Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Love is Strange
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language
Release Date:
08/22/2014

 

Moms' Night Out
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action
Release Date:
May 9, 2014

The November Man
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong violence including a sexual assault, language, sexuality/nudity and brief drug use
Release Date:
August 27, 2014

 

Draft Day
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 on appeal for brief strong language and sexual references
Release Date:
April 11, 2014

If I Stay
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some sexual material
Release Date:
August 22, 2014

 

Blended
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and language.
Release Date:
May 23, 2014

Underdog

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for rude humor, mild language and action.
Movie Release Date:2007

There may be no need to fear now that Underdog is here, but there is no reason to feel very happy, either. This live-action adaptation of the 1960′s animated television show substitutes special effects for satire.


The animated series was a gentle parody of the superhero genre, with perennial milquetoast Wally Cox providing the very unheroic voice talent for the shoeshine dog who popped power pills and spoke in rhyme.


This version is a boy-and-his-dog story, alternating between crude humor and synthetic sentiment. Perennial slacker Jason Lee (“My Name is Earl”) provides the speaking voice for a sad-eyed beagle who is drummed out of the K-9 corps for making too many mistakes. Consigned to be the subject of experiments in the lab of mad scientist Simon Barsinister (Peter Dinklage of The Station Agent), the beagle creates chaos trying to escape. The lab is destroyed, but not before the dog is exposed to the doctor’s experimental fluid, which gives him superpowers, including the ability to speak and to fly.


Cop-turned-security guard Dan (Jim Belushi), takes him in, names him “Shoeshine,” and gives him to his estranged son Jack (Alex Neuberger). Jack is thrilled with what Shoeshine can do and helps him become the superhero known as Underdog.


The special effects are technically adept. The screenplay, however, is not. It relies heavily on doggy-doo humor and smart-alecky comments comparing humans and animals, adding in a clumsy reference to Lady and the Tramp and, even a sort of “Norma Rae” moment when Underdog pauses in the middle of a confrontations to invite the worker dogs of the world to unite. Dinklage has fun with Barsinister’s grandiosity and the ever-reliable Patrick Warburton gives what he can as the sidekick. But the he father-son reconciliation is listless and the rest of the movie is bland, tepid, and dull. If only Underdog’s superpowers included the ability to fetch a better script.

Parents should know that the movie has a lot of comic/cartoon violence. The bad guys are bashed, characters are in peril, one character has an ugly scar, and at one point it appears that a major character has been killed, but no one is seriously hurt. There is a reference to loss of a parent. A student forges a note to get out of school. Characters use some schoolyard language and there is a significant amount of potty humor. Shoeshine makes a joke about mistaking a boy dog for a girl dog and there is some boy-girl humor. There is a nod to the movie’s origins as a way to promote General Mills with some product placement of the company’s cereals.

Families who see this movie should talk about why it was hard for Jack and his father to talk to each other. What did Jack like most about Shoeshine? Why did Con want to be Dr. Barsinister’s partner? Who can you think of who could be called an underdog?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the cartoon series, Firehouse Dog, Good Boy!, and Cats & Dogs.

Hot Rod

posted by jmiller

Even when this movie is at its dumbest, and that is very, very dumb indeed, even when it launches, or, I should say, lurches, into its umpeenth attempt to find humor in having its main character get beat up/crushed/knocked over or act like a 12-year-old around the girl he has a crush on, somehow, we still keep rooting for it because Andy Samberg is funny. Even his hair is funny.


Reportedly this was originally written for Will Ferrell and then someone realized that even the energetic Ferrell could not possibly make a silly movie about every loser who every tried any sport, so it was turned over to the latest “Saturday Night Live” breakthrough, Lazy Sunday‘s Samberg, who adapted it, with the friends he’s been working with since childhood, for his rather more surreal sensibilities.

This is the story of Rod Kimble, a would-be stuntman who does not seem to notice that he never successfully completes a stunt (the Ferrell part). He goes to the woods to “punch-dance out my rage,” has an extended exchange with his half-brother that consists entirely of their saying “cool beans” to each other and celebrate by popping bubble wrap. And Rod’s question for the girl of his dreams (Isla Fisher as Denise) is who would win a fight between a grilled cheese sandwich and a taco. This is the Samberg part.

Her well-reasoned response? “The grilled cheese, but only in a fair fight. If it’s prison rules, I’d pick the taco.” Clearly, they are destined to be together. And then there’s a cameo appearance by a character in a Dickens novel.

These dementedly random moments make up for some of the more sluggish, thuggish elements. When Rod falls down a mountain, he really falls down the mountain in a scene that is hilariously prolonged. But too much of the movie is just seeing Rod get beaten like a pinata (literally). If you think it is funny to see someone get beat up many, many times, to hear that crunch of bone on bone, to see a man beg for the respect of his stepfather (Ian McShane) only to be told it will not happen until he defeats him in a fight, to see Sissy Spacek wander around in a daze, probably because she cannot figure out what she is doing in this movie, to see adult males act like 12-year-olds around women and refer to the “boner police” — if you can understand the references in a Nickelback joke, AND if you think there is such a thing as a Nickelback joke, and only then, you might enjoy this film.

