Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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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

 

Philomena
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 on appeal for some strong language, thematic elements and sexual references
Release Date:
November 22, 2013

Under the Skin
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for graphic nudity, sexual content, some violence and language
Release Date:
April 11, 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

Rio 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 11, 2014

 

Grudge Match
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sports action violence, sexual content and language
Release Date:
December 25, 2013

Raise Your Voice

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:2004

Squeaky-clean Hilary Duff’s latest movie plays like a cross between a Disney-fied music video and a script developed by girls playing with Barbies. So, it will please its target audience of tween girls while leaving parents relieved, if not entertained.

Duff plays 16-year-old Terri, a good girl whose loving older brother Paul (Jason Ritter) tells her not to be such a pleaser. He wants her to fight back when their over-protective father (David Keith) won’t let her go to the summer music program of her dreams. Even though Paul is grounded, he and Terri sneak out to go to a rock concert. On the way home, their car is hit by a drunk driver, and Paul is killed. Terri’s father becomes even more strict. When she is accepted into the program her mother (Rita Wilson) and aunt (Rebecca De Mornay) conspire to find a way for her enroll. Her father thinks she is visiting her aunt.

The program is more challenging than Terri could have imagined, filled with highly focused and very talented kids. But she makes some friends, especially a handsome composer (Oliver James, essentially reprising his perfect boyfriend with an English accent role from What a Girl Wants) and her violinist roommate, Denise (Dana Davis). It is a competitive group, especially when it comes to who gets the solo in the big choral performance and who will win that $10,000 scholarship at the end of the summer.

Duff has more hairdos than facial expressions, but the movie is designed around the one she has down pat, a sort of sweet, slightly abashed, “Gosh, can I really do this? Look how adorable it is that I don’t know I’m adorable” sort of look. It does not go well when she tries to go beyond her range, as when she has to learn that her brother has died or confront someone she thinks has betrayed her, and especially in one painful moment when she tries to act “street.” Similarly, the music is designed around her slight but sweet pop voice. If the studio-enhanced dubbing is a bit too obvious in the classroom scenes, it fits with the bubble-gumminess of the tunes and the story.

Parents should know that the movie includes the death of a major character in a drunk driving accident. This is powerfully, but not graphically depicted and may make the movie too much for under-10′s or even some sensitive under-12′s. An adult character responds to a stressful situation by saying, “I need a drink” and an underage character gets drunk when he is upset over a misunderstanding. There is some PG-level language. The movie makes it clear that Terri thinks carefully about whether she is ready to kiss a boy, even though it is someone she really cares about. Another girl makes a reference to being “bad” to get the boy she likes, but it does not work. Other strengths of the movie include loyalty and friendship among diverse characters and (very unusual in a mainstream film) respectful treatment of religious faith. It has a rare depiction of a young person going to church to get help during a painful time, handled in a low-key manner but making it clear that Terri’s faith is an important source of solace for her.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Terri’s father is so strict. Why was it easier for Paul to speak up than for Terri? What should Terri have done when her mother and aunt told her to lie to her father about where she was? What did Terri like best about the music program? How did her brother and her teacher give her a chance to see things within herself that she did not see before? Why didn’t Jay like Robin anymore?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Duff’s other films, The Lizzie McGuire Movie and A Cinderella Story. They might also enjoy comparing them to the original Gidget. Mature audiences will enjoy Fame a lively film about a high school for the performing arts.

Shall We Dance?

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

Chicago lawyer John Clark (Richard Gere) writes wills. He listens to people sum up their lives — their assets, their liabilities, their legacies. When it’s done, they ask, “Is that it, then?” and he tells them, “That’s it for the paperwork. The rest is up to you.” Finally, it is time for him to get that message.

John likes his job and he loves his wife, son, and daughter. But riding home on the El train, he sees a woman standing in the second-story window of a ballroom dance studio and her expression of sadness and longing as she gazes into the darkness somehow unleashes his own wish for something more. Maybe it is his wish to be something more. So one night, he walks into the dance studio and signs up for the beginners class.

There are two other students, Vern, a huge, shy man (Omar Benson Miller) who says he wants to dance at his upcoming wedding, and Chic (Bobby Cannavale of The Station Agent), who says he is there to learn to dance so he can impress girls. Really, though, they are all there because they want to dance, to be a part of the music, to let go and swirl across the floor.

John begins to see himself differently when he finds a way to move to music. His wife suspects an affair and hires a pair of detectives (Richard Jenkins of “Six Feet Under” and Nick Cannon from Drumline, both wonderful) to follow him. Though John is drawn to the melancholy dance teacher it is more out of curiousity and compassion than romance. Dancing leads him to become friends with Vern, Chic, and with Bobbie (Lisa Ann Walter), a brassy student who hopes to compete for a title. He finds an unexpected connection with a colleague from the office and with his own family. And if he can learn to share this precious new part of himself with his wife, well, as the title song (from The King and I) asks, shall they dance?

The movie not only shows you the longing felt by its characters, it draws you in to sharing those feelings with them. You want John, Vern, Chic, Bobbie, and the others to find their steps and rhythm, to fly on the “bright cloud of music,” the song describes. You may even want to find your own.

Lopez gives a performance of great delicacy and skill, showing us Paulina’s fragility and dignity. Each actor creates a real and vivid and endearing character. And the music and dancing are sublime. You may just do a little dancing of your own on your way home.

Parents should know that the movie has brief strong language and some unnecessary homophobic humor, particularly a gratuitous last-minute twist. There are sexual references and jokes, including references to adultery, but in general the characters’ behavior is loyal and respectful. Characters drink and there are scenes in bars.

