Sunday, June 5, 2022

Thank you Kearney, Goodnight.

I love this song by Jacob Johnson.  It is beautiful and feels poignant and has been playing in my head.

Today is my last day as Annette in God of Carnage for Crane River Theater in Kearney, NE.  It has been a beautiful ride, and I am ready to get back to my husband.  I miss him like crazy.  Real-life is calling and I have to answer it.

I will admit to having some conflicting emotions as well.  

The theater is such a special place.  For those who love it, acting is breathing.  It is a moment to be.   For me, it is when my brain is most clear.  I am creative.  I am content.  What a lovely, ephemeral, world.  

Seriously, I have exercised, played my guitar, and written.  All those things I have to fight to make time for, I just do.  Oh, my gracious it is great!

I had a great group to work with on this go around, and so the three weeks I had have flown by like a flash of lightning.  It always works like that.  Someone pieces together this little family and you build this rapport.  It is as if all of you have found shared stress and anxiety to be your love language.  In a dark, usually dirty, room there comes light and life.  For one brief, beautiful moment, it is beautiful.  Like lightning or a firework.

Sure there are mistakes.  Cues are missed, props or sets are broken, and people fall.  But it is all part of the glorious nature of theater.

My husband knows of the tears shed when the show is over.  I need some time to mourn.  Maybe it is silly.  I always felt things very deeply.  

You build this person, this character, and suddenly you have to let that go.  You get in this groove, and as suddenly as it started it is over.  It's hard.  I have trouble "letting the beauty die" as it were.  There is also knowing that this may be the last time I see these people, and I get attached.  For someone who can't stand people I really do love the ones I find.

I am separating from my stage family again.  Yes, there is Facebook and I will be stalking all of them when I can.  Yes, there is hope that I will find myself in this little town doing another show with some of the same familiar faces.  There is hope I will keep expanding this weird family.  I hope.  I hope.  I hope.

Friday, May 20, 2022

Confessions of a G-List Actress-Summer Time, and it is a long, winding road on the path of constant gig employment.

A question, is there a word or a term for the fact that when you get an acting job everyone suddenly needs you every day? You want to prepare for a life in acting. Learn this phrase: "You want fries with that?" Yeah, it is a joke but it is based in a serious reality. Most actors have a day job, usually waiting tables or bartending. You have to because acting is expensive and inflation is not slowing down. Some teach acting or singing. Many film actors work on crews as costumers, grips, or makeup artists. Some will step into other sectors because it is nice to not have to work a 14-hour day and then come back and tape five auditions. I have two jobs right now other than acting, technically three but I am waiting for a few CPR classes to pop up. Talent only gets you so far, yadda, yadda...

I do often wonder why it is, whenever I am about to go off to work for any amount of time, that is when everyone needs me to work. All hands on deck. We need you for the next five weeks. You can't ask for time off. This is also why so many actors get jobs they can easily leave. Because acting always is the most important.

A month ago I signed a contract to perform at Crane River in Kearney, Nebraska. Their summer season includes one of my favorite shows, God of Carnage. Seriously, I adore this show. It is funny, irreverent, and fast-paced. I get to perform as Annette, a role made famous on Broadway by Hope Davis. I am so excited to be a part of this. 

So the planning begins. 

I need to get to Nebraska. Kearney, Nebraska. Exactly 1,126 miles from my front door. No big. I will just fly, right? I hate flying personally but am willing to get a valium and get on a plane to fly into town. However, after looking at my options, Kearney only has two airlines that fly into town and a round trip plane ticket runs at almost $800 per person. Seems a bit high a month out.

Yay for a driving weekend. I get meditative when I drive. I have my audiobooks and podcasts. I have my script to memorize on an app that can help me memorize. I like watching the scenery go by. If I need to get off the road and stretch my legs, I can. It is a long drive, but I have done thirteen hours before, what's another five?

Sure, it is the week that both my parents and my in-laws decided to take a summer beach vacation at different beaches in NC. This travel weekend also happens to be when two theaters I have worked for before are having their season in-person auditions. Thank goodness for taped auditions. And the following weekend five more theaters are having in-person auditions. Once again, yay taping! I could actually write an entire thesis on this, I will call it the theory of competitive scheduling.

