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Flash Movie Review: The Bad Guys

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 

Flash Movie Review: Sonic the Hedgehog 2

TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH, I was flattered and getting a bit smitten from all the attention. We had met at a bakery café. We both ordered the same thing, a double chocolate dessert. After the initial introductions, the conversation settled into an easy flow of comments, thoughts, and opinions. I was impressed by the fact they had no issue disagreeing with a couple of my opinions; it showed me they had strength in their convictions. In a previous relationship, whatever opinion I had about a topic the person quickly would form the same opinion. It was rare for them to disagree with me, and it used to drive me crazy. I wondered how someone could change their opinion so easily without even letting me express the reasons for having my opinion. Meeting someone who was not afraid to express their opinions and feelings was refreshing to me. After we finished our desserts, neither one of us made a move to end the date. We just continued to sit and talk about a variety of subjects. Finally, I had to be the one to say my goodbyes due to my schedule. It was decided we would get together for a full meal next time. I felt good about our meeting and decided to reach out in a day or two to set up another date.      OUR SECOND DATE WAS EVEN BETTER than the first; it was dinner and a movie. A few days after it, I was leaving for work and found a box sitting on my front porch. They had signed their name on it with a message that said, “Thought you would like these fresh out of the oven.” I brought the box inside and opened it. Inside sat a bakery box of chocolate chip cookies, my favorite. I was both surprised and touched they went out of their way to drop off a box of cookies on the way to their office. I was getting bowled over with the attention and we soon fell into a dating relationship. At some point, I was asked to attend a family event. Though feeling a little apprehensive, I agreed to accompany them. During the event, I was introduced to a man who was their former boyfriend. Without knowing their history together, I was unsure of how to act; however, I remained cool about it. On the drive to drop them off at their home, we talked about it briefly and I felt relieved. It was short-lived because the very next day I received a call from them to tell me they decided they were going back to their old boyfriend to give it one more try. I had to wonder if my sole purpose was to be brought to the family event, to be used as a catalyst to restart their relationship. It did not feel good which will explain why I felt sympathy for one of the main characters in this animated action adventure.      BEING LEFT ALONE AT HOME FOR the first time showed Sonic, voiced by Ben Schwartz (Night School, The Afterparty-TV), he could be trustworthy. Unfortunately, it was short-lived when the evil Dr. Robotnik, played by Jim Carrey (Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Dumb and Dumber franchise), made a house call. With James Marsden (Shock and Awe, Accidental Love) as Tom Wachowski, Tika Sumpter (The Old Man and the Gun, Ride Along franchise) as Maddie Wachowski and Idris Elba (Concrete Cowboy, The Harder They Fall) voicing Kunckles; this sequel provided the same level of entertainment as the first film had done. Having never played the videogame this film franchise was based on, I might have missed a few inside references. However, I do not think it mattered. The action scenes were fun, and I thought Jim Carrey was exceptional good with his character. His performance almost appeared as if it was adlibbed, it was so zany. Also, I thought Idris Elba did some of the best voice work I had ever heard on film. On the downside, there were several scenes that did not move me much, having found them to be bland. This could have been due to the similarities between both movies. Nonetheless, I did not feel used, that the movie studio did try to elevate the story so that the franchise could continue to survive. Proof being, there was an extra scene in the middle of the ending credits.

