IT WAS NOT PLANNED TO BE A PAINFUL experience for the spectators. I was sitting and watching the ice-skating competition; it was the finals. From my memory skaters weren’t as athletic as they were presently. I remember there was more artistry to the skating; the skaters I was seeing had more athletic looking bodies, especially the men. There was a time when jumping in the air and doing three revolutions was the hardest thing a skater could do. Now, if a male ice-skater cannot do four revolutions in the air, chances are they will not win top place in the final standings. The next skater up was in the lead according to the announcer. The young man took to the ice and centered himself in the middle of the ice rink, waiting for his music to begin. There was a hush over the audience as the first note of the music resonated through the arena. Only a couple of passes from side to side were done before the participant did his first jump. Up in the air he went, spinning like a top before landing. However, when his skate came back to the ice he could not keep his balance and fell backwards, onto his backside. It was the first fall out of several; I felt so bad for him. AFTER THE PERFORMANCE IF THAT WAS not bad enough, I felt awful watching the skater sit and wait for his results. Everyone knew he would not retain his lead to win the championship; he sat there with his head hung down, not looking at the crowd. It was sad when the scores were announced, and he had dropped 6 places back. I could not imagine how he must have felt. At least when an athlete is on a team, the chances improve that one team’s player’s actions will not ruin the game for the whole team. Of course, there are exceptions; but to be the only person responsible for your destiny and you fail miserably, I would think that would be harder on a person. Add in being in the public spotlight, a leading contender, successful in their past performances and I know I would be upset if I did a poor job. Do you know what I think is even worse? When a person decides to end their career or portion of their life’s work on a sour note, instead of leaving on a high. This is exactly what I was thinking about as I sat through what, I have heard, will be the last installment of this comedy franchise. ON A ROAD TRIP TO ATTEND an anniversary party Madea, played by Tyler Perry (Gone Girl, Good Deeds), and company discover one of the relatives has been cheating on his wife. A party was not the place to air out a couple’s dirty laundry. This movie had some of the usual cast along with new actors such as Cassi Davis (Daddy’s Little Girls, House of Payne-TV) as Aunt Bam, Patrice Lovely (Love Thy Neighbor, Je’Caryous Johnson’s Marriage Material) as Hattie, Ciera Payton (The Runner, Graceland-TV) as Sylvia and KJ Smith (Throwback Holiday, Family Time-TV) as Carol. Sitting through this film was an unpleasant experience for me. I was bored by the same old routines that have been in previous Madea movies making this one so predictable. The script did not offer anything fresh, exciting or positive in my opinion; except for a couple of chuckles. To tell you the truth this picture felt like a rehash of other past movies except the pieces did not quite fit into place. If the reports are true, then this will be the last Madea movie and I hope that is the case. If there are any more of this caliber that I will have to sit through then I am a masochist; this was just painful.
1 ½ stars
THERE IS ANGER AND THEN there is white, hot anger. The type of anger that cuts off the brain from talking to its body, that blocks out all reasonable thoughts; white hot anger is almost always swift and hurtful. I have only seen this type of anger a handful of times. Once while a passenger in a car that got sideswiped out on the street, our driver exploded in such anger as he saw the culprit driving away. He made a U-turn in the middle of a 4 lane road, making cars screech to a halt while he slammed on the gas pedal to catch the other driver. We demanded to get out of the car, we were all so scared. There was another time I can still remember like it happened yesterday, though it was years ago when I was in school. Two students got into a physical fight that I could only describe as vicious. They were punching, scratching and kicking each other to the point there was blood. At one point I thought one of them was going to get their neck broken it was bent back so far. HOW THIS INTENSE ANGER CAN suddenly show up in a person confounds me, yet I am guilty of experiencing it myself. Let me first say it has been a long time since I flamed up with this type of anger, but it would come out particularly when I was either trying to fix some item in the house or assemble a product I had recently purchased. I had bought this device that claimed it would unclog drainpipes without the need of drain opener solutions. It was not a big product but had several pieces that needed to fit together just right. My tools were laid out and I had looked over the instructions before I actually began to assemble the drain opener. What I thought would have been a simple thing to do went way longer than I anticipated, so I was getting agitated. Finally after attaching everything together I went over to the bathtub drain to try out the device. Placing the suction cup over the drain opening I did exactly what the instructions said to do. Nothing happened; I reset and tried again but I got the same results. I cannot describe it but this pulse of intense anger burst out inside of me and I slammed the device on the edge of the bathtub, breaking it apart. Not proud admitting this but I was done with it. At least my anger was directed towards an inanimate object, nothing like the main character in this dramatic thriller. MELINDA, PLAYED BY TARAJI P. HENSON (Proud Mary, Hidden Figures), always had a temper; her boyfriend discovered it early on. He promised never to upset her again, but that would turn out to be a tall order. With Lyriq Bent (Pay the Ghost, Rookie Blue-TV) as Robert, Crystle Stewart (Good Deeds, For Better or Worse) as Diana and Jazmyn Simon (Baggage Claim, Ballers-TV) as June; this movie was all about Taraji. She does angry with the best of them. If I were her I would be angry also because the script was so ridiculous. People in the movie theater were laughing and talking back to the screen because some of the things being shown were unrealistic. There were no real surprises as the script followed a typical generic path to conclusion. If it was not for Taraji I would have been totally bored. Writer/director Tyler Perry (Madea franchise, Meet the Browns) picked the right actress for the role; sadly it was a role in a film I could not even get angry about for wasting my time because it was just blah.
