THERE WAS A REASON WHY I was lingering by the drinking fountain. Next to it was the cycling studio and the door was open during a class. I was a guest at my friend’s health club; we were working out together. Since the door was open I was curious to see how the cycle instructor was instructing her class. In the short time I could stay within earshot, by drinking from the fountain and perusing the bulletin board, all I heard were instructions being given out in a somewhat monotone voice. Now you would think this was the proper thing to do and you would be correct. However, I have a slightly different philosophy when it comes to teaching a fitness class. Just as this instructor gave instructions I do the same thing, giving reminders throughout class about posture and placement of body parts. But then I also keep up a dialog of a variety of topics to, for lack of a better word, entertain the participants. For me, if I have to listen to an instructor who only gives instructions, I could get a similar workout by watching a DVD. I prefer my mind being distracted from the task at hand; so in turn, I share with my classes a variety of news stories and surveys I have read to make the class fun. SPEAKING OF FUN DON’T YOU think life is more enjoyable when you can experience it in a fun way? I certainly feel I have traversed most of life’s pitfalls with the assistance of fun. If I think about it, I cannot off the top of my head think of anytime where having a fun or humorous element does not help soften a situation. One could say a funeral would not be an appropriate place to interject humor; however, I have attended funerals where humor provided a brief oasis of relief from the sadness. Thinking about both college and business lectures I have attended, the ones where I retained more information were the ones where the professor or lecturer made the session fun. The idea of going to an office every day and not hearing or experiencing at least a moment of laughter or joy sounds like torture to me. In my opinion a person would be less productive when there is the absence of a fun element in their daily work day. Think about those people you know who are miserable at work; they are the product of a day void of fun. Humor and fun can be found almost anywhere no matter what task we are performing; even a superhero can find something fun while saving someone. The proof can be found in this action, adventure film. DESPITE THE CHALLENGES OF FATHERHOOD and his court enforced ankle monitor’s restrictions Scott Lang, played by Paul Rudd (This is 40, Our Idiot Brother), was determined to help Dr. Hank Pym, played by Michael Douglas (Wonder Boys, Last Vegas), find his long-lost wife. Paul would discover a fun element in Dr. Pym’s daughter Hope Van Dyne, played by Evangeline Lilly (The Hobbit franchise, The Hurt Locker). This science fiction film was stocked with an abundance of witty humor. It gave this superhero picture a light vibe compared to the other superhero films that have recently come out. Paul was the perfect choice to portray Ant-Man, though I suspect his stunt double did most of the action scenes in this film. With Michael Pena (End of Watch, 12 Strong) as Luis and Walton Goggins (The Hateful Eight, Tomb Raider) as Sonny Burch; the script was a bit hokey for me. Though I thought the special effects were outstanding, I felt the story was weak. I understood humor was the focus for this film, especially with Paul receiving part of the writing credits; but I would have preferred a more pronounced villainous element. Despite this I had a fun time watching the action taking place and as I stated earlier, it was all about the fun. There were two extra scenes in the middle and at the end of the credits.
