I REMEMBER A DATE I WENT ON years ago, where at the end of it I asked how they felt about our time together. The answer I got was a complete shock to me. I was told that I was standoffish and appeared unemotional. Not that I was fishing for a compliment, but this was not the type of answer I ever expected. I thought I came across as relaxed and easy going, with a touch of self-deprecating humor. It seemed as if we were on two different dates. Inside my mind I quickly did a replay of our conversation and the topics we discussed. I was able to get a couple of laughs out of some of the things I said, and I know I was paying attention because I did ask questions to further explain things or get a better sense how they felt about the subject we were discussing. Usually at the end of a date I would ask the person if they would be interested in getting together again; regarding this date, I knew there would be no point to ask such a question. My feelings had gotten bruised a bit; I wasn’t going to take a chance of them getting hurt more. I did, however, thank them for their honesty even though I just felt confused about the whole evening. ON THE WAY HOME AND FOR the rest of the weekend I mulled over that date. Calling friends for feedback and input, I really wanted to see if I was missing something. It turned into a thought-provoking time for me. After all the discussions and going through memories, I realized that I did indeed keep a tough façade around me. My friends pointed out that when I am around unfamiliar people I become more reserved, observing everyone with little talking. Once I get comfortable then I begin to relax around strangers and can start to joke and carry on a conversation. I wondered why I was cautious around strangers, but I soon found my answer after delving deeper inside of myself. Having always felt like an outsider, never fitting into a specific group, I was perceived as being odd or just different. As some of you may know, being different in school can be a disadvantage and at my school I was definitely at a disadvantage. When I got teased and picked on for being different, I started to learn to put up a hard front. I was going to show “them” that they could not get the best of me; so, I shut down. I buried my feelings to show I could not get hurt. The main character in this dramatic comedy would certainly understand. NOTHING WAS MORE IMPORTANT TO KATE, played by Taylor Schilling (The Lucky One, Orange is the New Black-TV), than her job. Even when her brother desperately needed her to watch her niece Maddie, played by Bryn Vale (Red Band Society-TV), for one night. With Kate McKinnon (The Spy Who Dumped Me, Rough Night) as Jill, Brian Tyree Henry (Widows, If Beale Street Could Talk) as Pete and Matt Walsh (Into the Storm, Veep-TV) as Dan; this film festival nominated movie’s story was one that had been done before. However, I will say the script offered an edgier version of that story. The cast worked well together, and I was impressed with the performances from Taylor and Bryn. The idea of not fitting in really stood out for me and I had to give credit to the writers for carrying that message through the story. Though I could tell how the story would play out, it did not take away my focus from watching this humorous picture. Also, it felt good to sit in a theater with other viewers who felt the same way as we all chuckled at the same things.
2 ½ stars
I FOUND SOMEONE I COULD RELATE to and it was an elephant. Don’t laugh; this little elephant was a character I not only could sympathize with but identify with because of what he was going through in his young life. It was on a Saturday and I remember we took the train down into the city. A theater there was doing a weekend showing of the animated movie Dumbo. As we walked around the corner and I saw the movie theater, I got upset because of all the people lined up trying to get into the theater. I thought for sure all the tickets would be sold before we got up to the box office. By downtown standards this theater was one of the smaller ones which was part of the reason for my fears. All I knew about this little elephant was its ability to fly and I desperately wanted to see it for myself. Flying was something I dreamt about and was hoping I could learn something from Dumbo. As you can see at a young age I was already heavy into fantasy, looking to create a different reality around me. I could not stop fidgeting as we slowly made our way up to the box office. WITH TICKETS IN HAND WE FOUND seats in the theater; I could not have been more excited. When Dumbo was being made fun of, I felt his pain. I was overweight and endured similar name calling. If I could I would have jumped into the screen to defend Dumbo and let him know he was not alone. I was visibly upset as I sat in my seat. And then suddenly, my sadness and pain disappeared in a puff of air, that I felt from Dumbo’s large ears when they flapped to give him flight for the first time. Seeing that little elephant rise up into the air was pure magic for me. I was told I had big ears, so I wondered if it was at all possible I could teach myself