THOUGH I HAD NOT SEEN THEM for years, my memories of them were just as vivid today as they were back then. I was downsizing my living space and came upon a couple of shelves in the basement that were filled with toys. Some were in their original packaging while others were sealed in plastic bags or bins. They brought a smile to my face as I had to stop my packing and look at each one. There was a boxed game where the players had to pick 5 letters and 5 categories. Writing each one down on a mini-spreadsheet, letters going vertically down and categories across horizontally, the players would be timed as they had to fill in as many spaces as they could within the time frame. This was my favorite game outside of word games. There was a toy on the shelf that I remember getting at the same time as a cousin of mine. It was a moving track, like a miniature moving sidewalk, where I would have to steer a magnetic car through obstacles that would pop up on the revolving track. Each toy I took off the shelf provided me a fond memory; I was not sure if I could part with any of them. IT IS FUNNY HOW FOR MANY of us a toy or stuffed animal can have an influence on our life’s path. I remember playing this word game with a relative, where there was a group of dice that had letters instead of numbers on them. They would be shaken around inside a plastic cube until they settled into spaces set out like a tick tack toe graph. We would turn the timer over to start, then come up with as many words as we could using the letters showing; but, having to only connect the letters down or up and side to side, nothing diagonal. It was this early game that started my love of reading and writing. There was also a babysitter of mine who each time she sat for me would bring me a stuffed animal. I am convinced that menagerie started my affection and first educational direction for animals. Let me say at one time I had almost 2 dozen stuffed animals sleeping with me; I could barely move in the bed. Now it has been many years since I played with toys and stuffed animals; but I must tell you, I was pleasantly surprised seeing the familiar characters again in this latest installment of the animated, adventure franchise. WITH A COUPLE OF DISCARDED ITEMS and a little imagination Bonnie, voiced by Madeleine McGraw (American Sniper, Ant-Man and the Wasp), created a new toy for herself. The problem was convincing this new addition that he belonged in her toy collection; something Woody, voiced by Tom Hanks (The Post, Sully), thought he could fix. With Tim Allen (3 Geezers!, Last Man Standing-TV) voicing Buzz Lightyear, Tony Hale (Stranger than Fiction, American Ultra ) voicing Forky and Annie Potts (Ghostbusters, Pretty in Pink) voicing Bo Peep; this film was one of the few sequels I have seen that maintained the high standards of its previous movies. The animation was outstanding, and the humor was appropriate and relevant for both children and adults. Also, the story was thoughtful and cleverly laid out to take adult type themes and present them in such a way that was easy for kids to digest. I experienced a variety of feelings from excitement to tension to love; each expertly fitted into the script without overpowering one another. The movie studio did a wonderful job in keeping the integrity intact for this beloved film franchise. I may never get rid of my toys now. There were 4 extra scenes during the 1sthalf of the credits.
