Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

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

 

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence
Release Date:
May 2, 2014

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
August 22, 2014

 

Bears
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

When the Game Stands Tall
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic material, a scene of violence, and brief smoking
Release Date:
August 22, 2014

 

Need for Speed
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of reckless street racing, disturbing crash scenes, nudity and crude language
Release Date:
March 14, 2014

Underclassman

posted by rkumar
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2005

Apparently, when Nick Cannon was growing up, he dreamed of being Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop. It seems he also wanted to be Jon Cryer in Hiding Out. So, when he got a chance to produce a feature film for himself, he combined the two and came up with “The Underclassman.”

From Beverly Hills Cop we have the opening sequence. Bust goes wrong, cover gets blown, damage gets done, and back at the station the choleric police chief yells about how our hero has to learn to follow the rules and start respecting authority. And they even throw in a father who had a distinguished record as a cop before he died, so our hero has a daunting standard to live up to and an empty place to fill. (Do you think young Nick Cannon might have been influenced by, say, a couple of Tom Cruise movies like Top Gun or A Few Good Men?)

Then a kid at a posh private school is found dead and the police need an officer who can go undercover as a student, so Tracey (Cannon) gets one more chance. Now we move into Hiding Out mode, as Tracy enrolls as a senior to see if he can find out what happened, and, oh yes, possibly to see if he can finish out his senior year and qualify for a high school diploma to replace that G.E.D.

Tracey’s culture-clash encounters with the rich kids at the school are more race-related than age- or class-related. While he is trying to become best friends with the school’s alpha male and getting acquainted with a pretty Spanish teacher (Roselyn Sanchez) who agrees to some private lessons, he finds time for assorted wisecracks and shoot-outs. It’s straight off the assembly line with no surprises, but pleasantly entertaining thanks to Cannon’s being almost as charming as he thinks he is.

Parents should know that the movie has a good deal of violence, including shoot-outs. Characters are injured and killed. There is some strong and crude language, including jokes about herpes and potty humor. The movie includes teen drinking and illegal drugs. A drug is given to a teenager without his knowledge or consent.

Families who see this movie should talk about why it was hard for Tracey to take himself and other people seriously. What was the most important thing he learned from his experience at the school?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Hiding Out and Never Been Kissed.

The Constant Gardener

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

Director Fernando Meirelles (City of God) turns his Brazilian –cinematic—jujitsu on an emotionally gnarled book by England’s spy king, John LeCarré, with an equatorial glare that dares the audience to keep up with characters bathed in every shade of black, white and gray. A movie this ambitious will win over some audiences, attracted by fine acting and stylized directing, but will lose others in its necessary but lengthy flashbacks and its melancholy. While the end is a bitter pill to swallow, the message of redemption through love sweetens the taste.

Within the first minutes, Tessa (Rachel Wiesz), impassioned young wife of Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes), is dead. Under the harsh Kenyan sun, mid-level British diplomat Justin must unravel the motive for her murder as well as her reasons for not confiding in him, his guilt for having not protected her, and his horror at having faltered in his faith in her. His search takes him to England, to Berlin, to Sudan, to Kenya’s wilds, via flashbacks and breakdowns, but ultimately it takes him back to Tessa once he can at last understand the events that tore her from him.

Some audiences might groan at the first signs of a pharmaceutical conspiracy being the cause of Tessa’s death –what movie hasn’t had a heartless, profit-minded beast of a company as the two-dimensional baddie of late?—but that catalyst merely serves as a means to an end. It is in the characters, individual conundrums, where the story takes place and Kenya is a scene-stealing diva, as enigmatic as the best of the human actors. Meirelles shoots the story in that grainy, jerky style that favors harshly-lit honesty over romantic niceties. Those looking for another windswept Fiennes-in-Africa love affair of the “English Patient” variety should go elsewhere. The camera lingers instead on crowded shantytowns punctuated by drifts of garbage, on bodies at the morgue, on a crowded market where serpentine lines wait for an AIDS test.

Fiennes as Justin does an excellent job displaying a vast range of emotions through the filter of self-contained understatement, the constant –i.e. loyal—gardener of title. With fine performances by Danny Huston, Hubert Koundé, Richard McCabe, and Bill Nighy, there is no dearth of noteworthy acting on the screen and it is in the small personal skirmishes that the broader conflicts of the film are taking place.

Meirelles is hungry behind the camera, eager to tell the story and happy to turn the lens toward the unusual beauty of Kenya. His enthusiasm, paired with a superb cast, elevates this movie above a typical adventure/romance, but his style –showing the country and the characters warts and all—will leave some audiences longing for a two-dimensional hero to cheer rather than committing to this two-plus hour elegy.

