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Women Rule the Box Office

posted by Nell Minow

“Spy” beat “Entourage” last weekend in the battle of the two R-rated raunchy comedies.  The one featuring women in all the lead roles was first at the box office with a robust $29.1 million, and the one featuring men in […]

Amazon Will No Longer Sell “Boys Toys” and “Girls Toys” — Just “Toys”

posted by Nell Minow

There is only one person who should decide which toy is fun — the person who plays with it. Not the manufacturers or the retailers. President Obama wisely pointed this out by refusing to accept the labels on toys at […]

Actress Speaks Up Against Absurd Hollywood Casting Conventions

posted by Nell Minow

Cheers to the understandably anonymous “Miss L,” an actress in Hollywood, for her Tumblr posting real-life casting information that shows how limited and misogynistic Hollywood casting is.  Casting Call Woe shows actual casting call notices, most of which require actresses […]

MPAA Ratings and Community Differences on Sex and Violence

posted by Nell Minow

Joan Graves heads up the MPAA’s ratings board and she is the only member whose name is public. She talked to The Wrap about some intriguing regional difference in views on sex and violence. “The South is concerned about using […]

Toys That Impair Imagination: The Over-Licensing of Children’s Toys

posted by Nell Minow

It’s always tempting to give children toys from the movies and television programs they love, and some of them are high-quality or even educational. But Melissa Atkins Wardy has a very good argument that the licensing of media tie-ins has […]

Alternatives to “Fifty Shades of Grey”

posted by Nell Minow

A lot of people will go see “Fifty Shades of Grey” this weekend.  But if a story of bondage and submission is not to your taste, there are some alternatives.  50 Dollars Not 50 Shades is asking people to send the […]

Why We Love Jimmy Fallon’s Lip Synch Contests: Fallon, Ferrell, and Hart Perform “Drunk in Love,” “Let It Go,” “All of Me” (Plus Drew Barrymore)

posted by Nell Minow

I always enjoy Jimmy Fallon’s lip synch competitions and this is one of the best, with Will Ferrell performing “Drunk in Love” and ‘Let it Go,” Kevin Hart going all out with “All of Me” and “Roar,” and Fallon rocking […]

Women Talk About Making Movies

posted by Nell Minow

The New York Times talked to women in Hollywood about making movies. Some of the highlights: “What’s wrong with bossy? It’s O.K. for a man.” Barbra Streisand, Director (“The Prince of Tides”) It’s a conundrum: We can’t change it ourselves, […]

This Week in Theaters: Two Lifetime-Ish Movies About Women Named Claire Played by Women Named Jennifer

posted by Nell Minow

Two of the movies opening this week are about women named Claire, played by women named Jennifer. And both are the kind of stories we often see in Lifetime movies. In “Cake,” Jennifer Aniston plays the survivor of a tragic […]

How Should We Look At “Offensive” Art?

posted by Nell Minow

Thanks to Sam Adams and Indiewire for including me in a thoughtful discussion of “offensive art” in light of the attack on the satiric magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.  My response: I don’t have a favorite example of offensive art, […]

Critic Critiques — Has the Internet Been Good or Bad for Movie Criticism?

posted by Nell Minow

Until a few years ago, the movie critics you read were determined by geography.  There were a few critics in national publications, like Pauline Kael in the New Yorker and the critics for Time and Newsweek.  If you lived in […]

What Even Heroine-Led Films for Kids Get Wrong About Women

posted by Nell Minow

I’m glad that we are seeing more spirited, strong female characters, especially in movies for kids, really I am. But we still have a long way to go, as discussed in an excellent analysis on Tor.com from Emily Asher-Perrin. She […]

How True Should a “Based on a True Story” Movie Be?

posted by Nell Minow

What does “based on a true story” really mean? The Washington Post had a front-page story titled, “‘Selma’ sets off a controversy amid Oscar buzz,” describing the objections by Lyndon Johnson administration insiders to the way he was portrayed. They […]

2014 in Film: Best, Worst, and More

posted by Nell Minow

Ten is an arbitrary number, a year is an arbitrary span of time, and it makes no sense at all to try to rank movies that are so different in concept, genre, and aspiration. Nevertheless, as I always say when […]

Model With Down Syndrome in Target Ad

posted by Nell Minow

Bravo Target! An adorable 2-year-old from Minnesota named Izzy Bradley is featured in this ad for Target. She has Down Syndrome. Thanks very much to Target for understanding — and spreading the message — that all kinds of beauty are […]

TOADY 2014: The Worst Toy of the Year

posted by Nell Minow

I look forward to the TOADY (Toys Oppressive and Destructive to Young children) worst toy of the year award given out each year by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood with a horrified fascination. What could they have been thinking? […]

Margo Page on a Broader Bechdel Test

posted by Nell Minow

I’ve written more than once about the Bechdel test for movies: Are there at least two named female characters who have lines and do they talk to each other about anything other than men? And I’ve written about some of […]

Claire LaZebnik’s Thoughts on Thanks

posted by Nell Minow

I can’t think of a better way to start Thanksgiving weekend than taking a few minutes to read my friend Claire LaZebnik’s wise and inspiring essay on gratitude. This most American of holidays is often accompanied by stress — from […]

MPAA Ratings #Fail on “Horrible Bosses 2″

posted by Nell Minow

In yet another example of the inadequacy and the deliberate obfuscation of the MPAA ratings systems, we have the ratings for both the theatrical release of “Horrible Bosses 2″ and the upcoming unrated DVD. Not only does the explanation omit […]

Another #Epicfail for Barbie — And a Non-Barbie Alternative

posted by Nell Minow

Remember when Teen Talk Barbie got in trouble for saying “Math is hard?” Well, Mattel did not get the memo because a new Barbie book intended to encourage girls’ interest in STEM subjects like computer programming completely misses the point. […]

Nell Scovell Pays Tribute to the Under-Used Women Alumnae of SNL

posted by Nell Minow

The wonderful Nell Scovell, who helped Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg write Lean In and is now working on a screenplay based on the book, has an excellent essay in Time about the talented women who appeared on “Saturday Night Live” but […]

Does PG-13 Mean Anything Anymore?

posted by Nell Minow

The Washington Post has an article about a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Parental Desensitization to Violence and Sex in Movies,” with some disturbing conclusions about parents’ ability to make good decisions about the impact some media […]

Is This the End of Television?

posted by Nell Minow

Last week both cable giant HBO and broadcast giant CBS made announcements that signal the end of television as we know it.  Both responded to the clear message of the market and said that they would make their content available […]

Wrong About Critics, Wrong About Movies, Wrong About Faith

posted by Nell Minow

I am not going to give the people behind the idiotic and offensive press release I recently received the recognition of identifying them by name, but the claim that they make is one I have heard often enough I need […]

Guest Post: Tara Sonenshine on “Calvary”

posted by Nell Minow

My deepest thanks to Tara Sonenshine for allowing me to publish her thoughtful comments on “Calvary,” starring Brendan Gleeson as a troubled priest in a small Irish town.  It is a moving story of betrayal, despair, faith, and sacrifice. Faith […]

