Who played Alan Parrish in Jumanji?

Robin Williams and Adam Hann Byrd as Alan Parrish in Jumanji
Robin Williams and Adam Hann Byrd as Alan Parrish in Jumanji

Robin Williams played the older version of Alan Parrish, the boy who had been stuck in the game for 26 years. Adam Hann-Byrd played the young version of Alan Parrish.

Little needs be said about the iconic Robin Williams. He graced the screen in over 100 movies/shows and won an Oscar and numerous other awards before taking his life in 2014 at the age of 63. Few people have ever made as many people laugh as Robin.

Adam Hann-Byrd got his first acting gig in the movie Little Man Tate, with Jodie Foster, when he was only 9 years old. Four years later he played the young Alan Parrish in Jumanji. Since then, Adam picked up a few roles here and there, like Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, where he played the character Charlie — but he only has 14 acting credits listed. However, Adam also has 4 writer credits to his name, including 56 episodes of The Morning After.

What did the baseball represent in the movie Knives Out?

Knives Out - Baseball

I’ve seen Knives Out twice. During the first viewing I recognized the political subplot contrasting the virtuous Dreamer — daughter of an illegal immigrant — with the entitled, self serving, children of a rich father.

During the second viewing I watched closely, looking for symbolism that supported the subplot, of which there is a great deal, but one thing bothered me: what was going on with that baseball?

The baseball was prominently shown as a prop throughout the movie, passing anonymously from one character to another. But what did it represent? Well, nothing really, other than to act as a Rube Goldberg type prop that seemed to move randomly through the story but in the end tied up a loose end.

Let’s start from the beginning. Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer) calls his son-in-law Richard Drysdale (Don Johnson) into his study to announce that he is aware of Richard’s affair and insists that Richard tell his wife (Harlan’s daughter) or else he will. Harlan holds up an envelope with “L” written on it for “Linda.”

Of course Richard protests, but he has no power. Fortunately for Richard, Harlan dies that night. After being questioned by the police and detective Blanc (Daniel Craig), Richard goes into Harlan’s study, breaks into the desk drawer and retrieves the envelope. Inside he finds only a blank piece of paper. He chuckles to himself, puts the paper back, and then arbitrarily, in an act of defiance, picks up the baseball from Harlan’s desk and tosses it out the open window.

In the next scene we see the detectives outside discussing the case. Blanc spots the ball on the ground and picks it up and places it in his coat pocket.

The next day Blanc and Marta walk the grounds as Blanc looks for clues. One of the dogs approaches Blanc with something in its mouth. Blanc plays with the dog by pulling the ball out of his pocket and throwing it for the dog to chase. The dog drops what it has in its mouth and chases the ball. Blanc picks up the thing the dog had dropped and realizes it’s part of the trellis that climbs the outer wall of the house that leads to the hidden window. Blanc chases this clue while the dog chases the ball.

Cut to the next day. The family is gathered, expecting to hear Marta renounce her inheritance. Linda sits in a chair petting one of the dogs that has the baseball in its mouth.

The drama ensues with Blanc interrupting Marta’s renouncement of the inheritance.

In one short scene we see Linda take the ball from the dog’s mouth, and then return it to her father’s desk where it belongs.

Now, let’s flash back to earlier in the movie where Linda mentioned to Blanc that each of the children had to find their own secret way of communicating with their father. Turns out she wasn’t being figurative, but literally meant secret, because she and her father exchanged letters written in invisible ink.

As Linda replaces the ball on her father’s desk she notices the envelope with the “L” on it and takes out the blank piece of paper. She walks outside. As her son is escorted away by the police Linda uses a lighter to warm the paper, exposing the secret message, which informs her that her husband is cheating on her.

Richard threw the ball out the window, where it was picked up by Blanc, thrown again for a dog to play with, retrieved from the dog’s mouth by Linda and replaced on Harlan’s desk where Linda finds the secret letter her father had written telling her that Richard was cheating on her.

Case closed.

I knew the ball represented something, but it escaped me until after the movie I mentioned it to my wife, Vera. She gets all the credit for following the bouncing ball. 🙂

The political subplot in Knives Out that tells the real plot

Knives Out - MartaYou may go into Knives Out thinking it’s a murder mystery, and you wouldn’t be wrong, but that’s not what the movie is really about.

Let’s start by acknowledging that Rian Johnson, the writer and director, did a masterful job. Everything about this movie is top notch. In my book it’s a perfect A+++…

There are numerous flashbacks in the story but it’s never confusing. Everything fits together seamlessly and comes together in an unexpected ending.

