Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Lucy
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R For strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality
Release Date:
July 25, 2014

 

Noah
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content
Release Date:
March 28, 2014

And So It Goes
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some sexual references and drug elements
Release Date:
July 25, 2014

 

Finding Vivian Maier
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
April 11, 2014

Wish I Was Here
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some sexual content
Release Date:
July 18, 2014

 

Sabotage
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R For strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use
Release Date:
March 28, 2014

The Real Cancun

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2003

This is not your parents’ spring break. There is no sign of Gidget at the bump-and-grind dances or the topless-but-for-whipped-cream contest. The bands on stage are singing lyrics explicit to a different order of magnitude than those of the Beach Boys. However, as with any ode to spring break, certain features seem timeless, including the boozy fumes and the fog of pheromones that float down from the screen in a palpable haze. Even for the genre, “The Real Cancun” seems as thin as the bikini straps worn by sunburned girls, an unreal little peep show which will leave some viewers with hangovers and others with a longing for the responsibility-free days of young adulthood.

In line with its other successful “real” –i.e. unscripted— shows including “Road Rules” and “Sorority Life”, MTV is aiming at its key 18 – 25 year old male demographic with a sensory overload of attractive youths seeking the ultimate party. As with its “Real World” series, “The Real Cancun” involves filming “real” people –meaning attractive, insecure youths, not actors—in everyday situations such as tropical locations where they are forced to interact with carefully selected roommates and the resulting antics are craftily edited for greatest effect. In this case, the cushy location is a color-saturated, beach-front hotel, sporting the most tolerant of cleaning staffs, and the lovely, young strangers are filmed in almost every aspect of their lives (bathrooms are thankfully off limits but everything else is pretty much laid out) for the duration of their showy but finally forgettable spring break.

The days of non-stop filming have been reduced to a handful of vignettes about who is going to sleep with whom. If there is a main character, it is the geeky, sober Alan who –thanks to peer pressure— finds booze and then a girlfriend, as he takes on a new, more confident personality like a modern day Sandra Dee transforming from bobby socks to black leather at the end of Grease. While there is quite a bit of raw, often unintentional, humor in laughing at their antics, the hangover of the movie comes from the sour aftertaste of watching people getting genuinely hurt by one another.

In this place where belly buttons are the shot glasses of choice and it is usually enough to know someone’s first name before having sex, “The Real Cancun” reminds everyone over the age of 24 that they are no longer invited to the party, but that it is the same party that has existed since the invention of the teenager. Ninety minutes of partying with these 16 college-age kids will be enough to send most parents home with a hangover and a strong desire to send their kids to labor in the fields during all future spring breaks.

Parents should know that this movie has a alcohol-content level high enough to make the audience feel drunk. Characters rely heavily upon alcohol, with several individuals doing things while under the influence that they clearly would not do under other circumstances. The movie does not show what must have been the other effects of all that drinking, skipping the vomiting and hangovers for the more voyeur-friendly hooking-up and suggestive dancing.

Parents should know that sex is a major theme of this movie and that the camera follows several couples into the bedroom to record their activities. While many movies have explicit scenes of couples who are acting, there is a notable line being crossed here, where the audience is watching actual intercourse albeit thinly veiled under a blanket.

Families who see this movie should talk about why peer pressure can be an influence on an individual no matter what age they are. Also, they might discuss how insecurities often make us act in a way that overcompensates for a weakness that we see in ourselves. Some of the individuals in this movie are callow, selfish and superficial, hurting those around them while preying on the insecurities of others. Who are the people in this movie who seem to be happy with themselves? Which people make choices that you respect?

Families who enjoyed this movie might be interested in MTV’s “Real World” series or their annual coverage of “MTV’s Spring Break”. For those who would like to visit (or revisit) the college party scene, movies like “Animal House” and “Back to School” provide lots of laughs with no hangover. And for those who would like to think about how far we have come (or how far we have fallen) it might be fun to take a look at the original spring break movie, “Where the Boys Are.”

It Runs in the Family

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2003

You keep hoping for this movie to be better than it is. But it never is.

I wanted to like it a lot. First, I am a sucker for family dramas, where people confront each other for not saying “I love you” enough and withholding approval and everyone cries and hugs and learns lessons. But the real reason I wanted this to work was the story behind the movie. Not only do Oscar-winning father and son Kirk and Michael Douglas star (as a father who does not say “I love you” enough, etc. etc. and the son who was wounded by him, etc. etc.), but the cast also includes grandson Cameron Douglas (as the son/grandson) and even mother-of-Michael, grandmother of Cameron and ex-wife of Kirk Diana Douglas, playing the mother/grandmother. Wouldn’t it be great if this was up there with such other family productions as “Prizzi’s Honor” or even “On Golden Pond?” But instead it is impossible to leave the theater without thinking that it would have been much more satisfying to see a documentary about the making of the film than to watch the movie itself.