1 ½ stars
THE FIRST TIME HE walked into the room everybody burst out laughing. He looked exactly like a well known movie critic. His costume was not one of those off the rack kinds; he had scoured resale and thrift shops looking for articles of clothing that were as close as possible to the ones the critic wore on television. With the help of a friend who was a hair stylist he not only looked the part but must have practiced for a time to portray the critic perfectly. He already had a good sense of humor so he had the guests at the party laughing at his spot on jokes, mimicking the critic to perfection. The next year when he reprised his movie critic costume it was still cute; but, it did not have the same impact as the first time. The jokes were still good but for the people who were at last year’s party, they sort of had an idea of what type of jokes he would tell the guests. When he returned a 3rd year with the same costume guests were so used to him they had a hard time reacting to his routine. TO TELL YOU THE truth his costume after a few years started to show some wear and tear. I was not sure if he used any of the articles of clothing in his daily life but there was a button missing from his sweater and the shirt color was starting to look darker than the rest of the white button down shirt. It reminded me of a friend who had to wear his older brother’s Halloween costume after the brother could no longer fit into it. We would go out trick or treating together and he would complain about the old costume. The colors had faded and one of the pockets had a hole inside of it. I never said anything to him but I agreed with what he was saying; the costume was old and tired. Who wanted to walk around in something that friends and family had seen a few times before? There really was no fun factor to the costume and the way he felt about it is the same way I felt about this comedic, horror sequel. NOT AGREEING WITH HER nephew’s decision Madea, played by Tyler Perry (Alex Cross, Good Deeds), decided to follow her great niece Tiffany, played by Diamond White (Sofia the First-TV, Transformers: Rescue Bots-TV), to what people said was a haunted campground. Madea would find more than just her great niece in this spooky place. With Cassi Davis (House of Payne-TV, Daddy’s Little Girls) as Aunt Bam, Patrice Lovely (Love Thy Neighbor-TV, Madea Gets a Job) as Hattie and Yousef Erakat (We Love You, Boo! A Madea Halloween) as Jonathan; this sequel did not offer anything new. Fans of Madea will probably still enjoy this movie; I on the other hand did not care for this film. There was a laziness to the script and directing that deflated the humor or what was supposed to be humor. Yes there were a couple of chuckles I admit, but that was it. From my viewpoint Madea has been this outrageous character who will say anything and come across with a strong physical presence. In this picture she just looked and acted tired. The script really was such a mess that I was bored for most of the time. At this point I do not know if Madea should stop going out for Halloween or simply retire and move away to an assisted living residence. How much more could she do?