Crane River is taking care of my housing. Summer stock is good that way. I have my own apartment and I am looking so forward to having a few weeks of acting. It resets me and balances things. Like meditation, but for an artist. I still have to have places to stay along the way so I plan for a few places to stay over the trip. I find it odd that particular weekend is so expensive, but I let that go. $300 for a hotel room in a 2-star hotel? What is going on?

I get a copy of the script and start to cram all the words into my brain. Wow, she speaks in non-sequitur. We only have two and a half weeks of rehearsal and the show is four people on stage almost the entire time talking over one another. I start a list of what I want to take with me. General planning.

Then, present life takes completely over. For an entire month, I am working every single day of the week. If I am not at the bar or PCOM GA (Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine Georgia) I am in a meeting for the World Water Short Film Festival, which by the way, you need to check out. Or I am doing acting coaching for a friend's short film. 

Something to know about me: I over-extend myself a lot, something I am constantly working on. So other than working on my lines every free second I don't really get to relax and pack. It's unfortunate.

Sunday, my phone died. This stinks because I had business in NC on Monday, which I now have to reschedule to Friday morning since I have no other morning available. I get up on Monday, get a new phone, and drive to work. Next day, work all day. Next day, work all day. The next get the point. 

By Friday, I am exhausted. I have slept, but I can't sleep well if I know I have an alarm ready to go off. I get up, drive an hour and a half to NC, take care of business, and drive back to Atlanta just in time for my husband to drive us to PCOM, where we work. Once we are finished we head back to the apartment and I grab my bags, which I had packed very hastily the night before.

I give my husband a hug, I hate leaving him this long, but he is going to the beach and I get to act.  We both get to do things we love doing.  I climb into my car and drive.  

The drive for Friday is really short.  I am just going to Chattanooga, TN.  A mere two hours away, but I want to get a few hours under my belt, and that still puts me at having been in a car for over six hours, just on Friday.  I get to my destination, the Crash Pad.  Technically, it's a hostel.  I have stayed in one before.  It's like being in a sleep-away camp.  

I get a queen-size upper bunk with privacy curtains and access to the internet.  The girl staying below me is amiable.  She's been there for a week.  I am too hungry and tired to talk.  I run next door to the Flying Squirrel and grab some quick dinner.

I am so tired I barely eat anything, but there is a fridge in the kitchen and so I write my name on the top and go to my bunk.  I watch the most recent episode of Under the Banner of Heaven and fall asleep.

The next morning I wake up at 8:30am.  No surprise since I fell asleep at 9:30pm.  That was a hard sleep.  I didn't move once I fell asleep.  

I grab all my things and start the drive from Chattanooga.  I text my husband, he is checking in and will be checking throughout the day.  

I know I have to make it to Kansas City, MO.  I am excited to get into St Louis.  I have always wanted to see the arch and I really want to go up to the top and take pictures.  On this day I will pass through Georgia(for some reason the freeway from Chattanooga temporarily goes south), Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri.  Five states in one day. Here we go.

I can salvage my food from the night before so I throw it away and opt for a coffee and protein box from Starbucks.  The drive through Tennessee is the most grueling.  You change time zones in Tennessee before even getting to Kentucky.  Somewhere in the middle of the state, the change occurs and suddenly time reverses.  

It takes forever to get to Nashville, and that city is one big traffic jam.   It takes an extra hour to get through, at 1:00pm on a Saturday.  

I get to Kentucky.  I have been trying to collect screenshots of the Google Characters that welcome you to each state and I totally miss it.  Kentucky, on my route, is all farmland.  Rolling farmland with huge billboards selling bourbon.  Do you what you know.

It's actually a really pleasant drive.  I have currently listened to "God of Carnage" twice for lines and finished up "Going Poastal" by Terry Pratchett.  I am ready for Illinois when it comes up and get my little Welcome Icon.

Illinois surprises me.  I think of the state and think Chicago, but my route is even more desolate with fewer gas stations than in Kentucky.

I don't see a city until I reach St Louis, MO.  once again I miss my welcome icon between running lines and looking for the Arch.  This was the thing I have wanted to see all day.

