ONE THING I HAVE LEARNED IS not every “idea thief” has malicious intentions. My first exposure to one of these thieves was at a job I had a long time ago. I was working on a project for my boss, coming up with a theme for a new line we were going to carry. It took me several weeks of work before I felt good about what I had created. One day, out of the blue, my boss emailed me a suggestion I should look at and incorporate into my work. His suggestion was something I was starting work on; I could not believe he had just come up with that idea! Well it turned out, thanks to a tipoff from a friend of mine at the company, an employee who was aware of my work went and offered to my boss the names he thought I should use in the product line. The same names I had already chosen; however, it would now look like this employee came up with these names instead of me. I was furious at this employee’s underhandedness. Looking at my options, there was no way I could go and explain the betrayal to my boss without looking petty; so, I went ahead with what I had created and made a mental note never to trust that employee again. FROM THAT EPISODE, ANYTIME I ENCOUNTERED an “identity thief” I stayed clear of them, having nothing to do with them unless it was business. It was not until I was working at a club where a new instructor came on staff and we became friends. She had a couple of body fitness classes but wanted to expand her options. After studying and getting certified as a cycle instructor, she started showing up in one of my classes. It was amusing the way she would take notes while working out with the class. Her dedication and work paid off finally when she was assigned one cycle class. I was not able to attend it to support her but a few days later a member came up to me to tell me about the class. The member told me the instructor had taught the class nearly identical to the way I taught class. She even used some of the same instructions I used when working with the members. I was shocked to hear it and decided to ask my friend about it. She told me she got so nervous she forgot the things she had planned on doing and simply repeated the steps she remembered I did. We talked further as she said she wanted to use some of my techniques because they were perfect cues; I suggested she change the verbiage, so the cues become hers instead of mine. Her goal was to teach a safe class, so there was nothing malicious about her actions; unlike one of the main characters in this comedy. WHEN AN OPPORTUNITY CAME TO HAVE a well-known cosmetics mogul invest in their company; best friends and owners Mel and Mia, played by Rose Bryne (Instant Family, Insidious franchise) and Tiffany Haddish (The Kitchen, Girls Trip), could not believe their good fortune. That is, until their new partner came up with her own ideas. With Salma Hayak (Savages, The Hummingbird Project) as Claire Luna, Billy Porter (American Horror Story-TV, Pose-TV) as Barrett and Jennifer Coolidge (A Mighty Wind, A Cinderella Story) as Sydney; this movie did not offer anything new or surprising. Tiffany was doing the exact same thing she does in each of her comedies; I cannot tell the difference between any of her characters. I grant you she certainly has her way in delivering lines; but when the lines are dull it becomes a chore. The script was done in such a basic, low level of comedy that I was bored through parts of the film. In fact, if you have seen the trailer you have seen this movie. Having taken common themes we have seen before, the writers did nothing new to make this a fresh take on friendship and money.
1 ½ stars
SURE, I WOULD LOVE TO OPEN a package of chocolate chip cookies and eat all of them up, but could I do it? Okay, maybe I could but do I really need to have so many at one time? As a kid I would try to take more than I needed, especially if I knew someone else was trying to do the same thing; but these days I am not such a greedy person. There is a periodical I get that has a section devoted to high priced homes across the country. When I see some of the houses listed I am constantly amazed at how much people will pay for a roof over their head; and isn’t that all a person is looking for, a roof over their head? One house had 6 bathrooms. I could not understand why someone would need so many and so much stuff inside when the house only had 4 bedrooms. Looking at the furnishings inside some of these places, I cannot imagine how much people must have paid for the items. My first thought is I wish I knew what the owners did for a living to afford such a place. Houses with a multitude of massively sized rooms that have offshoots of other rooms is something that makes no sense to me. Why does a person need so many rooms? THE ANSWER I COME UP WITH is they like to show-off what they have, or they are simply greedy. Wouldn’t average bathroom tiles do the same job as some exotic imported ones that were made of a rare substance? I remember being at a house where the owner was bragging about their dining room chandelier. It had fancy crystal pieces hanging all around the gold karat structure. I thought it was hideous myself but would never say that out loud. However, the bulbs