I KNEW THERE WOULD BE A CHANCE I would either have to ride in the ambulance with the paramedics or drive and meet them at the hospital, when I dialed 911. This was not what I expected when I drove over to check on a friend. I arrived at his house to find him acting confused and lethargic. Offering to make soup or some toast, he could not make up his mind. Instead, he told me he needed to pay some bills. I looked at him carefully, hoping to see some telltale sign to explain what was going on with him. With my imagination I was already checking off in my mind the list of possibilities that could explain my friend’s symptoms. Though I hoped things would calm down and return to some semblance of order, it was not to be the case. When he leaned into me and went limp, I had to support him as I led him down to the floor. Whatever fears I had about ambulances and hospitals was put on the side as I called for help. It seemed like only a minute before the paramedics arrived at the house. The lead man asked me what was going on with my friend; I went over the series of events that led up to me calling them for help. It was decided that my friend be taken to the hospital and that I should meet him there. AS I DROVE TO THE HOSPITAL I glanced at the time on the dashboard and realized I was already past my bedtime. There was nothing I could do about it, so I made the conscious decision not to look at the time anymore. I kept telling myself I at least had my car with me instead of having to ride in the ambulance. The idea of seeing medics working on my friend gave me the chills. I do not think anyone likes being in a hospital and I am no exception. With the germs and sicknesses, besides all the medical procedures, I strongly dislike having to be in a hospital and now I was willingly driving myself to one. All my fears had to be contained or at least not interfere with what I needed to do for my friend. My anxiety increased as I entered the emergency room. I did not have time to think about what was going on because I was led to my friend’s room, where the doctor informed me it was a good thing I called for help. It just goes to show you there are times when one must put everything aside to do the right thing. The friends in this horror film certainly understood this concept. IT HAD BEEN 27 YEARS SINCE the town of Derry experienced such an evil being. The group of old schoolfriends who encountered him back then vowed they would return to their hometown if he ever showed up again. Now that he did, they would have to overcome their fears if they were going to have any chance of succeeding in ridding the town of him. With Jessica Chastain (Dark Phoenix, Molly’s Game) as Beverly Marsh, James McAvoy (Atomic Blonde, The Last Station) as Bill Denbrough, Bill Hader (The To Do List, The Skeleton Twins) as Richie Tozier, Isaiah Mustafa (Horrible Bosses, Shadowhunters-TV) as Mike Hanlon and Jay Ryan (Go Girls-TV, Beauty and the Beast-TV) as Ben Hanscom; the casting for this movie could not have been better. Each adult actor was perfect as the grownup school child. Bill Hader was the big standout for me. What surprised me about this sequel was the fact it was more story driven than a series of horrific episodes. There still was blood and violence in several scenes but I thought the adult kids’ story lines were interesting. Clocking in at 2 hours and 49 minutes, the script needed some editing because this film was too long. Granted I was engaged most of the time, but there were a few slow sections in the script that could have been deleted. My fear of sitting through a series of gory horror scenes subsided as the story unfolded on the big screen.
2 ½ stars
EVERY QUESTION WAS MET WITH A question or a story; I found it annoying. Like me, he was an employee of the company; though, in my opinion he was not an asset. He was a salesman who handled a large account for the company, which meant he was getting a good salary. At least, he wasn’t one of those braggards who liked to flash their wealth. However, he did have “airs” about him. In other words, his paperwork and follow through on his orders was never completed because he felt such things were beneath him. This was the area where I had to interact with him, and I did not like it at all. Whenever I asked him a question about his paperwork, he would usually tell me to talk to his assistant, that she had the details. And when I would, half the time she could not give me an answer because he had not turned in all of his paperwork into her. I would have to start the whole process over again with him. Maybe he was a nice person away from work; but as far as I was concerned all he cared about was making a sale and getting his commission on it. He never showed an interest in making sure we were invoicing the customer correctly, so we would get paid and for that reason I did not like him. LUCKILY, HE WAS ONE OUT OF a larger group of