IN MY EXTENDED CIRCLE OF FRIENDS and family, there are two people who when together make everyone laugh. When a group of us get together for a meal or a social evening, it doesn’t take these two individuals long to start feeding off each other’s energy. Their humor spans from satire to bawdy to intellectual to silly; I have only seen one person who is faster at a comeback than these two people, Robin Williams. A word of caution is in order; you never want to have food in your mouth when these two go at it, because there is a good chance you might start choking while you are laughing and guffawing. When I am around them, I enjoy listening to the bantering and dialog because in the middle of the comedy aspect there are kernels of truth in their sly remarks. You may have experience in this regard, where you have a friend or relative who says the one thing that others are afraid to say. And that is what I appreciate about these two individuals; using a cliché here, they are not afraid to address the “elephant in the room.” I will say they are masterful in how they can bring up uncomfortable topics in a way that is palatable for those who would not appreciate facing the topic head on. DURING THE LAUGHTER AND COMMENTS, I may in my mind think of a comment to add to the dialog whizzing around the room. It is all about timing, however; more times than not, I keep the comment to myself because it is too hard to overpower the high-volume level that these two people maintain. What I tend to do is turn off my brain and go along for the ride. It is like a train ride; all I need to do is sit back and enjoy the scenery, in this case the conversations, as it passes by. The thing that impresses me the most is the way the conversations may be repeating items that the group has heard before, but these two individuals are able to present a repeated topic in a new and fresh light with their choice of words. For example, I have heard about this one relative’s long deceased dog for years; yet each time one of these skilled talkers brings up this dog, there is always something added to the story to make it sound like it is the first time I am hearing about this dog. I felt the exact same way about the banter taking place in this action, comedy thriller. THE WORLD’S GREATEST ART THIEF IS forced to work with a top profiler of the FBI to catch the person who wants to take his title away from him. With Dwayne Johnson (Jungle Cruise, Skyscraper) as John Hartley, Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool franchise, Woman in Gold) as Nolan Booth, Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman franchise, Keeping Up with the Joneses) as The Bishop, Ritu Arya (Last Christmas, Doctor-TV) as Inspector Urvashi Das and Chris Diamantopoulos (The Three Stooges, About a Boy-TV) as Sotto Voce; the story for this movie does not provide anything new from what we have seen in other films. However, the chemistry between the three main stars and the dialog the writers gave them, made this an enjoyable film experience for me. I did not have to think much, just sit back and watch some mindless entertainment. Ryan and Dwayne were doing typical roles suited for themselves; so, it was not a stretch for their acting capabilities. The key to watching this picture is to not have any expectations. Also, if you are fond of witty quips and satire for humor, then this would be a movie for you.
2 ½ stars
I HAVE ALWAYS HAD A CURIOUSITY with how things are created and started. When I was a young kid, I used to break apart my toys to see how they worked. One of my favorite toys that I had for an extended time finally met its demise, when I smashed the plastic globe that held these small hard plastic, colored balls that were smaller than golf balls. Attached to this globe that was on wheels was a long handle. As I rolled the toy that got the name “Popcorn Maker,” due to something in the middle popping the balls up against the inside top of the globe, the balls would be bouncing around accompanied by a popping sound. I loved this toy; but eventually my curiosity got the better of me, leading me to destroy it to see what was making the balls pop up whenever I rolled the toy around the house. It looked like a tiny, tiny bicycle wheel without the rim, just the spokes sticking out. As the wheels rolled, this device in the middle of the axel would as well. As the spokes rolled towards the top of their enclosure, they got bent back. When they got to the very top where the hole was the spoke would spring up and snap at any ball that landed in the hole. It was such a simple device, but I enjoyed playing with it nonstop. IN MY LINE OF WORK, I have had the opportunity to discover the origin of hundreds of companies and businesses. A well-known ice cream company got its start over 100 years ago when 2 brothers contracted with a farmer, the use of his 15 cows. They would turn the cows’ milk into ice cream and sell it from the back of their truck. As popularity grew, they bought a distributor to sell their product beyond their small town. I get a kick when I see their product stocked at the grocery store, knowing its humble beginnings. When I was visiting Savannah, Georgia I learned how the Girl Scouts came into being because of a woman’s idea that she wanted to encourage young girls to focus on their strengths; so, they could create opportunities for themselves. Keep in mind this was a time before woman