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

Hero

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2004

The narrator tells us that mastery of the sword is connected to mastery of calligraphy. This movie shows that mastery of film-making is as well. The elegant precision of the ravishing images gives each scene a timeless beauty.

“The ultimate ideal is for a warrior to lay down his sword,” but of course we don’t want that to happen until after the movie is over and this movie delivers with a succession of fights as exquisitely lovely as they are thrilling.

The hero (Jet Li) is known only as “Nameless.” His family was killed before he could remember and so “with no family name to live up to,” he studied the sword. As the story begins, in the third century, a king is attempting to unite warring states into what will become China. Nameless approaches the king’s palace with important news. He has defeated the three legendary assassins who posed such a threat that no one has been allowed to come within 100 paces of the king.

Nameless’ triumphs have won him the right to come closer. The king orders Nameless to tell the story of his battles with Sky (Donnie Yen), Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung) and Broken Sword (Tony Leung).

We see each of the confrontations, breathtaking for the artistry of the swordsmanship and for the artistry of the film-makers, who make stunning use of color, motion, and image. Each shot is vitally present and eternal all at once. Bright yellow leaves swirl around one pair of combatants dressed in scarlet. Another fight is all in shades of pale green, with huge silk sheets shimmering and collapsing around the scene of battle. In another, an avalanche of arrows sail through the sky. Droplets of water are suspended in air as a warrior pushes through.

But director Yimou Zhang is not just a master of poetic images; he is a master of storytelling as well. Nameless is part warrior, part Sheherezade. The wily king knows that Nameless may not be telling him the truth, and so we see the battles again as his questions force Nameless to reveal more about what really happened. The stories require as much thoughtful contemplation as the twenty different calligraphic depictions for “sword.”

Parents should know that the movie has constant violence, though most of it is bloodless. There are sexual references and a sexual situation.

The movie tells us that people give their lives or kill for friendship, love, or an ideal. Families who see this movie should talk about how the characters decided when it was appropriate to risk their lives or take the lives of others. Why are martial arts like music? Why is handling the sword like calligraphy?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

A Dirty Shame

posted by rkumar
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2004

Somehow I don’t see this movie following Hairspray to become a Tony-award-winning Broadway musical for the whole family. Too bad, because those would be some musical numbers.

Once again, John Waters has made a Baltimore-based movie about people outside of conventional society who are far happier and more loving than the people who like to think of themselves as exemplary and public-minded. But this time his outsiders are all people whose head injuries have caused them to become sex maniacs.

Tracy Ullman plays Sylvia Stickles, a grumpy and dowdy housewife who works the cash register at the local convenience store owned by her mother, Big Ethel. When we first see her, she is turning down sex with her husband (Chris Isaak) and she is embarrassed by her daughter Caprice (Selma Blair), who has been sentenced to home arrest with an electronic ankle bracelet for nude drunken driving. Her stage name, Ursula Udders, is a tribute to her most obvious attribute: her surgically-enlarged gigantic breasts, which are bigger than her head.

On the way to work, Sylvia accidentally gets clonked and immediately becomes a voracious sexual enthusiast. Ray-Ray Perkins (Johnny Knoxville) provides her with some gratification and explains that she completes his inner circle of people who have become hyper-sexual following concussions.

Each of the others, like her, was hit on the head, and each represents a different category of sexual inclination and satisfaction. The list of fetishes and proclivities with extremely imaginative terminology is, depending on your own inclinations, either one of the funniest parts of the movie or the grossest thing you’ve ever heard. Or both. Sylvia is number twelve, and it will be her task to discover a new sex act.

She is delighted by this, even overjoyed. She feels liberated and emotionally connected. It turns out that Caprice and her boyfriend, Fat F*** Freddie are also members of Ray-Ray’s group, as are some of Sylvia’s neighbors. But Sylvia’s transformation is a shock to her husband and Big Ethel, especially since Big Ethel is leading a community group to promote “decency,” which essentially means no sex or references to sex anywhere. They proudly call themselved “neuters.”

Sylvia and Caprice reach a new understanding, and with the battle cry, “Let’s go sexin’!” they are off to have a lot of sex and encourage others to do the same. The new sexual converts are cheerfully evangelical, missionaries for a world of sexual connection and benign tolerance. That the topic is sexuality is just incidental. They could be converts to a new and liberating religious faith or even more enthusiastic — audience members in a late-night infomercial for some life-changing new product.

