UP UNTIL I SAW THE MOVIE Bambi, the only characters that would perish in an animated picture were the evil ones. The evil queen, the wicked witch; none of the “bad” characters in those animated films went unpunished for their awful actions. Even Cruella DeVil got her comeuppance for what she did to those innocent puppies. When I watched Bambi, I was traumatized by what happened to the mother. I understood death, but I had not been exposed to it on a personal level. Suddenly it was thrust upon me in an unexpected way, an animated movie where an innocent relative does not survive; it was an awful experience for me. I wanted to take in Bambi, so he would not be alone. In fact, I remember feeling angry towards the movie studio for allowing such a thing to happen. In my mind, innocent people were not supposed to get hurt or die; I believed it was a written rule. Little did I know that my introduction to the film Bambi would only be a prelude to what happens everyday in the real world. I guess that is why I am more attracted to fantasy and movies. SPOILER ALERT: YEARS LATER ANOTHER ANIMATED FILM COMES along where a tragedy befalls the parent of a main character. I at least was better equipped to handle this when I saw the original film of, The Lion King. In the context of the story, there were similarities between it and Bambi. What softened the blow in my opinion were the various musical numbers and the endearing, emotional depth given to the characters. I think a person would be hard pressed not to react to the characters in the movie. From that movie a new industry was created or at least it was new to me. Sitting in a theater, the lights go down and the orchestra begins the familiar notes from the soundtrack; I was immediately brought into their world when part of the cast of the staged version of The Lion King walk down the aisle towards the stage. With the imaginative and colorful costumes, myself and the audience were in awe. The staged show began on Broadway in 1997 and I believe it is still running today. Suffice it to say, it would be a challenge for any movie studio to do something that would top the memories and experiences viewers and theater goers would already have towards this story. However, do not let that stop you if you are curious to see the latest version of a much beloved story. WITHOUT THE GUIDANCE OF HIS PARENTS Simba, voiced by Donald Glover (The Martian, Solo: A Star Wars Story), must learn for himself what it means to become a king. With Beyonce (Dreamgirls, Obsessed) voicing Nala, Seth Rogen (Long Shot, The Disaster Artist) voicing Pumbaa, Billy Eichner (Most Likely to Murder, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising) voicing Timon and Chiwetel Ejiofor (Dirty Pretty Things, 12 Years a Slave) voicing Scar; this animated, adventure drama was visually startling to me. I kept questioning myself on whether some of the animals were real or not. The CGI was utterly amazing to the point I felt I was on an African Safari. Now for the substance behind those visuals, the writers stayed close to the original story with only a few minor tweaks. However, what they forgot to do was keep the endearing emotional quality to the characters. Based on the way the characters acted there was not much variance to their emotional output. The script paled in comparison to the technical quality of this picture. I also was distracted by the musical soundtrack; not the individual songs, but the background music was too over dramatic. One of the bright spots was listening to Seth and Billy with their verbal exchanges. If the script would have been better written I think this would have been a stellar production; instead, I felt I had gone to the zoo during the nap times for some of my favorite animals.
2 ½ stars
I AM NOT CLAIMING THIS IS 100% true; but if one must explain every joke to the person they are dating, I believe the relationship is not destined to last long. Humor, at least for me, is an important trait to possess. Not that I want to be with someone who likes and dislikes everything I do, but there must be some things that connect us. I used to rate food tastes as an important factor in a relationship; but because I am so picky, I have learned to adjust and be flexible about it. To give you an idea, if we were discussing a place to eat and I did not like the type of cuisine, I would refuse the restaurant outright. I soon learned that I needed to be malleable; food did not have to be so important to me. And what I discovered is I can usually find something to eat at most establishments. There still are some cuisines that I am not fond of, but I no longer put a checkmark in the “con” column when assessing a new person’s choices. Out of the variety of factors one chooses as the glue to bond with someone, food is not a deal breaker for me. FOR MY OWN PERSONAL FEELINGS, I prefer being with someone who is not just like me. I am an intense person by nature; imagine me being with someone who matches my intensity level? It would be a volatile relationship. When two people connect yet have some differences, I consider it a plus for the relationship. I always say it gives me the opportunity to see a situation through someone else’s eyes. It is a yin and yang environment for me. Whenever I am sitting in a place long enough to observe people, I look at couples. Sometimes I see two people who appear to have nothing in common. For example, one person is dressed in an expensive flashy way, while the other one looks like they got their clothing from a thrift shop. I am curious enough to sit and just watch how the couple interact with each other. Sometimes I am even sitting close enough to hear parts of their conversation, particularly if we happen to be seated next to each other at the same flight gate in the airport. From my observations and own experiences, I feel a mixture of differences and similarities creates the strongest bond between two people. If you want to see it being tested may I suggest you watch this romantic comedy. INVITED AS A GUEST TO A social function Fred Flarsky, played by Seth Rogan (This is the End, Neighbors franchise), got the oddest feeling he knew of all people the Secretary of State. If true, she was his very first crush. With Charlize Theron (Atomic Blonde, Mad Max: Fury Road) as Charlotte Field, June Diane Raphael (The Disaster Artist, Unfinished Business) as Maggie Millikin, O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton, Ingrid Goes West) as Lance and Bob Odenkirk (Nebraska, Breaking Bad-TV) as President Chambers; this film festival winning movie was the highlight for me this week in a sea of dreadful films. Seth and Charlize seemed such an unlikely pairing, but it worked to their advantage. I enjoyed watching them and laughed out loud a few times, due to the fun and topical script. Granted Seth was in his element, so there were times I felt he was reprising a past character; but my focus was steered more to Charlize. I thought she was a wonderful blend of seriousness and humor. Sure, one could say this story was similar to others but with a gender switch and that may be true. However, I found this to be a sharp and fresh take on the rom-com genre.
