MY LOVE OF STORIES BEGAN AT AN early age because of the stories that were told around family meals. I heard about so many different relatives’ lives that I would wish they were sitting at the dining room table to tell their story directly to us. I had a relative who was a violin virtuoso. He was self-taught and only played for family and friends, is what I heard. The only memory I have associated to this person was seeing an old black and white photograph of him, dressed in a suit and holding his violin at his side. He died before I was born, so I never got to hear him play. Another story I heard around the dining room table was about a relative who had saved several other relatives by sneaking them out of their country during a war. With the details of each relative’s escape not known, I would make-up my own stories about their perilous travels and act them out whenever I was playing with my toy soldiers. I would cover the living room of our home with piles of towels to represent the mountains and rulers as bridges which my relatives/soldiers would have to traverse on their way to freedom. THERE WERE OTHER STORIES TOLD AT the dining room table; I remember being surprised by how many people were related to me. I used to wonder how much truth were in the stories that were being told; but, without having much physical proof, I had to rely on the storyteller to be accurate with the details. I cannot say it bothered me, but I was envious of the friends of mine who had physical remnants of their deceased relatives. One friend had a sword that was mounted on a plaque that hung in the hallway of their home; I think it belonged to a great, great, great uncle. Another friend of mine had their grandfather’s gold pocket watch. It was the first time I had ever seen a pocket watch and I was fascinated with the face cover that sprung open at the press of a button. At the time I did not realize the stories I was listening to would help me in my history classes in school. When the teacher was covering a world conflict or was focusing on a specific country, I would get a mental picture of my relative. Sometimes a city would be mentioned, and I could imagine my relative being there while doing something. I did not realize this ability would help me remember city names on our tests. How I wished I could talk to these deceased relatives; if only I had the opportunity the brothers had in this animated, adventure comedy. UPON RECEIVING THEIR DECEASED FATHER’S MAGICAL staff; brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot, voiced by Tom Holland (Spider-Man franchise, The Impossible) and Chris Pratt (The Kid, Passengers), set out on an adventure to try and bring back the magic of their Dad. With Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Downhill, Enough Said) voicing Laurel Lightfoot, Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, The Shape of Water) voicing the Manticore and Mel Rodriguez (Little Miss Sunshine, Panic Room) voicing Colt Bronco; this Pixar movie had the usual high standard of animation we are used to from this studio. Though the cast of actors brought life to these fantasy characters, the script did not have any magic for me. Out of the many films I have seen from this studio, this one was the most obvious with following the studio’s story formula. I did not find anything funny to chuckle at and I must say the father character was odd to me. The script was simple and predictable. If I had my choice, I would rather have been reminiscing about my deceased relatives’ stories than sitting in the theater to watch what these two brothers went through to connect to their past.
THE MUSIC WAS PLAYING ON THE radio as we sang along to it. We had met for lunch so we could catch up with each other’s life; it had been a few months since we last got together. Driving on the way back to her apartment, my friend wanted to show me the house she was thinking of buying. I was fine with checking out the place, so my friend decided to take surface streets to the house to show me what type of neighborhood she would be living in. On one picturesque street, I was pleasantly surprised to see how well the houses were being maintained. My friend slowed and came to a stop near the end of the block; I thought we had arrived at the house she was interested in. Suddenly, she started backing up; I asked her what she was doing. Before she could answer me, she came to a stop and rolled down her window to talk to a man who was standing in front of a car that had its hood up. Before I knew it, she popped her hood and the man was attaching jumper cables to her battery. I sat there in disbelief; I did not even see this guy as we were driving down the street. Within a couple of minutes, the man’s car was running, and we continued on our way. IT WAS SOME TIME LATER AFTER I had left my friend and was home, that I replayed that whole helpful scene in my head. I was struck with the fact that my friend was willing to help a stranger with no hesitation. When I had asked her why she stopped, she said she figured something was wrong by the way the man was looking at his car’s engine. Was I so fearful and mistrustful that I would have continued driving by without stopping I wondered? The next question I had was why was