I DO NOT WANT TO SAY IT is funny, but it is interesting the way things get put into perspective when a person discovers they have a disease. With certainty I can tell you I would probably “space out” for a time before coming back to reality. When I had a health scare over a year ago, I remember getting the news in a phone call while I was at the movies. After hanging up and walking back into the theater, I spaced out and could not recall what I had just seen when the film finished. Later, I came out of my daze and planned a course of action. That is the thing about disease; it can motivate certain people to stop procrastinating about some things in their lives. I do not know if it was due to the movie The Bucket List, but ever since that film I now hear people talk more about their bucket lists; what they have on it and what they hope to accomplish before they die. There was a time when conversations about death and dying were not discussed; I can remember being told no one wants to talk about something so unpleasant. These days more and more individuals convey their desire to do something right away because one never knows what tomorrow will bring. IN MY WORLD I WAS FORTUNATE that diseases did not come to the forefront until I was an adult living on my own. I remember a mother dealing with a fatal disease while continuing to raise her young children. There also was a friend of the family that found out she had a debilitating disease. After going through multiple tests, she decided to pack up her house and move to a climate that would be kinder to her body. She wound up living her life as comfortably as possible. I just do not know what circumstances take place to make a person either fight back their disease or ignore it and live the rest of their life as stress free as they can. There is a gentleman I know who upon hearing his diagnosis decided he did not want to do any further testing or remedies. He felt the treatments would greatly reduce his quality of life. An acquaintance of mine is furious with her sister because the sister had health issues she ignored for almost one year. By the time she finally went to the doctor her disease had spread further than it needed to go. No one can judge another person on how they react to getting distressful news; one can only support them. See how it is done in this dramatic comedy. ALL MARTHA, PLAYED BY DIANE KEATON (The Family Stone, And So it Goes), wanted to do was live her life out peacefully when she decided to move to a retirement community. Her neighbor Sheryl, played by Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook, Animal Kingdom), did not see it quite that way. With Celia Weston (Dead Man Walking, After.Life) as Vicki, Alisha Boe (13 Reasons Why-TV, Paranormal Activity 4) as Chloe and Charlie Tahan (I Am Legend, Charlie St. Cloud) as Ben; this movie had a cast that deserved a better script. The message was right but the delivery of it was embarrassing. I did not see anything creative or new in the story; all the antics were predictable, and I have to say pretty lame. There were a couple of times where I even cringed due to the level of ridiculousness in the scenes. I do not know if it is funny, sad or ironic that this cast wound up in this picture. The reason I say this is because I am sure none of the actors would want this movie to be the public’s final memory of their acting career.
1 ¾ stars
THERE WAS NOTHING UNUSUAL ABOUT the couple standing in the middle of the crowd. They each had their arm wrapped around the back of the other; one had their head resting on the other’s shoulder. The music the band was playing up on stage had everyone moving to the beats. The couple was right in synch with the rhythm, moving their hips in unison. The two of them looked good together; one had a dark complexion while the other had a fair complexion with a twinge of redness. Similar in height they appeared to fit well together. Directly in front of them stood a young Millennial; she had been there for only a short time. At some point between songs she started to look around at the other fans. When she spotted the couple behind her she stopped and a smile began to grow on her face. When the couple made eye contact with her the Millennial gushed, “You two make the cutest couple. How long have you 2 been together?” The couple looked at each other with warm smiles and a chuckle. Looking back at the young girl they told her they have only been a couple for a little over one year. The Millennial was shocked and told them she could not believe it; she thought they had been a couple for at least 20 years. HAVE YOU NOTICED HOW THE younger generations treat the older ones? If that couple was in their 20’s, I doubt anyone would gush over them and call them cute. But because they were elderly and showing signs of affection for each other, they now are just too cute. I have experienced this phenomenon at weddings where an elderly couple go out onto the dance floor. Suddenly they grab all the attention as people start to watch that old couple moving to the music; saying things like, “Look at them move” and “Can you believe them?” Seriously, it is not like they are one step away from a fall; they happen to be active and enjoy dancing to music. Just because they are old suddenly people assume the couple cannot do the same activities of someone years younger. With me teaching fitness I have experienced people becoming shocked that I am an instructor. I cannot say I am insulted, but I find it curious that there are some who have these pre-conceived notions of what an instructor should be. Just because a person looks older doesn’t mean they stop living and having fun; in fact, there are examples of what I have been saying right here in this comedy film. FOUR LONG-TERM FRIENDS’ LIVES were sent reeling when a racy, bestselling book was introduced into their book club. The women did not even know where to begin. The main reason to see this film was the cast; without them this movie would have fallen into the discount bin. With Diane Keaton (The Family Stone, Something’s Gotta Give) as Diane, Jane Fonda (Monster-in-Law, Klute) as Vivian, Candice Bergen (Bride Wars, Murphy Brown-TV) as Sharon, Mary Steenburgen (Last Vegas, Time After Time) as Carol and Andy Garcia (City Island, The Lost City) as Mitchell; it was enjoyable to watch actors take on the life of their characters. The script was nothing special; honestly, I felt it could have thrown much more at the cast to make this a truly funny story. Instead there were more chuckles and close to syrupy cuteness coming from the scenes. It was pretty easy for me to figure out the conclusions to each story line; like I said, the director and writers played it too safe in my opinion. Despite these issues it was good to see these long careered (you thought I was going to say old, didn’t you?) actors do what they do best, who I believe feel the same way I do: age is just a number.
