THE STREET I GREW UP ON never changed in size but after I moved away it turned into a one-way road. This was one of many changes I saw when I took a car ride to visit my old neighborhood. I lived on a side street in the city that was lined with houses, except for 2 apartment buildings where one of them was my home. All the years I lived there, drivers had to slow down and cautiously try to pass any cars coming from the opposite direction. If that was not enough of a surprise, the apartment building where I lived was turned into condos. The only change I could see was the doorbells were now on the outside of the building instead of in the lobby. As I drove by, I did wish there was someone I still knew who lived in the building because I would have been interested to see what my apartment looked like now. From there it was only a couple of blocks to both my elementary and high school. As I drove around the high school, I did not notice anything different. There was the same staircase with the wide terra cotta banisters where I used to hide during phys ed. The indoor swimming pool still had the same fiberglass looking window blocks that came halfway down the walls. THERE WERE SO MANY MEMORIES THAT got embedded into me during my time living in that neighborhood, both good and bad. I have a friend who has so few memories of her old neighborhood that I wondered if I was an anomaly or she. I can remember exactly where I was and what I was wearing in my memories from decades ago. The old neighborhood had a candy shop that existed way before I ever heard of Willy Wonka. The store had glass cases along all the walls where the proprietor would be behind them waiting for me to make my selections. Simply a nod of my head and the pointing of my index finger towards the case would set him in motion. He would take a small white paper bag and with a quick downward stroke of his extended arm to let the rush of air pop open the bag, he would lift the horizontal back pane of glass to withdraw my choices for the day. I do not know if he actually made the candies in the cases but those treats spoiled me when it came to other candy places; I never found candy that tasted as good as the ones he sold. Revisiting my old neighborhood is like being on a treasure hunt; there are so many things to find, just like the trio of friends discovered in this dramatic, romance comedy. ON THE DAY OF HIS WEDDING Roland, played by Taye Diggs (Rent, Chicago), was nowhere to be found. His two best friends would find him living in the past. With Omar Epps (Love & Basketball, House-TV) as Mike, Richard T. Jones (Vantage Point, Phone Booth) as Slim, Sean Nelson (Stake Land, Fresh) as young Mike and Malinda Williams (First Sunday, Soul Food-TV) as young Alicia; this film festival winner had a fun cast and great idea for a story. I enjoyed the way the story interspersed flashbacks, giving the viewer enough time to understand the relationship of the scene to present times. My issue had to do with the script. Basic humor was used too often where there really needed to be more of a gentle touch, especially when it came to characters’ past memories. Also, the direction did not flow well; at times, I felt more time needed to be spent on each main character. Overall this was not a great film by any means, but it was not the worst either. For the fact it made me think about my old neighborhood, I was okay with watching it all the way to the end.
THE PRICE ADVERTISED WAS THE deciding factor for my friends to book their trip. Having gone to Mexico multiple times they did not need the add-on excursions or upgrades to their tour package. With the low price they chose to extend their stay; but once they booked the hotel and agreed upon the dates, there wound up being additional costs. All of a sudden they were being charged extra for their suitcases and seats; never before were they ever billed such a charge when they booked through the travel agency. What really galled them was an extra charge from the hotel due to the extended stay; it brought them into the travel season pricing, whatever that meant. When I talked to one of my friends she expressed her anger at the travel agency. She said if they would have included all the extra fees into their advertised price she would not have gotten a bad attitude about them. The way they listed a super low price to entice travelers then hit them with added fees felt dishonest to her. I WOULD HAVE TO AGREE WITH her. The same thing has happened to me. Several years ago I saw an advertised price for a piece of furniture; it was something I had been waiting to go on sale. When I saw the item being advertised on sale I drove to the store to get it. Once there I sought out someone to help me which I have to tell you has become more of a challenge these days. Finally getting a salesperson, I went over the options of color and pattern. Would you believe the sale price was only for one specific color and wood finish?!?! For my color choices it would be more expensive. I was so ticked off I decided not to buy it and instead go look for something else. Things like this are irritating to me. Why can’t they just list the fine details (in large enough print) or state everything upfront? I feel the same way about passive aggressive behavior; just tell me what you want instead of hinting at it or trying to manipulate the conversation with me. It is annoying which is how I felt about this dramatic thriller inspired by true events. WHAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A romantic weekend for Brea and John, played by Paula Patton (Precious, Déjà Vu) and Omar Epps (Love & Basketball, House-TV), turned into a nightmare as they were being stalked by what they thought were just some prejudiced people. Actually they weren’t, they were looking for something specific. With Dawn Olivieri (American Hustle, Den of Thieves) as Cara, Missi Pyle (The Artist, Galaxy Quest) as Deputy Sally Marnes and Laz Alonso (Detroit, Jumping the Broom) as Darren Cole; this story had an identity crisis. If the writers would have only focused on one of the 2 stories taking place this would have been a better movie in my opinion. Unfortunately they missed an important opportunity to shine light on a dark aspect taking place around the world. I was so disappointed not only by this but the rudimentary script. Paula gave it a good try but as I have said before, a film loses points when the script makes the characters do unrealistic things. I am talking about, as an example, knocking unconscious your attacker but you do not take their gun with you or at least hide it before you run away. Stuff like this drives me crazy. So the bottom line here is this movie should have focused on being either a thriller or a startling revelation about human trafficking.
1 ¾ stars