Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Tusk
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some disturbing violence/gore, language and sexual content
Release Date:
September 19, 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

This is Where I Leave You
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, sexual content and some drug use
Release Date:
September 19, 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 Maze Runner
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images
Release Date:
September 19, 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

Sullivan’s Travels

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:1941

“Sully” Sullivan (Joel McCrea) is a successful director of silly comedies, including Ants in Your Pants and Hey, Hey in the Hayloft. The studio wants him to make more, but he wants to make a movie with a serious message about The Depression and man’s inhumanity to man. He plans on calling it “0 Brother, Where Art Thou?”

When he lists all the things that are wrong with the world, the studio executive replies, “Maybe they’d like to forget that.” His own butler advises him that “the subject is not an interesting one. The poor know all about poverty, and only the morbid rich find the subject glamorous…. It is to be stayed away from, even for the purpose of study. It is to be shunned.” But Sullivan is determined.

Before he can make the movie, he has to see what life is like as a “bum.” His first efforts fail, as the luxurious studio trailer follows him around. He meets “the Girl” (Veronica Lake), a would-be actress, and she persuades him to let her go with him, dressed as a boy, and they start over again.

This time he discovers the sadness and lack of dignity among the homeless. But before he can go back home, he and the Girl are separated, and he is hit on the head, becomes disoriented, and loses his memory. He punches a railroad guard and is sentenced to six years on a chain gang. Meanwhile, the hobo who has stolen his shoes is killed and, through the studio identification card sewn into the shoes, is identified as Sullivan. One night, the prisoners are taken to a small church, where they see a Mickey Mouse cartoon. Sullivan realizes the joy laughter gives to these men who have nothing else.

When Sullivan regains his memory, he gets out of jail by “confessing” to his own murder so he can contact his lawyer and be properly identified. He goes home to find that his wife has remarried, leaving him free to marry the Girl. And he resolves to make more funny movies, because he realizes that is the best contribution he can make, concluding, “There’s a lot to be said for making people laugh. Did you know that’s all that some people have? It isn’t much, but it’s better than nothing in this cock-eyed caravan.”

Sensitive teenagers often make the mistake of thinking they cannot care deeply and still find things funny, or that those around them cannot appreciate their pain and still find anything funny, even something that has no relation to the situation they are struggling with. This movie makes it clear that laughter and insight go together, that humor is never an insult to a serious situation, indeed that humor can be the highest form of awareness and perception, and that making people laugh can be a good way to help them.

Sullivan himself is funny, with his pretensions and his misguided attempts to find out what poverty is like.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Sullivan wants to make a different kind of movie? Why don’t the studio executives want him to? How do they try to persuade him? What is the difference between the ways that the two servants try to find out how Sullivan can board the train? Why does the second one work? What does the Girl mean when she says, “The nice thing about buying food for a man is that you don’t have to laugh at his jokes”? What does Sullivan learn from the Mickey Mouse cartoon? Do you think this is the kind of movie Sullivan would make when he gets back to the studio?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy other movies by Sturges, especially The Lady Eve. The title of the Cohen brothers’ movie, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou was a tribute to Sturges.

Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:G
Movie Release Date:2005
DVD Release Date:2005

Telegraph Hill, overlooking the North Beach section of San Francisco, is a place where all kinds of creatures from all kinds of places can feel welcome. One of them is onetime musician Mark Bittner, a man with “no visible means of support” who is himself the support for some of the neighborhood’s most colorful residents, a flock of bright green wild parrots.

Bittner knows and loves each one of them. He is in one respect a sort of St. Francis of Telegraph Hill, carting huge bags of birdseed home on the bus to feed to them and taking the sick ones into his home to nurse them. But he is also their Jane Goodall, possibly the only person in history to study a group of parrots so intently over so long a period.

Bittner does not have a job, at least not one that pays him anything. He lives rent-free in a crumbling cottage and gets free pastries from a local cafe. The birds are his full-time job. He studies them, reads up on them, consults the bird specialist at the local zoo, and develops his own treatments, even grooming one parrot when he no longer has a mate to do it for him.

Through Bittner, even the least animal-friendly viewer will begin to fall in love with these brave and beautiful birds. His passion, dedication, and understanding are first impressive, then touching, then transcendent as he begins to talk about the death of a beloved parrot named Tupelo and tells a story from a zen master about the way we are all connected. The movie’s conclusion is a moment of breathtaking perfection — the sweetest connection of all.

Parents should know that the movie has some very sad moments including the death of some of the birds and a sad parting.

Families who see this movie should talk about how Bittner decided what was important to him and the steps he took to help him deal with change and loss in his life.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Winged Migration.”

The Ring Two

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

First off, this is the kind of sequel where you really should see the Ring before seeing the Ring Two. In addition to the many visual and character references, you also will understand that the second in the series, while scarier, lacks the first’s novelty and many of its strengths.

Single-mom and journalist, Rachel (Naomi Watts), has packed up son, Aidan (David Dorfman), and the city apartment in favor of a new start away from the killer-video-tapes of Seattle. Settling into their new house in a small town near the ocean, Rachel promises Aidan that they did what they had to do to survive, regardless of the immorality of placing other people at risk of the tape’s deadly curse. No sooner can Rachel say “we are safe now”, then she hears about a local teen who has died from terror in front of his television.

