YOU WILL KNOW WHEN YOU are experiencing an acute stress response. It is a physiological reaction that happens when you feel threatened; a real threat where you feel you may get attacked or seriously hurt. The reaction stimulates the pituitary and adrenal glands which releases hormones that have an immediate effect on your body’s systems. A few of the changes that takes place involve an increase in blood pressure, faster heart and lung activity, the constriction of blood vessels in parts of the body and tunnel vision or the loss of peripheral vision. All of this prepares your body to either fight or take flight; it is how animals survive in the wild. The amount of energy you will expend might surprise you. This is not something I hope you experience in your lifetime; trust me, it will take time to recover from such an episode. I remember when I was in a situation where I thought I was going to be severely beaten and my body immediately went on fight/flight mode. The tunnel vision thing happened to me as I ran faster than I had ever done before for at least 3-4 city blocks, trying to escape my attackers. Once I felt I was out of harm’s way my body slowed down and I realized I was drenched in sweat. IN MY FITNESS CLASSES I always try to add a short period of time devoted to anaerobic activity. Anaerobic means occurring without free oxygen, pushing the body to function at a quicker pace; just like the body reacting during an acute stress response. High caliber athletes train in a similar way so they have a deeper reserve of energy to tap into when they need to kick it up a gear. The reason I do this is so a person is prepared or has a better chance if they ever find themselves in a situation that appears to be life threatening. I do not announce that in class, simply coax members gently to push a little harder. There was a news report some years ago that I may have mentioned before, but it is still as clear in my memory as when it was first on the news. A driving accident took place and a person was pinned underneath the car. The passengers wedged themselves out of the car and lifted it high enough to move the victim out. I believe one of the passengers was a mother who was the first to spring into action after the crash, that primal instinct bursting forth. You are not familiar with that force? Then feel free to watch the mother in this thriller. WITH HER CHILDREN BEING HELD HOSTAGE by four burglars; would Shaun Russell’s, played by Gabrielle Union (Deliver Us from Eva, Think Like a Man franchise) primal instinct to protect her children be more than a match for these criminals? With Billy Burke (Fracture, The Twilight Saga franchise) as Eddie, Richard Cabral (End of Watch, Walk of Shame) as Duncan, Ajiona Alexus (Acrimony, Empire-TV) as Jasmine and Seth Carr (Black Panther, Terminator Genisys) as Glover; this film’s saving grace was Gabrielle. I was both impressed and surprised how good she was in the role. Her performance reminded me a little of Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde. However, the script for this thriller failed to deliver anything new. I thought the character Eddie’s dialog was so unemotional that there was no sense of him being sinister, though the character Duncan did his best to be the ”crazy” one. And that was my issue about this picture; it was so basic and predictable that I was getting bored. It is sad for all the physical work Gabrielle put into this movie the rewards could not have been better. I wish some of that primal energy had been devoted to making the script more intense.
1 ¾ stars
THE main dinner entrée was being passed around the table, leaving wisps of steam in its path. Each guest was putting a portion of it on their plates. However halfway around the large oval table one guest reversed course and sent the platter back from the direction it had traveled. The guest on the other side who did not get a chance to take some of the entrée did not say a word. It only took the platter traveling backwards a couple of places before a guest asked everyone seated around the table if they had gotten the main course. Half the people around the table said no and the platter made its way around to the rest of the guests. By the way all the guests were related to each other. THAT guest who reversed course was a sister to the woman she snubbed sitting next to her; they do not speak to each other. As the meal progressed there was an uncle who was telling his brother-in-law what he should have done differently in raising his children. A few seats down from him was a relative who had no filters and after they took their first bite into the main entrée they announced to anyone who would listen that the food was overcooked. If that was not enough, sitting next to this individual was a cousin who was complaining to another cousin about a relative who was not in attendance who they felt had awful taste in clothing and was too heavy to wear that type of clothing anyway. To an outsider who was privy to this circle of relatives they would view all of the guests as vipers. However, not all families show their true colors to outsiders. The family in this dramatic comedy was no different. CELEBRATING his first Christmas without his wife all Walter, played by Danny Glover (The Color Purple, Shooter), wanted for the holiday was to have all of his children with him without any arguments. Considering his kids he may have wished for too much. With a cast that included Kimberly Elise (Diary of a Mad Black Woman, For Colored Girls) as Cheryl and Gabrielle Union (Think like a Man franchise, Top Five) as Rachael, the two actors that stood out the most were Mo’Nique (Precious, The Parkers-TV) as Aunt May and J.B. Smoove (We Bought a Zoo, The Sitter) as Uncle Lonnie. These 2 characters could easily be spun off into their own film. As for this picture there were some fun scenes along with a few touching ones. I do have to say if Mo’Nique and J.B. Smoove were not in the movie I would have been bored more than I experienced. The reason being was the story followed a formula for family dysfunctions. Or maybe I am just used to these types of events. Lol But seriously it was easy to figure out the punch line to the gags and jokes. For lighter fare this movie would be fine to watch if you want to chuckle or laugh, but this film does not reveal anything special. I cannot say you would get coal in your stocking for going to this comedy but maybe you might want to wait for a holiday sale.
