Category Archives: Drama
EVERYTHING I SAW AND LEARNED LED me to believe dogs and cats were mortal enemies. From cartoons to movies, as far as I knew if the 2 of them saw each other they would fight until one got hurt or worse. As a kid everyone I knew who had pets always had only one species if there were multiple pets in the household. If a family had a cat they would only get another cat as a pet; the same held true with dog lovers. I had a parakeet; so, I would never have considered getting a cat, because in my mind cats ate birds. Do you remember Tweety and Sylvester? I rest my case; this is where I learned never to mix a cat and a bird. Then there was Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. Since coyotes looked like dogs, I assumed dogs were not fond of birds either. I doubt I was the only one who thought this way; I am sure many kids around the same time were thinking the same thing about never mixing different species together. The same holds true for some of the movies I saw as a child where I would see a dog chasing a cat. NOW GRANTED THERE ARE ANIMALS WHO eat other animals for food. I remember seeing a movie that showed a lion going after a herd of wildebeests. It was obvious to me the wildebeests were afraid of the big cat. I translated that as hate. Did the wildebeests instinctively know from birth to fear the big cats or was it something they learned I wondered. I realized at an early age that humans do not come into the world knowing how to hate; they had to be taught on how to do it. I am not talking about hating a specific vegetable or fruit; I am referring to being taught that something or someone is no good, inferior, is bad. I learned about prejudice outside of the classroom, where some kids would make fun of me because I was not the same religion as them. There was a student in class who was quite vocal about his hatreds. He would bully those kids who did not fit into his beliefs. It was awful the way he would make fun of certain students, using their features as examples of what was wrong with them. I had thick curly/kinky hair when I was in school and he took great delight in calling me racist, horrible names. He did not have to be that way, but that is how he was taught. If only there had been someone who could have shown and taught him a different way; someone like the activist in this biographical, dramatic film. WHEN HER DAUGHTER’S SCHOOL CAUGHT ON fire and burned, civil rights activist Ann Atwater, played by Taraji P. Henson (Proud Mary, What Men Want), was determined to find another school for her daughter and the other students to attend. There were people in the community who hated her idea. With Sam Rockwell (Vice, Mr. Right) as C.P. Ellis, Babou Ceesay (Free Fire, Eye in the Sky) as Bill Riddick, Wes Bentley (American Beauty, The Hunger Games) as Floyd Kelly and Anne Heche (Wag the Dog, Six Days Seven Nights) as Mary Ellis; this historical story set in Durham, NC during the 1970s was brought to life by Taraji and Sam. They were dynamite in their roles to the point where I believed who they were portraying. The story was incredible and full of poignant moments that the writers could have taken and made them stand out. I wish they had done that because this historical event deserved a powerful script instead of the sanitized one in this picture. However, it did capture and keep my attention while showing a dramatic time that was brought on by hatred.
