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Flash Movie Review: Fist Fight

SCANDALOUS is what it was when students discovered the English teacher was dating the PE teacher. The news spread through the student body faster than a 4th of July firecracker going off. There were 2 big reasons why this relationship was perceived as scandalous. The first one was the idea of teachers dating. Keep in mind for a young elementary student a teacher, at least back during my time, was an authority figure. When they told us something, we followed their instructions without any back talk. Teachers had a high place in the parental hierarchy; none of the students ever looked at their teachers as regular human beings. As I write this I know it must sound weird but I remember my teachers being kind, crazy, tough, cold and gentle; they ruled the room not with an iron fist but with a purpose. The idea that a teacher would have a social life was odd. None of us ever saw our teachers out and about in the neighborhood; in fact, the only time we would not see them in school was on a field trip. So the shocked students not only had to process a teacher was dating but two teachers and they were dating each other—unimaginable.     THE other big reason this news about our 2 teachers was eye popping was the fact they were not of the same race. It was a different time back then simply because there were not many examples of mixed race relationships. If a child has not been exposed to different possibilities, then seeing one of the options in the flesh can be startling to say the least. I can still remember hearing some students questioning what color the children would be if the two teachers ever got married. You can imagine how this dating news changed many students’ perceptions about teachers. I do not know if it would be correct to say this but all of a sudden teachers were no longer considered infallible; not that they were doing anything wrong, just living their lives. If you think anything I have said was shocking then you might not be prepared for what happens between teachers in this comedy.     AFTER being fired from his teaching position because fellow teacher Andy Campbell, played by Charlie Day (Pacific Rim, Horrible Bosses franchise), snitched on him to the school’s principle; Strickland, played by Ice Cube (Ride Along franchise, 21 Jump Street franchise) challenged Andy to a knockout fist fight in the playground after school. The students were already taking bets. This film was painful to watch because I have a hard time watching bullies picking on people. I did not mind Charlie’s performance though after a while the delivery of his lines became annoying. His character had some truth in him that I wished the writers would have explored; but the goal of this script was to get some cheap, easy laughs. On one level one could say the script was creating a commentary on our public school system, however the thought was not expanded. I know the current school experience is totally different to when I was in school, but a good portion of this movie’s actions were farfetched. The best part for me was the blooper reel at the beginning of the credits.

 

1 ¾ stars      

 

 

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Flash Movie Review: Barbershop: The Next Cut

When we get together we not only come up with solutions to each of our problems, but we can provide the same for most of the world’s issues. There is something about getting together with friends on a regular basis to hash out anything that is troubling one of us at the time. I am part of a small group who has gotten together every three months for many years now. It is a time for us to take a break from the daily treadmill of our lives to catch up with each other and share a meal. I wish I could say I can solve any problem I am experiencing; but the fact remains, extra opinions can provide different pathways to a solution that I am not wired to come up with on my own. Because I feel every single person has a unique set of skills (doesn’t this sound like the beginning of a Liam Neeson movie?), there is always an opportunity to learn something new from other people. Another great aspect of getting together with friends is the sense of community and support. I am a person who needs down time, where I remove myself from the outside world. Having a re-occurring date to mingle with friends energizes, enlightens and relaxes me among other things. There is someone I know who leads a support group for like-minded individuals; they meet once every 4 to 8 weeks with the purpose to share their experiences on that night’s topic. I know what I am about to say is a cliché, but there is some truth in the phrase, “strength in numbers.” The people at this barbershop are the proof.   WITH the neighborhood changing business partners Calvin and Angie, played by Ice Cube (Ride Along franchise, 21 Jump Street franchise) and Regina Hall (Scary Movie franchise, Think Like a Man), came up with an idea they hoped would start a change in the residents. This dramatic comedy sequel took me by surprise. It is difficult to blend comedy and drama in a story, yet I felt the writers did a real good job with this script. The movie was relevant as it tackled the issue of violence in a major metropolitan city. A tough topic to be sure; but the actors such as Cedric the Entertainer (The Soul Man-TV, A Haunted House franchise) as Eddie, Common (Selma, Now You See Me) as Rashad and Nicki Minaj (The Other Woman) as Draya provided a balanced mixture of humor and seriousness. All the actors I found created a believable sense of community. I know I saw the previous films but honestly I do not remember them; it was not an issue in viewing this picture. Where Spike Lee’s film Chi-Raq tackled the same topic, I liked seeing the contrast in the way this movie handled it. Who knew one could learn so much from one small barbershop in the city of Chicago.

