Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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The Drop
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some strong violence and pervasive language
Release Date:
September 12, 2014

 

The Fault in Our Stars
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language
Release Date:
June 6, 2014

Dolphin Tale 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some mild thematic elements
Release Date:
September 12, 2014

 

Think Like a Man Too
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for crude sexual content including references, partial nudity, language and drug material
Release Date:
June 20, 2014

The One I Love
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, some sexuality and drug use
Release Date:
September 5, 2014

 

Godzilla
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence
Release Date:
May 16, 2014

Sin City

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for sustained strong stylized violence, nudity and sexual content including dialogue
Movie Release Date:2005
DVD Release Date:2005

Looming shadows fall starkly across rain-slick streets. A door chain jiggles because a very bad man wants to come in and hurt someone. Hookers pull guns from garter belts. Tough, tough talk comes from bruised lips that dangle cigarettes and spit blood.

The villians are unspeakably evil. The heroes are compromised and overmatched. The city is filled with corruption but the countryside is even worse.

In “Sin City,” two of today’s greatest stylists join forces in an audacious synthesis of graphic novel and movie. It has the logic of a nightmare. It is movie-making pared down to the essentials Pauline Kael once saw on an Italian movie poster: “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.”

Copyright 2011 Lionsgate

Copyright 2011 Lionsgate

It is intentionally shocking when it confronts us with heart-stopping cruelty and violence. And it is even more shocking when it finds a terrible beauty in ruination.

Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Spy Kids) defied the rules of the Directors Guild to bring on as his co-director Frank Miller, the writer/artist who created the Sin City graphic novels. The result is a faithful, shot-for-shot rendition of each stunning panel. Hard, resolute voice-overs accompany stark, inky images. There are brief flashes and flutters of color — red for brake-lights, a heart-shaped bed, a lightning-streaked sky, a sleek getaway car, and for blood. Yellow for the golden curls of a dead hooker and the jaundiced skin of a cowardly villain whose toxic perversions have turned him the color of bile.

Three stories about heroes battling overwhelming odds circle around each other, amplify each other, and ultimately intersect.

Marv (almost unrecognizable Mickey Rourke in a career-restoring performance) is a gigantic brute of a man. “I love hitmen,” he says, “No matter what you do to them you don’t feel bad.” After a beating he says, “My muscles make me a thousand promises of pain to come.” He has had one perfect night of love with a golden-haired prostitute who “smelled the way an angel should.” She said she wanted him. But the next morning, he wakes up in that heart-shaped bed to find that she has been murdered lying next to him.

Marv does not think too clearly. He can hold just one thought in his head at a time, if that. The world always seems incomprehensible and dreamlike to him, especially when he thinks he sees his Goldie again. But this is her twin sister. Marv knows — he thinks he knows — that justice requires him to kill the people who murdered his angel, no matter what the cost.

John (Bruce Willis) is a cop about to retire. He has a bad heart. But he cannot quit until he finds a way to rescue a little girl named Nancy from a man who molests and kills children but is protected by the forces that control Sin City.

And Dwight (Clive Owen) is a man who has made a bad enemy, his girlfriend’s predatory and abusive ex-boyfriend (Benicio Del Toro). Their dispute will shred the fragile compromise between the corrupt cops and the gang bosses that allows the prostitutes to control their own section of Sin City.

This is a masterpiece of technique, bravura film-making with sure and complete mastery of tone, setting, and mood. A lesser cast would be lost, even invisible, but Rourke, Willis, and especially Owen are every bit as arresting as the images around them. Most of the female characters are more props than characters, but Rosario Dawson and Jessica Alba make strong impressions.

The film is overwhelming at times, intentionally keeping viewers off-kilter by combining grand heroics, stunning beauty, hideous grotesquery, outrageous butchery, toughness and innocence, tragedy and comedy. This is a movie where a man’s hand is sliced off and then he slips on it like a bananna peel. The entire film exists precisely on the edge between exploitation and artistic statement, ultimately saving itself from toppling over with the sincerity of its tone, the beauty of its images, and the honor of its heroes.

