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Movie Mom
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I always have a lot of fun with Betty Jo Tucker of Movie Addict Headquarters — in this week’s episode, A. J. Hakari joined us for a talk about the summer movies of 2011.

Things for the young fans of Justin Beiber to think about as they watch this film: He is cuuuuute! Hair! Smile! Voice! Dancing!I  am so lucky to have a talented, unassuming, nonthreatening, hard-working, scandal-free performer to test my still-developing sense of what love is all about.

Things for parents to think about as they watch this film: It is wonderful to see my Beiber fan so happy and it brings back memories of my love for (fill in the blank). He’s actually pretty talented!  And very cute. His mother seems to have a head on her shoulders and has made sure he has surrounded himself with people who genuinely want what is best for him.  It was good to hear his tour manager say that he saw his goal not as making him the biggest star he can be but teaching him to be the best man he can be.   Nice to see that he still has good friends — and that he still has to clean up his room. I am so lucky that my child has a talented, unassuming, nonthreatening, hard-working, scandal-free performer to test her still-developing sense of what love is all about.

It really is an astonishing story. As awwwwww-inspiring home movie footage shows, Justin Beiber, the son of a single teenage mother in a small town in Canada, loved music and loved to perform even as a toddler. He came in second in a local talent competition and performed on a street corner. When his mother posted some videos of him singing on YouTube, a young promoter from Atlanta saw them — and saw the astronomical numbers of viewers who were watching them. He flew Justin (then age 14) and his mother to Atlanta, introduced them to Usher, and 17 months later Bieber sold out Madison Square Garden in 22 minutes. And all of that despite the predictions of those who said it could not happen without a machine like Disney or Nickelodeon behind him. This is a typical but still-entertaining concert tour film, with shots of Bieber backstage and in front of the audience, goofing around, getting sick, tweeting, and performing alone and with guest stars Usher, Miley Cyrus, Jaden Smith, and Boyz II Men. Bieber and his entourage come across as sincere, kind-hearted (watch him talk to a young violinist who now performs on his old street corner), and considerate. The 3D effects are excellent, especially when he reaches out, when the audience waves their glow sticks, and when he shakes that trademark hairdo.

Of the 20 million minors who actively used Facebook in the past year, 7.5 million of them were younger than 13, according to projections from Consumer Reports’ latest State of the Net survey.  Facebook’s terms of service require users to be at least 13 years old.

Also among this group of minors using Facebook, more than 5 million were 10 and under.  Consumer Reports survey found that their accounts were largely unsupervised by their parents, exposing them to malware or serious threats such as predators or bullies.  It is not only the underage users who are at risk. Children’s unsafe use of Facebook can expose the data on their parents’ computers and smart phones to abuse via identity theft and other privacy violations.

The report on Internet security, which includes the full survey results and advice for parents of Facebook users, is featured in the June issue of Consumer Reports and on www.ConsumerReports.org.

Social media is just one of the many ways consumers expose themselves and make themselves vulnerable to becoming a victim of identity theft or having to replace their computer. Earlier this year, Consumer Reports surveyed 2,089 online households nationwide and found that one-third had experienced a malicious software infection in the previous year. Consumer Reports estimates that malware cost consumers $2.3 billion last year and forced them to replace 1.3 millions PCs.

Consumer Reports recommends:

Being Social but Safe

  • Monitor a child’s account. Parents should join their children’s circle of friends on Facebook.  If that’s not feasible with an older teenager, keep tabs on them through their friends or siblings, as did 18 percent of parents surveyed who had 13- to 17-year olds on Facebook. Parents should delete a pre-teen’s account or ask Facebook to do so by using its “report an underage child” form.
  • Utilize privacy controls. Roughly one in five active adult Facebook users said they hadn’t utilized Facebook’s privacy controls, making them more vulnerable to threats. Facebook’s privacy controls may not prevent every breach but they help. Users should set everything they can to be accessible only to those on their friends list. Enabling a public search allows users’ profile picture, friends list, activities and more to be visible online outside of Facebook.
  • Turn off Instant Personalization. Facebook has been adding sites to its Instant Personalization feature, which automatically links accounts to user-review sites such as TripAdvisor (travel) and Yelp (local businesses). Users who don’t wish to share what cities they have visited with their Facebook friends via TripAdvisor should disable Instant Personalization, which is turned on by default.
  • Use apps with caution. Even though Facebook says in its privacy policy that it doesn’t share identifiable information with advertisers without permission, connecting with an app or website allows access to general information. Users should check the list of apps they are using and define the settings for each one listed. Decide what information the app can access, when possible, or perhaps eliminate the app altogether. Also, users should limit access to their information that is available to apps that friends use.

Protecting a Mobile Phone

  • Use a password or PIN. The easiest way to protect data against loss is with a personal identification number (PIN) or password on a phone. Most cell and smart phones have an option to do so under settings or security options. Consumer Reports’ survey found that only about 20 percent of mobile phone owners using their phones in potentially risky ways such as storing sensitive data had taken this precaution.
  • Take advantage of security services. Many smart-phone makers offer free security services such as over-the-air backup, remote phone locating, remote phone locking, and erasing of data and account information. There’s software available that allows users to lock the phone or erase data remotely. Users who don’t need the phone’s GPS feature should disable it.
  • Use caution when downloading apps. Only download apps from recognized sources.  Make sure many others have already used it and read reviews before downloading it.  Also, scrutinize the permissions an app requests. If any seem questionable, such as a request to track location when there’s no obvious need for the app to do so, don’t download the app.

 

This is another one of those romantic comedies where a bland couple has some trivial obstacles to overcome and you just wish they would get out of the way because their surrounding friends and family are much more interesting.

Mindy Kaling (“The Office”), Greta Gerwig (“Greenberg”), Chris “Ludacris” Bridges (“Back for the First Time”), Kevin Kline (“A Fish Called Wanda”), Lake Bell (“It’s Complicated”), and Jake M. Johnson (“Paper Heart”) and the characters they play are each far more deserving of a movie of their own than the dull couple played by Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher.

This seems to be a movie moment for stories about what Erica Jong used to call zipless [sex], the fantasy of an experience that is physical perfection with no thinking or emotion involved at all.  “Friends With Benefits” has an almost identical plot to this one and “Hall Pass,” and “Just Go With It” are among the films that focus on the premise of sex without any sort of romantic entanglements or consequences.  This made for a pretty good “Seinfeld” episode but I’m not sure there is enough in that premise for even one movie, and this movie does not persuade me otherwise.

 

First we have to have a reason for both parties to avoid any relationship beyond the physical.  It’s pretty weak on her part and pretty ugly on his.  Kutcher plays a guy who has been hurt. His ex-girlfriend is sleeping with his father (Kevin Kline) a one-time television star with a taste for drugs and women, the emotional maturity of a two-year-old and the vocabulary of a Penthouse letter.  Portman plays a doctor who is just too busy for relationship niceties.  Ultimately, we find out there’s a little bit more to it, but it’s too dull to care about.   In the meantime, our couple finds out that there’s no such thing as uncomplicated sex.

Um, duh.

Portman does what she can for her character despite her idiotic and inconsiderate behavior.  Kutcher plays his usual lovable St. Bernard puppy self, the boyfriend so perfect he even makes a special mix CD for soothing menstrual cramps.  But the resolution is so clear from the beginning and the contrast with the more engaging characters around them so clear that it feels like it keeps trying to lose us.   Instead of making us care about the couple, it tries to win us over with crassly provocative behavior and language.  This movie would be more accurately titled, “a salute to the overshare.”  Unless you think it deserves saluting, skip it.