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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Monkey Kingdom
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 17, 2015

 

Wild Kratts: Shark-Tastic
Lowest Recommended Age: All Ages
MPAA Rating:
NR
Release Date:

Ex Machina
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for graphic nudity, language, sexual references and some violence
Release Date:
April 17, 2015

 

Big Eyes
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief strong language
Release Date:
December 25, 2014

True Story
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some disturbing material
Release Date:
April 17, 2015

 

Wild
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for sexual content, nudity, drug use, and language
Release Date:
December 5, 2014

New in Theaters

grade:
B+

Monkey Kingdom

Lowest Recommended Age:
Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 17, 2015
grade:
A-

Ex Machina

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for graphic nudity, language, sexual references and some violence
Release Date:
April 17, 2015
grade:
B

True Story

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some disturbing material
Release Date:
April 17, 2015

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New to DVD

pick of the week
grade:
B+

Wild Kratts: Shark-Tastic

Lowest Recommended Age:
All Ages
MPAA Rating:
NR
Release Date:
grade:
B+

Big Eyes

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief strong language
Release Date:
December 25, 2014
grade:
B+

Wild

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for sexual content, nudity, drug use, and language
Release Date:
December 5, 2014

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The Namesake

posted by jmiller
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sexuality/nudity, a scene of drug use, some disturbing images and brief language.
Movie Release Date:2007
DVD Release Date:2007
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexuality/nudity, a scene of drug use, some disturbing images and brief language.
Movie Release Date: 2007
DVD Release Date: 2007

Ashima (Indian superstar Tabu) pauses before entering the living room to meet her prospective bridegroom and his family. Their shoes have been left outside the door, according to the customs of her home in India. Ashima sees that inside the shoes it says “Made in the USA.” She quietly slips her foot inside, trying them on for size. This lovely moment sets the stage for a thoughtful and engrossing study of identity, assimilation, and finding the way home.


Years later, when that prospective bridegroom, Ashoke Ganguli (Irfan Khan) has been her husband for decades and the father of her children, he asks why she picked him over the other candidates her parents presented to her. She smiles and says he was better than the alternatives. But we know that she, like us, is thinking back to that moment of slipping her foot in his shoe. Later in the film, Ashoke’s son Gogol (Kal Penn) will also try on his father’s shoes, and again it will mean the beginning of a journey.


In fact, there are many journeys in this story about the Ganguli family and their life in America — trains, airplanes, carts, and automobiles fill the screen. It begins with Ashoke on a train ride that has significance we will not learn until Gogol does, near the end of the film. It is not until then that he learns the meaning of his name.


Or, one of his names. In the American hospital, a nurse asks Ashima the baby’s name for the birth certificate. Ashima explains that they must wait until they hear from the maternal grandmother what the name will be. It is her responsibility to select the child’s “good name.” But the hospital needs a name right away, so it is his “pet name” of Gogol that goes onto the birth certificate.


Gogol grows up very American, a little embarrassed by his funny-sounding name and his family’s traditional customs. He is bored on his family’s trips back to India. But it is there that he decides what he will become — the Taj Mahal inspires him to study architecture. He becomes engaged to a pretty blonde whose family accepts him warmly (though introducing him as “the Indian architect”). But he comes to feel — and need to feel — a deeper connection with his heritage, though it will take a while to understand what that means.


Director Mira Nair and a superb cast tell the story of Jhumpa Lahiri’s prize-winning book beautifully. It is so spacious and epic in scope that it feels a little truncated at times, especially when there are great leaps in time. But the engrossing and multi-layered performances of Penn, Kahn, and Tabu and Nair’s luscious imagery constantly draw us in, making the story at the same time very particular and utterly universal.

Parents should know that this movie includes some strong language, sexual references and situations (including adultery), and brief nudity. Characters drink and smoke cigarettes and marijuana. There is a train accident and in the aftermath we see dead and injured people, and there are sad deaths. A strength of the movie is its sensitive and perceptive exploration of racial and cultural issues.


Families who watch this movie should talk about their own family heritage and the issues that arise in the United States from its history as a “melting pot.” Most American families have stories about efforts of family members to either be “more American” or to hold on to cultural and ethnic traditions. What made Gogol change his mind about his name? Why was his name so important? What do you think about the idea of having a “good name” and a “pet name?”