were like any other bulbs; in my opinion, there was no reason to spend so much money on what basically was a light fixture. It just shows me people like to flaunt their money and believe they can never have too much money. Not that I am saintly or anything close to it, but I have always said I wish I was at a place where I did not have to think about what I was purchasing. I would like to know how that feels. And you know, even if I were to win the lottery I cannot see myself becoming this greedy individual who wants more and more stuff. I do not know if I could say the same thing about the people in this dramatic thriller. VINCENT AND ANTON ZALESKI, PLAYED BY Jesse Eisenberg (Now You See Me franchise, American Ultra) and Alexander Skarsgard (The Legend of Tarzan, True Blood-TV), had it all figured out. All that was needed was a little finesse and a second less of time. With Salma Hayek (Some Kind of Beautiful, Beatriz at Dinner) as Eva Torres, Michael Mando (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Better Call Saul-TV) as Mark Vega and Johan Heldenbergh (The Zookeeper’s Wife, The Broken Circle Breakdown) as Amish Elder; there was an element of excitement to this story. Jesse appeared for the most part like the same type of character, fast talking and fidgety, he has done before. I could not get over Alexander, however. He played an interesting character and his transformation was a surprise for me. Since I am talking about acting I will add Salma played a fun part and looked like she was having a good time with it. The script began strong for the first half of this film but after awhile I felt it was getting stuck in a rut. I wondered if the story was based on a true event but there was no mention. Do you need to pay full price to see this picture? Not really, you could wait for a bargain matinee and save some money if you like. I know I would have done it if I could.
2 ½ stars
WE HAD BEEN friends for several years. Through that time we had gotten closer, each of us did not use a filter when talking about personal stuff. Our friendship was evolving, though it took a big adjustment when she started dating someone who quickly became her main focus. I was not the only one who noticed the shift; our mutual group of friends noticed her dating relationship was turning serious. As with any relationship time spent with friends took place with less frequency; it was understandable as we all knew time was needed to lay the groundwork to establish a strong bond between the couple. After a few years our friend became engaged and the two of them began laying out plans to begin their life together as a married couple. AFTER THEY WERE married they planted roots in a suburb not too far away from all of us; however, spending time together with them took place less and less often. As the years progressed I started to lose contact with a few of the friends since I moved to a different location. However I was still privy to news through the “grapevine.” I do not remember exactly how it came down, but at some point I heard derogatory remarks were made about me by this married friend. My feelings were hurt and I became angry to the point where I did not what to have any interaction with this couple. Now in hindsight I did not know if they actually meant what was told to me or if they really even said such a thing. Because I was angry I did not care; as far as I was concerned I did not want to have any part of them. This was the way I handled things in the past when I got angry. Long story short, this couple opened up a store that a couple of my friends told me was doing a thriving business. I did not care since I planned never to step foot into their place. After seeing this action comedy I did wonder if I made the right decision. AS A TOP bodyguard Michael Bryce, played by Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool, Woman in Gold), had to deal with all kinds of clients. Having fallen on hard times he never imagined he would have to protect the man who tried to kill him. Also starring Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight, Kong: Skull Island) as Darius Kincaid, Gary Oldman (The Space Between Us, The Dark Knight franchise) as Vladislav Dukhovich, Elodie Yung (Gods of Egypt, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as Amelia Roussel and Salma Hayek (Beatriz at Dinner, Some Kind of Beautiful) as Sonia Kincaid; the story for this film was decent enough and the cast did a good job of handling the script. Ryan’s character was a light version of his Deadpool one in my opinion. As for Samuel L. Jackson this was one of his typical performances; however, for this character it worked. The highlight for me was Salma Hayek, she was the surprise with what the writers had given her to say. Truthfully there really was nothing special about this picture; there were many scenes with blood and violence. The story was not unique and for the most part it was predictable. At one point I felt like I was just watching a string of nonsensical scenes. I wondered at the end of the movie if I had made the right decision to use my free movie pass for this film. There was one outtake scene in the middle of the credits.
