Movie Mom

Movie Mom

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

Thomas and the Magic Railroad

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Preschool
Movie Release Date:2000

The beloved PBS series about the little blue train and his friends moves to the big screen with a story that will please its many fans, though they might find it a little hard to follow. Even adults may scratch their heads at the plot, which has to do with the train and human characters finding a lost train hidden in Muffle Mountain, finding some magic gold dust somewhere on the magic island of Sodor and defeating the mean bully deisel train, all while finding courage, magic, and a sense of responsibility within themselves.

Series regulars Didi Cohn and Russell Means appear briefly, but they’ve brought in some real Hollywood talent for the main characters to add star quality. Alec Baldwin plays the conductor, Peter Fonda the sad man who is trying to get Lady, the missing train, back in shape, and Mara Wilson (“Matilda”) as his grand-daughter. All three give great, sincere performances that help make the story seem real. And the producers wisely stay away from high-tech special effects so that the trains look just as they do in television.

Thomas and the Conductor are faced with a lot of challenges. The big deisel train with the wicked looking pinchers is a bully who wants to take over. The only one who can stop him is a train called Lady, who has been missing for many years. The conductor is running out of the special gold dust that enables him to go back and forth between Shining Time Station and the Island of Sodor. He goes to his surfboard-loving cousin Junior for help, and Junior uses up the last of the dust. Meanwhile, Lily and Patch try to help Lily’s grandfather, who has a secret that just might help.

Parents should know that even though the movie is rated G, there is some violence and peril, though no one is hurt. It is also mildly troubling that the female characters are so passive — when Lily gets off at the wrong stop, she just sits there and waits for someone to help her, and Lady, the only female train and the only train that is supposed to be powerful enough to defeat the diesel, never confronts the bully. She just runs away from him.

The movie does give families a lot of important issues to discuss. First is the requirement of “the three R’s” — the conductor and the trains must all be responsible, reliable, and “really useful.” Families should talk about what that means and see if all members of the family can give examples of how each tries to accomplish those goals. Thomas says that “little engines can do big things,” and children should talk about what they can do to help others. Talk with them about what makes some people want to act like bullies. Make sure they notice how the foolish deisel says that he does not make mistakes, insisting that “I meant to do that!” whenever something goes wrong. And point out how Thomas encourages his friends, reminding Percy that he is really brave, and how important that kind of help can be. Lady says that “helping each other brings the magic to life in all of us.”

Some children may be concerned when Lily gets on the wrong train and does not know how to find her grandfather when she gets off. Families should talk about what a child should do if separated from parents, how to find someone who can help and how important it is to be able to tell the police your name, address, and telephone number. Some children may be upset by the references to Lily’s grandmother who died, and parents may get some questions about that.

Children who enjoy this movie will love the many Thomas the Tank Engine videos, especially Thomas and Friends: Spills and Chills… and Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends – The….

Thirteen Days

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2000

For once the tag line has it just right: “You’ll never know how close we came.”

It may seem like a movie script, but it really happened. American planes took photos of Soviet missiles in Cuba, a “massively destabilizing move.” If they had been armed, they could have wiped out most of the mainland US population in five minutes. President John F. Kennedy had written a book while he was in college about the failure of England to respond to German aggression when it still might have been possible to prevent World War II. But he had also made his own mistake — a bad one — by responding too aggressively at the Bay of Pigs. Advisors like Dean Acheson and the military urged him to bomb the sites. But Adlai Stevenson says, “One of us in the room should be a coward,” and he asks the President to come up with a diplomatic solution. Kennedy knows better than to fight the last war, but he is not sure how to fight the next one.

There is no time spent on introductions or exposition, giving the story a sense of immediacy and urgency. It will leave audiences reminding themselves that we are still here, so it must have turned out all right. The President and his advisors argue about what to do (“Bombing them sure would feel good!”), interrupted by “just as usual” events to avoid letting the press or the Soviets suspect that anything was going on. When President Kennedy tells Chicago Mayor Daley that he “wouldn’t miss this event for the world,” we appreciate the literal meaning of his words.

