A GOOD PORTION OF US WERE LED to believe that the ultimate goal in life was retirement. Put in your time at work and get to the finish line was all that mattered. For those who were fortunate to retire early, others would look at them as demigods; they found the secret formula that would let them enjoy life while they were still “young.” I had no such examples while growing up. The people I knew continued working well beyond their retirement age. When I started this movie review site, a friend asked if I would continue writing reviews into my retirement years. I imagined I would have the luxury of going to the movies during the early weekdays, freeing up my weekends that are presently being used for viewing multiple films. I do not see retirement as just sitting around the house with nothing to do. A friend of mine has determined retirement age is not an ending, but a beginning to the next chapter. It is a period of time where one can do something they are passionate about, where they want to explore it further now that they have the time to do so. THERE ARE SOME INDIVIDUALS WHO DO not want to wait until retirement to do something they love. There was a member in one of my classes who was a CFO of a large corporation. She was proud of her work career, but as time went on she started feeling unsatisfied with the job. There was a period where she did not attend class, after being a regular for a few years. Then one day she showed up unexpectedly. After class she came up to talk to me. I said it was good to see her and hoped everything was okay. She informed me she had retired from her job and was taking classes to become a math teacher. It was something she had always wanted to do and decided the time was right to step back from the corporate world, so she could become a teacher. I was taken by surprise at first, since I knew how much she loved being a CFO. Seeing how driven she was in our aerobics class, I had no doubt she would succeed; she had the knowledge and passion. I feel these two attributes are needed if one wants to accomplish a dream. The main character in this dramatic comedy had these 2 things and will show you what can be done with them. WORKING AT A LARGE RETAIL STORE was not what Maya, played by Jennifer Lopez (The Boy Next Door, Shades of Blue-TV), wanted to do the rest of her life. All she needed was a break to show what she could do for the advertising and marketing corporations on Madison Avenue. That break would come in the form of her resume. With Vanessa Hudgens (Dog Days, Beastly) as Zoe, Leah Remini (The Clapper, The King of Queens-TV) as Joan, Treat Williams (The Congressman, What Happens in Vegas) as Anderson Clarke and Milo Ventimiglia (Killing Season, This is Us-TV) as Trey; this movie could have been better. Jennifer has a screen presence that grabs your attention, but with the underdeveloped script she was left hanging. There was nothing special in the script that allowed the story to rise above generic. The writers had a touch of romance, comedy, drama and fun scattered throughout the story; yet, never went deeper with them. At one point I wondered if the focus was to show off Jennifer with her fashion choices, office and home furnishings in her new apartment. Maybe if the film studio had some of the drive and determination I have seen in Jennifer’s career, then they would have produced a more entertaining picture.
I never quite understood the reasoning behind hiring celebrities for advertising campaigns. My passion for the movies does not transfer to an actor selling hair shampoo or breakfast cereal. Just because they can act doesn’t mean actors have some inside knowledge of a consumer item, let alone world affairs. Granted, I can enjoy a fun commercial that has an entertainer in it, but that is as far as it goes for me. Based on Viktor Pelevin’s novel, I found this off centered movie to be an unusual mix of comedy, drama and satire with a touch of science fiction added in for good measure. The movie told the story about the birth of the advertising industry in newly formed Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Vladimir Epifantsey (Home, Fartovyy) played Babylen Tatarsky a former sales clerk who found himself thrust into the explosive world of commercials and product placements. Also starring Mikhail Efremov (9th Company, The House of Sun) as Leonid Azadovsky, I found some scenes thought provoking as I compared the Russian style of commercials to the ones here in the United States. One of the most interesting aspects of the movie was the scenes that dealt with the digitalization of popular figures into commercials. I found the idea disturbing to tell you the truth and still thought about it after I left the movie theater. On the other hand, these scenes I have mentioned were not enough to continue my interest in the story. Not sure what type of movie it wanted to be, I found myself periodically getting bored and confused. I could not tell if they were trying to mimic the times of the 1980’s or it was just poor cinematography in the way the movie was filmed. With a tighter focus, I think this could have been a better movie. It was that damn trailer I bet, that sucked me into seeing this film. Russian with English subtitles.