The Douglas family plays members of the Gromberg family, who do not communicate very well. Michael Douglas is Mitchell, now working at the law firm his father co-founded, but with no heart for the corporate work. He is happier working at a soup kitchen and organizing a rent strike. When another volunteer at the soup kitchen makes a pass at him, he is conflicted but almost willing to become involved with her. His wife Rebecca (Bernadette Peters) is a therapist, warm and loving but they are not connecting as much as they both need to. Their son Asher (Cameron Douglas) is a slacker, failing in college and selling marijuana. Their younger son, Eli (Rory Culkin) does not feel that he can talk to his parents. Instead of telling them that he needs more allowance, he prints off a spreadsheet showing them his expenses.

Kirk Douglas plays the family patriarch, who, like the actor who portrays him, is recovering from a stroke and has impaired speech. But what really impairs his communication is his irascible nature.

Michael Douglas is clearly enjoying himself, and brings a great warmth to his performance. His son Cameron cannot act and has little star quality, but Michael himself wasn’t much better in his “Streets of San Francisco” days, so he may deserve another chance. The real star of the movie is Michael’s on and off-screen mother, Diana, who brings a marvelous elegance and humor to her role. When she dances with her husband, there is real history between them, magnificently so.

The script is terribly weak. It has the requisite ingredients for a family story, including the death of not one but two family members, a family holiday celebration (Passover), and grandfatherly advice that pays off surprisingly well. It keeps going off in too many different directions including a do-it-yourself Viking funeral that is completely batty.

Parents should know that the movie has a lot of mature material for a PG-13, including sexual situations and references. There is one casual sexual encounter in which a girl introduces herself to the boy just as they are about to go to bed together. An older brother nags his 11-year-old brother about kissing (or more) the girl he likes. A grandfather gives his grandson tips about seducing a girl. An adulterous encounter is halted because someone comes into the room. A character uses and deals in drugs, and characters turn to alcohol to numb their feelings.

Families who see this movie should talk about why it was so hard for the people in this family to talk to each other, even though many of them wanted to. How do different families communicate in different ways?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “I Never Sang for My Father,” “The Holly and the Ivy” and some of the other movies with Kirk and Michael Douglas, especially their Oscar-winning performances in “Spartacus” and “Wall Street.”

Raising Victor Vargas

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2003

Identity

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2003

It was a dark and stormy night.

Ten strangers are stranded at a seedy motel. And then, as one of them later explains, “people started dying.”

At first, it seems that they have nothing in common: a movie star (Rebecca De Mornay) and her limo driver (John Cusack), a prostitute (Amanda Peet), a police detective and his prisoner, a man (John C. McGinley) with a critically injured wife (Liela Kenzle) and her young son, and a just-married couple (Clea Duvall and William Lee Scott). Once they have all assembled and we have established that all communications and exits have been cut off by the rain, scary-movie things begin. Close-ups with suspenseful music mean that something bad has happened or is going to happen just outside the frame. But the conventions of the genre are treated more as traditions and they are expertly handled and wonderfully creepy. As the lower-billed actors get killed off, the remaining characters try to figure out who the murderer is and what the pattern is to the deaths. At first, the murders seem as random as the assortment of people who just happened to be driving by the motel when they were stopped by the storm. But then, as each body has a motel room key counting down in sequence, it seems clear that there must be a connection. It is very tempting to say more, but the plot twist is so, well, twisted that it would be, well, a crime to divulge any more.

This is a thriller with real thrills — both the kind that make you jump and the kind that make you think. It is one of those rare “Sixth Sense”-style puzzles that may send audiences back to see it a second time just for the fun of knowing how it all fits together.

Parents should know that it is a very scary movie with a lot of intense peril and some grisly and upsetting deaths. A character is a prostitute and there are some sexual references, including a discussion of a possible out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Characters drink, smoke, and use strong language.

Families who see this movie should talk about the enduring appeal of movies about serial killers.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “And Then There Were None,” referred to by one of the characters. Based on Ten Little Indians by Agatha Christie, it is the story of a group of strangers who arrive at an isolated location and then start dying off one by one. The best version is the original from 1945, directed by Rene Clair, but the 1965 remake is not bad. The 1974 version is worth watching only for curiosity, however. Take a look at the Christie book, too, which has a more fiendish ending than the movie. Families who enjoy this genre will also enjoy the “Scream” trilogy and “Poltergeist.”

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