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Sing 2

I KEPT ENCOURAGING HER TO CONTINUE delving into designing jewelry. She really had an eye for creating unique earrings and necklaces. The problem was she did not have the confidence or the belief that she could actually do it and possibly do it for a living. The only person she designed for was herself, except for the occasional friend or relative celebrating a birthday. I made a point of commenting on the jewelry she was wearing anytime we got together; not because I felt I had to, but because her pieces were striking. She created interesting patterns using tiny colored beads and crystals. There was one pair of earrings where she had a series of hoops from small to large hanging together that had rows of beads on each one. When the beads were perfectly aligned, they would create an image; it could be of an animal, a human’s face or some object. The idea was when the person was moving their head the beads would separate a little, distorting the image; but when the person was still and the beads settled down, an image would appear. They were the coolest things, and I really thought my friend could do something with them. I suggested she could sign up for a couple of art fairs or see if there were any boutiques who would take her creations on consignment, but she was too afraid.      BEING AFRAID WAS SOMETHING I WAS familiar with, so I understood where she was coming from with her fear of failure. I get it that no one wants to set themselves up for failure; but I also feel no one wants to look back at their life and wonder “What if…” My journey into the fitness world was not easy for me, since I had flunked PE twice in high school and tried avoiding all physical classes through the rest of my schooling. It wasn’t until I was with a friend at a small local aerobic class years after I graduated, where I got my first taste of how exercise could be fun. The class was held in a temple’s meeting room on a hard linoleum floor. The instructor/owner was this bubbly, friendly woman who encouraged each of us to simply do our best, not what we think our classmate thinks is best. She was a big influence on me because she was the first “teacher” I encountered in a fitness class who genuinely wanted to see me be happy with myself. It was an extraordinary experience for me. I think because of my experience with her, I enjoyed this sequel as much as I did the first one.      HAVING ACHIEVED SOME LEVEL OF SUCCESS on the local level, theater owner Buster Moon, voiced by Matthew McConaughey (Killer Joe, The Beach Bum), has his sights set on the big city. But he soon finds out the only way he can put on a show is to get a musical icon who has not been seen in years. Buster may be putting more on the line than he thinks with this new show. With Reese Witherspoon (Wild, Water for Elephants) voicing Rosita, Scarlett Johansson (Marriage Story, Black Widow) voicing Ash, Taron Egerton (Rocketman, Eddie the Eagle) voicing Johnny and relative newcomer Tori Kelly voicing Meena; I got swept into this film with all its musical numbers and fun animation. Though the script was not clearly defined in parts, I found the story to be both joyous and touching. Granted if you have seen the first film then there will be no surprises in this one, but it still was a charming, sweet picture. And for no other reason, the musical numbers were spot on. Conveying a wonderful message wrapped inside a colorful exciting palette, there is no need to be fearful in seeing this well-done sequel.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Encanto

EATING ON SNACK TRAYS WAS NEVER part of any of our family meal get togethers. It was just not acceptable. Getting together with the relatives meant adding leafs to the dining room table, plus a folding buffet table and if need be a couple of folding card tables. The goal was for all the family members to sit down to eat a meal together. I can remember times where we would be so packed into a room that some of the kids would have to crawl under the table to get out from their seats. At some point during my childhood, the older relatives decided the kids should sit together at a table by themselves. Each of us felt so grown up because we had our own space to eat without the adults looking over us. I never knew what the age limit was; but at some point, a kid at a certain age would be moved out from eating at the children’s table and given a seat with the adults. It was almost like a rite of passage. Once everyone was seated the food would come out from the kitchen, almost like an assembly line. Plates, bowls and platters of food would be handed off to whoever was sitting the closest to the kitchen. Once they took what they wanted, they would hand off the dish to the person next to them and so on, all the way down and back the entire length of the tables.      I CAN LOOK BACK AT THOSE family meals with fondness and amazement; there were many times no one ever left the table. Whether it was the conversations or wanting to be one of the first to grab the desserts; everyone enjoyed sitting together and talking the entire evening. Or at least I thought so. It was later in life, after the older generation was gone and everyone moved up to the next level of their life expectancy, that I discovered how many relatives had a different perception of those times when we came together to share a meal. Within one branch of the family, the siblings were fighting amongst themselves and did not want to sit with each other. Their spin on their contribution to the evening’s conversation had a negative slant to it. That negativity would filter down into conversations where individuals would misinterpret a relative’s words and opinions. It was only recently I realized this took place because I was eating lunch with a relative and we discovered we had opposite opinions about one of our family members. Despite the different perspectives, it didn’t change the fact that we were all part of the same family, just like the family in this animated, comedy family film.      EVERY CHILD IN THE MADRIGAL FAMILY had a magical power except one named Mirabel, voiced by Stephanie Beatriz (In the Heights, Brooklyn Nine-Nine-TV). Because she did not have a special power, she found herself in a unique position when the magic around the family began to decay. With Maria Cecilia (Amas de casa desesperadas-TV, La Bruja) voicing Abuela Alma, John Leguizamo (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge) voicing Bruno, relative newcomer Mauro Castillo voicing Felix and Jessica Darrow (Feast of the Seven Fishes) voicing Luisa; visually this movie was exquisite. The variety of colors and the lush settings were the real magic of the story. The musical score was upbeat and fun which only added more to the scenes. My only complaint was the story/script. I thought the message the writers were conveying was wonderful, but I felt there needed to be more variance to the drama level. It seemed as if most scenes were on one emotional level; where I wanted to feel more excitement, more thrills and more passion. It almost felt like a lite version of the studio’s usual depth in its animated films. Despite it, the overall movie watching experience was very good.                              