salespeople. If I had my way, I would have told him off and held up his commissions until the company received payment from the customer on his orders. Unfortunately, I did not own the company which meant I had to deal with him no matter what I thought of him. It was not an ideal situation; but honestly, it was not something I could not handle. The bottom line for me was I enjoyed my job and I wasn’t going to do anything to jeopardize it. Having to deal with a challenging employee was something I discovered a long time ago. It is a rare experience to work at a company where everyone gets along well. My philosophy about it is this; you do not have to like a person, you simply need to respect them. The bottom line when working at a company is for everyone to make a contribution that will assist the company/organization in being successful. This seems like a simple premise, but not everyone can do it easily. An example can be found in this animated, adventure comedy. NOTHING COULD STOP THE CONSTANT SNEAK prank attacks between the pigs and birds until mysterious ice projectiles started raining down on each one’s island. If the birds and pigs wanted to survive, they would have to find a way to work together. With Jason Sudeikis (Booksmart, Horrible Bosses 2) voicing Red, Josh Gad (Beauty and the Beast, Marshall) voicing Chuck, Leslie Jones (Ghostbusters, Masterminds) voicing Zeta, Bill Hader (Trainwreck, Maggie’s Plan) voicing Leonard and Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Most Likely to Murder) voicing Silver; this sequel was a bit slow taking off for me. Most of what I was watching seemed like a rehash of the previous film. However, as the story moved along, I started to take more notice of it. The animation was just as good as the previous film and there were several scenes that were fun to watch. What really stood out for me were the voices; I thought the actors were perfect with their characters, especially Jason and Leslie. Overall, this was an easy film that did not need much thought on the viewers’ part. In my book that is a plus since I did not have to struggle to stay engaged in the story.
2 ½ stars
When I tell people I have a dark side most of them do not believe me. If a friend of mine is with me I will have them confirm it. You see I believe all emotions are valid; there is not one that is good or bad. There was that time I was on vacation with a friend and 2 of their friends in New York. Our last day we checked out of our rooms and had the hotel store our luggage since we did not need to be at the airport until late in the afternoon. After visiting a couple of final tourist sites we came back to the hotel to get our luggage and head out to the airport. When I asked at the front desk who we should see to retrieve our bags, I was told that person just went to lunch and would not be back for an hour. I stared in disbelief for a moment then said we needed to make a flight. The hotel clerk looked up at me and repeated the same information. My friend’s 2 friends started to turn away but my friend told them not to move, just wait and watch. I did not yell, belittle or use curse words; however, I looked directly into the clerk’s eyes and unleashed a stream of angry comments and scenarios of what would happen if we missed our flights. Let me just tell you they felt the heat and immediately found the hotel manager who went and retrieved our luggage on their own. With anger I firmly believe one needs to express it otherwise it will fester inside. In this case I felt I was right because it made no sense that there would only be one person responsible for the storage of guests’ luggage. Being familiar with anger I was curious to find out why these birds were so angry. THOUGH they may have been outcasts Red, Chuck and Bomb; played by Jason Sudeikis (Mother’s Day, Horrible Bosses franchise), Josh Gad (Jobs, Love & Other Drugs) and Danny McBride (Up in the Air, This is the End); were the ones who wanted to know the reason why a ship full of pigs came to their island. This animated action comedy was based on the popular video game, which I have never played. I do not know if there was anything in this film besides the birds and pigs that came from the game. Though the cast was made up of good choices for the characters, it was not enough to keep me interested. This was such an odd idea to develop a story around because what I saw on the movie screen was boring. The animation was okay but I did not find anything funny, besides I thought the message of the film was not appropriate for young children. What I did find interesting was the audience. For an animated children’s film there were more adults without children than usual, though it still was a small amount; but, it was something that stuck out enough for me to realize. I cannot say I was angry for sitting through this movie; I just did not care about it. Extra scene during the ending credits.
