THERE SHE SAT AS IF WAITING for her prime minister to enter and update her on world events. I would only see her in the communal dining area of the facility. Her hair perfectly coiffed was never out of place, though it did look like there was a thin layer of shellac coating it. Many of the residents would be dressed in a variety of clothing; it could be sleepwear or casual, one never knew what they would be wearing when they came down to the dining room. However, she was always immaculately dressed. Every blouse was tucked in, every button closed and everything always looking like it was just pressed at the cleaners. I asked one of the attendants about her, since I never saw anyone interacting with her. They told me she had been well off financially, but presently she was getting assistance from the state. I was curious why no one talked to her and was told when she became a resident of the nursing home she treated everyone as if they were her servant; except for pointing to things she wanted, she never acknowledged any of the other residents. I guess in her former life she only traveled in circles with other wealthy individuals. SOME PEOPLE FIND THEIR CLIQUE AND refuse to ever stray from it; for others, it is decided for them whether they want it or not. I never understood the power of a clique until I was in school. Each clique had a certain level of importance which brought them specific benefits. The jocks, as one clique was known by, were on the top of the food chain. Because they had the ability to bring massive glory to the school based on their team record, they pretty much had free reign across all school lines. Sure, there would be one teacher who would assert their authority over a jock; but it would rarely take hold for long. Theater students had their own language in a way. They were not afraid to show their emotions, which did not always work to their advantage. Though I wanted to be part of a group simply for survival purposes, I never quite fit into one category. It is the same in my adult life. Being part of a clique for me feels like I must stifle other aspects of my life. I dislike being typecast or pigeon-holed simply because I participate in a particular activity. Because of this I felt I understood what the two leads in this comedy were facing. WITH THEIR TIME ABOUT TO END on their high school years, best friends Amy and Molly, played by Kaitlyn Dever (Short Term 12, Last Man Standing-TV) and Beanie Feldstein (The Female Brain, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising), realize they have one day to experience the fun side of high school life and not be the book nerds that everyone believes them to be. With Jessica Williams (Delivery Man, Hot Tub Time Machine 2) as Miss Fine, Jason Sudeikis (Colossal, We’re the Millers) as Principal Brown and Lisa Kudrow (The Opposite of Sex, Friends-TV) as Charmaine; this coming of age, friendship genre story had some fine moments. It was a story that we’ve seen before; however, I found the two female leads endearing. The humor was raunchy at times, but I still enjoyed it and the way the humor could be both verbal and/or physical. Kaitlyn and Beanie worked well together, coming across as two best high school friends. After a point I did feel as if the story was becoming monotonous; at least the soundtrack kept me entertained. With this being the director’s first time out, I appreciated the pacing and telling of the story. The only other thing I have to say is this picture did bring back memories of cliques from my school years.
2 ½ stars
LIFE as you know it can burst apart in a seismic moment when you are introduced to your new baby sister or brother. If you are the first born it probably is a bigger adjustment than it would be for those born after you. When you are the only one, you benefit from your parents devoting their attention solely on you. With multiple children in the family the parents may feel as if they are spending equal time with each child; but the perception from the child’s point of view may be totally different. It stands to reason before that baby arrived the only child was the sole focus; now 2 siblings will vie for the attention of Mom and Dad. It does not stand to reason that the scope of your parents’ attention will double with each new child coming into the household. If that was not enough then there is the whole issue about birth order and the characteristics associated with it; such as the middle child gets the least attention and the youngest of the siblings gets spoiled. THE thing that stuns me the most about families with more than one child is how these early, shall we say, landmines can lead to the deterioration of family ties. I recently was talking with someone who expressed they do not talk to their brother. When I asked what they meant, they told me they have not had any communication with their sibling for years. Personally I cannot understand how siblings could dissolve to a level where it was preferable to end all communication between each other. One has to wonder where the parents and their involvement in the upbringing of these children were during the siblings’ formative years. The answers may be found in this animated family comedy. THERE was something different about the baby, voiced by Alec Baldwin (The Departed, 30 Rock-TV), who came into the life of Tim, voiced by Miles Christopher Bakshi (Shrek franchise). For starters the baby was dressed up in a suit. This movie was geared towards the older siblings of a family. I felt part of the humor and sight gags were pointed more to the 6-10 year olds; however, a good portion of the script had the parents in mind, with the type of jokes and references on display. I am not sure if younger children will have as much fun watching this film. Alec was perfect in the role, though Steve Buscemi (Reservoir Dogs, Fargo) as Francis Francis, TV talk show host Jimmy Kimmel as Dad and Lisa Kudrow (Easy A, The Comeback-TV) as Mom held their own. What I enjoyed about this movie besides the humor was its retro look; the visuals reminded me of some of the cartoon shows I used to watch when I was a kid. Underneath all of this I thought the writers did a wonderful job in introducing the lesson of the story. Maybe parents will see the lesson to learn early on, but for children it came across in an imaginative way. Pitting this against other recent animated films, this one may not have all the bells and whistles; however, as the baby of the family I refrain from making such comparisons. There was a brief extra scene in the middle of the credits and another extra scene at the end.
2 3/4 stars
THOUGH I try to avoid using the word “should,” in this case I think it is appropriate. One should not get offended by which table they are assigned to at a celebratory function, such as a wedding or bar mitzvah. Whether you believe it or not there is a ranking system, just like there is one for the seating arrangement at the Oscar awards. I am not including company functions here since most of the ones I have attended did not have assigned tables. It makes sense to me to place those people that may have a task to perform closer to the staging area of a room. For example the siblings of the bride and groom would be seated near the newlyweds so they would have easy access to give their speeches. Grandparents are always placed close by out of respect or maybe just to keep an eye on them for whatever reason. Those in the wedding party also would be seated somewhere near the newlyweds since those individuals I would assume are part of the couples’ inner circle of close friends and relatives. I see it as a ranking system in general, plus I can see the logic in it. THERE is a running joke in my family about the table that is closest to the kitchen. I freely admit, at least within my family structure, those seated at that particular table tend to be individuals who do not fit in at the other tables. No one in that group is going to perform any function like a toast or speech; there may be a pair of single people placed there, especially if the bride and/or groom is trying to fix up a relative or friend; and it is not uncommon to place a person there who shares only a past history with the celebrating families, having been invited out of respect. As long as the food is good it really doesn’t matter where I sit, though the guests at the last table in this dramatic comedy would have been a bit of a challenge for me. GOING from being the maid of honor to simply a guest when the best man dumped her Eloise, played by Anna Kendrick (The Accountant, The Hollars) found herself seated at the dreaded last table at the wedding. She was not the only one at the table. The idea for this story was something I could easily relate to and felt almost anyone else would find something in common with it. With Lisa Kudrow (Easy A, Friends-TV) as Bina Kepp, Craig Robinson (This is the End, Pineapple Express) as Jerry Kepp and June Squibb (Nebraska, Scent of a Woman) as Jo Flanagan; I liked the variety of the cast and each of their back stories. As for the script it provided plenty of chances for most viewers to connect to something familiar in their own lives. The issue I had was the script was too basic; it was too easy to see the jokes coming, the acting was partially uneven due to the dialog and none of the scenes were pushed to a farther place to add some intensity to the story. I felt as if everything was on one emotional level which led to boredom. The script really needed to be punched up to make this picture stand out from other movies that had similar story lines. If you get an invitation to this film you might want to send back your regrets.
1 ¾ stars