I HAD A PAIR OF SHOES that I walked to death. Being extremely picky when it comes to shoes, I remember exactly where I was when I bought that pair of shoes; in a department store shopping for a gift. As I was walking around I wound up by the shoe department. On an endcap was a display of shoes that caught my eye. I liked the style and the fact they were on sale, so I decided to try on a pair. The minute my foot slipped into the shoe I immediately was taken by the comfort. This was something that doesn’t often happen to me when it comes to shoes. After I tried on the other shoe I walked over to a mirror to see how they looked on my feet. One glance and it was confirmed, the shoes were going to be mine. Normally I bring shoes home and wear them around the house for a couple of weeks to make sure they will not cause any discomfort; however, this pair of shoes I wore that night when I met friends for dinner. From that first day, I wore those shoes every day for every occasion. Even when the heels were worn down and the sole’s tread smoothed out into baldness, I could not give up those shoes. THERE ARE SOME THINGS, ONCE WE acquire them, we cannot let them go. I know this is a HUGE challenge for me. If I find something that brings me some form of joyfulness, I understand myself well enough to know I will never want to give it up. There are mementos around my house that I have had since childhood that still bring me joy to this day. A candy dish I played with as a kid; a plastic salad bowl that sat on our dining room table; even a pine cone that was given to me by a classmate in school when we got lost in a forest during a break in studies; each of these things represent a fond memory that I never want to forget. Maybe it is easy for you to remove yourself from your personal possessions; I have some friends who do a purge of their things every year to keep their homes sparse and clutter-free. I can do that on a smaller scale, but every time I try I get bogged down in the memories that float back into my consciousness from each item I see. On first meeting the home owner in this dramatic, horror mystery; I thought he had the same issue of not being able to detach himself from his possessions. MAKING THE TRANSITION FROM CITY DWELLERS to country homeowners appeared easy for married couple Annie and Scott Russell, played by Meagan Good (Think Like a Man, The Unborn) and Michael Ealy (About Last Night, Seven Pounds). It was not as easy for the man who sold the house to them. With Dennis Quaid (A Dog’s Purpose, Far From Heaven) as Charlie Peck, Joseph Sikora (Charlie Wilson’s War, Ghost World) as Mike and Alvina August (Bad Times at the El Royale, The Good Doctor-TV) as Rachel; the story seemed quite familiar to me, as if it had been done many times before. If the writers had taken a different direction, maybe this picture would have had more to offer; since the cast was quite capable. Instead, the script was awful, insulting the intelligence of the viewer. It seemed as if every other scene with Dennis focused on his sardonic, sinister smile while the couple continued to make lame decisions. I was so bored by this movie I kept hoping the house would just catch on fire to end the story. When I left the theater, I was mad I had given up my valuable time to sit and watch this ridiculous film.
1 ½ stars
Once upon a time kindness came from the heart. Without fanfare or expectations, it is something that can be random as it arrives unfettered. Simple acts like opening a door for someone or helping a person pickup the spilled papers from their briefcase, these acts need not be elaborate or expensive. I remember a time when drivers were not as aggressive, where the kindness of strangers played a part in everyone driving from point A to point B. Another area that I feel really has changed from years ago is the dating experience. Back then it was less calculated or maybe I should say not as risky. With the internet, people now can investigate a potential date. I remember a co-worker who would go online to checkup on a prospective date. They had to have a high credit score before they would go out with them. From the stories I have heard plus my own experiences, meeting a person can be a challenge. Some of the “rules” out there are to always meet in a public place, let someone know where you will be, never go home with a stranger on the first meeting; there really are many land mines dotting the dating landscape. My story is not unusual; after a few dates I received a phone call that they were in dire need of $300.00 and would I loan it to them. I apologized to them that I did not have the available funds and asked about their friends. They had a ready excuse but in my mind I felt it was odd to ask me after only 4-5 dates. Imagine, I never heard from them again. I chalked it up to me being one of the lucky ones. HURTING from a painful breakup with her boyfriend Dave, played by Morris Chestnut (The Call, The Perfect Holiday); Leah, played by Sanaa Lathan (Out of Time, Something New), appreciated the kindness extended to her from the stranger standing next to her at the cafe. When she bumped into him again Leah wondered if he was to good to be true. This dramatic thriller had a story that was done many times before. I thought the cast, which also included Michael Ealy (Think Like a Man, Seven Pounds) as Carter, did a good job where I enjoyed a couple of suspenseful scenes. However, this was not enough for me to enjoy this film. The redundant silly script was not believable with all of its cliches and predictability. The only thing that I felt saved this picture from crashing down was the whole good vs evil setup. I sensed this from the audience sitting around me at the theater. Just as an online profile may be better than the actual person, the trailer for this movie was head and shoulders above the actual film. There were a couple of brief scenes with blood.
