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

 

Ride Along
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, sexual content and brief strong language,
Release Date:
January 17, 2014

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

Aquamarine

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

The best thing about this fairy tale is that its happily-ever-after ending is satisfyingly real world. It’s the most enchanting treat for girls since The Princess Diaries.


It’s less of a fairy tale than a fish tale, at least half a fish tale. Best friends Claire (Emma Roberts) and Hailey (Joanna ‘JoJo’ Levesque) can’t bear to see the summer end. They have had a wonderful time watching dreamboat lifeguard Raymond (Jake McDorman) every day at the beach. But the real problem is that they are about to be separated. Hailey’s mom has a new job on the other side of the world, in Australia.


After a huge storm, they find a mermaid named Aquamarine in a swimming pool. She tells them that she has just three days to prove to her father that there is such a thing as love, and if they help her, she will give them a wish.

Aquamarine decides Raymond is the one she wants to love her. Claire and Hailey are willing to help her with their crush because it means not just getting their wish to stay together but keeping him away from mean girl Cecilia (Arielle Kebbel).

Claire and Hailey are at exactly the age where those friendships mean everything and Roberts and Levesque have a believable chemistry whether they’re laughing, plotting, or arguing. Sara Paxton sparkles as Aquamarine. Her character’s confidence inspires the girls, but they learn even because they have to take care of her. That gives them a sense of their own strength and power and a greater appreciation for those who take care of them.


The story, based on Alice Hoffman’s YA novel, nicely blends the fantasy
elements with astutely observed portrayals of early-teen fears and friendships. That’s where the real magic is.

Parents should know that the movie has some brief strong language for a PG, including one use of the b-word. There is some slight peril and some discussion of crushes and who is “hot” and who has a good figure and a mild joke about all the girls and some of the boys having crushes on Raymond. There are plot themes relating to the loss of parents through death and divorce.


Families who see this movie should talk about why Claire and Hailey said mean things to each other. Who were they really mad at? What were the most important lessons Claire, Hailey, Aquamarine, Raymond, and Celia learned. Why?


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy some of the other classic mermaid movies, including Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid, the Fairie Tale Theatre version, and Splash (some mature material). And they will enjoy the book by Alice Hoffman. And they might like to read my interview with Sara Paxton about playing a mermaid.

The Pink Panther

posted by jmiller
F
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for occasional crude and suggestive humor and language.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

Anyone remember Ted Wass? He starred in Curse of the Pink Panther.


Alan Arkin (Inspector Clouseau) tried to step into the banana-slipping shoes of Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau. Roberto Benigni played the title role in Son of the Pink Panther). Their performances were forgettable. If only the movies were, too, but, alas, they live on as painful memories.


In spite of all this, Steve Martin now gives it a try, in a script he co-wrote. This is a prequel to the original The Pink Panther that updates the bumbling inspector to the era of cell phones, the Internet, and Viagra. In the first few minutes, there’s a hit on the head, an electric shock, and a goat stampede. As we filed out of the theater during the credits, some wise guy made hand shadows on the screen and they were more entertaining than anything we’d seen there all evening. This is less like Peter Sellers and Blake Edwards and more like “Ernest Goes to Paris.”


Here is what is not funny: Steve Martin pursing his lips. Steve Martin mangling a French accent (hint: this idea works better when the story does not take place in France, where everyone is supposed to be speaking French, and when the “funny” accent is almost indistinguishable from the not-funny accents of other non-French people pretending to be French by speaking through their noses). It is especially not funny when an accent specialist tries to teach Clouseau how to ask for a hamburger, because what begins as not funny is then repeated, becoming not-funnier every time. It is not funny that it appears that two characters are having sex or that two men have to share a bed. And even the slapstick is mostly not funny because it is staged so poorly. The movie wastes the considerable talents of Beyonce Knowles.


Here is what is not so bad: Steve Martin has a funny walk and a cute little car. I give him credit for going back to the original source of the title — the Pink Panther is a huge diamond. Emily Mortimer is adorable. There is a funny joke about camouflage. Jean Reno looks uncomfortable but he is gracious as ever and brings a little class to his corner of the film. And in a very brief cameo, Clive Owen shows us what we’re missing in not having him as the new James Bond. Like the original Henry Mancini theme song, his presence only reminds us of what we’d rather be watching.

Parents should know that the movie has some inexcusably crude and vulgar humor for a PG movie, including potty jokes, a Viagra gag, sexual harassment humor and skimpy clothes. A woman sits on a man’s shoulders with his head in her crotch and there is what appears to be an athletic (though clothed) sexual encounter (this mistaken impression is supposed to be funny). It is also supposed to be funny that two men share a bed. Electrodes are pushed down pants and later we see the crotch of the pants is smoking. There is some crude language (Clouseau says he wants to seduce a witness and “pump” her for information). Characters drink in social settings. There is a great deal of head-bonking comic humor, including electric shocks, crashes, and explosions, with some injuries and two characters are murdered.


