Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Horrible Bosses 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong crude sexual content and language throughout
Release Date:
November 26, 2104

 

The Giver
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for a mature thematic image and some sci-fi action/violence
Release Date:
August 15, 2014

Penguins of Madagascar
Lowest Recommended Age: All Ages
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor
Release Date:
November 26, 2014

 

The Expendables 3
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for violence including intense sustained gun battles and fight scenes, and for language
Release Date:
August 15, 2014

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

 

The November Man
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong violence including a sexual assault, language, sexuality/nudity and brief drug use
Release Date:
August 27, 2014

Opal Dream

posted by jmiller
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for mild thematic elements, language and some violence.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote in The Little Prince, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” That is the theme of this gentle story about a little girl whose two invisible friends are more real to her than the desolate landscape and desperate hopes of her opal-mining community in Australia.


Kellyanne Williamson (Sapphire Boyce) lives with her brother and her parents in the South Australian opal mining community of Coober Pedy. Her family’s views of her two imaginary friends ranges from sympathetic (her mother) to impatience (her brother) and increasing concern (her father), but mostly they play along. But when the friends are lost and Kellyanne is devastated, her father and brother — and ultimately the whole community — learn how real imaginary friends can be.


The story is presented in a low-key, naturalistic manner that has us feel we are evesdropping on a real family. The story is a bit contrived, but the sweetness is genuine. In a world of slam-bang, loud and clanging, overdone and over-the-top entertainment for children and families, it is a pleasure to watch a quiet story about imagination and the power of belief.


Parents should know that this movie has some tense scenes, some peril, and a sick child. The death and burial of the imaginary friends may be upsetting for younger or more sensitive children.


Families who see this film should talk about their own imaginary friends. If they never had them, what kind would they like to have? What made some people change their minds about Kellyanne’s friends?


Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy Hand in Hand, a lovely film about a Jewish boy and a Catholic girl who find a way to be friends in a world that emphasizes their differences. As in Opal Dreams, the depiction of an imaginary friend is delicately handled.

Harsh Times

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for strong violence, language and drug use.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

If David Ayer the director paid David Ayer the screenwriter for this script, he should ask himself for some of his money back. The screenplay is awfully close to Ayer’s own Training Day, the film that won Denzel Washington his Oscar. Both movies take place mostly in a car, with one character a sociopath and the other too easily led. In both, the two guys drive around, abusing every possible substance, having encounters with old friends and enemies (including women in both categories), get into trouble, create trouble, and create more trouble. In both, characters demonstrate their concept of manliness through violence, substance abuse, mistreatment of women, loyalty to male friends, subversion of any form of rules, nihilism, and destruction. Furthermore, if you took out every swear word and all of the “homeys” and “dawgs,” the rest of the dialogue would fit on a page or two.


Christian Bale plays Jim, a former Ranger in Afganistan waiting to get a job with the LAPD so he can marry his Mexican girlfriend and bring her to the US. Freddy Rodriguez is his best friend, Mike, who is supposed to be looking for a job but would rather drive around with Jim and get high. He is a little in awe of Jim for his experiences (he asks what it’s like to kill someone and Jim says, “Point and shoot. Pop, pop — move on! You do not stop and think!”


Neither one of them stops to think. They have only four modes: elation (when they think they got away with something), fury (when they don’t), stupor (when they’re high), and waiting to be elated, furious, or high.


Christian Bale clearly relishes the showboaty role of Jim, intended to be a tragic figure and an indictment of our culture and our geopolitical arrogance — his behavior seems to be attributable to post-traumatic stress disorder from his time in Afganistan. And the movie isn’t called “Harsh People.”

Jim is torn apart by his incompatible passions for law and chaos. He wants to work in law enforcement, almost as though he believes that being surrounded by rules and structure will keep his uncontrollable nature in check. But he wants the law to give him permission to be lawless. A friend asks if he will toe the line if he gets the job and he says he will but he will also operate something for himself on the side.

It is this very conflict that gets him rejected by the LAPD and makes him a prize catch for the Department of Homeland Security. The special projects section takes a look at the photos of victims from one of his raids and cynically recognizes him as a kindred spirit, just right for their “trigger-time” program in Colombia. That job offer crystalizes his conflict. He wants to go back to the days of pure sensation and power. But it means he will not be able to marry Marta, the woman he loves, in the only place where he is happy. As that choice is presented to him more forcefully, he spins out of control.


Rodgriguez is fine as a weak man who mistakes what Jim has for strength, and Terry Crews and Chaka Forman make strong impressions as, well, homeys. Ayers has a feel for tough talk, though it gets over-“homey’d” quickly. But the movie falters because it tries for meaning it just doesn’t deliver. Ultimately, it is as mesermized by the flash and adrenalin as its hero.
Parents should know that the movie has deeply disturbing images of intense, graphic, explicit, mindless violence. Characters continually use the strongest and crudest possible language. There are crude sexual references and non-explicit situations. Characters abuse alcohol and drugs, deal drugs, and smoke. Characters are nihilistic and macho.


