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

Beerfest

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for pervasive crude and sexual content, language, nudity and substance abuse.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

The boys of Broken Lizard have no shame. That’s what their fans like about them.

There’s something quant, cute and even endearing (stick with me here) about their more innocent jokes, the ones where the laughs aren’t cheap but are grounded in character and a genuine affinity for the good times. This latest film has definite moments of comedy that echo the sweeter moments in Super Troopers (Yes, there are a few!), and if you’ve ever found them charming, you won’t be disappointed. If, however, you have ever found them peurile, lazy, and repulsive, this will not be the film that will change your mind.


Lizard’s Erik Stolhanske and Paul Soter play brothers of German decent who travel to Munich with the intent of spreading their father’s ashes, only to stumble upon a sort of “drinking Olympics” that Americans have been kept determinately excluded from. Inspired to defend their country’s dignity and fueled by a personal need to restore the family’s good name, the brothers return to the states with a plan to put together a drinking team and train, with copious drinking, for next year’s competition.


The jokes are obscene and lewd, and there are moments of on-screen chaos that suggest the troupe could use someone over their shoulder to reign in the more ludicrous scenes of pandemonium. But after all the pieces that didn’t quite make sense have fallen through the cracks of memory, audiences inclined toward this kind of humor may be left with a general impression of some very funny moments. If you’re not offended by the grandmother who is revealed to have been a prostitute (revealed, of course, in much more offensive terms) or the old school friend who currently is a prostitute (played by director Jay Chandrasekhar), what you find is some surprisingly winning characters.

The sweet scientist, nerdy and too mature for his emotionally and intellectually stunted friends, played in a lab coat and thick-framed glasses by Steve Lemme, seems to put up with the others out of an enchanting loyalty that is both admirable and against his better judgment. The unimposing yet larger-than-life Kevin Heffernan plays Landfill, a staple in the competitive eating circuit whose innocence and baby-faced enthusiasm is hard to dislike, even with the abundant profanity that pours out of his mouth as easily as the beer and hot dogs pour in. The two brothers are well-conceived, and the group of actors who play the German team breath a life and vitality into the roles that will make fans of the genre of slob/gross-out/they said WHAT? humor forgive them for what doesn’t work.


Parents should know that this film is for very immature mature audiences only. The dialogue consists of extremely strong, offensive, and vulgar language inappropriate for younger viewers, and there are scenes of nudity, including scenes of women with their shirts ripped off and male nudity from the back and side. Some audience members may be offended by the objectification of women, and also by the profuse stereotyping of individuals of different nationalities. There are repeated references to masturbation, oral sex, prostitution, and, of course, reckless drinking. Parents should be very cautious that this film not be a teenager’s first introduction to any of these themes and that anyone who sees the film understands the more serious consequences surrounding these themes before seeing them presented in a humorous light.


Families who see this movie should discuss the concept of family honor, and why it’s important to protect and look after family members. Families should also discuss patriotism and sportsmanship as it relates to international competitions, and how an individual being on another team or from another country does not necessarily make him or her an adversary. Parents should also encourage their families to think about the difference between loyalty to friends and peer pressure, and how to stay faithful to friends while maintaining good judgment.


Families who enjoyed this movie will enjoy the troupe’s 2001 feature Super Troopers, the Austin Powers trilogy, and Animal House, the college comedy that Broken Lizard, a comedy troup created by a group of college friends, has cited in the past as an inspiration. (All have mature material.)

Accepted

posted by jmiller
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for language, sexual material and drug content.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

Bartleby (Justin Long) has been turned down at every single college he applied to. His friends’ college plans have also turned out badly.

No problem. Bartleby is a can-do Ferris Bueller type — without “Twist and Shout,” a red Ferrari, a wealthy family, or a clever script.

He makes up a college, the South Harmon Institute of Technology. Its initials provide not only some sense of the movie’s level of humor but also the script’s most frequent word. All goes well until he realizes that he’s going to need more than a website and an acceptance letter. Eventually, the summer will end and he will need an actual place to go.

No problem.

Bartleby and his friends fix up a building and hire an alcoholic former professor-turned-shoe-salesman (Lewis Black) to act as its dean.


All goes well until it turns out a lot of other kids have gone to the fake school’s fake website and printed out what they think are real letters of acceptance, and they show up expecting to move in and to go to school.


Problem.


Fortunately, all of those kids have brought checks for their tuition, so Bartleby sets up a system of student-led learning, using that term very loosely. And all goes very, very well indeed until the snobby kids at the real college nearby decide to arrange for a simultaneous South Harmon parents’ weekend and a visit from the accredidation authorities.


Big problem.


