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Guardians of the Galaxy
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language
Release Date:
August 1, 2014

 

Noah
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content
Release Date:
March 28, 2014

Get on Up
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug use, some strong language, and violent situations
Release Date:
August 1, 2014

 

Finding Vivian Maier
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
April 11, 2014

Magic in the Moonlight
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for a brief suggestive comment, and smoking throughout
Release Date:
August 1, 2014

 

Sabotage
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R For strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use
Release Date:
March 28, 2014

Daddy Day Camp

posted by Nell Minow
D
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for mild bodily humor and language.
DVD Release Date:January 29, 2008

This farm team follow-up to “Daddy Day Care” puts Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Paul Raye as Charlie and Phil, the parts originated by Eddie Murphy and Jeff Garlin. Note that the ads proclaim this is “from the studio” that gave us the first one. Even the writer, director, and stars of the original wanted to get as far away from this one as they could. So should audiences.
The day care center Charlie and Phil began in the first film is flourishing and their sons are now seven and want to go to camp. So, Charlie buys broken-down Camp Driftwood, the camp he went to as a kid. And of course everything goes very, very wrong. Much of it involving things that smell very, very bad. And then comes the big inter-camp competition with the rich meanies over at Camp Canola. We know they have to be evil because they have valet parking, because the owner is a bully who says he hates children, and because it is named after cooking oil.
If this was a live performance, the people in the front row of the audience would have to bring a plastic sheet, like the audience for watermelon-smashing comedian Gallagher. A lot of wet stuff flies toward the screen and there are many, many intended-to-be-hilarious gags (in both senses of the word) about things that smell bad. There are jokes about getting lost in the woods, barfing, exploding backed-up toilets, skunk odor, bees, poison ivy, burping, and more barfing. This is the part that is supposed to be funny. Not so much.
Charlie (father of what is apparently the only black family in town) has to struggle with feeling that he never got the approval of his own father, a tough military man named Buck (Richard Gant) and wanting the approval of his son Ben (Spencir Bridges). When the camp’s buildings, programs, and balance sheet begin to fall apart, Charlie has to call in reinforcements — Buck. This is the part that is supposed to be heart-warming. Not so much.
We are also supposed to care that the arrogant bully who runs Camp Canola was once responsible for Charlie’s humiliating defeat in the inter-camp Olympiad. So, even though Charlie is all about nurturing and against competition, he gets caught up in the honor of the thing and decides that for his self-esteem he needs to have his campers win this year. So it turns that that a combination of Buck’s leadership and Charlie’s supportiveness is the right answer. This is the part that is supposed to be interesting. Not so much.
A character describes camp as “all those snakes, spiders, and wedgies,” and that’s pretty much the entire movie. While neither Charlie nor Phil seems to notice this, there are some children at the camp, and Smurf-style, each is allotted one characteristic. One is a redneck with a mullet. One is a videogame freak who develops a crush on a girl and can only think to ask her if she likes “World of Warcraft.” One has a barfing problem and one has a bed-wetting problem. Each is tediously trotted out one at a time like Hansel and Gretel on a barometer to perform his or her little function (nerd! redneck! hyper-articulate! precocious about sex! secret shame!). The not-so-secret shame is what attaches to everyone involved with this cynical, pandering piece of claptrap, as unwelcome as a raging case of poison ivy.
Parents should know that this movie is filled with gross-out humor involving bodily fluids and functions. Characters use some strong language for a PG, including “crap.” There is some comic peril and some fighting, including getting hit in the crotch. Parents may be concerned by some of the values apparently endorsed by the movie, including the idea that the way to respond to cheating is to cheat better. Charlie also lies to his wife and puts the family’s home at risk.
Families who see this movie should talk about the different parenting styles of Charlie and Buck. Why was winning so important to the Canola campers?
Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy Camp Nowhere and Meatballs.

Rocket Science

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for some sexual content and language.
Movie Release Date:2007

Hal (Reece Thompson) has something say but he has a lot of trouble saying it. On the bus, he can practice asking for pizza, but when it comes to the moment and he is standing in the cafeteria line, he can’t quite get it out. He has a stutter, the kind of speech impediment that keeps the words stuck in his throat. People tend to ignore him. Either they are tied up in their own worries and do not realize that he deserves their attention, or they assume that because he does not talk he must not be worth listening to.


