IT WAS AT A FAMILY (NOT MINE) GATHERING where I first saw how people judge others based on the work they do. Maybe this happens more than I am aware of because the individuals I was in contact with were not so blatant about it. With this family, they had no problem showing their disapproval; I could see and hear it. We were mingling together in the living/dining area of my friend’s parents’ house. I knew the family well, so I was included on the guest list. My friend’s parents were throwing a graduation party for their youngest child. It was a casual affair where most of the food items were finger foods. Everyone my friend introduced me to was pleasant. I do not want this to come out as judgmental; but let me just say some of the guests were impeccably dressed. Everything seemed to be going smoothly as far as I could tell. At some point one of my friend’s sisters walked into the house with her boyfriend. They had only been dating a few months and this was I found out, the first time the family was meeting this new man. I thought all was going well until one of the relatives asked the boyfriend what he did for a living. When he told them he was an electrician, you could see everyone’s smiling veneer melt away. The tone of voice the relatives were now using were filled with disdain; I was stunned. WHAT WAS THE MATTER WITH BEING an electrician, I wondered? You would have thought the boyfriend said he was a mass murderer; it was the oddest thing to see. As if on cue, the relatives nearby him slowly moved further away. I swear it looked as if the relatives had just come upon a grizzly bear in the forest and were quietly and slowly backing away, so as not to disturb it. I was not the only one to have witnessed this; my friend saw what was going on and decided to, at that moment, introduce me to the sister and boyfriend. He was a nice guy as far as I could tell, and it seemed as if he had a good sense of humor. Personally, I never care who my friends and family are dating; all that matters to me is that the person is good to them and loves them. Whether they are a stock trader, a sanitation worker or a zookeeper; none of that matters to me. If my friend or relative loves them and feels good about it, then I will support them always. I think that is one of the reasons I found it challenging to connect to the characters in this dramatic, comedy satire. BORN INTO WEALTH AND BELIEVING SHE was better than most Emma Woodhouse, played by Anya Taylor-Joy (Morgan, The Witch), felt she could not find her equal in love. At least, not in her small town. With Johnny Flynn (Clouds of Sils Maria, Beast) as George Knightley, Bill Nighy (Sometimes Always Never, About Time) as Mr. Woodhouse, Mia Goth (A Cure for Wellness, Everest) as Harriet Smith and Myra McFadyen (Mamma Mia! franchise, Rob Roy) as Mrs. Bates; this movie based on Jane Austen’s novel was hard for me to get into in the beginning. The costumes and scenery were immaculate which helped me pass the time. I also thought Bill Nighy was perfect in his role. Set in England during the 1800’s, it was not until the 2ndhalf of the film where I felt things were better connected. My guess is fans of Jane Austen will enjoy this picture immensely. I on the other hand felt it really had nowhere to go; it was somewhat predictable. And for some reason, I could not connect at all with the main actress’ character; what a surprise based on what I mentioned earlier in this review.
