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Flash Movie Review: The Water Man

AFTER I FINISHED WATCHING THIS MOVIE, I switched over to the news. The newsman was reporting about an issue a local hospital was having with one of its patients. The screen changed and the image of a woman popped on the TV screen. The shot was from the neck up; she had skin that was wrinkled into deep crevices by the sun. On top of her head, she wore a baseball type of cap that was bejeweled with colored stones to look like the American flag. There was no sound coming from her despite her mouth moving. The reporter was saying this woman did not believe in the COVID vaccines. She wound up being admitted into the hospital because she contracted COVID, and she wanted to be treated with a drug she read about on the internet that claims to cure the disease. It was a medicine that is given to horses. Because the drug is not approved by the FDA for humans, the hospital would not administer it to her. She was fighting them for it. I sat there in bewilderment. How did things get to the point where humans were perfectly fine ingesting medications formulated for animals? Death, I know, can be a huge motivator and I know I would want to learn as much as possible on how to combat whatever illness befalls me. However, I would want to hear from scientists and doctors, not the internet necessarily.      I KNEW A FAMILY THAT SUFFERED a major loss of one of their family members. When the person was diagnosed the family went into shock. The older family members understood the severity of the disease; the children only knew it was “bad.” I remember one of the kids delved into a fantasy life to cope with the changes that were taking place in the household. The child believed there were magic seeds that could cure her parent. Anytime she went outside, the young child would spend most of her time searching for these seeds in flower beds, around trees, in sidewalk cracks and even along the curbs of the streets. She was convinced if she could find these seeds and give them to her parent, it would make them feel better. The reason I mention this little girl is because to me, there is a similarity between her and the woman that was reported in the news who is demanding a horse pill to cure herself. Each of them is looking to fantasy for a cure; the difference being one is a child and the other is an adult. For those who may have forgotten what it is like to be a child, this dramatic family adventure can remind you.      WITH HIS MOTHER’S ILLNESS GETTING WORSE, a young boy sets out to find a cure for her. With Lonnie Chavis (This is Us-TV, Magic Camp) as Gunner Boone, David Oyelowo (A United Kingdom, Don’t Let Go) as Amos Boone, Rosario Dawson (Eagle Eye, The Captive) as Mary Boone, Amiah Miller (Lights Out, War for the Planet of the Apes) as Jo Riley and Alfred Molina (Boogie Nights, The Devil has a Name) as Jim Bussey; this movie had a touching story that was easy to watch. I thought the cast was well suited to tell the story. The script was good though it was close to predictable and the reason I say that is because some of the scenes were done in a heavy-handed way. A lighter touch would have allowed the scene to mature and grow I believe. I also enjoyed the way the writers introduced the minor story line and kept it low key for the viewer to connect the pieces. There have been other similar stories told before; the difference for me was this one had a gentleness in the way the story was told that was much appreciated.

