Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Heaven is for Real
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic material including some medical situations
Release Date:
April 16, 2014

 

Philomena
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 on appeal for some strong language, thematic elements and sexual references
Release Date:
November 22, 2013

Under the Skin
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for graphic nudity, sexual content, some violence and language
Release Date:
April 11, 2014

 

The Nut Job
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and rude humor
Release Date:
January 17, 2014

Rio 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 11, 2014

 

Grudge Match
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sports action violence, sexual content and language
Release Date:
December 25, 2013

Interview: Martha Williamson of “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”

posted by Nell Minow

signed sealed deliveredTalking to Martha Williamson is pure positive energy and a real treat. The creator of “Touched by an Angel” has a new series on the Hallmark channel. It’s called “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and it is about a USPS dead letter office where a quirky but very dedicated group of people track down the recipients and change lives by delivering letters. I’ve seen the first two episodes, starring Eric Mabius (“Ugly Betty”) and Kristin Booth, with a special appearance by the effervescent Valerie Harper.  It premieres on April 20 at 8/7 central.  Carol Burnett will guest star on the series finale.

The first two episodes are great!

Thank you, thank you. They’re both different; I want everybody to realize that there’s a broad world out there of storytelling that we can do.  We can get you laughing and crying and we can talk about the serious things with a light touch and the sunny things with a deep touch and we’ll be covering a lot of ground.

Why in the world of texting and IMing and instagram create a television program about old fashioned, analog letter writing?

It is a lost art.  Letter writing should not take the place of texting and tweeting and emailing but neither should those things take away the power of the written letter and the written word. I can hold a letter in my hand that my father wrote to me forty years ago and I can still feel what it was like to receive it, I can still hear his voice, I can still look at the little tiny holes in the onionskin paper that he always used for stationary. There’s something so real and so tangible about it. As we stop writing things down on paper we are losing a lot of history. I was just watching last night on TV which is I just stopped for one moment to get my head out of this script and I watched the news and they were talking about global warming and the problems of how long we are going to have electricity.

What happen someday when you can’t boot up and download or upload or recall all those emails that somebody zapped off to you in two seconds? But I can always go to that box of letters from my friends and my family and hold them in my hand. I’m certainly not advocating that we cut down more trees. I’m a big believer in recycling but when you stop to think about what you’re saying with a pen in your hand, you chose your words more carefully. You don’t write things and hit send before you think about it and wish you could retrieve it. You can dash off a letter that you could then put into a drawer and think better about it and not accidentally send it off. There is something about our amazing language and how we are losing our ability to use it effectively that makes me very sad.

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Tell me a little about this wonderful assortment of characters you’ve brought together.

Oliver, played by Eric Mabius, is a wonderful fellow from the twentieth century and how he manages to be so young and so old at the same time is really an example of the best of both centuries. This is a guy who was probably raised by old fashioned folks like mine. My dad was born in 1901. He’s a gentleman, he believes in old fashioned values but does not make values a dirty word.

He doesn’t combine values with judgment, he goes to church and sings in the choir but tries to live out his faith more than impose it and he truly tries to do the right thing. And I think more than anything he is kind and that is what draws Shane (Kristin Booth) to him.

Shane is very much a creature of the 21st century and of the new technologies and those are easy things to hide behind. And Oliver is so strong in his gentle mentality and Shane doesn’t quite know what to do with that.  You imagine Shane being one of those women who would go to a happy hour with the girls after work. But she would never see Oliver there; this is a guy that she’s never run across before. This is a guy who probably values her more than she even values herself sometimes as a friend and as a person and not as an object. He’s married and has had his heart broken and I think that that’s an important message that our faith does not inoculate us from pain but it does help us get through it and I love that. I just made that up!

And then you’ve got a character with a perfect memory?

Oh yes, Rita Haywith, played by Chrystal Lowe. I love her.  Every one of these characters is some part of me that you’ll find everywhere. Rita I think is the most childlike part of me, the part that still wants to believe the absolute best in everyone she meets and is excited about every day. There’s a line in the Bible that says “His mercies are new every morning,” and I just imagine that Rita is the living example of that. That she just wakes up every day so excited that she got another one. And that’s very fun and easy for me to write.  I don’t really have a photographic memory although I used to have one that was pretty good, until I had children.

You’ll see later on, she makes a choice to not compete in the traditional way. She can only compete against herself; otherwise it doesn’t matter.  It just hit me but I think that’s kind of what I’ve always sort of been.

And Norman (Geoff Gustafson) is somebody who has been deeply hurt, I think. I think he’s the part of all of us who is looking for kindness by being kind, who has an amazing ability for survival, not ability but a facility for survival. And he knows so many things.  He loves knowing a whole bunch of stuff and doesn’t always put it in the right order, he always has a cousin who’s connected to something or someone, he can always find a solution but it’s not always going to be the one you’ll expect and it’s going to be fun to watch him come out of his shell.  One of the great dividends of this show will be to explore the friendship of men and how they have the opportunity to elevate each other rather than to bring each other down.

I was surprised and very tickled to see that there are musical numbers in the show.

Oh, absolutely! I just wrote a musical member from the special delivery. It’s the funniest thing it goes like “You’re the special delivery, yes you’re our post office queen….”

I can’t wait to see it!

Trailer #2: The Box Trolls

posted by Nell Minow

Did I mention how excited I am about this?  Coming in September, from the people who did “Coraline” and “ParaNorman.”

