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

 

Adventure Planet
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:

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

 

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

 

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some scary images and mild peril
Release Date:
May 9, 2014

Shooter

posted by jmiller
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for strong graphic violence and some language.
Movie Release Date:2007
DVD Release Date:2007

Pulitzer prize-winning film critic Stephen Hunter of the Washington Post has seen a lot of movies, both good and bad, and this film, based on his highly cinematic novel Point of Impact, shows an able, if somewhat derivative, sense of narrative propulsion. It’s a little bit Rambo, a little bit Death Wish, a little bit Under Seige, a little bit Die Hard.


The premise almost sounds like a parody of a movie pitch: Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg), a crack shot of a Marine sharpshooter becomes disillusioned after he and his best pal and spotter are abandoned by their commanders and the pal is killed. When some big shots track him down in his cabin in the woods to tell him they need his help to stop an assassination attempt on the President, he agrees to go back into service. But he is betrayed again, and set up as the fall guy for an attempted assassination in a complex conspiracy that reaches into government and big business. When everything closes in on him, he has to rely on the generic pretty girl with spunk — the widow of his spotter (Kate Mara), the generic wiseman/expert who knows the secrets (a specialist who’s even deeper in the woods than Swagger was) and a brand new FBI agent (Michael Pena of Crash) with a fresh perspective who doesn’t buy the too-convenient story about how Swagger planned to kill the President.


The idea satisfies a deep-seated fantasy. We all think we deserve an apology from someone and we all want our special talents to be discerned and appreciated by people in positions of authority. The big shots seek Swagger out to say they’re sorry and they need him. They acknowledge that he’s the best there is.

And then, after they betray him and try to kill him, Swagger (and we, through him) gets that oh-so-nice “Who IS that guy?” gratification of outsmarting those high-powered but corrupt guys at the top. And then he gets revenge — with extreme prejudice.


Some people will find that satisfying, too, but I found it over the top, thuggish, and brutal. The movie’s strengths are its appealing hero, a performance of surprising warmth and humor by Pena, and some clever use of expertise, especially in Swagger’s explanation of the elements that have to be factored in to hit an extra-long-range target (everything, including the rotation of the earth). And those colorful flags snapping in the breeze? They’re not there for decoration.

But then there is its clunky obviousness: The name has to be Swagger? And he has to walk toward us in slo-mo? And the bad guys have to cackle over their total domination and corruption? And there have to be not one, not two, but three explaining villains? And the overheatedness gets out of control by the end, with Swagger taking too many laws and too many lives into his own hands.

Parents should know that this movie has extreme and intense action-style peril and violence with some very graphic and disturbing images. Characters are are shot, stabbed, impaled, tortured, and punched. Many are injured and killed, including a dog. Characters are assassinated and a character commits suicide on-screen. There is a pro-vigilante aspect to some of the killing that audience members may find disturbing. They may also be disturbed by references to genocide, rape, torture, and political corruption. Characters smoke, drink, and use strong language. There are some sexual references, including rape, and a character wears skimpy clothing. And there is an Anna Nicole Smith joke that was clearly made before her death.


Families who watch this movie should talk about whether and when it is appropriate to take the law into your own hands.


Families who appreciate this movie will also appreciate In the Line of Fire and paranoia classics like The Parallax View, Three Days of the Condor, The Pelican Brief, and Under Siege. And they will enjoy the book, and sequels Time to Hunt and Black Light by Stephen Hunter.

TMNT

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for animated action violence, some scary cartoon images and mild language.
Movie Release Date:2007
DVD Release Date:2007

They’re teenagers, they’re mutants, they’re ninjas, and they’re turtles.

Up from the sewers by way of some handy toxic waste, those Renaissance-named, three-fingered, ninja-fighting, pizza-eating turtle siblings are back in their first all-CGI adventure. They say funny-tough things like, “I’m gonna drop-kick you to hurty-town.” They squabble with each other, but when it matters, they fight together. This time, their challenge is zillionaire Max Winters (voice of Captain Picard/Professor Xavier Patrick Stewart), a huge man in a huge office at the top of a huge skyscraper. Helping out the Turtles are their sensei (teacher), Master Splinter (voice of Mako) and their ninja-tastic pals April (voice of “Buffy’s” Sarah Michele Geller) and Casey (voice of Fantastic Four‘s Johnny Storm, Chris Evans).


Once again, the fate of the world is at stake. Thousands of years ago, the stars aligned to “open a portal of unknown power.” It also released 13 monsters and turned an army into stone. Now, that portal is poised to re-open. Unless all of the monsters are returned, well, a lot of bad stuff is going to happpen.


