IF HE HAD NOT SAID ANYTHING to me, I would not have given it a second thought. My friend was expressing how his dad could never make the parent/teacher conferences because of his work. I was not aware it bothered him since there were many students who came to these meetings with only one parent. When I mentioned this to my friend, he told me he just wanted his father to show up once to one of his school functions; that his dad worked all the time. I thought about this for a minute and realized I might have only seen his father once or twice at the most through all the years we have been friends. Mentioning this to my friend, he told me his dad only thought about his job and how he could advance himself. According to my friend his dad was driven by this one thought; he did not think of anything else but what he could do to get promoted and earn more money. I felt sad for my friend; it was like he had an absentee father because within our conversation my friend told me his dad missed family birthdays, anniversaries and even some holiday get togethers. There was nothing I could say to make him feel better. THE THINGS HE SAID TO ME about his dad were not unfamiliar to me; I have known several people, including myself, who were driven by a single-mindedness to reach their goals. When I started teaching fitness, I pretty much put myself on call to make myself available when anyone needed a sub to teach their class. Rarely would I ever request a sub; I felt it was my job, so I needed to be there to teach class. There were many occasions when I could not join my friends and family in a celebration because it was my time to teach. I know my one mindedness had an affect on my relationships. Some of the people I dated ended our relationship with the excuse I was not easily available to them. At the time it was hurtful to hear because I could not see things through their eyes. I felt they were essentially asking me to choose between them and my job. Now granted, though fitness was my part time job I treated it with the same importance as my full time one. There were instructors who did not have an issue taking off time from teaching whenever they felt like it; I could not do it, that is how driven I was with teaching. After many years, I now finally understand I was not seeing the big picture of my life; I was out of balance. It was the same, I felt, for the main character in this musical comedy. NOTHING ELSE MATTERED TO LARS CRICKSSONG, played by Will Ferrell (Downhill, Holmes & Watson), then to compete in the Eurovision Song Contest. His singing partner and family were certainly aware of his drive, even if they did not understand it. With Rachel McAdams (A Most Wanted Man, Game Night) as Sigrit Ericksdottir, Dan Stevens (Beauty and the Beast, The Guest) as Alexander Lemtov, Mikael Persbrandt (In a Better World, The Hobbit franchise) as Victor Karlosson and Pierce Brosnan (Some Kind of Wonderful, Mama Mia! franchise) as Erick Erickssong; this movie could have used some fine tuning. I am not a fan of Will Ferrell; for me, he was doing a role that he has been doing since his Saturday Night Live days. There was nothing new or fresh about his character. On the other hand, Rachel was impressive; her comedic timing, acting and possible singing voice hit the right notes for me. Dan Stevens was another standout for me; he was crazy good in this role. There were patches where the story and script were amusing; but then there were times where things felt flat. Gratefully these 2 actors hit the right notes and made this movie easier to watch for me.
2 ½ stars
THE mother was upset by the zoo animals fighting in their enclosure. With her young child standing by her side with his arm extended up to hold his mother’s hand, she was arguing with a zookeeper. I was standing off to the side with other visitors but I could hear every word and she was mad. Essentially she was upset the animals were not peacefully walking around their pen, letting the visitors get a good look at them. I had the urge to tell her this was a zoo and not a beauty pageant but decided to keep my mouth shut. The animals were just being themselves and fighting over territory; but apparently that was not enough for her, she wanted them to act more human. I know there are people who find animals more endearing when they can attach a human emotion to the animal’s actions. I totally understand because I wanted to become a veterinarian after I read the book Doctor Dolittle. I loved the way the animals carried on conversations with the doctor. Wouldn’t you say most of us are more comfortable with animals when they act in a fashion more akin to human beings? As a child I could not wait to grow up and go out on a date to an Italian restaurant so we could share a spaghetti meal just like Lady and Tramp did in their movie. Look at how many talking animals have been part of our culture, from Michigan J. Frog to the horse Mr. Ed to the talking chipmunks Alvin and his brothers. Oh and how can I ignore all of those cat and dog videos posted on the internet? The animals look adorable as they perform tricks or interact with those around them. Watching them can be fun but I have never seen any that can match the singing that was done in this animated film. BUSTER Moon, voiced by Matthew McConaughly (The Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyers Club), came up with a brilliant idea to save his beloved theater; hold a singing contest. He was in for a big surprise after the mailer advertising the event was sent out. This comedic drama had a wonderful cast of actors to voice many of the characters; there was Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line, This Means War) as Rosita, Seth MacFarlane (A Million Ways to Die in the West, Tooth Fairy) as Mike, Scarlett Johansson (The Avengers franchise, Don Jon) as Ash and the biggest surprise for me Taron Egerton (Eddie the Eagle, Testament of Youth) as Johnny. Luckily the characters were fun to watch because the script was a bit bland. The story revolved around the singing competition which was fine, but there were times where I felt the script could have used a rewrite. Let me say kids will like the mayhem and action while the parents will enjoy the singing; most of the songs were current. This film may have lacked a little in the lessons learned aspect that other children’s animated pictures have depicted, but I found this movie to be quite entertaining. Plus c’mon how can one resist animals that sing and sing well?