1 ¾ stars
Plans were all set for you and your friends to meet up at the local amusement park. The weathercasters had predicted good weather and they were right, warm and sunny. You and your friends were excited about going to the park because there was a new attraction. Walking into the kitchen to get something to eat for breakfast you heard your mother talking on the phone. The conversation was just ending and after your mother hung up the phone she said your aunt, uncle and cousins were coming over in the afternoon. You explained your plans but your mother told you it would not be polite to leave when your cousins were looking forward to playing with you. If your cousins were coming over in the morning you were sure they would want to go with you to the amusement park; but coming later in the afternoon, you knew your friends would already be finishing up and going home. Not that you did not want to see your relatives but you were disappointed having to stay at home and miss out on the plans you made with your friends. I have had my share of similar disappointments, plus I can recognize that same type of dejected look on kids’ faces when I walk past the nursery at the health clubs where I teach. The face is easy to spot. You will see a child in the nursery who is older than the other kids. Sitting on the small chairs that look like miniature toys under their weight, the older child usually has their head buried into some type of electronic device as they totally ignore all the little kids playing around them. They are there because their parent came to work out or take a class and they did not want to leave their kid, who they felt was not old enough to be home by themselves. Most parents know their child is too old to be stuck in a nursery. I felt like one of those kids as I sat through this comedy horror film. MADEA, played by Tyler Perry (Alex Cross, Good Deeds) agreed to watch her nephew’s daughter Tiffany, played by Diamond White (Haunted Hathaways-TV, Sing It!-TV), during Halloween. Dealing with an uncooperative child was only a small issue compared to the zombies, poltergeists and creepy clowns Madea would encounter. For the amount of time Tyler has devoted to his Madea character, I would have thought every possible scenario of trouble Madea could find herself in would have been covered. I do not know about this story but I found it redundant. It was the same type of humor and stunts to the point I did not find much to laugh about. With Cassi Davis (House of Payne-TV, Madea’s Big Happy Family) as Aunt Bam and Patrice Lovely (Madea Gets a Job, Love Thy Neighbor-TV) as Hattie, the humor was lost on me. Part of the reason may have been the difficulty in understanding some of the dialog. It was not very clear to me. For those who are fans of Madea you might enjoy this picture. Sitting through this movie was like getting a rotten apple instead of candy for Halloween.
1 2/3 stars
It began with a glance across the room as locked eyes pushed the other guests to the side. An easy bantering that produced chuckles and laughter that cropped up like hot, bursting popcorn soon led to a steaming up of the room. The two of you held a second conversation with your eyes; each of you feeling you found that special person who would stand shoulder to shoulder with you. Effortless and effervescent, each time the two of you were together you both shed the remaining layers of your defensive protection, revealing souls quite similar to each other. Agreeing and wanting to spend the rest of your lives together, both of you settled into joyful and playful lovingness. The first couple of years flew by as the two of you easily rode the waves of daily life, your love always ready to throw you a life preserver to keep you afloat. As the next couple of years rolled on by, a veneer of automatic expectations dulled the shine of your love. It was not an intentional action, just the strength of familiar routines dulling your heart’s love. Sadly, during these times one may not recognize what they have until it is gone. COMING home to discover his wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike (Surrogates, The Devil You Know), missing with only a piece of broken furniture left behind; Nick Dunne’s, played by Ben Affleck (Runner Runner, The Town), only thought was finding her. However, once the authorities were involved some of the evidence they turned up placed Nick in a suspicious light, no thanks to the growing media frenzy that was surrounding him. Director David Fincher (The Social Network, Fight Club) created a suspenseful thriller that was filled with intense, dramatic scenes. I especially found the camera work ideal in keeping the intensity level of this movie high. In my opinion this was Rosamund’s best role to date; she was unbelievable which says something since Ben and Neil Patrick Harris (A MIllion Ways to Die in the West, The Smurfs franchise) as Desi Collings were excellent. Since I had not read Gillian Flynn’s novel that this film was based on, I was surprised by the different changes in direction. If one read the book first, I believe the movie may have less of an impact. Having a running time of nearly 2 1/2 hours and its slow start, I felt the movie could have been cut down a bit. With that being said, I did not forget the film after I left the theater; it still gave me much to remember. There were a couple of scenes that had blood and violence in them.
3 1/2 stars
Without some type of support system in place one can begin listening to their inner voice with doubtful ears. I am quite familiar with doubt; if left unchecked, it is an invasive weed that chokes the bloom off of my ideas. If I did not have supportive friends and family in place I do not think I would have had the courage to publicly post my movie reviews. Prior to starting my website I would email individual people my thoughts on a film. From my 1st public review to current ones I can see a big difference in the way I write them. I now find the earlier ones to be sterile and impersonal, none of my feelings were blended into the words. The evolution of my writing took place thanks to the positive responses I have received from so many different people. A kind word is one of the best ways to stop the spread of doubt. I thought the concept for this comedic drama was a wonderful idea. Any single parent could use a supportive group of individuals around them and I was curious to see how writer/director Tyler Perry (The Family That Preys, Madea franchise) would handle the situation. The answer would be with a heavy hand and humor at the lowest level on the comedy scale. I was actually surprised on how bad this film was on so many levels. It followed such a formula that I cannot imagine much time was devoted in the making of this picture. Let us start with individuals from multiple ethnic groups so the movie could attract a wide audience, check this off the list. Next make sure you have moms from a low to high economic status so we could see how poor and wealthy people have the same problems. Now throw in male characters as some type of love or former love interest so we could observe the challenges a single mom has when it comes to relationships and there you have it: a boring, lackluster, trite and lazy movie. I felt sad for the cast that included Nia Long (The Best Man Holiday, Boiler Room) as May, Wendi McLendon (Bridesmaids, Rules of Engagement-TV) as Jan and Amy Smart (The Butterfly Effect, Crank franchise) as Hilary. After sitting through this movie, where the best part was the outtakes during the ending credits, if I could have found a support group for traumatized film goers of poor quality films I would have signed up.