2 ½ stars  

Flash Movie Review: Cinderella

CLASSIC STORIES ARE SOMETHING I CAN revisit again and again. During my school years, I wound up reading Moby Dick three times. I am not sure I can even define what constitutes being a classic, but at least I know a classic story has the ability to emotionally move a person. Love plays a prominent role in many classics. For example, My Fair Lady was based on the George Bernard Shaw play, Pygmalion and The King and I was based on Margaret Landon’s novel, Anna and the King of Siam, which was based on the memoirs of the governess to the children of the King of Siam. One of my favorite stories is Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. I do not remember if I read the story or not in school; however, my most vivid memory was seeing the movie directed by Franco Zeffirelli. It was a special showing that was being done in only one theater in the city. A friend joined me as we had to take the train down to go see the movie. To this day, I remember the theater because it was a big classic theater that had these art deco lamps hanging down from the lobby ceiling. To get to the balcony, there was a red carpeted staircase with gold-colored bannisters that curved up to the 2nd level. Because I loved the story of Romeo and Juliet, I knew I was going to equally love the movie West Side Story which was based on Shakespeare’s story.      AS YOU CAN SEE, I DO not have an issue with new movies coming out that were based on previous movies/stories. It can be fun to see a story told through a different set of eyes. In some cases, the movie gets remade because there is technology available to enhance the story that was not available when the story first came out in film. For me, some of the successful remakes have been A Star is Born, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Departed. However, as most of us know, there are also remade films that were disastrous. Off the top of my head, I can think of The Stepford Wives, House of Wax and Guess Who. I know when the original movie is idolized, it is hard to try and remake or update the story. It would be best if the movie studio doesn’t refer to the original movie at all; let their new creation come out with any false expectations. With today’s film it did not take me long to decide which category this remake falls in.      IN THIS RETELLING OF THE CLASSIC fairy tale, Cinderella has a dream to become a dressmaker. Marriage is not something she was focusing on. With musical artist Camila Cabello as Cinderella, Billy Porter (Like a Boss, Pose-TV) as Fabulous Godmother, Nicholas Galitzine (High Strung, The Changeover) as Prince Robert, Idina Menzel (Uncut Gems, Glee-TV) as Vivian and Pierce Brosnan (False Positive, Mamma Mia! franchise) as King Rowan; this comedic family fantasy took the original story of Cinderella and added a layer of female empowerment to it. I would not have an issue with this update; however, the script was a big misfire that dulled the delivery of the story. Though the musical numbers by themselves were fun to watch, they seemed so out of place to me because of the modern songs. Here was the perfect case not to associate this picture with the classic Cinderella. There were cringeworthy scenes that were painful to watch. The other thing that I felt diminished the telling of this story was the lack of chemistry between the characters. The whole appearance of the cast seemed flat to me. With the music and special effects, this movie might appeal to a narrow range of viewers.

1 ¾ stars   

Flash Movie Review: Gunpowder Milkshake

THE TRAUMATIC EVENT CHANGED THE COURSE of his life. Up until that point he bounced around from one job to another. The thing that focused him on his work was a broken heart. I knew the minute my friend fell in love and it occurred when he told me he had gone over to his “friend’s” house to transplant some bushes; he had not yet defined her to me as his girlfriend. As long as I knew him, he only worked on his yard and one of his ancient relatives. When he told me about moving her bushes, I did not let on that I knew she had to be special to him; I figured he would tell me when he was good and ready. A few months went by before he expressed to me his feelings about her. He said he felt comfortable with her. That was major for him to say, because in the past he always had something negative to say about the people he dated. It was not until a few months afterwards when he finally told me he loved her and could see himself living with her. I was happy for my friend because; I knew it had been such a long time since he was able to be comfortable around a love interest. I really thought he had finally found the right person.      THEY BECAME AND REMAINED A COUPLE for 3 more years before the relationship disintegrated. I did not know all the details, but she was the one who had broken it off. As an outsider, it was tragic to see him in so much pain and sadness. He became super depressed and lethargic. When he skipped cutting his lawn for the first time, I knew things were awful for him. He was not motivated, did not leave the house for long periods of time. I tried my best to help him through this period of loss and grief; I was quite familiar with it myself, so I had an idea how much pain he was in. Weeks went by before he agreed to just meet me at a restaurant for lunch. When we did, I heard for the first time about his job. This was something new because he rarely was interested in talking about his work. As he worked through his sadness, I got to hear more about what he was doing at his job and how his superiors were appreciative of the time he was putting into his work. From his sadness, essentially, he was becoming the hardest worker at the company. It was as if he took all that pain and drove it into his performance at work. I thought the same thing was taking place for the main character in this action, adventure thriller.      KNOWN FOR HANDLING THE TOUGHEST ASSIGNMENTS, an assassin makes a quick decision that changes the course of her life. With Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, Not Another Happy Ending) as Sam, Lena Headey (The Flood, Game of Thrones-TV) as Scarlet, Carla Gugino (San Andreas, American Gangster) as Madeleine, Michelle Yeoh (Crazy Rich Asians, Last Christmas) as Florence and Joanna Bobin (Alice Through the Looking Glass, Bridgerton-TV) as Rose; the story to this film seemed like a cross between the John Wick films and Hotel Artemis. I enjoyed the female focused story and loved the cast. For the most part this picture is adrenalin driven; there is no depth or character development. It simply is a “shoot ‘em up” and beat them up thrill ride. There does not need to put much thought into the plot and story, just sit back for the outrageous and crazy fight scenes. My suggestion is not to go out of your way to see this movie; but if you have a couple of hours to kill and do not mind blood and violence, then you might experience some entertaining moments.