2 ½ stars
MY LOVE OF STORIES BEGAN AT AN early age because of the stories that were told around family meals. I heard about so many different relatives’ lives that I would wish they were sitting at the dining room table to tell their story directly to us. I had a relative who was a violin virtuoso. He was self-taught and only played for family and friends, is what I heard. The only memory I have associated to this person was seeing an old black and white photograph of him, dressed in a suit and holding his violin at his side. He died before I was born, so I never got to hear him play. Another story I heard around the dining room table was about a relative who had saved several other relatives by sneaking them out of their country during a war. With the details of each relative’s escape not known, I would make-up my own stories about their perilous travels and act them out whenever I was playing with my toy soldiers. I would cover the living room of our home with piles of towels to represent the mountains and rulers as bridges which my relatives/soldiers would have to traverse on their way to freedom. THERE WERE OTHER STORIES TOLD AT the dining room table; I remember being surprised by how many people were related to me. I used to wonder how much truth were in the stories that were being told; but, without having much physical proof, I had to rely on the storyteller to be accurate with the details. I cannot say it bothered me, but I was envious of the friends of mine who had physical remnants of their deceased relatives. One friend had a sword that was mounted on a plaque that hung in the hallway of their home; I think it belonged to a great, great, great uncle. Another friend of mine had their grandfather’s gold pocket watch. It was the first time I had ever seen a pocket watch and I was fascinated with the face cover that sprung open at the press of a button. At the time I did not realize the stories I was listening to would help me in my history classes in school. When the teacher was covering a world conflict or was focusing on a specific country, I would get a mental picture of my relative. Sometimes a city would be mentioned, and I could imagine my relative being there while doing something. I did not realize this ability would help me remember city names on our tests. How I wished I could talk to these deceased relatives; if only I had the opportunity the brothers had in this animated, adventure comedy. UPON RECEIVING THEIR DECEASED FATHER’S MAGICAL staff; brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot, voiced by Tom Holland (Spider-Man franchise, The Impossible) and Chris Pratt (The Kid, Passengers), set out on an adventure to try and bring back the magic of their Dad. With Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Downhill, Enough Said) voicing Laurel Lightfoot, Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, The Shape of Water) voicing the Manticore and Mel Rodriguez (Little Miss Sunshine, Panic Room) voicing Colt Bronco; this Pixar movie had the usual high standard of animation we are used to from this studio. Though the cast of actors brought life to these fantasy characters, the script did not have any magic for me. Out of the many films I have seen from this studio, this one was the most obvious with following the studio’s story formula. I did not find anything funny to chuckle at and I must say the father character was odd to me. The script was simple and predictable. If I had my choice, I would rather have been reminiscing about my deceased relatives’ stories than sitting in the theater to watch what these two brothers went through to connect to their past.
I AM REPEATING WHAT WAS TOLD to me because it has been decades since I have eaten red meat. A friend and I were deciding where to eat for dinner one night. For the fact they enjoy steak, I suggested one of those steak restaurants that reference the state of Texas for some reason. Usually, these places always have other options I can choose for my meal. Before I tell you what my friend said, I want you to know I am not conveying a negative message about any restaurant; this is simply one person’s opinion I am sharing with you. My friend asked me why I would suggest such a place; I told him the reason I stated above. He said if he wanted a steak, he wanted a “good” steak; he was not going to settle for a cheaper brand/cut of meat for his meal. I asked him if he could really tell the difference and he said absolutely. I did wonder if everyone thought the way he did, how would these types of restaurants stay in business? Does one need to be a connoisseur to know when one item is better than another I wondered? When it comes to food, I call myself a low rent eater; I enjoy going to diners and other restaurants that do not do anything fancy to their food. The bottom line for me is I want something that not only tastes good but that I enjoy as well. I AM THE SAME WAY ABOUT movies. As you know, I simply want to be entertained when I am watching a film. I do not pick pictures apart down to every detail. There have been times I have gone to see a movie that the critics have raved about and I wind up sitting in the theater bored out of my mind. These esoteric films that suit a small group of people, where I am sitting in my seat totally confused, are a waste of time for me. Yet I feel compelled to sit through them so I can review them. I try my best to find something redeeming to talk about when I review such movies. In a way, I tend to do the same thing when it comes to food. I have no problem going to a fast food restaurant for a meal. If it tastes good and provides me some type of pleasure, then I am fine with it. Unfortunately, with this comedic drama that was inspired by a Swedish film, I would have rather sat through the original one again and avoid this current production. A FAMILY VACATIONING IN THE ALPS find themselves in the direct path of an avalanche. Though the physical aspect of it was scary enough, it was the aftermath that would be more troublesome. With Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Enough Said, Veep-TV) as Billie, Will Ferrell (Holmes & Watson, Daddy’s Home franchise) as Pete, Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings franchise, The Thin Red Line) as Charlotte, Zoe Chao (Where’d You Go, Bernadette; Strangers-TV) as Rosie and Zach Woods (The Other Guys, The Office-TV) as Zach; this movie was painful to see. The original film called “Force Majeure” I reviewed and absolutely loved it. The idea for the story was so smart and thought provoking; the writers and director of that film did a wonderful job in telling the story. In this picture, I only enjoyed Julia’s performance; she really tried her best to make something out of this movie, but it was not enough. There was no finesse or nuance to the acting from the rest of the cast and the script did none of them a favor. There was a heavy-handedness that prevailed through most aspects in the making of this picture. As with my food, I am fine going to a lower end place; I do not have an issue going to an updated version of something I have already seen. However, in the case of this film I would only go see Force Majeure and skip this poor version of it.
