Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Wish I Was Here
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some sexual content
Release Date:
July 18, 2014

 

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

Boyhood
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language including sexual references, and for teen drug and alcohol use
Release Date:
July 18, 2014

 

Sabotage
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R For strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use
Release Date:
March 28, 2014

Planes: Fire & Rescue
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for action and some peril
Release Date:
July 18, 2014

 

Transcendence
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

Shopgirl

posted by rkumar
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2005

“Shopgirl” is a luminous, if melancholy, modern-day fairy tale about a lost princess named Mirabelle (Claire Danes) whose path to true love is complicated when she meets an evil enchanter. Okay, he’s not evil; he’s Steve Martin, who co-stars as Ray and who wrote the screenplay and the novella that inspired it. And he’s not, strictly speaking, an enchanter. But he does put Mirabelle under something of a spell, one that leads to sadness, but ultimately to what comes as close as we can see these days to a happily ever after ending.

Martin/Ray narrates the story. Despite the movie’s title, he even seems to think that he is, if not the story’s hero, at least the main character. But someone forgot to tell Danes, whose glowing performance is in every way the heart of this movie.

And it needs that heart to overcome the often-ponderous and always-superfluous narration, which makes it sound less like a story than like therapy, or perhaps expiation — not for Ray, for Steve Martin.

Mirabelle works at the glove counter at Saks. She stands behind the display, mannequin arms in long, elegant black gloves reaching toward the ceiling and rows of gloves on a glass shelf, neatly organized by color. And she waits, because not many people buy gloves anymore. These are the kind of gloves ladies wore with evening gowns back in the 1950′s.

Mirabelle has come to Los Angeles from Vermont, and she doesn’t feel connected to anyone or anything. Saks is elegant and sterile. Her apartment is tasteful, but spare. Her cat hides under the bed. At night, she takes pictures of herself and uses them to make small shaded drawings which are displayed and, now and then, sell at a local art gallery.

She meets Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman of Rushmore), another artist, at a laundromat. Jeremy is socially awkward, but he appeals to something in Mirabelle. Anyone who trips over his words as much as Jeremy does must at least be honest. And his very awkwardness makes her feel a little more sure of herself.

But then she meets Ray, who gives her another kind of confidence. Ray is a wealthy man with two homes and a private plane. He stops by Mirabelle’s counter to buy a pair of black evening gloves and then sends them to her with an invitation to dinner. He is smooth in some ways, but in others as tentative and unsure of himself as Jeremy. He apologizes for his home, which he bought already decorated. Like Ray himself, it has a sleekly prosperous surface but reveals very little about the person who lives inside.

At the restaurant, Mirabelle asks Ray a few questions to make sure he’s not weird, and he asks her even fewer, just enough to make sure that she’s not bored and that she doesn’t have any father issues that might complicate a relationship. And he tells her — after they’ve slept together — that he does not see it as a long term relationship. He assures himself and his shrink that he has been very clear with her that all he wants is some friendly sex. But Mirabelle is young, and she hopes for more. She does not know how to hold her emotions back. She is so young that she does not know that other people can.

The unforgiveable thing is that it is just that quality that draws Ray to Mirabelle. He feeds on it. He borrows her youth and freshness, and none of the lavish gifts he gives her come anywhere near approaching what he takes from her.

Martin’s script rather awkwardly gets Jeremy out of the picture for a few months by sending him on tour with a rock band. He comes back with a borrowed suit and a head full of advice from relationship books he listened to on tape. And it rather awkwardly gets Ray out of the picture after two poor decisions that can only be explained as pulling the emergency brake cord because he was afraid that he might care in spite of himself.

The script has some bright points, but it has trouble staying on track and some too-convenient . Martin wants more sympathy for Ray than he earns. But Schwartzman makes us see why Mirabelle might find him “one of the kind of people it takes time to know and then once you get to know them, they’re fabulous.” And Danes is so lovely, so open, so filled with light that we stay with it, just because we want to see her get to a happy ending.

Parents should know, first of all, that this is not a Steve Martin-style comedy. It is a melancholy meditation. The characters use some strong language and there are sexual references and some explicit sexual situations, with nudity, including sexual relations between people who do not know each other very well. Characters drink and smoke and there is a reference to drug use.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Ray and Mirabelle had different hopes and expectations for their relationship. What did Jeremy learn on his trip that made him better able to communicate with Mirabelle the second time around? What did Mirabelle learn from Ray that made her better able to appreciate Jeremy the second time around? Why was Ray unable to give more to Mirabelle? What will happen to him? How do you decide when to hurt now and when to hurt later?

