I am still baffled by the way people’s discriminations overpower what should be the simplest of connections: the love of a person. There have been so many times where I have heard a parent tell their child they wished they would… It could be anything from telling them they should have been an accountant and not an artist or telling them they should marry someone of the same religion. One of the best pieces of advice I heard was to do what you love and everything else would follow, so to tell someone who is an artist that they should be working with numbers makes no sense to me. Now there is nothing wrong with questioning a person’s choices, to be a sounding board for them; however, I become uncomfortable when someone tries to place their values and expectations on another person, whether it be a family member or a stranger. I know this family where the parents have a strained relationship with one of their 4 children because they married someone out of their faith. The pain they caused this child has been long lasting because the young grandkids have not spent much time around their grandparents. I can only imagine how many opportunities they have all missed to create a fond memory or a deeper connection. Love does not discriminate, only people do. Now the reason I am talking about this theme is because it resonated in me and played a part in this animated comedy sequel. DRACULA, voiced by Adam Sandler (Pixels, Grown Ups franchise), could only think about one thing anytime he saw his daughter Mavis’, voiced by Selena Gomez (Getaway, Spring Breakers), and her human husband Jonathan’s, voiced by Andy Samberg (That’s My Boy, Saturday Night Live-TV), baby boy; would he be a vampire or a human? One of the surprises about this movie was seeing Adam being credited as one of the writers. Sure the jokes were pretty basic and straight forward, plus there was a couple of times where I thought they were close to being inappropriate for a family film. But the fact that this film offered a valuable lesson was a shock to me. My favorite character out of the cast was Mel Brooks (Spaceballs, High Anxiety) as Vlad. I thought he had great lines besides perfect delivery of them. As an overall entertaining picture, this one was nothing above average. The animation was fine, the creation of the monsters was creative and the soundtrack was lively. Outside of that, I thought this sequel was pretty much the same thing as the first one. I cannot say I was bored; if I had to tell someone all I could think of was that the film was okay. I did not find anything horrible or terrific; just middle of the road except for tackling an important issue, in my opinion, in a subtle easy way.
Immediately I was struck by their fearlessness. I watched while their fingers without hesitation popped and dropped over the keyboard like convulsing spider legs. Just by pressing two keys at the same time they were able to get the computer to function in a way that took me a few more keystrokes. I knew they must have started at a young age playing video games. There is a certain attitude a gamer has when they are interacting with their computer or some other kind of electronic device; they appear more adventuresome to me. Where they have no problem trying out different commands, a non-gamer may get stuck at their computer afraid the next key they press will cause their machine to explode. I understand totally because I have a love/hate relationship with computers; I expect them to know how to fix themselves without asking me if something is okay to do. It is interesting to think about the recent generations that grew up with video games; I recall an article I read that talked about the positive effect the games had on a person’s eye/hand coordination. There was this one kid in school who would spend hours in the student union playing this one arcade game. His initials for the most points earned remained on the machine the entire time I was at that school. I would be quite curious to see what he is doing now in the world. Maybe he would be doing what the gamers were called to do in this comedic action film. BACK in 1982 a time capsule with examples of mankind’s life including video games was launched into space. Discovered by an alien race, they took the games to be earth’s declaration of war on them; so they reproduced the video games to attack earth first. This science fiction film had a great idea behind it, for it would attract an older audience for nostalgic reasons and a younger crowd who would appreciate the retro vibe of these “ancient” games. Not only did this comedy fail with its attempts to entertain, it made me a bit angry because of the blatant laziness associated with the script. Adam Sandler (Blended, Grown Ups franchise) as Brenner was the exact same character he has been in his last several films. I am tired of seeing the same thing and hearing the same type of jokes over and over. Adding in Kevin James (Here Comes the Boom, Paul Blart franchise) as President Cooper and Michelle Monaghan (Gone Baby Gone, Source Code) as Violet only increased the ridiculousness of this picture. Out of the entire script I chuckled 3 times as the expected excitement never materialized. If I would have known, my money would have been better spent at a video arcade then sit through this video void.