Families who enjoy this movie will want to read the book by Jhumpa Lahiri and, of course The Overcoat by Nikolai Gogol. Another good book exploring the immigrant experience is Anne Tyler’s Digging to America. Families will also enjoy Nair’s other films, including Mississippi Masala and Monsoon Wedding and Gurinder Chadha’s films Bend It Like Beckham and What’s Cooking?

The Messengers

posted by jmiller
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, disturbing violence and terror.
Movie Release Date:2007
DVD Release Date:2007
C+
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, disturbing violence and terror.
Movie Release Date: 2007
DVD Release Date: 2007

The trailers for “The Messengers” don’t do it justice —
there’s a lot more potential in this movie than appears in the
Grudge- and The Omen-like snippets shown as teasers. The idea isn’t bad. It’s in living up
to this potential that the film slips from an enjoyable, somewhat
innocuous PG-13 fright fest (on par with Signs and The Twilight Zone)
to a dead-end dragger with way too much buildup for the minimal reveal.


At the center of the story is Jess Solomon (Kristen
Stewart), who moves with her mother, father and little
brother from Chicago to the farmlands of North Dakota. As the parents
(played by Dylan McDermott and Penelope Ann Miller) continually hint,
Jess has some growing up to do — after being teased for what seems
like decades, audiences finally learn that 6 months prior, Jess was tipsy when got into an accident with her brother in the
car, which lead not only to obvious strife in the family but also to
the family’s savings being spent on medical bills for the toddler. His only remaining effect from the injuries is a reluctance to speak. How Original. That fact alone should tell you all you need to know about the big
finale.

The family is moving to make a fresh start, and what better
place than a rickety abandoned structure that despite being
surrounded by sunny fields remains perpetually in shadow.


As the father, McDermott seems content to act as if the
role of dad could be accomplished by simply directing the phrases
“We’ve got to make this work,” “That’s what I’m talking
about,” and “I love you sport,” to his wife, guy friend, and
daughter, respectively. He is determined to deny all the signs of a
family about to enter a horror movie, in favor of proving that he can
do it — he can run the farm, he can hold the family together, he can
be completely oblivious to every bad omen possible cliche.


By the time all the family secrets are revealed,
however, hints about the family’s past — Jess’s “mistake”
especially — have been hinted at so much that the satisfaction of
finally being told is outweighed by both resentment for
having been teased and (in “mistake’s” case) distaste at the
seriousness of the offense. This pattern of excessively long, drawn
out teases followed by anticlimactic unveilings and ultimate
disappointment is not, to put it diplomatically, limited to this one
instance.


As Jess begins to experience haunting that only she and
her little brother perceive, the film shows glimpses of
promise. The intensity of the suspense and creepy images and the intensified trust issues between Jess and her parents lies a glimmer of a better film. The
shock at realizing that walls torn apart, lamps broken and windows
shattered reassemble miraculously before the mother and father return
home is thrilling in a surreal, psychological way, bringing not only
ghosts and ghouls to the table but dream-like mind games as well.
Given this and a few moments of strategic misdirection, and it’s
refreshing to see a horror film that tries to get its shocks from plot twists rather
than gore. But ultimately, these messengers show up empty-handed.


Parents should know that characters refer to driving
under the influence, and the opening scenes depict a mother and
daughter being beaten by an invisible force while a young son looks
on in terror. There are moments of suspense and some
frightening and disturbing images of ghosts. Most of the film’s
violence stems from the spirit world, but there are several instances
of living characters directing violence at one another. Keeping the
film well under the R-rating radar, however, the language is tame and
sexual content limited to a bad pun on the Kama Sutra.


Families who see this film should talk about the
importance of trust between parents and children. Jess tells a peer
that when her parents asked her to pick up her brother and drive him
home, she was afraid to tell them she had been drinking with friends
(and thus made the incredible mistake of going to pick up her brother
while still under the influence). Why does staying silent about
having been drinking betray her parents’ trust? Could Jess have
trusted her parents to respect her honesty if she told them the truth
about not being able to drive, even if it meant facing their
disappointment in her decision to drink?


Families who enjoy this film might also enjoy Poltergeist and the
classic television series The Twilight Zone — the complete series is now available on DVD. Families will also be
interested in the work of M. Night Shyamalan, the director behind thrillers featuring children
Signs and The Sixth Sense, and might also explore the previous work
of Danny and Oxide Pang, twin brothers who only recently Americanized
their angle after being active in the Hong Kong filmmaking world for
nearly a decade.