to use my ears along with my flapping arms to allow me to lift off the ground. There in that movie theater I had found someone like me; I wanted to do everything Dumbo could do. If I was ever afraid or uncomfortable I could simply fly away from the situation, soar above any of the pain or name calling I was experiencing. After all these years, I now have the opportunity to see my flying friend once again in this live action, fantasy film. WHEN CIRCUS OWNER MAX MEDICI, PLAYED by Danny DeVito (Batman Returns, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia-TV), bought a pregnant elephant; he never imagined the birth of a baby elephant could change his life so drastically. This family movie also starred Colin Farrell (The Beguiled, The Lobster) as Holt Farrier, Michael Keaton (American Assassin, The Founder) as V.A. Vandevere, Eva Green (Based on a True Story, Penny Dreadful-TV) as Colette Marchant and Alan Arkin (Argo, Going in Style) as J. Griffin Remington. While watching this picture I had a visceral reaction to what was being shown on the movie screen. Except for the variety of fanciful visuals, I thought this movie was an abomination. How did the movie studio okay a story that was dark and so not kid friendly? I was completely shocked by the script and found absolutely nothing fun or joyful in this picture. There were little glimpses of a possible pleasurable scene but for the most part the script and over the top soundtrack drowned any hope of enjoyment. Days later I still was confused how this film got made of such a classic iconic character from animated history. Unless you want to punish your child or yourself, there is no reason to go see this poor version of the classic tale.
1 ½ stars
I WAS NOT RELATED TO EITHER THE bride or groom, nor any of their family members. Based on what I saw during the reception I was glad. A friend of the bride brought me as a guest; that was the only connection I had to anyone. The wedding was held in the ballroom of an old, majestic downtown hotel that looked like a movie set from a long-lost era. All the exits were nestled into archways with lit sconces on each side. Both the ceremony and reception were held in the room, except when all the guests were ushered out into an antechamber for drinks and appetizers. While we were in that space the hotel staff set up the ballroom for the reception with dining room tables and a dance floor. It was during the reception that I witnessed the fathers of the bride and groom trying to “one up” each other. When one Dad gave a toast the other one had to jump up and give a toast that was better than the one from the other Dad. By better I mean gushing with superlatives of love and affection that really were meant more for the guests than the bride and groom. IT DID NOT STOP WITH THE speeches. On the dance floor the two fathers always stayed within eyesight of each other; if one was twirling his dance partner around then the other would start to do it. When one Dad dipped his wife down for a romantic kiss, the other Dad quickly sought out his wife and brought her to the dance floor to do the same thing. I sat in my seat observing all of this, wondering why no one hadn’t stepped in to tell the 2 fathers to grow up. Believe me I was not the only one who noticed their competitive behavior towards each other. The expressions on their wives’ faces said it all; it was a look of disgust. Yet, neither one did anything about it as far as I could tell. Though they did not look alike facially, one could easily mistake one Dad with the other because they were acting so much alike. They had the same annoying characteristics; the same hand gestures and they both were acting like children. It was as if each was the other’s doppelganger. At least they were harmless where I did not have to worry for my safety, unlike the ones in this horror thriller. VACATIONING BY THE BEACH WAS SUPPOSED to be a relaxing time until Jason, played by Evan Alex (Kidding-TV, Mani-TV) went missing for a short time. His mother Adelaide, played by Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave, Queen of Katwe), already had a bad feeling about the place even before this incident. With Winston Duke (Black Panther, Person of Interest-TV) as Gabe, Elisabeth Moss (The One I Love, The Handmaid’s Tale-TV) as Kitty and Shahadi Wright (Hairspray Live-TV) as Zora; these actors did a heck of a job with the script. Lupita was so outstanding that I would not be surprised if she gets multiple nominations this awards season. The script was both fresh and new, having a mix of humor and horror which I have always found hard to do. I must commend writer and director Jordan Peele (Get Out, Keanu) both on his writing and directing of this film. The scenes were done thoughtfully and skillfully in the same way that Alfred Hitchcock did his pictures. There were a few things done in the story that I felt went over my head, though I was aware Jordan was making social commentary. Maybe another visit to the theater to watch this movie would help me; but in the meantime, there were enough things going on in the story that kept me thinking.
