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New in Theaters
  New to DVD

How to be Single
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for sexual content and strong language throughout
Release Date:
February 12, 2016

 

Spectre
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images, sensuality and languag
Release Date:
November 6, 2015

Zoolander 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, a scene of exaggerated violence, and brief strong language
Release Date:
February 12, 2016

 

Grandma
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some drug use
Release Date:
August 21, 2015

Touched With Fire
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
February 12, 2016

 

99 Homes
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language including some sexual references, and a brief violent image
Release Date:
October 2, 2015

New in Theaters

grade:
B-

How to be Single

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for sexual content and strong language throughout
Release Date:
February 12, 2016
grade:
B-

Zoolander 2

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, a scene of exaggerated violence, and brief strong language
Release Date:
February 12, 2016
grade:
B

Touched With Fire

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
February 12, 2016

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New to DVD

pick of the week
grade:
B+

Spectre

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images, sensuality and languag
Release Date:
November 6, 2015
grade:
B+

Grandma

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some drug use
Release Date:
August 21, 2015
grade:
B+

99 Homes

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language including some sexual references, and a brief violent image
Release Date:
October 2, 2015

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How to be Single

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for sexual content and strong language throughout
Movie Release Date:February 12, 2016
B-
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for sexual content and strong language throughout
Movie Release Date: February 12, 2016

Drew Barrymore — you know I love you but how does your Flower Films production company produce a film about female friendship and empowerment that barely passes the Bechdel test? how to be single

And did we really need a thinly disguised remake of “He’s Just Not That Into You?” I know it’s Valentine’s Day and the time feels right for a girls’ night out movie, but despite its entertaining moments, I’d go for “Star Wars” again over this.

Now, on to the entertaining moments. This is one of those “three girls looking for love” or “three girls looking for love or its close equivalent” stories with cute guys, cute clothes, cute apartments, cute problems, and cute pop songs on the soundtrack. Yes, get ready for “Worth It.” Again. It’s the new “I Feel Good.”

Alice (adorable Dakota Johnson) breaks up with her college boyfriend Josh (Nicholas Braun). She loves him, but they’ve been together four years and she does not know who she really is anymore. She needs to be on her own for a while, she tells him. It’s not a break-up; it’s just a break. Her new friend Robin (Rebel Wilson doing her usual shtick) reminds her that “Hey, Season Three Ross, there’s no such thing as being on a break.” Robin encourages her to drink, dance, and have meaningless sex with a cute bartender named Tom (Anders Holm of “The Intern”) who is the master of the one-night stand.

Alice has an older sister, Meg (Leslie Mann), an obstetrician who wants to have a baby. And then there is Lucy (Alison Brie), who lives above Tom’s bar and goes there to use his wi-fi to scroll through endless dating site profiles and complain about how DIFFICULT it is to find a presentable man who will COMMIT. This entire section is pretty much ripped off from the Justin Long/Ginnifer Goodwin part of “He’s Just Not That Into You” by the same screenwriters.

Johnson and Brie are adorable, and up-and-comer Jake Lacy (“Carol,” “Obvious Child”) is very appealing as one of Alice’s co-workers who likes Meg. But it is disappointing that it claims to be about the importance of taking responsibility for your own life and your own dreams, and apparently it is written by and very loosely based on a novel by women who are capable in jobs they find satisfying. But Alice seems to have no interest in her job as a paralegal and is as clueless about what it takes to be a professional as she is about even the most basic of daily tasks. She literally cannot dress herself. And learning to do so is portrayed as a major life achievement. Her romance with a handsome widower (an underused Damon Wayans, Jr.) makes little sense and her BFF relationship with Robin makes even less. In fact, there isn’t one relationship in the movie that makes us think they could have an actual conversation or even have much fun together.

“How to be Single” is more like a series of skits at a sorority slumber party than a story with characters. If Alice, Robin, Meg, and Lucy went out for a girls’ night at the movies, they’d choose something else.

Parents should know that this film includes very strong sexual content with many casual encounters, explicit sexual humor and sexual situations, and brief nudity, very strong and crude language, drinking and drugs.

Family discussion: What was the most important lesson Alice learned from each of the men she dated? Why did she listen to Robin?

If you like this, try: “He’s Just Not That Into You,” “Bridget Jones’ Diary,” and “Think Like a Man”

Zoolander 2

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, a scene of exaggerated violence, and brief strong language
Movie Release Date: February 12, 2016

Copyright 2016 Paramount

Copyright 2016 Paramount


Kind of like fashion itself, we don’t really care whether “Zoolander 2″ is any good. We go because it is silly fun.

The original Zoolander, released in 2001 just after the attacks on 9/11, was based on shorts Ben Stiller created for the VH1 fashion awards. It was moderately successful on release but has become a big hit on DVD/Blu-ray and an enduring cultural touchstone. It’s the kind of movie that is best watched at home, with friends who know exactly where the punchlines and star cameos come in, or while sick in bed recovering from the flu when you’re not quite up for binge-watching something that requires more than half your attention.

I suspect the same will happen with this 15-years-later sequel, again directed by Stiller, who stars as the title dimwitted supermodel and co-wrote with Justin Theroux, Nicholas Stoller, and John Hamburg. The script relies heavily on the audience’s affection for and knowledge of the first, with more winking references to the original than attempts to be funny about the current state of fashion and the industry.

In the first film, Derek Zoolander plans to build a book-shaped center called The Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can’t Read Good and Who Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too. After that film ended, we are told through clips from television news shows (Katie Couric, Jane Pauley, and Jim Lehrer are among the first of an avalanche of what-is he/she-doing-in-this-movie celebrity cameos) that the building immediately collapsed, killing Zoolander’s wife (Stiller’s real-life spouse, Christine Taylor) and injuring Derek’s rival-turned BFF, Hansel (Owen Wilson).

