Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Fading Gigolo
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some sexual content, language and brief nudity
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

 

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some crude comments, language and action violence
Release Date:
December 25, 2013

Transcendence
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

 

Ride Along
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, sexual content and brief strong language,
Release Date:
January 17, 2014

Bears
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 19, 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

The Departed

posted by jmiller

Brilliantly acted, enthrallingly told, this vast, operatic saga centers on two men, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) and William Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), both Boston Southies. Both are pretending to be the opposite of what they really are. Both are caught between the fear of having their true selves revealed and the fear of hiding themselves so completely they can never come back.


It opens with a voice. A man is telling us how it works, and we can hear in his tone that he expects to be listened to, not just because he knows what he is talking about, but because he is used to power, having it and making the most of it, and especially enjoying it. We see him shaking down a store owner. His crude comment to the man’s young daughter shows more about his power over them and he fear he uses to wield it than the menacing men in his shadow. And we see that he plans to be around for a long time as he tosses a kid some money and plants a seed that there is more money to be had.


When that boy grows up, the man, Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) tells him to get a job as a cop so he can provide information and cover from the inside. Sullivan proves to be a top student and is quickly promoted to the elite detective squad assigned to bring in Costello and his men.


Meanwhile, the chief detective, Oliver Queenan (Martin Sheen), has the same idea. He takes Costigan, a promising rookie with family ties to Costello and a history of getting into trouble, and sends him deep undercover in the Costello organization, starting with a bogus guilty plea and a real jail sentence. To protect Costigan, only Queenan and his deputy, Dignam (Mark Wahlberg in a brilliantly fiery and hilariously profane performance) know his identity. So as Sullivan and Costigan circle each other, each trying to find the mole in the other’s operation, they also become involved with the same woman (Vera Farmiga), a therapist.


She is just one of several mirrors that provide Costigan and Sullivan with reflections of themselves. The movie is filled with parallels — Costello and Queenan as well as the two young men they send into danger both psychic and mortal. Scorcese’s muscular mastery of story and action, the themes of loyalty, identity, power, and seduction, and the powerhouse cast make this one of the most compelling films of the year.

Parents should know that this is an extremely intense and disturbing film with frequent graphic violence, mostly with guns but also knives, fists, and slamming people with and into many blunt objects. Many characters are injured and killed and there are shots of bloody injuries. A character holds up a severed hand. There are explicit sexual references, many very crude and insulting, and non-explicit situations. Characters drink, smoke, and use and abuse drugs, street and medicinal. Characters use very strong language, including racial, ethnic, and homophobic epithets. Many characters are criminals and many lie, steal, murder, and betray each other.


Families who see this movie should talk about the compromises the people in the story must make in order to achieve their goals. When do you stop being one of the good guys (or bad guys) because you have to prove yourself to the group you are pretending to be a part of? What qualities are necessary to go undercover for such protracted periods? Why was Costigan chosen for the job, and what does the way he was interviewed tell you about what they were looking for?


Families who enjoy this movie should watch the Hong Kong original, Infernal Affairs. They will also enjoy Kurt Vonnegut’s book about an American who goes undercover during WWII as a Nazi, Mother Night, the BBC series, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and Scorcese’s other films, especially Goodfellas.

School for Scoundrels

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for language, crude and sexual content, and some violence.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

This movie asks the age-old question: Do nice guys finish last? Kind of the evil twin of last year’s Will Smith romantic comedy Hitch, this, too, is about a life coach who helps awkward, insecure men who want to attain beautiful women. But where Hitch taught them to listen, to be considerate, and to lean just 90 percent of the way into a kiss, Dr. P (Billy Bob Thornton) takes the scorched earth/whatever works route. He tells his students to lie, cheat, steal, and, if necessary, blow the competition out of the water.


One of those students is Roger (Napoleon Dynamite’s Jon Heder), as mild as a glass of warm milk. By day, he drives a little car that could be lapped by a golf cart, writing parking tickets. The rest of the time, he pines for his pretty Australian grad student neighbor, the very sweet Amanda (Jacinda Barrett). He is so meek that he ends up not just paying for a ticket he gives to a couple of tough-looking guys, he loses his offical, department-issued sneakers to them as well. He is so unprepossessing that even the kids in the Big Brother program don’t want to spend time with him. He is so unsure of himself that when he tries to speak to Amanda, he keels over like a fainting goat.


So, Roger signs up for a class on how to be tough, manly, and competitive, for $5000 cash payable in advance. But once he starts to show some spirit, and once Dr. P gets a look at Amanda, it becomes a horns-bashing, head-butting, alpha-male battle.


Better at set-up than delivery, this is an underwritten movie with a lot of lags between laughs. Thornton is far better than his material, Michael Clarke Duncan is wasted on an ugly subplot and Sara Silverman, as Amanda’s roommate barely does more than a quick snarl. Heder’s move from playing an adolescent to an adult is uneasy, in part because the script does not seem to have any idea who Roger is. Barrett, using her native Australian accent for once, has a sweet, appealing presence. But the film’s flabby, vague tone gets more enervated as it runs out of ideas.

Parents should know that the movie features extended “humor” about rape. There is some strong language and some scenes take place in a bar. There is some comic violence with a lot of hit-in-the-crotch jokes.


