I REMEMBER WATCHING IT BUT DID not actively seek it out. After school I would walk home and usually grab something for a snack before dinner. Since I was sitting and eating, I would turn on the television and channel surf the stations. What caught my eye was the fact there was a TV show filmed in black and white. As I sat there watching it, I was struck by the female lead’s physicality; she had an expressive face and she knew how to use it, besides the physical exertion she would put out in her movements. It fascinated me because I could not recall seeing a female on television who did this same type of comedy. I became enthralled by the show and began to make it a point that I got home in time to catch this show. The funny thing is, I thought I was watching a new show each week. It turned out they were repeats, that the original airing of the show was some years earlier. No matter to me, I got swept up into the lives of this couple with their neighbors and friends. I do not easily laugh out loud, but I found myself more times than not, laughing at the antics the female lead was getting herself in to every day. IT WAS MANY YEARS LATER THAT I discovered this woman who played that lead was a very shrewd businesswoman. I had seen her for many years on her various television shows and movies, besides guest starring on other TV shows. The things I knew about her were more in line with the fodder that gossip magazines put out; however, after doing some research I discovered not only was she a smart individual, but her husband was as well. After all this time I still can see one snippet of a scene from her classic television show and immediately recall the entire episode; it is as if I was there as part of the set, the memories are so crystal clear. What a remarkable life this woman led. At one time, approximately 60 million households tuned in to watch her on television. Can you imagine that? She commanded such an audience that evidently the retail establishment made changes simply to accommodate those shoppers that were fans of the show. These facts are historic and just think, I accidently stumbled on the show when I was a little kid, who wanted to watch something while eating my afternoon snack. Because of these memories, I felt I was transported back in time as I began watching this wonderful biographical drama based on true events. WITH ONLY ONE WEEK TO WRITE, rehearse and put on a weekly television show; there were so many things taking place that the viewing audience had no idea were happening. How the female lead not only survived each challenge but went on to become a legend in the process. With Nicole Kidman (The Goldfinch, Boy Erased) as Lucille Ball, Javier Bardem (Skyfall, The Sea Inside) as Desi Arnaz, J.K. Simmons (The Tomorrow War, Palm Springs) as William Frawley, Nina Arlanda (Richard Jewell, Stan & Ollie) as Vivian Vance and Tony Hale (Clifford the Big Red Dog, Arrested Development-TV) as Jess Oppenheimer; this historical piece of Americana was brilliant in who was cast it turns out. When I heard Nicole was playing Lucy, I thought for sure she would not be able to handle such a larger-than-life character. I was wrong; I actually forgot it was her because she was so deep into character. Javier was a major surprise because he was incredible as Desi. Honestly, everyone was terrific in this film and though the dialog was tight and smart, I wished there had been a deeper delving into Lucy and Desi. At times, I felt as if the story was getting confused in what it was trying to say. Despite this I still am a fan of this film; it may partly be due to my fond memories of the show.
3 ¼ stars
AFTER A COUPLE OF DATES, THEY wanted me to meet their pets. I was agreeable to it since I loved animals. When I arrived at their front door, I expected to hear a dog barking or them holding a cat. Once inside, I saw 2 large fish tanks in opposite corners of the living room. There was greenery inside each but there was no water. I was led to one of the tanks to be introduced to Charlie. As I approached closer, I saw a hint of movement among the greens. They lifted the lid off from the tank so they could extend both arms inside, where they gently lifted a large snake. I tried hiding the shock on my face but might not have done a good job because they said it was okay, the snake was not poisonous. Oh, what a relief! The snake began to slither up one arm, across the back of the shoulders, then down the other arm until its head was resting in my date’s hand. My mind was reeling with all the possible scenarios where the snake would be a comfort to its owner. Would it snuggle up to them on the sofa? Would it follow them around the house? Would it play with any toys? I could not find one scenario that would work for me; but I understood, if they found comfort in what I would consider an unusual choice for a pet then who was I to judge? WHATEVER ANIMAL BRINGS A PERSON COMFORT is the animal they need. For me, I was fortunate to experience comfort from a bird, a dog, a horse and a cat. I remember a particularly “bad” week in school. The bullies were extra active, and I had multiple tests taking place through the week. Friday night we were going to visit a relative who had a dog I absolutely loved. When we got to her house, I immediately sought out the dog. We settled into a cushy sofa in the den; me nestled into the corner of the couch and her curled into my lap. I would alternate between petting and scratching her. If I stopped for a moment, she would turn her face towards me and kneed my upper thigh with her paws. A sense of peaceful comfort settled over me and the trials and tribulations of the week faded away. It felt so good that I did not want to leave my spot when dinner was ready. That dog taught me one of my earliest lessons about what it means to give unconditional love. From my experience, I found myself totally in synch with the main character in this adventure, family comedy. AGAINST HER UNCLE’S BETTER JUDGEMENT, A young girl gets to keep a little red puppy that will show her it is okay to be different. With Darby Camp (The Christmas Chronicles franchise, Big Little Lies-TV) as Emily, Jack Whitehall (Jungle Cruise, Mother’s Day) as Casey, Izaac Wang (Good Boys, Think Like a Dog) as Owen, John Cleese (A Fish Called Wanda, The Meaning of Life) as Bridwell and Tony Hale (American Ultra, Veep-TV) as Tieran; this movie was based on the popular children’s book series. I have not read them, but I can only assume the message is true to what the books portrayed. Little kids will love this film and I must tell you I enjoyed it as well for a multitude of reasons. The message was wonderful, the humor was light and clean, plus the dog was cute. I felt this way despite the fact the script was filled with predictability and was formulaic. There was a cartoonish feel to several scenes and yet, I simply enjoyed the simplicity of the whole story. And despite Clifford’s size he certainly was a lovable dog.