3 ¼ stars
THE MAN’S FACE ON THE PAGE of my business magazine looked familiar to me. I stared for a moment and felt I knew him but not at his present age. Reading thru the accompanying article it turned out I was right; we had been friends in elementary school. He had the same wavy hair and dark eyes except the hair was silver gray instead of black. From what I read he was an executive officer of a venture capital firm. I was completely shocked because, at least during our time in school, he was quite conservative; you could say he was not a risk taker at all. The idea of him now putting capital into startup companies surprised me. It seemed like a total contradiction and for some reason it amused me. We hadn’t had any contact for decades, so my perceptions were based solely on a younger version of himself. If someone were to have asked me what I thought he would be doing when we grew up I would have said sales or marketing; it just seemed he had the type of personality that would cause a person to say he was a “people’s person.” FROM READING THAT ARTICLE ABOUT HIM, I started thinking about other people I had known for a long time. I looked at my perceptions of the person compared to the career they had chosen. In some cases, it was obvious to me there were many who had a good fit between their job and personality. There were some who surprised me because they did not do very well in school; yet, they were now employed doing some technical work that I thought would have been way beyond their capabilities. In fact, one was a scientist; working on testing the strength of a new compound. This person used to cheat on their exams when we were in school. I am sure I mentioned this before but there are several of my former classmates who were stunned to find out I teach in the health and fitness industry. Having been an overweight geek who flunked PE twice; no one, including myself, would have imagined that I now conduct yoga and cycle classes. It really is amazing to me how we all wind up in our chosen career paths. I guess it goes to show you one can never underestimate what a person wants to do in life. This was certainly true for the main character in this family adventure fantasy. NONE OF HIS CLASSMATES WOULD BELIEVE Alex, played by Louis Ashbourne (Alice Through the Looking Glass; Noddy, Toyland Detective-TV), was the one to save the future. How could they, he did not believe it himself. This film festival winning movie also starred Denise Gough (Robin Hood, ’71) as Mary, newcomer Dean Chaumoo as Bedders, Tom Taylor (The Dark Tower, Doctor Foster-TV) as Lance and Angus Imrie (Pond Life, Kingdom-TV) as young Merlin. This fun film reminded me of those live action fantasy films from the 70s and 80s. It had a sweet charm to it that I found enjoyable. The script was written with the young teen in mind, but it also provided amusement for the adult. The story was an updated version of the King Arthur and the round table tales and I liked the blending of the old and modern takes. There was nothing extreme in this picture; everything was kept within a safe parameter. This movie may not win any major awards; but for a couple of hours of light entertainment, this film was an easy viewing for me.
