Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Fading Gigolo
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some sexual content, language and brief nudity
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

 

Philomena
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 on appeal for some strong language, thematic elements and sexual references
Release Date:
November 22, 2013

Transcendence
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

 

The Nut Job
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and rude humor
Release Date:
January 17, 2014

Bears
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

 

Grudge Match
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sports action violence, sexual content and language
Release Date:
December 25, 2013

Return to Me

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:2000

No surprises here, but it is a pleasant date-movie, a romance that tries hard to transcend its gimmick and just about succeeds. Let’s get the gimmick out of the way first – guy has girl (architect Bob — David Duchovney — married to beautiful Elizabeth — zookeeper Joely Richardson). Then guy loses girl in a car accident, guy meets new girl named Grace (Minnie Driver) who doesn’t want to tell him that she had a heart transplant, guy finds out that the heart came from his late wife, and everyone gets over it and gets on with living happily ever after.

I know, I know, it is a very creaky premise. At least it isn’t one of those movies that drags out the telling part and then just as she is about to spill the beans he finds out anyway and it takes another half hour to straighten it all out. And at least there is no maudlin “Chicken Soup for the Soul”-type stuff about how this is the gift his late wife brought to him or anything like that. Grace tells Bob as soon as she finds out and it does not take him too long to figure out that he loves her anyway, and if it just happens that the big clinch happens in Italy, where he was always trying to take Elizabeth, we won’t make too big a thing of it.

We know where it is all going from the first five minutes. So we can sit back and enjoy the ride, in the capable hands of director/co-star/co- scriptwriter Bonnie Hunt. Hunt, a terrific character actress (Renée Zellweger’s sister in “Jerry Maguire” and Tom Hanks’ wife in “The Green Mile”) lets the couple’s friends and family add a lot of life and depth to the story. They give Bob and Grace more personality and interest, sort of character by association.

Grace lives with her grandfather (Carroll O’Connor), owner of an Irish-Italian restaurant that is home to a community so adorable and loving that they could be birds and cherubs perching on the finger of an animated Disney heroine. Her friend Megan (director Hunt) is living in happy domestic chaos with her husband (James Belushi) and four children. Bob’s friend Charlie (David Alan Grier) is there to fix him up with Ms. Wrong, so that he can have a reason to go to Grace’s grandfather’s restaurant and leave behind the 21st century equivalent of a glass slipper – his cell phone.

Everyone has to cope with the risks of letting others see us clearly. It is not just major secrets like heart transplants that people are afraid to share with others. Families who see this movie should talk about how people decide how much of themselves to share, about how people cope with loss that seems devastatingly overwhelming, and about Grace’s grandfather’s comment that “It is the character that’s the strongest that God gives the most challenges to.” Before Grace goes out with Bob for the first time, Megan advises her not to shave her legs, as insurance against “going too far.” This is a rare movie in which the couple does not go to bed together almost immediately, partly because of Grace’s sensitivity about her scar, and possibly also because Bob needs to take things slowly, too. Some families will want to talk about how couples make decisions about the risks of physical intimacy as well as emotional. And families should also talk about the loving way the people in this movie care for each other and enjoy each other.

Parents should know that though the movie is rated PG, there are a few strong words, including some used by children, and some mild sexual references.

Families who enjoy this movie will also like “Sleepless in Seattle.”

Resident Evil

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2002

The definitive comment about “Resident Evil” was made by my friend Luke, who walked out of the theater with me and said, “The computer game is more realistic than the movie.” At least, I think that’s what he said. My ears were still ringing from the highest decibel audio track I can remember.

Okay, no one was going in expecting insights about the human condition or Oscar-worthy performances in a movie based on a CD-ROM. All we hope for is some cool special effects and fight scenes. But even on that level, “Resident Evil” is a disappointment.

A huge corporate conglomerate operates a mysterious underground research facility called The Hive. When something goes wrong with a devastating virus experiment, the governing computer system (think “2001’s” Hal the computer with the voice of Alice in Wonderland) shuts everything down, including killing off all the people. Two amnesiac security officers are brought down into The Hive by a team of commandos. And the rest of the movie consists of the group being confronted by various booby-traps and being chased by various mutants and zombies.