I mistrustful and fearful? In my past, I had been taken advantage of by strangers. Things like being asked for spare change or sign up for a promotion that later turned out to be fake; after several bogus incidents, I stopped offering any help. I guess you could say I became hardened towards those asking for help. Yet, I have always been willing to help friends and family. But as I am writing this, I am recalling times where I did help strangers; the shopper who could not reach the top shelf or the train passenger who was lost would be my examples. Seeing the help the main character offered in this action, adventure film has made me reassess my feelings about helping a stranger. DESPITE HAVING NEVER SEEN SUCH A being did not stop Tom Wachowski, played by James Marsden (Hairspray, Enchanted), from agreeing to help the being called Sonic, voiced by Ben Schwartz (This is Where I Leave You, Parks and Recreation-TV) get to San Francisco. Their trip was the last thing Dr. Ivo Robitnik, played by Jim Carrey (The Truman Show, Mr. Popper’s Penguins), wanted to see succeed. With Tika Sumpter (Ride Along franchise, The Old Man & the Gun) as Maddie Wachowski and Natasha Rothwell (A Year and Change, Insecure-TV) as Rachel; this family fantasy based on the video game was a fun movie watching experience. The message was sweet about friendship and friends in need; the humor was cute and pleasant. There was nothing extreme or harsh in any of the scenes. And the big surprise was seeing Jim excelling at the physical comedy; I felt I was watching a much younger Jim Carrey because he was so into his role. This picture was easy to watch and if nothing else I appreciated the way it made me look at my feelings about helping strangers. There was an extra scene in the middle of the credits.
2 ½ stars
WHENEVER ANY OF US WOULD SPOT the old woman, we would purposely cross the street to avoid getting close to her. I do not know what led us to do this; I only knew she meant to do us harm. The stories I had heard about her on the school’s playground dealt with her kidnapping elementary school kids, selling kids for money, performing experiments on us and other such horrific actions. Whether it was true or not I cannot tell you; however, all the school kids I knew were afraid of her. She lived in the neighborhood but none of us knew where. We always saw her walking down the street with her shopping cart trailing behind her. One story going around said she used the cart to haul off children after she knocked them out with hypnosis or some type of poison. I do not judge people based on their looks; however, back when I was a little kid in grade school, certain facial features would have a negative impact on me. This woman had a large nose that sloped sharply at the end with a large dark brown mole nestled on the outside of her nostril. Her hair was a sea of grey and white waves; sometimes covered with a gauze like headscarf that made it look like fog. Some boys had the courage to get close enough to her to call her names. I kept my distance. WHEN I THINK ABOUT THE OLD neighborhood where I grew up, I can still remember those individuals that were singled out as “scary.” It is weird how these people wound up in such a position. I can only attribute it to us little kids reacting to the looks of the individual or the places they lived in. There was an eerie looking house in the neighborhood that was scary to my friends and me. Besides needing a new coat of paint and some repairs, it was considered a “bad” place because the couple who lived there had no children. I cannot tell you why that made us more afraid of the house; it just did back then. Every Halloween I would skip that house because I was scared something bad would happen to me. What stood out for me was the fence around the house. Though it was made of brick, the top of it had these metal, decorative spikes sticking out that I was sure was used to impale innocent children on who ventured past the gate. These memories of mine, how did they come to be? I think it started when I read the story of Hansel and Gretel when I was little. LOST AND HUNGRY IN THE WOODS, the sight of a house was a welcome relief for brother and sister Gretel and Hansel, played by Sophia Lillis (It franchise, Sharp Objects-TV mini-series) and newcomer Samuel Leakey. When they peered into a window, what they saw made them want to stay. With Alice Krige (Star Trek: First Contact, Silent Hill) as Holda, Jessica De Gouw (Dracula-TV, Underground-TV) as young Holda and Charles Babalola (The Legend of Tarzan, Black Mirror-TV) as the hunter; this fantasy, horror thriller was nothing more than a fantasy. The sets and filming of the story were intriguing to me; but the script was a waste of words. I could not believe how the story dragged to the point I was checking my watch several times. Every scene seemed slow as if they were supposed to build up suspense, but nothing ever materialized. There were a couple of scenes that were meant to be disgusting I believe; but outside of that, I thought most of the major decisions made to create this film were a poor choice. To tell you the truth, I was more scared retelling my childhood fears above instead of sitting through this poor excuse for a filmed fairy tale.
