Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Heaven is for Real
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic material including some medical situations
Release Date:
April 16, 2014

 

Philomena
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 on appeal for some strong language, thematic elements and sexual references
Release Date:
November 22, 2013

Under the Skin
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for graphic nudity, sexual content, some violence and language
Release Date:
April 11, 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

Rio 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 11, 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

Tadpole

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

“Tadpole” is as slight and charming as the title character, a 15-year-old prep school kid named Oscar (played by 25-year-old Aaron Stanford) with a crush on his stepmother.

Oscar comes home for vacation determined to tell his stepmother how he feels. But it is harder than he thought. There are too many people around all the time. And, when he does get her alone, it is a challenge to get Eve (Sigourney Weaver) to see him as anything other than her husband’s bright kid. But the biggest complication is that before he can tell Eve how he feels, he is seduced by her best friend, Diane (Bebe Neuwirth in a performance as dry and potent as a double martini).

So, “Tadpole” combines the coming-of-age movie with some moments of sex comedy. Or, maybe coming-of-age movies always have some moments of sex comedy – making fun of the terror and humiliation of loss of control.

It’s a silly premise, but it can be a silly time of life. Oscar is just outgrowing his childhood nickname of “Tadpole.” He is a winning combination of young and old for his age. The movie makes up for its weak and awkward premise with some moments of great humor and subtle insight. Oscar’s talk with his professor father (John Ritter) about the importance of listening, and his own demonstration of the impact of paying attention on Diane’s friends are nicely done. Stanford, Weaver, and Ritter are all first-rate.

Parents should know that the movie has a lot of non-explicit but mature material, including Diane’s seduction of Oscar. Her friends show a lot of interest in him, too. Characters drink and smoke. Oscar gets drunk, which makes him vulnerable to Diane. And Diane tells Oscar that she can only keep his secret if she does not drink.

Families who see this movie should talk about how young teenagers often develop crushes on unattainable objects as a way of experiencing early feelings of love without the complication of intimacy.

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy Breaking Away and Say Anything.

Swimfan

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

Haven’t we all seen this already? Many times? Too many times?

A nice, cute guy who seems to have it all meets extremely attractive girl who promises him guilt-free sex learns the sad lesson that there is no such thing. The big difference this time is that instead of being a lawyer (“Fatal Attraction”) or a radio show host (“Play Misty for Me”), this time the guy is a high school swimming champion.

Even though anyone who has ever seen a movie will know everything that is going to happen, there are some pretty good jump-out-at-you surprises. Having the hero (Jesse Bradford) spend so much time in the pool, wearing nothing but a swimsuit and goggles, adds to the atmosphere of vulnerability and otherworldliness. Erika Christensen of “Traffic” is very effective in her retro good-girl dresses and high heels, and uses her babyface well to switch instantly from innocence to obsession. Overall, though, the movie is a forgettable retread of more effective thrillers.

Parents should know that the movie has sexual references and situations, strong language, and violence. There is a reference to drug testing of athletes that is positive for steroid use.

Families who see this movie should talk about the choices made by Ben, Amy, and Madison.

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy the woman-scorned-stalker classics Fatal Attraction and Play Misty For Me. They may also want to try the underrated Alicia Silverstone thriller, The Crush.

Swept Away

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

Imagine the potential: a gritty, innovative director remakes a provocative film about gender and class and the clash of diametrically opposed individuals when the tables are turned on their situation. Mix in sexual tension, deserted Ionian islands and two attractive co-stars and you could have a beach bonfire, lighting up the night with fire and sparks.

In this case, there is no spark to start the fire and the only thing “swept away” is the one hour and thirty-three minutes spent watching. What a waste of potential. Guy Ritchie, whose previous films include such witty works as “Snatch” (who will ever trust a pig farmer again?) and “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, directs this updated version of Lina Wertmüller’s love story “Swept Away” (1974).

Ultra-rich, bored, and spiteful Amber Leighton (Madonna) grudgingly boards an insufficiently luxurious private boat from Greece to Italy. She is accompanied by her stone-faced husband (Bruce Greenwood), who seems vaguely amused by his wife’s tantrums. Also in tow are two other couples serving as a mildly debauched background for Amber’s anomie. On the boat, crew member Giuseppe (Adriano Giannini) is a former fisherman who cannot adapt to his new role pampering rich Americans. For him, Amber especially personifies all things evil about capitalism: the same cold, superficial, profit-driven selfishness that robbed him of his means to survive by killing off his “fishes”. Giuseppe, with his “Nature Man” beard, soon becomes the target of Amber’s derision, while she is the subject of his disgust and, after seeing her muscular beauty sunbathing, perverse attraction.