1 ½ stars
WITH DIZZYINGLY SPEED, SHE SCROLLED THROUGH her photos on her phone. To me it looked like a blur; I had no idea how she would be able to spot the photo she was seeking. Her thumb looked like it was waving at me from the way she was using it to go through her photographs. I tried to keep up with her and make out the images that sped by on the screen; but, because I guess they were not my photos, I could not decipher the images that were captured for a split second on her phone’s screen. Finally, she found the photo she had been looking for and with a pinch of her fingers she made the image bigger for me. She wanted me to see the details of the object up close. I was chuckling inside, remembering the “old days” when one wanted to see something up close in a photograph, they would have to get a magnifying glass. Speaking of the “old days,” I remember when I used to go to rock concerts, I would have to buy a special high-speed film for my camera if I wanted to take photographs. Nowadays one only needs to take out their smartphone and snap a picture. And I am guessing most of you do not know there was a time when museums prohibited the taking of photographs; try enforcing that now with almost everyone walking around with a camera in their smartphone. I AM NOT DISCOURAGING THE ADVANCEMENTS in photography; but I feel something has gotten lost with the technology we use to take photographs. For me, photographs capture a moment in time; it may be of a person or a place. Going through an old box filled with photos is a way of finding connection to one’s past as they go forward in life. Seeing a relative wearing a different hat in each photo you have of them when they were young might surprise you; since, you have no memory of them even liking hats. Maybe she had designed the hats herself when she was younger; you would never have known if it was not for the photos in your possession. When I see a much younger version of myself and can immediately experience the same feelings I was dealing with in the photo; whether good or bad, I am reconnecting with my former self. That photo is proof of the history I have lived, besides being a reference point to how far I have come in life. Seeing the shiny images of deceased relatives staring out at you, is akin to feeling their support in your current endeavors. A photograph can say a lot about a person; just see what it says in this dramatic romantic film. AN OLD PHOTOGRAPH LEADS JOURNALIST MICHAEL Block, played by LaKeith Stansfield (Sorry to Bother You, Short Term 12), on a journey of self-discovery and love. With Issa Rae (Little, Insecure-TV) as Mae, Chelsea Peretti (Game Night, Brooklyn Nine-Nine-TV) as Sara, Chante Adams (Bad Hair, Monsters and Men) as Christina and Lil Rel Howery (Get Out, Good Boys) as Kyle; this film was beautifully staged. Going between two different time periods, I enjoyed the filming of each period and the connection between the two stories. Issa surprised me in this dramatic role; she had a wonderful authentic screen presence that matched LaKeith. Their chemistry felt real and believable. Though the script got heavy-handed at times with the romantic aspects and predictability; I still enjoyed watching the characters as they matured through the story. Also, it was pleasant to watch a romantic movie that felt organic in its development instead of feeling forced. I would love to see the art of printed photographs make a comeback because of this picture.