THERE HAS ONLY BEEN a small handful of individuals I have known who had a natural ability to excel in their life’s journey. Things came naturally to these people, where they did not need to be schooled or guided in conquering their dreams/goals. I am sure when you were in school you had at least one student who did not study before an exam and yet would still get a perfect score. From my college days I remember a student in one of my writing classes who had a book and few short stories published before the semester even began. The entire class looked up to this individual. Even outside a school setting I know a young adult who already is displaying an uncanny ability when it comes to electronics. Without any instruction, he wired and set up a burglary alarm system for his family’s home. NOW THERE ARE SOME people who excel at something but they need to work at it. You know that old joke about how does one get to Carnegie Hall and the answer is practice, practice, practice? Some individuals work hard trying to achieve their dreams. Whether it involves mental concentration or physical training, the individuals in this group sacrifice social interactions among other things to reach their goals. I am a firm believer in people attempting to reach their dreams; for it is better to have tried then spend the rest of one’s life wondering what life would have been like if they had at least attempted to reach their goals, in my opinion. I am sure it has crossed some of your minds, especially if you have watched some of those reality shows, that there are some people who should stop trying to be something they will never be. I know what you mean since I have seen a couple of those singing and dancing reality shows where some of the people auditioning show no talent for the task. It would not be fair for me to judge, but see how you feel about the main character trying to reach his dream in this dramatic comedy based on a true story. REFUSING TO ACCEPT THE negative comments about his acting abilities Tommy, played by James Franco (The Interview, Why Him?) not only liked the idea from his friend Greg, played by Dave Franco (Warm Bodies, Now You See Me franchise), he agreed to it; they would make their own movie to star in. This film festival winning picture also starring Seth Rogen (Funny People, Neighbors franchise) as Sandy, Ari Graynor (The Sitter, Mystic River) as Juliette and Alison Brie (Sleeping with Other People, Mad Men-TV) as Amber; was hilarious in parts. I and the audience around me were laughing out loud. The story is so bizarre it took me some time to actually believe this was a true story and not some big satire. Interestingly I was initially annoyed with James’ character, but after awhile I realized he was doing an excellent acting job playing this mysterious, odd character. I also enjoyed the variety of cameo roles that popped up throughout the movie. As I mentioned earlier it took me time to get into the story; I was confused by the script and was getting “antsy” for something to take place. However with James’ directing and the absurd idea behind the story coming to life, I had to applaud the achievements that were on display by the end. It goes to show you, follow your dreams because you never know where they will lead you.
3 1/3 stars
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.
