So, I decided recently to treat myself and go to a shop that sells it. After the choosing and paying for my chocolate ice cream, I sat down at one of the tables in the place. A family of four walked in and they each grabbed a cup to fill up with their choice of ice cream. This shop is set up where the customer fills the container with product and gets charged for it by the weight. Next to the cash registers was a long counter that was covered with containers filled with different toppings for one’s ice cream. I watched as the two children with their full containers ran up to this counter to pick their toppings. Unbelievably, my first thought was why were not the parents supervising them on the toppings; but they eventually came over to pay for their containers, while watching their kids go from one end to the other putting topping after topping on their ice cream. I counted nine toppings; yes, I said nine toppings! You could see part of them on top above the edge of their containers. How did the parents allow so much stuff added to the ice cream, and I wondered how much each of their children’s containers would cost? Also, could they even taste each item when there were so many different ones piled together? I HAVE NEVER SHIED AWAY FROM combined multiple tastes, like chocolate cake with chocolate chips and chocolate ice cream. Or I can do hot fudge, nuts, and sprinkles on top of my ice cream. However, I cannot exceed more tastes into one thing. An example would be that dessert bar that people usually call seven-layer bars or conglomerates. They are not bad, and I have certainly eaten my share of them; however, they are not my favorite. I would be perfectly content with a chocolate chip cookie. When there are too many items pushed together, I never feel I am getting the full taste of each item. It is funny, I am the same way with my meals. I like my salad before the meal and everything on my plate should be separated so they are not mixing. Chicken in one spot, asparagus in another and potatoes by themselves. Of course, Chinese entrees or several Mexican dishes are fine because they are supposed to be put together. The reason I am telling you this is because you will understand better why I was having a challenging time watching this action, adventure fantasy. SEEING A MULTI-TENTACLE CREATURE DESTROYING property was not the biggest shock for Doctor Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch (The Power of the Dog, The Electrical Life of Louis Wan); it was seeing a young girl in the middle of the chaos, who he had seen in his dreams. With Elizabeth Olsen (Wind River, In Secret) as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, Chiwetel Ejiofer (Locked Down, The Old Guard) as Baron Mordo, Benedict Wong (The Martian, Annihilation) as Wong and Rachel McAdams (Game Night, Spotlight) as Dr. Christine Palmer; this new installment of the film franchise had a darker side to it than the average Marvel Studios’ film. Benedict’s acting, which was superior, was equally matched and more so by Elizabeth Olsen and that is what kept me grounded to this picture. The abundance of special effects was so over the top for me; that I felt the CGI department let loose with everything they could think of because of being cooped up due to COVID the past couple of years. It was too much for me and I had to pay close attention to the different universes and storylines that were being thrust upon the screen. It was the thoughtful, emotional scenes that got me through the monotony of so many action, fantasy scenes. Though I will say the special effects were amazing; I love Doctor Strange’s cloak. How I like my toppings on ice cream is how I wish this sequel had been written, more backstory and less frenetic action scenes. There were two extra scenes: one in the middle and the other at the end of the credits.
