THE SCHOOL I ATTENDED COVERED ALL the grades from kindergarten to eighth. Despite all classes being in the same building, there was a definite division between grades. I started in kindergarten and remained a student at the school until I graduated from eighth grade. The school building never went through any type of remodeling while I was a student, except for the playground. This will be hard to believe; but when I started at the school, the playground was divided into 2 spaces, side by side. One space was smooth, looking like a paved road; the other consisted of gravel. The younger grades were assigned the smooth surfaced playground, while the older students had to take the graveled playground. During my sixth year, when I would have to switch to the gravel side, the school removed the gravel and paved the ground. Though both spaces looked the same the younger kids knew not to go over to the newly paved space; it was still meant for older students. Now it may not seem like a big deal, but what this school policy did was to teach the younger kids that there was a reward waiting for them when they got older. IT WOULD START IN FIFTH GRADE, students trying to befriend older ones. Those who already had an older sibling in a higher grade had an easier time fitting into the older crowds. I had a neighbor who was a couple of grades ahead of me. Anytime I caught a glimpse of him on the newer playground space I would try to come up with an excuse to go talk to him. Looking back at it now, it seems silly; all of us wanted to be treated like we were older, more adult-like students who did not want to be referred to as kids anymore. Girls would consider it a major achievement if they could call a student from a higher grade their boyfriend. It was almost like an obsession; for every grade one advanced, their previous grade was added to the disdain they had for anyone younger. And if anyone had a friendship with a younger student, it was kept a secret. I firmly believe all of this was the catalyst in the formation of cliques. At my school, there was no greater moniker to have than being labelled the “cool” kid. Cool would encompass a variety of traits; but it did not matter, if other students considered one cool then life at school would be good for them. An example of this can be found in this adventure comedy. BEING INVITED TO A PARTY WAS the first step in attaining cool status for Max, played by Jacob Tremblay (Room, Wonder) and his two friends. However, if they did not want to embarrass themselves, they would need to take a crash course on what cool kids do at a party. With Keith L. Williams (The Last Man on Earth-TV, Teachers-TV) as Lucas, Brady Noon (Boardwalk Empire-TV) as Thor, Molly Gordon (Booksmart, Life of the Party) as Hannah and Midori Francis (Ocean’s Eight, Younger-TV) as Lily; this film had a lot of profanity being spoken in it. At first because it was being said by elementary school kids, it was funny; however, as the story progressed it lost its shock value and seemed to be the only comedy focal point in several scenes. The three boys were excellent together and did provide a few laugh out moments in the story. I appreciated the way the writers tackled the topics of first love and evolving friendships; they were written with authenticity. For the most part I was entertained by this movie; however, I did wonder if kids today have more pressure placed on them to fit in and be considered cool.
2 ½ stars
IT WAS A SIMPLE MOTTO THAT I did not need repeated multiple times. It went like this: “Our house, our rules; their house, their rules.” Nothing more needed to be added to it. When I was home there were things I was expected and allowed to do; but, when I went to someone else’s house I had to be respectful and act according to the rules of their place. Even with my young mind back then, it made perfect sense to me. I would never go to someone else’s place and make myself comfortable without following the lead of the hosts. Even today before I walk into a person’s house I ask if they prefer I take my shoes off. I am always amazed at people who walk into someone’s place with their shoes on when they are wet or dirty from the outside. You can see where they stepped on the floor by the residue from their shoes, but they are oblivious to it somehow. I would be mortified to track in dirt from the outside into someone’s house! All I could think about is what that person’s house must look like if they are so unaware as to what they are doing. WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO FOR me is “respect.” If a person is not instilled with the importance of respect, they are susceptible to more of life’s challenges. I know such an individual. When they are over at someone’s house, it doesn’t occur to them to ask if it would be okay to do such and such. They will just go ahead and turn on an electronic device, like a television or stereo. That right there is rude to me, but there is more. Not only will they turn on something, they will fool around with the device’s settings if they feel something is not right; I was told this by the owner of the house. When the owner went to turn on the TV they could not get a station to come up on the screen; their guest at some point during their visit had made changes without informing the owner. Not that I want to step onto a soapbox right now, but right there is what I see wrong with our current times; the lack of respect. I do not expect anyone to accept my way of doing things; however, all I ask is for them to respect it. As I said earlier it all comes down to respect and it is because of that I was annoyed with one of the characters in this horror, mystery thriller. THE ONLY THING THAT WOULD PREVENT Annabelle from inflicting horror on others was to keep her locked up in a glass case that was blessed by a priest, according to husband and wife demon chasers Lorraine and Ed Warren, played by Vera Farming (The Front Runner, Source Code) and Patrick Wilson (The Commuter, Insidious franchise). Never open the case was the only rule; now if only everyone would follow the rules. With McKenna Grace (Gifted; I, Tonya) as Judy Warren, Madison Iseman (Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) as Mary Ellen and Katie Sarife (Abel’s Field, Teen Spirit) as Daniela Rios; this latest installment of the film franchise left me wanting more. I found it less scary than the ones before it. However, I will say I enjoyed McKenna’s performance the most then the other 2 young actors. There were opportunities where I felt the scenes could have been creepier, but they never went beyond a certain level. It almost felt as if the picture and story were put together quickly to cash out, while people are still aware of the Conjuring film series. I did not feel, as a viewer, I was being given much respect by the choices the movie studio made to get this movie out.
