Film Review: Goosebumps 2

Goosebumps-2-poster-819x1024We are a society that thrives on nostalgia; from our parents and friends saying “when I was younger…” before starting a really long story, to try to reproduce a television show, a movie, or a book that was already successful. We think if we stick to the past, what was once popular will be again. There is an old saying, “You can never go back.” When we try to recreate something it will never be and never is what it was.

Director Ari Sandel’s newest release Goosebumps 2: Hunted Halloween follows Sonny and Sam on their middle school adventures where they meet a mischievous dummy named Slappy. Slappy wants to be apart of a family, but when he doesn’t get what he wants he overruns the town with monsters, kidnaps Sonny’s mom, and creates a whole lot of trouble for the boys.

Being obsessed with these books as a kid and watching the show every week (and the reruns) on ABC Family, the attempt of this movie holds a special place in my heart, but the storyline was overreaching. The character Slappy never really wanted to be apart of anything. He wanted to control it. The writers Rob Lieber and Darren Lemke changed what made Slappy so terrifying. It almost made you feel bad for him because he just wanted to belong and when he got rejected I was half rooting for this conniving little puppet to reek havoc on everyone. You’re not supposed to root for the villain, but hey we all have opinions when watching a movie.

Goosebumps 2 is great for young kids. Gives them a little bit of scary during Halloween without terrifying them, and may even get them to read more! Before there was J.K Rowlings and Harry Potter, there was R.L. Stine and Goosebumps. Introduce the kids you know to the magical mind of the author R.L. Stine in his dozens of short books on situations that will make you want to scream and not be in the dark alone. Thank you, Stine, for making me a paranoid child and a very aware adult walking through dark parking lots.  The millennial generation appreciates your guidance.

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The Greatest Showman – A Story of Risk, Belief, and Dreams

As the entertainment industry is drowning in its own turmoil and scandals, it is movies like The Greatest Showman that reminds us why we work in this industry.  The ability to bring to life a story that makes you fall in love, can take you on a journey in someone else’s shoes, and remind you that you should hold on to the million dreams that keep you awake.  Director Michael Gracey spent the last eight years perfecting his vision, finding the right lyricists, piecing together the eclectic and talented cast, and hiring the right choreographer that gave the film the magical flare of the golden age of musicals back to the big screen.

Gracey introduces the audience to P.T. Barnum, beginning with his childhood struggles to starting the circus, but the story is more than one man and his life.  The Greatest Showman brings you into Barnum’s world that transcends into a dream, shows you all the people that he affected, lives he intertwined, the loyalty he created, and the essence of forging your own path and how it is never easy.  In musicals, it is the songs that carry a large part of the story.  The original soundtrack was written by Oscar and Tony Award-Winning duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul of critically acclaimed La La Land and Dear Evan Hansen.  Pasek and Paul developed an 11-song soundtrack that brings dramatic drums, staccato horns, melodic pianos, and lyrics that pull at your heartstrings.  In the early scenes, you are introduced to P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) and his wife Charity (Michelle Williams) starting as young children into adults as they daydream through a song called A Million Dreams.  It is through the start of this song you see the bigger than life vision that P.T. Barnum has for his family and the career he longs for:

“I close my eyes and I can see
The world that’s waiting up for me
That I call my own
Through the dark, through the door
Through where no one’s been before
But it feels like home”

One of the lines Jackman says is “no one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.”  This song sets the tone for the rest of the film by bringing you into an adventure of something that never existed and formed a show that made the freaks the extraordinary.  The bearded-lady (Keala Settle) character does exactly that.  She makes you feel for someone that has been shamed and made fun of her entire life.  We all have those moments where we feel like we aren’t worthy, or that you just don’t fit into the status quo:

“I am not a stranger to the dark
Hideaway, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Runaway, they say
No one’ll love you as you are”

