Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Believe Me
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:

Release Date:
September 26, 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

Tracks
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some partial nudity, disturbing images and brief strong language
Release Date:
September 26, 2014

 

Transformers: Age of Extinction
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language and brief innuendo
Release Date:
June 27, 2014

The Boxtrolls
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for action, some peril and mild rude humor
Release Date:
September 26, 2014

 

Neighbors
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for pervasive language, strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use throughout
Release Date:
May 9, 2014

Napoleon Dynamite

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for thematic elements and language.
Movie Release Date:2004

When you are hurtling through adolescence, overcome with warring emotions and desperately trying to learn a whole new set of rules for status and interaction, everything you thought you knew seems suspect and even your own body is completely unfamiliar and terrifyingly out of control. It sometimes seems that the best anchor to keep you from levitating off the ground over the intense humiliation and the overwhelming injustice of it all is to adopt an air of ferocious perpetual exasperation and disdain. But what keeps you going are those few moments when a tantalizing glimpse of the possibility of pure pleasure provokes the ultimate accolade: “Sweet!”

So, when our eponymous hero, Napoleon Dynamite (Jon Heder) climbs onto the schoolbus and slumps into a seat in the back and an admiring younger kid asks him, “What are you going to do today, Napoleon?” his reply is, “Whatever I feel like I want to do! Gosh!” Then whatever he feels like he wants to do turns out to be tying a muscle man action figure to a string and throwing it out the window to pull along behind the bus. Sweet!

And when he he opens the door to find a shy classmate peddling Glamour Shot photos and lanyard keychains, he disdainfully tells her, “I got like a finity of those I made in summer camp.”

And when his older brother Kip (Aaron Ruell) taunts him, “Napoleon, don’t be jealous that I’ve been chatting online with babes all day. Besides, we both know I’m trying to become a cage fighter,” he replies, “Since when? We both know you’ve got like the worst reflexes of all time!” Then he has to try to prove it, and it appears that in the race for that title, they may be in a tie.

And when Napoleon sees his new friend Pedro’s (Efren Ramirez) bike, he says, “Dang! Ever take it off any sweet jumps?” When he tries, it doesn’t work out very well.

Life seems so unfair. Women only like men who’ve got skills, and to Napoleon that means numbchuck skills, computer hacking skills, or maybe some really sweet dance moves. Those endless arms and legs don’t seem to want to cooperate well. Heder is a brilliant physical performer, showing us everything about Napoleon in the way he stands, sits, walks, and responds to everything just a half-second too late.

Then there’s Napoleon’s uncle and his schemes to make a lot of money and go back in time to that crucial turning point in a high school football game, Pedro’s campaign for class president against alpha girl Summer (played by Haylie Duff, older sister of Hillary), and what happens when Kit’s online babe shows up. And the young photographer who tells her subject, “Just imagine you’re weightless, in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by tiny little seahorses.”

The movie’s deliriously specific detail, superb use of the Idaho setting, affection for its characters, unexpected developments, and most of all its genuine sweetness keep us laughing with Napoleon, not at him. He may be clueless, but he has a great heart and we know he will be fine, not just for a satisfyingly happy ending for the movie but beyond. He might even develop enough perspective on his life to be able to make a movie about it.

This movie is the first feature from 24-year-old director Jared Hess, who wrote the film with his wife Jerusha. They met co-producer Jeremy Coon and 26-year-old John Heder at Brigham Young University. To put it in Napoleon’s terms, they all got skills. I’m looking forward to whatever they do next.

Parents should know that the movie contains some implied sexual encounters between adults. School bullies use headlocks and punches. There are some accidents used for comic effect and an animal is killed off-screen. A character sells purportedly breast size-enhancing herbs. Parents should make sure that kids and teens know that it can be very dangerous to give personal information to people you meet online. A strength of the movie is the friendship between Napoleon and Pedro.

Families who see this movie should talk about the writers’ answer when asked when it takes place: “Idaho.” How does it seem like or not like your own experiences of adolescence? How would you list your skills? Does Napoleon seem like the kind of guy who will be able to write a movie like this just a few years later?

Families who appreciate this movie will also enjoy Gregory’s Girl, Lucas, My Bodyguard and, for more mature audiences, Rushmore, Election and American Splendor.