2 ½ stars
IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES WHEN A CHILD does it, it can be cute. However, when an adult does it, there is nothing cute about it. What I am referring to is “denial;” making a statement that something is not true or the refusal of something requested or desired. I still find it amusing when you are visiting with friends or family and you hear a crashing/breaking sound coming from a different room. You run in and see a vase or candy dish in pieces on the floor. The only human in the room is a small child who is standing near the pieces, not moving. When you ask them if they broke it their first response is, “No.” You question further by asking who then broke the item and they say they do not know. So yes, I know that this is lying; but I get amused by the absurdity of it, and the fact that the child chooses to say no instead of telling the truth. In this scenario this would be a good teaching opportunity for the child, to explain the ramifications revolved around telling the truth as opposed to denying responsibility for something that happened. IT IS A GOOD LESSON THAT not everyone chooses to abide by. I recall an incident in school where a student was shooting paperclips at another student. For those of you who do not know how this is done, it is done by partially unbending the paperclip and using a rubber band wrapped around two fingers to form a pseudo slingshot to launch the clip. It can be quite painful to get hit by a speeding paperclip. When the student cried out from being hit the teacher looked up to see what was going on. The student picked up the clip from the floor and showed her the cause of his outburst. She asked the class who did it but no one (did you really think someone would admit it?) responded to her. The same student hit the other student again after things settled down and the teacher was once again distracted by her work. I have encountered a variety of adults who practice some form of denial. A parent who sees their painfully thin child refusing to eat a meal for no reason or an adult who complains they never have any extra money but daily receive packages of stuff they have ordered online. I could go on with examples but will let you see another one in this dramatic, film festival winning movie. LONG TERM FRIENDS FRANKY AND BALLAS, played by Josh Wiggins (Max, Mean Dreams) and Darren Mann (Even Lambs Have Teeth, Hello Destroyer), had everything going their way in school with both being popular and members on the swim team. But on Franky’s 17th birthday something took place that would totally change their world. This coming of age story also starred Maria Bello (Max Steel, A History of Violence) as Carly Winter, Kyle MacLachlan (The House with the Clock in its Walls, Twin Peaks-TV) as Ray Winter and Taylor Hickson (Deadpool, Deadly Class-TV) as Natasha Kohl. I have seen and read numerous coming of age stories; this one followed a similar path as they but with more scenery, in the figurative sense. The acting was good overall and came across especially for the young adults as authentic. This also included several scenes inside the school; they could have easily taken place during my time in school. In fact, a part of me started to tense up when watching a few of the intense spots of the story because I felt like I was back in high school. Considering I had not seen a trailer or advertisement for this film, I was pleasantly surprised that it kept my interest. There is no denying it.
2 ½ stars
THE DISCUSSION CENTERED AROUND THE TOPIC OF age; at what age does a person become lax about a personal regimen in their life? I was wondering if there was ever going to be a time where I would loosen up my dieting restrictions. Presently I stay to a strict diet Monday through Friday then free myself up for the weekends. Will I keep doing this eating pattern in my 80s or 90s? One of the participants in this discussion was talking about an elderly man with heart issues. This man was on a low or no fat diet due to their cholesterol levels. It had been a long time since he had a scoop of ice cream and he really had a taste for some. So, here was the dilemma: say no to the 88-year-old man or let him have a small scoop. I ask you, what would you do? I would let the man have the ice cream, with an understanding that this could not become a regular dessert. I imagine there would be some individuals who would not allow the option of ice cream; however, I feel at that age if the person wants to “live” a little then let them. What should a person do, deny that individual a bit of pleasure in their old age? NOW, MOST PEOPLE KNOW WHAT THINGS are “bad” for them. The question is, what level of toleration does a person choose to handle. I know several people who get headaches from drinking wine. Each of them loves wine but they must monitor themselves on its usage. I also know a few people who are lactose intolerant. One person uses one of those supplements where they take it before eating, so they can enjoy their food without suffering from the milk products in it. I was on vacation recently, staying at a resort that had an incredible swimming pool. Because of my hyper sensitivity to cold, I have not gone swimming in years. There was something so inviting about this swimming pool that I wanted to try and get into it. It took 20 minutes to submerge myself as I had to deal with my body reacting to the coolness of the water. To the average swimmer I am sure the water was warm; but for me, I felt like I was swimming in northern Canada on a cold autumn day. I was glad I did it because it felt good to swim around; but truthfully, I knew it would be a long time before I went back into a pool. Like I said, we each have to make a choice just like the young adults in this romantic drama. STELLA’S, PLAYED BY HALEY LU RICHARDSON (Split, The Edge of Seventeen), routines and rules were put to the test when a new boy arrived on her floor of the hospital. Usually a rule can be broken at times; but in Stella’s case, a broken rule could kill her. With Cole Sprouse (Big Daddy, Riverdale-TV) as Will, Moises Arias (Ender’s Game, The Kings of Summer) as Poe, Kimberly Hebert Gregory (Red Hook Summer, Vice Principals-TV) as Nurse Barb and Parminder Nagra (Bend it Like Beckman, ER-TV) as Dr. Noor Hamid; this movie’s story has been done before. The acting by Haley Lu and Cole was admirable, but the script was stocked with so many clichés that the characters suffered under them. I particularly felt the character of Poe was an old stereotype and totally predictable. For most of the time I was disinterested in what was happening on the screen; I felt as if the writers were being manipulative and predictable. There was an interesting premise to this story; it was just a shame the writers did not take a risk in doing something that was not the norm.