ONE THING I HAVE LEARNED IS not every “idea thief” has malicious intentions. My first exposure to one of these thieves was at a job I had a long time ago. I was working on a project for my boss, coming up with a theme for a new line we were going to carry. It took me several weeks of work before I felt good about what I had created. One day, out of the blue, my boss emailed me a suggestion I should look at and incorporate into my work. His suggestion was something I was starting work on; I could not believe he had just come up with that idea! Well it turned out, thanks to a tipoff from a friend of mine at the company, an employee who was aware of my work went and offered to my boss the names he thought I should use in the product line. The same names I had already chosen; however, it would now look like this employee came up with these names instead of me. I was furious at this employee’s underhandedness. Looking at my options, there was no way I could go and explain the betrayal to my boss without looking petty; so, I went ahead with what I had created and made a mental note never to trust that employee again. FROM THAT EPISODE, ANYTIME I ENCOUNTERED an “identity thief” I stayed clear of them, having nothing to do with them unless it was business. It was not until I was working at a club where a new instructor came on staff and we became friends. She had a couple of body fitness classes but wanted to expand her options. After studying and getting certified as a cycle instructor, she started showing up in one of my classes. It was amusing the way she would take notes while working out with the class. Her dedication and work paid off finally when she was assigned one cycle class. I was not able to attend it to support her but a few days later a member came up to me to tell me about the class. The member told me the instructor had taught the class nearly identical to the way I taught class. She even used some of the same instructions I used when working with the members. I was shocked to hear it and decided to ask my friend about it. She told me she got so nervous she forgot the things she had planned on doing and simply repeated the steps she remembered I did. We talked further as she said she wanted to use some of my techniques because they were perfect cues; I suggested she change the verbiage, so the cues become hers instead of mine. Her goal was to teach a safe class, so there was nothing malicious about her actions; unlike one of the main characters in this comedy. WHEN AN OPPORTUNITY CAME TO HAVE a well-known cosmetics mogul invest in their company; best friends and owners Mel and Mia, played by Rose Bryne (Instant Family, Insidious franchise) and Tiffany Haddish (The Kitchen, Girls Trip), could not believe their good fortune. That is, until their new partner came up with her own ideas. With Salma Hayak (Savages, The Hummingbird Project) as Claire Luna, Billy Porter (American Horror Story-TV, Pose-TV) as Barrett and Jennifer Coolidge (A Mighty Wind, A Cinderella Story) as Sydney; this movie did not offer anything new or surprising. Tiffany was doing the exact same thing she does in each of her comedies; I cannot tell the difference between any of her characters. I grant you she certainly has her way in delivering lines; but when the lines are dull it becomes a chore. The script was done in such a basic, low level of comedy that I was bored through parts of the film. In fact, if you have seen the trailer you have seen this movie. Having taken common themes we have seen before, the writers did nothing new to make this a fresh take on friendship and money.
1 ½ stars
THE ACT OF HAVING A DISCUSSION seems to have become a lost art. So much of the news I have seen contains arguments and violence instead of rational and calm discussions of one’s differences. A recent news report covered a fight that happened in a subway between a passenger and street musician. The details of their argument were not listed; however, whatever it was I cannot believe it was something so intense that it caused the two people to resort to physically fighting each other; one using a pocketknife and the other their guitar. The fight took place on a train platform in the middle of the day with passengers walking right by them. I cannot even imagine something like that taking place, but it did. The news reports I find the most tragic are the ones where an argument took place between family members, where one member out of anger kills the other family member. Without being too graphic, in the past few months I have read reports about a son stabbing his mother to death, a father shooting his son and a brother running over his older brother with the family car, just to name a few. The world is becoming scarier and scarier. IT TOOK ME A LONG TIME TO learn how to have an argument without attaching emotions to it. For years I thought the way to win an argument was to have a louder voice than your opponent. If you added profanity to the conversation it would help your cause. For years, I would take anyone’s disagreement with me as a personal affront and immediately go on the attack against them. I did not hold anything back except one thing; I never turned the fight into a physical altercation. My evolution into staying calm and respectful started with a close friend who was a facilitator of a “self-help” organization. She taught me how to keep the negativity out of a discussion by using the word “I” instead of “you.” This may sound trite, but it made a world of difference for me. That change allowed me to stop coming across as the accuser; instead, I started talking about how I felt based on the actions of my opponent. There was no need for name calling or raising my voice any longer; I simply expressed how I was feeling, and it caused the other person to lose their defenses because they were no longer under attack by me. I now can appreciate a “good” argument which explains why I enjoyed watching the two main characters in this biographical, comedic drama. DESPITE THEIR POSITIONS WITHIN THE CATHOLIC church, the differences between Pope Benedict and Cardinal Bergoglio, played by Anthony Hopkins (Thor franchise, Hitchcock) and Jonathan Pryce (The Wife, G. I. Joe franchise), could have a monumental effect on the direction of the church and its followers. The two men would struggle as they had to confront their pasts. With Juan Minujin (Focus, An Unexpected Love-TV movie) as a younger Jorge Bergoglio, Cristina Banegas (Clandestine Childhood, Killer Women-TV) as Lisabetta and Sidney Cole (Felicia’s Journey, Common People) as Cardinal Turkson; this film festival winner succeeded due to the acting skills of Anthony and Jonathan. They were so convincing to me that I started to forget they were actors. I know the movie was inspired by true events, but I wondered how much of what I was watching was true. Though, since this event happened in my lifetime there was the curiosity factor that played to this film’s advantage. The jumping back and forth in time was disruptive and may have contributed to the slowness I experienced at times. Still, I found the subject interesting and I appreciated watching two people having a discussion.