At some point, we finally just stop caring what everyone else thinks and realize that being just who you are is enough.  That doesn’t happen for everyone.  In the end, it is about your support system.  The people that have your back.  One of the beautiful parts of this story is the loyalty you witness through the mistakes and betrayals that Barnum makes as a human.  The greed that takes over his better judgment.  The love and hope of change from his family, his partner (Phillip Carlyle), and the circus people who truly forgive his betrayals and mistakes.  The faith that we can have for humanity when one person believes that someone is special just as they are. Anne Wheeler (Zendaya) and Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron), two star-crossed lovers kept apart because of status and race, but feel that they are a perfect fit.  In the song Rewrite the Stars it is like you are looking through their eyes and falling in love too.  The emotion that these two actors have captured your heart in every action.  The smile that Anne Wheeler gives Phillip Carlyle when they first meet is magic.

“What if we rewrite the stars?
Say you were made to be mine
Nothing could keep us apart
You’d be the one I was meant to find
It’s up to you, and it’s up to me
No one can say what we get to be
So why don’t we rewrite the stars?
Maybe the world could be ours”

Even if musicals aren’t your thing, the story will be well worth the hours spent watching this film.

Searching…

med_searching_ver3Recently, the world was dealt the hand of losing another talented musician and rapper Mac Miller due to a drug overdose.  People come in and out of our lives through death, loss of connection, and/or lack of communication.  The film Searching really hits home on how loss can affect us as it focuses on a typical Asian family living in America during the technology age as the teenage daughter (Margot) goes missing mysteriously one evening after a study group.  The father (David Kim) desperately searches through emails, social media, and friends to find out that maybe he didn’t really know his daughter at all.

The story was predominately shot through a computer camera, chat messages, live-streaming, video recordings, and social media platforms such as Facebook.  I think the director really focused in on our obsession with social media and how technology is the center of human interaction.  The fear, paranoia, and hurt that can form when people can hide behind screens and make unruly comments and lie and think no repercussions can come back at them.  The mask you can wear behind a camera or through a chat room can change your perception of what those people’s lives are like.  Who they are?  How they think?  Even their motives for being online and doing what they are doing.

Searching shows what technology has done to our lives – the good and the bad.  It helps to create a mask, a mask which Margot hid behind for so long after her mother passed away from cancer.  Putting on a brave face for her father and moving past the pain and insecurity she felt.  She talked to people online that didn’t know her story, she took solace in the people that would let her vent without judgment, she distanced herself from most of the people that use to be important to her, and she became agreeable and compliant.  Margot became a loner because she didn’t know how to deal with the pain and in turn, it brought her into an even darker situation.

I don’t want to give you any spoilers, but Debra Messing’s character (detective in the Margot’s missing person’s case) has some skeletons in her closet.  Bravo Messing for a great performance!  The character, Detective Vick is very complex in her thought process on what is right.  The script is on point and the best advice that I can give you while you are watching the film is really listen to the dialogue, read everything that is typed, and pay attention to each character’s actions.  You get to understand their personal thoughts and feelings that they don’t share with anyone.  Their interactions, images, and tone of voice when they are talking to one another are vital to the story.  Attention to detail is key to solving the mystery.

TAG! – 5 Grown Men & The Game That Connected Them The Last 28 Years

tagAs we get older, we sometimes lose our inner child.  The part of us that makes us fearless, unwillingness to take no for an answer, and the unwavering loyalty we have to the people we call our best friends.  As a kid, there is no thought process, judgment, or questioning of why we are friends with people; it is more of a way of life.  Moving forward usually means changes to our group of friends, not staying in touch with people that we assumed would be in our lives forever, and huge life adjustments like being in serious relationships or having kids of our own.  The kicker is we subconsciously make those choices by ignoring a phone call, not responding to a text, or deleting an email assuming that the person who reached out will try again.

