MY LOVE OF STORIES BEGAN AT AN early age because of the stories that were told around family meals. I heard about so many different relatives’ lives that I would wish they were sitting at the dining room table to tell their story directly to us. I had a relative who was a violin virtuoso. He was self-taught and only played for family and friends, is what I heard. The only memory I have associated to this person was seeing an old black and white photograph of him, dressed in a suit and holding his violin at his side. He died before I was born, so I never got to hear him play. Another story I heard around the dining room table was about a relative who had saved several other relatives by sneaking them out of their country during a war. With the details of each relative’s escape not known, I would make-up my own stories about their perilous travels and act them out whenever I was playing with my toy soldiers. I would cover the living room of our home with piles of towels to represent the mountains and rulers as bridges which my relatives/soldiers would have to traverse on their way to freedom. THERE WERE OTHER STORIES TOLD AT the dining room table; I remember being surprised by how many people were related to me. I used to wonder how much truth were in the stories that were being told; but, without having much physical proof, I had to rely on the storyteller to be accurate with the details. I cannot say it bothered me, but I was envious of the friends of mine who had physical remnants of their deceased relatives. One friend had a sword that was mounted on a plaque that hung in the hallway of their home; I think it belonged to a great, great, great uncle. Another friend of mine had their grandfather’s gold pocket watch. It was the first time I had ever seen a pocket watch and I was fascinated with the face cover that sprung open at the press of a button. At the time I did not realize the stories I was listening to would help me in my history classes in school. When the teacher was covering a world conflict or was focusing on a specific country, I would get a mental picture of my relative. Sometimes a city would be mentioned, and I could imagine my relative being there while doing something. I did not realize this ability would help me remember city names on our tests. How I wished I could talk to these deceased relatives; if only I had the opportunity the brothers had in this animated, adventure comedy. UPON RECEIVING THEIR DECEASED FATHER’S MAGICAL staff; brothers Ian and Barley Lightfoot, voiced by Tom Holland (Spider-Man franchise, The Impossible) and Chris Pratt (The Kid, Passengers), set out on an adventure to try and bring back the magic of their Dad. With Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Downhill, Enough Said) voicing Laurel Lightfoot, Octavia Spencer (Hidden Figures, The Shape of Water) voicing the Manticore and Mel Rodriguez (Little Miss Sunshine, Panic Room) voicing Colt Bronco; this Pixar movie had the usual high standard of animation we are used to from this studio. Though the cast of actors brought life to these fantasy characters, the script did not have any magic for me. Out of the many films I have seen from this studio, this one was the most obvious with following the studio’s story formula. I did not find anything funny to chuckle at and I must say the father character was odd to me. The script was simple and predictable. If I had my choice, I would rather have been reminiscing about my deceased relatives’ stories than sitting in the theater to watch what these two brothers went through to connect to their past.
NEVER BEFORE HAD I HEARD someone ending a story with the word cancer and had a smile on their face. He was referring to the disease not the zodiac sign. I sat listening to this story and was not expecting such a reaction; I did not know how to respond to him. This is the story he told me: When he was in high school there was a student who took pleasure in torturing him. The bully would spit at him both in and outside of the classroom, besides hitting him at unexpected times with a book or his fist. It lasted the entire school year and not once did he ever do anything about it or at least tell someone about the torment he was receiving. After the school year was over he had a little over 2 months of relief since the bully did not live near him. The next school year continued his good fortune because he and his tormenter shared no classes together. It was a small price because the damage, as he referred to it, was already done. It was years later he heard his tormenter was diagnosed with cancer. When he said those words he had a smile on his face; then added these words, “Karma can be a real bitch.” FROM MY LIMITED UNDERSTANDING I took karma to be the fate one gets based on their past and current actions. I guess it applied in this case but it seemed odd to find glee in such an outcome. But then again I remember people from my past who had done things that were unkind, unsavory or unethical and I felt they would be sorry for acting that way when karma came a calling. There was a company I worked at that had an employee who was vindictive and sneaky, among other things. She could hold a grudge better than most people. If someone in the company upset her she would purposely do something that would look bad on the person’s work record. She did not care, she was that revengeful. I used to sit there and imagine how life would turn out for her from all the nasty things she had done over the years I worked there. In some ways believing in karma has helped me deal with unpleasant situations. Meeting someone who winds up hurting me in some way still is painful; but when I feel their act will steer their life’s journey on a different course (a/k/a payback), it makes me in some weird way get over the pain quicker. There is a perfect example of it in this comedic romance remake. WHEN WEALTHY PLAYBOY LEONARDO, played by Eugenio Derbez (Instructions not Included, How to be a Latin Lover), falls off his yacht and washes up on shore without any memory; single mom Kate, played by Anna Feris (The House Bunny, Just Friends), decides to get even with him for the things he had done to her. This movie also starred John Hannah (The Mummy franchise, Four Weddings and a Funeral) as Colin, Eva Longoria (The Sentinel, Harsh Times) as Theresa and Mel Rodriguez (The Watch, Little Miss Sunshine) as Bobby. Though I have a vague memory of the original film I felt this movie did not offer anything special, despite the gender switch in the main characters. Surprisingly I found Eugenio to be the bigger screen presence; Anna was not being utilized to full advantage. She was almost forgettable. The script was predictable and I even mean that for those who never saw the first movie. There were a couple of touching and humorous scenes but after the film was over I wondered what I had done in the past to make me wind up sitting and watching this disappointing film.
1 3/4 stars