ALL IT INVOLVED WAS WALKING ACROSS the street, but it meant so much more to me. My elementary school that I had been attending for 9 years, if you include kindergarten, was across the street from what would be my high school in the fall. Where the elementary school was half a block long, the high school filled out the entire city block. Though it was an old building my classmates and I were excited to become freshmen, because for whatever reason we felt we would be independent. Not being a closed school campus, we could go out to eat lunch, though all of us were curious about the lunchroom; there was none in our elementary school. Before the end of the school year and our graduation, a field trip was arranged for the 8thgrade students to take a tour of the high school. We walked over in groups and one of the first things I noticed was how everyone in the high school looked older. You would think a span of 1-4 years would not make a big difference in a person’s appearance, but for some reason the way the students were dressed, their demeanor and size made them appear so much older to me. THERE WAS ONE POINT WHERE OUR elementary school teacher left my group to go talk to someone while we were about to get a tour of the gymnasium. We were told to remain in the hallway outside of the gym until she came back. Several of us strained to get a look of the gym through the narrow windows of the gym doors. Suddenly we heard a pinging sound and then a student behind me let out a yelp. When we turned to look who was behind us we found a group of high schoolers blocking the hallway as they threw pennies at us. I had no idea what was going on. A few of the boys in my group yelled at the high schoolers, making threatening gestures towards them. As suddenly as it had started they stopped flinging pennies at us, turned around and walked away into the echoes of gleeful laughter. This was my introduction into high school. Little did I know it was only a prelude to what was in store for me. The summer before the school semester started I spent fretting over what kind of high school was I going to, away from the safety evidently I felt in elementary school. This film festival winning comedic drama’s story is as authentic as it can be, in depicting the transition from 8thgrade to high school. DEALING WITH HER INSECURITIES INTROVERTED 8thgrader Kayla, played by Elsie Fisher (Bad Behavior; McFarland, USA), looked to high school as the place that would give her a chance to overcome her fears. There was the fact that her classmates were also going to the same school. With Josh Hamilton (Francis Ha, Kicking & Screaming) as Mark Day, Emily Robinson (Behold My Heart, Transparent-TV) as Olivia, Jake Ryan (Moonrise Kingdom, Inside Llewyn Davis) as Gabe and relative newcomer Catherine Oliviere as Kennedy; I fell in love with Elsie’s performance. She was utterly believable with the wonderful script given to her. I feel everyone could relate to some aspect of this story; there were parts where I smiled along with others where I was cringing because I knew exactly what Kayla was experiencing. The writer truly tapped into the fears, dreams and hopes of every type of student who is about to enter high school. I especially enjoyed the subtle ways the director had the cast convey feelings without the need to verbally communicate them. This picture gets a grade of A on its report card, even without the throwing of pennies.
At home, it is easier to turn up the music volume than to figure out the unexplained noises. This also works when I am driving my car. I think it is due to my imagination. When I hear an unfamiliar sound, my mind comes up with creative reasons to explain it that may not be based in reality. These days when I am home I either have the television on for background noise or I have music playing throughout the house. Unfortunately the suburban family in this suspenseful movie did not have such an option. Keri Russell (August Rush, Waitress) and Josh Hamilton (J. Edgar, Outsourced) played Lacy and Daniel Barrett, parents to two young boys. When a series of unexplained events began taking place in their home, Lacy and Daniel would eventually have to take extreme measures to protect their family. This scary film caught my attention right from the beginning. I liked the way the director built up the suspense, starting out slow with some creative ways of displaying the unexplained occurrences. As with Keri’s past performances which I have always enjoyed, I found her convincing in this role. What was a letdown for me was her chemistry with Josh. For some reason it seemed slightly restrained; I felt they could have been more dramatic as a couple. The use of J.K. Simmons (Juno, The Words) as Edwin Pollard was a lost opportunity. With his acting skills his role should have been bigger. As the story progressed in the last half of the film, I became disappointed with the way the suspense never increased. Based on the beginning of the movie I thought there would have been at least a couple of jump out of your seat type of scenes–it never happened. This film may not make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, but it was entertaining as a mystery. Two brief scenes with blood.
2 1/2 stars
Whether due to my parents or in spite of them, I never gave mind to a person’s surface. A person’s skin color, hair or lack of it, tall or short; none of it was important to me. What is inside of a person interests me. If I am to make any distinction, I would have to say it is between human and animal; with that being a fine line sometimes. As a credit manager I have had many dealings with companies that have done outsourcing. Personally I do not care who or where I am calling; I just want to be told the truth. If you are hired to do a job, just do your job. Having grown up in a neighborhood where everyone was similar, I am fascinated with different cultures in the world. This lighthearted comedy did a fun spin with the differences between American and Indian cultures. When Todd Anderson’s, played by Josh Hamilton (J. Edgar, The Bourne Identity), Seattle company outsourced their customer call center to India, he was sent over to train the new employees. I chuckled when Todd was explaining to his crew what the term branding meant in America. With the obvious disconnect between western and eastern ways; employee Asha, played by Ayesha Dharker (Star Wars: Episode II-Attack of the Clones, The Terrorist), suggested Todd become familiar with Indian ways. This would lead him onto a path of enlightenment (the yogi in me could not resist) as Todd found more in India besides quick customer service. There was a gentle sweetness to this story, which had a charming way of displaying the country’s culture. Along with a couple of surprise twists, I had a good time viewing this film. As an added bonus I felt I gained a little more insight about the people I call while at work.
2 2/3 stars — DVD