Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Fading Gigolo
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some sexual content, language and brief nudity
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

 

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some crude comments, language and action violence
Release Date:
December 25, 2013

Transcendence
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

 

The Nut Job
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and rude humor
Release Date:
January 17, 2014

Bears
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

 

Grudge Match
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sports action violence, sexual content and language
Release Date:
December 25, 2013

Jackass:The Movie

posted by rkumar
F
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2002

This is not a movie in the conventional sense of the word. There is no story and there are no characters. It is not a documentary because it features stunts created just for the movie. What it is is an endurance contest for adolescents (and perpetual adolescents) and a comedy for people so bereft of empathy that they think it is funny to see people hurt themselves.

When discussing the idea of seeing the movie Jackass, prospective viewers should ask themselves one question: how enjoyable would it be for you to watch a movie in which people abuse their bodies to perform stunts in the most grotesque manner imaginable? If you answered that you would find this highly enjoyable and extremely amusing, Jackass is the movie for you. Anyone else, however, should run screaming in the other direction.

Jackass is an extended, more explicit version of the popular MTV show in which a group of idiotic guys perform idiotic stunts that involve such things as running around in their underwear and puking. Like the MTV show, the movie does not have a plot. It documents the same group of people from the TV show, led by Johnny Knoxville, performing extremely stupid and often very dangerous stunts. To give you a taste of the movie’s humor, one of the stunts involves a man snorting wasabi up his nose and then proceeding to vomit it out. Another stunt involves a man who is eating a snow cone—except that in this case the man has urinated on the snow, and therefore knows he is eating his own bodily waste. Another involves a man using the demo toilet in a store’s plumbing display, even though it is not hooked up to any plumbing. Then there are the stunts involving stuffing objects not intended for that purpose into bodily orafices also not intended for that purpose. The most appropriate commentary on the movie comes from a cameraman who becomes so disgusted that he throws up, which, of course, gets incorporated into the movie. Even for people who enjoy bathroom humor, Jackass wears thin because its unremitting brand of literally painful bathroom humor just isn’t funny.

This movie earns an R rating due to the excessive display of bodily fluids and use of vulgar language. But there is no rating contemplated by the MPAA that would provide any useful guidance about its appropriateness for audiences of any age. Parents should know that the movie includes very disgusting and visually explicit gags (a very appropriate term).

The one interesting feature of the movie is what it doesn’t show: at no point do any women participate in the incredibly stupid, hazardous tricks portrayed in Jackass. Was the director trying to make a subtle statement about the common sense (or lack thereof) of men vs. women?

Jackass raises a fundamental question: how far should a person really go for laugh? After 120 minutes of watching endless, hazardous, foul, gory, gruesome, execrable, and moronic tricks the answer seems clear: not really as far as the “jackasses” in this have chosen to go.

The Pianist

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2002

The Pianist is an emotionally devastating true story of a Jewish pianist in Poland caught up in the horrors of World War II.

Director Roman Polanski, himself a survivor of the Holocaust who lost many family members, powerfully conveys the epic journey of a man who is transformed by a series of events from an elegantly dressed, highly cultured musician to a scavenging, debased shell of a human being.

The Nazis invade Poland, confine Jews to a ghetto, and eventually ship them off to concentration camps. There is heartbreaking and graphic violence. Yet, Polanski delivers this difficult message in a very thoughtful, skillful way. Just when the audience is on the verge of becoming numbed by the grim life in the ghetto, the pianist escapes for a day and walks through the bright flower stalls in the crowded market outside the ghetto. It reminds the viewer of how far the pianist has fallen from a “normal” life, but it gives the viewer the same brief respite that it gives the pianist. Just when the Nazi brutality against the Jews seems unbearable, a music-loving German soldier treats the pianist kindly while Jewish victims prey on each other.

The most effective parts of the movie are the small, vivid, almost unbearably poignant human moments. In one, a family awaiting a transport train which will take them away to a concentration camp combines all their remaining money to buy a single caramel which they carefully divide into four tiny portions.

This is clearly not a movie for children. However, in addition to being an excellent work of art, it is an instructive movie for teenagers who take for granted the comfort and stability of their world. In “The Pianist,” war is not glamorous and the most principled and courageous people are among its first victims. “The Pianist” is an excellent movie about survival, fate, and values. It is a very worthwhile movie for young adults.

Parents should know that the movie has strong language and graphic and horrific violence, including casual murder of Jews.

Families who appreciate this movie will also appreciate “Life is Beautiful,” “Schindler’s List,” and “The Harmonists.”

Mummy, The: Quest for the Lost Scrolls

posted by rkumar
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2002

This movie is an animated and more kid-friendly version of the stories in the action-packed thrillers “The Mummy” and “The Mummy Returns” — a Saturday-morning-cartoon-style version of the adventures of intrepid archeologists Rick and Evy O’Connell and their 11-year-old son, Alex.

Rick is a big, brave, dashing, and very gung-ho American who more often ends up destroying mummies while saving the world from ancient curses than studying them. And Evy, his brilliant librarian-turned-archaeologist wife, is as feisty as the men. There’s also Uncle Jonathan, Evy’s brother, providing some comic relief. And Ardeth, the brave Medji warrior, helps the family around the globe with his knowledge of Egypt, and is always a hero without being too flashy.