HIS PHOTOGRAPH WAS PROMINENTLY DISPLAYED ON one of the banners in the hotel’s convention center. There were also photos of him in the members’ welcome booklets, along with a bio about his achievements. In the aerobic world he had achieved a level of popularity akin to a rock star. I was able to sign up for only one of his numerous workshops at the convention. There must have been a cancellation I figured because the rest of his classes filled up immediately according to one of the volunteers monitoring the ballroom. From the articles that were published in my fitness magazines, he seemed like a fun guy who had a strong sense of humor. As I looked around the room at the other participants I noticed many of them already had his DVD’s and other branded merchandise that were being sold down at the aerobic marketplace. This was a place put up in the convention center where a variety of vendors could set up booths and sell their latest fitness products to the participants. A woman walked up onto the stage at one end of the ballroom, to announce his name. She had only gotten out his first and last name before the audience cheered wildly for him. I almost felt like I was sitting in the middle of a cult. I HAVE TO SAY IT WAS AN excellent workshop he presented to us. There wasn’t anyone around me who was not covered in sweat. I toweled off as best as I could in the room, packed up my stuff and headed out to find somewhere to eat in the convention center. There was a coffee shop I found that would work for me, so I went in and let the hostess seat me. Once I ordered food, it came to the table quickly. It was when I was halfway through eating that I saw that same presenter from earlier coming into the restaurant. He looked around the room until he saw me then nodded. I was stunned; how in the world did he recognize me, let alone see me in the middle of a mass of people? He walked over to me and introduced himself. I told him I had just taken his workshop. He smiled and asked if he could join me; I said absolutely. Putting his soft drink cup down on the table, he sat down across from me. The conversation was easy as we both shared aerobic class stories. However, as he was talking he took a flask out of his gym bag and poured out the liquid from it into his drink. I could smell it was alcohol. By the time I finished my meal he was giddy and talking nonsense. Evidently this was not his first drink. To say I was shocked would be an understatement; I wondered if he had any other workshops to teach later. Here I had this image of him based on what I read about him, but this was someone completely different from my thoughts. The young boy in this western drama went through a similar experience. HAVING HEARD AND SEEN SO MUCH written about Billy the Kid, played by Dane DeHaan (A Cure for Wellness, Kill Your Darlings); a young boy could not believe the person he met could have done all those things being said about him. With Chris Pratt (Passengers, Guardian of the Galaxy franchise) as Grant Cutler, Ethan Hawke (First Reformed; Juliet, Naked) as Pat Garrett, Leila George (Mortal Engines; Mother, May I Sleep with Danger-TV movie) as Sara and Vincent D’Onofrio (The Cell, Ed Wood) as Sheriff Romero; I enjoyed the perspective used to tell this story. The acting was good for the most part, but I did not feel there was much connection between the characters if that makes sense. Ethan was in top form having been on a strong streak with movie roles; his acting keeps getting better with each film he has been in. What caused me to lose my interest was the script; the first half was better than the last. The components of the script had all been done before, so there were no surprises here. I felt little emotion being generated in the 2nd part which attributed to my mind wandering. I understand this movie can be viewed online already; which I have felt means the studio knows what they have on their hands, so they try to keep up appearances.