A FRIEND OF MINE ASKED ME to accompany her to a family wedding. I like dressing up from time to time, so I was happy to join her. She told me the ceremony and reception were both being held at a downtown hotel; so, this was going to be a large wedding. I had met several of her family members, but I was also familiar with others solely based on the stories she would tell me about them. We drove into the city and dropped off the car with the hotel’s parking attendant. Entering the hotel lobby, there was a pedestal signboard that listed the day’s events being held in their meeting and ballrooms. Her cousin’s name was the third one down, showing the wedding was being held in the Crystal Ballroom. I stopped to ask a hotel employee who directed us to a set of escalators that would take us up to the room. When we came to the top of the escalator, there was an open area around us that had small high-top tables with guests milling about. A bulbous older man came up to us and gave my friend a big bearhug. He then extended his hand out to me to shake. When I grasped it, I had to suppress the urge to recoil back from him because his hand was wet. He must have sensed something in me because he asked me to excuse him, he had just licked his hand clean from a messy appetizer. I was speechless for a second before he burst out laughing; he said he was just kidding and introduced himself to me. I wanted to run from him and go wash my hand. AFTER THAT FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH HER relative, I still was not prepared for what laid ahead. We mingled among the guests, and I was enjoying meeting the faces to match the stories she had told me about them for all these years. There was the aunt who loved her drinks, who would start dancing no matter where she was standing. She also did not need any music when she danced. At some point, a cousin came up to us and her first question was asking if the two of us were dating. Answering her cousin with a no, my friend grabbed my hand, and we made our way to where the ceremony was taking place. We got through it with no more interruptions from her relatives; however, once the dinner started all chaos started to take over. I felt like I was in the middle of an avant-garde movie, where the cast was experiencing psychotic episodes. The night consisted of a fight, guest passing out, foul language, unbearable long speeches; in other words, something like what I saw in this latest installment of the movie franchise. A COLLEGE GRADUATION PARTY BRINGS EVERYONE together at Madea’s, played by Tyler Perry (Gone Girl, Alex Cross) place for a celebration. How soon before things get out of control when it comes to Madea’s family? With Cassi Davis (Daddy’s Little Girl, House of Payne-TV) as Bam, David Mann (Computer Love, Meet the Browns-TV) as Mr. Brown, Jennifer Gibney (Agnes Browne, Mrs. Brown’s Boys-TV) as Cathy and Isha Blaaker (The Flight Attendant-TV, Red Riding Hoods-TV) as Davi; this dramatic, comedy romance was consistent with all the other films before it. If you have never seen a Madea movie, then you might find something entertaining if you look for it. I did not find anything new except the characters had a larger vocabulary. There was a decent message buried in the script; but when weighed against everything one must sit through to get to it, it did not seem worth the wait. There were a few lines and a couple of scenes that were amusing; but not enough to maintain my attention. I am glad I did not have to go to the movie theater to see this picture because if I had, I might have become one of those crazy guests from the wedding I attended.
1 ¾ stars
I DO NOT THINK I AM CRAZY, though some of my friends and family think so because I soak prescription medicine bottles. The reason is to remove the labels before I recycle the bottles. Several of my friends think for the small size of the bottles it is not worth it to recycle; I beg to differ. But here is the thing, I do not force my recycling beliefs on those around me. If a package can be recycled into another item, I feel I am doing my part to protect our world’s natural resources. If by my recycling there is one less plastic product sitting in a garbage dump or floating in the ocean, then I feel quite good about helping protect the planet. I do not berate anyone if they choose not to recycle their products; I can only hope they see by my example a mindset that does not take much effort to do. If I am drinking water from a plastic bottle at someone’s house, I ask them if they recycle. If the answer is no, then I tell them I will take the bottle home with me to recycle it. I do not pass any judgements on the person, nor do I make a big deal out of it to embarrass the host in any way. I am simply doing my thing, as they say. THE WAY I ACT ABOUT RECYCLING, where I do not berate or force people to follow, came about from seeing how a couple of individuals were acting about their beliefs. One person had signed up with an organization to become a sales rep for their exclusive home products. This person constantly talked about how wonderful the company benefits were and how they were able to make more than their agreed upon salary. At meals, get togethers, emails and phone calls; they also made a point of asking me to sign up and work under them. It came to a point where I started avoiding them because what they were describing to me was a pyramid scheme. The only way I could make more money was if I could get individuals to sign up under my name; the more people you convince to join the organization, the more money you make. And of course, with the discount salespeople get for the company’s product line, this person’s house was filled with every product from air fresheners to toilet bowl cleaners. I was forced to watch how well one of the cleaning products worked on their kitchen counter; it was no different than the cleaner I use at home, and I did not have to pay shipping for mine. Can you imagine having to listen to this stuff every day? It would be like living with the main character in this comedic drama. FIGHTING WITH THE GOVERNMENT OVER THEIR charging policy for television broadcasts took on more importance when Kempton Bunton, played by Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady, Another Year), saw how much money the government paid for a painting by Francisco Goya. With Heather Craney (Vera Drake, Child 44) as Debbie, Helen Mirren (The Good Liar, Woman in Gold) as Dorothy Bunton, Fionn Whitehead (Dunkirk, The Children Act) as Jackie Bunton and Matthew Goode (Chasing Liberty, Downton Abbey) as Jeremy Hutchinson QC; this film based on a true story was a treat. First the acting prowess of Jim and Helen was mesmerizing. The story was incredible and the whole cast made this film a non-stop piece of entertainment. I enjoyed the curves the script threw, and the way Jim delivered his words with timing perfection. Because the true story was so outrageous, I at times wondered how much liberty the writers took in writing the script; however, it was not enough to take my attention away from the all the scenes. Finally, to show you the sign of a good actor, I was getting annoyed by some of Kempton Bunton’s actions.