2 ½ stars
AS A CHILD I HAD A MENAGERIE of literary animals for pets. There was Old Yeller, Stuart Little, Peter Rabbit and Black Beauty to name a few. Among all these friends I had Doctor Dolittle on call just in case there was an emergency. There was always room for another animal to join my group, which explains why I made frequent trips to the library. Looking across the bookshelves, I would read every title on the shelves. With any title that sounded intriguing to me, I had to pull the book out to investigate and see if the story involved an animal. It did not matter what species; if there was mention of an animal, whether it was a pet or in the wild, I would check out the book. A fond memory of mine was seeing a movie that was based on a book I had read. Seeing Black Beauty or Lassie on the big or small screen was like a dream come true for me. And speaking of Lassie, when I was real small any collie I saw I immediately thought was Lassie. When they would not come up to me after calling her name, I would be sad. MY LOVE OF ANIMALS STAYED WITH me as I grew up. The pets my friends and relatives had were my surrogate pets. I could spend hours playing with a dog or cat. The other thing I would do was to simply follow and watch them. There are so many memories I have involving animals; each one as vivid today as when they were first formed. One of my oldest memories was going to a small zoo in a neighborhood park. There were only 8 or 9 different animals in it. I remember holding on to a railing in front of the cage and holding a marshmallow up in the air to get a bear to stand on its hind legs. The first time the bear stood up I went wild with excitement. I immediately deemed the bear my pet and would always go to its cage first before going to any of the other animals. I am certain many of us have fond memories revolving around animals. With so many stories having been done I cannot imagine non-animal lovers not knowing a few of them, at least. And now adding to our list of animal favorites comes Bella out of this adventure family film. HOME WAS A SPECIAL PLACE THAT Bella, voiced by Bryce Dallas Howard (Pete’s Dragon, Jurassic World franchise), knew all too well. That is why she could not give up on her 400-mile journey to get back home. With Jonah Hauer-King (Postcards from London, Little Women-TV) as Lucas, Alexandra Shipp (Straight Outta Compton; Love, Simon) as Olivia, Ashley Judd (Double Jeopardy, Heat) as Terri and Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner, Stand and Deliver) as Axel; this movie had a built-in cute factor due to Bella. It would be hard not to enjoy watching Bella and the animals she encountered in her life; however, cuteness can only go for so long. The entire production here came off a bit amateurish. The script was predictable as it periodically set up scenes to pull at the viewers’ heartstrings. The acting seemed stilted to me, to the point I preferred watching Bella when there were no humans around. The main issue about this picture was how generic it was in telling a story that has been done so many times before and better. This is not something you have to run out and go see; especially since there were a couple of scenes that I felt would be scary for younger children. I fell in love with Bella, but she deserved a better movie to star in than this one.
ONE CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY PARENTS in life, for each one brings a different version of love. There are some people who have an abundance of love that they share with children, besides their own. They may not be there when you fall and scrape your knee or when you ride your bicycle for the first time without training wheels; but, they leave their handprints on your heart. I feel fortunate that I grew up with a few extra mothers in my life. You may have had one or two yourself or just as easily an extra dad since either gender provides equal amounts of love. One of my extra mothers was a neighbor who lived in our building. She lived a couple of floors below us which resulted in me learning how to get down flights of stairs earlier than other kids. Before I could walk I would crawl to the edge of the staircase, turn myself around on the edge and begin crawling down backwards. After navigating the two flights of stairs I would crawl to the door of her apartment and pat my palm on it. I never knew how she always heard me when I thought about this years later, but she would open the door every time with a big smile on her face. She always had time to play with me and for those times she didn’t, she would sing to me. THERE WAS ANOTHER WOMAN WHO WAS like an extra mother to me. She was a friend of the family who had grown up with one of my parents. She was quick to give me a deep hug that made me feel protected and safe. Though she did not know how to bowl, she loved coming to the bowling alley, taking pleasure in simply watching us try to get a strike. Her house always had the exact types of food you craved on any particular day; for example, if you wanted something sweet she had cookies or if you wanted something salty she would have pretzels. When I was little she would always write an amusing poem inside my birthday cards. Despite decades having past I still have vivid, fond memories of these women who were prominent in my life. They each had their own families; yet, I was treated as part of the family because that was the type of love they each had inside. And to a child, having that type of extra love is like a fresh coat of paint on the walls of their heart. WITH THE DEATH OF HIS WIFE and jobs scarce during the depression Michael Banks, played by Ben Whishaw (I’m Not Here, Perfume: The Story of a Murderer), had little time to watch over his children. Though things looked bleak, there was an opportunity for someone special to step in and help; that someone was Mary Poppins, played by Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place, Into the Woods). This comedic family fantasy also starred Lin-Manuel Miranda (The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Looking for Maria Sanchez) as Jack, Emily Mortimer (The Bookshop, Harry Brown) as Jane Banks and Julie Waters (Billy Elliot, Harry Potter franchise) as Ellen. Taking the original movie and moving the characters thirty years forward allowed for a whole new generation of characters to populate this theatrical musical film. I thought the acting was excellent, though Emily’s version of Mary Poppins seemed to have more of an edge to her. This picture was fun to watch but I feel those not into theater may think it is over the top. For me this updated story did not have the magic of the first movie; but part of my warm feelings came from the nostalgic aspect I have towards the original film. Besides, having another encounter with Mary Poppins is always a welcome visit.
