Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Black or White
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 on appeal for brief strong language, thematic material involving drug use and drinking, and for a fight
Release Date:
January 30, 2015

 

The Book of Life
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action, rude humor, some thematic elements and brief scary images
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

Black Sea
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language throughout, some graphic images and violence
Release Date:
January 30, 2015

 

The Judge
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language including some sexual references
Release Date:
October 10, 2014

Strange Magic
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and scary images
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

 

Fury
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

Interview with the Bratz

posted by Nell Minow

Talking to the girls who play the Bratz on screen is like being at the coolest slumber party in town. Like their characters, Skyler Shae (Cloe), Janel Parrish (Jade), Logan Browning (Sasha), and Nathalia Ramos (Yasmin) are big time BFFs, very different but utterly supportive, all talking at once but somehow always somehow hearing, loving, supporting, and responding to what the others are saying. In Washington, they went on a night-time sight-seeing tour of the monuments in Washington, signed autographs for fans who were all but levitating in excitement, and stopped by to visit the patients at Children’s Hospital before sitting down with director Sean McNamara for an interview.


McNamara sat back and let the girls do most of the talking – it was easy to see that he was used to that. It was also easy to see how much he genuinely enjoyed and respected the young performers. “When we announced that we were making the movie online we had 1400 submissions in one hour,” he said. “We saw over 5000 girls. We didn’t have fixed characters in mind, so we asked what they could bring that no one’s ever seen before. We looked for the ability to act, to make us believe their performance, and that special something that comes between the words. These girls got it; they created believable, interesting characters that came through.”
What’s on your iPod?
All four at once: Everything!
LB: I love everything! Let me just tell you my playlists: Country, Bumpin’, Poppin’, Rock, Indie, and Musical.
SS: I’ve got David Gray, Lonestar, Justin Timberlake
JP: I’m a theater freak. I was in “Les Miserables” on Broadway, so that is my favorite. I listen to tons and tons of Broadway. It’s my dream to be in “Miss Saigon.” I’ve also got classic rock, oldies — that’s the foundation of music. I love artists that play their own stuff, especially Holly Brook, Robin Thicke, and Alicia Keys.
NR: A little of everything, but my passion is classic rock. My dad has over 2000 records at home, lots of vinyl, (Peter) Frampton, (Eric) Clapton, Supertramp, and The Beatles. I love “Go Your own Way” by Fleetwood Mac.


You never met before the movie. How did you find ways to connect to each other to make your onscreen friendships seem real?
SS: We hung out all the time, went shopping, had our nails done.
JP: We did a lot of dancing and singing together, and we had the most fun set, with constant humor, constant jokes.
NR: We learned acting skills from each other and dance moves. Logan really inspired me.
LB: We feed off each other’s energy and make each other laugh by imitating each other. Janel has cute little baby voices. And Nat is always practical, a great advice-giver.


In the movies, the Bratz get their name from a “mean girl” who tries to boss around everyone in the school. What makes people behave that way and what makes the Bratz the only ones who don’t do what she says?
SS: People want to fit in, so they are afraid to say no to her. Because she is beautiful and controlling and powerful, and people want to go to the coolest party.
NR: She wants attention. She is insecure, so she overcompensates.
JP: I think some people who truly believe they’re better than everyone else. The Bratz show that the good relationship with their family is the foundation for having the confidence to say no to her.
LB: All the Bratz are anti-stereotypical; they do not feel they have to do what everyone else is doing.


What makes Bratz dolls so popular?
NR: They’re cute, trendy, different, young, and diverse. Each girl can relate to one of them. And we’ve seen that girls do not necessarily pick the one of the same race as their favorite.
LB: The idea behind it was girls expressing themselves different ways, finding their own way.
Bratz all have “a passion for fashion.” How do clothes help you express yourself?
SS: Chloe loves sports and film-making, so that affects her look, jeans and hoodies.
LB: We all have unique and different styles in the movie, and it helps us show who our characters are, what makes each of us unique. We all have different color palates. Sasha is very Beyoncé, very classy, and animal prints are her signature.
ND: Yasmin wears fun, flirty dresses.
JP: Jade loves very funky, old stuff, loves to take something and “Jade-ify” it, with lots of chunky skull jewelry and lots of black.



What makes girls’ friendships so special?

JP: To have someone that’s always there for you not matter what, even though you have little fights and get torn apart.
LB: I have five best friends back in Georgia. We are there for each other with family situations, with school, they’re the ones that will help you when everyone is against you, exactly like in the film.

Underdog

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for rude humor, mild language and action.
Movie Release Date:2007

There may be no need to fear now that Underdog is here, but there is no reason to feel very happy, either. This live-action adaptation of the 1960’s animated television show substitutes special effects for satire.


The animated series was a gentle parody of the superhero genre, with perennial milquetoast Wally Cox providing the very unheroic voice talent for the shoeshine dog who popped power pills and spoke in rhyme.


This version is a boy-and-his-dog story, alternating between crude humor and synthetic sentiment. Perennial slacker Jason Lee (“My Name is Earl”) provides the speaking voice for a sad-eyed beagle who is drummed out of the K-9 corps for making too many mistakes. Consigned to be the subject of experiments in the lab of mad scientist Simon Barsinister (Peter Dinklage of The Station Agent), the beagle creates chaos trying to escape. The lab is destroyed, but not before the dog is exposed to the doctor’s experimental fluid, which gives him superpowers, including the ability to speak and to fly.


