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
ON MY DAILY COMMUTE I TRAVEL through a variety of different neighborhoods and towns. It is pretty easy to tell which ones are more affluent and that surprises me. I do not understand the government workings that play into a place being more desirable than another one. From what I remember in my sociology courses less desirable locations are by expressways, railroad tracks and overhead electrical power lines. However, that does not explain the big picture to me about a town’s sociological and economic makeup. As I drive through these places I keep an eye open for any architectural treasure since it is one of my hobbies or you could say, passions. I enjoy watching construction sites, trying to figure out what is being created. When there has been an economic down turn, more buildings tend to be built in a no-frills style; at least that is my observation. When times are better, there seems to be more of a creative flair involved in the building of a house or commercial building. Though I understand it is a money thing, I am sad when an older structure that has charm or a style from a different era gets torn down to make way for something modern. Just because something is new does not mean it is better. A PARTICULAR STRUCTURE I AM FOND of is the bungalow. It is a sturdy and practical building in my opinion. One of the neighborhoods I go through has row upon row of bungalows. I am always fascinated in the way the owners do subtle or dramatic changes to make their home stand out from the others. The only change that I find offensive is when the owners slice the roof off their house and add a 2nd floor addition that does not stay in the style of the original structure. Where the original house was made of brick, the boxy addition will be made of aluminum siding in an unnatural color that does not even match the lower portion. It is akin to placing a cake stand on top of a cake, is the way I see it. Some of these remodeling jobs either look like a spacecraft landed on top of the house or someone placed a package on top because it was too heavy to carry. They look ghastly to me. I am at least encouraged that recently one of the areas has formed a building committee exclusive to the preservation of their bungalows. Hopefully this will prevent these mashups of modern forms being plopped down on classic architecture; as I said before new does not equal better. And no truer words have been spoken to describe this latest update of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel. THE BOND BETWEEN FOUR SISTERS GETS tested as each one grows up and searches for her dream. This dramatic family film starred Lea Thompson (Back to the Future franchise, Some Kind of Wonderful) as Marmee, Sarah Davenport (The Hatred, Dusk) as Jo, Melanie Stone (Riot, Miracle Maker) as Meg, Ian Bohen (Teen Wolf-TV, Wyatt Earp) as Freddy and Lucas Grabeel (Switched at Birth-TV, Smallville-TV) as Laurie. I was surprised by how much I disliked this version of the story. The script was unappealing to the point I felt the sisters were simply caricatures of a previous movie, who only knew how to whine. Most of them did not seem real for the current setting they were placed in. There was little drama involved which only added to the dullness that washed over the script. You can call this a retelling, an update, a modern version; but if you cannot keep the viewer interested in the story, then what is the point of doing it in the first place?
1 ½ stars
LEARNING THE HISTORY ABOUT FAMILY MEMBERS can be a fun experience. Some of the things I found out about my relatives seem so out of character to the people I knew. There is a relative of mine who holds the patent on some particular lint trap that is part of a washing machine. Another family member was a gangster. In the family I had an umbrella maker, a butcher and the owner of the first cable boxes that came into existence. As you can see the list is quite varied and I get a kick out of the randomness of it. Recently I was talking with a friend about a movie that is coming out later in the year. Based on the trailer I mentioned I was looking forward to seeing this film about Mary, Queen of Scots. You will not believe what he told me about Mary; his family history has a branch of it that is loosely tied to Mary. Listening to the connections between the deceased relatives, I was struck with the fact he was able to remember who married who and whose brother’s sister-in-law was part of the genealogy trail. It was astounding listening to so many generations coming from this one side of his family. THERE IS NOTHING AS FASCINATING IN my family tree as my friend’s; but if I had such knowledge on the history of my family, I wonder what historical facts I would find out about my deceased relatives. One of the things I know is which countries some of my relatives were born in. I remember in school I would check out books from the library that pertained to these countries, wanting to learn about its history and how it came into being the mother and fatherland of my relatives. My knowledge barely goes back 