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Flash Movie Review: Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween

IT WAS A BIG LOGISTICAL OPERATION THAT I was responsible for, though at the time I had never heard of the word “logistical.” My job was to plan out the route my friends and I would take for Halloween. I considered how long we would be able to stay outside, so persuaded everyone to get an early start for trick or treating. Each of us was dressed up in a costume; I was a pirate. The key to our success I determined was having a home base that was in the middle of the square mileage I envisioned we could cover. It turned out that central location was my house. The area I mapped out was 16 blocks in width and 12 blocks in length. Living in the city, this meant within our territory we would be covering houses, apartment buildings and businesses. In other words, we would be taking in a lot of candy. I broke down the blocks into four quadrants. We would focus on the southeast one first then come to my house to empty our candy filled bags before tackling the southwest quadrant and so on. I thought it was a brilliant plan that would yield massive amounts of candy. As it turned out the plan worked perfectly where all of us had enough candy to last us for months; we were overjoyed.      FAST FORWARD A FEW YEARS AND for some unexplained reason my desire to go trick or treating waned. I was not alone for my friends felt the same way. At some undetermined point in time we each lost interest in getting dressed up and going door to door to get candy. We still hung out together, starting at a friend’s house where we now found ourselves on the giving end of Halloween. My friend would answer the front door and hand out candy to the trick or treaters who were perched on his front porch with outstretched arms, shopping bags dangling from their hands. That was us a few years back, but now we were the “adults” handing out candy. We grew up I guess. It is funny how that happened; after years waiting and planning for our Halloween trek through the neighborhood, we now had no desire. Looking at some of the kids’ costumes I recalled how I used to sit and pour over the store catalog, looking for the perfect outfit. After having been a pirate, a vampire and a superhero; I now looked at this holiday with boredom. Even this adventure comedy couldn’t change my feelings.     WHILE CLEANING OUT AN OLD ABANDONED house Sonny and Sam, played by Jeremy Ray Taylor (It, 42) and Caleel Harris (Boys in Blue-TV movie, Skyward-TV), found a secret room that contained a single book. The boys did not know there was a reason the book had a lock on it. This family fright film also starred Wendi McLendon-Covey (Bridesmaids, Blended) as Kathy, Madison Iseman (Beauty Mark, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) as Sarah and Chris Parnell (21 Jump Street, Labor Pains) as Walter. Based on author R.L. Stine’s horror series, this sequel had some fun special effects in a retro type of way. There was something about this picture that reminded me of those Saturday afternoon matinee films I used to go to that were low end productions. With a mixture of slapstick and corny humor I felt this film would only entertain the youngest of viewers; it was rated PG. There was some creativity used for several scenes but overall, I was bored through most of the story. Growing up I was not a fan of candy corn; never liked getting them in my Halloween bag. For me, this picture was a dose of candy corn for the holiday.

 

1 ¾ stars

 

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Flash Movie Review: Little Women