Families who see this movie should talk about why it was had for John and Beverly to be honest with each other. What was John missing? Which characters changed the most, and why? What could you do that would change your life the way dancing changed the lives of John, Vern, and Chic?

Families who enjoy this movie will also appreciate the many other delightful movies about the way dance changes people’s lives. Some of the best are Strictly Ballroom, Dirty Dancing, Saturday Night Fever, The Full Monty, and Steppin’ Out with Liza Minnelli along with Fred Astaire classics like The Bandwagon (briefly glimpsed in this movie). They should also watch the movie this was based on, a lovely 1994 Japanese film also called Shall We Dance.

Whiz Kids!

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Preschool
Movie Release Date:2004

Children 18 months to three years old will enjoy this gentle DVD, filled with happy children learning colors, numbers, letters, and just enjoying each other. Babies and toddlers will be drawn into the fun, calling out the answers and playing along, learning as they watch.

Shark Tale

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2004

This hip-hop/mob action comedy set undersea is fast, fresh, fun, and finny — I mean –punny — I mean funny.

Okay, you watch the movie and see if you don’t come out making silly jokes like that. This isn’t a classic like Finding Nemo or Shrek, but it throws so much at you so fast you will be too busy enjoying yourself to notice.

Oscar (voice of Will Smith) is a little fish who dreams of fame and fortune, which seem very far away while he works as a mouth scrubber in a whale wash. He doesn’t notice that Angie (voice of Renee Zellwegger), the pretty receptionist, is in love with him. And he hasn’t been keeping count of all the money he has borrowed from his blowfish boss, Sykes (voice of Martin Scorsese). When Sykes says he needs the $5000 Oscar owes him the next day, Angie gives him her family heirloom pink pearl. Oscar sells it but then, on the way to give it to Sykes at the racetrack, he bets it on a horse. (That’s a seahorse, by the way.) The horse loses.

So, Oscar is in a lot of trouble. Sykes’ Rasta-jellyfish henchmen (voices of actor Doug E. Doug and regge singer Ziggy Marley) take Oscar out to rough him up.

They come across two sharks, tough guy Frankie (voice of “Soprano’s” star Michael Imperioli and his sweet-natured vegetarian brother Lenny (voice of Jack Black). Frankie is supposed to show Lenny how to be a killer, so they can take over the family business from their father, Don Lino (voice of Robert De Niro in full-on Godfather mode). But when Frankie is hit by an anchor, the jellyfish think that Oscar killed him, and he returns home as “The Shark Slayer.” Fame and fortune at last.

Sykes becomes his manager, a flirty glamorpuss named Lola (voice of Angelina Jolie) shows up to share the wealth (literally). Oscar enjoys the high life until the sharks come searching for the “Shark Slayer.” Lenny runs away from home because he cannot be a predator like his father and the other sharks. He and Oscar come up with a scheme to solve both their problems — they will stage a fight. Oscar will pretend to kill Lenny. Then the sharks will be so scared of Oscar they won’t try to come after him. And Lenny can start a new life.

That’s the plan. But it’s not a very good plan, as Lenny and Oscar soon find out.

The plot is nothing special, but the visuals are, with eye-popping color and wonderfully expressive fish faces, hilariously funny and surprisingly touching. The voice talent is top-notch and the animators have managed to bring the essence of the actors to the characters. Don Lido has De Niro’s birthmark on his cheek and Oscar has Smith’s eyes and mouth. There are dozens of gags and pop-cultural references and some bright musical numbers that keep things moving briskly, with a remake of the Rose Royce “Car Wash” song by Missy Elliott and Christina Aguilerra a highlight.

Parents should know that the plot involves the death of one of the characters, the son and brother of two other characters. This may be upsetting to some viewers. The characters are all so vivid that there may be a Bambi-reaction; some viewers may want to become vegetarians like Lenny. There is also some mild peril and tension. In addition, the movie has some mildly crude humor and a bit of schoolyard language. Characters “tag” — spraypaint graffiti — and parents may want to talk about how that behavior is destructive vandalism and illegal.

Parents may also be concerned about what could be perceived as stereotyping of Italian characters as gangsters, because the character names are Italian and some of the actors who play them are associated with “The Godfather,” “Goodfellas” and “The Sopranos.” Children may not understand that these actors are spoofing their other roles and may get the wrong impression, even concluding that an Italian name or accent is an indication of a connection to the mob. Families should discuss the issue of bigotry and the importance of judging people on their actions, not their heritage.

Families who see this movie should talk about why fame and fortune were so important to Oscar. Why was it so hard for him to realize that Lola was not sincere? They should also talk about why it was so hard for Oscar to see how Angie felt about him — and how he felt about her. All probably came from his having a hard time feeling good about himself — why was that hard for him? Families should also talk about how sometimes people like Lenny can have a hard time feeling accepted and loved for who they are. What can friends and family do to support them?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Finding Nemo and A Bug’s Life. They might also like to visit the local aquarium or travel to some of the nation’s best, like Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium and the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

Previous Posts

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Heaven is for Real
A movie like "Heaven is for Real" requires two different reviews, one for believers/fans of the 1.5 million-volume best-selling book, one for those who are unfamiliar with the book and whose views about faith and heaven and proof may differ from the evangelical beliefs of the Wesleyan pastor who wro

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Heaven is for Real: The Real Story
"Heaven is for Real" opens tomorrow, with Greg Kinnear as Todd Burpo, a Nebraska pastor whose four-year-old son says that he visited heaven during surgery for a ruptured appendix.  It is based on a best-selling book Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back,

posted 3:59:56pm Apr. 15, 2014 | read full post »

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Trailer: Gone Girl with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike
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posted 2:33:38pm Apr. 15, 2014 | read full post »


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