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

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.

Invincible

posted by jmiller
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for sports action and some mild language.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

In this movie, a father tells his son that one great touchdown by Steve Van Buren of the Philadelphia Eagles got him through 30 years of factory work. We often identify so completely with the teams and athletes we love that it feels like our hearts are in that ball as it crosses the goal line, swishes into the basket, or sails over the head of the guy in the outfield. Maybe our dreams don’t come true, but we can share the dreams of the guys on the field. And that is the stuff of movies.


Vince Papale, a part-time teacher and bartender became the oldest non-kicker rookie in NFL history when he joined the Philadelphia Eagles at age 30 in 1976. That sounds like a Disney movie.


And that’s just what it is, in the tradition of (and all too reminiscient of) The Rookie and Miracle. Not surprising — this film has the same producer and screenwriter.

Mark Wahlberg plays Papale, a passionate season-ticket-holding Eagles fan who is picked from an open try-out though he had never played college football. He was selected by coach Dick Vermeil (Greg Kinnear) and survived training camp to play on the team.


So, we know where it’s all going from the beginning, and how successful it is in making that journey work depends on whether it can make us care about the characters. Unforunately, while it has a nicely gritty sense of time and place, some touching moments, and many very bad 1970′s hairstyles, its beats are all too telegraphed and formulaic to fully engage us.


Wahlberg brings sincerity and an easy athleticism to the role of Papale, and Elizabeth Banks has a lovely centered quality and genuine sparkle as his love interest. But the script — the disapproving wife who exits just in time for him to meet the beautiful girl who knows all about football, the down-on-their-luck friends who want to make sure that he doesn’t forget about them, the coach with high standards who is willing to take a chance, the dad who cautions him not to try for something he can’t have and then watches damp-eyed as he makes it — there’s not enough to surprise and engage us. I couldn’t help thinking as I watched Papale run through the streets of 1976 Philadelphia that maybe he’d meet up with Rocky.


Parents should know that there are a few moments of sports violence and some references to sad deaths of family members. Wahlberg’s character is a bartender, and there are many scenes in the bar with characters drinking. A character refers to a married boyfriend. Characters kiss. Some audience members may be disturbed by the break-up of Vince’s marriage and the struggles to trust enough to start a new relationship.


A main theme of the film is the encouragement and support Papale receives from friends and family. Many of his friends are portrayed as supportive, but Papale is presented as having been driven by the handful of people in his life who told him he couldn’t do it. Why did he put his wife’s note in his locker? Families who see this film should talk about the importance of having a support network, and why sometimes adversity can be the strongest motivator. Do you agree that the team with character will find a way to be the team with talent? What current athletes do and don’t meet that standard?


Families who enjoyed this movie have a wealth of football and sport-oriented films to choose from, and many are filled with remarkable sequences and riveting drama. Recommendations would be Rudy, in which Sean Astin conquers his limitations to play for Notre Dame, Paper Lion, an older (1968) film featuring a journalist who goes undercover as a quarterback for the Detroit Lions (based on a true story), and Friday Night Lights, the story of a season with The Permian High Panthers, The Replacements (some mature material), a fictional story about an all-amateur team, and a similar real-life story about a teacher who became a major league pitcher in Disney’s The Rookie. They may also want to learn more about the history of the team. And families who want to know more about the real Vince Papale, who was voted Special Teams Captain and “Man of the Year” by the Eagles, can visit his website and read his book.

Beerfest

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for pervasive crude and sexual content, language, nudity and substance abuse.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

The boys of Broken Lizard have no shame. That’s what their fans like about them.

There’s something quant, cute and even endearing (stick with me here) about their more innocent jokes, the ones where the laughs aren’t cheap but are grounded in character and a genuine affinity for the good times. This latest film has definite moments of comedy that echo the sweeter moments in Super Troopers (Yes, there are a few!), and if you’ve ever found them charming, you won’t be disappointed. If, however, you have ever found them peurile, lazy, and repulsive, this will not be the film that will change your mind.


Lizard’s Erik Stolhanske and Paul Soter play brothers of German decent who travel to Munich with the intent of spreading their father’s ashes, only to stumble upon a sort of “drinking Olympics” that Americans have been kept determinately excluded from. Inspired to defend their country’s dignity and fueled by a personal need to restore the family’s good name, the brothers return to the states with a plan to put together a drinking team and train, with copious drinking, for next year’s competition.


The jokes are obscene and lewd, and there are moments of on-screen chaos that suggest the troupe could use someone over their shoulder to reign in the more ludicrous scenes of pandemonium. But after all the pieces that didn’t quite make sense have fallen through the cracks of memory, audiences inclined toward this kind of humor may be left with a general impression of some very funny moments. If you’re not offended by the grandmother who is revealed to have been a prostitute (revealed, of course, in much more offensive terms) or the old school friend who currently is a prostitute (played by director Jay Chandrasekhar), what you find is some surprisingly winning characters.

The sweet scientist, nerdy and too mature for his emotionally and intellectually stunted friends, played in a lab coat and thick-framed glasses by Steve Lemme, seems to put up with the others out of an enchanting loyalty that is both admirable and against his better judgment. The unimposing yet larger-than-life Kevin Heffernan plays Landfill, a staple in the competitive eating circuit whose innocence and baby-faced enthusiasm is hard to dislike, even with the abundant profanity that pours out of his mouth as easily as the beer and hot dogs pour in. The two brothers are well-conceived, and the group of actors who play the German team breath a life and vitality into the roles that will make fans of the genre of slob/gross-out/they said WHAT? humor forgive them for what doesn’t work.


Parents should know that this film is for very immature mature audiences only. The dialogue consists of extremely strong, offensive, and vulgar language inappropriate for younger viewers, and there are scenes of nudity, including scenes of women with their shirts ripped off and male nudity from the back and side. Some audience members may be offended by the objectification of women, and also by the profuse stereotyping of individuals of different nationalities. There are repeated references to masturbation, oral sex, prostitution, and, of course, reckless drinking. Parents should be very cautious that this film not be a teenager’s first introduction to any of these themes and that anyone who sees the film understands the more serious consequences surrounding these themes before seeing them presented in a humorous light.


Families who see this movie should discuss the concept of family honor, and why it’s important to protect and look after family members. Families should also discuss patriotism and sportsmanship as it relates to international competitions, and how an individual being on another team or from another country does not necessarily make him or her an adversary. Parents should also encourage their families to think about the difference between loyalty to friends and peer pressure, and how to stay faithful to friends while maintaining good judgment.


Families who enjoyed this movie will enjoy the troupe’s 2001 feature Super Troopers, the Austin Powers trilogy, and Animal House, the college comedy that Broken Lizard, a comedy troup created by a group of college friends, has cited in the past as an inspiration. (All have mature material.)

Previous Posts

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posted 8:00:51am Apr. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Have a Blessed Easter: Movies for the Family
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A Dramatic Commercial for TNT
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posted 8:33:40am Apr. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Movie Stingers: Scenes After the Credits
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRJ38y4Jn6k[/youtube] Ferris Bueller had one.  Marvel superhero movies sometimes have two.  When did it become a thing to have a scene after the credits (sometimes called a stinger)? New York Magazine's Vulture column has the history of these extended

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 »


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