ON MY DAILY COMMUTE I TRAVEL through a variety of different neighborhoods and towns. It is pretty easy to tell which ones are more affluent and that surprises me. I do not understand the government workings that play into a place being more desirable than another one. From what I remember in my sociology courses less desirable locations are by expressways, railroad tracks and overhead electrical power lines. However, that does not explain the big picture to me about a town’s sociological and economic makeup. As I drive through these places I keep an eye open for any architectural treasure since it is one of my hobbies or you could say, passions. I enjoy watching construction sites, trying to figure out what is being created. When there has been an economic down turn, more buildings tend to be built in a no-frills style; at least that is my observation. When times are better, there seems to be more of a creative flair involved in the building of a house or commercial building. Though I understand it is a money thing, I am sad when an older structure that has charm or a style from a different era gets torn down to make way for something modern. Just because something is new does not mean it is better.      A PARTICULAR STRUCTURE I AM FOND of is the bungalow. It is a sturdy and practical building in my opinion. One of the neighborhoods I go through has row upon row of bungalows. I am always fascinated in the way the owners do subtle or dramatic changes to make their home stand out from the others. The only change that I find offensive is when the owners slice the roof off their house and add a 2nd floor addition that does not stay in the style of the original structure. Where the original house was made of brick, the boxy addition will be made of aluminum siding in an unnatural color that does not even match the lower portion. It is akin to placing a cake stand on top of a cake, is the way I see it. Some of these remodeling jobs either look like a spacecraft landed on top of the house or someone placed a package on top because it was too heavy to carry. They look ghastly to me. I am at least encouraged that recently one of the areas has formed a building committee exclusive to the preservation of their bungalows. Hopefully this will prevent these mashups of modern forms being plopped down on classic architecture; as I said before new does not equal better. And no truer words have been spoken to describe this latest update of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel.     THE BOND BETWEEN FOUR SISTERS GETS tested as each one grows up and searches for her dream. This dramatic family film starred Lea Thompson (Back to the Future franchise, Some Kind of Wonderful) as Marmee, Sarah Davenport (The Hatred, Dusk) as Jo, Melanie Stone (Riot, Miracle Maker) as Meg, Ian Bohen (Teen Wolf-TV, Wyatt Earp) as Freddy and Lucas Grabeel (Switched at Birth-TV, Smallville-TV) as Laurie. I was surprised by how much I disliked this version of the story. The script was unappealing to the point I felt the sisters were simply caricatures of a previous movie, who only knew how to whine. Most of them did not seem real for the current setting they were placed in. There was little drama involved which only added to the dullness that washed over the script. You can call this a retelling, an update, a modern version; but if you cannot keep the viewer interested in the story, then what is the point of doing it in the first place?

 

1 ½ stars

Flash Movie Review: Night School

EVERYONE HAD TO SIT AND WATCH the short film; it was part of the curriculum. As the projector started up I could hear the soft clapping of the film as it looped around in front of the intense lightbulb inside the machine. Up on the screen scratchy frames in black and white counted down from the number 10. As soon as the opening frames to the story appeared on the screen you could hear moans throughout the classroom. There was an old car driving across the screen with these bulbous chrome hubcaps on the wheels. I say old because I knew the car was decades old; there was a radio antenna sticking up on the front, off to the side of the hood. The bumpers were nowhere near up to current federal safety standards and the most telling part was when the driver had to roll down their window using a small crank attached to the inside of the car door. This was my introduction to driver’s education class during high school. The people in the film wore clothing from another era as they drove and walked around what looked like a city landscape from decades ago. Most of the students in class laughed at this old, tired movie.      OUT OF MOST OF THE STUDENTS in the class, I was one of the few who already knew how to drive. I was taken to empty parking lots and taught how to drive; so, by the time I had to take driver’s education I already knew the rules of the road. Everything I saw in the film I had already done or studied in the handbook. For me the movie was boring, more an amusement from bygone times. Seeing what things used to look like kept my interest, but at times my mind wandered. I had been doing three point turns for months; how many more times did I need to see it being done in the educational film. With the room dark and me bored from the repetitive instructions being recited to us in a monotone tone by the narrator of the movie, it took a lot for me to stay awake. I wondered how many students throughout the years had to sit and watch this picture. To tell you the truth I was surprised the film had not become frayed and fragile after all this time. It is funny; though today’s movie was done recently, I quickly lost interest because I had seen it all before and that includes a couple of performances.     A GROUP OF ADULTS WITH BIG dreams attend night school hoping to graduate by getting their GED, their General Education Diploma. If they wanted it, they would need to pass one tough teacher’s class. This comedy starred Kevin Hart (Grudge Match, Central Intelligence) as Teddy Walker, Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip, Keanu) as Carrie, Taran Killiam (12 Years a Slave, Killing Gunther) as Stewart, Rob Riggle (Midnight Sun, 21 Jump Street franchise) as Mackenzie and Mary Lynn Rajskub (Safety Not Guaranteed, Mysterious Skin) as Theresa. The concept of the story was decent; but I must tell you the script was just a generic blueprint pieced together from what appeared to be all other comedies Kevin has done. He was the same character in this as he has played in his previous movies; it did nothing for me. Tiffany has excellent comedic timing and strong physical comedy, but the script did little for her talent in this story. I was periodically bored throughout the picture and it really was a shame because there is a good message the writers were trying to get out. If I was grading (which I am come to think of it) I would give this movie a D+.