Why Are We Getting So Many Split POV Stories About Couples?

posted by Nell Minow

I wonder why there are three (so far) different stories coming out that tell us the same saga of an up-and-down romance from two different perspectives (POV, or point of view). “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,” starring James McAvoy and […]

Should Movie Audiences Text to the Screen?

posted by Nell Minow

It is annoying enough when someone near you in a movie theater takes out a cell phone to text. Imagine how it would be if you then saw the text on the screen. That’s what a Chinese theater is experimenting […]

Summer Summer-y: The Summer Movies of 2014

posted by Nell Minow

A few concluding thoughts on the summer movies of 2014: A good summer for food movies: “The Chef,” “The 100-Foot Journey,” and “The Trip to Italy” had some big-time actors but the real stars were the luscious meals. Special mention […]

“Let’s Be Cops” Could Have Been Not Terrible

posted by Nell Minow

“Let’s Be Cops” is a dumb movie that wants to be like “Lethal Weapon” or “The Other Guys,” a comedy action film about buddies with badges. It’s moderate box office returns are possibly in part because the unrest in Ferguson […]

Popcorn Update….Maybe

posted by Nell Minow

Remember when I explained how movie theater lobbyists created a loophole in the rules requiring places that serve food to let you know the calories and fat content of your purchases? I don’t think it’s likely to happen, but it’s […]

Guardians of the Galaxy Merch: Where’s Gamora???? Sigh.

posted by Nell Minow

Guardians of the Galaxy is enormous fun and a huge box-office hit, with loveable characters and a refreshing sense of humor about itself. Who wouldn’t want to extend the pleasures of the film with some merch, perhaps an action figure […]

Lucy and the Box Office: The Good News and the Bad News

posted by Nell Minow

Last week, “Lucy” beat “Hercules” at the box office, good news for those who still think that women-led action films can’t make money. As blog The Mary Sue put it succinctly: “Today In Female-Led-Movies-Obviously-Don’t-Make-Money News, Lucy Beat Out Hercules This […]

Who Should Play Non-White Characters?

posted by Nell Minow

Amanda Scherker has an excellent piece in the Huffington Post about “whitewashing” in films — ethnically white actors playing non-white characters. We understand now how absurd it was to have John Wayne play Genghis Khan or Katharine Hepburn play “Dragon […]

Colbie Caillat’s Wonderful New Video

posted by Nell Minow

The video for Colbie Caillat’s new song, “Try,” from Gypsy Heart Side A, shows her struggle to be true to herself in a world that expects women, especially performers, to conform to a narrow and highly polished idea of beauty. […]

I’m Glad to Hear I’m Not the Only One Who Had No Idea What Was Happening in “Transformers: Age of Extinction”

posted by Nell Minow

Two writers from Slate couldn’t figure it out, either.  Except that “If I’m ever in Hong Kong in the midst of an apocalyptic battle between Dinobots, Autobots, reconstituted Decepticon leaders, evil CIA agents, venal tech CEOs, and Chinese nationals conveniently […]

Another Bad Idea for a Remake: Wargames

posted by Nell Minow

Cinema Blend reports that a remake of the Matthew Broderick film “Wargames” is in the works, possibly with Ansel Elgort or Tye Sheridan in the lead role.  This is an awful idea.  What made WarGames so popular in 1983 was […]

More on “Jersey Boys” Director Clint Eastwood

posted by Nell Minow

Clint Eastwood is not a favorite of mine as an actor or a director, though I appreciate some of his work. I think his best performance may have been in Gran Torino, which he also directed.  But as a director, […]

Movies Get Wiser About GLBT: How To Train Your Dragon 2 and 22 Jump Street

posted by Nell Minow

This week’s two big national releases are both sequels featuring Jonah Hill.  But they have something more important in common: Both reflect a wiser, kinder, more just treatment of GLBT characters.  It was only a few years ago that I […]

Focus on the Family Responds to My F Review of “Irreplaceable”

posted by Nell Minow

I am most grateful to Focus on the Family for their very courteous response to my review of their film “Irreplaceable,” one of the harshest I have ever published.  I strongly encourage everyone who wants to understand our disagreement to […]

Noah: Reactions and Responses

posted by Nell Minow

Noah may be controversial, but it is also a box office success.  Literalists complained about its departure from the Biblical text.  There were also some complaints about what some viewers interpreted as too much emphasis on environmentalism, and those who wanted […]

White Actors Cast In “The Gods of Egypt”

posted by Nell Minow

I’m in favor of race-blind casting except when race is a part of the story.  And that seems to be the case in a $450 million epic film called “The Gods of Egypt” that takes place in Egypt.  But instead […]

All Children Need Books About All Children

posted by Nell Minow

Author Walter Dean Myers, former Library of Congress National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, wrote about a troubling issue in the New York Times: the lack of diversity in books for children. “Of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, just […]

What! No Female Superhero Movies?

posted by Nell Minow

On top of the distressing news that Halle Berry’s Storm character in the new X-Men movie has been cut down to one scene — possibly just one line — and Anna Pacquin’s Rogue removed entirely, comes some more bad news. […]

Should We Ban Hand-Held Devices for Kids?

posted by Nell Minow

Cris Rowan has a provocative but compelling piece in Huffington Post arguing that no one under 12 should use smart phones, tablets, or other devices.  Her reasons include studies linking the amount of screen time to radiation exposure, obesity, and […]

New Report: Female Characters Still Under-Represented in Films

posted by Nell Minow

Despite the critical and financial success of “Gravity” and “The Hunger Games,” it is still hard to find movies with strong leading female characters.  A new report from Women in TV and Film shows little progress.  The title is pointed: […]

Do the Oscars Overlook Movies About Young People?

posted by Nell Minow

My friend John Hanlon has a thoughtful piece on CNN.com about the way the Oscars and other movie awards overlook stories about young people and performances by actors in their teens and twenties. It’s unfortunate but undeniable that award shows […]

Was 2013 the Best Year in History for African-American Films?

posted by Nell Minow

Many thanks to Kevin Sampson for inviting me to join my friends Tim Gordon and Jason Fraley and director and DC film office head Pierre Bagley for a lively discussion and debate on movies made by African-American filmmakers.

