Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Lucy
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R For strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality
Release Date:
July 25, 2014

 

Noah
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content
Release Date:
March 28, 2014

And So It Goes
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some sexual references and drug elements
Release Date:
July 25, 2014

 

Finding Vivian Maier
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
April 11, 2014

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

 

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

Constantine

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

Take a 1930′s movie detective, a guy who shoots straight and talks tough. You know, the kind of guy who may have a soft spot for a dame in a jam but that doesn’t necessarily mean he believes what she tells him. The kind of who always seems to be walking down a rain-soaked street on a moonless night, smoking a cigarette.

Put him in today’s Los Angeles. So he has lung cancer from all that smoking and a bit of a punk-ish edge. And this detective has been to hell and back — literally.

John Constantine (Keanu Reeves), originally a character in the graphic novel series, “Hellblazer,” is tracking targets from another plane. It seems that long, long ago God and the devil made a bet about humans. Angels and demons can attempt to influence the outcome but they must stay in their own plane, except, apparently, for a sort of everything-goes, supernatural version of Casablanca’s Rick’s Cafe Americain, complete with an “I stick my neck out for nobody” nightclub proprieter named Midnite (the fabulous Djimon Hounsou, who lights up every scene he is in, which is not enough).

Constantine’s job is to send the devils and demons back to hell.

There is a Raiders of the Lost Ark-ish artifact that is uncovered and starts making trouble right from the yow-inducing beginning. Then we get to see Constantine in action at an The Exorcist-style confrontation with a demon that has taken over the body of a young woman. Then a policewoman named Angela — do you think that name could mean something? — (Rachel Weisz) goes to confession and then has a shocking dream in which she jumps or falls from the top of a tall building. But it isn’t about her; it is about her identical twin sister, Isabel (which means “pledged to God,” by the way). And the dream is true.

All of this comes together in some way or other, but forget about all that; this movie is all about the visuals and the attitude, and both are are cool and striking, reflecting its comic book origins and music video sensibilities. Highlights include a battle with a rock star-like demon (played by real-life rock star Gavin Rossdale) in a sleek corporate boardroom, a sort of elevator to hell through immersion in water, and swarming CGI creatures and insects. Tilda Swinton as a furious Gabriel and Peter Stormare as Satan are nicely twisted but the usually-terrific Pruitt Taylor Vince and Shia LaBeouf have little to do but whine and nag.

The film plays with some fundamental philosophical and theological puzzles, but the concepts and the language are all sizzle, no steak. That’s more that can be said for the relationship between Reeves and Weisz. He achieves a nicely cool vibe somewhere between zen and exhaustion, but that never connects with Weisz’s earnestness and sense of loss.

Parents should know that the movie has extensive, intense, and graphic peril and violence, disturbing images, and suicides. Chracters are injured and killed. There is some strong language, though less than in many R-rated movies. Characters drink, and a character is a chain smoker and is dying of lung cancer. Some viewers may be concerned about the portrayal of theological concepts, clergy members, angels, and demons. Some viewers may be offended by the portrayal of the demonically possessed Mexican characters.

Families who see this movie should talk about their own notions of heaven and hell and free will. What matters most to John? To Angela? To Midnite?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy comic book movies like X-Men and Hell-Boy and other movies with striking visual effects like What Dreams May Come and The Cell. They may also enjoy Kevin Smith’s very controversial Dogma, a satiric take on the idea of angels and demons in the modern day with a couple of intriguing parallels to this film.

Because of Winn-Dixie

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

This story of a girl, a dog, and the lessons they teach a small southern town is appealing but a bit heavy-handed, starting right at the beginning. It leads off with the sugary cliche trifecta: voice-over narration telling us how much has changed since the days we are about to hear the story of, a syrupy sentimental song, and a child with big, thoughtful, eyes telling God she wants a friend and that someday she’d like to see her mother again.

It also has corne pone character names like “Sweetie Pie” and “Dunlap Dewberry” and an uncertain performance by Annasophia Robb in the lead as Opal. But strong appearances by top talent in the adult roles and graceful evocation of a gently rural community by director Wayne Wang keep it for the most part more sweet than sugary.

Opal and her father have just moved to Naomi, Florida where he is the minister for a church so tiny that the congregants assemble on folding chairs set up in a convenience store. “Nothing wrong with making church more convenient,” good-naturedly says the Preacher (Jeff Daniels).

But the Preacher is worried and distracted. When Opal goes to the grocery store she finds a large and smelly stray dog causing chaos. She impulsively claims him as hers, naming him Winn-Dixie after the store where she first saw him.

Her father says no. And the landlord says “NO!” But Winn-Dixie has his own ideas and he wants to stay with Opal. He also wants to help her make some new friends.

Before too long, Opal has a job working for the shy, guitar-playing Otis (musician Dave Matthews) at the local pet store so that she can earn the money to buy Winn-Dixie a collar. The town librarian (Eva Marie Saint) and a reclusive women reputed to be a witch (Cecily Tyson) both turn out to be great friends and wonderful story-tellers. With the help of Winn-Dixie, Opal also gets to know a girl she thought was too young and a girl her own age she thought was unfriendly, even with twin boys she thought did not like her.