THERE ARE TWO SCENARIOS WHEN I am in a car that scare me. One is driving in a desolate area and the other is driving during frigid, icy conditions. I was vacationing in both South and North Dakota one summer. The landscape was startling beautiful; I was based in Sioux Falls, SD. My plans were set to drive up and visit sites in North Dakota. Once on the road out of the city I could not get over how far I could see down the road. Literally, the road went all the way to the horizon. That was the cool part; however, what soon made me uncomfortable was the lack of civilization. I was the only car on the road; there were no buildings, gas stations or rest stops even. My mind was brewing with fear as I wondered what would happen if the car broke down and I could not get any cell phone service. All around me were these magnificent monoliths of stone and rock, looking like bulked up defenders frozen in time. The further I drove away from Sioux Falls the more anxious I became. Out of fear I drove faster, figuring the quicker I could get to ND the less chance of getting stuck somewhere. It may not make sense, but I significantly cut down my travel time by going 102 miles per hour. AS FOR DRIVING IN WINTERY WEATHER, I actually do fine in snow; however, when I have to be out late at night when there is less activity, my fear is something could happen, and I will be stuck somewhere without any help. Because I am hyper-sensitive to the cold I worry I could freeze to death (I know, so dramatic) or lose my outer extremities to frostbite. My hands go numb when I am shoveling the sidewalk around my house; think about what if my car skids on ice and into a tree? Without help around or far away, I could get into a serious situation. This is the reason why I always keep a flashlight, a couple of blankets, a large bag of cat litter and water in the car. My body already gets a reaction whenever I first get into a car that has been sitting out in the cold; so, you can imagine what would happen to me if I was stuck for hours in a dead car. In the scheme of things, I know there are many other predicaments that are far worse; for example, the one that took place in this film festival nominated dramatic adventure. THE CHOICES LOOKED BLEAK FOR OVERGARD, played by Mads Mikkelsen (The Hunt, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story); either stay within the confines of his crashed airplane or venture across the frozen tundra in the hopes of finding help. Neither decision would be a sure bet. With Maria Thelma Smaradottir (Black’s Game, Fangar-TV mini-series) as the young woman, this movie was tough to watch at times. Most of the story was told through visuals since there was maybe a dozen or so words spoken. However, it was those visuals that kept the viewers’ attention. Mads was quite good in the role and I must tell you, there were times where it was painful to watch him; that was the level of intensity that got generated with the directing. I will admit there were times where I felt it was enough already; I would lose interest from time to time. Then there were other times where I cringed in my seat. It took work to sit through this picture and the ending did not satisfy me as much as I would have liked, but I enjoyed this film and only hope I never find myself in the same predicament out in the cold.
FOR YEARS I THOUGHT I WAS JUST a suspicious person, but it turns out I was being instinctive. I used to get teased because out of all my friends I was usually the last person to trust someone. I have no explanation why I was always cautious around new people; maybe, just the things I experienced in life. Though I never thought about this before, I wonder if there is a connection to my biggest pet peeve: telling me you will do something then not doing it. Now ever since I can remember I always would say, “Trust is something a person earns; it is not given out freely.” There is something about a person being “super” sweet that makes me leery. I tend not to trust someone who is always happy; who never shows any other emotion besides happiness. In college I had a friend who grew up in a family where no one talked about their feelings. No matter what was going on in their lives their standard answer was, “I am fine,” or “All is good.” My friend would tell me about some of the issues taking place in the family but on the surface, no one would have ever guessed there was turmoil. THROUGH THE YEARS MY CAUTION AROUND sweet people served me well. There was a woman I used to work with who was on equal footing with me at the company. She appeared to be everyone’s friend; passing out homemade cookies and lending an ear to anyone who wanted to talk. I was not convinced, so I remained careful but cordial around her. She must have thought I was a challenge because the more I kept my distance, the more she would pour on the sweetness. One day she came up to me and asked if I wanted two tickets she had to a concert, because something came up and she would not be able to use them. I thanked her but declined. I do not know if this caused something but as time went on I noticed some of the work information she would give me was incorrect. If I had not been paying attention and checking her work, I would have been turning into my boss the wrong data. It came to a point where I had to confront her, by showing the incorrect information she had given me. She denied making the mistakes, trying to in a kind way blame someone else in her department. I did not believe her and felt good that I had never given her my trust. The same thing took place as I watched this dramatic mystery. RETURNING A LOST HANDBAG TO ITS OWNER found Frances McCullen, played by Chloe Grace Moritz (Let Me In, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising), in a position of making friends with the sweet owner of the bag. A sweet older woman named Greta Hideg, played by Isabelle Huppert (Elle, Happy End). Their budding friendship would come with some conditions. This movie also starred Maika Monroe (The 5th Wave, The Guest) as Erica Penn, Colm Feore (Chicago, The Prodigy) as Chris McCullen and Stephen Rea (The Crying Game, The Heavy) as Brian Cody. I thought casting Isabelle in this type of role was inspirational, since I consider her an excellent actress. Do not get me wrong; she and Chloe were wonderful, but the script was silly. There were things taking place that I felt were ridiculous. Without any character development the whole story seemed odd. It is too bad because there were a few scenes and surprises that were well done. The only other thing I can say about this picture is it reinforces my belief to be careful around someone who is heavy-handed in doling out the sweetness.