3 generations of my family. Pretty much all I know is how relatives made their way to America. One relative was sent here with her sister when they were in their teens. She was going to be married off to someone she knew back home who had been sent over earlier to get established in a city. I have other relatives who did not want to migrate but had to because of war. There was a story told about brothers who as children had to be hidden in the forest to escape being kidnapped or worse killed by enemy forces. Though the young boy in this family fantasy only had to be shipped to the state of Michigan, he found out there was something special about him and his family tree. ORPHANED DUE TO THE DEATH OF his parents Lewis Barnavelt, played by Owen Vaccaro (Daddy’s Home franchise, Mother’s Day), was sent to live with his uncle Jonathan Barnavelt, played by Jack Black (Goosebumps, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), who was an odd man. There was a reason why Jonathan was different. With Cate Blanchett (Ocean’s Eight, Thor: Ragnarok) as Florence Zimmerman, Kyle MacLachlan (Blue Velvet, Dune) as Issac Izard and Renee Elise Goldsberry (Sisters, The Good Wife-TV) as Selena Izard; this comedy film was aided by the chemistry between Cate and Jack, which granted seemed an oddball pairing. They were fun together and I enjoyed the way the film started out. I thought it was strange to have Lewis presented with his aviator goggles and bow tie, but at first I did not mind. It was not until the story moved into the 2nd half where I started losing interest. This is where the script was muddy with different references. For me I felt the story was becoming more of a cartoon, meaning silly. With a little more history, development and originality; this picture would have been more enjoyable for me.
1 ¾ stars
THE IDEA WAS TO SEE IF I was capable of handling a dog by myself. Granted I did not have a dog as a pet growing up; but I did not think there would be any issue in me taking care of my friend’s dog, except for the licking my face part. My friend was going out of town and asked me if I would take care of their dog while they were away. Of course, I said I would be thrilled to do it. This dog was their baby, who they had gotten when it was just a little puppy; so, I understood the magnitude of this request. Little did I know I was going to be tested first. Before the trip was to occur, my friend came over with a robotic dog; I am not kidding you. It was the kind of dog you had to do certain functions with otherwise it would go silent, which I interpreted to be dead. One had to pretend to feed and walk it besides setting time aside for play time. I cannot remember all the details, but I think somehow these activities would get recorded; the key was to keep the robotic dog alive. After two days of what I considered unreasonable, constant attention time; I removed the batteries and pretended the dog was sleeping under my dining room table. DO NOT LET ANYONE KID YOU, but there is a difference between a real and robotic dog. The robot dog, though it was a cute idea and I am sure there are children who would have a great time with it, cannot replace the love and affection of a live dog. Coming home each day to someone who is so excited to see you is a beautiful thing. With their tail wagging 100 mph as they are running up to either lick you (again, not my thing) or get a belly rub, is a special moment in the day. I especially enjoyed during the winter months being able to sit on the couch with the warmth of a furry dog in my lap. It is funny I was just thinking if I had ever dated anyone who was not an animal lover and the answer is no. I am not saying they must have a pet, but I do not think I would be able to have a deep connection to someone who did not appreciate the love one experiences between a human and their pet. And though I did not experience it with that robotic dog, I would attempt it with the special animal in this adventure, science fiction film. A COMPUTER GLITCH CAUSED THE government’s experimental, robotic dog to go missing. Programed to fight alongside the army’s soldiers, there was something about motorcycle rider Miles, played by Alex Neustaedter (Walking Out, Ithaca), that made the dog see things differently. With Becky G (Power Rangers, Empire-TV) as Sara, Thomas Jane (The Thin Red Line, The Mist) as Chuck Hill, Alex MacNicoll (The 5th Wave; McFarland, USA) as Sam and Ted McGinley (Pearl Harbor, Married with Children-TV) as Fontaine; this family picture took the idea of a boy and his dog and produced a lifeless story. I enjoyed watching the robotic dog who had more personality than most of the actors. The script was easily predictable that I could have sworn the writers just copied the blueprint from several previous films that had the same set-up. There simply was no excitement in this movie; I could not wait for it to finish and was disappointed seeing the film studio is hoping they can do a sequel. If it was up to me and this picture came with batteries, I would pull the batteries on this one and instead, pop in a DVD of Rin Tin Tin.