3 ½ stars
IT OCCURRED TO ME THAT I was watching different groups in this movie, with origins that spanned the globe, working together as one. There weren’t any indications of dislike, envy or hatred; in fact, it seemed as if their differences enhanced their capabilities to do good. They all had different physical differences. Some were darker, some were smaller, some had both dark and light color mixed in them and it did not matter. What a world they were living in where these things had no bearing on one’s feelings. I would have enjoyed experiencing the world they were living in. Those that were quite big were not picked on or made fun of, unlike my own past experiences. One was handicapped, and it appeared to me no one treated them different from anyone else. If I had seen this as a kid, I would have been surprised because of what I saw growing up. There was a student in class who had a health condition, something to do with their blood, that prevented her from participating in any physical activity. This student was shunned by other students; they considered her weird. Granted, they did not know the details of her situation; but, why did they immediately choose to treat her different was perplexing to me. RELIVING THESE MEMORIES MAKES ME NOW wonder if humans have an inherit tendency to shy away from others that are different or is it something that must be taught. Isn’t that a frightening thought if adults have been handing down that fear to their offspring. Based on what I have been seeing and hearing presently, it seems as if more people are less tolerate of those they perceive to be different. Because of the differences between us, I feel we are seeing more conflicts around the world. People are fighting and arguing for the simple reason they cannot accept someone being different. It does not matter if it is politics or religion or lifestyle; there is a pack mentality that gets formed where people only want to live with their own kind. I am saddened by what I read in the newspapers. Young adults are being killed because they dress and act different than what is “expected” of them. It is horrific, and it is wrong. So much more can be accomplished when the participants come from different backgrounds, to bring their unique skills to the forefront. Maybe those that do not believe me should take a look and see what the different animals in this animated, adventure comedy accomplish by working together. A WHOLE DIFFERENT WORLD AWAITS MAX and Duke, voiced by Patton Oswald (Young Adult, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) and Eric Stonestreet (The Loft, Modern Family-TV), when their family takes a vacation out in the country. How will Max handle so many new experiences? With Kevin Hart (Night School, The Upside) voicing Snowball, Harrison Ford (The Age of Adaline, Raiders of the Lost Ark franchise) voicing Rooster and Jenny Slate (Obvious Child, Gifted) voicing Gidget; this sequel came with its own built in charm. If you enjoyed the 1st film, you will enjoy watching this picture. The humor was fun, and the animation added to it. The children in the audience certainly were having a good time watching this movie. Now it appeared to me the movie studio did not want to deviate from the winning formula of the past film; however, by doing so there really was not anything new in this sequel. I thought there were too many story lines taking place at the same time. But here is the thing though, it did not take away my enjoyment from seeing what was happening in the story. Though there was nothing new with the characters, I liked seeing the way they worked together to tackle issues. Now if only they could teach humans that lesson.
2 ½ stars
IN MY HOUSE I HAVE A beautiful curio cabinet. It is mission style, crafted out of wood and glass. I have received numerous compliments on it. Granted, I put it in a prominent place between two passageways right underneath a wooden copy of a Frank Lloyd Wright window. It was the only spot open in the room and it was the perfect place. The piece stands on four short legs before meeting the bottom of the 2 front cabinet doors with glass insets. Vertical thin strips of wood come down the front seamlessly, except where 2 black metal plates with a metal ring are attached to pull open the door. I saw a picture of this cabinet in a catalog and immediately knew I had to get it. Sure, I looked at other cabinets, but none of them had a strong attraction for me like this mission style one. When it arrived, I had to assemble the pieces together which is not my forte. After reading through the directions I began the process and was surprised how well it was going. That is until I had to assemble the pieces to the back panel. One predrilled hole did not line up; I had to drill a 2nd hole if I wanted to finish building the cabinet. Until now I was the only person who knew this perfect cabinet was not so perfect when it arrived. Luckily, the extra hole was in the back where no one would see it. THAT IS THE THING ABOUT PERFECTION, it is only a perception. I cannot think of one thing that I would say is perfect. Growing up I would hear friends’ parents compare their children to others, mostly when their child was being scolded. They would ask why their kid could not be more like so-and-so and act better. Even though it was said in different ways, the parents’ message coming across was essentially telling their child they wished he or she was better. The other family was being perceived as perfect or better by the child’s parents. And do you know what contributed to them thinking this way? I believe it was television shows because back then families were portrayed as being perfect. One did not hear about divorce, affairs or problems. These shows warped many people’s perceptions. In my own life, when I began my career in fitness I became obsessed with fitness magazines. I felt I had to look like the models that were being used by the writers. For years I wanted to be the perfect specimen of a fitness instructor. Well guess what, I was never going to be perfect and that was okay. It is a message that can be found in this animated, adventure comedy. IN UGLYVILLE THE WEIRD, THE DIFFERENT and of course the ugly are all things celebrated by the inhabitants. But right past their town beauty can be found in many forms and some citizens yearn to be part of that beauty. With Kelly Clarkson (From Justin to Kelly, American Dreams-TV) voicing Moxy, Blake Shelton (Pitch Perfect 2, The Ridiculous 6) voicing Ox, Leehom Wang (Forever Young, My Lucky Star) voicing Lucky Bat, Wanda Sykes (Monster-in-Law, Bad Moms franchise) voicing Wage and Pitbull (Epic, Empire-TV) voicing Uglydog; the message the writers were trying to get across was spot on. Unfortunately, I do not know if any of the viewers will get the message because this picture was bleak on many counts. The script was boring; there was nothing fun about it. There was no wow factor regarding the animation which left me being bored through long passages of this film. Only the unmemorable songs and Kelly’s enthusiasm kept me awake. I could not tell if this movie was made to sell dolls or to rehash bits of cutting room footage from other films. The movie studio wanted to show us that it is okay not to be perfect and they certainly did by creating this mess. I do not think this is the way the studio intended to show us.