Through a series of mishaps, Amber and Giuseppe find themselves stranded on a deserted island where the tables are turned. Amber must rely on Giuseppe’s fishing abilities to survive and he is far from a willing provider. In exchange for food, Amber must become his servant – washing his clothes, kissing his feet, responding to his slaps with “yes, Master” – a situation in which she finds that (you guessed it) she actually loves him just as he loves her.

Adriano Giannini, whose father (Giancarlo Giannini) played the same character of Giuseppe in the original, glowers convincingly onscreen, but it is a generally wooden Madonna who adds the one spark to this otherwise soggy fare during her fantasy dance sequence.

Parents should know that this movie contains strong language, some violence and a near-rape. Amber’s verbal domination of Giuseppe on the boat is disturbing but his physical domination of her on the island is completely unsuitable for younger children (and many adults).

Families who see this movie should talk about the power politics in relationships. How is the power dynamic of domination and submission affected by situations beyond the characters’ control? How does money influence the actions of the different characters?

Families who enjoyed this film might consider other movies where the central character is forced to make a journey of self-discovery when survival is on the line (movies such as “Castaway,” “The Admirable Crichton,” “The Little Hut,” or “Lord of the Flies”) or a comic treatment of a similar plot with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell in “Overboard.” However, for those who wish to see romantic sparks fly when opposites clash, skip this movie altogether and watch “African Queen” again.

Sweet Home Alabama

posted by rkumar
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:PG-13 for some language and sexual references
Movie Release Date:2002
DVD Release Date:2002

It’s official. Reese Witherspoon is the new Meg Ryan.

That means Witherspoon has the charm, sparkle, and impeccable comic timing to keep an entire movie afloat and make it look effortless. She makes watching it seem effortless, too. That’s a good thing, because it takes every bit of her talent and all-around adorability to keep it aloft, considering the considerable weight of its uncertain script. Without her, even the enticing premise and an exceptionally able supporting cast would sink under the weight of a plot that somehow manages to be both predictable and disjointed (I’d bet a bucket of popcorn that there was some serious recutting along the way).

Witherspoon plays Melanie Carmichael, a fashion designer just breaking through to the big time with her first solo show. Not only is it a huge success, but she also gets a swooningly romantic marriage proposal from a gorgeous, thoughtful, supportive man who adores her – and who happens to be the son of the mayor of New York (Candice Bergen).

It’s the 21st century Cinderella dream come true, except for one hitch — literally. Way back when she was just Melanie Cooter of Pigeon Creek, Alabama, she got herself hitched to her childhood sweetheart, and now she needs to get herself unhitched so that she can be free to marry Prince Charming.

So, she goes back home for the first time in seven years, and she finds out that you can take the girl out of Pigeon Creek, but you can’t take Pigeon Creek out of the girl. Her accent comes back, and, more disconcertingly, so do some of her feelings for her husband, Jake (Josh Lucas).

The movie spends too much time reuniting Melanie with people from her past. There’s a lot of “Melanie? Is that you, girl?” It also spends much too much time introducing us to all kinds of adorable cracker stereotypes without much payoff. It wastes time on a tired plot twist about Melanie’s exaggeration of her family’s social standing that even the movie’s characters seem bored with. But Witherspoon is such an unquenchably winning presence and such a fine actress that I defy anyone to watch it without smiling.

A terrific soundtrack also helps, with a cover of the irresistible title tune and delicious songs by country greats. Lucas and Dempsey are both dreamy enough that even movie-savvy viewers may find it hard to pick the winner. Director Andy Tennant (“Ever After”) delivers a romantic comedy that should be able to hold a strong position at the box office until the next Julia Roberts movie comes along.

Parents should know that the movie has brief strong language, gay characters (one out, one closeted) who are positively portrayed, and references to an out of wedlock teen pregnancy. Melanie gets drunk (and gets sick). Drinking, vandalism and minor crimes are portrayed as evidence of a free spirit.

Families who see this movie should talk about why people are tempted to lie about their past, and how they would respond if they found out someone they cared about had lied to them. What does Melanie mean when she says “I figured if I was pointing at you, no one would see through me.” What didn’t she want them to see? What is Melanie likely to do next?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy, “The Runaway Bride” and “Never Been Kissed.” They should also check out the wonderful classic with a similar plot, “I Know Where I’m Going.”

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