Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Strange Magic
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and scary images
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

 

The Book of Life
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action, rude humor, some thematic elements and brief scary images
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

Mortdecai
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some language and sexual material
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

 

The Judge
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language including some sexual references
Release Date:
October 10, 2014

Cake
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, substance abuse and brief sexuality
Release Date:
January 24, 2015

 

Fury
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

A Good Year

posted by jmiller
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for language and some sexual content.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

Plonk is a Britishism for cheap, low-quality wine — not undrinkable, by any means, just nothing special. As much could be said for this film, lightly based on the helium-weight plonk of a best-seller by Peter Mayle.


Some movies begin as a dream, some as a story, some as a business deal. And occasionally, there is one that begins as a vacation. Actor Russell Crowe and director Ridley Scott are both fond of the south of France. Et voila! Let’s make a movie so we can write it off!


It’s a long way from their previous collaboration, Gladiator. Crowe plays a financial wiz who scores a fortune through a maneuver that might just be on the other side of that fine line that separates the legal from the il. Just then, as he is celebrating his success and preparing for a suspension pending the investigation, he learns that his uncle has died, leaving him the winery that was the place of his fondest childhood memories, but of course is a place he hasn’t given it a thought in years and years. Cue the music — we’re ready to be, as we know he must be, enthralled and beguiled. Next stop, sunny quirkville.


The setting is irresistible, of course, and it is nice to see cross Crowe coping without text messaging, assistants, or sleek, gleaming surfaces and minimalist design, and getting his hands (and more) a bit dirty. But the script doesn’t deliver on what it promises us with all that golden light and faded plaster. There’s some muddle about a possible other heir (a pretty girl) and a feisty waitress (another pretty girl). Like plonk, it goes down without much fuss, but doesn’t give us anything to remember.


Parents should know that the movie has some rough language and some sexual references, including an out of wedlock child who creates inheritance concerns. There is a lot of drinking (a character gets tipsy), some smoking, some comic peril, and a sad offscreen death.


Families who see this film should talk about the places and people that are most special to them and why.


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Enchanted April and Local Hero.

Babel

posted by jmiller
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for violence, some graphic nudity, sexual content, language and some drug use.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

In the Bible, the story of Babel is a cautionary tale of hubris. The whole world had a common language until God, seeing that the people were building a huge tower together, “confused their speech.” They could no longer understand each other, and so they scattered all over the world, each with the people who could speak their language.


And so, Babel is the name of this last in the trilogy from Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu about connections and disconnections. This time, he has expanded to global scale, with a story that unites Moroccan herders, American tourists, a deaf Japanese girl, and a Mexican living illegally in San Diego. There is a shooting and there is a wedding. In all three locations, there are cops, there are journeys, there is despair, there are people who cannot make themselves understood, and there is some realization, some increased understanding.


Richard (Brad Pitt) and Susan (Cate Blanchett) are the American tourists, a couple whose brittle conversation about whether it is safe to have ice cubes in their drinks lets us know right away that they have some trouble communicating. Two boys herding sheep show off with their new rifle, fire at the tour bus and Susan is hit. There is not much that feels further from home than being seriously injured in a place where you don’t know anyone and hardly anyone speaks your language. Being Americans, they demand to speak to the embassy. But the possibility that the attack could be terrorism turns it into an international incident. While bureaucrats write memos and politicians make statements, Susan lies on a dirt floor in a village with one phone.


Their children are cared for by a loving nanny, Amelia (Adriana Barraza), whose son is getting married in Mexico. She cannot bear to miss the wedding, so she takes the children with her, foolishly riding back with her nephew, who has had too much to drink. He raises the suspicions of the border guards on the way back and the nanny and children end up lost in the desert.

And in Tokyo, Chieko (Rinko Kikuchi in a brilliantly unselfconscious performance) is at home but she also feels isolated and alienated. She is deaf, shunned by the boys she wants to flirt with. And she is a teenager who feels misunderstood by everyone. Her connection to the story is not revealed until the end.


Inarritu expands the themes of his earlier films but relies on the same technique, a mosaic of scenes that gradually assume shapes and patterns. He uses non-professional actors for most of the roles and elicits beautifully natural performances, especially from the adolescents. The film’s sympathy for all of its characters is in itself the answer, or at least the beginning of one, to the questions it raises.

Parents should know that this film has very mature material and themes that could be disturbing to young or sensitive viewers. Characters use very strong and crude language and there are explicit sexual references and situations, including an young girl who flashes some boys and tries to seduce a man. Violence includes beating and shooting, and characters, including a child, are injured and killed. Children are lost and frightened. The themes of dislocation and the gulfs between people and cultures may be unsettling.

Families who see this movie should talk about the way that it raises both issues of connection and disconnection.

Families who appreciate this movie will also appreciate Crash, Traffic, and the other films by this director, 21 Grams and Amores Perros.

Stranger Than Fiction

posted by jmiller
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for some disturbing images, sexuality, brief language and nudity.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

Who among us has not leaned into the bathroom mirror as we brushed our teeth, thinking about what a narrator might be saying about us if we were in a story? “Our hero prepared for battle as though he was going on a date. He always said he found unbrushed teeth a distraction in a kung fu tournament.” Who among us hasn’t wondered if we were really the heros of our own life story? Well, Harold Crick hadn’t. Not until this movie gets underway.