were given the right to vote. Another time where my curiosity was piqued was when I was visiting the Iolani Palace in Hawaii. I wanted to know how it became one of the first places in the United states to be entirely wired for electricity, even before the White House. It came about when the King of Hawaii met Thomas Edison while on a world tour. So, you see, being inquisitive comes naturally to me and that is why I was interested in seeing today’s prequel film. FROM AN IDEA, A FEW INDIVIDUALS formed a group to tackle world problems. They, however, did not know the scope of the problems they would be tackling. With Ralph Fiennes (The Dig, A Bigger Splash) as Orlando Oxford, Gemma Arterton (Their Finest, The Girl with all the Gifts) as Polly, Rhys Ifans (Last Call, The Amazing Spider-Man franchise) as Grigori Rasputin, Harris Dickinson (Beach Rats, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil) as Conrad Oxford and Djimon Hounsou (Captain Marvel, Blood Diamond) as Shola; this action, adventure comedy had a broad canvas to tell its story. I am afraid the canvas was way too big, because I felt there was to much stuffed into the script that the flow of the story was scattered all over the place. I enjoyed the acting and the action scenes; however, there was such a mix of emotions that were on display that I would lose interest periodically. The historical aspect was a fine idea and one I was interested in since I enjoyed the previous films, but the script needed a major rewrite. By the time I left the theater, I had lost my interest in how the Kingsman got its start. There was an extra scene during the ending credits.
WHEN I CHOSE THE MOVIE I AM reviewing today, I did not realize a connection could be formed between the events surrounding today’s date and the film’s story. I honestly did not plan it that way; however, since I am writing about the movie on this day, there is no way I cannot point out they compliment each other. Now before I go into review mode, I want to stress a point; just like my fitness and yoga classes, I do not discuss politics or religion on this site. The reason is simple; every religion is valid to those who identify with that religion and politics, in recent times, is something where everyone has their own opinions and beliefs. I make it a point not to discuss either topic with a room full of people. I remember one cycle class I was teaching, where a participant made a snarky comment about a political figure. Before anyone could shout out a rebuttal, I looked at the member and told them I do not allow any political comments; they can be said outside of the classroom, because in class we all want to get a break from the real world and simply have some fun while exercising. That was the last time that member said anything political in my class. WITH THAT BEING SAID, I AM going to share my observations and feelings about what I saw today, one year ago. I saw a level of anger that reminded me of my encounter with protesters years ago when I participated in a peaceful march. I saw government property being destroyed. I felt I might be witnessing a revolution. As I sat in disbelief in front of the television, I wondered what was going to be the end game for the people attacking the capital. How would the world change if a politician was captured or even worse, murdered? From that day, listening and watching all the speeches and condemnations, I will tell you what I find appalling; people who denounced the actions of the protesters a year ago, now saying something completely opposite. To say a year later that the protesters were peaceful, or part of a far-left group planted at the capital, is something I find sad and dishonest. This is my opinion and I again stress, what would have happened if the vice president was captured? Or the speaker of the house? I heard as clear as day protesters calling out their names as they were looking for the politicians inside the capital building. To disbelieve what took place a year ago, is the horrible alternate reality that has risen in prominence the past few years. This movie satire turns a spotlight onto this alternate reality that is around us. SPOTTING THEN CALCULATING A DISTANT METEOR’S trajectory was on a direct collision course with Earth, was not the hardest part for two scientists. It was trying to convince an uninterested public. With Leonardo DiCaprio (The Great Gatsby, Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood) as Dr. Randall Mindy, Jennifer Lawrence (Red Sparrow, American Hustle) as Kate Dibiasky, Meryl Streep (Little Women, The Post) as President Orlean, Cate Blanchett (Nightmare Alley, Thor: Ragnarok) as Brie Evantee and Rob Morgan (Mudbound, Stranger Things-TV) as Dr. Teddy Oglethorpe; this comedic drama had a stellar cast. The standouts for me were Cate and Jennifer. The script was sharp and biting (at least to me) but there was too much stuffed into it. There was one story line that was not believable to me; others were done in such a heavy-handed way that the scenes fell flat for me. The level of satire was outrageous. While watching this film, I did wonder if those who prefer living in an alternative reality would enjoy this film and to tell you the truth, I am not sure. Basing this strictly on entertainment value, I enjoyed watching it but was also a bit scared by some of the similarities to present life. There was an extra scene during the ending credits.