“I AM GOING TO SPEND TIME in my playroom,” she said to me. More than likely you are assuming a child made that statement, but you would be wrong. It is a friend of mine who has one room in her house set up for just herself, to spend time on her hobbies. There is a television and music player in the room that she will turn on once in a while as she works on a project. The idea of the playroom came to her when she realized her activities were cluttering up parts of the house, leading to confusion when she was looking for a particular item. Having everything in one room made sense and she discovered a major bonus by having her own room; she could decompress and check out from reality as she got lost in her thoughts, doing stuff that gave her enormous pleasure. Her time spent in her playroom allowed her to take a mental break; something that served her well in life. THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT ways people spend their time to take a break from their daily grind, not that every day is a grind for some. I utilize a few methods such as watching movies and working out, though with movies I am focused on the story instead of myself. However with working out on a cycle bike or treadmill I can get into a mental zone that allows me to contemplate and reflect on any issues or concerns that may have cropped up for me. Before I knew it the time had flown by and I was done with my workout; I consider this a double bonus. This is my usual method but there are some people who get lost in their kitchen by cooking or go shopping or knit; anything that is not self destructive and allows a person to calm down is an acceptable form for taking a mental holiday. When I was much younger my method was playing the piano or just listening to music. I really feel everyone needs to take time out for themselves and whether it is to work on a troubling issue or gain self-gratification, all of it is good therapy. The main character in this comedic drama has his own way of dealing with certain aspects of his life, if you are interested in seeing it. AFTER BEING RAVAGED BY FIRES it was up to Texas highway road worker Alvin, played by Paul Rudd (Ant-Man, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) to paint lines on the new roads. For his crew he agreed to take on his girlfriend’s brother Lance, played by Emile Hirsch (Lone Survivor, Into the Wild). Their summer together would make for an interesting journey. Written and directed by David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, Stronger) this film festival winner also starred Lance LeGault (Stripes, Magnum P.I.-TV) as the truck driver. Because of the acting by Paul and Emile, my interest remained steady for the most part. The story started out a bit slow, but Paul’s character in particular made me curious to continue watching this DVD. Set in the 1980s there was a certain retro feeling to this story. Honestly I do not know how they put stripes on the roads these days, but I was interested in the way the two man crew had to keep up in such a repetitive lonely job. Overall there were several predictable scenes and I felt at times the story slowing down. Now that I think about it this DVD might be used in helping the viewer take a mental break from reality; you would not have to think much.
2 stars — DVD
There is one kind of hero that resides in a make-believe world. They could have an extraordinary power because of the planet they came from or due to an earth shattering accident that changed them on the molecular level. I enjoy and look forward to seeing these types of superheroes on the big screen. However, there is a different type of hero that is just as strong and important; who was born here on earth, did not experience a life transforming accident and for the most part is unrecognizable. They do not have some special type of clothing that can block bullets or allow them to fly; instead they may be wearing a white apron and hairnet as they stand behind the counter of a school’s cafeteria. Or they may be on disability as a life threatening disease slowly spreads across their body. I see these type of heroes all around me. There is the single mother who has to pull double shifts so her child can afford school supplies and lunches. Another hero I have seen is the volunteer who devotes time everyday to bring food and check-in on a stranger who is housebound. For me these are some of the true heroes around us. I am so impressed by the individuals who do not wear their heroism like a badge of honor; they simply do what they do because they have to or want to do it. This is why I was impressed with the unlikely hero in this action film. WHAT started out as a way for con man Scott Lang, played by Paul Rudd (Role Models, This is 40), to see his daughter turned into a crisis that would have worldwide consequences. This science fiction adventure film did not fit into the typical superhero genre. Here was a human with no special powers who was not an ideal citizen; yet he overcame himself to become the Ant-Man. Paul was perfectly cast for this role and he even helped with the screenplay. Michael Douglas (Falling Down, Wonder Boys) as Dr. Hank Pym and Evangeline Lilly (Real Steal, The Hurt Locker) as his daughter Hope van Dyne were an excellent fit. Now I understood there was a change of directors and writers for this film and I am not sure if that is the reason why I found the 2nd half of the film to be stronger. I really had to give thought to the idea I was reacting to the movie having a long intro arc without many special effects. However, Paul along with the fun sight gags in the film made this a worthy picture, besides a mini history lesson (at least for me) into the Avengers World. Pulling off this type of movie was no small feat and the studio succeeded. Two extra scenes in the middle and end of the closing credits.