Partly because he was so distraught, but mostly because he is an idiot, Derek was unable to take care of his son, Derek Jr., and he was taken away by Child Protective Services. Derek announced at a press conference that he was retiring from modeling to become “a hermit crab.” Hansel, his face scarred from his injury, also retreated from the world, to live in the desert (well, Malibu) with an 11-person assortment of consorts he refers to affectionately as his orgy.

But then a nefarious villain is killing pop stars, who die with what appears to be Derek’s famous Blue Steel look on their faces. When Justin Bieber is killed (with time for an Instagram filters joke), Interpol’s fashion division, led by a former swimsuit model (eternal beauty Penelope Cruz) decides that they need Derek’s help to solve the crime.

There’s a lot of fan service here, which can seem stale to those who know the first movie well. But as a lukewarm fan of the earlier film, I found myself being a lukewarm fan of this one, too. The dumb jokes (both those about being dumb and those that actually are dumb) and grotesqueries are no funnier but no less funny. The storyline (Will Derek be reunited with his son? Will Hansel be a father to his various upcoming babies? Will Will Ferrell’s Mugatu destroy whatever it is he is planning to destroy?) is weak, but it is a hoot to see the fashion dream team (even Anna Wintour!) playing themselves with such good humor. In fashion terms, it’s a cheap knock-off, but sometimes that’s all you need.

Parents should know that this film includes very strong content for a PG-13 including very crude sexual references and brief graphic sexual humor, mostly comic violence with characters injured and killed and some disturbing images, and brief strong language.

Family discussion: What are the most important messages we receive from the fashion industry? If they make a “Zoolander 3,” what celebrities would you like to see included?

If you like this, try: the first “Zoolander”

Touched With Fire

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Not rated
Movie Release Date:February 12, 2016
B
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Movie Release Date: February 12, 2016

Movies are fascinated with mentally ill people but they usually do not do a very good job of portraying them accurately or compassionately. Too often they are either serial killers (“Silence of the Lambs”). Even worse, too often they are adorable wise fools (“Benny & Joon,” “King of Hearts”), somehow tuned in to a finer way of thinking. We very seldom get to see them as people. But “Touched With Fire,” named for the book on bi-polar disorder by a doctor who herself is bi-polar and written and directed by Paul Dalio, who is bi-polar, there is a sense of deep understanding of the characters that makes it very compelling.

Dalio takes us inside, literally shifting the color scheme and the walls of the sets so that we not only see the characters experiencing a manic high but get a sense of how thrilling, liberating, and exhilarating it feels. He is also deeply compassionate to the family members. Christine Lahti and Griffin Dunne show us endless and sometimes exhausting love, fear, and pain for their children.

Dalio and his characters, Marco (Luke Kirby) and Carla (Katie Holmes) feel kinship to the many artists who were bi-polar, from Van Gogh to Hemingway (we see a list in the film’s closing credits). The manic cycles of bi-polar disorder can spark a kaleidoscopic geyser of artistic energy. Marco and Carla are both poets with wild, vivid word choices. They meet in a mental hospital and are immediately drawn to one another, triggering a manic episode that catapults them into ecstatic happiness. But the down cycle and the consequences of their behavior create complications.

Dalio is very good at conveying the subjective experience of mania and the family dynamics and the poetry and speech of the two main characters limns the uncertain line between art and madness. Holmes and Kirby both give performances of enormous sensitivity and insight. But his very diligence about fairness to everyone and some didactic discursiveness are better for therapeutic purposes than narrative purposes. It is a thoughtful, compassionate film that itself shows how art can help to both heal and express thoughts that are otherwise dangerously uncontainable.

Parents should know that this movie includes themes of mental illness and medication, with attempted suicide and risky behavior, strong language, sexual references, and abortion.

Family discussion: What was the best way for Marco’s and Carla’s parents to respond to their news? Why did Carla and Marco make different choices?

If you like this, try: the book by Kay Redfield Jamison and Mark Ruffalo’s performance in “Infinitely Polar Bear”

Trailer: The Whole Truth with Keanu Reeves and Gugu Mbatha-Raw

posted by Nell Minow
YouTube Preview Image

Keanu Reeves, Renee Zellweger, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw star in the courtroom drama “The Whole Truth,” directed by “Frozen River’s” Courtney Hunt.

Previous Posts

How to be Single
Drew Barrymore -- you know I love you but how does your Flower Films production company produce a film about female friendship and empowerment that barely passes the Bechdel test? And did we really need a thinly disguised remake of "He's ...

posted 5:40:06pm Feb. 11, 2016 | read full post »

Zoolander 2
Kind of like fashion itself, we don't really care whether "Zoolander 2" is any good. We go because it is silly fun. The original Zoolander, ...

posted 5:22:04pm Feb. 11, 2016 | read full post »

Touched With Fire
Movies are fascinated with mentally ill people but they usually do not do a very good job of portraying them accurately or compassionately. Too often they are either serial killers ("Silence of the Lambs"). Even worse, too often they are ...

posted 5:12:04pm Feb. 11, 2016 | read full post »

Trailer: The Whole Truth with Keanu Reeves and Gugu Mbatha-Raw
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDgt-d2qBKM[/youtube] Keanu Reeves, Renee Zellweger, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw star in the courtroom drama "The Whole Truth," directed by "Frozen River's" Courtney Hunt. ...

posted 8:52:22am Feb. 11, 2016 | read full post »

Create Your Own Zoolander Valentine!
Zoolander 2 and Valentine's Day! Visit this site to show your valentine that your love is as true as Blue Steel! ...

posted 10:47:24pm Feb. 10, 2016 | read full post »

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