Garfield

posted by rkumar
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2004

Garfield is a big, orange, lazy glutton of a cat created by cartoonist Jim Davis in 1978. His musings on life’s essential concerns — meaning mostly how he can get more of everything, especially food and attention, without any effort — work pretty well in a three-panel comic. At least they work well enough so that, as someone once said about the “Nancy” comic strip, it is easier to read it than not to read it. If only that were true of this movie, which requires real effort to endure.

The real genius Davis showed was not in humor; it was in marketing. Several Garfield books, just collections of the strips, were on the best-seller list at the same time in the 1980′s. And the strip led to animated television specials with Lorenzo Music providing Garfield’s voice. And that has now led to a live-action movie, with Bill Murray providing the voice and Breckin Meyer playing Garfield’s owner, Jon.

In order to make a three-panel joke that is not specifically directed at children into a feature film that is, the people behind this movie have tried to have it both ways. Garfield begins as the unabashedly self-centered, wisecracking, lasagne-loving fur-covered id character from the comic strip, but then undertakes a rescue mission, somehow transformed into a loyal friend who is willing to exert enormous effort and take big risks to save the dog he once considered an appalling intruder. As a result, none of this makes much sense or captures our interest. But there are some pleasantly silly moments along the way.

We first meet Garfield as the “so much time and so little to do” cat who cares for nothing but food (especially lasagne), attention, and being in charge. Life feels pretty good for him until a pretty veterinarian (Jennifer Love Hewitt as Liz) persuades Jon to take home a dog named Odie.

Garfield experiences severe sibling rivalry, especially when his efforts to control Odie backfire. Then Odie is taken by an ambitious animal trainer, the decidedly un-happy Happy Chapman (Stephen Tobolowsky), who plans to make him perform on television, and Garfield goes to the rescue.

As in the comic strip, the human characters are so bland they are barely visible. The characters with personality are the animals, real with some special effects enhancement except for the all-CGI Garfield and all with top voice talent except for the silent Odie. Highlights include a dance-off between Garfield and Odie to the Black-Eyed Peas song “Hey Mama,” a wild ride through airducts and stairs as Garfield tries to find Odie, and some just-to-keep-the-parents-awake references to Jerry Maguire, Apocalypse Now, Elvis, Billy Joel, and even Shakespeare’s Henry V.

Parents should know that the movie has some comic violence, including a shock collar used on both a dog and a human. No one of either species is seriously harmed. There is some PG-style crude language (“butt,” “blow chunks,” “suck-up”) and brief vulgar humor. There is also some intrusive product placement for Wendy’s, though the product that makes the greatest impression is the lasagne.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Garfield was jealous of Odie and Happy jealous of his brother and why it was so hard for Jon and Liz to tell each other how they felt.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Cats and Dogs, Teacher’s Pet, Lady and the Tramp, and Air Bud. Older viewers will also enjoy seeing Murray and Tobolowsky together in Groundhog Day.

De Lovely

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

De-Lovely is Di-Sapointing.

On the asset side, we have the glorious songs of Cole Porter, the most urbane and elegant composer-lyricist of the 20th century. He’s the top.

And we have suitably elegant and urbane production design, with sets and costumes that help to tell the story.

Unfortunately, we also have a script that keeps getting in the way of the story. Yes, I know that the previous attempt to film Porter’s life was 1946′s highly fictionalized Night and Day, with Cary Grant (Porter’s own choice) playing the lead. But the fact that the first movie left out Porter’s homosexuality is not a reason to make it the main theme of this version. The over-emphasis of Porter’s sexual orientation in this film goes past disproportionality into the category of weirdly obsessive. All right, he was gay. But what about all the other things we’d like to know?

Perhaps the worst of the many wrong-headed choices in this film, however, is the deadly decision to begin with Porter as an old man, talking to someone (The angel of death? A sepulchral sort of psychoanalyst?) as he sees his life play out before him on a stage (get it?) and, for the Hollywood years, on a screen (now do you get it?). This may have looked creative and meaningful on paper. It does not work in the movie.

