Movie Mom

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Fading Gigolo
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some sexual content, language and brief nudity
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

 

Philomena
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 on appeal for some strong language, thematic elements and sexual references
Release Date:
November 22, 2013

Transcendence
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

 

The Nut Job
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and rude humor
Release Date:
January 17, 2014

Bears
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

 

Grudge Match
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sports action violence, sexual content and language
Release Date:
December 25, 2013

Kim

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:1950

Plot: Kim (Dean Stockwell) is a street kid who lives by his wits in Victorian India. The orphaned son of white English parents, he disguises himself as a native, because “missionaries take white boys to school” and he wants his freedom. He lives by petty theft and by running small errands for people like Red Beard (Errol Flynn), also a white man who dresses and lives as a native.

On his way to deliver a message for Red Beard, Kim meets a mysterious holy man (Paul Lukas), who is searching for a mythical holy river that will cleanse sins. Kim accompanies the holy man as an apprentice to make it easier for him to reach the place where he must deliver Red Beard’s message. He becomes fascinated with the holy man, and stays on with him until he is discovered by British officers, who realize that he is the son of a former colleague, and send him to a military orphanage, promising him to “make a white boy of you.” Unhappy at the orphanage, he is sent to a posh private school, St. Xavier’s, where he has trouble fitting in. He lags far behind the other boys in schoolwork, and is constantly told that what he is used to doing is “not done at St. Xavier’s.” On his way back to the military orphanage for school break, he runs away and returns to native garb. Red Beard’s friend trains him in “the great game,” espionage, and, reunited with the holy man, he gives crucial aid to the British in the battles along the Afghanistan border. The holy man dies, and Kim and Red Beard ride off together.

Discussion: This is a colorful and exciting story, based on the book by Rudyard Kipling. As in “Oliver,” “Huckleberry Finn,” and “Aladdin” (and “Home Alone”), it is the story of a boy who must take care of himself in the adult world, and Kim does a reassuringly good job. He even takes good care of the holy man. One theme of interest in the movie is the way that he is able to move back and forth between two different worlds, each apparently requiring different clothes. In one scene, he is able to make himself almost invisible by dying his skin and putting on a turban; even his schoolmate does not recognize him, when he asks for alms. Only one character can tell that he is a fraud; the “fat man,” who sees that his beads and belt are wrong.

Topics for discussion include the various petty thefts and subterfuges Kim uses, and whether they are justified, as well as the larger issues of colonialism and the author’s point of view.

K-19: The Widowmaker

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2002

It’s a bad sign when a movie can’t make up its mind between two titles and just goes with both of them. In the case of “K-19: The Widowmaker,” that is an accurate indicator of its ambivalent, pretentious, inflated, and heavy-handed tone.

It begins with that dreaded signal of fake profundity, the notice that what we are about to see is “inspired by real events.” That all too often means that we will see a lot of fake human drama around some real-life challenge or turning point.

And what that means in this case is a tired retelling of the submarine movie conventions that we have seen in much better form in movies like “The Hunt for Red October” and even potboilers like “Crimson Tide.”

The setting is the USSR in 1961, at the height of the cold war. “Comrade Captain” Polenin (Liam Neeson) is the honorable and beloved leader of the Navy’s flagship, a zillion-dollar nuclear-powered submarine. Moscow is eager to get it out onto the water, but Polenin says it is not ready. So, he is replaced by taciturn tough guy Captain Vostrikov (Harrison Ford), the kind of officer who fires the ship’s only reactor specialist on the spot and whips out his stopwatch to call simultaneous drills.

Thus, we get some good comrade captain/bad comrade captain moments, the kinds of scenes where someone says “You’re pushing them too hard!” and someone responds by saying that it is the only way to teach them what they are capable of. Then it’s good ship/bad ship, as a perfect test missile firing is followed by a reactor leak that puts not only the ship but the whole world at risk.

If you don’t know what is going to happen when you see one sailor hanging a little white mouse in a cage over his bunk and we see one handsome young officer (played by Peter Sarsgaard of “Boys Don’t Cry) just out of school both (1) extol the wonders of atomic energy and (2) jump off of the truck to the sub to kiss his pretty girlfriend goodbye, then there are plenty of better movies that will give you the answer in a manner that is less ham-handed than this one.

Neeson and Sarsgaard do their best, but Ford, in trying to make his character complex, just makes him muddled. Director Kathryn Bigelow has a marvelous fluidity in maneuvering the camera within the tightly confined spaces, but her gifts are best used with action (as in the under-rated Point Break), not tension, which is what is called for here. The movie effectively conveys the decay of petty bureaucracy, but it is slow and too long. And it has one of the worst uses of music in years, all plinking balalaikas, syrupy strings, and, in the moments of greatest peril, angelic choirs, like a Carol Burnett Show parody of a WWII-era propaganda film. And then there is the old-age make-up in the last scene, which is just silly.

