Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

McFarland USA
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic material, some violence and language
Release Date:
February 20, 2015

 

Big Hero 6
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for action and peril, some rude humor, and thematic elements
Release Date:
November 7, 2014

The DUFF
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual material throughout, some language and teen partying
Release Date:
February 20, 2015

 

Horrible Bosses 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong crude sexual content and language throughout
Release Date:
November 26, 2104

Kingsman: The Secret Service
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for sequences of strong violence, language and some sexual content
Release Date:
February 13, 2015

 

Beyond the Lights
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sexual content including suggestive gestures, partial nudity, language and thematic elements
Release Date:
November 14, 2014

Transformers

posted by jmiller

The surprising transformation here is not from machines into enormous robots but from a modest Saturday morning cartoon based on a line of toys into 2007’s most exhilarating summer movie, able to transform audiences of all ages into 12-year-old fanboys.


The robots are just so cool.


The humans are cool, too. This summer’s Most Valuable Player, Shia LeBeouf (already in the season’s best thriller, Disturbia and the adorable animated Surf’s Up) plays Sam, grandson of an arctic explorer who may have uncovered a cube of great power. His new car seems to have a Herbie-esque mind of its own, expressing itself through the songs on its radio.

A race of giant robots who can transform into ordinary-looking machinery like boom boxes and cars has come to earth in search of the cube. The good guy robots are led by Optiumus Prime and like humans. The bad guy robots are led by Megatron and would be fine with the result of their capture of the cube being the destruction of all human life as well. Most of the movie consists of their fights with the humans on and in their way and with each other and the adventures of the humans who try to stop or help them.


Director Michael Bay ably manages the pacing of the action, comedy, and romance, never letting us get tired despite an almost 2 1/2 hour running time. He knows how to hit the sweet spot between the nostalgic affection felt by kids who grew up back when we still called the shows “cartoons,” not “animation” and winning over those who have no previous connection and just want to see some slam-bang robot-on-robot action. He knows the movie is about the robots and gives us robots to swoon over, brilliantly constructed, every rivet filled with both personality and possibilities. The special effects wizardry is seamless, every movement logical and believable, every interaction with the surrounding environs magestic and weighty. And each of them has his own utterly engaging personality. One can only speak through clips recorded from songs and movies. Another has feet with wheels and races along like a speed skater. Another talks like he’s been listening to hip-hop. And the good guy robots have such friendly and expressive eyes. I admit it, I got a little misty when it looked like one of them might not make it.

And Bay gives us humans who are every bit as engaging as well. LeBoeuf is superb as Sam, struggling with parents who want him to improve his grades and do his chores, trying to figure out how to talk to a pretty girl (Megan Fox), figuring out why his new car seems to have a mind of its own, oh, and being entrusted with the future of the planet. Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson as survivors of a robot attack on a US military outpost in Qatar strike just the right note of conviction and all-American heroism. John Turturro as a bully from a secret federal agency and John Voight as the Secretary of Defense provide additional depth and interest.


The Transformers, like other kid favorites Power Rangers, Pokemon, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as well as comic book superheroes from Captain America to the Fantastic Four, tap into the fascination and the fantasy of being able to tap into a hidden source of transformational power (“more than meets the eye”). This idea has special appeal to kids, who are very aware of their vulnerability and curious about the power the adults around them exercise, the power they may have as they get older, and to young teens, on the brink of their own transformations. When a young human character inspires the devotion and loyalty of the powerful creatures (think of Aladdin, or even Elliot and E.T.), that adds to the story’s attraction, another way to tap into the dream of hidden strength.

And then there is the idea of The Ghost in the Machine, the personality that we project on to the gadgets and equipment that make modern life possible, it is we who find ourselves transformed, into fans — who will never look at our cars, boom-boxes, and cell phones the same way again and who, for 2 1/2 happy hours, will believe in enormous, friendly robots.