2 ¼ stars
It was known as the fancy tablecloth but in actuality it was no different from any other one. The only difference was it only came out once a year for the holiday. The house would be filled all day with the warm smells of favorite foods being prepared in the kitchen. This was the only time where that cherry red gelatinous ring would make an appearance. It was created in a metal mold that had flowers etched in the bottom. Inside of it were pieces of various fruits that looked like they were captured and put into suspended animation. I have to tell you it was the weirdest looking thing on the dining room table. In spite of it this was my favorite holiday as we all came together to celebrate and eat. I do not think it started out as a tradition but people sort of fell into a set routine where each person would do the same thing every year. For example, the same person always brought this dessert made from an old family recipe that had to be doubled and tripled in size over time because everyone would fight over it. Another person would always make and bring sweet and sour meatballs that had a secret ingredient of grape jelly. All of these things fell into a tradition and became part of the holiday and part of our celebration. I of course being the most comfortable with routines appreciated that these things turned into our yearly tradition. Fortunately or unfortunately as the yearly guests became part of a couple they would bring new people into our traditions. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it did not. CHARLOTTE and Sam, played by Diane Keaton (The Godfather franchise, Annie Hall) and John Goodman (The Gambler, The Big Lebowski), wanted the family to all come together one last time for the holidays. Like any family, some would be coming with extra baggage. This comedy had an impressive cast of actors. Besides Diane and John there was Marisa Tomei (Spare Parts, The Lincoln Lawyer) as Emma and Ed Helms (We’re the Millers, The Hangover franchise) as Hank. With the few dramatic scenes in the movie the actors were easily able to pull them off. Sadly I would rather have had more such scenes because the majority of the story was so basic and idiotic I was bored to tears. I was stunned that these actors agreed to do something that was so poorly written. Diane’s role seemed identical to some of her recent previous ones; there was no difference between them. Not only did I not find anything funny, the entire audience around me must have felt the same since there was dead silence through the film. I only hope the studio does not want to start a tradition by doing a sequel. There was an extra scene during the credits.
1 3/4 stars
Living amongst them daily I am not always conscious of their significance. It is when someone is over to my place and asks about something hanging up on a wall or sitting on a surface that I experience the memory associated to that particular item. To the average person my home looks like a hodgepodge of different pieces of art and objects; but to me, each one has a story about my life. There is a large woven basket that sits next to an easy chair that I bought from a little non-profit store in Charleston, South Carolina. All the items in the store were made by disadvantaged women from third world countries, who were trying to improve their lives my selling their wares. That alone was enough reason for me to buy something at the store; however, I wanted something to remind me about the fantastic road trip I was taking through the southern United States. On a coffee table sits a turquoise vase that was originally placed on layaway by someone I was dating some time ago. I called the store and paid for it, asking the salesperson to call the phone number on the receipt and tell them the vase was accidentally knocked off the shelf and broke into pieces. It was a few minutes after the store must have called them when they called me to complain about the store’s incompetency. I never let on I knew, keeping the vase for a couple of months, until I wrapped it up and gave it to them for the holidays. I was greeted with several words I cannot print here. So you see I love having all of the things around me and their memories. I do not know how I could ever part with them, just like the couple in this dramatic movie. AFTER many years living in their Brooklyn apartment with the great view Ruth and Alex Carver, played by Diane Keaton (Mad Money, The Family Stone) and Morgan Freeman (Now You See Me, Driving Miss Daisy), felt it was time to downsize and move to a place more conducive for an older couple. They soon discovered there were challenges to moving 40 years worth of stuff. I wished I would have enjoyed this film more because the two actors separately were wonderful, though I did not feel much chemistry between them. The script was lame; quite predictable and cliched; the two actors needed more depth to their characters. It was a shame because I enjoyed the flashback segments of a younger Ruth and Alex at the beginning of what would be their long term relationship. And obviously I appreciated the acknowledgement of one’s memories associated to inanimate items. Too bad the memory I have of this picture is not very good.
