Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

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

Children of Men

posted by jmiller
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for strong violence, language, some drug use and brief nudity.
Movie Release Date:2007
DVD Release Date:2007

“A baby is God’s opinion life should go on,” Carl Sandburg said. So, in a world where babies have stopped being born and the death of the youngest person on earth is an international tragedy, there seems to be no point in just about anything. It appears that all of humanity is only decades from extinction. With no future, any sense of order and structure is gone. Any sense of hope or purpose has disappeared. All that exists is increasingly more violent and frantic chaos and increasingly more violent and frantic efforts to contain it.

The world is engulfed with anarchy, and only England is left to uphold what passes for civilization, a nihilist bureaucracy supported by a brutal armed force. Its one object is to hold on to what little is left by keeping out the avalanche of people fleeing the chaos of their own countries. The huddled masses yearning to breathe free are shipped off to prison camps and deported. Or just shot, because, why not? Justice, kindness, honor, and loyalty no longer mean anything. The only values left are expediency and any possible shred of a sense of control.

Theo (Clive Owen) is personally and professionally burned out. The one connection he has to peace, affection, and laughter is to his old friend Jasper (Michael Caine), a cynical, pot-smoking aging hippie. He lives away from the rest of the world and cares tenderly for his wife, who is completely unresponsive as a result of severe physical or emotional trauma.


Theo is captured by rebel forces led by his ex-wife (Julianne Moore), who wants him to obtain papers from his influential relative to permit the transport of a young woman who is pregnant. Protecting her from the authorities and the ravenous curiosity of the world gives Theo something to care about.


This is a heart-thumping thriller with two of the most exciting chase scenes since The Matrix Reloaded. But it is also a thoughtful, provocative, and complex film, each shot packed with details, each scene packed with ideas. Theo’s highly placed cousin collects the world’s great masterpieces, protecting them — for what? Theo’s escort of the young pregnant woman recalls the nativity, as he tries to find a safe place for her to give birth to the baby who will carry all of the hope of the world, protecting her from brutal soldiers. Though it takes place in 2027, the setting does not look too far from our own surroundings — this is not one of those futuristic stories where people wear silvery mylar, have flying cars, or zap themselves from one place to another. But there are understated references to other places and events that demonstrate the richness of the film’s underlying conceptual base. The performances, especially Owen and Caine are so deeply grounded and heartfelt that they draw us deeply into the story. Instead of just another chases and explosions movie, this is a film that is adrenaline for the mind and spirit.

Parents should know that this movie is disturbing and extremely violent with graphic images and many characters injured and killed. There is non-sexual nudity, extremely strong language, drinking, smoking, and drug use.


Families who see this movie should discuss why the absence of children led to such violence and anarchy. What will happen next? They may want to read the book, by P.D. James or learn more about the possible causes of declining fertility rates worldwide.


Families who enjoy this film will also appreciate other dystopic visions of the future, including 28 Days Later, Gattaca, Blade Runner, Solyent Green, and a made-for-television movie called The Last Child.

Night at the Museum

posted by jmiller
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for mild action, language and brief rude humor.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

Larry (Ben Stiller) needs a job fast. He has always dreamed of making it big, but none of his schemes have worked and as his ex-wife points out, their son Nick needs some stability. After an employment counselor (Stiller’s real-life mother, Anne Meara) has only one suggestion for him, he takes it — night security guard at a natural history museum. Attendance is down and they’ve had to cut the budget. The three senior night-time guards are being let go. They toss him a tattered set of instructions and warn him not to “let anything in — or out.”


Larry plays around with the museum’s public address system and falls asleep. The next thing he knows, he’s being chased by a tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, being asked for gum by an enormous Easter Island head statue (voice of “Everyone Loves Raymond’s” Brad Garrett), and being shot at by tiny natives with tiny poison darts. The Union and Confederate soldiers are shooting at each other and the cowboys are fighting with the Roman centurions. President Theodore Roosevelt and Attila the Hun are charging through the halls. Then there is a mastodon and some mischievous monkeys and some lions…


Larry has to find a way to keep peace, earn his son’s trust and respect, and finally stick with something all the way.


It’s a better than average CGI-fest, more often silly than funny. But it makes some good points about courage, self-respect, and the importance of learning about history. And Stiller and co-stars Robin Williams (as Roosevelt), Mizuo Peck (as Lewis and Clark guide Sacajawea), Ricky Gervias as the museum director, Paul Rudd as Nick’s soon-to-be stepfather, and especially Steve Coogan as a Roman soldier hold their own against the special effects and a terrific trio of veterans, Dick van Dyke, Mickey Rooney, and Bill Cobb, as the outgoing guards show the young folks they still have a couple of things to learn. Be sure to stay through the credits to see them dance.