WATCHING the irate customer badger the salesclerk over the rung up price for a box of cereal reminded me of myself. How awful; I saw myself in this belittling loud consumer. Having a storehouse of anger inside of me made me be a walking pressure cooker. One perceived wrong being done to me would set me off, always going over the top since I had a vast amount of anger readily available anytime. As the salesclerk remained calm, though I could see her eyes constantly scanning for a manager, I wondered how many people thought I was a crazy person. On a positive note, if you want to call it that, at least I could observe the situation and acknowledge I used to act that way; grateful that I dealt with my issues and was able to rise above the source of anger. Don’t people say recognizing the issue is the 1st step in the healing process? HAVING the opportunity to grow old allows one to reflect on the multitude of personas they wore in their life. Not too long ago I was talking with a friend, mentioning something about being a former participant in a local group. My friend was taken by surprise because they never pictured me in such an activity. Curious, they asked how that came to be and why I was no longer interested in it. As I shared that part of history with them, I saw myself back in that period of time. I felt like I was talking about a distant relative like a 2nd or 3rd cousin; you know, having a blood connection but far removed to the point where there is a different level of familiarity. One of the pluses of having this type of conversation and reflection is it provides one with validation to what they have become. This dramatic comedy offered me the opportunity to see separate versions of who I used to be. WITH a broken down car in her client’s driveway holistic practitioner Beatriz, played by Salma Hayek (Here Comes the Boom, Once Upon a Time in Mexico), was invited to stay for a dinner party. For some of the guests she was the entertainment. With a cast that included John Lithgow (Miss Sloane, Love is Strange) as Doug Strutt, Connie Britton (American Ultra, Friday Night Lights-TV) as Cathy, Chloe Sevigny (Boys Don’t Cry, Big Love-TV) as Shannon and Amy Landecker (Doctor Strange, A Serious Man) as Jeana; the acting in this movie was excellent. John was the perfect choice for that character. As the story started out I was interested in the activity, particularly once the guests arrived for I found the mix of them familiar ground to my experiences. There were different ways to look at the story; it was easy to plug in variations of the good vs. evil scenario, which I will leave for the viewer to explore. However as the story unfolded I found myself losing interest. There was something lacking for me to the point I was feeling less connected. Honestly my connection to this picture was the opportunity it provided me to reflect on portions of my former life. At the end of the movie I felt unsatisfied. I would have appreciated more intensity and more discussion of philosophies between the characters. Instead I wound up getting annoyed by John’s character (which I thought was intended) and not caring for the ending. This was a mixed bag for me, but I did enjoy the opportunity to do some reflection.
2 ¾ stars
SHE was a working mom and believed she was setting a good example for her daughter. To drive the point home she would clarify things by saying she worked outside of the home, at a paying job. Though she did work away from home, she made a point of always being at any of her daughter’s school functions. She would drive her daughter to school before work, put in a full 8 hour work day and get home afterwards to make dinner, put a load of laundry in the wash and return back to the high school at night because she was on the activities committee. Most of the mother’s days followed this type of pattern, but she did not mind; all she wanted was for her daughter to have as many possibilities available as possible regarding her future. So imagine her horror when she asked her daughter what she wanted to study after she graduated high school and the daughter said she was not sure she wanted to go to college. Trying to stay calm and composed she asked her daughter what she wanted to do in life. The daughter replied she wanted to be a stay at home mom. THERE was nothing wrong about being a stay at home mom but the mother’s concern was her daughter becoming dependent on someone else. If something was to happen in the marriage and the daughter found herself alone, how would she support herself and her children? The mother was worried about her daughter. I could understand where the mother was coming from with her concern for her daughter. Being strongly independent I know I would have a difficult time if I had to depend on someone else. There was a friend of a friend I knew who always managed to date wealthy individuals. It was not unusual for this person to walk into a party with a fancy jacket or a new expensive watch that they would have received from their date. The relationships never seemed to last long and I always wondered if these rich people just got tired of always supporting their love interest; it could happen, just see what took place in this comedy film. AFTER his wealthy wife replaced him with a younger man Maximo, played by Eugenio Derbez (Instructions not Included, Jack and Jill), had nowhere to go. He had no money of his own, nor any marketable skills. His only choice was to see if his estranged sister Sara, played by Salma Hayek (Lonely Hearts, Once Upon a Time in Mexico), would take him in. Including Kristen Bell (Bad Moms, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) as Cindy and Linda Lavin (Wanderlust, The Intern) as Millicent, this movie told a story I had seen previously in other films. There were several amusing scenes in this picture; however, nothing was unique or special about it. I did enjoy the character of Hugo, played by Raphael Alejandro (Badge of Honor, Kindergarten Cop 2), but it was obvious what was going to happen to him. Honestly there was nothing “wrong” with this movie; it was just average. In fact, this film had an old school feeling to it, where its physical and verbal humor seemed as if it were mined back in the 70s. I am afraid there just was not much in this picture to motivate me to give it a better rating. Several scenes were spoken in Spanish with English subtitles.