Parents should know that the movie is at the farthest edges of the PG-13 rating, with very graphic and tragic scenes and intense peril. Major characters die. There is drinking (some tipsiness) and smoking. There are also some bare bottoms.

Families who watch this movie will want to talk about many of the choices faced by characters in this movie, including those who knowingly sacrificed their lives – or who ordered others to sacrifice theirs — for their country and for their colleagues. The men on the sub watch propoganda movies about the Klu Klux Klan and other problems in the U.S. How do we know that what we hear about other countries is a fair and accurate picture? They should talk about how people can strike the right balance between insisting on a high standard of performance and making sure they have enough information to make the right decisions. U.S. examples like the Challenger disaster and the corporate corruption of 2002 raise these issues. Families might also want to look into some of the issues raised by the use of nuclear power and the problems of disposing of all of the hardware from the Cold War that gave rise to the acronym MAD for “mutually assured destruction.”

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy The Hunt for Red October and Crimson Tide. They may also want to try Das Boot, probably the most vivid depiction ever of the terror submariners live with. For movies about the complexities of command, try “Patton,” “A Few Good Men,” and “The Caine Mutiny.”

Juwanna Mann

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2002

If you know the premise of this movie, you know the plot and you undoubtedly know the jokes. Here’s the premise: Tootsie on a basketball team. A conceited pro basketball player gets fired, and the only job he can get is on a woman’s team. So, he dresses up like a woman. He’s in for some lessons about life, and we’re in for some locker room humor.

The film was a bit of a surprise, though with a nice spirit and a willingness to avoid the obvious. It’s nowhere near “Some Like it Hot” or “Tootsie,” or even “Mrs. Doubtfire,” but it is better than recent cross-dressing films like “Big Momma’s House” and the abominable “Sorority Boys.”

Jamal Jeffries (Miguel A. Nunez Jr., in his first starring role) is a star basketball player whose bad attitude and poor sportsmanship are constantly getting him in trouble. He is indefinitely suspended after one particular mishap (which, in the real world, could have landed him in jail) and he loses his fake friends as fast as the money he spent so irresponsibly. With his main priority making back some money and playing the game he loves, he takes up his only option, dressing like woman and playing women’s basketball.

Through the women he reluctantly learns to be a supportive team player and falls for the team’s star, Michelle (“Independence Day’s” lovely Vivica A. Fox). Obviously the usual chaos ensues, and Jamal has to learn several lessons to stay on the team as well as maintain his cover. Besides the talented stars, a supporting cast consisting of reliable character actors like Kevin Pollak, Tommy Davidson, and Wayans’ sister Kim, as well as good turns from hip-hop stars Genuwine and Lil’ Kim. The “dude looks like a lady” plot has been done many times before and there’s nothing new here, from the awkward moments with the love interest to the big moment where all is revealed to the men who were hitting on the main character. So the plot is predictable and a lot of the jokes are lazy. Although there were no surprises and some gratuitous stereotypes, I found myself caring about the characters.

Parents should know that this movie has a lot of raunchy humor, mostly revolving around Jamal’s anatomical differences from his teammates, but pretty typical for the increasingly graphic PG-13 rating. Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy Tootsie and Some Like it Hot selected by the American Film Institute as the funniest movie ever. They may also want to try a more serious story about romantic relationship between hoops players, Love and Basketball.

I Spy

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2002

Once upon a time, there was a television show that was genuinely cool. Robert Culp and Bill Cosby played smart, laid-back guys who traveled around to exotic and romantic locations saving the world. Everyone thought they were a tennis player and a coach who didn’t take anything very seriously, but we knew that they were in reality really smart guys who knew all kinds of great stuff and exchanged effortlessly witty wisecracks. The show was also quietly revolutionary. Bill Cosby was not only the first black actor to star in a television drama, but he played a supremely smart and capable spy who could also play tennis. The casual equality of the two leads just a few years after the march on Washington and the “I Have a Dream” speech was a milestone of the civil rights movement.

Now that television show has been remade as a forgettable buddy movie that feels like a rejected script for “Rush Hour 3.” Eddie Murphy plays an egotistical heavyweight champion who is teamed up with a spy played by Owen Wilson to go after a stolen invisible plane before it is sold to the highest bidder.

Murphy mugs, Wilson pines for his beautiful fellow spy (Famke Janssen), stuff blows up, and the credits roll. This movie is designed to be forgotten before you get the popcorn out of your teeth.

Parents should know that the movie is rough for a PG-13 with some raunchy humor and many knee-to-the-groin scenes.

Families who see this movie should talk about why it was so hard for Scott to tell Rachel how he felt.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Rush Hour” and “Shanghai Noon.”

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Transcendence
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Bears
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