1 ½ stars
IF THAT KID KICKED THE BACK of my seat one more time, I was going to discipline him myself. Though I was playing out in my head what I would say to him, I knew better than to yell at him. You see, I was on a recent flight where this little boy was sitting behind me. All the seats were full; so, I knew there was no chance of me moving to a different seat. We were in the first hour of our 3 ½ hour flight when the boy started to kick the back of my seat. At first, I thought it was an accident; but it turned out not to be the case. After a half a dozen times I turned back to see if the child was flying with his parents. Sure enough, there they were sitting in their seats; oblivious to the boy’s kicking while they were intently peering at their electronic devices. I thought my making eye contact with the boy would have been enough to make him stop; but it was not the case. Maybe a few minutes had gone by before the boy started up with his kicking again. I turned around again; but this time, I rose out of my seat to look more imposing or serious, I guess. In a voice I knew that would carry back a couple of rows, I told the boy his kicking of my seat was annoying and to please stop. And with a final glare at the now startled parents, I sat back down to experience a more peaceful time for the rest of the flight. A MAJORITY OF THE TIMES I do not blame the child as much as I blame their parents. That boy’s parents on the flight should have addressed their son’s kicking before I had to do it. When I see a child inappropriately acting out, more times than not, I blame the parents for allowing such behavior. Sure, there are some kids who get disciplined but choose to act out nonetheless. However, there have been so many times where I have seen parents letting their children have the run of a place, it boggles my mind. How do they not see the people around are getting upset with their children’s antics? Just last week a mother was letting her two young kids push an empty shopping cart down the aisles, knocking items off the shelves and bumping into other shoppers. If I was the store manager, I would have had them removed. I felt the same way about the children in this dramatic, horror mystery movie. MAKING A CHANGE IN HER CAREER Kate Mandell, played by Mackenzie Davis (The Martian, Blade Runner 2049), took a job as a governess to a brother and sister who lost their parents. Kate did not know about the previous governess who ran away. With Finn Wolfhard (It Franchise, Stranger Things-TV) as Miles Fairchild, Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project, Monsters at Large) as Flora Fairchild, Barbara Marten (The Bill-TV, The Mill-TV) as Mrs. Grose and Joely Richardson (Event Horizon, Red Sparrow) as Darla Mandell; the story for this film was based on Henry James’ novella “The Turn of the Screw.” I knew there were previous films done based on this story which only made me more confused on why a movie studio decided to do it again and only produce a half-baked production. I thought each actor made a great visible statement; but there was nothing they could pull out to act upon from the poorly done script. There were no scenes that provided any moment of being scared or concerned. I was bored throughout most of this film, though I enjoyed the visual aspects both indoors and out. Essentially, nothing was working right in this picture. If I were you, I would just read the book and stay away from this imposter.
