I DID NOT HAVE AN OPINION one way or the other about the groom; I just thought it was not a good idea for him to marry my friend. He seemed to be nice as far as I could tell in literally the three minutes we spoke before the wedding ceremony. My friend had been in a four-year relationship that ended with a lot of heartbreak and sadness. She was just getting her life back in order when she met this man and the next thing I heard was they were planning on getting married. As far as I knew they had only known each other for a few months before deciding to get married; I do not know which one pushed the idea first. My reason for feeling this wedding would be a bad idea was based on my observations that my friend did not complete the grieving process from her last relationship. It seemed as if this man was being used as a distraction to coverup the sadness and pain. I know everyone falls in love at a different pace and maybe I am just being a pessimist; but the whole proposal and wedding thing came up suddenly without anyone being clued into it. I had to wonder if the groom had any knowledge about my friend’s recent breakup. It would be sad if they were marrying for the wrong reasons. THEIR WEDDING WOULD NOT BE THE first one that was based on questionable motivations that I would attend. I knew a man who had served in the military. When he returned home there was something different about him. With him being older and the two of us not having much contact, it was hard for me to pinpoint what had changed in him; I only knew he was not the same. After some time being at home, he started dating a woman. He took his time before introducing her around; but once he did, several of us questioned the relationship. It appeared as if she was making all the decisions in their relationship. He went along with everything she said. It was as if he no longer had an opinion about anything, letting her decide the where, when, what and how to every situation. Now if he was like that prior to their meeting, I would not question it; however, it was such a stark contrast to what I knew about him that I felt something was not “right.” I continued to feel that way even when she announced they were getting married. Maybe it would work out for them; if love is present one never knows what could happen. Just see for yourself in this dramatic romantic comedy. WITH THE PROSPECT OF BEING DEPORTED looming over her head, the only thing that popped into Margaret Tate’s, played by Sandra Bullock (The Heat, Ocean’s Eight) mind was to find someone she could marry. It did not matter what they had to say about it. With Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool franchise, Safe House) as Andrew Paxton, Mary Steenburgen (Last Vegas, Powder) as Grace Paxton, Craig T. Nelson (The Family Stone, Book Club) as Joe Paxton and Betty White (The Mary Tyler Moore Show-TV, Golden Girls-TV) as Grandma Annie; this film festival winner survived its generic script because of the cast. The chemistry between Sandra and Ryan was not only believable, but it came with extra doses of snarkiness and pinpoint comedic timing. Add in Betty White and that was all that was necessary for me to stay interested in this film. There were a couple of times where I chuckled, and I did enjoy the outdoor scenery. Too bad the script was predictable because with this cast the writers could have included a few twists and turns to give the story a new flavor. Despite these shortcomings, it was fun to sit through and watch this movie.
2 ½ stars
THERE WAS NOTHING UNUSUAL ABOUT the couple standing in the middle of the crowd. They each had their arm wrapped around the back of the other; one had their head resting on the other’s shoulder. The music the band was playing up on stage had everyone moving to the beats. The couple was right in synch with the rhythm, moving their hips in unison. The two of them looked good together; one had a dark complexion while the other had a fair complexion with a twinge of redness. Similar in height they appeared to fit well together. Directly in front of them stood a young Millennial; she had been there for only a short time. At some point between songs she started to look around at the other fans. When she spotted the couple behind her she stopped and a smile began to grow on her face. When the couple made eye contact with her the Millennial gushed, “You two make the cutest couple. How long have you 2 been together?” The couple looked at each other with warm smiles and a chuckle. Looking back at the young girl they told her they have only been a couple for a little over one year. The Millennial was shocked and told them she could not believe it; she thought they had been a couple for at least 20 years. HAVE YOU NOTICED HOW THE younger generations treat the older ones? If that couple was in their 20’s, I doubt anyone would gush over them and call them cute. But because they were elderly and showing signs of affection for each other, they now are just too cute. I have experienced this phenomenon at weddings where an elderly couple go out onto the dance floor. Suddenly they grab all the attention as people start to watch that old couple moving