The music is, well, de-lovely. But the numbers are not well handled. Perhaps in an attempt to follow in the tradition of Oscar-winning hit Chicago, the songs are pointedly, even ham-handedly intended to comment on the events of Porter’s life, which is not only innaccurate in showing which songs were written when but also diminishes the songs’ ability to tell their own story. Too many of the songs are given to Kline, a gifted musician and singer who went for authenticity (Porter was not a good singer) instead of musicality. For the rest of the songs, there is some stunt casting of pop stars, and most of them do very well. Alanis Morrisette’s Olive Oyl get-up and reedy, Bjork-ish rendition of “Let’s Do It” does not work as well as the smooth and smoky “Begin the Beguine” by Sheryl Crow, Diana Krall’s silky “Just One of Those Things,” and the mischevious “Let’s Misbehave” by Elvis Costello. But even the best of these renditions, the highlight of the movie, are spoiled with too many cuts. Just buy the soundtrack CD instead.

At one point, Porter and his wife view a screening of the Cary Grant biopic, in a scene that is intended to draw a sharp contrast between the Hollywood-ized (meaning heterosexual-ized) superficial story-telling of the first and the more in-depth and revealing aspects of the second. Unfortunately, it just draws a sharp contrast between the elegant sophistication of Cary Grant and the torpid ham-handedness of “De-Lovely,” utterly unsuited to its subject with its mis-match of form and content.

Parents should know that the movie has explicit sexual references for a PG-13. A theme of the movie is Porter’s life as a semi-closeted gay man and the stress this put on his relationship with his wife. There is also a reference to a miscarriage (including some blood), the (offscreen) death of a child, and severe injury resulting from a horseback-riding accident. Characters drink and smoke a great deal (one dies of emphysema).

Families who see this movie should talk about what drew Cole and Linda to each other. What did each of them want from the relationship? What did each of them get? Families should be sure to discuss Cole’s bitterness at the end of his life. Would he have been so bitter if he had spent more of his time differently? What do people have to do to maintain a sense of satisfaction and the ability to continue to develop relationships with others at the end of their lives?

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy seeing some of Porter’s musicals including Kiss Me Kate, Silk Stockings, Can-Can, and High Society. They will also enjoy the previous biopic, briefly glimpsed in this film, starring Cary Grant and Alexis Smith as the Porters, and featuring Monty Wooley and Mary Martin as themselves. It may not strive for accuracy, but it is fun to watch, especially Martin performing her signature song, Porter’s “My Heart Belongs to Daddy.” You can also see Marilyn Monroe’s unforgettably sultry version of the song in Let’s Make Love.

Soul Plane

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

What happens when you take a relatively big budget for a comedy ($16 million), a tried-and-true comic vehicle in the plane from which no one can escape, and a handful of actors clearly having fun? Apparently, you get 86 minutes of silliness ranging from sweet to raunchy aimed at the “mature” audience who hasn’t outgrown poop jokes. You might hope for a little more originality and a less slap-dash ending, maybe even for some breadth, insight, and bite. It’s not there. But you might be able to dial your hopes down enough to forgive all that and find some enjoyment in the movie’s cheerful vulgarity and the pleasure it takes in stomping on any notion of political correctness.

When Nashawn Wade (Kevin Hart) has a horrific flying experience involving the dual traumas of getting partially sucked into the airplane toilet and watching his dog get sucked into the plane’s jets, he sues the uptight, white airline and sets out to make a difference with his $100 million settlement. His life-long fascination with airplanes drives him to start “NWA” (his initials helpfully echo those of the iconic ‘80’s gangsta rappers), the first airline aimed broadly at African Americans, but more particularly at “playas”.

Nashawn joins a motley crew of characters on NWA’s first flight from LA to New York, aboard the pimped-out, purple plush plane piloted by Captain Mack (Snoop Dogg, as ever the definition of cool). By accident, the Hunkee (pronounced “honkey”) family of passive-aggressive father (Tom Arnold), father’s blond and busty girlfriend, Barbara (Missi Pyle), rebellious daughter and father-imitating young son end up on NWA due to a mix-up after their vacation to “Crackerland”.

Other passengers include Nashawn’s doe-eyed former high school sweetheart (K.D. Aubert), a libidinous couple intent on cementing their membership in the Mile High Club, a blind man (John Witherspoon) who mistakes a baked potato for the willing lap of his female neighbor, and a male model whose most notable physical (ahem) attribute is discussed in great detail. The crew of the plane run the character gambit from A to B, with flight attendants including a Latina hottie (well captured by Sofia Vergara), and two female security guards, who are so funny they could easily have their own sit-com (the comediennes, Mo’Nique Imes-Jackson and Sommore).

