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Flash Movie Review: Dumplin’

A SINGLE NICKNAME CAN PROVIDE A PERSON with unlimited joyfulness. It also can stab you, leaving a noticeable scar on your psyche. I have been the recipient to a multitude of nicknames. Within my family I have a nickname that was given to me at a young age. Only family members refer to me with this nickname. At school I had other nicknames that were ugly; ugly in the sense they sprung from a place of hatred. Anytime I heard one of these nicknames I would mentally hunker down, doing my best to tune out the sounds around me. I wasn’t the only one who was bestowed a nasty nickname. There was one boy who was bestowed with the moniker, Booger Nose. He was called this name for a few years at least. There was another boy who had a Germanic last name, sounding like something large and overbearing. It did not help that the boy was overweight with large features and thick glasses. He received a nickname that was a twist on his last name, making it sound like grizzly bear. It was not a far leap to see the name was picked to match his girth, especially when you would hear the way the boys said it.      THE NICKNAMES THAT PIQUE MY EARS are the ones that are not recognizable words. I know someone who is referred to as Deeb by their significant other. The name was a combination of two English words, but you would not be aware of them just by this one name. The words were picked to describe a feeling between the couple; something they only share with each other. There is another person I know who has the nickname T-Dub. It is a combination of a couple of sounds in their name. These types of made up words are terms of endearment between two people; though, others may use the words as a sign of familiarity. I happen to remember every nickname given to me, even though several of them have not been uttered in decades. Some of the people who come up with these nicknames may not realize the damage they are inflicting on the individual. A few of you may remember how I rarely ever utter the “F” word pertaining to overweightness. I have heard that word and its variations enough in my younger days to last a lifetime. With my sensitivity to nicknames, I was immediately struck with the one the main character was given in this film festival nominated movie.      WITH SO MANY PEOPLE AROUND HER focused on her weight Willowdean, played by Danielle MacDonald (Every Secret Thing, Patti Cake$), decided to enter a beauty pageant to make a political statement. And the pageant happened to be run by her mother Rosie, played by Jennifer Aniston (Cake, We’re the Millers), a former beauty pageant winner. This comedic, musical drama also starred Odeya Rush (Lady Bird, The Giver) as Ellen, Maddie Baillio (Hairspray Live-TV movie) as Millie and Bex Taylor-Klaus (The Last Witch Hunter, Arrow-TV) as Hannah. Though the story has been done before in various ways, I thoroughly enjoyed the execution of it in this movie. Danielle was wonderful in her role, to the point I could relate to parts of her character. Make no mistake, the message the writers were conveying came across fully without being preachy. Now granted the story hit close to home for me, but I feel I am being objective here. I enjoyed the cast and felt they interacted well together. Part of the reason fell on the director; I thought the subtleness in several scenes was the perfect touch to accentuate the story and message. Willowdean’s nickname is one that I think I will remember for a long time.

 

3 stars — DVD

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Flash Movie Review: Office Christmas Party

THEY had known me for several years. Every week the friends would come to my class. After class they would stay behind to thank me or ask about a certain movement we did in class; in fact, we talked on the fitness floor whenever I was there doing weight training. So imagine how amused I was when I bumped into them at a restaurant and they did not recognize me. Not until I told them my name did they realize I was their aerobics instructor. We laughed about it as they blamed their confusion on the fact I was not dressed in my workout attire; I was dressed in a pair of jeans and a sweater without my baseball cap.   THIS type of scenario happens to me quite often; truth be told I have done the same thing when a member from my class comes up to me outside of the health club. Isn’t it funny how a different set of clothes and different environment alter one’s perceptions? It works the same way I believe in any work environment. I worked at a place for several years with the same employees for most of the time. Every day we would talk to each other during one of our breaks or lunchtime; but it was not until we had our 1st holiday party where I learned several of my fellow employees had a completely different life than the perceptions I had formed from our daily communications. It was almost like an alter ego; for example, there was one employee who was a falconer and another who was part of a dance troupe in the city. I do not know if we would have found these facts out if it wasn’t for that holiday party.   DETERMINED to keep his company’s branch open and prove his sister CEO Carol Vanstone, played by Jennifer Aniston (We’re the Millers, Horrible Bosses franchise), wrong; Clay Vanstone, played by T.J. Miller (Deadpool, Silicon Valley-TV), decided to have a huge holiday party to woo a potential client. The only issue was whether the representative liked to party. This comedy came with quite a competent cast of actors such as Jason Bateman (The Family Fang, The Gift) as Josh Parker, Olivia Munn (Ride Along franchise, Magic Mike) as Tracey Hughes and Kate McKinnon (Ghostbusters, Masterminds) as Mary. Filmed in Chicago, the scenes were a mix of indoor and outdoor shots. The story may have been a good idea, but I did not find anything new compared to other movies of this type. There were a few scenes where I chuckled and surprisingly I thought Jason Bateman was the weak link in the story. As for the script it could have used a rewrite to tighten up some of the scenes that dragged on for me. Granted I have never attended a holiday party like the one in this film, but at some point I thought the story was getting ridiculous. The feeling I had after the film was over was neither a positive or negative one; it was just an okay feeling, though I did enjoy the outtakes early in the ending credits. If your employer throws a party like the one depicted in this picture, maybe you will have a better time watching this party.