I see it looming and it is actually smaller than I thought it would be.  The Statue of Liberty looms at 305 feet and the Arch is 630 feet for some reason, surrounded by the buildings, it looks smaller.  Parking is hard, but I find it and walk through the beautiful park to the monument.  I try to buy a ticket and they inform me they are sold out for the day.  Annoying, I will catch it on my way back.  There are tons of exhibits to look at in the free museum on the bottom floor and so I can be on my feet for at least an hour to stretch and read about Louis and Clark.  
It really is amazing how it was built.  The history is fascinating and the size of the pods they use to take you to the top is TINY.  I stepped into the out-of-commission pod they have in the entrance and I couldn't stretch my neck straight.  They are small pods.

You don't really realize how tall this monument is until you are underneath it.  It has a certain sparkle to it.

I am starting to feel the road.  My internal clock thinks it is 7:00 and it is actually 6:00pm.  I look at the map and I still have an almost four-hour drive to Kansas City.  I figure it is worth the loss of funds to try and get a closer hotel so I start driving.  A friend of mine calls and we chat for about an hour.  Then my parents call and we chat.  

Then, my phone dies... the Ozarks.  

I really didn't know exactly where the Ozarks were.  But I found them. 

Thankfully Kansas City was a straight shot.  The charger had apparently broken in the day and so I pull over and grab a drink and seat at a Mcdonald's and let my phone charge.  Once it charges enough I turn it on and immediately it starts ringing.  

It's my husband, checking in.  He's at the beach.  LUCKY! 

I like hearing his voice.  It always feels odd when he is so far away.

There is a hotel in the same parking lot as the McDonald's.  I might as well see if they have a room, so I go in and ask, and they are fully booked.  I figure I will keep driving, another one...totally booked.

"What is going on?"  I ask after the fourth hotel I call says they have no room.

Apparently, Graduation, Concert, and ballgame are the answers.  There is not another hotel room in this state.  This explains why a hotel room at the Days Inn, which is normally $60 a night, is going for nearly $300.  

In a frenzy, I call my hotel and tell them I am on my way since it is 8:00pm and I don't want them to give my room away.  I give them my confirmation and they tell me they are sorry but they overbooked and are willing to give me a refund.  At that point, I lost it.  I apologize to the person on the other end of the line and they manage to get me a room at a sister hotel a little further down my road.

I get in, message my husband and my parents that I am safe, and fall asleep at 11:00pm CST.  

My brain wakes me up at 6:00am on Sunday.  Less than five hours to go and I will be at my temporary home for the next few weeks.  

I find a gas station and a Starbucks.  Tank up, drive on.  Of course today there will be storms and I am ready for the worst since I will be skirting Kansas.  Thankfully, the worst that happens is my car gets a good wash.  

Two hours later I am in Iowa.  Iowa is pretty, lightly rolling, and filled with farmland.  Under the Banner of Heaven is entertaining me in-between bouts of memorizing lines.  It reminds me of a very flat Avery County.

One left turn, a bridge, and a hill and I am in...NEBRASKA!!
It is flat and repetitive.  I seriously thought I passed the same rest stop four times going completely straight.  Lincoln, NE is barely a blip.

I pass under the Arch at exactly 11:56am.  FINALLY!  

But I do not get to move into my apartment just yet.  Graduation is still in full swing this weekend and the students haven't moved out of the apartments we are staying in, so we get to stay in a Best Western for 24 hours.  Check in is at 3pm.

I take one of the girls from another show to a Target and grab a smoothie.  Back to the hotel.  Check in.  Shower.  By the way, that was an amazing shower after a day on the road.  Find "Anything Goes" starring Sutton Foster on PBS.  Fall asleep for half an hour.  Get up.  Put on make up.  FIx my hair.  Barbeque at 6:00pm.  Chat a little with the locals.  Meet one of my fellow actors.  Walk around the park.  Stuff my face with way too much junk food.  It is wonderful.  Go back to the hotel.  Wash the makeup off my face.  Lay down.  Turn on TV.  Find Seinfeld.  Laugh at George.  Fall asleep at 9:00 pm.  
Next morning.  Wake up at 10:00am.  Check out.  Drive to housing.  Move in.  Clean out car.  Drive to rehearsal.  Do a read through.  Go back to housing.  Falls asleep.

I love this crazy acting life.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Bitter Bloggings of an Optimistic Actress: The Bottom Dollar

This is a post I never put up from 2019:

    So I admit, I have four side hustles and am actually looking to add a fifth.  I am a Standardized Patient (medical actor) for two companies, a CPR instructor, and a bartender.  Why?  Because I gotta!  It takes all four of these jobs to keep me monied enough to survive.  Acting is an expensive business as anyone who has ever tried knows.

