Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Heaven is for Real
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic material including some medical situations
Release Date:
April 16, 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

Under the Skin
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for graphic nudity, sexual content, some violence and language
Release Date:
April 11, 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

Rio 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 11, 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

Hollywood Ending

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

Woody Allen’s films seem to get whispier and more ephemeral every year. For all its small pleasures “Hollywood Ending” is so light it nearly floats off the screen.

Allen plays Val, a movie director who is brilliant but so neurotic that no one will work with him. His ex-wife, Ellie (Tea Leoni) arranges for him to have one last chance to direct — a movie set in New York that seems perfect for him. Her new boyfriend Hal (Treat Williams) is reluctant to trust Val with a $60 million movie, but he goes along with it because Ellie wants Val to do it, and he trusts her to keep Val under control.

The problem is that Val is so neurotic that just before the film is supposed to begin shooting, he develops hysterical blindness. His agent, Al (real-life movie director Mark Rydell) persuades him that blindness is no reason not to go ahead and make the movie.

So, Val shoots the movie. The only people who know the truth are Al and a Chinese student hired to translate for the cameraman, who does not speak English. Despite the fact that the director never looks anyone in the eye and his directions make no sense, everyone keeps talkng about his artistic “vision” and his leading lady tells him that she loves the way he looks at her.

Various mix-ups and pratfalls later, the movie turns out to be a $60 million mess, but there is indeed a Hollywood ending and almost everyone lives happily ever after.

Allen gets a lot of credit for poking fun at his own reputation, and there are a couple of movie industry jokes that will be funny for anyone who watches “Entertainment Tonight” or reads “People.” The movie has some great lines and some funny scenes, especially when Val and Ellie get together for their first business meeting and it keeps exploding into recrimination about their divorce. “Will and Grace’s” Deborah Messing is delicious as Val’s airhead girlfriend, who does leg stretches while she talks on the phone and whose only response to hearing that he is breaking up with her is, “Am I still in the movie?”

Overall, though, the movie feels a little tired. Not one character is as distinctive as any of Anne Hall’s family members or the robots in “Sleeper.” This is middle of the road Woody Allen — a pleasant diversion for his fans, but it won’t make any new ones.

Parents should know that the move has some sexual references and situations, including adultery. There is some strong language and a reference to drug use.

Families who see this movie should talk about why people sometimes put up obstacles to realizing their dreams. What made Val decide to reconcile with his son? Why wasn’t it possible earlier? Why did Woody Allen name the male characters Val, Al, and Hal?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Curse of the Jade Scorpion,” “Sleeper,” and “Take the Money and Run.”

Holiday

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:1938
DVD Release Date:2006

After a whirlwind romance at a ski resort, Johnny Case (Cary Grant) is on his way to meet his new fiancée, Julia Seton (Doris Nolan). Overwhelmed by the mansion at the address she gave him, he assumes she must be on the staff, and goes to the back door to ask about her. But she is the daughter of the wealthy and distinguished family that occupies the house. He is surprised and amused, and enjoys meeting Julia’s sister Linda (Katherine Hepburn) and brother Ned (Lew Ayres). They promise to help him win over their father, who is likely to object to the engagement, because Johnny is not from an upper-class wealthy family.

Johnny is a poor boy who has worked hard and done very well. Julia likes him because she sees a similarity to her grandfather, who made a fortune. She wants him to do the same, and tells him, “There’s nothing more exciting than making money.” But Johnny, who has just taken the first vacation of his life, only wants to make enough so that he can take a “holiday,” to “find out why I’ve been working.” As the movie begins, he is about to achieve that goal.

Linda thinks this is a great idea. She is something of an outsider in the family, forsaking the huge formal rooms of the mansion for one cozy place upstairs, which she calls “the only home I’ve got.” She tries to persuade Julia and their father that Johnny is right. Even though he completes the deal that gives him enough for his holiday, Johnny gives in and promises Julia to try it her way, and go to work for her father for a while. As her father presents them with a honeymoon itinerary and explains he is arranging for a house and servants for them, Johnny balks. He knows that if he accepts all of this, he will never be able to walk away from it. Julia breaks the engagement, and Linda joins Johnny on his holiday.

Kids should talk about why it was so important to Linda that she be allowed to give the engagement party. Why did Johnny change his mind about trying it Julia’s way? If you were going to take a holiday, what would you do? Remember, this is more than a vacation, it is more like a journey of discovery. Where would you go? What would you hope to find? How do you think people decide what jobs they want to have? Ask your parents what they thought about in choosing their jobs, and whether they ever took (or wanted to take) a “holiday.” What do you think Johhny will do at the end of his holiday? If Linda thought making money was exciting, why didn’t she want to do it herself?

Many kids will identify with the feeling of wanting to take a holiday, to step back from daily life and study the larger picture. The idea that other things are more important than making money and living according to traditional standards of success may also have some appeal. This is a good opportunity to talk with them about what success really means, and about finding the definition within yourself instead of putting too much weight on the definitions of others. There is nothing inherently wrong with making a fortune, of course, just as there is nothing inherently wrThis movie has two exceptionally appealing characters in Johnny’s friends the Potters, played by Jean Dixon and Edward Everett Horton. Their kindness and wisdom contrasts with the superficial values of the Seton family.

Cary Grant began in show business as an acrobat, and you can see him show off some of that prowess in this movie. The same stars, director, author and scriptwriter worked on another classic, “The Philadelphia Story.”

 

High Noon

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:1952

Plot: Marshal Will Kane (Gary Cooper) marries Amy (Grace Kelly) and turns in his badge. She is a Quaker, and he has promised her to hang up his gun and become a shopkeeper. But they get word that Frank Miller is coming to town on the noon train. Kane arrested Miller and sent him to jail, and Miller swore he would come back and kill him.

