Friday, August 26, 2022

Movie review: Disney+’s ‘Lightyear’ the story of a man who becomes a toy

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG
Runtime: 1 hour, 40 minutes

It’s 1995 and a little boy named Andy is about to receive a new and exciting toy for his birthday. This toy is based on a movie about a Space Ranger. This movie is his story.

Disney+’s “Lightyear” is all about the adventures of the one and only Buzz Lightyear, a heroic Space Ranger and how he comes to grips with failure, why he considers it important to keep trying and the importance of friends – in every form.

Like so many Pixar movies, it works on a level that I think both kids and adults can enjoy. “Lightyear” stars Chris Evans, Keke Palmer, Peter Sohn, Taika Waititi, Uzo Aduba, Keira Hairston, Dale Soules, James Brolin, Isiah Whitlock Jr., and Bill Hader.

Commander Hawthorne (Aduba) and Buzz Lightyear (Evans) are set to explore an uncharted planet where sensors have detected potential lifeforms.

Suddenly, they are attacked. Things go badly.

After a full year of being marooned, the crew has put the planet’s resources to use. Buzz is ready to leave though; his first hyper-speed test flight is a go.

He is granted four minutes off the planet, and it doesn’t go as planned. When he returns to the planet, he realizes that time dilation occurred and four minutes for him was four years on the planet. Everyone is different.

Buzz still wants to correct this mission.

“We’re Space Rangers; we finish missions,” Lightyear tells Commander Hawthorne.

Unfortunately, he keeps failing. So much so that Commander Hawthorne leaves and a new stricter commander, Commander Burnside (Whitlock Jr.) takes her place. Commander Burnside says Lightyear’s mission is over. He will remain on this planet.

Lightyear goes rogue and leaves the planet. Afterward, he meets Commander Hawthorne’s daughter, Izzy (Palmer). She helps him escape from a Zurg robot ship.

Izzy has a team of Junior Patrol (Steel and Waititi), a volunteer team of self-motivated cadets, who are trying their best.

They must defeat Zurg and get off the planet, but their ship is busted.

They need each other in order to survive. Lightyear can’t do it alone.

I was skeptical about this movie. Buzz Lightyear has been a favorite of mine for a long time and while this is a companion to his story, I had trouble seeing him as more than a toy. Those feelings quickly diminished once I started watching. Action-packed with heart and emotional at times, “Lightyear” is another Pixar homerun as far as I’m concerned.

My only issues are little details that don’t line up with what we first learned about Buzz Lightyear.

Why would the toy have a different voice from how Buzz sounded in the movie? (No disrespect to Chris Evans).

Why didn’t SOX come with the Buzz Lightyear toy in “Toy Story?”

However, maybe I’m overthinking it. Actually, I’m definitely overthinking it.

Overall, I’d recommend this. Don’t compare it to “Toy Story” because I feel it’s a different storyline. It has a great cast and is worth two meat sandwiches – with the meat on the outside, bread in the middle – up.

Streaming on Disney+ and to buy. <

Friday, August 19, 2022

Mills announces Maine expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

During a virtual discussion with iconic singer-songwriter Dolly Parton at the National Governor’s Association, Maine Gov. Janet Mills has announced that the State of Maine is launching a statewide expansion of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in 2023.

Maine is launching a statewide expansion of Dolly Parton's
Imagination Library in 2023. The program is dedicated to
improving the lives of children by inspiring a love of 
reading with books and is free to enrolled  children and
their families. COURTESY PHOTO
The Imagination Library of Maine will mail high-quality, age-appropriate books to children from birth until age five every months, no matter their family’s income. The program is dedicated to improving the lives of children by inspiring a love of reading with books and is free to enrolled children and families.

As part of the recent bipartisan budget Mills proposed, and the Maine Legislature approved, a $200,000 investment to implement the program, which will be administered by the Maine State Library. Together, The Dollywood Foundation and the Maine State Library will develop an implementation strategy this year with local libraries, community non-profits, the Maine Department of Education, and school systems – to establish and expand the program in the coming years.

By the end of 2023, the State of Maine and the Imagination Library hope to have sent an initial 106,000 books to more than 14,000 children across Maine.

Maine is the 13th state to commit to achieving statewide coverage of the program.

“We know the simple act of reading to a child stimulates brain development, reduces stress and anxiety, builds vocabulary, and develops the literacy skills they’ll need to succeed in school and beyond,” Mills said. “Today, we are taking another step forward to help make that happen by delivering books free of charge to Maine kids. Maine is proud to join the family of states that participate in the Imagination Library. On behalf of all Maine children who will be served by this program in the years to come, I thank the one-and-only Dolly Parton.”

