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Flash Movie Review: A Man Called Otto

EVERYONE MOURNS A LOSS IN THEIR own way, is something I learned after I became an adult. I was twelve years old when I experienced for the first time the loss of a person. When I heard the news about their death, I went over to the piano and started playing songs I thought the deceased person would like, while tears streamed down my face. It is a part of life, but the older I got the more exposed I became to experiencing the sense of loss; the loss of a loved one, a pet, a love relationship. Seeing other people’s reactions to a breakup or death, made me realize how personal these situations were for the individuals. I could not take their pain away; however, I could offer comfort in anyway that they saw fit. I just could not tell the mourning person how to feel, because I strongly believe no human has the right to tell another how to feel. There was a funeral I attended where the son was telling his mother how she should feel over the death of her brother. I was within earshot and was taken aback by the son’s “counseling.” It quickly became apparent to me the son strongly disliked his mother’s brother, his uncle. And the fact he was talking out loud like that in front of the mourners was appalling. Granted, I was not privy to the son’s relationship with the uncle; but if it was in such a poor state, the son could have chosen to not attend in my opinion.      I HOPE WHAT I AM ABOUT to say is not controversial; but from my experiences, I do not know if I would try to dissuade an individual from wanting to join their deceased person. Just last week, I was told a lovely story about a daughter who had lost their mother. The daughter told me her parents were married when they were both nineteen years old. Except for a hospital stay, they had been together every day of their lives. They loved each other deeply and loved being together. She told me when her father died ten months ago, her mother lost interest in living essentially. She was heartbroken to the point where she lost interest in many things. Having recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, she talked about her hopes for joining her deceased husband. As the holiday’s were looming at the end of the year, she stopped eating and drinking. The daughter knew she was hardly eating but did not know the extent. After the start of winter, the mother caught a virus and quickly died. Though the daughter was sad, she found comfort believing her mother was finally back with her father. Love is a powerful force and one can see it in this comedic drama.      WITHOUT THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE by his side Otto Anderson, played by Tom Hanks (Cast Away, Saving Private Ryan), became a grumpy old man, who wanted everyone to follow the rules. When a new family moved across the street from him, Otto’s world would be tested in more than one way. With relative newcomer Mack Bayda as Malcolm, Cameron Britton (Stitchers-TV, The Umbrella Academy-TV) as Jimmy, Mariana Trevino (Overboard, Perfect Strangers) as Marisol and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (The Magnificent Seven, Murder on the Orient Express) as Tommy; it was intriguing to see Tom play a curmudgeon. I thought the story was well executed and told. There was a level of predictability which, in my case, may have been due to the fact I saw the original movie this film was based on. Regardless, there were both fun and sad moments in this picture helped by the wonderful pairing of actors. The character Marisol was terrific and a perfect counterpoint to Tom’s character. This was an enjoyable film that had heartwarming elements in it.

3 stars 

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Flash Movie Review; Roald Dahl’s Matilda the Musical