1 ½ stars
HEARING OR SEEING THE WORD “HOME” immediately brings a comforting feeling, usually. Home is not necessarily just a structure that you lived in; home can be the place of your origin, where your earliest memories were born. I have the good fortune of still living within driving distance to the place where I grew up. Driving down the old neighborhood streets unlocks my memory vault, letting past images flash inside of my brain. The main commercial avenue where we did most of our shopping looks so different now. However, I still see in my mind the hamburger shop where I used to get my burger and French fries to take home to eat. The old grocery store which was tiny by today’s standards is now one of those discount stores where everything is under $5.00. Yet I can still see me and my friends running to the variety store where we would buy our penny candies. Every summer we would also buy kites to take down to the beach. We would run through the sand with our kites lifted behind us, waiting for a gust of air to lift them into the air. My kite would always have a long tail that I made with different colored ribbons. HOME CAN ALSO BE A PLACE that you found where you feel the most comfortable. A place where people of like minds become fast friends; a patch of land that speaks to your heart, hidden in the woods perhaps. I became acutely aware of this phenomenon when I went away to school. As soon as I walked down the hallway to my dorm room I noticed a difference between me and the other students on the floor. Many of them had blonde hair and blue eyes; both my hair and eyes were dark. Later I discovered many students came from farmlands, whereas I grew up in a large city. There always seemed to be a disconnect between me and my fellow students. Whether it was our humor or morals or some other aspect of our lives; it always seemed as if we were on different pages. I longed to return to a place where I did not have to explain my thoughts and feelings, where we could share similar life experiences. From a place where I felt alone, all I longed for was to find a place where there were others like me. It was the same for the main character in this animated, adventure comedy. TIRED OF BEING ALONE FOR SO long Mr. Link, voiced by Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover franchise, The Campaign), convinces explorer Sir Lionel Frost, voiced by Hugh Jackman (The Front Runner, X-Men franchise), to help him find that special place he could call home. Their journey would involve more discoveries than they had planned. With Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, Star Trek franchise) voicing Adelina Fortnight, David Walliams (Stardust, Dinner for Schmucks) voicing Mr. Lemuel Lint and Timothy Olyphant (A Perfect Getaway, Mother’s Day) voicing Willard Stenk; this movie studio created another beautiful film. The visuals were wonderful to watch as the studio’s use of Claymation brought a whole different feeling to the story. The script was sweet with a charming message; however, compared to their previous movies I felt this one was a bit mild. Don’t get me wrong; it was fun and family appropriate. It just came across as almost too sweet; as if it was trying to appeal to the masses, instead of delving deeper into the story and visuals. There were a couple of times where my mind started to wander, which usually doesn’t happen with this studio’s pictures. Nonetheless, most viewers will enjoy this movie and its message. And make sure you stay during the credits to see how one of the scenes was created.