I COULD BUY MYSELF PAINT, BRUSHES AND CANVAS; but that would not mean I am an artist. Even if I had an abundance of confidence, I could not pretend to be a painter if I had never done it before. Now, that is me; however, there are people who start or try something new and decide they are an expert in that field. I can see someone being passionate about a new-found skill and immersing themselves into it, but I would not consider them an expert. For example, someone discovers they have a knack with numbers. They decide to pursue it, taking all the math classes they could through their school years. Gaining as much knowledge as possible, they open the possibility of becoming a CPA, actuary or pursue their love of math into a teaching position. I commend such an individual because they represent one of my philosophies: do what you love, and the rest will follow. What this means is if a person can find something that they are passionate about and pursue it into a lifelong career; then everything in their life, including money, will fall into place for them. This is a beautiful thing when it happens; but one needs some self-awareness. YEARS AGO, I WAS RENTING AN apartment in the city. I decided to paint the rooms, so I went out and bought a few cans of paint, choosing colors I felt would complement each other. I did what I felt was my best, being careful not to have any paint drips or streaks on the walls. It took me several days to finish the project because I was going slow since I had never painted before. When I finished I was pleased with the results. After I put the place back in order, I invited a few friends over to see my new apartment. One friend brought someone with them who after hearing I had done the paint job began to tell me the things I did wrong. The way she was talking I thought she was a painter or interior decorator. After listening to her comments, I asked her where she went to school for interior decorating. Imagine my surprise when she said she had no schooling for decorating; what she learned came from the magazines she read. I stood there and thought this woman had a lot of nerve critiquing my painting efforts; who was she to tell me what I should have done differently? I may have been fooled by her but that was not the case with the main character in this dramatic action thriller. WHEN HER CLOSE FRIEND WENT missing Gloria’s search, played by Gina Rodriguez (Annihilation, Jane the Virgin-TV), found her at the mercy of a drug lord. She would have to do things she had never done before. With Ismael Cruz Cordova (In the Blood, The Pastor) as Lino, Cristina Rodio (The Condemned, Red Hook Black) as Suzu, Damian Alcazar (Herod’s Law, The Crime of Padre Amaro) as Chief Saucedo and Ricardo Abarca (Motel Acqua, Cumbia Ninja-TV) as Poyo; I had a hard time believing this story because of the poorly written script. Gina did a good job of acting, but the rest of the characters were a bit cartoonish for me. The drug gang could have been more threatening, and the initial reason Lino became attracted to Gloria was ludicrous to me. Considering everything Gloria encountered I did not believe a person in that situation could have performed all the things that were shown in the movie, particularly the way the story ended for her. If the writers would have instilled a more threatening atmosphere with more grit, this film could have been better. After the picture ended I left not believing what I saw and not believing I had to sit through it.