 

1 ¾ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Life Itself

EVERY STEP A DECEASED FAMILY MEMBER has taken during their lifetime has led to you. I have thought about this from time to time, usually when I learned something new about a relative. When I found out a portion of my family members decided to immigrate to Canada during the war instead of the United States, I wondered what my life would have been like if I had grown up in Canada. Growing up I might have seen a few of the Canadian relatives when I was very young, but I do not have any memories of them. If they were still alive, I would ask them why they chose to go north instead of following the rest of the relatives who came to America. Was there a disagreement or dislike that pushed them to break away, is something I always wanted to know? Or better yet, what would my life have been like if my relatives had never moved from their home? I think about the number of labels one can gain in one’s lifetime; from daughter or son to brother or sister to husband or wife to cousin to aunt or uncle to grandparent and so on. Each of us has a role in the family tree.      IN THE SCHEME OF THINGS, I do not think my family tree is much different from anyone else’s family. As far as I know there is nothing too dramatic or outrageous like other families I have heard about. There is a friend of mine who had never met an uncle because the man, in his late 20’s, fell to his death. At that point this uncle’s portion of the family tree ceased to grow. I have another friend who in high school found out she had 2 step brothers living in another state. It turns out her father had a 2nd family no one knew about; including my friend’s mother, the wife. It wasn’t until college that my friend had her first contact with these 2 boys and was stunned to see how much they looked like her (their) Dad. Because of those 2 boys she became a sister, a cousin, a niece and eventually an aunt; all of that simply from this occurrence, though however tragic it was for her and her mother. Newton’s laws of motion could be used to let every family member know, for every action there is an equal reaction; the examples of this can be found in this dramatic romance movie.      COLLEGE SWEETHEARTS ABBY AND WILL, played by Olivia Wilde (The Words, The Lazarus Effect) and Oscar Isaac (Star Wars franchise, Annihilation), find themselves on a path that has lasting effects on those before and after them. Written and directed by Dan Fogelman (This is Us-TV, Danny Collins), this multigenerational story had a fine cast such as Mandy Patinkin (Wonder, Homeland-TV) as Irwin, Olivia Cooke (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, The Signal) as Dylan and Antonio Banderas (The Skin I Live In, The Mask of Zorro) as Mr. Saccione. Where the episodic telling of a story works in Dan’s television show, I found it annoying for this film. There was a heavy-handedness that made for many syrupy actions and scenes; I felt like I was being told how to feel, very manipulative. It was as if scenes were purposely done to get the audience to tear up. Boredom set in quickly for me and it was not until the last third of the film where my interest finally piqued. I liked the idea of the story and had to wonder how things would have played out if there was a different writer. As I left the theater I thought how much my life would change by me having sat in the theater at this particular time and day.

 