Waters, as always makes his outsiders the heroes, making the wildest of sexual variations unthreatening that they are practically wholesome. The reconciliation scene between Sylvia and Caprice/Ursula is funny but also quite tender and touching. Syliva’s innocent and unashamed pleasure in her new life is comic in contrast to the explicit raunchiness of the subject matter. But it is also genuinely sweet.

This movie is only for those who are comfortable with the most provocative material. But Waters is not making a “dirty” movie and the context of the material is presented is comic, often satiric, sometimes confrontational, but not especially erotic. Ullman is winning in her joyous embrace of her new life and Knoxville shows real screen presence as Ray-Ray. If they manage to make the whole concept more silly than shocking, that is probably exactly what Waters intended.

Parents should know that John Waters is always cheerfully outrageous and many people will find this movie offensive for any number of reasons. The movie has extremely mature material and gets a well-deserved NC-17 rating for extremely strong language and extremely explicit sexual references and situations, including nudity, sex with many partners, oral sex, masturbation, adultery, exhibitionism, straight and gay sex, and many variations and fetishes. Characters drink and use drugs. There is some comic violence. Furthermore, some audience members may be offended by the movie’s parallels between the sex addicts and the disciples of the New Testament.

Families who see this movie should talk about why the “neuters” were so threatened by the hyper-sexuality around them. What was the best way for them to respond?

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy Waters’ other movies, including Hairspray and Cry-Baby. They may also enjoy American Pie and its sequels, which have the same combination of raunchy humor and genuine sweetness.

The Cookout

posted by rkumar
C-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2004

It’s too bad that a fresh, smart, and courageous look at the conflicts African-Americans feel about racist stereotypes that sometimes feel more real to them then they would like to admit gets lost in a a tired and lazy script littered with poop jokes and dope jokes and clueless whitey jokes in “The Cookout.” It’s the story of a young basketball player who gets a pro contract and has to deal with a greedy girlfriend, jealous relatives, and terrified neighbors in his wealthy new neighborhood. It’s “The Jeffersons” crossed with “The Beverly Hillbillies,” only gross and raunchy.

Todd (Storm P) is a good kid from a strong and loving middle class family who becomes the number one draft pick for New Jersey’s pro basketball team. Even though the contract has not been signed, he gets so excited about the prospect of a multi-million dollar contract that he happily buys gifts for his parents (Jennifer Lewis as Em and Frankie Faison as JoJo) and his girlfriend, Brittany (Meagan Good) and a huge house in an exclusive gated community. And the family plans a big cookout party to celebrate.

Todd’s agent (Jonathan Silverman) reminds him that he doesn’t actually have the money yet. So they set up an interview for an endorsement deal and of course it’s very important that Todd make a good impression as a reliable and mature spokesperson. But darned if the interview and the cookout don’t happen on the same day, with the white lady in the businesslike suit arriving just before all of the wild and wacky relatives.

That would include the cracker brothers who arrive with a dead deer. When told that it’s dripping brains on the floor, they explain, “That’s our home-made Slip ‘n’ Slide!” Then of course the lady in the suit comes in and slips on it. And we also have the sassy cousin who’s out to snag a basketball player to be daddy to her several out-of-wedlock babies. And the hugely overweight twins who are perpetually baked on marijuana. There’s also a cousin who’s got a conspiracy theory to explain why bigotry is the reason for just about everything and Em’s jealous sister, who wants her son to play pro ball instead of going to medical school.

Todd’s new neighbors are so skittish that the adults recoil in horror and the children shriek when they see a black family moving in. Most hysterical of all is Mrs. Crowley (Farrah Fawcett!) who screams, “I saw some NEGROES!” and races into the house to tell her husband, a black man who appears to have just about convinced himself and everyone else that he is white.