 

2 stars

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Mother’s Day

Mothers always had the right answers and could do anything is what I believed. My first introduction to the possibility this was not true was the evil stepmother from the animated movie Cinderella. At the time I did not know there was a wide assortment of different types of mothers in the world. As I grew up I met mothers who always had home baked cookies and cakes in their house; I cannot lie they were my favorites. There was one mother who talked funny and slept a lot. It was not until later I learned about drunkenness. In my adult life I have heard many stories about people’s mothers, some great and others awful. One individual told me their mother used to hit them with any inanimate object within her grasp, from an ashtray to a landline phone. From the variety of tales I learned not every woman is cut out to be a mother. I know I have mentioned in the past the story about a friend who was on a jury for a case about a woman who killed her son. As you can see I have had the fortune and misfortune of learning about many different people in the mother role. But I do not want this part of the review to be a downer so let me just say mothers are special. I do not know the history of how we wound up picking one day to celebrate our mothers. One day is not enough in my opinion; I am familiar with some amazing mothers. I just wonder what type of relationship the writers and director of this movie had with their mothers.   JUST in time for Mother’s Day this comedic drama had several story lines that all had to do with mothers. Starring Jennifer Aniston (We’re the Millers, Cake) as Sandy, Kate Hudson (The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Something Borrowed) as Jesse, Julia Roberts (The Normal Heart-TV movie; Mirror, Mirror) as Miranda and Jason Sudeikis (Sleeping with Other People, Horrible Bosses franchise) as Bradley; each of the stories were plausible. The issue with this film is that it not only does nothing new with the idea but it used racist and prejudicial comments to tell it. I felt like this movie was just slapped together using the same formula the director Gary Marshall (Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve) had used before. Also, I found the humor dated so I did not find much that amused me. Now this does not mean there wasn’t anything good about this picture; there were a couple of individual stories I wished the writers would have expanded on. But since they didn’t I was bored a majority of the time. I cannot imagine anyone paying full price for this mess of a movie. It makes more sense to me to wait for cable or a DVD rental if you really want to see this picture. If this film was a present for the writers’ and director’s mothers then all I can say is therapy would have helped them deal with their issues.

 

1 ½ stars

 

Flash Movie Review: Cake

There are two types of trauma that affect our body, physical and emotional. Each one has its own unique ramifications on how they are handled. When a bone gets broken in the body, there are ways it gets repaired which usually are visible to everyone as it slowly heals. I remember as a kid when someone would get their arm or leg in a cast it was like a badge of honor. They would have all their friends sign the cast and the goofier the message the better. You would have thought I had found the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow when I had found at the local discount store a pen that had gold ink. I thought it was the coolest thing as I would print my messages out in extra large letters. As for emotional trauma, the body usually handles it in such a way that a bystander may not even know something is going on. Emotional trauma cannot only last longer in a person it can do more damage. It can feel as if the person has been trapped in a dilapidated house with unusable windows, where pieces or chunks of wall are dropping on them periodically as a reminder of their pain.    JENNIFER Aniston (We’re the Millers, The Bounty Hunter) played lawyer Claire Bennett, a woman suffering with severe pain. When Nina Collins, played by Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect, Into the Woods), a member from Claire’s chronic pain support group committed suicide, Claire began an unusual fixation on Nina’s former life and the life of her widower Roy, played by Sam Worthington (Avatar, Man on a Ledge). This film festival winning drama was all about Jennifer. I have to give her credit for stretching her acting skills to undertake this role. She was excellent to the point that there were times I was cringing along with her as she dealt with her pain. The relationship she had with her housekeeper Silvana, played by Adriana Barraza (Thor, Drag Me to Hell), was especially interesting to watch throughout the film. With Jennifer doing such a good job of acting, it was disappointing the script was not stronger to support her. There were parts of the story that were flat. Also, I do not think it helped having Jennifer’s back story getting revealed in a piecemeal way; some viewers would find it annoying. I think if the writers would not have kept this story in its simplified form it would have been more interesting overall. Based on her performance it was apparent Jennifer was tapping into some traumatic memories, but I am not sure movie goers would feel her pain.

