Avengers: Endgame…That Marvel Kool-Aid Is Tasting Better With Every Succulent, Cinematic Sip (Spoiler Free Review)

By Michael P Coleman

Miraculously, I managed to see the entertaining, somewhat bloated new Avengers: Endgame last night, five whole days after its record-shattering debut, before encountering any plot spoilers. 

I hope you have the same experience, especially if you’re a die-hard Marvel fan and have endured 22 movies, beginning with 2008’s Iron Man, to get you to this place in time. 

One of those faithful fans saw the new film right after its premiere, and sent me the following note: 

Avengers: Endgame. Every other comic book movie that follows will lack in some way.” 

Very uncharacteristically, I couldn’t summon the words to reply to that.  Now that I’ve seen the new movie, here goes: 

Avengers: Endgame.  If you really believe that, you have ingested a healthy dose of the Marvel / Disney Kool-Aid.” 

The new three hour epic is a good half hour or so too long, hampered by a sagging second act that needed a tighter edit.  That said, with one exception, I was satisfied with the way in which several story arcs concluded, and actually surprised by three of them.  However, a couple of those resolutions, and one in particular involving your friendly neighborhood web-slinger, kinda jumped the shark.  

Another complaint about Avengers: Endgame is the obvious effort to yank on the heart strings.  I’m as big of a wimp as anyone when watching a movie — I can’t get through The Lion King around Father’s Day without tearing up — but as soon as I realize I’m being emotionally manipulated, I’m outta there.  

(I need to apply that mettle to my personal life.) 

See Avengers: Endgame on as big a screen as you can, because there’s a LOT going on up on that screen.  The flick’s a great diversion from the travails of the daily grind.  

And hat’s off to Marvel / Disney — I’m enjoying more and more of that Kool-Aid with each succulent, cinematic sip.

Avengers: Endgame is showing at almost every theatre known to man.  

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Mary Poppins Returns Home: A Letter To The Magical Nanny

by Michael P Coleman

Dear Mary Poppins,

It was wonderful to run into you in the neighborhood department store earlier this week, as your most recent feature film, last year’s Mary Poppins Returns, debuts on Blu Ray and DVD.  You couldn’t possibly remember me, but I bumped into you twice during the holidays at the local theatre, during your movie’s theatrical run.  I had been anxiously awaiting, with each gust of wind, your arrival at home.  

Toward the new film’s finale, you rather predictably exclaim, as you had during your 1964 cinematic debut, that you were “practically perfect in every way.”  As is rather uncharacteristic of you, you were being a tad modest.  Mary Poppins Returns in absolutely perfect in every possible way. 

With no disrespect to Julie Andrews, your first celluloid assistant, your new accomplice, Emily Blunt, miraculously does an even finer job of helping to capture the magic, wonder, and utter joy for which you so desperately seem to strive.  And the new film’s songs, rather unbelievably, improve upon those in your 1964 feature.  All of them, including “Underneath the) Lovely London Sky,” “Trip A Little Light Fantastic,” “A Conversation,” and “The Place Where Lost Things Go” are modern musical masterpieces.  

That said, I’m so sorry you did not receive the Academy Award for the latter song.  If you’ll allow me to say so, Disney submitted the wrong tune to the Academy for consideration.  Either the ebullient “Can You Imagine That” or “A Cover Is Not The Book” should have easily allowed you to bring Oscar home. And I defy anyone to get to Mary Poppins Returns’ rousing closer, “Nowhere To Go But Up” and not smile, if not chuckle out loud, by its final bars.  

Speaking of that finale, when you wistfully said “It is time” as you raised your umbrella and flew off into the distance, I couldn’t remember the last time I was so sad to see a film come to an end.  Fortunately, with the movie’s release on Blu Ray, DVD, and digital, I don’t have to experience that sorrow for long,  All told, I’ve seen Mary Poppins Returns six times now, and have listened to the soundtrack album more times than I can count. 

How many more times will I watch Mary Poppins Returns?  Oh, to speculate would be an exercise in futility!  Your new film is an absolute tonic, the “spoonful of sugar” we could all use to manage the challenging world we’ve created.  

Speaking of created worlds, allow me to say that I was ebullient over the insertion of melanin into the new film.  Most notably, your old friend Jack (with the help of his assistant, Lin-Manuel Miranda) was superb.  

My own children are adults now, and it’s fairly safe to say that our family shan’t be needing a nanny’s services for at least the balance of the year.  However, please rest assured I’ll be phoning you when the need arises.  You may tidy my nursery or administer a bath any time you’d like.  