2 ¼ stars   

Flash Movie Review: The Boss Baby: Family Business

THE TWO BABIES WERE SITTING IN the stroller side by side. They did not look like twins to me, just siblings. One baby was calm, looking as if they were enjoying the ride. The other baby looked miserable, crying with tears rolling down over large pudgy cheeks. The first baby seemed oblivious to the crying one; or, maybe they were just used to it and ignoring their sibling. Looking at them reminded of two sisters I knew who shared similar physical traits but were so different every other way. One was active and athletic; the other I do not recall ever breaking a sweat from any physical activity, unless you count smoking outside on a hot summer day. To this day I still find it curious how two siblings raised in the same household could grow up being so different. I eventually saw it as proof that genes and DNA play a bigger part in a person’s makeup than what I gave them credit for. These sisters, as they got older, displayed such differences that they did not ever share the same reaction to any type of important/traumatic news. Upon hearing about the death of someone in their family, one daughter was consoling her family members; the other sister was hardly fazed by the news. I found it extremely odd to say the least.      WHEN I SEE A WHINING CHILD, I try to stay away from them. Maybe I have a hard exterior; but unless the child is experiencing discomfort or distress, I do not want to be exposed to such behavior. There was a time I used to think it was the child’s issue, they were complainers. However, I started looking at the parents and realized they have influence over their child and how they react has an affect on what the child learns. If a child throwing a tantrum is given a reward for the behavior, they are going to continue the behavior. If told they could get a toy at the toy store if they stop crying, what do you think most kids would pick? Or how about a parent who tells their disagreeable child the punishment they will receive if they continue acting out, then doesn’t follow through with the threat? There have been numerous times where I have witnessed a parent threatening to take a toy away from a child who is being a brat. The child stops acting out for a moment but then starts up again, while the parent moves on to try a different tactic. The child learns their parents’ threats of punishment will not take place; and I believe, they will grow up to be miserable adults who want everything to go their way. If you care to, you can see what happens to some of the babies in this animated adventure film.      HAVING GROWN APART AS ADULTS TIM, voiced by James Marsden (Hairspray, X-Men franchise) and his brother will have to find a way to reconnect if they are going to save all the parents who are in a direct path towards an evil genius. With Alec Baldwin (It’s Complicated, Motherless Brooklyn) voicing Boss Baby, Amy Sedaris (Bewitched, The Mandalorian-TV) voicing Tina, Ariana Greenblatt (In the Heights, A Bad Moms Christmas) voicing Tabitha and Jeff Goldblum (Hotel Artemis, Independence Day franchise) voicing Dr. Armstrong; this comedy had fun visuals that were geared to the younger crowd. I felt the same way about the script; it was written more for kids. The first half of the film had moments of boredom for me. Despite it, the actors were all excellent with their characters. The last half of the film picked up and I appreciated the message the writers were trying to convey to the audience. There was nothing new and special about this sequel; at least it was not as annoying as sitting next to a crying baby.