1 ½ stars
THE BUSHES IN FRONT OF THE apartment building offered me ideal cover. I was leading the group on a treasure hunt. Our course was going to take us through hostile territories; I was prepared for the known hazards, but not for the unknown ones. Sneaking out of the bushes, we made our way south by staying off the main thoroughfares. The path I took was uneven, filled with potholes and covered with a mix of unkempt grass and gravel. As we came up to a large building, I had everyone cling to the side of the road where at least there was sporadic cover in case we were walking into a trap. It was the right call because 3 trap doors in the building sprung open and a series of time bombs were being hurled at us. My monkey who was 2ndin command leaped to a nearby tree and scurried up into the branches for cover. From my vantage point I could see him navigating the branches as he made his way to the one branch that was leaning over to the structure. I saw him take a few sticks of dynamite and tape them together. He then lit them and tossed it onto the roof of the building. I only had to wait a few seconds before there was a big explosion that caused the roof to cave in and bury our enemies. WHAT YOU JUST READ WAS ONE of many escapades I had with my entourage of imaginary animals. Besides my trusted monkey, I had a tiger, hawk, panther, wolf and chipmunk as part of my group. All these characters came to the forefront of my imagination after I started reading the books about Doctor Doolittle. The stories about the good doctor were some of my favorite ones when I was growing up. I identified with him because I felt I too could talk to animals; though, I was a novice at understanding them. But that did not stop me from talking to my pet parakeet and the animals several of my relatives had as pets. My conversations were not just exclusive to live animals, it also incorporated the stuffed animals I had gotten through my infant years as gifts. Animals were so easy to talk to and they provided me with hours of comfort. Due to this history when I saw the trailer for this film, I immediately knew I had to see it. Seeing one of my favorite book characters come to life was going to be a big thrill for me. THOUGH DOCTOR DOOLITTLE, PLAYED BY ROBERT Downey Jr. (Avengers franchise, The Judge), had not ventured outside of his home for several years, when the Queen of England summoned him to the palace he could not refuse. His visit would be the start of an incredible adventure. With Antonio Banderas (The Skin I Live In, Pain and Glory) as King Rassouli, Michael Sheen (The Twilight Sage franchise, The Queen) as Dr. Blair Mudfly, Jim Broadbent (The Iron Lady, Gangs of New York) as Lord Thomas Badgley and Harry Collett (Dunkirk, Casualty-TV) as Tommy Stubbins; this adventure, family comedy belonged in a litter box. I know I may have been more invested in this film than others; however, nothing was right about this picture except the animals. I had a hard time understanding Robert’s character due to his quiet mumbling of the words with an odd accent. The script had nothing fun or exciting in it. I felt the writers just threw a bunch of animals into the script to add some slapstick to the dull story. Maybe young viewers will enjoy this movie; but for the young of heart, there would be better enjoyment found if one read the books instead. There was an extra scene during the ending credits.
1 ½ stars
WE BECAME INSTANT FRIENDS BACK IN elementary school. I do not recall a day going by where we did not see each other during the school day. At some point we fell into a routine of either getting together after school or talking on the phone before dinnertime. I remember when a fast food restaurant was built in our neighborhood; the two of us felt like such adults when we met there to try it out on our own. Granted, the money came from my allowance; but it was my first time going to a restaurant without my family, only my best friend. I still remember ordering the chocolate shake for dessert and savoring every single drop of it. My best friend had the vanilla one so we could taste each other’s and decide which one we liked the best. There were so many firsts in my life that he was a part of through the years. We both were cast in a school play, we sat together on the school bus for our first field trip and we both experienced taking public transportation for the first time to an amusement park; these are just a few of the many things we did together. It was not until college when we first experienced doing things on our own; it was a hard transition for me. AFTER BEING TOGETHER FOR SO LONG, I found myself experiencing a sense of loss. We still communicated with each other but as college courses began demanding more of our attention, we sometimes let a day or two go by without talking to one another. As our college years advanced our interests diverged into separate areas; new friendships and activities filled the void. Whenever I came home from school, we would find time to get together. It was like time had not passed by because we would immediately pick up where we left off, as if we had just seen each other the day before. However, during these get togethers I was aware I was talking about people he had never met; it seemed weird for some reason. After spending so many years together, I knew we were headed to different places in our lives. We shared so many good and bad times together, I to this day think about him from time to time and wonder what type of life he is living. Similarly, having been part of my life so long, I wondered what it will be like for me not to see these Star Wars’ characters once I finish watching this last installment of the movie franchise. A THREATENING MESSAGE HAS THE RESISTANCE scrambling to confront an enemy they thought was no longer a part of the First Order. With Adam Driver (Logan Lucky, BlacKkKlansman) as Kylo Ren, Daisy Ridley (Murder on the Orient Express, Scrawl) as Rey, John Boyega (The Circle, Pacific Rim: Uprising) as Finn, Oscar Isaac (Life Itself, A Most Violent Year) as Poe Dameron and Richard E. Grant (The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) as General Payde; the story in this film had its work cut out for it. Because the writers had 42 years of Star Wars history at their disposal, they were placed at a disadvantage from the start I believe. Let me first start with the positive things about this picture. The special effects were their usual eyepopping brilliance; the creativity was good, and the acting skills of Adam and Daisy drove this movie to its conclusion. Unfortunately, this film was good not great. I thought some scenes and characters were thrown in just to market new toys. There were a few scenes that felt like the writers were rehashing the past to make a connection with older viewers and one especially reminded me of a different film entirely. The thing is, I can understand not taking a risk with the last film; however, I felt things were a bit stale. On the other hand, there is such an emotional attachment to these characters that for any fan it would be hard not to care about them. I know I will miss the Star Wars universe; but I still will be able to look back fondly at the memories it gave me.