3 ½ stars
IF A COUPLE IS GOING TO end their relationship, the ideal situation in my opinion is when they both agree to it. I know personally it is much easier when both parties come to the same realization that the relationship is not working/healthy. A couple I knew were together for approximately a year before they discovered they could no longer grow in the relationship because each of them could not see spending the rest of their life with their significant other. Kudos to them for coming to that realization. They continued their friendship and were able to do so because they no longer had any boyfriend/girlfriend expectations placed on each other. I have come close to such a situation; but there always had to be an extended time of separation before I could relate to the person on a different level. Many of my friends never understood how I could be friends with someone who started out as a love interest. I would always answer them by saying just because the love aspect has dissolved, does not negate all the other positive attributes that attracted them to me in the first place. A different kind of love takes over from the romantic one. THOUGH I HAVE BEEN FORTUNATE TO have had loving relationships that evolved into solid friendships, I have had some horrific breakups. One of the worst kinds is when your love cannot tell you why they are breaking up with you. All they can muster up is the fact they do not want to be in a relationship. It always feels like I cannot get closure with what we shared; honestly, they could say whatever they want as an excuse, and I would be fine with it if they can give me a reason. Outside of that, the absolute worst kind of breakup is when your partner has already started a relationship with your replacement. This has happened to me twice as far as I know and when it has, my first thought is how can a person immediately pivot from one relationship right into another one without some kind of reflection or personal growth help to discover why they were in the relationship and now out of it. I know myself well enough to know I need time off to contemplate all that took place and get myself to a space of self-care and acceptance before moving on. I certainly have not gone the route that two of the main characters in this romantic comedy did, which I am proud to say. DISCOVERING THEY BOTH HAVE SOMETHING IN common when it comes to a relationship, two office workers come up with a plan to get their true love once again. With Charlie Day (Fist Fight, Horrible Bosses franchise) as Peter, Jenny Slate (Gifted, Obvious Child) as Emma, Scott Eastwood (Suicide Squad, Pacific Rim: Uprising) as Noah, Gina Rodriguez (Miss Bala, Deepwater Horizon) as Anne and Manny Jacinto (Even Lambs Have Teeth, The Good Place) as Logan; the reason this movie succeeds is due to the cast. I found Charlie’s and Jenny’s characters so authentic because of the chemistry between these two. Though the story is easy to figure out, the writers provided enough little twists and turns to make it all seem fresh and new. I usually do not react to extremes in comedy scenes; but I have to say, I did not mind them here because of the added emotional depth the writers instilled in the characters. And speaking of comedy, I did not find anything that caused me to laugh aloud. However, I did have a smile on my face while watching this entertaining movie about love and relationships.
OUR VISITS WERE INFREQUENT BECAUSE HE lived out of state. We grew up together, though he was several years older than me. When I was a small kid, he would make me laugh with his offbeat humor. I remember his laugh; it would come out of his mouth with a blast, close to an octave higher than his speaking voice. In a large gathering, his laugh was always distinguishable among the voices. Through the decades, my humor evolved like most other kids growing up. The jokes that were told back in elementary school, if I were to hear them now, I would not find most of them funny. As they say, there is such a thing as kid’s humor. Let me ask you, how many kids do you know that if you say the child’s name for digestive waste will burst out laughing? There is a handful I know presently that laugh at the word being spoken. If I give it thought, the type of humor I enjoy most of the time is satirical and deadpan absurd. I had a relative who was the best when delivering satirical punchlines/comments. No disrespect to any comics out there, but those that use foul language to make a joke, I do not find funny. IN MY ADULT YEARS, WHEN I have gotten together with the out of towner, I realized his humor never evolved. It was the same type of jokes that he told when I was a little kid, which I no longer found funny. Weirdly, I also find them annoying now. Part of the issue I believe is due to him never taking a break from trying to be funny. I like a good joke and a laugh like anyone else, but I do not want the entire conversation to be filled with joke after joke; I enjoy talking back and forth about current news, feelings, and an assortment of other topics. The out of towner never gives a serious answer to a legitimate question; it is so irritating. I do not want someone to answer my question with a question or to make a joke about everything