The movie’s willingness to poke fun at black-on-black bigotry provides its few sharp moments, even more welcome because it is the only humor that is understated, the point powerful enough that it does not have to be amplified. There are offhand comments about “good” hair and the black characters are just as likely to assume the worst stereotypes about each other as the white characters are. The community security guard (Queen Latifah, who also produced the film) may be black, but she is just as bigoted as the residents are. When she sees Todd and his agent together, she assumes Todd is mugging him. We even see a glimpse of sheepish embarrassment and confusion from characters who are educated and financially successful about relatives who conform to stereotypes (the lazy dopers, the man who blames white prejudice for his own failures, the woman with children by several different men). All the more reason, then, that the movie’s own willingness to exploit the most blatently bigoted stereotypes for the cheapest possible humor is so disappointing.

Meagan Good, who lit up her one small corner of You Got Served, gives her gold-digger a nice bimbo squeal, and Jenifer Lewis’ dry delivery gives some snap to even third-rate dialogue. Queen Latifah’s rent-a-cop may make the Keystone Kops look subtle, but she is a real movie star and always watchable.

Parents should know that the movie has drug humor. Marijuana use, including driving while high, is portrayed as endearing and cute, even empowering. Characters drink and smoke. Characters use strong language and double entendres. There are other sexual references, including a character who has had many children out of wedlock with different fathers and some crude talk about the anatomy of a man’s wife. There is also some mild violence, including a gun used threateningly, but it is never fired. Racial prejudice is a theme of the movie. While it deserves credit for raising some issues of prejudice within the African-American community, it unfortunately also exploits and perpetuates the stereotypes it tries to expose, including an over-the-top portrayal of gay characters. A character wears a dress that she plans to return, a form of theft.

Families who see this movie should talk about the way that the Andersons supported each other even when they did not always respect each other and even when they were not successful. Why was Em’s sister so competitive? They should also talk about how and why even hoped-for changes like money and success can create problems. If you suddenly got a lot of money, what would you spend it on? How do the “three F’s” play a role in your home? What do you like to eat at cookouts?

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy Friday (mature material). They might want to look at other movies about parties that get a little out of control like Blake Edwards’ The Party (inspired by the brilliant party scene in his Breakfast at Tiffany’s) and Bachelor Party with Tom Hanks. Those looking for something with more depth and meaning should see Hoop Dreams, the brilliant documentary about two teenagers hoping to break out of poverty by playing basketball.

Danny Deckchair

posted by rkumar
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2004

We get one of these every few months whether we need one or not, so “Danny Deckchair” is this season’s quirky-characters-with-accents comedy. Unlike its main character, it never quite achives lift-off, but it is a pleasant little diversion with some very sweet moments.

Rhys Ifans (best remembered as the goofy roommate in Notting Hill) plays Danny, a sweet, unambitious man who is looking forward to taking his girlfriend (Justine Clark) on a camping trip for his vacation. But she cancels to spend some time with a glamorous newscaster. Danny mopes around the house, feeling unimportant and unappreciated. When all of his friends are over for a party, he decides to do something to impress everyone. So he ties a bunch of huge yellow helium balloons to a lawn chair and takes off into the sky.

He floats through the night and like Dorothy landing in Oz, he comes down in a place that is completely strange to him. It’s the town of Clarence. He lands in a tree owned by Glenda (Miranda Otto of the Lord of the Rings trilogy), a meter maid. Like Danny, she is feeling neglected and pigeonholed, so she impulsively introduces him as her professor and implies he is her boyfriend as well.

Both Danny and Glenda enjoy the freedom they find in re-inventing themselves. The people in Clarence listen to Danny, at first because they are curious about him, then because they think he is a professor, and finally because they like what he has to say. He likes being listened to. He is asked to help with the campaign of a local politician. People listen to Danny — and then he starts to listen to himself, to want to be all that the people of Clarence think he is and all that Glenda thinks he can be.

The slight story steals a lot of charm from its performers. Ifans and Otto are marvelously endearing and Clark is wonderfully funny as the girlfriend who enjoys the attention she gets when her boyfriend disappears into the sky. If it is lightweight and predictable, it is also undeniably a lot of fun.

Parents should know that the movie has some strong language, implied sexual situations, mild sexual references, and drinking and smoking. There are some tense scenes and scuffles. Danny’s escapade is, of course, extremely dangerous and children who see this movie should be warned not to try anything so foolish.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Danny saw himself so differently in Clarence than he did at home. Why did Danny make Glenda see herself differently? Why was it hard for Danny and Glenda to know what they really wanted?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy The Full Monty (mature material), Calendar Girls, and Waking Ned Divine,

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