2 ¾ stars
I DID NOT CONSIDER IT ARGUING but my teacher did not feel the same way. The assignment given to us was to create illustrations for a book we were putting together. Each student was handed a page with the outline of a scene printed on it. Our job was to color in the figures and landscapes. Once done the teacher was going to put the drawn pages in the appropriate places between the pages we had written for the story we created. I took my drawing assignments seriously though I did not consider myself a good “artist.” My page had both people and objects in it, so I was diligently working on it with my crayons. I went over the outlines with crayons that I thought would look good on the drawing. For a couple of the figures I gave them a shadow, pretending the scene was of a sunny day. There were times I went outside the lines to add a jacket or hat. When the teacher walked by she stopped at my desk and asked what I was doing. I explained my picture to her, but she kept telling me that was not the assignment she gave us. I disagreed and tried explaining to her what I was creating; however, she was not interested in my explanation. She took my sheet away and replaced it with another one, telling me to follow her instructions. I thought I was doing that. MY IMAGINATION IS STILL AS STRONG now as it was back then. I do not think that teacher was trying to stifle my imagination; she just wanted the drawings done a certain way. At the time though, I felt bad that I had to redo my picture without any of the extra things I was incorporating into it. To me, the picture as it was presented was boring and needed something extra to make it stand out in the reader’s mind. When I think of the students I used to play and eat with, I realize now each of them also had a strong imagination. We would get together after a snow storm and create all these different things with just snow. In someone’s backyard we would make things like tunnels, trenches, guards, hills and ramps; all to be incorporated into whatever scenario we were creating in our minds. I always had an easier time connecting with someone who had an active imagination; for it was that imagination, that would carry us to fanciful places where we would plant the seeds of our dreams. It is exactly what the young girl in this animated adventure comedy was doing. WHILE WALKING IN THE WOODS JUNE, voiced by newcomer Brianna Denski, discovered an old, discarded roller coaster car. When she stepped into the car, it jogged a memory of a place she imagined as a little girl. With Jennifer Garner (Peppermint, Draft Day) voicing the Mom, Ken Judson Campbell (Groundhog Day, Home Alone) voicing Boomer, Mila Kunis (The Spy Who Dumped Me, Bad Moms franchise) voicing Greta and Kenan Thompson (Snakes on a Plane, Saturday Night Live-TV) voicing Gus; this story started out beautifully. The animation was wonderful, and the idea of the story was sweet and charming. Once the story moved to a different time and location everything fell apart for me. I thought the script was dark and disconnected. The idea of the evil protagonists was awful. Some children may react negatively to these characters. Afterwards I discovered why there was no directing credits listed for this movie and it explains why I felt the story was clunky. The idea for the story resonated with me, but there was little imagination used to make this picture stand out for me.
1 ¾ stars
HOW DOES ONE GIVE UP SOMETHING they love? I find it to be one of the hardest things to do. I have been told I have strong willpower; that I can be disciplined enough to forgo something for a short time, not so sure about long term. Talking with someone recently who is pregnant, she said the hardest thing for her during her pregnancy was not being able to eat pizza. It is her favorite food and now every time she tries to eat a slice she gets horribly sick. I mentioned it should only be a temporary situation and pass once her baby is born. Another example I can think of is when one goes shopping with a friend or relative and both fall in love with the same item that the store has only 1 left on their shelf. Think about a sweater or cooking item that you have been searching for that your relative or friend has been wanting also; how do you decide which one of you gets to purchase the item? Maybe only shop alone to avoid the problem in the future; but for the present, most people tend to offer the other person the item out of politeness. I KNOW TWO WOMEN WHO BOTH are passionate about collecting certain antique clothing items. They both have similar tastes which has become an issue for them. The items they seek can be found through auctions; the 2 friends wind up bidding against each other sometimes and not always knowing it. I thought they came up with an equitable plan. Before each auction they now discuss which items they are going to bid on. When they both want to bid on the same item, they take turns on who gets to bid on it. When there are multiple items up for bidding they alternate turns. Gratefully this has worked out for them; they avoid spending more money on items and more importantly, there are no hurt feelings. Now I understand the examples I have mentioned may seem trivial to some individuals. However, I believe whenever love is involved, whether it is love for an item or love for a person, there is a stronger connection that makes it harder for the person to separate themselves. Look at parenting; isn’t the idea of it to raise kids to become independent? Or, at the end of life; there are some people who cannot let go of their loved ones. Love is such a strong emotion; if you do not believe me then feel free to watch this animated, adventure sequel. AS THE NEW RULER HICCUP, VOICED by Jay Baruchel (Lovesick, She’s Out of my League), has created a safe haven for the dragons who look up to his dragon as their leader. Just when his dragon Toothless is needed during a crisis, Hiccup’s dragon is focused more on love. With America Ferrera (Cesar Chavez, Ugly Betty-TV) voicing Astrid, F. Murray Abrahams (Robin Hood, Finding Forrester) voicing Grimmel, Cate Blanchett (Ocean’s Eight, Thor: Ragnarok) voicing Valka and Gerard Butler (Hunter Killer, The Bounty Hunter) voicing Stoick; this action sequel brought everything together for the final chapter in this movie franchise. The animation was wonderful as the actors brought their characters to life. I thought the story made a perfect ending to these films and appreciated the well written script providing a blend of excitement, humor and emotional sensitivity. If you have not seen the previous movies I do not believe you will be lost with this picture; there were things I had forgotten, and it did not make a difference in my level of enjoyment for this film. Though I love the dragons from Game of Thrones, there were a few dragons in this movie that I could see myself loving as well.