 

2 1/2 stars

Flash Movie Review: Horrible Bosses 2

Nothing came to mind; this was quite unusual because it had never happened before. I wondered if I was still suffering from the overdose of tryptophan I ingested during the past holiday weekend. Maybe I should not have tried the variety of desserts that caused me distress from that post sugar high. I did not think it was the mediocre movies that played this past weekend; or maybe, they actually lulled my brain into a quiet stupor that it had not reawakened from as of yet. The pessimistic voice inside of me was audible; telling me I was a fraud and this had all been a sham. Those who regularly read my movie reviews know I start out talking about the personal connection I made to the film. I have always said as long as a movie can move you then it has done its job. It was the strangest thing however when I started to write my review today; for the life of me, I could not recall one iota of a connection I felt to this comedy sequel.    HAVING left their jobs best friends Nick Hendricks, Kurt Buckman and Dale Arbus; played by Jason Bateman (Bad Words, Up in the Air), Jason Sudeikis (Hall Pass, We’re the Millers) and Charlie Day (Pacific Rim, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia-TV); decided to start their own company to be their own bosses. They thought everything was working out perfectly after they showed the product they invented to wealthy investor Bert Hanson, played by Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained, Carnage). However, their meeting with Bert would lead the friends to come up with a diabolical plan. If you did not see the previous film to this sequel, it probably will not make too much of a difference for you in following the story. Jennifer Aniston (We’re the Millers, The Bounty Hunter), returned as foul-mouthed Dr. Julia Harris. I honestly could not find any positive things to say about this picture except that I was grateful it was less than 2 hours long. The gags and jokes were juvenile and monotonous; even with both Jasons’ quick sharp deliveries. The story had very little connection to the previous movie which led me to believe this film was a labor of love for the paycheck. If you saw the film trailer then you have seen the majority of what this film will be. For the most part I was bored, finding very little to even chuckle at during the scenes. To tell you the truth, the story was a cheap knockoff to a couple of previous movies that did the job better. I guess it was a good thing after all that I could not find a personal connection to this dreadful film. Strong language was used in the film.

1 1/2 stars 

Flash Movie Review: We’re the Millers

Have you ever been introduced to someone and a red flag went off in your head that something was just not right? It happens to me periodically. When a close friend introduced a friend of hers to me, my radar went off when he told me he had heard I was a fitness instructor and he was one also. Asking him what type of classes and where he taught, his answers were vague. I started to get the feeling he was not telling me the truth and wondered if he was being honest with my friend, who was interested in him romantically. When she later asked me for my opinion I was honest with her and told her to be careful. It turned out this guy constantly lied to her, so any romantic seeds she had were quickly killed. People withhold the truth or lie for many reasons, just look at the cast in this movie. More than likely you will be glad they were fibbing because you will be laughing at them. Jason Sudeikis (The Campaign, Hall Pass) played drug dealer David Clark. Forced to take a job smuggling marijuana across the border from Mexico, David came up with a plan to turn himself into an RV driving dad on a road trip. Jason’s style of sarcastic humor played well with his role in this comedy. With Jennifer Aniston (Wanderlust, Horrible Bosses) playing Rose O’Reilly as his fake wife, there was Emma Roberts (Wild Child, Nancy Drew) and Will Poulter (Son of Rambow, Wild Bill) as Casey Mathis and Kenny Rossmore, the couple’s pretend children. The four of them created a workable and funny family to watch. I found the script did not provide any surprises; it was easy to see where scenes would go. However, there were parts where I laughed out loud. At a couple of points the story steered towards sentimental drama, but kept things light and brief before retreating back to the humor of the situation. I was concerned the trailers were showing the best parts of this movie; however, it turned out this comedy of crime was good for some easy laughs. Strong language was used throughout the film and a brief scene had a glimpse of blood in it.

