I CANNOT SAY I TOTALLY BELIEVE or disbelieve; I simply believe anything is possible and that is why I am fascinated to hear people’s experiences with unexplainable events. A friend was telling me about a recent encounter her daughter experienced. While driving to a family function, the daughter looked in her rearview mirror and saw her grandparents, who were deceased, sitting in the back seat. They just sat there and smiled at her for the entire trip. When they arrived and she turned off the car, the daughter turned around in her seat, but the grandparents had disappeared. She went into the house to join other family members but during her time there she felt the presence of her grandparents for most of the night. The daughter was not surprised since her grandparents had visited her multiple times before. Her mother started believing her daughter ever since her first encounter because at that occurrence the grandparents said something in their native language which the daughter would not have known. When the daughter repeated what she heard to her mother, my friend knew something unexplainable had taken place around her daughter. I enjoyed listening about the event and asked my friend if her daughter ever had an encounter that scared her. She said as far as she knew, no. IN MY EXPERIENCES, THINGS HAVE TRANSPIRED that I could not easily explain. I used to workout at home on a cable exercise machine for several years. One day while working on it I felt like my eyes were mildly hurting me. When I clenched my eyes shut the pain subsided. I had no idea what was going on and even inspected them in the mirror to make sure I had not broken a blood vessel or something. For a week every time I did this one particular exercise on the machine, I would just close my eyes through it. However, after a week I started turning my face to the side while keeping my eyes shut. I knew this did not make any sense, but I kept doing it. After a few days when I went to exercise, the cable snapped as I grabbed the pull-down bar before sitting down on the bench. I was shocked but immediately realized that if the cable had held up a few seconds longer until I was seated and pulling up the weights attached to the cable, it would have snapped right into my eyes. To say I was stunned would be an understatement. I felt there had to be something else that I could not explain that made me start to clench my eyes and turn my face away from the cable. Once I replaced the cable my eyes stopped hurting. It is things like this which have kept my mind open to any possibility and that is the way I went when I decided to go see this movie. AFTER MOVING TO A SMALL TOWN to take possession of a rundown house she inherited from her father, a single mom and her two children were unaware there was something special about the house and land around it. With Carrie Coon (The Post, Gone Girl) as Callie, Paul Rudd (Ant-Man franchise, Our Idiot Brother) as Grooberson, Finn Wolfhard (It franchise, Stranger Things-TV) as Trevor, McKenna Grace (Gifted, Annabelle Comes Home) as Phoebe and newcomer Logan Kim as Podcast; this long-awaited adventure, comedy fantasy in the franchise did not fully materialize for me. The acting was good; I especially admired the performances of McKenna and Finn. However, I thought the script was weak. There could have been more excitement, humor and suspense; everything seemed like a light version of what it was intended to be. Of course, there also was the nostalgic aspect which made things more bearable, especially the last part of the movie. I went into this film with no expectations and came out with just an okay feeling that I saw it, but no wow factor. There were a couple of extra scenes during the ending credits.
2 ¼ 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
I WASN’T AWARE GROWING UP THAT everyone essentially looked the same. Sure, there was different hair and eye colors and I had more poundage on me than most of the kids in the neighborhood who were my age; but essentially, there was nothing blatantly out of the norm. Everyone was or appeared to be in the same socio-economic class. It was not until the middle school years when changes started taking place in the neighborhood. A family had moved in that caused a slight ripple in the fabric of my world. The children were dressed differently compared to the other children in school. It was not like a traditional garb from a foreign country or religion; their clothes were not things you could find in any of the local stores in the area. Instead, the clothes looked homemade. Not that this was a bad thing; it simply made them standout from the other students in school. What I remember most were the lunches they would eat. Where most kids ate a sandwich or brought a cold leftover from home; this family’s siblings had what I would refer to as exotic foods. They had little cups that had various dips in them, along with salad ingredients. Rarely did I ever see them eat a sandwich made with white bread. I wasn’t judging them; I was just curious about their food choices. As far as I knew, no one ever made fun of them. THE FAMILY REMAINED IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD for only a few years. I thought they were fortunate because as the neighborhood continued changing, people’s attitudes started to have a hostile edge to them. I experienced some of it because I was overweight; but there were other students in high school who became targets of students who had extreme views. Their behavior was abusive, and I call it abuse because it always had either a mental or physical angle to it that was always hurtful. There was one student who was short with facial features that were too big for their face. They could be walking down the hallway between classes and get smacked in the back of the head by an unknown assailant. I was called names and experienced physical altercations. School started feeling like a competition; if you could get through the day without being abused or called a nasty name you were a winner. All of this was due to the apparent differences between each of us. The way I saw it, one had to fit into the majority; otherwise, they would be banished to the outskirts of social interactions. It is a topic that remains relevant today, even for the unique family in this animated, comedic family movie. TIRED OF EXPERIENCING HOSTILITY FROM THEIR neighbors, the Addams family found what appeared to be an abandoned building in an idyllic location. However, their differences would eventually leave their mark on the citizens. With Oscar Isaac (Life Itself, Star Wars franchise) voicing Gomez Addams, Charlize Theron (Long Shot, Atomic Blonde) voicing Morticia Addams, Chloe Grace Moretz (Let Me In, The 5thWave) voicing Wednesday Addams, Finn Wolfhard (It franchise, Stranger Things-TV) voicing Pugsley Addams and Nick Kroll (Uncle Drew, My Blind Brother) voicing Uncle Fester; I stumbled upon the Addams family when I found a book of Charles Addams’ cartoons on a bookstore shelf many years ago. There was a darkness to them; however, it was always displayed in a kind and quirky way. The cast in this film was excellent with voicing their characters. However, I found the script to be mild and not funny at all. Many of the jokes were corny and predictable, though the animation was fine. There was nothing new on display and by the time the script dealt with the true focus of the story, it was quick and lackluster. By that time, I did not care much about the picture as I had to fight from nodding off. I wish the writers would have followed the television show’s theme song and produce something less bland.