 

3 stars  

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Ride Along 2

It is hard to tell someone what they are attempting to do is not very good. I am not referring to someone’s behavior or actions per se, more as a reality check to a person’s desire. Many of you may have seen these reality shows where a person auditions to be part of the program, as a singer or dancer. I am all for encouraging a person to pursue their dreams, but some of the people I have seen on these television shows appear to have been chosen solely to amuse the viewing audience. I find it perplexing that the contestant claims their family and friends said they would make a great singer or dancer, when it is obvious they cannot carry a tune or stay on beat. Remembering one of my writing classes, there was a student who wanted to be a writer. Through class discussions we found out his family encouraged him by holding mini story times for him to read his stories to the family. Based on what he read in our class, his stories tended to follow a formula: the endings always involved someone dying and the use of profanity was meant to shock the reader since its use rarely fit his characters. He did pass the class but by junior year he either dropped out of school or changed majors; I never saw him again. I do not think anyone wants or enjoys having to be the one to perform the reality check, but isn’t it preferable to watching the person go through with some ill-advised life decisions based on unrealistic hopes? There was a similar situation taking place in this comedic sequel.    BEN Barber, played by Kevin Hart (The Wedding Ringer, Get Hard), was positive he was on the right path to becoming a permanent police officer when he accompanied his future brother-in-law Detective James Payton, played by Ice Cube (21 Jump Street franchise, Barbershop franchise), to Miami to help solve a case. James was convinced Ben could not handle the pressure. If you saw the original movie and enjoyed it then you will be in store for the exact same thing in this film. I first have to say I do not consider Kevin an actor; he is exactly the same in every role I have seen him in previously. Regarding this action picture, there were many aspects of it that irritated me. The jokes about Kevin’s height (is this a requirement for every one of his movies?), the jokes about the two characters becoming brother-in-laws and the lack of a solid story all contributed to my boredom. However I did enjoy Ken Jeong (The Hangover franchise, All About Steve) as A.J. and Benjamin Bratt (Miss Congeniality, Demolition Man) as Antonio Pope. This film as far as I was concerned was a quick money grab by the movie studio. Someone needs to tell them they are not producing a decent product if this is what they come up with for a sequel.

 

1 3/4 stars

 

 

 

Flash Movie Review: 22 Jump Street

They may be called a bestie, a homeboy, a BFF or bestbud; but they all refer to a best friend. This is the person who has the ability to step into your shadow and know what is going inside your head before you utter a single word. The two of you share a certain rhythm that permeates into your physical and emotional state, allowing both of you to share in similar reactions. Once a bond has formed between the two of you, it grows deeper and fuller throughout life like the roots of a mighty tree. Except for a conscious parting of the ways, there is nothing that can interfere with the tightness you each feel towards the other. Now this does not imply that the relationship will never evolve because it will. When one of the pair meets someone who they want to hang out with or date, it cannot be helped that the dynamics will change between both of you. Depending on the situation there may be hurt feelings or a sense of abandonment. In this action comedy Officer Schmidt, played by Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street, Moneyball), was feeling left out when his partner Jenko, played by Channing Tatum (The Vow, White House Down), started hanging out with football quarterback Zook, played by Wyatt Russell (This is 40, Cowboys & Aliens). In this sequel Schmidt and Jenko had to go undercover as college students to try and find the drug dealer who was selling a lethal drug on campus. This crime film does not hide the fact that the story is essentially the same as the previous movie, where the partners were pretending to be high school students. In fact the characters joke about it in a tongue and cheek type of way. Ice Cube (Ride Along, Friday) who reprised his role as Captain Dickson had more scenes in this film, a couple were quite funny. Everything that made you laugh in the first movie was incorporated into this sequel. I enjoyed the stunts, gags and dialog for the most part; it was obvious Channing and Jonah were both having a good time. The issue I had with this version had to do with the jokes; the writers let some of them drag on too long. The first time may be funny but to come back to the same themes over and over got old for me. I wished they would have expanded the story more than they did; but I understood they did not want to tamper with a winning formula. However, I have to tell you I thought the ending credits were more creative than parts of the movie. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.

 

2 1/2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Ride Along

It could start with what appears to be a simple look between siblings, but you know there is more behind the momentarily locked glance. You have been sitting at the restaurant table all this time wanting to eliminate your bladder but you refuse to excuse yourself from the table, leaving the siblings alone to talk about you. The reason is you have been in a relationship for a few months and today is the day you are meeting the sister for the very first time and you know what that means. I do not care what anyone says but one of the hardest parts of dating someone new is meeting family members or the best friend for the first time. Sure they may tell me this will be a friendly get together but I know better; the family member or friend is coming in to offer their assessment of me as potential partner material. I will never forget meeting a date’s 14 year old daughter, who did not make eye contact with me once during the first 2 courses of the meal. It was not until dessert, when the subject turned to current music, that she looked at me in amazement with my familiarity of current music. Little did I know that teaching aerobics would provide me with this extra benefit for my get together. Seeking sibling approval was the premise for this action comedy. Kevin Hart (Grudge Match, This is the End) played security guard and hopeful police cadet, Ben Barber who was hoping to get the blessing from Atlanta policeman James Payton, played by Ice Cube (21 Jump Street, Barbershop), to marry his sister Angela, played by Tika Sumpter (Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas, Salt). The only way James would accept Ben is if he could survive one day riding with James while on duty. If you like Kevin’s style of humor then you might enjoy this picture better than I did. I do not consider Kevin an actor since I have now seen him in a few films and see no difference between him in concert or portraying a character in a movie; he is always the same. Ice Cube has some acting ability but in this movie he predominately gave a variety of mean looking scowls. The movie trailers already showed a majority of the humorous parts; the only aspect missing were the few action scenes. There was nothing very original here. If you want my opinion, consider taking public transportation and avoid going on this ride along.

 

1 3/4 stars

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