Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

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

 

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

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

Heaven is for Real
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic material including some medical situations
Release Date:
April 16, 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

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor, language, drug references and brief comic violence.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

When we’ve seen Will Ferrell run around naked, how much fun is it to see him run around in his underpants?

The disappointment of this movie is not that we don’t see enough of Will Ferrell. It’s disappointing because what we do see, we’ve seen before, and better.


Ferrell’s appeal comes from his whole-hearted cluelessness, but that needs to be placed in the context of some kind of legitimate, grown-up world. It doesn’t have to be complicated or explained in much detail, but there has to be some kind of clash. The rumor is that this movie was greenlighted based on four words: “Will Ferrell does NASCAR.” But the movie gives us no sense of NASCAR’s conventions or why it is meaningful. It isn’t that NASCAR is portrayed as foolish; it isn’t really portrayed at all. The setting might just as well be the soap box derby.

Ferrell looks tired and uninvolved and too old for this kind of role. His best friend is played by the reliable John C. Reilly but he has nothing to do but be a second Will Ferrell. When a movie relies on kids using bad language for humor, it’s running out of steam.


Ferrell plays Ricky Bobby, born in a racing car and shortly after abandoned by his substance-abusing ne’er-do-well father. These become the two forces in his life — the love of driving very fast and the need to win his father’s love and respect. He becomes a champion and then loses everything and has to find a way to win again and learn what winning really means.


All of this is just an excuse for a bunch of skits. There are some funny moments, but much of it feels tired. If this movie was in a NASCAR race, it would still be on the track long after all the other cars were back home for the night.


Parents should know that this movie has very explicit sexual references and very vulgar language for a PG-13. There are same-sex kisses. Children use extremely crude language and get away with it for most of the film. A character gives the finger. There’s a joke about feminine products and many references to genitals. Characters commit adultery. Some viewers will be offended by the way the characters talk about Jesus. Some may also be disturbed by the portrayal of the break-up of a marriage and the former spouses becoming involved with other people. A character abuses alcohol and drugs and children and adults joke about drugs. There is some comic violence, including a graphic depiction of a knife deeply embedded in a leg, and slapping children, but no one is hurt. The portrayal of the female characters is crass and somewhat misogynistic, even for a crude comedy. A strength of the movie is the portrayal of a married gay couple, but their behavior is as silly as everyone else’s.


Families who see this movie should talk about Ricky Bobby’s belief that no one would love him unless he was a winner.


Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy Elf and Old School (mature material).

The Ant Bully

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

A boy beset by bullies turns bully himself, going after the ants in his family’s back yard. But the ants shrink him down to their size and he learns something about ants, about empathy, about himself, and about how to beat a bully without becoming one himself.


This Aesop-like fable is brought to life with cheery good humor — and some potty jokes — both of which will be a hit with school-age kids. And there are some nice lessons about teamwork and empathy to keep the adults happy.


As his parents go away for the weekend, leaving him with his alien-fearing grandmother, ten-year-old Lucas Nickle (Zach Tyler Eisen) is feeling humiliated and unhappy. The neighborhood bully gave him an atomic wedgie and everyone laughed at him. He thinks it will make him feel strong and powerful if he destroys the ants. But ant wizard Zoc (Nicolas Cage in a full-blooded and vivid performance) creates a potion which, poured in Lucas’ ear, shrinks him down to ant-size. He is brought before the ant Queen (a warm and wise but suitably regal Meryl Streep), who orders him to learn to live as an ant. Zoc’s sympathetic girlfriend Hova (Julia Roberts, maternal, if a little colorless) befriends Lucas, and he also gets some help from Fugax (a very funny Bruce Campbell) and Kreela (the wonderfully husky-voiced Regina King) in retrieving some treats for the ants. But before he was shrunk, Lucas signed a contract for an exterminator (this summer’s all-purpose animated film bad guy here and in Over the Hedge). Can he save his new friends? Can he save himself?


Parents should know that this movie has some schoolyard language and crude humor (bare tush, potty jokes, inexplicit reference to potion via suppository). There is some peril and tension and mild action-style violence.


