THE FIRST TIME I WENT TO A large scale amusement park, I wound up crying. I was used to the neighborhood amusement park that had rides that were geared to kids; but at this larger park I was not tall enough to ride the roller coasters. The fact that there was more than one roller coaster had at first surprised and thrilled me. Sadly, it only added more disappointment to my sadness. While my relatives waited in line for the coasters, one adult relative had to sit with me on a park bench that was designated as the destination spot for everyone to meet up again after the ride. If there was an easy ride close by without a long line, then I was able to ride it and get back before my relatives arrived. This was not the best consolation prize, but at least it was something to entertain and distract me. It only satisfied me for the moment until we all met up and I had to hear about the thrills the roller coasters provided for my relatives. And to add salt to the wound; by the time I was old enough to ride the roller coasters, the closest amusement park we used to visit the most closed down for good. FAST FORWARD TO RECENT TIMES WHERE it has been many years since I had ridden any roller coasters. I was at an event out of state next to a national amusement park. There were plenty of opportunities during the week to go to the park; which by the way had several famous roller coaster rides. Times sure changed for me as I discovered the waiting lines could take over an hour before getting on the ride. Nonetheless, I was successful on my first attempt at one of the large roller coasters. I was only riding it for several seconds before I realized I was getting queasy. My head started hurting as I was hurled through tunnels, turned upside down and spun around hairpin turns. I had to close my eyes and do everything I could not to get sick during what turned into a torturous ride. First, I was too young to ride roller coasters and now I was too old; here I thought I would have had so many years of riding and enjoying roller coasters. Truthfully, though, I do not feel like I am missing anything; once you ride a few they all seem to be similar and that is how I felt about this dramatic, mystery science fiction film. WITH AN OPPORTUNITY TO WIN $10,000.00, a group of strangers find themselves in a game that did not advertise it would end in life or death. With Deborah Ann Woll (Mother’s Day, True Blood-TV) as Amanda, Taylor Russell (Before I Fall, Dead of Night) as Zoey, Tyler Labine (Flyboys, The X-Files-TV) as Mike, Logan Miller (Before I Fall; Love, Simon) as Ben and Adam Robitel (2001 Maniacs, Cut/Print) as Gabe; the opening scenes held my interest. I could see where the premise of the story had potential; however, as the group of strangers went from one escape room to another it became the same to me with little difference. It felt like I was watching a cross between the Saw movies and the film A Cabin in the Woods. There just did not seem to be much surprise that held my interest. I also did not care for the way the story ended but understood what the writers and movie studio were hoping to accomplish—a film sequel. Maybe if I had not seen other pictures that did this type of genre better, I would have enjoyed this film more. As it stands, I won’t be disappointed or feel like I will miss something if they never do a sequel.
1 ¾ stars
THE mother was upset by the zoo animals fighting in their enclosure. With her young child standing by her side with his arm extended up to hold his mother’s hand, she was arguing with a zookeeper. I was standing off to the side with other visitors but I could hear every word and she was mad. Essentially she was upset the animals were not peacefully walking around their pen, letting the visitors get a good look at them. I had the urge to tell her this was a zoo and not a beauty pageant but decided to keep my mouth shut. The animals were just being themselves and fighting over territory; but apparently that was not enough for her, she wanted them to act more human. I know there are people who find animals more endearing when they can attach a human emotion to the animal’s actions. I totally understand because I wanted to become a veterinarian after I read the book Doctor Dolittle. I loved the way the animals carried on conversations with the doctor. Wouldn’t you say most of us are more comfortable with animals when they act in a fashion more akin to human beings? As a child I could not wait to grow up and go out on a date to an Italian restaurant so we could share a spaghetti meal just like Lady and Tramp did in their movie. Look at how many talking animals have been part of our culture, from Michigan J. Frog to the horse Mr. Ed to the talking chipmunks Alvin and his brothers. Oh and how can I ignore all of those cat and dog videos posted on the internet? The animals look adorable as they perform tricks or interact with those around them. Watching them can be fun but I have never seen any that can match the singing that was done in this animated film. BUSTER Moon, voiced by Matthew McConaughly (The Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyers Club), came up with a brilliant idea to save his beloved theater; hold a singing contest. He was in for a big surprise after the mailer advertising the event was sent out. This comedic drama had a wonderful cast of actors to voice many of the characters; there was Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line, This Means War) as Rosita, Seth MacFarlane (A Million Ways to Die in the West, Tooth Fairy) as Mike, Scarlett Johansson (The Avengers franchise, Don Jon) as Ash and the biggest surprise for me Taron Egerton (Eddie the Eagle, Testament of Youth) as Johnny. Luckily the characters were fun to watch because the script was a bit bland. The story revolved around the singing competition which was fine, but there were times where I felt the script could have used a rewrite. Let me say kids will like the mayhem and action while the parents will enjoy the singing; most of the songs were current. This film may have lacked a little in the lessons learned aspect that other children’s animated pictures have depicted, but I found this movie to be quite entertaining. Plus c’mon how can one resist animals that sing and sing well?