Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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If I Stay
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some sexual material
Release Date:
August 22, 2014

 

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence
Release Date:
May 2, 2014

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
August 22, 2014

 

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

When the Game Stands Tall
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic material, a scene of violence, and brief smoking
Release Date:
August 22, 2014

 

Need for Speed
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of reckless street racing, disturbing crash scenes, nudity and crude language
Release Date:
March 14, 2014

Freaky Friday

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some language
Movie Release Date:2003
DVD Release Date:2004

Jamie Leigh Curtis and Lindsay Lohan play a mother and teenager who switch bodies in this third version of the book by Mary Rodgers.

Curtis is Tess, a compassionate therapist and a loving, if harried mother of two children (there is a cute moment as she loads her pager, cell phone, and PDA into her purse). Her husband died three years ago, and she is about to be married to the devoted and understanding Ryan (the always-gorgeous Mark Harmon).

Lohan is her daughter Anna, and like most 15-year-olds, she thinks that she has both too much of her mother’s attention (when it comes to telling her what to do) and not enough (when it comes to knowing what is important to her, which she should just be able to intuit, since Anna does not really want to tell her anything).

When the two of them get into an argument at a Chinese restaurant, the owner’s mother gives them magic fortune cookies. The next morning, they wake up as each other. While they figure out how to return to their own bodies, each has to spend the day living the other’s life.

That means that Tess has to cope with high school, including a teacher with a grudge, a former friend-turned rival, a guy Anna has a crush on, and a big exam. Anna has some fun with her mother’s credit cards but then has to cope with needy patients and a television appearance promoting her mother’s new book. And both start to understand the pressure of the schedule conflict that is at the center of their conflict with each other — the rehearsal dinner before the wedding is at the same time as an important audition for Anna’s rock band.

Curtis and Lohan are so clearly enjoying themselves that they are fun to watch and the story moves along so briskly that its logical flaws barely get in the way.

Parents should know that characters use rude schoolyard words (“sucks,” “blows,” etc.). Anna wants to get the side of her ear pierced, and when she is in her mother’s body, she does. There is some kissing (the ew-factor of Ryan’s wanting to kiss Tess, not knowing that Anna is occupying her body, is handled with some delicacy). There are some tense family scenes and the movie deals with issues of parental control and teen rebellion.

Families who see this movie should talk about why it is hard for Tess and Anna to understand each other at the beginning of the movie. If the parents and children in your family switched places, what would be the biggest surprises? Families will also want to discuss some of the choices Tess and Anna make, especially the resolution of Anna’s problems with her English teacher and the honors exam. And it might be nice to compare this to the original movie, in which the mother is a full-time mom in a two-parent household, and the daughter’s challenges center around housework.

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy the original Freaky Friday or the 1995 made-for-television version starring Shelley Long. Mary Rodgers is also the author/composer of the delightful musical “Once Upon a Mattress.” It is not available on video, but you can get the marvelous original cast album with Carol Burnett on CD. And every family should see the movie musicals composed by Rodgers’ famous composer father, Richard, including Oklahoma, South Pacific, Carousel, and The Sound of Music).

Thirteen

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

They say that the two worst years of a woman’s life are the year she is 13 and the year her daughter is.

We get to experience both at once in this film about a 7th grader named Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) who is catapulted into self-destructive behavior because she wants so badly to be accepted, to be cool, and to numb some of the pain of growing up. It was co-written by 13-year-old Nikki Reed, who plays the friend Tracy is so desperate to impress.

Tracy lives with her brother Mason (Brady Corbet) and their mother, Mel (Holly Hunter), a loving but damaged recovering alcoholic who does her best to support the family.

On the first day of 7th grade, there are always a couple of kids who really hit the puberty jackpot over the summer. Just as the rest are at their most clumsy, insecure, and vulnerable, those impossibly sure and golden kids appear to have arrived at the destination while everyone else is still trying to find the map.

Adults of any age are likely to still be carrying around the vision of their own perfect 7th grade classmates and how inadequate they felt by comparison. It somehow is not much comfort that not only did those kids themselves not feel as together as we thought, but that they were surpassed soon after by the late bloomers, who had to work a little bit to get there and thus have more staying power.

