Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Fury
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

 

Moms' Night Out
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action
Release Date:
May 9, 2014

St. Vincent
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 For mature thematic material including sexual content, alcohol and tobacco use, and for language
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

 

Earth to Echo
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and peril, and mild language
Release Date:
July 3, 2014

Dear White People
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, sexual content and drug use
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

 

Snowpiercer
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for violence, language and drug content
Release Date:
July 2, 2014

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story

posted by jmiller
B
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language and sexual content.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

When in the depths of winter the dregs of the cinematic year limp into theaters, some audiences long for the more cerebral fare of spring or fall. “Haven’t we seen this plot before?” becomes a common refrain and a movie like “Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story” feels like a sunny spring day come early, even if its unflattering brightness is not appealing to all.


This is a movie about making a movie based on an un-filmable book; however, the audience needs to know nothing about “The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman” the novel by Laurence Sterne (published in volumes from 1759 to 1767) to appreciate the film. Just as Clueless was a faithful to the tone and themes of Jane Austen’s Emma although the language and setting were utterly altered, “Tristram Shandy” the movie captures the ambition, isolation and vulnerability of the book’s eponymous center through the actor portraying him.


The book is a knotty, meandering yarn with copious digressions and post-modern flourishes like blank or black pages before there was a “modern” to be “post”. Framing his novel as a faithful autobiography, Sterne told the story of a man who could not figure out how to tell his own life story, hence a tale that jumps about from Tristram to his father to his uncle and ends up months before Tristram’s birth. The movie likewise jumps from Tristram (Steve Coogan) to Tristram’s father (Coogan, again) to Steve Coogan (Coogan), an actor trying to capture a character from a book he has never bothered to read. Coogan the actor plays Coogan the actor as he argues with the child playing Shandy as a child about how to perform his role.


Although it starts out as a brawny, mid-eighteenth century farce, the movie finds its pace in the modern day as “co-lead actors” Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (playing Tristram’s Uncle Toby) position themselves on the set with a natural humor and intimacy while they jostle for position in the story and in the movie.

Coogan throws a passive-aggressive snit about the height of his shoes while Brydon frets about the yellowness of his teeth. The attractive assistant, Jennie (Naomie Harris), who refers with passion to German Realism cinema and rails against the banality of battle scenes, evokes admiration and pompousness from Coogan, who is basking in any attention that she shines upon him. His flirtations are mildly curtailed when his girlfriend, Jenny (Kelly McDonald) and their baby show up for a brief visit.


The movie follows hurdles (will they get the funds they need to finish the film?) and distractions (is that inquisitive journalist going to reveal Coogan’s naughty shenanigans?) with a constantly moving camera, adding to the driven pace of the film and contrasting with its many moments of waiting and stillness. Because Coogan’s character is shown warts and all in his many shades of neediness, some audiences will not be bothered whether he lands on his feet, but his intelligent performance –well-framed by those of Brydon and McDonald— will win over those looking for the nuance and humor of this underappreciated British actor.


The overlapping story circles of the book, the actors and the production process for the movie could have made for a confusing mess, but in director Michael Winterbottom’s able hands the tempo, wit and robustness of the performances make the film feel alive if occasionally a bit overly precocious. Although it does not follow the book closely enough for time-constrained college kids to use it as a short cut to reading all nine volumes, this “Cock and Bull Story” will be the real Tristram Shandy for many.


Parents should know that there are mature themes throughout this movie and that the relationships between characters are complicated and dynamic. There is male and child nudity, a traumatic accident to a boy resulting in circumcision, a depiction of childbirth, an enormous model womb, and implicit sex between committed couples. Characters drink socially and refer to infidelity, unusual sex and impotence. Characters drink and refer to drug use. Strong language including British slang is used.


Families that see this movie might want to talk about the different characters depicted in the 18th century and how they mirror –- or not -— the actors who portray them. Does Coogan’s character develop over the length of the movie? If you think he changes, where do these changes come from?


Families that enjoy this movie might want to watch some other multi-layered movies about filming stories that correspond to the lives of the actors, such as The French Lieutenant’s Woman and Adaptation and other movies about making movies like State and Main, The Stunt Man, Sweet Liberty, and Day for Night. They will also enjoy Coogan’s performances in 24 Hour Party People (also directed by Winterbottom) and Coffee and Cigarettes.


Thanks to guest critic AME.

Date Movie

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for continuous crude and sexual humor, including language.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

I counted references to 23 movies in this 80-minute film, not including Girls Gone Wild and “The Bachelor,” or about one every three and a half minutes. Throw in a couple of songs and a dozen or so celebrity shout-outs and you’d hardly notice that there is not actually a script here if the whole thing wasn’t just so slack and uninspired.

Instead of a screenplay, it has a year’s worth of “In Touch Magazine” (the one “Will and Grace” calls “Cheaple”) thrown into a blender with some crotch humor and a joke about beating up a homeless man as a way to spend a romantic evening.


