Always following quietly in my shadow is the child of my youth who lives inside of me. I never hinder him when he comes out to play. There are things he feels he never had the opportunity to do when we were one and the same, whether from his own fears or the environment around him that kept him dormant. But now he can experience the excitement of exploring a new place in the city with his friends or be able to take a leisurely walk around the neighborhood he grew up in, without having to race home to the safety behind the protective security door in the apartment building he called home. I never take for granted this little child that accompanies and helps me in my fitness classes, letting me feel that youthful spirit I kept hidden away for so many years. Being so familiar with my inner child would explain why it pains me now when I see a child who has been forced to be an adult, never getting the chance to experience what childhood was meant to be. Vanessa Hudgens (Spring Breakers, Beastly) played 16 year old Agnes “Apple” Bailey. Transferred from one foster home to another due to her abusive addict mother June, played by Rosario Dawson (Sin City, Seven Pounds), Agnes ran away to find her absent father Tom Fitzpatrick, played by Brendan Fraser (Furry Vengeance, The Mummy franchise). She only knew of him because of an old letter she had in her possession. The first thing that struck me about this movie based on a true story, was the surprisingly good acting job Vanessa did with her character. It was not an easy role; a couple of times I found myself cringing in my seat. Rosario was excellent, I only wish there would have been more scenes with her in them. In a couple of decent supporting roles there was James Earl Jones (Finder’s Fee; Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins) as Frank McCarthy and Ann Dowd (Side Effects, Compliance) as Kathy. The story had a natural grimness to it where I felt the writer/director accentuated it, giving the movie more of a soap opera melodramatic feel. I felt the movie was a little too preachy and predictable; but luckily the acting and the fact that this was a true story kept me interested. Sitting in my seat during the credits that showed the actual people this movie was based on, I realized I was hearing the sound of sniffling coming from the people around me. I had to wonder how much of it was due to the movie or to them missing their inner child.
2 1/2 stars
One of the best objects for motivation is food. It does not necessarily have to be a comfort type of food like cookies or ice cream; could be a sandwich or a piece of fruit. During the week food is the escalator that helps me get through the day. If I am having a stressful time at the office I know it will not last long because I have set up an oasis where I will be taking in some food at a certain time. I may not want to go jogging on Sunday but I know if I want to treat myself to a chocolate chip cookie later, I have to go running now. There are certain foods I will eat simply because I want them to continue a memory I cherish. The smell of cinnamon quickly brings to mind cookies my mother used to bake, where the dough had to be rolled out and cut with heart and diamond shaped cookie cutters. Just before the cookies were put into the oven they would get sprinkled with a combination of cinnamon and sugar. Whether there is an absence or abundance of food it still can be a big motivator as this animated movie will show you. Will Arnett (When in Rome, Blades of Glory) voiced Surly, a squirrel who only looked out for himself in a park filled with other animals. After being banished by the park’s dominant animal the raccoon, voiced perfectly by Liam Neeson (The Grey, Taken franchise), Surly tried to survive in a city filled with humans, where he was to discover something that could change everything for all the animals back in the park. I understood the moral message the writers were trying to convey in this adventure comedy, though it was a weak effort. Part of the issue was creating a story and film to cover everyone’s tastes; it was too much and too predictable. There was no humor for adults, spending way too much time on flatulence jokes. The voices of Katherine Heigl (Life as We Know It, Grey’s Anatomy-TV) as Andie and Brendan Fraser (The Mummy franchise, Bedazzled) as Grayson easily lent themselves to a cartoon character; but I did not find much excitement among the majority of the players. Compared to other animated films I have seen, this one was not much fun to watch. All I kept thinking about during most of the movie was what I would eat for lunch when I got home. There were a couple of extra scenes in the middle and end of the credits.
Anger can be just as constructive as it can be destructive. Some years ago I was riding in a car with a group of friends. We got side swiped by a car going in the opposite direction. The driver of our car got so angry he swerved into oncoming traffic, hoping to spin the car around and chase after the car that hit us. Instead we got rear ended and wound up on the curb. That is an example of anger being destructive. If it wasn’t for my anger, I do not think I would have pushed myself to become certified as a group exercise instructor. Knowing the feeling of being picked last in gym class, I was determined to create an environment that was accepting of all types of people and maybe more importantly, accepting of myself. Anger was a big motivator for top salesman Ted Riker, played by Michael Keaton (White Noise, Jackie Brown). He had no time for pleasantries or politeness; everyone in the company feared him. When he had to mentor newbie Jamie Bashant, played by Brendan Fraser (Inkheart, Bedazzled), it was similar to leading the sacrificial lamb to slaughter. But when hard nosed Ted met Jamie’s fiancee Belisa, played by Amber Valletta (Transporter 2, Gamer), a beat of life could be heard in his heart. Would that heart beat affect company sales? The best part of this movie was watching Michael Keaton. For me, he is one of the best when it comes to displaying crazy anger; it forcibly grabs one’s attention. Brendan, on the other hand, does not have a wide range to his acting; it seems as if he handles his recent roles all the same way: wide eyed, extra large gestures, not much depth. The other issue I had was with the story. Part comedy, part drama and part thriller; I would have preferred one genre to give this movie more focus. What kept me interested in this film was watching Michael letting loose, along with the couple of twists that took place. On a deeper level, I tend to be curious when I recognize anger in a person.
2 1/2 stars — DVD