2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Black Widow

I SHOULD HAVE READ THE FINE print before agreeing to participate. We were on vacation, staying at a hotel. When we checked in, we were handed an invitation to a presentation that was going to be held in one of the hotel’s conference rooms. The topic was about a new property the hotel was going to open. Refreshments would be served, and each guest would receive a gift bag worth $300.00. We agreed to participate, hoping the gift bag would at least contain food and drink coupons. On the day of the presentation, we walked into the conference room where a hotel employee greeted us with the gift bag. Finding seats, I went through the bag. There was an assortment of travel sized items like toothpaste, bagged peanuts and body lotion. Along with the stuff there was a gold cardboard envelope. I opened it and found a coupon towards a one night’s stay at their new property being built in the Bahamas; that was where the $300.00 value came in. Though I understood the whole marketing aspect of it, I was still annoyed that I agreed to sit through a 2 hour presentation; where at the end of it, the employee tried to sell us a time share unit at their new property. The way I saw this was I received a few travel sized things and a coupon, which I found out did not include air fare and was not enough for a one night stay, for using up 2 hours of my time.      I REALIZE I HAVE A CHOICE; I do not have to agree to these types of sale pitches. For me it is about my time and effort, and what I am getting in return. Here is an example; remember those old TV dinners in the metal trays with the compartments for each food group? I used to get the turkey and gravy one, despite not really liking it. The reason was I loved the dessert that came with it, a baked apple crisp type of thing. The turkey was not horrible; but I was not a gravy person and did not care for the wetness with pieces of mushy stuffing floating in it. I powered through despite it, just so I could enjoy the dessert. As a little boy, I used to go through a box of cereal I disliked just to pull out the sweetened raisins and add them to a different box of cereal that I really enjoyed. Even today, my friends and family know I rarely order something straight off the restaurant menu without making small adjustments for the things I like and dislike.  I wish I could have done that for this action, adventure film I saw at the movie theaters.      NATASHA ROMANOFF, PLAYED BY SCARLETT JOHNSON (Jojo Rabbit, Marriage Story), must confront her past if she wants to overcome the sinister forces that are circling around her. With Florence Pugh (Lady Macbeth, Fighting with my Family) as Yelena Belova, David Harbour (No Sudden Move, Suicide Squad) as Alexei, Rachel Weisz (The Favourite, My Cousin Rachel) as Melina and Ray Winstone (The Departed, Cold Mountain) as Dreykov; this science fiction origin story was a mixed bag for me. There were times where the scenes were brilliant, both in content and visually; but other times I was not as impressed. I think the basic issue had to do with the script. In a Marvel film, we get overloaded with excitement, peril, humor and incredible CGI effects. This film came close at times but did not quite make it. The women were incredible together, especially Scarlett and Florence, who I think has a future in the Marvel universe based on her performance here. For the story, the evil aspect just wasn’t as diabolical as it could have been. I enjoyed watching the movie, but I did not love it. Sort of like that TV dinner I used to eat. There was an extra scene after the credits.

3 stars    

Flash Movie Review: Earwig and the Witch

THE WOMAN IN THE PHOTOGRAPH WAS old looking, but I did not know she was ancient. I was working on creating a wall of family photos and the photograph of her was sent to me. When I first got it, I had no idea who she was or the younger woman who was standing next to her in the photo. When I found out, I was absolutely blown away; she was my great, great, great grandmother. The woman standing next to her was my great, great aunt. I kept staring at the photograph because I could not believe I was looking at someone who was connected to me from such a long time ago. And when I say a long time ago, when doing the math, I mean she was alive when Napoleon invaded Russia, hence the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky. This small and frail looking woman was seated in a chair or stool with her arms folded in her lap. Her clothing looked like it could swallow her up; the skirt hung down to the floor and her jacket or sweater was dark and long as well. She had a scarf tied around her head as if she were about to go outside, though the sepia colored photo showed her to be inside. I could only imagine what kind of life she must have lived, but because of her I was here.      DESPITE NOT KNOWING SOME OF THE relatives in the photographs I have in my possession, I feel a connection to all the people. It is a weird feeling that I do not know if I can explain but looking at all the relatives in the photos had the effect of centering or grounding me. I felt like I had tapped into my roots; I was not some transient who floats from one thing to the next without having a “home base” to return to. Maybe another way I can explain it is by saying my life story, though it is unique to me, shared common ground with the stories from all of these relatives, whether they are deceased of alive. This reminds me of another photograph I got that has 5 relatives in it. I found out that this particular photograph used to be quite famous in the family because it was the first and maybe only one that depicts 5 generations of the family in one photograph. Each one of them has played a part in laying the groundwork for me and my generation of relatives; I just find that so amazing. I know I am lucky that I can have a history with individuals who share the same bloodline as me. It is one of the reasons why I understood what the main character was going through in this animated fantasy film.      GROWING UP IN AN ORPHANAGE AND seeing her friends being adopted, only made Earwig, voiced by relative newcomer Taylor Henderson, wish for a family of her own. There was a chance her wish could be fulfilled when an odd couple came calling on the orphanage one day. With JB Blanc (Breaking Bad-TV, Bleach-TV) voicing Mr. Jenkins, Thomas Bromhead (I Got a Rocket-TV, Forest of Piano-TV) voicing the cook, Richard E. Grant (Hudson Hawk, Gosford Park) voicing the Mandrake and Vanessa Marshall (The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy-TV, Young Justice-TV) voicing Bella Yaga; this film festival winner was Studio Ghibli’s first foray into using CGI in their animation. In some instances, it worked but other times I was underwhelmed by the animation. I could say the same thing for the script. For an animated film, I found this one to be dull and uninspired. The way the story ended was awful and there was nothing fun or enchanting about the story. I do not know if even small children would care for this picture. If I were Earwig, I think I would have spent more time wishing for a way to get out of this movie.

