SITTING CLOSE ENOUGH TO ME TO BE heard was a mother and her young son. I could not help but to hear their conversation. The little boy was whining he did not want to go visit his aunt and uncle. For every negative comment the boy made, his mother would answer with an upbeat or positive answer. If you ask me I think their conversation went on way too long. So, I will spare you most of it and only give you some highlights. When the mother asked her son why he did not want to go visit his aunt and uncle, the boy said there was nothing there to do. The mother told him he could play in their backyard. To that the boy said there was nothing in the backyard except flowers and bushes. At another point in the conversation the boy said he did not like sitting by his uncle because he smelled funny. By the way this child was, I am guessing, around 4 or 5 years old. Another thing he did not like was the aunt’s chocolate chip cookies; they were always burnt. To sum up the entire conversation the boy was always bored and uncomfortable sitting at his relatives’ house. MANY OF US MIGHT BE ABLE to relate to that conversation; where we must do something, we might not like doing. For me there was a relative that was an awful cook. Eating at their house was a chore because not only were many of the food dishes unrecognizable, they were also horrible tasting. I would always want to stop at a fast food restaurant before going to their house for dinner. Now there are other circumstances where one doesn’t want to do something they have to do. I don’t like having to go get my driver’s license renewed. The wait is always long and slow; the fear is always there that if I must take the driver’s test I will get an administrator who is in a bad mood; and the worst part, I will have to press my face into the viewer screen for the eye test portion. I can only imagine how many germs and stuff have been left on that viewer screen from all the applicants. Don’t all of us have to do things we do not want to do? It is part of life. The reason I have mentioned this is because I honestly was not looking forward to seeing this comedy. From the trailers, I had a feeling this movie would have a hard time keeping my attention. ONE SCAM ARTIST WAS SOPHISTICATED AND chic, the other raw and uncouth; when they descend on the same place it would turn into a battle for each to outdo the other. With Anne Hathaway (Ocean’s Eight, Rachael Getting Married) as Josephine Chesterfield, Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect franchise, Isn’t it Romantic) as Penny, Nicholas Woodeson (Skyfall, Disobedience) as Albert, Alex Sharp (How to Talk to Girls at Parties, UFO) as Thomas Westerburg and Dean Norris (Fist Fight, Breaking Bad-TV) as Howard Bacon; this film suffered under a variety of poor choices. First, let me talk about Rebel. She needs to stop doing the same thing over and over. This character was no different from many of her past ones. I especially dislike how the writers use her weight to create so called comedy. As for the script, it was so basic that there was nothing noteworthy about it; it was ridiculous and boring. Whenever there was the opportunity to go with the lowest common denominator, this story went with it. I told you I was not looking forward to seeing this film and now I know why. The only positive thing I can say about this movie is that I went to the morning, bargain priced showing.
1 ½ stars
I am one of those people who wants to know the lay of the land before I get to it. That is why I go to the same grocery stores; so I can go from item to item and get out quick, instead of wandering in search of the things on my shopping list. When I visit a new city for vacation I do the same thing, learn beforehand about the sights I want to see on my trip. My main purpose is to save time. It really came in handy when I visited the amusement parks in Florida. Having studied up on them I discovered when arriving at opening time, one should start at the back of the park and work their way forward. The other timesaver was to always go to the left when you had a choice; trust me it really worked. Of course, there are other reasons to become familiar with a place before entering it. Some people like to know the layout of a nightclub before going in, so they look like they have been there before. Others may want to know what would be the safest route through a neighborhood. As you can see there are a variety of reasons in knowing about a place prior to visiting it and someone in this comedy is hoping it will keep them alive. WEALTHY financier James, played by Will Ferrell (The Other Guys, The Land of the Lost), was convicted of fraud. Afraid he would not survive in prison James hired Darnell, played by Kevin Hart (Ride Along, The Wedding Ringer), the owner of his work place’s car washing service, to toughen him up before serving his sentence. If you have seen the movie trailers for this picture then you pretty much have seen the film. The language was not only strong but a good portion of it was focused on the male genitalia. Out of the cast I did not mind Craig T. Nelson (The Proposal, Poltergeist) as Martin and Alison Brie (The Five-Year Engagement, Scream 4) as Alissa. As for Will and Kevin they did nothing for me. What they did here was basically no different from what they have done in their past several movies. To this day I still cannot understand producers who seek out Kevin Hart; he is not an actor as far as I am concerned. There were a couple of lines in the script where I chuckled, but overall I found the humor was cheap and basic; just an easy cop-out as far as I was concerned. I pretty much knew beforehand how this film would play out because I had already seen previous movies that starred Kevin and Will.
1 2/3 stars
A life lived without an honest acknowledgement of one’s history is like living in a 3 walled house; eventually, the weight of reality will come crashing down. I know for I have seen it happen. When a person runs away from their life’s history, taking on a new identity, the facade never lasts long. There was someone I dated a long time ago that never talked about their childhood, parents, or even hobbies. It soon became apparent that my interests were becoming their interests. I saw how they were molding themselves to my way of living and found it unsettling. Essentially they were creating a life for themselves that was dependent on me. The problem they ran into was when there was an issue or crisis, they were ill equipped to handle it; they would implode. The relationship soon ended as I found out later they started a brand new, different life. In a powerful Oscar worthy performance Cate Blanchett (The Lord of the Rings franchise, The Aviator) played wealthy socialite Jasmine, a woman whose life crumbled apart upon the arrest of her crooked businessman husband Hal, played by Alec Baldwin (The Departed, It’s Complicated). With everything lost, Jasmine left New York for San Francisco to stay with her working class sister Ginger, played by Sally Hawkins (Made in Dagenham, Happy-Go-Lucky). Writer and director Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris, Match Point) has a knack for picking an ideal cast and letting them shine with their craft. Everyone in this drama was outstanding. Cate’s over the top brilliant performance was as perfect as it could be; she will be a front runner for the award races this year. I have never seen a poor performance from Sally and she was made to play Ginger. Besides the surprisingly excellent acting by Bobby Cannavale (Win Win, Parker) as Ginger’s boyfriend Chili; do not faint when I tell you comedian Andrew Dice Clay (Pretty in Pink, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane) as Ginger’s ex-husband Augie was living real in his role. I thought the switching of scenes from current to past events would be annoying; but instead, it gave them more intensity. There may not have been a lot of laughs but Woody’s script had a wonderful rhythm to it. This was a fascinating story about the lives people try to create for themselves.
3 1/2 stars