IT FEELS GOOD TO BE BACK after being on vacation for the past couple of weeks. This was a special vacation for me because I finally fulfilled a dream I have had since I was a child. I traveled to the last state I needed to see to complete my quest of visiting all 50 states. This feeling of accomplishment was better than I had imagined; to have had this dream/goal for most of my life being checked off my list of things to do felt amazing. As I have done in every other state I have visited, I bought a couple of touristy T-shirts and caps to add to my collection. If you do the math, that means I have over 100 of each item; so yes, you can consider me somewhat of a nerd. I only wear them when I teach class since I prefer not putting on workout clothes that have a company’s logo on it. For every state I have been in, I have experienced something new and wonderful. One of the best experiences I have had from my journeys has been the discovery that people are pretty much the same no matter where they live. I have found there are more similarities between all of us than not and we truly can learn from each other if we take the time to do so. THERE IS THAT OLD PROVERB, “The grass is greener on the other side;” which means situations always look better than one’s own, even when they really are not. Since I live in a humid continental climate with all four seasons, I felt those who live in a tropical climate have it easier; it turns out that is not always the case. Meeting so many different people across the country has widened my horizons, allowing me to learn many new things. I can say with certainty the grass in no greener on the other side from your own; though it may feel like it at times. I find it interesting that one of my concerns about taking such a long vacation was how would I stay current with the new movie releases. As you can see, I have not posted a new review in a couple of weeks; however, I feel invigorated and find the very first movie I went to see upon my return relates so well with my feelings about accomplishing my dream. This animated adventure film has a couple of solid helpful messages stashed inside of its story. IMAGINE THE SHOCK MILES MORALES, voiced by Shameik Moore (Dope, Joyful Noise), felt when he discovered there was more than one version of his superhero, Spider-Man. With Jake Johnson (Tag, New Girl-TV) voicing Peter B. Parker, Hailee Steinfeld (The Edge of Seventeen, Pitch Perfect franchise) voicing Gwen Stacy, Mahershala Ali (Green Book, Hidden Figures) voicing Uncle Aaron and John Mulaney (Saturday Night Live-TV, The Jim Gaffigan Show-TV) voicing Spider-Ham; this was a visually fun action film. Using an assortment of animation styles, they lent themselves to the sharp humor in the script. As I mentioned earlier, I found a couple of good lessons were conveyed in the middle of the quick antics on display. What I also enjoyed was the inclusion of several tender scenes that gave this movie a nice sheen to it. This picture has a much more sophisticated script than the average animated film; both children and adults would have an easy time watching it. For me at times, I felt I was literally seeing a comic book come to life. And the funny thing about this is after I saw the movie trailer I was left with a “meh” feeling. I am glad this was my first movie to review upon my return and I loved the connection I felt between my feelings about my experience with the feelings expressed in this well-done film.
I believe every family has to have at least one. It is that relative who does not follow in line with the other family members. It could be an aunt, grandparent or any other older relative; but more than likely, they do not follow the typical mindset on how to interact with a child. Let me give you some examples: a grandparent who sneaks candy to you even though your parents forbid candy in the house; an uncle who does not believe he should wait for an appropriate age for you to taste the wine in his glass. Though I just gave examples involving food, this type of relative could also be the one who recognizes there is an elephant in the room, so to speak. They will talk about whatever issue is hanging over the family that the other relatives are trying to avoid or pretend does not exist. I feel I learned how to express my feelings at an early age because of all the examples I had around me. Some would say I expressed them too much without trying to be diplomatic or at least more sensitive. I should tell you I still remember the first time I heard a relative use a “bad” curse word without any apology; I was around 5 years old. From that point on I noticed his conversation always had some colorful words in it. Maybe that is why I grew up feeling curse words were just another form of an adjective. Either way, I do believe those experiences contributed to me growing comfortable to speak my mind and this is why I immediately identified with the main character in this dramatic comedy. AFRAID to ask her mother for money Sage, played by Julia Garner (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Martha Marcy May Marlene), turned to the only person she thought could help get her out of her predicament; her grandmother Elle Reid, played by Lily Tomlin (I Heart Huckabees, Nashville). Unfortunately broke at the moment, Elle would not give up on her granddaughter and find a way to help her. I recently read the character of the grandmother was written with Lily in mind which made sense because she was perfect in the role. But the cool part was how the other characters such as Marcia Gay Harden (Into the Wild, Miller’s Crossing) as Judy and Sam Elliott (I’ll See You in my Dreams, Up in the Air) as Karl were not short changed; they each got a real character to expand with their acting ability. There was some predictability to the story but I did not mind it. The acting was so strong with these honest characters that I was able to enjoy the ride the story was taking me on. There is something to be said for those relatives who “call it as they see it” and that is why I want to say, “Go Grandma.”
“Do not judge a book by its cover” are words that I try to live by every day. I have been surprised with individuals who gave no outside clue to the amazing feats they had accomplished. In turn, I cannot tell you how many times a member from my class has seen me eating at a restaurant and was surprised I was eating a pizza or dessert. Jokingly I tell them I do not live on broccoli and tofu just because I am a fitness instructor. During the week I am strict with my food intake; on the weekends I allow myself to have fun with my meals. Another example of judging; in one of my literature classes in college the professor wrote, “I would have never guessed you knew the class content,” on the midterm exam I aced. The reason was I never participated in the discussion portion of the class. In this comedy I had to wonder if that is really how students get accepted into college. Tina Fey (Mean Girls, 30 Rock-TV) played Princeton Univeristy admissions officer Portia Nathan. Seeking exceptional candidates for her school, Portia agreed to visit an alternative school headed by John Pressman, played by Paul Rudd (This is 40, Wanderlust). While at the school John surprised Portia with one particular gifted young man who could possibly have a special connection to her. If I were to judge this movie based on the cast, including Lily Tomlin (Nine to Five, I Heart Huckabees) as Portia’s mother Susannah, I would assume the movie was going to be funny. I would be wrong; there was so little humor, I kept wondering why the studio did not let Tina write the screenplay. Lily’s performance was fine and I have yet seen Paul do a bad job. He is always an affable character. Surprisingly Tina was the weak one, though the poorly written script did her no favors. This film was a waste of the actors’ true talent. With several scenes showing students’ applications being denied, you would have thought someone in the studio would have denied this script from being allowed to become a movie.
1 3/4 stars