1 3/4 stars
Years of learning to clear my dinner plate of all food has taught me to appreciate the importance of having food guests want to eat. I have had dinner parties where most of the meal has dishes I do not like. But I was raised with the notion that no one should leave the dinner table hungry, so I tend to make a variety of main and side dishes. In my mind this is what a host is supposed to do. It is the same if you are hosting an event outside of the home, such as being the best man/woman for a bachelor/bachelorette party. Being responsible for entertaining and feeding the invited guests, the best person usually does everything they can to make it a memorable bash. For some individuals money is no object, even if multiple charge cards are employed in making the event. What host would want any of their guests not having a good time? Certainly not Cedric, played by Kevin Hart (Ride Along, About Last Night), who was the best man of a wedding party in this comedy. The same could be said for Lauren, played by Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Date Night), who was hosting a bachelorette party the same time as the guys’ big night. In this sequel the friends descend onto Las Vegas to celebrate the wedding of Candace, played by Regina Hall (Law Abiding Citizen, Scary Movie franchise). Nothing was going to get in the way of a good time, even Kristen’s future mother-in-law Loretta, played by Jennifer Lewis (Hereafter, Meet the Browns). For those of you who enjoyed the first movie, more than likely you will have a good time watching this sequel. As for me my 1st and biggest complaint has to do with Kevin Hart. I have seen enough of his movies (not always by choice) to see he has very little acting talent. Each of his performances consist of him screeching in an annoying vocal pitch, dishing out insults in a machine gun style of rapid fire barbs while being the recipient of a multitude of put-downs. As far as I could tell there were no original jokes in this cheap, tired mess. Everything was easy to follow since it was so predictable. I was bored throughout the picture; however, I will say I liked the lip sync video to the song “Poison,” though it was a ploy to fill up the running time because the writers evidently had run out of ideas. Oh wait, that is not right; the writers had no ideas, using standard situations that were done before. Hosting a movie night at my house, I would be embarrassed to show this film. There was a brief extra scene at the end of the credits.
1 2/3 stars
The challenge does not take place until after the honeymoon phase of the relationship. When the two of you started dating, each of you was always excited to see the other. Every time you got together you experienced the air rippling around you as if it were humming across your skin in waves of affectionate chills. On your best behavior; the two of you avoided uttering any negatives to questions, wore only the most flattering of clothes, would not eat any food like corn on the cob or fried chicken that could leave something between your teeth or hanging off your lips. However, once past this phase you two enter the reality period. This is the place where each of you sees how supportive the other can be in an anxious situation. You are not afraid to get your hands dirty, so to speak, plus you take more risks in revealing your fears and dreams. The key to making this all work is maintaining good communication between the two of you. Think of communication as the mortar that keeps the bricks of your relationship together. In this romantic comedy you will see two couples as they try to navigate their way from the dating phase to the real world, with some unexpected results. Kevin Hart (Ride Along, Grudge Match) and Michael Ealy (Seven Pounds, Taken) played best friends Bernie and Danny. One night out at a nightclub Bernie’s acquaintance Joan, played by Regina Hall (Law Abiding Citizen, Think Like a Man) introduced her roommate Debbie, played by Joy Bryant (Antwone Fisher, The Skeleton Key), to Danny. What followed was a bumpy ride in figuring out what each person wanted in a relationship. This film was an updated version of the 1984 movie that was based on the David Mamet (Hannibal, Glengarry Glen Ross) play, Sexual Perversity in Chicago. I found this version of the story to be crass and raunchy, with less of the sophisticated nuances that were part of the previous one. Once again here was a movie with Kevin Hart where I felt he was just doing his stand-up comedy act. His rapid fire style of talking or more precisely yelling got old for me pretty quickly. I felt the Danny and Debbie characters were more real, enjoying their story line better. There were parts of the movie that were fun and humorous but for the most part I never felt fully invested in the story. I want to say there was some merit in seeing this movie, if for no other reason just to witness the consequences of poor communication within a relationship; however, there was too much vulgarity and arguing for my tastes.
Women you caught us men; who knew it only took reading Steve Harvey’s best-selling book, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man,” to figure out the male species. And if you believe that, I have a brand new, still in the box Betamax for sale. I did not have high expectations for this movie. The story was about a group of women who read Steve Harvey’s book and used it to beat the man in their life at his own game. The movie, I believe, was not necessarily following the whole book, as much as just presenting scenes that addressed several chapters of it. This certainly was a great marketing idea. There were funny parts throughout this comedy; the bulk of them being handled by Kevin Hart (Death at a Funeral, Fool’s Gold) as Cedric. Out of the different couples in play, I felt Lauren and Dominic played by Taraji P. Henson (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Karate Kid) and Michael Ealy (Seven Pounds, 2 Fast 2 Furious) were the most believable out of the group. Besides them, the acting was passable from the rest of the cast. As far as I could tell, the majority of the audience was enjoying this light comedy. There really was nothing bad about this movie, just light fluff in my opinion. I think this film would be an easy choice as a date night movie for most people.
2 1/4 stars