1 1/2 stars
This past Oscar season I have discovered new things about myself. From the nearby couple who kept talking during the movie I learned restraint; instead of asking them to look around and notice they are not sitting at home in their living room, I quietly whispered the “shhh” sound. During a particularly tedious film I realized I could do several yoga poses if I lifted up the armrests of my seat. Due to my keen observations I figured out to never sit near anyone who is carrying a large bag, purse or backpack; they inevitably have food in them, from candy to full size meals and cannot help but make munching, slurping or crunching noises. There is one other thing I learned and that is realizing how strong my determination can be. No matter how awful the film, I refused to nap or get up and walk out of the theater. As a result I have seen a whole bunch of movies I would normally never bother seeing. So I am going to try something new here and predict the Golden Raspberry Awards, also known as the Razzies. These awards for the worst performances and picture were started in 1980 by the American copywriter and publicist J.B. Wilson. If nothing else consider this my little gift to you in the form of a cheat sheet on what to avoid, thereby saving yourself time and money. Without further ado please find below the winners for the worst of last year.
Worst Actor: Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger
This was close since Johnny was up against Sylvester Stallone who was nominated worst actor in three different movies. I chose Johnny because he coasted through this role, bringing nothing of value. Sylvester was simply trying not to act his age in boring movies.
Worst Actress: Halle Berry in The Call and Movie 43
With Naomi Watts being nominated for Diana and Movie 43, this could easily go her way. Both women were awful in their films. I did not see nominee Lindsay Lohan in The Canyons.
Worst Supporting Actor: Chris Brown in Battle of the Year
A pathetic performance for a silly film.
Worst Supporting Actress: Kim Kardashian in Tyler Perry’s Temptation
All my classes know not to mention the “K” word; not one family member’s name shall ever be uttered during class. So it kills me that Kim gets the award.
Worst Picture: Movie 43
I was torn here between this film and The Lone Ranger. Both would be suitable for worst film of the year; however, I went with Movie 43 because I found it offensive. The Lone Ranger was simply dumb.
May you avoid these lame movies unless you have a white elephant movie party, where everyone sits around and makes fun of the film.
Part of being a friend is being a sounding board for them. I have learned that it is best to offer advice when asked, but to never tell a friend what they should do. In fact, the word “should” is something I have strived to eliminate from my vocabulary. Besides offering help when I am asked, I have depended on the advice from friends to provide me a clearer picture to a variety of dilemmas I have encountered. I do not know if the right side of my brain is more dominant than my left, but some of the solutions I come up with to a problem tend to be more creative than reality based. Gratefully the advice my friends offer me is direct and cuts to the heart of the matter, bringing clarity to my concerns. I do the same thing for them as I have been know to say, “What is the bottom line?” The question cuts to what will it take to make them comfortable with their decision. Not one for having things sugarcoated, I have appreciation for the directness in the way Madea doles out her advice. Played by Tyler Perry (Alex Cross, Good Deeds), Madea agreed to take a trip with her friend Eileen, played by Anna Maria Horsford (Our Family Wedding, Broken Bridges) to Alabama where Eileen was going to surprise her daughter Lacey, played by Tika Sumpter (Salt, What’s Your Number?), for Christmas. Arriving at their destination would not only be a surprise for Lacey, but would be for the small country town once they got a dose of Madea. This latest dramatic comedy in the escapades of Madea was as tired as a bloodhound on a hot summer day. I found the jokes predictable with the better ones having already been used in the movie trailers. To its favor, I am sure these films with Madea keep a positive economic stream flowing through the Atlanta area where the studio is located, keeping people employed. However, this film was stale from the start. At least I enjoyed Kathy Najimy (Sister Act, Hocus Pocus) and Larry the Cable Guy (Witless Protection, Delta Farce) as wife and husband, Kim and Buddy. For me the best part of this film was the gag reel used during the credits. I know Tyler is not interested in my advice, but I feel Madea needs a makeover for a fresh new look.
1 1/2 stars
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