Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Lucy
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R For strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality
Release Date:
July 25, 2014

 

Heaven is for Real
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic material including some medical situations
Release Date:
April 16, 2014

And So It Goes
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some sexual references and drug elements
Release Date:
July 25, 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

Wish I Was Here
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some sexual content
Release Date:
July 18, 2014

 

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

Man of the Year

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for language including some crude sexual references, drug related material, and brief violence.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

So, what if Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert decided to run for President? First of all, didn’t we already see that movie, when it was called Head of State and starred Chris Rock? (Okay, he didn’t play a comedian, but he is a comedian and behaved like one.) The idea of a campaign by an outsider who can tell the truth has had appeal in movies (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington) and in real life (from the joke campaign of Pat Paulson to the not-joke campaigns of Ross Perot and Alan Keyes). But this latest version dilutes the sharpness of Robin Williams and the political comedians who inspired his character and then veers off into an uninteresting thriller sidetrack that is not the least bit thrilling.


Comedians and politicians have been locked together symbiotically since the first person assumed power over others, immediately followed by someone who made a joke about it. Politicians have to speak in a kind of code, even when they are being “outspoken” and promise straight talk. Comedians can tell the truth, even the outrageous truth, even the wildly exaggerated truth, because it’s all in fun.

Kings had jesters. Today’s politicos have late-night television and stand-up comics. They also have increasingly partisan and screechy news media and increasingly popular comedy news shows, which, surveys show, are the preferred news source for a large segment of the population, especially young people. Why not? You get two for the price of one, headlines and jokes. Real newsmakers appear for interviews on fake news shows and real news shows get increasingly more clownish. The line between news and faux news is dissolving.


All of this could have made a great movie. But this isn’t it. Williams looks puffy, toned down, and distracted, except in his interactions with Christopher Walken as his manager, with whom he has a wonderful chemistry. When they are together, we get a glimpse of what this movie could have been. But the movie veers off into an uninvolving and unoriginal distraction about a corrupt corporation and vote fraud.

Any movie about politics has a huge obstacle to overcome in having to pull its punches by making the humor generic and innoffensive. Because of the lead-time between filming and release (not to mention DVD), there is no chance for anything topical. Even so, many of the would-be wisecracks are overcooked and overworked. I think I recall a few of them from the Ford administration. Which makes sense because as irreverent and subversive as it wants to be, it is just bland.

Parents should know that the movie has some strong and crude language and sexual references. Characters drink and smoke; one continues to smoke even after nearly losing his life from tobacco-related disease. A character is injected with illegal drugs. Characters are in peril and one is badly injured.


Families who see this movie should talk about what made Tom an appealing candidate. Would you have voted for him? Why? What is the most important thing you look for in a candidate? What can the media do better in covering politics?


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Head of State and classic movies about politics like State of the Union, The Candidate, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Great McGinty, The Seduction of Joe Tynan, and Primary Colors (the last two with mature material).

Stormbreaker

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for sequences of action violence and some peril.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

I never thought I’d miss Cody Banks. But the dull and lifeless Alex Rider brought back surprisingly fond thoughts of the better-than mediocre Agent Cody Banks and the terrific first two Spy Kids. Even the lousy third one was better than this dreary, too-violent, talent-wasting mess, based on the successful series of James Bond-for-kids books. It’s too violent for younger kids and too dull for older kids.


Alex Pettyfer plays Alex Rider, an English orphan who lives with his never-there uncle (brief appearance by a dashing Ewan McGregor) and a daffy but devoted American housekeeper/nanny (Alicia Silverstone) with a penchant for exotic cuisine. When his uncle is killed in the line of duty, Alex discovers that he was a spy. And all his uncle taught him about languages, martial arts, and extreme sports was his way of training him to be one as well. Sophie Okonedo and Bill Nighy are the spy chiefs who recruit Alex to pretend to be the winner of a computer competition, so he can find out what bad guy Boris, I mean Darius (Mickey Rourke) and his henchwoman Natasha, I mean Nadia (Missy Pyle) are up to.

There’s a lot of chasing around and some cool stunts, but it has a flat, draggy feel to it, some creepy moments of oddly insensitive interactions, and no sense of genuine enthusiasm or adventure.


Parents should know that this movie has a great deal of action-style violence. This means that there is no blood, but it is still disturbing; characters are killed and Alex uses guns.


