Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Little Hope Was Arson
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Not Rated
Release Date:
November 21, 2014

 

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 Hunger Games: Mockingjay
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images and thematic material
Release Date:
November 21, 2014

 

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

Foxcatcher
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some drug use and a scene of violence
Release Date:
November 21, 2014

 

Into the Storm
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense destruction and peril, and language including some sexual references
Release Date:
August 8, 2014

Stranger Than Fiction

posted by jmiller
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some disturbing images, sexuality, brief language and nudity.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

Who among us has not leaned into the bathroom mirror as we brushed our teeth, thinking about what a narrator might be saying about us if we were in a story? “Our hero prepared for battle as though he was going on a date. He always said he found unbrushed teeth a distraction in a kung fu tournament.” Who among us hasn’t wondered if we were really the heros of our own life story? Well, Harold Crick hadn’t. Not until this movie gets underway.


Crick (Will Ferrell) is so mild-mannered he makes Clark Kent look like Kanye West. He likes everything to be neat, predictable, according to the rules, and orderly. He brushes each tooth precisely, the same number of up and down strokes every day. He works, of course, for the IRS. And he would be of no interest to himself or us or anyone at all except that a very distinguished and literary writer named Kay Eiffel (Emma Thompson) is writing a story about him. Not that she’s ever met him. She thinks he’s a fictional character, a figment of her imagination. And yet, perhaps the fact that she is experiencing the direst of writer’s block should give her some hint that he may be real and with a mind of his own. Especially when it comes to staying alive. Eiffel wants to kill him off. She spends her days thinking about ways to do it. But Crick becomes aware of her plans. For the first time, he realizes that he is alive, and that he wants to stay that way.


It isn’t just that he begins to hear his life being narrated (“and with a better vocabulary!”) that leads him to think about what life has to offer. There is also his latest assignment at work, an audit of a feisty but lovely and warm-hearted law school dropout-turned-baker, Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Just as Eiffel struggles with what she should do (kill off Crick), Crick struggles with what he should do (collect back taxes from Pascal). Eiffel gets some help from an aide sent by her publisher (Queen Latifah). Crick consults a therapist (Linda Hunt) and then, since his problem seems more literary than psychological, a professor of literature (Dustin Hoffman), who quizzes him to determine exactly which story he’s in, asking, for example, whether Crick has received any unusual presents lately, like, maybe, a big wooden horse?


Crick and Eiffel face the choice put to Achilles — would you rather have a short, violent, heroic life and be remembered through the ages, or a long, quiet, happy life, and be forgotten two generations after you die? Crick (perhaps named for Francis Crick, Nobel laureate for discovering the double helix of DNA), must decide whether he is a man capable of independent thought, whether he is willing to fight against what fate (well, Eiffel) has is store for him. Eiffel (perhaps named for Gustave Eiffel, engineer of the tower that bears his name as well as the Statue of Liberty) must decide whether art, even art that can inspire and illuminate the world for thousands of readers, is more important than the life of one man who is just discovering the difference between cookies from a box and cookies from the oven.


Those cookies are pulled from the oven by Pascal (perhaps named for the French mathematician/philosopher), who has already made her choice, leaving law school to become a baker, a political choice as well as an aesthetic, spiritual, and personal one. She represents more than the usual romantic comedy ideal of a quirky but warm-hearted life-force. She is a fully actualized person, so much so that it doesn’t take a great deal for her to overcome her initial dislike of Crick and see him for who he really is, even before he sees that himself.


The cast is superb, especially Hoffman as the professor, and the direction and pacing are superb, but the star, fittingly, for this meditation on the power of stories, is the script — exceptionally clever, knowledgeable about literature and narrative structure, filled with sly humor but also as warmly delectable as one of Pascal’s cookies.


Parents should know that the film has some mature material including brief strong language, sexual references and non-explicit situations, partial nudity, and comic violence and peril (no one badly hurt).


