Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Strange Magic
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and scary images
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

 

The Boxtrolls
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for action, some peril and mild rude humor
Release Date:
September 26, 2014

Mortdecai
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some language and sexual material
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

 

The Drop
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some strong violence and pervasive language
Release Date:
September 12, 2014

Cake
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, substance abuse and brief sexuality
Release Date:
January 24, 2015

 

Lucy
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R For strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality
Release Date:
July 25, 2014

Doom

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

The movie is called “Doom” and it’s based on a video game. So no one is expecting insights into the human condition or subtle performances. We’re here to see stuff get blown up, baby.

And that’s what we get — it’s a big, loud explosion movie, the same old bang-bang, boom-boom, yuck-yuck, wham-wham.

In an underground archeological dig on Mars, a team of Rapid Response Tactical Squad Marines are sent in to contain some sort of infestation and retrieve some data. The leader is Sarge (The Rock) and the squadron includes a kid on his first mission and a guy with a past connection to that dig — and to a woman who is still there working on it.

Then there’s a lot of shooting and a lot of tough talk with a lot of exclamation points:

“I guess you gotta face your demons sometime.”

“You hesitate — people die!”

“Now let’s see if we can find the body that goes with this arm.”

“Oh my God! There’s something in his blood!”

“I’m going to the armory. We’re going to need something with a little bit more kick.”

“Auuuuuugh!”

“Clear!”

“What do you mean he killed himself? He was already dead!”

“Pinky! Use the grenade!”

“There’s something behind me, isn’t there?”

There are fights and explosions and shoot-outs and maulings in a number of different settings — waist-high water, a medical facility with a dissolving door, a spooky chamber — and between a number of different entities. There are gross-outs and monsters and boo-surprises and people who won’t stay dead. There are in-jokes for fans of the game. There is The Rock, without a hint of his usual self-aware humor. And there is one more big fight and finally, not soon enough, game over.

Parents should know that this movie features non-stop violence that is extremely graphic and gory. Characters fight with fists, guns (really big guns), and grenades and characters are wounded, killed, and re-killed. There are graphic and gross images of wounds, piles of guts, poop, and monsters, and a lot of jump-out-at-you surprises. Characters use strong and crude language and a character abuses pharmaceutical drugs. A female character is portrayed as intelligent and accomplished but when the fighting begins, she is either patching people up or screaming.

Families who see this movie should talk about when it is right not to follow orders. They might also want to talk about the difference between a movie and a video game and whether this qualifies as either.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Resident Evil and its sequel and The Scorpion King.

North Country

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

“North Country” was “inspired by a true story,” but instead of sticking to the undeniably moving facts of the sexual harassment suit filed by female mineworkers, this movie veers off into distracting and soapy subplots. It doesn’t trust its story, it doesn’t trust its characters, and it doesn’t trust its audience.

It’s an attempt to follow in a long and distinguished series of Oscar-bait “true” stories turned into movies named after their female leads (Erin Brockovich, Norma Rae). But there’s a reason this one changes the names of all of the characters and the mining company. It’s an “inspired by,” which means that it makes no attempt to be accurate. The result, despite sincere performances, just feels synthetic.

In this version, it’s Josie Aimes (Charlize Theron) who filed a lawsuit against the mining company that failed to protect the female employees from abuse, despite verbal and physical assaults, despite intimidation and threat of retaliation, despite the unwillingness of even one other person, male or female, to stand beside her. And in this version, the lawyer, Bill White (Woody Harrelson), is a former local hockey star who agrees to represent her only so he can enhance his reputation by making new law: the first ever class action sexual harassment claim. The others may not care or may be too scared to tell the truth, but Josie’s complaint was on behalf of all of them, alleging a consistent and management-approved policy of harassment and abuse.

This movie attacks the bad guy bosses for its “nuts and sluts” defense to charges of sexual harassment because it brought the main character’s sexual history into the courtroom. Then it does the same thing, dragging Josie’s past into evidence and making the story about her behavior as a teenager and her struggle for the respect of her father and her son, both handled awkwardly and unconvincingly. Director Niki Caro (Whale Rider) has a lot of lingering close-ups of Charlize Theron’s face (a temptation hard to resist, I admit), and dilutes the power of her story with too many distractions and too-quick turn-arounds. The women of the mine deserved better from their managers and they deserve better from this movie.

