Movie Mom

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

 

Noah
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content
Release Date:
March 28, 2014

And So It Goes
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some sexual references and drug elements
Release Date:
July 25, 2014

 

Finding Vivian Maier
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
April 11, 2014

Wish I Was Here
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some sexual content
Release Date:
July 18, 2014

 

Sabotage
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R For strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use
Release Date:
March 28, 2014

Treasure Planet

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for adventure action and peril
Movie Release Date:2002
DVD Release Date:July 3, 2012

If “Treasure Planet” is not Disney at its best, it is still Disney at its still-pretty-much-better-than-anyone else, and well worth a look with this 10th anniversary re-release. It is based on the classic Robert Louis Stevenson story “Treasure Island,” filmed many times before. This version is set in outer space, but it is not the galaxy NASA or even “Star Wars” ever dreamed of. It is a dazzling vision that has masted schooners sailing past stars and planets. Computer and hand animation are brilliantly combined, using the best of both worlds so that the characters have a full range of expressions while the vistas are magnificently three-dimensional. This is exactly what animation should be about, presenting us with a thrillingly imaginative adventure that is utterly liberated from trivialities like the laws of physics and possibility.

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Jim Hawkins (voice of “Third Rock” star Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a spirited kid who worries his single mother by getting into trouble with a contraption that is like a flying skateboard. A dying man gives him a map that can lead him to the planet where the greatest pirate in history hid all of his treasure. Dr. Doppler (voice of David Hyde Pierce), a family friend, finances an expedition to go in search of the treasure.

Doppler and Jim set off on a huge ship led by Captain Amelia (voice of Emma Thompson), with a crew that are better described as creatures than sailors. Jim is assigned to work with the ship’s cook, John Silver, a cyborg who is part human, part machine. John has a gruff manner with everyone but his shape-shifting pet. Jim thinks John is his friend until he overhears him talking to the crew about plans to take over and steal the treasure for themselves.

Once on the planet where the treasure is hidden, Jim meets BEN, an oddball robot with half his memory missing (voice of Martin Short). Jim, John, and the others race each other and the pirate’s booby-traps to get the treasure.

The movie is wonderfully visually inventive, with dozens of witty details. John Silver is a marvel of animation integration and form tied to content, his mechanical parts created by computer and his human parts created by hand. The voice talent is marvelous, especially Thompson, playing the captain as a sort of starchy governess who happens to be extremely brave and have a wicked sense of humor, and Short, who was born to be animated.

Parents should know that the movie has some scary moments, with extreme peril. A character is killed by being cast adrift. There is some potty humor, including a character whose language is called “Flatula.”

Families who see this movie should talk about why it was hard for Jim to behave before the trip and what will be different for him afterward. If you had all that treasure, what would you do with it?

Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy some of the movies based on Stevenson’s Treasure Island, especially Disney’s own 1950 version, starring Robert Newton as Long John Silver. And they will also enjoy Disney’s “The Emperor’s New Groove” and “The Rescuers.”

The Witches

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:1990

Plot: Luke hears about witches from his grandmother (Mai Zetterling). She says they have to wear gloves to hide their claw-like hands and shoes that fit their square feet without toes, and that they are bald and scratch under their wigs. They have a purple gleam in their eyes. They are evil and they steal children, who are never seen again.

Luke’s parents are killed, and his grandmother takes him to England. When she is diagnosed with mild diabetes, the doctor advises a vacation, so they go to Cornwall. As it happens, a convention of all the witches in England is staying in the same hotel, posing as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Their leader is slinky, black-clad Eva Ernst (Anjelica Huston). Luke overhears her telling the witches to wipe out all the children in England by turning them into mice, and he watches as she demonstrates by giving a potion to a greedy child named Bruno, transforming him into a mouse. The witches find Luke, and after a chase, capture him and turn him into a mouse. With the help of his grandmother, he steals some of the potion, and puts it into the soup to be served to the witches, who are all turned to mice, except for Eva’s assistant. Luke manages to get Eva’s trunkful of money, along with her notebook listing the addresses of all the witches in America, and he and his grandmother plan to go after them.

Discussion: This story has a genuinely twisted flavor that some children will love and others will find disturbing. Luke is exceptionally brave and enjoys being a mouse (in the movie, he is changed back, but in the book, he stays a mouse). Children may be upset not only by the witches, but by the death (offscreen) of Luke’s parents, and by his seeming indifference to it.

Questions for Kids:

The Tuxedo

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2002

Four words I didn’t plan on saying: Bring back Chris Tucker!