Cop-turned-security guard Dan (Jim Belushi), takes him in, names him “Shoeshine,” and gives him to his estranged son Jack (Alex Neuberger). Jack is thrilled with what Shoeshine can do and helps him become the superhero known as Underdog.


The special effects are technically adept. The screenplay, however, is not. It relies heavily on doggy-doo humor and smart-alecky comments comparing humans and animals, adding in a clumsy reference to Lady and the Tramp and, even a sort of “Norma Rae” moment when Underdog pauses in the middle of a confrontations to invite the worker dogs of the world to unite. Dinklage has fun with Barsinister’s grandiosity and the ever-reliable Patrick Warburton gives what he can as the sidekick. But the he father-son reconciliation is listless and the rest of the movie is bland, tepid, and dull. If only Underdog’s superpowers included the ability to fetch a better script.

Parents should know that the movie has a lot of comic/cartoon violence. The bad guys are bashed, characters are in peril, one character has an ugly scar, and at one point it appears that a major character has been killed, but no one is seriously hurt. There is a reference to loss of a parent. A student forges a note to get out of school. Characters use some schoolyard language and there is a significant amount of potty humor. Shoeshine makes a joke about mistaking a boy dog for a girl dog and there is some boy-girl humor. There is a nod to the movie’s origins as a way to promote General Mills with some product placement of the company’s cereals.

Families who see this movie should talk about why it was hard for Jack and his father to talk to each other. What did Jack like most about Shoeshine? Why did Con want to be Dr. Barsinister’s partner? Who can you think of who could be called an underdog?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the cartoon series, Firehouse Dog, Good Boy!, and Cats & Dogs.

Hot Rod

posted by jmiller

Even when this movie is at its dumbest, and that is very, very dumb indeed, even when it launches, or, I should say, lurches, into its umpeenth attempt to find humor in having its main character get beat up/crushed/knocked over or act like a 12-year-old around the girl he has a crush on, somehow, we still keep rooting for it because Andy Samberg is funny. Even his hair is funny.


Reportedly this was originally written for Will Ferrell and then someone realized that even the energetic Ferrell could not possibly make a silly movie about every loser who every tried any sport, so it was turned over to the latest “Saturday Night Live” breakthrough, Lazy Sunday‘s Samberg, who adapted it, with the friends he’s been working with since childhood, for his rather more surreal sensibilities.

This is the story of Rod Kimble, a would-be stuntman who does not seem to notice that he never successfully completes a stunt (the Ferrell part). He goes to the woods to “punch-dance out my rage,” has an extended exchange with his half-brother that consists entirely of their saying “cool beans” to each other and celebrate by popping bubble wrap. And Rod’s question for the girl of his dreams (Isla Fisher as Denise) is who would win a fight between a grilled cheese sandwich and a taco. This is the Samberg part.

Her well-reasoned response? “The grilled cheese, but only in a fair fight. If it’s prison rules, I’d pick the taco.” Clearly, they are destined to be together. And then there’s a cameo appearance by a character in a Dickens novel.

These dementedly random moments make up for some of the more sluggish, thuggish elements. When Rod falls down a mountain, he really falls down the mountain in a scene that is hilariously prolonged. But too much of the movie is just seeing Rod get beaten like a pinata (literally). If you think it is funny to see someone get beat up many, many times, to hear that crunch of bone on bone, to see a man beg for the respect of his stepfather (Ian McShane) only to be told it will not happen until he defeats him in a fight, to see Sissy Spacek wander around in a daze, probably because she cannot figure out what she is doing in this movie, to see adult males act like 12-year-olds around women and refer to the “boner police” — if you can understand the references in a Nickelback joke, AND if you think there is such a thing as a Nickelback joke, and only then, you might enjoy this film.

Parents should know that this movie has brief strong language (one f-word), many crude words and some sexual references, homophobic insults, vulgar humor, a brief scene of dogs having sex, constant comic cartoon-style violence (no one hurt) including domestic violence, drinking, including buying liquor to respond to disillusionment, smoking, hallucinogenic drug use, and potty humor.


Families who see this movie should talk about why Rod felt he had to prove himself? Why did Denise like Rod? What does it mean to sell out? This movie was made by three people who have been making funny movies together since they were kids -– would you and your friends like to try to make a movie?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Blades of Glory and Wayne’s World.

The Simpsons Movie

posted by jmiller
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for irreverent humor throughout.
Movie Release Date:2007

“I can’t believe we’re paying to see something we get to see on TV for free. Everyone in this theater is a giant sucker, especialy YOU.” And thus, Homer Simpson lets us know that he’s onto us, as he has been for 18 years. “The Simpsons,” television’s longest-running primetime animated series in history, and the longest running sitcom currently on primetime, has now become a movie and people are paying to see something they get to see on TV for free. And it’s worth it.


I am sure there are Simpsonologists out there who are already parsing and disescting every element of this film and scholars working on an annotated version in preparation for Cultural Studies dissertations.

Parents should know that this film includes some vulgar humor, including brief cartoon nudity, drug humor, cartoon violence, scenes in bar, a child drinking liquor, characters in peril, and some crude language.


Families who see this movie should talk about why Bart thought he might like to have Ned Flanders as his father. Why did Marge decide to leave Homer? Why did they change their minds? What can kids in your community do to help protect the environment?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the television series and Groening’s other series,
Futurama.

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