3 stars  

Flash Movie Review: Paw Patrol: The Movie

FUR, PURR, PAWS, BARK, CUDDLES; THAT is enough for me to fall in love. I am an animal lover. Whether it is a cat or dog, doesn’t make a difference to me. A friend of mine had a dog that knew to lie down anytime I said, “Do you want a doggie massage?’ Of course, I would then rub him down, including his limbs. This dog became my shadow anytime I was over at my friend’s house. I guess if someone was going to offer me a massage, I would do the same thing! The dog was a real sweetheart; he rarely barked and loved to play fetch. Another friend of mine had a dog that was also sweet but feared many things. She refused to go outside if it was raining. And if there was thunder, she spent most of the time under a bed. Where most dogs walk into a room, she would slink in by staying close to a wall. In fact, it took months before she let me even pet her. I would squat down with my hand extended out for her to sniff. My friend would even let me give the dog a treat, but the poor thing would only come near after I would place it on the floor and step several steps back. I couldn’t get upset nor would I because she was so cute.      MY LOVE OF DOGS IS MATCHED by my love of cats. A relative of mine had a gorgeous cat that loved to snuggle around my neck. If I was sitting on the sofa, the cat would jump up to the back of the couch then walk behind me before curling herself around my neck. She had one of the loudest purrs; it sounded like a low motor. On the opposite side, a friend of mine had a cat who hated people coming over to their house. I know that sounds strong, but she did not like people except for her owner. My friend told me the first time his girlfriend stayed over for the night; the cat was a terror. When the two of them were in bed, the cat would jump up and start walking on top of his girlfriend who was not amused. My friend would grab hold of the cat and put her down on the floor, but she would immediately jump up again. There was no choice after going through this a few times; my friend put the cat in the hallway and closed the bedroom door. Their night was mostly filled with the cat meowing non-stop outside the door. The girlfriend wasn’t really a cat person I was told and evidently the cat knew. My friend and I felt it was her loss. Some people prefer one animal over another and act accordingly. You can see how that plays out in this animated adventure comedy.      THE PAW PATROL WOULD HAVE THEIR work cut out for them when Adventure City elected a new mayor who loved cats. With Tyler Perry (Gone Girl, Good Deeds) as Gus, Ron Pardo (Hairspray, Undercover Brother) as Cap’n Turbot, Will Brisbin (Forbidden Playground, Abducted) as Ryder, relative newcomer Kingsley Marshall as Marshall and Keegan Hedley (Never Saw it Coming, Odd Squad-TV) as Rubble; this film reminded me of my youth, sitting and watching the Saturday morning cartoons. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. The visuals, the soundtrack, the mix of excitement with fear; everything blended well to the point I became vested in the characters. I especially enjoyed the inventiveness of the gadgets. With elements of charm similar to those good old-fashioned cartoons, I appreciated the message the writers were conveying. Young children will absolutely enjoy this movie and I feel their parents will as well. With so much going on in the world, I think my enthusiasm for this picture was heightened because of its simplicity and G rating.

