Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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  New to DVD

Love is Strange
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language
Release Date:
08/22/2014

 

Adventure Planet
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:

The November Man
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong violence including a sexual assault, language, sexuality/nudity and brief drug use
Release Date:
August 27, 2014

 

Blended
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and language.
Release Date:
May 23, 2014

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

 

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some scary images and mild peril
Release Date:
May 9, 2014

Finding Nemo

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:G
Movie Release Date:2003
DVD Release Date:2004

Pixar Studios may have the most advanced animation technology in the world, but they never forget what matters most in a movie: story, characters, imagination, and heart. “Finding Nemo” has it all.

It is an epic journey filled with adventure and discovery encompassing the grandest sweep of ocean vastness and the smallest longing of the heart.

Marlin (Albert Brooks) is a fond but nervous and overprotective clown fish. A predator ate his wife and all but one of their eggs. The surviving egg becomes his son Nemo (Alexander Gould), and when it is time to start school, Nemo is excited, but Marlin is very fearful.

Nemo has an under-developed fin. Marlin has done a good job of making Nemo feel confident and unselfconscious. They call it his “lucky fin.” But it still makes Marlin a little more anxious about protecting Nemo, and it still makes Nemo a little more anxious about proving that he can take care of himself.

On his first day of school, Nemo swims too far from the others and is captured by a deep sea diver, a dentist who keeps fish in his office aquarium. Marlin must go literally to the end of the ocean to find his son and bring him home.

And so, in the tradition and spirit of stories from the Odyssey to “The Wizard of Oz,” Marlin takes a journey that will introduce him to extraordinary characters and teach him a great deal about the world and even more about himself. He meets up with Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a cheerful blue tang who has a problem with short-term memory loss. They search for Nemo together, despite stinging jellyfish, exploding mines, and creatures with many, many, many, many teeth.

Meanwhile, Nemo has made some very good friends in the dentist’s aquarium, including a tough Tiger Fish (Willem Dafoe) who helps him plan an escape before the dentist can give Nemo to his careless eight-year-old niece, whose record with fish portends a short lifespan.

The movie is a visual feast. The play of light on the water is breathtaking. The characters imagined by Pixar in “Monsters, Inc.” were fabulously inventive, but they have nothing on the even more fabulously inventive Mother Nature. This movie will make an ichthyologist out of anyone, because all of the characters are based on real-life ocean species, each one more marvelous than the one before. While preserving their essential “fishy-ness,” Pixar and the talented people providing the voices have also made them each wonderfully expressive, and it seems only fair to say that they create performances as full and varied as have ever been on screen.

There are some scary moments in this movie, including the off-screen death of Marlin’s wife and future children. It is handled very discreetly, but still might possibly be upsetting to some viewers. There are terrifying-looking creatures, but one of the movie’s best jokes is that even the sharks are so friendly that in an AA-style program, they keep reminding each other that “we don’t eat our friends.” There really are no bad guys in this movie — the danger comes from a child’s thoughtlessness and from natural perils. The movie has no angry, jealous, greedy, or murderous villains as in most traditional Disney animated films.

Another strength of the movie is the way it handles Nemo’s disability, frankly but matter-of-factly. But best of all is the way it addresses questions that are literally at the heart of the parent-child relationship, giving everyone in the audience something to relate to and learn from.

And there is another special treat — the chance to see Pixar’s first-ever short feature, “Knick-Knack,” shown before the feature. It shows how far the technology has advanced, but it also shows that Pixar’s sense of fun was there right at the beginning.

Parents should know that even though there are no traditional bad guys in this movie, there are still some very scary moments, including creatures with zillions of sharp teeth, an apparent death of a major character, and many tense scenes with characters in peril. At the beginning of the movie, Marlin’s wife and all but one of their eggs are eaten by a predator. It is offscreen, but might upset some viewers. There is a little potty humor. The issue of Nemo’s stunted fin is handled exceptionally well.