1 ½ stars
IT STARTED WITH A DISCUSSION ABOUT whales. She had seen a documentary about the plight of killer whales and we were in agreement about the harm being caused to them in captivity. I suggested another film about dolphins, but said it was tough to watch in parts. Our conversation took us onto the topic of zoos and their purpose. A foe of hunting for sport, she was not a fan of capturing wild animals and sticking them in cages to display to a paying public. I also am against hunting for sport and expressed my opinion, stating there is a place in society for zoos. If it helps to heal or populate the species I am all for capturing animals and having them live in a space similar to their natural habitat. There have been zoos I visited that were utterly depressing; the animals were lethargic, bored to the point of being almost comatose. At least they looked comatose to me. On the other hand, I have visited a few zoos that were making progress in perpetuating certain breeds of animals. My city’s zoo has been quite successful in breeding gorillas that are at risk of extinction. A zoo in the Midwest has the largest colony of penguins in the country. The work they have been doing with the animals has been extraordinary. EVERY ANIMAL WHETHER YOU LIKE THEM or not has a purpose on this planet; I firmly believe it. I better since I originally started out my schooling in veterinarian sciences. The only thing though is some people have a different idea of what an animal’s purpose should be. Recently in the news there was talk about what type of service animals would be allowed on airplanes. The list wasn’t very long but the part I found interesting was the list of animals that would not be allowed. A service animal is individually trained to do work for the benefit of an individual who is disabled in some way. Because I do not know anyone with a service animal I was startled to see that miniature ponies and pigs were on the list. Now just because I have not seen it with my own eyes does not mean I do not believe these are some individuals’ service animals. I have seen where animals outside of the home pet realm have bonded with humans. And when it happens it turns into a special relationship; you could see for yourself in this adventure drama. ON HIS FIRST HUNTING TRIP KEDA, played by Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road, Let Me In), was mauled by a buffalo and left for dead. The wild animals around took him to be their next meal. With Natassia Malthe (Lake Placid, DOA: Dead or Alive) as Rho, Leonor Varela (Odd Thomas, Blade II) as Shaman, Johannes Haukur Johannesson (Atomic Blonde, I Remember You) as Tau and Jens Hulten (Skyfall, Wallander-TV) as Xi, this story set in prehistoric times had some beautiful scenes. I admired the acting of Kodi, but I especially of all the characters enjoyed the wolf the most. The script had no spoken English, so it was all subtitled; it was not a distraction since dialog was kept to a minimum. However, I felt the story dragged. Plus, some of the special effects were noticeable in the wrong way. Instead of enhancing a scene they came across as fake. I thought the idea for the story was wonderful and as I said previously I loved the wolf. The different reactions coming from the wolf made it hard to believe that the animal was trained to do such a thing. I am a sucker for a good animal movie and this one had good intensions; however, it needed some more training before allowing it out to the public.
2 ½ stars
AS I LISTENED I THOUGHT IT was an ingenious plan. It was a time before cellular phones and my friend was telling me how her family would take a road trip. When relatives were included on their road trips, involving more than one car, the drivers would create a way of communicating with each other. They would flash their auto lights in a specific way, similar to Morse code, to say they needed to stop for a restroom, a break, gas or a meal. Alternating between the right and left turn signals would mean someone in the car needed to stop at a bathroom. If passengers were getting hungry then the driver would either flash the lights 3 times or tap the brakes 3 times in rapid succession to signal the other driver. I was impressed with the plan and realized the introduction of the smart phone sure made traveling by automobile a whole different experience than what it used to be. If I thought about it I could have questioned why the cars needed to follow each other; but I could understand the reasoning behind forming a caravan. You know, the safety in numbers train of thought. FAMILY VACATIONS PROVIDE A MULTITUDE of experiences. The ones I experienced were predominately for visiting relatives who lived out of state. So, when people talk about the type of vacations they would do as a family, I am curious to hear about them. I remember listening about a family who took nature trips in some of the national parks across the country. There was one trip where they went hiking with their two small children and soon discovered the trail was not geared for a novice; the kids were scared and complaining. I looked up the place where they went and was stunned that someone would look at it and think small children could handle the