As Opal becomes more confident, she finds the courage to ask the Preacher about her mother. Because of Winn-Dixie, she has developed the maturity to begin to understand the answers. And because of Winn-Dixie, the small town of Naomi becomes once again a place where people know each other’s sorrows and reach out to each other.

The best moments here are not the revelations or the coming-of-age turning points or the dog-causes-trouble slapstick but the small, quiet scenes of people connecting to each other. The film is gently touching when Opal tells the librarian and the “witch” that she wants to hear their stories and then listens attentively and when Otis plays his guitar for the animals. Those are the moments that truly convey the magic of Winn-Dixie.

Parents should know that the movie has brief mild swearing, some rude schoolyard insults, and brief poop humor. Characters refer to alcoholism, parental desertion, time spent in jail, and the (offscreen) death of a character’s sibling.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Winn-Dixie was so important to Opal. They should also discuss the importance of the way Opal listens to the stories Miss Franny and Gloria tell her. If you had to choose ten things to describe each member of the family, what would they be? What do you think of Gloria’s way of recognizing her mistakes? Why did Opal worry that it was her fault that her mother left? Why was it important that the candy was sweet and sad? Do the people in your community know each other’s sorrows? How do you learn what your one important thing is?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Fly Away Home, also with Daniels, and Where the Heart Is.

Diary of a Mad Black Woman

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

Three separate movies collide in this uneven but heartfelt drama of a woman done wrong who has to learn to rely on herself for the first time. The first movie is a soapy, syrupy, over-the-top “women suffering in fabulous clothes” drama, filled with welling eyes and swelling music, somewhere on the scale between Douglas Sirk (All That Heaven Allows) and the Lifetime Channel. The second movie is an over-the top revenge fantasy with scenes rivaling grand guignol like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?. And the third is an over-the-top slapstick routine with a drag performance that makes Flip Wilson’s Geraldine look like Audrey Hepburn.

Helen (Kimberly Elise) understands that her wealthy husband Charles (Steve Harris) is all about surfaces; she is less aware of that quality in herself. He wins a prestigious attorney-of-the-year award and thanks her from the podium. When they are alone, however, he is cruel, rejecting her offer of a romantic evening and reminding her that he owns everything and she has nothing. Charles has cut her off from everyone and kept her inside the ostentatiously luxurious mansion like a princess in a tower.

Charles hires a truck to load Helen’s things and move her out of the house so that his mistress and their children can move in. Helen has nowhere to go. The handsome and sympathetic truck driver, Orlando (Shemar Moore), tries to help, but Helen is so angry and terrified she cannot accept it. Finally, she goes to her outspoken but generous-hearted grandmother, Madea, played by writer/producer Tyler Perry. Perry also plays Madea’s salty brother-in-law and Helen’s saintly cousin Brian.

Helen has to deconstruct her life and rebuild from the inside out. She gets a job as a waitress and visits her mother (Cecily Tyson) in a nursing home. She is at first angry with Orlando, then too proud to accept his help and unable to believe that any man could be good to her, but finally ready to give and accept love. Then Charles comes back into her life. This time he needs her. Helen has to decide what she wants and who she is.

But the movie never decides what it wants and what it is. It tries to have it both ways, asking us to root for Helen when she is a pious victim and a, well, “mad black woman.” It teeters unsteadily between crude humor and soulful faith.

Elise is a lovely actress who looks exquisite as she suffers and she makes the most of the soapy melodrama. Moore is an appealing knight in shining armor and Tyson, as always, adds some class. Perry’s wild caricature of a drag performance as Madea seems to be from an entirely different movie. If the movie had been written by white people, the portrayal would have been called racist, sexist, and just plain embarrassing. Perry’s old man is a one-joke dud, but his role as Brian shows some presence and conviction. One-note characters like the crack addict and the drug dealer probably worked better on stage but just seem cardboard-y on screen. Helen’s next diary entry just might be to wish for a better script.

Parents should know that the movie includes painful confrontations, violence (including shooting and assault), drinking, drug use, and sexual references. One strength of the movie is its unabashed portrayal of religious conviction as a mainstay for believers. Another is its depiction of the careful consideration and commitment that should be involved in deciding when to become sexually involved. The movie also benefits from its portrayal of strong and devoted women and African-American characters.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Helen was willing to give up so much of herself for Charles.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Waiting to Exhale and the novels of E. Lynn Harris. Perry’s other Madea plays are available on video. Families may also appreciate some other women-learning-to-get-over-the-loss-of-a-man-and-finding-themselves movies like Shoot the Moon, An Unmarried Woman, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, and Sirk’s “suffering women in beautiful clothes” movies like Imitation of Life.

Hitch

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

“Is Hitch a noun or a verb?” Sarah (Eva Mendes) asks Alex “Hitch” Hitchens (Will Smith). “It depends,” he answers. It’s actually a little of both. Hitch is a “date doctor,” a sort of Straight Eye for the Straight Guy who advises men on how to appeal to the women of their dreams. Hitch as in “stick with him if you want to get hitched.”

