Movie Mom

Movie Mom

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
Release Date:
December 19, 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

Exodus: Gods and Kings
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for violence including battle sequences and intense images
Release Date:
December 12, 2014

 

Magic in the Moonlight
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for a brief suggestive comment, and smoking throughout
Release Date:
August 1, 2014

Top Five
Lowest Recommended Age:
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, crude humor, language throughout and some drug use
Release Date:

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
Release Date:
August 8, 2014

Jackass: Number Two

posted by jmiller
F-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for extremely crude and dangerous stunts throughout, sexual content, nudity and language.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

Anyone unfamiliar with the Jackass collection (a prior feature-length “movie” -– really a collection of skits –- and a series on MTV) will definitely not want to go into the boys’ second film, “Jackass: Number Two” (get it?), without first consulting these past works to ensure they’re mentally prepared. Being physically prepared wouldn’t be a bad idea either; if you absolutely must go, bring that little plastic trashcan from your office, maybe grab a blindfold, and please, for your own sake and that of everyone in the theatre, go on an empty stomach.


Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Steve-O and others from the Jackass crew return, this time as repeat offenders, offering the same brand of “humor” that has been grossing out anyone who cares to watch since the TV series started in 2000. They abuse their bodies in ways so cruel they would be imprisoned if they committed the same acts against anyone but themselves, and even the scenes of nakedness (of which there are many) are painful, if only because one can’t help but wince at all the red, purple, yellow and black bruises their bodies have sustained as side-effects (or are they the primary goal?) of the stunts.


This second film is arguably more elaborate, more shocking, more repulsive, sensationalist and gag-inducing than the first. The boys haven’t grown up at all in the time from their first film to this one, and their personalities seem perpetually fixated on trivializing danger and shunning responsibility. Indeed, when Knoxville dresses as an old man and guest Spike Jonze dons an old woman bodysuit (both delighting in surprising unexpected viewers with vulgarities), it simply drives home the point that the Jackass crew uses their stunts to test their immunity -– to skull fractures, to deadly infections, to permanent damage, and, most importantly, to growing up.


Parents should know that this is a documentary-style movie about a real-life series of disgusting and extremely dangerous behavior, including obtaining and drinking animal ejaculate (weirdly, the one item in the film x-ed out to ensure an R rating), being bitten on the genitals and the arm by snakes, putting a fishhook through a lip and being used as human shark bait, and being gored by a bull. There is explicit nudity, explicit excretory humor (human and animal), and graphic violence. Characters use strong language.

Haven

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language, drug use, sexual content and some violence.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

Director Frank E. Flowers’ full-length debut, “Haven,” is a study in sin. Set mostly in the Cayman Islands, the film’s
characters live in a world where the stakes are high and the people are higher. It could be written off as an amateur experiment with an erratic plotline and drama as conflicted as some of the characters, yet it’s difficult to let go of that easily.


Through the smoke of lust and greed shine two lights — the characters of Shy (Orlando Bloom) and Pippa (Agnes Brucker).


Young and impossibly innocent despite corruption all around them, they are two characters who never do quite what you
want them to. They hang with all the wrong people, make all the wrong choices, and yet are so genuine, so sincere and so real that you can’t help but want to stay by their side, even if it means suffering through the rest of the film.


It’s poised to offer maximum misfortune from the beginning. Two businessmen (Bill Paxton and Stephen Dillane) arrive fresh from fleeing the feds. Pippa, the
daughter of one, gets involved with the resident reprobate, a feisty island local named Fritz, and Shy (Bloom) and his love interest Andrea (Zoe Saldana) get caught spending the night together by one very forceful father and an equally angry brother. Money plus drugs plus sex equals drama to rival the most elaborate episodes of “The O.C.”


The plot itself mimics Shakespearean tragedy at times, but instead of allowing the characters to carry the film, Flowers can’t quite escape the sophomoric mistake of trying to include everything
he ever wanted to say about love, sex, drugs, family and his life into the brief running time he has to chew everything he’s bitten.


The result is an intriguing glimpse into life on an island that brims with beauty and passion, but unfortunately, in this film at least, just as easily lends itself to banality. With a plot of teenage
romance and adults who should know
better, leaving too much time to ”develop” the story really becomes leaving too much time to dwell on the story’s most obvious
shortcomings – predictability, uninventiveness, and unfulfilled
potential.


It is the director’s hungry aspirations, sadly, that keep “Haven” stuck as another contrived drama of debauchery, as opposed to the artful exploration of love, loyalty, family and greed it could
have been.


Parents should know that this film has very strong language and many graphic scenes of sex and drug use. The plot involves
beatings and murders, and issues such as rape and revenge are extensively explored. Although not completely amoral, some characters seem driven solely by motives such as greed and hatred, and many
adolescents as well as adults in this film are portrayed as very misguided at best.