Producer Kevin Costner plays a real person, Kennedy staffer Kenny O’Donnell, but the character combines the roles and actions of several people and essentially exists to help tell the story as efficiently as possible. Most of the time, he blends in with a large, capable cast of character actors (though he seems to make himself too important in a pep talk scene and at the end there is a sort of “Three Musketeers” shot that seems inappropriate).

Parents should know that the movie features brief strong language. Most of the movie is very tense, and a character is killed.

This is an outstanding movie, with much for families to talk about. Parents and grandparents should tell children any memories they may have of the Cuban missile crisis. They should talk about what we do when we have hard choices to make — President Kennedy and his brother, his closest advisor, listen to advice from experts, but, as the President says, “There is something immoral about abandoning your own judgment.” At the end of the day, he realizes that “there’s no wise old men; there’s just us.” Why does Kenny O’Donnell say that the only word in politics is “loyalty?” Why did the Soviets send a message through a reporter instead of using diplomatic channels? Why was it important for Adlai Stevenson to make a strong statement at the UN? Why did they ignore the second letter from Kruschev? How did that change things? What must someone do in order to direct soldiers to take actions that may get them killed? Who told the truth and who lied? Why?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Air Force One” and some of the books and documentaries about President Kennedy and his brother, Robert Kennedy. DVD note: This first release from Infinifilm demonstrates shows us why the DVD technology was developed. It is packed with extras that are genuinely thrilling, from commentary by the real-life participants to a copy of the shooting script. Families with DVD players should consider this treasure for their permanent collection.

The Yearling

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:1946

Plot: This quiet, thoughtful, visually striking adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings covers a year in the life of the Baxter family, post-Civil War settlers in remote Florida. The focus is on Jody (Claude Jarman, Jr.), 12, a dreamy boy who loves animals and wishes he could have a pet, “something for my own, something to follow me.” Pa Baxter (Gregory Peck) is warm and understanding. Ma (Jane Wyman) seems harsh and rigid, but only because she has been so devastated by the loss of three children that she feels she has to contain her feelings, that if she allows herself to be vulnerable she will not be able to stand the pain.

The only other boy Jody knows is a frail boy named Fodderwing, who lives nearby. Jody loves to visit him, to hear his imaginative tales and play with his pets. Over Ma’s objections, Pa insists that Jody be allowed to have a young deer as a pet, and Jody goes to Fodderwing to ask him to name the deer. Fodderwing has died, but his father tells Jody he once said that if he had a deer, he would name it Flag, and that is the name Jody chooses. Jody loves Flag, and does everything he can to keep him, even building a high fence to keep Flag out of the corn crop, which is essential to the family’s livelihood. But Flag cannot stop eating the crop and has to be destroyed. Ma shoots him, and then Jody has to put him out of his misery.

Jody runs away, but returns. His father notes approvingly that Jody “takes [the loss] for his share and goes on,” and tells Ma that “He’s done come back different. He’s taken the punishment. He ain’t a yearling no more.”

Discussion: This is a classic story of loss, not just of a beloved pet, but of the innocence and freedom of childhood that Flag symbolizes. Pa says to Jody: “Every man wants life to be a fine thing, and easy. Well, it’s fine, son, powerful fine. But it ain’t easy. I want life to be easier for you than it was for me….A man’s heart aches seeing his young ‘uns face the world knowing that they got to have their insides tore out the way his was tore.” All parents want to protect their children this way. And yet, all parents realize that having one’s “insides tore out” is a necessary part of growing up, that no one ever learns how to make responsible choices without these painful experiences. Pa tells Jody that life is “gettin’, losin’, gettin’, losin’.”

In the last moment of the film, as in the book, the boy and the deer run off together in Jody’s imagination. In part, this means that Jody’s innocence is gone with the deer. But it also means that a precious part of his spirit, the part that loved the deer so deeply, will be with him always, and will be a part of everything that he does.

Questions for Kids:

· Who is “the yearling?”

