Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Strange Magic
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and scary images
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

 

The Boxtrolls
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for action, some peril and mild rude humor
Release Date:
September 26, 2014

Mortdecai
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some language and sexual material
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

 

The Drop
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some strong violence and pervasive language
Release Date:
September 12, 2014

Cake
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, substance abuse and brief sexuality
Release Date:
January 24, 2015

 

Lucy
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R For strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality
Release Date:
July 25, 2014

Remember the Night

posted by Nell Minow

Preston Sturges wrote and directed some of Hollywood’s greatest comedies, specializing in wickedly sharp satires like “The Lady Eve” and “Miracle of Morgan’s Creek.” But the first of his screenplays to be produced was this bittersweet Christmas romance about a beautiful shoplifter (Barbara Stanwyck) and a tough prosecutor (Fred MacMurray) (they also co-starred in the film noir classic “Double Indemnity”). He realizes that if he allows her to be sentenced just before Christmas the judge will be lenient. So he ends up bringing her home with him for the holidays. She sees in his family the kindness and generosity she never had as a child and he sees her true spirit bloom when is she treated with respect and affection. It is not available on DVD but will be broadcast on Turner Classic Movies three times this month: Dec 13, 06:00 PM, Dec 24, 11:15 PM, and Dec 25, 06:15 AM.

Remember the Night at LocateTV.com

Tribute: Van Johnson

posted by Nell Minow

Van Johnson, one of the best light comedian/song and dance men of the 1940s-50s, died this week at age 92. His boyish, All-American good looks made him a popular choice for musicals, romantic comedies, and some dramatic roles as well. He was so well known as the ideal boy-you-wish-lived-next-door performer that Cole Porter included him in the lyrics of his song “Give me a Primitive Man.”

Johnson could play a lead but he was better as a wise-cracking wingman for Gene Kelly in Brigadoon and Henry Fonda in Yours, Mine and Ours. My favorite Van Johnson performances include In the Good Old Summertime, opposite Judy Garland in the musical pre-“You’ve Got Mail” remake of “The Shop Around the Corner,” about the two warring music store employees who don’t know that they are real sweethearts through an anonymous letter exchange. I also love the neglected gem “Wives and Lovers,” which has a wonderful scene where he watches with combined fascination and horror as his daughter makes her lunch. Johnson was not the best singer, dancer, or actor but he was fun to watch because he was so comfortable and natural on screen and always looked like he was having a good time.

And I love this little dance number from “I Love Lucy.”

The Day the Earth Stood Still

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some sci-fi disaster images and violence
Movie Release Date:December 12, 2008

In the 1951 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still, a spaceship landed in front of the Washington Monument to warn the people of earth that they were on the path to destruction. The problem then was the Cold War and nuclear arms race. In 2008, the remake has a space orb land in New York City and once again a humanoid-looking creature from another planet comes to earth because of another impending doom. “If the Earth dies, you die,” he says. “If you die, the Earth survives.”

Jennifer Connelly, who seems to enjoy sharing the screen with super-smart crazy guys (“A Beautiful Mind,” “Hulk”), plays Helen, a scientist brought in to try to help assess the threat level from the two beings to come out of the orb. The first would have done better to have had a scientist to assess his own threat level because as soon as it stepped out of the orb someone shot him. The second is a silent, colossus-like giant of a robot with an ominous glow through the eye-slit, standing as sentry.

Klaatu has assumed human form (Keanu Reeves) so that he can speak to the world leaders at the UN. But a suspicious Secretary of Defense (Kathy Bates) decides to treat him like a galactic terrorist, so soon Klaatu, Helen, and her stepson (Jaden Smith, the son of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith), are on the run. They make the obligatory visit to the Wise Man in the Woods (John Cleese, terrific as a Nobel award-winner for “altruistic biology”) and try to evade the efforts of military and law enforcement to capture them while Helen tries to demonstrate that humans are worth saving.

Director Scott Derickson is a committed Christian, and he has given the original story themes of sacrifice and redemption that will resonate with those who are open to a spiritual message. There is a reference to Noah’s Ark. Klaatu has the power to heal. He brings a dead man back to life and even walks on water. The most important themes are deeply spiritual as well, stewardship, respect for the interdependence of all things, and hope.

