What is old eventually becomes new again, is a saying that has been repeated over and over. Some of you may relate to this especially when you see advertisements for the latest clothing styles; the clothes were in fashion before when you were growing up. Take a look at bell bottom pants; they come into fashion for a couple of years then they go out before they come back in. I hate to admit this but I still have clothing stored away that I used to wear years ago, some even back from high school. After my weight loss I still kept them as a backup. Though I have seen some of that old clothing return into vogue, manufacturers in conjunction with marketers bring back some of these items but tweak them just enough to make it look fresh and new. If you remember that soft drink fiasco, not everything new makes it instantly better. Just let me tell you about winter gloves as an example. Years ago gloves were usually fleece lined or had some type of down inside of them. All of a sudden new products came out that claimed to be just as warm as these natural fibers but take up less space, they were thinner. I do not know about you, but I do not find gloves with this thin insulating material to be that warm for my hands. Give me good wool lined or duck down filled gloves and I will be able to tackle any harsh winter day. Now let me say I do believe there is no reason to fix something if it is not broken, so I am never the first one to jump on the latest updated version of something from the past; it turns out this is wise advice. WHEN celebrities were being killed off while striking a signature pose created by Derek Zoolander and Hansel, played by Ben Stiller (While We’re young, The Watch) and Owen Wilson (Midnight in Paris, No Escape), the two former models were brought out of retirement to try and help track down the killers. This comedy sequel tipped its hand when the trailers came out for it; they were the best parts of this movie. With Will Ferrell (Daddy’s Home, Get Hard) as Mugatu and Kristen Wiig (The Martian, Welcome to Me) as Alexanya Atoz, all the characters had a chance to do something funny. I kept waiting for it but it never happened; the script went all over the place, it was a mess. Now I have to tell you I did not think the original movie was anything special, but compared to this sequel it moved up on my favorability rating scale. There were more cameos in this film than there were jokes. As I sat through this picture I had to wonder who thought doing a sequel would be a good concept. The only thing this movie did for me was prove not everything updated and made fresh was a good idea.
1 1/2 stars
I sat in their front room staring at the VCR with its display flashing 12:00 for the time. It stayed at the same time while I waited for my friend to finish up helping his mother before we were going out to dinner. I was not surprised by the flashing number since I have seen the same thing in houses of other people from the same generation as my friend’s parent. With technology constantly changing, I sat and wondered what people from younger generations would find amusing about some of the things I do. Some of my friends cannot believe I still do not have an ATM card; I just do not care for them. They say change is good and I can see the value in that statement, but sometimes I prefer staying in a place or routine that is already established as being an easy comfort. As we all get older we experience changes not only in material things but in relationships too. I have friends who change when they are in a relationship; one makes adjustments as that common single mentality turns to a couple and single person relationship. Or when friends have kids, a change takes place; it is no longer about going to a late night movie, instead it is getting home in time to take the babysitter home. These are changes all of us face to some degree. The difference is in how one accepts the changes in their life. CORNELIA and Josh, played by Naomi Watts (Insurgent, St. Vincent) and Ben Stiller (Night at the Museum franchise, The Watch), were a 40 something couple whose friends were settled down having children. Things were not like they used to be; but upon meeting the young couple Darby and Jamie, played by Amanda Seyfried (Dear John, Mamma Mia!) and Adam Driver (What If, Inside Llewyn Davis), Cornelia and Josh felt they found what they were looking for. Written and directed by Noah Baumbach (Francis Ha, Margot at the Wedding), this dramatic comedy had some smart, observant dialog. I thought the cast worked quite well together, coming across as real people. Noah had a good ear in the way he presented the differences between age groups; I could relate to some of these individuals. The first half of the film was stronger for me. As the story played out I found the last part was not as interesting to me. There were more scenes that worked than not; but the more I thought about, those scenes I cared less for were the ones that Ben’s character appeared to be in a crisis mode. This story certainly presented valid points about changes; but at the end of the film I felt like an old man in the theater.
2 3/4 stars
My obsession sprung out from one of my favorite children books, “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.” The idea of hiding in a museum until after it closes fascinated me for a long time when I was a kid. Having visited the museums in my city numerous times, I credit them for helping my mind open up further into the world of possibilities. One museum had a real airplane suspended from the ceiling that I never walked under as I made my way to the gigantic train set, with its various locomotive trains traveling multiple tracks through manufactured landscapes. There was another museum that would transport me back in time to when Pharaohs ruled as I saw their wrapped remains resting in elaborate coffins. I would daydream about sleeping overnight in a museum; going on my very own treasure hunts as I explored the massive hallways that I just knew had to have secret passageways. They probably lead to secret underground laboratories and vaults. I was convinced there was a whole different world to explore behind the sculpted granite walls of all those museums. SOMETHING was beginning to happen to the inhabitants of the museum that would affect their very existence. With very little time left security guard Larry Daley, played by Ben Stiller (Tropic Thunder, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), would have to travel to London, England to discover the reason why his friends were being robbed of their ability to come to life after dark. This latest adventure comedy, the 3rd in the franchise, saw the return of cast members such as Robin Williams (Dead Poets Society, August Rush) as Teddy Roosevelt and Owen Wilson (Midnight in Paris, Wedding Crashers) as Jedediah; along with some new characters like Sir Lancelot, played by Dan Stevens (The Guest, The Fifth Estate) and Tilly, played by Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect, Bachelorette). For the life of me I had a hard time finding anything I liked about this stale film. Oh wait, the special effects were still fun even though I had seen them all before. The story and script were simply horrible. So pedestrian and plain, I could not find anything funny. There is a horrible expression that goes, “beating a dead horse” and I felt the movie studio was doing it with the release of this film. There was nothing new or exciting; it had all been done before, so what was the point? I will say most young children will probably like the film since it was colorful and took place in a fascinating place, a museum. On second thought, plan a trip to a local museum instead of going to see this movie.