For Tracy, it is Evie (co-screenwriter Reed) who seems to have everything she desires. So when Evie introduces her to drugs (taking them and selling them), shoplifting, body-piercing, lying, and sex, it seems a small price to pay for feeling accepted or, to use a word that is only used about teen-agers or celebrities, “popular.”

Reed and first-time director/co-screenwriter Catherine Hardwicke have given this film great strengths — particularly its authenticity of detail (Hardwicke’s past career as a production designer really helps) and its genuine commitment, even tenderness, toward its subject matter. This really shows in the performances. Hunter is fearless in revealing Mel’s fragility, her generosity, and the deep, deep love for her children that grounds her. Wood (of television’s “Once and Again”) is breathtakingly open; every ounce of the joy and anguish she feels is in heart-breaking relief on her face. Wood shows us Evie’s wounded child inside the cool manipulator. The script has some particularly subtle and perceptive moments, especially when Tracy’s father keeps asking for the problem to be explained to him “in a nutshell.”

On the other hand, it would be nice if Tracy didn’t have to take on every single one of every parent’s worst nightmares; in addition to substance abuse, sexual involvement, lying, stealing, and failing in school, she develops an eating disorder and cuts herself. There are enough teenage problems in this movie to fill a decade’s worth of after-school-specials. But the film’s weaknesses are the weaknesses of youth and inexperience, and that is actually very appropriate for the subject matter.

Parents should know that the R rating comes from frank and explicit — but thoughtful — treatment of the subject matter. This is just another example of the failings of the MPAA rating system, because there are comedies that refer to all of the same issues that are rated PG-13. This movie is far better for teenagers because it deals forthrightly with the consequences of the behavior it depicts.

Characters constantly use very strong language. Teenagers engage in every possible self-destructive behavior — they smoke, take drugs, steal, lie, and pierce their tongues and belly buttons. They have sex that is so casual it is almost anonymous. There is also adult substance abuse and bad behavior. There are very tense family confrontations.

Families who see this movie should talk about how easy it was for Tracy to slip away from everything she had learned. Why was Evie’s friendship so important to her? Why was Tracy important to Evie? Why was it so hard for Mel to say no to anyone?

Families who appreciate this movie will also appreciate Smooth Talk and Foxes.

Bad Boys II

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

The old-fashioned real-deal movie star charm of Will Smith can occasionally be glimpsed somewhere inside this overlong cacaphony of car chases, shoot-em-ups, and explosions. It is impossible not to watch him and almost impossible not to smile while doing so.

But that’s about the only smile in this generic but mind-numbingly loud and violent summer action movie, more theme park stunt spectacular than story.

Martin Lawrence and Smith reprise their roles from 1995′s “Bad Boys” as buddy cops who toss off wisecracks in between rounds of ammunition. They are cast against type with Martin as Marcus, the worrying family man and Smith as Mike, the go-for-it playa. This time, Marcus’ sister (played by the gorgeously talented Gabrielle Union), a DEA agent, is in town, but hasn’t told her brother that (1) she is working undercover on a dangerous investigation and (2) she is romantically involved with Mike. Meanwhile, Marcus and Mike have smashed up most of the cars in LA but have not yet made any progress on tracking down the drug dealer they are after. And many, many, many, many more cars will be smashed and many attempts at humor will crash before they do.

Director Michael Bay (“Armageddon” and “The Rock”) can shoot action sequences and stunts, though he tries a little too hard to be John Woo. He is less successful at making it worth caring about, especially when it veers into the truly preposterous with a massive invasion of Cuba at the end. For anyone other than hard-core action fans it just gets overwhelming and finally a little tedious. It also makes the fatal mistake of forgetting to include a memorable or interesting villain. Instead we get a stereotyped paranoid drug dealer who is overly attached to his mother and daughter.

Parents should know that the movie pushes the R rating to almost the NC-17 level with very graphic violence. At one point a truck filled with naked dead bodies is hit so that it opens up and spills the bodies all over the street, so that they are hit by other cars. The top of a corpse’s head comes off. A character is chopped up and presented to his partner in parts, with blood dripping out of him. A character is exploded by a land mine. There is extreme, extended peril and violence, and many deaths. Characters use extremely strong language with constant profanity, including racist terms. There are sexual references and situations, including references to impotence and rather homophobic humor. We also see some highly improbable animal sex. Characters drink, and smoke, and at one point it is supposed to be humorous when Marcus gets stoned on Ecstasy. Characters of many races show some prejudice but work together with respect and loyalty and a female character is strong, brave, and capable.