2 2/3 stars
THOUGH I HAD NOT SEEN THEM for years, my memories of them were just as vivid today as they were back then. I was downsizing my living space and came upon a couple of shelves in the basement that were filled with toys. Some were in their original packaging while others were sealed in plastic bags or bins. They brought a smile to my face as I had to stop my packing and look at each one. There was a boxed game where the players had to pick 5 letters and 5 categories. Writing each one down on a mini-spreadsheet, letters going vertically down and categories across horizontally, the players would be timed as they had to fill in as many spaces as they could within the time frame. This was my favorite game outside of word games. There was a toy on the shelf that I remember getting at the same time as a cousin of mine. It was a moving track, like a miniature moving sidewalk, where I would have to steer a magnetic car through obstacles that would pop up on the revolving track. Each toy I took off the shelf provided me a fond memory; I was not sure if I could part with any of them. IT IS FUNNY HOW FOR MANY of us a toy or stuffed animal can have an influence on our life’s path. I remember playing this word game with a relative, where there was a group of dice that had letters instead of numbers on them. They would be shaken around inside a plastic cube until they settled into spaces set out like a tick tack toe graph. We would turn the timer over to start, then come up with as many words as we could using the letters showing; but, having to only connect the letters down or up and side to side, nothing diagonal. It was this early game that started my love of reading and writing. There was also a babysitter of mine who each time she sat for me would bring me a stuffed animal. I am convinced that menagerie started my affection and first educational direction for animals. Let me say at one time I had almost 2 dozen stuffed animals sleeping with me; I could barely move in the bed. Now it has been many years since I played with toys and stuffed animals; but I must tell you, I was pleasantly surprised seeing the familiar characters again in this latest installment of the animated, adventure franchise. WITH A COUPLE OF DISCARDED ITEMS and a little imagination Bonnie, voiced by Madeleine McGraw (American Sniper, Ant-Man and the Wasp), created a new toy for herself. The problem was convincing this new addition that he belonged in her toy collection; something Woody, voiced by Tom Hanks (The Post, Sully), thought he could fix. With Tim Allen (3 Geezers!, Last Man Standing-TV) voicing Buzz Lightyear, Tony Hale (Stranger than Fiction, American Ultra ) voicing Forky and Annie Potts (Ghostbusters, Pretty in Pink) voicing Bo Peep; this film was one of the few sequels I have seen that maintained the high standards of its previous movies. The animation was outstanding, and the humor was appropriate and relevant for both children and adults. Also, the story was thoughtful and cleverly laid out to take adult type themes and present them in such a way that was easy for kids to digest. I experienced a variety of feelings from excitement to tension to love; each expertly fitted into the script without overpowering one another. The movie studio did a wonderful job in keeping the integrity intact for this beloved film franchise. I may never get rid of my toys now. There were 4 extra scenes during the 1sthalf of the credits.
3 ½ stars
I always know what to expect whenever I stop at one of these places. The only time I go to one is when I am out of town on vacation. You see when I am exploring a new area I do not want to spend time sitting down at a restaurant, waiting for someone to take my order and then having to wait further for my food to come to my table. This is why I will quickly grab something at a fast food establishment. I save eating at a local restaurant for dinner time. The only time I partake in fast food is when I am traveling out of state. If I have planned my day full of activities and sightseeing, I do not want to spend a lot of time taking in food. To me food is just fuel to continue my pace for the afternoon. The reason I eat fast food is because no matter where I am the meal is reliable; there are no surprises, nor do I have to think about how my body is going to react to something foreign. However, based on recent news there are reasons to worry about certain foods we eat these days. The meal is quick and adequate; I do not have to devote any thought to it, just consume and get out of the place. I know actually what to expect whenever I venture into such restaurants. I see my logic can be applied to other areas of interest, such as movie franchises. AFRAID Dave, played by Jason Lee (Chasing Amy, My Name is Earl-TV), was going to leave them once he proposed to Samantha, played by Kimberly Williams (Father of the Bride franchise, We are Marshall), Alvin and his brothers decided to follow Dave to Miami to stop the proposal. From the very beginning of this film I knew what to expect from the story. There was going to be the same type of humor, similar big song and dance numbers and an antagonist; in this case it was Tony Hale (Stranger Than Fiction, The Heat) as Agent Suggs. With the addition of Josh Green (Fair Haven, The Girl in the Book) as Miles, the story was set and off went the chipmunks. There was essentially nothing new to this latest installment of the franchise. Little children should still enjoy it though there were a couple of scenes that may not be appropriate for them. Except for one good dance number I was bored through a majority of this picture. I found it pretty predictable for the most part, besides the repetitive use of some sight gags. It seems to me this franchise is just following the same formula setup from the past films; there was nothing new or different. As long as the viewer knows what to expect once they get into the theater, I guess this movie serves some kind of a purpose.
1 2/3 stars