to the music; saying things like, “Look at them move” and “Can you believe them?” Seriously, it is not like they are one step away from a fall; they happen to be active and enjoy dancing to music. Just because they are old suddenly people assume the couple cannot do the same activities of someone years younger. With me teaching fitness I have experienced people becoming shocked that I am an instructor. I cannot say I am insulted, but I find it curious that there are some who have these pre-conceived notions of what an instructor should be. Just because a person looks older doesn’t mean they stop living and having fun; in fact, there are examples of what I have been saying right here in this comedy film. FOUR LONG-TERM FRIENDS’ LIVES were sent reeling when a racy, bestselling book was introduced into their book club. The women did not even know where to begin. The main reason to see this film was the cast; without them this movie would have fallen into the discount bin. With Diane Keaton (The Family Stone, Something’s Gotta Give) as Diane, Jane Fonda (Monster-in-Law, Klute) as Vivian, Candice Bergen (Bride Wars, Murphy Brown-TV) as Sharon, Mary Steenburgen (Last Vegas, Time After Time) as Carol and Andy Garcia (City Island, The Lost City) as Mitchell; it was enjoyable to watch actors take on the life of their characters. The script was nothing special; honestly, I felt it could have thrown much more at the cast to make this a truly funny story. Instead there were more chuckles and close to syrupy cuteness coming from the scenes. It was pretty easy for me to figure out the conclusions to each story line; like I said, the director and writers played it too safe in my opinion. Despite these issues it was good to see these long careered (you thought I was going to say old, didn’t you?) actors do what they do best, who I believe feel the same way I do: age is just a number.
2 ¼ stars
THE ABSENCE OF a single conversation can steer a relationship off course and down an embankment towards rocky terrain. When someone says “they were afraid to tell their significant other” or do not want to say anything “because they won’t understand what I am saying anyway,” I want to give them a time out. I may understand why the person does not want to confront their partner but the bottom line for me is this: if you are in a committed relationship there should be no fear for one to express their feelings and thoughts. I had a friend who was afraid to tell her husband she was feeling lonely in their relationship. Her husband would go out with his friends to drink or play sports on a consistent basis. She would be left at home. Now granted she could have easily made plans with her friends, but for her it would not have solved the fundamental issue. The issue being she wanted to spend some down time with her husband after their busy work week schedules. WHEN I WITNESS couples not sharing their feelings with each other I fear they are laying down the groundwork for a life of miscommunication; that is if they choose to remain together for that long. More times than not this not talking to each other situation usually brings in to the relationship anger and resentment. In turn a game gets set up where one person does something they know will irritate their partner; then the partner returns the favor by doing something equally as irritating back. It becomes a vicious cycle that only places more negativity on the relationship. I find it sad and if given the opportunity to express my thoughts I will share them with the couple. Something I always recommend is therapy, to get an outside person involved to mediate and help the couple learn how to communicate their feelings to each other. I can see where the idea for this comedy came from regarding the issues facing the couples in this movie. LOOKING TO PROVE her theory about marriage researcher Vivian, played by Dolly Wells (Bridget Jones franchise, 45 Years), chose what she believed to be the perfect couples to participate in her documentary. Each couple had issues, maybe more than Vivian had bargained for. Starring writer and director Lake Bell (In a Word, No Strings Attached) as Alice, Ed Helms (Love the Coopers, Vacation) as Noah, Mary Steenburgen (The Proposal, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape) as Cybil, Paul Reiser (Whiplash, Mad About You-TV) as Harvey and Amber Heard (The Danish Girl, Drive angry) as Fanny; this was a well chosen ensemble for this story. As I mentioned the idea for this story was sound in my opinion; but it did not always translate to the script. Where some scenes had humor and real life situations, others fell flat and were not realistic. It was as if there was more than one story going on at times which attributed to the loss of focus. I was periodically bored and never felt like I fully knew any of the characters. In the past I have enjoyed Lake Bell’s work and performances, but for this film the directing did not help in jumping from one couple’s story to another. I am afraid for a story about communication and marriage; this movie did not do a good job in proving its point. There was a brief extra scene during the beginning credits.
