Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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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

 

Fury
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

College Road Trip

posted by Nell Minow
D
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:G
Movie Release Date:March 7, 2008

college%20road%20trip.jpgWhat bugs me the most about this movie is not that it is cynical, synthetic, exploitative, and lazy, though it is all of those things. It is not that it alternates being dull with being both painful and dull, though it is both of those things. What bugs me the most is that it has no idea who its audience is and does not seem to care.

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Step Up 2 the Streets

posted by Nell Minow
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for language, some suggestive material and brief violence.
Movie Release Date:February 14, 2008
DVD Release Date:July 15, 2008

step%20up%202.jpgIsn’t it too soon for a remake of “How She Move,” which came out less than a month ago? “How She Move” itself felt like a remake of all of those “You Got Served”/”Stomp the Yard”/”Save the Last Dance”/”Step Up” movies that are the 21st century version of the interchangeable series of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland movies. Kids get together to put on a show, setting off a few romantic sparks and learning an important life lesson or two about loyalty and the importance of being yourself along the way, possibly overcoming some past loss as well.
The structure is as invariable as a sonnet. A teenage boy and girl from different backgrounds with different styles have to find a way to work together in time for the big dance competition. And they ramp up the dramatic weight of the competition with something else to prove, something more at stake, and some adult in the dancer’s life who must achieve a new understanding of how important this all is. Unlike most sequels, this does not repeat the characters from the original; it just repeats the story. The only thing that matters about the plot is that it gets out of the way of what we’re really here to see – the dance numbers. And by that standard, despite the dumbest teen dance sequel title since 1984’s “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo” and teen lingo so out of date they might as well call the dance steps “groovy,” “Step Up 2 the Streets” succeeds.
Andie (Briana Evigan, daughter of television star Greg Evigan) is the street girl whose mother died of cancer and who feels the only family she has left is her hip-hop “crew” that competes in street dance competitions. An old friend (Channing Tatum, in a brief reprise of his role in the original “Step Up”) arranges for her to audition at the Maryland School of the Arts, where her fresh moves capture the attention of Big Man on Campus Chase Collins (Robert Hoffman). Chase’s brother, the ballet dancer who runs the school, is less impressed. When her old crew kicks her out for missing rehearsals, Andie and Chase put together a new crew made up of the school’s misfits and outcasts, just in time for the big competition.
The dances are almost as electrifying as those in “How She Move,” not surprising because choreographer Hi-Hat worked on both films (she appears briefly on a scene in the subway), with additional choreography by Jamal Sims of the first “Step Up” and Dave Scott of “Stomp the Yard.” The rousing conclusion has a nice nod to Gene Kelly’s classic “Singin’ in the Rain” dance number. It is fun to watch the kids perform to a souped-up hip-hop version of “Jump Down Turn Around (Pick a Bale of Cotton)”, and the street theater “pranks” they video to become eligible for the street competition are fresh and clever.
This does not have the gritty authenticity of “How She Move” – it is a Disney film, after all – but that means that even its toughest characters and confrontations are fairly mild for a PG-13. Evigan wisely emphasizes Andie’s softer side, Hoffman has a great smile, and both feel effortlessly natural on screen. A scene at a family barbecue includes some gorgeous salsa dancing and a sweet moment with the two leads talking quietly as they sit on a tree branch. The supporting cast of young dancers is especially strong, with fine work from Danielle Polanco as Andie’s friend from home and rubber-limbed Adam G. Sevani as the kid who knows he is not the dork others assume he is. The story may be old, but these kids act – and dance – as though they are telling it for the first time.

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Mandela

posted by Nell Minow
A
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:NR
Movie Release Date:March 21, 1997

Celebrate the 90th birthday this week of one of history’s greatest leaders, Nelson Mandela, with one of the fine films about his extraordinary perseverance, vision, courage, and leadership. The story of the massive social change he achieved without violence is profoundly moving and inspiring and one that all families should understand and discuss. Perhaps his greatest contribution is the notion of reconciliation and forgiveness rather than retribution and punishment, a lesson the world will need to recover from its current conflicts.

nelson mandela.jpg

The documentary, Mandela: Son of Africa, Father of a Nation follows Mandela from his early years as one of nine children of a polygamist father assigned the name “Nelson” by a teacher instead of his tribal name to his 27 years in prison, his election to the Presidency of South Africa and the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize. The made-for-television Mandela & De Klerk (PG-13 for disturbing images of political violence) has Sidney Poitier and Michael Caine as Mandela and his co-Nobel awardee F.W. de Klerk. Both are outstanding.

Tribute: Thomas M. Disch

posted by Nell Minow

Science fiction writer Thomas M. Disch, who died on the 4th of July, wrote one movie for families, the wonderful animated film, The Brave Little Toaster. It is the Toy Story-style tale of a group of appliances left behind by their young master who take off on a dangerous journey to find him. Disch will probably be best remembered for the books he wrote for grown-ups, but this charming film is a gem as well.

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