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

 

Philomena
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 on appeal for some strong language, thematic elements and sexual references
Release Date:
November 22, 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

 

The Nut Job
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and rude humor
Release Date:
January 17, 2014

Bears
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

 

Grudge Match
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sports action violence, sexual content and language
Release Date:
December 25, 2013

How To Eat Fried Worms

posted by jmiller
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for mild bullying and some crude humor.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

This is a delightfully snips and snails and puppy-dog tails-style movie, with kids who look and act refreshingly like real kids. It’s based on the book by Thomas Rockwell that has delighted and happily grossed out kids since 1973.


A cute credit-sequence cartoon introduces us to Billy (Luke Benward), who has a sensitive stomach, and his little brother Woody, who happily eats everything. They’ve just moved to a new town. Woody has quickly become the toast of the pre-school with his rendition of “Baby Beluga” but finding his way in 5th grade is trickier for Billy.


The kids are not friendly, except for one very tall girl who always seems to be one step ahead and one semi-outcast who warns him that Joe (Adam Hicks), the school bully, has a special ring — if he punches you, you die, but not until 8th grade so he can’t get blamed.


When Joe taunts him, Billy rashly boasts that he can eat 10 fried worms in one day, with the bully selecting the worms to be eaten and the, um, recipes to be used. Joe and his minions do everything they can to win the bet, cooking the worms with the most disgusting ingredients they can think of, from marshmallow to hot peppers. To make things worse, Billy has to take care of his little brother and keep his parents from finding out what is going on.


Kids will enjoy the extravagently and hilariously repulsive items presented to Billy and the spirit and determination he demonstrates in taking them on (and in). The kids in the movie look, talk, and act like real kids, not glamourized sit-com fast-food-commercial Hollywood types. They have a natural but endearing approach to negotiating rules, evaluating their options, and interactiing with each other and the adults. “Ed’s” Thomas Cavanagh and Father of the Bride’s Kimberly Williams-Paisley are sympathetic as Billy’s parents but they don’t try to solve his problems for him. Billy learns the expected lessons, and the ultimate resolution is sweet and very funny.


Parents should know that the concoctions Billy eats are extremely disgusting and may be disturbing to sensitive audience members. Note, though, as the credits make clear, no worms were harmed in the making of the movie. And no children were, either. The kids use some kid-like crude language, in particular a reference to a particular body part.


Families who see this movie should talk about why bullys think it will make them feel strong and important to insult other people and tell them what to do. Why do some of the kids change sides during the course of the bet? What’s the most disgusting thing you ever ate? Why does Billy’s father say he had to eat worms? How are their experiences alike?


Families who enjoy this movie will want to read the book. Author Thomas Rockwell is the son of illustrator Norman Rockwell, whose pictures showed the same appreciation of real kids. Every family should take a look at Rockwell illustrations like “A Day in the Life of a Boy” and “A Day in the Life of a Girl.” Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy Because of Winn-Dixie (also featuring Benward), The Sandlot, My Dog Skip, The Best Christmas Pagent Ever, A Christmas Story, and Pollyanna. Families will also enjoy Bill Harley’s hilarious Dinosaurs Never Say Please and his other CDs for families and My Bodyguard, about a middle school boy’s response to a bully.

Material Girls

posted by jmiller
F+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for language and rude humor.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

The problem with a movie about rich people learning about real life that is written by rich people who have no idea about real life is that you end up with something like this — a movie about two rich girls, heirs to a cosmetics fortune, who lose everything, discover what really matters, and end up demonstrating that by making the cosmetics affordable so that prostitutes can buy them.


I’m not kidding. I wish I was.


Real-life sisters Hillary (Lizzie Maguire) and Haylie (Napoleon Dynamite) Duff play Tanzy and Ava Marchetta, whose late father founded a successful cosmetics company. They are due to inherit when they come of age, but his best friend, the current CEO (Brent Spiner) recommends that they sell the company to its rival, run by Fabiella (Anjelica Huston). Before they can agree, a news report that one of the products caused severe skin damage throws the company into chaos. And the girls accidentally burn down their house and turn over their car to someone they assume is a valet but who turns out to be a thief.