Once again, Mary Poppins, it’s been a true joy.  You may well believe that “the grown ups will always forget by tomorrow,” but I assure you that this one never will.  

Never.   

Thank you, Mary Poppins.  

Warmly,

Michael P Coleman

Coleman Communications 

Mary Poppins Returns is available now on digital, Blu Ray, and DVD.  

Freelancer (and perpetual kid) Michael P Coleman will neither confirm nor deny that he has a maddening crush on Mary Poppins and her “assistant” Emily Blunt.  He is available at michaelpcoleman.com.  Alternatively, you may follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP 

Is It Time To Stop Dancing And Say Goodbye To Michael Jackson? Again?

Michael’s Mind’s Eye: Is It Time To Stop Dancing And Say Goodbye To Michael Jackson? Again? 

By Michael P Coleman 

Grandma Coleman used to admonish me about making mountains out of molehills, or creating unnecessary drama.  That’s what I told myself the media were doing way back in Michael Jackson’s post-Off The Wall days, when he still had an afro and beautiful, dark brown skin, and initial reports of his eccentricities began to emerge.  

In the early 80s, Jackson rocked a Gheri Curl LONG after they had played out.  After I saw it, in the “Beat It” video, I believe, I marched my black ass into the campus Walgreens and bought the first of many S Curls kits.  I talked my girlfriend into applying that lye in my dorm room, and I couldn’t wait to fling some of my new, liberally applied curl activator off of my head while I shook that aforementioned black ass to Jackson’s music.  

I wore much-too-short black Levi 501s, just to show off my ivory sox and ebony loafers.  I Slim Fast-ed myself down to a 29 inch waist and shaved the peach fuzz from my upper lip.  I installed contact lenses for the first time just so I could wear a pair of aviator sunglasses…inside.  If I had been man enough, I’d have sported mascara beneath those shades.  

Just in case you didn’t figure it out, let me be clear:  I loved Michael Jackson.  But dude was weird.  

He had his pet chimp, Bubbles, on his arm at award shows.  He had a pet boa constrictor named Muscles, about whom he wrote a hit song for Diana Ross.  

Did Jackson really buy The Elephant Man’s bones, have a full sized amusement park at his legendary Neverland Ranch, or sleep in a hyperbaric chamber? 

Nah.  He couldn’t. 

After Thriller, Bad, and Jackson’s self-coronation as “The King Of Pop”, reports of allegations of improprieties with the first of a series of children began to surface.  And then there was the infamous Martin Bashir documentary, during which Jackson spoke of his penchant for sharing his bed with young boys.  

In the face of the allegations, Jackson maintained his innocence.  Could he have done it?  

Nah.  He couldn’t.  

I told myself that Jackson’s biggest problem was a hyperactive media intent on tearing him down, just as those media had built him up.  Jackson settling related lawsuits out of court didn’t phase me, as it did some fans — I knew that he simply wanted to get it all behind him. 

And even as I was raising children of my own, without a single thought of sharing my bed with any of their friends, I compartmentalized my questions about Jackson and remained a slave to his rhythm.  

“Billie Jean.” “Smooth Criminal.”  “Jam.”  Comically, “In The Closet.”  The man wrote “We Are The World” and “Heal The World,” and he sung “Man In The Mirror” with the fervor of someone who’d written it.  He was a prophet.  A saint.  In his heyday, Jackson was unstoppable. Invincible.  

And I sang and danced with him.  

The turn of the century brought a cooling of Jackson’s career, along with a second round of boys and questions.  It also brought, for the first and only time, criminal charges, related to child pornography.  Police raided Neverland and removed countless boxes of alleged evidence, while news teams broadcast the spectacle around the world.  Jackson maintained his innocence and the case went to trial, where he was acquitted of all charges.  

All charges.  

And I kept singing and dancing with him.  

When Jackson died in 2009, I had to learn to navigate a world without him.  To this day, thoughts of him, and the joy his music brought me, can prompt both smiles and tears.  

I’ve heard that a posthumous assault to Jackson’s character has come with the new documentary Leaving Neverland, airing now on HBO.  I’ve seen only clips of it.  It sits on my DVR, awaiting the moment when I’m strong enough to watch.  Jackson’s not here to defend himself as he used to, so I’ll just keep dancing with him, remembering a time when the world seemed a bit gentler.  

In reports on Leaving Neverland and the current R Kelly case, I keep reading about a culture of celebrity that intoxicated parents into turning their children over to the rich and famous, even if they are accused child molesters.  Having raised two children of my own, and having done so for many years while living paycheck to paycheck, I can honestly say that no promise or amount of money would have motivated me to drop one of my kids off for a slumber party at the home of a 30-something year old man who has admitted a fondness for a bed shared with young boys, even if his name were Michael Jackson. 