This movie doesn’t have the intellectual heft to write its name correctly to get 200 points on its SATs, but the unpretentious good humor of its cast, brisk running time, a couple of funny lines, and the wish fulfillment fantasy of a college where you can do anything you want give it some genial appeal. It helps, too, that aside from the bad language, underage drinking, slight air of nihilism, and, what is that other thing, oh, yes, the fact that all the characters lie and cheat, there is some real sweetness in the way the characters treat each other. If this movie was a college application essay, it would be the kind that makes the office of admissions decide to overlook lackluster grades and take a chance.

Parents should know that this movie has very strong language and very crude humor for a PG-13. Characters drink and make fake IDs for those underage. There are some crude sexual remarks but the movie’s heroes and heroines do not engage in casual sex. However, the main characters engage in a great deal of risky and unethical behavior. For example, they lie, cheat, and steal.

Families who see this movie should talk about the pressure on high school students to get into the “right” college. They may also want to look at highly respected schools with alternative programs that give students the chance to design their own curriculum. Summerhill is an educational classic, now out of date but still worth reading. Do you think Bartleby’s name is a possible tribute to the Herman Melville’s character who said “I prefer not to” when asked to do his job?


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Camp Nowhere, which has an almost identical plot, as well as other campus comedies from Monkey Business to National Lampoon’s Animal House (for mature audiences only), Good News, and P.C.U.

Step Up

posted by jmiller
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, brief violence and innuendo.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

A ballet dancer needs a partner for the biggest show of the year. She sees a boy working off his community service time at her school showing some of his dance moves off to a friend. Could he do? Will he do it? Will they learn a great deal from each other and about themselves as they work together and will there be an issue right up until showtime about whether the big dance number will happen?

Yes to all of the above, and yes, too, to the really big question, which is: will it be fun to watch? Imagine a hip-hop version of High School Musical, some juvenile delinquency and a drive-by shooting added in to provide some street cred, but still a Disney-fied world where kisses are important and happy endings are guaranteed.

Ever since the days when Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney decided to put on a show, movies about kids working hard on song and dance numbers for the big night that will decide their futures have been a staple for showing off young talent to an appreciative young audience. Like the recent Save the Last Dance, this is the story of a mash-up, as the ballet dancer learns to loosen up and the boy from the streets learns discipline and technique.

Jenna Dewan is Nora, a senior at a Maryland high school for the arts. Tyler (Channing Tatum) is assigned 200 hours of community service at the school for vandalism. Nora is preparing for the big showcase that will determine whether she gets offered a job as a dancer. When her partner Andrew is injured, she asks Tyler if he will practice with her until Andrew is better.

The screenplay is so formulaic that it seems not just predictable but inevitable. The dialogue struggles mightily under its exposition-heavy burden until it collapses completely. Tatum and Dewan are about 10 years too old to be playing high school kids. These kids are about as “street” as a commercial for Target. But the dance numbers are energetically filmed and the underlying sweetness is impossible to resist. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard applause in a movie theater just because of a kiss. And it’s been an even longer time since I wanted to join in.

Parents should know that this movie has brief but disturbing violence. A young character is shot and killed. There are some other moments of peril and threatened violence. Characters use some strong language and engage in vandalism and car theft. A strength of the movie is its portrayal of committed and loyal friendships between diverse characters. And another is its portrayals of teenagers who are not sexually promiscuous and take kissing seriously. SPOILER ALERT: A young boy is killed because he wants to imitate and impress his older brother, who engages in risky and illegal behavior. The brother is told not to feel responsible, but in reality he is in part responsible for what happened and parents will want to discuss this issue with young teens who see the movie.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Tyler and Mac did not dare to dream of more for themselves and why that changed. What is likely to happen to them next? The characters in this movie talk about loyalty — who shows it? How do Nora’s, Tyler’s, and Mac’s home situations affect their perspectives?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy High School Musical (suitable for all ages). There are many popular films about dancers who develop romantic relationships, from Dirty Dancing and Save the Last Dance (mature material) to the more family-friendly Shall We Dance and Strictly Ballroom.

World Trade Center

posted by jmiller
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for intense and emotional content, some disturbing images and language.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

September 11, 2001 was one of those days that cleave history in two, forever separating the Before and the After as irrecovably as it separated those who were lost from those who survived. As we watched it over and over on television, trying to make some sense of the senseless, people said the same thing, over and over, “It’s like a movie.”


And now, it is a movie, or, so far, three movies with certainly more to come.

That is a part of a tradition that goes back to sagas around the campfire and paintings on the walls of caves. We create stories to help us make sense of our past and to think about our hopes for the future. We are still telling stories about courage and loss through the lens of every major conflict in history. In the last few years we’ve seen major, big-budget movies about great tragic conflicts from the Trojan War through Operation Desert Storm. Their stories about about sacrifice and heroism are a part of the way we make sense of the world.


