THOUGH I WOULD LIKE EVERYONE to act in an honest and ethical way, I am sure there is a lot that goes on in the business world that would shock me. Not just big corporations, I am sure it trickles down to small shop owners. I have a couple of friends who ran a medical practice and I used to get surprised by the things they told me they encountered during the average work day. Drug salespeople were constantly dropping in hoping to catch a quick meeting with the doctor. If they could not meet on their first attempt, some would try to bring in lunch for the staff. I assume they were hoping they could entice the doctor to meet them over a meal. There was one salesperson who would stock their cabinet with trial size packages of the drug they were representing; however, they always either pushed back their competitor’s product to the back of the shelf or even took some of it away. Through my friends’ years at the medical practice I was astounded by the amount of free products the drug reps would try to leave at the office. I had to wonder if the drug company eliminated the free trial size portions would they lower the prices of their drugs. THE PAST WEEK A FORMER pharmaceutical executive was sentenced to prison for fraud. I think the verdict is just since he broke the law; but this is the same person who raised the price of a life-saving drug from $13.50 a pill to $750.00. Now I am all for everyone making a profit but gouging the public is simply wrong. The percentage of that price increase covers the price of inflation for centuries. Granted having the product billed as a lifesaver makes it worse, but I would feel the same way if a company increased the price of their bread by some exorbitant price. The difference is they would never do it because one can always buy a loaf of bread from a different company. People in business who only think of themselves and are willing to sacrifice the consumer to get ahead are no different in my opinion to those malicious email attachments seeking your bank information. And as a side note the latest statistics show those emails increased by 300% in the last quarter of 2017. Despite the crooked and unethical things I have mentioned, I was shocked by what I saw in this action crime comedy. WANTING TO BE THE FIRST to come to market with a brand new drug medical executive Richard Rusk, played by Joel Edgerton (Red Sparrow, The Great Gatsby), was willing to do anything to succeed. This would put his employees in a precarious predicament. With Charlize Theron (Atomic Blonde, Mad Max: Fury Road) as Elaine Markinson, David Oyelowo (A United Kingdom, Queen of Katwe) as Harold Soyinka, Thandie Newton (Crash, 2012) as Bonnie Soyinka and Amanda Seyfried (Dear John, Mamma Mia!) as Sunny; I felt the cast choices were way better than the roles they were given to play. The script started out promising to me but as time went on I thought the addition of multiple story lines and the under developed characters bogged it down. I actually do not recall anything funny in this film. Instead I thought the story was a generic version of several “chase” films I have seen before. Even with the acting I felt Charlize was the most authentic; I can only assume David wanted to do something totally different, but it did not work for me. This movie has to make one wonder if all involved producing it were sampling the drug that was coming to market in this story.
1 ¾ stars
Maybe this practice still takes place somewhere in the world, but I know I have not seen it anywhere for many years. It used to be Saturday afternoon was the time a movie theater would change its movie rotation and show a special matinee film for one showing only. The movies that played were family friendly, multiple genres and at times lower production values. There was a small movie theater (if you want to even call it that) near my house when I was a kid; it sat in the middle of the block with small shops flanking it on both sides. If they did not have their small free standing marquee sign in front of the theater, most people would not even know it was there. All the theater seats inside were tired looking with missing threads and very little bounce to the cushions. I was there most Saturdays, waiting in line with the other families. The only way I can describe how it felt to sit and watch a movie there is to tell you it was like being on an amusement park ride. If the picture was dramatic it had to be over dramatic; the hero was always captured at some point but would escape to the cheers of the audience around me. It was such a communal event for all of us and we saw so many new places around the world and even universe. I have such warm memories about that theater and the movies it showed. This horror mystery film would have been shown at that theater’s Saturday afternoon matinee, I am certain of it. WITH no explanation one day the citizens of Detroit vanished into thin air. Luke, played by Hayden Christensen (Star Wars franchise, Jumper), was not affected however; but he noticed something was different about the dark. What I liked about this horror thriller was the fact there was no violence or bloodshed used to make the story scary. Instead the script tried to keep a sense of urgency in the forefront, letting the cast express their fear through their bodies. John Leguizamo (Moulin Rouge, Chef) as Paul and Thandie Newton (For Colored Girls, Good Deeds) as Rosemary did a good job making this happen. I do not think it was the studio’s intentions but this picture was the type of film I would call a “B” movie. It looked like a bare bones production with few props and sets. The story was like a primer as if it would be used to teach a class called horror film 101. The script was loose, letting the viewer come to their own conclusion about the action in the scenes. You may consider this more of a disposable movie that you watch once when you have nothing else to do. I enjoyed the easiness to this picture, feeling like I was a little kid at a Saturday matinee.
2 stars — DVD
In one of my creative writing classes in college, we had to read “For Colored Girls Who Had Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” by Ntozake Shange, which this movie was based on. The professor led us in a discussion about minorities and discrimination. The purpose was to teach us to make our story characters believable by tapping into our emotions of feeling different or discriminated. We went around the room taking turns talking about a time when we felt discriminated against or like an outsider. It was a powerful lesson for each of us that day. Director and writer Tyler Perry (Madea franchise, The Family That Preys) assembled a stellar cast for this dramatic film. Kerry Washington (Ray, Django Unchained) as Kelly/Blue, Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls, Company) as Yasmine/Yellow, Whoopi Goldberg (Clara’s Heart, Ghost) as Alice/White and Loretta Devine (I Am Sam, Death at a Funeral) as Juanita/Green were some of the standouts in the cast. I understood what Tyler was trying to create with this movie. With multiple stories that intersected, they each conveyed aspects on issues females face everyday in the world. I venture to say several of the issues would be universal to almost anyone. The problem I had with the movie was Tyler’s over dramatic flair written into the screenplay. No disrespect to soap operas, but this film played more like a series of episodes than a complete story line. In what was supposed to have been a powerful character in business executive Jo/Red, instead turned out flat due to the casting of Janet Jackson (Poetic Justice, Good Times-TV) in the role. She was not able to convey the complex emotions of the character. With her small role as Gilda, Phylicia Rashad (Just Wright, The Cosby Show-TV) was able to convey more feelings than Janet. There were several scenes that worked well enough to keep me interested despite the melodrama. Reading the book was just more powerful of an experience for me than watching this film.
2 stars — DVD
A good deed would have been the theater giving out free popcorn and drinks, so the audience would have had something to do during this movie. Lifeless performances, particularly from Tyler Perry (Madea’s Family Reunion, Diary of a Mad Black Woman) as Wesley Deeds, were boring. I felt as writer, director and actor, Tyler had too much on his plate, nothing was given his full attention. The only bright spot was Phylicia Rashad (Just Wright, A Raisin in the Sun) who played his mother, Wilimena. The story was bland and unoriginal: Wesley was the favorite son and his brother was the black sheep. We have all seen this before and there was not one new idea added to this scenario. With a life that seemed to be preordained, successful Wesley appeared to have the perfect life, with everything in its place and each day no different then the day before. Not until he met cleaning woman Lindsey Wakefield, played by Thandie Newton (The Pursuit of Happyness, RocknRolla), did his life veer off this chosen path. Thandie tried her best with what she was handed, but she could not clean up the poor script. I understood what Mr. Perry was trying to do and thought the concept for the story was good. Sadly, within 20 minutes, I realized this movie should have been thrown out with the dirty soap suds.
1 2/3 stars