IT OCCURRED TO ME THAT I was watching different groups in this movie, with origins that spanned the globe, working together as one. There weren’t any indications of dislike, envy or hatred; in fact, it seemed as if their differences enhanced their capabilities to do good. They all had different physical differences. Some were darker, some were smaller, some had both dark and light color mixed in them and it did not matter. What a world they were living in where these things had no bearing on one’s feelings. I would have enjoyed experiencing the world they were living in. Those that were quite big were not picked on or made fun of, unlike my own past experiences. One was handicapped, and it appeared to me no one treated them different from anyone else. If I had seen this as a kid, I would have been surprised because of what I saw growing up. There was a student in class who had a health condition, something to do with their blood, that prevented her from participating in any physical activity. This student was shunned by other students; they considered her weird. Granted, they did not know the details of her situation; but, why did they immediately choose to treat her different was perplexing to me. RELIVING THESE MEMORIES MAKES ME NOW wonder if humans have an inherit tendency to shy away from others that are different or is it something that must be taught. Isn’t that a frightening thought if adults have been handing down that fear to their offspring. Based on what I have been seeing and hearing presently, it seems as if more people are less tolerate of those they perceive to be different. Because of the differences between us, I feel we are seeing more conflicts around the world. People are fighting and arguing for the simple reason they cannot accept someone being different. It does not matter if it is politics or religion or lifestyle; there is a pack mentality that gets formed where people only want to live with their own kind. I am saddened by what I read in the newspapers. Young adults are being killed because they dress and act different than what is “expected” of them. It is horrific, and it is wrong. So much more can be accomplished when the participants come from different backgrounds, to bring their unique skills to the forefront. Maybe those that do not believe me should take a look and see what the different animals in this animated, adventure comedy accomplish by working together. A WHOLE DIFFERENT WORLD AWAITS MAX and Duke, voiced by Patton Oswald (Young Adult, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) and Eric Stonestreet (The Loft, Modern Family-TV), when their family takes a vacation out in the country. How will Max handle so many new experiences? With Kevin Hart (Night School, The Upside) voicing Snowball, Harrison Ford (The Age of Adaline, Raiders of the Lost Ark franchise) voicing Rooster and Jenny Slate (Obvious Child, Gifted) voicing Gidget; this sequel came with its own built in charm. If you enjoyed the 1st film, you will enjoy watching this picture. The humor was fun, and the animation added to it. The children in the audience certainly were having a good time watching this movie. Now it appeared to me the movie studio did not want to deviate from the winning formula of the past film; however, by doing so there really was not anything new in this sequel. I thought there were too many story lines taking place at the same time. But here is the thing though, it did not take away my enjoyment from seeing what was happening in the story. Though there was nothing new with the characters, I liked seeing the way they worked together to tackle issues. Now if only they could teach humans that lesson.
2 ½ stars
On the way back from vacation I was able to stop and have dinner with a long time friend; we go back many years. For all this time I never heard a word from them about wishing or wanting a pet. I cannot even remember them ever stopping to pet a friend’s dog or cat. So here we are sitting at a restaurant catching up on what was new in each of our lives when he tells me I have to see this video. Taking their phone out they click on a couple of buttons then hand the phone to me. I am watching a video of two dogs playing in a back yard. Without seeing the video, only listening for audio cues, they narrated the different scenes in the video. Not only were they telling me what I was watching, they were sharing the dogs’ thoughts with me. The dogs’ thoughts? I heard how one of the dogs runs outside and lets everyone know they are there, racing up and down while barking. The other dog was a thinker; he would observe everything around him before acting on it. I sat there in disbelief as my friend went on about these 2 dogs, placing human emotions and thoughts on them. Not that I am judging, being an animal lover I absolutely got it; but I was amazed I never saw or heard a clue my friend would be so in love with these dogs that they babysat 2-3 times a week. This is the power pets have over some of us. MAX, voiced by Louis C.K. (Turbo, Blue Jasmine), was living an idyllic life with his owner Katie, voiced by Ellie Kemper (Bridesmaids, Sex Tape), until one day she came home with Duke, voiced by Eric Stonestreet (Identity Thief, Modern Family-TV); who was to become his new brother. Max did not want this dog as his brother. This animated comedy had a well chosen cast of actors such as Jenny Slate (Obvious Child, Girls-TV) as Gidget and Kevin Hart (Central Intelligence, The Wedding Ringer) as Snowball to voice the memorable characters. I enjoyed the beginning of this family movie and thought the story was fun; the idea of pets having a secret life was brilliant. However when the story line changed and focused on Kevin Hart’s character I felt the story lost some energy besides the fun factor. Despite some fun lines and excellent animation I found myself getting bored during several places. Maybe my reaction to this picture was due to the high caliber of recent animated films, but this film was missing a sweetness to it. The humor was never at a laugh out loud type of level and not that I expect all animated films to have a learning moment in them, but I was left with just an okay feeling towards this movie. I will say the next time I am around someone’s pet I will be watching them closely to see if I can figure out what they are thinking. There was an extra scene in the middle of the ending credits.