Julia (Alyson Hannigan) is the overweight and insecure daughter of a Greek/Indian/Japanese family. Her father (Eddie Griffin) wants her to marry someone from the same heritage, but she loves cute dimpled doctor Grant (Adam Campbell) with a cute English accent even though his parents are American. She gets help from date doctor Hitch (Tony Cox) but there is a crisis when Grant’s gorgeous ex-fiancee re-enters the picture. What will happen? Well, we’ll stumble through a lot of shout-outs to movies and celebrities on the way to finding out.


I feel a little bad about repeating myself here, but since it doesn’t seem to bother the people behind these things — or, as they say in the ads, “two of the six writers of Scary Movie — I don’t have any other options. As long as they keep making these movies I’m going to have to keep pointing out that SIMPLY REFERRING TO ANOTHER MOVIE IS NOT THE SAME THING AS ACTUALLY MAKING A JOKE ABOUT IT. Sorry to shout, but now I feel so much better.


To be more specific: mere exaggeration does not count as a joke, no matter how big you make your Jennifer Lopez-equivalent’s fanny or how long the cat spends on the toilet or changing the name Focker to Fonckyerdoder. Referring to the fact that perhaps Britney Spears is not entirely satisfied with the marriage or that Michael Jackson is very interested in making friends with children is not the same thing as being funny. Making a parody of a parody does not make it exponentially funnier. Making fun of the fact that you are making fun of it doesn’t either. A joke requires perspective and insight. Most important, it requires something fresh and surprising. Not much of that here. And if it is not a crime to fail to take advantage of the comic talents of Alyson Hannigan, Fred Willard, and Jennifer Coolidge, it should be, and they should call out the comedy police here to arrest the “2 of the 6 writers of Scary Movie” for felony unfunniness.


Parents should know that this movie has a lot of very crude and disgusting humor and some strong language for a PG-13, including the n-word. There is comic violence, including shooting and punching, and sexual references and non-explicit situations.


Families who see this movie should talk about the movies it parodies and what assumptions it challenges. Why is it funny to make fun of movies we originally enjoyed?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Scary Movie (much raunchier material).

Freedomland

posted by jmiller
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language and some violent content.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

This movie’s inability to live up to its potential is nearly as epic as its misleading title. In other hands, “Freedomland” might have played a jazz-like riff of personal loss and moving vignettes against the 4/4 beat of racial injustice and a community searching for peace. As it is the metronome pace clicks between black and white simplifications; further marred by jarring monologues and an out of place score.


The performances are fine and there are individual moments of insight and power, especially a monologue by “The Sopranos'” Edie Falco as the mother of a missing child. And it deserves credit for its willingness to take on issues of race and poverty and personal responsibility that most studio movies use only for shock value if they address them at all. But the uncertain transfer from novel to screenplay is ultimately so off-key that moments intended to be touching elicited laughter from the audience in the theater.


When single-mom Brenda Martin (Julianne Moore), pale as a moonbeam, wanders in a daze to a community emergency room. Her bloodied hands and story of being carjacked by a young black man in a hooded sweatshirt bring her to the attention of the police and in particular to good cop, Lorenzo Council (Samuel L. Jackson). Brenda is not easy in her role as accuser.

She drifts in and out of focus as she struggles with evident shock and uncertainty about being the center of attention. Lorenzo gently tries lead her into a place where she can help the investigation, though he is not sure he trusts her. But he wants to find her son and as tensions build he wants to end the mounting frustration of the nearby projects, locked-down until someone confesses to the crime.


Brenda is unusual because she lives in the white community but works in the projects, where her son is the only white child in the classroom. She does not feel at home in either community. Her family made her feel incompetent. Some of the people in the projects think of her kindly, but as racial tensions mount, she is quickly assigned to the enemy camp.


Both the neighboring black and communities are policed by heavy-handed cops. One of them is Brenda’s brother Danny (Ron Eldard), furious and frustrated and with no compunctions about abandoning the rules to find out what is going on. He and some of he other white cops seem happy to provoke and then beat the young black men suspected of a range of tenuous offences.

Brenda, a pre-school assistant who works with the kids of the projects, is both in and out of the community just as Lorenzo is neither one place nor another in his role as cop and self-styled father-figure. Both Moore and Jackson turn in fine performances although they cannot surmount the awkwardness of their dialogue or the artificiality of their scripted actions. Ultimately it feels like one of those “ripped from the headline” “Law and Order” episodes that provide faux insights into superficial renditions of stories that are ripped-off from the headlines instead of being based on the reality.


The firm, steady presence of Karen Collucci (Falco), a leader of a volunteer group that looks for lost children gives a glimpse of what an interesting movie this could have been if it had not faltered under director Joe Roth’s self-conscious ambitions, as admirable as those ambitions are. The title refers to an abandoned juvenile facility Karen brings Brenda to so they can look for her son, its name an ironic reminder of the absence of freedom all of the characters face.


The jarring notes that these actors are asked to play distract the ear from the bittersweet melody this movie could have been and its conclusion is awkward and disappointingly unsupported.