FROM ALL THE ANIMALS AND PETS, I have encountered, there are two special pets that stand out the most in my mind. The first one was the very first dog we had in the family. I was around 7 or 8 years old when this small black furred puppy came into our lives. She was extremely smart, knowing which rooms in the house she could go in. The living room was off limits because it had white carpeting. You could try and coax her to come in, but she knew better; she would simply sit down at the edge of the room and observe whatever activity was taking place. I do not remember her ever being afraid of anyone; she loved everyone who came into the house. Because of her I learned a new dimension to unconditional love and friendship. In addition, I had to be told what “being in heat” meant after a couple of dogs chased me down the street while I was out walking her. I refused to walk her for the rest of the week if I remember correctly. THE OTHER PET THAT STANDS OUT in my mind was this dog that my significant other brought into our relationship. He was a “pound puppy” of mixed breeds. He grew to around 40 pounds, this furry bundle of love whose tail was always wagging. I soon began referring to him as the “shadow” because he did not like to be by himself whenever anyone was home. He would follow you from room to room; in other words, from the laundry room to the bathroom to the bedroom to the balcony; it did not matter if you were in the room for only a minute. As he grew up there was one thing neither of us could understand; he took a dislike to children. Specifically, any child who was around his height. It was the oddest thing that we finally attributed to him wanting to be the alpha dog with any kid around his size. Except for this weird trait he was a very compassionate pet. He had this sixth sense that always knew how each of us was feeling. If I was watching a DVD movie that made me tear up, he would jump into my lap and put his front paws up on my shoulders to stare me directly in the face as he licked the tears from my cheeks. He was something else, wasn’t he? I feel fortunate that I had these pets in my life, just as the individuals did with their pets in this dramatic comedy. SEVERAL PEOPLE CROSS PATHS WITH EACH other that alters their lives, all because of their pets. With Vanessa Hudgens (Beastly, Spring Breakers) as Tara, Nina Dobrev (Let’s Be Cops, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) as Elizabeth, Finn Wolfhard (It, Stranger Things-TV) as Tyler, Lauren Lapkus (Jurassic World, Blended) as Daisy and Eva Longoria (Overboard, Lowriders) as Grace; this film had a few different stories taking place at the same time. It was not confusing to watch, but I felt it may have contributed to the script remaining one dimensional throughout the story. Besides being predictable, I never felt fully engaged with what was taking place on screen. However, what I did enjoy was all the animals. I appreciated that the writers did not write script for the pets, where they would need CGI to have the animals mouth the dialog. Instead they let the expressions on the pets’ faces do the talking and it was cute I must say. Excuse my verbiage but this was a “fluffy” piece of entertainment. You could easily experience the same feelings by going to an animal shelter and seeing the animals live. The only thing you might remember if you see this picture is the pets.
1 ¾ stars
THE STUDENT POPULATION of a school forms its own world map, where borders may be harder to determine. Where you may have one group of students coming together for their common love of sports, there could be another batch of kids who form a clique based on their enjoyment of drinking and drugging. To an outsider it may be difficult to see how these individual groups come together, since its formation is more akin to the way magnets attract metal; it is an unseen force yet yields a strong pull. Added to that there may not be any way to visually determine the common attraction. Unlike a bunch of students who are into and always wearing the latest fashion trends, there are individual groups that appear to be well diversified on the surface. One thing to remember about interacting with someone from a clique is that you rarely will be dealing with that person on a one to one basis; they always have the rest of their group to back them up. BACK DURING MY school years I never really was part of a group or clique; at least I did not think so. I was part of the film club and yearbook committee. What I did not realize was the group of friends I was hanging out with actually formed a clique-those not cool enough to be in one of the popular groups. At the time I thought we all just became friends because we had the same classes together or shared common friends; but maybe it was due to the fact we were easily accessible to each other because no group would accept us. As a result we were always initially left behind from various school activities until we banded together to head out as our own group. Looking at the students I hung out with through adult eyes I can now see we did share some common interests; however, we also had distinct differences. I am sure a good portion of them had no idea what I was going through with being bullied. Having met some of my abusers in my adult life, it was apparent to me they had no idea they were evil. The students in this dramatic horror film at least all knew who was evil. WITH NO ONE to keep them safe a group of kids come together to protect themselves from an evil clown that has been terrorizing each of them. Starring Jaeden Lieberher (Midnight Special, Aloha) as Bill Denbrough, Jeremy Ray Taylor (Ant-Man, 42) as Ben Hanson, Sophia Lillis (37, A Midsummer Night’s Dream) as Beverly Marsh, Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things-TV) as Richie Tozier and Bill Skarsgard (Atomic Blonde, Allegiant) as Pennywise; the acting from all of them was surprisingly quite good. I had wished there were more scenes with Bill Skarsgard however. The script for this Stephen King (Carrie, The Shining) novel took an interesting perspective I thought. Where I had wanted more back story to Pennywise, the writers’ focused more on the kids. By doing so I felt they were using a wider definition of “monster.” As for the movie there was more suspense to the scenes than horror; there were only a couple of scenes that had gore and blood. However, there was an over abundance of strong language throughout the film. For me the underlying message of the story was actually a positive one; I connected to it as it brought back memories of my school years. Isn’t that a scary thought?