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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

Hot Fuzz

posted by jmiller
B
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for violent content including some graphic images, and language.
Movie Release Date:2007
DVD Release Date:2007

Those Shaun of the Dead guys are at it again. Having put a comedic stake through the heart of the zombie movie, they are now going after brainless cop films. Simon Pegg, the clueless Shaun in the last film, here plays crackerjack cop Sergeant Nicholas Angel, whose ruthless efficiency is so dispiriting to his colleagues that they send him off to a sleepy suburb to make sure he will stop making them look bad by comparison.


And so, instead of tracking down murderers and drug dealers, Angel is stuck in a relentlessly quaint little village, sort of a Masterpiece Theatre version of Mayberry, with a touch of Kinkade and a gloss from the British Tourism Bureau. Instead of high-speed chases with squealing breaks and kevlar vests, he finds himself carding teenagers in a pub and trying to find a wayward swan. Oh, he tries to keep up his record. Even before he officially starts work, he makes an arrest, a drunk who turns out to be not just the son of the local police chief but his new partner, Danny Butterman (fellow “Shaun” veteran Nick Frost).

The closest Danny has come to crime is his comprehensive DVD library of every single cop film ever made. He dreams of being like Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys II. He wants to go on a high-speed pursuit and fire two guns at once while jumping through the air. But he’s stuck in Sandford, which might as well be named Quicksandford from Angel’s point of view.


Is this one of those movies where the tough guy gets all cuddly and finds out what really matters, like Kindergarten Cop? I am relieved to say it is not. This is one of those movies where sleepy little Sandford turns out to have a crime rate that would terrify the Bad Boys and carnage that would horrify even the implacable Keanu Reeves of Point Break.


Wright and Pegg have a lot of fun transplanting the tropes of big Hollywood buddy cop explosion movies to a seemingly sleepy little village. As with “Shaun,” director Wright (whose work can also be glimpsed in the faux trailer for “Don’t” in the faux double feature “Grindhouse”) is very good at using quick-cut ironic juxtapositions, graphic images, and unexpected behavior — good and bad — from people we think we know to excellent comic effect.

Parents should know that this is a very grisly comedy with extremely graphic, blood-spurting violence. Heads are chopped off. A woman is stabbed in the chest with scissors and a man is stabbed in the hand. Many characters are shot. There are also images of dead and decomposing bodies and skeletons. The violence is comic but it is very explicit. Characters smoke and drink a great deal and get drunk (many scenes in a pub). They use very strong language. There are sexual references, including adultery.


Families who see this movie should talk about how the people who made it were inspired by the films they saw. They might also like to talk about some of the film techniques used to tell the story, including the quick cuts and sped-up footage.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Shaun of the Dead and some of the films referred to by the characters, including Point Break.

Away From Her

posted by jmiller
B
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some strong language.
Movie Release Date:2007

Parents should know that this is a very sad movie with themes that may be disturbing to some audience members. Characters use brief strong language.


Families who see this movie should talk about some of their own stories about losing people who were dear to them. Do you agree with what Grant did?


Families who appreciate this movie will also appreciate I Never Sang for My Father and Iris. And they should see the other fine films of Oscar-winners Julie Christie and Olympia Dukakis, including Darling, Doctor Zhivago, and Moonstruck.

I Think I Love My Wife

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for pervasive language and some sexual content.
Movie Release Date:2007
DVD Release Date:2007

Chris Rock has often said he admires the work of Woody Allen, and in Rock’s latest film, “I Think I Love My Wife,” the comedian tries to channel a very “Allen” vibe. Like Allen, he writes, directs, and stars. And the story is a classic Allen-esque set-up, as a married man wonders whether he would be better off single. But, as with the lesser Allen films, it never achieves a heightened level of dialogue or insight.


Based on a 1972 Eric Rohmer film Chloe in the Afternoon, in this version, it is “Nikki” who presents temptation by repeatedly visiting a married man at work and insisting on less-than-innocent lunches. Richard Cooper (Rock) is a family man who excels in business but finds his personal life intolerably “boring.” He questions the fairness of fidelity and laments the lack of intimacy with his wife. When Richard runs into Nikki — an old friend whose only purpose in life appears to be garnering attention from men, married or not — the rest of the film is not hard to guess.