2 ½ stars
I REMEMBER WATCHING IT BUT DID not actively seek it out. After school I would walk home and usually grab something for a snack before dinner. Since I was sitting and eating, I would turn on the television and channel surf the stations. What caught my eye was the fact there was a TV show filmed in black and white. As I sat there watching it, I was struck by the female lead’s physicality; she had an expressive face and she knew how to use it, besides the physical exertion she would put out in her movements. It fascinated me because I could not recall seeing a female on television who did this same type of comedy. I became enthralled by the show and began to make it a point that I got home in time to catch this show. The funny thing is, I thought I was watching a new show each week. It turned out they were repeats, that the original airing of the show was some years earlier. No matter to me, I got swept up into the lives of this couple with their neighbors and friends. I do not easily laugh out loud, but I found myself more times than not, laughing at the antics the female lead was getting herself in to every day. IT WAS MANY YEARS LATER THAT I discovered this woman who played that lead was a very shrewd businesswoman. I had seen her for many years on her various television shows and movies, besides guest starring on other TV shows. The things I knew about her were more in line with the fodder that gossip magazines put out; however, after doing some research I discovered not only was she a smart individual, but her husband was as well. After all this time I still can see one snippet of a scene from her classic television show and immediately recall the entire episode; it is as if I was there as part of the set, the memories are so crystal clear. What a remarkable life this woman led. At one time, approximately 60 million households tuned in to watch her on television. Can you imagine that? She commanded such an audience that evidently the retail establishment made changes simply to accommodate those shoppers that were fans of the show. These facts are historic and just think, I accidently stumbled on the show when I was a little kid, who wanted to watch something while eating my afternoon snack. Because of these memories, I felt I was transported back in time as I began watching this wonderful biographical drama based on true events. WITH ONLY ONE WEEK TO WRITE, rehearse and put on a weekly television show; there were so many things taking place that the viewing audience had no idea were happening. How the female lead not only survived each challenge but went on to become a legend in the process. With Nicole Kidman (The Goldfinch, Boy Erased) as Lucille Ball, Javier Bardem (Skyfall, The Sea Inside) as Desi Arnaz, J.K. Simmons (The Tomorrow War, Palm Springs) as William Frawley, Nina Arlanda (Richard Jewell, Stan & Ollie) as Vivian Vance and Tony Hale (Clifford the Big Red Dog, Arrested Development-TV) as Jess Oppenheimer; this historical piece of Americana was brilliant in who was cast it turns out. When I heard Nicole was playing Lucy, I thought for sure she would not be able to handle such a larger-than-life character. I was wrong; I actually forgot it was her because she was so deep into character. Javier was a major surprise because he was incredible as Desi. Honestly, everyone was terrific in this film and though the dialog was tight and smart, I wished there had been a deeper delving into Lucy and Desi. At times, I felt as if the story was getting confused in what it was trying to say. Despite this I still am a fan of this film; it may partly be due to my fond memories of the show.