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Boss Baby: Family Business

THE TWO BABIES WERE SITTING IN the stroller side by side. They did not look like twins to me, just siblings. One baby was calm, looking as if they were enjoying the ride. The other baby looked miserable, crying with tears rolling down over large pudgy cheeks. The first baby seemed oblivious to the crying one; or, maybe they were just used to it and ignoring their sibling. Looking at them reminded of two sisters I knew who shared similar physical traits but were so different every other way. One was active and athletic; the other I do not recall ever breaking a sweat from any physical activity, unless you count smoking outside on a hot summer day. To this day I still find it curious how two siblings raised in the same household could grow up being so different. I eventually saw it as proof that genes and DNA play a bigger part in a person’s makeup than what I gave them credit for. These sisters, as they got older, displayed such differences that they did not ever share the same reaction to any type of important/traumatic news. Upon hearing about the death of someone in their family, one daughter was consoling her family members; the other sister was hardly fazed by the news. I found it extremely odd to say the least.      WHEN I SEE A WHINING CHILD, I try to stay away from them. Maybe I have a hard exterior; but unless the child is experiencing discomfort or distress, I do not want to be exposed to such behavior. There was a time I used to think it was the child’s issue, they were complainers. However, I started looking at the parents and realized they have influence over their child and how they react has an affect on what the child learns. If a child throwing a tantrum is given a reward for the behavior, they are going to continue the behavior. If told they could get a toy at the toy store if they stop crying, what do you think most kids would pick? Or how about a parent who tells their disagreeable child the punishment they will receive if they continue acting out, then doesn’t follow through with the threat? There have been numerous times where I have witnessed a parent threatening to take a toy away from a child who is being a brat. The child stops acting out for a moment but then starts up again, while the parent moves on to try a different tactic. The child learns their parents’ threats of punishment will not take place; and I believe, they will grow up to be miserable adults who want everything to go their way. If you care to, you can see what happens to some of the babies in this animated adventure film.      HAVING GROWN APART AS ADULTS TIM, voiced by James Marsden (Hairspray, X-Men franchise) and his brother will have to find a way to reconnect if they are going to save all the parents who are in a direct path towards an evil genius. With Alec Baldwin (It’s Complicated, Motherless Brooklyn) voicing Boss Baby, Amy Sedaris (Bewitched, The Mandalorian-TV) voicing Tina, Ariana Greenblatt (In the Heights, A Bad Moms Christmas) voicing Tabitha and Jeff Goldblum (Hotel Artemis, Independence Day franchise) voicing Dr. Armstrong; this comedy had fun visuals that were geared to the younger crowd. I felt the same way about the script; it was written more for kids. The first half of the film had moments of boredom for me. Despite it, the actors were all excellent with their characters. The last half of the film picked up and I appreciated the message the writers were trying to convey to the audience. There was nothing new and special about this sequel; at least it was not as annoying as sitting next to a crying baby.

2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Super Jam: A New Legacy

AS FAR BACK AS I CAN remember, I have always looked to see what I could find in clouds. The man in the moon did not interest me for long, where clouds always provided me with a variety of things to look at. For example, some of the things I have found in clouds have been the head of a horse with its flowing mane, a bow and arrow, a runner, numerous profiles of people, an assortment of insects and animals, and different car and truck models. Now that I am thinking about it, clouds were my version of Instagram and TikTok. I say this because I only had a short time to discover the item in the cloud before it was slowly swallowed back into the cloud’s depths. My fascination with finding hidden things in things soon expanded beyond the clouds. I used to love going through those optical illusion Magic Eye photos/pictures, where a secret image was within it. I think another word for it was Autostereograms. Discovering the secret image was a thrill for me as a kid; all it took was a little refocusing of the eye before the image would appear out of the picture I was viewing.      LIKE MOST CHILDREN, I WAS NEVER thrilled to go to the doctor’s office. However, I did enjoy the waiting room because they had a children’s magazine that always had a page with a drawing that contained 6 or 7 hidden objects within it. If I had not finished finding all items before the nurse called my name, I would bring the magazine with me into the exam room. One birthday I received a subscription to the magazine; you would have thought someone had just given me a year’s worth of free chocolate candy; I was so excited by the gift. After training myself to seek out images within pictures, I discovered I was not alone in this practice. The director Alfred Hitchcock, I found out, enjoyed placing himself in a cameo role within his movies. Nothing major, he usually was in the background of a scene, either walking in the middle of the crowd or getting off a bus where the two major stars were waiting to get on board. I enjoyed trying to find him in the middle of his films; the same goes for Stan Lee, the creative force behind Marvel Comics, who could be found doing a cameo in the various Marvel superhero movies. Little did I know my fondness for spotting cameos would go into overdrive during this adventure comedy picture.      AFTER BEING PULLED INTO A NEFARIOUS artificial intelligence’s game, there was no choice but for sports celebrity LeBron James to play the game to get his family back together. With Don Cheadle (No Sudden Move, The Guard) as Al G. Rhythm, Cedric Joe (Loving Him, Good Trouble-TV) as Dom James, Khris Davis (Judas and the Black Messiah, Detroit) as Malik and Sonequa Martin-Green (The Walking Dead-TV, Star Trek: Discovery) as Kamiyah James; this animated film was best suited for younger audiences. I say this because as an adult, I felt the script was not the best along with being predictable. In addition, it showed LeBron was not a good actor. If one is a fan of the Looney Tune comics, they more than likely would enjoy the cartoon characters’ antics through the story. As I mentioned before, the highlight for me was the vast amount of cameo appearances by Warner Brother’s stable of licensed characters. At one point I was wondering if Warner Brothers was using this film to promote upcoming film projects; there were so many places to find them that I kept getting distracted from concentrating, as it were, on the main focus of the story. Because the first film was new and fresh to viewers, this one lacked the fun punch it needed to keep my interest. Sort of like looking at the fleeting image in a beautiful cloud before disappearing.                     