The humor is outstanding and it feels real, not manufactured or forced, as it is in most movies that try to be funny.

The who-done-it aspect of the mystery is creative and not at all formulaic.

That’s all I can say without giving anything away. If you haven’t seen the movie yet then I hope I’ve convinced you it’s worth your time and money. Now go away because… SPOILERS AHEAD. I hope you come back later and read the rest, because there’s much more to this movie than meets the eye.

[ Spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned. ]

If you’re still reading I assume you’ve seen the movie. When did you notice that the movie wasn’t just a whodunit mystery but was also making a profound political statement contrasting immigrants/immigration against white entitlement? For me it was around the time the first family member, I think it was Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis), said to Marta, “I wanted you to be at the funeral but I was out voted.” (A very typically American way of saying: the reason you weren’t invited wasn’t that we forgot about you. We actually discussed it and no one wanted to include you.)

Right away we see the schism between the way Harlan (the father played by Christopher Plummer) has treated Marta and the way all his children treat her: dismissive. Marta is Harlan’s real confidant. The only one who really listens to him for who he is, not what he can do for her.

Oh but wait,” you say. Marta was employed by Harlan to be his caregiver. He paid her for what she gave him. Yes and no. We know from detective Blanc’s (Daniel Craig’s) questioning that Harlan paid her a flat fee and that initially she worked 15 hours a week but that her working hours grew over time, but not her pay. Sure, she was there for the income, not out of pure generosity. But she gave everything she had: an increasing demand on her time, her expert care, and her friendship.

In Harlan’s heart Marta, the child of an illegal immigrant (a Dreamer), became his daughter, while his genetic/legal family treated him like the money grubbing, entitled, untalented, self deluding, sycophants they are.

Question: what does Harlan represent?

I believe Rian Johnson, the writer/director, uses the character of Harlan to represent something along the lines of the American Spirit. He’s old; he’s successful; he’s wise in a way that he realizes he’s made mistakes and wants to try and fix them. He says to Marta that he was perhaps too generous to his children and didn’t encourage them enough to make it on their own.

Even Linda, the self made woman, is portrayed as successful only because her father gave her the business loan to get her where she is today. At the same time Linda looks down on her brother Walt, the publisher, for only managing what her father gave him, but never creating anything on his own.

Walt, I think, represents the portion of corporate America that wants to bleed the common people dry. Those corporations that don’t do anything creative or constructive themselves, but have a position of influence and wealth they can use to harvest the resources of America for their own gain. Just as Walt wants to harvest his father’s books into movies for greater profit while himself contributing nothing.

There’s a crucial scene in the movie where Marta is at the memorial service and has a flashback to the birthday party on the night of Harlan’s death. The scene starts in the middle of a family argument about immigration politics, apparently immediately after Joni, the daughter-in-law, said something negative about Trump, to which Richard, the son-in-law, responds, “I don’t like him either, but maybe he’s what we need.”

Joni is the ditzy family hanger-on that thinks she’s enlightened — the rest of the family tolerates her at best.  She’s the lone voice supporting the rights of immigrants during the family argument. However, when push comes to shove, she’s just as duplicitous and scheming as the rest. She has been taking advantage of Harlan’s generosity by double-dipping for her daughter’s college tuition.

There’s no point even discussing the young grandson Jacob who is a nazi wannabe. (Grammatically, the noun “nazi” should be capitalized but I’m not going to dignify it with a capital “N”.) I only wish instead of Richard saying that young Jacob was in the bathroom “masterbating to dead deer,” he had verbitized the noun master race to become, “Masterracing to pictures of dead deer.”

And then there’s Ransom. Oh, they did a number tightly weaving this character into both the mystery plot and the political subplot. Ransom is so undeserving that even his undeserving family thinks he’s worthless. Ransom cares for nothing other than maintaining his lazy entitled status, even if it means murdering the source that granted his status in the first place.

I’m extremely interested to know if Chris Evans was cast to play Ransom in this movie specifically because for the past 10 years he has played the role of Captain America. What a perfectly ironic twist from what Evans has represented.

The casting of Daniel Craig as detective Blanc is spot on, but I question the character’s background. Personally, I think it would have played better had Daniel Craig used his native British accent which I think would have suited him better as the independent observer in the movie.

Either way, Knives Out did a masterful job contrasting the Dreamer with White Entitlement and showing us that immigrants represent the true Spirit of America better than those who are at best dismissive of immigrants and at worst blame them for self inflicted problems.

