Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Tusk
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some disturbing violence/gore, language and sexual content
Release Date:
September 19, 2014

 

The Fault in Our Stars
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language
Release Date:
June 6, 2014

This is Where I Leave You
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, sexual content and some drug use
Release Date:
September 19, 2014

 

Think Like a Man Too
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for crude sexual content including references, partial nudity, language and drug material
Release Date:
June 20, 2014

The Maze Runner
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images
Release Date:
September 19, 2014

 

Godzilla
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence
Release Date:
May 16, 2014

Fast Track

posted by jmiller
F+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sexual content, brief language and a drug reference.
Movie Release Date:2007
DVD Release Date:2007

Painfully overlong at under 90 minutes, “The Ex” (formerly known as “Fast Track”) is a clunky, lead-footed disaster, the stunning incompetence of its script and direction only exceeded by the shocking array of talented and successful performers who struggle in it as though they are going down for the third time. In quicksand.


All that before we get to how offensive it is. This film tries to be outrageous, daring, and edgy but it is just crude, sluggish, cheap, and boring. There is a long list of groups who could file defamation actions against the producers of this movie, including disabled people, little boys, anyone with a job, citizens of Ohio, and pretty much the entire human race.


This is the story of Tom (Zach Braff) and Sofia (Amanda Peet), who move to Ohio with their new baby so that Tom can go to work in his father-in-law’s advertising agency and Sofia can be a full-time mom. Tom is assigned to work with Chip (Jason Bateman) — think Eddie Haskell with a touch of Charles Boyer in Gaslight. A creepy guy in a wheelchair that everyone but our hero thinks is an Eagle Scout! And wait, there’s more! He and Sofia knew each other in high school. They were cheerleaders and he hoisted her up high with his hand on her rump. And they had sex once. And he still likes her! Add in some attempts at The Office-style humor — this is the kind of place where people throw an imaginary YES ball at each other to keep that teamwork going — pratfalls and crotch hits, moments of excruciating embarrassment, professional mishaps, a kid who stuffs a whole hamburger in his mouth at once (many, many times), potty humor (many, many times), references to private parts, a marriage counselor who has his clients smack each other with bats, a plot twist stolen from every single episode of Bewitched and it has to be funny!


Not. Especially after a ludicrous fake-out near the end that shrieks of reshoots following understandably horrendous feedback from test audiences.


Some of the wittiest and classiest actors in movies today somehow ended up in this mess, which will certainly appear in a gag reel in any future award show tributes. In addition to stars Peet and Braff, we gasp in horror as yet another previously-unsullied reputation is, well, sullied. Donal Logue as a long-haired hippie CEO! Amy Poehler as an office drone! (Wasn’t Envy bad enough?) Oscar-nominee Amy Smart as a mom who believes in baby massage! For this, Charles Grodin makes his first movie in 13 years? What’s the matter, Mia Farrow? All those kids need tuition payments?


Every one of these questions was more interesting to think about than the plodding storyline and the pointless pratfalls. This movie gets a big NO ball from me.

Parents should know that this movie has very crude material for a PG-13. There is a lot of comic violence, including pushing a disabled character down the stairs. Characters use strong language (one f-word) and make offensive jokes. There is brief drug humor.


Families who see this movie should talk about why it was hard for the characters in this movie to tell each other what they were thinking.


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Saving Silverman and Stuck on You, by no means classics but far better than this one.

Jindabyne

posted by jmiller
B
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for disturbing images, language and some nudity.
Movie Release Date:2007

Parents should know that this film deals with very disturbing themes, including the discovery of the dead body of a young woman who may have been raped. There are scenes of nudity and graphic wounds. Characters drink (sometimes to excess), smoke, use very strong and crude language, and have tense and unhappy confrontations. There are references to mental illness and the death of a little girl’s mother. Children are in peril. They also get in trouble for bringing a knife to school and killing the class pet. The situation in the film raises issues of gender, race, ethnic, and cultural differences as well as differences of opinion about how to respond to painful and confusing circumstances.


Families who see this movie should talk about why the different characters felt differently about the right way to respond to the discovery of the body. What do their different attitudes tell us about what was most important to each of them? What is the role of the children in helping to tell the story?

Families who like this movie will also like The Vanishing (the original, not the American remake) and Deliverance (both with very mature material). They might also like to read some of the short stories by Raymond Carver, including “So Much Water So Close to Home,” in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Stories, which was the basis for this film.

Lucky You

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some language and sexual humor.
Movie Release Date:2007

Maybe if it had been made in the 1940′s or 50′s in black and white, maybe if it starred Frank Sinatra and Lee Remick, maybe if we had never seen better films like “The Hustler,” maybe this script might have worked. But today it just seems formulaic and out of date. As a poker hand, it’s not even a pair of deuces.

<P
Huck (Eric Bana) is a poker player. He has a lot of natural skill and a lot of experience. His weakness is that at the big moment he does not go by the book. Sometimes that means a good decision based on intuition. Other times it means a bad decision based on anger. He understands the concept of "left pocket money," your "real" money that can't be bet. But when the moment comes, he bets not only his left pocket money but everyone else's too.


Huck lives in Las Vegas, where the world series of poker is about to start. He needs to qualify for a seat and he needs to have the $10,000 entry fee. The first part of the movie is about whether he will make it — not much suspense there, as we wouldn’t have a movie if he did. Then we have the tournament itself. In most movies in this genre, our young hero must take on a father-figure, an Oedipal metaphor, the champion, the establishment guy, the man our hero both looks up to and longs to triumph over. It is emblematic of this movie’s absence of subtlety or complexity that in this case the father-figure is in fact Huck’s literal father, English professor-turned professional gambler Robert Duvall, who insists on calling his son “Huckleberry.” (The English professor background suggests the name is inspired by Finn, not Hound.)


And there must be The Girl, in this case Billie, played by Drew Barrymore, still the effervescent flower child, even as a brunette, but who cannot and should not sing. It was okay in “Music and Lyrics,” where she was not supposed to be a good singer. Here, it is a performance that cries out for Simon Cowell. She and Bana have no chemistry, a real problem when their supposed overwhelming attraction and powerful connection is expected to not just capture our attention but justify most of the decisions and developments throughout the movie.


The movie’s one great strength is a brief appearance by Robert Downey, Jr. as a friend of Huck’s who answers a variety of 900-number calls while he sits at a bar and refuses to loan Huck money. As he juggles the calls on his cell phones, the conversations a witty counterpoint to his dialogue with Huck, the movie briefly comes alive. But all too quickly, his scene is over and we’re stuck watching people play cards. You gotta know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em — in this movie, the wise viewer will toss in his cards as soon as Downey’s scene is over.

Parents should know that this movie has some strong language and some sexual references and a non-explicit situation. Characters smoke and drink. The movie includes a lot of bad behavior including lying and stealing and a discussion of cheating, plus excessive and possibly compulsive gambling and some peril and violence.

Families who see this movie should talk about the significance of the ring. What did Huck decide was most important?

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy The Hustler and the sequel, The Color of Money. Rounders has Matt Damon and Edward Norton as poker players. Families will also enjoy a true story about the world series of poker, Positively Fifth Street.

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.

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