“Meerkat Manor: The Next Generation” starts on Animal Planet June 6. And tonight, families can prepare by watching “Meerkat Manor: The Story Begins,” a feature film narrated by Whoopi Goldberg about the early story of Flower, before she became the Manorâ€™s famous first lady, from her birth and early years as a young, inexperienced meerkat to a family leader, guiding her mob (family) in one of the harshest deserts on the planet.
As with March of the Penguins and other nature documentaries, some of the harsh realities of life and death are confronted by these wonderfully alert little creatures. Parents should be prepared to talk to children about these issues and about the way that the meerkat mob (a community of families) works together to take care of each other.
Most movie trailers shown in theaters are “green band” trailers. Even though the movies they advertise may be rated PG-13 or R, the trailers themselves have been approved for all audiences by the MPAA Ratings Board, as they make clear with an advisory at the beginning. But there are also “red band” trailers for R films, so called because they begin with a red background, that include mature material. These trailers are only shown before R-rated films, the idea being that since those films are for audiences 17 and older only, there is little likelihood that underage audiences will see them.
Of course, the Internet has changed all of that. Red band trailers are available online with the flimsiest of protections. All anyone has to do to access them is type in a name and birth date that match driver’s license records. A middle-schooler who knows his parents’ birthdays has everything he needs. In some cases, unauthorized versions of the red band trailers are added to blogs and myspace pages without any age restrictions.
This week’s “Saturday Night Live” had a commercial for the R-rated “Tropic Thunder,” starring teen favorites Ben Stiller and “Iron Man’s” Robert Downey, Jr., that invited viewers to access the red band trailer online and conveniently provides the URL.
Parents should make sure that their conversations with older children and young teens about their use of the Internet include discussions of family rules about material like red band trailers.
My friend and fellow movie critic Christian Toto has a terrific article in Moviemaker about aging actors like Sylvester Stallone (“Rocky” and “Rambo”), Bruce Willis (“Die Hard”), and Harrison Ford (“Indiana Jones”) keeping their franchise series going over the decades.
Some of the recent aging action stars have hedged their bets by injecting their casts with younger stars. “Live Free or Die Hard” featured Justin Long (the Mac guy) to banter with Willis’ hero, and Ford will have teen sensation Shia LaBeouf (“Transformers”) to pal around with this spring. [Film historian Patricia King] Hanson says today’s stars in general tend to shine longer, if not as bright, as their cinematic peers from earlier eras. Actors who ruled Hollywood in the 1940s all but disappeared as major attractions 30 years later.
Yet the actors who broke through in the 1960s and ’70s, like Jack Nicholson, Clint Eastwood and Robert De Niro, still command above-the-title respect today. Maybe it’s just that today’s actors are savvier about the roles they choose and how they navigate the press gauntlet to keep their names in the public’s mind. Or, offers Hanson, it could be that audiences realize the older stars look more and more like they do. “I do believe that the demographics of the U.S. population help people accept older stars in action roles,” Hanson says.
One of the highlights of the new movie is the reappearance of Indiana Jones’ best leading lady, Karen Allen as Marian. Allen is 56 years old and has been living in Vermont as a fiber artist. She admitted that as soon as she got the call about being in the movie she went to the gym but she has not had the usual Hollywood “work” done — no Botox, no face lift. She is completely authentic and radiantly lovely.
As Indiana Jones embarks on his fourth adventure, Beliefnet offers a quiz on some of the details of the past three films, which, like the new one, draw on myths and religious beliefs from a wide range of world faith communities. Test your recollection of the movies and your knowledge of world religions!
(P.S. I scored 10 out of 12)
Trailer: The Little Prince The beloved book The Little Prince has been gorgeously animated, with voices including Jeff Bridges, James Franco, and Rachel McAdams. I love this trailer.
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