Families who see this film should talk about what it means to be the hero of your own life. If you could enter into any story, what would it be? If you could change the ending of a story, what would you pick?

For Your Consideration

posted by jmiller
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sexual references and brief language.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

This is the time of year when ads, CDs, and DVDs marked “for your consideration” are sent out to members of the movie industry and to critics, in the hopes that those behind and in front of the camera will be considered favorably for some of the dozens of awards that are issued each year.

The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause

posted by jmiller
C-
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated G
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

Tim Allen and Martin Short are funny guys. How do we know this? Because when this movie is finally over, there are some outtakes during the credit sequence that remind us. Up to that point, it’s easy to forget.


Twelve years ago, The Santa Clause was a surprise hit, as bitter, divorced, bah humbug Scott Calvin (
(Allen) finds himself turning into ho-ho-ho-able Santa. In the sequel, he discovers that in order to stay Santa, he has to find a wife. This time it’s his son’s cranky principal who has to go from joyless to jolly and become Mrs. Claus. And now, here we are again. Mrs. Claus is about to have a baby. She misses her parents, who think their son-in-law is a Canadian toy manufacturer and have never been to visit. And Jack Frost (Short) wants a holiday of his own, and thinks it would be nice if he got to be Santa for a change.


It’s all as genuine as tinsel and as stale as last year’s candy cane, but there are a few very mild pleasures, including Alan Arkin and Ann-Margret as Scott’s in-laws and a loony dance number with Short backed by elves. Abigail Breslin, who appeared in this year’s biggest independent film hit, Little Miss Sunshine, with Arkin, adds some class when she appears briefly as an elf. (Breslin’s brother Spencer, who appeared in the two previous films, plays head elf Curtis.) The lovely young actress Liliana Mumy seems to be in an entirely different film when she shows some heart and spirit as Lucy, the daughter of Scott’s ex-wife and her new husband. You almost believe in those warm hugs of hers. And it’s nice to see a Christmas film that acknowledges that we all get a little stressed and irritable on the holidays.


But this is not enough to make up for a lightweight script that does not have enough heft to be called half-hearted. It’s more like one-eighth-hearted. There’s no pretense of consistency of characters or story. The film shamelessly borrows the Santa substitution from The Nightmare Before Christmas and the how-would-life-have-been-different from It’s a Wonderful Life, as Jack takes Scott back in time and Scott sees his sad and lonely life if he had not turned into Santa. Not only are his ex-wife and son bitter and hostile (and — what’s that — she seems to be wearing a plastic name tag from some low-level job! the horror!), all of this seems to be his fault as his abandonment of his original family somehow led to his ex-wife’s divorce from her second husband.


I’m not sure that’s any weirder than the cozy relationship he has with his ex-wife’s new family when he is Santa, with her daughter with the second husband calling Santa “Uncle Scott.” And the thing that bothered me about the first movie reappears in this one — Scott becomes Santa because he inadvertantly makes the real Santa fall off the roof and…well, die (the body conveniently evaporates). This choice incident is re-created not once, but twice in this film, a scenes that is certain to upset at least some of the younger members of the audience.


It doesn’t make the mistake of the second in the series by concluding that Christmas is all about getting the right gifts, but there is still a disquieting level of commercialism. When, during Jack Frost’s tenure as Santa, he turns the North Pole into a theme park. Given that the movie is made by Disney, no stranger to theme parks or souvenir sales, it is ironic, if not downright pot/kettle/black-ish. On my checked-twice list, let’s just say, it’s not in the “nice” column. And if they’re planning to make another, I’ll be looking for my own escape clause.

Parents should know that the movie has some crude humor, including potty jokes, and brief schoolyard language. Much of the plot concerns pregnancy and impending childbirth. There is comic peril, and, while the script glosses over it, Santa falls off the roof and disappears so that a new Santa has to take over. Parents should also know that the movie has a married couple who are close friends with the man’s ex-wife, her new husband, and their daughter, who calls him “Uncle Scott.” Some families may find this confusing; others who are not as seamlessly blended may find this awkward.