For the record, I can accept forgoing insight, characterization, and even dialogue in a movie like this. But it is not okay to forego stunning visuals, clever plot twists, and a sense of humor, and here “Resident Evil” falls short. What it does have is undead humans who look like rejects from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video, mutant vampire Dobermans who look like they they’ve been turned inside out, some laser beams that slice into people in a really gross way, and, on the plus side, a literally kick-ass performance by Michelle Rodriguez.

Parents should know that this movie has extremely gross and graphic violence, with many disgusting deaths and truly icky monsters. Characters are in extreme peril and most of them are killed. There is very strong language and a brief sexual situation with nudity.

Families who see this movie should talk about how people should respond if they believe that their organization is doing something wrong and about the kinds of controls our society establishes to keep private organizations from getting out of control. They can also talk about how this movie could have been better.

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy the much better The Fifth Element, also starring Milla Jovovich.

Remember the Titans

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2000

This movie about the real-life integration of a Virginia high school football teem teeters on the brink of cliche and stereotype but manages to come down on the side of archetype, thanks to a sure script, solid direction, and another sensational performance by Denzel Washington.

It was not until 1971, seventeen years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, that black students came to T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria Virginia. Every other team in that football-loving district was still segregated. But the white T.C. Williams players were confronted with not only a whole new set of black players, but a black coach, Herman Boone (Washington). In a matter of a few weeks, Boone has to make them into a team — and it has to be a winning team, because the school board is looking for any reason to fire him so they can reinstate Coach Yoast (Will Patton), now demoted to assistant.

This is the kind of movie that begins with all the characters attending a funeral under a bright autumn sun and then takes us back to where it all began. This is the kind of movie in which people say things like, “Is this even about football anymore or is it just about you?” and where the supreme bonding moment is when everyone sings Motown songs together. In other words, no surprises here. If everyone hadn’t achieved a sense of brotherhood that transcended race and it hadn’t all turned out pretty well, Disney would not have made a movie about it. But that just leaves us free to enjoy the movie’s appealing characters and special moments. And that’s all right. There is a reason for the classic structure of the sports movie — we like to watch raw recruits learn honor and loyalty out there on the field when it’s done right, and here it is done very nicely.

Washington is, as ever, that rarest of pleasures, equally an actor and a movie star. His power to mesmerize and inspire as a performer works perfectly with his role as a coach who can capture the attention and loyalty of these teen-age boys. Boone is so secure in himself that he can devote all of his energy to the team, so he inspires them by example.

Boone loves football because the football field is the one place where only what is inside the players matters — talent, loyalty, hard work, integrity. He is a man who has faced racism with dignity and self-confidence, not bitterness. He also loves football because it provides a constructive outlet for his emotions. He tells the team that football is “about controlling that anger, harnessing that aggression to achieve perfection.”

Boone takes the boys to a college near Gettysburg for training. It is impossible to say which is the tougher workout for the team — the physical challenges of drills and practices or the emotional challenge of overcoming a lifetime of anger and prejudice. He takes them to the Gettysburg battlefield and tells them that “Fifty thousand men died on this same field fighting the same battle we are still fighting today…If we don’t come together right now on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed.”

But there is another battlefield waiting for them when they get back to school. The team has a number of tough moments on and off the field. So do the coaches. As Boone reminds them, in mythology the titans were even greater than the gods. Like all great coaches, Boone and Yoast teach the team that they have it within themselves to be great as well. And they realize that they get as much from the boys as the boys get from them.

Parents should know that the movie includes racist comments and situations and some locker room insults. A major character is critically injured in a car accident. When the boys refer to a long-haired teammate as a “fruitcake,” he responds by kissing one of them on the mouth. There are some scuffles and threats of more serious violence.

Families who see this movie should talk about the arguments Boone and Yoast have about how to motivate the team. Yoast thinks that Boone is too tough. Boone thinks that Yoast is more protective of the black players than the white players. Ask family members who inspired them to do their best, and how they did it. Notice that Boone may criticize a player’s performance on the field in front of the others, but that he never lets the team know that he is helping one member with his schoolwork. Talk about the way that the boys show respect and affection by insulting each other.

Families might also want to talk about Yoast’s willingness to stay on as assistant coach, despite the blow to his pride, and about why he relinquishes his chance to be in the Hall of Fame.

Parents may want to share their recollections of the civil rights era in light of the players’ experience in not being allowed to eat at a restaurant. The movie focuses on racism, but it also deals with other kinds of prejudice. See if the kids in the family notice the prejudice against the boy with long hair or Boone’s patronizing attitude toward Yoast’s football-loving daughter.