Parents should be aware that this movie is for mature audiences for its themes as well as for its brutality. On-screen characters are killed, chased, beaten, shot and poisoned. There are references to rape, torture, murder, kidnap and theft. There is non-sexual nudity and reference to adultery, sexual favors, AIDS, homosexuality, teenage motherhood. Many scenes depict poverty and related subjects such as thievery, graft, hardship and the perceived low cost of human life. Characters are in peril, whether from rampaging bandits, European thugs, sophisticated business types or their own jealousies. Characters drink and smoke socially. Decisions people make about their personal loyalties, love and passion for justice cause a domino effect, rippling through the lives of those all around.

Families who see this movie should talk about the moral triumphs and failings each character evinces. Which characteristics do you admire? Tessa is the snowball that sets in motion what follows but why must Justin follow the course that he does, especially by the Lake?

Families looking for more of LeCarré’s textured and flawed characters will enjoy Cold War classics “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and “Smiley’s People”. While easier to find in book form, a search for the BBC miniseries adaptations is well worth the effort as they star one of Britain’s great actors, Alec Guinness, as Smiley, the unassuming mastermind for British counter-espionage.

Many, including “Third Man” author Graham Greene, have called LeCarré’s “The Spy who came in from the Cold” the greatest spy book ever written and some families may wish to watch Richard Burton turn in a superb performance as the title character, a disillusioned double agent, in Martin Ritt’s 1965 adaptation.

For those who enjoy Meirelles fresh if frenetic pace behind the camera, “City of God” is intensely brutal but lyric in scope. It garnered four Academy Award nominations for his vibrant look at characters growing up in a Brazilian favela, or slum.

Thanks to guest critic AME.

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

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

This muddled mess wants to be three things at once and fails at all of them. It wants to be a horror movie, a courtroom drama, and and inspiring spiritual statement, but each element detracts from the others and the end result is both overheated and cheesy, narratively weak and theologically suspect.

The framework of the story is the criminal trial of a priest. The prosecutor (Campbell Scott) says that Emily Rose died because she had an illness that should have been treated medically, but her family and their priest treated it not as illness but as possession. The defense says that medical treatment had failed and that exorcism was a legitimate approach to Emily Rose’s condition. What is clear is that both attempts to help her were unsuccessful and that the jury will have to decide who — if anyone — is responsible.

Defense attorney Erin Bruner (Laura Linney)is an agnostic who does not know or care whether Emily Rose was possessed. She takes the case because it means becoming a name partner — as long as she does what the archdiocese, which is paying the bills, directs. They do not want the defendant, Father Moore (Tom Wilkinson) to take the stand. The church leaders are hoping to downplay the question of the legitimacy of exorcism.

But Father Moore is the client, and telling Emily Rose’s story is what matters to him, much more than the verdict. Erin agrees to give him that opportunity.

We see the story unfold as Erin listens to Moore. Emily (Jennifer Carpenter) was a devout, affectionate girl whose problems began just after she entered college. She saw terrifying visions and was seized by convulsive and paralyzing spasms. The doctor at the school diagnosed her as epileptic. But she discontinued the prescribed medication and turned to her family’s priest for help instead.

Erin worries that it will be impossible to rebut the medical testimony. Father Moore warns her that dark forces are aligned against them. But there seem to be forces on their side as well. Are these coincidences or portents? Erin’s beliefs — and lack of belief — seem to be on trial as well.

There are some sincere and committed performances here, and Shohreh Aghdashloo (of The House of Sand and Fog stands out as an expert witness who suggests that the medical treatment itself may have interefered with the exorcism.

The flashbacks are standard horror movie stuff, disturbing images (a classmate’s eyes turn to pools of splling ink) and boo-surprises. The courtroom scenes are melodramatic, with too many objections by counsel and too many last-minute “but your honor, this evidence/this witness just became available!” moments, plus one development that is, even within the terms of this movie, completely over the top. But what is unforgiveably manipulative is a third-act attempt to justify this mess with an transcendent spiritual connection that fails as a matter of narrative and theology. Viewers may decide that the exorcism they need is to expunge this from their memories.

Parents should know that this is a disturbing film with graphic and grotesque images and jump-out-at-you scary surprises. There is some graphic violence include a shocking car accident. Characters drink, including drinking in response to stress. The theme may be unsettling for some viewers.

Families who see this movie should talk about how we evaluate different perspectives on the same facts — whether Emily’s symptoms are considered medical, psychological, or spiritual. They may want to talk about the way their own faith tradition would approach these issues. Should the priest or the family or Emily have done something differently? They might also want to learn more about exorcism or find out more about the German girl whose story inspired the film.

Families who appreciate this movie will also like The Exorcist (very scary and disturbing).

Everything Is Illuminated

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

If a movie has two guys who could not be more different going on a difficult journey and one of them has a funny accent, a quirky dog, and a grumpy grandfather, you might expect slapstick and confrontations and misunderstandings and maybe some redemption, and you’d be right. But the last thing you might expect is grace, and yet somehow first-time writer-director Liev Shreiber, adapting Jonathan Safran Foer’s acclaimed book, achieves, with breathtaking delicacy and tenderness.