1 ¾ stars

Flash Movie Review: The House with a Clock in its Walls

LEARNING THE HISTORY ABOUT FAMILY MEMBERS can be a fun experience. Some of the things I found out about my relatives seem so out of character to the people I knew. There is a relative of mine who holds the patent on some particular lint trap that is part of a washing machine. Another family member was a gangster. In the family I had an umbrella maker, a butcher and the owner of the first cable boxes that came into existence. As you can see the list is quite varied and I get a kick out of the randomness of it. Recently I was talking with a friend about a movie that is coming out later in the year. Based on the trailer I mentioned I was looking forward to seeing this film about Mary, Queen of Scots. You will not believe what he told me about Mary; his family history has a branch of it that is loosely tied to Mary. Listening to the connections between the deceased relatives, I was struck with the fact he was able to remember who married who and whose brother’s sister-in-law was part of the genealogy trail. It was astounding listening to so many generations coming from this one side of his family.      THERE IS NOTHING AS FASCINATING IN my family tree as my friend’s; but if I had such knowledge on the history of my family, I wonder what historical facts I would find out about my deceased relatives. One of the things I know is which countries some of my relatives were born in. I remember in school I would check out books from the library that pertained to these countries, wanting to learn about its history and how it came into being the mother and fatherland of my relatives. My knowledge barely goes back 3 generations of my family. Pretty much all I know is how relatives made their way to America. One relative was sent here with her sister when they were in their teens. She was going to be married off to someone she knew back home who had been sent over earlier to get established in a city. I have other relatives who did not want to migrate but had to because of war. There was a story told about brothers who as children had to be hidden in the forest to escape being kidnapped or worse killed by enemy forces. Though the young boy in this family fantasy only had to be shipped to the state of Michigan, he found out there was something special about him and his family tree. ORPHANED DUE TO THE DEATH OF his parents Lewis Barnavelt, played by Owen Vaccaro (Daddy’s Home franchise, Mother’s Day), was sent to live with his uncle Jonathan Barnavelt, played by Jack Black (Goosebumps, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), who was an odd man. There was a reason why Jonathan was different. With Cate Blanchett (Ocean’s Eight, Thor: Ragnarok) as Florence Zimmerman, Kyle MacLachlan (Blue Velvet, Dune) as Issac Izard and Renee Elise Goldsberry (Sisters, The Good Wife-TV) as Selena Izard; this comedy film was aided by the chemistry between Cate and Jack, which granted seemed an oddball pairing. They were fun together and I enjoyed the way the film started out. I thought it was strange to have Lewis presented with his aviator goggles and bow tie, but at first I did not mind. It was not until the story moved into the 2nd half where I started losing interest. This is where the script was muddy with different references. For me I felt the story was becoming more of a cartoon, meaning silly. With a little more history, development and originality; this picture would have been more enjoyable for me.

 

1 ¾ stars

Flash Movie Review: Peppermint

IF YOU WOULD HAVE TOLD THE younger me that I would grow up and become a fitness instructor, I would have laughed in your face. I was far from being an athlete, let alone a physically active student. Reading, studying, watching TV/movies and eating were my dominant activities. Sure, I hung out with my friends all the time, but it wasn’t to toss or kick a ball. Pizza played an important part in my life back then. So, imagine the surprise some childhood friends and students had when we met at our recent class reunion. Hearing that I teach fitness not only shocked them but made a few laugh out loud, since they knew I had flunked PE twice. And I should mention back then I was much heavier. When I look at the course of my life I can pinpoint the exact moment when my mind opened up to physical fitness; it was a friend of mine who asked to join her at an aerobics class in the city. The class never felt like I was working out. Instead, it felt like I was dancing to the music being played. It was from that moment in time I shifted and became enthusiastic over fitness.      THERE HAVE BEEN PEOPLE I HAVE encountered who stunned me when they mentioned what type of work they did for a living. At an art fair I met an artist who spent 20 years of her life being a corporate lawyer. She described the grueling hours she put in and the non-stop traveling she had to endure. After all those years she came to the realization that she was not happy with her job; so, she started pursuing something she had always loved doing, painting. After a time, she took a chance and entered an art show, where she wound up getting a first-place ribbon. From there she went full force by quitting her job and devoting all her time to painting. The story was inspirational to me. I find it fascinating how people wind up in their occupations. From that school reunion I mentioned earlier I discovered one student is a PhD, doing medical research on diseases; another person is a theater reviewer overseas. You certainly cannot judge an individual based on their occupation and vice versa, you can’t judge a person’s job based on their physical appearance. This holds true for the main character in this dramatic, action thriller.     AFTER HER HUSBAND AND DAUGHTER WERE gunned down Riley North, played by Jennifer Garner (Miracles from Heaven; Love, Simon), wanted justice. Unfortunately, the justice system would not serve her well. With John Gallagher Jr (10 Cloverfield Lane, Short Term 12) as Detective Stan Carmichael, John Ortiz (Silver Linings Playbook, American Gangster) as Detective Moises Beltran, Juan Pablo (The 33, Shot Caller) as Diego and Annie Ilonzeh (He’s Just Not That into You, Person of Interest-TV) as FBI agent Lisa Inman; Jennifer appeared to be going back to her roots from her television show. I was looking forward to seeing her in this character, but I was surprised by the blood and violence; it was somewhat graphic. Though the fight scenes were okay, the script was weak. Just the idea of this one character taking on a large crime organization was a far stretch. Maybe if the writers had cut back some of the violence and devoted more time to building up her character I might have bought more into the story. But as it stands, this revenge film was not special; there was nothing shown that I had not seen before. I do not know but maybe the writers’ former classmates are wondering how these students became writers.