1 3/4 stars
It was not until after the movie had ended that I saw this family of four walking down the steps of the theater. The parents with their 2 children, who looked approximately six to nine years old, must have been sitting somewhere behind me. Normally I do not pay much attention to the people around me at the movies but in this case there was a reason. This happened last week when I saw that horror film about a high school’s theater department putting on a play that caused a death the last time it was played at the school. As I watched the family exiting the theater I wondered why they chose to bring their kids to this movie; were they preparing those children for the horrors of high school or did they want them to grow up and be accountants by showing them what will happen if they go into the arts. It never ceases to amaze me what people do these days. I just wanted to go up and ask the parents what they were thinking. Did they not realize their young children may by learning by example? I know when I was that age I would follow along with what people were doing; though I will say, there were times I saw someone doing something and I would do the exact opposite thing. At the time I did not realize what determined my choice on whether I copied a person’s actions or repelled from them. I believe the main character in this movie had issues and did not have the best of role models to choose from. AMY, played by Amy Schumer (Inside Amy Schumer-TV), learned quite early that monogamy was a falacy; it was easier not to be committed to any one individual. However, not everyone thought the same way as Amy. This was my first exposure to this comedic force known as Amy Schumer. Besides starring in this comedy she was also credited for the writing of it and I have to tell you right away the language was pretty strong throughout this movie. With that being said, there were times I was laughing out loud in the theater besides tearing up a bit at other moments. Her timing was impeccable and along with fellow actors Bill Hader (The Skeleton Twins, Saturday Night Live-TV) as Aaron Conners, Colin Quinn (Grown Ups franchise, Girls-TV) as Gordon and Tilda Swinton (Only Lovers Left Alive, Snowpiercer) as Dianna; they all were strong with their characters. This was by no means a perfect film; there were some scenes that felt like a mini sitcom episode and a couple of easy to figure out parts. But with its combination of shock value, humor and LeBron James; I was fully committed to this wild story.
I could hear the two voices in a heated discussion about whether I should bring a jacket or not. Planning on attending an outdoor event recently, there was one voice in my head telling me to bring a jacket due to the possibility of rain showers. It was also telling me that I needed a jacket since I would be outside after nightfall and I could get cold. The other voice was saying I needed to leave my jacket at home because with the temperature going up into the middle 80s no one would be walking around with a jacket. This argument was going on while I was changing in the locker room of the health club. In the next bank of lockers there was a father with 2 young children, the youngest in diapers. As the older boy was amusing himself by opening and closing the locker doors around him, the father placed his daughter on her back on top of a bench. She immediately let out an ear piercing scream as she burst into wailing tears. The father quickly pulled out his phone, swiping the screen with his thumb like a gunslinger, to position it right in front of the infant’s face. Instantaneously all sounds out of her stopped and the tear ducts dried up. But here is the catch; as soon as the dad tried to move his arm back to change his daughter’s diaper, she revved right up again with crying wails. To me it looked like a Pavlovian experiment as the opposite reactions of the daughter kept flipping back and forth depending on where the smartphone was placed. I now understand how these opposing feelings could rise up so quickly since I have seen this imaginative movie. RILEY, voiced by relative newcomer Kaitlyn Dias, only knew her Minnesota home her entire life. Moving to San Francisco due to her father’s job, Riley’s emotions were sent reeling as her unhappiness grew as the family tried to settle into their new place. This animated dramatic comedy had a more sophisticated story than other animated films I have recently seen. I am not sure if very young children will sit through this movie. At least at the theater where I saw this visual jewel of a picture, the movie trailers and short film before the movie clocked in for a total of 25 minutes. The actors such as Amy Poehler (Mean Girls, Baby Mama) as Joy, Lewis Black (Man of the Year, The Aristocrats) as Anger and Phyllis Smith (Bad Teacher, The Office-TV) as Sadness were just perfect at voicing their characters. The imaginativeness displayed in this adventure has set a new bar of excellence in my opinion. Just the idea of these emotions working together as we reach our adolescence was brilliantly handled in this story. By the end of the film the joy inside of my head was jumping up and down.
3 1/2 stars
Some of the strongest individuals I have ever met did not have a large amount of physical strength. There were some events that could not be fixed with just the person’s brawn. Teaching in a health club I am constantly exposed to people who test themselves with a variety of weights and cardiovascular machines. Slow and steady they work to increase the amount of weight or duration of their aerobic activity. Essentially everything is under their control which to me makes it easier to build up one’s strength. What demands a tougher strength are affairs of the heart that involve some type of tragic event. Sad occasions weigh the heart down, slowing down its beats, causing the body to buckle under the weight of gravity. I remember a time where my eyes were constantly replenishing water tanks that kept spilling tears over my face, keeping it red and raw. My brain could barely retain any of the images my eyes captured; it felt like my head was turning into an abandoned cold storage locker. Every thought had the life sucked out of it as my heart continued its slide towards a sludge of darkness. At the time I thought my heart would never strike a cheerful chord, but I underestimated it. The heart truly is the strongest muscle in the body. STAGNATION and heaviness was where Conor Ludlow and Eleanor Rigby, played by James McAvoy (X-Men franchise, The Last King of Scotland) and Jessica Chastain (Mama, Lawless), found themselves in their relationship. Remembering what they once had, they could not tell if their hearts would be strong enough to get them through and bring them back to what they once had. This film festival winning drama had a couple of extraordinary actors, Jessica and James, who were able to bare real raw emotions. They really stood out in the cast which also included Viola Davis (Beautiful Creatures, The Help) as Professor Friedman and William Hurt (Into the Wild, A History of Violence) as Julian Rigby. A bit of a surprise was seeing Bill Hader (The Skeleton Twins, Her) as Stuart; he has been making smart film choices since leaving Saturday Night Live. With such a strong cast I am sad to say the script and the direction killed any hope of making this movie a powerful piece. This film was a combination of 2 previous movies, from Eleanor’s and Conor’s perspectives called Her and Him. I had to wonder if what was left on the cutting room floor would have helped this film from being a drag. It took a while for me to get into this picture. When I thought about it, it was strange to feel heavy during the movie but it was not coming from my heart.
