THROUGHOUT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, I ONLY SAW my best friend’s father twice. I never knew what he did for a living, I just remembered he was wearing a tie and hat the two times I saw him. I do not know why I remember that fact; maybe because I do not recall seeing any other father wearing a hat, not including the hats one only wore in winter. Though come to think of it, I did not see that many fathers of schoolmates; the majority were the ones that lived on our block. There was one father that said he was a college professor, but my friends and I never believed him. He was quite different; his reactions to things like his son hitting a baseball or his daughter performing ballet were odd in my opinion. I did not know the word back then; but thinking about him now, I can say he always had this pensive look on his face, as he studied his children’s playing. It was as if he were studying every movement his child did, looking for a flaw or a better way they could have done something. He had these thick round glasses that made him look like some type of inspector; at least that is what some of us thought. AS FOR MY FRIEND, HE DID not seem to mind his father’s absence from the various school functions where parents were invited to participate. It was not uncommon for a student to have only one parent show up to school events. I always found it curious that the school would plan events during the school day, asking for our parents to attend when I knew many of them were working. It seemed odd to me, like the school was just being polite in inviting parents, knowing full well they would not be able to attend because of their job. The parents that intrigued me the most were the ones who had to travel for business. This was a foreign concept in my awareness. Where were these parents flying and why couldn’t they just make contact by phone, were a couple of things I wondered. There was one dad whose daughter could not tell us what he did for a living. He happened to be built like an athlete with defined muscles across his tall frame. I used to imagine him being in the CIA or FBI; he just had the look of an agent with his dark sunglasses. If I had seen this movie back when I was a kid, I could see me wondering about that father. AFTER SCHOOL, A GROUP OF FRIENDS met up with their friend, who was at his dad’s house. While hanging out, they discover a hidden location underneath the house, just before a group of villains arrive. With Owen Wilson (Marry Me, No Escape) as Jack, Michael Pena (Fantasy Island, 12 Strong) as Argon, Walker Scobell (The Adam Project) as Charlie, Jesse Williams (The Cabin in the Woods, Grey’s Anatomy-TV) as Irons and Keith L. Williams (Good Boys, The Last Man on Earth-TV) as Berger; this action, adventure comedy had the cast to elevate the story. However, the script was too generic and pedestrian. I think part of the issue was the writers did not know what group to market for, kids or tweens. The humor was lacking to the point I was able to see what the punchline would be before it happened. Too bad because I thought Walker did an admirable job in his role. Now I have said this before, but if there is going to be a villain, they really need to be a “bad” person. The villain in this movie was too much like a cartoon character. I have a feeling this film will have many absent viewers. There was an extra scene early in the ending credits.
1 ¾ stars
THE SCHOOL I ATTENDED COVERED ALL the grades from kindergarten to eighth. Despite all classes being in the same building, there was a definite division between grades. I started in kindergarten and remained a student at the school until I graduated from eighth grade. The school building never went through any type of remodeling while I was a student, except for the playground. This will be hard to believe; but when I started at the school, the playground was divided into 2 spaces, side by side. One space was smooth, looking like a paved road; the other consisted of gravel. The younger grades were assigned the smooth surfaced playground, while the older students had to take the graveled playground. During my sixth year, when I would have to switch to the gravel side, the school removed the gravel and paved the ground. Though both spaces looked the same the younger kids knew not to go over to the newly paved space; it was still meant for older students. Now it may not seem like a big deal, but what this school policy did was to teach the younger kids that there was a reward waiting for them when they got older. IT WOULD START IN FIFTH GRADE, students trying to befriend older ones. Those who already had an older sibling in a higher grade had an easier time fitting into the older crowds. I had a neighbor who was a couple of grades ahead of me. Anytime I caught a glimpse of him on the newer playground space I would try to come up with an excuse to go talk to him. Looking back at it now, it seems silly; all of us wanted to be treated like we were older, more adult-like students who did not want to be referred to as kids anymore. Girls would consider it a major achievement if they could call a student from a higher grade their boyfriend. It was almost like an obsession; for every grade one advanced, their previous grade was added to the disdain they had for anyone younger. And if anyone had a friendship with a younger student, it was kept a secret. I firmly believe all of this was the catalyst in the formation of cliques. At my school, there was no greater moniker to have than being labelled the “cool” kid. Cool would encompass a variety of traits; but it did not matter, if other students considered one cool then life at school would be good for them. An example of this can be found in this adventure comedy. BEING INVITED TO A PARTY WAS the first step in attaining cool status for Max, played by Jacob Tremblay (Room, Wonder) and his two friends. However, if they did not want to embarrass themselves, they would need to take a crash course on what cool kids do at a party. With Keith L. Williams (The Last Man on Earth-TV, Teachers-TV) as Lucas, Brady Noon (Boardwalk Empire-TV) as Thor, Molly Gordon (Booksmart, Life of the Party) as Hannah and Midori Francis (Ocean’s Eight, Younger-TV) as Lily; this film had a lot of profanity being spoken in it. At first because it was being said by elementary school kids, it was funny; however, as the story progressed it lost its shock value and seemed to be the only comedy focal point in several scenes. The three boys were excellent together and did provide a few laugh out moments in the story. I appreciated the way the writers tackled the topics of first love and evolving friendships; they were written with authenticity. For the most part I was entertained by this movie; however, I did wonder if kids today have more pressure placed on them to fit in and be considered cool.
2 ½ stars