Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Fury
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

 

Moms' Night Out
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action
Release Date:
May 9, 2014

St. Vincent
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 For mature thematic material including sexual content, alcohol and tobacco use, and for language
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

 

Earth to Echo
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and peril, and mild language
Release Date:
July 3, 2014

Dear White People
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, sexual content and drug use
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

 

Snowpiercer
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for violence, language and drug content
Release Date:
July 2, 2014

Fireproof

posted by Nell Minow

The faith-based film Fireproof, starring Kirk Cameron, is enjoying impressive advance ticket sales this week according to Harry Medved of Fandango. It is the story of a firefighter who finds that his most difficult challenge is finding a way to give his wife the love and intimacy necessary to keep their relationship strong. It is not until he turns to God for help that he begins to find a way to let her know how much she means to him.

It opens in more than 800 theaters this Friday, small in Hollywood terms but an extraordinary achievement for a film that cost only $500,000 and was made mostly by amateurs from a film-making ministry in Albany, Georgia. “No one is expecting it will rule the box office,” Medved told me, “but it has made an impressive beginning.”

Church-based “action squads” have been buying tickets in bulk, a powerful reminder to Hollywood that an under served audience will respond positively to a film like this, even without a lot of ad support. “It’s a great couples’ movie,” said Medved. “When’s the last time a movie improved your marriage? We get a lot of movies about falling in love or about temptations away from marriage but this is a film about making a marriage work.” Couples can learn from this film about how to give fully of themselves for a strong and lasting relationship, no matter what their religious beliefs.

“For moviegoers who plan to see a smaller release on opening weekend, online ticketing is the way to go,” says Fandango Chief Operating Officer Rick Butler, who adds that advance ticket sales for “Fireproof” continue to be “healthy.”

‘Gabriel Over the White House’ — The President Finds God

posted by Nell Minow

A little-seen 1933 film called “Gabriel Over the White House” has some themes that are particularly resonant in this time of unprecedented economic uncertainty and this historic Presidential campaign. Walter Houston (father of director John Huston and grandfather of actress Anjelica Houston — three generations of Oscar winners) plays the newly elected President of the United States, a cynical and apathetic man who has an affair with his private secretary and refuses to meet with the leader of the homeless. But then he has an automobile accident and is seriously injured. When he comes out of his coma, he is transformed. As he becomes an outspoken advocate of integrity and economic justice, he makes some powerful enemies. But it becomes clear that he has been inspired by a visit from the angel Gabriel.

This has been a controversial film since it was made for its frank acknowledgment of political policies based on scripture and for its association of policies some people consider “liberal” with religious beliefs some people consider “conservative.” Audiences have argued about whether the President is a visionary or a dictator. But it seems astonishingly prescient in its portrayal of the failures of Wall Street and government and its sincere commitment to Biblical principles is still fresh and appealing.

Should We Rate Movies for Marketing?

posted by Nell Minow

Alissa Quart’s column in Slate’s Big Money argues that in addition to rating movies and television for language, violence, sex, smoking, and substance abuse, we should rate them for product placement. She notes that for $300,000 you can have your product prominently featured in “customized storylines” on “The L Word,” a program produced by the “non-commercial” Showtime cable network. So, when we see a character on that show who is excited about a new car or pair of shoes or laundry detergent, we no longer accept that as an indication of character or plot but a distraction to remind us that we may be watching a story but we are also being sold. The line between art and commerce blurs even further as the networks themselves are getting into the business of selling the products and clothes and even the furniture used by television characters, essentially turning every program into an infomercial.
This is especially troubling in media for children where even “Baby Einstein,” which originally promised its DVDs would not be used to sell products, changed its mind and every G and PG release has with “partners” selling everything from postage stamps to cleaning products, not to mention toys and fast food. I would like to see a prominent caution listing all companies that have paid to have their products featured in the movie or in its advertising so at least parents can be prepared to help children navigate the ever-shrinking line between story and commercial.

The Women

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:PG-13 for sex-related material, language, some drug use and brief smoking
Movie Release Date:September 11, 2008
DVD Release Date:December 23, 2008

It isn’t so much that they have updated or re-invented the brilliantly acidic Claire Boothe Luce play that was adapted for a classic 1939 movie; they completely misunderstood it. The surface details of the original may need updating but its essential message and mordant wit are timeless. This version, in the works for more than a decade, is soft-focus but high-gloss, substituting empowerment for devotion. It is entertaining but it has a bitter aftertaste.

The original, the musical remake with June Allyson, and the new version all center on Mary Haines (Meg Ryan), who seems at the beginning to have it all — a beautiful home, a great job, good values, a loving family, and a lot of women friends, and who discovers that her husband is having an affair with a girl from the perfume counter. The original was written at a time when the daily lives of New York society women were as unknown and exotic to the men in their lives as to everyone who did not live on 5th Avenue. Each character was an example of one of a range of different coping mechanisms for the pampered birds in their silver cages. Without a single male in the cast, the story was told in women-only settings like an afternoon bridge game, a luxurious day spa, elegant stores, and a Nevada ranch-full of women establishing their six-week residency as the only way back then to get a divorce. Most of the characters were silly, selfish, cynical, or alone. And Mary painfully learned that “pride is a luxury a woman in love can’t afford.” Her husband and family must come first.

In this Oprah-fied version, it’s still an all-female story, and sistahs are doin’ it for themselves. The diamond rings on their fingers are gifts the women exchanged with each other. Mary says that she lost her job, her husband, and her best friend, and it is the best friend she misses most. And Mary’s great revelation comes from asking herself not what is best for her family but what she wants.

Some worthwhile thoughts about the way women lose themselves in what Oprah calls “the disease to please” are lost in the new-agey self-absorption of tasks like making a collage of magazine cut-outs to define your dreams and transforming your life by straightening your previously adorably curly hair. In the original, a woman’s heart got a make-over. Here, it’s just her hairstyle. And the actresses, who have the benefit of great genes and the finest cosmetic treatments in the world, have the chutzpah to do a post-credits coda reminding those of us in the audience who are not out at the parking lot already that inner beauty is what matters.

The all-star cast is sublimely watchable, especially Mary’s close friends: Annette Benning as a harried single magazine editor, an ever-pregnant earth mother (Debra Messing), and the spirited gay friend (Jada Pinkett-Smith). Bette Midler shows up as a brassy multi-married agent and the femme fatale behind the perfume counter is Eva Mendes. There are some clever in-jokes for fans of the first version and the able cast knows how to give the dialogue from writer/director Diane English snap. But the script makes the same mistake its characters do — it tries to do too much and to be whatever everyone wants.

This movie is less true to the original than it is to the girlcrush/shopping fetish “Sex in the City.” Instead of wit we get quips. Instead of poignant conversations about love and loss we get wisecracks and shoe shopping. “What do you think this is, some kind of 1930’s movie,” one character asks. We wish.

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