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Heaven is for Real

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for thematic material including some medical situations
Movie Release Date:April 16, 2014

heavenisforrealA movie like “Heaven is for Real” requires two different reviews, one for believers/fans of the 1.5 million-volume best-selling book, one for those who are unfamiliar with the book and whose views about faith and heaven and proof may differ from the evangelical beliefs of the Wesleyan pastor who wrote the book about his son.  The first group will find what they are looking for.  Anyone else is unlikely to feel enlightened or inspired.

Nebraska clergyman Todd Burpo co-wrote Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, the story of his not-yet-four-year-old son Colton, who told his parents about a visit to heaven when he “lifted up” during abdominal surgery.  On that visit, he said, he sat on Jesus’ lap and spoke to two family members.  He described the bright colors of heaven and Jesus’ horse.

Fans of the book and those who share Colton’s ideas about heaven will find the movie skillfully made by co-writer/director Randall Wallace (“Secretariat,” “Braveheart”) and very true to the story that Burpo tells. Others may find what is very much a four-year-old’s concept (he asked the angels to sing him Queen’s “We Will Rock You”) limited and cloying.  This is very much a self-congratulatory closed loop wish fulfillment idea of heaven, where everyone is young and healthy and we are reunited with everyone we lost (apparently everyone of our faith, anyway), even those who died before birth.

Greg Kinnear is likeable as always as a father coping with the stress of many different commitments and pressures.  He has a devoted wife, Sonja (Kelly Reilly of “Flight”) and two darling children.  But his garage door business is suffering in the depressed economy.  He is also a volunteer fireman and a high school coach as well as pastor of the Crossroads Wesleyan Church.  He has had some injuries and health problems.

And then what they think is stomach flu turns out to be Colton’s burst appendix and he is rushed to the operating room.  While Sonja calls church members to ask for their prayers, Todd goes to the hospital’s chapel and cries out to God over the unfairness of putting his little boy at risk.

Colton (Connor Corum, a cute kid with a nice natural presence but no actor) recovers.  After he is home, he matter-0f-factly begins to tell his parents about his experiences in heaven.  At first, they are dismissive, but then Todd and, later Sonja are convinced, based on details he shares about people and events he could not have known.  Todd allows a reporter to write about Colton.  Members of the church are concerned, but they, too, become convinced.

Those who are already believers, especially fans of the book who want to see the story on screen, are likely to be very satisfied with this well-produced and sincere portrayal of the Burpo’s story, and it is for them that the movie gets a B grade.  Those from other faith traditions, seekers, and skeptics are unlikely to be convinced, however.  For many people, the “proof” from Colton’s stories is easily explained away or the vision he describes is substantially different from their understanding of God and the afterlife.  The one consistent reaction from viewers is that both believers in this specific idea and those who are not will both find their views re-affirmed by this movie.

Parents should know that this movie includes a seriously ill child and discussions of miscarriage and loss.  There is some marital sexual teasing.

Family discussion:  Ask family members for their ideas of what heaven is like and research different faith traditions and their views of heaven.

If you like this, try: the book by Todd Burpo and Diane Keaton’s documentary Heaven

Heaven is for Real: The Real Story

posted by Nell Minow

“Heaven is for Real” opens tomorrow, with Greg Kinnear as Todd Burpo, a Nebraska pastor whose four-year-old son says that he visited heaven during surgery for a ruptured appendix.  It is based on a best-selling book Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, by Burpo and Lynn Vincent (co-author of Sarah Palin’s book, Going Rogue).  Burpo says that his son, Colton

talked about looking down to see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn’t know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.

In heaven, Colton met his miscarried sister whom no one ever had told him about and his great-grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born. He shared impossible-to-know details about each. Colton went on to describe the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how “reaaally big” God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit “shoots down power” from heaven to help us.

The movie follows the essential elements of the book pretty closely.  The Burpos dismiss Colton’s description of heaven at first.  But when he describes where they were during the operation, identifies the great-grandfather who died before he was born and the sister his mother miscarried as people he met and spoke to, they are persuaded that he saw something real.

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Previous Posts

Interview: Martha Williamson of "Signed, Sealed, Delivered"
Talking to Martha Williamson is pure positive energy and a real treat. The creator of "Touched by an Angel" has a new series on the Hallmark channel. It's called "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" and it is about a USPS dead letter office where a quirky but very dedicated group of people track down the rec

posted 8:00:57am Apr. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Trailer #2: The Box Trolls
Did I mention how excited I am about this?  Coming in September, from the people who did "Coraline" and "ParaNorman." [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDr_ZY37RFg[/youtube]

posted 12:12:22pm Apr. 16, 2014 | read full post »

Heaven is for Real
A movie like "Heaven is for Real" requires two different reviews, one for believers/fans of the 1.5 million-volume best-selling book, one for those who are unfamiliar with the book and whose views about faith and heaven and proof may differ from the evangelical beliefs of the Wesleyan pastor who wro

posted 6:00:04pm Apr. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Heaven is for Real: The Real Story
"Heaven is for Real" opens tomorrow, with Greg Kinnear as Todd Burpo, a Nebraska pastor whose four-year-old son says that he visited heaven during surgery for a ruptured appendix.  It is based on a best-selling book Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back,

posted 3:59:56pm Apr. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Movie Critic Ann Hornaday Comes Out as...a Christian
Washington Post movie critic Ann Hornaday wrote a brave and very moving essay about being a writer sustained by Christian faith and how that affects the way she approaches all films and especially those with religious themes. As a critic, my first obligation is to assess each of these films not as

posted 3:59:22pm Apr. 15, 2014 | read full post »


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