AFTER YOU GET TO KNOW CERTAIN people, you can anticipate how they will react to certain things. At least that is what I have found to be true. I know a person, who I have come to known, who has a narrow view of the world. If something is different than what she thinks it should be, she immediately has a dislike or distrust for it. Maybe you know someone like this, who looks at the way a stranger is dressed or made up and quickly passes judgement on them. Having been around this person for some time, we were at a party where the guest list was made up of a variety of nationalities and races. This person never left her seat, that she purposely picked in a corner of the room. I would glance over to her from time to time, especially if there were any guests milling about in the area surrounding them. To a stranger, they might have thought this person had an itch in their nose, but I knew better. If this person did not “approve” of a hairstyle or outfit or I would hate to think race or nationality, they would ever so slightly crinkle up their nose and lips. I knew them well enough to recognize that “look,” as if they had just tasted something that was sour. Instead of venturing out of their bubble and learning about an individual, they sat there alone the whole night. I WILL ADMIT WHEN IT COMES to food, I might not want to taste it if it doesn’t look “good” to me, whatever good means in my mind. However, with people it is a different story. That is one of the reasons I watch one particular singing reality television show. Normally, I do not watch any of the reality shows, but this one I enjoy because the judges are basing their decisions on the contestant’s voice. The judges do not get to see the performer until after they are done singing. I enjoy watching the talent and seeing how individuals who might not get a break in the industry because they do not “look the part” get to experience everything that goes along with sharing their special talent. This might explain why I frequently use the phrase, “Do not judge a book by its cover.” I have been pleasantly surprised encountering people who others may have been wary about based on some false, preconceived notion. The example I have used before is the man who struck an imposing figure but had the sweetest and most gentle personality. It is a message that rings deeply in me and why I wound up being taken by surprise in this adventure comedy. IT WAS HARD MAKING FRIENDS AT a new school, but things were not all bad after Josh, played by Winslow Fegley (Come Play, Nightbooks) discovered who was living in the attic of his family’s new home. With musical artist Shawn Mendes voicing Lyle, Javier Bardem (Being the Ricardos, Loving Pablo) as Hector P. Valenti, Constance Wu (Crazy Rich Asians, Sound of My Voice) as Mrs. Primm and Scott McNairy (12 Years a Slave, Argo) as Mr. Primm; this musical movie based on the children’s book series had a wonderful message in its story. The cast was fun to watch, despite some of them close to becoming cartoonish. The CGI effects were fine as well as Shawn’s singing. There were some holes in the script, where I thought the story was veering off a bit; however, it was not anything so blatant that disrupted the flow of scenes. The biggest surprise was Javier’s performance; I had no idea he could sing and dance. Children will certainly be entertained by this picture and, as a bonus, everyone could use a refresher course on not judging a book by its cover.