I THOUGHT I KNEW BETTER BUT all I accomplished was the wasting of time. Plans were in place for all of us to meet at the theater to see the performance followed by a question and answer session. The theater was in a part of the city that was unfamiliar to me. Because I was going to be driving near a couple of places I had wanted to get to, I figured this would be the perfect time to get everything accomplished at once before showtime. Going to my first stop was an easy experience; there were only a couple of short traffic delays and I found a parking space close by the store that had an item on hold for me. Once I was done there and back in my car, I headed out to the next destination. Unfortunately, I did not make the same good travel time because I got stopped by a slow-moving freight train at a crossing gate. Have you ever noticed when you are in a hurry, delays always seem to last longer? Well, that is how I felt waiting for that train. When the crossing gate finally rose up, I tore across the tracks and raced to my next stop, where I only needed to drop off my donation. In hindsight, this was not my best decision. FINALLY REACHING MY DESTINATION TO DROP off my donation and there was not one available parking spot anywhere. I could not believe it. For a second, I thought about double parking but luckily, I spotted a police car slowly coming down the street to check the parking meters. I decided to drive around the block to see if a parking space would open. Gratefully, as I was about to skip the donation place, I saw a car parked ahead of the place with its reverse lights on. I pulled up behind it and waited for the driver to pull out of the space. My turn signal was on, I was ready to take the spot; but the driver wasn’t moving. I felt like I was waiting for an eternity; I tapped on my horn and must have woken up the driver because their car finally exited the spot. In less than a minute I was in the spot and running into the donation place. I just had to place my package in the donation bin, run back to the car and get to the theater. There was no way I could stay at the speed limit and get to the theater before the start of the show. When I finally got there, I wound up having a miserable time; I missed the opening and spent the rest of the time replaying my route in my head, to see what I could have done differently. I experienced the same type of feeling sitting through the replayed scenes in this action crime film. ONCE WORD WAS OUT THAT DRUG dealer Mickey Pearson, played by Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club, The Beach Bum), wanted to sell his operations; a cast of unscrupulous characters decided to take advantage of the opportunity. With Charles Hunnam (Crimson Peak, The Lost City of Z) as Ray, Michelle Dockery (Non-Stop, Downton Abbey-TV) as Rosalind Pearson, Jeremy Strong (The Big Short, Robot & Frank) as Matthew and Colin Farrell (Dumbo, The Lobster) as Coach; this movie’s story was too cluttered for me. I did however enjoy several scenes for their inventiveness and dark humor as well as enjoying most of the cast’s performances. However, not being a fan of tweaking and replaying events over, I was getting bored with the possibilities being shown. It diffused and made the drama less strong in my opinion. I was able to handle the violence on display; but, the constant, repetitive foul language quickly got old for me. The idea behind this story could have been communicated in a better way; instead, as scenes were being replayed, I sat and wondered what would have happened if I had gone to a different movie.