Families who see this movie should talk about how Jim’s experiences in Afganistan affected him. Why did Mike put up with him for as long as he did? Do you agree with Mike’s choice at the end?


Families who enjoy this film will also appreciate Training Day and Journey to the End of the Night.

A Good Year

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

Plonk is a Britishism for cheap, low-quality wine — not undrinkable, by any means, just nothing special. As much could be said for this film, lightly based on the helium-weight plonk of a best-seller by Peter Mayle.


Some movies begin as a dream, some as a story, some as a business deal. And occasionally, there is one that begins as a vacation. Actor Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott are both fond of the south of France. Et voila! Let’s make a movie so we can write it off!


It’s a long way from their previous collaboration, Gladiator. Crowe plays a financial wiz who scores a fortune through a maneuver that might just be on the other side of that fine line that separates the legal from the il. Just then, as he is celebrating his success and preparing for a suspension pending the investigation, he learns that his uncle has died, leaving him the winery that was the place of his fondest childhood memories, but of course is a place he hasn’t given it a thought in years and years. Cue the music — we’re ready to be, as we know he must be, enthralled and beguiled. Next stop, sunny quirkville.


The setting is irresistible, of course, and it is nice to see cross Crowe coping without text messaging, assistants, or sleek, gleaming surfaces and minimalist design, and getting his hands (and more) a bit dirty. But the script doesn’t deliver on what it promises us with all that golden light and faded plaster. There’s some muddle about a possible other heir (a pretty girl) and a feisty waitress (another pretty girl). Like plonk, it goes down without much fuss, but doesn’t give us anything to remember.


Parents should know that the movie has some rough language and some sexual references, including an out of wedlock child who creates inheritance concerns. There is a lot of drinking (a character gets tipsy), some smoking, some comic peril, and a sad offscreen death.


Families who see this film should talk about the places and people that are most special to them and why.


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Enchanted April and Local Hero.

Babel

posted by jmiller
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for violence, some graphic nudity, sexual content, language and some drug use.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

In the Bible, the story of Babel is a cautionary tale of hubris. The whole world had a common language until God, seeing that the people were building a huge tower together, “confused their speech.” They could no longer understand each other, and so they scattered all over the world, each with the people who could speak their language.


And so, Babel is the name of this last in the trilogy from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu about connections and disconnections. This time, he has expanded to global scale, with a story that unites Moroccan herders, American tourists, a deaf Japanese girl, and a Mexican living illegally in San Diego. There is a shooting and there is a wedding. In all three locations, there are cops, there are journeys, there is despair, there are people who cannot make themselves understood, and there is some realization, some increased understanding.


Richard (Brad Pitt) and Susan (Cate Blanchett) are the American tourists, a couple whose brittle conversation about whether it is safe to have ice cubes in their drinks lets us know right away that they have some trouble communicating. Two boys herding sheep show off with their new rifle, fire at the tour bus and Susan is hit. There is not much that feels further from home than being seriously injured in a place where you don’t know anyone and hardly anyone speaks your language. Being Americans, they demand to speak to the embassy. But the possibility that the attack could be terrorism turns it into an international incident. While bureaucrats write memos and politicians make statements, Susan lies on a dirt floor in a village with one phone.


Their children are cared for by a loving nanny, Amelia (Adriana Barraza), whose son is getting married in Mexico. She cannot bear to miss the wedding, so she takes the children with her, foolishly riding back with her nephew, who has had too much to drink. He raises the suspicions of the border guards on the way back and the nanny and children end up lost in the desert.

And in Tokyo, Chieko (Rinko Kikuchi in a brilliantly unselfconscious performance) is at home but she also feels isolated and alienated. She is deaf, shunned by the boys she wants to flirt with. And she is a teenager who feels misunderstood by everyone. Her connection to the story is not revealed until the end.


Inarritu expands the themes of his earlier films but relies on the same technique, a mosaic of scenes that gradually assume shapes and patterns. He uses non-professional actors for most of the roles and elicits beautifully natural performances, especially from the adolescents. The film’s sympathy for all of its characters is in itself the answer, or at least the beginning of one, to the questions it raises.

Parents should know that this film has very mature material and themes that could be disturbing to young or sensitive viewers. Characters use very strong and crude language and there are explicit sexual references and situations, including an young girl who flashes some boys and tries to seduce a man. Violence includes beating and shooting, and characters, including a child, are injured and killed. Children are lost and frightened. The themes of dislocation and the gulfs between people and cultures may be unsettling.

Families who see this movie should talk about the way that it raises both issues of connection and disconnection.

Families who appreciate this movie will also appreciate Crash, Traffic, and the other films by this director, 21 Grams and Amores Perros.

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