2 stars                                     

Flash Movie Review: Earwig and the Witch

THE WOMAN IN THE PHOTOGRAPH WAS old looking, but I did not know she was ancient. I was working on creating a wall of family photos and the photograph of her was sent to me. When I first got it, I had no idea who she was or the younger woman who was standing next to her in the photo. When I found out, I was absolutely blown away; she was my great, great, great grandmother. The woman standing next to her was my great, great aunt. I kept staring at the photograph because I could not believe I was looking at someone who was connected to me from such a long time ago. And when I say a long time ago, when doing the math, I mean she was alive when Napoleon invaded Russia, hence the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. This small and frail looking woman was seated in a chair or stool with her arms folded in her lap. Her clothing looked like it could swallow her up; the skirt hung down to the floor and her jacket or sweater was dark and long as well. She had a scarf tied around her head as if she were about to go outside, though the sepia colored photo showed her to be inside. I could only imagine what kind of life she must have lived, but because of her I was here.      DESPITE NOT KNOWING SOME OF THE relatives in the photographs I have in my possession, I feel a connection to all the people. It is a weird feeling that I do not know if I can explain but looking at all the relatives in the photos had the effect of centering or grounding me. I felt like I had tapped into my roots; I was not some transient who floats from one thing to the next without having a “home base” to return to. Maybe another way I can explain it is by saying my life story, though it is unique to me, shared common ground with the stories from all of these relatives, whether they are deceased of alive. This reminds me of another photograph I got that has 5 relatives in it. I found out that this particular photograph used to be quite famous in the family because it was the first and maybe only one that depicts 5 generations of the family in one photograph. Each one of them has played a part in laying the groundwork for me and my generation of relatives; I just find that so amazing. I know I am lucky that I can have a history with individuals who share the same bloodline as me. It is one of the reasons why I understood what the main character was going through in this animated fantasy film.      GROWING UP IN AN ORPHANAGE AND seeing her friends being adopted, only made Earwig, voiced by relative newcomer Taylor Henderson, wish for a family of her own. There was a chance her wish could be fulfilled when an odd couple came calling on the orphanage one day. With JB Blanc (Breaking Bad-TV, Bleach-TV) voicing Mr. Jenkins, Thomas Bromhead (I Got a Rocket-TV, Forest of Piano-TV) voicing the cook, Richard E. Grant (Hudson Hawk, Gosford Park) voicing the Mandrake and Vanessa Marshall (The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy-TV, Young Justice-TV) voicing Bella Yaga; this film festival winner was Studio Ghibli’s first foray into using CGI in their animation. In some instances, it worked but other times I was underwhelmed by the animation. I could say the same thing for the script. For an animated film, I found this one to be dull and uninspired. The way the story ended was awful and there was nothing fun or enchanting about the story. I do not know if even small children would care for this picture. If I were Earwig, I think I would have spent more time wishing for a way to get out of this movie.

1 ¾ stars 

Flash Movie Review: The Mitchells vs. the Machines

I WOULD BE ASKED TO COME out and play but they did not know I was already outside. Many times, various relatives would ask if I would prefer to be outside because it was such a nice day and I would politely tell them I was doing fine where I was already. You see most everyone did not understand I was visiting all parts of the world besides traveling to different planets. My spaceships came in a variety of shapes and sizes, but they all were equipped with a multi light ray shooter. For those of you who do not know what that is, please let me tell you. It was a concave dish or half sphere attached to the rocket ship that generated various degrees of light emitting particles. Based on the intensity of the light, it could lock a person in place like a statue if the person came into the shining light’s circumference. When the intensity was dialed all the way up, the light ray would be my ray gun that could pierce enemy spaceships or cause mountains to explode wherever the light hit. Some days, I would hang out closer to home. Periodically, I would pay a visit to my imaginary zoo, where I had trained all the animals to listen to me. I was talking to animals way before I ever heard of that doctor named Doolittle.      MY IMAGINATION HAS ALWAYS ENGAGED ITSELF at a high level. At the time, I cannot tell you how many times I preferred being in my imaginary world than the real one. When I look back now, I can see why I had a harder time fitting in with different groups of people. Not to be judgmental here, but they were usually not as exciting and fun as the people I created in my world. Not that I lived a lonely life as a kid, I was able to disconnect and enjoy the company of friends and family. And I will say, when I met someone who had the same sensibilities/flair of imagination as me, we really connected on a deeper level. In fact, because of my imagination most of my friends always wanted me to be in charge of building our snow forts during the winter months; I created solid fortresses that protected us from any barrage of snowballs. So, in a way I see a powerful imagination can be a double-edged sword. It may be a little harder to fit in with people; but on the other hand, the people who can wrap their brain around it really get in synch with you. If I could relive my youth over, would I want to have a less active imagination? The answer is no; I believe it has been one of my strongest assets. You can certainly see why if you choose to watch this animated, adventure movie.      HAVING TO TAKE A ROAD TRIP with her family was hard enough for Katie Mitchell, voiced by Abbi Jacobson (Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, Broad City-TV). But to then join forces with her family to battle the evil forces behind the raging machines, it might be too much for even Katie to handle. With Danny McBride (Alien: Covenant, Rock the Kasbah) voicing Rick Mitchell, Maya Rudolph (Life of the Party, Inherent Vice) voicing Linda Mitchell, Michael Rianda (Gravity Falls-TV) voicing Aaron Mitchell and Olivia Colman (The Favourite, The Crown-TV) as PAL; this comedy fantasy was such a fun film to watch. The creativity and imagination would be enough to engage the viewer, but I thought the script was witty, smart and relevant. The various references to technology and family issues was a wonderful mixture of funny and familiarity. I particularly enjoyed the injection of quick scenes that perfectly described the feelings and thoughts I was having about the scenarios on display. It was such a good time for me to watch this picture and I appreciated the way it tickled my imagination.

