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

 

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some crude comments, language and action violence
Release Date:
December 25, 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

The Hills Have Eyes

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for strong gruesome violence and terror throughout, and for language.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

If these hills only had eyes, it would be one thing but parents should know that they also have mutants wielding pickaxes which results in a disturbingly graphic movie not suitable for sensitive audiences of any age or species.


Even some horror movie fans might be put off by this graphically violent flick about a mutant band of robbing and raping cannibals that make short work of a vacationing family until they push the family dog and the self-important son-in-law too far and end up in a bloodbath. French director Alexandre Aja, who made last year’s ambitious but disappointing “High Tension”, turns out a solid if not outstanding update of Wes Craven’s “The Hills have Eyes” from 1977, which taught the world that family vacations are just not safe.


The fairly disagreeable Carter family, comprising husband, wife, three children, son-in-law, grandchild and two dogs, are driving out to the coast through the desert to celebrate the senior Carters’ twenty-fifth anniversary. When a conflicted gas station owner tells them about a shortcut to the highway, the bickering family set out across the rocky desert and into a trap. With the truck totaled and the sun setting, the family realizes that they are not alone in the hills and that the others out there give new meaning to the phrase “playing with your food.”


Aja expends little effort on altering the script of the original but instead adds in marginally better actors, a few heavy handed political asides, a ponderous explanation, a lot more explicit violence and a slightly jaunty sensibility that seems intended to pass for humor. This is not a psychological thriller – this is a gore fest, so audiences should not be surprised when supposedly sensible characters act irrationally, such as going off alone, calling out in the dark and not warning others that the family dog has been disemboweled. In fact, the most sensible and selfless behavior of all is demonstrated by a mutant girl and a German Sheppard, which means that many audiences will not care much who ultimately survives the escalating body count.


For slasher fans, Aja’s lush style and loyalty to the original will make this a worthy wander but for all others be warned, do not enter them there hills.


Parents should know that this is a graphically violent horror movie with constant peril and the violent deaths of almost all on-screen characters. Most of a family is slaughtered and bodies are eaten onscreen. Even fans of the original might be disturbed by the extremely graphic gore and the rape scene. Parents should know that a baby is taken away to be eaten, that a dog is disemboweled and consumed, that characters are killed onscreen in a range of explicit deaths, many involving pickaxes, and that female characters are subjected to sexual assaults. Characters swear, smoke and refer to marijuana use. Political jibes and name-calling highlight friction between family members.


Families who see this movie might talk about the nuclear testing in the Southwest, which is the back story for the movie and for the rage of many of the characters. Why might the juxtaposition of the 1950’s style family homes and mannequins be an effective horror technique? How does the desert play a part in the story?


Families who are interested in the inspiration for this movie, might like to read more about the legend of Alexander “Sawney” Bean, who supposedly was a Scotsman married to a witch living in the late 1300’s as the head of a cave-dwelling family which survived by robbing English travelers and eating their corpses. The legend is considered by many a boogeyman tale about the Scots, who were in conflict with the English at the time, but generations have been chilled by this bloody story, described in detail down to King James’ manhunt and the ensuing executions of the Bean family.


For families looking for movies with similar thrills and kills, the 1977 original “The Hills have Eyes” helped launch Wes Craven’s fame as a horror-director. Both versions of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” feature people going off the beaten path and being hunted down by a terrifying family.

Thanks to guest critic AME.

The Shaggy Dog

posted by jmiller
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated G
Movie Release Date:1959
DVD Release Date:2006

A ring falls into the pants cuff worn by teenager Wilby Daniels (Tommy Kirk) while he is visiting a museum, and, not noticing, he carries it home with him. The ring’s ancient spell turns him into a huge shaggy dog, identical to the one owned by his pretty new neighbor, Franceska (Roberta Shore). Wilby’s father (Fred MacMurray) is allergic to dogs, so Wilby hides out in Franceska’s house, where he overhears Franceska’s father plotting to steal secret missile plans. Still a dog, Wilby has to figure out a way to foil the spies and save Franceska.

This low-key fantasy/comedy is a long-time family favorite, and children love to see the dog driving the car and wearing pajamas.

The 1976 sequel, The Shaggy D.A. was followed by more two made-for-television sequels starring Harry Anderson.

The Shaggy Dog

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

An uninspired all-the-best-parts-are-in-the-trailer remake, this is a showcase for two things: Tim Allen’s mugging and some computer wizard-style special effects. The limited entertainment value of both items and a solid supporting cast are not quite enough to make up for a predictable script and faux aw-moment theme.


Allen plays Dave, an assistant District Attorney in the middle of a big trial that is his chance to show he can handle the top job. A high school teacher is charged with starting a fire in a lab that tests animals for medical research, and Dave wants the jury to find him guilty.