It should not matter what other people think about the things that bring you joy. This seems like such a basic concept; you cherish desserts but your good friend does not or your significant other loves to go camping but you are not fond of it. For those individuals who shall we say have a stronger constitution, someone else’s thoughts and tastes have no bearing on their enjoyment. I knew this person who loved to dance; whenever the opportunity presented itself, they were the first one to get up and start dancing. They had a poor sense of rhythm but either they were not aware or just did not care. It did not stop some people from making comments or teasing remarks. Now some individuals who were not as sure of themselves as this dancer would probably stop dancing in public. For others they would ignore the remarks and comments, not stopping for anyone. I am aware this is not always an easy thing to do. When I first starting teaching fitness, I was a nervous wreck every time I walked into a class. Yelling in my mind were these voices that told me I was too big, not flexible or good enough; I was a fraud who was just pretending to be an instructor. There were so many other instructors who looked and acted the part with their snug fitting outfits that were color coordinated. I wore baggy basketball shorts, a loose T-shirt that had either a state logo or landmark and a baseball cap. It took me a long time to acquire the confidence to believe I was doing something good. Because of this I was able to understand what the main character was feeling in this musical adventure. NOT until a video of her singing was uploaded to the internet did Jerrica, played by Aubrey Peeples (Rage, Nashville-TV), begin to believe in herself. Along with her sisters they would become overnight sensations; but would it be too much for them to handle? I do not know where to begin because I was void of any feelings by the end of this dramatic fantasy film. If I can explain, the entire script sounded like an example that would be used for a screenwriter’s 101 class; it was cliched, predictable and sappy. I was not familiar with the 1980s cartoon series this movie was based on, but the robot story line seemed like a totally different movie from the singing one. Even Molly Ringwald (Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles) playing Aunt Bailey left me perplexed since she came across as a flat one dimensional character. The only worthwhile scenes were the ones that had singing in them. This was such an odd film; notice I did not even list any other actors because their acting was so sad. If any of them look back at this they might want to change careers. There was an extra scene in the beginning of the ending credits.
1 1/2 stars
The stakes were high, where the difference between winning and losing could easily be decided by a single note. I am especially fond of powerful, strong female voices; so, I was ready to see this musical movie. After a disastrous finish to last year’s singing competition the Barden Bellas, an all girl a cappella group, were determined to regroup and win the trophy this year. Led by the controlling Aubrey and her sidekick Chloe, played by Anna Camp (The Help, Forgetting the Girl) and Brittany Snow (Hairspray, Prom Night), the two needed to replenish and reinvigorate the Bellas. In one of the better scenes, reluctant freshman Beca, played by Anna Kendrick (50/50, Up in the Air), was cornered in the dormitory’s showers when her singing caught the ear of nearby Chloe. The competition heated up when the school’s male a cappella group’s Jesse, played by Skylar Astin (Taking Woodstock, Hamlet 2) took an interest in more than just Beca’s singing. Fitting into the Step Up or Bring it On type of movies, this film was like an older version of the television show Glee. The singing was fun, while the bulk of the comedy was easily handled by the character Fat Amy, played by Rebel Wilson (Bridesmaids, Bachelorette). The funniest bits, however, came from the competition announcers Gail and John, played by Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games, People Like Us) and John Michael Higgins (Bad Teacher, Big Miracle). Overall the movie was out of tune for me. I felt there was not enough development to the characters, making them cartoonish. Anna Kendrick was quite good both in acting and singing; I forgot she had been nominated for a Tony Award previously. The story for the most part was predictable; some new twists would have been nice. Even with some sour notes, this harmless comedy had some decent riffs.
2 1/3 stars
I think most people have something they can do or use when they want to escape from reality. Some people get lost into their knitting, while others may disappear into their work shop for hours. For me it was playing piano when I was younger. These days I escape by watching movies. In this film I could certainly appreciate how the character LV (Little Voice) removed herself from her oppressive reality. After her father had died, LV played by Jane Horrocks (Brother of the Head, Absolutely Fabulous-TV) would hole up into her room, singing along to her father’s old vinyl records. When she would sing, LV was no longer the quiet, shy girl of her loud and abusive mother Mari Hoff, played by Brenda Blethyn (Atonement, Pride & Prejudice). Little Voice was able to shine just like the popular singers from the records she played. When one of Mari’s sleazy boyfriends, Ray Say played by Michael Caine (The Dark Knight, Inception), heard LV’s incredible singing; he thought he had a chance to make a profit–if only he could convince her to sing at a nightclub. Everyone’s performance in this movie was wonderful, especially the knock out singing from Ms. Horrocks. I, also, loved the way the writers subtley moved the characters out of their comfort zones into new territory. Not only was this emotional movie a perfect escape for me, it was a great movie to watch.
3 stars — DVD