The plot is pretty much the same video-game version of Pandora’s box as the feature installments. Once again, the western explorers accidentally get themselves involved in an ancient curse and have to save the world, the saving involving a lot of acrobatic fight scenes. Alex, foolishly (but they don’t ever emphasize this in the show, do they?) gets an ancient Egyptian manacle stuck to his wrist, which won’t come off without the power of the “lost scrolls”. Unfortunately, the homicidal mummy Imhotep has again awakened, and he wants the scrolls too, as a way of accessing power over pretty much everything and everyone. Basically, the group must race against the mummy to get to the scrolls, locating clues along the way that point them in the right direction.

Even though the story-line is now animated and the violence is less graphic, it still may be too scary for some children. The mucus-dripping mummy may even be too scary for some adults.

This is better than a lot of what is out there for kids who enjoy action/adventure stories with exotic settings. It may even spark some interest in finding out about ancient Egypt and about the real work of archeologists, who, thank goodness, are a lot more careful about excavating the artifacts than the O’Connells are. Use this video to inspire a visit to your local library or museum to learn more about the fascinating culture and the adventures of the 19th and 20th century scholars who have studied it.

Nicholas Nickleby

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:2002

Screenwriter/director Douglas McGrath has produced a respectful condensation of Charles Dickens’s rich and sprawling novel of the young sister and brother who find memorable friends and foes when they venture to London for the first time after the death of their father.

This is the story that the Royal Shakespeare Company turned into a stunning almost-word-for-word 9-hour version starring Roger Rees. There is no way that any two-hour version could compare with one of the most unforgettable theatrical experiences of the last century, and it does not try. McGrath has focused on the heart (in both senses of the word) of Dickens’ story, the struggle by Nicholas against his uncle’s attempts to corrupt or destroy him. Although he has had to jettison many colorful characters and huge sections of the story, his skillful paring preserves the essence of the novel’s tone and themes and the result is thoroughly satisfying on its own terms.

Nicholas (Charles Hunnam) and his sister Kate (Romola Garai) grow up in a small house in the country, the devoted children of devoted parents. But their father speculates unwisely in an attempt to follow the example of his successful brother. When he dies, the family must go to the brother for help. The brother is Ralph Nickleby, who lives in a huge house filled with a collection of stuffed and mounted animals that seem to be poised to pounce on anyone who is careless enough to look away.

Nicholas and Kate take the jobs Ralph procures for them. They are so kind themselves that they do not realize that he sees them the way he would see a shilling – only worth his time if he can use them to his advantage. He sends Nicholas off to become a teacher at a boys’ school in Yorkshire and he sends Kate off to work for a dressmaker.

The school is run by Wackford Squeers (Jim Broadbent) and his wife (Juliette Stevenson). They starve and beat the boys and steal the money and gifts sent to them by their families. One particular boy, known only as Smike (Jamie Bell of “Billy Elliot”), is the most severely abused, because he has no family.

Nicholas does the best he can to teach and befriend the boys, but his gentle upbringing has not prepared him to take on such unabashed cruelty. When he spurns the advances of the Squeers’ daughter, her parents decide the best way to hurt Nicholas is to abuse Smike. Nicholas, unable to bear seeing Smike beaten again, thrashes Squeers and he and Smike escape.

On their way back to London, they meet up with literature’s most irresistible troupe of actors, the company established by the spectacularly theatrical Vincent Crummles (Nathan Lane) and his wife (Barry Humphries of “Dame Edna Everage” fame). Their special attractions include their daughter — a perpetual juvenile of indeterminate age billed as “the Infant Phenomenon,” and a real working pump that he tries to work into every production just because it is such a novelty to see on stage. They welcome Nicholas and Smike warmly and invite them to join them in their production of “Romeo and Juliet.”

Nicholas and Smike are very happy there until they get a letter from Kate. Ralph has allowed his unsavory business associates to treat her disrespectfully. Like Nicholas, she does not have enough experience of the world to abandon her natural gentility and the circumstances and conventions of her culture and era give a woman without the protection of a man few options in responding to abuse.

Nicholas returns to London with Smike and denounces his uncle, who swears he will get revenge. With the help of the kind and generous Cherryble brothers and a few melodramatic revelations, Nicholas and Kate manage to find true love and happiness.

Dickens books lend themselves beautifully to film. He created strong, very distinctive characters, gorgeous dialogue (the movie is worth seeing just for the way Lane delivers Crummles’ speeches), and wonderfully dramatic stories with all the audience-pleasers Vincent Crummles would love to put on for an audience – dastardly villains, true-hearted heroes, love, hate, revenge, comedy, tragedy — and a working pump. McGrath and his actors clearly view this as a labor of love, and every detail is beautifully realized, with one of the best ensemble performances of the year. The one exception is Hunnam as Nicholas. It is a challenge for any actor to play a good-guy hero whose job is to react to all of those vivid characters, but Hunnam never manages to show us anything of Nicholas’ growing depth and resolve.

Parents should know that the movie has child abuse, some tense and upsetting family scenes, and sad deaths. A character commits suicide and it is portrayed as a just response to a terrible revelation. There is a brief and somewhat graphic childbirth scene with a nude baby.

Families who see this movie should talk about how parents can both protect their children and prepare them for a world in which not everyone will be as kind to them as their families are.

Families who enjoy this movie should see McGrath’s similarly meticulous version of Jane Austen’s “Emma,” starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam. They should also see the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 9-hour version, a magnificent achievement, and they might want to see some of the many other movie versions of Dickens’ books, including “A Christmas Carol,” “Great Expectations,” and “David Copperfield.”

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