3 ½ stars
THERE WAS AN OLD SET OF blocks I found in my toy box. It must have been handed down because the color used on the wooden blocks was faded and worn out. Each block had a letter of the alphabet, but I never used the blocks to make words; instead, I used them to make more important things. Stacking the blocks one on top of another made a tall lookout post, with certain letters like “U” and “M” being hidden cannons and machine guns. I would use the blocks to build a wall that was used to surround a moat filled with alligators. One of my favorite things to build were these unusual shaped structures that I pretended were buildings used for outer space outposts. The letters carved into the blocks were windows or shades to protect the inhabitants from the effects of a sun. My imagination would be all over the place as it was being nurtured while playing with these old, wooden building blocks. Every time I would play with them I would discover new adventures and places to explore. IT WAS SOON AFTER I STARTED playing with other toys that would feed my imagination. I remember a box that contained these miniature logs with notches carved towards the ends, like ones used to make a log cabin. However, I used mine to build bridges that would carry visitors over churning rapids or deadly volcanoes. You are probably saying a bridge would never last over an active volcano; but in my world, the logs were made of a secret element that allowed them to withstand the heat from the lava churning inside the volcano, that was preparing to spew up and out. Most of my building type toys were of a smaller scale; in other words, I could create whatever I wanted but it would not be life-sized. That all changed when I received a gift of Styrofoam blocks from a friend of mine. These blocks were bigger than anything I had in my possession. They would interlock using the three pegs sticking up from the top into the three holes that were at the bottom of each piece. The key was not using all three pegs into another piece. All I had to do was use one of the pegs at the ends and I could form a curving wall to form an igloo or fort that was big enough for me to sit in. Add a towel or bedsheet at the top and it would become an awning. There was no limit to my imagination with any of my building toys. The same could be said for the writers of this animated action sequel. LIFE DRASTICALLY CHANGED THE PAST FEW years from everything being awesome to everything being destroyed. The only citizen who kept a positive attitude was Emmet Brickowski, voiced by Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, The Magnificent Seven), but that was about to change. With Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games franchise, Pitch Perfect franchise) voicing Lucy, Will Arnett (Show Dogs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise) voicing Batman, Tiffany Haddish (Night School, Nobody’s Fool) voicing Queen Watevra Wa’Nabi and Stephanie Beatriz (Short Term 12, The Light of the Moon) voicing General Mayhem; the previous cast returned with a few new additions in this adventure film. The actors were all in tune with their characters, delivering the finely tuned humor in the script. As with building blocks, the writers had free rein to go anywhere they wanted with the story. For the most part, they did a good job; however, I think they defaulted to the safe side to avoid risking damage to this burgeoning franchise. The entire family will find something to enjoy in this picture. If there is going to be a third installment, I hope the writers see it as an opportunity to build something new and fresh for these building block pieces.