If you would like to read a very thoughtful review from someone who experienced Knives Out much more poingently than any American caucasian, like myself, ever could then I highly recommend this piece by Monica Castillo in the New York Times: Why I Left ‘Knives Out’ With Emotional Whiplash.

Where is the house used in the filming of Knives Out?

Knives Out - interior scene - libraryThe interior scenes of the library, and other first floor scenes, were filmed on location at the Ames Family historic mansion in Borderland State Park, Easton, Massachusetts.  The three-story, 20-room stone mansion was constructed in 1910, largely at the direction of Blanche Ames.  Interior scenes in the upstairs rooms were filmed on stage.

The exterior shots were shot at an undisclosed location.

Knives Out - interior location at Borderland State Park
If you’ve seen Knives Out you can tell that this is obviously not the location used for the exterior shots of the mansion. This mansion at Borderland State Park, Massachusetts  was only used for the interior shots filmed downstairs. Upstairs scenes were filmed on set.

Clearly, the owners of the mansion used for the exterior shots want to protect their privacy. Considering the politically subversive message in Knives Out this is completely understanding given the current political climate.

Knives Out - exterior scene
Beware of dogs!

Movie Review – Frozen 2

Movie Review - Frozen 2Obviously, I’m not grading this movie based on how well I personally enjoyed it. I, a 52 year old man, live in a galaxy far, far, away from the target audience of pre-teen girls.

I’m confident that the aforementioned young girls will be delighted with every moment of the movie. In particular, I think my 6 year old niece is going to obsess over getting a water horse doll for Christmas. (Mission accomplished, Disney marketing department.)

That being said, I don’t think this movie will have the cultural impact the first did. Again, I’m not the target audience, but it didn’t feel like there was a musical number equivalent to “Let it Go” in this sequel.

Plus, the plot felt muddled. The first Frozen had very clear motivations for the characters. Frozen 2 has the plot complexity of a Fast and Furious movie: arbitrary plot devices as an excuse to have another car chase. Except in this movie it’s arbitrary plot devices as an excuse for another song.

I would suggest that mom and dad flip a coin to decide who “gets” to take the kids to see this. This isn’t Pixar. There’s not much adult entertainment. About the only relief we get are a few moments of Olaf wisdom that are chuckle-worthy.

Grade: A

About The Peetimes: No songs were used in the making of any of these Peetimes. 🙂 The three Peetimes we have are all pretty good, but we recommend the 3rd, and last, Peetime. The movie is really about 1 hour and 30 minutes long, not including the 12 minutes of credits.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Frozen 2. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (PG) for action/peril and some thematic elements
Genres: Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Sequel

Frozen Adventures You May Have Missed

Tom Hanks and Fred (Mr) Rogers are cousins

Ancestry.com has discovered that Tom Hanks and Fred Rogers are sixth cousins. That’s made all the more relevant due to Tom Hanks playing Fred Rogers in the critically-acclaimed movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. (Bringing a whole new meaning to getting into character.)

“It all just comes together, you see,” Hanks told Access Hollywood when the show informed him of the relation.

According to Ancestry.com, Fred and Tom share a 5x great-grandfather (Johannes Meffert), who immigrated from Germany to America in the 18th century.

At first glance, that seems pretty astounding, but when you consider probabilities of family trees overlapping, it becomes less and less impressive the further back in time you go. For instance, there’s nearly a 100% probability that any two people of European decent share an ancestor from 1,000 years ago.

And of course, if you want to get pedantic about it, that banana you had for breakfast was your 108-cousin. 🙂

Movie Review – A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

Movie Review – Won’t You Be My Neighbor

The 5 Best and Worst Films of Tom Hanks

What happened to Pete Miles – Ken’s son in Ford v Ferrari?

ford-v-ferrariPeter Miles was 14 years old — almost 15 —  at the time of his father’s fatal crash. Shortly after his father’s death, Peter went to work for Ken’s friend Dick Troutman at the Troutman and Barnes custom car shop in Culver City, CA. Peter worked there for 14 years.

Peter joined Precision Performance Inc. in 1986. He started out as a fabricator, and then became a mechanic, before advancing to the position of crew chief. Peter was the crew chief for Ivan Stewart when Stewart won the 1991 Nissan 400 in Nevada.

In a 2019 interview, Peter revealed that the last time he went to Le Mans was in 1965 with his father Ken.

Ray McKinnon in Ford v Ferrari – where have I seen him before?