The concept of a rumination on temptation, especially one that deals with the notion of what it really means to cheat (Nikki and Richard remain platonic; is it “cheating” even if no sex is involved?) is not a terrible idea in itself. As far as realizing the idea, Rock does an adequate job of portraying the ways in which Richard and Nikki’s “platonic” relationship becomes detrimental to his wife and family. Even though no sex is involved it forces Richard to concoct elaborate lies and detracts attention from his other relationships. The film ultimately fails to make Nikki an enticing character. She is just a one-dimensional manipulator. This removes the drama, the danger, and the interest from the story. With no charm in her personality, it becomes painfully clear how heavily her controlling personality highlights the deficiencies of others (most notably, Richard and his inability to say “Go away”). The near entirety of the film has audiences accompanying Richard to crossroad after crossroad, only to watch him make bad choice after bad choice. The overwhelming sense is that Richard is likeable, but sympathy wears thin as it becomes obvious that he’s not a victim of Nikki’s persistence as much as he is a victim of his own lack of resolve.


Parents should know that although the film seems intended to be quirky, the very adult themes of sex and lust are crucial aspects of both plot and dialogue. Rock’s well-established observations on racially determined cultural stereotypes are also extremely prevalent. Viewers should know that the n-word appears repeatedly in conversational dialogue.


Families who see this film should discuss the concept of marriage and what it can mean for a couple to be in a committed relationship. At which point did Richard’s relationship with Nikki become a threat to his marriage? Can the moment be pinpointed to a specific incident, such as when Richard lies to his wife about how long it’s been since he last saw Nikki? Or is it more general, such as the fact that spending time with Nikki begins to have a negative effect on his job performance and leads him to be argumentative with his wife and friends? Richard is also depicted as being devoted to his children; parents might discuss how this devotion could translate into better choices, such as focusing on providing a safe atmosphere at home and building a more positive relationship with his wife.


Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy Alfie, the story of a womanizing Londoner that first came to theatres in 1966 and has since been remade to star Jude Law. Families might also consider watching any of the many available Woody Allen films, including Manhattan and Stardust Memories, which focus on sex, fidelity, and relationships.

Premonition

posted by jmiller
F+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some violent content, disturbing images, thematic material and brief language.
Movie Release Date:2007
DVD Release Date:2007

With little style and no substance, this low-wattage forgettable thriller plays like a rejected episode of “The Twilight Zone.” Linda (Sandra Bullock) wakes up every day in a different reality (and a different sleeping outfit — she has quite the collection of nighties and pajamas). One day, she opens the door to a cop who tells her that her husband has been killed in a car accident. The next day, he’s in the kitchen having breakfast and watching television. Another day, it’s his funeral, and she can’t remember how her daughter got cuts all over her face and some scary people are coming to take her to a hospital. Another day, she goes to see him in his office and wonders if there might be something going on with that pretty new assistant manager (Amber Valetta). She begins to figure out that she’s living the days out of order. Can she change the future she has already experienced?


Bullock is appealing and committed as always, Valetta shows again that she has a sympathetic screen presence and can make the most of a few moments, and Nia Long as Linda’s best friend makes us wish the movie was about her. But the two things you are entitled to expect from a movie like this one are some “aha” moments as all the pieces of the plot come together and some “ahh” moments as the main characters learn something meaningful. What we get instead are a couple of “gotcha” fake-outs that are more exploitive than spooky (and no surprise to anyone who has the vaguest idea of the movie’s premise) and a “that’s it?” moment at the end that makes Linda’s character seem creepy rather than sympathetic.


Haven’t we lived through this before? And was it just as bad the last time? One reality she unfortunately can’t change is the ineluctable trudge toward the appallingly boneheaded ending.

Parents should know that this movie has some intense peril and disturbing images. A character is killed and a child is hurt. There is a bloody dead bird (later we see what happened to it). Characters use brief strong language, smoke, drink wine, and pharmaceutical medication is prescribed and forcibly injected. There is a non-explicit sexual situation and there are references to adultery. Issues of destiny and premonition may be upsetting to some audience members. A strength of the movie is the portrayal of a close friendship between diverse characters.


Families who see this movie should talk about times they have felt they knew something that was going to happen. What did Linda decide was worth fighting for?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the much better Frequency and Deja Vu (intense and graphic violence and terrorism). The Family Man and Me, Myself & I are non-thriller explorations of roads not taken in family relationships.

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