Families who see this movie should talk about how parents have to balance their wish to protect their children from being hurt (physically or emotionally) with the need to let them grow up and learn how to take care of themselves. They should talk about Nemo’s disability and about everyone has different abilities that make some things easier for each of us to do than for most people and some things harder. How do you know what your abilities are, and what do you do to make the most of them?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the other Pixar films, “A Bug’s Life,” the “Toy Story” movies, and “Monsters Inc.” They will appreciate other movies with underwater scenes, including Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” “Pinocchio,” and “Bedknobs and Broomsticks,” and “Yellow Submarine,” with innovative animation, a witty and touching script, and, of course, glorious music from the Beatles. Families with younger children will enjoy reading “The Runaway Bunny,” and families with older children will enjoy “Amazing Fish” from the outstanding Eyewitness series.

Bruce Almighty

posted by rkumar
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for language, sexual content and some crude humor
Movie Release Date:2003
DVD Release Date:2003

You could not ask for a better showcase for what Jim Carrey does best than this comedy about a man who is given all of God’s powers and has no compunction about using them for cheap thrills and petty payback. Director Tom Shadyac, who worked with Carrey on his biggest hits, “Ace Ventura” and “Liar, Liar,” once again gives us Carrey in a role designed to get the most out of his talent for wildly elastic physical comedy.

There’s a strong sense of art imitating life here, at least the life of Carrey the performer, if not Carrey the person. Carrey the performer has not had the success he hoped for in more serious roles, particularly in “The Majestic” and “The Man in the Moon.” So when his character is told throughout this movie that there is nothing wrong with being funny (and when God, played by Morgan Freeman, says “All-righty then!” Ace Ventura’s favorite catch phrase), and when he plays a character with God’s powers (which must feel pretty close to the omnipotent power our society gives to celebrities) and yet he ends up being satisfied with what makes people laugh, it is hard not to think that there is something more than resonance here for Carrey. It is almost as though he is saying “All-righty then! If this is what you want to see, here it is!” to the audience.

Carrey plays Bruce Nolan, a television news reporter who resents being assigned to silly stories like the world’s biggest cookie and the anniversary of the Niagara Falls boat tour. He wants to do serious stories and he thinks he should be the anchor. He lives with his girlfriend, Grace (Jennifer Aniston), whose name is an indication of the script’s idea of a theological reference.

Despite his love for Grace, Bruce is shallow and self-centered. When he loses the anchor job to a rival (Comedy Central “Daily Report’s” Steve Carell), he furiously explodes on the air and is fired. He tries to help a homeless man, and is beat up by thugs. Bruce thinks that life is very unfair, so he complains to God. God challenges him to try out His powers, as long as he does not tell anyone or interfere with free will.

Bruce spends the first week using the powers for cheap thrills. He parts the red soup instead of the Red Sea and makes the cars blocking him in a traffic jam move out of the way. And he enjoys petty payback. This part of the movie is fun — who would not like to be able to do anything without any guilt or accountability — and it is very funny, especially when Bruce makes his rival mess up on camera. The best physical comedians, like Carrey, perfectly enact the id out of control, the mean little imp that lives in each of our hot little hearts. That is ideal for embodying Bruce’s juvenile uses of his new power.

But then Bruce has to realize that power and responsibility go together and that he cannot be happy until he understands that other people’s happiness has to come first. That part of the movie does not work because it is pretty clear that Bruce never cares about anyone but himself. There is a hollow, hypocritical, and faintly creepy sense that the people behind the movie don’t really understand the message themselves.

Bruce’s carelessness in lassoing the moon (a reference to “It’s a Wonderful Life” that is hammered home later on when we get a glimpse of that scene on television), unleashing an asteroid, and making hundreds of lottery winners, is portrayed as humorous. Even though we get glimpses of the disasters he causes, Bruce never does and never has to clean up the mess.

When Bruce tells God that he wants to solve the problems of world hunger and peace, God tells him that is a “Miss America answer” and His goal seems to be to get Bruce to think about what would make him happy with no regard for anyone but himself and the woman he loves. And life and art come together as it becomes clear that Carrey the performer is no more generous than Bruce the anchorman; Bruce’s failure to appreciate the sweet and ever-forgiving Grace is less of a, well, sin, than Carrey’s failure to make use of the considerable comic talents of the woman who plays her. It’s a shame to see Aniston in essentially an arm candy role. The result is a movie that, despite some very funny moments, makes the same mistake as its main character without learning any lessons about maturity or responsibility. It teeters between deranged comedy and sentimental fable, and is unsatisfying in both categories. What Bruce should have used his powers for was a better script.