He is so preoccupied with the trial that he doesn’t notice the problems at home. His son is failing math. His daughter is one of the protesters at the lab and she thinks her teacher is a hero and her father is the bad guy. And his wife (“Sex in the City’s” Kristen Davis) feels neglected and abandoned.


It turns out something fishy, or, I should say doggy is going on at the lab. Dr. Kozak (Robert Downey, Jr.) has captured a mysterious sheepdog that is still healthy and youthful although it is 300 years old and is trying to find a way to transfer his genetic makeup to humans. When Dave is bitten by the dog, he starts scratching behind his ear, lapping up his food, and growling at his opposing counsel. Then he turns into a dog.


This sets the stage for two developments: mildly amusing mix-ups as Dave-the-dog tries to navigate the human world, transforming back and forth from mannish-dog to doggish-man and lessons learned as Dave discovers how many things he wants to be able to say, now that he can’t do anything but bark. The lab experiments include CGI genetic cross-breeds like a dog-frog combo that exemplify this movie’s own uneasy mixture of slapstick and sentiment.

It feels too long, even at 98 minutes, over-stuffed with an under-used supporting cast that includes Davis, Downey, Danny Glover, Jane Curtin, and Philp Baker Hall. Craig Kilborn, in a brief role, manages to wear out his welcome quickly and then hang around to wear it out again.

Whether it’s a fantasy-comedy or a fantasy-drama, whether a magical spell or some plot-driven subterfuge, transformation in a movie plays the same role as any other epic journey. It gives the character a chance to understand who and what he was and to learn what he can do better.


All of that happens here, as Dave learns that he wasn’t really paying attention to his family and how much he needed them. But the set-up is so indestructible and the dog is so irresistible that, buoyed by Allen’s willingness to do whatever it takes for a laugh provide some light-weight pleasure.


Parents should know that this movie has some crude language and humor for a PG, including bathroom jokes and and references to body cavity searches, getting “fixed,” and being “sold” in prison. At one point, the kids are concerned that their parents are splitting up. A strength of the movie is the positive portrayal of a friendship between people of different genders and races.


Families who see this movie should talk about what being a dog helped Dave to see differently. Why did he neglect his family? Would you like to live for 300 years? What would you do differently? Families who want to find out more about the issue of animal testing can find it here and here.


Families who enjoy this movie should see the original, with Fred MacMurray and the sequel with Dean Jones, The Shaggy D.A..

Ultraviolet

posted by jmiller
C-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sequences of violent action throughout, partial nudity and language.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

This movie hopes that it can distract you from its failure of imagination with the following:

  • Throbbing techno club music-style soundtrack
  • Sleek, towering futuristic structures
  • The toned body of star Milla Jovovich, magnificently displayed in a variety of skin-tight, midriff-baring outfits. She can change the color of her catsuits and hair, too.
  • Lots and lots and lots of shooting, kicking, swordfights, and explosions


But all of that can’t hide:

  • Cardboard dialogue that compounds its failures with a lot of repetition for emphasis and faux-seriousness. “It’s just the wind. Just — the wind.”
  • An unintelligible story line
  • Dreary performances by everyone in the cast except for William Fichtner as a kind-hearted scientist
  • A boring bad guy. In fact, a couple of all but indistinguishable boring bad guys.
  • You know all those fight scenes? Not very exciting, at its best a poor imitation of better movies

Milla Jovovich (the Resident Evil) series plays Ultraviolet, who isn’t kidding when she introduces the story by saying “I was born into a world you may not understand.” It isn’t that it is so complicated; it’s just not interesting enough to pay attention to. She’s a mutant and a part of a rebel group fighting the tyranny of the humans. She infiltrates their compound to pick up what looks like a boogie board-shaped briefcase containing some highly destructive biological agent and is told it will self-destruct if she tries to open it.


So, she opens it. And inside is a child. When she gets back to the rebel stronghold, they decide to kill the child, whose blood contains some, I don’t know, bad stuff of some kind. But Ultraviolet, whose pregnancy was terminated 12 years earlier when she became infected with the mutating pathogen, finds her maternal instincts taking over and she and the boy, whose name is Six (Cameron Bright, continuing a string of awful movies after Godsend and Birth) are soon on the run.


Inevitably, we have the 2/3 of the way through moment of peace and safety that shows up in most action films for all the characters to catch their breath, bond, and show their softer sides. Meanwhile, the bad guys stride through spotless corriders in buildings where weirdly calm disembodied female voices say things like “Switching to emergency backup lighting system.”


If only I could have found the button for the emergency back-up better movie system.

Parents should know that the film has non-stop action violence with a lot of shooting, stabbing, and kicking. Many characters are killed and a child is in peril and apparently doomed. Characters use brief strong language and there is brief non-sexual nudity and some barfing.


Families who see this movie should talk about the risks of bio-terrorism. Why does Violet decide to protect Six?


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Blade Runner and The Matrix and Jovovich’s The Fifth Element (all with some mature material).

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