2 ½ stars
ON A RECOMMENDATION, I LOOKED UP a couple of the resorts suggested to me. She was right, they were nothing short of spectacular. One of the resorts had several rooms that had a live tree as the bed’s headboard. From the bedroom one could walk through the adjoining sitting room, with its plush low-backed chairs, then pass through two sliding glass doors out onto a veranda, where one could dine on a specially prepared meal. What was there not to like, I ask you. I scrolled down through photos of the resort’s grounds until I reached the page that listed the prices. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. The pricing started in the low four figures and that was per day. I had to wonder if the person who recommended the resort thought I was rich. Obviously, they were in a different class than me and had enough funds to bankroll several trips to the resorts that they suggested to me. All I could do was just laugh about it. I continued by looking at a couple more of the suggested resorts; they all had similar price ranges. At least I got to see some gorgeous places where the rich hang out, evidently. I HAVE NEVER BEEN THE TYPE to get jealous or envious of another person’s wealth. As long as they acquired their wealth by honest means, it does not matter to me if a person is considered lower, middle or upper class. In my mind everyone is still human. Wealth is not something I list as an attribute when I am “judging” a person. Kind, generous, loving and sweet are some of the things that are important to me. I know not everyone thinks like me because I have encountered individuals who form a dislike towards a person just because they have more money. There was one person I remember who felt because someone was richer than him, they should always offer to pick up the check at a restaurant when they dined out together. I am sorry, but I found that logic ridiculous. What if the two of them went shopping for clothing? Would the person of less wealth expect the other to pay for his purchases? One of my newspaper subscriptions once a week lists houses for sale that exceed one million dollars. Seeing the opulence of these properties is fun for me, since I never will have such a place. That is as far as my interest goes which is something, I cannot say for one of the families in this comedic, crime drama. STRUGGLING TO MAKE ENDS MEET, THE Kim family finds good fortune when their son Kim Ki-woo, played by Woo-sik Choi (Set Me Free, Train to Busan) becomes the tutor to a wealthy family’s daughter. His position would present opportunities for the Kim family to benefit. With Kang-ho Song (The Host, Snowpiercer) as Kim Ki-taek, Sun-kyun Lee (A Hard Day, The King’s Case Note) as Park Dong-ik, Yeo-jeong Jo (The Servant, Obsessed) as Park Yeon-kyo and So-dam Park (The Priests, The Silenced) as Kim ki-jung; this film festival winner out of South Korea was a wicked satire, filled with memorable moments. I thought the directing and filming of the story was top-notch. Everyone in the cast did a wonderful job of acting; I never once thought the characters were anything but themselves. Because it is a culture I have not had much exposure to, I was fascinated with the outdoor scenes. I never once felt the reading of the subtitles interfered with my fascination or viewing of this film; this truly was a wonderful and enjoyable viewing experience and that is something one cannot put a price on. Korean dialog was spoken with English subtitles.
THE BUSHES IN FRONT OF THE apartment building offered me ideal cover. I was leading the group on a treasure hunt. Our course was going to take us through hostile territories; I was prepared for the known hazards, but not for the unknown ones. Sneaking out of the bushes, we made our way south by staying off the main thoroughfares. The path I took was uneven, filled with potholes and covered with a mix of unkempt grass and gravel. As we came up to a large building, I had everyone cling to the side of the road where at least there was sporadic cover in case we were walking into a trap. It was the right call because 3 trap doors in the building sprung open and a series of time bombs were being hurled at us. My monkey who was 2ndin command leaped to a nearby tree and scurried up into the branches for cover. From my vantage point I could see him navigating the branches as he made his way to the one branch that was leaning over to the structure. I saw him take a few sticks of dynamite and tape them together. He then lit them and tossed it onto the roof of the building. I only had to wait a few seconds before there was a big explosion that caused the roof to cave in and bury our enemies. WHAT YOU JUST READ WAS ONE of many escapades I had with my entourage of imaginary animals. Besides my trusted monkey, I had a tiger, hawk, panther, wolf and chipmunk as part of my group. All these characters came to the forefront of my imagination after I started reading the books about Doctor Doolittle. The stories about the good doctor were some of my favorite ones when I was growing up. I identified with him because I felt I too could talk to animals; though, I was a novice at understanding them. But that did not stop me from talking to my pet parakeet and the animals several of my relatives had as pets. My conversations were not just exclusive to live animals, it also incorporated the stuffed animals I had gotten through my infant years as gifts. Animals were so easy to talk to and they provided me with hours of comfort. Due to this history when I saw the trailer for this film, I immediately knew I had to see it. Seeing one of my favorite book characters come to life was going to be a big thrill for me. THOUGH DOCTOR DOOLITTLE, PLAYED BY ROBERT Downey Jr. (Avengers franchise, The Judge), had not ventured outside of his home for several years, when the Queen of England summoned him to the palace he could not refuse. His visit would be the start of an incredible adventure. With Antonio Banderas (The Skin I Live In, Pain and Glory) as King Rassouli, Michael Sheen (The Twilight Sage franchise, The Queen) as Dr. Blair Mudfly, Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady, Gangs of New York) as Lord Thomas Badgley and Harry Collett (Dunkirk, Casualty-TV) as Tommy Stubbins; this adventure, family comedy belonged in a litter box. I know I may have been more invested in this film than others; however, nothing was right about this picture except the animals. I had a hard time understanding Robert’s character due to his quiet mumbling of the words with an odd accent. The script had nothing fun or exciting in it. I felt the writers just threw a bunch of animals into the script to add some slapstick to the dull story. Maybe young viewers will enjoy this movie; but for the young of heart, there would be better enjoyment found if one read the books instead. There was an extra scene during the ending credits.