1 ¾ stars
IT WAS AN OUTDOOR SHOPPING CENTER made to look like a town square. I was not interested in how it looked, only needed to go to one store located somewhere inside. Within the first minute of turning into the mall I was already annoyed by the parking lot; it was set like an English garden maze, except the green hedges were replaced with concrete curbs. From the posted signs I knew I had to be somewhere in the right area, so I decided to park and make my way on foot. Luckily the store was easy to find and once inside I quickly found what I was looking for before I headed back to my car in record time. Next on my to do list was going to the bank. I asked the virtual voice assistant on my phone for the nearest location to a branch of my bank. Directions were offered which I followed out of the parking lot. I made my way down the street for a short time, just past the shopping mall. Being told to turn down a side street I would up winding my way south, having to stop at each intersection because of stop signs. Finally coming out onto a thoroughfare I was instructed to turn west. The next thing I knew I was back at the shopping center and right there was a sign pointing me to the bank. I FOUND IT ANNOYING THAT I HAD to drive out of the mall, through a residential area, only to be directed back into the mall. It made no sense to me. Maybe there was some reason why the interactive assistant had me drive that way, but I found it confusing. These days I find many things confusing and it is not because of an addled mind. It just seems as if common sense is becoming a rare commodity. Later in the day I was at a condominium building and the elevator had a handwritten sign taped inside that said, “Due to the freezing temperatures it is suggested the cabinet doors under all sinks are opened to prevent pipes freezing. This made no sense to me; how would pipes freeze in a unit of a multi-storied condominium building? Don’t all the residents get their water from a main line that then divides out to each unit? I could spend all day listing the things I come across that make no sense to me; but instead, I will just let today’s movie show you what I am talking about. THE QUIET PEACEFUL LIFE BAKER DILL, played by Matthew McConaughey (Gold, The Dark Tower), had created for himself came apart when his ex-wife suddenly appeared with a desperate plea to save her. This dramatic thriller also starred Anne Hathaway (Ocean’s Eight, The Intern) as Karen Zariakas, Diane Lane (Trumbo, Secretariat) as Constance, Jason Clarke (First Man, Everest) as Frank Zariakas and Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, Guardians of the Galaxy) as Duke. I actually think the actors could have handled anything that got thrown to them, but I do not know how they maintained their composure with this bizarre script. Their first clue, I believe, would have been their initial read through of it. The story made no sense to me which added to my boredom. Maybe the writer wanted to create a twisted, sexy, tension building story but all I found were things that made me scratch my head in confusion. It is a shame because I enjoyed the look of the film and particularly the setting, which was this idyllic island. There is already enough I encounter that dumbfounds me; there was no reason why I needed to pay for my confusion by watching this picture.
1 ½ stars
AT WHAT POINT DOES YOUR TOLERANCE for disruptive behavior end? I can go for a while depending on the situation, but then I am done. Let me give you an example: there was a friend of mine who enjoyed going to the movies with me. I thought I did as well until she started talking during the film. Once or twice I am okay with, especially if they did not hear a line of dialog; but, asking questions and talking during the show is totally unacceptable in my world. She would ask me things like, “What do you think will happen?” or “I do not think that dress looks good on her.” Really?!?! This is a reason to open your mouth and talk during a movie? I thought not responding would stop the talking, but that was not the case. She kept up the chatter even after I pointblank asked her to stop it. Because she was a good friend, I had a dilemma on my hands. Do I stop going to the movies with her or find a different option? My solution was simple (at least I thought so); I told her she was more than welcome to join me, but she could not sit next to me because of the talking. She tried by sitting a few seats away from me, but after a couple of times she lost interest in going with me and I was okay with it. THOUGH I AM STILL FRIENDS WITH that person there is someone else whose friendship I chose to end. We knew each other for several years. Since I was the only one with a car, a lot of our time together was down in their area. In those years they only ventured up towards me a few times, using public transportation or a car share. Everything was fine between us, always having a good time together. Then one time I asked if they wanted to see a