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

The Pacifier

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:2005

This crass, crude, and overly familiar formula comedy has Vin Deisel as Shane Wolf, an all-business Navy Seal who has to play babysitter for five children in the suburbs. He’s all about securing perimeters and drop-and-give-me-twenty. They are undisciplined and acting out following the loss of their father, but they know how to love. Result of this meeting of opposites: development of mutual admiration through comic and heart-warming incidents and some cartoon-y stunts. You know the (and I mean this literally) drill.

All of this might manage to qualify as mindlessly enjoyable pap if it was not so insincere, littered with gross-out jokes, and, with an a tin ear for its target audience. This movie has material that is inappropriate for younger kids and jokes that are too immature for the older ones.

Shane is sent to rescue a computer whiz who has been kidnapped by the Serbs because they want who has created his super-secret “ghost” program. The whiz is killed by the bad guys (off screen), and after Shane recovers from being shot, he is sent to protect the whiz’s family while his widow attempts to retrieve the program from a safe desposit box in a Swiss bank.

At first, Shane is so uninterested in the children or so interested in keeping his distance from everyone that he does not even learn their names, calling them “Red One,” “Red Two,” down through “Red Baby.” But when “Red Chief,” the babysitter (Carol Kane) quits, he begins to get to know the kids. And when it turns out he can help them with their problems, he begins to care about them.

So Shane shows the rebellious teenage daughter that her “friends” don’t really care about her because they don’t respect her, and teaches her to drive, with some fancy Seal-style moves they don’t show you in driver’s ed. He stands up to the older son’s huge-but-immature wrestling coach (“Everybody Loves Raymond’s” Brad Garrett). He teaches the younger daughter and her “Firefly” (think Brownie) friends how to clean the clocks of the pesky boys who break their cookies. He learns the special “Panda Dance” song to sing the toddler to sleep. And he even learns how to change a diaper!

Meanwhile, the bad guys are trying to break into the house to get the Ghost program. So, everyone has to learn to work together and rely on one another, yadda yadda. This is all shown through crude humor (many diaper and baby barf jokes), weirdly homophobic insults (the wrestling coach’s oddly rhapsodic taunts of Shane’s big arms, questioning the masculinity of someone who doesn’t fight), uncomfortably stereotyped bad guys, and a plot twist involving a swastika that few in the target age group will understand or relate to.

In other words, Vin Diesel: Don’t come back, Shane!

Parents should know that this movie is at the PG-13 edge of PG. It has a lot of cartoon-ish “action violence:” no blood and no on-screen shooting but an exploding helicopter, a glimpse of a dead body, a lot of kicking and hitting. A parent is killed (off-screen). There is a lot of potty humor including many diaper jokes and a character covered with sewage. There is some crude schoolyard language including “bite me,” “boobs,” “spaz,” “skanky.” One positive note is that a daughter wears a crucifix, though there is no further evidence of any religious faith. The portrayal of the bad guys has some unpleasantly racist overtones and some of the “humorous” insults are sexist and homophobic. And there is intrusive product placement for Costco and other brands.

Families who see this movie should talk about how different people respond differently to loss and pain. What examples did we see in this story?

Families who enjoyed this movie will also enjoy Daddy Day Care. Older audience memembers may enjoy the more violent PG-13-rated Kindergarten Cop. And every family should see the classic The Sound of Music.

Hostage

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

Three combustible forces come together in one fortress of a mansion in this bloodbath of a hostage drama. First is Jeff Talley (Bruce Willis), a former big-time hostage negotiator who was shattered by a tragic failure and gave it up to become a small-town police chief. Second is three strung-out teens who decide to steal an SUV but end up in the house when things get out of control, taking the owner and his two children hostage. Third is a group of ruthless professional bad guys who have no interest in the boys or the hostages but will do whatever it takes to retrieve a DVD with some very important files that is hidden inside the house, its location only known to a man who is unconscious.

Nice set-up. The contrast between the impulsive, hot-headed amateurs and the implacable, cold-blooded professionals as they interact with the hostages and the increasingly compromised Talley take this story above the usual guns and explosions multiplex fodder.

The film also has some good performances, especially Ben Foster as the most volatile of the boys. It has a sensational opening credit sequence. But the dialogue is stock UPN-drama and a promising premise disintigrates quickly into standard guns and explosions fare.

Parents should know that this is an exceptionally violent movie with extreme, intense, and graphic images and many kinds of weapons. Characters are in severe peril, including children and a young girl who is bound and threatened with rape. Many characters are wounded or killed. Characters drink and use drugs and use some very strong language. A strength of the movie is strong minority and female characters.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Talley responded the way he did to the tragic outcome of the first hostage situation in the film. How can a negotiator gain the confidence of someone who may be disturbed or irrational?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the first and third of Willis’ “Die Hard” movies and The Negotiator.

Man of the House

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

“One riot, one Ranger.” That’s the Texas Rangers pledge. But apparently, it now needs to be revised: “Five cheerleaders, three Rangers.”