1 ½ stars
AS THE LIGHTS WENT DOWN MY irritation subsided only to be replaced with brimming excitement. The first note struck on the electric guitar echoed through the stadium and the crowd started to cheer wildly. The stage was flooded in dazzling lights of several colors as the members of the rock band rose up from underneath the stage. I was in my happy place as the band tore into their first song of the night. All the hassle it took to drive to the stadium while fighting traffic every step of the way, parking in the outrageously expensive parking lot, then pushing through the mass of people to get to our seats was all worth it to hear our favorite band. My buddy and I endured all this work to get to a concert, sometimes on a weekly basis; because there was no greater feeling than sitting with 20,000 fans who were all experiencing the same feelings. It was a rush for me. We had been doing it for several years; so, we had our routine down solid on how to navigate each venue. Rarely did we get disappointed by a group or musician. My proof would be all the T-shirts I acquired throughout the years. AS PRICES ESCALATED FOR THE PARKING, ticket fees and the price of admission; my passion for seeing concerts started to wane. Some popular musical artists were charging prices that were easily 50 to 100% higher than other acts; I found it offensive. Just because they had the #1 hit in the country and were wildly popular did not, I felt, give them the right to gouge their adoring fans. My buddy still wanted to see every musical artist and group, no matter the cost. I started becoming more selective. We had a good run of concerts I felt; but the hassle and cost were chipping into the enjoyment factor. The concerts that took place during the weekdays were the toughest for me. Getting home late and trying to get to sleep while in the euphoric afterglow of a concert was getting harder and harder for me to do. I felt bad for my friend; we were both tight into our concert routine for years and now it was changing because of me. I tried being as supportive as I could; however, I just could not keep it up. There were times my friend would go by himself to see a concert; it used to make me feel bad. With the passing of time, we started settling into our new roles. I saw the same thing playing out in this latest installment of the action, comedic crime franchise. AFTER NEARLY BEING KILLED BY A drive-by shooter; Mike Lowrey, played by Will Smith (Men in Black franchise, I Am Legend) and his partner Marcus Burnett, played by Martin Lawrence (Big Momma’s House, National Security), team up with a newly created team from the Miami police department to try and track down the source of the shooter. With Joe Pantoliana (The Matrix, Wedding Daze) as Captain Howard, Alexander Ludwig (Lone Survivor, The Hunger Games) as Dorn and Vanessa Hudgens (Beastly, Spring Breakers) as Kelly; there were no surprises in this movie. If you are a fan of the series, then you will enjoy this latest one; it is pretty much more of the same. Not that this is a criticism; for the script had the same type of quick bantering jokes and humor while Will and Martin delivered their brand of chemistry to the big screen. Granted, part of the humor was now being based on their advanced ages. The action scenes were exciting and some of them were even fun to watch. I believe this is a film one must be in the mood for to watch. If one delays it for a bargain price, there would be nothing wrong in doing that.
2 ½ stars