THOUGH I HAD NOT SEEN THEM for years, my memories of them were just as vivid today as they were back then. I was downsizing my living space and came upon a couple of shelves in the basement that were filled with toys. Some were in their original packaging while others were sealed in plastic bags or bins. They brought a smile to my face as I had to stop my packing and look at each one. There was a boxed game where the players had to pick 5 letters and 5 categories. Writing each one down on a mini-spreadsheet, letters going vertically down and categories across horizontally, the players would be timed as they had to fill in as many spaces as they could within the time frame. This was my favorite game outside of word games. There was a toy on the shelf that I remember getting at the same time as a cousin of mine. It was a moving track, like a miniature moving sidewalk, where I would have to steer a magnetic car through obstacles that would pop up on the revolving track. Each toy I took off the shelf provided me a fond memory; I was not sure if I could part with any of them. IT IS FUNNY HOW FOR MANY of us a toy or stuffed animal can have an influence on our life’s path. I remember playing this word game with a relative, where there was a group of dice that had letters instead of numbers on them. They would be shaken around inside a plastic cube until they settled into spaces set out like a tick tack toe graph. We would turn the timer over to start, then come up with as many words as we could using the letters showing; but, having to only connect the letters down or up and side to side, nothing diagonal. It was this early game that started my love of reading and writing. There was also a babysitter of mine who each time she sat for me would bring me a stuffed animal. I am convinced that menagerie started my affection and first educational direction for animals. Let me say at one time I had almost 2 dozen stuffed animals sleeping with me; I could barely move in the bed. Now it has been many years since I played with toys and stuffed animals; but I must tell you, I was pleasantly surprised seeing the familiar characters again in this latest installment of the animated, adventure franchise. WITH A COUPLE OF DISCARDED ITEMS and a little imagination Bonnie, voiced by Madeleine McGraw (American Sniper, Ant-Man and the Wasp), created a new toy for herself. The problem was convincing this new addition that he belonged in her toy collection; something Woody, voiced by Tom Hanks (The Post, Sully), thought he could fix. With Tim Allen (3 Geezers!, Last Man Standing-TV) voicing Buzz Lightyear, Tony Hale (Stranger than Fiction, American Ultra ) voicing Forky and Annie Potts (Ghostbusters, Pretty in Pink) voicing Bo Peep; this film was one of the few sequels I have seen that maintained the high standards of its previous movies. The animation was outstanding, and the humor was appropriate and relevant for both children and adults. Also, the story was thoughtful and cleverly laid out to take adult type themes and present them in such a way that was easy for kids to digest. I experienced a variety of feelings from excitement to tension to love; each expertly fitted into the script without overpowering one another. The movie studio did a wonderful job in keeping the integrity intact for this beloved film franchise. I may never get rid of my toys now. There were 4 extra scenes during the 1sthalf of the credits.
3 ½ stars
There is nothing wrong having the support and guidance of a parent or sibling helping you as you begin your years of schooling. An older brother or sister can certainly steer you away from the many unintentional land mines of uncertainty that you may come across in your life. But as you progress from grade to grade, there is nothing like having a best friend who is living and experiencing the same things you are on a daily basis. Whether it is suffering through a challenging homework assignment or discovering a new rock band, being able to share any and every emotion with a best friend is incredibly special. I have been blessed more than once with the presence of several best friends throughout my entire life. To this day I can remember calling up the new kid in my 6th grade class to see if he wanted to go to the library with me. Though we already knew of our similar interests; it was not until later while sitting at the local fast food outlet for a milkshake, that we found out we grew up with the same type of background, beginning a friendship that would last for decades. Ginger and Rosa, played by Elle Fanning (Super 8, Deja Vu) and Alice Englert (Beautiful Creatures, 8), had a comparable relationship to the one I just described. Growing up during the early 1960s in London, Ginger and Rosa were inseparable friends. With the threat of nuclear proliferation coming into view, the girls’ close bond began to branch out into different interests. These new paths would eventually lead to an incident that caused a fissure to form in their lifelong friendship. The main asset in this film festival nominated film was Elle Fanning. For her age, I am so impressed with her acting capacity; she certainly has screen presence. Helping her and the other actors was the decision to shoot them multiple times in close-up. Add in the subdued lighting created a moodiness that accentuated the tensions forming between the characters. Christina Hendricks (Drive, Mad Men-TV) and Alessandro Nivola (Coco Before Chanel, The Eye) were durable as Ginger’s parents Natalie and Roland. The script was the weak link in this dramatic film; there were parts of the story that dragged for me. An interesting interpretation on the definition of friendship that was fortunate to have Elle as one of the friends.
2 3/4 stars — DVD