AS SOME OF YOU KNOW, I hold teachers in high regard. What they provide is invaluable and they are not compensated enough for it. No disrespect to the professional sporting world, but the pay scale is quite lopsided when you compare a teacher’s salary to a pitcher or basketball player. A teacher is helping our children to become functioning, self-sufficient, independent adults. A sports figure is entertaining us. Despite what I just said, I know there are some teachers who graduate at the top of their class and there are some who graduate at the bottom of their class. The same with any profession; it can be anyone from a doctor to an accountant. I have had some remarkable teachers in my life; ones who pushed me harder to excel in the fields of my interest. However, I remember the instructors, who even back then, I knew were not very good. There was one teacher who taught by reading out of our textbook in a monotone voice. They did not elaborate on anything, nor did they encourage discussion of a topic. It was a boring class, with many of the students not paying attention to them. That class seemed to be the longest one of the day, though it was the same amount of time as all the other classes.      COMPARED TO THE TIME I WENT to school; I think teachers have a harder time teaching these days. I spent an evening with a teacher who shared their experiences in the classroom. At their school, all teachers must go through an active shooter training class. Most if not all teachers use their own money to buy supplies for the students because there is never enough money in the school budget to get supplies. Class sizes are larger, where children with learning disabilities are placed in the classroom with no consideration to getting help for the child; it is up to the teacher to try to teach the general student body at the same time as those with some type of disability. The teacher I was talking to told me about a student in their class who they believe is a genius. Being a 2nd grade student, the child’s test scores show they are performing at the level of a sophomore in high school. I asked if the school district is aware of the child’s abilities, and they said yes; but they have not provided any help or tools to help the child excel and adapt to their environment. Learning falls on the teacher, but how can they incorporate a super advanced student into the general mix of the classroom.? If interested, this comedic family drama will show you what I have been talking about to the extreme.      HAVING THE WORST PARENTS IN the world, a little girl is hopeful she will finally get an education when her parents decide to enroll her in a school. Her parents would start to look good right after the little girl met the headmistress. With Alisha Weir (Don’t Leave Home, Darklands-TV) as Matilda Wormwood, Emma Thompson (Cruella; Good Luck to You, Leo Grande) as Agatha Trunchbull, Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel, The Woman King) as Miss Honey, Stephen Graham (Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) as Mr. Wormwood and Andrea Riseborough (The Electrical Life of Louis Wan, W.E.) as Mrs. Wormwood; this adaptation of the staged musical production took the essence of the characters and accentuated them to become standout performers. Alisha and Emma were incredible; I could not take my eyes off them. The rest of the cast was equally as good. The direction was precise and magical at times as it worked to create the ideal version of Roald Dahl’s story. The music and songs provided comic relief at times, as well as the sharp passages of dialog. This was such a fun movie watching experience, that brought me back to a less complicated time, where I was rooting all the way for Matilda.            

3 1/4 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

THOUGH MY STUDIES DID NOT NECESSARILY cover the psychological makeup of actors, I have seen enough live theater performances to tell when the cast members are enjoying themselves. I do not know if I can explain it properly, but there is a feeling in the air that is like carbonated liquids, with a touch of electricity that sparks the performance. Recently, I was in New York City and attended a couple of Broadway shows. One of the theater productions was a big, old-fashioned musical with a large cast of actors and dancers. The curtain rose and within five minutes the actors went into a big musical number. The male lead was the last one to join in; but once they did, the rest of the performers kicked it up a notch to match the lead’s energy level. Later, the same thing happened when the female lead had her first big singing and dance number. There was so much activity taking place on stage, I did not know where to look first. But no matter who I was focusing on, everyone was vibrant, filled with high energy. I could feel that energy coming out into the auditorium. Do you know those times when you are standing somewhere and can tell when someone has come up behind you? It is in that same vein, but to the umpteenth power of intensity, where I can feel the actors’ joy.      GRANTED, A LIVE PERFORMANCE IS DIFFERENT than watching it on film; however, there are times when I am sure the actors are having a great time filming their story. An example that comes to mind are the Marvel superhero films. For me, there is an enthusiasm that comes across the screen, just like the screen presence comes across from an actor. There is a film I will be reviewing shortly, with Emma Thompson, where the energy was infectious coming off the cast. It added an extra layer of enjoyment in my viewing of the picture. Another way of looking at this is to think about a party you have attended. When everyone is experiencing the same type of fun and joy, the party is always more memorable; or at least remembered fondly. When there are guests at a party that are not experiencing the event in the same way, there is a disconnect. I have been to a couple of small events where there was a guest who was not participating in conversation and laughter. It puts a damper on everyone’s experience, in my opinion. Luckily that doesn’t happen in this dramatic crime comedy sequel.      LONG TIME FRIENDS MEET AT ONE of their friend’s estates on a Greek island for vacation. Added to the list of guests is the world’s greatest detective which was fortuitous because there was going to be a murder. With Daniel Craig (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, No Time to Die) as Benoit Blanc, Edward Norton (Fight Club, American History X) as Miles Bron, Kate Hudson (Fool’s Gold, Almost Famous) as Birdie Jay, Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, My Spy) as Duke Cody and Janelle Monae (Hidden Figures, Moonlight) as Andi Brand; this movie was a fun viewing experience. The cast was well chosen and not only blended well together but were all deeply into their characters. The script was not as sharp as the first film and at times seemed to be veering off subject; however, the distinct different characters involved smoothed over the rough patches. There were places where I felt this picture was trying to be an Agatha Christie story, except going a more outrageous route. The standouts for me were Janelle and Dave; I felt they had the strongest presence on screen. Still, even with its flaws this was a decent addition to this budding film franchise.