3 ¼ stars
I DO NOT KNOW WHY, BUT adventure thrills are always better when they get shared with someone. Isn’t it true? There is something about experiencing a new thrill that resonates stronger when you have someone come along for the ride. I remember when a group of us went to a new amusement park that had a water ride mimicking white water rafting. We all piled into this circular, inflated yellow raft with a type of steering apparatus in the center. When the park attendant pushed us out of the holding dock, we started out on calm waters. However, it changed rather quickly when we went down an embankment and into this pool of churning water that swept us quickly down the course a/k/a churning river. All of us held onto the steering wheel as we hooted and hollered with all the jostling and bumping the raft was enduring. Sprays of water doused us periodically, keeping us cool in the hot summer sun. As we neared the end of the ride there was a steeper “waterfall” we had to endure. It was a bit tense at first as the water under the raft picked up speed then dropped us into the waterfall, which was an adrenalin rush for me. At the bottom of the falls, the raft quietly floated over to a receiving dock area where park attendants were helping people get out of their rafts. It was one of the best water rides I experienced, and I was glad I did it with my friends. DESPITE HAVING TAKEN MANY LONG WEEKEND trips alone, when I go with friends and family members, there always seems to be an adventure we wind up sharing. Recently in San Diego a couple of us rented a pedal boat to take out into San Diego Bay. We were fine while in the marina because it was smooth and calm as we leisurely pedaled up and down rows of piers and docks. However, when we got out into the bay the water turned choppy with a stronger current underneath. We had to pedal faster as the boat bobbed up and down. Our time out there did not last long as we looked at each other at the same time and said we made it out and now it is time to go back where things are calmer. Once out of the bay we laughed about it since we had these grand plans to go down the coast to see the sights. It still was a great experience that I was glad to be sharing with someone close. I felt the main characters in this fantasy film were experiencing a similar situation to mine, which I enjoyed watching. HER FATHER BELIEVED IT WAS TRUE; so, Dr. Lily Houghton, played by Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place franchise, Mary Poppins Returns), was determined to find this special plant reported only to be found deep in the Amazon jungle. With Dwayne Johnson (Red Notice, Skyscraper) as Frank Wolff, Edgar Ramirez (Deliver Us from Evil, Point Break) as Aguirre, Jack Whitehall (Mother’s Day, Clifford the Big Red Dog) as MacGregor Houghton and Jessie Plemons (The Irishman, The Power of the Dog) as Prince Joachim; this action, adventure comedy was saved by the performances of Dwayne and Emily. I would not put them in the same category as Abbott & Costello or Burns and Allen, but they certainly were a fun couple to watch on the big screen. The script was rather generic as it pulled in ideas from a variety of movie stories such as The Mummy, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Pirates of the Caribbean among others. This was simply a fluffy fantasy film that was easy to view without a lot of thought to it. I am sure if the movie studio made money on this picture, they will then try to do a sequel. If they do, I just hope they get a better story line and script, besides having Emily and Dwayne starring in it.
2 ½ stars
EATING ON SNACK TRAYS WAS NEVER part of any of our family meal get togethers. It was just not acceptable. Getting together with the relatives meant adding leafs to the dining room table, plus a folding buffet table and if need be a couple of folding card tables. The goal was for all the family members to sit down to eat a meal together. I can remember times where we would be so packed into a room that some of the kids would have to crawl under the table to get out from their seats. At some point during my childhood, the older relatives decided the kids should sit together at a table by themselves. Each of us felt so grown up because we had our own space to eat without the adults looking over us. I never knew what the age limit was; but at some point, a kid at a certain age would be moved out from eating at the children’s table and given a seat with the adults. It was almost like a rite of passage. Once everyone was seated the food would come out from the kitchen, almost like an assembly line. Plates, bowls and platters of food would be handed off to whoever was sitting the closest to the kitchen. Once they took what they wanted, they would hand off the dish to the person next to them and so on, all the way down and back the entire length of the tables. I CAN LOOK BACK AT THOSE family meals with fondness and amazement; there were many times no one ever left the table. Whether it was the conversations or wanting to be one of the first to grab the desserts; everyone enjoyed sitting together and talking the entire evening. Or at least I thought so. It was later in life, after the older generation was gone and everyone moved up to the next level of their life expectancy, that I discovered how many relatives had a different perception of those times when we came together to share a meal. Within one branch of the family, the siblings were fighting amongst themselves and did not want to sit with each other. Their spin on their contribution to the evening’s conversation had a negative slant to it. That negativity would filter down into conversations where individuals would misinterpret a relative’s words and opinions. It was only recently I realized this took place because I was eating lunch with a relative and we discovered we had opposite opinions about one of our family members. Despite the different perspectives, it didn’t change the fact that we were all part of the same family, just like the family in this animated, comedy family film. EVERY CHILD IN THE MADRIGAL FAMILY had a magical power except one named Mirabel, voiced by Stephanie Beatriz (In the Heights, Brooklyn Nine-Nine-TV). Because she did not have a special power, she found herself in a unique position when the magic around the family began to decay. With Maria Cecilia (Amas de casa desesperadas-TV, La Bruja) voicing Abuela Alma, John Leguizamo (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge) voicing Bruno, relative newcomer Mauro Castillo voicing Felix and Jessica Darrow (Feast of the Seven Fishes) voicing Luisa; visually this movie was exquisite. The variety of colors and the lush settings were the real magic of the story. The musical score was upbeat and fun which only added more to the scenes. My only complaint was the story/script. I thought the message the writers were conveying was wonderful, but I felt there needed to be more variance to the drama level. It seemed as if most scenes were on one emotional level; where I wanted to feel more excitement, more thrills and more passion. It almost felt like a lite version of the studio’s usual depth in its animated films. Despite it, the overall movie watching experience was very good.