Parents should know that this movie is extremely disturbing. It is not for kids and not for many adults. It is an extremely violent movie with constant, intense, and exceptionally graphic battles and all-out butchery and slaughter. Body parts are sliced off (and eaten — off-camera). People are wounded and killed just about every possible way, including electrocuted, stabbed, impaled, shot, dumped into a tar pit, and sliced up. There are severed heads and other body parts. There are references to child rape and cannibalism. The film also includes nudity, strippers, prostitutes, sexual references, and non-explicit sexual situations. Characters drink and smoke and abuse prescription drugs. They also lie, cheat, steal, extort, and violate as many laws (and commandments) as can be packed into one movie, with some of the most loathsome and vile villains ever put on film.

Families who see this movie should talk about the enduring appeal of such dark stories and characters and the way that co-directors Miller and Rodriguez use the settings and the camera to create mood and character.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the graphic novel series that inspired it as well as some of the movies that inspired them, like The Woman in the Window, Scarlet Street, and Kiss Me Deadly. They will also enjoy films by “guest director” Quentin Tarantino, including Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill.

House of D

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2005

Engaging characters and evocative period detail cannot overcome the uh-oh factors that ultimately overwhelm this coming-of-age story set in the 1970′s and written and directed by actor David Duchovney.

Movies that start with voice-overs as adults recall the year when everything changed are one uh-oh factor, especially if we find out right from the beginning that our narrator wanted to become a writer or an artist. Sometimes films that begin that way work very well, but more often they are self-indulgent. A more reliable red flag is either a minority or a disabled person who shares wisdom with the main character and passes on life lessons. This film has both, with Erykah Badu as an angry prisoner in solitary confinement and Robin Williams with big fake teeth as a janitor/deliveryman who is called, in the language of the era it depicts, “retarded.” As with many first films, it is cluttered and overly plotted and at the same time too much is too easily resolved. As worthy and sincere an effort as it is, it would take a much better script to overcome all of that.

This is the story of Tommy (Anton Yelchin), about to turn 13. He is still mourning the loss of his father from cancer and making clumsy efforts to comfort his mother, a nurse (Tea Leoni). His best friend is Pappass (Williams), the school’s assistant janitor. They deliver food for the local market, which gives them a chance to explore and laugh at the world together — and to save money together for what they both think is the coolest item on earth, a beautiful green bicycle.

But, this is one of those “Puff the Magic Dragon” movies, and Tommy/Little Jackie Paper is going to have to come of age by beginning to outgrow his friend. That means girls, one in particular, but it also means growing into a greater understanding of the complexity of people and their differences and motivations. He catches the attention of a woman in the local jail (they call it the “House of D” for “detention”) and she gives him advice on getting close to the girl he likes. It works, and Papass is anxious and angry at being left behind. He makes a bad mistake and Thomas feels responsible, with tragic results.

Parents should know that the film has very strong language for a PG-13, including middle-school insults concerning physical developments during puberty. The young characters have the preoccupation with sex that is typical of that age. There is some kissing and a tender, apparently non-sexual long hug while lying down. Some of the residents of the “House of D” are prostitutes and one says she murdered someone. A character chain-smokes, another abuses alcohol, another asks for marijuana, and another overdoses on prescription pills. There are tense and disturbing confrontations and [spoiler alert] a character removes someone from life support.

Families who see this movie should talk about who Thomas could have talked to about his problems, either at the time or after he grew up and about why he thought it was impossible. How did his inability to tell the truth about himself affect his relationship with his wife and son? Why was the Lady’s advice important to him? Do you agree with the decision Thomas made about Pappass?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Charly, with an Oscar-winning performance by Cliff Robertson, and an underrated gem, The Reivers, with Steve McQueen, based on a novella by William Faulkner.