· What do you think of Pa’s strategy for trading his dog for a gun? What did he mean when he later said that his words were straight, but his intentions were crooked?

· What do Jody’s friends Fodderwing and Oliver tell you about him?

· Why was it hard for Ma to show affection? How can you tell?

· How was Jody different when he came back home?

Connections: Mature teenagers may be interested in “Cross Creek,” a fictionalized account of Rawlings’ life, including the writing of The Yearling, and “Gal Young ‘Un,” a film based on one of her short stories, about an exploitive husband his wife and his girlfriend.

Activities: Middle school kids will enjoy the book.

The Wedding Planner

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2001

This disappointing would-be romantic comedy is neither comic nor particularly romantic. Its biggest problem is a sitcom-style script with too much emphasis on the situation and not enough on the comedy. It fails to create a single believable or sympathetic character. What it gives us instead is a string of barely related skits about people whose behavior ranges from inconsistent to random. The result ranges from dull to annoying, with the few comic bits already overly familiar to us from the commercials.

Jennifer Lopez is a talented and attractive performer, but she does not have the acting or comedy skills to transcend the limits of the script. She looks beautiful, but a little remote and unsympathetic.

Lopez plays Mary, a wedding planner who is so organized that she has all the essentials strapped to her belt, including smelling salts and superglue. She is also so cynical that she can predict the length of the marriage based on the song selected by the couple (“I Honestly Love You” is a bad sign). Mary is supremely competent and confident at work, negotiating for a partnership in the firm if she can land an assignment for a dot-com zillionaire bride Fran (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras). But at home, Mary eats alone in front of the TV, watching “Antiques Roadshow.”

Prince Charming arrives in the person of Matthew McConaughey as Steve, a pediatrician who saves Mary from an onrushing dumpster. They go out with Mary’s friend for a movie and a dance under the stars, and Mary is smitten.

Then she discovers that Steve is Fran’s groom-to-be. How cute is that! Not very. Meanwhile, Mary’s father (Alex Rocco, who struggles valiently with the unforgiveably hackneyed role of choleric ethnic dad who just wants his daughter to get married) is trying to fix her up with a horrendous loser from the homeland.

There is no real narrative, only different locations for the characters to get into faux-adorable fixes. Here’s one example: Mary and Steve knock over a nude male statue and his genitals break off. Much hoped-for hilarity but no actual laughs ensue as they try to glue it back on. Here’s another example: Mary and Steve run into Mary’s former beau and Mary hides under a table to avoid him. But they run into him (with his pregnant wife) anyway, and Mary responds by getting drunk. Two weddings have to be disrupted before it can all get straightened out and even that never-fail standard of the romantic comedy drags on until we can go home to find something better to watch on UPN.

Parents should know that the movie includes some strong and graphic language (typical of PG-13′s, that means one F-word and scattered lesser words). The movie includes comic drunkenness and a character’s alcohol abuse is also played for laughs. The scene with the statue includes a fairly graphic depiction of male genitals, which at one point get superglued to a character’s hand.

Families who see this movie should talk about how we know when we have met the person we truly love. Was the behavior of the main characters responsible? What hardships did their behavior impose on others? How is what Mary does to Massemo different from what her old boyfriend did to her? Families should also discuss Mary’s reaction to seeing her old boyfriend with his pregnant wife. First she hides, then she embarasses him, and then she gets drunk. Why does she behave this way? How could she have behaved in a way that preserved her dignity and self-respect?

Mary describes herself as a “control freak.” Families should talk about the way that people who have been hurt sometimes try to protect themselves by exercising a lot of control. Families may also want to ask why Lopez, an Hispanic actress, played an Italian character. Was it because audiences might feel more comfortable with a WASP-Italian romance than with WASP-Hispanic?

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy the superior, “The Runaway Bride.”

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posted 8:00:51am Apr. 19, 2014 | read full post »

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A Dramatic Commercial for TNT
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posted 8:33:40am Apr. 18, 2014 | read full post »

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posted 8:00:47am Apr. 18, 2014 | read full post »


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