But for now, Jackson is innocent until — and unless — he is proven guilty.  I want to believe that Jackson is as innocent as he always maintained he was.  If not, it’s not just Jackson’s innocence that will be lost: it will be mine. 

At press time, reports are emerging of radio stations pulling Jackson’s music from their airwaves.  I can’t go there.  The Jacksons’ “Walk Right Now” and “Can You Feel It” got me through my cardio this morning.  If I can still laugh with Cliff, Clair, and the Huxtables, and separate the art from the man, I can still dance with Michael Jackson.  

And you can’t stop me.  As a matter of fact, I won’t stop ’til I get enough.  

If Jackson is ever proven to be the molester that I’ve heard is presented in Leaving Neverland, he was much more of a monster than anything that crawled out of a grave in his landmark Thriller video.  But for the time being, I’ll continue to enjoy the art while bracing myself to mourn the loss of the artist. 

Again.  

Connect with freelance writer Michael P Coleman and Coleman Communications at michaelpcoleman.com, or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP 

Remembering Dad This Father’s Day

I recently interviewed the daughter of a trailblazing father, Dr. Vernon L. Walton, the first African American pediatrician in Sacramento, California, and one of the first in the country.  I was humbled to meet his daughter, Dr. Stephanie Walton, a brilliant woman who’s followed in her father’s footsteps and has taken over the practice her dad started.  My chat with Stephanie prompted some reflection on my own dad.

Unlike Dr. Vernon L. Walton, Charles Franklin Coleman didn’t graduate from medical school — in fact, he barely graduated from high school — but he was much wiser than I gave him credit for while he was alive.  And with all of the differences he and I had, and despite the demons he wrestled, he was without question the unheralded glue that held our family together.

My relationship with Dad was, as they say on the popular dating sites, complicated.  My older brother (and Dad’s namesake) walked on water in Dad’s eyes.  And my younger sisters didn’t have Y chromosomes, so they were very highly esteemed, and the quintessential daddy’s girls.    

But me and Dad?  That was one rocky ass road.  While I was growing up, I couldn’t get through a week without hearing the words “THAT boy is never going to amount to shit!”  Dad was a man of very few, sometimes profane words with me, but I felt every word he said.  I learned early on that, if I didn’t, I felt the extension cord on my behind that followed.  

Dad had been born in 1937 in rural Mississippi and attended a challenged, segregated public school system.  According to Coleman family lore, the day after he graduated from high school, he packed his belongings into two brown paper sacks and walked over 20 miles to the bus stop to buy a one-way ticket out of the Jim Crow south.  After a quick sojourn in St. Louis, Dad settled in Detroit and started a four decade career in manufacturing, and started a family with my mother. 

How’d that story turn out?  That kid who barely graduated from high school helped raise four high school valedictorians, three college grads, an engineer, a writer, and (as of today) one kid with a Master’s degree.  His four grandchildren are on the way to continuing that tradition.  

And Dad’s pearls of wisdom?  He had many!  But perhaps the most memorable was the advice he gave me as I was uncharacteristically drinking at my parents’ house one day.  Neither of my folks knew that I was thinking of separating from my wife of over a decade, and I was struggling with the decision.  

“Son, I don’t know what you’re going through, but whatever it is, trying to drink your way through the problem isn’t going to work,” Dad said, with his trademark piercing gaze and while smoking that omnipresent cigarette.  “If you try to do that, you’ll wake up tomorrow morning, sober up, and the problem will still be there, lying on the pillow next to you and staring you in the face.  Solve the problem first.  Then, if you want, pour a drink to celebrate.”   

Dad’s advice was all the more poignant, coming from an alcoholic who’d been staring the same person…er, problem…in the face for almost 40 years at that point.   If anyone knew about trying to drink through a problem, it was my father.  But his advice probably kept me from going down the same road.  I put my drink down right then.  And to this day, I never drink when I’m feeling stressed or challenged.  

As we celebrate Father’s Day each year, I struggle as I didn’t have the type of flawless father who’s described in Hallmark cards or depicted on episodes of The Cosby Show.  But Dad loved me, in his own way, and I took the things he did right and used them as the foundation for the fatherhood template that I employed with my own two daughters.  

Dad’s been gone for over 15 years now.  I miss him every day, and I thank him often…both for the things he screwed up and the things he did right.  Dad did the best he could, and gave all that he had to give. And that, my friend, is all any of us can do.  

Happy Father’s Day.

Connect with freelancer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com or on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.