Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Annie
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some mild language and rude humor
Release Date:
December 19, 2014

 

The Maze Runner
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images
Release Date:
September 19, 2014

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action, some rude humor and brief language
Release Date:
December 19, 2014

 

Magic in the Moonlight
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for a brief suggestive comment, and smoking throughout
Release Date:
August 1, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
Release Date:
December 19, 2014

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
Release Date:
August 8, 2014

Say Anything

posted by rkumar
A
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:1989

Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) is an engagingly aimless high school graduate who likes junk food and kickboxing. Courageously, he sets his heart on Diane Court (Ione Skye), the most beautiful and brilliant girl in school, described as a brain “trapped inside the body of a game show hostess.” Lloyd has no conventional “smooth” talk but his free-association “say anything” style, good humor, and obvious genuineness make her laugh. She agrees to let him take her to a graduation party, and they have a good time together.

Diane and her father James (John Mahoney) are very close and he assures her that they can always “say anything” to each other. When Diane wins a prestigious fellowship to study in England, he tells her that it is everything they have ever worked for. One problem is Diane’s fear of flying. The other problem is her growing attachment to Lloyd.

Though she tries not to become too involved, Diane becomes closer to Lloyd. Her father feels that she is drifting away from him. Diane and Lloyd make love — a gentle, intimate experience, and she immediately tells her father about it. Finally, John forces Diane to choose, and she chooses her father over Lloyd. She tells Lloyd she just wants to be friends.

But her father’s love, which has always bordered on the obsessive, has also developed into the criminal. His nursing home is investigated for tax fraud. John has been taking money from the residents to spend on Diane. Diane is shattered. She returns to Lloyd for support. She cannot bring herself to visit her father in jail, so she sends Lloyd to see him with a letter. In an exceptionally sweet final scene, Lloyd and a terrified Diane are on the plane to England.

In this movie, the guy who appears to be aimless and incapable of achieving anything turns out to have a stronger moral code than John and to be more in control of his life than Diane. Diane may have an outstanding record, but she has missed out on making friends. Lloyd has excellent relationships with his sister and her son and with a number of friends. He is the one reliable enough to be the “keymaster” to make sure that no one leaves the party too drunk to drive. When he wavers about taking a stand with Diane, his friend reminds him not to be “a guy,” but to be “a man.” He is even willing to mediate the relationship between Diane and her father.

Lloyd waits for his future to come to him. As he says, “I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.” But he knows that he wants to be with Diane, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to make that possible. Lloyd is ready to make his own choices and make his own mistakes. Diane, by contrast, has always had all her choices made for her.

The strength of Lloyd’s relationship with Diane is also contrasted with the disastrous teenage relationships of his friends, especially Cory’s broken heart over Joe. In a memorable scene, Lloyd’s buddies offer him (terrible) advice on how to treat women, and he responds, “I got a question. If you guys know so much about women, how come you’re here at like the Gas ‘n’ Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers with no women anywhere?” “Conscious choice, man” is their funny but unconvincing reply.

Diane’s father, desperate for her to succeed, is too overprotective and too involved with her. He has made her dependent. She is only able to flourish in Lloyd’s company. She appreciates Lloyd’s thoughtfulness in guiding her around some broken glass and his willingness to help her become more independent by teaching her to drive. Yet, she is still not ready to be on her own. She needs Lloyd to deliver her message to her father, and to comfort her as the plane takes off for England.

Parents should know that this movie includes brief strong language. Diane and Lloyd make love in the back of a car, an overwhelming and intimate experience for both of them. She goes home afterward and tells her father about it, pleased that she can “say anything” to him. There is liberal drinking at high-school party with a couple of students actively drunk. Lloyd is responsible for making sure everyone gets home safely. Families who see this movie should talk about why a girl as successful and ambitious as Diane would like Lloyd. If all James does is try to do what is best for his daughter, how does this go wrong? Lloyd has a lot of friends — what makes him so likeable? What will happen to Lloyd and Diane? Why do you think so?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy seeing Ione Skye (the daughter of 1960s pop star Donovan) in another story about a young man who flounders through his attraction to her, The Rachel Papers (deservedly rated R), based on the novel by Martin Amis. Cusack stars in The Sure Thing and The Journey of Natty Gan, and provides the voice of Dimitri in Anastasia. Mahoney appears on television’s “Frazier” and in the romantic Moonstruck.

