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

Spider-Man 3

posted by jmiller
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action violence.
Movie Release Date:2007

It isn’t just Spider-Man who loses his way in the third and last installment. It’s the movie.


A superhero movie should have (1) cool special effects, (2) a great villain, (3) thrilling action scenes, and (4) just enough plot to keep things moving without getting in the way of (1), (2), or (3). It is in this last category that this movie goes wrong.


Too many villains. Too many plots. Too many girlfriends. Too many people who died in earlier installments coming back for a last bow. Too many NOW-you-tell-me! revelations with way too many if-only-I-had-known ramifications. And way too many tears. Boy, is there a lot of crying in this movie. Is this Spider-Man or “Days of Our Lives?”


Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) starts out with everything going his way, which means that we will have to see it all taken away from him so that he can get it back again. As the movie begins, Spider-Man is universally beloved as a hero and he is happy at school and at work. Best of all, MJ (Kirsten Dunst) is in a show that is opening on Broadway and she and Peter are finally a couple and he is thinking about proposing to her.


Then things get complicated. Peter’s one-time best friend Harry has taken up his father’s old Goblin persona and is coming after Peter to avenge his father’s death. Escaped con Flint Marco (Thomas Haden Church) desperately needs money for his sick daughter. Running away from the police, he doesn’t notice that “Keep Out” sign on the “particle physics test facility.” Uh-oh. Some sort of super-powering mutation rays are about to turn him into the Sandman. And Eddie Brock, Jr. (Topher Grace) wants Peter’s newspaper photography job and he thinks Peter wants his girl (Bryce Dallas Howard as Gwen Stacy, daughter of the police commissioner).


Wait, there’s more. Things start going badly between Peter and MJ, especially after he rescues Gwen and gets a grateful kiss. And there’s a mysterious outer-space scritchy sort of thing that looks like a cross beween magnetic tape and spaghetti. It latches onto Peter and seems to have the same effect as steroids — performance enhancement plus rage enhancement. Somehow it also affects his hair, which starts to hang in his eyes. It is supposed to make him look rakishly dangerous, but it just makes him look like the lead in a road company production of “Sprintime for Hitler.” And it makes him wanna dance so that he walks down the street like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.


Yes, there’s a dance number. Wait, there’s more. It turns out that the man they thought killed Peter’s Uncle Ben was just an accomplice. The real killer is still at large. At least two characters have some very important jewelry of great sentimental value that almost gets lost for good. And for no reason whatsoever, a character decides to divulge some information that if he had just come clean two movies sooner would have saved us all a lot of trouble. And we have to pause a couple of times for comic bits from the landlord’s daughter, Spider-man creator Stan Lee, and from Evil Dead’s Bruce Campbell, and one unnecessary line each from two kids who have the same last name as the director and his co-screenwriter brother. And don’t forget there’s always time for a slam at critics.


It’s a mess. There are some cool effects and some affecting moments. But they are buried under too much clutter, too much plot, too much everything. Hollywood has done more to damage Spider-Man than any of his onscreen foes.

Parents should know that there is a lot of action-style peril and violence, and characters are injured and killed. A character drinks to deal with unhappiness. A strength of the movie is a rare portrayal of a character who prays.


Families who see this movie should talk about why Peter did not know what was going on with MJ. Which of the villains in the three movies was the best and why?


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2. They will also enjoy reading the original stories in Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus, Vol. 1.

Next

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violent action, and some language.
Movie Release Date:2007

If Philip K. Dick could have seen into the future, he would never have agreed to have his story “The Golden Man” be adapted into a movie, at least not this movie.


Nicolas Cage, who also produced, plays Chris Johnson, a low-rent Las Vegas magician whose ultimate act of prestidigitation is hiding one very special ability behind a bunch of “$50 tricks.” He can see into the future. Not much — only two minutes ahead. And not for anyone else’s future — only his own. But he can see far enough ahead to dodge a punch — or a bullet. And if, for example, he wants to meet a pretty girl sitting by herself in a restaurant (Jessica Biel as Liz), he can project into the future several different approaches and Groundhog Day-style find the one that will produce the desired results.


It isn’t just because she is pretty that he wants to meet her. It is because for the first time he has seen more than two minutes into the future. He has seen her, and he wants to know what that means.


Callie (Julianne Moore) is an FBI agent with a lot of hair who barks a lot of orders about securing perimeters and takes time for target practice in the middle of a major crisis involving a missing nuclear device and some nasty terrorists who may be planning to set it off. Maybe Chris can help! She’d better put him in one of those A Clockwork Orange eyelid-propping contraptions and see if he can figure out a way to dodge a very, very big bullet indeed.

Time for drastic measures — like tossing away any Constitutional rights and getting that hair under control.

“What about intel?” someone asks. “We don’t need it,” Callie snaps. “We have HIM.” You don’t need to be Chris to forsee we’re in for a lot of bang bang and the obligatory shooting of the black secondary character is mere moments away.


This movie has one sensational stunt, but there’s a boy-who-cried-wolf aspect with too many fake-outs. Eventually, the goodwill of the audience is worn out. I can see 96 minutes into the future of everyone who buys a ticket for this film and forsee that they will be disappointed.

Parents should know that this film has a lot of intense peril and violence, including terrorism, shooting, explosions, bombs, car crashes, attempted drugging, and punches. Most of it is “action-style,” meaning that there is not much blood. There is very brief bad language, much less than usual for a film of this genre. There is also a non-explicit sexual situation, again with less detail than typical for a PG-13. Some audience members may be disturbed by the themes of the movie, including terrorism and violations of Constitutional rights.