I TOOK THE BRUNT OF THEIR kidding because I had never heard of such a college degree. A group of my classmates and myself were sitting at the student union. The building was an old, medieval looking structure. The food hall was in the lower level where the space had arched beams in the ceiling. We were sitting at a large table when one of my classmates motioned to a table close to us that had a group of women sitting and talking. He described a couple of the women at the table who were in one of his classes and said that group was here for a M.R.S. degree. The guys around me laughed as I sat there perplexed. I asked what kind of degree was a M.R.S and was answered with more laughter. Finally, my lab partner asked me what the letters spell out; I answered, “Mrs.” He said exactly, they are only attending the university to find a husband. Maybe I am not the brightest bulb in the marquis, bur I was more confused. Who would spend so much money to go to college just to look for a mate? Another guy at the table said he had a couple of lecture hall classes with a few of the women, and he agreed with my lab partner. He said they would stand outside the hall and watch the students walking in until they saw an attractive guy, then would come in and try to sit close to them. I found the whole thing preposterous. HERE I THOUGHT I HAD HEARD everything, yet there was more news to come my way. A few weeks later a free, independent weekly news magazine came out with an article listing a group of universities that excelled in specific categories. It turned out my university was number #1 for drinking, alcohol that is. A school in the southern part of my home state was listed as the best “party school.” What caught my eye was a university close to a major city in my state that was listed as the best “husband hunting” place. I understood this news magazine specialized in “tongue in cheek” humor; but this “husband hunting” concept had to be a known thing to have gotten mentioned in the article. I was so surprised by this discovery; how come I had never heard about it before? Looking back at this time in my life, I must assume many of you cannot believe such a thing took place. I was there and I cannot believe it, it sounds so dated, right? Times change and I had to keep that in mind while watching this musical classic. TWO FRIENDS, WHO WERE ENTERTAINERS, AGREED to take a transatlantic cruise for a job opportunity. What they did not plan for was to be followed by a private detective. With Jane Russell (The Outlaw, Double Dynamite) as Dorothy Shaw, Marilyn Monroe (The Seven Year Itch, Some Like it Hot) as Lorelei Lee, Charles Coburn (Monkey Business, The Green Years) as Sir Francis ‘Piggy” Beekman, Elliott Reid (Inherit the Wind, Vicki) as Ernie Malone and Tommy Noonan (A Star is Born, Bundle of Joy) as Gus Esmond Jr; this romantic comedy based on the Broadway musical that was based on the book was a blast from the past. Made in the 1950’s, I had to remind myself the story took place in a different time. The 2 actresses were terrific in their roles displaying excellent comedic chops and the songs they sang have lasted the test of time. If you are not a musical fan, I cannot imagine this picture will hold your attention all the way through; however, it was a fun and enjoyable movie. Even looking at this film on a historical level, I was entertained and fascinated watching customs and traits that would be frowned upon in present times. Still, this was a classic movie I wanted to see after hearing some of its songs for so many years.