1 2/3 stars
There were so many things I used to believe in. I believed I could still see colors on a black and white monitor. I believed a relative of mine really could pull nickels and quarters out of my ears. I believed love would last forever. No matter the size of the boat, I believed I could sink it the moment I stepped foot on it. Whether maturity or life experiences released my hold on those beliefs, I still have some I keep with me now. What goes around, comes around is something I truly believe in. Another belief I have, that there are some people who have pure evil inside of them; they do not have anything good. When I believe I am right about something, I will fight non-stop until someone can prove me wrong. Granted as I get older I devote less and less energy to defending my beliefs; I think this is where one would use the phrase: we agree to disagree. Life is too short, so I now pick and choose my battles. I think beliefs can motivate people to be better human beings; however, it can also cause stagnation in them too. PULLED from the audience at a magic show Pepper Flynt Busbee aka Little Boy, played by Jakob Salvati (Red Widow-TV, Esacpe from Tomorrow), was asked to move a bottle across a table without touching it. The magician asked Pepper if he believed he could do it. Pepper said yes and the bottle began to move. With this new found discovery Pepper believed he could now stop World War II and bring back his father; all he had to do was believe in himself. This comedic drama set in the 1940s had some strong themes it wanted to tackle. A few touched upon in the story were bullying, faith, war and love. Each individually would have been more than enough to create a solid film here; however, what the writers did instead made for a messy mix. The cast which had Emily Watson (The Book Thief, Belle) as Emma Busbee, Michael Rapaport (The Heat, Men of Honor) as James Busbee and Kevin James (Hitch, Here Comes the Boom) as Dr. Fox was a bit eclectic; I felt there was a disconnect between them. The major flaw in this film was the soundtrack and the unbelievable heavy-handed way the writers pounded the story into our heads. With syrupy dramatic music rippling in the background, I felt I was being forced fed emotions the writers wanted me to experience for the scene. It was way too manipulative and only made me lose interest in this picture. I think the writers should have had more faith in the public and let them decide how they wanted to react to the story.
1 2/3 stars
Right in the middle of a conversation the two were having, a little head popped up behind the shoulder of one of them. With big eyes staring out from the cherubic baby’s blank face, the conversation was placed on hold. One or both of them will more than likely do one of the following things: talk in a high voice, cross their eyes, wave their hand or make some type of funny face. Any one of those acts were performed with the hope of getting a smile or laugh out of the baby. I see this happening all the time; sitting in a restaurant booth and a baby or young child in the next booth turns around and stares at you. Make a silly face and the child usually gurgles with laughter or reacts with a wide open mouthed grin on their face. Being silly can be a therapeutic experience. Haven’t we all at one time or another acted silly? I tend to act or say something silly to break the ice when I find myself in a room filled with strangers. However, there is a big risk involved if one chooses this method; if no one laughs then you look like a fool. Another time where I will use silliness or humor as an option is when I find myself in a heavy emotional situation; it is like my default button, but in this case it may be genetic since I am not the only one who does this within my family. My philosophy is I would rather laugh than cry if I am given a choice. Laughter just makes things easier in my opinion. Silliness was served in this security guard sequel. Taking a break from his duties as a mall cop Paul Blart, played by Kevin James (Here Comes the Boom, Hitch), and his daughter Maya, played by Raini Rodriguez (Girl in Progress, Paul Blart: Mall Cop), traveled to Las Vegas for a well deserved vacation. Though Paul was away from his security job, his security instincts were telling him something wrong was going on in the hotel. This action comedy sequel was one long series of silly gags that did not initiate one laugh out of me. Kevin was milking every line throughout this movie. With other cast members like Neal McDonough (Flags of our Fathers, Star Trek: First Contact) as Vincent and Daniella Alonso (The Collector, The Hills Have Eyes II) as Divina, there was not much in the script that allowed the cast to make something out of their characters. I was bored through most of this film. Everyone has their own idea of what is silly; if you found the trailer funny than you might like this picture. For me the trailer showed me everything I needed to know.