Families who see this movie should talk about why Jack Frost was jealous of Santa. What was it about being Santa that he wanted? Did he get it? How was he able to trick Curtis into telling him the secret? Why do we sometimes get irritable with our families when we are supposed to be happiest?


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Christmas classics like A Christmas Story and A Christmas Carol as well as the two originals.

Borat

posted by jmiller
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for pervasive strong crude and sexual content including graphic nudity, and language.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

First and foremost, let me make it clear that this movie has extremely outrageous and offensive material and is not for the faint of heart or the easily shocked, and inappropriate for sensitive or impressionable viewers. But it’s also very funny. If you’re going to this movie, take a deep breath because when you aren’t gasping with laughter, you’ll just be gasping. No matter how unshockable you may think you are, this movie is going to do its best to shake you up — at a level that is measured by the Richter scale.


British actor/comedian Sacha Baron Cohen plays Borat, a television journalist from the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan who comes to the United States with his producer, Azamat (Ken Davitian), to make a documentary. Borat is not very bright or knowledgeable but he makes up for that with boundless enthusiasm and self-confidence. In other words, he’s just the guy to update Alexis de Tocqueville and tell the rest of the world what America is all about.


Borat first introduces us to his country, smiling broadly as he explains local customs like “The Running of the Jews” and proudly introduces us to his sister as he explains that he has personal knowledge of her abilities as a prostitute.


And then he comes to the US, in what has to be the most extensive and subversive practical joke ever made by a Hollywood studio. America, you’ve been punk’d.

Apparently, the real-life participants in the film were told that it was a legitimate Kazakh documentary. They were given release forms so extensive and mundane-looking that they had no idea it was an elaborate put-on. And so the fake guileless offensiveness of the character created by a real-life comedian is somehow sanitized (nearly) by the real-life guileless offensiveness of the people he meets. Never suspecting that what they say and do will be featured in a major Hollywood feature film, they display to “Borat” — and to us — some of what is worst about America. And, once in a while, what is best, too.

Normally, I am not a fan of the comedy of discomfort and humiliation, and I especially dislike the kind of pranks that seem to me to be easy and cheap — you can always make someone look foolish by knowing something he does not know.


What makes this movie work, what in essence disinfects what would otherwise be a tedious and too-long segment of “Punk’d” or “Jackass” is that is is mesmerizingly revealing. As Rosario Dawson says in Clerks 2, “I’m disgusted and repulsed and — I can’t look away.”


Sacha Baron Cohen’s characters have been popular with Brits as part of “Da Ali G Show” since 2000. But Baron Cohen’s arrival in America –- coinciding with the stateside arrival of his Kazakh alter-ego, Borat the journalist -– has gained him both fans and enemies here in what he calls “the US and A”.


His film, endowed with the cumbersome title “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”, blends the crude humor of “South Park” and the wit of “The Daily Show,” resulting in a combination that understandably and intentionally offends viewers. As Borat, Baron Cohen walks like a stiff-legged, six-foot Pinocchio, stumbling through America as clueless as Will Ferrell’s Buddy the Elf. Like Buddy, Borat isn’t laughable because he’s stupid; he’s laughable because he’s sweet and misunderstood. Through his eyes, we can see ourselves from the outside. Borat takes America and, by exuding innocence, reveals how dark a place it can be. His racist, homophobic, and sexist comments are appalling, but that’s the joke — his eyes are sincere, his love is sweet, his heart is innocent, and his excrement is carried to the dinner table so that he can ask the hostess what to do with it. The joke is, “Isn’t it ridiculous to have extreme opinions about other people based on sex, race and ethnicity?” and the reality is that not everyone believes it is. Some people laugh uncomfortably, some people get angry, and some people agree with Borat. Some people are so ignorant about people outside the U.S. that it never occurs to them that he is not for real. That’s when the film hits on isolated but serious moments that cut deeper than most other comedy.