Families who see this movie should talk about the advantages and disadvantages of being able to see into the future.


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy two others based on stories by Philip K. Dick, The Brave Little Toaster (for all ages), and Blade Runner (for mature teens and adults). They will also enjoy Cage’s better action films, The Rock and Con Air.

The Great Race

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:All Ages
MPAA Rating:NR
Movie Release Date:July 1, 1965

Dedicated to “Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy,” this movie is both a spoof and a loving tribute to the silent classics, with good guys, bad guys, romance, adventure, slapstick, music, wonderful antique cars, and the biggest pie fight in history. The opening credits are on a series of slides like those in the earliest movies, complete with cheers for the hero and boos for the villain, and a flickering old-fashioned projector that at one point appears to break down. Always dressed in impeccable white, the Great Leslie (Tony Curtis) is a good guy so good that his eyes and teeth literally twinkle. His capable mechanic and assistant is Hezekiah (Keenan Wynn). The bad guy is Professor Fate (Jack Lemmon), assisted by Max (Peter Falk). Like Wile E. Coyote, Fate’s cartoonishly hilarious stunts to stop Leslie inevitably backfire.

After a brief prologue, in which Fate tries to beat Leslie in breaking various speed records, literally trying to torpedo him at one point, they both enter an automobile race from New York to Paris. So does a beautiful reporter (Natalie Wood as Maggie DuBois) trying to prove she can get the story — dressed in an endless series of exquisite ensembles designed by Hollywood legend Edith Head. Great%20Race2.jpg

The race takes them across America, through the Wild West, to a rapidly melting ice floe in the Pacific, and into a European setting that is a cross between a Victor Herbert operetta and “The Prisoner of Zenda,” where a spoiled prince happens to look exactly like Professor Fate and it takes all of the stars to foil an evil Baron (Ross Martin) who wants to use Fate to take over the throne.

Knocked Up

posted by jmiller
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for sexual content, drug use and language.
Movie Release Date:2007
DVD Release Date:2007

Here’s the secret for making a raunchy comedy work — it has to be sweet and even a little bit romantic. What the makers of films like American Pie and The 40-Year-Old Virgin understood is that the “oh, no, they didn’t!” element and the gross-out factor work best when they are in the context of characters we root for and yes, even some tenderness. Without that contrast and texture, the raunch is just juvenile, and a little boring for anyone past middle school.


And that’s the problem with this new movie from The 40-Year-Old Virgin writer-director Judd Apatow.

Alison, a lovely, educated, elegant young woman (Katherine Heigel of television’s “Gray’s Anatomy) gets drunk one night at a club and has unprotected sex with Ben, a sweet but immature young man. When she discovers she is pregnant, they decide to try to establish a relationship.

But there are a lot of forces against them, including the crumbling marriage of Alison’s sister Debbie (director Apatow’s real-life wife Leslie Mann) and her husband Pete (Paul Rudd). And there’s the slacker quicksand of Ben’s friends who live together, get high together, and hang out together all the time, alternating between dumb bets and challenges, clueless and delusional boasting about make-believe sexual prowess, and jokes that thinly disguise their sheer terror of women. In desultory fashion they even “work” together on a comprehensive online database of the exact inventory of every element of nudity or sex in every feature film ever made. It may just be an excuse to sit around all day getting high and watching dirty footage, but hey, you can’t say they don’t have a dream!


All of this is an excuse for some outrageous humor, much of it extremely funny, especially when Rogan and Rudd get to go off by themselves (in Las Vegas) and go wild (on hallucinogens). The relationship between the two of them is the strongest, funniest, and most authentic in the film. But too much of the rest seems like a bunch of 12-year-olds who have seen too many episodes of “Jackass” and spent too much time playing with their Xboxes. Men are afraid of growing up, parenthood, and women, I get it! And then a childbirth scene — let me just say that there are obstetricians who will learn a few things from some footage that gives new meaning to the term up close and very, very personal.


Yes, the responsibilities of adulthood and being a parent can be terrifying, and there is a lot of humor to be had in seeing people struggle with it on screen. And there is a moment with some truth and wisdom here when one of the men confesses that it is not the courage to love he lacks but the courage to be loved.

But ultimately Pete and Ben and even Debbie are too cluelessly narcissistic and the film loses its sense of recognition of what is and is not fair to expect from ourselves and others. There is a bitter hopelessness and misogynistic bite to the humor without any sense of the transcendence of love, generosity, or unselfishness. Too much of the long running time feels more like an episode of Jerry Springer than comedy based on an exaggerated version of us but still recognizable as human — and as a family we can be happy this baby is joining.

Parents should know that this movie has a great deal of crude humor, including vulgar and explicit sexual references and situations, including nude lapdances and pornography and a graphic (but not bloody) scene of childbirth. Characters use very strong and explicit language. There are references to adultery and characters who do not know each other get drunk and have unprotected sex. Characters drink, get drunk, smoke a lot of marijuana, and take hallucinogenic mushrooms. There is comic peril (no one hurt). And characters behave very irresponsibly, even by slacker comedy standards.

Families who see this movie should talk about some of their own fears about parenting and the conflicts that can arise from different expectations about marriage and family.


Audiences who enjoy this movie will also enjoy The Tao of Steve, Nine Months, She’s Having a Baby, and another movie from the same writer/director featuring Rogan and Rudd, The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Oh, and for those who were wondering, the movie the characters in the film are watching with great interest is Wild Things.

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