The only thing I can say is love has to have magical powers. It has a way of changing one’s opinion of a person faster than a fine-tuned sports car. Love makes you carry your girlfriend’s purse through the store while she looks for a new outfit. Love makes you sit in the bleachers, outside in the cold, just so you can watch your boyfriend strike out at bat and still cheer him on. Love allows you to doze off at the airport, on your significant other’s shoulder, while they attempt to rebook your cancelled flight. Based on my and my friends’ experiences, one of the most intense powers I have seen love perform was the ability to not only alter but obliterate 1st impressions. You meet someone who appears to be a snob, unfriendly and condescending. Within a short time all memories get painted over with a fresh coat by love’s paintbrush, transforming your thoughts into sweet and pleasant scenarios where your senses become heightened every time you see that person now. Love does amazing things and in this comedy almost every romantic movie cliche gets skewered by the capable cast. An evening out had Joel and Molly, played by Paul Rudd (This is 40, Admission) and Amy Poehler (Baby Mama, Blades of Glory), having dinner with Kyle and Karen, played by Bill Hader (Her, Superbad) and Ellie Kemper (Bridesmaids, 21 Jump Street). Throughout the evening Kyle and Ellie would get the full story of how Joel and Molly first met; she the owner of a small candy shop that was in the sights of Joel’s employer, a huge candy corporation. Christopher Meloni (42, Man of Steel) as Joel’s boss Roland was determined to drive Molly’s store out of business. There were some amusing scenarios in this lighthearted film. The things that worked were fun but there were sections that petered out. In a way the script was done as a series of comedy skits; ones that you would see on television. Though there was nothing that made me laugh out loud, I was entertained by some of the settings. The cast had an easy job with this story and looked like they were enjoying themselves, besides appearing to be in on the jokes they were performing. Even if you are not a fan of romantic movies or rom-coms, I cannot imagine you feeling lost with this parody. This was not a movie I fell in love with and I don’t think there is anything that will change my feelings; however, it was also not a waste of time for me either.
2 1/3 stars
Credit has to be given to a person who believes their own convictions. Their dedication does not waiver during the low points in their life. When I was auditioning at several health clubs to teach aerobics, I still remember the reactions I got from several fitness directors. The most negative comments came from the director of one of the more prestigious health clubs in the city. As I drove home I went over everything I did in the audition, looking for something that I could have done differently, wondering what caused the sourness on that director’s face. Knowing my style was different with its choreographed movements; by the time I got home I decided I would not change, believing there was a place that would take a chance on me. The following week I had an audition where I did the same routines and this time the director not only had a smile on her face but joined in on the routines. I was hired on the spot. Since then whenever I applied to teach at another club I would insist the director come to my class to see what I was doing instead of me performing in their empty aerobic studio. Understanding a person’s dedication, I have to commend Will Ferrell (Elf, The Other Guys) in his desire to entertain audiences by bringing back his character, newsman Ron Burgundy. In this sequel a television station decided to launch a 24 hour news channel, looking at Ron Burgundy to be one of their announcers. Assembling his former news team Brick Tamland, Brian Fantana and Champ Kind, played by Steve Carell (The Way Way Back, Get Smart), Paul Rudd (Role Models, Wanderlust) and David Koechner (Thank you for Smoking, Balls of Fury), the news team came to New York City to make their mark with their own style of reporting. This comedy film had been hyped for so many months by the time I sat down to watch it I have to admit I was already a bit tired of it. The film trailers had the better jokes from the script because what I saw was not all that funny. Sure there were a couple of chuckles, due more to the outrageousness of the scene, but I did not find much creativity being used throughout the film. I did enjoy the variety of celebrity cameos, surprised by the actors who agreed to be in the movie. For those looking for some mindless fun, this would be the film to see. There was a brief extra scene at the end of the credits.
“Do not judge a book by its cover” are words that I try to live by every day. I have been surprised with individuals who gave no outside clue to the amazing feats they had accomplished. In turn, I cannot tell you how many times a member from my class has seen me eating at a restaurant and was surprised I was eating a pizza or dessert. Jokingly I tell them I do not live on broccoli and tofu just because I am a fitness instructor. During the week I am strict with my food intake; on the weekends I allow myself to have fun with my meals. Another example of judging; in one of my literature classes in college the professor wrote, “I would have never guessed you knew the class content,” on the midterm exam I aced. The reason was I never participated in the discussion portion of the class. In this comedy I had to wonder if that is really how students get accepted into college. Tina Fey (Mean Girls, 30 Rock-TV) played Princeton Univeristy admissions officer Portia Nathan. Seeking exceptional candidates for her school, Portia agreed to visit an alternative school headed by John Pressman, played by Paul Rudd (This is 40, Wanderlust). While at the school John surprised Portia with one particular gifted young man who could possibly have a special connection to her. If I were to judge this movie based on the cast, including Lily Tomlin (Nine to Five, I Heart Huckabees) as Portia’s mother Susannah, I would assume the movie was going to be funny. I would be wrong; there was so little humor, I kept wondering why the studio did not let Tina write the screenplay. Lily’s performance was fine and I have yet seen Paul do a bad job. He is always an affable character. Surprisingly Tina was the weak one, though the poorly written script did her no favors. This film was a waste of the actors’ true talent. With several scenes showing students’ applications being denied, you would have thought someone in the studio would have denied this script from being allowed to become a movie.
