MY LOVE OF STORIES BEGAN AT AN early age because of the stories that were told around family meals. I heard about so many different relatives’ lives that I would wish they were sitting at the dining room table to tell their story directly to us. I had a relative who was a violin virtuoso. He was self-taught and only played for family and friends, is what I heard. The only memory I have associated to this person was seeing an old black and white photograph of him, dressed in a suit and holding his violin at his side. He died before I was born, so I never got to hear him play. Another story I heard around the dining room table was about a relative who had saved several other relatives by sneaking them out of their country during a war. With the details of each relative’s escape not known, I would make-up my own stories about their perilous travels and act them out whenever I was playing with my toy soldiers. I would cover the living room of our home with piles of towels to represent the mountains and rulers as bridges which my relatives/soldiers would have to traverse on their way to freedom. THERE WERE OTHER STORIES TOLD AT the dining room table; I remember being surprised by how many people were related to me. I used to wonder how much truth were in the stories that were being told; but, without having much physical proof, I had to rely on the storyteller to be accurate with the details. I cannot say it bothered me, but I was envious of the friends of mine who had physical remnants of their deceased relatives. One friend had a sword that was mounted on a plaque that hung in the hallway of their home; I think it belonged to a great, great, great uncle. Another friend of mine had their grandfather’s gold pocket watch. It was the first time I had ever seen a pocket watch and I was fascinated with the face cover that sprung open at the press of a button. At the time I did not realize the stories I was listening to would help me in my history classes in school. When the teacher was covering a world conflict or was focusing on a specific country, I would get a mental picture of my relative. Sometimes a city would be mentioned, and I could imagine my relative being there while doing something. I did not realize this ability would help me remember city names on our tests. How I wished I could talk to these deceased relatives; if only I had the opportunity the brothers had in this animated, adventure comedy. UPON RECEIVING THEIR DECEASED FATHER’S MAGICAL staff; brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot, voiced by Tom Holland (Spider-Man franchise, The Impossible) and Chris Pratt (The Kid, Passengers), set out on an adventure to try and bring back the magic of their Dad. With Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Downhill, Enough Said) voicing Laurel Lightfoot, Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, The Shape of Water) voicing the Manticore and Mel Rodriguez (Little Miss Sunshine, Panic Room) voicing Colt Bronco; this Pixar movie had the usual high standard of animation we are used to from this studio. Though the cast of actors brought life to these fantasy characters, the script did not have any magic for me. Out of the many films I have seen from this studio, this one was the most obvious with following the studio’s story formula. I did not find anything funny to chuckle at and I must say the father character was odd to me. The script was simple and predictable. If I had my choice, I would rather have been reminiscing about my deceased relatives’ stories than sitting in the theater to watch what these two brothers went through to connect to their past.
Meeting friends is an important component of the dating process, but it is something I prefer holding off from until I see we are getting comfortable with each other. You can say what you want but that first initial meeting with your or their friends will partially be an interview procedure for a 2nd opinion. Do not get me wrong, I do not have a problem with that; however, I prefer having some quality time for the two of us to get some solid footing underneath before bringing in other personalities. I have been in situations where friends were involved too early at the beginning of the dating phase and personalities clashed immediately; it was truly an uncomfortable situation. As one gets older I do not know if it gets easier. If you do not believe me just see what happens in this touching comedy. Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Deconstructing Harry, Veep-TV) played Eva, a middle-aged divorcee with a daughter. When one of her clients Marianne, played by Catherine Keener (Into the Wild, A Late Quartet), began complaining about all the things her former spouse used to do; it started to have a negative affect on Eva’s budding relationship with Albert, played by James Gandolfini (Killing Them Softly, Welcome to the Rileys). There were several reasons why this movie was enjoyable to watch. The acting was wonderful; Julia and James made a real connection with their characters. Also, I had a twinge of sadness while watching James since this was his last movie before he died. The dialog never went over the top; keeping things at an emotive, sweet level. Even when scenes were dramatic the director let the actors use physical communication to convey their feelings. It really worked well in my opinion. Toni Collette (The Way Way Back, Little Miss Sunshine) as Eva’s best friend Sarah was a solid addition to the cast and story. Known more for her comedic skills, I thought Julia did a beautiful job with her character’s full range of emotions. Is the story believable? I believe so, I just hope I will never have to experience something similar. This was a well done film that was a fitting tribute to the illustrious career of James Gandolfini.
3 1/4 stars