climb. Heck I was not sure I could even do it! As another example I have some relatives who love getting into the car and driving to obscure tourist type places that you would never find on a “best of” list for vacation spots. They would take a vacation to find the largest ball of yarn or drive to visit the mustard museum in some small town in a different state. Usually they would find a variety of curiosity spots to stop at along the way. I am good with whatever “trips your trigger” for a family vacation; that is why I went to see the latest installment of this animated comedic, family film. FEELING HER FATHER NEEDED A vacation from running the hotel Mavis, voiced by Selena Gomez (Getaway, Spring Breakers), came up with a brilliant idea. She booked the family on a boat cruise. For her father Dracula, voiced by Adam Sandler (The Wedding Singer, Big Daddy), it would be more than just a boat ride. With Andy Samberg (That’s My Boy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine-TV) voicing Johnny, Kathryn Hahn (Bad Moms franchise, Afternoon Delight) voicing Ericka and Jim Gaffigan (Chappaquiddick, Away We Go) voicing Van Helsing; this third installment was more of the same I am afraid to say. Little children might enjoy this picture because of all the monsters; but overall, I did not find much humor in the story. The visuals and animation were certainly fun, but they were not enough to support the feeble script. Pretty much a majority of this film was a series of sight gags. Surprisingly there was a message in the movie regarding inclusion, but chances are it will get lost on the youngsters. The only other thing to say about this picture is to make sure you bring a life jacket or a lifeboat because this boat is taking on water.
IF THERE IS SUCH A survey then I do not know about it. I am curious to see; when asked, how many children want to grow up and be like their parents? Back from my school days I remember reading a book that focused on parents who were toxic. Several of the families that were discussed in the book were shocking to me. There was a set of parents who had two sons. The older son committed suicide using a shotgun. For Christmas the following year, the parents gave their remaining son the same shotgun as a gift. What sort of message do you think that mother and father were trying to convey to their only remaining child? I still remember this example from all these years and have wondered from time to time whatever happened to that younger son. My guess would be he never wanted to grow up and be just like his parents. Now on the other hand, this past week I read that Heinrich Himmler’s daughter died recently. He was the architect of the Holocaust and she became known as the “Nazi Princess.” She denied the existence of the Holocaust, even after visiting a concentration camp. It sounds like she chose to grow up and be like her Dad. ANOTHER ASPECT ABOUT THE CHILD/parent relationship I find fascinating is the similar traits that get established. I am not talking about the physical features; my interest is in the mannerisms, such as speech patterns, movement and quirks. I knew a family that had 2 children. Assuming both kids were treated equally, only the older child had the same mannerisms as the father; the younger one had no similar traits to either parent. This makes me wonder if there is something genetic that scientists have not discovered yet. Of course, I have considered learned traits; but certain things show me that may not always be the case. I have wondered if a child who has the same tastes in food as a parent was trained to be that way or maybe they came to their own decisions based on their own taste buds. Possibly they received the same genes as their parent when it came to their perceptions of flavors. The whole parent/child relationship thing is such a minefield in many ways. It reminds me of this line I heard a psychiatrist say once, “Just because they birthed you does not mean you have to love them.” I certainly thought of this while watching this comedic drama. DUE TO HER FATHER BEING kicked out of his nursing home Laura, played by Vera Farmiga (The Commuter, Up in the Air) was forced to drive cross country to drop him off at her sister’s place. Little did she know there were going to be some unexpected stops. This film festival nominee starred Christopher Plummer (All the Money in the World, A Beautiful Mind) as Jack Jaconi, Lewis MacDougall (A Monster Calls, Pan) as Henry, Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future franchise, The Addams Family franchise) as Stanley and Bobby Cannavale (Ant-Man, Blue Jasmine) as Leonard. The acting was good overall but Christopher’s was exceptional. I enjoyed the dynamics that were created between him and Vera in this story. There were a few powerful scenes between them. Unfortunately, the script did not provide something new to this estranged family story that I have seen done before. It was not too hard to figure out where the story was going most of the time. Adding in the repetitive scenarios of Laura being upset, I soon found myself getting periodically bored at times. This movie is proof that a family’s dysfunction can be handed down from generation to generation.
2 1/3 stars