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Good House

IT WAS SOMETHING THAT DID NOT happen overnight, but it got to the point where I always checked his eyes whenever we were together. We had grown up together and were part of a group of friends who used to hang out around the neighborhood. He was funny and had a knack for doing vocal impersonations of several celebrities. I enjoyed spending time with him because he was easy going and always good for a laugh. In our group of friends there were a few who liked to drink and get high from time to time. He was one of them. I did not have an issue with any of them indulging, except if they got to the point where they were falling down drunk or high. Since I did not like the taste of alcohol nor had any interest in getting high, I was always the designated driver. It did not bother me except the one and only time when one friend could not get out of the car fast enough before “tossing his cookies.” After that episode, I made it clear to all of them if they wanted a ride home, they had to make sure nothing ever happened in the car while riding in it. If they were feeling sick, they would need to find a different mode of transportation.      MY FRIEND STARTED TO ENJOY GETTING high more often, even when he was by himself. It was weird, he was able to function most of the time; however, there were times where he would fall into a fit of laughter over the most random things. Having a fun personality to begin with, he only got more animated when high. There were times where he was highly amusing and entertaining. Yet, there were other times when he would get quiet and introverted, preferring to sit and simply stare out into “space.” As his usage increased, I began to wonder what his performance was like at work. I could not imagine that his bosses would not have known, but who knows? I was concerned that he might lose his job, then what would he do? As time went on it seemed every time I saw him, he was always stoned/high. It was becoming a challenge for me because I had no idea how much he was retaining from our conversations. I would like to say I started to pull back from our get togethers, but I do not honestly know if it was more him than me. We still have contact from time to time, usually in a group setting. Seeing the direction his life went, both career wise and personal, I must wonder how much the drugs and alcohol changed the trajectory of his life.      BEING A REALTOR IN THE AREA she grew up in had its advantages; she knew most of the properties and the people. However, in turn, the buyers knew much about her as well. Things did not always go as planned for her. With Sigourney Weaver (The Assignment, Gorillas in the Mist) as Hildy Good, Kevin Kline (Ricki and the Flash, My Old Lady) as Frank Getchell, Morena Baccarin (Deadpool franchise, Ode to Joy) as Rebecca McAllister, Rob Delaney (The School for Good and Evil, Deadpool 2) as Peter Newbold and David Rasche (United 93, Burn After Reading) as Scott Good; this comedic drama allowed the reuniting of Sigourney and Kevin and it was magic watching them play off of each other. The acting was truly wonderful. It carried the story over the clunky parts of the script. I remained engaged throughout the movie, marveling at Sigourney’s superb set of acting skills. There was a mix of amusing scenes that were appropriately placed among the more emotional ones. This was an entertaining movie watching experience that provided a slice of life from the New England area.