Movie Review – Ford v Ferrari

Disney announces release dates for upcoming MCU Phase 4 movies and Disney+ shows

Marvel StudiosOkay, deep breath. Thanos is snapped away along with his minions, and Ironman (luv u 3000) is hanging out with his daughter in the Soul Stone.

That’s the past. It’s time to create new stories, heroes, villains and get the MCU Phase 4 underway.

Here’s the movie/TV lineup Disney has announced:

2020

black-widow-may-2020May 1st, 2020 – Black Widow

What we know so far: the story takes place between the events of Civil War and Infinity War.

Stars: of course, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow, and also introducing Florence Pugh (Angela in Malevolent, Saraya Knight in Fighting with My Family) as Yelena Belova, David Harbour (Jim Hopper in Stranger Things, Dexter Tolliver in Suicide Squad) as Alexei Shostakov / Red Guardian, Rachel Weisz as Melina Vostokoff…and oh yeah, this guy named Robert Downey Jr. may have a cameo as Tony Stark.

eternalsNovember 6, 2020 – The Eternals

What we know so far: It introduces the Eternals, a race of immortal beings who lived on Earth and shaped its history and civilizations.

Stars: Angelina Jolie as Thena, Richard Madden (Robb Stark in GOT) as Ikaris, Salma Hayek as Ajak, Gemma Chan (Astrid Young Teo in Crazy Rich Asians) as Sersi, Kit Harington (Jon Snow in GOT) as Dane Whitman, Kumail Nanjiani (Stu inStuber, in Silicon Valley) as Kingo, Lauren Ridloff (Connie in The Walking Dead) as Makkari, Barry Keoghan (George in Dunkirk) as Druig, Brian Tyree Henry (Jefferson Davis in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) as  Phastos, Lia McHugh (Jessica Nolan in American Woman) as Sprite, and Dong-seok Ma (Sang-hwa in Train to Busan) as Gilgamesh.

falcon-and-winter-soldier-show-disney-plusNovember 12, 2020: The Falcon and Winter Soldier on Disney+

What we know: Kari Skogland (The Handmaid’s Tale) will direct all six episodes of the series.

Stars: Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan will officially reprise their roles as Sam Wilson (Falcon) and Bucky Barnes (Winter Soldier) in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. Daniel Bruhl and Emily VanCamp will both be joining the cast — reprising the roles they played in Captain America: Civil War.

2021

Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten RingsFebruary 12, 2021 – Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

What we know: an introduction of the Marvel Comics character Shang-Chi the Kung-Fu Master. In the comics Shang Chi’s main power was really just a skill: the ability to rapidly master forms of combat. Although in later years, he did gain the power to replicate himself, which could come in handy. It’s unknown if the MCU will duplicate that power from the comics.

Stars: Simu Liu as Shang-Chi and Tony Chiu-Wai Leung as The Mandarin.

wandavisionSpring 2021: WandaVision on Disney+

What we know: There will be six episodes that follow after the events of Avengers: Endgame. It’s unknown how they will explain Vision’s return after he was killed/unstoned by Thanos at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. We do know that the events of WandaVision will cross over into the events of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which premiers around the same time.

Stars: Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany will reprise their roles of Maximoff and Vision. They will be joined by Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis from the Thor movies and Randall Park as Agent Jimmy Woo from Ant-Man. In addition Kathryn Hahn (Afternoon Design, Bad Moms) will also be joining as a “nosey neighbor.” Teyonah Parris is cast to play the role of Monica Rambeau — the young girl introduced in Captain Marvel.

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of MadnessMay 7, 2021 – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

What we know: the plot is unknown but it will involve a crossover with the Disney+ show WandaVision.

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Strange/Doctor Strange, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer (Strange’s girlfriend from the first Dr. Strange movie), Benedict Wong as Wong, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo, and a To-be-confirmed actor as Nightmare.

Who is Nightmare, you ask? In Marvel Comics, Nightmare is a Class 3 demon —equal to Dormammu, Shuma Gorath, and Cthulhu — who rules the Nightmare World, located within the Dream Dimension. Nightmare feeds off humanity’s collective psychic dream energy, and terrorizes humans and superheroes alike.

Loki on Disney+Spring 2021: Loki on Disney+

What we know so far: Tom Hiddleston will reprise his role as Loki, even though Thanos killed him in the first scene of Avengers: Endgame. But remember, later in the movie the Avengers go on their time travel adventures —  and Loki ends up holding the Tesseract and disappearing with it.

Hiddleston said: In the years since Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, which came out this Spring… Two questions I’ve been asked are ‘is Loki really dead?’ and ‘what’s Loki doing with that cube?’ It’s always the cube somehow. And this series will answer both of those questions.