Roll Bounce

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2005

In Undercover Brother, director Malcolm Lee’s shrewd but affectionate appreciation of the 1970’s was played for satire. In “Roll Bounce,” he brings that same evocative skill to a coming of age story that is sweet, funny, touching, and completely genuine. Lee creates not just the era some of us remember but also the moment all of us experience — that summer when the world opens up and you begin to see all the tantalizing and terrifying possibilities. And it has a superbly selected soundtrack of 70’s gems.

It is the summer of 1978 in the south side of Chicago. Xavier (Bow Wow), known to just about everyone as “X,” loves to skate, but the local roller rink is closing down. So, X and his friends decide to venture north to the upscale Sweetwater rink in the posh neighborhood. It is overwhelming at first. X and his friends wonder if the people at Sweetwater are better than they are, especially the local skating champion, Sweetness (Wesley Jonathan), who rules the rink with a rock-star-like entourage and his own theme music. The annual skate-off is coming up, with a $500 award for first place. X and his friends decide to compete.

X does not get a lot of support from his father (the terrific Chi McBride), who is struggling to keep the family together after the loss of his wife. He does not want his children to know that he has also lost his job. But he has not really allowed himself — or X and his sister — to mourn.

For X, friends are his family, anyway. Despite the constant tossing back and forth of insults (many relating to each other’s mothers or race), his friends are his support system, including a new friend who happens to be a girl (the sweet Jurnee Smollett as Tori).

This movie manages to pack in a lot of characters and a lot of plot and still keep a gentle, easy-going and nostalgic atmosphere. There are no surprises here. X and his father will have a confrontation and learn to understand each other better (they’ll both begin to develop relationships with lovely ladies as well) and X and his friends will wonder whether they are good enough to compete with Sweetness and then decide to give it their best shot. But the characters are endearing and genuine and it all goes down as easy as Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day.”

Parents should know that this film has brief strong language, including racial epithets. Part of the culture of this community is “the dozens,” where people try to top each other with insults, mostly directed at each other’s mothers. There are also racial wisecracks, including the n-word, often relating to the characters of mixed racial backgrounds or in inter-racial relationships, but it is done with good humor and affection. Overall, a strength of the movie is its portrayal of strong and loyal characters of diverse backgrounds. There is some adult social drinking, but X’s father explains that he does not drink. There are some tense and sad moments.

Families who see this movie should talk about why X and his father had a hard time communicating and what made it possible for them to find a way to share their feelings of loss and sadness. Why was skating so important to X and his friends? Why do X and his friends insult each other so much? How do they demonstrate their loyalty and commitment?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Drumline, starring Cannon, Cooley High, Saturday Night Fever (mature material), and Breaking Away.

Red Eye

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2005

Master of horror Wes Craven moves into the thriller genre, showing us that scary is scary, with or without grotesque killers (A Nightmare on Elm Street) or grotesque killings (the Scream trilogy). Craven’s sure sense of pace and ability to make the characters real enough to pull us in without becoming distracting makes this tense little film into a real heart-pounder.

It begins by almost lulling the audience into thinking we’re about to watch a romance. Lisa (Rachel McAdams) is an efficient young woman who is used to staying calm around people who are upset. She handles customer relations at a luxury hotel. When she is stuck at a Texas airport on her way back to Miami after her grandmother’s funeral, she strikes up a conversation with Jackson (Cillian Murphy of 28 Days Later), a sympathetic and charming stranger.