Jonathan (the main character has the name of the novel’s author), played by Elijah Wood, is a very quiet young man who is fixated on holding on to the past. Literally. He takes and preserves and labels everything he can hold on to, covering a wall with his artifacts and treasures as though he was a police detective trying to solve a complicated murder case. Or someone trying to assemble an intricate jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the box as a guide. Jonathan wears suit and tie and his eyes seem to disappear behind big round glasses. He is a vegetarian.

Jonathan has arranged for a guide for a trip to Ukraine with Heritage Tours, specializing in helping American Jews find their roots. But Heritage Tours is just Alex (Eugene Hutz), his father, his grandfather, and their dog. And Alex has no expertise or interest in the Jewish heritage or any other history of Ukraine or indeed in Ukraine at all. His family has contempt for the rich Americans who try to understand themselves better by coming to Ukraine, but they are happy to profit from what they see as something between folly and insanity.

Alex is interested only in the future, and the only culture he cares about is American. He dresses like a rapper and goes clubbing. But he’s a little out of date, explaining that “I dig Negroes, particularly Michael Jackson.” He has never heard of vegetarians and, when it is explained to him, he still can’t quite grasp it.

The driver is the grandfather, who insists that he cannot see, and brings along a “seeing-eye” dog named “Sammy Davis Junior Junior.” Alex is translator and guide.

One of Jonathan’s cherished artifacts is an insect preserved in amber, and that image resonates with much of that unfolds. Jonathan, the quiet, buttoned-down young man who looks like his tie stays pulled tightly around his neck even when he sleeps and showers, who documents and labels and researches as a way of feeling in control, wants to find the woman who, according to family lore, protected his late grandfather from the Nazis. But that history, that story, that memory, even the town where it happened all seem to have evaporated. The town is not on any map and no one they meet has heard of it. Is Jonathan, so dedicated to the kinds of facts he can pin to his wall, chasing a myth?

The four travelers (including SD Jr. Jr.) meet a woman who is even more devoted to historical artifacts than Jonathan. She is, herself, all but preserved in amber, the reponsitory of a heavy history. The stories she tells transform the way Jonathan, Alex, and the grandfather see their own history and the way they see themselves. Characters learn to embrace history and to let it go to move on into the future.

Shreiber is a distinguished actor in material ranging from Shakespeare to the Scream series and he understands how to get and convey sensitive and complex performances from his performers. Wood (best known for the Lord of the Rings trilogy) shows us that underneath the shy and proper exterior, Jonathan is a person of depth and humor. And newcomer (and Ukrainian-born) Eugene Hutz shows us that underneath the bravado and bizarre malapropisms, Alex has some hope and some principles. Theirs is a journey well worth taking.

Parents should know that this movie has references to (mostly offscreen) violence, including Holocaust-related genocide. A young man is punched by his father and grandfather. (Spoiler alert) A character commits suicide. Characters drink and smoke and use some crude language, including sexual references and ethnic insults. A strength of the movie is its exploration of the way relationships can transcend cultural differences and the importance of understanding our differences and similarities.

Families who see this movie should talk about how Jonathan and Alex were alike and how they were different. Why was Jonathan so interested in the past and Alex so uninterested? How does that relate to Jonathan’s being so reserved and Alex’s being so outgoing? How were the two grandfathers alike in the way they treated the past?

Families who appreciate this movie will also appreciate Schindler’s List, Life is Beautiful, Shoah, The Diary of Anne Frank, Paperclips, and The Nasty Girl. They should also visit The United States Holocaust Museum, especially the collection of personal histories.

Previous Posts

Taylor Swift Shakes it Off
Taylor Swift, who can be seen in "The Giver," debuts her first pop album with this adorable video. [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/nfWlot6h_JM" frameborder="0"] There have been some online discussions about whether Swift is racially insensitive or even racist.  T

posted 3:54:09pm Aug. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Yes, Another "Happy" Video, But You Will Love This One, I Promise
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3KSKS3TTbc#t=239[/youtube] Produced by a team of Deaf campers & staff from Deaf Film Camp 2014 at Camp Mark Seven.

posted 11:35:09am Aug. 22, 2014 | read full post »

An R Rating for Being Gay?
"Love is Strange," a tender, beautifully written and performed love story about a three decade relationship, stars John Lithgow and Alfred Molina.  The MPAA has given the movie an R rating even though there is nothing in the film that normally triggers an R in the categories of language, violence,

posted 10:00:58am Aug. 22, 2014 | read full post »

If I Stay
Hamlet asked it best. "To be, or not to be: That is the question." We struggle through, worrying about whether someone likes us or whether we will be accepted at the school of our choice

posted 6:00:09pm Aug. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
If you want to not just see but hear an eyeball being pulverized, then see "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For."  If you want to see and hear it in the company of an audience who thinks that's

posted 5:59:27pm Aug. 21, 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.