3 ½ stars
AFTER A COUPLE OF DATES, THEY wanted me to meet their pets. I was agreeable to it since I loved animals. When I arrived at their front door, I expected to hear a dog barking or them holding a cat. Once inside, I saw 2 large fish tanks in opposite corners of the living room. There was greenery inside each but there was no water. I was led to one of the tanks to be introduced to Charlie. As I approached closer, I saw a hint of movement among the greens. They lifted the lid off from the tank so they could extend both arms inside, where they gently lifted a large snake. I tried hiding the shock on my face but might not have done a good job because they said it was okay, the snake was not poisonous. Oh, what a relief! The snake began to slither up one arm, across the back of the shoulders, then down the other arm until its head was resting in my date’s hand. My mind was reeling with all the possible scenarios where the snake would be a comfort to its owner. Would it snuggle up to them on the sofa? Would it follow them around the house? Would it play with any toys? I could not find one scenario that would work for me; but I understood, if they found comfort in what I would consider an unusual choice for a pet then who was I to judge? WHATEVER ANIMAL BRINGS A PERSON COMFORT is the animal they need. For me, I was fortunate to experience comfort from a bird, a dog, a horse and a cat. I remember a particularly “bad” week in school. The bullies were extra active, and I had multiple tests taking place through the week. Friday night we were going to visit a relative who had a dog I absolutely loved. When we got to her house, I immediately sought out the dog. We settled into a cushy sofa in the den; me nestled into the corner of the couch and her curled into my lap. I would alternate between petting and scratching her. If I stopped for a moment, she would turn her face towards me and kneed my upper thigh with her paws. A sense of peaceful comfort settled over me and the trials and tribulations of the week faded away. It felt so good that I did not want to leave my spot when dinner was ready. That dog taught me one of my earliest lessons about what it means to give unconditional love. From my experience, I found myself totally in synch with the main character in this adventure, family comedy. AGAINST HER UNCLE’S BETTER JUDGEMENT, A young girl gets to keep a little red puppy that will show her it is okay to be different. With Darby Camp (The Christmas Chronicles franchise, Big Little Lies-TV) as Emily, Jack Whitehall (Jungle Cruise, Mother’s Day) as Casey, Izaac Wang (Good Boys, Think Like a Dog) as Owen, John Cleese (A Fish Called Wanda, The Meaning of Life) as Bridwell and Tony Hale (American Ultra, Veep-TV) as Tieran; this movie was based on the popular children’s book series. I have not read them, but I can only assume the message is true to what the books portrayed. Little kids will love this film and I must tell you I enjoyed it as well for a multitude of reasons. The message was wonderful, the humor was light and clean, plus the dog was cute. I felt this way despite the fact the script was filled with predictability and was formulaic. There was a cartoonish feel to several scenes and yet, I simply enjoyed the simplicity of the whole story. And despite Clifford’s size he certainly was a lovable dog.
2 2/3 stars
I CANNOT SAY I TOTALLY BELIEVE or disbelieve; I simply believe anything is possible and that is why I am fascinated to hear people’s experiences with unexplainable events. A friend was telling me about a recent encounter her daughter experienced. While driving to a family function, the daughter looked in her rearview mirror and saw her grandparents, who were deceased, sitting in the back seat. They just sat there and smiled at her for the entire trip. When they arrived and she turned off the car, the daughter turned around in her seat, but the grandparents had disappeared. She went into the house to join other family members but during her time there she felt the presence of her grandparents for most of the night. The daughter was not surprised since her grandparents had visited her multiple times before. Her mother started believing her daughter ever since her first encounter because at that occurrence the grandparents said something in their native language which the daughter would not have known. When the daughter repeated what she heard to her mother, my friend knew something unexplainable had taken place around her daughter. I enjoyed listening about the event and asked my friend if her daughter ever had an encounter that scared her. She said as far as she knew, no. IN MY EXPERIENCES, THINGS HAVE TRANSPIRED that I could not easily explain. I used to workout at home on a cable exercise machine for several years. One day while working on it I felt like my eyes were mildly hurting me. When I clenched my eyes shut the pain subsided. I had no idea what was going on and even inspected them in the mirror to make sure I had not broken a blood vessel or something. For a week every time I did this one particular exercise on the machine, I would just close my eyes through it. However, after a week I started turning my face to the side while keeping my eyes shut. I knew this did not make any sense, but I kept doing it. After a few days when I went to exercise, the cable snapped as I grabbed the pull-down bar before sitting down on the bench. I was shocked but immediately realized that if the cable had held up a few seconds longer until I was seated and pulling up the weights attached to the cable, it would have snapped right into my eyes. To say I was stunned would be an understatement. I felt there had to be something else that I could not explain that made me start to clench my eyes and turn my face away from the cable. Once I replaced the cable my eyes stopped hurting. It is things like this which have kept my mind open to any possibility and that is the way I went when I decided to go see this movie. AFTER MOVING TO A SMALL TOWN to take possession of a rundown house she inherited from her father, a single mom and her two children were unaware there was something special about the house and land around it. With Carrie Coon (The Post, Gone Girl) as Callie, Paul Rudd (Ant-Man franchise, Our Idiot Brother) as Grooberson, Finn Wolfhard (It franchise, Stranger Things-TV) as Trevor, McKenna Grace (Gifted, Annabelle Comes Home) as Phoebe and newcomer Logan Kim as Podcast; this long-awaited adventure, comedy fantasy in the franchise did not fully materialize for me. The acting was good; I especially admired the performances of McKenna and Finn. However, I thought the script was weak. There could have been more excitement, humor and suspense; everything seemed like a light version of what it was intended to be. Of course, there also was the nostalgic aspect which made things more bearable, especially the last part of the movie. I went into this film with no expectations and came out with just an okay feeling that I saw it, but no wow factor. There were a couple of extra scenes during the ending credits.
