SHE TOLD ME IT WAS A television show when I asked her what made her decide to become a dancer. I quizzed her further and she said it was a variety show she used to watch with her family on Sunday nights. Two ballet dancers were introduced by the host and she was immediately enamored by their costumes. The woman looked like a pristine fairy and the man looked like a stately prince. She had never seen ballet dancers before, but as the music started and the two dancers began to perform, she was mesmerized by their movements. The female dancer seemed weightless like a snowflake, spinning and fluttering across the stage. The male dancer had broad shoulders that made him look more regal as he lifted and guided the female dancer through their movements. I listened to her describe the performance and I could see the impact of this one of several acts on the show had a profound effect on her. Before the dancers were done performing, she had already decided that she was going to be a dancer when she grew up. She listed for me the highlights of her journey in becoming a ballet dancer and it was not a simple, straight street to ballet; she had some detours along the way. However, she told me throughout her struggles she kept believing she could do it. HER STRENGTH IN HER BELIEF REMINDED me of a woman who was a participant in my yoga class. I worked at a hospital-based fitness center, where I introduced yoga to the fitness members. The center did not have a quiet room for me to teach class, so they had me taking the members to a laboratory in the hospital to conduct class. One day this woman came into the room in a wheelchair; I thought she was a patient who was lost. When I asked her where she was going, she told me to yoga. Talk about being embarrassed; this was the first time I was going to teach a wheel bound person in a general class setting. During my instructions, I included options that the woman could do while seated. After attending class for a few weeks, I asked her one day how yoga made her feel. She told me how much see looked forward to class because she would get the best night’s sleep after taking class. I was pleased to hear this and asked her if she had any goals she wanted to achieve in class. She said yes, she wanted to stand up out of her wheelchair. I told her it was a wonderful goal and I hoped I would get to see it. She said she believes she will one day, and I told her I believe in her. WHEN HIS ASSISTANT TOOK HIS IDEAS and left him, the town’s toymaker Veronicas, played by Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland, Black Panther), stopped believing in himself. One day a strange little girl came to town with a belief. With Keegan-Michael Key (Playing with Fire, Let’s Be Cops) as Gustafson, Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey, Notting Hill) as Mr. Delacroix, Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls; Everything, Everything) as Jessica and newcomer Madalen Mills as Journey; this musical family fantasy film was a magical viewing experience for me. At times coming across like a Broadway production, other times like a family classic; this was one of the most entertaining films I have seen this year. The fanciful special effects, the singing and dancing, the costumes and the sets took a somewhat predictable script and elevated it into pure entertainment. I will say if you are not a fan of musicals, you will not enjoy this picture as much. For me, I could easily see this film being translated to the big stage of Broadway. My skepticism about films made for the small screen has been altered; I am a believer now.
3 ½ stars
I COULD ONLY LISTEN TO THE two women arguing with each other. They worked in other departments; so, I had no authority to voice my opinion. From what I had heard, it seemed as if one woman tried going around the other one to get something changed in the other woman’s department. The 2nd woman found out and was confronting the first one. I could see each of them was straining to remain civil towards the other. The 2nd woman was trying to make the 1st one understand what she did was unacceptable; she should have put in a request instead of taking matters into her own hands. She also pointed out because she (1st woman) engaged with her staff instead of coming directly to her, she essentially was telling the staff that she did not trust their boss. The two women continued going back and forth, trying to make the other one understand their point of view, but it was not working as far as I could see. I believed because the two women’s departments were so different from each other the women could not comprehend the thought process used to make their case. Surprisingly, I could relate a little to this because I am in a position where I know the workings of my department, but do not have a clear understanding of several others within the company. THE REASON I SAY THIS IS BECAUSE I am a “routine” person; in other words, I am most comfortable and efficient when I have a routine to follow. At this moment for example, I have procedures set up where every Thursday I do the same specific task that then gets forwarded to a different department. There is another one that takes place on the 15thof every month; as you can see, I have set up my work day as a series of tasks like a road map I can follow without devoting time and energy in trying to figure out what I should do next. On the downside, I know my routines do not take into account spontaneity. If something unexpected happens, I will need time to process it and find a way where it will fit into my day. Don’t get me wrong, there is no way I can control every minute of every day to avoid being spontaneous, though I do give it my best shot. However, after working for many years it is easier for me to handle something unexpected; my processing of it has had to increase in speed to get to a faster conclusion. I think I am faster at this than the main character in this family comedy. AFTER SAVING THREE CHILDREN FROM A BURNING building firefighter/smoke jumper Jake Carson, played by John Cena (Bumblebee, The Marine), and his crew will face an even tougher task when they must take care of the kids until the parents could be found. With Keegan-Michael Key (Let’s Be Cops, The Predator) as Mark, John Leguizamo (Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!) as Rodrigo, Brianna Hildebrand (Deadpool franchise, Tragedy Girls) as Brynn and Judy Greer (Ant-Man franchise, Wilson) as Dr. Amy Hicks; this movie will only appeal to the youngest of children. The script came off as a part Saturday morning cartoon show and part Three Stooges episode, except I did not find anything funny. A good portion of the movie was devoted to the kids’ antics followed by the adults’ exaggerated expressions. This left me bored early into the story. I also thought the pacing was erratic; going from a slapstick scene to a dramatic one and back. There was very little I found authentic in this film except for the outtakes that were shown during the credits. It is a picture like this where I wish I wasn’t so much into a routine of trying to see as many films as I can in a week.