3 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Dog

SHE WAS A QUIRKY LITTLE THING. The first time I met her, she stayed close to the walls of the room, shaking as if she had a chill. It was actually caused by anxiety, and this happened every time she met a new person. I had flown down to spend the weekend with a friend who had recently adopted this four-year-old dog, unaware of the dog’s quirks and strange behavior. My friend soon discovered the little thing was terrified of rain. She would not go outside if it was raining outside, pulling at her leash while crying and howling to the point she would throw herself down on the ground as if she were having a tantrum. It was the wildest thing to see. Feeding her was another ordeal; she was very picky about the food she would eat and many a time my friend would have to hand feed her. With the dog looking scrawny, my friend was trying to find the right combination of food that the dog would willingly eat. With my friend’s approval, I went out and bought a couple of food treats at the pet shop to offer this finicky four-year-old. On my second day there, the little dog took a brave step towards me. I had a treat in my hand, holding it out down close to the floor. The dog tentatively creeped towards my hand, sniffed me and the food before taking the food out of my hand and retreated to her cage, where she devoured it. It was progress.      FROM MY SUCCESS, THE DOG SOON stopped clinging to the walls and came up to me so I could pet her. I asked my friend how they chose this dog if they saw how afraid she was of people. My friend said the fear was momentary because they felt a connection quickly being established with the dog. They could not explain it fully, but said the dog had a high level of empathic behavior. I listened as my friend shared a couple of examples where the dog, sensing my friend was not feeling well, would snuggle up next to them for comfort. Their behavior would drastically, at least to its owner, change to be supportive of my friend whenever the need arose. It was the craziest thing I had heard. My friend continued throughout my visit to share different stories about this curious furball on four legs. By the end of my visit, I was totally convinced that the dog could sympathize with its owner over some heavy issues, let alone the lesser ones. She may not have the fighting instincts like the dog in this comedic drama, but I am willing to bet she could hold her own in lending a sympathetic ear.      BOTH DAMAGED BY THE WAR, A soldier and dog are stuck together for a road trip to attend a fellow soldier’s funeral. It was not going to be an easy trip for either of them. With Channing Tatum (The Lost City, Logan Lucky) as Jackson Briggs, Ryder McLaughlin (North Hollywood, Mid90s) as Deli teenager, relative newcomer Aavi Haas as the deli manager, Luke Forbes (Crown Heights, S.W.A.T.-TV) as Ranger Jones and Luke Jones (Acts of Revenge, Dope State) as the bartender; this film took a typical road trip story and turned it into a pleasing and enjoyable film. I became familiar with this dog breed, Belgian Malinois, in one of the John Wick films and have grown to love them. Their expressive faces and mix of sweetness and toughness made it easy for them to be an equal, solid character in the story. Channing turned in a beautiful performance that felt complete. If it was not for Channing and the dog, I do not feel this film would have worked as well, due to its predictability. With its straightforward telling and handful of warm moments, by the end of the film I wished I had one of those dogs in my life.

3 stars   

Flash Movie Review: 13: The Musical

THERE WAS NOTHING WORSE THEN TO have two parties scheduled on the same day when we were in eighth grade. The party with the fewer attendees would be deemed the lame party a/k/a uncool. We were the “top dogs” of the school, with it being our last year there, and felt nearly invincible. However, there was one thing that could depose your status faster than a lightning bolt; it was the loss of your “cool factor.” I was lucky I never had to worry about this because I was never considered cool. And from what I witnessed amongst the other students; I was glad about it. There were several girls who were part of a clique who felt it was their mission to tell the other students when they were out of fashion. Even if you did not have a decent haircut or style, they would make sure you knew, and do it when other students were around to hear it. As I have mentioned in previous reviews, if a student did not excel in sports, then they sure better be good at something else unless they wanted to get picked on. The students with the highest grades got a free pass for the most part; however, if you were not so smart, you needed to be a great musician, artist, debater, or something else that would make you stand out. Even being the president of the chess club could help you but honestly, not that much compared to an athlete on one of the sports teams.      DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR THERE was a large amount of bar mitzvah parties. I remember my friend making me promise I would be coming to his party. It seemed odd to me since I had already sent back my RSVP card, but I figured there was some important number they needed for some reason. When I arrived at the temple for the services, I discovered there was another boy there from school for his bar mitzvah. He and my friend were going to share in the participation of the services. It then hit me; my friend was concerned more of the kids from our class might attend the other kid’s affair. I felt bad for my friend because the other boy was on the tennis team. Would that really make a difference I wondered. That evening at the party, I made a mental note to see if there were any empty seats around the dining tables when it was time to eat. As far as I could tell my friend came out okay; it looked like a full party. Looking back at those years, it seemed like such a rite of passage for us. Sort of like what was taking place in this musical, comedic family drama.      EVERYTHING WAS FALLING INTO PLACE FOR Evan’s, played by Eli Golden (Hide and Seek, Trouble), upcoming bar mitzvah party. That is until his mother told him they were moving out of state. With Josh Peck (Red Dawn, Mean Creek) as Rabbi, Debra Messing (Searching, Will & Grace-TV) as Jessica, Peter Hermann (United 93, Philomena) as Joel and Rhea Perlman (Matilda, I’ll See You in My Dreams) as Ruth; this film was heavy on the musical numbers. They were fun and high energy, but there was an oddness to them. They were meant more to be done on a large stage. Maybe due to the directing, but there was a disconnect between them and the scenes that were more emotional. I do not know if it were due to my school experiences, but there was a familiarity to the story that made the characters more like stereotypes, to the point I could tell what was going to happen. And this is why I thought the acting was nothing special. In fact, pretty much bland. At least, there was an honesty to the script which I appreciated. It was funny, here I thought my school had its own unique issues; but with this film it looks like there were a lot of other kids who had to deal with such social status issues.