Of course, the ride gets bumpy along the way to the East Coast. The Hunkee daughter turns 18, prompting a dance party in the impossibly huge upper deck, much to the distress of her protective father. Captain Mack, afraid of heights, is incapacitated by drugs, co-pilot Gaeman (Godfrey) is the victim of a hot-tub mishap, leaving Nashawn to take responsibility for landing the plane safely and tie-up all the loose ends into a happy conclusion. The biggest and best joke of the movie is the plane itself, with First Class a palatial area worthy of MTV’s Cribs and “Low” Class a close cousin to a run-down city bus complete with Colt 45 ads, overhead handles to grip and lockers which require a quarter to open.

This movie has a heart, even if it has three sizes yet to grow. Nashawn and his ex-girlfriend have a tender scene where he explains why he left her to not stand in her way. Mr. Hunkee and his daughter have an open discussion about why she is mad at him and what she is doing (and, more importantly, not doing) in order to rebel against him.

Novice writers Bo Zenga and Chuck Wilson join second-time director, Jessy Terrero, to create this visually entertaining and often funny spoof which gleefully revisits the same airspace covered in Airplane. The jokes range from packaged to fresh, but the most engaging aspect of the comedy is the fun the cast is clearly having on the set.

Parents should know that this movie has a great deal of vulgar humor and crude material that may be offensive to some audiences. They should be very cautious in determining whether it is appropriate for their families. There is a thin line walked in this movie between breaking down stereotypes with humor and perpetuating them to get a cheap laugh, and this movie crosses over that line several times. The movie includes strong, frequent profanity, with just about all references to women are the b-word and all men are referred to by the n-word. The treatment of the movie’s gay character is a lip-sticked caricature, the target — not the source — of punch lines. There is a high level of very explicit sexual humor throughout the film. Sexual acts are described in great detail, and a frolicking couple attempt to have sex in every area of the plane. Characters partake of drugs, drink heavily to drown sorrows, and refer to “playa” lifestyles in nothing but positive terms.

On the other hand, Nashawn’s decision to do give something back to the community and to take responsibility for his actions is an important theme of the movie.

Families should discuss how some of the other characters respond to his decisions and how the other characters do or do not take responsibility themselves. Families could choose five different characters and discuss the stereotypes that they represent, in particular how these caricature might limit how we see the person as a whole. Also, what value does humor have in this movie for tackling issues that are difficult to discuss?

Families that enjoy this movie should rent its inspiration, Airplane, which has mature comic themes in addition to plenty of easy laughs. For those looking for more intelligent comedy similarly focused on urban humor, Barbershop is an excellent choice. Also, Undercover Brother is recommended for families looking for a good spoof movie.

Previous Posts

The Inside Story of "The Princess Bride" by Cary Elwes: As You Wish
Fans of The Princess Bride, which means pretty much everyone, will love the new book from Cary Elwes (Wesley), who takes us behind the scenes for the inside story of the making of the film, from his nervous audition (his imitation of Fat Albert saved the day) to the most dedicated fans (one had "As

posted 8:00:44am Oct. 01, 2014 | read full post »

Believe Me
Will Bakke has followed his two thought-provoking documentaries on faith with a remarkably smart, funny, brave, and heartfelt first feature film that explores religion and values without ever falling

posted 11:06:16am Sep. 30, 2014 | read full post »

Gone Girl's Rosamund Pike
Rosamund Pike delivers a stunning breakthrough performance in this week's "Gone Girl." She's been a favorite of mine for a long time, for her elegant voice and precise acting choices. It's a good

posted 8:00:23am Sep. 30, 2014 | read full post »

Telling Time in "All That Jazz"
One of my favorite writers provides insights into one of my favorite (if flawed) movies -- Matt Zoller Seitz created a beautiful video essay about Bob Fosse's autobiographical "All That Jazz" for the Criterion Edition, and then they were unable to use it due to rights problems with the movie clips h

posted 3:19:48pm Sep. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Tomorrow on PBS: The Makers: Comedy
Be sure to tune in to PBS tomorrow night for what is sure to be one of the highlights from one of the all-time best series on PBS: "The Makers," the story of women in America.  Tomorrow's episode is about women in comedy. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHxHMgSF7UI[/youtube]

posted 8:00:45am Sep. 29, 2014 | 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.