MY FRIEND HAD A NAME FOR those types of individuals; she called them, “Happiness Vampires.” It was the perfect name I thought. A “Happiness Vampire” is a person who cannot celebrate and be a part of someone else’s happiness; they instead try to suck the happiness out of that person. I would even go a step further by saying these “Happiness Vampires” only feel good about themselves when someone else is feeling bad. That is so twisted I think. I believe all of us have encountered these dour people sometime in our lives, even if they were not at the time acting out on their negativity. My friend who came up with this term figured it out after dating this person for almost one year. I guess because she was in the throes of falling in love, she did realize what he was doing to her. His method was like a sneak attack because he would appear to be happy and congratulatory for her, but then would express these negative scenarios or possible repercussions that could happen to her. Pretty soon her good mood would dim and turn sour, leaving her depressed while her “boyfriend” would build himself up as her shining knight who would save her. I was so happy when she finally dumped him. RECENTLY I ATTENDED A DINNER PARTY where I encountered a guest who turned out to be a “Happiness Vampire.” It was an elegant affair with some prominent people in attendance. When I was introduced to this one individual I suddenly was hit with a bad feeling. It was as if the air was being sucked out around me with a vacuum cleaner. He was short and squat in stature; if you would place him at a fast food restaurant’s salad bar he would fit in perfectly. The person who introduced me to this individual was a successful financial man in his own right; however, this sour man quickly took an opportunity to build himself up by tossing a negative comment (some say back-handed compliment) about this prominent person. The reason he did such a thing was to talk about something he felt was a big success in his career. I caught it right away and just stood there listening to this man go on about his so-called accomplishments. The real successful individual also stood there with a smile on their face that looked like it was painted on with Botox; it did not budge the entire time the other man carried on about himself. He tried to take away our good feelings like the Grinch in this animated, family comedy but we did not let him succeed. BASED ON DR. SEUSS’ BELOVED BOOK, “How The Grinch Stole Christmas;” this movie had Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game, Doctor Strange) voicing The Grinch, Cameron Seely (The Greatest Showman, The Jim Gaffigan Show-TV) voicing Cindy-Lou Who, Rashida Jones (The Social Network, Parks and Recreation-TV) voicing Donna Who and musical artist Pharrell Williams as the Narrator. This story has been done many times before in different mediums; so, there was nothing new that came as a surprise except of all things Benedict’s performance. I did not care for his vocal acting; I thought he was not sinister enough for the character. Visually the movie was fun to watch (even the ending credits) and I enjoyed some of the Grinch’s exploits; but I felt this version of the Grinch was more of a lightweight compared to those Grinch’s of Christmas past. This film is well suited for younger children, but adults may get a bit tired of it. Of course, if you have never seen a movie version of Dr. Seuss’ book before then you might want to check this picture out; it almost seems as if it is a holiday tradition.