But before that can happen, the estranged turtles have to find a way to become a team again. Leonardo has been sent off by Master Splinter to learn some lessons of leadership. The others have gone off on their own, one entertaining at kids’ birthday parties, one doing computer tech support, and one, well, the TMNTs may be great fighters, but they aren’t too swift if they can’t figure out that when Raphael sleeps all day and there’s a mysterious Nightwatcher vigilante fighting crime every night, there just might be a connection.


The real power in the TMNT stories is the transformation, but in this movie that’s all in the past, and it is difficult to get much satisfaction from the comeback premise or the attempts to create some sibling rivalry. And there is no way the intended audience could be interested in the generic commitment-phobic romance between April and Casey (“I don’t know if I can be the grown-up she needs me to be”) or the references to the Gilmore Girls and “those kind of” phone lines. The movie has the challenge of creating a sense of danger and combat without exceeding the limits of the G rating. The bad guys have red glowy eyes and there’s some fancy footwork and weapons-wielding peril but, even with a nifty skateboarding scene, it’s more video game than story.

Parents should know that there is a lot of cartoon-style violence in this film, mostly martial arts, with kicking and weapons, including knives. We do not see any injuries but some characters are evaporated and a tranquilizer gun is used. There is brief crude humor and there are some rude comments and epithets (“Dirtbag”). April has the wasp waist and bare midriff of a Barbie doll, raising body image and expectation issues for both boys and girls.

Families who see this film should talk about the sibling rivalry among the turtle brothers. Why was it hard for them to be nice to each other? How were they different? How were they alike? Where do you see the importance of compassion and humility in your own lives?

Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy the earlier live-action movies and the 3 Ninjas Trilogy.

Hot Fuzz

posted by jmiller
B
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for violent content including some graphic images, and language.
Movie Release Date:2007
DVD Release Date:2007

Those Shaun of the Dead guys are at it again. Having put a comedic stake through the heart of the zombie movie, they are now going after brainless cop films. Simon Pegg, the clueless Shaun in the last film, here plays crackerjack cop Sergeant Nicholas Angel, whose ruthless efficiency is so dispiriting to his colleagues that they send him off to a sleepy suburb to make sure he will stop making them look bad by comparison.


And so, instead of tracking down murderers and drug dealers, Angel is stuck in a relentlessly quaint little village, sort of a Masterpiece Theatre version of Mayberry, with a touch of Kinkade and a gloss from the British Tourism Bureau. Instead of high-speed chases with squealing breaks and kevlar vests, he finds himself carding teenagers in a pub and trying to find a wayward swan. Oh, he tries to keep up his record. Even before he officially starts work, he makes an arrest, a drunk who turns out to be not just the son of the local police chief but his new partner, Danny Butterman (fellow “Shaun” veteran Nick Frost).

The closest Danny has come to crime is his comprehensive DVD library of every single cop film ever made. He dreams of being like Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys II. He wants to go on a high-speed pursuit and fire two guns at once while jumping through the air. But he’s stuck in Sandford, which might as well be named Quicksandford from Angel’s point of view.


Is this one of those movies where the tough guy gets all cuddly and finds out what really matters, like Kindergarten Cop? I am relieved to say it is not. This is one of those movies where sleepy little Sandford turns out to have a crime rate that would terrify the Bad Boys and carnage that would horrify even the implacable Keanu Reeves of Point Break.


Wright and Pegg have a lot of fun transplanting the tropes of big Hollywood buddy cop explosion movies to a seemingly sleepy little village. As with “Shaun,” director Wright (whose work can also be glimpsed in the faux trailer for “Don’t” in the faux double feature “Grindhouse”) is very good at using quick-cut ironic juxtapositions, graphic images, and unexpected behavior — good and bad — from people we think we know to excellent comic effect.

Parents should know that this is a very grisly comedy with extremely graphic, blood-spurting violence. Heads are chopped off. A woman is stabbed in the chest with scissors and a man is stabbed in the hand. Many characters are shot. There are also images of dead and decomposing bodies and skeletons. The violence is comic but it is very explicit. Characters smoke and drink a great deal and get drunk (many scenes in a pub). They use very strong language. There are sexual references, including adultery.


Families who see this movie should talk about how the people who made it were inspired by the films they saw. They might also like to talk about some of the film techniques used to tell the story, including the quick cuts and sped-up footage.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Shaun of the Dead and some of the films referred to by the characters, including Point Break.

Away From Her

posted by jmiller
B
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some strong language.
Movie Release Date:2007

Parents should know that this is a very sad movie with themes that may be disturbing to some audience members. Characters use brief strong language.


Families who see this movie should talk about some of their own stories about losing people who were dear to them. Do you agree with what Grant did?


Families who appreciate this movie will also appreciate I Never Sang for My Father and Iris. And they should see the other fine films of Oscar-winners Julie Christie and Olympia Dukakis, including Darling, Doctor Zhivago, and Moonstruck.

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