Parents should know that this film has non-stop “action” violence, which means a lot of peril, robot-on-robot action, and property destruction but no blood, serious onscreen injuries, or deaths. There is some potty humor, there are some crude double-entrendres that middle-schoolers will find edgy (and funny), and there are some vulgar sexual references and brief drug and alcohol references. A mother asks her son if he has been masturbating. A character gives the finger and characters use some mild language (“bitch,” “ho”). Parents should also be aware that while the movie is PG-13, it is being heavily marketed to younger children through the sale of toys and other tie-ins. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, asking them to work with the media and toy industries to establish a consistent set of ratings for toys and the media they are based on and to establish clear, enforceable guidelines for the marketing of PG-13 movies.

Families who see this movie should talk about what Optiumus Prime thinks makes the human race worth saving and what has made the Transformers popular over the years. What things will you look back on in 50 years and be glad that you did?

Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy some of the earlier versions of the Transformers and movies like The Iron Giant, Men in Black and the animated The Transformers movie.

License to Wed

posted by jmiller

The best thing about “License to Wed” is that John Krasinski and Mandy Moore have enough of that ever-elusive quality — chemistry — that an impending marriage seems possible if not likely. They easily get us on their side. The chemistry even spills over a little into their paper-thin characters, Ben Murphy and
Sadie Jones. But a little chemistry, a few genuine laughs, and a premise that is adequate if not inventive only barely make up for flip-flopping, underdeveloped characters and a storyline that refuses to surprise, even given multiple opportunities.


The path to wedded bliss begins when Ben proposes to Sadie in front of friends and family, who then support her request to marry at a church that has family significance. The minister of the church, Reverend Frank (Robin Williams) has one stipulation for all couples he marries: They must take — and pass — a premarital course designed specifically to subversively test the limits of their relationship and also to develop and strengthen the bond they share. Potential for
ulterior motives, cheesy but thoughtful lines, unexpected actions, and accomplishment abound, but sadly the film takes the low road through all the above territory, rendering the motives unexciting, the lines simply cheesy, the actions numbingly predictable, the slapstick uninspired, and the accomplishments nothing more than satisfactory. The trials Ben and Sadie go through are nothing compared to the obstacle course inflicted on the audience, who has to work very hard to find anything entertaining or enjoyable.


Ben loves Sadie for the standard Hollywood reasons: she’s Smart, Funny, Attractive, etc, but really, when was the last time a movie
character wasn’t? Now, apparently. Sadie works through the course with trust, sincerity and such lack of personality that it’s hardly believable (at least not believing it is preferably to thinking she
really could be that devoid of character). Her puppy-dog loyalty and blind devotion to the program and its teacher are made all the more incongruous given Ben’s description of her as independent, “smart, so smart” and a “take charge” personality. Ben on the other
hand, is blessed with the good-natured expressions Krasinski employs as Jim in NBC’s The Office, and comes across as lovable, trusting, happy and kind without being a pushover. He makes a great romantic lead, but in a film that remains so run-of-the-mill, the thrill is quickly gone. It’s not a union that anyone would be unhappy to see, but in a world where romantic comedies can be so much more than simply romance and comedy, it’s hard not to crave a film that is, dare I say,
Smart, Funny, and Attractive.


Parents should know that the film is aimed at adults, and while not often raunchy, does include discussions of sexual fantasies and
depictions of women in labor. Reverend Frank is offbeat and at times more than a little off-color, and makes jokes about adultery, sexually transmitted disease, and murder. His tactics include having couples simulate fights, which result in name-calling and verbal abuse.


One of the most purportedly humorous tasks involves a pair of purposely ugly
mechanical twins Frank gives to Ben and Sadie, and most scenes with the twins involve their ugliness as a running gag. At one point, however, Ben shakes the robo-baby violently and repeatedly, making for
an uncomfortable allusion to shaken baby syndrome.


Families who see this film will want to discuss the commitment of marriage, and what couples should be sure of before entering into marriage. The concept of needing someone and respecting his or her opinion is pivotal in the film; how can people toe the line between independence and sharing a life with someone else? Child rearing is also explored — what types of responsibilities, large and small, might come along with having children? How might a couple or an individual best prepare for the demands, sacrifices, and joys of having a child? What type of support system might one reach out for?


Families who enjoy this film might also enjoy 2002’s A Walk to
Remember, also starring Mandy Moore, and The Runaway Bride with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere.

Thanks to guest critic AB.

