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

Alone in the Dark

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:R
Movie Release Date:2005

There’s something far scarier about this movie than its CGI monsters, whose lack of any apparent weight makes them seem as threatening as the floating Clifford balloon in the Macy’s parade. What’s scary is the premise: it’s based on a computer game by Atari.

Yes, video games can have ominous atmosphere and relentless bad guys, but they seldom provide much by way of dialogue, character, or plot. You know, those things in movies that make up for the absence of a joystick that enables the player to blow stuff up.

The movie tries to create a story with an astoundingly boring 10-paragraph crawl at the beginning of the film, some mumbo-jumbo about a lost civilization, blah blah, and then there is a second prologue with a child being chased through the woods as a stock company mad scientist explains to a nun why she must support his story about the 20 children he has taken from the orphanage for medical experiments. “It’s not about a few children!” he barks at her. “It’s about the future of our species!”

Finally, we make it to the present day, and that runaway child, Edward (Christian Slater), is all grown up and a paranormal investigator who is being followed by some guy who really, really wants this artifact that Edward has hidden in his snazzy leather jacket. And then it turns into one of those now-they-battle-bad-guys-in-the open market, the Chinatown warehouse, the deserted underground laboratory, etc. etc. movies. There are a couple of good “boo!” surprises, a couple of cool fight moves, and some gross-out visuals, but they keep getting lost under the cardboard dialogue, the throbbing bass accompaniment to both a sex scene and a shoot-out, and the absence of that thing we often look for in movies — what is it again? Oh, yes, acting.

If I almost forgot that for a minute, it’s because everyone in the movie seems to have forgotten it, too. Slater just appears embarassed, understandable in these circumstances. And if our expectations for Tara Reid are low, also understandable in these circumstances, she still does not quite manage to live up to them. The pixels in the CGI monsters give a more believable performance than she does. Preposterously cast as an archeologist, with her hair pulled back and drugstore black-rimmed specs on her nose, she delivers her lines as though she is calling for another round of Mai Tais for the house. And no one seems to have explained to her that in English, the interrogative is usually expressed with a rising inflection.

Parents should know that this is a horror film with constant, intense, graphic violence. Many characters are killed in a wide variety of creative manners, including being impaled. There are monsters and other grisly images. Characters use some strong language and there is a moderately explicit sexual situation.

Families who see this movie should talk about the “greatest good for the greatest number” approach taken by Hudgens.

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy the movies that handle these themes far better, including Raiders of the Lost Ark.

A Love Song for Bobby Long

posted by rkumar
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2004

This is one of those insufferable movies where three bundles of quirk and backstory intended to approximate characters are thrown together because of some writer’s fantasy. The writer may hope that he can show them learning something from each other or meaning something to each other but the real fantasy is that just putting it all on screen together will make it into something worth watching. It isn’t.

And by the way, the idea that by giving your characters quotations by great writers as dialogue will make them seem smart is a fantasy, too. And so is the idea that grandeloquence in Southern accents transforms trashy behavior and tired formulas into something grand and gothic. If you’re going to Faulkner-ize squalor, you’ve got to write better than this.

This film is fundamentally misconceived. If it had a sense of humor about itself, it might have found some energy and spirit, but its inflated view of its own insights and its essential phoniness make it a long slog to the unsurprising surprise ending.

Pursy (Scarlett Johannson) finds out belatedly from her trailer park boyfriend that her mother has died. By the time she arrives, the funeral is over. Two hard-drinking, literature-loving men tell her that her mother left her house to the three of them, because she wanted them to live together.

Pursy moves in. Will she find a way to forgive her mother for abandoning her? Will she find resources in herself that she could never have imagined? Will she discover that those two lushes have deeply poetic souls and loving hearts? Will there be important revelations about Mom and…Dad? You betcha. Will we care about any of it? Not so much.

Parents should know that the movie has extremely strong language and explicit sexual references. Characters smoke and abuse alcohol.

Families who see this movie should talk about what drew the characters to each other and the ways that people try to create families for themselves.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Crimes of the Heart and Miss Firecracker.