He tells his clients that “any man has the chance to sweep a woman off her feet. You just need the right broom.” He advises them on everything from the first look (“Sixty percent of all human communication is non-verbal. Thirty percent is your tone.”) to the first kiss (he advises the men to lean in ninety percent of the way and let her come that last ten percent toward him). He gives them tips on grooming and attire. And he reminds them to listen and respond, to let the women know really get to know them — just maybe not all at once.

Hitch has it all figured out — for other guys. His heart was broken back in college and he’s never risked it again.

And in the other corner, ladies and gentlemen, we have Sarah, a gossip columnist who is cynical about love.

Hitch is advising a nebbishy accountant (Kevin James) who is in love with a beautiful heiress (Amber Valetta). This is the very same heiress whose love life is documented on a daily basis by Sarah, who cannot seem to understand this new relationship. Meanwhile, not knowing what his connection is to the the beast to the heiress’ beauty, Sarah goes on two dates with Hitch, both of which develop serious, uh, hitches along the way.

It’s all familiar romantic comedy territory — evasions, followed by complications, humiliations, the course of true love’s not running smoothly, and then…running a bit more smoothly. And then not smoothly again.

Kevin James is wonderfully funny and just as wonderfully sweet. His joyously dorky dance is sublime, but so is the shyly happy look on his face when he hands the heiress a pen, almost overcome by the thrill of just touching something she will use.

The movie’s biggest asset is Smith, who has everything it takes to be a romantic comedy superstar. He has the timing of an atomic clock and can handle all kinds of comedy — physical and verbal, high and low, along with a dazzling smile and the presence and conviction to carry off the tender moments, too. Plus, no one is better at talking to the camera than he is. Mendes never makes the character sparkle (as she did in Stuck on You) or sizzle (as she did in Out of Time), but that is the fault of the script, which leaves promising set-ups unfinished to pursue ideas that are far less interesting or appealing, especially a joke(?) about a serial killer. If it does not knock it out of the park, it at least qualifies as a triple, a pleasant date movie that delivers several laughs and — harder to find these days — a couple of satisfied smiles.

Parents should know that some of the material in this movie is on the R-edge of a PG-13 with some strong language (one f-word), alcohol (including drinking as a response to a bad day), and sexual situations and references. But parents should also know that this movie comes down very strongly on the side of romance. It takes kissing very seriously. A man and woman who have a one-night stand are both very unhappy with the outcome (for different reasons). There is a character who sexually exploits women whose behavior is portrayed as reprehensible. The focus of this movie is on romance and lasting love. Another strength of the movie is its color-blind casting, with diverse characters sharing friendships and romantic relationships.

Families who see this movie should talk about how it can be nerve-wracking to try to make a good impression on the opposite sex, especially someone who seems very desirable. What do you think of Hitch’s rules and advice? They should talk about the idea that you should “Begin each day as if it were on purpose.” What does it mean to be “all about the short game?”

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy other romantic comedies like Barefoot in the Park, You’ve Got Mail, and French Kiss.

Previous Posts

Interview: Joseph Nasser of "Amber Alert: Terror on the Highway"
Reserve Police Officer Joseph Nasser produced Amber Alert: Terror on the Highway to help raise awareness of the Amber Alert system. It stars Tom Berenger as a man on the edge, making a dead rush for Mexico and kidnapping two young girls along the way. He is hotly pursued by police chief Martha Geig

posted 8:00:33am Jul. 28, 2014 | read full post »

"Guardian of the Galaxy's" Awesome Mixtape
One of the many pleasures of "Guardians of the Galaxy," opening this week, is the soundtrack featuring some 70's classics from an "Awesome Mixtape" played by Peter "Star Lord" Quill (Chris Pratt).  Here are some of the highlights. "Hooked on a Feeling" by Blue Swede [youtube]http://www.youtub

posted 8:00:21am Jul. 27, 2014 | read full post »

Comic-Con 2014: Day 2
Day 2 of Comic-Con included: an interview with "Sharknado" and "Sharknado 2" screenwriter Thunder Levin, a buggy lunch with Boxtrolls, press events with the directors and casts of four films, and appearing on the Rotten Tomatoes panel, where each attendee was given a paddle with a ripe tomato on on

posted 10:04:47pm Jul. 26, 2014 | read full post »

Thank You! This Site is 19 Years Old This Week!
It seems like yesterday, but it was 19 years ago this week that I first began writing reviews online as The Movie Mom®.  Anyone remember Prodigy?  The first appearance of my website was via the Sears-owned online service, so long ago it does not even turn up in Wayback searches.  At the time, we

posted 3:59:49pm Jul. 26, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Dan Cohen of "Alive Inside"
Dan Cohen is the gifted and passionately committed man who transforms the lives of people with dementia and other severely debilitating diseases.  He is featured in the documentary "Alive Inside." He is the founder of Music and Memory, which provides resources to help bring these programs to peopl

posted 8:00:36am Jul. 26, 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.