2 1/2 stars
Depending on the day it could feel as if you have either a veil or shroud draped over you. A bright shining sun cannot penetrate the darkness that surrounds you. Each step may need all of your concentration to make the effort to lift your foot off of the ground from its footprint’s vice like grip. Depression lets the irrational thoughts win the battle over one’s rational thoughts. I have witnessed and experienced the darkness of depression. For each person the response to it can be so different. Some people will sleep away the majority of the day while others will focus on a particular food, consuming it way beyond the daily recommended amount. For those individuals in my circle, I know it is not productive to utter those generic platitudes such as ” cheer up” or “things will get better;” they serve no meaningful purpose. All I can do is stay in contact and be supportive. DEPRESSION was a trait estranged twins Maggie and Milo, played by Kristen Wiig (Girl Most Likely, Whip It) and Bill Hader (The To Do List, Saturday Night Live-TV), had in common. Though they had not spoken or seen each other in 10 years, they each were experiencing the same irrational act at the same time that resulted in them coming together. They would discover more about each other than they knew on their own. Though this film festival winning drama was filled with heavy subject matter, the director beautifully laced the scenes with a delicate to goofy humor. In addition, I have to give credit to the writer/director Craig Johnson (True Adolescents) for not letting the two leads fall into their shared Saturday Night Live type of performances. Kristen and Bill were absolutely amazing; in fact, I feel this was Kristen’s best performance. Their seemless chemistry was perfection. When 2 actors shine as brightly as these two did, it can make the rest of the cast look dull. Luckily that was not the case for Luke Wilson (Death at a Funeral, Legally Blonde) as Maggie’s husband Lance and Ty Burrell (Muppets Most Wanted, Modern Family-TV) as Milo’s former teacher Rich; they held their own in helping make each scene feel complete. The script was thoughtful, filled with subtleness and compassion; I never felt I was being fooled. There was one brief offshoot of the story that seemed unnecessary but it was only a minor complaint. Life is filled with happy and sad moments; for me, when I left the theater I was in a good mood because I had just seen a well done film.
3 1/3 stars
The only thing I can say is love has to have magical powers. It has a way of changing one’s opinion of a person faster than a fine-tuned sports car. Love makes you carry your girlfriend’s purse through the store while she looks for a new outfit. Love makes you sit in the bleachers, outside in the cold, just so you can watch your boyfriend strike out at bat and still cheer him on. Love allows you to doze off at the airport, on your significant other’s shoulder, while they attempt to rebook your cancelled flight. Based on my and my friends’ experiences, one of the most intense powers I have seen love perform was the ability to not only alter but obliterate 1st impressions. You meet someone who appears to be a snob, unfriendly and condescending. Within a short time all memories get painted over with a fresh coat by love’s paintbrush, transforming your thoughts into sweet and pleasant scenarios where your senses become heightened every time you see that person now. Love does amazing things and in this comedy almost every romantic movie cliche gets skewered by the capable cast. An evening out had Joel and Molly, played by Paul Rudd (This is 40, Admission) and Amy Poehler (Baby Mama, Blades of Glory), having dinner with Kyle and Karen, played by Bill Hader (Her, Superbad) and Ellie Kemper (Bridesmaids, 21 Jump Street). Throughout the evening Kyle and Ellie would get the full story of how Joel and Molly first met; she the owner of a small candy shop that was in the sights of Joel’s employer, a huge candy corporation. Christopher Meloni (42, Man of Steel) as Joel’s boss Roland was determined to drive Molly’s store out of business. There were some amusing scenarios in this lighthearted film. The things that worked were fun but there were sections that petered out. In a way the script was done as a series of comedy skits; ones that you would see on television. Though there was nothing that made me laugh out loud, I was entertained by some of the settings. The cast had an easy job with this story and looked like they were enjoying themselves, besides appearing to be in on the jokes they were performing. Even if you are not a fan of romantic movies or rom-coms, I cannot imagine you feeling lost with this parody. This was not a movie I fell in love with and I don’t think there is anything that will change my feelings; however, it was also not a waste of time for me either.