Families who see this movie should talk about why it seems that taking your unhappiness out on others will help you feel better, and about why it doesn’t. How do we learn to be empathetic? What do you think about the queen’s reasoning? What made Lucas agree to sign the exterminator’s contract? Families may want to learn more about ants, too.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy other animated bug movies like Antz, A Bug’s Life, and one of the very first animated features, Hoppity Goes To Town. And they will enjoy the live-action Honey I Shrunk the Kids. They might like to take a look at the book. Families who want to know more about the movie can read my interview with the writer/director here.

Scoop

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some sexual content.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

Woody Allen’s recent scripts, yes, even the revered Match Point, are so lightweight the pages must just float up into the air. His latest is “Scoop,” no relation to the Evelyn Waugh comic novel about journalists, just a weak, stale, uncomfortable rehash of some of his favorite recurring themes. There is the stage magician (see Curse of the Jade Scorpion, New York Stories, his play “The Floating Light Bulb”), the amateur sleuth (Manhattan Murder Mystery), the corny vaudevillian (Broadway Danny Rose), the contrast between the New York Jew and the WASP-y world (you name it), the young girl as repository of all wisdom and overall life essence (Manhattan, Husbands and Wives). But instead of variations and new insights, all we get are are whiffs, references, patchwork.

It is the story of a college student who gets a tip from a ghost on a career-making story — a handsome, wealthy nobleman may be the mysterious serial killer who, like Jack the Ripper, has been murdering prostitutes in London.


Scarlett Johansson plays Sondra Pransky, an American journalism student visiting a friend in London. We first see her foolishly allowing herself to be seduced by someone she hopes to write about, then being so flustered she forgets to get the interview.


But when she volunteers to go on stage during a magic act and is ushered into the cabinet where she will “disappear,” the ghost of a brilliant, adventuresome reporter who has recently died (played by “Deadwood’s” Ian McShane) comes to tell her that on Charon’s boat to Hades, he has learned the identity of the notorious serial killer. He believes it is ultra-eligible bachelor Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman). This is the scoop of a lifetime.


Who does she enlist to help her get the proof? The dear friend she is visiting (the underused Romola Garai)? A professional journalist? A detective? No, she calls on the magician with the cabinet for no other reason than that he is played by writer/director Woody Allen. Sondra gets him to pretend he is her father. They grow to like each other. Oh, and his act, which would have seemed amateurish and out of date in the days of Major Bowes, always has a sold-out crowd applauding wildly. Is this a movie or just a hit parade of self-indulgent fantasies?


From the moment Sondra and the magician join forces, character is continually sacrificed to convenience, as everyone behaves so inconsistently you’d think they were getting script pages seconds before filming. People are smart or dumb, brave or scared, close or distant, honest or insincere, depending on the most arbitrary of motivations. This would work if the result was funny or insightful, but it isn’t. There are some good wisecracks and a couple of promising set-ups, but the whole thing starts off wobbly and then spins completely out of control to an awkward, even disturbing conclusion. Like the character he plays, Allen’s shtick has worn out its welcome.


Parents should know that the movie has some sexual references and non-explicit sexual situations. Sondra makes some risky and foolish choices in terms of her sexual relationships and her physical safety. Characters drink and smoke and use some strong language. The story includes (off-camera) murders, attempted murder, and accidental death.


Families who see this movie should talk about the choices reporters must make in pursuit of a story. What did the editor find inadequate about Sondra’s story and why? What do reporters have to do to be fair to those they write about? How can you maintain objectivity if you get close to your subject?


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Allen’s Manhattan Murder Mystery, Broadway Danny Rose, Curse of the Jade Scorpion, and Bullets Over Broadway.

Miami Vice

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for strong violence, language and some sexual content.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

The original “Miami Vice” was Michael Mann’s decade-defining television show. It ran from 1984-89 and everything about it was fresh, edgy, and influential. The t-shirt under the Armani jacket with photogenic beard stubble look, the best-selling techno-synth musical theme that won a Grammy, the pastel colors and quick cuts all became cultural touchstones and signifiers. The idea was inspired by a two-word memo from a network executive — “MTV cops” — and by a ruling that permitted the use of goods confiscated from criminals in other police-related work — thus, the cops who drove a Ferrari. It was cool. But that was then. Now, it’s just cold.