Responding to the Complaints about “Noah”

posted by Nell Minow

As I noted earlier, Variety reported the results of a bogus survey as though it represented legitimate concerns from the faith community about the upcoming film, “Noah,” starring Russell Crowe and directed by Darren Aronofsky.  It is always disappointing when […]

No, Fox News, “The LEGO Movie” is Not Anti-Business

posted by Nell Minow

Perpetuating its favorite ploy of simultaneously riling up and soothing its viewers with its message of victimhood, Fox News now claims that the charming, funny, and very smart “LEGO Movie” is anti-business propaganda, designed to inculcate the next generation into […]

The Present NOT to Buy Your Children Next Christmas

posted by Nell Minow

Dreamworks is teaming up with Fuhu, the maker of tablets  for children to create the first tablet in which the content provider controls what the user sees.  In other words, it’s more like a television.  While Amazon sensibly makes sure […]

Battle Over “Love Actually”

posted by Nell Minow

“Love Actually” has become a Christmas tradition.  The assorted stories of romance, from comic to tender to bittersweet, take place at Christmastime, with a rousing performance of “All I Want for Christmas is You” from Olivia Olson. My friend Christopher […]

How to Respond to the Duck Dynasty Controversy

posted by Nell Minow

When you make an outspoken, irascible patriarch into a television star, he is going to say outspoken, irascible things.  And so “Duck Dynasty” dad Phil Robertson gave his views on homosexuality as a sin in an interview with GQ, using […]

Should Actresses Have To Strip?

posted by Nell Minow

Karen Valby has an excellent essay in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly about stripping scenes in recent movies, like Jennifer Aniston in “We’re the Millers” and Gwyneth Paltrow seducing her new boyfriend in “Thank You for Sharing.”  Both, of […]

Let Freedom Ring Today at 3 PM

posted by Nell Minow

Today three Presidents and thousands of people will gather on the National Mall in front of the Lincoln Memorial to observe the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and the historic “I Have a Dream” speech by the Reverend […]

What Was Really Wrong With Miley Cyrus on the VMAs

posted by Nell Minow

Another VMA broadcast on MTV, another morning-after round of horrified reactions.  This time, most of the criticism is focused on former Disney tween star Miley Cyrus, whose dance with Robin Thicke included the usual VMA trifecta for female performers: skimpy […]

Summer Movies 2013: Best, Worst, and Most Surprising

posted by Nell Minow

It seems like just days ago that I posted my discussion of what to expect from the summer movies of 2013.  There was no real smash hit and there were a couple of massive flops (though likely to make enough […]

Why Conservatives Should Appreciate “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”

posted by Nell Minow

I highly recommended my friend Rebecca Cusey’s very thoughtful essay on Patheos, Hey Conservatives, Don’t Blast ‘The Butler’ (From a Conservative).  I am strongly opposed to reducing complex human stories to us-vs-them political bullet points (indeed, opposed to us-vs-them political […]

Shushers vs. Texters at the Movies — Which Side Are You On?

posted by Nell Minow

In what may be one of the biggest online troll posts of all time, Anil Dash has come out in favor of texting and talking while watching a movie at the theater.  He thinks it is unfair and unrealistic to […]

Are Spoilers Really That Bad?

posted by Nell Minow

I love this “Portlandia” skit about spoilers. The whole issue of spoilers has become very complicated because of all the time-shifting and binge-watching in the way we consume media.  I don’t like spoilers and really work hard to keep them […]

Guest Post: Tara Sonenshine on Movie Portrayals of Aging

posted by Nell Minow

Many thanks to Tara D. Sonenshine for allowing me to post this guest commentary about the portrayal of aging in recent film: Movies come in thematic waves.  Recently I’ve noticed many new releases about—well, getting old. Aging actors playing aging characters.  Are baby boomers running Hollywood […]

MPAA’s New Check the Box Ratings

posted by Nell Minow

The MPAA ratings board announced some new “check the box” enhancements to the movie ratings system to give parents better and clearer information about the content of the movies, along with an ad campaign, an updated website for checking ratings, […]

MPAA Head Chris Dodd Speaks at the National Press Club

posted by Nell Minow

Yesterday Chris Dodd, head of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), spoke at the National Press Club, which prepared movie poster cookies in his honor.  As a member of the club who writes about movies, I was invited to […]

The Media and Violence — Changing Perspectives After Sandy Hook

posted by Nell Minow

The comprehensive public safety reform package proposed by President Obama today includes new programs and proposed rules to increase support for the mentally ill, restrict access to the most deadly weapons, and provide additional security through more funding for law […]

Tweet Seats in Movie Theaters?

posted by Nell Minow

Before the movie begins we all sit through those clever reminders to turn off our phones.  But of course people who are inconsiderate enough to use their phones in a movie theater are not going to to pay attention.  Minnesota’s […]

Why Is There Only One American Actor in a Movie Set in NY?

posted by Nell Minow

“Cosmopolis” is a new movie based on a book by American author Don DeLillo.  It is a story about Americans who work in the world of finance and takes place entirely in New York City.  It stars British actor Robert […]

When Tragedy Collides With Entertainment

posted by Nell Minow

Both nationwide movie releases this week were intended to be light entertainment and both found themselves having to respond to real-life events that they inadvertently evoke.  “The Watch,” an action comedy with Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill, was […]

Responding to the Shooting at “The Dark Knight Rises” in Colorado

posted by Nell Minow

An excited and happy crowd bought tickets to the first showing of one of the most eagerly anticipated movies of the year, “The Dark Knight Rises,” in Aurora, Colorado.  A half hour into the film, a man in a gas […]

DVS: Making Movies Accessible to the Visually Impaired

posted by Nell Minow

Boston public television station WGBH is a pioneer in making movies and PBS shows available to the visually impaired by adding descriptive audio, called DVS.  That is a quiet narration to explain the actions and settings, like “Jim runs to […]

Spider-Man Licorice and Other Weird Marketing Gimmicks

posted by Nell Minow

Thanks to my friend and fellow critic Cynthia Fuchs for leading me to this list of marketing tie-ins for “The Amazing Spider-Man.”  It’s funny that the Pez dispenser was the first reveal of the movie’s villain.  I am not surprised by […]

14-Year-Old Teaches 17 Magazine About Real Girls

posted by Nell Minow

I used to tell my daughter that she could read fashion magazines as long as she understood that everything in them, the articles and the ads, was intended to make her feel bad about her looks and buy a lot […]

Happy Anniversary, “Star Wars!”

posted by Nell Minow

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, my mom gave me a preview ticket for a movie and I went knowing nothing about it except that it was made by the director of “American Graffiti” and co-starred Alec […]

Cannes: Where Are the Women?

posted by Nell Minow

Thanks to Thelma Adams for writing about the way that the prestigious Cannes Film Festival continues to overlook women.  [This] year’s Cannes Film Festival has not a single female-directed film among the 23 in competition. I love contenders like David […]

Pixar’s “Brave” Gets a PG Rating

posted by Nell Minow

Pixar usually hits the G-rating sweet spot but for this year’s highly anticipated “Brave,” the first Pixar film to feature a female lead, they have received a PG rating from the MPAA, for “some scary action and rude humor.”  The […]

Wait, a Theater Wants to Encourage Texting?

posted by Nell Minow

A panel at industry gathering Cinemacon seemed to support the idea of allowing or even encouraging texting during a movie.  David Lieberman reports on Deadline that some theater chains believe that today’s ticket buyers are so attached to their devices it […]

“October Baby” Is Not As Controversial As Its Supporters Claim

posted by Nell Minow

“October Baby” exceeded expectations in its opening weekend last week, making a respectable $1.7 million in only 390 theaters.  It is the story of a college student with multiple health problems who finds out for the first time that she […]