3 stars – Star Wars fans 2 2/3 – non-fans
WE WERE WALKING AROUND THE TOWN looking for buildings that were still standing from the turn of the century. On a road trip with a friend, he asked if we could make a stop at this small town where a relative of his had lived. He had never met the relative but wanted to find his grave. The town came as a total surprise to me because it had this mixture of old and new buildings that complimented each other, giving off an old-world vibe. As we walked down the main street, we found buildings that had been built and standing at the time my friend’s deceased relative had migrated to the area. My friend took photos of the buildings we had found; he wanted to form some type of bond to this man he never knew, but who yet was connected to him. All my friend had was an old photograph of his great uncle when he was a teenager. Whenever he looked at the photo of the man, he would see a strong resemblance to his Dad, who coincidentally happened to be named after this departed relative. As we walked around, I thought how lucky my friend was to be able to visit his relative’s town and travel the same streets his great uncle might have used when he was alive. HOW I WOULD HAVE LOVED TO BE able to visit the town of an ancestor. Since I was a little boy, I was always fascinated with looking at old, family photographs; both mine and other families. There is something about me having a similar genetic makeup to a long line of individuals that comforts me. Maybe because I really was never part of any type of group growing up that now I find myself comforted knowing I have an immediate connection to a group of people. I am always amazed when I run into someone who is a distant relative that shares similar features to myself or to an immediate family member of mine. Only recently I was at a restaurant where I bumped into a group of distant relatives. One of the relatives looked strikingly similar to one of my immediate family members that it startled me for a moment, especially because this person was a cousin twice removed from me. As we briefly talked about our family connection, I could not help thinking how important it is to me to look back at those who came before me to find out where I was going now. The main character in this animated, adventure comedy would know what I am talking about. A DISTANT VOICE THAT ONLY ELSA, voiced by Idina Menzel (Rent, The Tollbooth), could hear was calling out to her. Something about it sounded familiar enough to make Elsa leave her kingdom and put herself in terrible peril. With Kristen Bell (Bad Moms franchise, The Boss) voicing Anna, Josh Gad (Beauty and the Beast, Marshall) voicing Olaf, Jonathan Groff (Glee-TV, Looking-TV) voicing Kristoff and Sterling K. Brown (Hotel Artemis, This is Us-TV) voicing Mattias; this sequel was a visual masterpiece. The amount of detail and creativity put into every scene was breathtaking at times. As for the script it was good but not as good as the original movie. Since there was no main villain, I felt the drama waned at times. It seemed as if the studio’s marketing department was working overtime; for example, the script had a new cute character that would be perfect in toy version and there were places where songs were sung (though I could not remember one song when I left the theater) in the hopes that one of them would be a chart topper. All of this does not mean much since the theaters were packed with small children and their parents dressed up as one of the characters. There was such a high bar to reach due to the success of the first movie that it would have taken super powers to try and top it. I give the studio credit for its valiant effort. There was an extra scene at the end of the movie credits.