State library officials agree.

“The Maine State Library is excited to be able to administer this program that will eventually connect tens of thousands of families and Maine children with wonderful books sent right to their homes,” said State Librarian James Ritter. “Working with Maine’s libraries and other organizations, we will have the opportunity to foster and grow generations of young readers through the Imagination Library, and for every child that learns to read, we know we are helping to build a community of lifelong learners.”

The Imagination Library builds on the Mills Administration’s commitment to increasing childhood literacy in Maine, including investing $10 million through the Governor’s Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan to create and expand pre-school programs across Maine.

The Administration is also creating “Literacy for ME 2.0” to revamp its statewide literacy plan and the Maine Association for Improving Literacy to mobilize a network of educators who are committed to supporting statewide literacy efforts.

This summer, the Maine Department of Education will also be hosting its first ever Educator Summit to train our teachers in the most effective, evidence-based practices for increasing childhood literacy. Every year, the Department also sponsors the statewide “Read to Me” challenge to encourage adults to read to their children.

In 2019, about 57 percent of fourth grade students who are eligible for free or reduced lunch scored below proficiency reading levels while 33 percent of students who are not eligible for free or reduced lunch scored below proficiency reading levels. However, Maine is ranked fifth in the nation for the percentage of parents with children aged 0 to 5 who read to their children every day (46.9 percent).

Dolly Parton founded the Imagination Library in 1995 to distribute books to the impoverished Tennessee county where she grew up. The State of Tennessee quickly adopted the program statewide, and, since then, the nonprofit program has expanded into five countries. As of June 2022, the Imagination Library has gifted 184,615,046 books with over 2 million kids currently registered.

According to The Dollywood Foundation, 90 percent of a child’s brain is developed by the age of five, making that time period critically important for their development that can be enhanced by reading books. The Foundation notes that daily readings by parents or caregivers provide the greatest opportunity to prepare their child for school and that literacy is a major social determinant of health and economic impact in the long-term.

Since launching in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has become the preeminent early childhood book-gifting program in the world. The flagship program of The Dollywood Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has gifted well over 182 million free books in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and The Republic of Ireland.

The Imagination Library mails more than 2 million high-quality, age-appropriate books each month to enrolled children from birth to age five. Dolly envisioned creating a lifelong love of reading, inspiring children to dream more, learn more, care more and be more. The impact of the program has been widely researched and results suggest positive increases in key early childhood literacy metrics. Penguin Random House is the exclusive publisher for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

For more information, please visit <

Friday, August 12, 2022

Movie Review: ‘Uncharted’ a lot of pure fun

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: PG-13

Runtime: 1 hour 56 minutes

A disoriented man hanging out of a cargo plane, cargo falling out the back of the plane, several henchmen and a very expensive car. “Uncharted” opens in mid-air and from its start is a non-stop thrill ride. It’s fun, funny and a good time for viewers. Get the cat and gather round for a tale of mystery and adventure.

“Uncharted” stars Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Antonio Banderas, Sophia Ali, Tati Gabrielle, Tiernan Jones and Rudy Pankow.

Some 15 years prior to the disoriented man, Nate (Holland) falling from the cargo plane, he and his brother, Sam (Pankow) are getting into some trouble. And since this is the third strike for Sam, he’s being kicked out of the orphanage they reside in. Nate hasn’t seen Sam since.

New York: present day. Nate is a bartender with an extracurricular activity. He runs into Victor Sullivan (Wahlberg), or Sully, who makes him an offer he refuses. Sully may know Sam.

Sully tries to entice Nate by saying they could find his brother on this expedition to find Magellan’s gold. Nate eventually accepts. They use an ancient map that Nate and Sam have reveled over for years to take them to Magellan’s gold.

In order to begin their journey, they must first steal a cross-shaped key from an auction house.

It is here that the two meet Jo Braddock (Gabrielle), along with Santiago Moncada (Banderas) who are also in search of Magellan’s gold.

Sully gets a hold of the cross in less than legal ways. Nate and Sully head to Barcelona. Nate is introduced to Chloe (Ali), a pickpocket who is ambivalent about working with others – however she has the other key needed to take the three closer to the gold.

Moncada is upset he missed out on getting the cross and commits a horrible act.

Nate finds a possible clue as to the whereabouts of his brother.

Nate, Sully and Chloe open a tunnel and are the first ones to enter in 100 years.

Jo is not far behind.