Spider-Man-3July 16, 2021 – Spider-Man 3

What we know: not much. The good news is that Spider-Man is returning to the MCU at all. The bad news is this is likely his last solo movie in the MCU. The plot is unknown, but will likely pick up on the ending of Far From Home, where Spider-Man was revealed to the public to be Peter Parker. And since Sony and Disney aren’t playing very well with each other, this movie might reveal why Spider-Man won’t be continuing as an Avenger. Unless Disney buys Sony and makes this whole mess go away.

MCU What IfSummer 2021: WHAT IF…?

What we know: this is the first animated adventure in the MCU. The first season will have 23 episodes that explore what would have happened in previous MCU stories had things gone differently.

Stars: Jeffrey Wright (West World as Bernard, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as Beetee ) stars as the Watcher, who narrates the series.

Thor Love and ThunderNovember 5, 2021 – Thor: Love and Thunder

What we know: Director Taika Waititi, who did Thor: Ragnarok, is back. So is Natalie Portman as Jane, only this time she’s going to level up and gain the powers of Thor herself. (50/50 odds that she cries at some point.)

Stars: Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tessa Thompson as Brunnhilde/Valkyrie, Natalie Portman as Jane Foster/Mighty Thor, Taika Waititi (the director) as Korg.

hawkeyeFall 2021: Hawkeye on Disney+

What we know: The show will act as a passing of the baton as Clint Barton ( Jeremy Renner) passes the title of “Hawkeye” to a new character: Kate Bishop. Kate is rumored to be played by Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, Enders Game, Bumble Bee), but that is not yet confirmed.

Note: Disney+ series for Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, and Moon Knight are also in the works, and will debut after Hawkeye.

2022

October 7 – untitled movie

I’m going out on a limb to speculate that there will be more than one MCU movie released in 2022.

2023

February 17 – untitled movie
May 5 – untitled movie
July 28 – untitled movie
November 3 – untitled movie

Marvel Phase 4 Predictions – Some MCU Sure-Fire Guesses

Ray McKinnon in Ford v Ferrari – where have I seen him before?

Ray McKinnon - Ford v Ferrari
Ray McKinnon as Phil Remington in Ford v Ferrari

The actor Ray McKinnon plays Phil Remington in Ford v Ferrari — Le Mans ’66 for those on the right side of the Atlantic.

Ray McKinnon may not be a household name — I had to look him up myself — but I recognized him straight away when I saw him because he plays a very similar character in Apollo 13. Which coincidentally enough takes place at roughly the same time period — Ford v Ferrari takes place in 1966-67 and Apollo 13 takes place in 1967-1970.  I guess Ray just has that “I’m an engineer look,” about him — whatever that might be like.

Ray McKinnon - Apollo 13
Ray McKinnon as Jerry Bostick – FIDO White – in Apollo 13

Ray has quite an extensive filmography, including 83 actor credits, from Sons of Anarchy to The X Files.

Check out this interview with Ray discussing his work in Ford v Ferrari.

Watch the trailer for Ford v Ferrari.

Read my movie review of Ford v Ferrari (Grade: A+)

What happened to Pete Miles – Ken’s son in Ford v Ferrari?

Movie Review – Ford v Ferrari

Movie Review - Ford v FerrariIt’s not often that a movie gets perfect marks on writing, acting, and directing, but — pardon the pun — Ford v Ferrari hits on all cylinders.

No one could ask for better chemistry between the two A-list movie stars Matt Damon and Christian Bale. Every scene they had, both together and apart, was perfect.

The writers Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth worked together on The Edge of Tomorrow — another great movie — and they’re joined by Jason Keller. I hope these three get together for a few more projects because they nailed this one.

Director James Mangold added another great job to his resume, along with Logan, Knight and Day, (a sleeper of a fun movie with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz) Kate & Leopold, and Girl, Interrupted. Mangold turns out some quality work on a regular basis. I hope he stays busy because we need more quality in theaters these days.

Finally, editors never get the credit they deserve, but this is a 2 1/2 hour movie that doesn’t feel nearly that long. Andrew Buckland, Michael McCusker, and Dirk Westervelt should be on the short list for best editing come Oscar season. (And we managed to find plenty of good Peetimes for the RunPee app.)

Movie Review – Edge of Tomorrow (Live. Die. Repeat.)

Movie Review – Logan

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: This is a long movie and deservedly has 5 Peetimes.

I think the 3rd and 5th Peetimes are best.

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Ford v Ferrari. (What we mean by Anything Extra)