AT some point in time I am sure many of us have felt alone, as if we were the only one. I feel it is a valid point; however, my question is what does a person do about it? That feeling of being out of synch from those around you can really do a number on you mentally. Imagine if the co-workers around you all share a fondness for a particular activity which you are not interested in; you could be left out of their conversations or out of office activities. One scenario I have seen numerous times is when one’s circle of friends goes from being single to being a part of a couple. As friends begin to couple up it is understandable there is some adjustment and before you say, “no there is not,” let me say there are a variety of reasons couples may prefer doing things with other couples. I am willing to bet if you were in a relationship that later dissolved, you would have felt alone as your coupled friends came to your support. A particularly difficult time for me took place during my freshmen year of college. I had gone to an out of state university that no one else from my high school was planning on attending. Alone in a foreign city was tough for me, especially because I was the only freshman on my floor; the other residents were all graduate students. It was not until one of my classes held a panel discussion with outside guests that I first felt a connection to some similarly minded students. It was as if a secret door had opened in the middle of the 30,000+ student body and I finally stopped feeling as if I was the odd man out. It was an eye opening experience, not so dissimilar from the one that takes place in this animated adventure comedy. WITH a secret map in her possession Smurfette, voiced by Demi Lovato (Glee-TV, Sonny with a Chance-TV), takes off on a journey that will show her things that she has not found in her own village. Including Mandy Patinkin (The Princess Bride, Homeland-TV) voicing Papa Smurf, Julia Roberts (Mother’s Day, Closer) voicing SmurfWillow, Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike franchise, True Blood-TV) as Hefty Smurf and Rainn Wilson (Juno, The Office-TV) as Gargamel; this movie was geared more for the younger child. The animation was colorful and there were many scenes filled with action. Honestly, I felt like I was watching one of those old Saturday morning cartoon shows I remember as a kid. I appreciated the dual messages the writers were trying to get across to the viewers; however, I found the story in general mediocre. There was nothing either good or poor about this picture; it was predictable and a little bland for me. Granted I was never into the Smurfs while growing up, but I thought the writing could have been more creative to add heft to the fun and excitement factors. As a whole I was left with a bland feeling about this movie; I could have (if I was into the Smurfs) easily have waited to see this some Saturday morning on television, while eating a bowl of breakfast cereal by myself.
At some point nearly everyone has to cross the intersection of uncertainty. It may happen when you are about to become a responsible adult; for others, it could be when you come upon that mental juncture between what you do in life as opposed to what you want to do. There are so many variables on when we travel up to that crossroads during our lifetime. I have heard many people complain about their job and how it does not fulfill them; it simply is a means to earning an income. However, when they reach this intersection during their life they pause a moment to question if this is all their life will ever be. I am a firm believer in doing something you love which will nourish you. A previous job is what I credit for pushing me to explore and teach yoga. Back then my days lost color, faded into a monotone of gray colors. All I did was work, eat and sleep then repeat it all over the following day. I felt I was on a one speed treadmill with no off switch. It was during that time I realized I needed physical and mental stimulation; otherwise, I felt I was going to wither off the vine of life and be discarded in time. TIME seemed to be slipping away for struggling actor Aidan Bloom, played by Zach Braff (Oz the Great and Powerful, Scrubs-TV). Finding himself at a crossroads when his father Gabe, played by Mandy Patinkin (The Princess Bride, Chicago Hope-TV), took ill and could no longer help out financially, Aidan had to take a hard look at his life and how he would provide for his family. Directed and co-written by Zach, this comedic drama had some good elements. I thought the cast all worked well together, especially Kate Hudson (Almost Famous, Bride Wars) as Aidan’s wife Sarah, Joey King (Looper, The Crazies) as his daughter Grace and Josh Gad (Jobs, The Internship) as his brother Noah. There was an understated humor through several scenes, nothing out loud or outrageous. The multitude of story lines was the issue I had with this film. They cast a wide net, allowing many viewers the opportunity to find something relatable; however, it was way too much for me and congested the underlying story. I never found a strong connection to anything in the movie; I became uninterested and left with a blah feeling towards the whole picture. With all the movies I have seen I cannot imagine I have reached a crossroads in my reviewing. Nah, I still love what I am doing; I just wish some of the people who worked on this film felt the same way.
I agree that opposites attract is valid most of the time; however, sometimes it can be a real challenge. My friends were quite puzzled when I was in a relationship with a mathematician. In fact, they had a PhD degree in mathematics. Looking back I have to laugh at some of the conversations we used to have when we were in disagreement. Where they needed fact based information to make a decision, they were always perplexed when I would say things like “it feels right” or “that is how I feel.” How does one explain a feeling to a scientific mind? Suffice to say our different perspectives was the cleaver that finally severed our relationship. So here in this movie there were two individuals who were curious about each other; both passionate about their respective creative talents. This comedy was extra fun for me because it combined two of my favorite things besides movies: music and books. Judy Davis (Barton Fink, To Rome with Love) played writer Amandine Lucile Aurore Dupin aka George Sand. She was known to wear men’s clothing and smoke cigars, besides her romantic affairs with some prominent men; all which were quite outrageous back in the early 1800s. Upon hearing rapturous music being played on the piano by composer Frederic Chopin, played by Hugh Grant (About a Boy, Music and Lyrics), George was determined to meet this man whose music was speaking directly to her heart. Unfortunately former lovers and friends had different ideas for them. This biographical film was enjoyable on multiple levels. Seeing a young Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks, Sense and Sensibility) play Duchess D’Antan, Mandy Patinkin (The Princess Bride, Criminal Minds-TV) as Alfred De Musset and Bernadette Peters (The Jerk, Annie) as Maria D’Agoult was amusing to me. The acting from the whole cast was solidly cohesive. I have to tell you I liked the retro look to the whole film. What I mean is the use of actual film to shoot the picture and on location in France without any type of special effects. Of course it was understandable since the movie was made over 20 years ago. Being familiar with the works of Chopin and Franz Liszt, played by Julian Sands (The Killing Sands, Leaving Las Vegas), I found the connection between my own knowledge of these historic figures and the characterizations of them in this musical film a crazy juxtaposition. This comedy would not only work for those who have a strong creative side but to those with a dominant scientific mind.
3 stars — DVD