Parents should know that this movie deals with mature themes and issues including racial injustice, parental neglect, spousal abuse, child endangerment, accusations based on race, police brutality, and race riots ignited by mutual distrust. There are references to the sexuality of a lonely woman, an oblique reference to rape, discussion of infidelity and to an inter-racial affair. Characters use strong language and frequent expletives, including the n-word. A character refers to a drug addiction, to using drugs and another is arrested for possession. There is near-constant peril as a community builds toward rioting and as cops try to beat out confessions. A character discusses losing her child and another is visibly wrecked by the death of her child.


Families who see this movie might wish to discuss the relationship between Lorenzo and his son and how it highlights his relationships with others. Also, several characters describe the source of their actions as something that comes from beyond them, such as Lorenzo’s religious faith, what is the driver of their actions and how do they make sense of their choices? Lorenzo and Karen resspond to tragedies and devastating failures by finding a way to help others. Is there a time that approach worked for you or someone you know?


Families that enjoy this movie might want to see other movies that wrestle with racial issues and police involvement in community crimes such as Crash. They also might wish to see Clockers or The Wanderers, also based on books by Richard Price.


Thanks to guest critic AME.

Final Destination 3

posted by jmiller
F
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for strong horror violence/gore, language and some nudity.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

It’s like deja vu, says the main character, only of something I haven’t done yet.


Wow, get out of my head, Wendy! We are barely minutes into “Final Destination 3” and already we, the audience, are sharing her feeling. We have been here before, too. Instead, it was called “Final Destination” and then “Final Destination 2”.


If you have not had the pleasure of the prior “FDs”, there really is no reason to start now.


However, if you have seen either of the first two in the series and are looking for more, then you know exactly what is in store for you. Attractive young things narrowly avert a fatal accident due to someone’s premonition -– thanks, Wendy! — and then they spend the duration of the movie being killed off in graphic, squelchy deaths. This time around, lives are ended with props including nail guns, tanning beds, falling objects, weight-training equipment, and, yes, that initial roller-coaster debacle.


Finally, for the real FD connoisseur, 3 is more in the spirit of the original than 2, as director James Wong has opted to place back the fig-leaf of plot and character development that 2 ignored for the sake of more elaborately drawn-out gore. Is it a worthy trade-off? Most of the audience seemed not to care a whit about the characters despite many scenes of Wendy’s tear-stained cheeks.


Since nobody appears to be putting the “final” in “Final Destination”, maybe the director of FD 4 will skip dialogue all together and use the money saved to stage even lengthier scenes of decapitations and dismemberment. “FD4: Attractive Co-Ed Mimes in Danger”, Wendy, doesn’t that just give you deja vu all over again?


Parents should know that these movies are thin excuses to demonstrate random, cartoon-like violence and extremely gory special effects. There is near constant peril and almost every character with a spoken line ends up brutally killed in a range of creative accidents. The stereotypically shallow girls are burnt to death on malfunctioning tanning beds, a lecherous guy has his head partially pureed by a fan, someone is peppered by nails to the head, and the list goes on. A character shoots pigeons with a nail gun, several people die in an explicit premonition about a roller coaster accident, and there are very few carnage-free scenes. One character is more concerned with being embarrassed in death and refers to particularly graphic form of impalement. Add in the nudity, the near constant expletives, some “friendly” name-calling with graphic profanity, and this movie is rendered inappropriate for sensitive viewers of any age.


Families might want to talk about desensitization and what is shocking about these movies, if anything. They also might want to talk about how different characters react to their impending demise and how laughing at death might help some people feel power over the inevitable. Finally, the repeated references to feeling a loss of control might provoke an interesting discussion about how people often fear what they cannot control.


Families that like this movie might want to see the others in the series, or they might wish to use the time to discuss safety protocols for almost any activity imaginable.


Thanks to guest critic AME.

Previous Posts

Is This the End of Television?
Last week both cable giant HBO and broadcast giant CBS made announcements that signal the end of television as we know it.  Both responded to the clear message of the market and said that they would make their content available in the form and via the delivery system consumers prefer -- the interne

posted 3:24:08pm Oct. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Dylan Baker on Directing for the First Time in the Fact-Based High School Football Movie "23 Blast"
Dylan Baker is probably best remembered for playing some of the most horrific villains imaginable ("The Good Wife," "Happiness").  But his extensive career has included wild comedies ("Planes, Trains, and Automobiles," "Anchorman 2"), historical drama (he was Robert McNamara in "13 Days"), and even

posted 8:00:11am Oct. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Best Movies About Writers
Flavorwire has put together a great list of the 50 best movies about writers. It's always tricky to make a writer interesting on film. On one hand, you have the advantage of a character who is likely to be witty and eloquent. Movies are written by writers, so they have some insight and appreciatio

posted 3:37:07pm Oct. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Great News About Now You See Me 2
You didn't think Arthur Tressler was going to let them get away with it, did you? I am very happy that one of the most entertaining films of 2013, Now You See Me is getting a sequel and the stars, including Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco, Michael Caine, and Woody Harrelson, are back, alo

posted 8:00:59am Oct. 21, 2014 | read full post »

In the Footsteps of St. Peter
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4c7qh9hMVY[/youtube] David Suchet (PBS' Hercule Poirot) is the host of In the Footsteps of St. Peter, out tomorrow on DVD.

posted 3:55:57pm Oct. 20, 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.