WHEN I HEARD HOW HER MOTHER-IN-LAW was treating her, I was appalled. To be so blatant about a dislike for a person made me question exactly how so-called religious was she? I was told the mother-in-law never missed attending a church service, was involved by volunteering for church events, helped with fundraising; she did everything she could for her church, yet she did not like her daughter-in-law because she was raised and practiced a different religion. It did not matter that she loved her son, made him happy and in turn, he loved her. The fact her son did not push back at his mother’s behavior towards his bride, told me enough about him. I am trying not to be too judgmental here; probably not doing a good job, but here are a couple of examples of what I am talking about. The mother would ask her son to stop by after work then keep him there for dinner, without asking his wife to join. Now granted the son could/should have said something, but he did not; or he could have said he has to get home because his wife was making dinner. Another thing she would do is only give her daughter-in-law a generic birthday card, while everyone else in the family always received beautiful gifts on their birthdays. Granted this is my opinion, but this is why I found the mother-in-law’s behavior appalling. THE THING I DO NOT UNDERSTAND is why should it matter if a person is of a different religion or for that fact, a different skin color. Human is human, how does one justify having negative feelings about someone who believes in a different religion? Or what fault can be found for someone’s ancestors coming from a different part of the world; we all still have so much in common, if one would just invest the time to find out. For myself, I do not know if it was due to my upbringing, schooling or life experiences that these two things about a person (religion & race) were unimportant to me. Putting environmental issues aside, what does the color of an individual’s skin, the shape of their eyes, their religious beliefs have to do with who they are as a good person. Sure, there are those who “practice what they preach” and there are those whose actions could be considered stereotypical; however, do these things change a person’s morals or heart or empathy? In my dating life I have dated people from all walks of life and places from earth; the only thing that mattered is if they were a good person. You can see what I am talking about if you choose to see this Oscar nominated film. HOW DOES ONE REVIEW A REMAKE of an iconic, classic movie? I will give it a try. Directed by Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List) with Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars, Baby Driver) as Tony, newcomer Rachel Zegler as Maria, Ariana DeBose (The Prom, Hamilton) as Anita, David Alvarez (American Rust-TV) as Bernardo and Rita Moreno (Play it by Ear, Jane the Virgin-TV) as Valentina; this adaptation of the 1957 film stands on its own merits. The filming and direction were outstanding; Steven is a real storyteller. I was stunned that Ansel not only could sing but sing so well. He was a perfect match for Rachel. For me, the music and songs are the highlight. I felt the choreography was better than the original film because it seemed to have a better fit into the story. What surprised me was the script. The way it was updated, the story made more sense to me. Sadly, because the timing was not right for when this picture came out, few people got to see it. If you are a fan of musicals or even not, then you deserve to treat yourself by seeing this beautifully retooled story about two people in love.
3 ½ stars
THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THOSE who sacrifice to make their dreams succeed and those who get it handed to them. From my work and life experiences, I have seen the results from both ways. There was the job I had where the owner was the son, who inherited the business after his father passed away. The son was not a pleasant man to work for because he never really had to work to make the business succeed. He had big ideas, but because he did not understand the amount of work needed to succeed, he lost everything when he opened a retail store in a large shopping center. The new store lasted a little over one year before he had to close it down, since it never turned a profit. I remember when I first started to teach fitness, I thought about making it a full-time job/career. For three solid years I worked at making a name for myself as I studied the presenters at fitness conventions, wondering if I could get to that level in the fitness world. At one point I was working at 5 different locations, doing a multitude of classes; I never turned down an offer to sub for an instructor who could not teach their class that day. It was a hectic pace that did not allow me to socialize much. Now, I knew that would be the case and I was willing to focus all my energy on teaching classes while taking classes to increase my knowledge in the fitness world. WHEN I DECIDED TO START WRITING movie reviews here, I made a promise to myself that I would write a review every day for one entire year, and I did it. My life was basically filled with either sitting in movie theaters or sitting at home writing reviews. After the first year, I did not want to stop but understood I could not keep up such a pace and now it has been over 10 years of me writing reviews at a slower pace. In the scheme of things, my sacrifices were not life and death decisions unlike a friend of mine who had to become the main wage earner in her household. After her husband lost his job, she took on extra shifts at work to make up the loss of household income. She realized she would not be able to keep up the pace for the long term; so, she enrolled back in school to complete her master’s degree. With the added degree her wages and job opportunities would increase quickly. This meant she would be working at her job and with schoolwork for 1 solid year with no breaks, and she did it. It was a major sacrifice for their relationship but once it was done, they both had a deeper appreciation of each other and their life together. This biographical musical drama can show you what can happen when one makes a sacrifice. HIS DREAM WAS TO WRITE THE next great musical; but with the clock ticking Jonathan Larson, played by Andrew Garfield (The Eyes of Tammy Faye, 99 Homes), felt the pressure on what he would do with his life if he failed. With Alexandra Shipp (X-Men franchise; Love, Simon) as Susan, Robin de Jesus (The Boys in the Band, Hair Brained) as Michael, Vanessa Hudgens (Beastly, Spring Breakers) as Karessa and Joshua Henry (American Renegades, Sex and the City) as Roger; this Oscar nominated movie is something that musical theater fans would love. The big surprise for me was how good Andrew was with his performance; he held his own with the other wonderful performers in the cast. Overall, I thought the directing was crisp and precise, though at times it almost felt frenetic. I do not know how much of the story was true; but for those of you who do not know, this story is about the creation of the musical Rent. Knowing that made my film watching experience more enjoyable. As I mentioned before, if one is not a fan of musicals, they may not enjoy this picture as much.