    A decent headshot starts at $450 just for three pictures of your face.  Additional pictures are $75 apiece.  Make up artist $175 for the two hours you have them.

    So two weeks ago I got the call saying that I would be shooting a film.  WHOOT!  HOLLA!  YAY!  ALL THAT JAZZ!  It will be great!  Can't wait to get started.  

    Here is the annoying part.  The first two weeks of this month were slow.  REALLY SLOW.  As in I was barely needed by any of my four jobs and if I was needed by one I was needed by all.  I didn't just teach CPR, I taught CPR and drove an hour to be a standardized patient and then bartended an event.  It was INSANE.  This month I have worked a total of 5 days.  That is total!  Thankfully they have been busy days.

    I think we can be honest these days with ourselves.  Acting has become a job mostly for the independently wealthy.  If you aren't a trust fund kid, the child of a famous actor, or related to someone who is at the top of the totem pole you have to work twenty times harder to get the same opportunities.
    The most successful people I know of in the acting field, they don't have jobs.  They are stay at home moms.  They are retired.  They are people who have all the time to get up and leave and go on the road and shoot a film.  And I will admit it, I am envious of that.  I rarely get those moments and when I had them, boy did I love every second of it.  I never took it for granted and I worked more often as an actor.

     Am I saying these people with money or connections have less talent?  No!  But they do have access to things some of us will never have access to.  There was an article recently posted about Maya Hawk due to her newfound fame from Stranger Things and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.  They asked her if she thinks she has "an advantage by being the child of Uma Thurmon and Ethan Hawk?"  She said no.  

     Of course, she has an advantage.  And why wouldn't she take advantage of it?  If I had the same advantages do you think for a second I wouldn't jump on that opportunity?  She has money and opportunity.  Do I fault her for it?  No!  Meryl Streep Did the same thing for her daughters.  Tony Curtis did the same things for his child.  There is a huge list of actors who are children of other famous actors.  Why?!  Because they know everyone their parents know.  

     Am I saying these people aren't talented?  You can look at a Michael Douglas movie and know that isn't true.  Maya Hawk is highly talented, but please don't pretend her odds of being on Stranger Things would be the same if she wasn't related to two famous people.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Confessions of a G-list Actress: EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT!

      So, for the first time in a long time I agreed to do some extra work.  I almost never do it.  It can't go on my resume and it never pays that much.  But sometimes a good job comes through your agent and you can't really say no to the money.  It paid well and, honestly, I had nothing better to do on that particular day.
      It was a lazy Saturday and I go up, packed a bunch of my clothes in the car and my makeup case and I drove a very short distance to a large building on a huge campus and walked into the glorious air conditioning.  And that was where the only problem came to light.
      As I walked through the door, I assumed I would find a crew, a grip, a girl with a know..something to tell me where set was.  I called the one contact I had, I could only assume they were busy since I got no reply to text or phone call.  I was waiting for a few moments in the lobby, scared to death security would come in and kick me off site, when I heard a faint ding.  
      THE ELEVATOR!  Maybe if I found it, someone would come out and tell me which floor to go to.  It wasn't far.  There were two floors that were indicated above.  Four and Eight.  I hit the up button and figured I would walk into a crew or a very confused looking office.  As I was making up my mind which floor to go on the elevator came down and a gentleman walked out.  
      "Can I help you?"
      "Yeah, looking for a camera crew!"
      "Fourth floor."
      I thanked him and walked onto the elevator and walked out to see a crew filming someone walking into a cubicle.  Scared I might have ruined the shot I nearly jumped back into the elevator.  Someone saw me and waved me into a room filled with clothes, makeup, and people.
      I get in a makeup chair, get in a costume that was picked for me and I wait a total of twenty five minutes before I was walked to the complete other side of the building and sat at a table where I sat in the background for maybe fifteen minutes and mimed with three other background performers.  I was done in less than two hours and made a decent payday.  Seriously, shortest day I have ever had.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Bitter Bloggings of an Optimistic Actress: Depression and the Actor

Ups and downs.  Happiness and sadness.  All these emotions are part of life and actors in the ages past have tapped into all of them.  We are a slave to our emotions and will continue to be until the day we die.  For some actors, this comes sooner than others in the form of suicide or drug overdose.  Robin Williams, Heath Ledger, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Marilyn Monroe.  All taken too soon.  All with so much more to give.  Robin Williams had been dealing with illnesses along with the difficult life of acting.  Marilyn Monroe was popping pills to keep her spirits up.  Sadness and Anger just come with the territory.  And that is when you have made it.