Beauty Shop

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

This film is less a movie than a brand extension. Speaking of which, it is as synthetic as cut-rate hair extensions and as obvious as its intrusive product placements. Beauty Shop is more deal than delight.

It’s 3/4 remake, a sort of Barbershop 2.0, with Queen Latifah replacing Ice Cube, Alicia Silverstone as Troy Garrity, and Alfre Woodard as Cedric the Entertainer.

Queen Latifah plays Gina, a single mom who walks out of her job working for the Man, the supercilious Jorge (Kevin Bacon, clearly relishing the chance to go completely over-the-top) so she can start her own beauty shop. She brings along sweet Lynn (Silverstone) for a bit of reverse-racism humor and takes on irascible Miss Josephine (Woodard) for those “No! She did not just say that!” moments. Keshia Knight Pulliam, once little Rudy on “The Cosby Show,” is all grown up as Darnelle, Gina’s relative who has to learn that a job is more rewarding than getting bling from dates. And once again the future of the shop is on the line, there is an ex-con (Bryce Wilson as James) to raise questions about, but most of all, once again this is not about the characters or story; it’s just a chance to listen in on some outrageously spicy conversations.

The script has a second-hand feeling and what plot there is seems like an afterthought, awkward and inconsistent. There’s a completely unecessary big fuss over a possible sale of Gina’s special conditioner to Cover Girl that is just abandoned when it is no longer convenient. It’s no coincidence that Cover Girl, whose name evokes rapture whenever it is mentioned on screen, happens to be the company for which producer/star Queen Latifah has a side job as spokesmodel. Gina’s daughter is a gifted classical musician who is not afraid to show her respect for classical “dead while male” composers. And yet it is portrayed as something of a triumph at her recital when she makes a last-minute substitution of some jazz from a black composer.

What the movie has going for it is attractive performers who make it work much better than it should, especially the wonderfully warm and appealing Queen Latifah herself and certified dreamboat Djimon Hounsou as the electrician who lives upstairs. Silverstone and Andie MacDowell and Mena Suvari as Gina’s customers do their best but are never able to make their one-note roles rise above the weaknesses of the screenplay.

In other words, it’s time for this series to get a makeover.

Parents should know that this movie has some very explicit and raunchy material for a PG-13 including a detailed discussion of bikini waxes, conversation about breast implants and sex toys, a reference to a “pimp hat,” speculation about whether a character is gay, and some earthy and vivid sexual references (“a freak in the bedroom,” references to mishappen genitalia and sex toys). Strengths of the movie include its portrayal of strong, loyal, and independent women and minorities and its frank exploration of racism by both blacks and whites and its depiction of inter-racial relationships.

Families who see this movie should talk about why some of the white and black characters are resistant to becoming friends with each other and why others are not. What lessons does Gina teach Willie and Darnelle?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the original Barbershop and other movies with similar settings, including the comedy-drama Steel Magnolias, The Big Tease and the Indian Everybody Says I’m Fine. There are also some very spicy beauty shop scenes in Deliver Us from Eva. Every family should learn about pioneering entrepreneur and philanthropist Madame C.J. Walker. There are excellent biographies written by her great-great grand-daughter, A’Lelia Bundles, one for adults and one for children. And dvery family should read the poetry of Maya Angelou, including one of the poems quoted in this movie, Still I Rise. And every family should listen to the magnificent song Joe plays, “Knocks Me Off My Feet” by Stevie Wonder.

Guess Who

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

Karl Marx once wrote that “history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.” That must be how the earnest drama Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner got remade as this silly comedy.

Nearly 40 years ago, the original version was a serious drama, a little heavy-handed, but endearingly sincere. It was considered a provocative, even daring, statement about what we used to call “civil rights” issues.