3 ¼ stars
BECAUSE IT HAD BEEN SUCH A long time, guests became familiar with the picture frame that I had turned around on my sofa table. The photo in the frame was too painful for me to see after our breakup; it showed a happy couple and it happened to be one of the few photographs where I thought I looked good. We had been a couple for several years before our relationship disintegrated in a horrible fashion. Many of my friends and family asked me why I still kept the framed photo on the table, but I was not able to provide them with a sensible answer; I could not get rid of it, but I did not want to look at it either. The funny thing is no one ever asked me about the painting I had hanging on the wall that was just as painful for me to see. The reason being this painting was bought as a prelude to the two of us moving in together. We both fell in love with the artwork and we decided we wanted it to be the first thing we would buy together for our “home.” I could not part with the painting, despite the pain, because what was depicted in the art piece was a vivid memory I had from my childhood. Luckily or gratefully, I had the painting hanging in a room that I did not go into often. As months passed the shock in seeing the painting became less and less difficult to see. THE PHOTOGRAPH AND PAINTING WERE not the only items that remained from a past relationship. My house has a variety of things that came out of the love I had for someone. There was the small, stuffed animal I was given with the memo that it would watch over to keep me safe. I recently found a plaque that was done in needlepoint that I had stuffed in a drawer. When I saw it, I immediately was able to remember the place, the occasion and the meal (yes, the food) we ate when I was given the plaque. Ever since I can remember, I always had or designated something that represented everything I experienced with a significant other. It could be a song, something bought, or something made, and I would deem it the repository for all the memories that were created during the time the two of us were together. Imagine my surprise when I watched this romantic comedy and discovered I am not the only one. DESPITE BEING BLINDSIDED FROM BEING DUMPED by her boyfriend Lucy, played by Geraldine Viswanathan (Blockers, Bad Education), could not get rid of the little mementos she acquired during their time together. The problem was she was running out of room, both physically and emotionally. With Dacre Montgomery (Power Rangers, Stranger Things-TV) as Nick, Utkarsh Ambudkar (Pitch Perfect, Blindspotting) as Max Vora, Molly Gordon (Booksmart, Good Boys) as Amanda and Phillipa Soo (Here and Now, Hamilton) as Nadine; the thing that sets this movie apart from others in the genre was the cast and written dialog. Geraldine and Dacre stood out for me; her because of her delivery of lines and him because of his screen presence. The two of them did a wonderful job of acting that felt real to me. The story followed a generic line but there were a couple of times where I was surprised by a twist thrown into the plot. Overall, this was an easy and amusing film to see at the theater. Though if I would have known, I would have come with a variety of items to donate to the gallery or better yet, offered to open a satellite location.