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy “Brian’s Song,” the true (and very sad) story of the first racially mixed roommates in the NFL, Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo.

Recess: School’s Out

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2001
DVD Release Date:2001

Disney’s latest release, “Recess: School’s Out!” should have a brief life in theaters before moving on to a more fitting format on video. It is not “based on” the popular television series as much as it simply is an episode blown up for the big screen. That means that it has more expensive music (the usual baby-boomer re-treads, like “Born to Be Wild,” “Incense and Peppermint,” “Green Tambourine,” “Wipe Out” and “Let the Sun Shine”) and more expensive voice talent (James Woods as the bad guy, Robert Goulet for some songs). But the plot, dialogue, and animation are no better than the low standards of Saturday morning television. The look of the movie might work on a television set, but the big screen reveals how flat and unimaginative the artwork is.

The movie begins as T.J. and his five pals engage in some last-minute hijinks on the last day of school before summer vacation. T.J. is looking forward to a long, lazy summer with his friends, but finds that all of them are being sent off to enrichment summer programs at various camps. He is not able to have much fun alone (predictable cue: “One is the Loneliest Number”).

T.J. sees something suspicious at school, and rounds up the gang to investigate. It seems that there is an evil plot to do away with summer vacation for good, so that students throughout the country will have better test scores. T.J. and his friends have to come up with a plan to rescue the school, the principal, and, most important, the summer.

At best, the movie is innocuous fun. The show’s creators have a gift for remembering details about being a kid that most grown-ups forget. The movie shows some sense of the way kids see the world, with characters like “the Ashleys,” the school princess-cheerleader types, the hairnetted lunch ladies who store the leftover chowder until September, the snively tattle-tale, and the kindergarten class, half adorable, half terrorist.

Judging by the reaction of the kids in the screening I attended, it is a crowd-pleaser, especially when T.J. and his gang use the ultimate kid weapons — water balloons, silly string, shaken-up soda cans, and a jump rope — to take on the bad guys. The movie, like the show, is racially diverse and has girl characters who are smart, strong, and capable. The kids are loyal to each other and show cooperation and teamwork in working together.

On the other hand, parents should know that the movie assumes that all children and teachers hate school and that there is nothing interesting to learn and no value from education. Adults are ineffectual, uninterested, or dim. And T.J. forces his big sister to help him by threatening to put her diary on the Internet.

Warning: the jokes are pretty vulgar for a G rating. T.J. uses the school public address system to make an announcement, pretending to be the principal, and talking about how he scratches his “big, saggy butt” once an hour. T.J.’s parents say they are going to take his temperature with a baby thermometer and some Vaseline (eliciting a few uncomfortable squeals from the audience). T.J. reads aloud from his sister’s diary, including dramatic descriptions of teenage romance.

Families who see this movie should talk about its message that kids should not worry about test scores or the future but should make time to “just be kids.” What is important to T.J. and his friends? Why does the tattletale spend all his time trying to get everyone else in trouble? Was it fair for T.J. to take his sister’s diary and let his friends read it? Encourage children to talk about their own experiences in school — and to tell you why they would not want to give up their summer vacation.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Madeline.”

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Tribute: Hurricane Carter
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posted 11:28:53am Apr. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Celebrate Easter!
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0RhLJYKi-4[/youtube]

posted 7:00:48am Apr. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Trailer: Chef
Jon Favreau follows his big-budget special effects movies ("Iron Man," "Cowboys and Aliens") with a return to his small, indie roots ("Swingers") as director/writer/star of the scrumptious-looking "Chef."  (WARNING: Some strong language) [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tP6SE65F-h4[/yout

posted 8:00:51am Apr. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Have a Blessed Easter: Movies for the Family
My gallery of Easter movies includes "Ben Hur," several different movie versions of the life of Jesus, a couple of choices just for kids, and a classic musical named for a classic song, Irving Berlin's "Easter Parade." There's something for every family celebrating this weekend. [youtube]https://

posted 8:00:44am Apr. 19, 2014 | read full post »

A Dramatic Commercial for TNT
I love this commercial for TNT! [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIkPeZKP-d4[/youtube]

posted 8:33:40am Apr. 18, 2014 | read full post »


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