THE TOY WAS CURRENTLY one of the biggest sellers across the country. From print advertisements to television commercials it would take some work for someone not to notice this toy, which was getting such buzz. I decided to buy it as a birthday gift for a relative and had it gift wrapped. The toy came in a large box but it did not set off the seatbelt alarm when I placed it on the passenger seat next to me. The fact the toys were hard to find because they were selling so quickly, gave me a bit of pleasure; I was certainly going to be the star in the birthday girl’s eyes. At her birthday party I waited closer to the end before giving her my gift, after she had opened the other gifts. Ripping the gift wrapping paper off of the box she needed help in opening the box. When the toy was removed she squealed with delight then grabbed the box; instead of playing with the toy I bought her, she was playing with the box it had come in. MOST OF THE GATHERED relatives burst out laughing as they watched the little girl play with the box. All the adults knew what a coup it was for me to get this hot selling toy; but to this little child, none of that was important. She was having as much fun, or who knows maybe more fun, with the box as she first pretended it was a hat to wear before turning it into a doll house or maybe it was a parking garage. Isn’t it funny how as adults some of us judge a product or service by the amount of money it cost? I don’t have to tell you that toy was expensive but for the little girl it meant nothing to her. If I would have known I could have bought one of those reusable plastic food containers as a birthday gift! The funny part is while I was watching her play with that toy’s box I suddenly remembered when I was little I had a collection of pens that I pretended were spaceships. It goes to show you one doesn’t need money to have a good time, just a good imagination. LIVING AT A BUDGET motel in the shadow of one of Florida’s largest amusement parks Moonie, played by Brooklynn Prince (Robo-Dog: Airborne), made each day an adventure; oblivious to the schemes her mother Halley, played by newcomer Bria Vinaite, was coming up with to make money. This film festival winning drama also starred Willem Dafoe (The Great Wall, Murder on the Orient Express) as Bobby, newcomer Valeria Cotto as Jancey and newcomer Christopher Rivera as Scooty. The story was a solid piece of work; I enjoyed the whole concept about relationships, authority figures and poverty. The actress who played Moonie was outstanding in this film. I will say I thought the beginning of the story was dragged out. If I remember correctly I looked at my watch one time and 35 minutes had gone by with the same idea behind the scene being played over and over in slightly different versions. It was becoming boring despite the excellent acting from the cast. For newcomers I was surprised how their acting made the characters come alive. If there had been more drama to the scenes however I think I would have gotten more into the movie. It was not until later, after I had left the theater, when I realized there was more to the story or maybe it was just my mind imagining it so.
2 ¾ stars
There is something special about chimpanzees, where people can quickly place human characteristics on these fascinating creatures. I have a special spot for the animals because my very first stuffed animal was of a chimpanzee. Zippy was his name and he had been handed down to me from my brothers. This documentary did not disappoint on the visuals, from beautiful landscapes to incredible close ups of the chimps, every scene was a treat. Where the movie did not do itself justice was who they had narrate the story, Tim Allen (Home Improvement-TV, Wild Hogs). Along with his annoying inflections, I also had to place blame on the script he was given to read. I understand the idea of making this film for the entire family by adding a dramatic story line; however, it started to feel as if I was on one of the rides in the Animal Kingdom theme park at Walt Disney World. A 2nd clan of chimpanzees were portrayed as the bad guys; lead by Scar the alpha male. Tim’s grunts and excited reading was ridiculous to me. Instead of observing chimpanzees in their natural habitat, we were given a sanitized tale of little Oscar’s plight within the group. At the end of the movie statistics were presented on what the chimpanzee poplulation used to be and what it was currently, with no explanation on the reasons why. This film was made to entertain the whole family and on some levels it accomplished the task. However, I only wished they could have let the chimpanzees be themselves and avoid being turned into drama queens.
2 2/3 stars
On my quest to see all 50 states, little did I know I had been to Mars on one of my excursions. While viewing this movie I recognized the landscape in several of the scenes. Did it distract me from the story? Not at all; it was about the images and it was obvious Disney poured a lot of money into this visual extravaganza of a movie. For me, the look of it reminded me slightly of Star Wars. There were fascinating alien creatures, big battle scenes and a love story involving a princess. Lynn Collins (The Number 23, The Lake House) played the strong, intelligent princess, Dejah Thoris. As for the story, I found it weak, leaving me confused in some parts. Civil War vet John Carter, played by Taylor Kitsch (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Covenant), unwittingly discovered he was transported to another planet, where he now had super strength and agility. Oh and those twelve foot tall aliens were another clue he was not on earth. There were several basic plot lines: a group of mysterious beings that I did not fully understand what their ultimate purpose was in the story; an individual who was determined to take over the entire planet and a search for some mysterious thing that would tip the scale of power among opposing forces. As I said, the story was not the best; however, the movie’s action was exciting and I enjoyed all the special effects. I only wish Disney would have spent just a little more money on disguising the locale they used, here on earth.
2 3/4 stars