Rachel destroys the new tape only to find that deadly little tape-ghost, Samara (Kelly Stables and, on tape, Daveigh Chase), has designs on taking over Aidan. The chase is on: Rachel must find out how to get Samara out of their lives for good, seeking help from the young ghost’s biological mother (Sissy Spacek in a disappointing cameo as the “crazy” women who mothers seek out for advice on their unruly kids). Realizing she will have to take care of business herself, Rachel dives into a series of watery endings that come together in a muddy puddle, ultimately demonstrating that maternal love wins over evil. Or something to that effect.

The crux of the Ring Two’s scariness is that Samara is free from the rules of the first movie. She pops out of the video and into their lives without the requisite seven-day waiting period and, like Edward Gorey’s Doubtful Guest, shows no intention of leaving. When she makes the Child Protective Services agent assigned to Aidan’s case inject herself in the jugular with a syringe full of air, Samara is showing that this is her world now and it will work to her rules. The dominant imagery in the Ring Two is water and hydrophobic Samara, killed in a well, exercises her nightmares on all those she touches.

Director Hideo Nakata, who was the mastermind behind the Ring’s inspiration (Japanese blockbuster “Ringu” and the less popular “Ringu 2”), excels at atmospherics but is lazy with plot. While spookier than the first, the bare bones of the movie read like a rehashed Lifetime (cable’s “television for women”) drama. A mom protects her child against a threat no one else understands, only to be forcibly removed from her child by authorities, who in turn are punished, and to end the horror, mom must sacrifice herself in some way, thus saving her child.

If you are willing to jump over the plot’s many weak bits, then this psychological thriller is a good-looking spook-fest and a should-see for fans of the original. For those looking for a tight, tense stand-alone horror movie, they might want to peek into another dark corner.

Parents should know that this movie is extremely scary and there is near-constant peril for all the major characters. Younger and horror-adverse audiences will be frightened by numerous scenes and images, including the attempted murder of young children and the suicides of parents. There are deer attacks, attempted drownings, chase scenes, a spooky basement and the non-explicit but horrific off-screen deaths of characters. There is a very graphic “suicide” and references to madness. A character swears in a very memorable and scary scene.

Families who see this movie might want to talk about the consequences of our actions. At the end of the Ring, Rachel made a choice and the Ring Two represents the outcome of her choice. What else could she have done? What are the teenagers in the beginning of the movie choosing to do in a similar situation? What would you do differently?

Families who enjoy watching scary movies together want to watch “Poltergeist”, “The Grudge”, “The Sixth Sense”, or “The Shining”. If they have not yet seen “The Ring” then they should watch that before this sequel.

Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous

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

Somewhere inside this very mainstream Hollywood confection is a surprisingly subversive little bit of deconstruction. It takes a classic Cinderella theme — the makeover that catches the attention of Prince Charming — and turns it upside-down. This is a movie about an un-makeover.

The original Miss Congeniality was a Cinderella story with Sandra Bullock as the ironically-named FBI agent Gracie Hart. The shy and dowdy girl who snorted when she laughed got a glamour makeover so that she could go undercover in a beauty competition. She unleased her inner bombshell, bonded with her fellow beauty queens, and captured both the bad guys and the heart of a hunky fellow agent.

But there’s no such thing as happily ever after when there’s sequel money to be made, so as this one opens, Gracie’s notoriety has made it impossible for her to do undercover work and the romance has come unraveled. She is given the choice between a desk job and going on the road to do promotional work for the Bureau. While she does not want to become “FBI Barbie,” she does not want to deal with the loneliness and insecurity of her old life, so she gets another makeover, goes on a book tour, and ends up demonstrating her famous SING method of self-defense (that’s “solar plexus, instep, nose, and groin”) on Regis, with the help of Sam Fuller, her hostile new associate (Regina King).

But we have to figure out a way to get some of the other characters from the first movie back into the story, so Gracie’s friends from the beauty pageant (Heather Burns as Miss United States of America and William Shatner as pageant representative Stan Fields) get kidnapped, and Gracie and Sam have to outsmart not just the bad guys but also the local FBI by-the-books types to save the day.

All of this is just a conventional set-up for some outlandish and silly but mildly entertaining farce and a couple of better-than-average wisecracks. Bullock chases and tackles someone she thinks is a Dolly Parton impersonator, dresses up like an old Jewish lady in a wheelchair, and does a lot of racing around in sequins and high heels. But the reversal of the usual makeover/romance theme adds, if not weight, at least a bit more interest.

As producer of the film, Bullock has tailored it around her talents, and her pleasure in the role makes it more fun to watch. The wonderful Regina King (Ray) is unfortunately relegated to scowls and punches for most of the movie but gets to shine in her own set of spangles near the end. Dietrich Bader (“The Drew Carey Show,” Napoleon Dynamite) and Eileen Brennan (Private Benjamin) provide some bright moments but the rest of the cast is cardboard-y and practically invisible.

Parents should know that the movie has some strong language and a lot of action-style violence (no on hurt) and peril. There is some sexual humor, some crude jokes, and a joke about drinking. A strength of the movie is its portrayal of strong, loyal, and capable diverse characters, including minorities, women, and a gay character.

Families who see this movie should talk about whether “people care about people who care about themselves.” Why was Sam so angry? What was the most important thing that Sam and Gracie learned?

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy the original, Legally Blonde, Beverly Hills Cop, and the underrated Guarding Tess.

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