The plane finally boards and it turns out they are seated together. And then it turns out that is not coincidence. Lisa is in for a turbulent ride. And so are we.

Jackson is also an expert at staying calm and very efficient at what he does. He is an assassin. One of his colleagues is waiting outside Lisa’s father’s house. Jackson tells Lisa that her father will be tortured and killed if she does not call her notel to move a visiting dignitary to a different room.

Lisa is trapped, physically and psychologically. Jackson makes it clear that she won’t be getting any help from anyone on the plane. The pressure keeps increasing as the time gets shorter and she understands more about what she is risking.

Craven uses the claustrophobic confines of the airplane extremely well, keeping things moving enough to create visual interest but always making us aware of how vulnerable and limited Lisa feels. Then the plane lands. The landscape expands, but the tension tightens. (A quibble, though, about the treatment of the Deputy Director of Homeland Security, who travels like a rock star, not a bureaucrat, violating several federal laws and providing a “hey, wait a minute” reaction that momentarily takes us out of the movie.)

McAdams makes Lisa appealing and believeable and Murphy shows us the charm and the chill of the sociopath. But the star of the show here is Craven, who knows how to make a thriller thrill.

Parents should know that this is a very intense thriller with near-constant tension and peril. There are some scary surprises and brief graphic images. Characters are injured and killed. There is a scene in a bar. Characters drink and one becomes a little tipsy. There are brief sexual references and a few uses of profanity.

Families who see this movie should talk about Lisa’s job and past experiences affected the way she responded to Jackson.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Nick of Time with Johnny Depp and Collateral with Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx. They may also enjoy some of the other airport-based films, including dramas (The Terminal, Airport), romances (Jet Lag), and one of the most outrageously funny comedies of all time, Airplane! (mature material).

Supercross

posted by rkumar
B
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:2005

I’ve got to give this movie some credit for its lack of pretense and the modesty of its goals. The title says it all. This movie is called “Supercross” and that’s exactly what it is. It’s pretty much just supercross racing — motorcycle cross-country racing on off-road tracks with added extreme man-made obstacles. That’s all there is to it.

Oh, there’s a little sprinkling of something sort of wispily plot-ish. There are some moderately attractive performers who appear to be portraying some sort of characters who have a few things to say to each other, fall in love, and learn some lessons in between races. But all of that has the good sense to stay out of the way of the movie’s theme and reason for being, which is, let me say it again, supercross. The movie’s brief running time (about an hour and 15 minutes) is mostly taken up with shots of motorcyle races, with lots of slo-mo jumps.

Two brothers make their living cleaning pools but live for racing motorcycles. KC (Steve Howey) is the “old school,” more conservative one, and Trip (Mike Vogel) is more impulsive risk-taker. KC gets a “factory ride” (corporate sponsor), but is disappointed to find out that they don’t want him to win — they just want him to clear away the competition so the boss’ son can be the first to cross the finish line. Trip competes as a “privateer” (without a sponsor), his bike provided by a man who has a pretty daughter who knows everything about motorcycle engines (Cameron Richardson).

Some romantic encounters, some sibling rivalry, some “what do I want out of life” moments, a brief appearance by a Teen Beat cover boy (singer Aaron Carter) and a lot of motorcyle jumps, races, and crashes later, it’s over before anyone has time to think too much. It’s got all the depth and insight of a video game, but it manages to stay out of the way of its minor pleasures by not trying to be more complicated than it needs to be.

Parents should know that there is brief bad language and characters drink (scenes in bar). There is a brief reference to drug use when someone advises a racer that there is no drinking or drug use permitted during training. There are some intense racing scenes, including crashes, and some injuries.

Families who see this movie should talk about the differences — and the similarities — between the brothers. Why did KC change his mind about the factory deal? What was the difference between what KC did for Rowdy and what Trip did for KC? What did it mean when Piper said, “It’s a good thing you don’t race this scared?”

Families who are interested can find out more about supercross and motocross racing. Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy The Fast and the Furious and Days of Thunder.

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