2 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Amsterdam

HAVE YOU EVER HEARD A STORY, that if you had not known the person involved in it, you would have never believed it was true? I do not know about you, but it has happened to me many times. A man was telling me about his childhood, growing up in a country that was dealing with strife and conflict. He said whenever soldiers were spotted coming towards the town, many of the families would take their babies and hide them in the forest; so, they would not be taken and raised to become soldiers when they became grown. Or they could just as easily have been killed if the soldiers did not like something about them. What a horrifying way of life, I thought. He said one time the soldiers surprised the town by showing up at nighttime. Whoever was closest to the infant grabbed them and raced out the back to get them into the forest. The soldiers went through the town then left; everyone waited a long time before going out to retrieve their babies. Because of the mad rush to get the baby into the forest, this family member did not pay close attention to where he was placing them. This family member came back to get another family member to join in the search. After a long time, they did come back with a baby they thought was the right one. I stared at him in disbelief. He said it was not until he got older before family members were sure they had taken the right baby; he turned into the perfect likeness to his older brother.      IF YOU ARE ANYTHING LIKE ME, you hear something on the news that is so far-fetched that you cannot believe it is a real news story. Not that I want to get into any political discussion, but there is a candidate who is from a state that verified the past presidential election results multiple times. This candidate does not agree with the results and their reason is because they have never talked to someone who said they voted for the current president. I had to sit there and process what this candidate was saying, “they have never talked to anyone who voted for the president. When told the number of votes that were counted, this candidate said anything is possible in a fantasy world. I could not make such a story up even if I had wanted to; it is so hard to believe. Their argument would be like me saying I have never talked to anyone who had visited the Artic, so it must not exist. I had never heard of the event that inspired this dramatic, comedy mystery story; and based on what I saw, I cannot discern what might have been real or fake.      THREE FRIENDS FRAMED FOR A MURDER find something more sinister than the circumstances of the death they witnessed, while trying to clear their names. With Christian Bale (The Big Short, Out of the Furnace) as Burt Berendsen, Margot Robbie (Bombshell, Mary Queen of Scots) as Valerie Voze, John David Washington (Tenet, Malcolm & Marie) as Harold Woodman, Alessandro Nivola (American Hustle, The Many Saints of Newark) as Detective Hiltz and Anya Taylor-Joy (Last Night in Soho, The Northman) as Libby Voze; this film had a stellar cast of characters. Too bad, they were not given the tools to help create an engaging film. I did not find anything funny in the script which only added to the quickness of me becoming bored. There was a cartoonish style to the acting, due to the script, that never allowed the story to reach a healthy level of suspense and drama. I wondered if the writers intended to shine a spotlight on the parallels between the political environment in this story with the current times, we have been living in. When I left the theater, I had the feeling that I had wasted my time going to this viewing. If I had not gone and seen this, would that have meant that it had never been made?                   