Crick (Will Ferrell) is so mild-mannered he makes Clark Kent look like Kanye West. He likes everything to be neat, predictable, according to the rules, and orderly. He brushes each tooth precisely, the same number of up and down strokes every day. He works, of course, for the IRS. And he would be of no interest to himself or us or anyone at all except that a very distinguished and literary writer named Kay Eiffel (Emma Thompson) is writing a story about him. Not that she’s ever met him. She thinks he’s a fictional character, a figment of her imagination. And yet, perhaps the fact that she is experiencing the direst of writer’s block should give her some hint that he may be real and with a mind of his own. Especially when it comes to staying alive. Eiffel wants to kill him off. She spends her days thinking about ways to do it. But Crick becomes aware of her plans. For the first time, he realizes that he is alive, and that he wants to stay that way.


It isn’t just that he begins to hear his life being narrated (“and with a better vocabulary!”) that leads him to think about what life has to offer. There is also his latest assignment at work, an audit of a feisty but lovely and warm-hearted law school dropout-turned-baker, Ana Pascal (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Just as Eiffel struggles with what she should do (kill off Crick), Crick struggles with what he should do (collect back taxes from Pascal). Eiffel gets some help from an aide sent by her publisher (Queen Latifah). Crick consults a therapist (Linda Hunt) and then, since his problem seems more literary than psychological, a professor of literature (Dustin Hoffman), who quizzes him to determine exactly which story he’s in, asking, for example, whether Crick has received any unusual presents lately, like, maybe, a big wooden horse?


Crick and Eiffel face the choice put to Achilles — would you rather have a short, violent, heroic life and be remembered through the ages, or a long, quiet, happy life, and be forgotten two generations after you die? Crick (perhaps named for Francis Crick, Nobel laureate for discovering the double helix of DNA), must decide whether he is a man capable of independent thought, whether he is willing to fight against what fate (well, Eiffel) has is store for him. Eiffel (perhaps named for Gustave Eiffel, engineer of the tower that bears his name as well as the Statue of Liberty) must decide whether art, even art that can inspire and illuminate the world for thousands of readers, is more important than the life of one man who is just discovering the difference between cookies from a box and cookies from the oven.


Those cookies are pulled from the oven by Pascal (perhaps named for the French mathematician/philosopher), who has already made her choice, leaving law school to become a baker, a political choice as well as an aesthetic, spiritual, and personal one. She represents more than the usual romantic comedy ideal of a quirky but warm-hearted life-force. She is a fully actualized person, so much so that it doesn’t take a great deal for her to overcome her initial dislike of Crick and see him for who he really is, even before he sees that himself.


The cast is superb, especially Hoffman as the professor, and the direction and pacing are superb, but the star, fittingly, for this meditation on the power of stories, is the script — exceptionally clever, knowledgeable about literature and narrative structure, filled with sly humor but also as warmly delectable as one of Pascal’s cookies.


Parents should know that the film has some mature material including brief strong language, sexual references and non-explicit situations, partial nudity, and comic violence and peril (no one badly hurt).


Families who see this film should talk about what it means to be the hero of your own life. If you could enter into any story, what would it be? If you could change the ending of a story, what would you pick?

For Your Consideration

posted by jmiller
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sexual references and brief language.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007

This is the time of year when ads, CDs, and DVDs marked “for your consideration” are sent out to members of the movie industry and to critics, in the hopes that those behind and in front of the camera will be considered favorably for some of the dozens of awards that are issued each year.

Previous Posts

From Hermione to Belle: Emma Watson to Star in Live-Action "Beauty and the Beast"
Disney is working on a new live-action "Beauty and the Beast," a follow to the upcoming "Cinderella," and they have announced that "Harry Potter's" Emma Watson will star as Belle. It will be directed by Bill Condon ("Dreamgirls," "Kinsey"). Watson made the announcement on her Facebook page: “I

posted 12:18:20pm Jan. 26, 2015 | read full post »

SAG Awards 2015
The Screen Actors Guild awards for television and movies in 2014 are in and it looks like Patricia Arquette, Julianne Moore, and J.K. Simmons are in line to bring home Oscars on February 22. The tough one to call right now is Best Actor, down to the wire between Eddie Redmayne and Michael Keaton.

posted 9:00:38am Jan. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Paddington Music Video: Pharrell Williams and Gwen Stefani Sing "Shine"
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/E924t_5SGkE?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 8:00:22am Jan. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Contest: Win Swag From One of the Year's Worst Movies!
Mortdecai is a simply terrible movie. Don't go see it. But its very terribleness just might be a reason to look super-cool in a Mortdecai t-shirt and socks! I have them and you can win them! [capt

posted 11:58:25am Jan. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Before They Were Stars: Television Commercials With Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, and More
Phil Hall has a delightful collection of "before they were stars" television ads featuring Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, James Dean, Morgan Freeman, Matt LeBlanc, Steve Carell, and more. Here's one I love that he left out, with pre-"Laverne and Shirley" Penny Marshall and pre-"Charlie's Angels" Farr

posted 8:00:34am Jan. 25, 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.