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Fading Gigolo
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some sexual content, language and brief nudity
Release Date:
April 19, 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

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

 

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

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

Winged Migration

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2003

When was the last time you saw a movie where the audience cheered for characters who accomplished amazing feats without ever exposing a mid-rift or flexing a dramatic muscle, and never once relied upon special effects to gild their achievements? Most of us would be hard-pressed to come up with a handful of examples, much less a single movie where those characters are birds. In this 85 minute feast for the eyes, you are treated to breathtaking footage and the adventures of thousands of avian protagonists as they face adversity on their travels across the globe. “Winged Migration” is as pretty and light as a feather on the wind; never stopping long enough to get mired down in detail, while always keeping your imagination on the wing.

The movie, as the name would suggest, is about migrations although a fair share of the footage is of fuzzy nestlings and quirky mating dances. The camera spends so much time in the air that you feel wind-blown and tired from the work necessary in flying across continents and oceans. When several geese hitch a ride on a ship’s deck during a storm in the middle of a sea, the audience breaths a collective sigh of relief and it is, perhaps, our connection to the birds that is the most interesting achievement of the movie. That we are flesh and they are fowl is irrelevant as they pursue lives as fragile and mesmerizing as any caught on film.

For ornithologists or those who watch an inordinate amount of animal shows, this movie might seem oddly naked, devoid as it is of any real data or facts. Instead of David Attenborough’s breathy insights to avian habits, “Winged Migration” lets the birds honk, squawk, trill and sing for themselves. We are not told why the Clark’s Grebe pops up on top of the water to dash around like a feathered water skier or how the Greater Sage Grouse makes those popping sounds with its inflated chest. Director Jacques Perrin, whose documentary “Microcosmos” (1996) swept the audience into the world of insects, again prefers beautifully filmed vignettes of life with minimal human interjections.

Lovely as it is, there are two aspects of this movie that do not fly; the soundtrack and the sporadic commentary by Perrin. The second-rate New Age soundtrack makes you long for those moments where the only music is beating wings and the raucous honks of our feathered friends. Perrin, who sounds like a bored Jacques Cousteau, provides no insights into the birds when he does feel moved to speak, but plenty of penny ante philosophy which does not do justice to the heroic journeys on-screen.

The film’s direction seems without reason at times, drifting between continents and species without that instinctual compass so vaunted in its subjects. However, there were no complaints from an audience willing to glide on its journey from the African White Pelican to Antarctica’s Rock-hopper Penguins to the flamboyant characters of an Amazon jungle. If you dream of flying to far-off lands but do not want to dwell on reason or details, then “Winged Migration” might be the gust of wind to take you there.

Parents should know that the birds face peril on land and on the wing. Several are shot, a couple of them are caged, and some are preyed upon by other birds. A Red-Breasted Goose flounders in an oil refinery’s effluent and is left behind by the flock in one scene while in another it is implied that a penguin chick is eaten by a scavenger. Young children might be disturbed by the inability of an injured Tern to escape from attacking crabs.

Families who see this movie might wish to count each scene where a bird is helped or hindered by humans or something human-built. Is the help or hindrance intended? What could your family do that might make an impact on the lives of birds?

Families who enjoy this movie should see “Microcosmos” (1996), Perrin’s loving look at the insect world. Those looking for adding detail and depth to their bird knowledge might be interested in the ten part series, “The Life of Birds” (1998), which is narrated by David Attenborough and aired on PBS in 1999. For those looking for story and adventure featuring geese on the wing, “Fly Away Home” (1996) is a lovely little movie.

Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2003

This movie begins with the birth of one of the characters — from the baby’s point of view. He begins to emerge, then he bites the doctor and goes back inside. If he had to watch this movie, he would have stayed there.

No one expects greatness from a movie called “Dumb and Dumberer.” It would be dumb, dumberer, and dumberest to expect much by way of humor or plot or character or energy. Even so, this manages to be disappointing.

So, those who fondly remember the original “Dumb and Dumber,” starring Jeff Daniels and Jim Carrey should watch it again rather than sit through this lame prequel, showing Harry and Lloyd in high school back in the 1980′s.

The film tweaks the 80′s as a kind of dumb and dumberer decade, with 80′s relics like acid washed jeans, Vanilla Ice, Devo, and Bob Saget (whose part consists of screaming the same four-letter word over and over). There are some good moments with always-terrific Eugene Levy as the corrupt principal who wants to embezzle the money that is supposed to go to the special needs class so he can buy a condo in Hawaii. SNL’s Cheri Oteri has some funny blank looks as his game but addled lunch lady co-conspirator. But the only newcomer whose career will probably survive this movie is Eric Christian Olson, as Lloyd (the character played by Carey in the original). Olson does not imitate Carey; he more or less channels his physical elasticity and dumb-but-thinks-he’s-got-it-all-figured-out look, and he adds his own goofy sweetness, creating a real presence in the midst of what is otherwise close to a complete waste of time.