 

2 2/3 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Switch

Before viewing this movie one has to ask if they believe a person can sustain a friendship with a member of the opposite gender. If the answer is no, I do not think they will buy into the story in this film. Not only do I think it is possible to maintain friendships with people of the opposite gender, I feel it is part of having a healthy life. My circle of friends surround me like the ever expanding rings caused by a pebble being dropped into a still pond of water. The first ring consists of my closest friends. In my inner circle I have one of my oldest, long term friends; we dated each other in 8th grade. She and I can share some of our most intimate thoughts without the fear of being judged. The following rings contain friends and acquaintances of various closeness. In this comedy best friends Wally Mars, played by Jason Bateman (Up in the Air, Disconnect) and Kassie Larson, played by Jennifer Aniston (Horrible Bosses, Wanderlust), had a similar relationship. However their relationship took on added meaning the night of a special party. After Kassie decided to have a baby by artificial insemination, she searched and found the perfect donor in Roland, played by Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, Insidious). The night of the donor party Wally became so drunk, he had no recollection of his actions. Let me first say I was not comfortable with the story’s premise. I know it was needed to make this film, but on some level what Wally did went against my grain. That being said, Jason and Jennifer worked well together. I thought the child acting brothers Thomas (The Protector-TV) and Bryce Robinson (Marley & Me, Valentine’s Day) as Sebastian did a wonderful job. In addition, it was fun to see Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park franchise, Independence Day) in a light comedic role as Wally’s boss Leonard. In reality this would be an unlikely story; but as a movie, it did offer some amusing scenes. I accept my friends with all their flaws and neurosis; it goes the same for this film.

2 1/3 stars — DVD

Flash Movie Review: Horrible Bosses

One of my first bosses thought he inherited a kingdom instead of a business from his father. I had an inkling of this during my first week at the job. The owner came into the warehouse, took off his shoes, handed them and a shoe shining kit he was carrying to an employee and told the worker to go shine them. I was flabbergasted by the owner’s behavior. Later in the week another incident left me shocked and disgusted. My boss came into the warehouse, walked up to a different employee and handed him his hairbrush, telling the man to take it into the bathroom and clean it. I was prepared to quit if I was ever asked to clean something of his. As it turned out, because I was a good driver, the owner would give me the keys to his expensive luxury car to do errands for him and his mother. I was agreeable to this type of task. This was my introduction into the work world. Luckily I never experienced the bosses that were in this wild comedy. Jason Bateman (Identity Thief, Up in the Air), Jason Sudeikis (The Campaign, Hall Pass) and Charlie Day (Going the Distance, A Quiet Little Marriage) played best friends Nick Hendricks, Kurt Buckman and Dale Arbus. During a night of drinking and commiserating about their vile bosses, the trio plotted a way to do away with their evil superiors. Though the premise was over the top, the cast really made this film fun to watch. I was stunned by Jennifer Aniston’s (Wanderlust, The Bounty Hunter) performance as Dr. Julia Harris, D.D.S.; not her usual type of role and she nailed it. Along with Kevin Spacey (Moon, The Usual Suspects) and Colin Farrell (Total Recall, Seven Psychopaths), these actors were wickedly contemptuous in their roles. A fast paced, joke laced, crazy caper movie; you may find it totally unbelievable. Before you judge this film because you cannot believe there can be such bosses in the real world, remind me to tell you about another boss I worked for who would steal our customer’s eye glasses. Some scenes with strong language.

 

2 3/4 stars — DVD

Flash Movie Review: Wanderlust

The only wandering that was done in this movie was the story line. What I thought would be a fun movie, turned out to be flat with a handful of chuckles. Paul Rudd (Role Models, I Love You, Man), who is always consistent in his performances, could not save this film. I would love to know how much ad libbing Paul did in an attempt to save this movie–the raunchy talking to himself in the mirror scene comes to mind. His wife Linda was played by Jennifer Aniston (Marley & Me, The Bounty Hunter). I only wish Jennifer would change her management company and get a new acting coach. There never seems to be any growth in her performances; she always is the same, with a narrow range of ability. After striking out in each of their business professions in New York City, the couple set out to stay with George’s brother in Atlanta, where a job was waiting in the brother’s waste company. During their road trip south, Linda and George stumbled upon a bread and breakfast owned by a commune. The members’ non pressured, laid back lifestyle intrigued the couple to extend their stay. What could have been a gold mine of hilarious material never took place, with the last half of the movie taking on a ridiculous quality. Such a shame a good idea went up in a haze of smoke. But at least Jennifer got a boyfriend out of the experience. If you insist on seeing this movie, stay through the credits.

 

2 stars

 

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