The genius of Baron Cohen is that in creating a racist and sexist character, he reveals the absurdity of racism, sexism and stereotyping. His film becomes sharp exploration of our own prejudices and stereotypes — Kazakhstan’s most high-profile (if most fictional) resident is portrayed as innocently uncouth and impossibly un-PC, and for much of America, he represents everyone from Kazakhstan. The ease with which Borat’s unsuspecting victim truly believe him to be genuine belies how deep the stereotypes run.


All this might make the film seem like a somber exploration of prejudice. Yet it has men running naked through hotel hallways, drunken frat boys, street kids willing to provide some coolness tips, exasperated feminists, an evangelical group only too happy to bring Borat to Jesus, a search for gypsy tears to refill his protective vial, and a Jewish couple from a bed and breakfast who bring Borat a little snack that he assumes must be poisoned. And Pamela Anderson.


In his film, Baron Cohen has Borat refer to a Trojan Horse. But just as the audience leaves the theatre wondering whose prejudices have been most exposed, the question of where the real Trojan Horse is lingers as a fake Kazakhstan anthem accompanies the credits across screen. And that’s Baron Cohen’s trick — he’s crafted an intricate invasion of America in movie form, on the surface a laugh-out-loud comedy and inside, an expose of the audience itself.


Parents should know that this movie revels in every possible category of offensive humor and is not appropriate for underage audiences or for many adults. It includes extremely strong and vulgar language, ethnic insults (while satirizing bigotry), sexist humor, explicit and crude sexual humor (including incest jokes), explicit potty humor. There is very graphic non-sexual nudity and comic violence, including a long nude wrestling match. It should be emphasized that while the characters often make racist, homophobic, and sexist comments, the movie’s intention is to satirize these views, not to endorse them. Yet Cohen is determined to be offensive, and he succeeds.


Families who see this film should discuss world geography –- perhaps placing Kazakhstan on a map -– American perceptions of other cultures and their perception of ours. How does daily contact with people from other cultures enhance understanding? What are some other ways to understand various world customs? (Reading, music, food, festivities?) Parents should also discuss ethnic conflicts with their children – what are some of the ethnic conflicts that have had the most influence on current events? What are some important historical conflicts to understand?


Families who enjoy this film might also enjoy 2004’s Team America: World Police and the film based on the South Park television series, South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut. Both films have extremely strong and potentially offensive language, scenes and concepts, but share Baron Cohen’s sense of humor.

Previous Posts

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Auction Tomorrow from Bonhams/TCM
Bonhams and Turner Classic Movies have joined together again for another auction of classic Hollywood memorabilia, with treasures from the golden age of movie-making, including the piano Sam plays "As

posted 8:00:36am Nov. 23, 2014 | read full post »

Little Hope Was Arson
In a small East Texas community "with a church on every corner," 10 churches were burned. One church showed the Christian film "Fireproof" one night and showed that it was far from fireproof itself

posted 8:40:04pm Nov. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Docudrama about Handel's Messiah on BYUtv November 27, 2014
BYUtv has produced a new docudrama, Handel’s Messiah, premiering November 27, 2014, about the world’s most popular and renowned choral work by one of the leading composers of the Baroque era, George Frideric Handel. The docudrama, narrated by Emmy® and Golden Globe®-winning actress Jane Seymo

posted 8:00:38am Nov. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Another #Epicfail for Barbie -- And a Non-Barbie Alternative
Remember when Teen Talk Barbie got in trouble for saying "Math is hard?" Well, Mattel did not get the memo because a new Barbie book intended to encourage girls' interest in STEM subjects like computer

posted 8:00:00am Nov. 22, 2014 | read full post »

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 Stars Talk About the Film
Fandango has a great interview with the stars of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1." What was the toughest part for Jennifer Lawrence?  Singing! [iframe id='ifplayer' name='ifplayer' frameborder='0' marginwidth='0' marginheight='0' width='620' height='349' scrolling='no' src='http://www.fanda

posted 8:40:25am Nov. 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.