2 ½ stars
I NEVER CONSIDERED IT A UNIQUE ability; in fact, I actually did not give it any thought. It wasn’t until a couple of friends asked me how I could recall what everyone at a party was wearing, that I had to stop and think about it. You see I was not alone in having this ability; there were at least a couple of my relatives who could do the same thing. Each of us could walk into a room and immediately see and commit to memory every detail of our surroundings. When my friends tested me after we had gone to a get together at a friend’s house, I not only told them what everyone was wearing but also details of the room we hung out in; such as a small crack in one of the windows, not the one with the broken window shade, and a stain on the carpeting near the front leg of the sofa. They could not believe how much I remembered, telling me in a teasing way that I was a freak. From my perspective, I felt they were just not paying close enough attention to everything around them. I never considered it as a flaw or deficiency; if anything, I felt they simply chose not to devote energy into taking in the details. MAYBE ONE OF THE REASONS I HAVE this ability is because I have always been more of a visual learner than an auditory one. Not that I understood this back when I was a young student; I always was attracted to things that visually stimulated me. I remember this one time where my friends and I were having a discussion on the ramifications of losing or not having one of our senses. We queried each other on what modifications could one do to compensate for the loss. I brought up the point how I noticed when one sense is missing, the others tend to compensate for it. In my experiences, I have witnessed individuals who were blind having a more acute sense of hearing. It was as if the body had compensated for the loss to keep the individual closer to being in balance. Not that I have had any personal experiences with people on the spectrum, but I have seen a non-verbal person with autism play piano like a concert pianist without any formal training. The news reported a few months ago about a young boy who did not express himself emotionally until he saw a famous animated movie. Suddenly, he started to express himself and increased his vocabulary by seeing other movies from the same film studio. The mind is extraordinary as you can see when watching the main character in this dramatic, crime mystery. AFTER WITNESSING THE MURDER OF HIS friend Lionel Essrog, played by Edward Norton (Primal Fear, Keeping the Faith), was determined to find out who killed him. With so few clues no one would be able to do what Lionel had the ability to do. With Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Fast Colour, Beyond the Lights) as Laura Rose, Alec Baldwin (It’s Complicated, Blue Jasmine) as Moses Randolph, Willem Dafoe (The Lighthouse, Bad Country) as Paul Randolph and Cherry Jones (The Perfect Storm, Ocean’s Twelve) as Gabby Horowitz; this film festival winner based on the novel of the same name was written and directed by Edward Norton. Set in New York City during the 1950s, I found the story dragged for the first half of the film. Though I thought the acting and filming were excellent, it just seemed as if the story was going nowhere. However, by the second half of the picture, I found myself more engaged and enjoying the snowballing mystery aspect of the story. There was a part of the story that was just as relevant now as it was back then. If the script had been not as long, I think this movie would have been more powerful. Despite this I at least enjoyed watching the stylish scenes and incredible acting skills of Edward.
2 ½ stars
NOT TO BE MORBID; BUT IF I should suddenly die, I want someone to be able to step in for me and know exactly what needs to be done. I have this mindset at work and have shared my thoughts with my co-workers. To the employees in my department, I have told them if I should get hit by a bus and don’t make it, they will have no problem taking over the things I handle. As far as I am concerned this is just common sense. It does not make sense to me to keep things hidden from co-workers or loved ones, as a matter of fact. I worked at a company where a long-term employee died, and no one knew how to do this person’s job. He was a supervisor/buyer who had established vendor contacts; however, none of their names were written down anywhere. He just knew their names and how to reach them, without ever looking them up. Well, after he was gone his co-workers had no idea which vendor to call for which product nor what discounts were available for each of them. The company went through a rough patch with its customers because there were times it did not have the right product in stock, or they were completely out of something for a customer. I thought if I ever get into a managerial position, I would never want something like this to happen with me. SADLY, THE BUSINESS WORLD IS NOT the only place where I have seen such a predicament take place. I cannot tell you how many couples I know where one handles all the money matters and the other has no idea or interest in it. Personally, I could never be in such a situation not knowing what bills come in and what needs to be paid. This one couple I know both work; one handles all the bills and the other has their paycheck deposited directly into their mutual checking account. After the billpayer determines how much is needed to pay the weekly bills, they give their spouse the remaining