Bully to be Released Un-Rated

posted by Nell Minow

Unable to persuade the MPAA to give a PG-13 rating to “Bully,” the documentary about the tragic consequences of verbal and physical abuse, the producers have decided to released it “unrated.” “The small amount of language in the film that’s […]

More “Hunger Games” Craziness

posted by Nell Minow

It’s inevitable that any movie as high-profile as “The Hunger Games” would be grabbed for political advocacy by all sides.  My friend Rebecca Cusey writes in Patheos: It seems “The Hunger Games” is a bit of a Rorschach test for […]

Marketing Legos to Boys and Girls

posted by Nell Minow

Thanks to my friends at the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood for pointing me to this look at the different way Legos are marketed to boys and girls.  I love the way the website lets you make your own mash-up. […]

MPAA Asks Parents What They Think About the F-Word

posted by Nell Minow

One of the most unfathomably boneheaded policies of the MPAA ratings boards is its position that a PG-13 film can have one or two uses of the f-word as long as it does not refer to sex. Even a PhD […]

The B-Word on Television

posted by Nell Minow

Two new television series feature the word for a female dog in their titles. “GCB” is a Dallas-based series based on a book called Good Christian Bitches.  Don’t Trust the B– in Apartment 23 stars Krysten Ritter as a New York mean […]

Complaints about “The Lorax” from Lou Dobbs and the CCFC

posted by Nell Minow

Dr. Seuss wrote The Lorax in 1971, around the time of the first Earth Day and the creation (by Republican President Richard Nixon) of the Environmental Protection Agency.  It is the story of the “Once-ler” who chanced upon a place filled […]

With Computer Alterations, Who Gives the Performance?

posted by Nell Minow

As we wait to see whether Andy Serkis will become the first actor to receive an acting Oscar nomination for a motion capture performance next week, this week’s release of “Haywire” raises some interesting questions about who really gives the […]

Do Trailers Spoil Movies?

posted by Nell Minow

My friend and fellow critic Kevin McCarthy has a blog post about a woman who filed a lawsuit accusing the “Drive” trailer of false advertising.  She claims the studio, FilmDistrict, misled her into thinking that it would be a car […]

Are We Finally Going to See ‘Fireflies in the Garden?’

posted by Nell Minow

Can you believe that a movie starring Julia Roberts, Willem Dafoe, Emily Watson, and Ryan Reynolds has been sitting on a shelf someplace in a studio archive since 2008?   And that Julia Roberts plays Ryan Reynolds’ mother?  The film […]

Tide Commercial Gets It Wrong About Moms, Daughters, and Gender Roles

posted by Nell Minow

I try to maintain a sense of humor about ads, but I really do not like the new series of commercials for Tide with people explaining how they get their clothes dirty.  I know they are intended to be funny […]

‘The Lion King’ Roars at the Box Office — Again

posted by Nell Minow

The Lion King, a 3D conversion of a 1994 Disney animated film that has been available on DVD and on video, cable, and broadcast television before that has stunned box-office predictors by out-grossing Brad Pitt’s very high profile baseball movie […]

Network Television’s Distressing New Word

posted by Nell Minow

Years ago, “Saturday Night Live” had a funny “Wayne’s World” sketch with Bruce Willis as the high school cool kid, who appeared on the show to reveal to Wayne and Garth what the new cool insult word of the year […]

More 3D Conversions: Top Gun is Next

posted by Nell Minow

The re-release of “The Lion King” in 3D is coming this month and now the Hollywood Reporter says that “Top Gun” is being adapted for a 3D release.  Apparently, director Tony Scott has not yet given his approval. As I […]

A Controversial Choice for a Judah Maccabee Film

posted by Nell Minow

The story of Judah Maccabee, one of the greatest warrior heroes in Jewish history, could make a great movie.  He led the first revolt against religious oppression in 167 BCE.  His victory is celebrated by Jews around the world each […]

New ‘Star Wars’ Blu-Ray Creates Controversy

posted by Nell Minow

George Lucas can’t stop fiddling with “Star Wars.” This week’s highly anticipated Blu-Ray release of Star Wars: The Complete Saga films has 40 hours of extra material, which will make the fan-boys happy, but it also tinkers with the original […]

Family Media Rules for the New School Year

posted by Nell Minow

As families get ready to start a new school year, it is a good opportunity to sit down and map out the rules for managing media, which should be posted in the kitchen and signed off on by both adults […]

Is ‘The Help’ Offensive?

posted by Nell Minow

The Help is a hit.  The book club favorite by first-time novelist Kathryn Stockett is now a box office success, with strong reviews and robust ticket sales.  Like the book, though, it is controversial.  Is it well-intentioned but insensitive for white […]

Even More Sequels and Remakes

posted by Nell Minow

2011 has more sequels and remakes than any year in movie history but it looks like the record will be broken soon.  This year’s Smurf and Pirates of the Caribbean movies already have sequels underway.   Mike Meyers has announced […]

Closed Captioning Urged for Online Series

posted by Nell Minow

As more original content is being created for the web, deaf and hard of hearing audiences are urging producers to include closed captions. The Washington Post reports: Last year, President Obama signed into law the 21st Century Communications and Video […]

In Defense of ‘Hangover 2′ (Spoiler Alert)

posted by Nell Minow

“Hangover 2″ got slammed by the critics, with only a 35 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  But I liked it.  I don’t usually comment on other critics’ reviews, but this time I think it is worth taking a moment […]

A Death in the ‘Glee’ Family

posted by Nell Minow

Spoiler Alert!  If you did not see “Glee” last night, wait to read this until you get a chance to watch it.   Last night, “Glee” reminded us that it can be more than a sometimes coy or campy fantasy […]

Half a Century of the ‘Vast Wasteland’

posted by Nell Minow

Fifty years ago today, my dad, Newton Minow, the 35-year old Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, spoke to the National Association of Broadcasters.  What he said was so ground-breaking and so resonant that it has been included in many […]

The Wrap Raps Another ‘White Summer’ from Hollywood

posted by Nell Minow

The Wrap notes that despite the record-smashing opening weekend for “Fast Five,” the rest of the summer movie line-up does not feature much ethnic diversity. “‘Fast Five’ is a great example of Hollywood getting it right,” Craig Detweiler, professor of film […]

New Initiative to Support Staying in School

posted by Nell Minow

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has a new media initiative called “American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen.”  Every year, more than 1 million students drop out of high school.  If that trend continues, over the next 10 years, it will […]

Ralph Lauren Pretends His Catalog is a Book For Kids

posted by Nell Minow

Renée Loth writes in the Boston Globe this weekend about Ralph Lauren’s new “book” for children — really a thinly disguised catalog.  They’re calling it “The first ever shoppable children’s storybook.’’ “The RL Gang: A Magically Magnificent School Adventure’’ is […]

Movie Theater Popcorn: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

posted by Nell Minow

The Food and Drug Administration released its proposed rules on disclosure of nutritional and calorie information for the food served in chain restaurants. But intense lobbying by the theater industry has led to a great big loophole — movie snacks […]