1 ¾ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Better Days

WE HAD A LONG LIST OF items we needed for the beginning of the school year; but they really needed to give us instead, a list of things we should not do. For some of you, what I will be saying will make little sense to you and that is okay. It tells me your school years were good. The rest of you though, will know exactly what I am talking about. When I started school, unbeknownst to me, there was this preordained invisible list of what not to wear to avoid getting bullied. For example, never wear something that was homemade or even looked like it had been otherwise, it could set you up for a whole slew of name calling. Boys had a smaller pallet of colors to choose from for their clothing; so, wearing a shirt that was anything but a primary color could lead one to be cornered in a school hallway or worse, the boys’ bathroom. Glasses only got one so far from becoming a target unless the lens thickness was noticeable enough to earn the moniker “pop bottle eyes.” If a girl was going to wear a dress it had to be the length that fashion was dictating that season. Caught in a long dress that was out of fashion, would earn a girl the nickname of “Granny.” And pity the student who has acne or whose size stands out from the norm; they would be shunned by many of their fellow students.     THOSE THINGS VISIBLE TO THE HUMAN eye were not the only triggers that would get one bullied. There were many actions that would earn a snide remark or an unflattering nickname. It was ok to have a hobby, just don’t have it be a collection of weird stuff. Stamps and coins were on the border of being considered nerdy; however, if one collected old radios or postcards, they could be considered a loser. Any of these examples could warrant a slap in the head, a punch to the stomach, a shove, a hit with a projectile; and these were the milder reactions. A student who for some unknown reason elicits a stronger reaction could find themselves in the gymnasium’s locker room with a group of boys punching and slamming him into the lockers. The victim’s only hope is if a teacher might hear something and come investigate it. However, once the student leaves the school grounds, a whole new set of circumstances comes into play and it could feel like a life or death situation. This Oscar nominated film can show you what life can be like for some students.      PREPARING FOR THE NATIONAL TESTS WAS pressure enough for student Chen Nian, played by Dongyu Zhou (Us and Them, Soulmate), but being the target for a small group of bullying girls was making things worse. There had to be a way to make it better. With Jackson Yee (A Little Red Flower, Song of the Phoenix-TV) as Xiao Bei, Fang Yin (Walking Past the Future, Coffee or Tea?) as Zheng Yi, Ye Zhou (Word of Honor-TV) as Wei Lai and Jue Huang (Fallen City, Long Day’s Journey into Night) as Lao Yang; this film festival winning drama was one of the best movies I have seen the past year. Mixing a family drama with a crime romance made this an all engulfing experience for me. For personal reasons, it was also hard for me to see certain scenes. The directing and filming of this picture blended in a seamless, beautiful way. I was fascinated with the cultural aspect of the testing system depicted; it was intense. The 2 lead actors did an outstanding job with their characters because I felt they were the people they were portraying in the story. Nominated for best foreign film by the Academy Awards committee, I hope it wins. Mandarin was spoken with English subtitles.