IT FEELS GOOD TO BE BACK after being on vacation for the past couple of weeks. This was a special vacation for me because I finally fulfilled a dream I have had since I was a child. I traveled to the last state I needed to see to complete my quest of visiting all 50 states. This feeling of accomplishment was better than I had imagined; to have had this dream/goal for most of my life being checked off my list of things to do felt amazing. As I have done in every other state I have visited, I bought a couple of touristy T-shirts and caps to add to my collection. If you do the math, that means I have over 100 of each item; so yes, you can consider me somewhat of a nerd. I only wear them when I teach class since I prefer not putting on workout clothes that have a company’s logo on it. For every state I have been in, I have experienced something new and wonderful. One of the best experiences I have had from my journeys has been the discovery that people are pretty much the same no matter where they live. I have found there are more similarities between all of us than not and we truly can learn from each other if we take the time to do so. THERE IS THAT OLD PROVERB, “The grass is greener on the other side;” which means situations always look better than one’s own, even when they really are not. Since I live in a humid continental climate with all four seasons, I felt those who live in a tropical climate have it easier; it turns out that is not always the case. Meeting so many different people across the country has widened my horizons, allowing me to learn many new things. I can say with certainty the grass in no greener on the other side from your own; though it may feel like it at times. I find it interesting that one of my concerns about taking such a long vacation was how would I stay current with the new movie releases. As you can see, I have not posted a new review in a couple of weeks; however, I feel invigorated and find the very first movie I went to see upon my return relates so well with my feelings about accomplishing my dream. This animated adventure film has a couple of solid helpful messages stashed inside of its story. IMAGINE THE SHOCK MILES MORALES, voiced by Shameik Moore (Dope, Joyful Noise), felt when he discovered there was more than one version of his superhero, Spider-Man. With Jake Johnson (Tag, New Girl-TV) voicing Peter B. Parker, Hailee Steinfeld (The Edge of Seventeen, Pitch Perfect franchise) voicing Gwen Stacy, Mahershala Ali (Green Book, Hidden Figures) voicing Uncle Aaron and John Mulaney (Saturday Night Live-TV, The Jim Gaffigan Show-TV) voicing Spider-Ham; this was a visually fun action film. Using an assortment of animation styles, they lent themselves to the sharp humor in the script. As I mentioned earlier, I found a couple of good lessons were conveyed in the middle of the quick antics on display. What I also enjoyed was the inclusion of several tender scenes that gave this movie a nice sheen to it. This picture has a much more sophisticated script than the average animated film; both children and adults would have an easy time watching it. For me at times, I felt I was literally seeing a comic book come to life. And the funny thing about this is after I saw the movie trailer I was left with a “meh” feeling. I am glad this was my first movie to review upon my return and I loved the connection I felt between my feelings about my experience with the feelings expressed in this well-done film.
TAKE IT FROM SOMEONE WHO KNOWS, change is not always an easy thing. Change is something I prefer taking place over time—like the duration it takes for a sapling to turn into a majestic oak tree. Intellectually I know change is inevitable; but that does not mean I have to like it. For the past few years a friend and I have talked on the phone every day during my work commute. I have known her since we were in elementary school. We started talking to each other every day after she moved out of state for work. Recently she received a promotion that changed her schedule. After talking together on the phone for the past few years, she now had a daily work commitment that had to be handled at the exact time we would be on the phone. It was strange not talking to her; one of the reasons I discovered was it made my commute easier. It seemed to make the time go by faster and before you say anything, I always used a hands-free device to talk to her. I still wish we could have our daily talk, but I understand the reason why; she had bettered herself at work and that is always a good thing. PART OF FRIENDSHIP/LOVE WITH A PERSON is wishing them the best. Though things change a true friend or family member remains supportive through the process…or at least that is what they are supposed to do, according to my definition of family/friends. There is a couple of sisters I know where one of them pretends to be supportive but is incredibly passive aggressive toward her older sister. If you are not paying close attention you might miss the barbs and comments that the younger sister tosses over toward her big sister. I was a witness to it and was stunned by the way the younger sister tried to build herself up by putting her sister down. Based on the things I