Thelma Adams Takes on the Sexism in ‘Mars Needs Moms’

posted by Nell Minow

I was delighted to see US movie critic Thelma Adams go after “Mars Needs Moms” for the retro sexism of its plot. As she notes in a comment following my review, she wrote on her blog about the weirdness of […]

Bad Manners and the Rules of Engagement — Reminder

posted by Nell Minow

I love hearing from the people who read what I post here and it is my hope that we can create a community that welcomes a spirited discussion on media, culture, and values. I am lucky to have found a […]

Colin Firth as Henry Higgins?

posted by Nell Minow

There are rumors that Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “Bridget Jones’ Diary”) may be the new Professor Henry Higgins in a forthcoming remake of “My Fair Lady,” to be directed by Joe Wright (who directed the Kiera […]

Bond is Back!

posted by Nell Minow

Last summer, I reported that the Sam Mendes-directed James Bond movie with Daniel Craig had been canceled due to the bankruptcy of the studio, MGM. Today, it seems hopeful that it is back on track. Craig’s availability has not been […]

Tribute: Doonesbury’s Mom and Marshall’s Dad

posted by Nell Minow

We don’t often see death in comic strips and sit-coms. But on “How I Met Your Mother,” Marshall Erickson (Jason Segal) lost his beloved father Marvin (played by Bill Fagerbakke). And the title character in Garry Trudeau’s comic strip, currently […]

The Biggest Movie Bad Guy of the Year: The Corporation

posted by Nell Minow

I had a lot of fun writing for BNet about why corporations were the go-to villain in the movies of 2010, from “Despicable Me” to “The Other Guys,” “Tron: Legacy,” “Resident Evil 4,” and “Inception.”

More Madness from the MPAA Ratings Board

posted by Nell Minow

Two movies opening up this week get a PG rating. One is “Yogi Bear,” based on the cartoon series for children about a bear who steals picnic baskets. The other is “Tron: Legacy” a high-tech action film that involves peril, […]

Roger Ebert Cites Me in MPAA Ratings Op-Ed

posted by Nell Minow

I am honored to be mentioned in Roger Ebert’s outstanding op-ed about the MPAA ratings, and thrilled with his support for what I do. Last week, on appeal, the MPAA lowered the rating of “Blue Valentine,” a searing portrait of […]

Ask Amy’s ‘Book on Every Bed’ Project

posted by Nell Minow

Amy Dickenson has a wonderful idea for Christmas, “A Book on Every Bed.” Take a book. Wrap it. Place it on a child’s bed so it’s the first thing she sees on Christmas morning (or whatever holiday you celebrate). That’s […]

A Black Heathcliff in the New ‘Wuthering Heights’

posted by Nell Minow

One of the most famous characters in literature is the brooding Heathcliff in Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. Since its publication in 1847 it has captured the imagination of generations of readers with its story of a tragic love affair in […]

Another Bad Call from the MPAA

posted by Nell Minow

The ultra-violent “Saw 3D” gets an R. The ultra-explicit and disgusting “Jackass 3D” gets an R. But how does “The King’s Speech” get an R? This is an acclaimed historical drama about the King of England (Colin Firth) who has […]

Marie Claire Trashes ‘Fatties’ in ‘Mike and Molly’

posted by Nell Minow

One of the most popular new comedies on television this season is “Mike and Molly” a romance about an overweight couple played by gifted performers Billy Gardell and Melissa McCarthy (“Gilmore Girls”). Freelance blogger Maura Kelly wrote a post on […]

Protecting Kids and Teens from Bullies

posted by Nell Minow

A tragic series of suicides has put the spotlight on bullying and other forms of peer abuse of kids and teenagers. It has also prompted the It Gets Better project on YouTube from columnist Dan Savage and his partner Terry […]

Protecting Kids’ Privacy: Common Sense Media

posted by Nell Minow

Common Sense Media announced a new privacy initiative this week along with the results of their survey showing that 92 percent of parents are concerned about protecting their children’s privacy online. The Common Sense Privacy Campaign will include the distribution […]

Teen Sex in the Movies — What Has and Hasn’t Changed

posted by Nell Minow

This week’s releases include two films different in tone and style but both about the same time-honored subject of teenagers and sex. Every generation of teens thinks it invented sex and every generation of novelists and film-makers finds some new […]

Offlining — Right Idea, but What About the Message?

posted by Nell Minow

I love the idea of “offlining,” asking families to take a pledge of device-free time to focus on real-life communication. More than 10,000 people have signed their pledge to have at least 10 device-free dinners between now and Thanksgiving. I […]

What’s the Future of 3D?

posted by Nell Minow

“Avatar” comes back to the screen this week in 3D IMAX only (with nine new minutes) and box office returns are inflated with 3D glasses surcharges. Theater owners like 3D because of the extra charges and the push it gives […]

Target Spoils ‘Free to Be’

posted by Nell Minow

I’m glad to see I am not the only one who is sorry to see Target use the classic “Free to Be You and Me” song in its ads. The song from The New Seekers is a special memory for […]

Protest of MPAA Rating for New Holocaust Film

posted by Nell Minow

“A Film Unfinished” is a new Holocaust documentary featuring never-before-shown footage from the Warsaw Ghetto. The MPAA has given it an “R” rating for “disturbing images of holocaust atrocities including graphic nudity.” This means that no one under 17 can […]

Comic-Con: Etc. and Misc.

posted by Nell Minow

I saw Gamer Grub, a specially designed “performance” snack for gamers that won’t leave crumbs on the keyboard or make their fingers sticky. A lot of people were walking around with dripping wounds on their faces. It turned out to […]

Comic-Con Costumes

posted by Nell Minow

Thoughts on the costumes at Comic-Con, composed as I waited in line for a panel that turned out to be full: There are those who work all year to look good in spandex and those who do not. It is […]

Is It Too Late for James Bond?

posted by Nell Minow

It sounded promising, with Sam Mendes (“American Beauty”) as director and Peter Morgan (“Frost/Nixon” and “The Queen”) as writer, with Daniel Craig returning and, perhaps most intriguingly, Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz as the villain. But the status of the next James […]

Who Let Pepsi Be an Expert on Healthy Eating for Kids?

posted by Nell Minow

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has a sobering blog post from Michele Simon about the latest F is for Fat release, an annual report from the Trust for Healthy Americans. The Trust describes itself as Trust “a non-profit, non-partisan […]

Teen Girl Magazine Tips — And a Girl Who Is Living By Them

posted by Nell Minow

Eight years ago, I wrote an article for the Chicago Tribune about magazines for teen girls. Like Cosmo Girl, Twist, Teen and other magazines aimed at teenage girls, Seventeen strikes an uneasy balance between being empowering and being trashy. This […]

The Other Toy Story

posted by Nell Minow

It’s a shame that a movie about the enduring pleasures of imagination and re-purposing and recycling treasured toys is also one long infomercial for more than 300 new products specifically tied to “Toy Story 3.” Susan Linn of the Center […]

A Useless and Stupid Product for Expectant Mothers

posted by Nell Minow

Children should be exposed to music as early and as often as possible and there is nothing wrong with pregnant women doing the best they can to surround themselves with soothing and beautiful sounds for their own benefit and the […]