4 stars           

Flash Movie Review: Tom & Jerry

THOUGH I WOULD TRY TO OUTRUN HIM, he would catch me often. When he did, I always tried to wrap my arms around his big arm because he would lift me off the floor with that one arm. There I was dangling in midair and I loved it. He was an older relative who was one of the tallest in the family. Big in stature, he would wait for me or a cousin to dare him to catch us. We would run out of the dining room into a hallway, to a bedroom that had a 2nddoor that led to another short hallway that took us back to the dining room; in essence, our path was a big circle. Sometimes he would push me down to the floor and tickle me after catching me. For a little kid it was a fun activity to try and outrun him; though, I am sure the other relatives quickly tired of me running inside the house. Eventually he grew tired of the game and tell us we tired him out. That seemed like a victory for my cousins and me for some reason; however, the relatives sitting around the dining room table usually told us to sit down and cool off because we were sweaty from our game.      THE GAME OF BEING CHASED ALWAYS reminded me of 2 of my favorite cartoon shows, the Road Runner and Tom & Jerry. I used to watch them on TV every week, even if they were repeats. I was especially fond of the contraptions Wile E. Coyote would build to try and catch the Road Runner. Many of the items he used always came from the Acme company, I believe. With Tom & Jerry there was a rivalry between the two that drove each one to top the other. However, I recall a couple of times where they saved each other from real danger or worked together for a common goal. As a kid I loved these shows, but now as an adult, I cannot get over the amount of violence these cartoons displayed for their time. There was The Three Stooges who used to beat on each other, but I do not recall them using guns or axes to attack one another. I would be curious to see how these programs would play out for young children currently. Well look here, Tom & Jerry have their own movie now; I had to check it out and see if it reminded me of those old cartoons of theirs, I used to watch while sitting in front of the television.     AFTER JERRY TAKES UP RESIDENCE IN an exclusive hotel, Tom is hired to remove Jerry permanently from the property. The key was to do this quietly so as not to alert the guests to a mouse living amongst them. With Chloe Grace Moretz (The 5thWave, Let Me In) as Kayla, Michael Pena (Dora and the Lost City of Gold, 12 Strong) as Terence, Jordan Bolger (Don’t Knock Twice, Peaky Blinders-TV) as Cameron, Patsy Ferran (Darkest Hour, Jamestown-TV) as Joy the Bell Girl and Pallavi Sharda (Lion, Begum Jaan) as Preeta; this animated/live action family comedy had a script with a serious flaw in it. The opening scenes were okay but when the writers introduced the 2ndstory line about the wedding taking place in the hotel, all the fun and humor ran dry. I had a hard time with the amount of violence and did not care for any of the characters except Joy the Bell Girl. There was a decent message within the story but there was nothing creative about the scenes and the humor was predictable. Maybe young children would still enjoy it; but, unless animated characters are given overexaggerated reactions during the fights, I found the violence uncomfortable. Now that is just me, but this film was not of the same caliber as those old cartoons they used to show on television.

1 7/8 stars 

Flash Movie Review: Home for the Holidays

FROM THE VARIOUS HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS, I have participated in, this year will provide me with something new. Considering I have been a witness to holiday events that spanned the spectrum from elegant to outrageous, that is saying something. I was invited to a family’s holiday dinner where a fight broke out between 2 sisters at the dining room table. The one sister broke down in tears and ran out of the room; talk about a conversation killer. At another celebration, one of the family’s elders had all the little children sit around the Christmas tree; so, he could tell them the history behind several of the ornaments. That was a wonderful experience because there was a plain, lopsided star shaped, wooden ornament on the tree that had been handed down in the family for generations. I think it was someone like a great, great, great grandparent who had carved the ornament. Listening to the stories behind the tree ornaments was such a cool experience for me and they were not even my own family. As you can see just from these 2 examples, I have been to a variety of family holiday functions and dysfunctions to the point I had thought there was nothing left to surprise me.      HEARING HOW THE PRESENTS WERE TO be distributed made me think a logistics company needed to be involved. One person was waiting for a group of packages to be delivered to their house. Once received, they then had to take them and drive to two family members’ houses to drop them off. At the 2ndstop, after their car trunk was empty, they were to receive a group of presents that they then had to bring back to their house. From there another family member was going to arrive to take half the packages and deliver them to relatives who lived down in the city. Several remaining packages were to be driven to relatives who lived close by. I did not have to be the driver for any of these excursions; I just had to carry the presents to load and unload from the cars that pulled into the garage. Once all the packages get delivered to the intended family members, we are going to do a video call where all of us can see each other opening our presents. I have visions of us looking like the opening credits of the TV show, The Brady Bunch; each of us in our own little tick tock box. This will be a new experience for me, and I am guessing for some of you. At least getting together this way has the potential to cut down on the type of antics that went on amongst the family members in this film festival nominee.      WITHOUT HER DAUGHTER JOINING HER FOR the holiday Claudia Larson, played by Holly Hunter (The Big Sick, Broadcast News) would have to face her family alone. With low expectations, Claudia was hoping there would be little drama she would get pulled into. With Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man franchise, Due Date) as Tommy Larson, Anne Bancroft (The Miracle Worker, The Graduate) as Adele Larson, Charles Durning (Tootsie, Dog Day Afternoon) as Henry Larson and Dylan McDermott (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Olympus Has Fallen) as Leo Fish; this comedic romance drama had the makings of an old fashioned crazy comedy in the same vein as Bringing Up Baby or Arsenic and Old Lace. The acting was excellent from the entire cast as they played a cast of characters. Where this film falters is the unevenness between the scenes. There were some heartfelt dramatic ones that grabbed me, but then there were others that felt flat and predictable. I will say the writers did a decent job with trying to capture all sides of a family gathering. On a positive note, after seeing this film I am looking forward to having a video family gathering, that comes with a mute button. A safe and happy holiday season I wish to all of you.                      