Families who see this movie should talk about why Dreyfus would think that it would make him look good to hire someone who could not do a good job. Why did Ponton grow to respect Clouseau?


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the 1963 original with Peter Sellers, The Man Who Knew Too Little with Bill Murray, and The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!.

Firewall

posted by jmiller
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of violence, and for some language.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

What can you do if you want to rob a bank and hotshot Harrison Ford has designed a foolproof security system? Well, firewalls may be unbreakable, but people are not. So, you tell him that if he doesn’t break into his own system, his family is dead.


Ford plays Jack Stanfield, computer security ace and loving husband and father. The bank he’s been protecting for 20 years is about to be merged, and he is suspicious of the new management (Terminator 2′s Robert Patrick) and intrigued by a possible new job offer. This distraction may explain why he’s not too suspicious when a belligerent bill collector shows up at his office, yelling about $95 thousand in gambling debts. But pretty soon some very mean guys are pointing guns at his family and wiring him for sound and pictures so they can track him when he leaves the house.


The thrills in this movie are strictly low-wattage. For a while it is fun to see Ford McGuyver his way around the security system with a fax machine, an iPod, GPS, and a cell phone, but it all disintigrates into a generic shoot-’em-up with nothing distinctive or surprising, except, perhaps, that after all these decades, Ford still knows how to act and do stunts at the same time. Virginia Madsen is wasted in the the “No, Jack, no!”/”Don’t you DARE touch my children!” role. Paul Bettany has a nicely cool vibe but his character, like the others, is underwritten, and the script’s twists won’t surprise anyone who’s ever seen a Harrison Ford movie, most of which are better than this one.

Parents should know that the movie has extreme peril and violence, including shooting, punching, explosions, and general slamming things into characters, some of whom are injured and killed. A child is in peril and nearly dies due to an allergic reaction. There is brief strong language, someone gives the finger, and there is some social drinking.


Families who see this film should talk about how to protect themselves from identify theft. They should talk about the way that some bank robbery movies get the audience on the side of the bank and others get the audience on the side of the thieves.

Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy Air Force One and Witness, also starring Ford. They might also like to watch some other bank robbery movies, including $, the original The Thomas Crown Affair, Bandits, The Desperate Hours and its 1990 remake, and Dog Day Afternoon (mature material).

When a Stranger Calls

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense terror, violence and some language.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

“He is calling from within the house.” What a line! Since the original version of When a Stranger Calls came out in 1979, that sentence — packed with impending terror –has resonated with babysitters and played on their fears as they sit isolated in unfamiliar houses, responsible for their sleeping charges.

The original never lived up to the line but this new version does a fairly decent job of stretching the suspense through 83 minutes of near-constant peril. Why bother to introduce any original twists when you can make a solid, if predictable, junior grade thriller with the simple notion that you are not alone in a dark maze of a house?


The scene opens with a montage of kids playing at a carnival alongside a suburban house where a ghastly murder takes place in shadow play in the upper window. It is no surprise then that we are introduced to young Jill Johnson (Camilla Belle) running sprints in her school gym. Clearly, she will need her speed again before the movie ends. The plot moves along well and in mere minutes we learn why she is heading out on a babysitting gig instead of joining her friends at the lakeside bonfire that night.

She has gone over her cell phone minutes by nearly 14 hours, talking to her ex-boyfriend, and has racked up enough debt to make her parents take away her phone and car privileges. Also, she has to pay off the phone bill, hence the babysitting stint at the “Architecture Digest”-worthy modern manse of the Mandrakis family. The thrills start when the stranger calls, asking his troubling “Have you checked the children?” mantra and causing Jill to start jumping at shadows for the long night that follows.


Needless to say the rest of the movie plays with the dark corridors (the lights all work by motion detectors), that distracting cat, the wind in the trees outside, and of course with our fear of the dark. Do people do stupid things in this movie? Absolutely, but the movie rests on Jill’s shoulders quite comfortably, never seeming to ask too much of her fine if not outstanding acting performance. While this movie is far from a “stranger”, for some it will be a predictable and welcome call worth a few shivers but ultimately forgettable as soon as you get off the line.


Parents should know that there is near-constant peril and the movie will give bad dreams to even the bravest of babysitters. There are references to horrific murder and you see a man threatening the lives of children. Two characters die and a character is stalked in a dark house. One character refers to her “tequila problem” as the reason she kissed another girl’s boyfriend and teens kiss and drink by a bonfire with little apparent oversight. There is strong language to describe a character’s actions.

<P?
Families that see this movie might want to talk about the advice Jill’s father gives her about how acting responsibly is most important when it hurts or costs something. What does he mean in reference to the reason that Jill is being punished? What does it mean in the context of her decisions in the house? What does Jill do wisely and what would you do differently?


Families that enjoy this movie might want to watch the original with Carol Kane or get their shivers in more memorable spooky movies such as Gaslight or the original 13 Ghosts.

Thanks to guest critic AME.

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