Families who see this movie should talk about what qualities and education are required to be a spy.


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the much better Agent Cody Banks and Spy Kids.

The Queen

posted by jmiller
A
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for brief strong language.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) is feeling more triumphant than nervous as he goes to Buckingham Palace for the queen’s formal invitation to serve. He and his wife all but snicker as they consider the anachronism of royalty in the modern age.

And then he goes in to meet her (Helen Mirren) and finds that she is, surprisingly…regal. She may dress in the world’s most expensive dowdy cardigans and head scarves and have the hairdo of a grade school principal. But there is something about her that reminds him that the British are not citizens but subjects. It’s not just that she gently reminds him of her place in history by mentioning her connection to both Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill as she coaches him through the protocol. She has her place in history. But there is something about her that is far from an historic leftover, something vitally present today.


Both Blair and the queen will shortly have to think more carefully about where the royal family is on that continuum between tradition and relevance. Almost immediately after this meeting, the queen’s former daughter-in-law, Diana, Princess of Wales, was killed in a shocking automobile crash. She was no longer a member of the royal family, but she was the mother of the heir to the throne. She was also the most widely recognized woman in the world. The very traits and faults that made her such an embarrassment to the royal family were the touches of humanity that millions of people found endearing. She was sometimes foolish but always genuine and she indisputably loved her sons with great warmth.


To her former in-laws, this was one final embarrassing and excessive incident. There seemed no question about the way to respond. Diana was no longer an official member of the Royal family, and it would be handled as a private matter with no public statement or display of grief and certainly no state funeral. The queen and her family went to their estate in Scotland.


But Blair, as a politician, knew that the people wanted more, needed more. He made his own deeply sympathetic statement. This only sharpened the contrast with the royal family. As literally tons of floral tributes were piled up by sobbing Brits outside the deserted Buckingham Palace, Blair knew his first great challenge as Prime Minister was to ask the queen to break with tradition and make a public statement about her loss as queen and grandmother to two now-motherless boys.


The performances are impeccable. Mirren, always splendid (most recently in the far showier role of the earlier Queen Elizabeth for HBO), here gives a performance of breathtaking tenderness and delicacy in evoking the subtle and complex conflict of emotions felt by the queen, the woman, the daughter, the mother, the grandmother, the prisoner of history and the maker of history. At one point, she and a huge stag being hunted by Prince Philip stop and gaze at each other. They understand each other, and that moment helps us to understand her.


Queen Elizabeth must find a way to bridge the assumptions and rules of the times of Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill to those of the time of cell phones that beam photos around the world. Her ancestor Henry VIII split the church to get a divorce and her great-uncle abdicated the throne to marry a divorced woman, making her father the king and putting her next in line for the throne. Her sister was not allowed to marry the man he loved because he was “unsuitable” because he was divorced. So, she married a suitable man she did not love and herself became a divorced woman. Three of Queen Elizabeth’s children are divorced. Where are the other royal families? The children of the Grimaldis of Monaco have out-of-wedlock children. How can a monarch retain credibility in a world that now believes in meritocracy? All she had was history and mystery. Both are not worth what they once were. Like Blair, we are moved from skepticism to sympathy and ultimately to respect by the exquisite performances and a perceptive screenplay that manages to be thoughtful not just about politics and celebrity but family, loss, and destiny. Like the queen, we know that a stag’s mystery and majesty may be both the reason for its appeal and the reason it is seen as prey.

Parents should know that the movie has brief strong language and references to adultery and to the car crash that caused the deaths of the former Princess of Wales, Dodi Al-Fayed, and security man Henri Paul. There are references to hunting and dead animal carcasses are displayed. There are some tense and sad family moments.


Families who see this movie should talk about why Tony Blair changed his mind about the queen. What was the influence of her uncle’s abdication? Who in this story has your sympathy and why?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the BBC series House of Cards. And they will enjoy a very different story about a very different princess, Roman Holiday, from an era when both princesses and journalists had a different idea about honor and responsibility. They can read Tony Blair’s statement on Diana’s death Time Magazine’s coverage of Diana’s life is here. The official website of the Royal Family has a great deal of historical and biographical information.

