Movie Mom

Movie Mom


posted by rkumar
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Violence/Scariness:Very intense peril
Diversity Issues:Most characters white
Movie Release Date:2002
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
Profanity: Mild
Nudity/Sex: None
Alcohol/Drugs: Mild
Violence/Scariness: Very intense peril
Diversity Issues: Most characters white
Movie Release Date: 2002

M. Night Shyamalan knows what scares us. It scares him, too.

As in “The Sixth Sense” and “Unbreakable,” writer/producer/director Shyamalan’s latest is a story of a crisis of faith, a wise child, and something out there that is very, very disturbing but ultimately part of a pattern that supports and embraces all of us.

Mel Gibson plays Graham Hess, a recent widower who lives with his two children and his brother Merrill (Joaquin Phoenix) on a farm in Pennsylvania. He had been a minister, but lost his faith when his wife was killed. Now he winces when people call him “Father.”

He wakes up one night with a sense of dread. His children are not in bed. He runs out into the cornfield and his children show him that the stalks have been bent into a mysterious pattern. It can’t have been made by a machine, because the stalks are not broken. And it can’t have been done by hand, because the shapes are too perfectly even.

It turns out that the strange signs have appeared all over the world. Graham wants to believe that the shapes are a prank or a hoax. He cannot bear the thought that his family could be vulnerable to more injury or loss.

Gibson is outstanding in a role that calls for subtlety, maturity, and a mixture of vulnerability and strength. The children, played by Rory Culkin and Abigail Breslin, are just right. They act like smart kids who know what loss is and are scared but also tantalized by what is going on around them. Shyamalan’s skills as a director are getting stronger and stronger. His use of the camera to tell the story is masterful. There is a moment when the screen goes completely black that had the audience gasping. He has clearly been paying attention to Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg, and has a few tricks of his own to contribute. His only mistake is in leaving too little to the imagination. Like his characters, he likes to have everything explained.

Parents should know that this movie has extreme tension and peril, though it is not graphic or gory. Some audience members will find it very scary. Some will be comforted by its ultimate conclusion, but others will find it disappointing, even sugary or superficial. They might even be offended at its deterministic take on things.

Families who see this movie should talk about whether they see patterns and purpose in what occurs around them and what it means to them. Where do people find their faith? What kind of person says that it doesn’t feel right not to swing? They might also want to look at websites like this one to find out more about efforts to contact life on other planets.

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy more benign stories about contact with aliens: Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Contact. They may also want to try the very creepy The Others and one of the scariest movies ever, the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Previous Posts

The Art of More -- Coming to Crackle November 19, 2015
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0"] An intense, one-hour drama set in the high-stakes world of New York auction houses, “The Art of More” ...

posted 8:00:00am Oct. 10, 2015 | read full post »

Interview: Jon Gries of "Endgame" (and "Get Shorty" and "Napoleon Dynamite")
I'm a big fan of actor Jon Gries, who always brings something very specific and interesting to his roles. In "Endgame," the story of a championship chess team from a school in a poor community from writer/director Carmen Marron, it would have ...

posted 3:27:36pm Oct. 09, 2015 | read full post »

Meryl Streep Calls for More Women Film Critics
The Hollywood Reporter quotes Meryl Streep on the disproportionate number of male film critics on Rotten Tomatoes:  "The word isn’t 'disheartening,' it’s 'infuriating,'” she said. “I submit to you that men and women are not the same. ...

posted 8:00:10am Oct. 09, 2015 | read full post »

Big Stone Gap
Even in small towns, big things can happen. Sometimes the most famous movie star in the world stops by and makes international headlines. And ...

posted 5:51:50pm Oct. 08, 2015 | read full post »

Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore), a 23-year veteran of the police force, learns that she has terminal cancer. And then she learns something even ...

posted 5:50:17pm Oct. 08, 2015 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.