The bad guy in the movie may be evil, but he doesn’t do nearly as much damage to Jackie Chan as the script does. It’s a cute idea, miserably executed.

Chan plays Jimmy Tong, a guy who knows nothing about kick-boxing (“Everyone in China is not Bruce Lee,” he tells a friend) but drives very, very fast. He ends up as a chauffeur for a James Bond-style spy named Clark Devlin (Jason Issacs, as cool as a vodka martini). When the spy is injured, Jimmy puts on Devlin’s tuxedo, a high-tech wonder that gives its wearer the power to defy gravity, sing and dance to soul music, and, oh yes, fight.

Devlin’s new partner is Del (Jennifer Love Hewitt), a newbie out to prove herself. She thinks Jimmy is Devlin, so the two of them go off to save the world from a deranged wacko who wants to control the world’s drinkable water supply. There is too much time spent doing everything except what Chan is really good at, and when we finally get down to the fight scenes, they are nowhere near his usual standard, except for one brief moment when, wearing only the tuxedo pants and not the jacket, only his legs “know” how to fight.

The plot is even dumber than most of these things (oh yeah, I always schedule a huge formal party at my house the same night I plan to put my plan for total world domination into play), the attempts at humor are far below average, and there is no spark at all between Chan and Hewitt. The usual outtakes at the end show us one supposedly funny moment that perhaps reveals more of the reason for the lack of chemistry on screen than they intended. The movie is too gross for kids and too uninteresting for anyone else.

Parents should know that the movie has crude humor and gross violence. There are some vulgar sexual references. Characters drink and smoke (there is an anti-smoking joke). Del uses her cleavage to get past a security guard and both spies pretend to romance people to find out what they are hiding.

Families who see this movie should talk about the different kinds of courage. Jimmy is very brave about some things but not about others. What are you brave about? What do you find harder to be brave about?

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy Chan’s much better films, including “Rush Hour” and “Shanghai Noon,” and especially his early Hong Kong work on movies like “Drunken Master” and “Miracles.”

The Truth About Charlie

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

I can’t figure out how a studio decided to take “Charade,” one of the world’s most delectable movies, and remake it without a single one of the ingredients that made it great. The dreamy theme song by Henry Mancini is gone, except for a dozen brief, quiet bars almost lost amidst the screeching, thumping soundtrack. The witty dialogue is gone, except for a couple of quips. They left out one of the best last lines in the history of movies. But, worst of all, the star power is gone, too. This movie has some attractive and talented actors. But I think I can state without fear of contradiction that Mark Wahlberg is no Cary Grant. And he should stay away from berets.

If we were to erase every memory of the original, this movie would simply be a pedestrian and mildly weird standard romantic thriller, below average but not unwatchable. Thandie Newton plays Regina Lampert, a British woman living in Paris. Three months earlier she impulsively married a wealthy Swiss art dealer but has resolved to get a divorce because she feels it was a mistake. Before she can tell him, she arrives home to find their apartment empty and gutted. He liquidated everything they had and left without leaving a message. She learns that he has been killed. And then she learns that he was not Swiss and not an art dealer. He had stolen some money while on a military operation for the United States. The money has disappeared, and the people he first stole it with and then stole it from want it back. And so does the U.S. Government.

Josh Peters (Wahlberg) arrives just as she is feeling like a damsel in distress and he befriends her. At first, she relies on him, but then she finds out that he has not been honest with her, so she has to use her own judgment and courage to decide who to trust and to solve the mystery.

Director Jonathan Demme undercuts the suspense with clumsy exposition and poorly handled characterization. Wahlberg looks puffy and unhappy and has no chemistry with Newton. And there are some surreal moments (possibly tributes to the French New Wave films of the 1960’s) that do not work at all. Josh plays a CD by French legend Charles Aznavour for Regina and all of a sudden, Aznavour is in the room, singing. A strange nightclub scene brings all of the characters together in a mad tango. The credit sequence also takes some of the characters in a playful direction that has no connection to the mood of the rest of the movie.

Parents should know that the movie includes nudity, an adulterous sexual situation, extreme peril and violence, strong language, and drinking and smoking. There is an off-camera but vivid search of a dead body. Regina responds to the stress of having to identify her late husband and being questioned by the police by getting drunk.

Families who see this movie should talk about how Regina decides whom to trust.

All fans of mystery and romance should see the classic “Charade” with Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, and Walter Matthau, and, if possible, they should also watch the DVD with delightfully witty commentary by the director and screenwriter. Families will also enjoy the companion movie, “Arabesque,” with Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren.

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