Live Free or Die Hard

posted by jmiller
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for intense adventure action and some scary moments.
Movie Release Date:2007

Just as Entertainment Weekly picks the 1988 Die Hard as the greatest action movie of all time, Bruce Willis comma-ti-yi-yippies it up again for NYPD’s John McClane’s fourth explosion-and-wisecrack-fest. Number three is still my favorite, but this latest installment has all the essentials: over-the-top money-shot stunts (even a few that weren’t in the trailer), juicy banter, a world’s-at-stake-and-only-one-man-can-save-us storyline dire enough to explain the action without being too complicated to get in its way, and a lot of stuff that gets blown up.


Once again, McClane gets drawn into a very big mess that the bureaucrats can’t handle. He is asked to pick up a Matt, a young hacker (Justin Long of the Mac commercials) and bring him to Washington. But it turns out that the bad guys want Matt, too. He was one of several hackers who unknowingly assisted the bad guys in setting up the biggest computer meltdown of all time and they want him out of the picture. McClane rescues Matt and from then on they are pretty much getting chased or shot at or chasing or shooting at someone for the rest of the movie.


Willis and Long have great chemistry and work the old school/new school angle with relish. They have different but highly complementary natural rhythms that put just the right understaded snarky spin on smartass commentary.


The script keeps things lively with a variety of locations and characters, though Timothy Olyphant is on the bland side as the head bad guy. And the stunts are everything popcorn movies are all about.
Parents should know that the fourth “Die Hard” movie is the first in the series not to be rated R, but it is as close to an R as the MPAA would allow, with extensive, intense, and graphic peril and “action” violence, explosions, shooting, crashes, missiles, many deaths, reference to medicinal morphine, some strong language, and a college-age couple making out (with the girl setting some firm limits). Characters use some strong language.


Families who see this movie should talk about what it means to be “that guy.” How have these movies changed over the years?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the previous Die Hard movies, True Lies, and Enemy of the State (all rated R), and “Independence Day” (middle schoolers and up).

Ratatouille

posted by jmiller
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated G
Movie Release Date:2007

Pixar’s latest release is brilliantly animated, and a lot of fun. But it does not have a clear sense of who its audience is, and families with children who are looking for the next Finding Nemo may find themselves puzzled. While it’s a classic underdog-with-an-impossible-dream story, it does not have easy characters or emotions for children to identify with or a bad guy it will be fun for them to root against.


Did I say underdog? It’s more like an under-rat. The film never really overcomes the ew-factor that it is about a rat in a kitchen.


Remy (voice of comedian Patton Oswalt) is a French rat with a dream. While his friends and family like to eat garbage (literally), he has a refined palate and a gift for food preparation. His idol is the late Auguste Gusteau (voice of Brad Garrett), a great Parisian chef and restauranteur and the author of a cookbook with the inspirational title: “Anyone Can Cook.”


Remy gets his chance when he joins forces with hapless klutz Linguni (voice of Lou Romano), recently hired to clean up in Gusteau’s restaurant only because his late mother knew Gusteau. Remy, tugging on Linguini’s hair like something between a puppeteer and a video game console, turns Linguini into the most celebrated chef in Paris. But challenges remain — Skinner (voice of Ian Holm), who wants Gusteau’s for himself so he can promote his horrible frozen foods, and Anton Ego (voice of Peter O’Toole), the critic whose devastating reviews can ruin even the most popular restaurant. Then there is Colette (voice of Janeane Garofalo), the only woman chef in the kitchen, scary as a supervisor and even more terrifying when Linguini thinks he might kind of…like her.


The animation is, even by Pixar standards, spectacularly dazzling. Pixar’s early films compensated for the limited technology for facial expressions and gestures by making the characters have, well, limited facial expressions and gestures. Those films were about plastic toys, insects, and monsters. But in this film, the line between humans and computer animation all but dissolves. The movements and gestures are exquisitely orchestrated. Nothing could be more expressive than the thousand different shrugs of a Frenchman, and this movie has them all. Every millimeter of every raised eyebrow is an Oscar-worthy performance, acting through pixels.


