Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™

New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Black or White
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 on appeal for brief strong language, thematic material involving drug use and drinking, and for a fight
Release Date:
January 30, 2015


The Book of Life
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action, rude humor, some thematic elements and brief scary images
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

Black Sea
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language throughout, some graphic images and violence
Release Date:
January 30, 2015


The Judge
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language including some sexual references
Release Date:
October 10, 2014

Strange Magic
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and scary images
Release Date:
January 23, 2015


Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

Interview: Travel With Kids

posted by Nell Minow

Robert Benchley famously said that there are two kinds of travel: first class and with children. But family trips are often among the most beloved memories and inspire many permanent family references, in-jokes, and traditions. The Travel With Kids series is a good way for parents and kids to plan their vacations. It has explored exciting destinations including Hawaii, Mexico, New York, the Caribbean and Paris, inviting families to travel with the Roberts family to faraway locales and learn about customs and cultures from around the world. The DVDs are a great resource for preparing kids and getting them excited about seeing new sights, trying new food, and learning about history, geography, and art.

Travel With Kids features money-saving tips, topical pop-up facts, advice for traveling with children and fun segments and it is entertaining to travel along with the Roberts family. I interviewed Carrie and Jeremy Roberts about how to make travel safe, comfortable, and interesting for kids.

What’s the best way to avoid “are we there yet”-itis?

Mom Says: It really depends on the ages of the kids. Give the kids a digital watch and tell them what time you will be there…then they can be in charge. If they are old enough you can give them a real watch and they can learn to tell time too. Also, give smaller landmarks along the way. For instance on a flight to Jamaica that crosses the U.S. then stops in Miami, you might say at 10a, we can look for the Mississippi River, at 12p, we land in Miami, at 1p we can watch the coast of Florida disappear and at 2p we can start looking for island in the Caribbean Sea. Give them a checklist of things to find. This works on smaller trips too. In the car you can make it more detailed…find a cactus, an orange truck, a Coca-Cola sign, snow, etc. Give them bonuses (trip money) for finding everything.


How do you get the kids excited about a destination that is new to them?

Mom Says: We talk about the place before we go. We go to the library or bookstore and get books about it. But we also figure out something that would be interesting about the place for kids and get books about that topic to take with us…like pirates in the Caribbean or knights in England. I also rent movies that were filmed in the destination and make a family movie night…we fix some foods from that destination too.

Dad Says: The amazing volume of popular culture now (that we didn’t have when growing up) that references history and other countries is huge. Harry Potter, A Night at the Museum, National Treasure, Indiana Jones. Any movies dealing in Knights, Pirates, Castles, Adventure, Treasure, WW2, Ancient Cities and Lost Tribes will sure to spark interest and allow the kids to play along on a trip. We also put music on their Mp3 players. Movie Theme songs like Harry Potter while on a train in England, or the entire Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack while on a boat in the islands is pretty cool (I’ve put on the ear buds listening to the Pirates soundtrack while on a small ship in the Bahamas where Pirates was filmed.. its fun!)

How can you help the kids cope with travel hassles like security checks and delays?

Mom Says: Prepare the kids ahead of time. Tell them what they will need to do and that it is busy and people are in a hurry. When you get to the front of the line remind them again. But don’t worry too much, most security agents are very patient with the kids and help them out and even kid around with them while you are trying to get all your stuff done. One thing I might suggest is that kids wear slip-off shoes in the airport…Crocs are good. Because un-tying and re-tying shoes can get stressful when you are in a hurry, especially if you have one that wants to do everything themselves.

Dad Says: Let’s face it. Parts of traveling these days just aren’t that fun and there’s not much you can do about it. Sometimes it’s actually good for the kids to deal with these issues for themselves and not always find some easy way around it. A Gameboy or other diversion can’t fix every situation. They have to rush through the security line and be bumped and hurried and unload their pockets and take off their shoes just like everyone else. Of course for small kids in strollers, this isn’t a lesson teaching time, but for the older kids, it’s some real world experience that can help them listen and behave better. Especially when it’s a TSA security guard barking orders at them, they snap to attention faster than when mom or dad is telling them what to do. As for delays in the airport, again, there’s not much you can do, so they have to learn to deal with everything not being perfect (another benefit of traveling and teaching kids.) However, we do recommend always getting travel insurance in case you really get stuck. Travel insurance will pay for hotels and food when delayed or stranded. This helps with the stress factor for mom and dad.

What do you recommend for helping kids create memories through journals or scrapbooks?

Mom Says: Thanks to the Internet this is easier than ever. I am a big believer in having the kids document their trips. Our kids are young and they already have a digital camera. You’ll be amazed at some of the perspectives they take on things. The other nice thing about digital cameras is you can erase the ones they don’t want. When you are on the road, you can go to Internet cafés and upload your pictures to a place like – have them printed and ready for your return home or make a scrapbook online. Michael’s also has a great scrapbooking section and offers workshops on how to create the look you want. Do this with your kids and it’s a great opportunity to keep the bonding from your trip going once you get back home.