There are plenty of other actors who "made it" and committed suicide as their careers were waning and the debt came in to swallow them.  I can think of a writer and painter who did the same thing, ahem! It breaks my heart that this would ever happen to anyone.  The world is a beautiful place.  But the world of acting, when you aren't "on", can be cold and desolate and very isolating.

When I went to college for acting my professor told me, "artists can easily become addicted to their own melancholy."  She was right.  I have never seen a group of people who are so happily miserable in my life.  And when that gaping maw of depression opens its jaws to swallow you up the sadness can feel like a great warm blanket.  The high tide of emotions can have a profound effect on your work.  I have seriously done some of my best performances when I was going through a breakup.  But this is decidedly not healthy.  We can't stay in this place forever.  We have to find the way back to the light and be happy again.  We can't stay in that dark place all the time, can we?

I read an article where Meryl Streep was talking about her daughter and her acting career.  Meryl is a proud mama.  We can see that.  She loves her children dearly, but even she says it is hard to watch her girls go through rejection.  "It is personal,"  She said.  And she is right.

Now imagine going through that with no one around you who understands.  No one who understands being rejected day in and day out.  No one who feels that weight pressing down on you.  It is maddening to go to a day job where you are forced to do something you very honestly hate.  It's not that waiting tables or data entry is beneath you.  It's not that being a nanny or teacher isn't a good job with great perks.  It's not that you aren't a great teacher.  It's just not a job you want to do for the rest of your life.  And that sucks.

Imagine wanting to be a surgeon.  You are good at it.  You graduated at the top of your class.  Now imagine you had to do your first hundred surgeries for free.  Imagine you had to go in and schmooze with any client in order to get a job.  You want to do that really well-paying heart transplant that could really give your career a boost?  You have to go and hang out with the recipient of the heart and their family.  Sometimes they are great, but sometimes they make you wonder if they even deserve that heart.  Maybe you could just heal the person with the heart?  But you swallow your pride.  Sometimes, while you are talking to a prospective client, people will muscle in and start talking about all their accomplishments.  "I won Best Surgeon at the 2015 Rx Festival in New Mexico.  I have two surgeries already on the books and you would make my third."  In order to get the job you have to send a tape of your next surgery and you don't necessarily have one on the books so you go in and do a practice surgery of the same type.  Or you are fortunate and a heart transplant comes up and you can invite the family to come watch.  The operation goes off without a hitch.  And now you wait.  You receive a letter from the family and they decided to go with another surgeon.  Likely Best Surgeon Rx 2015.  "You're great. The best surgeon we have ever seen. But your pinky is too short and we want to make sure little Becca is in the best hands possible."

This is a hard business and we are told over and over again to keep busy.  Always be filming.  Keep trying.  Keep working.  You're blessed to work in this business.  But really, when does all this madness end?  It doesn't.  Even at the top they are fighting for and losing parts.  You wanna work, go hang around people and get popular.  You want an Oscar? Be prepared to spend ten million dollars.  One in every hundred people is an "actor."  So, no you are not a special snowflake and you are not the only person who could have done the part.  That part you wanted more than anything, the director already has it cast, he is just looking at other options in the event he needs an understudy.  This is a cruel unfair business.  No wonder so many actors kill themselves.  

How can we fix it?  You really can't.  Work more.  Be better.  Be so good they can't overlook you.  Get a better agent.  All you can do is swim through the depression to the other side and hope you don't drown on the way.  That's what I do anyway.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Bitter Bloggings of an Optimistic Actress: Beauty and the Beast

Casting is a process that always fascinates me.  Sometimes I do really want to be a fly on the wall.

Recently a casting notice was put into the world requesting two individuals.  They specifically requested the individuals not be models.  They were looking for real people.  People who were active, but average.  Now picture that.  Got the image in your mind?