1 ½ stars
IT MAKES ME FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE WHEN I am talking with someone that has a history of, let me say, not being nice to people. The problem is I never personally experienced it myself, only been told about it. I dislike having to be on my guard when talking to a person; conversation for me should be an easy back and forth of thoughts, emotions and ideas. Back in school it was easy to figure out who was nice. I remember there was a fistfight that took place in the schoolyard and this one boy stepped out from an entire circle of students to break the fight up. Throughout the ensuing years he displayed many acts of kindness and compassion. Interestingly, he had a good friend who you would have assumed was also a kind person; that was not the case though. He pretended to be nice, but he actually was a sneaky kid who could quickly turn mean. I once saw him push a student down by punching them in the back. Imagine how I must have felt when we were paired up for a science project; I was careful around him as I did my best to avoid any type of conflict. RECENTLY I WAS A GUEST AT A social function and was reminded of that lab partner I had for the science project. I had heard about this individual before I was to meet them. Let me just say the stories I heard did not paint a favorable light around this individual; however, I was keeping an open mind until I could meet them. So, the opportunity came up where we were going to meet and just as it was explained to me this person was gracious and sweet at first. From the stories I had heard this person was not yet acting out any of them. Here is the interesting thing; as the evening went on this individual made a couple of comments to someone else that I found to be passive aggressive. The example I will use is this particular comment, where this person complimented another person’s dress. They said the dress was pretty but wanted to know if that was the only color offered. When they were told there were other colors this person said, “I bet a different color dress would look good on you.” I thought the comment was rude and from that point on I was cautious around this individual. The reason I mention this incident is because I wound up feeling the same as I watched this science fiction, action film. BY ACCIDENT A SMALL BOY WAS RESPONSIBLE for alien beings to come to earth. The aliens were interested in one thing. This horror adventure starred Boyd Holbrook (Logan, Run All Night) as Quinn McKenna, Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight, 12 Strong) as Nebraska Williams, Jacob Tremblay (Room, Wonder) as Rory McKenna, Oliva Munn (Office Christmas Party, Ride Along 2) as Casey Bracket and Sterling K. Brown (Hotel Artemis, This is Us-TV) as Traeger. As I sat watching this movie it started out with a bang of excitement. From there it veered off by bringing in humor, along with social issues. I thought Jacob and Olivia were the best out of the cast. In fact, there was one scene with Jacob where I laughed out loud; but that was the issue with this film. The mix of different story lines in the script made it confusing, to the point I became bored. And sadly, the writers were blatant in letting the audience know there will be a sequel. If there is and it has the same type of script I suggest you take a pass on this franchise. It is becoming a silly mess.