I COULD SEE THE GUEST AT MY table was getting annoyed with the server. When the server came to our table, after we had sat down, to find out who had ordered the vegetarian meal, this guest acknowledged it was for him. When the soup came out and was placed on each of our plates, the vegetarian guest asked the server what was in the soup. When she said it was a beef-based broth, I could tell the man was not happy. He asked the server why she would bring a meat-based soup to a vegetarian; the server was noticeably flustered. She apologized, saying it was the only soup offered for the dinner, before removing it from his plate. When the rest of us were done with the soup, the main meal was brought out to be served. I received my plate before the vegetarian man and immediately noticed bacon bits on the baked potato. Not knowing what was on a vegetarian meal, I waited and watched the server as she made her way to the gentleman. Sure enough, his special meal included the same baked potato with bacon bits. As soon as he saw it, he glared at the server before reprimanding her. She was visibly shaking as she apologized again and took his plate of food back to the kitchen. The man turned to the rest of us as he continued complaining about the service. ONE OF THE OTHER GUESTS SITTING at our table told the vegetarian he understood his aggravation. It turned out he had several dietary restrictions that required extra diligence at wedding receptions, holiday parties and other such special events. I watched as the annoyed diner quickly calmed down while commiserating with the other diner. A connection/bond was established between the two gentlemen because they had something specific in common; I became curious about this and started wondering if I had a similar reaction to meeting someone who shared a common trait of mine. It occurred to me that I indeed have had the same responses with people I have met who experience similar reactions like mine. When I have met someone, who has the same type of sensitivity that I do to the cold, it has formed an immediate connection between us. Others cannot relate to what the two of us experience when we feel cold. For most of the evening, I wind up spending time with that person who gets me, just as I get them. There is a perfect example of this to see in this dramatic, fantasy horror sequel. AFTER HAVING FOUND A COMFORTABLE PLACE to settle down Dan Torrance, played by Ewan McGregor (Christopher Robin, August: Osage County), gets contacted by a young girl named Abra Stone, played by Kyliegh Curran (I Can I Will I Did), who shares a common trait with him; a trait he has been trying to run away from for many years. With Rebecca Ferguson (Life, Despite the Falling Snow) as Rose the Hat, Cliff Curtis (Whale Rider, The Dark Horse) as Billy Freeman and Zahn McClarnon (Strike One, Mekko) as Crow Daddy; the story in this picture was slowly brewed. I enjoyed the buildup at first because of the acting and film editing. However, as the story continued, I found myself losing interest. It was not until Kyliegh’s scenes increased that I reconnected with the story. The buildup went on too long for me; I only found myself fully invested during the last half of the movie. The suspense was decent thanks to the acting and set designs. I feel the viewer would benefit if they watch first The Shining before seeing this film; but it is not a requirement. After so many years between stories, I just could not find a solid connection to this picture.
2 ¾ stars
IT WAS A HARD LESSON TO LEARN but it made my life much easier. I have worked with a variety of individuals, some would say characters, throughout my work history. For years, I was quick to react to their actions. If I did not like an individual, they would know it without me having to tell them. There was this one salesman who walked around the place like a male peacock looking to mate. One day I counted how many times he had stopped in front of any type of reflective surface to check on his appearance; it was 23 times. It could be a reflection in a window, microwave oven door, mirror; it made no difference to him where he was or what he was doing at the time. He would see himself and stop to check the condition of his hair, face and tie. I did not like him because of the way he treated the employees. Besides talking down to them, he would belittle them if he felt they were not doing something he thought they should be doing, despite the fact he was not their boss. Whenever I had a verbal exchange with him, I would avoid making eye contact and try to limit my responses to one- or two-word answers. Trust me, he was not a nice person. THERE WERE EMPLOYEES I HAD TO DEAL with who were stoned or drunk. You would think that could be amusing; but, try getting the correct answer you need from someone who cannot focus on their work, it wasn’t pretty. I would get upset as I sat and fumed over the encounter. How is it that I was trying to complete a project, getting stressed over the approaching deadline, while this other employee got to fly high through the day without any consequences. It was my job on the line, not theirs. My anger would last for days at times; I did not realize how much energy I was using to maintain my anger. Maybe it was maturity, therapy, self-reflection or a combination thereof; but I started altering my behavior. Things that used to annoy me I now was acknowledging their existence then moving on. If I was not getting the help I needed from a fellow employee; instead of getting ticked off I would document the event and add it into my notes on my progress. It was such a liberating feeling for me. No more getting upset or combative allowed me to focus on my needs and feelings. Though I have to say after seeing this dramatic fantasy film, I do not know if I could remain calm if I were in that position. DESPITE VIOLENT WEATHER AND MECHANICAL FATIGUE, two strangers needed to work together for several weeks to maintain the functions of the lone lighthouse. With William Dafoe (The Florida Project, Shadow of the Vampire) as Thomas Wake, Robert Pattinson (Good Time, Twilight franchise) as Ephraim Winslow and newcomer Valerila Karaman as the mermaid; this was one of the most original stories I have seen at the movies this year. I honestly cannot say I was totally entertained; but I could not stop watching the impactful scenes in this film festival winner. The acting was superb; not once did I think the characters were William or Robert. Using a square format for filming in black and white made each scene that more intense. If you were to ask me what the story was about, I do not know if I could give you an answer. If there was symbolism or hidden meanings, they went over my head. My attention was so drawn to the characters due to the actors’ skills that I had to let go in trying to understand what I was watching on the screen. To describe it best, watching this film was an experience; I am just not sure what kind.