2 3/4 stars
No matter what age, it is safe to say everyone wants to have some space they can call their own. A place important to them; where one could be surrounded by things that meant something only to them. As children some were lucky to have a treehouse, fort or maybe a swing set. Do you remember going from a crib to a bed? I actually remember how excited I was when the time came when I was finally getting a bed like everyone else. If in college you had to share a dorm room with another student, it was important for the roomies to stake out and acknowledge each other’s space. I lived in off campus housing where I had my own room but shared a kitchen with 6 other students. We were all respectful of each others’ food except for one guy who would “borrow” things and never replace them. It is funny when people co-habitate due to marriage or wanting to live in an expensive apartment they cannot afford by themselves, they still need a spot they can call their own. I am sure you have heard the term “man’s cave” referring to a place where a guy can do as they please; it may be something like a spare bedroom or a garage. It is a place where one can do what they want without infringing on someone else’s sensibilities. I have seen a variety of such places but nothing ever happened in them like what took place in this movie. KEEPING a high-rise penthouse secret from everyone else was paramount if this group of friends wanted to be able to use their place for whatever they so desired. That all changed however when one of the friends entered the loft and found a dead woman handcuffed to the bed. This dramatic thriller had as part of its cast Karl Urban (Star Trek franchise, Dredd) as Vincent Stevens, James Marsden (Enchanted, The Best of Me) as Chris Vanowen, Wentworth Miller (The Human Stain, Prison Break-TV) as Luke Seacord and Eric Stonestreet (Identity Thief, Modern Family-TV) as Marty Landry. Gratefully the acting was good overall by the cast. I liked the look of the film and thought the film’s beginning was a good start for this mystery. By the way it would be perfectly understandable if viewers were offended with the premise to this story; I had a bit of a challenge accepting it. Unfortunately the story quickly spiraled out of control with too many twists and turns, trying to keep everyone guessing on why there was a dead woman in the loft. I found parts of the story to be ridiculous, growing to dislike the characters. Maybe the movie studio should have kept this film a secret from us.
1 3/4 stars
It took me a longer time than usual to write this movie review. I had to look and see if I was being overly sensitive. As some of you may already know, the “F” word that I never say is F-A-T. Having been called that word throughout my childhood, I grew to despise the word and everything associated with it. If the movie studio had used an actress that was slender, I wondered if the comedy scenes would have still worked. The story was about Sandy Patterson, played by Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses, Arrested Development-TV), who traveled to Florida to find the woman who had stolen his identity. Besides maxing out his charge cards and ruining his credit, there was also a warrant out for his arrest. Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, Mike & Molly-TV) played the fraudster Diana. To answer my earlier question, several scenes would not have worked with a slimmer actress. No matter who would have been cast, the fact was this movie was not funny. Though I will say Melissa did her best with what was thrown at her, using her impeccable comedic timing. The scenes shown in the movie trailers were the best parts of this bad movie. Didn’t someone read the finished script; it made no sense and was poorly thought out. Besides the main story, the writers threw in a second story about two henchmen chasing Diana for selling their boss bad, fake credit cards. If that was not enough there was another story line about a skip tracer, played by Robert Patrick (Gangster Squad, Walk the Line), who was hunting down the fake Sandy Patterson. I commend Melissa for all the physical comedy she had to perform, but it was such a constant stream that it turned into a ridiculous, slurry of lame stunts. The use of John Cho (Star Trek, Harold & Kumar franchise) and Amanda Peet (Identity, A Lot like Love) was a waste for the little screen time they had for their roles. There was one part I did not mind and it was the scene with Eric Stonestreet (Bad Teacher, Modern Family-TV) as Big Chuck. After re-reading this review I have to say I found this film offensive.
1 1/2 stars