MAYBE IT IS PAYBACK OR simply karma from all those years doing nothing when we had a substitute teacher. Not that I did anything disrespectful, but allegedly I instigated a couple of disruptions. My thing back then was to shoot “spitballs” out of a hollow pen. I know that was not right; however, compared to some of the other stunts students did when we had a substitute teacher, my act was almost benign. There was one student who glued the teacher’s handbook to the desk. When the substitute came in and tried to lift the book up the back cover would not budge. The teacher had to spend time slowly trying to scrap the cover off the desk without ripping it too much. Another time we had a substitute who went to write something on the chalkboard but all the chalk and erasers were hidden by a couple of students. It was not easy for a substitute teacher to come in and take over the class for a day or two. For us students a sub meant it was going to be an easy day, at least in theory. FAST FORWARD TO WHEN I BECAME a fitness instructor full time. In the beginning I had my schedule of classes but also would help the other instructors by being a substitute for their classes. Because I am one, I totally get members who want the same thing they are used to with an instructor. Here I walk in and have my own style of teaching; you should have seen some of the faces the members would make to show their displeasure with me. I subbed for a yoga instructor and as I began my introduction a member asked if I could turn off the lights. When I explained I could do it later in the class, after I see how everyone moves in the poses; the member harrumphed, rolled up her mat and stormed out of the room. This was before I even did one pose. It is challenging to fill in for a teacher who is popular with a strong following. When members find someone they enjoy they only want to work out with that particular instructor. If a substitute comes in they must perform at their best and try to win the participants over or at least not lose them 5 minutes into the class. Therefore, I understood and felt bad for the main character in this dramatic sports film. AFTER A TRAGIC ACCIDENT THAT LEFT their volleyball team without a captain it was decided to move Kelley Fliehler, played by Erin Moriarty (Captain Fantastic, The Kings of Summer), into that position. She would not only have to win points but even harder, win over her teammates. This film based on a true story also starred Helen Hunt (The Sessions, As Good as it Gets) as Kathy Bresnahan, Tiera Skovbye (Midnight Sun, Supernatural-TV) as Brie, William Hurt (A History of Violence, Days and Nights) as Ernie Found and Danika Yarosh (Heroes Reborn-TV, Shameless-TV) as Caroline “Line” Found. The story in this picture was inspiring; however, I felt it was not executed to its best advantage. Pretty much this was a straightforward telling of the events and here is where I think the script does not do the story justice. There was nothing different about this film compared to others I have seen with this type of story. Without delving much into the characters, I never felt fully connected to any of them. The parts I enjoyed were the actual volleyball matches. Outside of that there was nothing horrible or great about this movie, which in sports talk I guess would translate it to not being a win or loss but only a tie.
It is impossible to control those things that are out of our control. This took me a long time to learn, yet periodically I still try. I came to this realization when I started my yoga studies. Prior to them, each morning I would get angry while I was stuck in traffic on the way to work. There was nothing I could do about it, though I did come up with some creative ideas on how to eliminate the cars around me. From my studies I finally made the connection that day after day I was using up my energy to get angry at something that was out of my control. I still sit in traffic every day but I stay relaxed, listening to music now. In this dramedy we got an honest portrayal of the daily challenges in a family’s life. Liev Schreiber (Salt, Defiance) and Helen Hunt (The Sessions, Twister) played married couple Ned and Jeanne. The two began to experience their daily lives veering out of control when Jeanne’s cantankerous father Ernie, played by Brian Dennehy (First Blood, Romeo + Juliet), came to live with them. At the same time their gay son Jonah, played by Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin, The Perks of Being a Wallflower), announced he wanted to attend the school’s prom. I thought the fine acting sold the majority of the multiple story lines. What did not work for me was Ned’s office. His boss Garrett’s, played by Eddie Izzard (Ocean’s Thirteen, The Cat’s Meow), extreme requests seemed too outrageous. If Eddie’s character was supposed to represent a commentary on reality television, it was lost on me. The topics of elder care and acceptance would have been enough to make a strong story. Adding the other issues, though valid in the real world, only bogged down the pacing in this film. In addition, I believe this caused the ending to be weak. I would have preferred the writers took a couple of issues and dug deeper into them. The movie kept my interest; there was no need to get angry over its flaws. Besides, there was nothing I could do about it anyway.
2 1/3 stars — DVD
Before I talk about this movie I need you to know that I rarely pay attention to what a person looks like–unless there is some hygiene thing going on. Whether tall or short, big or small, blonde or black, glasses or not; the surface of an individual has no bearing on what type of human being they can be. For me, what is inside of a person means more to me, for example a good heart and a kind soul. With that being said, I found watching Helen Hunt (As Good as it Gets, Mad About You-TV) to be a bit disturbing. Her plastic surgery has given her the appearance of a Klingon. I do not understand why she felt the need to alter her appearance. The other issue I had, which I know is more valid in reviewing this film, was the continuous loss of her Boston accent for her character Cheryl. Inspired from a true story, Cheryl was a sex surrogate hired for an unusual job. Mark O’Brien, played incredibly by John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone, The Perfect Storm), was a polio victim who only had the ability to move his head. Using an iron lung to help him breath and a gurney as his only means of transport, Mark had the blessing of Father Brendan, played by William H. Macy (Fargo, The Cooler), to try and lose his virginity. Cheryl and Mark would discover the journey was more important than the end results. This movie could have been a downer, but the witty script and flowing direction kept the story moving along in a charming way. John Hawkes was amazing in this challenging role, able to convey feelings and emotions simply with his face and words. I found this engaging Sundance Film Festival winner to be a testament to the mind being stronger than the body and the heart giving us our humanity.