Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Love is Strange
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language
Release Date:
08/22/2014

 

Adventure Planet
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:

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

 

Blended
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and language.
Release Date:
May 23, 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

 

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some scary images and mild peril
Release Date:
May 9, 2014

Fever Pitch

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2005

The only thing surprising about this completely conventional big studio date movie is that it comes from the joyfully outrageous Farrelly brothers (There’s Something About Mary, Shallow Hal) and the literary but widely-read Nick Hornby. The Hollywood studio de-flavorizing machine has toned them down and flattened them out and the result is perfectly enjoyable but perfectly forgettable.

Hornby’s autobiographical novel is about a guy who crossed the line from fan to fanatic back in childhood. The book and the original movie of the same name are about a teacher in England who is passionately committed to a soccer team with a heartbreaking record. In this version, Ben Wrightman (Jimmy Fallon) — note meaningful last name — is a high school teacher who happily explains his priorities on ESPN: The Red Sox, sex, and breathing.

But Lindsay Meeks (Drew Barrymore) — no idea what that last name is supposed to signify — doesn’t meet that guy. She meets “winter guy,” a sweetheart of a beau who takes tender care of her when she has food poisoning and reminds her that there’s more to life than her job. By the time he has to explain why he can’t go to her parents’ party because he has to be at spring training, she already likes him enough to ask herself whether she can live with “summer guy” for half the year.

This is not a HA-HA movie. It is a chuckle/awww/chuckle/awwwwwww movie. Fallon and Barrymore are adorable and seem to get a genuine kick out of each other. We know where this will all end up. The only surprise in the movie is the one everyone already found out about when the Sox won the World Series (thus requiring the original script to be rewritten with an even happier happy ending). On the way there are some distractions — some are pretty funny, like the brief scene where Ben decides which of his friends get to use his sensational seats in Fenway Park, but most are a complete waste of time like the scenes with Lindsay’s friends and family. This gives it a dragged-out feeling, like the movie has gone into extra innings.

Parents should know that the movie includes some strong and crude language, including at least three jokes about male sexual organs. There are sexual references and non-explicit sexual situations including (spoiler alert) a pregnancy scare. Characters drink (Ben tells Lindsay one thing he likes about her is that she drinks) and (briefly) smoke.

Families who see this movie should talk about the fine line between being a fan and being a fanatic. They should discuss the ways that caring deeply about a team, a star, a movie, or a video game, can make people feel like they are part of something, especially when they share those feelings with friends. How were Lindsay’s feelings about her job like Ben’s feelings about the Red Sox? Why is it important to care about something you can’t control?

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy some baseball movie classics like Field of Dreams and It Happens Every Spring. They will also enjoy comparing it to the original Fever Pitch, based on Nick Hornby’s autobiographical novel about his obsession with soccer, as well as Hornby’s other books and the movies based on them, About a Boy and High Fidelity. And they will enjoy Woman of the Year, in which sportswriter Spencer Tracy teaches political columnist Katharine Hepburn the joys of baseball in the first of their nine films together.

Sullivan’s Travels

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:1941

“Sully” Sullivan (Joel McCrea) is a successful director of silly comedies, including Ants in Your Pants and Hey, Hey in the Hayloft. The studio wants him to make more, but he wants to make a movie with a serious message about The Depression and man’s inhumanity to man. He plans on calling it “0 Brother, Where Art Thou?”

When he lists all the things that are wrong with the world, the studio executive replies, “Maybe they’d like to forget that.” His own butler advises him that “the subject is not an interesting one. The poor know all about poverty, and only the morbid rich find the subject glamorous…. It is to be stayed away from, even for the purpose of study. It is to be shunned.” But Sullivan is determined.

Before he can make the movie, he has to see what life is like as a “bum.” His first efforts fail, as the luxurious studio trailer follows him around. He meets “the Girl” (Veronica Lake), a would-be actress, and she persuades him to let her go with him, dressed as a boy, and they start over again.

This time he discovers the sadness and lack of dignity among the homeless. But before he can go back home, he and the Girl are separated, and he is hit on the head, becomes disoriented, and loses his memory. He punches a railroad guard and is sentenced to six years on a chain gang. Meanwhile, the hobo who has stolen his shoes is killed and, through the studio identification card sewn into the shoes, is identified as Sullivan. One night, the prisoners are taken to a small church, where they see a Mickey Mouse cartoon. Sullivan realizes the joy laughter gives to these men who have nothing else.

When Sullivan regains his memory, he gets out of jail by “confessing” to his own murder so he can contact his lawyer and be properly identified. He goes home to find that his wife has remarried, leaving him free to marry the Girl. And he resolves to make more funny movies, because he realizes that is the best contribution he can make, concluding, “There’s a lot to be said for making people laugh. Did you know that’s all that some people have? It isn’t much, but it’s better than nothing in this cock-eyed caravan.”

Sensitive teenagers often make the mistake of thinking they cannot care deeply and still find things funny, or that those around them cannot appreciate their pain and still find anything funny, even something that has no relation to the situation they are struggling with. This movie makes it clear that laughter and insight go together, that humor is never an insult to a serious situation, indeed that humor can be the highest form of awareness and perception, and that making people laugh can be a good way to help them.