Parents should know that the movie has very mature material for a PG-13, including very strong language and crude humor after a thug makes a rhetorical reference to a monkey coming out of his butt. Bruce gives “pleasure” to Grace as they prepare for a sexual encounter. There is an extended joke about a dog who is not house-trained. Characters drink alcohol and Bruce uses his powers to plant bags of marijuana on rival broadcasters.

Families who see this movie should talk about what they would do if they had God’s powers. How would they decide the best way to respond to prayers? Most of the prayers in this movie are “petitionary,” meaning that they are asking for something, usually love, money, or status-related. What other kinds of prayers are there? Some families will want to discuss their own ideas about God and prayer.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Oh God,” with George Burns and John Denver. They might like to see a different portrayal of God that also discusses the importance of free will in the wonderfully imaginative “Time Bandits.” And every family should watch and discuss “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.

Down with Love

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

“Down With Love” can’t make up its mind whether it is a salute to the Doris Day-Rock Hudson/James Garner/Cary Grant movies of the 1960′s or a parody of them. Perhaps surprisingly, it works better as a salute, and never quite reaches the heights of the movies that inspired it.

The original movies were glossy fantasies that seemed to exist in that same 1960′s ring-a-ding-ding fantasyland Steven Spielberg brought us in Catch Me if You Can. They may have seemed instantly irrelevant in the era of Vietnam, the civil rights movement, and the sexual revolution, and yet they were as indispensible and — surprisingly — as inimitable and enduringly appealing as some of that decade’s other cultural touchstones.

We think of them as irretrievably retro and sometimes they were (as, for example, in The Thrill of it All, when Day’s doctor husband is profoundly threatened because she gets a job, which she quits after seeing him deliver a baby, reminding her what a woman’s true purpose is supposed to be). But most often, Day played supremely capable and confident working women, and it was the plot contrivances, not prudishness, that kept her characters from sexual encounters outside of marriage. Those movies also had some genuinely wicked commentary on the same conformist consumer culture that was the trigger for a lot of the political protest. Feminist critics like Molly Haskell now recognize that in their own way, these movies were very much a reflection and a part of the revolutions of the 1960′s.

In this movie, Barbara Novak (Renee Zellwegger) is the author of a book called Down With Love, that tells women to be strong and independent, to find fulfillment in work and to use men for sex but not become emotionally attached. Magazine writer and man-about-town Catcher Block (Ewan McGregor) decides to expose her as a hypcrite by making her fall in love with him. He pretends to be a shy astronaut who does not want to have sex unless he is in love. But Barbara — and Cupid — have a few surprises in store for him.

The movie begins by saying that “the time is now — 1962″ and the period details are, well, swell, including flip hairdos, Tang, martinis, the twist, “Camelot” and clothes and furniture that are the kickiest! Catch is wearing a dinner jacket when he returns from a luau with the astronauts at Cocoa Beach. When Barbara’s book becomes a worldwide sensation, she receives the ultimate badge of fame — an Alfred E. Newman parody on the cover of Mad Magazine. But the best of the movie’s in-jokes is Tony Randall, who often played Hudson’s best friend, a neurotic rich guy who hopelessly envied Hudson’s confidence and success with the ladies in the original series of movies. In “Down With Love,” that role is exquisitely played by David Hyde Pierce, but Randall appears as the head of the publishing firm, demonstrating his impeccable timing and delivery. Indeed, the supporting players, sets, and costumes are so vivid that they make the main characters seem a little bland.

Parents should know that this movie has a good deal of sexual innuendo and double entendres, including an extended split-screen sequence that makes it appear that the characters are engaging in a number of sexual acts. There is brief strong language. Characters drink and smoke as evidence of sophistication. Equality of women is a humorous theme of the movie. As in the 1960′s movies it salutes, all characters are white.

Families who see this movie should talk about whether a similar plot could work in a movie set in 2003.