Parents should know that the movie has a good deal of comic peril, mayhem, and violence. Though much of it is cartoony and intended to be funny, a character is chased by a dinosaur, shot at, and punched. Characters use brief crude language and there is some potty humor. A strength of the movie is its portrayal of diverse characters learning to empathize with and support each other.


Families who see this movie should talk about why it was so important for Larry to feel that Nick was proud of him. They may also want to talk about some of the tensions and conflicts that can arise in families and what it means to have a “fallback position.” And they should go to some museums. Even if the exhibits do not actually come alive, they are a lot of fun and have wonderful activities for families. They should also learn about Sacajawea, Theodore Roosevelt, Easter Island, and Attila the Hun.


Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy the books and movie versions of Jumanji, The Indian in the Cupboard, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (more mature material).

Dreamgirls

posted by jmiller
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for language, some sexuality and drug content.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

If my movie reviews had headlines, this one’s would be: “A Star is Born.” More like a Supernova. Jennifer Hudson explodes onto screen in this incendiary production of the Broadway musical inspired by Motown and the Supremes. She is mesmerizing. She is dazzling. She is fierce. She shimmers. She melts. She breaks your heart and then she puts it back together so she can melt it. Her voice is sensational, but the real surprise is her acting, which is at the same time commanding and vulnerable. She is a star.


The other star of the movie is screenwriter/director Bill Condon, who blasts through the weaknesses in the underlying material (uneven quality of music that is second-rate Broadway and thus tenth-rate R&B, under-written characters, creaky plot) with unhesitating nerve and electric energy. His direction is a kind of choreography all its own, dynamic and organic. In other words, it has a good beat and you can dance to it.


“Dreamgirls” is the story of three young women who have sung together since they were children. Effie (Hudson) sings lead. She has a strong voice, strong opinions and a very strong personality. Effie, Deena (Beyonce Knowles), and Lorrell (Anika Noni Rose) dream of making it as professionals.

They are asked to sing back-up for James “Thunder” Early (Eddie Murphy, in a career-restoring performance). At first reluctant, because they want to be a group on their own, they agree — chaperone included — and we launch into a road montage as they learn about show business, from cramped tour buses to predatory men. Lorrell succumbs to the married Early. Ambitious manager Curtis Taylor Jr. (Jamie Foxx) becomes romantically involved with Effie, but then, when there’s a chance for mainstream success, he replaces her as lead singer and love interest with slender, conventionally pretty, pliant Deena and renames them the Dreams. Soon, Effie is out of the group all together, though on her way out she gets to sing one of the greatest show-stopping songs in the history of Broadway: “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” a gospel-infused powerhouse wail of the heartbreak and rage of rejection.


Taylor builds a recording empire and we get another montage of success and superstardom with a dazzling run of costumes and hairstyles and some soapy sturm und drang until we get to the “had I but known” and “I have to do what is right for me” moments and the big finish.


Along the way, the movie takes on some ambitious themes, from the mainstreaming of R&B into pop to the compromises people make in the name of ambition and the consequences for friends and families. And it is impossible to forget the resonance with the real-life back-stories of its cast — Hudson’s comeback from her loss on “American Idol,” the rumors about Knowles’ own Diana Ross-style diva behavior in the replacement of singers in Destiny’s Child and its subsequent break-up, Murphy’s tabloid appearances and professional slide from Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hours to Daddy Day Care and Nutty Professor II: The Klumps.


This substance anchors the glossy material, helping it transcend the “Is that supposed to be Barry Gordy? Is that supposed to be James Brown?” questions and making it archetypal instead of derivative, a movie instead of a music video, powerful as well as entertaining.

Parents should know that this film has some mature themes, including racism, behavior that would be deemed sexual harassment, and drug abuse, including an offscreen drug overdose. Characters use some strong language, drink, and smoke. A character has an out-of-wedlock child. A strength of the movie is its frank portrayal of the racism of the era and the way white performers (or less provocative black performers) appropriated the music of minorities who could not get a chance in mainstream outlets.