3 ½ stars    

Flash Movie Review: Soul

THE LAST TWELVE MONTHS HAVE BEEN something I thought I would never experience, as I am sure most of you have thought. When my state passed stay at home orders, I thought the only time I would be told to stay indoors was during a tornado or the threat of nuclear fallout. The only crisis I have lived through of this magnitude was during the AIDS epidemic. Though the transmission method was different, there still was a fear early on of getting to close to people. Back then the fear was unfounded; now it is real and could be the difference between life and death. I have known healthy individuals who caught this virus and succumbed to it. The suffering of being alone in a hospital bed as one’s lungs are slowly being squeezed of their last breath is a brutal experience. What makes this virus extra scary for me is how random it is in who will experience its affects. Some people don’t even know they are infected while others can get severe headaches, high fevers or death. I remember during my time at home, looking out the window and seeing the streets void of any human life. Pigeons scanning the sidewalks for a morsel of food, squirrels crisscrossing streets with less hesitancy and noticeable to me, less debris.      WITH THE LOCKDOWN IN PLACE, THAT also meant I could not go to the health club to work out, to restaurants, to theaters and so on. Suddenly Saturdays took on extra meaning because that was the day, I would order carryout, to help the nearby local restaurants. Food took on a different importance; instead of eating for sustenance, I was eating for comfort. There was a manmade lake close to my house that I had never seen. I drove to it so I could get my steps in by walking the circumference of it. Seeing the ducks take off and land on the water was something I had never seen except on television. When the weather got too cold outside, I started walking/jogging in an underground parking garage. Little did I know that the space would become by sanctuary of peaceful calm. Staying in touch with friends/relatives took on a new meaning. In the past, there usually was an activity attached to getting together; but now, just being able to open a window and talk to a friend who was outside on the front lawn was a joy. Sitting outside to watch the sun set felt more monumental than during pre-COVID. Hearing silence except for the birds in the trees was a new experience. Little did I think that living a temporary restricted lifestyle would allow me to appreciate the little things that can go unnoticed on a typical day. This Oscar nominated and film festival winner can explain things better than me.     JUST WHEN A SCHOOL BAND TEACHER feels things are looking up, he finds himself in an unfamiliar place where passion comes into question. With Jamie Foxx (Just Mercy, Robin Hood) voicing Joe, Tina Fey (Date Night, Sisters) voicing 22, Graham Norton (Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga, Another Gay Movie) voicing Moonwind, Rachel House (Thor: Ragnarok, Baby Done) voicing Terry and Phylicia Rashad (Creed franchise, This is Us-TV) voicing Libba; this animated, adventure comedy had a lot going on with it. As to be expected from a Pixar movie, the animation was inventive and fun. There were some scenes that were rich with details, but others I found to be somewhat average. The script was different to me; I found it to be esoteric in nature. Young viewers may not understand the meaning of some scenes and might ask for an explanation. From an entertainment standpoint, I did not feel the sense of joy I normally do with a Pixar film. I did however appreciate the message; I only wished there had been more musical interludes.                                   

3 stars  

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