2 ¼ stars
THERE ON PAGE 4 OF THE newspaper was my professor’s name. I was excited to see her name right below the title of the news article. She was a cool journalism teacher with a colorful vocabulary. Of course, I had to read what she wrote to see if she practiced what she preached. Her class was my first introduction into journalism; I had not made up my mind if I wanted to be a reporter or a novelist. The college I was attending was known as a “working” school of education. The professors worked in the field they taught. For example, my poetry professor was a famous poet with several published books of poetry. I remember seeing them all lined up on a shelf at a large, national chain bookstore. The journalism teacher was on staff at the newspaper. I still remember how she explained to us how to start writing an article; it was like an upside-down pyramid. The opening line should grab the readers attention, so hit the reader with the facts of the story, starting with the most dramatic one. She also was a stickler for spelling and punctuation, editing our news’ stories with a red inked fountain pen. Periodically, she would surprise us with a scenario she created, and we would have to write up an article as she timed us. It was obvious she loved her work. THE OTHER IMPORTANT THING MY JOURNALISM teacher taught me was the importance of words, that words mattered. She taught us how to remove our feelings from our writing because a journalist’s job was to report the facts. We would have newspapers delivered to the classroom then go through them, dissecting the articles that were city, national or world news. The ones about culture, fashion and sports were rarely needed. Our teacher stressed upon us to choose our adjectives carefully. She would show us by reading an article as written then repeat it with the adjectives changed, to show us how it can change the reader’s perspective. The class truly was a master class in my opinion. And though it was one of my favorite classes my heart yearned more for the fictional verse. I loved creating a picture in people’s minds with my words. Now granted I may not utilize my fictional skills in my reviews, but I still watch what words I choose. Being a reporter is a noble job and I know it has taken a beating the past few years. Some of the blame honestly is justified. Seeing how the newspapers I read carry the same story but based on who owns the newspaper, there may be a different slant to the story. However, a reporter’s job is to report the news and that is why I was happy watching this inventive film. AN AMERICAN NEWSPAPER WITH AN OFFICE in France is determined to report the stories. The reporters would go to any lengths to get the story. With Benicio Del Toro (No Sudden Move, A Perfect Day) as Moses Rosenthaler, Adrien Brody (Manhattan Night, The Pianist) as Julian Cadazio, Tilda Swinton (A Bigger Splash, I Am Love) as J.K.L. Berensen, Lea Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color, Midnight in Paris) as Simone and Frances McDormand (Burn After Reading, Nomadland) as Lucinda Krementz; this dramatic comedy romance was a kaleidoscope of visual treats. The scenery and use of color kept me attentive to what was taking place in the scenes. The other aspect that grabbed my attention was the abundance of actors in the story. Though some were utilized more than others, I still enjoyed watching them. It did take me time to get into the movie. A quarter to a third way in things started to click for me. The story is a tribute to journalists, told in a fun and entertaining way. If you are a fan of Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Isle of Dogs) then you will enjoy this film; if you are not, I do not believe you will be as entertained.