Families who see this movie will have much to talk about. A good starting point is to explore the motivations of different
characters. Pippa’s father is a corrupt businessman — what might have driven him to repeatedly make such unprincipled choices? Pure greed, a desire to provide for his daughter, pressure from others to
succeed, frustration at an inability to stop the momentum of lies? This film could be seen as a film about choices; families might discuss which choices characters have at certain points in the film, and what factors each character might consider when making his or her choices. Are there things each character could have considered at
critical points that might have lead to better, more ethical and careful choices? How can we take strong emotions into account while making decisions, without letting them dictate our actions?


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 Romeo + Juliet, as “Haven” shares a similar editing style (choppy and manic at times, with a very saturated color
palette) and the two have many plot themes in common. Families might also consider Steven Soderbergh’s Oscar-winning film Traffic, an exploration of America’s drug culture through four interweaving stories.

The Science of Sleep

posted by jmiller
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language, some sexual content and nudity.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

Stephane (Gael Garcia Bernal of The Motorcycle Diaries) lives across the hall from Stephanie (Charlotte Gainsbourg), though for some reason he goes to elaborate lengths to have her think he lives on the other side of town. They share more than their names and location. Both are multi-lingual, not just speaking more than one language of words, but also speaking more than one layer of reality. Their shared sense of wonder and wistful whimsy is this film’s most irresistibly endearing feature.


It’s very hard to get whimsy right. It’s like a soap bubble; touch it and it disappears. But writer-director Michel Gondry’s light touch

Parents should know that this film, despite its fairy-tale quality, has some mature material, including very strong language and sexual references and situations.

Families who see this film should talk about what Stephane wanted both at work and with Stephanie and what prevented him from trying to get it. And they might want to talk about what might happen if their dreams started to become mixed up with their realities.

Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy Amelie and the brilliant Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Daydreams and night dreams have been a theme of many movies, including Dream Girl and Buster Keaton’s silent classic, Sherlock Jr.. Perhaps film’s most provocative dream sequence is the one staged by Salvadore Dali for Hitchcock’s Spellbound.

Jet Li’s Fearless

posted by jmiller
C-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for violence and martial arts action throughout.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

It does not have the ravishing images of Hero but it does not have the cheesy plot of Cradle 2 the Grave, either. For his last action film, Jet Li has decided to give us a reverential biopic about Huo Yuanjia, hero of the Chinese people and founder of a school of martial arts.


Action films need to get us on the side of the hero quickly so they can get to the good stuff — the action. The quickest way is revenge, as Tarantino showed with Kill Bill. It can help to give us a reluctant hero who tries to avoid violence and is drawn into it, a theme brilliantly tweaked in A History of Violence. That gives us the best of both worlds because the violence is forced upon the hero, so we can enjoy it without guilt. And once in a while we get a hero who begins violent and then learns a better way. And then gets violent again, but in the more in sorrow than in anger variety. That way, we get to enjoy the angry violence and the righteous violence, too.


It is this last category that Jet Li has chosen; perhaps he is saying that like the hero he plays, he has decided that there are more important things than fighting. Huo begins as an arrogant, hot-tempered, impetuous man who fights out of pride. But after he causes great tragedy in his own family and another, he learns that martial arts are about honor, discipline, and concentration, and that winning is not what he thought it was.


The movie begins in 1910. Huo (Jet Li) walks into the ring. Everyone in the audience knows that this fight represents more than a contest between two people. It is a fight for the honor of the Chinese culture, under assault from Westerners who think that no one in China has the strength or intelligence to defeat their champions.


Huo is scheduled to take on not one but four champions from the other side. In three thrilling bouts, he defeats the challengers. Then, as he gets ready for the fourth, we go back in time to see what brought him to this place.


The middle section sags, as Huo takes on a bigger entourage than MC Hammer, refusing to acknowledge that they only follow him because he buys them drinks. And then Huo goes off and learns about the Meaning of Life from Simple Country Folk who know enough to stop planting rice and feel the breeze. Yes, the blind girl in the hat is the only one who truly sees, get it?


Without the sweep and scope of the great Chinese films, this rests on the fight scenes, which are beautifully staged but never transcend the kicks and punches to power the story.

Parents should know that this movie has intense and graphic scenes of violence. Characters are injured and killed, including a woman and a child. There is brief strong language. Characters drink and there are scenes in a bar and references to abusing alcohol.


Families who see this movie should talk about what the last fight shows us about the combatants’ ideas about honor. Why was what Huo learned about planting rice important? What did he mean about learning from the best?


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Hero and House of Flying Daggers.

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