1 ¾ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Hustle

MOST PEOPLE THINK I WATCH AWARD shows to see the stars; and though that is part of the reason, I also enjoy seeing the behind-the-scenes award winners. The main reason is because these individuals tend to talk more about reaching their dreams. When a movie/television star or musical artist walks up to accept their award on those telecasts, they more so now talk about a cause or belief of theirs during their acceptance speech. I am not saying these are not valid causes; however, I must wonder what the motivation is behind them sharing these views at that moment. Is it because it would be good PR for the celebrity? It is one thing to stand up there and talk about a cause; it is another thing to do something for the cause, either monetarily or physically. In other words, “put your money where your mouth is” is my feeling about the situation. So, that is why I prefer listening to the writers, directors, costume designers and others. Chances are their speeches will include their childhood dream that led them to their current position. A writer may talk about their childhood, where they drafted stories or comics to share with their classmates and friends. Or the costume designer might share their childhood dream of dressing up as a high fashion designer, creating outfits that would be seen one day on the runway. I love hearing about people’s dreams.      DREAMS ARE AN IMPORTANT PART OF our life, I believe. They provide us an avenue of growth; we simply need to pay attention to them. Despite having flunked physical education class twice and being told I was not athletic, I continued to believe I could teach fitness. During those first initial classes I taught, I was so nervous that I thought for sure members would yell me out of the fitness studio. I was listening to those past negative voices in my head who said I could never do it; instead of believing in my training and abilities. It was my dream to create an inviting and accepting environment for anyone who walked in to take my class and I did it. It was the type of class I wished I had available to me when I was younger. It was my dream that pushed me to what I believed was a healthier lifestyle. I honestly could not imagine a life without having a desire, a dream for something more. Dreams are great motivators; it is what makes the main character in this comedic sports drama to keep pushing on.      NEEDING A BREAK TO REACH HIS dream, a basketball scout thinks he might have found it with a street player in Spain. The problem would be convincing his bosses. With Adam Sandler (Uncut Gems, That’s My Boy) as Stanley Sugarman, Queen Latifah (Girls Trip, The Trap) as Teresa Sugarman, professional basketball player Juancho Hernangomez as Bo Cruz, Ben Foster  (The Survivor, Leave No Trace) as Vince Merrick and Kenny Smith (Just Wright, Young Rock-TV) as Leon; this movie is proof Adam Sandler is a gifted actor when he takes on a serious role. I thought he was excellent with his character. Now keep in mind, I am not big into team sports; however, I thought this story was executed beautifully, in such a way that would resonate with both sporting and non-sporting viewers. The story itself is nothing new per se; however, there were enough subtle changes and nuances that made this film seem fresh and new. I found myself fully engaged throughout the picture; it was also quite entertaining, in my opinion. The message in the story came out like a blooming flower, slow anticipation into a rich colorful hue. By the end of this movie, I was solidly ensconced into my dream filled memories.

 

