Movie Mom

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Believe Me
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:

Release Date:
September 26, 2014

 

The Fault in Our Stars
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language
Release Date:
June 6, 2014

Tracks
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some partial nudity, disturbing images and brief strong language
Release Date:
September 26, 2014

 

Transformers: Age of Extinction
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language and brief innuendo
Release Date:
June 27, 2014

The Boxtrolls
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for action, some peril and mild rude humor
Release Date:
September 26, 2014

 

Neighbors
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for pervasive language, strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use throughout
Release Date:
May 9, 2014

27 Dresses

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for language, some innuendo and sexuality.
Movie Release Date:January 18, 2007

27%20dresses.jpg Jane has a special closet in her apartment filled with 27 dresses so ugly that only two things can be true: (1) they were all bridesmaid’s dresses, and that means (2) all 27 brides assured her that they could be shortened and worn again.
Jane (Katherine Heigl of “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Knocked Up”) is a natural caretaker. After her mother died when she was a child, she took care of her sister. She has taken care of 27 different brides, helping out with wedding details that have her over-stuffed day-planner bristling with yellow sticky reminders. In her job, she takes care of her boss, George (Edward Burns), the too-good-to-be-true mountain-climbing CEO of an impeccably politically correct corporation. She makes sure he gets his breakfast burrito and picks up his dry cleaning. In her few spare moments, she sighs with love for George or sighs with hope over the weekly write-ups of the most romantic weddings in the Sunday paper. Her dreams are of white dresses, tossed bouquets, and big cakes with lots of icing. Her reality is…dreams.
Just as she decides to let George know how she feels, urged on by her best friend Casey (the marvelous Judy Greer, wasted in an underwritten role as the movie’s designated sleep-around friend), Jane’s globe-trotting model sister Tess (Malin Akerman) arrives and she and George immediately decide to get married, with guess who taking care of all the cake, flower, and decoration details. All of this is so distracting that Jane barely has time to notice the killer smile of Kevin, a cynical reporter (the marvelous James Marsden, almost-wasted in an under-written role that seems left over from an old Clark Gable character). For no reason except the demands of the increasingly flimsy plot, Kevin is required to keep a couple of obvious secrets.
Heigl is the real deal, with girl-you-wish-lived-next-door imperishable but accessible beauty, appealing, endearing, vulnerable, with understated comic timing. Marsden, too, has charm to spare. Both hold our interest and keep us rooting for them even when the script does its best to get in the way. Do we really need yet another scene with characters letting go by getting tipsy and singing 80′s songs? Akerman (“The Heartbreak Kid”), in her second role in five months as a selfish, irresponsible, and all-around nightmare bombshell who impulsively gets engaged, struggles with an impossible task as she tries to be both over-the-top obnoxious and sympathetic at the same time. What does work is Heigl and the dresses and the fact that, like Jane, most of the audience loves to get misty at weddings. Watching this film is like waiting to catch the bride’s bouquet, more anticipation than fulfillment.

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Darkon interview: Andrew Neel and Luke Meyer

posted by Nell Minow

Andrew Neel and Luke Meyer are the writer-directors of an exceptionally entertaining and engrossing film called “Darkon,” a documentary about LARPers — participants in live action role-playing games. Think of a mash-up between Civil War reenactors, a “Star Trek” convention, and a computer game with elements from “Lord of the Rings” and the Crusades.

darkon2.jpg Every other week, Darkon players meet for battle in the fields around Baltimore wearing armor and carrying shields and swords. No longer at their boring jobs, no longer their boring selves, Darkon gives them scope for their imagination and lets them be epic and heroic. And sometimes they discover things about themselves that carry over into their daily life as well.

The film, a festival award-winner, is sympathetic to its subjects, drawing us into their battles on and off the field.

Mr. Woodcock

posted by Nell Minow
D
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, thematic material, language and a mild drug reference.
Movie Release Date:September 11, 20007
DVD Release Date:January 15, 2008

If Sophocles knew that this would be the result, he would never have allowed “Oedipus” to see the light of day. “Mr. Woodcock” is an Oedipal comedy about a man who loves his mother and who becomes very, very upset when she falls for the man who terrorized his childhood, his middle school PE teacher.


John Farley (Seann William Scott) is now a very successful author with a self-help book about letting go of the past. When his Nebraska home town wants to give him its highest honor, he cancels his book tour obligations and flies home.


That’s when he finds out that his mother is now in love with the PE teacher whose pedagogical technique consisted of humiliation and harassment. Or, maybe he was just a bully.


John comes home to accept an award and instantly all of his carefully-built confidence and maturity evaporate and the idea of breaking up his mother’s engagement to Mr. Woodcock becomes all-consuming.