A chase through the restaurant kitchen and an escape through the sewer system are filled with a level of mastery of three-dimensional space and detail that will be even more entertaining on DVD, when you can hit the pause button. Surfaces are brilliantly realized, textures, reflections, colors all as meticulously and imaginatively rendered as Remy’s greatest culinary masterpieces. Real copper wishes it could be as coppery as the bottoms of the pans in Gusteau’s kitchen. And the food! It shimmers. It glistens. It entices. You’d swear you could inhale its fragrance, almost taste that rosemary and saffron.

And the rats! They are so…rat-like. No anthropormorphized Jiminy Crickets or Gus-Gus and Jacques for Disney this time. Remy looks like a rat, and, charming as his personality may be, it is at times difficult to get over that whole rats-don’t-belong-in-a-kitchen thing.


It evokes passion and creativity well, but the film is over-plotted and parts of the story will be unappealing or confusing for children, including a DNA test to determine paternity. Compare the idea of a critic as bad guy to the inspired choices of previous Pixar films, the cluelessly destructive little girl in “Nemo” or the resentful rejected sidekick in “The Incredibles.” Next to those, a food critic (named “Ego,” get it?) who looks like a caricature of Richard Nixon and confesses that his most brilliant review is nothing next to the most mediocre work of art seems like too much in-joke and too little comedy or threat. The script is one part of this recipe that could have used a little less seasoning.


NOTE: The short animated film at the beginning of the movie is priceless, the funniest five minutes on screen this year. Don’t miss it.

Parents should know that there is some G-rated peril, including a gun, that may be too intense for the youngest and most sensitive viewers. A character slaps another. There are brief jokes about criminal activities, bribing someone, and “messing around,” and a reference to a dead mother and a father who was never told he had a son. There is a brief shot of dead rats. Characters drink wine and one gets another drunk. There are references to an off-screen death and a character is an apparent ghost. There is a kiss and a brief bare tush and a portion of the plot focuses on mild references to a secret out of wedlock child and to DNA testing to determine paternity. A strength of the movie is its references to prejudice and the importance of giving everyone an opportunity.


Families who see this movie should talk about how we can determine our own futures and interests, even when they seem inconsistent with our backgrounds. They should talk about their favorite flavors and cooking experiences. What are some of the foods that bring back some of your favorite memories? Families might want to learn more about some of the seasonings mentioned in the film like rosemary and saffron and try cooking with them. They might even like to try making some ratatouille.


Families who enjoy this film will enjoy the other Pixar movies, including Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., and A Bug’s Life. They will also enjoy the other films from writer-director Brad Bird, The Iron Giant and Pixar’s The Incredibles. Flushed Away is another delightful animated film with a rat hero and a rat heroine as well. Older viewers will enjoy some other films about great food, including Babette’s Feast, Big Night, and Simply Irresistible. And note that John Ratzenberger, who has provided voice talent for every Pixar movie, appears in this film as Mustafa.

Previous Posts

Tribute: Leonard Nimoy
We mourn the loss of Leonard Nimoy, who created one of the most iconic characters of all time, "Star Trek's" half-Vulcan, half-human Mr. Spock, with pointed ears and angled eyebrows perfectly designed to convey a wry sense of irony.  The storylines of the original "Star Trek" were provocative polit

posted 12:00:09pm Feb. 28, 2015 | read full post »

New from Daniele Watts: Muted
Actress Daniele Watts stars as missing teenager Crystal Gladwell in Muted, winner of the 18th annual American Black Film Festival short film competition, showing on HBO throughout March 2015. Muted fol

posted 8:00:46am Feb. 28, 2015 | read full post »

Smile of the Week: Uptown Funk from Alex Boye and the Dancing Grannies
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rjRlJvOxIY0?rel=0" frameborder="0"] "Uptown Funk," from Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, is covered in a sensational new video from longtime Mormon Tabernacle Choir member Alex Boyé and back-up performers ranging in age from 65-92.

posted 9:16:46am Feb. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: Like Sunday, Like Rain with Debra Messing and Leighton Meester
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/B28IHhaQXCE?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 8:00:29am Feb. 27, 2015 | read full post »

List: The Best Movie Con Games and Grifters
In honor of this week's release of "Focus," here are some of my favorite movies about con games and grifters. Remember that "con" comes from "confidence." A con man (or woman) makes you believe in them and have confidence in their schemes. And cons make great movies. If you haven't seen these, crank

posted 3:45:21pm Feb. 26, 2015 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.