SHE WAS PROUD OF HER GRANDCHILDREN; I heard her talk about them enough times to know. They were respectful and polite which made me like them right from the start. According to their grandmother, the boy was a star player on his school’s football team and his sister was the school’s photographer. When I met and spoke with the 2 siblings, I learned the grandmother’s description of their school activities was exaggerated a bit. The girl enjoyed photography and had submitted one of her photos to the school’s newspaper; it was one of several to be chosen to accompany an article about the plant life around the school building. The boy was on the football team as the grandmother had mentioned; however, he was one of the 2nd string players on the team. Most of his time was spent sitting on the bench. So, the grandmother expanded the truth, I get it. She was not the first grandmother I met who used hyperboles when it came to her grandchildren. It did appear to me; however, she spoke a lot about these kids. It is one thing to mention one’s children or grandchildren if it comes up in a conversation; but, without solicitation or prodding one talks excessively about them then I start to wonder what could be fueling it. YOU THINK YOU KNOW A PERSON, but then something happens that forces you to re-evaluate everything you thought regarding this individual. This is what happened to me and explained why the grandmother talked a lot about her 2 grandchildren. Her and I were part of a small group of people who had met for lunch one day. During the meal many topics were discussed. However, it was during the subject of racial tensions when the grandmother said something that led me to believe the reason behind her excessive talking about her grandchildren. She had said a derogatory remark about another race. I was shocked because up until that time I never considered her to be a prejudicial person. As I sat there processing this new information the conversation drifted off to something else. No one questioned her about her comment, but I had to because what she said did not make any sense to me. I asked her how she could make a derogatory remark about a person’s skin color when her grandchildren had the same color of skin. She said it was not the same. Her grandchildren were born from a mixed-race couple; evidently, she was not comfortable about it which explained the constant talk about her grandkids. All of this because someone looks different? She has something in common with one of the characters in this adventure fantasy. AGREEING TO MARRY PRINCE PHILIP, PLAYED BY Harry Dickinson (Beach Rats, The Darkest Minds), would be the easiest part compared to having each of their families sitting down together for a dinner. Aurora, played by Elle Fanning (The Neon Demon, Super 8), would have to convince her Godmother Maleficent (Changeling, Mr. & Mrs. Smith), to meet the humans she so distrusted, for good reason. With Michelle Pfeiffer (Hairspray, What Lies Beneath) as Queen Ingrith and Sam Riley (On the Road, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) as Diaval; this family film was beyond colorful. The opening scenes may take one’s breath away because they were so filled with colors and creativity. Along with my amazement of the visual aspects to this picture, I thought the cast was wonderful. Angelina, Michelle and Elle were so good together that I could see them doing another film together. My only complaint had to do with the story and script; it was uneven and convoluted at times, besides sharing similarities to another story made famous as a Broadway musical. Despite this, I found the movie entertaining. It had great special effects, was visually stunning and had a killer performance by Angelina, Michelle and Elle.