cash not used back from their deposited check. I don’t know about you; but I could not handle such an arrangement and it has nothing to do with trust. With a career in credit, I have always been particular about my bills being paid on time. I would need to know how much money was available and how it was being distributed. It would be scary for me to wake up one day and have everything suddenly fall into my lap without me having any prior knowledge of it; just like what happened to the women in this action, crime drama. WITH THEIR HUSBANDS HAVING BEEN CONVICTED and sent to jail, the gangsters’ wives were left trying to figure out how to pay the household bills. They would have to work together and come up with some type of plan to bring in money; though, it would not be easy considering their husbands’ line of work. Starring Melissa McCarthy (Life of the Party, Can You Ever Forgive Me?) as Kathy Brennan, Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip, Night School) as Ruby O’Carroll, Elizabeth Moss (The One I Love, The Handmaid’s Tale) as Claire Walsh, Domhnall Gleeson (About Time, Unbroken) as Gabriel O’Malley and Bill Camp (Midnight Special, 12 Years a Slave) as Alfonso Coretti; each actor could have made this a worthwhile film. Unfortunately, the script and direction were off target here. There was no character development; which in turn, made the lack of acting stand out even more. I only connected to Elizabeth Moss’s acting skills; Melissa and Tiffany paled in comparison. Part of the blame must fall on the directions they were getting; it appeared as if they were going thru the motions without the emotions. Of course, not having any history attached to each of their characters did not help the situation. In turn, I did not believe what was taking place in several scenes. In a way it looked like the writers did not know what the director wanted and visa versa. Better communication between them, I’m thinking, would have turned this film into a powerful statement on female empowerment.
1 ¾ stars
I KNEW MY FRIEND HAD an older brother but there was not a trace of his existence in the house. The parents never talked about their older son; there was not a photograph to be found anywhere and what I assumed was his bedroom was instead an office. My friend did not talk much about his brother; his memories of growing up were mostly of them fighting. For some reason they never got along; but then again, the brother also fought with the parents according to my friend. I never questioned what happened to the brother because it did seem like a sore spot for all of them. The only information I was given was when the brother turned legal age he packed up a bag and moved out of the house. He never gave a forwarding address or phone number; he did not want to have any contact with his parents or younger brother. I felt sad for the family. It did not seem as if the parents were these terrible, violent individuals who beat their kids. On the contrary, I found them to be always warm and loving. It was just weird to have 2 children raised in the same house who had completely opposite reactions to the family dynamics. THERE IS A SCIENTIFIC, CULTURAL AND philosophical debate on what has a stronger influence on human behavior, nurture or nature. Nature would involve genetics and other biological factors, what we are born with; while nurture involves the environment around us, either prenatal or during a lifetime. As long as I can remember I have had a curiosity about the similarities and differences between siblings. My friends who had siblings were a constant source of discovery for me as I became aware of each of their traits. There was one friend who was social and outgoing; his younger brother was a practical jokester who was always getting into trouble. Then there was a family who lived down the street from me who had 4 children. Each child was a replica of the other; they were all smart in school, wore similar dress and shared the same mannerisms. I used to think the parents must have raised them in a controlled environment so that each one would be the same. It never occurred to me that they might have been all wired with similar traits. From seeing this film festival winning documentary, my curiosity has been fired up further because of the brothers’ unbelievable story of what happened to them. BECOMING A FRESHMAN IN COLLEGE was the catalyst for strangers Eddy Galland, David Kellman and Robert Shafran to have the story of their lives re-written in ways they never imagined. Directed by Tim Wardle (One Killer Punch-TV movie, Lifers: Channel 4 Cutting Edge), this movie could have easily been classified as a mystery thriller. The story was so unimaginable I sat in my seat in a state of shock. The fact that things took place happenstance made these three men’s story more incredible. At first, I was slightly put off by the re-enactments, but it quickly waned as the story began to twist and turn into the 2ndstory that was lying beneath. The interviews interspersed into the story accentuated the storytelling factor; I found myself becoming a detective as the boys’ history was being revealed in chunks. There was this whole ethical factor that came up for me that lingered beyond the end of the picture. I have to say this was a stunner of a movie that adds fuel to the debate on whether nurture or nature has a stronger influence on human behavior. It just was troubling for me to be a witness to the events that took place in the lives of these three men.