1 1/3 stars
Someone, please hand me a breath mint because I still have a bad taste in my mouth from this wretched film. Usually a sequel will show some kind of growth for its characters, but not this one. Coincidently, I recently attended my high school reunion. Visiting with former classmates was real special. We shared memories and laughed at some of the crazy things we did while attending school. The thing that separated us from the characters in this movie is we grew up. The closest I found to a story line in this celluloid catastrophe was Lenny Feder, played by Adam Sandler (The Waterboy, Happy Gilmore), moved his family back to his hometown, where he grew up with his old friends Eric, Kurt and Marcus; played by Kevin James (Here Comes the Boom, Paul Blart: Mall Cop), Chris Rock (Head of State, Down to Earth) and David Spade (The Benchwarmers, Tommy Boy). The lack of a story made for a dull series of infantile jokes and gags; some that had no relevance to what the characters were doing. In fact, I found some of the jokes offensive. With Adam being credited as one of the writers, all I can tell you is the writing was lazy. It seemed as if the characters were thrown into the story just to give Adam’s friends a job. What I did not understand is why someone like Steve Buscemi (Rampart, Boardwalk Empire-TV) would agree to do a cameo as Wiley. I thought he was successful and making decent money. As for some of the other actors in cameo appearances, it was obvious they needed a paycheck. There was nothing I found redeeming about this film. I did not find anything funny about people with flatulence or indigestion. There are two reasons why I gave an extra 1/4 star to my rating of this so called comedy. The first has to do with the cast. Without naming names, this film is doing taxpayers a favor because it included several actors who would otherwise be collecting unemployment benefits. The second reason is for the complete shock I had that Rob Schneider (The Hot Chick, Deuce Bigalow franchise) was not part of the cast.
1 1/4 stars
Age can be any number you want it to be. When you think about it, where is it written that you have to act a certain way because of your age? I try to encourage my students to enjoy the moment without worrying what someone else might think of them. Deep down I am a kid at heart and I allow that little boy inside of me to come out periodically and play. It was for that reason I thought this DVD would be fun to rent. The cast consisted of some reliable comedic talent such as Chris Rock (Down to Earth, Head of State) and Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids, Friends With Kids). On the other hand since this was an Adam Sandler (Big Daddy, Reign Over Me) movie I knew Rob Schneider (The Animal, The Hot Chick) would be part of the cast. It must be Adam’s good deed to keep Rob employed and off the streets. The story was about a group of friends who after many years return to their childhood home, to attend their old basketball coach’s funeral. After so long carrying the responsibilities that came with being an adult, could the friends reconnect like they did as kids? This comedy puzzled me. How was it that each actor individually could excel at their craft, but put together they were not funny? The script was tired and predictable with lame jokes and simple sight gags. Salma Hayek (Frida, Here Comes the Boom) and Kevin James (Zookeeper, Here Comes the Boom) added very little with their roles. I think what it comes down to is Adam sticks to the formula he created in pumping out these movies with low brow humor. There was nothing horrible in this film; it just did not do anything for me. If you need some mindless entertainment after a rough day, then this would be the ideal movie to sit back and watch. There must have been a lot of people who needed to sit back and relax because the movie studio is working on a sequel. You have been warned.
1 3/4 stars — DVD
What a rude awakening I got my first week as a high school freshman. The first time in physical ed class a ceiling tile fell, nearly hitting a student in the head. From that day forward I always kept one eye on the roof waiting for the next tile bomb to drop. Since my elementary school did not have a cafeteria, the first time I walked down the lunch room line I was surprised by how many food items did not look like they were part of nature. I do not recall any teachers who would do what the teachers did in this movie. If Kevin James (Grown Ups, The King of Queens-TV) was graded for playing teacher Scott Voss, he would get an above average for effort. He deserved credit for doing the physical training the role demanded. Scott would try to become a mixed martial arts fighter to raise money for classes being cut, due to a budget shortfall. If he could get a scheduled fight, he would get paid even if he lost. It was a win-win situation. The cast was an enjoyable bunch to watch. Kevin’s character was affable and down to earth. I do have to say it was odd seeing Henry Winkler (Click, Happy Days-TV) playing a submissive, wishy washy character as music teacher Marty Streb. Come on, he was the Fonz. The other surprise was seeing Salma Hayek (Frida, Once Upon a Time in Mexico) playing school nurse Bella Flores in this comedy. For what was required of her, she was fine in this role. The problem with this movie was the story was bloated and predictable. The multitude of sight gags did not always work, being dull and flat. More chuckles than laughs, this boom was more like a pop. A brief scene with blood.