A FIXTURE OF THE establishment for so many years, most people coming in to the place simply look past him. They do not know what an impact he has had on the business over the years, but I do. Unassuming, close to being an introvert, he is politely quiet; he only engages in a conversation if you start it. I have only seen him dressed in neutral colors and if there happened to be a logo on any of his clothing it usually was from one of the local sport teams. Despite his, shall we say meek appearance; when it comes to a life or death situation he becomes a whole different person. Out of everyone who works with him, he has saved the most lives. You could try to argue it is because of his work schedule that he is at work when there are more people coming into the place, but it would not stick because the employees agree he doesn’t waste a second nor second guess himself when an alert is announced over the loudspeakers. TO ME HE IS an unsung hero; he doesn’t look for accolades or monetary gain when racing to save someone’s life. He is not the only unsung hero I know; there are others who have made a difference and are some of the most unassuming individuals you could ever know. In fact I know a couple of unsung heroes who are not even human. There is a person I know who was saved by his dog. He and his family were sleeping one night when an electrical fire started in one of the lower levels of their house. Since they were all upstairs they did not get woken up by the smoke or noise. However the family dog went into action by jumping up on the parents’ bed, barking and pulling at the blanket. All the family members woke up with a start and immediately smelled the thickening smoke from below. Calling 911 they quickly gathered together and made their escape. Who knows what would have happened if their dog had not run into their bedroom to wake them up. If you want to learn more about other non-human unsung heroes then feel free to watch this animated, adventure comedy. WANTING TO DO MORE with his life Bo, voiced by Steven Yeun (I Origins, The Walking Dead-TV), can only think about breaking free of his restraints. Little did he know he would play a part in the very first Christmas. This film festival winner included Keegan-Michael Key (Keanu, Tomorrowland-TV) voicing Dave, Aidy Bryant (Saturday Night Live-TV, Shrink-TV) voicing Ruth, Gina Rodriguez (Deepwater Horizon, Jane the Virgin-TV) as Mary and Zachary Levi (Shades of Ray, Chuck-TV) voicing Joseph. This movie was a mixed bag for me. On the one hand I did not mind the animation or the idea behind the story; however the script kept bouncing back and forth between slapstick, goofy scenes to holier reverent action. I found it odd. On one level I thought the script could have been narrowed in scope to focus on one aspect of the story. In a weird way there were times I felt the writers were disrespectful of the story. Also I got bored in a couple of places. Granted most viewers could easily figure out the ending of the story, but why couldn’t the writers add either more consistency or excitement into the story? I think my telling of the dog that rescued the family would have been a better idea to make a movie about than this picture.
HE was startled when his significant other’s mother was handed the mobile device to introduce herself. She lived out of the country and her “baby” was visiting her for the holidays. During their Face Time date he was asked if he wanted to meet the mother; he could hear her in the background because the sound of her voice had the same lyrical quality he had grown to love. Though nervous he said yes to the request and was pleasantly surprised at her warm smile; again similarities calmed him, next it was her facial features. The conversation was easy and he quickly felt relaxed as they chit chatted about their common love, her child. For a first conversation he felt good about it and thought she might make a wonderful mother-in law. MEETING for the first time the parents of your significant other can be an eye opening experience. Depending on the conversation one could feel a variety of emotions all across the spectrum. I had a friend who upon meeting her boyfriend’s parents walked away with a negative feeling that only grew in time. By the time my friend was engaged there was open hatred between her and the parents. On the other hand I knew someone who totally loved his in-laws; in fact, he insisted on calling them Mom and Dad since the three of them had more affection for each other than what he had growing up. I just realized from my past relationships most of their parents were deceased or if they were still alive they did not communicate with them. So I guess you can say my experience with in-laws is through my friends and family. Some of the stories I have heard were right out of a comedy show or a soap opera. If anything I can at least say listening to their experiences has groomed me on what I need to do to be a “good” son-in-law. Too bad the boyfriend in this comedy did not pay attention. FOR the holidays Stephanie Fleming, played by Zoey Deutch (Vampire Academy, Everybody Wants Some!!), wanted her family to come out to visit her at Stanford so they could meet her boyfriend Laird Mayhew, played by James Franco (The Interview, Spider-Man franchise). The holiday visit would not be such a merry time for all. With Bryan Cranston (Trumbo, Argo) as Ned Fleming, Megan Mullally (The Kings of Summer, Will & Grace-TV) as Barb Fleming and Keegan-Michael Key (Keanu, Tomorrowland) as Gustav; the idea for this story I felt would be relatable to most viewers. I thought Megan and Bryan were good in their roles but I have to tell you I thought the script was all over the place. There were a couple of funny scenes here and there but a good portion of the time I was bored seeing the same type of antics happening over and over. In addition there was nothing new offered in this story about the father meeting the boyfriend for the first time. There was strong language repeated throughout the film along with sexual references. As far as I was concerned this was a meeting that did not have to take place for the family in this film nor for me in the movie theater.