Families who see this movie should talk about how different people decide which risks they will take.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the original and car chase and explosion movies like “The Transporter” and “Con Air”.

How to Deal

posted by rkumar
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2003

Pop star Mandy Moore plays a teenager in this movie based on two popular books by Sarah Dessen.

The books’ fans — and Moore’s — will enjoy the movie, which puts its heroine through the full obstacle course of adolescence, including coping with her parents’ divorce and subsequent romances, the ups and downs of her sister’s wedding plans, the death of a classmate, a pregnant best friend, and a romance of her own.

But those not already committed to the star or the books will find the movie hard going, because director Claire Kilner and screenwriter Neena Beeber demonstrate stunning ineptitude in translating written material to the screen. The story, the characters, and the relationships seem to go in completely different directions from scene to scene. Without knowing what’s in the books, it is not episodic; it is incoherent. And the dialogue is just painful. Deal me out.

Moore plays Halley (named for the comet), hurt and angry because her radio-host father has left her mother for a younger woman. She thinks her sister’s new engagement to a straight-laced young man as the divorce becomes final and her father announces (on his radio show) his own marriage plans is insensitive. When her best friend’s boyfriend dies very suddenly, it seems to Halley that love can never work out well. So she tries to ignore her feelings for Macon (Trent Ford), a guy whose primary appeal seems to be the fact that most of his face is hidden by his bangs.

Moore is appealing and she showed some screen presence in “The Princess Diaries” and “A Walk to Remember”. But in this movie she only shows two different facial expressions, and one looks like she has just sucked on a lemon.

Alison Janney (Halley’s mother) and Dylan Baker (her new love interest) do their best not to appear to be slumming, even when Baker is called on to wear a Civil War Uniform while stocking a vending machine. But the movie keeps tripping itself up on idiotic developments that are supposed to be comic, like Halley’s pot-smoking grandmother (played by 1940′s movie star Nina Foch) and the stuffy family of the sister’s fiance, and idiotic developments that are supposed to be touching (like a car accident). And it also has the worst costume design of any movie in decades.

Parents should know that the movie has some strong language, and teen smoking and drinking. The grandmother’s use of marijuana is portrayed as humorous. Halley’s friend and her boyfriend have sex and she becomes pregnant. Halley begins to have sex with her boyfriend, but then stops because she says she does not want to care too much about him. Halley’s sister comes home drunk from a bachelorette party with a male stripper’s underwear around her neck.

Families who see this movie should talk about how it can be hard to take emotional risks — but harder not to.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “A Walk to Remember”.

Previous Posts

If I Stay
Hamlet asked it best. "To be, or not to be: That is the question." We struggle through, worrying about whether someone likes us or whether we will be accepted at the school of our choice

posted 6:00:09pm Aug. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
If you want to not just see but hear an eyeball being pulverized, then see "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For."  If you want to see and hear it in the company of an audience who thinks that's

posted 5:59:27pm Aug. 21, 2014 | read full post »

When the Game Stands Tall
This dreary assemblage of every possible sports cliché has one thing in common with the game it portrays. Every time it seems to be going somewhere, it stops. More frustratingly, it wastes the opportunity to tell a good story by trying to squeeze in too many great ones. There are too many crises

posted 5:59:00pm Aug. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Christian Indie Films of 2014
This year has already seen a remarkable and perhaps unprecedented number of Christian and Biblically-based films, from big-budget epics like "Noah" and "Son of God" to small faith-oriented films like "God's Not Dead."  There is an excellent summary of four Christian independent films of 2014 on In

posted 3:59:03pm Aug. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Frank: The Real Story of the Singer With the Paper-Mache Mask
One of the handsomest men alive spends almost the entire movie wearing a huge round paper maché head in "Frank," a moving film inspired by the real-life story of the late Frank Sidebottom.  Michael Fassbender plays Frank, a sweet-natured but very quirky musician who wears his big head mask even in

posted 9:10:16am Aug. 21, 2014 | read full post »


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