IT WAS A STORY I HAD seen done in the movies over and over, but now I was witnessing it firsthand. I must tell you it is a classic story and despite being so familiar with how it plays out, I still enjoyed watching the journey of discovery my friend experienced. It all started when she went to a club with a few of her friends. While at the club one of her friends bumped into a friend of theirs, who came to the club with a couple of their friends. Introductions were made and the two separate sets hung out together by the bar. The way she described it to me, her friends and the other friends were breaking off into separate conversations, with her in the middle. When she participated in the conversation with the group to her left, she missed what was taking place to her right; that is, until someone from that group got her attention to ask her opinion. At some point a guy from the other set of friends had gone to the restroom and when he returned, he wound up standing next to her. The two of them found themselves having their own conversation, discovering they both worked in the same industry. The evening ended, but not without invites for a party that was taking place the following weekend. AS MY FRIEND TELLS IT, SHE was not attracted to the guy she wound up talking to for part of the evening. As she described it, “he was too crazy for her,” whatever that meant. However, with coaxing from her friends she went to the party. This guy was there and her first impression of him stuck; he seemed like a party animal who was going from one room to another, acting out with his celebrity impressions and silly antics. She did not care for him at all. My friend did not stay long and went home early. The following week, the guy called her at work on the premise of it being work related. He needed a credit reference on their mutual customer and for the weeks following their calls at work became more frequent and longer, always starting out with a business question. She learned a lot about him, finding a side of him that he kept hidden out in public. After covering all the initial topics that two recently introduced people discuss, their conversations were being held on a deeper level. Her first impression of him was melting away as the guy’s real personality was emerging. They decided to go on a date. Their first date led to a second and a third and before you knew it, they became a couple. I enjoyed watching their story unfold, just like I enjoyed watching this animated movie that dealt with first impressions. TO AVOID JAIL, A BAND OF criminals must go through a rehabilitation program to prove to the city they can be model citizens despite how they look. Believing they could fool everyone; the group discovers something they were not expecting. With Sam Rockwell (Richard Jewell, Mr. Right) voicing Wolf, Marc Maron (Respect, Glow-TV) voicing Snake, Awkwafina (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, The Farewell) voicing Tarantula, Craig Robinson (Hot Tub Machine franchise, Pineapple Express) voicing Shark and Anthony Ramos (A Star is Born, In the Heights) voicing Piranha; this adventure comedy conveyed a wonderful message. I thought the script was excellent with its smattering of humor, poignancy, and excitement. The animation was wonderful, and I enjoyed the way the actors melded themselves into their characters. With the different elements, the director still created a solid, even paced film that devoted the right amount of time to each scene. I was surprised how good this picture was put together and as I said, I loved the message it laid out for the viewers. There was an extra scene in the middle of the credits.
3 ½ stars
THOUGH I try to avoid using the word “should,” in this case I think it is appropriate. One should not get offended by which table they are assigned to at a celebratory function, such as a wedding or bar mitzvah. Whether you believe it or not there is a ranking system, just like there is one for the seating arrangement at the Oscar awards. I am not including company functions here since most of the ones I have attended did not have assigned tables. It makes sense to me to place those people that may have a task to perform closer to the staging area of a room. For example the siblings of the bride and groom would be seated near the newlyweds so they would have easy access to give their speeches. Grandparents are always placed close by out of respect or maybe just to keep an eye on them for whatever reason. Those in the wedding party also would be seated somewhere near the newlyweds since those individuals I would assume are part of the couples’ inner circle of close friends and relatives. I see it as a ranking system in general, plus I can see the logic in it. THERE is a running joke in my family about the table that is closest to the kitchen. I freely admit, at least within my family structure, those seated at that particular table tend to be individuals who do not fit in at the other tables. No one in that group is going to perform any function like a toast or speech; there may be a pair of single people placed there, especially if the bride and/or groom is trying to fix up a relative or friend; and it is not uncommon to place a person there who shares only a past history with the celebrating families, having been invited out of respect. As long as the food is good it really doesn’t matter where I sit, though the guests at the last table in this dramatic comedy would have been a bit of a challenge for me. GOING from being the maid of honor to simply a guest when the best man dumped her Eloise, played by Anna Kendrick (The Accountant, The Hollars) found herself seated at the dreaded last table at the wedding. She was not the only one at the table. The idea for this story was something I could easily relate to and felt almost anyone else would find something in common with it. With Lisa Kudrow (Easy A, Friends-TV) as Bina Kepp, Craig Robinson (This is the End, Pineapple Express) as Jerry Kepp and June Squibb (Nebraska, Scent of a Woman) as Jo Flanagan; I liked the variety of the cast and each of their back stories. As for the script it provided plenty of chances for most viewers to connect to something familiar in their own lives. The issue I had was the script was too basic; it was too easy to see the jokes coming, the acting was partially uneven due to the dialog and none of the scenes were pushed to a farther place to add some intensity to the story. I felt as if everything was on one emotional level which led to boredom. The script really needed to be punched up to make this picture stand out from other movies that had similar story lines. If you get an invitation to this film you might want to send back your regrets.