Families who appreciate this movie will also enjoy Lost in Translation and Broken Flowers, both with Bill Murray, and Martin’s L.A. Story. They might also enjoy some classics with women facing similar choices between an older man and a younger one, including How to Marry a Millionaire and Cactus Flower.

Doom

posted by rkumar
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2005

The movie is called “Doom” and it’s based on a video game. So no one is expecting insights into the human condition or subtle performances. We’re here to see stuff get blown up, baby.

And that’s what we get — it’s a big, loud explosion movie, the same old bang-bang, boom-boom, yuck-yuck, wham-wham.

In an underground archeological dig on Mars, a team of Rapid Response Tactical Squad Marines are sent in to contain some sort of infestation and retrieve some data. The leader is Sarge (The Rock) and the squadron includes a kid on his first mission and a guy with a past connection to that dig — and to a woman who is still there working on it.

Then there’s a lot of shooting and a lot of tough talk with a lot of exclamation points:

“I guess you gotta face your demons sometime.”

“You hesitate — people die!”

“Now let’s see if we can find the body that goes with this arm.”

“Oh my God! There’s something in his blood!”

“I’m going to the armory. We’re going to need something with a little bit more kick.”

“Auuuuuugh!”

“Clear!”

“What do you mean he killed himself? He was already dead!”

“Pinky! Use the grenade!”

“There’s something behind me, isn’t there?”

There are fights and explosions and shoot-outs and maulings in a number of different settings — waist-high water, a medical facility with a dissolving door, a spooky chamber — and between a number of different entities. There are gross-outs and monsters and boo-surprises and people who won’t stay dead. There are in-jokes for fans of the game. There is The Rock, without a hint of his usual self-aware humor. And there is one more big fight and finally, not soon enough, game over.

Parents should know that this movie features non-stop violence that is extremely graphic and gory. Characters fight with fists, guns (really big guns), and grenades and characters are wounded, killed, and re-killed. There are graphic and gross images of wounds, piles of guts, poop, and monsters, and a lot of jump-out-at-you surprises. Characters use strong and crude language and a character abuses pharmaceutical drugs. A female character is portrayed as intelligent and accomplished but when the fighting begins, she is either patching people up or screaming.

Families who see this movie should talk about when it is right not to follow orders. They might also want to talk about the difference between a movie and a video game and whether this qualifies as either.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Resident Evil and its sequel and The Scorpion King.

North Country

posted by rkumar
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2005

“North Country” was “inspired by a true story,” but instead of sticking to the undeniably moving facts of the sexual harassment suit filed by female mineworkers, this movie veers off into distracting and soapy subplots. It doesn’t trust its story, it doesn’t trust its characters, and it doesn’t trust its audience.

It’s an attempt to follow in a long and distinguished series of Oscar-bait “true” stories turned into movies named after their female leads (Erin Brockovich, Norma Rae). But there’s a reason this one changes the names of all of the characters and the mining company. It’s an “inspired by,” which means that it makes no attempt to be accurate. The result, despite sincere performances, just feels synthetic.

In this version, it’s Josie Aimes (Charlize Theron) who filed a lawsuit against the mining company that failed to protect the female employees from abuse, despite verbal and physical assaults, despite intimidation and threat of retaliation, despite the unwillingness of even one other person, male or female, to stand beside her. And in this version, the lawyer, Bill White (Woody Harrelson), is a former local hockey star who agrees to represent her only so he can enhance his reputation by making new law: the first ever class action sexual harassment claim. The others may not care or may be too scared to tell the truth, but Josie’s complaint was on behalf of all of them, alleging a consistent and management-approved policy of harassment and abuse.

This movie attacks the bad guy bosses for its “nuts and sluts” defense to charges of sexual harassment because it brought the main character’s sexual history into the courtroom. Then it does the same thing, dragging Josie’s past into evidence and making the story about her behavior as a teenager and her struggle for the respect of her father and her son, both handled awkwardly and unconvincingly. Director Niki Caro (Whale Rider) has a lot of lingering close-ups of Charlize Theron’s face (a temptation hard to resist, I admit), and dilutes the power of her story with too many distractions and too-quick turn-arounds. The women of the mine deserved better from their managers and they deserve better from this movie.