 

1 ¾ stars

Flash Movie Review: The Nun

THERE ARE SOME SITUATIONS AND PLACES that cause us to be fearful or simply creep us out. I get uncomfortable when, sitting in a movie theater with only a handful of patrons, someone enters and sits directly behind me. Most of the seats are empty, yet they choose the seat right in back of me; my mind immediately flashes images of what they could do to me. Have a wire loop to choke me; cut my throat with a knife; you get the picture. Yes, I see a lot of movies; I get these types of visuals immediately. It isn’t pretty. I feel the same way when I am on public transportation and the person sits close to me, though there are vacant seats all over the bus or train car. Oh, I almost forgot; standing in line and you can feel the person’s breath on your neck because they are standing in your personal space. On the other hand, there are people who do not like clowns; everyone has their own personal list of things that scare or make them feel uncomfortable.     MY FEARS AND THINGS I FIND creepy predominately come from people; however, there are many individuals who get scared by places. I had no idea my garage was a scary place for example. For me, a garage is just a place to park my car; I do not devote a bit of time in the maintenance of it. Yet a friend of mine, I recently discovered, does not like walking into my garage because there are visible cobwebs in it. Nothing that one would accidently walk into, but they can be seen on the windows and rafters. Honestly, I never gave them a second thought, but my friend took one look at the cobwebs and decided to wait in the alley until I could pull my car out. I never knew I had a fear of this but on a trip I took a few years ago, I started getting scared driving on a deserted remote road. I wondered what would happen if the car broke down because there was no sign of life anywhere. Stranded with no cellular service, no gas station, no road lights, all by myself; I ask you, how would you feel in such a situation? You must admit it certainly looks like the start to a horror movie. I had the same feeling and thoughts as I started to watch this mystery, horror thriller.      WHEN A NUN WAS FOUND DEAD hanging from a window of her monastery, the Vatican dispatched Father Burke, played by Demian Bichir (The Hateful Eight, A Better Life), who had some experiences in such types of situations. With Taissa Farmiga (The Bling Ring, American Horror Story-TV) as Sister Irene, Jonas Bloquet (3 Days to Kill, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets) as Frenchie, Bonnie Aarons (The Princess Diaries franchise, The Fighter) as The Nun and Ingrid Bisu (The Zero Theorem, Outbound) as Sister Oana; this movie had all the earmarks of being a real scary story. The set pieces, the music, being part of The Conjuring franchise; everything was in place, including the excellent acting from Taissa, for me to get into this picture. Unfortunately, that turned out not to be the case. There were a few scenes with potential, but the writers never took it any further out of being a predictable setup. There was nothing real “jump in your seat” worthy; though there were a few creepy scenarios. By the end of the film I was left with a “meh” feeling. I must tell you, in my opinion I feel as if the whole Conjuring story line has reached the end of the line. It was a well-done horror movie in the beginning, but now with this installment there doesn’t seem to be anything creepy left to tell us.