Parents should know that this movie depicts the crudest and most hostile forms of sexual harassment in very explicit terms. A character is battered by her domestic partner. Characters use very strong language and there are explicit sexual references and situations, including rape. Characters drink and smoke.

Families who see this movie should talk about why it was hard for the women to insist on better treatment from the men in the mine. When is it time to “cowboy up” and when is it time to fight? They should talk about Kyle’s comment that “It takes a lot of work to hate someone. You really want to put in that kind of time?” Familiss should make sure that everyone understands that sexual harassment is not about flirting or leading anyone on and has no relationship to the sexual history of the victims. It is about power and humiliation and control. Families might also like to look at the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines and one of the judge’s decisions in the case that inspired this movie, which begins, “This case has a long, tortured, and unfortunate history,” and goes on to conclude that, “It should be obvious that the callous pattern and practice of sexual harassment engaged in by Eveleth Mines inevitably destroyed the self-esteem of the working women exposed to it. The emotional harm, brought about by this record of human indecency, sought to destroy the human psyche as well as the human spirit of each plaintiff. The humiliation and degradation suffered by these women is irreparable. Although money damage cannot make these women whole or even begin to repair the injury done, it can serve to set a precedent that in the environment of the working place such hostility will not be tolerated.”

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy other fact-based stories about strong women who stood up for their rights, including Sally Field’s Oscar-winning performance in Norma Rae, Julia Roberts’ Oscar-winning performance in Erin Brockovich, Meryl Streep in Silkwood, and Sissy Spacek (who plays Josie’s mother in this film) in Marie, with Fred Thompson in his first film role, playing himself.

The Legend of Zorro

posted by rkumar
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2005

Great stunts, glamorous stars, and our affection for the characters make this sequel watchable, even with a disappointing script.

The original was pure popcorn pleasure, with Anthony Hopkins as the original Zorro, the dashing masked swashbuckler who appeared wherever justice was threatened to right wrongs and of course leave the “Z.” He trained impetuous but talented Alejandro (Antonio Banderas) to take over, and soon after, the new Zorro 2.0 was leaping from roofs, showing his mastery of swordsmanship, riding the black horse Tornado, and winning the heart of the beautiful and courageous Elena (Catherine Zeta Jones). When we last saw them, they were married and had a baby.

Now their son Joaquin (Adrian Alonso) is 10 and feels that he barely knows his father. Elena thinks it is time for Zorro to hang up his mask.

But Alejandro is not ready to quit. “People still need Zorro,” he says. “No, you still need Zorro,” Elena replies. Elena files for divorce and soon renews acquaintance with a handsome and wealthy old friend from Spain, Armand (Rufus Sewell).

This sets up a series of estrangments and misunderstandings that play out predictably. It’s layered like a casserole — miscommunication/stunt/more miscommunication/more stunts. Banderas and Zeta Jones can do it all — they have authentic movie-star charisma, sizzling chemistry, top-notch acting chops and, rarest of all, a combination of total commitment to the moment and to-the-nanosecond comic timing. But the script doesn’t do them justice. It is geared for a younger audience than the original, with “comic” anachronisms like the line, “in your butt.” The stars do their best, but it’s not really a story. It’s just just pretty people, exciting action sequences with swashbuckling attitude but no real energy, and an over-the-top bad guy who falls head first into cactus. The stars may be dazzling, but the film works too hard to persuade us that we’re being entertained without taking the time to do very much that’s genuinely entertaining.

Parents should know that the movie has a lot of very intense “action” violence — it is not gory, but characters are injured and killed (including an unarmed young father) and some of it is graphic for a PG movie. A crotch hit is played for comedy. There is brief crude humor, a brief but very passionate kiss, and implied non-sexual nudity. Characters drink and smoke. Some in the audience may be upset by the couple’s estrangement and divorce and the difficulty that creates for their son. And some families may be concerned about the implication that it is natural for divorced parents to reconcile. A strength of the movie is its acknowledgement of some of the racism of the era.

Families who see this movie should talk about why it was hard for the members of this family to be honest with each other and to trust each other. They may also want to find out more about California statehood and the history of their own state and the decision to become part of the US.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy The Mask of Zorro, with Banderas, Zeta Jones, and Anthony Hopkins. They will also enjoy some of the more than 50 other Zorro movies, from Tyrone Power’s The Mark of Zorro (with a thrilling score by Alfred Newman) and Disney’s The Sign of Zorro with Guy Williams to the campy Zorro, the Gay Blade with George Hamilton. They will also enjoy The Adventures of Robin Hood and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2005

There is one thoroughbred on the screen in this film and her name is Dakota Fanning.