Sullivan himself is funny, with his pretensions and his misguided attempts to find out what poverty is like.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Sullivan wants to make a different kind of movie? Why don’t the studio executives want him to? How do they try to persuade him? What is the difference between the ways that the two servants try to find out how Sullivan can board the train? Why does the second one work? What does the Girl mean when she says, “The nice thing about buying food for a man is that you don’t have to laugh at his jokes”? What does Sullivan learn from the Mickey Mouse cartoon? Do you think this is the kind of movie Sullivan would make when he gets back to the studio?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy other movies by Sturges, especially The Lady Eve. The title of the Cohen brothers’ movie, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou was a tribute to Sturges.

Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:G
Movie Release Date:2005
DVD Release Date:2005

Telegraph Hill, overlooking the North Beach section of San Francisco, is a place where all kinds of creatures from all kinds of places can feel welcome. One of them is onetime musician Mark Bittner, a man with “no visible means of support” who is himself the support for some of the neighborhood’s most colorful residents, a flock of bright green wild parrots.

Bittner knows and loves each one of them. He is in one respect a sort of St. Francis of Telegraph Hill, carting huge bags of birdseed home on the bus to feed to them and taking the sick ones into his home to nurse them. But he is also their Jane Goodall, possibly the only person in history to study a group of parrots so intently over so long a period.

Bittner does not have a job, at least not one that pays him anything. He lives rent-free in a crumbling cottage and gets free pastries from a local cafe. The birds are his full-time job. He studies them, reads up on them, consults the bird specialist at the local zoo, and develops his own treatments, even grooming one parrot when he no longer has a mate to do it for him.

Through Bittner, even the least animal-friendly viewer will begin to fall in love with these brave and beautiful birds. His passion, dedication, and understanding are first impressive, then touching, then transcendent as he begins to talk about the death of a beloved parrot named Tupelo and tells a story from a zen master about the way we are all connected. The movie’s conclusion is a moment of breathtaking perfection — the sweetest connection of all.

Parents should know that the movie has some very sad moments including the death of some of the birds and a sad parting.

Families who see this movie should talk about how Bittner decided what was important to him and the steps he took to help him deal with change and loss in his life.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Winged Migration.”

The Ring Two

posted by rkumar
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2005

First off, this is the kind of sequel where you really should see the Ring before seeing the Ring Two. In addition to the many visual and character references, you also will understand that the second in the series, while scarier, lacks the first’s novelty and many of its strengths.

Single-mom and journalist, Rachel (Naomi Watts), has packed up son, Aidan (David Dorfman), and the city apartment in favor of a new start away from the killer-video-tapes of Seattle. Settling into their new house in a small town near the ocean, Rachel promises Aidan that they did what they had to do to survive, regardless of the immorality of placing other people at risk of the tape’s deadly curse. No sooner can Rachel say “we are safe now”, then she hears about a local teen who has died from terror in front of his television.

Rachel destroys the new tape only to find that deadly little tape-ghost, Samara (Kelly Stables and, on tape, Daveigh Chase), has designs on taking over Aidan. The chase is on: Rachel must find out how to get Samara out of their lives for good, seeking help from the young ghost’s biological mother (Sissy Spacek in a disappointing cameo as the “crazy” women who mothers seek out for advice on their unruly kids). Realizing she will have to take care of business herself, Rachel dives into a series of watery endings that come together in a muddy puddle, ultimately demonstrating that maternal love wins over evil. Or something to that effect.

The crux of the Ring Two’s scariness is that Samara is free from the rules of the first movie. She pops out of the video and into their lives without the requisite seven-day waiting period and, like Edward Gorey’s Doubtful Guest, shows no intention of leaving. When she makes the Child Protective Services agent assigned to Aidan’s case inject herself in the jugular with a syringe full of air, Samara is showing that this is her world now and it will work to her rules. The dominant imagery in the Ring Two is water and hydrophobic Samara, killed in a well, exercises her nightmares on all those she touches.

Director Hideo Nakata, who was the mastermind behind the Ring’s inspiration (Japanese blockbuster “Ringu” and the less popular “Ringu 2”), excels at atmospherics but is lazy with plot. While spookier than the first, the bare bones of the movie read like a rehashed Lifetime (cable’s “television for women”) drama. A mom protects her child against a threat no one else understands, only to be forcibly removed from her child by authorities, who in turn are punished, and to end the horror, mom must sacrifice herself in some way, thus saving her child.

If you are willing to jump over the plot’s many weak bits, then this psychological thriller is a good-looking spook-fest and a should-see for fans of the original. For those looking for a tight, tense stand-alone horror movie, they might want to peek into another dark corner.

Parents should know that this movie is extremely scary and there is near-constant peril for all the major characters. Younger and horror-adverse audiences will be frightened by numerous scenes and images, including the attempted murder of young children and the suicides of parents. There are deer attacks, attempted drownings, chase scenes, a spooky basement and the non-explicit but horrific off-screen deaths of characters. There is a very graphic “suicide” and references to madness. A character swears in a very memorable and scary scene.

Families who see this movie might want to talk about the consequences of our actions. At the end of the Ring, Rachel made a choice and the Ring Two represents the outcome of her choice. What else could she have done? What are the teenagers in the beginning of the movie choosing to do in a similar situation? What would you do differently?

Families who enjoy watching scary movies together want to watch “Poltergeist”, “The Grudge”, “The Sixth Sense”, or “The Shining”. If they have not yet seen “The Ring” then they should watch that before this sequel.

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