And then Ginny (Anna Kendricks) sits next to him on the school bus and invites him to join the debate team. She says she sees greatness in him. And, perhaps because of that, or just because she is hyper-articulate and sure of herself, maybe because his parents have just split up and love seems very confusing to him, all of a sudden Hal begins to feel feelings for Ginny that are seismic and shattering and uncontrollable. And so, his actions become as confused and embarrassing as his speech. He sort of stalks her. He sort of grabs her. And when he feels that she has betrayed him, he goes to any length to try to at the same time let her know he does not need her, defeat her, and win her back at the same time.


rocket_science.png
Director Jeffrey Blitz showed sensitivity to the throes of adolescence in his award-winning documentary about the national spelling bee for middle schoolers, Spellbound. He got those kids to trust him and here, too, and he gets the most from his talented young cast. Thompson is superb, showing perception and vulnerability without seeming mannered or excessive. Kendricks, a Broadway veteran so good in “Camp,” raps out her complex speeches with devastating effect; completely compelling as someone who would bring a dozen perfectly sharpened number 2 pencils to the SATs and challenge them all the way to the Supreme Court if they tried to give her one point less than a perfect score.


The screenplay wavers at times; the structure is a little ragged, there are a couple of self-consciously quirky indie moments, and the ending a little weak. But Thompson and Kendricks and the debate scenes make this one of the best coming-of-age stories in many months.

Parents should know that there are some crude sexual references and high school situations. Characters use some strong language, a teenager smokes, and there are references to drinking and drug use.


Families who see this movie should talk about how difficult it was for Hal to find someone who could understand or help him. Why were all of the adults around him so clueless?

Families who like this movie will also appreciate Napoleon Dynamite and the award-winning spelling bee documentary directed by Blitz, Spellbound. And they will enjoy this interview with writer-director Jeffrey Blitz.

Interview: Aria Wallace of “Roxy Hunter”

posted by Nell Minow

Aria Wallace plays Roxy Hunter, a clever young sleuth whose persistance and inquisitiveness sometimes gets her into trouble but often solves mysteries. I interviewed Ms. Wallace via email.

roxy2.JPGWhat’s the best thing about playing Roxy Hunter?

I love the different adventures. The best thing about being an actress is meeting new people, and having fun. For Roxy, I would say definitely solving mysteries!

What makes Roxy such a good detective?

I love how she observes everything. Roxy has studied Sherlock Holmes, and really tries to observe everything to solve the case. I really like how she allows her friends to help too.

What does she need to get better at?

While observing every clue – I think Roxy is a little mischievous. I think she should try not to get into trouble. Roxy tends to get in trouble while on the case.

Who are some of your favorite actors?

I LOVE Reese Witherspoon! I also like Nicole Kidman, Rene Zellweger, Steve Carell, Steve Martin, Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts!

What’s on your iPod?

I love music! Led Zeppelin is my favorite band. I have like every one of
their albums on my iPod. I also love Alicia Keys and her song Fallin’, and Christina Aguilera and her song Hurt. If you looked at my iPod you’d see like a million songs, it’s crazy!

U2 3D

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:G
Movie Release Date:January 23, 2008

“U2 in 3D” doesn’t just give you the feeling of being at a rock concert. It gives you the feeling of being a rock star. Super-big, super-close, super-clear, and super-charged, it broke the record for the most 3-D cameras used for a single movie and combines footage from seven different performances, giving it a seamless fluidity of camera movement that always feels vital and immediate. No time is wasted backstage, no interviews with fans or roadies. We are onstage from the first song to the encore, inside the performance, and inside the music.
Bono is more often seen as a statesman than a rock star these days, so it is a welcome surprise to see what a mesmerizing performer he is. He and bandmates Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen, Jr. and the Edge are in top form and the concert is everything rock and roll should be — musically, visually, spiritually. This is what they mean when they talk about rocking your world.

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Guardians of the Galaxy
The summer movie you've been waiting for has arrived, a joyous space romp that all but explodes off the screen with lots of action and even more charm. Our recent superheros have been complex, often anguished, even downright tortured. It has been a while since we've had a charming rogue with a ba

posted 5:59:33pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Get on Up
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posted 5:59:21pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Magic in the Moonlight
Woody Allen's 44th film is an amuse bouche without a meal, a dollop of whipped cream without the dessert underneath.  In last year's film, "Blue Jasmine," the strength of the performances (especially Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett) and the resonance of its Bernie Madoff-ish crossed with "Streetcar Nam

posted 5:58:31pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »


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