Ugh not again; there they go repeating the same story for everyone. I do not know if this has happened to you but I know a couple of people who can take an entertaining story and pummel it down to the point where most people would have lost interest midway through the tale. One of these individuals will tell me a story, move on to something else for a moment and then come back to the original story to add some unnecessary element. I say “unnecessary” because once you give out the punchline the story is done. If you go back to add something else it never adds extra oomph if someone already knows the ending to the joke or story. At a party this person will go from group to group telling each one a particular story, dragging it out longer and longer as they make their way among the assembled people. It is easy to tell when a captive guest loses interest; their eyes keep darting from side to side after each blink as they are looking to lock in on someone to come save them from the storyteller’s discombobulated oratory. I may not be a great verbal communicator but I do know that a good story or joke needs to be quick and to the point. It is like a speech; there is only a finite amount of time one can hold onto an audience’s attention span before they drift off to someplace else. So here is today’s movie and it is the third film about Steve Jobs I have seen in a short amount of time. How many times do we need to hear about Steve and Apple Computer? Luckily they say the 3rd time is the charm because it was for this dramatic movie. COME backstage during the launch of 3 major products during Steve’s tenure at Apple Computer. Directed by Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours) and written by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, The West Wing-TV), this film was intelligent, smart and most importantly acted out brilliantly. The casting could not have been better with the likes of Michael Fassbender (A Dangerous Method, Shame) as Steve Jobs, Kate Winslet (Titanic, Divergent franchise) as Joanna Hoffman and Jeff Daniels (The Martian, Looper) as John Sculley; they were amazing in their roles. Michael completely obliterated any trace memory I had left of Ashton Kutcher’s poor performance as Steve in the film Jobs; there is a good chance Michael will be nominated for best actor this Oscar season. The script was so well done I can only imagine the actors must have really enjoyed digging deep into their characters. I enjoyed the mix of dramatic intensity and humor Aaron brought into the script. The fact the story only focused on three specific time frames I believe made this a stronger picture. Truthfully, I could easily see this film again and not get bored.
3 1/2 stars
Somehow I never received the rule book on how one is to act based on their birth age. All I know is birth age is simply a measuring tool for how long someone has been alive. It has nothing to do with how you live. At a recent training for certification in a new exercise format, during introductions I noticed I had been teaching the longest. What I did not know was how I was being perceived as an old person. As we went through the instructions it became apparent people were making allowances for my ability to perform the precise physical movements. They were challenging for me but not due to a lack of strength. I was having a hard time because the moves were written down; I am a visual learner. The funny part to all of this was when we had to hold a yoga plank position; I was able to longer than most of the other participants. Magically I suddenly earned a new respect from everyone. I was now accepted as part of the group and felt like I was on equal footing with them. It was something Kelly and Mac Radner, played by Rose Byrne (Get Him to the Greek, Damages-TV) and Seth Rogan (This is the End 50/50), were striving for when they went to introduce themselves to the fraternity house that opened up next door. Unfortunately the Radners lost their cool factor when they broke their promise to frat officers Teddy and Pete, played by Zac Efron (That Awkward Moment, The Lucky One) and Dave Franco (Now You See Me, Warm Bodies). This comedy had enough strong language and situations to be an equal opportunity offender to anyone who dislikes crude and rude humor. I thought the movie’s story line about trying to fit in was the better one out of the script. After a while I just became numb to the jokes and pranks. Rose was one of the stronger actors out of the cast and I was surprised in her ability to handle the role of Kelly. Zac appeared to have found a perfect role for himself: a smart aleck, charming and chiseled frat president. The writers had a field day always setting up Zac and Seth as a before and after advertisement for combatants. At one point I felt this film was hoping to be this generation’s Animal House movie; it did not succeed. If you are not easily offended then chances are you will find things to laugh at in this movie. If you find yourself not enjoying this picture, do not worry about it; you will be able to find and be part of a group of similarly minded folks. Cute scenes during the credits.
2 1/2 stars
This may come as a surprise but it turns out celebrities do not walk on water, even though some of them think they do. Part of the problem is the public’s fascination with these bigger than life characters. I do not understand why people will buy merchandise simply because their favorite celebrity endorsed it. Now I know some of you must be thinking who am I to talk with me contributing to actors’ bank accounts by going to see their movies. All I can say is I watch movies for medicinal reasons; they are therapeutic for me. This does not mean I approve of celebrities acting out in public. As far as I am concerned; there is no difference between them and the rest of us, they have the same body functions as we do. If a celebrity should fall on hard times, there are some people who get a sense of satisfaction in seeing these stars brought down to human level. Now if you want to laugh at a celebrity’s predicament and not feel guilty about it, this is the movie to watch. Essentially playing themselves I admired all the actors who took part in this wickedly funny comedy. Even those who only had cameo roles helped to knock down this facade or fascination we might have about their public personas. During a party at James Franco’s (Oz the Great and Powerful, Spring Breakers) house, what was originally thought of as an earth tremor turned into something of catastrophic proportions. I was taken by surprise by how good the writing was for this part parody, part satire, crazy fantasy film. Too many stars to list, the major players were Seth Rogen (The Green Hornet, Pineapple Express), Jonah Hill (21 Jump Street, Superbad), Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder, Knocked Up), Craig Robinson (Peeples, The Office-TV) and Danny McBride (Up in the Air, Your Highness). I have to give a shout out to Michael Cera (Juno, Youth in Revolt) and Emma Watson (Harry Potter franchise, My Week with Marilyn) for their small hilarious roles. Though some of the jokes got tiresome, who knew the end could be so funny. Warning: Strong and crude language used throughout the film.
3 1/4 stars