Dad Says: Digital cameras and memory cards are so cheap these days – it’s definitely worth the expense Also, if your child is missing school, a teacher may give credit if they put together a presentation on the country for the class using the pictures and stories. Cheap-o digital cameras, and notebooks so they can draw out the cools stuff they see if fun, and creates great memories. Please remember to upload your memory card to yourself during your trip. Go to any internet café and setup and Shutterfly or similar account and upload your photos. I lost our small digital camera in Mexico at the end of the trip with 350 pictures on it. Those can never be replaced. Bring your camera’s USB cable on your trip to do the upload.

How do you get kids comfortable with trying new kinds of food?

Mom Says: Lie. Just kidding. We do have a sort of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tel” policy though…if they don’t ask, we don’t tell. For instance, when we were in the Everglades, we ordered frog legs and just kind of dug in saying things like “Mom says it tastes like chicken”. The kids ate them thinking they were chicken and thought it was pretty funny when we told them it was frogs. But, this could backfire if you have a sensitive kid; they may decide to try nothing once you pull a stunt like that, so it really depends on the kids. We try to encourage the kids to at least try one bite of everything. If they don’t like it, they don’t have to eat anymore.

Dad Says: This is a hard one. We find meal times with to be the most “difficult” on our trips, just like at home! It doesn’t matter if we are cooking for ourselves in an apartment rental, or at a fancy beachfront place or a local cooked meal in a hut on the sand. They still don’t eat their dinner or sit at the table. We use the usual incentives and bribes. I figure they won’t be eating only chicken nuggets and cheese crisps when they’re 18, but sometimes I’m not sure. When on vacation, it is a vacation, so we let rules slide, and luckily pizza and chicken nuggets are the universal food found anywhere in the world.

What’s the best way to get them excited about cathedrals, museums, and other tourist attractions?

Mom Says: Kids get it. Lots of people think kids are too young to get a lot of traveling, but you will be amazed what they get. Before we get to an attraction I read up on the history and then translate it into their terms…re-telling it on their level and emphasizing the parts that will be interesting to them is important. In large museums, I look online to find their most famous exhibits and print out pictures of them. When we get there, I give the kids the pictures and we have a sort of treasure hunt through the museum.

Dad Says: Lots of museums nowadays have Kid Audio Tours…some even take it so far as to have cartoon characters as part of the Audio presentation that virtually lead the kids through the museum. Again, the popular culture really sparks their interest. They have seen the talking “dum dum” head from A Night at the Museum film, walked the ramparts of Fort Charles in Port Royal where Jack Sparrow roams, sped up the elevator of the Eiffel Tower like Lois Lane in Superman II. Cities with iconic images; Paris, London, New York, never get boring for kids.

What’s the best ages for children for family travel?

Mom Says: There’s no right age…all ages bring something different to the table. Babies are easy and cheap…you don’t have to pay for airline tickets and you don’t have to chase them all around. Toddlers are a bit more of a challenge, but seeing your two-year-old’s face light up when they see something for the first time is worth every ounce of frustration spent along the way. Grade schoolers are great because they have the foundation of some history and geography so they can learn right along with you and you’ll be amazed at what they end up teaching you. Teenagers…well…they’re teenagers, but get them out of their element and you may get the chance to actually talk to them.

Dad Says: I’m always amazed at the amount of people who say “I’ll take my kids traveling when they’re older… they won’t remember anything now.” We don’t see how that really matters. Our kids remember everything. Will they remember it all when they are 30? Probably not. However now, when it matters and for many years to come, they will remember all the places they went and, more importantly, all the times spent with mom and dad. Just mom and dad. No work, no phones, no email, no blackberry. The point is, a 6 year old will remember the family time spent well into their teens on some incredible adventure trip. Sure, it will start to fade as they get older (If you’re 35 do you really remember a trip you took when you were 12, other than the photos?) Our 5-year-old still talks about the things he did and experiences he had 2 years ago. The impact it has on them now is immeasurable. Why forego this magical time for kids when castles are actually castles, and pirate forts come to life for them and everything is funny and exciting and adventuresome. Sure it’s more convenient for the parent to head out with older kids, but older kids tend to have their Ipods on, texting in hand and not to happy that their not playing video games with their friends back home. Please take this time to enjoy the perfect (and imperfect) years of traveling with kids when they are full of imagination and awe… even if you have to put up with tantrums and getting takeout McDonald’s in Paris and going back to the room to see SpongeBob. When you watch them as they first lay eyes on the Eiffel Tower, It’s worth it.