Parents should know that in addition to being dumberest, this movie has strong language and raunchy double entendres that 14-year-olds will probably find hilarious. A melted chocolate bar turns into an extended graphic excrement joke that is repeated later with mud. There is some stereotyping about a foreign exchange student, though she turns the tables on those who make assumptions about her.

Families who see this movie should talk about how “special needs” kids are treated in school.

There have been wonderful, classic comedies about people who were not very smart. But this isn’t one. Those that are include the films of Laurel and Hardy and even the Three Stooges. Families who enjoy this movie should take a look at “Big Business” or “Two Tars” to see how geniuses can make brilliant comedy out of simple-mindedness.

Hollywood Homicide

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2003

A lot of talented people tried very hard to make this movie work, but it just doesn’t make it. It has an appealing premise: with odd-couple detectives assigned to investigate the murder of a rap group. And it has a first-class cast, with Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett as the cops, Bruce Greenwood and Isaiah Washington as the bad guys, and guest appearances by music stars from Gladys Knight and Smokey Robinson to Dwight Yoakam and rappers Vyshonne Miller, Kurupt, and Master P. There is some sharp dialogue and some sly satire about tinseltown and a couple of gags work well. But mostly, it is a mess.

Ford plays Joe Gavilan, a seen-it-all cop with three ex-wives and a sideline in real estate. His financial position is so precarious that he will stop in the middle of an interrogation to pitch a deal. Hartnett is K.C., the partner who literally can’t shoot straight. Another thing he can’t keep straight is the names of the girls in the yoga class he teaches, who are constantly either sighing over him or making passes at him. But what K.C. really wants to do is act. When a rap group is gunned down at a nightclub, Joe and K.C. have to find the killers despite constant distractions from their other careers and from a pending internal affairs investigation by Macko (Bruce Greenwood), a cop who is very eager to pin something on Joe.

Ford’s loose, ego-free, and witty performance is almost worth the price of admission. He can even give a snap to a line like, “If I take my gingko I can remember where I left my Viagra.” There are some shrewd takes on the city where everyone, even suspects and witnesses, has headshots or a script proposal on hand at all times.

But this is a would-be action comedy and most of the action is muddled and most of the comedy is tired. Come to think of it, the action is tired and the comedy is muddled, too. It is impossible to believe that these tough cops could be befuddled by a cell phone ringing througout an interrogation. There is an interminable chase scene near the end that uselessly piles vehicle on vehicle, most unfortunately (and un-funnily) leaving Ford teetering on a girl’s bicycle and Harnett driving a weeping mother and children.

The murders are not interesting and the bad guys are not compelling. And there are way too many coincidences. Even though the story is supposed to take place in Los Angeles, quite a large city by any measure, everyone keeps running into everyone else and it turns out that the same characters are all connected to every major event in each other’s lives.

Parents should know that the movie has some strong language and some sexual references and situations. K.C. has casual sex with several women, and Joe and a lady friend have a very sensual encounter. Characters drink; Joe drinks too much. There is a lot of action violence, some graphic, including a grisly autopsy scene in the morgue.

Families who see this movie should talk about why so many people in this movie want to change their careers.

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy “Beverly Hills Cop” and “48 Hours.” They might enjoy the “Lethal Weapon” series as well.

Rugrats Go Wild

posted by rkumar
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Preschool
Movie Release Date:2003

The two worlds of the popular Klasky/Csupo Nickelodeon series come together when the Rugrats get shipwrecked on a deserted island and meet up with the Wild Thornberrys.

That means that we’re in for another mildly pleasant mix of malapropisms and pop culture references, diaper humor, snippets of rock classics, a little adventure, and a message about cooperation, taking care of each other, and the importance of family. It is pleasant for the kids and not too painful for their parents.

A couple of additions take this up a level from the television series. The first is the “Odorama” scratch and sniff card kids can pick up. When numbers appear in the corner of the screen, kids are directed by glow-in-the dark numbers on the card to scratch the spots to smell, adding a certain vivid piquance to scenes that feature jam, root beer, peanut butter, and stinky feet (that one is really vivid).

The second is Bruce Willis, who provides the voice of the Rugrats’ dog Spike when he meets up with Eliza Thornberry, who can talk to animals. Willis adds enormous charm and energy to the story, and as soon as he is on board, we know that any day-saving that needs to be done will be in good hands.

Parents should know that the movie has a lot of potty humor and gross jokes involving dog snot, bird poop, and barfing. We see some bare baby tushes. Characters are in peril but it is never really scary. A character who is bonked on the head loses his memory and thinks he is a child, which may be confusing or disturbing to some children. Parents may want to talk to children about some of the behavior of the characters to make sure that kids know they should not imitate what they see.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Angelica wants so badly to be able to boss people around and why it is so hard for her to be kind or generous. They should talk about the way the characters in the movie react when things go badly. At first, the adults blame each other but then they select a leader and begin to cooperate. How do we choose our heroes, and how do we know when what is on television is real? It is also worth talking about the way that Debbie Thornberry lets her parents know that she wants to spend more time with them — and to discuss your favorite “dorky family activities.”

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the other Rugrats and Thornberry movies. They might also like to see another shipwreck classic, Disney’s “Swiss Family Robinson.”

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