Can Drunkenness Be Funny Anymore?

posted by Nell Minow

One of the many unpleasant elements of The Killers was the light-hearted portrayal of one of the main characters as a substance abuser. Catherine O’Hara plays the mother of Katherine Heigl’s character. Her role is one drunk joke after another. […]

Little Orphan Annie Says Goodbye

posted by Nell Minow

The sun’ll come out tomorrow, but Little Orphan Annie won’t be there to see it come up in the morning. After 86 years, the daily comic strip about the plucky redhead and her dog, Sandy has come to an end. […]

Should White Actors Play Non-White Characters?

posted by Nell Minow

The LA Times writes about what writer Chris Lee calls a “whitewash,” with all major parts in two high-budget, high-profile films set in the Mideast played by Caucasian performers. None of its principle cast members are of Iranian, Middle Eastern […]

Shrek Sells Out

posted by Nell Minow

I loved the new Shrek Forever After movie. But I was very sorry to see that the lovable big green ogre is not just living happily ever after over in Far Far Away. He is all over the mall selling […]

More Bad Language Goes Mainstream

posted by Nell Minow

I have written before about the coarsening of language in the media, which continues to concern me. Two recent examples are in the titles of upcoming releases. While the movie and television series are not intended for children, I wonder […]

Christian Toto on Movie Cliches He’d Like to Ban

posted by Nell Minow

My friend and fellow critic Christian Toto has a blog post about three movie cliches he’d like to ban from all future movies. # The ambivalent hit man: Yes, “The Matador” gave Pierce Brosnan one of his meatiest film roles. […]

Two PG Romances in One Week

posted by Nell Minow

We don’t get many PG movies designed for general audiences but this week we have two, both sweet romances, “Letters to Juliet” and “Just Wright.” The first is the story of girl about to be married who helps a woman […]

Is television still a vast wasteland?

posted by Nell Minow

Forty-nine years ago today my father, Newton Minow, in his first speech as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission in the Kennedy administration, gave a speech to the National Association of Broadcasters that has been widely quoted and anthologized as […]

Ebert on Why Today is the Golden Age of Film Criticism

posted by Nell Minow

There have been many articles about the end of the era of the movie critic as print media cuts have led to the departure of many of the best-established and most widely-read commentators on film. But Roger Ebert says this […]

A New Gay Friend for Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead

posted by Nell Minow

There’s a new kid at Riverdale High School. Archie Comics has announced that this fall Kevin Keller will join the gang at the maltshop and become the series’ first openly gay character. “The introduction of Kevin is just about keeping […]

Replacing Justice Stevens on the Supreme Court

posted by Nell Minow

Justice John Paul Stevens is retiring from the Supreme Court and I am very proud that my sister, Harvard Law School dean Martha Minow, is one of the candidates currently under consideration as his replacement. She’d be a great justice […]

More on Red-Band Trailers

posted by Nell Minow

Brooks Barnes writes in today’s New York Times about the increased accessibility of “red-band” trailers, movie previews that contain R-rated material. Over the last two years, movie marketers have flooded the Web with R-rated video ads known as “red band” […]

Is it Time for Another Captain America?

posted by Nell Minow

This week’s announcement that Chris Evans (“The Fantastic Four”) will star in a new “Captain America” movie makes this the right moment to think about the history and meaning of the character. Never as iconic and popular as Superman or […]

NPR’s Romantic Comedy Don’t List

posted by Nell Minow

Linda Holmes of NPR’s great Monkey See blog has a list of tired cliches that should be barred from all future romantic comedies because they are not funny and they are not romantic. Not coincidentally, several are featured in the […]

Botox vs. Acting

posted by Nell Minow

Amanda Fortini writes in New York Magazine about the impact that Botox and other beauty treatments have had on acting. What is a star to do when deciding between a face that can show emotion and one that looks younger […]

Shhhhh

posted by Nell Minow

Thank you Linda Holmes of NPR, for this heart-felt column about NOT TALKING IN MOVIE THEATERS. I think it is because people are used to watching movies at home or listening to director commentaries or checking their Blackberries in the […]

Is it All Right for Children to Use Bad Words On Screen?

posted by Nell Minow

As I have already discussed, the red-band (mature material) trailer for the upcoming film “Kick-Ass” has an 11-year-old character played by a now-13-year-old girl using extremely crude language. The New York Times article focused on the accessibility of the trailer […]

Red-Band Trailers Reach Underage Audiences

posted by Nell Minow

I am quoted in Brooks Barnes’ New York Times article today about the “red-band” trailer for a new superhero movie called “Kick-Ass.” Red-band trailers contain R-rated material and are supposed to be shown to adults only. In theaters, they are […]

‘Nerd’ Barbie?

posted by Nell Minow

While Ken is walking his little dog in Palm Beach, Barbie is crunching code as a computer engineer. Wired reports that the latest Barbie has a laptop and a bluetooth earpiece. Created in cooperation with the Society of Women Engineers […]

Vanity Fair’s Whites Only Hollywood Cover

posted by Nell Minow

I look forward to Vanity Fair’s annual Hollywood issue every year. It always has fabulous photos of today’s top talent, often in salutes to some of the classic movie stars of the past. And it always has a selection of […]

The Battle Over Super Bowl Ads

posted by Nell Minow

On February 7, the Saints will take on the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV. And the ads are as high-profile as the game. Companies and groups must pay CBS more than $2 million in addition to the cost of producing […]

Kids and Media: Kaiser’s M2 Report

posted by Nell Minow

The highly respected Kaiser Foundation has issued the third in its series of reports on children and media, Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8-18-year-olds. They found that with technology allowing nearly 24-hour media access as children and teens […]

More Thoughts on ‘Avatar’ (Spoiler Alerts)

posted by Nell Minow

Many thanks for the very thoughtful comments on my post about the commentary that “Avatar” has inspired. I was particularly glad to be directed to some thoughtful assessments of the film I had not seen. Thanks to Sheherazahde and Cheryl […]

Rotten Tomatoes Invites Me to Post the Must See and Worst Films of 2009

posted by Nell Minow

Thanks so much to Rotten Tomatoes for including me in their year-end wrap-up of my must-see and worst picks for 2009. I was surprised to find so many of the other critics picked the same worst film that I did! […]

Is ‘Avatar’ Anti-Christian? Anti-Corporate? Anti-Development?

posted by Nell Minow

“Avatar,” which set a record as the biggest-budget movie of all time has also set a box-office record with a total world gross in its first two weeks of $617.3 million. It is a technological wonder, seamlessly combining live action […]

Teaching Kids Critical Thinking Skills — With Holiday Ads

posted by Nell Minow

Ellen Besen has written a worthwhile article about how to use the avalanche of holiday season advertising to give children some important lessons in media literacy and critical thinking. Many thanks to Ms. Besen for permission to reprint it here. […]