Yes to Running

posted by Nell Minow
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:NR
DVD Release Date:August 12, 2008

Grammy-award winning singer-storyteller Bill Harley has a great new concert performance DVD for families called Yes to Running: Bill Harley Live. Harley is best known for his funny and clever songs and stories for kids (with some parent-friendly lessons about courage, loyalty, and good manners) like “Zanzibar”, “Monsters In The Bathroom”, “50 Ways To Fool Your Mother”, “You’re In Trouble”, “Dad Threw The TV Out The Window”, “Down in the Backpack” and “The Ballad of Dirty Joe.” You can also hear him on NPR. My favorite of his collections is Dinosaurs Never Say Please, with 50 Ways to Fool Your Mother a close second, and my husband will admit we sometimes play his music even when the kids are not in the car.

Who Should Be Offended by ‘Tropic Thunder?’

posted by Nell Minow

A coalition of disability group has called for a boycott of the R-rated satire Tropic Thunder. They are asking people not to see the movie because they say ittropic-thunder-stiller-rdj-.jpg
demeans, insults, and harms individuals with intellectual disabilities by using the “R- word.” Furthermore, it perpetuates derogatory images and stereotypes of individuals with intellectual disabilities including mocking their physical appearance and speech, supports the continuation of inappropriate myths and misperceptions, and legitimizes painful discrimination, exclusion, and bullying.
Special Olympics Chair Timothy Shriver said
Some may think we ought to lighten up and not get so worked up because this is, after all, just a film. But films become part of pop culture and character lines are repeated in other settings time and time again. It’s clear to me that lines from this particular film will provide hurtful ammunition outside the movie theatre. While I realize that the film’s creators call this a parody and they never intended to hurt anyone, it doesn’t mean those words won’t.
I respect their concerns for the dignity of the disabled, but they are simply wrong and their comments reflect such a fundamental misunderstanding of the film that it is impossible to believe that anyone connected with these statements actually saw it. I side with the other movie critics who have said that this film is not disrespectful or inappropriate in the treatment of disabled people.
The movie in no way makes fun of developmentally disabled people. On the contrary. It makes fun of pretentious actors who think they can win awards by portraying developmentally disabled people.

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Fly Me to the Moon

posted by Nell Minow
Lowest Recommended Age:All Ages
MPAA Rating:G
Movie Release Date:August 13, 2008

Don’t try to swat that enormous insect buzzing a few inches above your popcorn. It’s a hologram-like image hovering in front of you and it is part of the movie. Yes, you have to wear the clunky glasses, but within moments you will forget all about them and be caught up in the pure magic of the 3D technology in the first feature-length animated film completely produced in that format. It is stunningly beautiful and almost hyper-real in its depth of field and meticulousness of detail. The virtual reality is so believable you will feel as though you can reach into each shot and rearrange the furniture.

Unfortunately, the dull characters and weak story keep getting in the way of the gorgeously produced backgrounds. The plot about three young flies who hitch a ride on Apollo 11’s trip to the moon is almost an afterthought.

The starring role here is played by the techies, who focused not just on the 3D effects but also on the science and engineering of the Apollo 11 mission. They relied on NASA records, blueprints of the rocket ships and equipment, and even the audio recordings of the flight to bring extra verisimilitude to the screen. This part of the movie is a flat-out marvel, and the shots of the moon are breathtaking.

The artists who designed the environments designed a community for the houseflies that has some clever detail and some lovely touches, especially the rippling water, so tactile you may feel a little damp.

But all of the imagination seems to end there. The history of animated movies is abuzz with cute cartoon insects, from one of the very first animated features, “Hoppity Goes to Town” to the dapper Jiminy Cricket in “Pinocchio,” “A Bug’s Life”, and “The Ant Bully.” But there is no effort of any kind to give the characters here any distinctive fly qualities. They just look like little humans with antennae and wings, and they are almost interchangeable, with each assigned just one identifying characteristic. One is the leader, one has glasses, and one is fat. Then there are the Soviet flies who want to prevent the rocket from reaching the moon before they do, just poor copies of Boris, Natasha, and Fearless Leader from “Rocky and Bullwinkle.”

But the biggest disappointment is the script, as arid as last year’s Tang. It fails to make us care about the characters or identify with the flies’ dream of going to the moon. It was inspired by a fly grandfather’s reminiscence of saving pioneering pilot Amelia Earhart by flying up her nose (I am not kidding). It is not based on any interest or understanding beyond a vague quest for adventure. It assumes much too much knowledge from today’s children about the space race and the 1960’s. Kids are likely to be confused by the Cold War bad guys and the retro portrayal of the female characters. The girl flies toss their ponytails and giggle and the lead fly’s Stepford-like mother is pretty much limited to fussing over her larvae babies, making dinner, and fainting(!) whenever she is upset. The action scenes are poorly choreographed and hard to follow and the comedy tends toward potty humor and fat jokes. And then the big happy ending is followed by a live action coda with real-life astronaut Buzz Aldrin reminding us that it was all pretend.

The dazzling technology just puts a spotlight on the lackluster script, like a high-definition picture of an out-of-focus subject . If they can put a man on the moon, why can’t they tell a better story about sending some flies along for the ride?

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