But times have changed, and this film is generic slapstick rather than social commentary, closer to a remake of Meet the Parents than it is to its purported original source. Its truer source is Abie’s Irish Rose, the popular Broadway play of the 1920′s about an Irish Catholic girl and her Jewish boyfriend and the zillion romantic comedy culture-clash copy-cats ever since, from “Bridget Loves Bernie” to My Big Fat Greek Wedding. That may be good news as a reflection of how far we have come as a society; it’s not such good news for movie-goers looking for something worth watching.

In the original Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, directed by Big Issue-friendly director Stanley Kramer, the beloved only daughter of a passionately liberal white San Francisco couple brings home a man she has just met and plans to marry almost immediately. He is a widower, he is older, and he is black. He is also a doctor with a brilliant record of international humanitarian works and, played by Sidney Poitier, he is just about perfect.

The focus of the movie is the way the couple, reform-minded newspaper editor Spencer Tracy (in his last role) and feisty art gallery owner Katharine Hepburn have to confront the concrete consequences of their heartfelt but abstract liberalism.

And it turns out that some of the black characters (referred to in the movie as “Negro” or “colored” — this was quite a while ago) are not very happy about the impending nuptials, either. The mothers of the couple are on the side of love and optimism, but both fathers oppose the marriage on the grounds that society will just make it too hard for them. After a lot of intense conversation, Tracy’s character concludes that, “You’re two wonderful people who happened to fall in love and happen to have a pigmentation problem.” Love will conquer all.

This very loose remake directed by Kevin Rodney Sullivan (Barbershop 2: Back in Business) reverses the situation. Now it’s the white boyfriend (co-producer Ashton Kutcher) who describes himself as “pigment-challenged” and who must get the approval of the black girl’s father (co-producer Bernie Mac). It’s all just an excuse for a series of silly situations and conflicts as Simon lies to Percy about his participation in sports and Percy lies to a co-worker, describing Simon as a basketball-playing graduate of Howard University who knows Bill Cosby and Jesse Jackson. There are also some other half-hearted attempts at plot developments that are around long enough to be annoying but not long enough to get resolved. Percy takes Simon to race go-carts and Simon tries to keep everyone from finding out that he quit his job. And Percy decides to sleep in the back-breaking fold-out bed with Simom to make sure there’s no hanky-panky going on with his daughter. But you know they’ll find an Ebony-and-Ivory bond by the big party at the end.

No one does choleric better than Bernie Mac and it is always fun to see him get steamed. Kutcher manages to stay out of Mac’s way (and his own) and Zoe Saldana (The Terminal, Drumline) shows warmth and sweetness as Theresa. Kellee Stewart as Theresa’s sister gets to show more sass and sparkle, especially when she explains how Theresa’s relationship with Simon improved her own life. The movie would have been much more fun if she had been the fiancee, and perhaps if we got a look at Simon’s family as well. Instead, we get unfunny scenes with Mac and Kutcher (they get tipsy and dance together!) and at an all-women party (they get tipsy and trash men!). And the prospect of a “Meet Simon’s Family” sequel.

Parents should know that the movie has some sexual humor, including jokes about masturbation, cross-dressing, and gays. A character asks “What’s the sex like?” and there is some discussion of what white men’s sex organs look like. There is humor about racism, including a list of racist terms for white people. A great deal is made of the fact that Simon and Percy share a bed (as a way of making sure that Simon and Theresa don’t sleep together) and end up cuddling.

Families who see this movie should see if anyone can remember a time when it was actually illegal in some states for people of different races to get married. Every family should read the Supreme Court decision that invalidated those laws as unconstitutional. It is shocking today to realize that the laws were in place until that decision was issued in 1967, the same year as the original Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. The very-apt name of the landmark case is Loving v. Virginia. There is a movie about the real-life couple behind the court case, Mr. and Mrs. Loving, starring Timothy Hutton and Lela Rochon. Families who see this movie should talk about the jokes Simon told. Which made fun of white people and which made fun of black people? They should also talk about their own family reactions to marriages that cross racial, religious, or other kinds of lines.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Father of the Bride.

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