Assault on Precinct 13

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2005

A juicy premise, a powerhouse cast, and energetic direction combine for a satisfying thriller about a police station under seige. It’s a big-budget remake of John Carpenter’s 1976 film of the same title. Carpenter wrote, produced, edited, and scored the film with a cast of unknowns for $100,000. This version does not have the original’s raw power, but it substitutes a tough, sharp script and glossy production values, and gets the job done just fine.

Ethan Hawke plays Jake Roenick, a cop now working a desk job after an undercover operation he was directing went wrong and two officers were killed. Jake is uncooperative with the mandatory therapy, though drawn to Alex, his pretty therapist (Maria Bello). He is still taking painkillers, though it is not clear whether it is physical or psychic pain they are supposed to numb.

It’s New Year’s Eve and the last night for the old police station at Precinct 13. All of the equipment and computers and staff have been moved to the new location. Jake, along with Iris (Drea De Matteo), a miniskirted secretary who has a weakness for “bad boys,” and Jasper (Brian Dennehy), a veteran cop just short of retirement are there to finish shutting everything down, toast the new year, and turn out the lights.

Meanwhile, Marion Bishop (Laurence Fishburne), the deadliest crime kingpin in town, has just been captured. As he and a varied group of bad guys are being transported by bus to a holding facility, it gets trapped in the snow right outside the old police station. So they decide to keep the prisoners there until the next morning.

And then they get attacked. The attackers want Bishop. Everyone in the station is at risk. Before the night is over, loyalties and alliances will shift a dozen times as cops and prisoners and bystanders have to constantly realign their forces to try to stay alive.

It is that fluidity of relationships that gives this story extra energy and sizzle that takes it beyond the usual shoot-out and explosion-movie standard. Star power helps a lot, too, with Fishburne, Hawke, and Gabriel Byrne giving depth and wit to their roles and strong support from Bello and John Leguizamo.

Parents should know that this film has non-stop action violence with some very graphic injuries and many characters are killed. Characters use very strong language. There are some sexual references. Criminal characters include a drug dealer and killers. Characters drink and smoke and one abuses prescription drugs.

Families who see this movie should talk about how Jake’s earlier experiences affected his judgment — for better or worse — when the precinct was attacked.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Die Hard, Under Siege, The Rock, and Air Force One. They might also enjoy the 1976 original, directed by John Carpenter and the classic western Rio Bravo, which inspired it.

Elektra

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2005

To paraphrase the most famous line from A League of Their Own, “there’s no crying in comic book movies.” At least there shouldn’t be, not by the superhero, anyway. But this is a comic book movie that feels like it might have been made for the Lifetime channel. With costumes by Victoria’s Secret.

Yes, there is kick-boxing. Stuff blows up. There is faux-meaningful comic book dialogue like “This ends here.” And there are some cool special effects. But there’s too much focus on Elektra’s past and feelings and not enough focus on making the rest of the good or bad guys interesting.

Jennifer Garner plays Elektra, a highly successful assassin for hire who has flashbacks that remind her of her demanding father and loving but doomed mother. When her new targets turn out to be a father and daughter who had befriended her, she decides to save them instead. She feels protective toward them because they have a strong father-daughter bond, something she longed for with her own father. And because the girl reminds her of herself. And because the father is played by the smoulderingly attractive Goran Visnjic.

This puts her at odds with a diabolical group of bad guys known as The Hand, including Typhoid (a woman whose poisonous breath causes instant death), Tattoo (a man whose intricate tattoos of fierce creatures come alive to spy or attack), and Kinko (he isn’t there to make copies).

There are some good action sequences, the best borrowing from the far-better Hong Kong films. Garner is toned and that midriff-baring costume makes her look more like Comic Book Barbie than like a killer. But she is also toned down. We get almost no chance to see those marvelous dimples or even any facial expressions other than “tortured” and “resolute.”

Parents should know that the movie features extensive and graphic (for PG-13) comic book-style violence with a lot of martial arts fights. Many characters are killed. There are brief grisly images. Characters use some strong language (s-word, etc.).

Families who see this movie should talk about Elektra’s answer to Abby’s question about why she does what she does. Why did she have to leave her training? What will she do next?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy X-Men and its sequel, Batman, and Spider-Man and its sequels.

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