Movie Mom

Movie Mom

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Annie
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some mild language and rude humor
Release Date:
December 19, 2014

 

The Maze Runner
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images
Release Date:
September 19, 2014

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action, some rude humor and brief language
Release Date:
December 19, 2014

 

Magic in the Moonlight
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for a brief suggestive comment, and smoking throughout
Release Date:
August 1, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
Release Date:
December 19, 2014

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
Release Date:
August 8, 2014

Jindabyne

posted by jmiller
B
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for disturbing images, language and some nudity.
Movie Release Date:2007

Parents should know that this film deals with very disturbing themes, including the discovery of the dead body of a young woman who may have been raped. There are scenes of nudity and graphic wounds. Characters drink (sometimes to excess), smoke, use very strong and crude language, and have tense and unhappy confrontations. There are references to mental illness and the death of a little girl’s mother. Children are in peril. They also get in trouble for bringing a knife to school and killing the class pet. The situation in the film raises issues of gender, race, ethnic, and cultural differences as well as differences of opinion about how to respond to painful and confusing circumstances.


Families who see this movie should talk about why the different characters felt differently about the right way to respond to the discovery of the body. What do their different attitudes tell us about what was most important to each of them? What is the role of the children in helping to tell the story?

Families who like this movie will also like The Vanishing (the original, not the American remake) and Deliverance (both with very mature material). They might also like to read some of the short stories by Raymond Carver, including “So Much Water So Close to Home,” in What We Talk About When We Talk About Love: Stories, which was the basis for this film.

Lucky You

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some language and sexual humor.
Movie Release Date:2007

Maybe if it had been made in the 1940’s or 50’s in black and white, maybe if it starred Frank Sinatra and Lee Remick, maybe if we had never seen better films like “The Hustler,” maybe this script might have worked. But today it just seems formulaic and out of date. As a poker hand, it’s not even a pair of deuces.

<P
Huck (Eric Bana) is a poker player. He has a lot of natural skill and a lot of experience. His weakness is that at the big moment he does not go by the book. Sometimes that means a good decision based on intuition. Other times it means a bad decision based on anger. He understands the concept of "left pocket money," your "real" money that can't be bet. But when the moment comes, he bets not only his left pocket money but everyone else's too.


Huck lives in Las Vegas, where the world series of poker is about to start. He needs to qualify for a seat and he needs to have the $10,000 entry fee. The first part of the movie is about whether he will make it — not much suspense there, as we wouldn’t have a movie if he did. Then we have the tournament itself. In most movies in this genre, our young hero must take on a father-figure, an Oedipal metaphor, the champion, the establishment guy, the man our hero both looks up to and longs to triumph over. It is emblematic of this movie’s absence of subtlety or complexity that in this case the father-figure is in fact Huck’s literal father, English professor-turned professional gambler Robert Duvall, who insists on calling his son “Huckleberry.” (The English professor background suggests the name is inspired by Finn, not Hound.)


And there must be The Girl, in this case Billie, played by Drew Barrymore, still the effervescent flower child, even as a brunette, but who cannot and should not sing. It was okay in “Music and Lyrics,” where she was not supposed to be a good singer. Here, it is a performance that cries out for Simon Cowell. She and Bana have no chemistry, a real problem when their supposed overwhelming attraction and powerful connection is expected to not just capture our attention but justify most of the decisions and developments throughout the movie.


The movie’s one great strength is a brief appearance by Robert Downey, Jr. as a friend of Huck’s who answers a variety of 900-number calls while he sits at a bar and refuses to loan Huck money. As he juggles the calls on his cell phones, the conversations a witty counterpoint to his dialogue with Huck, the movie briefly comes alive. But all too quickly, his scene is over and we’re stuck watching people play cards. You gotta know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em — in this movie, the wise viewer will toss in his cards as soon as Downey’s scene is over.

Parents should know that this movie has some strong language and some sexual references and a non-explicit situation. Characters smoke and drink. The movie includes a lot of bad behavior including lying and stealing and a discussion of cheating, plus excessive and possibly compulsive gambling and some peril and violence.

Families who see this movie should talk about the significance of the ring. What did Huck decide was most important?

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy The Hustler and the sequel, The Color of Money. Rounders has Matt Damon and Edward Norton as poker players. Families will also enjoy a true story about the world series of poker, Positively Fifth Street.

Spider-Man 3

posted by jmiller
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action violence.
Movie Release Date:2007

It isn’t just Spider-Man who loses his way in the third and last installment. It’s the movie.


A superhero movie should have (1) cool special effects, (2) a great villain, (3) thrilling action scenes, and (4) just enough plot to keep things moving without getting in the way of (1), (2), or (3). It is in this last category that this movie goes wrong.


Too many villains. Too many plots. Too many girlfriends. Too many people who died in earlier installments coming back for a last bow. Too many NOW-you-tell-me! revelations with way too many if-only-I-had-known ramifications. And way too many tears. Boy, is there a lot of crying in this movie. Is this Spider-Man or “Days of Our Lives?”


Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) starts out with everything going his way, which means that we will have to see it all taken away from him so that he can get it back again. As the movie begins, Spider-Man is universally beloved as a hero and he is happy at school and at work. Best of all, MJ (Kirsten Dunst) is in a show that is opening on Broadway and she and Peter are finally a couple and he is thinking about proposing to her.


Then things get complicated. Peter’s one-time best friend Harry has taken up his father’s old Goblin persona and is coming after Peter to avenge his father’s death. Escaped con Flint Marco (Thomas Haden Church) desperately needs money for his sick daughter. Running away from the police, he doesn’t notice that “Keep Out” sign on the “particle physics test facility.” Uh-oh. Some sort of super-powering mutation rays are about to turn him into the Sandman. And Eddie Brock, Jr. (Topher Grace) wants Peter’s newspaper photography job and he thinks Peter wants his girl (Bryce Dallas Howard as Gwen Stacy, daughter of the police commissioner).


Wait, there’s more. Things start going badly between Peter and MJ, especially after he rescues Gwen and gets a grateful kiss. And there’s a mysterious outer-space scritchy sort of thing that looks like a cross beween magnetic tape and spaghetti. It latches onto Peter and seems to have the same effect as steroids — performance enhancement plus rage enhancement. Somehow it also affects his hair, which starts to hang in his eyes. It is supposed to make him look rakishly dangerous, but it just makes him look like the lead in a road company production of “Sprintime for Hitler.” And it makes him wanna dance so that he walks down the street like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.


Yes, there’s a dance number. Wait, there’s more. It turns out that the man they thought killed Peter’s Uncle Ben was just an accomplice. The real killer is still at large. At least two characters have some very important jewelry of great sentimental value that almost gets lost for good. And for no reason whatsoever, a character decides to divulge some information that if he had just come clean two movies sooner would have saved us all a lot of trouble. And we have to pause a couple of times for comic bits from the landlord’s daughter, Spider-man creator Stan Lee, and from Evil Dead’s Bruce Campbell, and one unnecessary line each from two kids who have the same last name as the director and his co-screenwriter brother. And don’t forget there’s always time for a slam at critics.


It’s a mess. There are some cool effects and some affecting moments. But they are buried under too much clutter, too much plot, too much everything. Hollywood has done more to damage Spider-Man than any of his onscreen foes.

Parents should know that there is a lot of action-style peril and violence, and characters are injured and killed. A character drinks to deal with unhappiness. A strength of the movie is a rare portrayal of a character who prays.


Families who see this movie should talk about why Peter did not know what was going on with MJ. Which of the villains in the three movies was the best and why?


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2. They will also enjoy reading the original stories in Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus, Vol. 1.

Next

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violent action, and some language.
Movie Release Date:2007

If Philip K. Dick could have seen into the future, he would never have agreed to have his story “The Golden Man” be adapted into a movie, at least not this movie.


Nicolas Cage, who also produced, plays Chris Johnson, a low-rent Las Vegas magician whose ultimate act of prestidigitation is hiding one very special ability behind a bunch of “$50 tricks.” He can see into the future. Not much — only two minutes ahead. And not for anyone else’s future — only his own. But he can see far enough ahead to dodge a punch — or a bullet. And if, for example, he wants to meet a pretty girl sitting by herself in a restaurant (Jessica Biel as Liz), he can project into the future several different approaches and Groundhog Day-style find the one that will produce the desired results.


It isn’t just because she is pretty that he wants to meet her. It is because for the first time he has seen more than two minutes into the future. He has seen her, and he wants to know what that means.


Callie (Julianne Moore) is an FBI agent with a lot of hair who barks a lot of orders about securing perimeters and takes time for target practice in the middle of a major crisis involving a missing nuclear device and some nasty terrorists who may be planning to set it off. Maybe Chris can help! She’d better put him in one of those A Clockwork Orange eyelid-propping contraptions and see if he can figure out a way to dodge a very, very big bullet indeed.

Time for drastic measures — like tossing away any Constitutional rights and getting that hair under control.

“What about intel?” someone asks. “We don’t need it,” Callie snaps. “We have HIM.” You don’t need to be Chris to forsee we’re in for a lot of bang bang and the obligatory shooting of the black secondary character is mere moments away.


This movie has one sensational stunt, but there’s a boy-who-cried-wolf aspect with too many fake-outs. Eventually, the goodwill of the audience is worn out. I can see 96 minutes into the future of everyone who buys a ticket for this film and forsee that they will be disappointed.

Parents should know that this film has a lot of intense peril and violence, including terrorism, shooting, explosions, bombs, car crashes, attempted drugging, and punches. Most of it is “action-style,” meaning that there is not much blood. There is very brief bad language, much less than usual for a film of this genre. There is also a non-explicit sexual situation, again with less detail than typical for a PG-13. Some audience members may be disturbed by the themes of the movie, including terrorism and violations of Constitutional rights.

Families who see this movie should talk about the advantages and disadvantages of being able to see into the future.


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy two others based on stories by Philip K. Dick, The Brave Little Toaster (for all ages), and Blade Runner (for mature teens and adults). They will also enjoy Cage’s better action films, The Rock and Con Air.

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