1 ¾ stars
Some people learn about someone from looking through their medicine cabinet. Who knows, you may discover they suffer from acid reflux, wear contact lenses or have sensitive teeth. Now I will admit if the door to the medicine cabinet is ajar, I will peek at what is visible without touching anything; so there will not be any fingerprints. So yes, I may know what type of hair shampoo a person likes or they are on an antibiotic; however, this does not reveal a true picture about the individual. If you really want to get to know someone, take a look at their music library. Based on the type of music they listen to can tell you a variety of things, such as they are an old-fashioned romantic or they must have had a relationship that had a bad breakup. I know if someone were to go through my music they would figure out I like to move because of the abundance of dance music in my library. Another aspect of music is its healing properties. How many of us have played a particular song over and over to heal a sad, heavy heart? Music has a way of providing us many gifts. AFTER a horrific accident Franny, played by Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises, Bride Wars), flew home after being away for several years, to be there for her brother Henry, played by Ben Rosenfield (A Most Violent Year, Boardwalk Empire-TV), and her estranged mother Karen, played by Mary Steenburgen (Last Vegas, The Help). Listening to her brother’s music, Franny sought out her brother’s favorite places to listen to his favorite artists so she could get to know him. This film festival nominee had a gentle story despite its tragic event. Anne was well suited for the role and I enjoyed her performance as I did Mary and Johnny Flynn (Something in the Air, Lotus Eaters) as James Forester. The music score was full of indie folk songs; at least that is how I would describe them. They were sweet but nothing memorable. The idea for this drama was admirable; I thought it was an interesting take on a familiar theme. The issue I had with this movie was it did not go far enough to be unique. There were times I felt I had already seen parts of it before. In addition, it was pretty easy to figure out how the story would play out. Despite these shortcomings I did not mind sitting through this drama; granted the main attraction for me was the music. On a final note, this film may have hit a few sour notes but it did prove again the power of music.
1 3/4 stars
There is only a small group who can determine my feelings without me uttering one single word. We use verbal shorthand to communicate, ready to validate anyone’s point being made to an outsider. I am part of this group known as childhood friends. We knew each other before adolescence; they never made a comment about the pimples appearing on my face as my body began to change. Each of us shares a history that keeps us grounded to each other, without the need for explaining our actions. Sometimes I feel they are too grounded when they correct a story I am telling that may have some embellishments in it; you know, strictly for entertainment purposes. We can joke and tease each other; but if someone else attempts it, each one of us will go into attack mode to defend our friend. This type of loyalty was evident amongst the childhood friends in this comedy. Michael Douglas (Falling Down, Behind the Candelabra) as Billy, Robert De Niro (The Family, Silver Linings Playbook) as Paddy, Morgan Freeman (Now You See Me, Million Dollar Baby) as Archie and Kevin Kline (Wild Wild West, The Ice Storm) as Sam have known each other since childhood. After all these years perpetual bachelor Billy decided to get married to a considerably younger woman. Despite any misgivings, Billy’s friends decided to throw him a bachelor party to beat all bachelor parties in the city of Los Vegas. With most moviegoers being familiar with the acting style of these actors, I felt the writers needed to have a strong script for them. Unfortunately it was not, placing the cast in a predictable story. The humor was okay, though the movie trailers ruined some scenes for me. It was lovely to see Mary Steenburgen (What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Proposal) cast as lounge singer Diana. I found her role to be the strongest and enjoyed the way the story developed around her character. There seems to be talk about this film being the geriatric version of The Hangover movie franchise. I can see why people would say this but it does a disservice to this film. The essence of this story was about childhood friends. I wished the writers would have expanded on it because I know my old friends would have appreciated the movie more. But then again, they already knew how I was going to review this bland movie.