MPAA to Revise Rules

posted by Nell Minow

Following my phone meeting with Joan Graves and Marilyn Gordon of the MPAA and the FTC’s report (citing my article) criticizing the motion picture industry, the MPAA has informed me that it will be making some changes to its rules […]

FTC: Movie Industry Fails at Protecting Kids from Violent Content

posted by Nell Minow

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission issued its seventh report in ten years on the marketing of violent media to children. While the movie industry is doing better at preventing children who are underage from buying tickets to R-rated films […]

What Was Adam Lambert Thinking?

posted by Nell Minow

I was looking forward to Adam Lambert’s performance on the American Music Awards last night because I was impressed with his ability and stage presence on “American Idol.” The show included some of the industry’s biggest stars, but they saved […]

More on the Eww-ishness of Zach and Cody

posted by Nell Minow

Slate TV critic Troy Patterson echoes the concerns about the smarmy qualities of the Disney series “The Suite Life on Deck” that Dan Savage discussed in the essay I linked to in June. “On Deck” is the follow-up series that […]

Thoughts on ‘Precious’

posted by Nell Minow

“Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire” has been warmly embraced by audiences and critics since it first appeared in festivals. Two of the biggest media powerhouses in the world, Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, signed on as producers […]

Wait, Women Go to Movies?

posted by Nell Minow

MaryAnn Johanson has a great piece in her series on the website of the Association of Women Film Journalists in response to the Hollywood conventional wisdom that movies need to be directed at boys and men to make money. Noting […]

Another Word Goes Mainstream?

posted by Nell Minow

In my concern for the continuing coarsening of language, I last wrote about whether the term “pimp” had become acceptable for children after it was used in the PG film “G-Force.” The New York Times writes about another word that […]

Disney Admits that Baby Einstein Does Not Help Babies

posted by Nell Minow

Disney, which had to drop the word “educational” from its marketing of Baby Einstein DVDs following complaints from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), has now had to back down further and offer a refund. The New York Times […]

No Heene Family Wife Swap

posted by Nell Minow

The savagely funny Washington Post television columnist Lisa de Moraes takes on the Heene family’s lust for reality television fame. The Heenes and the family behind the balloon boy hoax and subsequent media blitz. Slate’s Culture Gabfest noted that it […]

The Worst Surprise Endings in Movie History

posted by Nell Minow

Huffington Post has got a list of the nine worst surprise endings in movie history (well, in the past few years). I was pleased to see three of my Gothika Rule picks on the list, “Perfect Stranger,” “23,” and “The […]

Climate Change

posted by Nell Minow

The theme of Blog Action Day this year is Climate Change. Observe this day by watching one of the many documentaries about the environment like An Inconvenient Truth , FLOW: For Love of Water, “No Impact Man,” or Wall?E. And […]

More (and Less) on ‘The Invention of Lying’

posted by Nell Minow

In Washington DC’s City Paper, Tricia Olszewski cites my fellow-Beliefnet blogger Michele McGinty (who has not seen the film) and me about the surprisingly lukewarm reaction to the anti-religious elements engendered by the Ricky Gervais film “The Invention of Lying.” […]

Three Movies Examine Our Struggle to Understand God

posted by Nell Minow

Three new and very different movies have one thing in common — they all ask their characters and their audiences to think about the nature of God and faith. This week we have a perky romantic comedy with Ricky Gervais […]

Talking to Kids About Courtesy

posted by Nell Minow

We seem to be in the midst of an epidemic of rude behavior, with three high-profile recent examples in three different fields of endeavor — though, interestingly, all involving people with last names starting with “W.” At the State of […]

MPAA Trailer Rule Update

posted by Nell Minow

Top entertainment reporter/commentator for the LA Times Patrick Goldstein wrote a terrific blog post about my story on the MPAA’s secret change to the rules governing the content of trailers, calling the consequences of this change “a whole new level […]

MPAA Makes Unannounced Change to Trailer Content

posted by Nell Minow

As I describe in an exclusive story today’s Chicago Sun-Times, The Motion Picture Association of America’s Ratings Board made an unannounced change in April of this year that eliminated almost all restrictions on the content of movie trailers, the brief […]

No No No No No — Please Don’t Remake ‘Yellow Submarine!’

posted by Nell Minow

Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump,” “Back to the Future”) has announced that he is teaming up with Disney to secure the rights to Beatles songs for a remake of “Yellow Submarine” that could include merchandising, a Broadway musical, and a Cirque […]

‘District 9′ — About Racism or Racist?

posted by Nell Minow

“District 9″ is one of the best-reviewed films of the 2009. Entertainment Weekly put it on the cover and called it the must-see movie of the summer. Most critics described it as a thinking person’s action movie because it presents […]

The ‘Friends’/HSM connection

posted by Nell Minow

This week, there are new releases in both theaters and on DVD pairing “High School Musical” stars with alumnae from “Friends.” It’s a little disconcerting to see our “Friends” playing parents of teenagers, however. Lisa Kudrow is the mother of […]

‘Reality’ Dating: In the Dark and Overweight

posted by Nell Minow

I’m not a fan of reality shows about dating because they seem too artificial and everyone on them seems so self-obsessed (granted, inevitable given their constantly being asked how they feel). But two new variations are worth a mention. Dating […]

Michael Jackson: How Will He Be Remembered?

posted by Nell Minow

Michael Jackson was a complex and tragic figure. It seems that his memory is being splintered into a thousand shards. Always a showman and a shrewd manager of his brand, Jackson reputedly insisted that he be referred to on MTV […]

List: Great Comedy Duos

posted by Nell Minow

As I was watching Year One, I thought about why the Michael Cera/Jack Black teaming does not work very well. They are both very funny guys, and they have that yin/yang element that propels most comedy teams, with one expansive […]

Jon and Kate Plus D-I-V-O-R-C-E

posted by Nell Minow

The big announcement by Jon and Kate Gosselin that they are divorcing comes as no surprise. While they used the word “separate,” the program acknowledged that it has gone farther than that and that they have filed for dissolution of […]

What does PG-13 Mean?

posted by Nell Minow

Two movies are opening this week, both rated PG-13, but they are at opposite ends of that very broad spectrum that reaches from the suitable-for-grade-school PGs to the 17-and-up R rating. I will go into more detail in the reviews, […]

Which is Dirtier — ‘Land of the Lost’ or ‘Hangover?’ (Spoiler Alert)

posted by Nell Minow

The Hangover and Land of the Lost opened on the same day. Other than that, they have little in common. The Hangover is a raunchy comedy about the aftermath of a Las Vegas bachelor party that would have been unforgettable […]

Jon and Kate: Can Their Marriage Be Saved?

posted by Nell Minow

Why do we care so much about Jon and Kate? Why is the show about these two people and their twins and sextuplets so popular? And why are their marital problems getting so much attention? I feel terribly sad for […]

Is Racism Subjective?

posted by Nell Minow

I was the only white person in the elevator after the screening of Next Day Air, and as we went down to the parking lot, I asked the assembled group, none of whom I knew, whether they thought the movie […]