1 ¾ stars
Times have certainly changed and I bet some of you will be surprised to hear how things used to be when someone was expecting a baby. Years ago the new mother spent more time in the hospital before coming home. Nowadays the way things are going I am surprised one doesn’t need a referral from their primary doctor before going to the hospital to deliver a baby. And once you deliver you are sent home as quickly as possible. If she already had any young children at home more than likely they were not allowed in the hospital right away to see their new baby sister or brother. The mother would have to find a relative to stay and watch her child/children while she went to the hospital. I know what I am about to say will seem dated and I am aware in some circles they still would not approve but there used to be negative connotations associated with being a single mother. Growing up I can only recall one person who was a student who became pregnant. She disappeared; none of us knew what happened to her. Currently most people look upon the birth of a child as a joyous occasion. With the definition of family evolving where a family can be related by blood or not, I think deciding to have a child is an important decision. Even the method of delivery has expanded from what was available back then. Presently one can deliver a baby in a filled up bathtub, a birthing chair or even at home; they do not have to go to a hospital necessarily. Honestly does it really matter? As long as a baby is brought into this world with love and want it does not matter how they get here. See for yourself in this animated comedy. HAVING gotten out of the baby delivery business and into delivering packages employee Junior, voiced by Andy Samberg (The To Do List, Poster: Never Stop Never Believing), of internet company Cornerstone.com must find a way to deliver a surprise unexpected baby without his boss finding out. This adventure film also had Katie Crown (Bob’s Burgers, American Dad!) voicing Tulip, Keegan-Michael Key (Tomorrowland, Keanu) as Alpha Wolf, Jordan Peele (Keanu, Wanderlust) as Beta Wolf and Kelsey Grammer (X-Men franchise, Any American Carol) as Hunter. Colorful and filled with scenes that were supposed to be humorous, I found the story odd. There was too much going on with the multiple themes taking place throughout the story. I thought the scenes with Alpha and Beta Wolf were the best. If the writers would have focused on one of the story lines I think this would have been a better film. There were times where I was bored, especially with some scenes that seemed like filler. It was a shame because the theme having to do with family had a good message to convey. I suspect the youngest of children will enjoy this film and I do not recall any scenes that would be terribly frightening for them. Mixing the old ways with some of the new ones this movie may have shown you how to deliver a baby; it just was not the best in delivering entertainment.
1 ¾ stars
It is an all or nothing proposition where you can feel totally full or completely empty. Sometimes you are stunned by how much control it has over you. There are some people who make it their job to find it while others have the attitude if it appears in front of them then they will gladly accept it. To be in love for certain individuals is the only thing that matters to them; it is the healing salve that soothes any and all emotional and physical ailments. At least that is what some folks have told me. In my experience I have found love to be an ideal tenant of the heart. There is a certain magic love has over us. It can continue the pulse of the person you love inside of you even when they are away. Some people wear their love as if it was a warm snuggly blanket loosely wrapped around their body; they take it everywhere they go, feeling comforted and peaceful. However, just as love can be fulfilling for a person the lack of it can also be just as devastating. The loss of love can feel as if someone pierced your heart with a straw to suck out every positive feeling from your body. There are some individuals who are so afraid of this ever happening that they refrain from falling in love; they never want to feel such pain. All I can say is love can really make a person act out in an extreme way; you can see an example of it in this comedy. WHEN Keanu went missing Rell Williams, played by Jordan Peele (Wanderlust, MADtv-TV), was willing to do whatever it took to get his precious kitty back. Starring Keegan-Michael Key (Tomorrowland, Let’s Be Cops) as Clarence Goobril, Tiffany Haddish (Meet the Spartans, Racing for Time-TV movie) as Hi-C and Luis Guzman (Anger Management, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3) as Bacon; this comedy had individual scenes that were quite funny. Though the premise of the story was far-fetched it was comical in an absurd way. The script had no problem making fun of stereotypes. I was not familiar with Jordan and Keegan-Michael but found them enjoyable to watch as they worked well together. It goes without saying I thought the cat was adorable and fun to watch throughout the movie; in fact, it should have shared top billing with the actors. On the downside the script did not have much variance; after awhile I found myself getting tired of the same type of jokes and scenarios. It felt as if the idea for this story was geared for television but the writers decided to stretch it for the big screen. Though I may not have loved this film as much as others I still had a good time watching it. There were several scenes of violence and blood was shown briefly.
2 ½ stars