2 ¼ stars
EVERY GENERATION DOESN’T KNOW IT, BUT they will be contributing at least one thing that will become a classic through time. The word “classic” can be defined as a standard or work of excellence that has been judged over a period of time. Some examples of classic objects would be the trench coat, a particular glass measuring cup, certain toys like a famous red wagon, the novel “Moby Dick” and the Mona Lisa painting. What would not be considered a classic would be elephant bell bottomed pants or puka shell necklaces. Do you remember when that soft drink company changed the formula of their flagship cola drink? They had to bring back the original formula and tacked on the word “classic” to its name. I think from any class of objects there will always be an item that will pass the length of time to become a classic. In fashion, home goods, architecture or music; something will endure for generations to come. One thing that comes to mind is the music from the Beatles. Look at how many times their songs have been done and redone over and over; I assume most everyone from every age group knows of them. IF YOU LOOK AT THE ARTS you will find certain things that never go out of style. When I was younger I did not understand why people would go to a symphony concert to hear the same piece of music that they have heard several times before. Sure, it might be a different conductor or orchestra; but I did not realize how the beauty of the music moved the individuals. The same goes for ballet; I still remember the 1st time I saw the Nutcracker Suite ballet. I had to sit on top of a folded jacket that was placed on the seat, so I could see over the heads in front of me. Seeing the Mouse King, the Sugar Plum fairy and the Nutcracker dancing across the stage was a magical experience. I started to understand the concept of what makes something classic after I returned to see the ballet a 2nd time with other relatives the following year. While watching the dancers I would glance at the relatives near me, noticing their laser like gazes out of joyful facial expressions. If I remember correctly, one holiday I received a music recording of the ballet. I used to play it over and over. Sadly, that will not be the case for this family, adventure fantasy. THE GIFT CLARA, PLAYED BY MACKENZIE FOY (The Twilight Sage franchise, The Conjuring), received from her deceased mother was missing a key. With the help of her godfather Drosselmeyer, played by Morgan Freeman (Going in Style, The Dark Knight franchise), Clara found herself in a magical world where toys had come to life. With Helen Mirren (Winchester, Woman in Gold) as Mother Goose, Keira Knightley (Colette, The Imitation Game) as Sugar Plum and Jayden Fowora-Knight (Ready Player One) as Phillip; this movie was all about the visuals. With lush and imaginative scenery and costumes, along with the tidbits of the Nutcracker Suite’s score, I was shocked at the lackluster script. Helen and Keira were the bright stars of this picture, but they had to deal with the wooden and I mean wooden performances around them. I think younger kids would be scared by the Mouse King’s subjects, when they would come together to form their giant mouse. This was such a mish mosh of story lines that I became bored halfway through the story. With such a classical story and musical score at their disposal, I could not believe the movie studio thought they were creating something special. By the time I got to the theater’s parking lot I had already forgotten about this film; luckily, I still had waiting for me at home the recording of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite to play.
1 ¾ stars
THOUGH I KNEW THE RESTAURANT’S DINING tables were crammed together, I did not know I would learn a valuable lesson. There was no way we could not avoid hearing the conversations at the tables around us; one of them intrigued me enough to pay attention. A couple was sitting at the table next to us, talking about the upcoming holidays. They appeared to be husband and wife based on their conversation and the fact they were both wearing wedding rings. What stood out prompting my attention was the wife telling her husband to “suck it up.” I will not go into all the details of their back and forth exchange; but the part that stood out for me was when the wife said they were a couple, which meant sometimes one of them would have to do something they don’t want to do but do it anyway for their spouse. I let that concept sink in a for a moment and found myself agreeing with the wife. It was funny; I almost turned around to give my support to her. Her statement rang true to me; there are some things we just must do. So, no need to complain about it, just do it. In the scheme of things how big of a deal would it be anyway? I REMIND MYSELF ABOUT THAT COUPLE sitting at the restaurant from time to time because there are things I would rather not do; but feel I must do. One of them is going to see a movie that I can tell will be rough for me to watch. Sometimes I cannot avoid the amount of bad press that has come out about a film I have planned to review. A lot of the time my choices are dictated by the available times; if I am at the theater and the movie is scheduled to begin then I go in to see it. Now besides the bad press issue, there are some films that reveal their true nature right in the trailers. You can imagine how many trailers I must sit through based on the amount of films I go out to see. When I am aware I am going to a poorly done picture, I used to complain to friends and family. Also, I have people in class who will ask me why I went to see a movie I knew was going to be a tough viewing. Remembering that couple at the restaurant I tell people the reason I go is because this is what I do; I review all movies. I do not pick and choose only the ones I think will be good; there is no one to blame, so there is no reason to complain. Still, I wanted to complain about this dramatic family film. AMBER HILL LOVED TO SING WITH the church chorus, but after her husband was killed in Afghanistan she stopped singing. She pretty much stopped living. With Jordin Sparks (Left Behind, Sparkle) as Bridgette, newcomer LaDainian Tomlinson as Pastor Williams, Andrew W. Walker (Steel Toes, Against the Wall-TV) as Cody Jackson and Robin Givens (Blankman, A Christmas to Remember) as Karena Williams; this romance movie quickly sunk. As I have said before I do not have an issue with these faith-based films; but I am sorry, there is no reason why a little effort cannot be put in to make a decent picture. All these studios think is pound the message of faith into the script and people will flock to see their film. There were so many cringe worthy scenes in this film that I sat in my seat speechless. No character development, poor direction and acting with hardly any connection to the story lines; it was enough to almost drive a person to religiously convert.