Ever since her breakthrough performance at the age of six in I am Sam, when she more than held her own with Sean Penn and Michele Pfeiffer, through her appearances with heavyweights from Robert de Niro (Hide and Seek) to Denzel Washington (Man on Fire) to Tom Cruise (War of the Worlds), Fanning has shown herself to be one of the finest actors of any age, with a dazzling combination of poise, sensitivity, and sheer star power.

Utterly natural, utterly sure, utterly in command of her performance, she trusts herself and her material. She never pushes or tries to keep our attention. She barely seems to notice whether she has it; yet we cannot take our eyes off of her.

Fanning plays Cale Crane, the daughter of Ben, a horse trainer (Kurt Russell). When, against Ben’s advice, his bully of a boss (David Morse) insists on racing a horse named Sonador, the horse is badly injured. Ben is fired, and impulsively accepts the horse in lieu of severance pay. He gives the horse to Cale.

Now Ben has no money and a daughter with an expensive horse that may be worthless. His only hope is that she may be able to breed, but it turns out she cannot.

Cale has another dream. She dreams that Sonador will race again, and win.

There are family issues and money issues and of course will-the-leg-heal issues, much of it things we’ve seen before, but Fanning makes it all work because she is so completely and definitively in the moment. When she gets up to speak for Sonador, she can make you believe that no moment like that ever happened before, on or off screen. Now that is breeding.

Fanning is surrounded by a top-quality cast of capable and charismatic performers, with Elisabeth Shue as her mother, Kris Kristofferson as her grandfather, Oded Fehr as a horse-loving prince, Ken Howard as a breeder, and Luiz Guzman and Freddy Rodriguez as Sonador’s trainers. But they wisely step back to let Fanning lap them all.

Parents should know that this movie has some tense situations, including an injury to a horse (and possiblity of humane killing) and confrontations between family members.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Cale believed in her horse when others did not. Why did her grandfather and father have problems getting along with each other? Why did that change? What did Ben learn from Cale’s story? Why is it hard sometimes to tell family members how you feel? They may also want to learn more about the horse that inspired this story. While the part about Cale and her family is fiction, the story of Sonador was inspired by a real horse who came back from a severe leg injury to a series of record-breaking wins that led to a race being named in her honor.

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy the two greatest kid-and-a-horse movies of all time, National Velvet and The Black Stallion (both, coincidentally, featuring Mickey Rooney).

Previous Posts

Contest: Win Swag From One of the Year's Worst Movies!
Mortdecai is a simply terrible movie. Don't go see it. But its very terribleness just might be a reason to look super-cool in a Mortdecai t-shirt and socks! I have them and you can win them! Send

posted 11:58:25am Jan. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Before They Were Stars: Television Commercials With Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, and More
Phil Hall has a delightful collection of "before they were stars" television ads featuring Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, James Dean, Morgan Freeman, Matt LeBlanc, Steve Carell, and more. Here's one I love that he left out, with pre-"Laverne and Shirley" Penny Marshall and pre-"Charlie's Angels" Farr

posted 8:00:34am Jan. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Alan Menken Plays His Hits
[iframe width="416" height="234" src="http://abc.go.com/embed/VDKA0_i2msn1gc" frameborder="0"] Alan Menken, currently composing the songs for "Galavant," here sings some of his greatest hits, including songs from "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin," "The Little Mermaid," "Enchanted," "Pocahontas,"

posted 8:00:02am Jan. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Strange Magic
Despite the big names behind it, including George Lucas, who came up with the story and produced, it feels like a straight-to-DVD, about the level of Disney's Tinkerbell series. It's bright,

posted 5:25:48pm Jan. 24, 2015 | read full post »

Bad Movies Inspire Great Critics: Mortdecai
Johnny Depp's "Mortdecai" is sure of a place of dishonor on the end of the year worst lists.  Business Insider and Huffington Post have some choice quotes from some of the movie's best bad reviews, and I've found some good ones, too, including: David Edelstein, New York Magazine Having combed

posted 3:35:40pm Jan. 24, 2015 | read full post »


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