I ask them. For example, “How is you family?” He could not say “fine” or “doing well.” The answer would be some obtuse comment or pretend he does not know what I am talking about. When I would push back to try and get a serious answer to my question, he still would not offer one. I found our visits becoming strained; there was nothing new to talk about with him. This is the same feeling I had while watching the latest installment of this action, comedy franchise. THOUGH THEIR BODIES ARE OVER TEN years older, the crew from the original movie are back with the same type of pranks. With Johnny Knoxville (Bad Grandpa, The Ringer), Steve-O (Guest House, Sunset Society), Chris Pontius (Charlie’s Angels: Full throttle, Action Point), Dave England (The Bet) and Ehren McGhehey (All Hell Breaks Loose, Portlandia-TV); I used to find this crew’s antics amusing. Granted, there is that aspect of unbelievability that can draw in the viewer; however, with this picture I had a mixture of disgust and boredom part of the time. There were a couple of stunts that were amusing; but most of them seemed to have been created for the cast to be at full exposure and I do mean full exposure. I will say that one can see the deep level of friendship/camaraderie the cast has for each other. It is admirable, but I had to wonder if some of the stunts were designed to test that bond between them because they seemed mean spirited to me. If you are a fan of these films, then you probably want to see this latest one. I felt there was nothing new that surprised me; it only made me uncomfortable.
IT WAS A STORY I HAD seen done in the movies over and over, but now I was witnessing it firsthand. I must tell you it is a classic story and despite being so familiar with how it plays out, I still enjoyed watching the journey of discovery my friend experienced. It all started when she went to a club with a few of her friends. While at the club one of her friends bumped into a friend of theirs, who came to the club with a couple of their friends. Introductions were made and the two separate sets hung out together by the bar. The way she described it to me, her friends and the other friends were breaking off into separate conversations, with her in the middle. When she participated in the conversation with the group to her left, she missed what was taking place to her right; that is, until someone from that group got her attention to ask her opinion. At some point a guy from the other set of friends had gone to the restroom and when he returned, he wound up standing next to her. The two of them found themselves having their own conversation, discovering they both worked in the same industry. The evening ended, but not without invites for a party that was taking place the following weekend. AS MY FRIEND TELLS IT, SHE was not attracted to the guy she wound up talking to for part of the evening. As she described it, “he was too crazy for her,” whatever that meant. However, with coaxing from her friends she went to the party. This guy was there and her first impression of him stuck; he seemed like a party animal who was going from one room to another, acting out with his celebrity impressions and silly antics. She did not care for him at all. My friend did not stay long and went home early. The following week, the guy called her at work on the premise of it being work related. He needed a credit reference on their mutual customer and for the weeks following their calls at work became more frequent and longer, always starting out with a business question. She learned a lot about him, finding a side of him that he kept hidden out in public. After covering all the initial topics that two recently introduced people discuss, their conversations were being held on a deeper level. Her first impression of him was melting away as the guy’s real personality was emerging. They decided to go on a date. Their first date led to a second and a third and before you knew it, they became a couple. I enjoyed watching their story unfold, just like I enjoyed watching this animated movie that dealt with first impressions. TO AVOID JAIL, A BAND OF criminals must go through a rehabilitation program to prove to the city they can be model citizens despite how they look. Believing they could fool everyone; the group discovers something they were not expecting. With Sam Rockwell (Richard Jewell, Mr. Right) voicing Wolf, Marc Maron (Respect, Glow-TV) voicing Snake, Awkwafina (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, The Farewell) voicing Tarantula, Craig Robinson (Hot Tub Machine franchise, Pineapple Express) voicing Shark and Anthony Ramos (A Star is Born, In the Heights) voicing Piranha; this adventure comedy conveyed a wonderful message. I thought the script was excellent with its smattering of humor, poignancy, and excitement. The animation was wonderful, and I enjoyed the way the actors melded themselves into their characters. With the different elements, the director still created a solid, even paced film that devoted the right amount of time to each scene. I was surprised how good this picture was put together and as I said, I loved the message it laid out for the viewers. There was an extra scene in the middle of the credits.
3 ½ stars