So when Mann adapted the television show with this new movie, he excised all of its signature elements, so permanently wedded to the 80′s. But he didn’t add anything to make it worth watching.


Mann’s movies are usually smart and stylish. They usually have a visceral, vital quality. Not this one. He gives us no reason to care about the characters or the story. There’s not even any special sense of place; it could just as easily be called “Generic Canadian City Vice.”


Jamie Foxx replaces Philip Michael Thomas as Ricardo “Rico” Tubbs and Colin Farrell fills in for Don Johnson as James “Sonny” Crockett. They are brought in after the feds have failed in an undercover investigation of a drug dealer. After a brief interlude permitting Tubbs and his girlfriend (the wonderful Naomie Harris from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest) to get soapy in the shower, they get hired as deliverymen. Then they get caught up — personally and professionally — in the organization, which is (yawn) much larger and more far-reaching than they anticipated.

They have to prove themselves. Crockett gets involved with the drug operation’s CFO, Isabella (Gong Li), who dresses like an investment banker. But, like Melanie Grffith in “Working Girl,” she has a head for business and a bod for sin, and pretty soon she and Crockett are getting soapy in the shower.


The drug kingpin’s latest recruits have to prove themselves and work their way up the organization. The plot, however, mostly consists of bang bang bang, even the shoot-outs and explosions are not well-staged and the pacing is a slog. It seemed to take forever to load the darn drugs onto the darn boat. Foxx and Harris manage a little sizzle, but there is no chemistry of any kind between Foxx and Farrell or Farrell and Li. One reason is that Foxx and Farrell sport hairdos that all but emit chemistry repellent. The colors are dull. The pacing is dull. How long do we have to watch drugs being loaded onto a boat? Even the music is dull, as generic as a third-rate cover band. Even the preposterous ending is dull.

The dialogue is dull, too, all faux-tough, keeping-it-real we-can’t-trust-anyone-but-each-other-because-we’ve-shared-unspeakable-reality-and-know-things-the-rest-of-those-corrupt-and-incompetents-don’t malarky. It all sounds like something written by a computer tuned into the Spike channel. The only point in its favor is that there could be quite an active drinking game if viewers took a shot every time someone in the movie says something like, “Here’s how it’s going to be” or “Here’s how it’s going to happen.” It would have the advantage of both providing a more interesting distraction than the movie and rendering participants less concerned about the two hours and ten minute running time, the only theft in this movie anyone will care about.

Parents should know that this is a “hard-R” movie with extremely intense and graphic violence, including heavy artillary, a lot of blood splatter, and suicide. Characters are injured and killed. Characters are drug dealers and undercover cops who try to stop them. Characters drink and smoke (scenes in clubs) and use strong language. There are explicit sexual references and situations. A strength of the movie is the positive portrayal of inter-racial relationships, but some may find the South American drug dealers to be stereotyped.


Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy the original television show and Mann’s other movies, including Hannibal Lecter’s first appearance in Manhunter and Will Smith’s brilliant performance in Ali. Mann’s last film, also featuring Foxx, is the much better Collateral.

Previous Posts

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

posted 6:00:39pm Apr. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Bears
This year's Disney Nature release for Earth Day is "Bears," the story of an Alaskan bear named Sky and her twin cubs, Scout and Amber, their trek from the den where they've hibernated all winter t

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

Interview: Martha Williamson of "Signed, Sealed, Delivered"
Talking to Martha Williamson is pure positive energy and a real treat. The creator of "Touched by an Angel" has a new series on the Hallmark channel. It's called "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" and it is about a USPS dead letter office where a quirky but very dedicated group of people track down the rec

posted 8:00:57am Apr. 17, 2014 | read full post »

Trailer #2: The Box Trolls
Did I mention how excited I am about this?  Coming in September, from the people who did "Coraline" and "ParaNorman." [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDr_ZY37RFg[/youtube]

posted 12:12:22pm Apr. 16, 2014 | read full post »

Heaven is for Real
A movie like "Heaven is for Real" requires two different reviews, one for believers/fans of the 1.5 million-volume best-selling book, one for those who are unfamiliar with the book and whose views about faith and heaven and proof may differ from the evangelical beliefs of the Wesleyan pastor who wro

posted 6:00:04pm Apr. 15, 2014 | 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.