2 ½ stars 

Flash Movie Review: Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

SHE TOLD ME IT WAS A television show when I asked her what made her decide to become a dancer. I quizzed her further and she said it was a variety show she used to watch with her family on Sunday nights. Two ballet dancers were introduced by the host and she was immediately enamored by their costumes. The woman looked like a pristine fairy and the man looked like a stately prince. She had never seen ballet dancers before, but as the music started and the two dancers began to perform, she was mesmerized by their movements. The female dancer seemed weightless like a snowflake, spinning and fluttering across the stage. The male dancer had broad shoulders that made him look more regal as he lifted and guided the female dancer through their movements. I listened to her describe the performance and I could see the impact of this one of several acts on the show had a profound effect on her. Before the dancers were done performing, she had already decided that she was going to be a dancer when she grew up. She listed for me the highlights of her journey in becoming a ballet dancer and it was not a simple, straight street to ballet; she had some detours along the way. However, she told me throughout her struggles she kept believing she could do it.      HER STRENGTH IN HER BELIEF REMINDED me of a woman who was a participant in my yoga class. I worked at a hospital-based fitness center, where I introduced yoga to the fitness members. The center did not have a quiet room for me to teach class, so they had me taking the members to a laboratory in the hospital to conduct class. One day this woman came into the room in a wheelchair; I thought she was a patient who was lost. When I asked her where she was going, she told me to yoga. Talk about being embarrassed; this was the first time I was going to teach a wheel bound person in a general class setting. During my instructions, I included options that the woman could do while seated. After attending class for a few weeks, I asked her one day how yoga made her feel. She told me how much see looked forward to class because she would get the best night’s sleep after taking class. I was pleased to hear this and asked her if she had any goals she wanted to achieve in class. She said yes, she wanted to stand up out of her wheelchair. I told her it was a wonderful goal and I hoped I would get to see it. She said she believes she will one day, and I told her I believe in her.     WHEN HIS ASSISTANT TOOK HIS IDEAS and left him, the town’s toymaker Veronicas, played by Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland, Black Panther), stopped believing in himself. One day a strange little girl came to town with a belief. With Keegan-Michael Key (Playing with Fire, Let’s Be Cops) as Gustafson, Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey, Notting Hill) as Mr. Delacroix, Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls; Everything, Everything) as Jessica and newcomer Madalen Mills as Journey; this musical family fantasy film was a magical viewing experience for me. At times coming across like a Broadway production, other times like a family classic; this was one of the most entertaining films I have seen this year. The fanciful special effects, the singing and dancing, the costumes and the sets took a somewhat predictable script and elevated it into pure entertainment. I will say if you are not a fan of musicals, you will not enjoy this picture as much. For me, I could easily see this film being translated to the big stage of Broadway. My skepticism about films made for the small screen has been altered; I am a believer now. 

3 ½ stars

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