They have nowhere to go but the apartment of Inez (Maria Conchita Alonso), their maid.


Ava’s TV star boyfriend dumps her — through his agent. Their fancy party friends don’t want to know them any more. Fabiella makes another offer, much lower. If they sell, the company their father built will no longer exist.


Yes, of course it all turns out fine and there’s a happily ever after ending complete with cute new boyfriends. But on the way there, the movie has a surprising number of bad choices ranging from the odd to the unfortunate, inappropriate, and downright ugly, considering the target audience and the PG rating.


For example, inspired by watching Erin Brocovich, Tanzy uses a skimpy outfit to entice a young man to let her look at some hidden records. She is arrested and put into a cell with three prostitutes who stroke her arm in a menacing fashion — then she turns it all around, using sand caught between the toes of one as she ran from the cops, to by teach them how to exfoliate their skin.


The girls also use some strong language for a PG movie. What is the purpose in a movie like this of a line like “screwier than Courtney Love?” Or “I’m so sorry I slept with your dad?” There is disturbing footage of skin disorders. Most important, the very values the movie purports to communicate are undermined by the approval it expects for its characters’ choices. The great revelations the girls have about the importance of helping the poor are supposed to be shown by their commitment to cheaper cosmetics and arranging for a friend’s children to be allowed into the country.


Superb actors like Anjelica Houston, Obba Babatunde, and Lukas Haas (Witness) are criminally wasted and only make the Duff sisters’ very limited acting skills look even weaker by comparison.


Parents should know that this movie has, as noted, very strong language and references for a PG, including the s-word, a reference to “white trash” (supposed to be funny), jokes about using Preparation H to get rid of eye bags (especially idiotic given that the girls are supposed to know all about cosmetics), “you practically jump each other,” “I heard that on the bus people pee on the seats,” “he was going to go straight for us,” and more. Character (briefly) drink and smoke (though one expresses horror at cigarettes). Characters are prostitutes. Tanzy wears skimpy clothes to get a young man to let her get what she wants. There is a reference to an overdose of birth control pills. A character has a nose job so she can look like Tanzy. Overall, even the supposedly reformed behavior of the girls is not what parents would like their children to imitate.


Families who see this movie should talk about why the girls were so spoiled and inconsiderate. Why does Tanzy say she wished her father had been harder on her? Why does Ava say she didn’t like how hard their father was on her?


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Lizzie Maguire and the much better film Cow Belles.

Snakes on a Plane

posted by jmiller

If there’s ever an Oscar for truth in titling, it will go to “Snakes on a Plane.” As zillions of internet fans have noted for months, that says it all. This is the snakiest plane movie and the planeiest snake movie ever made.


The credits list four screenwriters, and I imagine they divided it up like this: “I’ll make a list of places on the plane the snakes will be found, you make a list of body parts they can bite — be sure to include them all, you make a list of items on a plane that can be used as weapons, and you make a list of things that can go wrong on a plane that will make it even more dangerous. Go ahead, throw in a thunderstorm! And don’t forget a big, juicy product placement. Okay, everyone ready — GO!”


There wasn’t much need to make a list of, for example, characters. They just took a couple from every airplane disaster movie: the children traveling alone, the supercilious British guy, the pretty girl with the yappy little dog in her purse, the fat lady with a flask of booze, the kick-boxing champion, the newlyweds with a husband nervous about air travel, the flight attendant on her last trip before starting law school, a germophobic rap star with his entourage, oh, and of course, the tough FBI agents escorting a witness who is going to testify against a very, very bad man.