It started out when you were told to open the hangar doors wide because the airplane was coming in for a landing. Your parents would be making plane noises with their lips as the flying spoon they held with its contents of baby food came close to your gaping mouth. I only experienced the hangar doors for a short time before my mouth turned into a vacuum cleaner. After a couple of years when the airplane was no longer in commission, your food became a teaching tool. A bowl of soup offered the opportunity to spell words with the floating noodles shaped in the alphabet. How many of you would eagerly down a spoonful of soup with the words dog or cat staring at you? The next stage was not always a choice for many; the introduction of fast food. Coming with your food now were little toys and prizes. As an added bonus you did not have to always sit at a table to eat your food. This fast food allowed you to sit in the back seat of the car and eat while your parent was driving you home. Now depending on your age you may have grown up with one or two cooking shows on television that were hosted by Julia Child or Joyce Chen. Others may have seen a variety of food shows, from contests, to specific cuisines, to learning how to hold a dinner party for eight; food took on a new level of entertainment. I myself have tasted a variety of foods from a small country diner all the way to an exclusive world class haute cuisine restaurant. None of this prepared me for the food I saw in this animated adventure comedy. FRANK, voiced by Seth Rogan (Steve Jobs, The Interview), discovers the true meaning behind being chosen by a shopper at the grocery store and it was no where near what he and all his friends thought it would be. This film had a multitude of actors voicing the characters such as Kristen Wiig (The Martian, Welcome to Me) as Brenda, Edward Norton (American History, Fight Club) as Sammy and Salma Hayek (Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Some Kind of Beautiful) as Teresa. I found the beginning of the story interesting, filled with fun and jokes. Personally I understand the use of profanity can provide shock value in an amusing way; I quickly find it lazy humor the more it is used and curse words made up a a good portion of the script. As the story progressed I found less and less to enjoy about this picture. To me the writing was geared for a narrow range of viewers who just want to be shocked by inappropriate behavior. There definitely was a decent message to convey but it was undercooked compared to the rise of raw adult only scenes. As far as I could tell the prominent goal of the script was to surprise and maybe upset the viewer instead of providing a good story. All I can say is this movie provided a new definition to what is considered food porn.
You know it does not always have to be an awkward situation when you meet someone you used to be married to or have dated. Of course, it depends on the circumstances that led to the separation in the first place. There have been a couple of people I dated that I would prefer not having to see or talk to, just because they lied to me and broke the trust that was established between the two of us. One of them used to live near me, so periodically I would see them walking down the street; if I was able to I used to cross the street to avoid talking to them. Then there was someone else I used to be with that would literally run away if they saw me. I used to have a hard time with that because nothing happened between us that I felt warranted such an action. I remember sitting down with them to say I did not share the same feelings as they did about our relationship. It did take a couple of years before the running stopped and actually we have remained friends now. In fact, a majority of the people I have dated have stayed on friendly terms with me. When some of my friends would question how I could still be friends with someone who broke my heart, I had to explain to them that just because the love aspect of the relationship died did not cancel out the other good qualities about the person that attracted me to them in the first place. Unless they did something hateful, I for the most part have been able to adjust my thought processes about them over time. Everyone handles this type of situation differently; just see what happens in this comedic romance. CAMBRIDGE English professor Richard Haig, played by Pierce Brosnan (Love is All You Need, The Ghost Writer), enjoyed his single life until he met American student Kate, played by Jessica Alba (Fantastic Four franchise, Valentine’s Day). What was it about Kate that made Richard want to be a better man? The cast which also included Salma Hayek (Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Frida) as Olivia and Malcom McDowell (A Clockwork Orange, Easy A) as Gordon was the draw for me to watch this film; they were good and tried to do the best they could with the lines that were given to them. However, it was not enough to save this movie. The script was not only blatantly predictable, it was unpolished. Scenes felt separate from each other as if they were comedy bits from a television sitcom. I think if the writers would have spent more time developing the characters, giving them more depth; the story could have been more palatable. Love certainly has a way of making us do things we never thought of doing before.
