Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

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

 

Philomena
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 on appeal for some strong language, thematic elements and sexual references
Release Date:
November 22, 2013

Under the Skin
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for graphic nudity, sexual content, some violence and language
Release Date:
April 11, 2014

 

The Nut Job
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and rude humor
Release Date:
January 17, 2014

Rio 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 11, 2014

 

Grudge Match
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sports action violence, sexual content and language
Release Date:
December 25, 2013

Spartan

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2004

There are three different stories in this latest effort from writer/director David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross, State and Main). Only one of the three is pretty good — a rescue mission to retrieve the kidnapped daughter of the President. The second is a passable, if overly familiar, story of a man developing a broader sense of his own values. And then there is a poorly handled story about government corruption and manipulation of the media. As that thread takes over in the last third, the movie falls apart.

Scott (Val Kilmer) is one of those flinty-eyed “one riot, one Ranger” tough guys who trains future flinty-eyed tough guys when he isn’t being sent on the most crucial and most morally compromising missions.

A college student is missing. Did she run away with the professor with whom she may be having an affair? Did her boyfriend kill her after a fight? Was it a random kidhapping by men who steal blonde girls and sell them into sexual slavery? Or did someone take her because she is the daughter of the President of the United States? Time to call in Scott to find out.

Speed is the top priority. Secrecy comes next. Niceties like Constitutional protections and not killing people who might be innocent are lower down on the list.

Scott and able trainee Curtis (Derek Luke, again showing great warmth, humanity, and charisma) think they are getting close to finding the girl when the word comes down that she and the professor have been found dead following a boating accident. But that is when Scott, always a “how” man, not a “why” man, finds that he cannot travel as light as he thought. It isn’t so much that he wants to understand who the bad guys are. He just wants to get the girl back. Even if she doesn’t want to or deserve to come home.

Mamet is fine when it comes to tension, confrontation, and tough attitude, but as a director his idea of action sequences is to have people unexpectedly get shot. The dialogue is Mamet lite, with none of the brilliant riffs that energize his other scripts. He fumbles the tone of the movie by committing the very last sin his characters would permit — he loses control with preposterous multiply paranoid layers that wear out instead of boring in.

Parents should know that this movie has intense peril and a lot of graphic and explicit violence, including knives and guns, and many characters are killed. Characters smoke and drink and there are drug references. There are sexual references, including references to sexual slavery, and one mild and non-explicit sexual situation. A character commits suicide (though that is later called into question). As in almost all Mamet movies, characters use very strong language.

Families who see this movie should talk about the compromises made by the characters in this movie, including the willingness to violate the rights of suspects in order to get information quickly and the willingness to compromise loyalties and risk lives in order to win an election. How do they decide what their priorities are? What is the difference between the way Scott regards his orders at the beginning of the movie and the way he does at the end? Why? What does it mean to say that “We’re just two men in green?” What does it mean to say, “You’re going to be taking that fight to bed with you for a long time. You don’t gotta do it all now?” Mamet’s films often deal with people who spin stories, from con men (House of Games, Glengarry Glen Ross) to opposing sides who have completely different views of the same incident (Oleanna) to film-makers who will tell any story they need to so that they can, well, tell the story they want to tell (State and Main). How does that theme relate to this film?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy paranoia classics like Three Days of the Condor, The Parallax View, The Manchurian Candidate, and No Way Out. They might also like the unforgettably creepy original The Vanishing but should avoid the 1993 American remake.

Secret Window

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2004

We know what scares Stephen King. That most prolific of writers is still terrified by an empty computer screen, or, even worse, a screen with writing that is unfixably bad. And that author whose imagination has kept millions of happily terrified readers up all night is still scared of losing control of that imagination or having it disappear completely.

And so in this movie, King gives us our hero — Morty (Johnny Depp), like King a write of scary stories. And our villain, a menacing man in a broad preacher’s hat, who says that his name is John Shooter and that Morty has stolen his story.

Living in a remote cabin after splitting with his wife, Morty mostly mopes and sleeps. He loves his adorable dog and he literally won’t hurt a mouse.

But he can’t seem to get back to work. The best he can do is delete what he has already written. And then there is a knock at the door.

Now that we have our sensitive and vulnerable hero, and our eerily knowing menace, all of the traditional thriller elements follow: the red herring, the seemingly ineffectual sheriff and the seemingly powerful ally, the property damage, the shocking deaths, the framing of the hero for the crimes, the creepy music, the tight close-ups that keep us from knowing what’s outside the frame, and of course, the a-ha moment.

It all feels recycled and re-recycled. Depp is always wonderfully watchable and he seems to be enjoying Morty’s long solo scenes as a sort of on-camera acting exercise. There are a couple of tingly reveals and creepy fake-outs, but overall it’s just too familiar, especially for fans of this genre. John Shooter tells Morty that his story needs a better ending. So does this movie.