Imagine how shocked the entire acting internet was when the agent of one of the said "Normal People" posts a picture of the client who booked the job and she was GORGEOUS.  I mean drop dead perfect.  Skinny, porcelain skin, and a "bottom so tight it could do lip sync."  Honestly?  What do these people think normal and average looks like?  And I get it, the client is the one who picks who gets the job. But, how does someone who looks like they should grace a runway get picked as the average?  Average compared to who?  A VS model?  I mean congratulations on getting the gig, but seriously.

About nine months ago I was called in to read for a commercial.  The commercial asked for an intelligent female about 30-40 years old.  Once again, I arrive at the auditions and am surrounded by women, whose total weight is equal to my own individual mass.  Most of them are models who "mom" on the side.  There is one nineteen year old who doesn't know what the sides even mean.  Seriously, the sides are ripped straight from an IT manual and placed on the page.  I had to read some specs myself the night before just to understand what was going on, and my oldest friend in the world is in IT.  Any guesses as to the one who gets the role?  Seriously, what nineteen year old needs that kind of money?  When did nineteen become the new thirty?

And the last straw.  I was recently not cast in a film due to my height because the love interest would be too short for me.  "The director loved your rendition of the character but we have already cast this part and the height difference would be distracting."  Great.  So what you are saying is you are willing to put out a sub par product because you are afraid of spending an extra few minutes making my love interest a few inches taller with camera angles and standing him on a box.  They dig holes in the ground for the girls opposite Tom Cruise and Sylvester Stallone.  That is kinda sick.

I read an interview with Anne Hathaway.  Her twenties were great to her, but as soon as she hit thirty she actually started losing roles.  Let me repeat this.  Anne Hathaway started losing roles in her thirties to twenty-somethings.  (**Not all the twenty-somethings were Jennifer Lawrence; which would have been ok**)

We laugh at this sketch, but it is truly horrifying.  Because it is true.  Even in the context of the sketch itself.  Did you know originally it was supposed to be about an ageing actress being welcomed into the fold of already aged out actresses?  The studio thought it would be more appealing to young audiences if they had famous actresses who hadn't aged out yet sending one of their own into the void.  See how messed up that is?

All I am asking is that those businesses getting the help of a CD actually think about what they want.  Do you want an actual average thirty year old or a twenty seven year old model with mature features.  Do you want someone who can speak to your consumers on a level that makes them understand or do you want someone who will draw in your viewers with their looks.  Honestly ask for exactly what you want and I promise, you will get it.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Intern: Because Sometimes Even I Do Film Reviews!

Once again, to anyone who will attempt to use any pictures on this to try to get money from me.  This is a film review and all images underneath are actually free for my use under the FAIR USE ACT since the following is for criticism.  So NYEHH!

Found randomly online.  This is a FILM REVIEW!

So, the other night, because we love De Niro and Hatheway so much, and because we had heard good things, the better half and I watched The Intern.    I will be honest, not a fan.  If you are, that is your opinion and I can see why the general public might like it.  However if you really break it down it really is a slight film with very little to offer, except two A-listers really working for their money and a laugh or two.

So yeah...expect spoilers.  Duh.

Nancy Meyers, the brain behind such films as What Women Want and Father of the Bride, decided to make another movie.  I admit to enjoying both Father of the Bride films and What Women Want.  Both were nice little slices of life, even though they had more to do with the rich, white upper class.    She always manages to get great names for her films and there is a very sweet heartfelt message at the end.  It's something light I can enjoy since most of the film I watch is so deep and heavy.  Seriously, my must see list for last year included Room.  (Captain America: Civil War, if you break it down,  was only okay.  I watch heavy movies.)

The film starts off with De Niro in the middle of filming a kind of audition for an internship at a fashion startup that has apparently been doing very well.  He gets a job as an intern and aid to the boss, Anne Hathaway.  She immediately judges him to be incompetent, without knowing too much about old-fashioned work ethic, but through the film finds him to be the best thing that has ever happened to her and her company.  Sunshine rainbows and happiness.

Robert De Niro is playing a retired widower, Ben, looking to fill his life with activities.  After seeing an advertisement near his local coffee shop, he decides to return to the workplace.  He gets a job at an online fashion site owned by Jules.  Jules is a woman who only cares about the customer and overworks herself and this makes her "hard to work for," as is often repeated.