Because I Said So

posted by jmiller
F
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sexual content including dialogue, some mature thematic material and partial nudity.
Movie Release Date:2007
DVD Release Date:2007
F
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual content including dialogue, some mature thematic material and partial nudity.
Movie Release Date: 2007
DVD Release Date: 2007

I blame “Sex and the City.”


Now everyone thinks that what it takes — or all it takes — for a story about a bunch of women characters to work is non-stop talk about sex and shoes and a complete absence of boundaries. But this film is missing three key elements of “Sex and the City.” First: wit. Second: interesting, distinctive, believable characters and situations. Third: Conversations that are pleasantly racy and edgy between friends are just plain ewwwwwwwwwww when they’re between mothers and daughters.

This movie manages to be offensive and yet dull and predictable, as phony as a Kate Spade sidewalk knock-off bag and as unoriginal as the ready-for VH1 soundtrack. Does it give you an idea if I mention that there are not one, not two, but three intended-to-be-hilarious dropped cakes? And not one of them is actually funny?

With an apparent complete lack of direction and a fingernails-on-blackboard screenplay, all the talented cast can do is race around in a frenzied ditz-fest.


Diane Keaton plays Daphne the supposed-to-be-adorably ditzy, funkily chic, and hopelessly overinvolved mother of three daughters. The older two aren’t important enough for us to care what their names are, but they are played by the should-fire-their-agents-for-this “Gilmore Girls'” Lauren Graham and Piper Perabo. The youngest is Milly (Mandy Moore), also supposed-to-be-adorably-ditzy, who runs a catering service. Her mother says things to her like “Go talk to that guy, but don’t do that thing you do.”


So, what’s an interfering mother to do? The internet is just sitting there, filled with prospective sons-in-law. So, after a brief intended-to-be-humorous interlude in which Daphne gets stuck on a porn site (I hope Gateway didn’t pay for product placement), she posts a “looking for someone for my daughter” ad and soon enough has 17 would-be-suitors lined up for interviews.


And one musician named Johnny (Gabriel Macht) performing in the bar who rescues her from a volunteer therapist who shows up for an impromptu intervention. Daphne thinks she’s found Mr. Right in Jason (Tom Everett Scott), a successful architect. But the musician goes after Milly, too. Soon she’s dating them both. Two problems here: one, there is no reason to believe that Jason would have any interest in Milly, and two, Milly’s failure to be honest with either of them makes her much less sympathetic. Oh, and there’s also a child who enters the picture who makes a lot of only-in-the-movies, intended-to-be-cute-and-funny-but-completely-synthetic comments. But one of these suitors has a handsome dad (Stephen Collins) who makes Daphne think that maybe it’s her own love life she should be fixing. What she should have been fixing is this tedious, unfunny, embarrassing movie, but I’m afraid it’s as beyond repair as those three smashed cakes.


Parents should know that this movie has some crude language and extremely explicit sexual references and situations for a PG-13 movie, including mother-daughters discussions of the pros and cons of thong underwear and circumcised penises, about oral sex and numbers of orgasms. There are some scanty undies, scenes of internet porn (inspiring a dog to hump the furniture), and a brief “humorous” same-sex kiss. Characters do some social drinking and some drinking to deal with stress, loneliness, and nervousness. There is some insensitive racial and ethnic stereotyping and humor involving a possibly suicidal man in counseling that is intended to be humorous but comes across as offensive.


Families who see this movie should talk about how parents know when to step back from their involvement in their children’s lives. And they should talk about how people who care about each other handle the “off days.”


Families who enjoy this movie may enjoy some of the other (and much better) movies about mothers trying to run their daughters’ love lives, including Next Stop Wonderland and For Love or Money. The two wonderful Gary Cooper movies Daphne likes are Love in the Afternoon with Audrey Hepburn and A Farewell to Arms.

The Situation

posted by jmiller
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for violence, language and a scene of sexuality.
Movie Release Date:2007
DVD Release Date:2007
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated R for violence, language and a scene of sexuality.
Movie Release Date: 2007
DVD Release Date: 2007

Parents should know that this film contains disturbing wartime violence involving military and insurgent groups. Characters are injured and killed. There are some non-explicit sexual situations. Characters drink, smoke, and use some strong language. A strength of the movie is its portrayal of strong, loyal friendships between people of different races and cultures, even in the midst of war.


Families who see this movie should learn more about the war in Iraq. They may want to review the report of the Iraq study group and updates from the White House.

Families who appreciate this movie will also enjoy the documentaries Gunner Palace, Control Room, and The War Tapes and feature films Three Kings and Jarhead.

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