Parents should know that the movie has a great deal of tension, peril, and brief graphic violence, with grisly dead bodies. Characters are injured and killed. An animal is killed and a house is torched. There are sexual references and situations, including adultery and brief language that is stronger than most PG-13s. Characters smoke and drink and there is a reference to alcohol abuse.

Families who see this movie should talk about the clues that indicate what the final twist will be, including the very first scene and the scene in the bathroom. Why is it important that Morty had a past experience with a charge of plagiarism?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy The Shining, Swimming Pool (mature material), and Identity.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2004

This fabulously imaginative and deliciously loopy romance is the sweetest movie yet from the magnificently twisty mind behind Adaptation, Human Nature, and Being John Malkovich.

Once again Charlie Kaufman plays with the themes of identity, time, memory, and attraction in a slightly off-kilter world that seems oddly homelike and familiar. The movie is tougher, truer, more heart-breaking and then more heart-healing than a video store shelf of Julias, Megs, Reeses, and Sandras.

Joel (Jim Carrey) is a shy man whose heart is broken when impulsive and free-spirited Clementine (Kate Winslet) leaves him. When he finds out that she has arranged to have all of her memories of him erased, he decides to do the same.

It all seems so simple. Dr. Howard Mierzwiak (Tom Wilkenson) of the Lacuna corporation is smoothly assuring. When Joel asks if the procedure could cause brain damage, Dr. Mierzwiak cheerily assures him that “Technically, it is brain damage, about on a par with a night of heavy drinking.” All Joel has to do is bring everything from his apartment that reminds him of Clementine and dictate all of his memories of her into a tape recorder. Then Stan (Mark Ruffalo), the Lacuna technician, maps every part of the brain containing a memory of the formerly loved one. That night, while Joel is asleep, Stan will come in and, using the map, erase every memory of Clementine in Joel’s brain. Then Mary (Kirsten Dunst), Lacuna’s receptionist, mails out postcards to all of Joel’s friends asking them never to mention Clementine again, and it’s as though he never met her.

But erasing someone from the mind the mind is one thing; erasing someone from the heart is another. As Pascal told us, “The heart has its reasons that reason does not know.” Stan zaps the memories from Joel’s brain, while Joel, sound asleep under a helmet that looks like a stainless steel colander, realizes that he does not want to let Clementine go after all. There are memories he wants to keep. And then we are inside Joel’s brain (or were we there all along?), as he and Clementine race to find a place to hide, where the memories will be kept safe. Or are those new memories? And is that Clementine who is advising him on how to hold on to her or is it his memory of her?

Shot in a style that is both gritty and dreamy, the movie’s insinuatingly casual tone gently nudges the concepts along so that it almost begins to make more sense than real life. Of course Valentine’s Day would be Lacuna’s busiest time of year. And of course the technicians would be bored by erasing the memories that tear us apart, and so would spend their time getting high and looking through our stuff. And of course the best place to hide a memory you don’t want erased is….no, I’ll have to let you enjoy finding that one out for yourselves.

Carrey and Winslet risk making their characters as maddening to us as they are to each other and are ultimately as irresistable, too. Ruffalo, Wilkenson, and Dunst are impeccable, providing a bittersweet counterpoint of imperfection and longing. Director Michel Gondry matches Kaufman’s script with understated but brilliantly original images of memory and forgetting. As Joel and Clementine speak in front of bookshelves, the books become paler and paler, the titles and authors disappearing. Walls crumble and fall away. In his memory, Joel is first his adult, then his child self, then both. Time and space between locations flicker, overlap, disappear. Clementine’s ever-changing hair color becomes not just a symbol of her impulsivity and inconsistency but just another detail that slips out of reach as we try to remember who it is we care about.

Parents should know that the movie has extremely strong language and very explicit sexual references and situations. Characters drink and smoke cigarettes and marijuana.

Families who see this movie should talk about which memories they might think about erasing and which ones they will always make sure to keep. They might also like to look up the meaning of the word “Lacuna,” talk about some of their favorite quotations and read some of the brilliant poetry of Alexander Pope. The poem that gives this movie its title is about one of the most famous tragic love affairs in literature, Abelard and Eloisa (also called Heloise). Fans of Kaufman’s Being John Malkovich will remember that it features a puppet show based on their story.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Kaufman’s other films and some other stories about repressed men who become involved with free spirits, including Cabaret, Bringing Up Baby, and The Sterile Cuckoo. Another great romance about memory loss is Random Harvest.

Non baby-boomers who don’t recognize the reference to Huckleberry Hound can visit this website to learn something about the cartoon character. A nice counterpoint to the theme of the movie, Huckleberry Hound joined the French foreign legion to forget his girlfriend Clementine, but was reminded of her when he started singing the old folk song, which, by the way, itself ends with the singer forgetting all about his “lost and gone forever” Clementine as soon as he kisses her sister!

Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London

posted by rkumar
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:PG
Movie Release Date:2004

Frankie Muniz returns as junior secret agent Cody Banks in a moderately cute action comedy that will satisfy its target audience of 8-14-year-olds.

Cody is the superstar of the secret CIA training camp for spy kids. He helps the camp director escape in what he thinks is a simulation exercise. But it turns out that it was not a simulation. Diaz has escaped with the CIA’s secret mind control software. Cody has to go undercover as a member of an international classical music group for teens to track him down before he can gain control of the world’s leaders at a meeting in London.

Cody is assigned to work with Derek (Anthony Anderson). They are not very impressed with each other at first. Cody says, “I don’t need a handler,” and Derek responds, “And I don’t need a white Mini Me, but here we are.”

Cody gets an assortment of cool new gadgets, including a retainer wired to permit him to eavesdrop on the bad guys and a package of exploding Mentos mints. And he gets some unexpected help from Derek, who turns out to have some talent as a spy (and a chef), and from a pretty British undercover operative (Hannah Spearritt) as well. In addition to using the gadgets and tracking the bad guys, Cody has to pretend to play the clarinet. When he gets spotted by Diaz, he is used as the guinea pig for the mind control device implanted in his tooth.

The movie does not have anywhere near the imagination and wit of the Spy Kids movies, but it is a pleasantly diverting adventure for a too-often-neglected segment of the audience. Muniz has an appealing screen presence, and if Anthony Anderson is coasting a little bit with his usual shtick, the audience in the screening I attended did not seem to mind one bit. The action sequences are only fair, but there is one scene with a lot of exploding water containers that is a lot of fun.

Parents should know that the movie includes some mild schoolyard language (“screwed up,” “hell,” “haul some ass,” “sucks”) and some potty humor. There is action violence and peril, including a lot of punching and kicking and some explosions, and someone gets hit in the crotch, but no one really gets hurt. A character says that she is “pickled” from cold medicine. A character kisses a girl on the cheek. Some audience members may be uncomfortable when a bad guy tells his wife he is leaving her (she is not upset). A strength of the movie is the way that male and female characters of different races and cultures work together.

Families who see this movie should talk about what Diaz said to Cody: “Trust equals death. Trust nobody — including me.” Why did he say that? How do we know who deserves our trust? What do Cody and Derek learn from one another? Families might like to look at the CIA website, which explains how students can best prepare themselves for a career in the CIA: “Our best advice to you is to do your very best and strive for good grades. Fluency in a foreign language is a good addition. Above all, understand that your choices and behaviors now are a reflection of your personal integrity, character and patriotism.” And they might like to listen to the music played by Cody’s friends, including the Edwin Starr song “War (What is it Good For)” (later covered by Bruce Springsteen) and the William Tell Overture (better known as the theme song to The Lone Ranger). This website explains something about the G8 (formerly the G7), whose meeting in London is a key element of this movie.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the original Agent Cody Banks and the first two of the Spy Kids movies. They will also enjoy Camp Nowhere, about some kids who fool their parents into thinking they are summer camps with intensive programs for self-improvement when they are really just having fun.

Previous Posts

Trailer #2: The Box Trolls
Did I mention how excited I am about this?  Coming in September, from the people who did "Coraline" and "ParaNorman." [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDr_ZY37RFg[/youtube]

posted 12:12:22pm Apr. 16, 2014 | read full post »

Heaven is for Real
A movie like "Heaven is for Real" requires two different reviews, one for believers/fans of the 1.5 million-volume best-selling book, one for those who are unfamiliar with the book and whose views about faith and heaven and proof may differ from the evangelical beliefs of the Wesleyan pastor who wro

posted 6:00:04pm Apr. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Heaven is for Real: The Real Story
"Heaven is for Real" opens tomorrow, with Greg Kinnear as Todd Burpo, a Nebraska pastor whose four-year-old son says that he visited heaven during surgery for a ruptured appendix.  It is based on a best-selling book Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back,

posted 3:59:56pm Apr. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Movie Critic Ann Hornaday Comes Out as...a Christian
Washington Post movie critic Ann Hornaday wrote a brave and very moving essay about being a writer sustained by Christian faith and how that affects the way she approaches all films and especially those with religious themes. As a critic, my first obligation is to assess each of these films not as

posted 3:59:22pm Apr. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Trailer: Gone Girl with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike
Take a look at the very creepy trailer from director David Fincher for the upcoming "Gone Girl" based on the best-seller by Gillian Flynn. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esGn-xKFZdU[/youtube]

posted 2:33:38pm Apr. 15, 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.