1 2/3 stars
Daydreams are like the morning dew on budding ambitions. For inside those daydreams is the pollen of ideas. Many of us have daydreamed at one time or another; I am a firm believer in them. Daydreams provide me a safe haven to let my mind wander untethered from my required responsibilities. Sitting in a waiting room while my car is being serviced provides me time to take a mental vacation to a warm exotic place as the drifting snow outside the dealership fades away from my vision. After I lost my weight many years ago I used to daydream of being a dancer, specifically a go-go dancer. It was not because I was looking for adulation. After being uncomfortable in my body for so long, I wanted to see how it would feel to let go in a very vulnerable way and not give any thought to how I looked to other people. This dream stayed with me for some time but I never had the courage to follow through with it. However, that daydream played a factor in my pursuit of becoming an aerobic instructor. Finding myself in a physical activity where I was not being teased or judged gave me more confidence than I had ever experienced before. Someone else who had a fondness for daydreaming was Walter Mitty, played by Ben Stiller (Tropic Thunder, The Watch). To disappear from his uneventful life, Walter would escape into his daydreams of adventure and heroics. When his job position was threatened with elimination, Walter had to take off on a real adventure he never imagined in the hope of saving his job. Based on James Thurber’s short story of the same name, this adventure dramedy was not a remake of the Danny Kaye film. Directed by Ben, I enjoyed the flow of the story. There were several scenes that were visually stunning. I have to say those same scenes were the most engaging. If there was not some adventure taking place on screen I then found the story becoming weak, lacking any energy. The parts where Ben and Kristen Wiig (Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Bridesmaids), who played fellow employee Cheryl Melhoff, were together I found almost boring. It was funny because I wished the short scenes that had Shirley MacLaine (The Apartment, Terms of Endearment) as Walter’s mother Edna, would have been longer. This award winning movie was a good effort but the people involved in making it would have done better if they had dreamt bigger.
2 1/4 stars
What a flashback I got while watching this animated movie. No, not that type of flashback; I am talking about when I went to see the circus with my aunt and cousins when I was a little boy. This film was just as fun but without the animal smells. As the third installment of this franchise, this one was the best one. The assortment of vibrant colors reaching across the screen was just beautiful. Starting where the 2nd movie left off, the furry friends were still in Africa. Feeling homesick for New York City, the group of animals hatched up a plan to get back home. Among the usual cast there was Alex the lion, voiced by Ben Stiller (Tropic Thunder, Tower Heist); Marty the zebra, voiced by Chris Rock (Head of State, Down to Earth) and Melman the giraffe, voiced by David Schwimmer (Friends-TV, Six Days Seven Nights). Once the group arrived in Monte Carlo, the action went into high gear. New character Captain Chantel DuBois, voiced by Frances McDormand (Moonrise Kingdom, Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day), was determined to capture Alex so she could mount his head on her trophy wall. I enjoyed the humor that was appropriate for young children, along with having fun lines written with the adult in mind. A madcap chase ensued as the animals traveled across Europe with Captain DuBois hot on their tails. Filled with excitement, laughs and thrills; this wonderful movie had everything to please a young child and a grown-up who was a kid at heart.
3 1/4 stars
At every social gathering there usually is one person who is the know it all, has an opinion about everything. At least that has been my experience and the reason why I enjoyed this movie. Ben Stiller (Tower Heist, Tropic Thunder) as Roger Greenberg was one of those annoying individuals. He was quite good in this character, that was not a typical role for him. Without the stereotypical sight gags and humor from Ben, his Roger was someone you could hate. Recovering from a nervous breakdown, Roger agreed to fly out and house-sit while his brother and family went out of town. Available to help Roger was Florence Marr the family’s personal assistant, played by Greta Gerwig (no Strings Attached, Arthur). It didn’t take long before she became a target for Greenberg’s mood swings. As Roger tried to navigate the responsibilities needed, he attempted to reconnect with old friends who’s memories were different from his own. Since there was not much action in the story, this film will not appeal to everyone. The acting, however, was what moved the minimal plot; for every actor was strong in their character. If nothing else, my poor opinion of Ben Stiller after seeing his Tower Heist movie has improved after seeing this DVD.
2 2/3 stars — DVD