Nothing Like the Holidays

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for thematic elements including some sexual dialogue, and brief drug references
Movie Release Date:December 12, 2008

Natalie Morales of ABC Family’s The Middleman lists her three rules for a movie with Latino characters:

  • Nobody calls anybody Papi.
  • No dancing to salsa music.
  • No gratuitous Spanish.

By that standard, this latest entry in the dysfunctional family holiday movie genre is 0 for 3. And yet, this movie is made by Latinos with a lot of affection for its characters. And so even though it also includes what should be a similar no-no trifecta of family holiday dramadies (sibling rivalry, dramatic revelations, sad news to remind everyone how much they love each other) and even though it does not meet the standard of last year’s fine This Christmas, this family might be worth a holiday visit.

Parents Edy and Anna Rodriguez (Alfred Molina and Elizabeth Pena, both superb), owners of a small bodega, live in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago. Their children are coming home for Christmas: Iraqi war veteran Jesse (Freddy Rodriguez, who also produced), aspiring actress Roxanne (Vanessa Ferlito of Grindhouse), and Mauricio (John Leguizamo) with his white, Jewish wife Sarah (Debra Messing), successful professionals. Also waiting for them at home are Jesse’s one-time girlfriend (Melonie Diaz), Edy’s top employee (Jay Hernandez), and a lot of unresolved issues.

We can feel the warmth of the Rodriguez home and the stars quickly create an authentic sense of the rhythms and short-cuts of family communication, the struggle between wanting things to be the way they were and wanting to be seen as they are now. Predictable frustrations as Sarah tries to fit in while maintaining her own boundaries and Jesse and Roxanne try to live up to their parents hopes for them are given enough specificity to hold our attention. Sarah is not an uptight snob; she loves her husband and very much wants his family to accept her. She has a couple of nice moments with Edy, especially when, after Anna pushes yet another thing to eat on her as she is getting ready to go running, Edy quietly reaches for it. We get a sense of their unspoken understanding, which will become more important later on. There’s a dead tree (and metaphor) blocking the view from the house that Anna has been trying to get Edy to cut down for 25 years, and that will play a role as well.

Anna leads off at the family dinner by announcing she plans to get a divorce, catapulting the children into a difficult recalibration of their familial roles. As children, they cannot help feeling abandoned but as adults they have to find a way to see their parents as people who have to make their own choices. Like all families, everyone feels they have a better understanding of what everyone else should do. And like all families, that leads to conflict.

Notwithstanding the Morales concerns, the location settings and “sorta-Rican” culture are nicely evocative. But the real treat is seeing these fine performers, too often relegated to character parts, take center stage to remind us that the reason there is nothing like the holidays because of the way they bring us together.

Previous Posts

Contest: Win Swag From One of the Year's Worst Movies!
Mortdecai is a simply terrible movie. Don't go see it. But its very terribleness just might be a reason to look super-cool in a Mortdecai t-shirt and socks! I have them and you can win them! Send

posted 11:58:25am Jan. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Before They Were Stars: Television Commercials With Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, and More
Phil Hall has a delightful collection of "before they were stars" television ads featuring Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, James Dean, Morgan Freeman, Matt LeBlanc, Steve Carell, and more. Here's one I love that he left out, with pre-"Laverne and Shirley" Penny Marshall and pre-"Charlie's Angels" Farr

posted 8:00:34am Jan. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Alan Menken Plays His Hits
[iframe width="416" height="234" src="http://abc.go.com/embed/VDKA0_i2msn1gc" frameborder="0"] Alan Menken, currently composing the songs for "Galavant," here sings some of his greatest hits, including songs from "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin," "The Little Mermaid," "Enchanted," "Pocahontas,"

posted 8:00:02am Jan. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Strange Magic
Despite the big names behind it, including George Lucas, who came up with the story and produced, it feels like a straight-to-DVD, about the level of Disney's Tinkerbell series. It's bright,

posted 5:25:48pm Jan. 24, 2015 | read full post »

Bad Movies Inspire Great Critics: Mortdecai
Johnny Depp's "Mortdecai" is sure of a place of dishonor on the end of the year worst lists.  Business Insider and Huffington Post have some choice quotes from some of the movie's best bad reviews, and I've found some good ones, too, including: David Edelstein, New York Magazine Having combed

posted 3:35:40pm Jan. 24, 2015 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.