1 3/4 stars
My introduction to my 40th birthday was having the bagger at the checkout line calling me “sir” and asking if I needed help with my bags. Asking several friends what they noticed when they crossed the threshold into middle age, the responses were quite varied. One person suddenly felt expandable waist bands on blue jeans was a good idea, while another was perplexed why Suri kept suggesting he sit down and take a rest. Then there was the friend who wondered if she was going to be banned from Target or Express, having to spend the remainder of her years shopping at Lane Bryant or some discount store. At a wedding would I never be able to get up to shake my hips on the dance floor unless it was a Cha Cha or that generic version bands always play of Kool & the Gang’s Celebration? For those in a relationship, would they start dressing alike once they reached that magic number? In this comedy, the married couple are on the verge of turning 40 years old. Leslie Mann (17 Again, Knocked Up) played Debbie who wanted nothing to do with turning 40. Paul Rudd (Role Models, Wanderlust) was Debbie’s conflict avoiding husband Pete. Judd Apatow (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Pineapple Express) wrote and directed this updated story about Debbie and Pete from Knocked Up. Settled into married life with daughters Sadie and Charlotte, played by Judd’s real life children Maude and Iris, the neurotic couple tried to cope with life’s daily annoyances. There were laugh out loud scenes through the movie, but be prepared for the vulgar language that everyone spews out, including the kids. I felt Judd used his real life experiences for a baseline, but then elevated them to an unrealistic level. Without going into stronger character development, the film went on longer than it needed. It started feeling as if we were going from one joke line to the next. Though I am still glad I went to see this movie, please do not tell me this is what happens to people who have been married for a long time.
2 2/3 stars
Looking back at my high school years, the popular kids and jocks made up relatively small groups to the rest of the student body. I had an aunt who mistook my largeness for muscles, telling me I should join the football team. It quickly became apparent I did not belong. My goal was to get through high school unscathed. For all of you who understand me, this is our movie. One of the best movies I have seen this year, I commend author Stephen Chbosky who used his own book to write the screenplay and direct this wonderful film. Incoming freshman Charlie, played by Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, 3:10 to Yuma), already was dealing with family trauma and the loss of his best friend as he floundered to find where he belonged in school. Days of loneliness would pass until seniors Patrick and Sam, played by Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin, City Island) and Emma Watson (Harry Potter franchise, My Week With Marilyn) took Charlie into their misfit group. Though lucky to have upperclassmen showing him the way, there would be issues Charlie had to face and conquer alone. The casting of this movie was the icing on the cake to the well thought out story; the actors were a perfect fit together. Emma was so good, not once did I think that was Hermione Granger up on the screen. The trailers for this movie do not really show the depth of the story; this was not a typical goofy high school movie. There were shades of darkness mixed with honest portrayals of real high school events. This was one time where I was able to go back to those school years and have tears of joy, as I applauded with the audience at the end of this impressive film.
3 2/3 stars
The only wandering that was done in this movie was the story line. What I thought would be a fun movie, turned out to be flat with a handful of chuckles. Paul Rudd (Role Models, I Love You, Man), who is always consistent in his performances, could not save this film. I would love to know how much ad libbing Paul did in an attempt to save this movie–the raunchy talking to himself in the mirror scene comes to mind. His wife Linda was played by Jennifer Aniston (Marley & Me, The Bounty Hunter). I only wish Jennifer would change her management company and get a new acting coach. There never seems to be any growth in her performances; she always is the same, with a narrow range of ability. After striking out in each of their business professions in New York City, the couple set out to stay with George’s brother in Atlanta, where a job was waiting in the brother’s waste company. During their road trip south, Linda and George stumbled upon a bread and breakfast owned by a commune. The members’ non pressured, laid back lifestyle intrigued the couple to extend their stay. What could have been a gold mine of hilarious material never took place, with the last half of the movie taking on a ridiculous quality. Such a shame a good idea went up in a haze of smoke. But at least Jennifer got a boyfriend out of the experience. If you insist on seeing this movie, stay through the credits.