 

1 ¾ stars            

Flash Movie Review: Beautifully Broken

I DID NOT REALIZE I HAD been observing the interactions in the checkout line, between the shopper and checker. Some shoppers I could tell were regulars based on the conversations I was able to hear. I had been shopping at this particular grocery store for several years, though at different times throughout the week. However, over this time frame I formed impressions of each checker. Some were friendly, some were not, several were rigid with the store’s rules while others worked around the system, so the consumer would not get delayed. One thing I had noticed was the way the checkers’ mood would change when a shopper came through the line while talking on their mobile phone. Let me just say it appeared the checkers were not as helpful as they could be. I decided I would put a big smile on my face when it was my turn to pay for my groceries. It was interesting to see how the checker’s mood quickly changed when they saw me smiling at them. As weeks went by I noticed past inconveniences that annoyed me, such as their rewards program not working with my purchase or an error in pricing, were being handled by the checkers instead of them asking for a price check or an override. I found this quite interesting since in the past these checkers would have gotten help; but now, they were essentially taking my word on the prices and rewards.      MAYBE WHAT I HAVE BEEN TALKING about is something you have always done, smiling and being friendly. For me, I used to be selective in who I would show kindness. What can I say? Based on my past experiences I grew up being distrustful of people; it certainly has taken me a long time to let my guard down. It is true what they say about kindness; it is easier to show it instead of anger. What amazes me about acts of kindness is how they can last a lifetime. Recently I attended a school reunion and a woman came up to me who I did not recognize. She knew me right away. During our conversation she thanked me for helping her in school. I did not know what she was talking about but luckily, she mentioned how in study hall I used to help her with her math studies and she was able to pass the class. We are talking years ago and yet, she is still carrying this memory around with her. I was so surprised to hear it. I guess one never knows how an act of kindness can have a profound effect on someone. This drama can show you several examples.      IF WILLIAN MWIZERWA, PLAYED BY Benjamin A. Onyango (Tears of the Sun, God’s Not Dead), wanted to keep his family alive as civil war was breaking out in his country, he would need an act of kindness. There was not much opportunity for it with violence spreading rapidly. With Scott William Winters (Good Will Hunting, The People vs. Larry Flynt) as Randy Hartley, Emily Hahn (Camp Cool Kids) as Andrea Hartley, Caitlin Nicol-Thomas (The Song, Rose from the Dead) as Darla Hartley and Michael W. Smith (90 Minutes in Heaven, Saving Faith) as Pastor Henry; the script which was based on a true story, did not do the story justice in my opinion. The story is incredible; I was riveted to the movie screen in the beginning but the sappy musical score, the poor directing and acting, along with the preachiness bored me. Though, I did want to know the outcomes. Having some knowledge of the Rwandan Civil War, this picture could have been an emotional roller coaster ride. The kindest thing I can say about this film is William’s story would be better served in book form.

 

1 ¾ stars

Flash Movie Review: Mile 22

AT WHAT TIME DO YOU BEGIN to trust someone completely? For myself I do not have a definite set time where I start trusting a person. What I will say is this: trust is something that gets earned, it is not given freely by me. One of the ways trust gets built between me and an individual is to hear and listen to a person when they speak. Because my mind accelerates during a conversation, where I start to finish the person’s sentences in my mind, I tend to interrupt people. I must keep reminding myself to slow down and let the person finish before I say something. Being aware of this makes me more attentive in seeing if the person’s words and actions match each other, which is one-way trust starts to grow for me. Another thing that helps a person gain my trust is exposing me to their circle of friends at some point. I feel one can gain insight into a person based on the company they keep. I do not know; maybe it is harder to deal with me because I do not give my trust out freely. I can easily tell you why; after giving my trust out and getting it broken a few times, I questioned my ability to vet out untrustworthy individuals.     ONE PERSON WHO BROKE MY trust was a co-worker at a previous job. I thought we had a good, friendly relationship; she would even confide in me. I found out later that she resented me being promoted into a position that she was hoping to get. Of course, I did not know she wanted it; another employee told me. There had been several incidents that reflected poorly on my performance. I did not understand how these kept happening until I found out she was entering inaccurate information on purpose to make me look bad. Besides being furious at her, I was hurt. If I confronted her I would have to divulge the name of the employee who tipped me off; so, from that point on I totally ignored her. If it was a business question I would answer her; but anything else she said to me I would not give her a response. This may sound childish to you, but it worked for me. Trust me, this kind of broken trust doesn’t compare to the ones that get damaged in a love relationship; those are much harder to come back from in my opinion. But then again, I have been fortunate that my life has never been put into jeopardy due to the trust I had given someone, unlike the main characters in this action adventure film.      THERE WAS LITTLE TIME FOR an elite group of CIA agents to build trust with the one person who had the key that would save thousands of people. Too many other people wanted him dead. Starring Mark Wahlberg (All the Money in the World, The Gambler) as James Silva, Lauren Cohan (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Walking Dead-TV) as Alice Kerr, Iko Uwais (The Raid franchise, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) as Li Noor, John Malkovich (Bullet Head, Secretariat) as Bishop and Ronda Rousey (The Expendables 3, Furious 7) as Sam Snow; this crime movie was all about intense action. Development of the characters was close to nil; the script was a mess and I especially disliked the jumping back and forth in time periods. Iko was my favorite and I have to say his fight scenes were insane. I only wished they were not so edited to the point it was hard to figure out who was fighting. There was a good deal of violence and blood, too much for my tastes. The idea behind the story was valid; I only wished they had a better script and a less heavy hand in making sure the viewers were experiencing non-stop intensity.