1 ½ stars
IT WAS A BIG LOGISTICAL OPERATION THAT I was responsible for, though at the time I had never heard of the word “logistical.” My job was to plan out the route my friends and I would take for Halloween. I considered how long we would be able to stay outside, so persuaded everyone to get an early start for trick or treating. Each of us was dressed up in a costume; I was a pirate. The key to our success I determined was having a home base that was in the middle of the square mileage I envisioned we could cover. It turned out that central location was my house. The area I mapped out was 16 blocks in width and 12 blocks in length. Living in the city, this meant within our territory we would be covering houses, apartment buildings and businesses. In other words, we would be taking in a lot of candy. I broke down the blocks into four quadrants. We would focus on the southeast one first then come to my house to empty our candy filled bags before tackling the southwest quadrant and so on. I thought it was a brilliant plan that would yield massive amounts of candy. As it turned out the plan worked perfectly where all of us had enough candy to last us for months; we were overjoyed. FAST FORWARD A FEW YEARS AND for some unexplained reason my desire to go trick or treating waned. I was not alone for my friends felt the same way. At some undetermined point in time we each lost interest in getting dressed up and going door to door to get candy. We still hung out together, starting at a friend’s house where we now found ourselves on the giving end of Halloween. My friend would answer the front door and hand out candy to the trick or treaters who were perched on his front porch with outstretched arms, shopping bags dangling from their hands. That was us a few years back, but now we were the “adults” handing out candy. We grew up I guess. It is funny how that happened; after years waiting and planning for our Halloween trek through the neighborhood, we now had no desire. Looking at some of the kids’ costumes I recalled how I used to sit and pour over the store catalog, looking for the perfect outfit. After having been a pirate, a vampire and a superhero; I now looked at this holiday with boredom. Even this adventure comedy couldn’t change my feelings. WHILE CLEANING OUT AN OLD ABANDONED house Sonny and Sam, played by Jeremy Ray Taylor (It, 42) and Caleel Harris (Boys in Blue-TV movie, Skyward-TV), found a secret room that contained a single book. The boys did not know there was a reason the book had a lock on it. This family fright film also starred Wendi McLendon-Covey (Bridesmaids, Blended) as Kathy, Madison Iseman (Beauty Mark, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) as Sarah and Chris Parnell (21 Jump Street, Labor Pains) as Walter. Based on author R.L. Stine’s horror series, this sequel had some fun special effects in a retro type of way. There was something about this picture that reminded me of those Saturday afternoon matinee films I used to go to that were low end productions. With a mixture of slapstick and corny humor I felt this film would only entertain the youngest of viewers; it was rated PG. There was some creativity used for several scenes but overall, I was bored through most of the story. Growing up I was not a fan of candy corn; never liked getting them in my Halloween bag. For me, this picture was a dose of candy corn for the holiday.
1 ¾ stars