And there wasn’t much need to write dialogue, with all the suggestions from the internet fans. Yes, the line the fans insisted on is in the film (though clearly a reshoot inserted after principle photography), and a very excited audience joyfully recited along. There was a lot of applause for the snake-o-vision, too, green-tinged shots from the snake’s point of view.


It’s basically a movie about two questions:


1. What is the meaning of life? Oh, sorry, wrong movie. I meant to say, how many places can snakes be on a plane and how many places on a body can they bite? Answer: all of them


2. What items on a plane can be used to combat, destroy, and barricade oneself from snakes? Answer: More than you’d think


These days, when shampoo and cologne are too dangerous to take onboard, it almost feels like a relief to have an over-the-top airplane scarefest like this. There’s a particular reference to current restrictions, as an FBI agent (Samuel L. Jackson) is looking for something sharp and all the flight attendant can offer him is a plastic “spork.”

Jackson strikes exactly the right note, never winking at the camera, simply delivering full-on star power and clearly enjoying himself immensely. Director David Ellis expertly maintains the tension, stopping for some resolution — or even a laugh — now and then. It does not take itself too seriously, but it takes its obligation to entertain seriously and, as far as movies about snakes on a plane go, it’s hard to imagine a better ride.

Parents should know that this is a very graphic, intense, and violent movie with many gross injuries and horrible deaths. A child and a baby are in peril and a dog and many, many snakes are killed. Characters use some very strong language. There is brief nudity and a sexual situation. Characters drink alcohol. A strength of the movie is the portrayal of strong, loyal, and capable diverse characters and women and a sly reversal of gender expectations.


Families who see this movie should talk about how it became an internet phenomenon, with the audience playing a role in determining the movie’s content and even its title.


Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy Die Hard: With a Vengeance (also starring Jackson), 16 Blocks, and Arachnophobia as well as airborne classics like Airport, The High and the Mighty, and Airplane!. For more on this movie, see my blog posts here and here. And if you’ve seen it already or don’t mind spoilers, see this post with a link to the Slate podcast discussion, too.

The Illusionist

posted by jmiller
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some sexuality and violence.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

This feels like a fairy tale, so I will begin: “Once upon a time…”


…there was a princess who loved a commoner but was engaged to a cruel prince.


The commoner and the princess played together as children, but when they were discovered, he had to disappear. Many years later, he returns, transformed. Even his name is different. Now, he is the famous Eisenheim (Edward Norton), a magician who thrills audiences with his illusions.


One night, the volunteer he brings on stage to assist turns out to be the same girl he knew as a boy. She is Sophie (Jessica Biel), and she is engaged to the cruel and arrogant Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell), not because he loves her but because an alliance with her will help him become emperor. And because he does not want anyone else to have her.


Leopold orders Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) to investigate Eisenheim.


Parents should know that the movie has a non-explicit sexual situation and offscreen violence. There is a murder with graphic injuries and a character commits suicide. Characters drink alcohol and one becomes intoxicated.


Families who see this movie should talk about why Leopold was so disturbed by Eisenheim’s illusions. What did Chief Inspector Uhl want from Eisenheim? How did he decide how far he would bend the rules for the prince? What situations present people with those kinds of pressures to compromise today?


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Houdini.

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posted 8:00:47am Apr. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Fading Gigolo
John Turturro wrote, directed, and stars in "Fading Gigolo," a bittersweet meditation on the ways we seek and hide from intimacy, sometimes at the same time. Turturro plays Fioravante, a florist who works part-time for Murray (Woody Allen), the third-generation proprietor of a used and rare books

posted 9:24:32pm Apr. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Transcendence
Think of it as "Her 2: The Revenge of Him." Or Samantha infected by Heartbleed. Just as in last holiday season's Her, "Transcendence" is the story of an artificial intelligence contained in a computer program that becomes or is seen as human consciousness.  Instead of the warm, affectionate voic

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Bears
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posted 6:00:05pm Apr. 17, 2014 | read full post »


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