FIRST introduced in the 1960s these toaster pastries have been sampled by millions of people. They were a novel idea; some ate them in lieu of a full breakfast, while others snacked on them between meals or as a dessert. I am sure the idea of having a convenient sweet item with a long shelf life was a revelation for many people. When they first came out there were only 4 flavors: blueberry, strawberry, brown sugar cinnamon and apple. Presently there is a variety of flavors and frostings to cover almost anyone’s taste preferences. Just on the news recently there was a report the manufacturer teamed up with a candy company to come out with candy flavored fillings in these pastries. My first reaction to this combination was negative. But as I thought about it I realized I had not had one of these pastries in decades. If there was a market for these flavor combinations, who was I to judge them? It was not like the other fillings were not sweet, so what would be the difference except personal tastes. WHENEVER something is going well, it almost never fails the company looks for other ways to cash in on their success. Take a look at the fashion industry; if a designer has success with their line of clothing pretty soon their name could pop up on kitchen products, home furnishings or sports related products. Personally the name is not what motivates me to make the purchase; it depends on value and worth for me, besides liking it or not. I sort of feel the same way about movies. If the story looks good, I would go see it regardless of who the studio cast for the roles. Since I enjoyed the previous movies by both of the actresses in this comedy, I was sure I would have a good time watching this film. The buzz surrounding this movie was the addition of the one actress who had been away from acting in pictures for over a decade. Everywhere you looked the talk was how the 2 main actresses would be great together. AFTER Emily, played by Amy Schumer (Trainwreck, Inside Amy Schumer-TV) was dumped by her boyfriend the only person she could get to take his place on the non-refundable vacation package she bought was her mother Linda, played by Goldie Hawn (The First Wives Club, Death Becomes Her). The trip would bind the mother and daughter in ways neither ever imagined. With Ike Barinholtz (Suicide Squad, The Mindy Project-TV) as Jeffrey, Wanda Sykes (Evan Almighty, Monster-in-Law) as Ruth and Joan Cusack (Working Girl, Say Anything) as Barb; the story started out fun. I enjoyed the style of humor and jokes. Unfortunately the story or to be more exact the script quickly went south, no pun intended. The majority of the scenes turned into a mixture of crudeness, silliness or non-believability. I was embarrassed for Joan in particular in regards to her role. It was such a waste of a prolific actress; which leads me to Goldie and her role. Though I was happy to see Goldie back in a movie and she really gave it a good try here, the script did her no favors. If the writers had focused as much energy on the script as the studio did on Goldie, something hilarious could have happened here. Instead I was left with very little to laugh about or enjoy.
1 ¾ stars
Walking into a room where the strangers are related to you by blood means nothing to a young child. It even sounds icky. I remember as a young kid meeting a relative who was 2 generations removed from me. She was quite short and frail looking with dull white hair tied up into a bun on top of her head. Taking my cues from the adults going up to her, when it was my turn to be introduced to her I carefully wrapped my arms around her when she came over to hug me. It was the only time I ever saw this person but I still have that memory. When one is a child, it can be a scary experience meeting some stranger who you were told is your relative. Before I had ever heard the word dementia I remember going to a nursing home to visit a relative. As I walked into the place the bright fluorescent lights sounded as if they were humming as the smell of bleach hit me like a moist fog. There was a woman sitting on the side dressed in a housecoat and torn sweater. She greeted us with a loud “howdy” and continued to say it over and over. I already was on edge and felt uncomfortable as we walked into a large dining hall. There were some people who were dressed up as if they were attending a fancy social function while others sat motionless while nurses tried to slide spoonfuls of nondescript food into their mouths. As a kid, visiting older relatives sometimes took on a scary aspect. BECCA and Tyler, played by Olivia DeJonge (The Sisterhood of NIght) and Ed Oxenbould (Paper Planes; Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day) were going to visit their grandparents for the first time. They hoped to document their time spent there and find answers to why their mother stopped talking to her parents years ago. This comedic horror film from writer and director M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, The Village) was a vast improvement from his recent movies. I particularly enjoyed the filming of this story, where certain things were just slightly out of focus while characters were being filmed off center. With Deanna Dunagan (Dimension, Running Scared) and Peter McRobbie (Lincoln, 16 Blocks) as Nana and Pop Pop, I thought the cast did an exceptional job with their characters. They added believability to the premise of the story. On the down side, I found some scenes lacked intensity. This may have been due to the mix of comedy with horror; in my mind they sort of cancel each other out. In addition I felt several stereotypical actions for shock value were just thrown into the mix. This was a step in the right direction for M. Night Shyamalan. My visits to relatives were not as scary as this one.
2 1/2 stars
That sinking feeling, where your heart is at it’s breaking point, when the person you love makes it clear your love has not been enough, it can be devastating. I have been on both sides of that love equation and either way it sucks. One thing I have learned from my experiences, has been to change the routine that we were following and get into a new regime designed solely for me. This was the movie’s premise. Amanda Woods, played by Cameron Diaz (My Sister’s Keeper, What to Expect When You’re Expecting), discovered her live-in boyfriend cheated on her. Iris Simpkins, played by Kate Winslet (Finding Neverland, Revolutionary Road), was shocked when the man she loved became engaged to another woman. As if they were following my advice, the two women were pushed to the brink and had to make a change. While looking online for ideas on where to take a vacation, Amanda discovered a home exchange vacation website. And the house she chose to exchange with was Iris’ home in England, far away from her LA place. But the online pictures did not show the women what type of extra amenities could be found in their new locations. I was pleasantly surprised by this film. Though the story was easy to figure out, with very few surprises; I thought the acting and directing was exceptionally good. Jude Law (Repo Men, Sleuth) did exceedingly well in his role as Graham, Iris’ brother. What gave this movie extra punch for me was the secondary story about old time Hollywood. Maybe you and I don’t have the luxury to take a swapping house vacation, to get away from a broken heart; but, this appealing movie certainly would provide a respite, giving the heart some needed nourishment.
2 3/4 stars — DVD
The title of this movie triggered memories of my own rebellious youth. I know in the scheme of things, my ways of asserting myself were rather tame–I would wear copper metallic pants my parents disliked and as soon as I graduated high school, I let my hair grow long, similar to Angela Davis in her heyday. Pretty much it is a given when Michael Cera (Juno, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) is chosen as he was for the role of Nick Twisp/Francois; we can expect wry humor with spot on comedic timing. Honestly, I think he has already been typecast for these type of characters. On a getaway trip with his mother and her current boyfriend, Nick encountered beautiful Sheeni Saunders, played by Portia Doubleday (Legend of the Mummy, Almost Kings), at the trailer park where they were staying. She became the object of his desires. But how far would he go, to make her the vessel that would lift him away from his burdensome virginity? There were no surprises in this movie; the performances were good and some scenes stood out for their humor. Overall, it was an enjoyable movie, there was just nothing new added to the story. I guess depending on how rebellious you were growing up will determine how much you enjoy this movie.
2 1/4 stars — DVD