There they sit across from you, eating the dinner you both prepared. When there is any conversation it is kept to trivial, light things about the day. After the meal is done and the dishes have been washed and dried the two of you sit on the sofa to watch television. The side of their leg is pressed up against yours; not for any romantic reasons, just because that is where the two of you have always sat together. You can feel their physical presence but that is all; they are there but not there like a ghost of their former self. Not reacting to anything being shown on the TV nor sharing any thoughts or feelings, you feel totally alone. Any type of chitchat you start up is only met with a grunt. I believe most of us have experienced some form of pain or discomfort coming from physical cruelty. A punch or slap where the pain radiates heat prior to dispersing into a dullness is what I am referring to here. However there is another form of cruelty that I find just as painful if not more and it would be the emotional kind. The person who you have had some type of relationship with mentally checks out unexpectedly for no apparent reason. It is an awful place to be in, especially when you have given your heart to that person. In a situation like this I find silence to be the absolute worst choice; I would rather a person be honestly blunt with me instead of avoiding what needs to be said. Silence in this type of situation can be a form of purgatory in my opinion. MARRIED and set in their ways for many years Nolan and Joy Mack’s, played by Robing Williams (Old Dogs, Good Will Hunting) and Kathy Baker (Edward Scissorhands, 13 Going on 30), lives started to become unglued the night Nolan nearly drove over the stranger Leo, played by Roberto Aguire (Sand Sharks-TV movie). This dramatic film already came with a sense of sadness since this was Robin’s final film performance. I thought his acting was strong as he showed emotional restraint. In fact, the cast which also included Bob Odenkirk (Nebraska, Breaking Bad-TV) as Winston did a wonderful job. If the script had offered more emotional depth, not only would have the actors been able to handle it; but it would have made this a much more powerful drama. As it was I found parts of the movie were lackluster, with a few scenes that did not come across as believable for me. The other issue I had with this film was the uneven pacing of the story. I felt the story with its powerful themes could have been clearly presented without slowing down the action. As I said earlier I was already feeling sad when the movie started and only became sadder as the story unfolded.
My obsession sprung out from one of my favorite children books, “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.” The idea of hiding in a museum until after it closes fascinated me for a long time when I was a kid. Having visited the museums in my city numerous times, I credit them for helping my mind open up further into the world of possibilities. One museum had a real airplane suspended from the ceiling that I never walked under as I made my way to the gigantic train set, with its various locomotive trains traveling multiple tracks through manufactured landscapes. There was another museum that would transport me back in time to when Pharaohs ruled as I saw their wrapped remains resting in elaborate coffins. I would daydream about sleeping overnight in a museum; going on my very own treasure hunts as I explored the massive hallways that I just knew had to have secret passageways. They probably lead to secret underground laboratories and vaults. I was convinced there was a whole different world to explore behind the sculpted granite walls of all those museums. SOMETHING was beginning to happen to the inhabitants of the museum that would affect their very existence. With very little time left security guard Larry Daley, played by Ben Stiller (Tropic Thunder, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty), would have to travel to London, England to discover the reason why his friends were being robbed of their ability to come to life after dark. This latest adventure comedy, the 3rd in the franchise, saw the return of cast members such as Robin Williams (Dead Poets Society, August Rush) as Teddy Roosevelt and Owen Wilson (Midnight in Paris, Wedding Crashers) as Jedediah; along with some new characters like Sir Lancelot, played by Dan Stevens (The Guest, The Fifth Estate) and Tilly, played by Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect, Bachelorette). For the life of me I had a hard time finding anything I liked about this stale film. Oh wait, the special effects were still fun even though I had seen them all before. The story and script were simply horrible. So pedestrian and plain, I could not find anything funny. There is a horrible expression that goes, “beating a dead horse” and I felt the movie studio was doing it with the release of this film. There was nothing new or exciting; it had all been done before, so what was the point? I will say most young children will probably like the film since it was colorful and took place in a fascinating place, a museum. On second thought, plan a trip to a local museum instead of going to see this movie.
1 2/3 stars
Attending a wedding is a little like going to a dinner/theater performance. Sometimes the food can be good while the production is lukewarm; other times, it can be the exact opposite. Wedding receptions are a double edged sword for me. There have been occasions where the bride and groom made it their mission to find me the same happiness they had by seating me next to one of their single friends. Can we say awkward? Usually every wedding has one relative in attendance who feels everyone should be having as much fun as her or him. In my case it usually was a tipsy aunt who found out I could dance and wants to dance the night away with me. So you see why I accept wedding invitations with some trepidation. I had similar feelings about seeing this comedy; my expectations were low. Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook, Being Flynn) and Diane Keaton (Mad Money, The Family Stone) played former husband and wife Don and Ellie. If it was not going to be uncomfortable enough seeing each other for their adoptive son’s wedding; it was going to be a monumental task to pretend they were still married for the sake of their son’s strictly religious, biological mother. Granted the story was far-fetched, but the actors gave it a decent shot. What made it work was the chemistry between Robert, Diane and Susan Sarandon (The Company you Keep, The Client) who played the girlfriend Bebe to Robert’s character Don. It was a pleasant surprise to see Robin Williams (World’s Greatest Dad, Good Will Hunting) playing a more subdued character as Father Moinighan. There were amusing scenes as well as lame scenes throughout the movie. It may be due to my years of exposure to family (dys)functions; but as a whole, I did not mind sitting through this film. At least I did not have anyone sitting next to me or was forced to get up and dance.