theatrical production at a theater that was located near me; they agreed to see it. I checked on ticket availability and called them back later in the week. We decided on seats and I said I would go pick them up. They asked again the name of the theater and when I told them they asked if it was located up by me. Saying yes, they said they were not going to go “all the way” up there just to see a play. I realized right then this was a friendship of convenience on their part; it was okay for me to go down to them, but to come up to me was too hard? Since this was not the 1st time, I made the hard decision. Granted, not as hard as the decisions made in this dramatic movie. HOLLY BURNS, PLAYED BY JULIA ROBERTS (Wonder, Secret in Their Eyes), had everything set to celebrate the holidays. But then her son Ben, played by Lucas Hedges (Boy Erased, Manchester by the Sea), unexpectedly showed up from rehab. This film festival winner also starred Courtney B. Vance (Space Cowboys, Office Christmas Party) as Neal, Kathryn Newton (Blockers; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) as Ivy and Rachel Bay Jones (God Friended Me-TV) as Beth Conyers. This film stayed alive because of the wonderful acting done by Julia and Lucas. Their chemistry together blazed across the screen. There seems to have been a few recent films that have dealt with addiction, which put this story at a disadvantage. There was not something to set this script much apart from the others that were done, except for allowing the actors to wring out as much feelings and emotions as they could, and they did. Nonetheless, this picture kept me engaged with its tough choices.
AS A CHILD I HAD A MENAGERIE of literary animals for pets. There was Old Yeller, Stuart Little, Peter Rabbit and Black Beauty to name a few. Among all these friends I had Doctor Dolittle on call just in case there was an emergency. There was always room for another animal to join my group, which explains why I made frequent trips to the library. Looking across the bookshelves, I would read every title on the shelves. With any title that sounded intriguing to me, I had to pull the book out to investigate and see if the story involved an animal. It did not matter what species; if there was mention of an animal, whether it was a pet or in the wild, I would check out the book. A fond memory of mine was seeing a movie that was based on a book I had read. Seeing Black Beauty or Lassie on the big or small screen was like a dream come true for me. And speaking of Lassie, when I was real small any collie I saw I immediately thought was Lassie. When they would not come up to me after calling her name, I would be sad. MY LOVE OF ANIMALS STAYED WITH me as I grew up. The pets my friends and relatives had were my surrogate pets. I could spend hours playing with a dog or cat. The other thing I would do was to simply follow and watch them. There are so many memories I have involving animals; each one as vivid today as when they were first formed. One of my oldest memories was going to a small zoo in a neighborhood park. There were only 8 or 9 different animals in it. I remember holding on to a railing in front of the cage and holding a marshmallow up in the air to get a bear to stand on its hind legs. The first time the bear stood up I went wild with excitement. I immediately deemed the bear my pet and would always go to its cage first before going to any of the other animals. I am certain many of us have fond memories revolving around animals. With so many stories having been done I cannot imagine non-animal lovers not knowing a few of them, at least. And now adding to our list of animal favorites comes Bella out of this adventure family film. HOME WAS A SPECIAL PLACE THAT Bella, voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard (Pete’s Dragon, Jurassic World franchise), knew all too well. That is why she could not give up on her 400-mile journey to get back home. With Jonah Hauer-King (Postcards from London, Little Women-TV) as Lucas, Alexandra Shipp (Straight Outta Compton; Love, Simon) as Olivia, Ashley Judd (Double Jeopardy, Heat) as Terri and Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner, Stand and Deliver) as Axel; this movie had a built-in cute factor due to Bella. It would be hard not to enjoy watching Bella and the animals she encountered in her life; however, cuteness can only go for so long. The entire production here came off a bit amateurish. The script was predictable as it periodically set up scenes to pull at the viewers’ heartstrings. The acting seemed stilted to me, to the point I preferred watching Bella when there were no humans around. The main issue about this picture was how generic it was in telling a story that has been done so many times before and better. This is not something you have to run out and go see; especially since there were a couple of scenes that I felt would be scary for younger children. I fell in love with Bella, but she deserved a better movie to star in than this one.