Tommy Lee Jones, in gloriously full crag mode, plays a Texas Ranger named Sharp assigned to protect cheerleaders who witnessed a murder. This provides opportunities for many culture clashes and learning experiences.

Unfortunately, most of those opportunities are neglected in favor of cheap humor and cheesy formula. We don’t even get to see much cheering. The girls are cute. And Tommy Lee Jones is cuter. There is some mild humor and some mildly involving action.

But the movie tries too hard to be a little of everything. There are “cheerleaders are dumb party bunny” jokes. One of them, told Sharp is a Ranger, asks, “Do you know Derek Jeter?” One of them plagiarizes a school paper and two others sneak out to play pool in a bar. But later we are expected to see them as hard-working, clever, and devoted, sort of fairy godmothers with pierced navels who advise Sharp on getting close to a pretty literature professor (the always-welcome Anne Archer) and communicating better with his high school senior daughter.

There are the obvious middle-aged male vs. young female jokes as Sharp winces over the skimpy clothes and installs a air conditioner the size of a condo to chill the girls into covering up. Sharp has to run to the store for feminine products, and gets a makeover complete with nose-hair trim and cucumber face mask. And then there is a “this has nothing do to with anything else in the movie but Cedric the Entertainer is funny” scene, with Cedric as a former con turned preacher who shows off some of his best cheerleading moves.

Cedric and Jones are pros who perk up a lackluster script. The girls are not quite interchangeable, with pop star Christina Milian a standout as the captain. Paula Garces (Clockstoppers), relegated to a stereotyped spitfire role, still shows some genuine spirit. It’s frequently almost cute, almost funny, almost touching. Give it one cheer.

Parents should know that the movie includes some violence, including gunfire. Characters are injured and killed and there are some brief graphic images. There are sexual references and the cheerleaders wear skimpy clothes. The movie includes social drinking and a scene in a bar, with a reference to a character’s having given up drinking.

Families who see this movie should talk about why it was hard for Sharp to talk to his daughter. What were the most important things that he and the cheerleaders learned from each other?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Miss Congeniality.

The Jacket

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

A Gulf War veteran whose injuries have left him with an uncertain memory walks along a highway then stops to help a mother and daughter whose car has stalled. He gets the car started, but the mother is high and disoriented and screams that he should get away from her daughter. So he keeps walking until he gets picked up by a guy who seems friendly until they get stopped by a policeman. The next thing he knows, Jack (Adrien Brody) is on trial for killing the policeman. Even he is not entirely sure that he didn’t do it.

Jack is found not guilty by reason of insanity and sentenced to a mental hospital. Drugged and subjected to a horrifying test treatment, Jack begins to grope toward a memory of what really happened when the policeman gets shot. And he begins to travel? hallucinate? see a vision? of himself in 2007, befriended by a waitress who has a connection to his past.

Like Jack, who was diagnosed with “possibly acute retrograde psycho-suppression,” we are not sure of what is real and what is imagined, hallucinated, dreamed, or real. Is it psychotropics, stress, madness? Or has Jack found some sort of portal into the future by being drugged, strait-jacketed, and shoved into a drawer designed for housing dead bodies, literally filed away? Is it a coincidence that he is Jack, the waitress is Jackie, and the treatment is named not after the drug or the drawer but the Jacket they use to strap him down? Or that at three crucial moments he stops what he is doing to help a child?

The tests are being conducted by soulless Dr. Becker (Kris Kristofferson), even though past efforts had disastrous results and his junior colleague Dr. Lorenson (Jennifer Jason Leigh) urges him to stop. “He’s not a lab animal. You can’t reprogram these guys.” Becker explains that “you can’t break something that’s already broken.”

Jack comes to want more of the treatment because it is his escape, whether real or imagined. Jackie in 2007 has the key to solve a mystery more pressing than the murder of the policeman. Jack will die in just a few days. Can he prevent it? Can he at least find out what happens? Or what happened?

This is a smart thriller, with above-average heft and imagination in the story, the structure, and especially in the striking visuals. Oscar-winner Brody makes Jack capture our loyalty and makes us believe that he could capture the loyalty of the strong but damaged Jackie. Kiera Knightly delivers not just an American accent, but an impressively specific one, an accent that helps convey the character. It goes a bit off the rails as it pulls everything together at the end, especially with regard to the medical judgment of Dr. Lorenson (Jennifer Jason Leigh), but by then your heart is so much on the side of the characters that it hardly matters.

Parents should know that the movie includes intense, graphic, grisly, and disturbing images, guns and other kinds of violence (characters killed), and abusive medical treatment. There is a sexual situation and some sexual and non-sexual nudity. Characters drink, smoke, abuse drugs, and use some strong language. Some audience members may find the themes of the film upsetting as well.

Families who see this movie should talk about how we can test what we think we know to determine what is real. Have you ever had a strong memory of something that happened to you and then realized it was from a movie or photograph? How do we know which experiments to allow, understanding that that some will fail and leave the subjects worse off than they were?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Jacob’s Ladder, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Frequency.

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The Maze Runner
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