3 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Father of the Bride

WHEN SHE FOUND OUT MY FAMILY practices the same custom, she peppered me with questions. I was happy to oblige since we were having a lovely afternoon visit at her house. She was my friend’s relative who he had not seen in over twenty years. As we were sitting around her dining room table, eating cookies and fruit, she was telling us about her daughter’s wedding. As she spoke about the wedding ceremony, it occurred to me she was describing a custom my family does at a wedding. I asked her if the couple stood under a canopy during the service; she said they did. You should have seen her face when I told her members of my family get married under a canopy; her face lit up and she started telling me how much she enjoyed the service. From there she immediately went into a series of questions for me, starting with what the reason was behind erecting a canopy in the middle of the room. I told her the canopy represents the couple’s joyful new home together. The sides are open as a gesture that friends and family will always be invited in. She loved the concept as she asked if all canopies were made with an array of flowers. I told her some were, but others were simply made with fabric and four poles.      AFTER GOING THROUGH AND EXPLAINING THE other “foreign” customs to her, the three of us shared and compared the various kinds of rituals we experienced growing up. It was quite fascinating to hear what each of us experienced, though we could not always explain the meaning behind the custom. At one point, I was describing the practice of breaking a glass at the end of the wedding ceremony. I could not explain the reasoning behind it when the two of them asked me, so I had to look it up. It is funny, after I read them the explanation, I said I did not think many of my relatives knew this was the reason for breaking a glass. It turned out all of us participated in customs that we did not know the meaning behind. I offered the reason people participate in a custom may be to honor their elders. And as I just wrote this, I recalled a custom we used to do when I was growing up that we no longer practice anymore. If my memory is correct, it stopped after an elder had passed away. Even though some customs fade out of existence, I believe they leave a lasting memory, which may come out in a unique way. If you wish to see, customs play a strong part in this romantic comedic drama.      A FATHER FEELS OUT OF CONTROL when his daughter’s wedding plans do not include the customs he has been trying to maintain in the family. With Andy Garcia (Redemption Day, Book Club) as Billy Herrera, Gloria Estefan (Music of the Heart, Glee-TV) as Ingrid Herrera, Adria Arjona (Life of the Party, Pacific Rim: Uprising) as Sofia Herrera, Isabela Merced (Instant Family, Transformers: The Last Knight) as Cora Herrera and Diego Boneta (Terminator: Dark Fate, Luis Miguel: The Series-TV) as Adan Castillo; this updated version felt like it was created to appeal to a list of current issues. In other words, it came across as manipulative to me. The first half of the film was dry for me, besides being predictable. I did not find the movie funny, even when it seemed to settle into a slapstick mode. The cast was okay but honestly, there really was not anything that moved me emotionally. It was a shame because I could appreciate the message the story was trying to convey; however, things did not come together for me until the last hour. And even then, the writers kept the story in a light, easy mode. I appreciated the message that was trying to be presented, but the delivery of it was not a custom made fit.

2 ¼ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Good Luck to You, Leo Grande

THE WAY SHE DESCRIBED HER HUSBAND to me was to say he was a roommate that she tried to tolerate. I found her statement sad. To live every day trying to tolerate your significant other sounded like an awful way to live. I asked her if she ever loved him and she said yes, when they were much younger. From my own experiences, I was familiar with the progression of a relationship; you know, the initial falling for someone known as the “honeymoon” phase. This is where one begins to have feelings for the other, some would say infatuation. The next stage is where things start to get serious, where the dating couple begin to define their relationship and talk about the future. Next is the tough stage labeled “disillusionment.” Here is where doubt plays a part as fantasy and reality merge together. Once the couple can push through this stage, they will come to stage four which is real love. It is acceptance of each one’s flaws and imperfections, where one focuses more on the other as both are in it for the long term, for better or worse. The final stage is where the couple work together as one, blending strengths and weaknesses that can make a difference. I had to ask her what happened that changed their relationship.      FROM THE THINGS SHE TOLD ME about her marriage, one thing stood out for me. There was a lack of communication between the two of them. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen relationships dissolve because the people were not able to communicate their feelings to each other. There was someone I dated years ago who would not share their feelings with me. At times I would ask how they felt about a situation that happened to them, just to get an idea of what things illicit a negative or positive reaction in them. More times than not, they would say what they thought I wanted to hear which I found ludicrous. As you may have guessed, the relationship did not last long. It is funny; after many years, I still remember my college sociology teacher who used the term “holy deadlock” to describe a couple who have lost their love for each other and do not have the energy to make a change. When friends of mine have been in a relationship that appears to be unhealthy, I will ask them why they are staying in it. Several have simply said they do not want to be alone. But this begs the question, “Aren’t they already alone?” In this dramatic comedy, one can see what happens when one has lived such a life.      WIDOWED AND RETIRED, A FORMER SCHOOL teacher decides to become a pupil to experience something she had never experienced in her marriage. With Emma Thompson (Late Night, A Walk in the Woods) as Nancy Stokes, Daryl McCormack (Pixie, Peaky Blinders-TV) as Leo Grande and Isabella Laughland (Harry Potter franchise, The Last of the Haussmans) as Becky; this movie took a story done many times before and gave it a twist that was perfectly executed by Emma and Daryl. I thought they worked well together, making their characters believable and emotional. This was one of Emma’s best performances. Considering the limited location, I was never bored while watching and listening to these two adults having a full conversation about personal issues. The writers did an excellent job. Communication is the key in any relationship and this picture displays it in a thoughtful, beautiful way.

3 ½ stars  

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