This is where it starts to fall apart.  And the film has just started.  Jules is constantly referred to as hard to work for, but I never saw a single moment when she wasn't kind, concerned and caring to any and all of her employees and customers.  Other than a breakdown by her assistant, who is obviously in need of a Xanax, and can't handle the workload, no one really seems to do anything but totally adore her.  She even has a house masseuse (by the way they prefer the term massage therapist) for anyone who wants one.  Why didn't they go ahead and make her a Miranda Priestly type, a la The Devil Wears Prada?  Someone who honestly doesn't care what other people think of her.  A powerful strong woman who runs her workers to death.  Missed opportunity.

Why was she the head of a fashion company and not an IT start up?  Women don't just deal in clothes and shoes.  In fact, this is something that bothers me.  So many writers pick a profession for their characters without knowing anything about that profession.  They then proceed to write about that profession without doing more research than a wiki search for a few simple phrases they can pepper in conversation.  They don't bother looking anything up about how the profession actually works.  In this particular case, I am always wondering in this film; does she design the clothes or buy from a second party and sell?  Since her entire life revolves around this job, I want to know more about it.

Ben is immediately liked by everyone at the company when he starts his internship.  He has a few problems with the technology, but there is almost zero focus on it.  A missed opportunity.  Jules kinda thinks he is nosey to start off with, but after cleaning off a desk and driving her through the city when her driver gets drunk she realizes his old-fashioned work ethic is irreplaceable.

Jules is told by some person who works for her, played by Andrew Rannels, that the people giving her money want her to get a CEO to run her company because they don't think her company will continue to grow.  Her job is now to look at possible CEOs and pick one...maybe.  So she starts vetting CEOs.  Not that she has to.  She will still have her company if she doesn't.  Why was it not written that her company would totally disband if she didn't pick a CEO?  That would have added some great tension.  Once again, a missed opportunity.  (Even Mel in What Women Want was about to lose something big if he didn't step up his game.)

Jules's husband, Matt, has given up his much better paying job (which we never see him do) so Jules can have her company.  Her job mainly consisting of riding a bike to meetings in the office, playing with tissue paper and riding in the back of a car while talking to her mother who, apparently, doesn't love her.  Seriously, what does she do?  She has TONS of money and yet I have no idea what she actually does.

In fact, if Matt didn't quit his job I think their kid would be just as well loved.  Honestly, the kid is kinda just there so Jules can be seen once as being incompetent and Matt can be seen as being a jerk.  I kinda wonder why they don't take their obvious wealth and pay for a nanny,   Are they too busy to call a service?  But anyways, Matt is now a house hubby and Jules is paying the bills, with no problem doing so.  However, apparently, the mom's at her daughter's school seem to find her incompetent.  Jules and her constant working is causing a rift between she and her husband.  Apparently, he is having an affair that Jules is aware of, that we don't find out about until almost the end of the movie when Ben sees it in progress.  When it is brought to light both Ben and Jules have a good long cry in their 5 star hotel room about how terrible life is.  How unfair.  Once again, I think he should have been having an affair with one of the mom's we see.  Then we might actually care that he is being unfaithful.

The end is simple.  Jules chooses not to get a CEO.  Matt tells her the affair is over, they cry and agree to never be unfaithful to one another.  Ben is now her chauffeur and assistant to her assistant.  All is happiness sunshine and rainbows.  And nothing all that bad really happened.

There was almost NO conflict.  Here was a great time to talk about ageism and sexism in the workplace and that topic was totally ignored.  The love interest between Renee Russo and De Niro happened too quickly.  So quickly there was zero build up, no sexual tension.  One day she meets him and by the end of the film she is sleeping with him and seems like they are living together after one date we have seen.  Matt and Jules are immediately fine as soon as he admits to the affair and claims it is over.  In real life, trust me, there is more anger than that.  There were two, maybe three moments of humor.  All having to do with De Niro and his sexual preferences.  

A"I might meet Jay-Z"
De Niro "Who is that?"
A "What if Beyonce opens the door?"
De Niro "Ok, I know who that is!"

Honestly, had the leads not been working so hard to be amazing, the film would have been nothing better than the worst made-for-TV garbage.  It was a slight film for adults, filled with hopes and dreams but no real substance. 

But that is just me.