The ancient tunnel does not lead where they expected it to. Chloe says she knows Sam. Chloe steals the map; is it possible she is a double agent?

Nate says he’s going to finish what he and his brother started, and he and Sully go their separate ways.

Then there is a lot of double-crossing.

Nate and Sully eventually meet back up. Nate realizes the clues to the gold might be in the postcards his brother wrote him after leaving the orphanage.

“Lost is not gone; there’s a difference – if something is lost it can always be found.”

I regret that I didn’t see this when it was in the theater, but even watching it on Netflix, it was a wild, adrenaline-fueled ride. Based on the videogame of the same name, the plot was reminiscent of a smaller-casted “Goonies”, minus Sloth.

The special effects were spectacular with breath-taking scenery. Stick around after the credits, as there is hint to the possibility of a sequel. From everything I read, it looks like it is very likely to happen. Even if you can’t see the original on the big screen, this is an energetic good time.

Two pieces of Bubblicious Gum up.

Available on Netflix. <

Friday, August 5, 2022

Author details family’s triumph over alcoholism at Windham book signing

By Ed Pierce

In a journey that took almost four years from start to finish, Ed Crockett was able to express his struggle to overcome the challenges of his father’s struggles with alcoholism in his book “The Ghosts of Walter Crockett.” On July 23, the first-time author met readers during an appearance at a book-signing event at Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop in Windham.

Author Ed Crockett appeared at Sherman's Maine 
Coast Book Shop in Windham on July 23 to promote
his memoir "The Ghosts of Walter Crockett" about
his family's struggle to overcome their father's
alcoholism. Crockett was joined at the event by
his sister, Marie Elder of Windham.
Crockett, a state representative from Portland and the president of Capt’n Eli’s Soda Company, published the book last fall and it recounts his struggle to emerge from a childhood of poverty and welfare as his siblings tried to stay afloat while their father was wallowing in alcoholic despair. His sister, Marie Elder of Windham, also joined Crockett at the book signing and they discussed how so many people relate to this book as it ultimately is a story of love and redemption.

“When my father passed in 2012, he was the feature obituary in the Portland Press Herald. The first line said, "Walter Crockett the biggest drunk in Portland," Crockett said. “Although that was true it was not the full story and certainly not his true legacy. Nobody knew that at the time of his death my dad had been sober for more than 30 years or that he had saved lives through Alcoholics Anonymous.”

He said that in his sobriety, the family had joked that nobody would believe the father’s story unless it was on the big screen.

“Shortly after his death I was reminiscing about my father with my teenage son, Ted, and told him Grampy's life would make a great movie,” Crockett said. ‘He looked at me, the wisdom of a teenager, and said, "Dad, it will never happen unless you do it.’ Those two moments prompted me to start writing.”

Crockett said that putting his family’s story into words helped release him from a troubled past.

“Writing this book freed burdens that I didn't even know existed,” he said. “It was very cathartic. Sharing my feelings was the most challenging. I enjoy talking about my mom and dad, but myself, not so much.”

He had finished his original manuscript of “The Ghosts of Walter Crockett” in 2016 and presented it to his kids and family.

“They encouraged me to share it with friends. In 2019 one of those friends, who had published a few books, asked if he could pass it on to his publisher. I said, "Thank you," Crockett said.

According to Crockett, he started the process of telling this story by trying to write a screenplay.

“I quickly realized I didn't know what I was doing and decided to write down what was in my head chronologically, listing key moments in our lives that intertwined then expanding on those moments,” he said. “It was done on weeknights and weekends. I was working full-time plus trying to get our soda business flourishing.”

Since it’s publication, the feedback Crocket has received about his book has been tremendous.

“It’s been 100 percent appreciative and encouraging,” he said. “It's been incredibly humbling and heartwarming. Everyone has a story. The things my family dealt with are very common. How relatable it is, is the most frequent comment.”

Through his book which is available at Sherman’s, Crockett said he’d like everyone to know that we all have people in our lives that are in a bad place.

“There is always hope. Let's not ever give up on each other,” he said. “The reward is priceless.”

Crockett’s family supports his writing the book and through its publication, something else interesting has happened.

“I've met three first cousins that I didn't even know existed. That has been really cool,” he said.

Currently Crockett is promoting the book and says although he doesn’t have any plans to write another, he does have some ideas percolating.

He said now that the book has been published and you’ve had some time to reflect on the entire publishing process, he’s very happy with the result.

“My editor was extremely helpful organizing the story and improving its flow,” Crockett said. “Being a memoir there wasn't any content to change, but there were healthy discussions on what rose to the top due to space and size.” <