Will and Amy leave town quickly. But he cannot run away, and he turns around. He knows that they will never be safe; wherever they go, Miller will follow them. And he has a duty to the town. Their new marshal does not arrive until the next day.

Will seeks help from everyone, finally going to church, where services are in session. But he is turned down, over and over again. Amy says she will leave on the noon train. Will’s former deputy, Harvey (Lloyd Bridges) refuses to help, because he is resentful that Will did not recommend him as the new marshal. Will’s former girlfriend, Helen Ramirez (Katy Jurado), now Harvey’s girlfriend, will not help him, either. She sells her business and leaves town. Others say that it is not their problem, or tell him to run, for the town’s good as well as his own. The previous marshal, Will’s mentor, says he can’t use a gun any more. The one man who promised to help backs out when he finds out that no one else will join them. The only others who offer to help are a disabled man and a young boy. Will must face Miller and his three henchmen alone.

At noon, Frank Miller gets off the train. The four men come into town. Will is able to defeat them, with Amy’s unexpected help. As the townsfolk gather, Will throws his badge in the dust, and they drive away.

Discussion: This outstanding drama ticks by in real time, only 84 tense minutes long. Will gets the message about Frank Miller at 10:40, and we feel the same time pressure he does, as he tries to find someone to help him. We see and hear clocks throughout the movie, and as noon approaches, the clock looms larger and larger, the pendulum swinging like an executioner’s axe. In the brilliant score by Dimitri Tiomkin (sung by Tex Ritter) the sound of the beat suggests both the train’s approach and the passage of time.

This is like a grown-up “Little Red Hen” story. Will cannot find anyone to help him protect the town. Everyone seems to think it is someone else’s problem (or fault). Teenagers may be interested to know that many people consider this film an analogy for the political problems of the McCarthy era. It was written during the height of the Hollywood “red scare.” After completing this screenplay, the writer, an “unfriendly witness” before the House Un-American Activities Committee, was blacklisted. But this unforgettable drama of a man who will not run from his enemy, or his own fears, transcends all times and circumstances.

Questions for Kids:

· Everyone seems to have a different reason for not helping Will. How many can you identify? Which reasons seem the best to you? Which seem the worst? What makes Amy change her mind?

· Why does Will throw his badge in the dirt?

· Do you think the screenwriter chose the name “Will” for any special reason?

· How do you decide when to stay and fight and when to run? How do you evaluate the risks? What should the law be?

Connections: This movie was the first attempt at an “adult” Western, its stark black and white images a contrast to the gorgeous vistas in the Westerns of John Ford and Howard Hawks. It was included in the first list named to the National Film Registry, established by the Library of Congress to identify films that are “culturally, historically, or esthetically important.” It has had tremendous influence, and has inspired many imitations and variations. “Outland,” starring Sean Connery (and rated R) is a not-very-good attempt to transfer this plot to outer space. “Three O’Clock High” moves it to a high school, with a new student challenged by the school bully. Despite some directoral pyrotechnics, it is not very good, either. “The Principal” has another “High Noon”-style confrontation in a school, but this time it is the title character who must show his mettle. “The Baltimore Bullet” moves the confrontation to a pool hall.

High Fidelity

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2000

Rob Gordon (Jon Cusack) asks the audience, “Do I listen to pop music because I was miserable, or am I miserable because I listen to pop music?” Rob spends more time talking to us than he does to any of the other characters in the movie, which is part of the problem. His candor and charm, both considerable, have allowed him to carry his adolescence through his 20′s, and he is much more comfortable concocting the definitive list of the best side-one, track-one songs ever than he is thinking about, say the definitive list of worthwhile things to do with his life. As his girlfriend Laura (Iben Hjejle) moves out of his apartment, he begins to think that maybe it isn’t enough just to like the right stuff. Maybe what matters is what you are like, not just what you do like.

Rob owns the least commercial enterprise possible, a vintage record store called “Classic Vinyl.” Only the two hopeless guys who work for him (Jack Black and Jerry Maguire’s Todd Luiso — both superb) make him feel like a grown-up by comparison. They sit around all day, getting rid of potential customers who are just not cool enough to be allowed to buy their records, endlessly ranking everything in the world and seeing the whole world as one big chance to measure everything. The death of one character prompts them to devise a “top five songs about death” list. They hyper-critically rate everything except for their own sorry lives.

Laura’s departure of course prompts Rob to make a list of his five worst break-ups, which allows him to comfort himself that she is not even on the list. But as he tracks down the five on the list to see if he can figure out what went wrong, he begins to admit to himself that he is deeply wounded, and not just because he feels threatened and competitive at the thought of her new love interest (a hilarious cameo by Tim Robbins). He has to allow himself to understand that “fantasies always seem really great because there aren’t any problems,” but that he needs to move on to reality. And he has to allow himself to be a little less self-obsessed. He realizes that he just might be on someone else’s list of the five worst heart-breaks and that it is actually not very likely that a music superstar will show up to give him advice. Fortunately, the “professional appreciator” is wise enough to see how special Laura is, and that he can not just “create a sketch of a decent, sensitive guy;” he can actually become one.

Parents should know that this movie has very strong R-rated material, including explicit sexual references and sex for reasons other than intimacy (one-night stand just for the sex, sex to numb sad feelings). Characters drink and smoke a lot. Parents whose teens see this movie might want to see it, too, to talk with them about the way people change as they grow up.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy some of Cusack’s other performances, including Say Anything and The Sure Thing.

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