1 ¾ stars
The restaurant came highly recommended so it was worth the time and money to check it out. The appetizer was wonderful, crisp and fresh. However the soup was ghastly with globs of grease floating on the surface like used puppy pads. The main course was not hot and had a slightly sour taste, though the potatoes were outstanding with a hint of garlic and a touch of chili powder. When the dessert came with its main ingredient being chocolate it was devoured right up, feeding the remaining hunger inside. So the experience did not match the expectations; maybe it was an off day for the chef or possibly the wrong items were picked. After receiving such high compliments about the place it just seemed odd not to have had a similar experience. Trying to be the optimist (not my forte) another visit was planned with hopes the food would be vastly improved. The only thing learned by going back to the restaurant for a 2nd time was that the food was just not good. What made things worse was the food did not settle well in the stomach causing waves of nausea to wash over the body with a bitter taste coating the inside of the mouth like old rubbery primer. It was confirmed the restaurant was awful. PLEASE accept this review as your confirmation that this sequel was worse than the first movie which starred John Cusak (High Fidelity, Martian Child). Whether it was a scheduling conflict, broken negotiations or a desire not to reprise the role, John must be feeling mighty lucky that his name was not associated with this crude comedy. The weak story had Lou, played by Rob Corddry (Warm Bodies, Sex Tape), in serious trouble. His friends Nick and Jacob, played by Craig Robinson (This is the End, Pineapple Express) and Clark Duke (Kick Ass franchise, Greek-TV), needed the help of their hot tub time machine if they were going to save their buddy’s life. This unfunny sci-fi film was total trash. Among many other adjectives I could use to describe this horrible picture; I found it vulgar, offensive and infantile. We just finished up the Oscar season and I could not believe so early into the new Oscar season we already have a film that deserved my lowest rating. Now I saw the first movie and did not find much to like about it; though the idea for it was mildly novel. Watching this garbage was like being locked in an outhouse that had not been cleaned out for several weeks; it reeked of bad taste. Even if you do not agree with my taste in movies I am pleading, please do not go see this picture; it will only encourage the movie studio to think about another sequel.
This may come as a surprise but it turns out celebrities do not walk on water, even though some of them think they do. Part of the problem is the public’s fascination with these bigger than life characters. I do not understand why people will buy merchandise simply because their favorite celebrity endorsed it. Now I know some of you must be thinking who am I to talk with me contributing to actors’ bank accounts by going to see their movies. All I can say is I watch movies for medicinal reasons; they are therapeutic for me. This does not mean I approve of celebrities acting out in public. As far as I am concerned; there is no difference between them and the rest of us, they have the same body functions as we do. If a celebrity should fall on hard times, there are some people who get a sense of satisfaction in seeing these stars brought down to human level. Now if you want to laugh at a celebrity’s predicament and not feel guilty about it, this is the movie to watch. Essentially playing themselves I admired all the actors who took part in this wickedly funny comedy. Even those who only had cameo roles helped to knock down this facade or fascination we might have about their public personas. During a party at James Franco’s (Oz the Great and Powerful, Spring Breakers) house, what was originally thought of as an earth tremor turned into something of catastrophic proportions. I was taken by surprise by how good the writing was for this part parody, part satire, crazy fantasy film. Too many stars to list, the major players were Seth Rogen (The Green Hornet, Pineapple Express), Jonah Hill (21 Jump Street, Superbad), Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder, Knocked Up), Craig Robinson (Peeples, The Office-TV) and Danny McBride (Up in the Air, Your Highness). I have to give a shout out to Michael Cera (Juno, Youth in Revolt) and Emma Watson (Harry Potter franchise, My Week with Marilyn) for their small hilarious roles. Though some of the jokes got tiresome, who knew the end could be so funny. Warning: Strong and crude language used throughout the film.
3 1/4 stars
When I hear the words “I want you to meet my family” a sense of dread begins to creep up on me. I know it goes with the territory when you are in a relationship and things are going good, but meeting family and friends is like taking an exam. You get graded on several categories from appearance to job history to personality. I find it stressful and depending on who is doing the testing determines the intensity of the questioning. I have found the easiest group to meet are the brothers. They are the most laid back and usually only care about finding out what common interests we share. However, watch out for the oldest brother; he tends to be more protective. The toughest group is a toss up between the sisters and the best friend(s). These two sects have no qualms grilling for detailed information as they literally stare you down. More than likely the best friend will reveal an embarrassing tidbit about the person you love. Be careful, because they are only telling you so they can judge your reaction. If you react in a positive way when hearing about an embarrassing incident involving someone they dated, the best friend will consider you in a negative light. From my years going through this interviewing process, there was nothing I found new or funny in this comedy. Craig Robinson (The Pineapple Express, The Office-TV) played Wade Walker, who wanted to meet his girlfriend Grace Peeples’, played by Kerry Washington (Django Unchained, Ray), family. For some reason Grace had been hesitant to introduce him, so Wade decided to surprise her by showing up at her parents’ front door. I was embarrassed for S. Epatha Merkerson (Lackawanna Blues, Law & Order-TV) playing the mother Daphne and David Alan Grier (Jumanji, In Living Color-TV) playing the father Virgil. There was no originality in this film except for Craig’s dancing. I did not mind him in his role, but I was surprised Kerry agreed to do this movie. It just seemed too low brow for her to waste her time and talent. Either, I have been introduced to too many family members and friends in my dating experiences or this film had stale and unfunny humor in it. Which one do you suppose is the correct answer?
1 2/3 stars