knew about the siblings, I could see why the younger one was acting out; she felt she was not getting enough attention. I felt this way based on the information I was privy to, besides seeing it with my own eyes. As I said before change is not always easy and because the older sister married first and had children, the younger sister was no longer getting to be the center of attention in their family. Some people just act that way; heck, it even happened in this animated adventure film. WHEN HER GAME SUDDENLY STOPPED WORKING; Vanellope, voiced by Sarah Silverman (The Book of Henry, Battle of the Sexes), and her best friend Ralph, voiced by John C. Reilly (Chicago, Kong: Skull Island), made their way to the internet to find a solution. They found more than they expected, in ways that would test their friendship. With Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman, Keeping Up with the Joneses) voicing Shank, Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures, Proud Mary) voicing Yesss and Jane Lynch (Julie & Julia, Glee-TV) voicing Calhoun; this comedy sequel had many fun moments in it. I thought John and Sarah did a wonderful job together as they played off each other. The visuals were great to watch as the script provided humor for both young and old. If I have a negative comment it would be about the element of wonderment; since this was a sequel it did not have that extra magic of being a fresh idea. Also, the action did not always have a smooth transition. I still had a good time watching this picture and ultimately it did present an admirable conclusion to the topics offered up in the script. I am happy for this sequel.
MY FRIEND HAD A NAME FOR those types of individuals; she called them, “Happiness Vampires.” It was the perfect name I thought. A “Happiness Vampire” is a person who cannot celebrate and be a part of someone else’s happiness; they instead try to suck the happiness out of that person. I would even go a step further by saying these “Happiness Vampires” only feel good about themselves when someone else is feeling bad. That is so twisted I think. I believe all of us have encountered these dour people sometime in our lives, even if they were not at the time acting out on their negativity. My friend who came up with this term figured it out after dating this person for almost one year. I guess because she was in the throes of falling in love, she did realize what he was doing to her. His method was like a sneak attack because he would appear to be happy and congratulatory for her, but then would express these negative scenarios or possible repercussions that could happen to her. Pretty soon her good mood would dim and turn sour, leaving her depressed while her “boyfriend” would build himself up as her shining knight who would save her. I was so happy when she finally dumped him. RECENTLY I ATTENDED A DINNER PARTY where I encountered a guest who turned out to be a “Happiness Vampire.” It was an elegant affair with some prominent people in attendance. When I was introduced to this one individual I suddenly was hit with a bad feeling. It was as if the air was being sucked out around me with a vacuum cleaner. He was short and squat in stature; if you would place him at a fast food restaurant’s salad bar he would fit in perfectly. The person who introduced me to this individual was a successful financial man in his own right; however, this sour man quickly took an opportunity to build himself up by tossing a negative comment (some say back-handed compliment) about this prominent person. The reason he did such a thing was to talk about something he felt was a big success in his career. I caught it right away and just stood there listening to this man go on about his so-called accomplishments. The real successful individual also stood there with a smile on their face that looked like it was painted on with Botox; it did not budge the entire time the other man carried on about himself. He tried to take away our good feelings like the Grinch in this animated, family comedy but we did not let him succeed. BASED ON DR. SEUSS’ BELOVED BOOK, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas;” this movie had Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game, Doctor Strange) voicing The Grinch, Cameron Seely (The Greatest Showman, The Jim Gaffigan Show-TV) voicing Cindy-Lou Who, Rashida Jones (The Social Network, Parks and Recreation-TV) voicing Donna Who and musical artist Pharrell Williams as the Narrator. This story has been done many times before in different mediums; so, there was nothing new that came as a surprise except of all things Benedict’s performance. I did not care for his vocal acting; I thought he was not sinister enough for the character. Visually the movie was fun to watch (even the ending credits) and I enjoyed some of the Grinch’s exploits; but I felt this version of the Grinch was more of a lightweight compared to those Grinch’s of Christmas past. This film is well suited for younger children, but adults may get a bit tired of it. Of course, if you have never seen a movie version of Dr. Seuss’ book before then you might want to check this picture out; it almost seems as if it is a holiday tradition.
2 ¼ stars