 

1 ¾ stars        

Flash Movie Review: Dog Days

FROM ALL THE ANIMALS AND PETS, I have encountered, there are two special pets that stand out the most in my mind. The first one was the very first dog we had in the family. I was around 7 or 8 years old when this small black furred puppy came into our lives. She was extremely smart, knowing which rooms in the house she could go in. The living room was off limits because it had white carpeting. You could try and coax her to come in, but she knew better; she would simply sit down at the edge of the room and observe whatever activity was taking place. I do not remember her ever being afraid of anyone; she loved everyone who came into the house. Because of her I learned a new dimension to unconditional love and friendship. In addition, I had to be told what “being in heat” meant after a couple of dogs chased me down the street while I was out walking her. I refused to walk her for the rest of the week if I remember correctly.      THE OTHER PET THAT STANDS OUT in my mind was this dog that my significant other brought into our relationship. He was a “pound puppy” of mixed breeds. He grew to around 40 pounds, this furry bundle of love whose tail was always wagging. I soon began referring to him as the “shadow” because he did not like to be by himself whenever anyone was home. He would follow you from room to room; in other words, from the laundry room to the bathroom to the bedroom to the balcony; it did not matter if you were in the room for only a minute. As he grew up there was one thing neither of us could understand; he took a dislike to children. Specifically, any child who was around his height. It was the oddest thing that we finally attributed to him wanting to be the alpha dog with any kid around his size. Except for this weird trait he was a very compassionate pet. He had this sixth sense that always knew how each of us was feeling. If I was watching a DVD movie that made me tear up, he would jump into my lap and put his front paws up on my shoulders to stare me directly in the face as he licked the tears from my cheeks. He was something else, wasn’t he? I feel fortunate that I had these pets in my life, just as the individuals did with their pets in this dramatic comedy.      SEVERAL PEOPLE CROSS PATHS WITH EACH other that alters their lives, all because of their pets. With Vanessa Hudgens (Beastly, Spring Breakers) as Tara, Nina Dobrev (Let’s Be Cops, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) as Elizabeth, Finn Wolfhard (It, Stranger Things-TV) as Tyler, Lauren Lapkus (Jurassic World, Blended) as Daisy and Eva Longoria (Overboard, Lowriders) as Grace; this film had a few different stories taking place at the same time. It was not confusing to watch, but I felt it may have contributed to the script remaining one dimensional throughout the story. Besides being predictable, I never felt fully engaged with what was taking place on screen. However, what I did enjoy was all the animals. I appreciated that the writers did not write script for the pets, where they would need CGI to have the animals mouth the dialog. Instead they let the expressions on the pets’ faces do the talking and it was cute I must say. Excuse my verbiage but this was a “fluffy” piece of entertainment. You could easily experience the same feelings by going to an animal shelter and seeing the animals live. The only thing you might remember if you see this picture is the pets.

 

1 ¾ stars        

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