1 3/4 stars
Someone, please hand me a breath mint because I still have a bad taste in my mouth from this wretched film. Usually a sequel will show some kind of growth for its characters, but not this one. Coincidently, I recently attended my high school reunion. Visiting with former classmates was real special. We shared memories and laughed at some of the crazy things we did while attending school. The thing that separated us from the characters in this movie is we grew up. The closest I found to a story line in this celluloid catastrophe was Lenny Feder, played by Adam Sandler (The Waterboy, Happy Gilmore), moved his family back to his hometown, where he grew up with his old friends Eric, Kurt and Marcus; played by Kevin James (Here Comes the Boom, Paul Blart: Mall Cop), Chris Rock (Head of State, Down to Earth) and David Spade (The Benchwarmers, Tommy Boy). The lack of a story made for a dull series of infantile jokes and gags; some that had no relevance to what the characters were doing. In fact, I found some of the jokes offensive. With Adam being credited as one of the writers, all I can tell you is the writing was lazy. It seemed as if the characters were thrown into the story just to give Adam’s friends a job. What I did not understand is why someone like Steve Buscemi (Rampart, Boardwalk Empire-TV) would agree to do a cameo as Wiley. I thought he was successful and making decent money. As for some of the other actors in cameo appearances, it was obvious they needed a paycheck. There was nothing I found redeeming about this film. I did not find anything funny about people with flatulence or indigestion. There are two reasons why I gave an extra 1/4 star to my rating of this so called comedy. The first has to do with the cast. Without naming names, this film is doing taxpayers a favor because it included several actors who would otherwise be collecting unemployment benefits. The second reason is for the complete shock I had that Rob Schneider (The Hot Chick, Deuce Bigalow franchise) was not part of the cast.
1 1/4 stars
Age can be any number you want it to be. When you think about it, where is it written that you have to act a certain way because of your age? I try to encourage my students to enjoy the moment without worrying what someone else might think of them. Deep down I am a kid at heart and I allow that little boy inside of me to come out periodically and play. It was for that reason I thought this DVD would be fun to rent. The cast consisted of some reliable comedic talent such as Chris Rock (Down to Earth, Head of State) and Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids, Friends With Kids). On the other hand since this was an Adam Sandler (Big Daddy, Reign Over Me) movie I knew Rob Schneider (The Animal, The Hot Chick) would be part of the cast. It must be Adam’s good deed to keep Rob employed and off the streets. The story was about a group of friends who after many years return to their childhood home, to attend their old basketball coach’s funeral. After so long carrying the responsibilities that came with being an adult, could the friends reconnect like they did as kids? This comedy puzzled me. How was it that each actor individually could excel at their craft, but put together they were not funny? The script was tired and predictable with lame jokes and simple sight gags. Salma Hayek (Frida, Here Comes the Boom) and Kevin James (Zookeeper, Here Comes the Boom) added very little with their roles. I think what it comes down to is Adam sticks to the formula he created in pumping out these movies with low brow humor. There was nothing horrible in this film; it just did not do anything for me. If you need some mindless entertainment after a rough day, then this would be the ideal movie to sit back and watch. There must have been a lot of people who needed to sit back and relax because the movie studio is working on a sequel. You have been warned.
1 3/4 stars — DVD
What a rude awakening I got my first week as a high school freshman. The first time in physical ed class a ceiling tile fell, nearly hitting a student in the head. From that day forward I always kept one eye on the roof waiting for the next tile bomb to drop. Since my elementary school did not have a cafeteria, the first time I walked down the lunch room line I was surprised by how many food items did not look like they were part of nature. I do not recall any teachers who would do what the teachers did in this movie. If Kevin James (Grown Ups, The King of Queens-TV) was graded for playing teacher Scott Voss, he would get an above average for effort. He deserved credit for doing the physical training the role demanded. Scott would try to become a mixed martial arts fighter to raise money for classes being cut, due to a budget shortfall. If he could get a scheduled fight, he would get paid even if he lost. It was a win-win situation. The cast was an enjoyable bunch to watch. Kevin’s character was affable and down to earth. I do have to say it was odd seeing Henry Winkler (Click, Happy Days-TV) playing a submissive, wishy washy character as music teacher Marty Streb. Come on, he was the Fonz. The other surprise was seeing Salma Hayek (Frida, Once Upon a Time in Mexico) playing school nurse Bella Flores in this comedy. For what was required of her, she was fine in this role. The problem with this movie was the story was bloated and predictable. The multitude of sight gags did not always work, being dull and flat. More chuckles than laughs, this boom was more like a pop. A brief scene with blood.