Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

McFarland USA
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic material, some violence and language
Release Date:
February 20, 2015

 

Big Hero 6
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for action and peril, some rude humor, and thematic elements
Release Date:
November 7, 2014

The DUFF
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual material throughout, some language and teen partying
Release Date:
February 20, 2015

 

Horrible Bosses 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong crude sexual content and language throughout
Release Date:
November 26, 2104

Kingsman: The Secret Service
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for sequences of strong violence, language and some sexual content
Release Date:
February 13, 2015

 

Beyond the Lights
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sexual content including suggestive gestures, partial nudity, language and thematic elements
Release Date:
November 14, 2014

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. By coincidence, Gaiman was just awarded this year’s top prize for children’s literature, the Newberry award, for The Graveyard Book, the story of a boy raised by ghosts.
SPOILER ALERT: There are ghosts in “Coraline,” too, plus a very scary insect-like predator who likes to replace children’s eyes with sewn-on black buttons and many other macabre and grotesque images. But is that scarier than “A Series of Unfortunate Events” or “The Wizard of Oz” or the Narnia movies? Is it scarier than Disney movies like “Bambi” or “The Lion King” (both feature the death of a parent) or fairy tales like “Hansel and Gretel” or “Snow White?”
Some of the commenters on this blog think so, and have noted sharply that they think this movie is too scary for younger children. The Motion Picture Association’s ratings board gave it a PG. I originally recommended it for 4th grade and up but on reflection have changed it to middle school and up, though when I saw the film again last night there were younger children in the audience who seemed to be doing fine with it.
There are many kinds of scary material and every kid reacts differently to every one of them. Some are disturbed by tension and peril but don’t mind battle scenes. Some get very upset when an animal is injured but don’t blink an eye when a human character is killed. Some kids react because they are sensitive about events going on in their own lives, loss of a grandparent or a pet, a move, or divorce.
In “Coraline,” some kids may be rattled by the images in this film like the skeletal designs of one (good) character’s helmet and gloves or the increasingly spidery appearance of the villain. Some may be upset by the themes of the film that includes the ghosts of three eyeless and devoured children. Some will be very reassured by the brave and resilient heroine, finding it exciting but not disturbing.
The New York Times’ A. O. Scott led off his review of “Coraline” with some thoughts on its capacity to scare its young audience:

There are many scenes and images in “Coraline” that are likely to scare children. This is not a warning but rather a recommendation, since the cultivation of fright can be one of the great pleasures of youthful moviegoing. As long as it doesn’t go too far toward violence or mortal dread, a film that elicits a tingle of unease or a tremor of spookiness can be a tonic to sensibilities dulled by wholesome, anodyne, school-approved entertainments.

This brings us back to the enduring appeal of scary stories. Children have read millions of scary books from R.L. Stine and Lemony Snicket and teenagers have bought millions of tickets to the “Halloween,” “Friday the 13th,” “Nightmare on Elm Street,” and “Saw” series. The top box office films of all time include scary stories like “Jaws,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” and “Silence of the Lambs.” Even family-friendly G-rated films like “Finding Nemo,” “Babe,” and “The Sound of Music” have scary parts. That is because one of the reasons we tell and read and watch stories is because they give us a way to understand and conquer our fears. It will always be difficult for parents to determine what will be too scary for their children. I will do my best to describe what I see and provide some guidance but ultimately the decision can only be made by the ones who know the child best. And ultimately, parents must realize that sometimes a part of seeing a movie is being unsettled and learning to resolve those feelings.
P.S. “Coraline” also has a burlesque performance with two fat, elderly ladies in tiny little costumes that turn out to zip off, revealing younger, lither performers inside. How should a parent evaluate that on a scale of nudity or sexual material? Because it was comic and because it turned out not to be “real,” but a humorous fat suit, I described it as “brief comic nudity (skimpy costume).” I welcome other suggestions and reactions.

Memorable Movie Nuns

posted by Nell Minow

COME_TO_THE_STABLE_dvd_front_MM.jpgI love Beliefnet’s gallery of Memorable Movie Nuns from Paul Asay. He includes some of my favorites like Lilies of the Field, with Sidney Poitier building a chapel under the direction of flinty Lilia Skala and Susan Sarandon as real-life Sister Helen Prejean, who befriends a condemned prisoner played by Sean Penn in Dead Man Walking.
black narcissus.jpgI would add to his list Come to the Stable, with Loretta Young and Celeste Holm as gentle nuns who hope to build a hospital. And of course there’s Debbie Reynolds as the spirited Singing Nun, a nun whose shoes provide a clue in The Lady Vanishes, and the sisters of Black Narcissus, who find unexpected challenges when they establish a new order on top of the Himalayas.
Lilies of the Field at LocateTV.com

Watchmen Extras!

posted by Nell Minow

The best news since the settlement of the lawsuit that permits “The Watchmen” to open as scheduled on March 6 is the availability of these new extras and goodies.

Check out the Watchmen’s YouTube channel, too.

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for some mild crude humor
Movie Release Date:November 7, 2008
DVD Release Date:February 6, 2009

The rare sequel that improves on the original, “Madagascar 2″ keeps the silliness and steps up the heart. In the first film, four zoo animals run away and after a series of adventures are sent to live in an African wildlife refuge. Alex the pampered city lion (voice of Ben Stiller), Marty the zebra who longs for the veldt (voice of Chris Rock), Melman the hypochondriac giraffe (voice of David Schwimmer), and Gloria, the warm-hearted hippo (voice of Jada Pinkett Smith) are still, so to speak, fish out of water when it comes to living in the wild. Alex especially is eager to get back home. But their plane, piloted by ditsy penguins, crashes and they find themselves again in the wilderness.

But this time, it feels like home. Alex is reunited with the parents he barely remembers (voices of Bernie Mac and Sherri Shepherd). Marty is overjoyed to be at last among his own kind with a herd of zebras. Gloria wants to settle down with a mate and is delighted to see some handsome hippos as possible prospects. And Melman’s expertise with medical treatment gets him dubbed the new witch doctor. He is able to save the life of a young giraffe by setting his broken leg.

But a rival for the “alpha lion” position (voice of Alec Baldwin) tricks Alex’s father into forcing Alex to fight and banishing him when he loses. Marty finds that while the other zebras may look and act exactly like him, he misses his best friend. Melman tries to find a way to tell Gloria how much he cares for her. And Alex has to find a way to be true to himself as a lion and as a New Yorker.

While there is nothing as tone-deaf as the first film’s focus on whether Alex would eat his best friend, there are still a few clangers. Though gently handled, part of the plot concerns a character’s offer to sacrifice himself by jumping into lava because some of the animals believe it will appease the gods and restore their water supply. A cub is captured by poachers and his father is shot (minor injury). A feisty elderly woman’s fistfights are intended to be humorous. There is nothing especially new here. But it is funny and colorful and even a little bit sweet and you gotta love those nutty penguins.

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Contest: Win an Insurgent T-Shirt
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