Parents should know that this movie has brief strong language (one f-word), many crude words and some sexual references, homophobic insults, vulgar humor, a brief scene of dogs having sex, constant comic cartoon-style violence (no one hurt) including domestic violence, drinking, including buying liquor to respond to disillusionment, smoking, hallucinogenic drug use, and potty humor.


Families who see this movie should talk about why Rod felt he had to prove himself? Why did Denise like Rod? What does it mean to sell out? This movie was made by three people who have been making funny movies together since they were kids -– would you and your friends like to try to make a movie?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Blades of Glory and Wayne’s World.

The Simpsons Movie

posted by jmiller
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for irreverent humor throughout.
Movie Release Date:2007

“I can’t believe we’re paying to see something we get to see on TV for free. Everyone in this theater is a giant sucker, especialy YOU.” And thus, Homer Simpson lets us know that he’s onto us, as he has been for 18 years. “The Simpsons,” television’s longest-running primetime animated series in history, and the longest running sitcom currently on primetime, has now become a movie and people are paying to see something they get to see on TV for free. And it’s worth it.


I am sure there are Simpsonologists out there who are already parsing and disescting every element of this film and scholars working on an annotated version in preparation for Cultural Studies dissertations.

Parents should know that this film includes some vulgar humor, including brief cartoon nudity, drug humor, cartoon violence, scenes in bar, a child drinking liquor, characters in peril, and some crude language.


Families who see this movie should talk about why Bart thought he might like to have Ned Flanders as his father. Why did Marge decide to leave Homer? Why did they change their minds? What can kids in your community do to help protect the environment?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the television series and Groening’s other series,
Futurama.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry

posted by jmiller

There are none so straight as those who pretend to be gay. That seems to be the premise of Adam Sandler’s latest slacker comedy. But its mild pleasures are spoiled by its belief that homophobic humor can be somehow sanitized by a cheesy Shylock-ripoff speech about how it’s who we are as people that really matters. As if.


Sandler and Kevin James play firefighters womanizer Chuck and widower Larry, who enter into a domestic partnership so that Larry can protect his pension. When the city investigates them on suspicion that they are lying about their relationship to defraud the city in order to get benefits, they have to find a way to persuade everyone around them that their relationship is authentic. That includes getting married in Canada wearing matching yarmulkes, moving in together, sleeping in the same bed, making comments like “we’ve been having lots of sex,” and answering questions about “who’s the girl.”


They also need to hire a lawyer, and of course it turns out to be a sympathetic bombshell played by Jessica Biel. The usual humiliations and misunderstandings ensue, as does the usual happily ever after (and resoundingly heterosexual) ending.


While the characters plead for acceptance, the movie’s humor is mostly based on the premise that gay men are shrill, high-strung basket cases, that any man would be disturbed to find out that his son might be gay, and that being gay is not just “other” but downright ooky. Just to make sure that we get the point, there is also some attempted humor based on Sandler’s character being hugely attractive to women, who universally and happily agree to every possible sexual variation he can fantasize, including, of course, a complete absence of commitment or tenderness. This is not an idea the movie makes fun of – it is a fundamental assumption necessary to buy into many of the comic situations. It is supposed to be funny that his character even has sex with an unattractive, unpleasant woman (who somehow becomes kittenish and submissive as a result of the encounter). In addition, Rob Schneider plays an Asian so caricatured it makes the WWII-era portrayals of Tojo seem subtle. Presumably, this is all right because Schneider himself is half Filipino. This is exactly the same misbegotten presumption that brings a sense of smarmy hypocrisy to the film, undermining not just humor but good humor.


In the beginning of the film, Chuck asks two women to kiss each other in a provocative manner, doubly transgressive because they are not just same-sex but twin sisters. This is portrayed as thrilling for all the he-men in the fire department. But at the end of the film, the prospect of a same-sex kiss for Chuck and Larry is just so disgusting to the two men who can run into a burning building without a second thought, such a deeply threatening assault on their manhood that it outweighs everything else. They can lie to people they care about, they can betray the trust of colleagues, friends, and children, they can defraud the system, but after all of their big talk about how they are both “big-time fruits” who enjoyed wrestling other boys a little too much in high school, the idea of big, strong, men getting weak in the knees over a kiss is not just a distraction but a decision that brings the movie’s story and comic sensibility down like a house of cards.

Parents should know that the MPAA is right about this one when it says there is “crude sexual content throughout.” There are a great deal of very vulgar terms and references to both gay and straight sex, including multiple partners (separately and all at once), pornography (porn shown to a child to “help” him not be gay), a fun doll, lubricant, sexual arousal, a joke about prison rape, and some potty humor. There are some skimpy clothes and we see brief nudity in the shower. Characters smoke and drink and there is a reference to marijuana. They use some four-letter words. There is some peril (characters injured), comic violence, and references to sad deaths. While the movie purports to be on the side of tolerance and equality, it engages in a lot of stereotyping and homophobic humor.


Families who see this movie should talk about what it is that people fear most about those who are different. Why was Alex someone who made Chuck “not want to be a jerk?” Does this movie have mixed messages?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Victor/Victoria, Connie And Carla (an underappreciated comedy from the author/star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding) and Happy, Texas.

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