Families who see this movie should talk about why the male characters have so much trouble standing up for themselves and going after what they want. What is the most important thing Roger learned?


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Old School (mature material. They might also like to see the British film of the same name that inspired this one.

The Guardian

posted by jmiller
C-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action/peril, brief strong language and some sensuality.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

“Have you learned the lessons only of those who admired you, and were tender with you, and stood aside for you? Have you not learned great lessons from those who braced themselves against you, and disputed the passage with you?” Like Walt Whitman, we love to remember our toughest teachers, and we love to see movies about them, too. Even when they’re not that good.


There’s a lot wrong with this film. It shamelessly steals some of the best moments from better movies and even more shamelessly dilutes their power and our memories by not doing them nearly as well. But it delivers on three things: powerful special effects, appealing performers, and, most of all, evocative memories each of us have of the one teacher who showed us we could be — had to be — more than we thought we could.


This is a movie about guys (there are some women here but we don’t see much of them) who save people, guys who go to very scary places to get people out of very scary trouble. But mostly it is a movie about how we make peace with all that is terrible around us and inside us.


Ben Randall (Kevin Costner) is the grizzled veteran whose long list of records at the Coast Guard’s training facility for rescue divers still stand. The unofficial number people only whisper, though, is the number of people he is said to have saved. Temporarily assigned to return to “A School” to train the next generation.


For every grizzled veteran, there has to be a cocky hotshot, and this movie’s is high school swim champion Jake Fischer (Ashton Kutcher). Cue the montage as Jake makes a bet with his friends in a bar that he can pick up a pretty girl (the screenwriter of Top Gun may want to call his lawyer), gets into trouble and nearly gets thrown out and has to prove his commitment (the screenwriter of An Officer and a Gentleman may want to call his lawyer), and then has to apply all that he has learned and all that he has become and all that he wants to be when it comes to the real thing (no lawyers needed here, that one has been used by everybody).


It begins with a terrible chaos above, and then an even more terrible stillness below. It is a rescue operation at sea. Ben does not follow the rules. Sometimes that results in a heroic save. But after it results in terrible tragedy, he is taken out of the water and sent to train the next generation. He is lost in a sea of the spirit. His wife (Sela Ward) has finally had enough of his saying things like, “I’m sorry saving lives doesn’t fit your social calendar” and she has left him. Out of the water, he is not sure who is is.


In Jake and the others, he sees something of himself, maybe a way to rescue someone, maybe a way to rescue himself.


It all rolls out smoothly, if predictably. Costner inhabits the role comfortably and Kutcher shows some movie star sparkle. But Jake’s romance with a pretty teacher has a lot less charm than intended and we never feel a real connection, as we did in the movies it steals from. The last two rescues are muddled and the ending unforgiveably maudlin.

Parents should know that this film has many scenes of intense peril and emotional confrontations. Characters are injured and killed. There are some bar fights. Characters use some strong language. There are sexual references and non-explicit situations, including casual sex between people who do not know each other and do not plan to know each other.


Families who see this movie should talk about why the characters wanted to be rescue divers.


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Top Gun, Men of Honor (with Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the true story of a Navy diver who returned to service after losing a leg), and An Officer and a Gentleman.

Jackass: Number Two

posted by jmiller
F-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for extremely crude and dangerous stunts throughout, sexual content, nudity and language.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

Anyone unfamiliar with the Jackass collection (a prior feature-length “movie” -– really a collection of skits –- and a series on MTV) will definitely not want to go into the boys’ second film, “Jackass: Number Two” (get it?), without first consulting these past works to ensure they’re mentally prepared. Being physically prepared wouldn’t be a bad idea either; if you absolutely must go, bring that little plastic trashcan from your office, maybe grab a blindfold, and please, for your own sake and that of everyone in the theatre, go on an empty stomach.


Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O and others from the Jackass crew return, this time as repeat offenders, offering the same brand of “humor” that has been grossing out anyone who cares to watch since the TV series started in 2000. They abuse their bodies in ways so cruel they would be imprisoned if they committed the same acts against anyone but themselves, and even the scenes of nakedness (of which there are many) are painful, if only because one can’t help but wince at all the red, purple, yellow and black bruises their bodies have sustained as side-effects (or are they the primary goal?) of the stunts.


This second film is arguably more elaborate, more shocking, more repulsive, sensationalist and gag-inducing than the first. The boys haven’t grown up at all in the time from their first film to this one, and their personalities seem perpetually fixated on trivializing danger and shunning responsibility. Indeed, when Knoxville dresses as an old man and guest Spike Jonze dons an old woman bodysuit (both delighting in surprising unexpected viewers with vulgarities), it simply drives home the point that the Jackass crew uses their stunts to test their immunity -– to skull fractures, to deadly infections, to permanent damage, and, most importantly, to growing up.


Parents should know that this is a documentary-style movie about a real-life series of disgusting and extremely dangerous behavior, including obtaining and drinking animal ejaculate (weirdly, the one item in the film x-ed out to ensure an R rating), being bitten on the genitals and the arm by snakes, putting a fishhook through a lip and being used as human shark bait, and being gored by a bull. There is explicit nudity, explicit excretory humor (human and animal), and graphic violence. Characters use strong language.

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