That very tradition, combined with events that still seem surreal to us, make it difficult for this particular take on the events of 9/11 to feel satisfying as a matter of narrative or drama. Unlike the recent United 93, which adopted an intimate, documentary style for the story of the passengers who fought back and overpowered the terrorists, this movie takes the Hollywood approach to its story of the rescue of trapped Port Authority police.

Where United 93 used unfamiliar faces to allow us to feel we were seeing the real story, World Trade Center gives us Oscar-Winner and Hollywood royalty Nicolas Cage. Where United 93 told us nothing more about the characters than was revealed in the real-time unfolding of events onscreen, making everything that happened disorienting and surprising, World Trade Center gives us the traditional Hero introduction to the characters, with flashbacks to show us their family relationships.

The film begins by telling us it is based on “actual” recollections of the people involved. The use of that word exemplifies the kind of underlining that makes it feel clumsy.


The traditional approach to telling this story only comes across as off-register because it makes it seem — like a movie. Instead of making us feel connected to the real-life events of 9/11, its rhythms and cadences recall other movies, disaster movies like The Towering Inferno, or action movies like Die Hard.


There is a disconnect, too. We are set up for heroes, and then the focus of the story is more on the endurance and anxiety of the main characters than on their heroism. And the title leads us to expect something broader and more all-encompassing. There were thousands of stories in the World Trade Center. This movie focuses on one rescue mission, a deeply affecting story but not as transcendent as its title and set-up prepare us for.


Cage and Crash’s Michael Pena play John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno, Port Authority cops called in to the World Trade Center without knowing exactly what the emergency was. “We prepared for everything,” McLoughlin says. “But not for this.”


They are first responders. They take a deep breath, leave nighsticks and hats behind and grab some helmets and oxygen tanks to go into the World Trade Center complex to rescue people trapped inside. But very quickly the buildings come down and their group is trapped. And soon, they are the only survivors.


At home, McLoughlin’s wife (Maria Bello) and children and Jimeno’s pregant wife (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and four-year-old daughter wait for news. And in Connecticut, a former Marine named Dave Karnes (Michael Shannon) gets a haircut, puts on his fatigues, and goes to the World Trade Center to see if he can find any survivors.


As McLoughlin and Jimeno lie crushed under slabs of rock, with bursts of flame, exploding bullets, and falling debris, they talk to each other. They provide companionship and support and urge each other to stay awake. They talk about their families. They talk about G.I. Jane and how it said pain was your friend because at least you know you’re allive. They talk about Jesus. They don’t know that the rescue team has gone home for the night. And they don’t know that Karnes has come to the site because he believes that is what God wants him to do.


Director Oliver Stone treats the story and the characters with respect, avoiding the consipiracy themes of some of his earlier movies and focusing on the story of the two injured cops and their families. There are powerful moments, the dazed wounded, lurching through the streets like zombies, paper, ash, and debris raining down around them, the collapse of the buildings, a quiet “There’s a lot of guys not with them” from a cop as he sees only a small fraction of those who went out coming back to the station.

And there is one scene of true brilliance and shattering impact as a mother waiting for news of her son (Viola Davis) recalls that the last time she saw him she scolded him for missing dinner.


But as a whole, it is uneven, its very respect for the “actual” stories that it feels out of balance, the personal information about a rescue worker with a history of substance abuse a distraction rather than a contribution to the whole.


There will be dozens of movies about the events of that day, maybe more. This one will fit better as one tile in a larger mosaic. But now, as one of the first, it does not have enough distance to give us a clearer perspective. And it does not have the right balance to make this part of the story resonate in a way that will help to heal or illuminate the events of 9/11/2001. There are times that a small part of the story can help us to understand the whole, through a true story like Schindler’s List or a fictional version like Saving Private Ryan. Davis’ speech reminds us of that, and shows us what this movie could have, should have been.

Parents should know that this movie is about the terrorist attacks and tragic events of September 11, 2001 and it includes material that is not graphic but very disturbing, including the death of thousands of people, suicide, and severe injury and the terror and devastating grief of family members. There are brief sexual references, including a prostitute, and characters use some strong language. Strengths of the movie include the portrayal of diverse people working together, the ideals of honor, courage, and sacrifice displayed, and the role of faith in some of the character’s lives.


Families who see this movie should talk about their own experiences on 9/11. They should also talk about the choices made by the characters and about the regrets they expressed. Someone says they could not have lived with themselves if they had not gone in — that’s who they were. What does that mean? What is it you want to make sure to say to those you care about most? When will you say it?


Families who appreciate this movie will also appreciate Ladder 49, United 93, We Were Soldiers, and Saving Private Ryan.

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