And so we go from a brief opening scene showing John being humiliated by Mr. Woodcock in gym class to an entire movie that humiliates him in just about every possible context from being stuck under the bed as Mr. Woodcock and his mother make loud, passionate love to having a chunk of hair shaved off at Mr. Woodcock’s barber, dunking Mr. Woodcock’s whistle in the toilet, and being a bad sport in cute county fair competitions. Or, rather, cornpetitions — this movie’s idea of witty wordplay is to substitute the word “corn” for every possible syllable.


Thornton and Scott have nothing to work with here. Thornton carries over the mean thing that was already not funny in “The Bad News Bears” and “The School for Scoundrels,” and Scott has to do his best with a character whose characteristics shift from one scene to the next. Poor Sarandon is limited to 50′s sit-com lines like “Isn’t that sweet?” and “Can’t you two try to get along?”

The pacing is slack and slapdash, the comedy based primarily on cruelty, injury, intimidation, and humiliation. It also throws in some irresponsibility, selfishness, alcoholism, and general skankiness. Then, instead of ending, it all just gives up with a sort of “never mind” ending that even Mr. Woodcock would have to call a foul on. Indeed, that is the best possible assessment of the movie as a whole.

Parents should know that this film has extremely strong material for a PG-13, right up at the edge of an R. It includes very crude and insulting epithets and very vulgar sexual humor and situations, including John hiding under the bed as his mother and Jasper have loud sex. Woodcock humiliates his students and others by calling them “ladies” and impugning their manhood. Characters drink (including jokes about alcoholism and scenes in bars), smoke, and use very strong and crude language include a vulgar word for sexual organs used as an insult and a joke about child molesting. There is a good deal of comic violence, with many characters getting hit on the head and crotch by various blunt instruments.


Families who see this movie should talk about why John and his mother saw Mr. Woodcock so differently.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Anchorman – The Legend Of Ron Burgundy and Old School (both with mature material).

Good Luck Chuck

posted by Nell Minow
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for sequences of strong sexual content including crude dialogue, nudity, language and some drug use.
Movie Release Date:2007
DVD Release Date:January 15, 2008

At age 10, following an awkward Spin the Bottle encounter, a little goth girl puts a hex on Charlie so that he will be surrounded by love but never find it himself. But it is the audience who will feel cursed. It is hard to tell which is more painfully difficult to sit through — the awful premise of this film or the dull filler that occupies the rest of the time onscreen.


Charlie grows up into stand-up comedian Dane Cook and becomes a dentist. When word gets out that sex with him is a quicker path to marriage than eHarmony, every gorgeous woman in town wants to sleep with him so that she can find her one true love as soon as it is over. His best friend Stu (Tony award-winner Dan Fogler), a plastic surgeon specializing in breast enhancement, disgusting, sex-obsessed conversation, and having sex with citrus, persuades Charlie that this is practically a public service, helping women to find love while having lots and lots and lots of sex. Charlie gives in and has sex with just about every unattached female in the state.


And then he meets the adorably klutzy Cam (Jessica Alba), who runs the penguin house at the local equivalent of Sea World. But he worries that if he has sex with her, she’ll meet the man of her dreams. So he has to find a way to romance her without sex.


Cook is an observational comic who thinks that referring to something is the same as making a joke about it. He is physically energetic but intellectually lazy. His appeal comes from his utter lack of embarrassment and complete absence of boundaries, making college kids feel understood and connected. His stand-up routine is the equivalent of a Facebook page. This movie is like one of his jokes, all set-up, and then a lot of energy in the hopes the audience won’t notice there is no real pay-off. We get that it is supposed to be funny that Charlie has a lot of sex with pretty girls. But they drag the joke on forever, showing Cook in a dozen different positions, not because it is particularly funny or sexy but because they have 90 minutes to fill and hope we will be distracted by all those breasts. Any movie that has to fall back on a climactic race to the airport for drama and having sex with food for comedy has run out of ideas before it began. Oh, and please don’t bother to stay for the last little improvised “joke” over the credits.


One more aspect of this film that is particularly troubling is that it is an extremely raunchy R-rated film but its humor is so juvenile its most likely audience is young teenagers, the only group likely to find it funny just because it has naughty words and naked ladies. Anyone old enough to see this movie is likely to be too old to find much to laugh at.

Parents should know that this film has extremely explicit and crude sexual references and situations and a great deal of nudity that would rate an NC-17 if in anything but a comedy. Characters use very strong and vulgar language. There is comic violence (no one badly hurt). Characters drink, including one who drinks to deal with stress, and one character is a pothead, a frequent source of humor.


Audiences who see this movie should talk about which time-honored techniques the film uses to keep Charlie a sympathetic character, despite some crass, selfish, and exploitive behavior. What made him see Cam differently?


Audiences who enjoy this film will also enjoy The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up.

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