Movie Mom
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In honor of its new movie, “Meet My Mom,” the Hallmark Channel will be setting up a unique ‘virtual wall’ on its Facebook page, giving viewers the chance to submit testimonials, photos and videos which invite their fellow viewers to meet their mom. In addition, the wall, which will go live Monday, April 19, will also serve as a forum for military servicemen and women abroad to send a message of love and thanks to their own moms from far away, or for military moms to send love back home to their families.

“Meet My Mom,” premieres Saturday, May 8 as a part of the network’s “Countdown to Mother’s Day” campaign, which will include two weeks of programming designed to celebrate the mothers and mother figures who love us, encourage us and support us. Lori Loughlin (“90210”) stars with Stefanie Powers (“Hart to Hart”) and Johnny Messner (“Killer Instinct”) in this story of a single mom whose son’s letter to a soldier brings her a new chance at love.

In the film, recent divorcee Dana Marshall (Loughlin) and her son, Jared (Charles Henry Wyson, “Journeyman”), move across the country to live with Dana’s mother, Louise (Powers), in California. Jared is nervous about attending a new school, but when his fourth-grade class is assigned to write letters to soldiers serving overseas, he finds a friend in someone he never would have expected: Sergeant Vince Carrera (Messner). Jared’s letters hit home with Vince, who hasn’t received mail since his divorce three years earlier, and the two continue to write back and forth. Vince returns on leave and decides to pay a surprise visit to his 10-year-old pen pal, and when Dana answers the door, it’s love at first sight, but neither of them are ready to admit it.

Over the next few weeks, Vince spends more time with the Marshalls, coaching Jared in baseball and getting to know Dana, who, despite her mutual attraction to Vince, is afraid to fall for someone who will soon be sent back overseas. But the more they get to know each other, the less they are able to deny themselves the love they’ve been so reluctant to seek out, and when Vince is deployed again, Dana must decide whether she and Jared can afford to wait for his return.

“Meet My Mom” is an LG Films Production in association with Larry Levinson Productions. Larry Levinson is the executive producer, Randy Pope, H. Daniel Gross and Michael Moran are the co-executive producers and Brian J. Gordon and James Wilberger are the producers. Harvey Frost directed from a script by Pamela Wallace.

A show of hands, everyone. If you think it’s a good idea to begin a movie for children by killing off a young boy in an industrial accident as his father looks on, raise your hand. Anyone?
I didn’t think so. And yet, that is how Astro Boy comes to be in this updated version of the Japanese animated series that achieved popularity in the U.S. as a television series in various versions over the years and more recently as a computer game. The title character (voice by an Americanized Freddie Highmore) is a robot re-boot created by brilliant scientist Dr. Tenma (voice of Nicolas Cage) to replace his son Toby, who was killed at Dr. Tenma’s lab when he tried to get in to see an experiment. Devastated by the loss, the scientist creates a super-robot programmed with the memory and mind of his dead child. And then he rejects the robot as an inadequate substitute. Even if the rest of the movie were “The Care Bears Meet My Little Pony,” the loss and grief of the first 20 minutes are so totally dissonant that the film cannot recover.
It’s like “Pinocchio” crossed with “Blade Runner” as Astro Boy goes through an existential crisis in discovering that he may have Toby’s memories and emotions, but he also has hands and butt cheeks that turn into artillery. He ends up being treated as a human by robots and a robot by the humans he meets, abandoned children living on the planet that everyone else has left because it is deemed no longer habitable (and yet somehow they are able to order pizza). In the midst of all of the shoot-outs there are some moments that have charm and some images that show some wit, especially an enormous junked robot that Astro brings back to life with a charge from his blue power source (unfortunately carrying the initials of an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory). But then the President (voice of Donald Sutherland) wants to use Astro’s technology for evil, and everything comes down to shooting. Any nuance or imagination or point is lost in the battle, and so is any reason to see this film.

I am thrilled and honored to be mentioned in today’s Ask Amy column. A parent wrote in about 9 and 10 year olds who had seen the very R-rated “The Hangover” multiple times. Amy Dickenson wisely suggested an honest and thoughtful response:

This presents a “teachable moment” for your kids and their friends. When other kids mention that they’ve been allowed to see or do something you don’t allow in your family, you can say, “Well, that’s an R-rated movie. R-rated means it’s really for grown-ups, not kids.”

I agree with you that “The Hangover” is highly inappropriate for children. I don’t know why parents aren’t more careful with the media their children consume, but your primary interest should be toward creating and maintaining the ethic and atmosphere in your own home. Nell Minow (“The Movie Mom”) is my favorite arbiter of what media are appropriate for kids. Her television and movie reviews can be found on

I agree with Amy that one of the most important lessons a parent can teach is that “everybody else is doing it” never works. Kids may struggle with limits — it is part of the job description for anyone who is in the process of growing up. But they respect our efforts to keep them safe. This “teachable moment” shows them more than what R-rated means. It shows them how we as adults make choices with integrity.

One of the biggest critical and box office successes of last year is The Blind Side, the heartwarming real-life story of professional football player Michael Oher, who has a homeless black teenager was adopted by a wealthy white family. Sandra Bullock’s Oscar-winning performance as Leigh Anne Touhy is outstanding but everyone in the cast, including Tim McGraw as her husband Sean and Quinton Aaron as Oher.

I have two copies to give away! Please send me an email at with “Blind Side” in the subject line, and tell me what you like best about the movie. The first two will win the DVD.