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy the movies that inspired it, especially Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back (both about a battle of the sexes in which the man pretends to be someone else to romance the woman) with Day and Hudson, The Thrill of it All with Day and Garner, That Touch of Mink with Day and Grant, Sex and the Single Girl (about a woman who writes a book promoting women’s sexual freedom) with Natalie Wood and Tony Curtis, If a Man Answers with then-married Sandra Dee and Bobby Darin, Come September with Hudson and Gina Lollobrigida, and Man’s Favorite Sport with Hudson and Paula Prentiss. They might also enjoy similar themes in earlier movies like Theodora Goes Wild (another story about a woman author of a notorious book) and Take a Letter Darling (man gets a job as secretary to a woman executive). And they might like to see more of the pre-”Odd Couple” Tony Randall in the fantasy The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao and the wild satire Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?

The Matrix Reloaded

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

And the answer is — Yes! This is the movie the fans of the original “Matrix” were hoping it would be. This movie has electrifying fight scenes, an audaciously dystopic vision, zillions of explosions and car crashes, a steamy love scene, and visual effects that raise the bar from the first one as much as the first one raised it from everything that had gone before. And yes, this is the movie that will rock the box office for the forseeable future.

No refreshers to bring us back into the world of the original “Matrix” — this movie literally starts with a bang as a woman in black breaks into some sort of secured facility and fights off the guards. We are back in the world where the machines use humans for fuel, lulling the humans into thinking that they are living mundane lives so that they will not realize that they are merely an energy source. Only a few humans know the truth, and Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) believe that one of them, Neo (Keanu Reeves) is “the one” who will defeat the machines. The scenes shift back and forth between Zion, the city where the humans who resist the machines live and the illusory “city” maintained by the computers called The Matrix.

It has been four years since the first movie was released. This second chapter is like the “Empire Strikes Back” with very, very cool sunglasses — it is a transition to the big finish in the third movie, which was filmed at the same time as this one and which will be released in November 2003. This is the bridge between the chapter that sets up the conflict and the chapter that resolves it.

As in the first one, the great strength of the movie is the visuals, which are brilliantly imaginative and at the same time essentially right. They exist in a fully-realized world we can believe in completely. Every detail is perfect — the bug-like spaceships, the grubby equipment, the pile-up of GM cars on a freeway, a decadent nightclub, an urban courtyard, Neo’s fabulously cool frock coat and sunglasses — every rivet is exactly what it should be, with the exception of the cutesy/earthy Ewok-ish clothing in Zion.

The action sequences will knock your socks off. Episode One’s Agent Smith (Hugo Weaving) has learned how to multiply, and Neo has to fight a hundred Smiths, each with its own version of Weaving’s magnificently cocked eyebrow. Real-life twins (and black belt karate instructors) Adrien and Neil Rayment play dredlocked albinos who can turn themselves into ghost-like wraiths out to destroy our heroes. And then there is a heart-stopping 14-minute chase and crash scene on a freeway. Still, just as with the first one, the most powerful scene doesn’t have fancy special effects or explosions. It’s the conversation between Neo and the Oracle, played with endless warmth, wit, and spirit by the late Gloria Foster.

The movie also taps into epic questions of destiny, causality, identity, and choice. So if the dialogue is not spectacular and there is more attitude than acting and the adoring devotion of Morpheus and Trinity to Neo gets a little dreary, who am I to quibble? I am sure there are viewers out there who will find a way to make sense of it all and who will be happy to explain when the laws of physics are suspended and when they are not. I could not, but by then I was enjoying the movie too much to care.

Parents should know that the movie has intense and prolonged violence and peril including guns and martial arts. Characters are killed (sometimes more than once). There are a few four-letter words. There is a deeply romantic sexual encounter (briefly graphic, both nude), brief nudity in a secene with group dancing, and a crude oral sex joke. Minority and women characters are strong, brave, loyal, and intelligent.

Families who see this movie should talk about some of the character’s comments about destiny and choice. Is choice “an illusion created by those with power?” Humans, who created the machines, are now trying to wrest back control from the machines. Whose choices led to that conflict? Is Neo “the one” (hint: both words have the same three letters) and what does that mean? Who or what is the Oracle?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the original and some of the movies that inspired it, including the classic silent film “Metropolis” and the brilliant “Blade Runner.” Note: stay through the endless technical credits to get a glimpse of some of the scenes in the upcoming “Matrix: Revolutions.”

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