The Departed

posted by jmiller

Brilliantly acted, enthrallingly told, this vast, operatic saga centers on two men, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) and William Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), both Boston Southies. Both are pretending to be the opposite of what they really are. Both are caught between the fear of having their true selves revealed and the fear of hiding themselves so completely they can never come back.


It opens with a voice. A man is telling us how it works, and we can hear in his tone that he expects to be listened to, not just because he knows what he is talking about, but because he is used to power, having it and making the most of it, and especially enjoying it. We see him shaking down a store owner. His crude comment to the man’s young daughter shows more about his power over them and he fear he uses to wield it than the menacing men in his shadow. And we see that he plans to be around for a long time as he tosses a kid some money and plants a seed that there is more money to be had.


When that boy grows up, the man, Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) tells him to get a job as a cop so he can provide information and cover from the inside. Sullivan proves to be a top student and is quickly promoted to the elite detective squad assigned to bring in Costello and his men.


Meanwhile, the chief detective, Oliver Queenan (Martin Sheen), has the same idea. He takes Costigan, a promising rookie with family ties to Costello and a history of getting into trouble, and sends him deep undercover in the Costello organization, starting with a bogus guilty plea and a real jail sentence. To protect Costigan, only Queenan and his deputy, Dignam (Mark Wahlberg in a brilliantly fiery and hilariously profane performance) know his identity. So as Sullivan and Costigan circle each other, each trying to find the mole in the other’s operation, they also become involved with the same woman (Vera Farmiga), a therapist.


She is just one of several mirrors that provide Costigan and Sullivan with reflections of themselves. The movie is filled with parallels — Costello and Queenan as well as the two young men they send into danger both psychic and mortal. Scorcese’s muscular mastery of story and action, the themes of loyalty, identity, power, and seduction, and the powerhouse cast make this one of the most compelling films of the year.

Parents should know that this is an extremely intense and disturbing film with frequent graphic violence, mostly with guns but also knives, fists, and slamming people with and into many blunt objects. Many characters are injured and killed and there are shots of bloody injuries. A character holds up a severed hand. There are explicit sexual references, many very crude and insulting, and non-explicit situations. Characters drink, smoke, and use and abuse drugs, street and medicinal. Characters use very strong language, including racial, ethnic, and homophobic epithets. Many characters are criminals and many lie, steal, murder, and betray each other.


Families who see this movie should talk about the compromises the people in the story must make in order to achieve their goals. When do you stop being one of the good guys (or bad guys) because you have to prove yourself to the group you are pretending to be a part of? What qualities are necessary to go undercover for such protracted periods? Why was Costigan chosen for the job, and what does the way he was interviewed tell you about what they were looking for?


Families who enjoy this movie should watch the Hong Kong original, Infernal Affairs. They will also enjoy Kurt Vonnegut’s book about an American who goes undercover during WWII as a Nazi, Mother Night, the BBC series, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and Scorcese’s other films, especially Goodfellas.

Previous Posts

Contest: "Lullaby" -- Family Drama With Amy Adams, Richard Jenkins, and Garrett Hedlund
Garrett Hedlund stars as Jonathan in this uneven but moving drama about a family facing the loss of a husband and father. The performances are excellent, especially Richard Jenkins as the father and "Downton Abbey's" Jessica Brown Findlay as Jonathan's sister. I have two copies of the DVD to give

posted 3:50:33pm Jul. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Comic-Con 2014: Day One
Here's what's at Comic-Con, which means here's what's coming everywhere else: affordable 3D printers with hand-held scanners that transmit 360 degree images to your tablet or laptop instantly. GoPro

posted 11:08:17am Jul. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Remembering the Vietnam War: 10 Movies
As we observe the 50th anniversary of the War in Vietnam, here are ten of the best of the movie and documentary depictions of the war and its impact on history and culture in the United States. The best-known films about Vietnam include "Apocalypse Now," "Full Metal Jacket," "Platoon," "The Deer Hun

posted 8:00:34am Jul. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Lucy
I always enjoy Luc Besson's stylish car chases and shootouts. I like his use of locations, his strong female characters, and unexpected flashes of sentiment in the midst of mayhem.  While

posted 6:00:51pm Jul. 24, 2014 | read full post »

And So It Goes
A second marriage is, as Samuel Johnson famously said, "The triumph of hope over experience." And as lyricist Sammy Cahn wrote in the song Bing Crosby sang in "H

posted 6:00:13pm Jul. 24, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.