Recently, I finished watching the movie TAG.  A film based on a true story of five friends that had been playing the same game of tag for the last 28 years.  Seriously, this story was in The Wall Street Journal and a slew of other major publications back in 2013.   These five men had moved to different areas of the country, got married, had children, and were heads of major corporations.  Once a year for an entire month they would show up in random places to tag one another just like when they were kids to avoid not being “it” for another year.  Can you imagine flying 800 miles to hide behind a car or creating an insane disguise just to tag your friend for the sake of not being “it” the next year?  The 11-month strategy and planning that goes into a game that has been happening for 28 years has to keep all of them sharp and a little paranoid but more importantly connected.

The moral of the movie had nothing to do with the game of tag, but more about how invaluable they believed their friendship was to each other.  We have the ability in the 21st century to stay in touch with people that are important to us no matter where they are in this world.  We use life as an excuse.  I’m too tired to text you back.  My kids are more important than responding to this email that will take 5 minutes.  I need to watch the new Game of Thrones episode with my significant other instead of taking this phone call for 10 minutes.  I read an article the other day that said there are 86,400 seconds in a day and the author said this: “Every day we get up we are blessed with this amount of time to connect with the people that matter.  There are no refunds, no exchanges, and no roll-over to the next day.  There are also no guarantees you will be around tomorrow to experience another 86,400 seconds.”

There are 31,536,000 seconds in a year.  Use every second to connect.  Call your best friend from high school for 900 seconds, laugh through text in a college group chat and reminisce for 300 seconds, or spend 1800 seconds with your parents watching a sitcom on T.V.  Use the time that you have to relate to the people that made you who you are in this life.  To every person that made me who I am today – “I like you because you join in on my weirdness.”  I just have one question.  Are you ready to be “it”?

I’m Breaking Free and Introducing Me…

This past weekend was a flashback to my childhood as Disney Channel had a whole weekend full of Disney Channel Original Movies in celebration of the 100th movie premiere. It is always the nostalgia that makes us wish for simpler times where memories flood back like a waterfall and you wished every day you could break into song for no reason without someone giving you side-eye.

The storylines don’t change much – finding yourself, learning that people are more important than things, and understanding that having integrity can lead to success. These popular television movies have catchy tunes that tie each story together, whether it is a full-blown musical or a theme song, it bring the soul alive and revives a little child in all of us.

Watching all these movies made realize that two songs really stand-out from the crowd for me which are “Breaking Free” from High School Musical and “Introducing Me” from Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam; both were written by the same person – Jamie Houston. Lyrically, these songs have a vulnerability to them. The ability to show someone your true self. In a world full of judgements and status quo, people constantly trying to put you in a box that formulates to their own images of who they think you are can make you feel like the walls are always closing in, but “Breaking Free” is a duet that creates a bubble that negative opinions can’t penetrate.

“You know the world can see us
In a way that’s different than who we are
Creating space between us
‘Til we’re separate hearts
But your faith it gives me strength
Strength to believe
We’re breakin’ free”

As an adult, have you ever notice that the first thing we ask people when meeting them is what do you do for work? In college, you ask someone where they are from? In high school, you ask someone what activities they are into, but in elementary school it simple. You ask someone if they want to play. When we meet people, we try anyway to connect with someone, but when you are young there are no walls up. You are an open book, honest and truthfully. Your heart is on your sleeve and telling someone your most intimate secrete isn’t terrifying.

“If you wanna know, here it goes.
Gonna tell you there’s a part of me that shows,
If we’re close, gonna let you see everything,
But remember that you asked for it.
I’ll try to do my best to impress,
But it’s easier to let you take a guess, at the rest,
But you wanna hear what lives in my brain, my heart,
Well, you asked for it
For your perusing,
At times confusing,
Possibly amusing…
Introducing me!”

Find something to hold on to. Beauty, art, and music are important, it gives people hope. So, in hopes that the rest of you let that wall down a little and really tell us who you are; here is a little about me:

Reading is my favorite past time
And I get truly excited when lyrics rhyme
Listening to violins brings me peace of mind
And when you smile I know it is all going to be just fine
So remember that I’m right here
No judgement from me should you fear
And in time that wall will come down
In hopes that laughter and imagination will always be around

For music click here!