1 3/4 stars
It takes real effort for a person to act mean. Because everyone has the potential for good and evil I believe, it comes down to making choices. For example the brother who invites all but one sibling to his son’s special event or the person in the elevator who sees you running towards them and does nothing to prevent the doors from closing just as you are about to reach them. These people were acting mean in my opinion. Now there are some individuals who look mean, display a tough exterior, but beneath it they are completely sweet. I have a friend who cuts an imposing figure. Well over 6 feet tall and bulky, the irises of his eyes are as black as his pupils. His pale complexion only intensifies the glare of his deep set eyes when he is looking at you. I have seen many strangers move out of his way when he is walking down the street. Once you are familiar to him, his piercing eyes look more like the button eyes on a stuffed teddy bear and his physical size diminishes into soft edges. I know meanness can be based on a person’s perception; but unless one has evidence, don’t you think most people determine if someone could be mean by the way they look? BEING mean was what realtor Oren Little, played by Michael Douglas (Last Vegas, Falling Down), thrived on when he had to deal with people. All he wanted to do was sell one last big property so he could retire. His plans were blown when the granddaughter he never knew he had Sarah, played by Sterling Jerins (The Conjuring, World War Z), was dumped at his front door. Not interested in the 9 year old girl Oren tried to push her off on his neighbor Leah, played by Diane Keaton (The Godfather franchise, Mad Money), so he could continue on his way. Just how mean could Oren remain towards the two females? This comedic drama was utterly predictable which was why I gave you more information about the movie than usual. I found it sad that Michael and Diane were both stuck with the script; it did not offer one single new thing. Directed by Rob Reiner (The Bucket List, When Harry Met Sally), there just was not much one could do to try and make this film pleasurable. The crowd in the theater who were all older had an equal mix of positive and negative comments as they were exiting at the end of the movie. I know the movie studio was not trying to be mean by boring me for the duration of this picture; however, they were not very nice to make a poorly written film.
1 3/4 stars
Attending a wedding is a little like going to a dinner/theater performance. Sometimes the food can be good while the production is lukewarm; other times, it can be the exact opposite. Wedding receptions are a double edged sword for me. There have been occasions where the bride and groom made it their mission to find me the same happiness they had by seating me next to one of their single friends. Can we say awkward? Usually every wedding has one relative in attendance who feels everyone should be having as much fun as her or him. In my case it usually was a tipsy aunt who found out I could dance and wants to dance the night away with me. So you see why I accept wedding invitations with some trepidation. I had similar feelings about seeing this comedy; my expectations were low. Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook, Being Flynn) and Diane Keaton (Mad Money, The Family Stone) played former husband and wife Don and Ellie. If it was not going to be uncomfortable enough seeing each other for their adoptive son’s wedding; it was going to be a monumental task to pretend they were still married for the sake of their son’s strictly religious, biological mother. Granted the story was far-fetched, but the actors gave it a decent shot. What made it work was the chemistry between Robert, Diane and Susan Sarandon (The Company you Keep, The Client) who played the girlfriend Bebe to Robert’s character Don. It was a pleasant surprise to see Robin Williams (World’s Greatest Dad, Good Will Hunting) playing a more subdued character as Father Moinighan. There were amusing scenes as well as lame scenes throughout the movie. It may be due to my years of exposure to family (dys)functions; but as a whole, I did not mind sitting through this film. At least I did not have anyone sitting next to me or was forced to get up and dance.
2 1/4 stars