Families who see this movie should talk about which of the characters made compromises and what the results were. They should also talk about the early days of pop music, when white artists like Pat Boone had hits covering songs from “race records.” Is there still a racial divide in the music business today? How can you tell? Who changed for the better in this story and who changed for the worse? Why?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Lady Sings the Blues (very mature material), with the Supremes’ Diana Ross as Billie Holliday, Ray, with Jamie Foxx in his Oscar-winning performance as Ray Charles, and other movies about the early days of the rock and R&B music industry Sparkle, American Hot Wax, and Grace of My Heart. They will also enjoy the spectacular documentaries Standing in the Shadows of Motown, Only the Strong Survive, and Lightning in a Bottle.

The Good Shepherd

posted by jmiller
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for some violence, sexuality and language.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

You can see what drew director Robert DeNiro and co-producer Francis Ford Coppola to this film about the beginnings of the CIA. It resonates with many of the same themes as their great triumph Godfather II. In both stories, men make brutal choices, chosing expedience over process, secrecy over fairness, while anxious and bitter wives stay in the background and in the dark and children grow up both spoiled and needy and ultimately pay the price.


But this time, it happens to the good guys.


Well, maybe not so good after all, and that’s the point.


This is not James Bond. There are no impeccably tailored dinner jackets to wear while sipping stirred martinis, no brainy bombshells to seduce, no cool gadgets, no sportscars. This is dirty — in all senses of the word — tradecraft. This is betrayal upon betrayal, with the similarities between opponents greater than their differences. You never know who is on your side, you never know who is on the other side, and you never know who just switched. You only know that treachery will come from the last place you expect.


Matt Damon plays Edward Wilson, who learns about secrets when he is still a little boy, and learns more about secrets when he is inducted into Yale’s famous Skull and Bones club, a club so private its members are not permitted to acknowledge their affiliation. Asked to spy on a favorite teacher, Edward does not hesitate to turn him in. And soon he is involved in helping to set up the new Central Intelligence Agency in post WWII Europe.


Edward loves a sweet deaf girl but marries the daughter of a senator (Angelina Jolie), then leaves her for years at a time to run covert operations. The weakest part of the film is the family stress; the professional struggles are far more absorbing.

Parents should know that this movie has some peril and spy-type violence. Characters are injured and killed. There are sexual references and situations, some explicit, with references to adultery and homosexuality. Characters smoke and drink. They also engage in illegal and treacherous behavior.


Families who see this movie should talk about what was accomplished here, at what cost. They will enjoy visiting The International Spy Museum in Washington DC, which includes a seal of the United States presented to a US ambassador to the USSR that hung in his office…until someone realized it had a bug in it. The Museum also features tours of real-life local spots associated with clandestine activity.


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy miniseries and its sequel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Three Days of the Condor, and The Parallax View.

Previous Posts

Should Movie Audiences Text to the Screen?
It is annoying enough when someone near you in a movie theater takes out a cell phone to text. Imagine how it would be if you then saw the text on the screen. That's what a Chinese theater is experimenting with in what they are calling "bullet screens." The idea is that what you are there to enjo

posted 3:59:17pm Sep. 02, 2014 | read full post »

Back to School Guidelines for Parents on Kids and Media
Screen time is a treat, not a right. It’s a good idea to make sure that it comes only after homework, chores, other kinds of play, and family time. Make sure there is some quiet time each day as well. The spirit is nourished by silence. All too often, we try to drown out our unsettled or lonely fe

posted 8:00:27am Sep. 02, 2014 | read full post »

After the Ice Bucket Challenge: Two Upcoming Movies About People With ALS
The Ice Bucket Challenge has brought a lot of money and attention to a devastating illness, ALS or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, sometimes called Lou Gehrig's Disease for the the New York Yankee who had to leave baseball when he was afflicted with ALS. Two upcoming films about people with ALS

posted 7:00:17am Sep. 02, 2014 | read full post »

Thursdays in September on Turner Classic Movies: The Jewish Experience on Film
This month, TCM has an excellent series of films about the Jewish experience, every Thursday. TCM proudly presents The Projected Image: The Jewish Experience on Film, a weekly showcase of movies focusing on Jewish history and heritage as portrayed onscreen. Co-hosting the films each Thursday is D

posted 9:21:56pm Sep. 01, 2014 | read full post »

Start the School Year With a No-Screen Week
A new study shows another good reason to detox from all screen time now and then, especially for kids.  Children who take a five-day break from all screens are better at reading real-life facial expressions to understand the emotions of the people around them.  Psyblog described the study, which s

posted 3:56:33pm Sep. 01, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.