2 1/4 stars
Seated at long tables in front of the stage, I was close enough to see the comic’s eyes. He was not focused on the crowd as much as the imaginary friend standing next to him. Every time he spoke for his friend, his facial expression instantly altered, creating a new image to go with the voice. I remembered while sitting and watching this funny man, he reminded me of my favorite comedian, Jonathan Winters. The comic standing up on stage was Robin Williams. The time was towards the end of his television series Mork & Mindy. I had not seen anyone who could quickly ad lib like Jonathan until I saw Robin. From the articles written recently about Jonathan’s death, I read somewhere that Robin used Jonathan as his role model. It now all makes sense to me. Jonathan was truly gifted; I never saw someone take an everyday household item and turn it into so many different objects. Add to it his pliable face and changing voices; there would be a crowd of his made up characters all around him in a matter of minutes. This action comedy does not do Jonathan justice; however, it is still worth watching. Director Stanley Kramer (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, The Defiant Ones) assembled a cast of comedy royalty. To name a few there was Sid Caesar, Milton Berle, Buddy Hackett, Terry Thomas; besides Spencer Tracy (Judgement at Nuremberg, Inherit the Wind), Ethel Merman (Call Me Madam, Anything Goes) and Mickey Rooney (National Velvet, Andy Hardy franchise). When a dying driver in a car crash told the rescuers about a buried treasure, it set off a madcap race to see who could get to the loot first. Though the actors were confined to the script, I would love to have been on set to see how many times they had to repeat the scenes due to ad libs and cracking up from laughter. Bear in mind the humor was from a different time when comedians did not use foul language or shock value to get a reaction from the audience. I will say the movie went on too long; however, I did enjoy seeing so many people from a different era. Notice the celebrities who did cameo appearances. Jonathan was a genius as far as I am concerned. I wish there were more comedians who used him as a role model.
3 1/4 stars — DVD
The words have stayed with me ever since I first heard someone say, “Just because you love them doesn’t mean you always have to like them.” At the time it did not make much sense; but the more I thought about it, the more I started to understand it. There have been people who did something that I felt was hurtful. Before I understood those words, I would take that person’s actions to heart, coloring our whole relationship. Now when a person does something that I may not like, I do not take it as a personal attack on my relationship with them. In a similar line of thought, how does a parent deal with a child that is not being likable? One answer can be found in this twisted dark comedy by writer and director Bobcat Goldthwait (God Bless America, Stay). Private school student Kyle Clayton, played by Daryl Sabara (Spy Kids, John Carter), was a miserable kid. Offensive, crude and rude; he was an unlikeable character. His father Lance, played by Robin Williams (August Rush, Man of the Year), was a poetry teacher at the same school. When Kyle wound up in an embarrassing incident, Lance created a story of explanation that took a life of is own. With the strong language used and its dark humor, this dramatic comedy may not be enjoyable for some of you. It was hard to tell if Robin was really acting or just being himself; I notice that in a lot of his roles. However, with this character he did an admirable job. Some scenes were outrageous to the point of disbelief, but they still were able to bring across the underlying satire. I loved the whole idea of the student body and teachers having a quick change of attitude, coming together in a take up the cause type of mentality. Personally, I never understood how people could suddenly become loving to someone who was simply nasty. Talk about having false idols; this was a fractured family in a crazy comedy.
2 3/4 stars — DVD
Everyday I have to remind myself I cannot control things that are out of my control. You would think after all these years I would have learned this lesson by now. I do not know if I would call it a defense mechanism; but whenever I find myself in an uncontrollable situation, humor has always been my immediate reaction. This is something my brothers and I have always done, getting it from our father. Just before I was about to go under for a medical procedure, I asked the doctor if I would be able to play the guitar afterwards. When he said absolutely, I told him I was excited since I always wanted to be able to play the guitar. This is why I was fond of the main character in this heartwarming comedy. Robin Williams (Dead Poets Society, Jumanji) was the perfect actor to play in this movie based on the true story of Hunter “Patch” Adams. After having committed himself to a mental institution, Hunter realized he wanted to be a doctor. Seeing how patients were being treated more like numbers than as human beings, he believed humor would be an important factor in the patient’s well being. The problem was his idea was contrary to established practices. Having seen Robin Williams perform in concert early in his career, I cannot say he was even acting in this role; he was just playing himself. If you are not a fan of his then you will not care for this movie. The supporting actors did a good job, such as Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master, A Late Quartet) as Mitch, Michael Jeter (The Green Mile, Jurassic Park III) as Rudy and Monica Potter (Along Came A Spider, Parenthood) as Carin. I found the story predictable and far-fetched in spots. However, since Patch Adams and I believe laughter is important to a person’s health; I enjoyed watching this DVD. I do not know about you; but as far as I am concerned, I never want to have a grumpy doctor touching me.
2 1/4 stars — DVD