2 ¼ stars
Some people’s costumes are more surprising than other ones. With my philosophy about our bodies being rented, add on the things we wear and sometimes we can transform ourselves into a different type of individual. What one person wears for work may change the way they look to someone else. After all these years I still am fascinated when I come across a member from one of my classes outside and away from the health club. Having seen them only in workout wear, it can be a real contrast to see someone dressed up in their work costume such as a power suit or uniform. In fact, the same thing happens to me all the time when a member sees me somewhere other than class. For myself I may form an impression about the person based on our interactions in class; but then when I see them in a different setting, my impression may be out of synch. We all form impressions of people; I refer to it as taking an imaginary photo of a person with our mind and placing it in our back pocket to check on later after spending more time with them. Sometimes the two impressions will match but other times it may be hard to believe what is right in front of our eyes. FROM playing a talking bear comedic actor Andre Allen, played by Chris Rock (Head of State, Grown Ups franchise), wanted to be taken seriously. With his upcoming wedding to television reality star Erica Long, played by Gabrielle Union (Good Deeds, Cadillac Records); Andre hoped his choice to take on a serious role to play a slave in a dramatic serious film would change people’s minds about him. Written and directed by Chris, this film festival winning comedy was a smart vehicle for Chris to really shine in the public’s eye. One could say parts of the film seemed to mirror Chris’ life, but there was more to this movie. The script had elements of satire, parody, humor, surprise and vulnerability; though, the straightforward story arc was a bit predictable. I thought the chemistry worked well between the actors which also included Rosario Dawson (Sin City franchise, Cesar Chavez) as Chelsea Brown and Cedric the Entertainer (A Haunted House franchise, Larry Crowne) as Jazzy Dee. I enjoyed watching this picture and especially got a kick out of the cameo performances. There was enough bite in this comedy to chew on without choking. Chris left me with a wider impression than I had when I first walked into the theater. There was an extra short scene at the beginning of the credits.
Years of learning to clear my dinner plate of all food has taught me to appreciate the importance of having food guests want to eat. I have had dinner parties where most of the meal has dishes I do not like. But I was raised with the notion that no one should leave the dinner table hungry, so I tend to make a variety of main and side dishes. In my mind this is what a host is supposed to do. It is the same if you are hosting an event outside of the home, such as being the best man/woman for a bachelor/bachelorette party. Being responsible for entertaining and feeding the invited guests, the best person usually does everything they can to make it a memorable bash. For some individuals money is no object, even if multiple charge cards are employed in making the event. What host would want any of their guests not having a good time? Certainly not Cedric, played by Kevin Hart (Ride Along, About Last Night), who was the best man of a wedding party in this comedy. The same could be said for Lauren, played by Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Date Night), who was hosting a bachelorette party the same time as the guys’ big night. In this sequel the friends descend onto Las Vegas to celebrate the wedding of Candace, played by Regina Hall (Law Abiding Citizen, Scary Movie franchise). Nothing was going to get in the way of a good time, even Kristen’s future mother-in-law Loretta, played by Jennifer Lewis (Hereafter, Meet the Browns). For those of you who enjoyed the first movie, more than likely you will have a good time watching this sequel. As for me my 1st and biggest complaint has to do with Kevin Hart. I have seen enough of his movies (not always by choice) to see he has very little acting talent. Each of his performances consist of him screeching in an annoying vocal pitch, dishing out insults in a machine gun style of rapid fire barbs while being the recipient of a multitude of put-downs. As far as I could tell there were no original jokes in this cheap, tired mess. Everything was easy to follow since it was so predictable. I was bored throughout the picture; however, I will say I liked the lip sync video to the song “Poison,” though it was a ploy to fill up the running time because the writers evidently had run out of ideas. Oh wait, that is not right; the writers had no ideas, using standard situations that were done before. Hosting a movie night at my house, I would be embarrassed to show this film. There was a brief extra scene at the end of the credits.
1 2/3 stars