page contents data-mobile="true" data-tablet-width="1100" data-tablet-small-width="840" data-mobile-width="640">
Log in

T.A. Moreland

T.A. Moreland

A Dog’s Journey, a mediocre adventure. | WHAT'S THE 411 MOVIE REVIEW

Hannah (Marg Helgenberger) mourns the loss of her son who was killed in an auto accident. The fact that his wife, Gloria (Betty Gilpin) and their young daughter CJ, are staying with her and her husband, Ethan (Dennis Quaid) helps the grieving mother get over her loss. However, Gloria becomes unhappy with the arrangement, takes CJ and leaves. At the same time, Ethan’s dog Bailey dies. As the canine departs this world, Ethan asks him to always look after CJ. Bailey keeps that promise. Living and dying multiple times, sometimes as a big dog, sometimes as a small one, he always manages to find and protect CJ.

A Dog’s Journey, a moderately entertaining film. Written by four screenwriters, the story is predictable and often drags along. This is not a film for kids. It covers mature and often painful topics.

The best part of A Dog’s Journey is the cast's extraordinary acting. Kathryn Prescott who plays the adult CJ and Gilpin in the role as her mother, are exceptional. Gilpin, 32, whose character ages throughout the film is only five years older than her on-screen daughter, Prescott who is 27.

What is also exceptional is cast diversity. This film gets an “A”. Asian American actor, Henry Lau has a substantial role as CJ’s lifelong friend. There are other people of color with important supporting slots.

A Dog’s Journey is rated PG for mature content, perilous situations, and off-color humor.

A Dog’s Journey is 108 minutes in length, and it gets a Rent It, rating.

Breakthrough comes through for viewers | What's The 411 Movie Review

If you’ve been watching TV over the last few weeks, you’re likely to already know the story of Breakthrough. The film is based on the true story of John Smith (Marcel Ruiz), a young teen, who falls through the ice which formed on a local lake. Underwater for 15 minutes, he incredibly survives what doctors call a miracle. His mother, a deeply religious woman, credits her prayer and faith for his survival.

To succeed, Breakthrough had its own obstacles to overcome, keeping viewers’ interest in a story in which the outcome is already known. Like John, it comes through.

Leading the cast is Chrissy Metz in the role of John’s mother. Metz is amazing! She dominates every scene she’s in, with determination and when necessary, confrontation. If you didn’t know better, you’d think this was real life and she really did have a kid whose life was at risk. Director Roxann Dawson or whoever is responsible for casting Metz should be commended. Metz like John’s real-life mother is full figured. Hollywood often opts for thin actresses when the real-life characters they play are overweight.

This story tugs on the viewers’ heartstrings. In this day of constant conflict among groups, it’s good to see this diverse community come together and root for John. But some of the locals asked John, why you? His school teacher pondered about the death of her husband who had no such miraculous recovery from an aneurysm.

John is on the high school basketball team and is also a fan of the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry. Of course, it had to be that way; Curry is Breakthrough’s executive producer.

Breakthrough earns an “A” in cast diversity. Dennis Haysbert plays the doctor who shepherds John through his miraculous recovery. And Mike Colter, who plays the first responder, had his own incredible experience when a voice spoke to him as he tried to rescue John. He thought it was his boss; it wasn’t.

Breakthrough gets a See It! rating. It comes together in an intriguing and heartwarming way. Breakthrough is rated, PG (for thematic content including peril) and is 90 minutes in length. And appropriately opens during the Easter holidays.

Little is Big on Entertainment | WHAT’S THE 411 MOVIE REVIEW

She’s the ultimate Alpha female, Jordan (Regina Hall) runs her highly successful tech enterprise mercilessly. She insults and constantly threatens her staff. She’s condescending to everyone else in her world. One day Jordan offends the wrong person who magically transforms her back to her 13-year-old self. After getting over the shock of this transformation, she realizes that even as a teen she has a business to run. So, she turns to the primary target of her abuse, April (Issa Rae), her personal assistant to serve as her guardian and to run the day-to-day operations of her business.

Little is simply a lot of fun and it gets a See It! rating. It’s funny and even as a comedy serves up superior acting. Marsai Martin of Blackish fame who plays the younger Jordan, rules! She personifies the teenage version of the iron-willed executive that we saw in the adult Jordan. Her performance is key to the success of Little. She also works her natural “do” throughout the movie. Marsai who will soon be 15-years-old in real life also is one of the film’s executive producers, and according to NPR that makes her the youngest one in Hollywood.

Marsai Martin as a preteen Jordan Sanders in the movie Little photo courtesy of Universal Pictures 700x487

Marsai Martin, as the preteen Jordan Sanders in the movie, Little. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

The rest of the creative team includes Tina Gordon, Will Packer, Kenya Barris, and Tracy Oliver. This group of African Americans should be commended for the creation of such positive black characters: Jordan has two married parents. There’s nobody on welfare or in jail. And no one calls each other the “N” word. Jordan definitely behaves like what many would call the “B” word, yet no one says it! (And they shouldn’t.) While this is definitely a female dominated story, the black men are upbeat and supportive of the ladies as they deal with their myriad of issues.

Little earns a solid “A” for cast diversity. It’s frankly one of the most diverse casts you’ll see. Which is also consistent with the fact the story is set in Atlanta. Little is rated PG-13 for some suggestive content and is 109 minutes in length.

Take a little time to see Little. You won’t regret it!

Pet Sematary, gets better with age | What’s The 411 MOVIE REVIEW

It’s been 20 years since the first film based upon Stephen King’s bestselling novel, Pet Sematary, was first released. In the 2019 remake, like the original story, Dr. Louis Creed (Jason Clarke), relocates from the fast pace of Boston, with his wife, Rachel (Amy Seimetz), son and daughter, to a quieter and more relaxed, rural Maine. Immediately, they find a pet cemetery burial ground hidden deep in the woods near the family's new home. A place where the locals have entombed their deceased pets and livestock for decades. When the family’s pet cat succumbs to a roadside accident, Louis turns to his reclusive neighbor, Jud Crandall (John Lithgow), for help in disposing of the feline. Jud, wanting to help relieve the family’s pain, sets off a chain of events leading to nightmarish results.

Pet Sematary, the handiwork of master scary guy, Stephen King, will entertain, scare and fascinate you! And it’s a See It! The fact that viewers are likely to have varying degrees of familiarity with the story is not a problem; as just the right amount of the original plot has been changed. And this familiarity piques viewers’ interest as to when, what they know will happen, is going to happen. Those who know very little about this film will still find it gripping.

The producers dug up a great group of performers. Horror films generally don’t require any acting range beyond a well-timed look of fear and authentic sounding screams. But Pet Sematary, demands more and Clarke, Seimetz and Lithgow provide it. Each character deals with his or her demons requiring them to behave in a way that convinces viewers of the deep anguish they each suffer.

Of course, there are some leaps in credibility. Like trucks driving at highway speeds on a narrow, country road where children and pets might be crossing. And why are horror films always set in remote areas? Why not in a high-rise apartment?

As to cast diversity, Pet Sematary gets an A-. The cast is small, and the film is set in an area which would likely have a small minority population. However, a black man has a major supporting and other people of color, smaller supporting roles.

It’s rated R for horror, violence, bloody images, and some language, and is 101 minutes in length. Pet Sematary is worth your while!

Subscribe to this RSS feed