Parents should know that this movie depicts the crudest and most hostile forms of sexual harassment in very explicit terms. A character is battered by her domestic partner. Characters use very strong language and there are explicit sexual references and situations, including rape. Characters drink and smoke.

Families who see this movie should talk about why it was hard for the women to insist on better treatment from the men in the mine. When is it time to “cowboy up” and when is it time to fight? They should talk about Kyle’s comment that “It takes a lot of work to hate someone. You really want to put in that kind of time?” Familiss should make sure that everyone understands that sexual harassment is not about flirting or leading anyone on and has no relationship to the sexual history of the victims. It is about power and humiliation and control. Families might also like to look at the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines and one of the judge’s decisions in the case that inspired this movie, which begins, “This case has a long, tortured, and unfortunate history,” and goes on to conclude that, “It should be obvious that the callous pattern and practice of sexual harassment engaged in by Eveleth Mines inevitably destroyed the self-esteem of the working women exposed to it. The emotional harm, brought about by this record of human indecency, sought to destroy the human psyche as well as the human spirit of each plaintiff. The humiliation and degradation suffered by these women is irreparable. Although money damage cannot make these women whole or even begin to repair the injury done, it can serve to set a precedent that in the environment of the working place such hostility will not be tolerated.”

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy other fact-based stories about strong women who stood up for their rights, including Sally Field’s Oscar-winning performance in Norma Rae, Julia Roberts’ Oscar-winning performance in Erin Brockovich, Meryl Streep in Silkwood, and Sissy Spacek (who plays Josie’s mother in this film) in Marie, with Fred Thompson in his first film role, playing himself.

The Legend of Zorro

posted by rkumar
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2005

Great stunts, glamorous stars, and our affection for the characters make this sequel watchable, even with a disappointing script.

The original was pure popcorn pleasure, with Anthony Hopkins as the original Zorro, the dashing masked swashbuckler who appeared wherever justice was threatened to right wrongs and of course leave the “Z.” He trained impetuous but talented Alejandro (Antonio Banderas) to take over, and soon after, the new Zorro 2.0 was leaping from roofs, showing his mastery of swordsmanship, riding the black horse Tornado, and winning the heart of the beautiful and courageous Elena (Catherine Zeta Jones). When we last saw them, they were married and had a baby.

Now their son Joaquin (Adrian Alonso) is 10 and feels that he barely knows his father. Elena thinks it is time for Zorro to hang up his mask.

But Alejandro is not ready to quit. “People still need Zorro,” he says. “No, you still need Zorro,” Elena replies. Elena files for divorce and soon renews acquaintance with a handsome and wealthy old friend from Spain, Armand (Rufus Sewell).

This sets up a series of estrangments and misunderstandings that play out predictably. It’s layered like a casserole — miscommunication/stunt/more miscommunication/more stunts. Banderas and Zeta Jones can do it all — they have authentic movie-star charisma, sizzling chemistry, top-notch acting chops and, rarest of all, a combination of total commitment to the moment and to-the-nanosecond comic timing. But the script doesn’t do them justice. It is geared for a younger audience than the original, with “comic” anachronisms like the line, “in your butt.” The stars do their best, but it’s not really a story. It’s just just pretty people, exciting action sequences with swashbuckling attitude but no real energy, and an over-the-top bad guy who falls head first into cactus. The stars may be dazzling, but the film works too hard to persuade us that we’re being entertained without taking the time to do very much that’s genuinely entertaining.

Parents should know that the movie has a lot of very intense “action” violence — it is not gory, but characters are injured and killed (including an unarmed young father) and some of it is graphic for a PG movie. A crotch hit is played for comedy. There is brief crude humor, a brief but very passionate kiss, and implied non-sexual nudity. Characters drink and smoke. Some in the audience may be upset by the couple’s estrangement and divorce and the difficulty that creates for their son. And some families may be concerned about the implication that it is natural for divorced parents to reconcile. A strength of the movie is its acknowledgement of some of the racism of the era.

Families who see this movie should talk about why it was hard for the members of this family to be honest with each other and to trust each other. They may also want to find out more about California statehood and the history of their own state and the decision to become part of the US.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy The Mask of Zorro, with Banderas, Zeta Jones, and Anthony Hopkins. They will also enjoy some of the more than 50 other Zorro movies, from Tyrone Power’s The Mark of Zorro (with a thrilling score by Alfred Newman) and Disney’s The Sign of Zorro with Guy Williams to the campy Zorro, the Gay Blade with George Hamilton. They will also enjoy The Adventures of Robin Hood and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

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