More Marketing of PG-13 Movies to Little Kids

posted by Nell Minow

My friend Liz Perle has a wonderful piece at Common Sense Media about the latest efforts to market PG-13 movies to young children. The first Transformers movie, which was rated PG-13 but lent its brand to Happy Meal toys aimed […]

Susan Boyle — What Captivates Us?

posted by Nell Minow

Susan Boyle, the middle-aged Scottish youngest of nine, who does not have a job and spent most of her adult years caring for her late mother, sang on a television show last week and has now become a worldwide phenomenon. […]

Is there a Date Rape Joke in ‘Observe and Report?’

posted by Nell Minow

Observe and Report is a bleak, harsh, disturbing, violent, and transgressive movie about a mall security guard who is often delusional. Billed as a comedy, it has some funny moments, though most of the laughs come from outrageousness rather than […]

When Not to Watch Movies, Part 1

posted by Nell Minow

I was recently reminded of an incident I wrote about three years ago for the Chicago Tribune and it inspired me to re-post the essay: My husband, daughter and I had just settled in for lunch at one of our […]

Teens Learn About Less in Chicago

posted by Nell Minow

The Chicago Tribune reports on a class that teaches teenagers “voluntary simplicity,” giving up one something significant each month and thinking, talking, and writing about what it feels like. Begun last fall as a project to inspire mindfulness in the […]

Teen ‘Idols’ — How to Talk to Jonas Brothers Fans

posted by Nell Minow

Do you have a Jonas Brothers fan in your family? Or maybe a fanatic? Some parents have found their children’s devotion to the latest pop stars a little disconcerting. One father suggested that his daughter’s enthusiasm might merit a discussion […]

More on Scary Movies — from Christianity Today

posted by Nell Minow

Christianity Today asked parents what scary movies have “worked” with their kids — scared them enough to be entertaining and instructive but not too much to be truly upsetting. I found the comments very insightful. Here are some excerpts: I […]

How Tolerant Should We Be of Intolerance?

posted by Nell Minow

I received warring press releases this week from both sides in the controversy over a film called Silencing Christians, each accusing the other side of intolerance and censorship. Each side believes that the other is infringing on its right to […]

Bad Timing — This Week’s Releases

posted by Nell Minow

Both of this week’s big mainstream releases are suffering from bad timing. “The International,” inspired by the BCCI banking scandal of 1991, is about a multi-national bank that is involved in everything from weapons sales to political payoffs and even […]

Chris Brown and Michael Phelps — What Do We Tell Kids?

posted by Nell Minow

This has been something of a bad boy week. A-Rod confessed to steroid use. “Dark Knight” star Christian Bale was taped when he erupted into a furious and very profane rage at a technician on his set. A photograph of […]

Is ‘Coraline’ Too Scary for Kids?

posted by Nell Minow

It is always a challenge to guide parents about how scary a movie is, but it is especially difficult with this week’s release of “Coraline,” the 3D stop-motion animated film based on a popular book for children by Neil Gaiman. […]

Walden Media to send a Librarian to the ALA Conference

posted by Nell Minow

I love Walden Media‘s commitment to quality entertainment for families. Their films include Bridge to Terabithia and The Chronicles of Narnia. And I am also a very big fan of libraries. I am always inspired by the dedication and generosity […]

Blagojevich Compares Himself to Movie Heroes

posted by Nell Minow

Life imitates art, or tries to, as Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich proclaims his innocence with examples from the movies. The governor is accused of trying to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama and is currently being impeached by […]

‘Outlander’ release delayed — stay tuned

posted by Nell Minow

“The Outlander” — with James Caviezel as a guy from another planet who battles a dragon-monster with the help of some Vikings in 760 AD, was supposed to be released nationwide today but at the last minute it has been […]

Scary G-rated Movies

posted by Nell Minow

Emily Bazelon writes in Slate about the scariness of G-rated movies. Like several of the commenters on this site, she found The Tale of Despereaux scarier than she expected and so did her 5-year-old. Even though he had heard the […]

The Worst Movies of 2008 — but some of the Best Reviews

posted by Nell Minow

The Washington Post covers Rotten Tomatoes’ round-up of the year’s worst movies and what makes it fun to read is not just the list of what-were-they-thinking horrible films but the quotes from the reviews by the critics who suffered through […]

Movie Quiz for Movie Bloggers

posted by Nell Minow

I was so charmed by Steady Diet of Film’s answers to the Professor Kingsfield “Hair-Raising Bar-Raising Holiday Movie Quiz” that I decided to try answering the questions myself. Professor Kingsfield, of course, is the terrifying law professor in “The Paper […]

Top Ten Spreadsheet

posted by Nell Minow

Movie City News has collected the top ten lists of all the top critics (yes, even me) and put them into a spreadsheet. Just about everyone picks four or five of ten heavily-promoted awards films — “Wall?E,” “Milk,” Slumdog Millionaire,” […]

Are Romantic Comedies Bad for Real-Life Romance?

posted by Nell Minow

Do romantic comedies create and foster impossible expectations? Are women doomed to disappointment when no man can possibly measure up to Lloyd Dobbler (Say Anything), William Thacker (Notting Hill) or Joe Fox (You’ve Got Mail) — or Cary Grant in […]

Grrrrl Power at the Box Office: ‘Twilight’ Sales Set Records

posted by Nell Minow

To the surprise of no one but the Hollywood insiders, none of whom apparently have ever spoken to a teenage girl, “Twilight” set records at the box office this weekend, exceeding all predictions to bring in over $70 million, almost […]

Previous Posts

For the 4th of July: Singing Founding Fathers in "1776"
Happy Independence Day!  Every year, I recommend the rousing musical about the Declaration of Independence. "1776" makes the Founding Fathers vivid, human, and interesting characters, and is so involving that you almost forget that you already ...

posted 8:00:01am Jul. 03, 2015 | read full post »

Sesame Street's Maria Says Goodbye
Sonia Manzano has announced that she is leaving Sesame Street after 44 years.  She was 22 years old when she auditioned for the brand new series that would revolutionize children's programming. She became Maria, one of the first Latina ...

posted 1:20:21pm Jul. 02, 2015 | read full post »

Happy 99th Birthday, Olivia de Havilland!
Two-time Oscar winner Olivia de Havilland turns 99 years old today. She was one of the biggest stars of the Golden Age of Hollywood, appearing memorably opposite Errol Flynn eight times, most memorably in "The Adventures of Robin ...

posted 10:20:13am Jul. 02, 2015 | read full post »

Contest: Win a DVD of "Hope Bridge"
"Hope Bridge" is a new DVD from Pure Flix about the devastating impact of suicide. Christi and David Eaton produced the movie after having experienced suicide twice in their family. They knew the best way to reach out to others was through a ...

posted 8:00:59am Jul. 02, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: No Ordinary Hero -- The SuperDeafy Movie
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6Yo3kRFW9g Coming next month on DVD, "No Ordinary Hero: The SuperDeafy Movie" is the story of a deaf actor (John Maucere) who plays a deaf superhero in a campy television series. But he wants to be a real ...

posted 8:00:41am Jul. 02, 2015 | read full post »

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