2 1/3 stars
My credentials to review this movie go back to my childhood. The pretzel rods I would snack on were really rocket ships, which would patrol around me as I was watching television. There was a particular butter cookie, shaped like the head of a daisy with a hole in the middle, that emitted a force field when I wore them as rings on my fingers. I not only enjoyed eating my food but playing with it too. There was hardly a food that could not become something to play with, simply by using my imagination. In this animated sequel the creative ways used to bring food items to life was fun and enjoyable to watch. I did not see the first film so I cannot make a comparison between the two. Bill Hader (Paul, Superbad) voiced young inventor Flint Lockwood. When invited to join some of the best scientists in the world at the Live Corp Company, Flint jumped at the chance to meet his idol Chester V, voiced by Will Forte (MacGruber, The Watch). Though the company’s mission was to create inventions that would better mankind, Flint’s past would play an important part in the company’s future. I thought the casting of voices such as Terry Crews (Bridesmaids, The Expendables franchise) as Earl Devereaux, Anna Faris (The House Bunny, The Dictator) as Sam Sparks and James Caan (Misery, Elf) as Tim Lockwood was the best part of the predictable story. The humor was geared towards young children leaving me a bit bored. Once in a while there was a joke that I acknowledged as being clever but nothing that was worth a chuckle. I got a kick out of the animation because it reminded me of the animated movies I saw as a kid. At one point I took a look around the theater and noticed the kids were interested in the movie while the adults appeared to fidget in their seats. This family comedy did not have the style and depth of some of the other film studios’ animated features. If you have a young child who wants to see this film they will probably enjoy it. If you go, stay through the first set of credits. As for myself, I left the theater with a strong desire to grab a bite to eat.
It felt as if I was receiving the winning lottery ticket when I was handed my high school diploma. I saw it as my opportunity to become someone different. You see, I was tired of being a punching bag and a punch line in high school. One of the reasons why I chose the particular university I attended was, as far as I knew, no one from my high school had applied there. The summer prior to attending the fall semester, I let my hair grow out to its natural curly state, began an exercise and diet program and most importantly, found student housing off campus. My studio apartment was on a floor that had mostly graduate students. Being the youngest and newest on the floor, the older students not only helped me navigate my way through the university system, but looked out for me. It was a whole different world for me, where I was finally able to be myself and not be judged. Having always felt that peer pressure was a highly infectious disease; I immediately understood where valedictorian Brandy Klark, played by Aubrey Plaza (Safety Not Guaranteed, Damsels in Distress) was coming from in this story. Determined not to still be a virgin by the time she started college, Brandy made a to do list of all the activities she felt she needed to achieve her goal. This comedy was filled with a multitude of strong, crude, graphic language and scenes. I did not have an issue with it, understanding the attraction to this film was having the story being told from a woman’s point of view. To verify my reactions, I imagined scenes where the female characters were male and came to the same conclusion: I did not find this movie funny. There were pockets of humor here and there, but overall I felt the movie was on overkill. Brandy’s relationship to her older sister Amber, played by Rachel Bilson (Jumper, Hart of Dixie-TV), was similar to other sister relationships done before. I felt more humor could have been mined from Brandy’s parents Judge and Mrs. Klark, played by Clark Gregg (The Avengers, 500 Days of Summer) and Connie Britton (Conception, Friday Night Lights-TV). As for Bill Hader (Superbad, Saturday Night Live-TV) playing pool manager Willy, his character was no different then the characters he did before on television. I did find the crisp pacing led to tight, steady scenes. If only the to do list in making this movie had been double checked.
1 3/4 stars