3 ½ stars
HER GRIEF-STRICKEN FACE APPEARED on the television screen after the commercial break. Huddled next to her was her husband, his head slowly dropping down to a certain point before being jerked back up by consciousness. They were freezing and had barely eaten anything for the past couple of days. Their car was stuck in a snow bank when it skidded off the road in a remote area; they were on their way to his mother’s house out of state. The snowstorm unexpectedly hit their area much harder than the weatherman had predicted. If they would have known they would not have taken the risk, especially since she was pregnant. I only knew about all these details from the news reporter that was interviewing the couple. The scenes in the snow were actually reenactments with 2 actors portraying the real couple. From everything I was watching and hearing, I honestly was amazed the couple survived that ordeal. They were just an average couple; they did not have any special skills or superpowers, only their wits. Being sensitive to the cold I know I would not have survived one night, yet these two lasted days before they were discovered. AFTER WATCHING THAT TELEVISION SHOW, I was curious why the couple’s story was told via a newscast program instead of being turned into a movie for theatrical release. I have seen so many films based on true stories that have been unbelievable at times. Some were about famous people; but then there have been others who were nobody special, expect for the extraordinary occurrence that they were part of. For example, one of my recent reviews was for a movie about a couple who found themselves in the middle of a major storm while sailing across the ocean. Sure, the two had some sailing knowledge, but nothing could have prepared them for what they encountered. There was another film I just reviewed that was inspired by the true story of a group of friends who have been playing the same game of tag for decades. Both films were created to entertain an audience, so I am sure the writers took some liberties with the real story. The ones that get shown on TV are not in a movie format style; they usually have been a series of vignettes narrated by some type of reporter. Both productions have value, I understand it; however, today’s movie was not as clear for me. HAVING WON MULTIPLE LAWSUITS BROUGHT AGAINST him John Gotti Sr., played by John Travolta (Hairspray, Life on the Line), received the moniker “Teflon Don.” Leading one of the largest crime families, the name suited him well. Based on true events this dramatic crime film also starred Kelly Preston (Battlefield Earth, What a Girl Wants) as Victoria Gotti, Stacy Keach (Nebraska, Escape from L.A.) as Neil Dellacroce, Spencer Rocco Lofranco (Unbroken, At Middleton) as John Gotti Jr. and Pruitt Taylor Vince (Mississippi Burning, Constantine) as Angelo Ruggiero. John did a wonderful job of acting in this film; I found his presence on screen remained strong throughout. Kelly was also good; however, the issue I had with this movie was the script or lack of one. Most of the scenes felt like they were just copies of news segments. I was somewhat entertained simply because I was curious about John Gotti, but I did not see anything I had not already known. For listing this picture a biography, I would have preferred getting more history about the characters. Instead, there were family scenes; the only difference being the father was a major crime boss. With the addition of scenes that jumped back and forth in the story, I had a difficult time staying engaged. Maybe this picture would have been better served if it had been released on television.
1 ¾ stars
PHOTOGRAPHS OF IT were impressive so I could only imagine what it looked like in person. One of my trips was planned around seeing this particular area of the country that nature had sculpted. I had read the landscape changes colors based on the sun’s position; turning from a glowing orange to almost red hue at one point. After settling into my hotel room I drove out onto the highway for the car ride there. In my mind I had a game plan laid out of everything I wanted to see and photograph. Hopefully I would find a few areas to pull off of so I could trek through portions of the natural arches and standing rocks. The sun was big and bright in the sky so I was feeling especially lucky about this portion of my trip. IN THE DISTANCE I could see the town; besides, there was a large welcome sign posted on the side of the road telling me I had arrived at my destination. I am not sure what I expected the town to look like, but what I saw was nothing I imagined. No sooner had I entered the city limits and there were signs posted everywhere advertising everything from restaurants to souvenir shops to motels; I am talking sign after sign littering the landscape. To say it was a turn off would be an understatement. As I drove deeper into the town the signs were joined by retail stands and carts. There were people on the side of the rode selling T-shirts and hats with either pictures of the natural area or different variants of the town’s name. If that was not bad enough there was a majority of retail establishments that had gaudy bright lights and decorations adorning their space. Everything I saw looked tasteless to me; to live in a beautiful part of the country and mess it up with all of this stuff was a shame. The reason I am telling you this is because this is how I felt about this action drama. STUCK IN AN elevator at the World Trade Center when the first plane hit, five strangers soon realized they would have to depend on each other if there was any chance of them surviving. Starring Whoopi Goldberg (For Colored Girls, Glee-TV) as Metzie, Gina Gershon (P.S. I Love You, Face/Off) as Eve, Charlie Sheen (Wall Street, Two and a Half Men-TV) as Jeffrey, Luis Guzman (Boogie Nights, Anger Management) as Eddie and Jacqueline Bisset (The Deep, Bullitt) as Diane; I sat in my seat dumbfounded for most of this movie. The acting was almost comical and I found myself feeling embarrassed for the actors. I wondered if they were forced against their will or lost a bet, so they had to be in this film. The script, let me say, was basic and I am being kind. It was so predictable and made the actors look like novices in their field. Sadly I thought the idea to the story was good, where it could provide a variety of ways to play it out. I literally was baffled that such a life changing event in our history winds up being represented by this picture. If I had time I would like to see if it initially went straight to DVD and the movie studio decided to release it to theaters now since the 9/11 anniversary date was upon us. Talk about walking in expecting to experience something meaningful and finding out the only thing that mattered was a paycheck.
1 ½ stars
The street festival provided an opportunity to relive the memories of the old neighborhood of my youth. Walking the residential streets was a revelation for the homes were now freshly painted in colorful hues. Old porches and stairs that previously yawned in tiredness looked confidently strong now; I doubt they would utter a peep. The biggest surprise was the amount of foliage everywhere. As a kid I remember flowers were something one would find mostly in a backyard, not many households had them in front. Bushes covered the bottoms of houses; some planted to form a straight hedge across, others looking like tossed green gumdrops. Now as I traveled down several streets, flowers and ornamental trees were blooming everywhere. The trees that remained from my childhood had expanded and grown as if someone had pumped them up with air to look like inflated balloons at a Thanksgiving parade. When I finally reached the heart of the business area there were a few stores I remembered though they were dressed up with new signs and banners. The grocery store was replaced by one of those dollar stores and the local drugstore was now a currency exchange. Sitting in the same place was the diner I used to go to at least once a week. I had to go in and though no one looked familiar to me, the furniture had not changed. I ordered my usual and watched the cook make it as I sat on one of the dark red stools at the counter. The food came in those same plastic baskets freshly lined with wax paper. I was excited as I took my first bite, taking in the earthy aroma wafting off the pile of fries. Sadly my memories tasted better than the actual meal. The same thing could be said about this version of a comedy classic. STRANGE occurrences started popping up around New York City but only two people understood what they could be. Scientist friends Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, played by Kristen Wiig (The Martian, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) and Melissa McCarthy (The Boss, Spy) were convinced there was finally proof to substantiate their research. After all the talk of this science fiction fantasy reboot having a female cast it all came down to the script for me. Kristen, Melissa and Leslie Jones (Trainwreck, Saturday Night Live-TV) as Patty Tolan were subdued compared to Kate McKinnon (Life Partners, Saturday Night Live-TV) as Jillian Holtzmann; she was terrific which is saying a lot since the story was bland. I did not have any laugh out loud moments and felt the story needed some caffeine. The villain of the story was so dull with a tired story line that I sat in my seat and wondered what the writers were thinking. Even the special effects were nothing special; after all these years since the original film, you would think the movie studio would want to dazzle the viewers with special effects. Overall this movie was not the worst; it just did not taste as good as the original I remembered. There was an extra scene at the end of the credits.