Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™

New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Fading Gigolo
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some sexual content, language and brief nudity
Release Date:
April 19, 2014


Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 on appeal for some strong language, thematic elements and sexual references
Release Date:
November 22, 2013

Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality
Release Date:
April 19, 2014


The Nut Job
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and rude humor
Release Date:
January 17, 2014

Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Release Date:
April 19, 2014


Grudge Match
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sports action violence, sexual content and language
Release Date:
December 25, 2013


posted by rkumar
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2000

Joline (Heather Graham) is a woman of her word. Her parents “had a way of moving on from things, including each other.” But Joline believes in commitment. When she gets married, she has the ring tattooed on her finger. Less than two years later, when her husband Carl (Luke Wilson) leaves her without telling her where he is going or why he is going, she goes after him.

Joline narrates the story, and she often prefaces her statements with “I read somewhere,” as in “I read somewhere that the reason most relationships break down is that both parties are waiting for the other to fix it.” She also read somewhere that people can find each other just by following their instincts, and sure enough, she somehow tracks down Carl in El Paso, Texas. But she does not let him know she is there. She just parks near his new home and watches him, taking time out to inadvertently disrupt his relationships with Carmen, his new girlfriend (Patricia Velasquez) and his boss (Dylan Baker). Joline and Carmen become friends, and when Joline’s brother, Jay (Casey Affleck) comes after her, he and Carmen become romantically involved. Joline also gets advice from Carmen’s grandfather (Alfonso Arau), who has mystical powers.

Things do not go well, and Joline says, “I had no choice but to get more extreme with my rituals.” She camps out opposite Carl’s apartment, conducting a “spiritual vigil.” Finally, she is “committed” in both senses of the word, and ends up in a mental hospital.

Joline is less committed to Carl than she is to the idea of commitment. Her sense of herself is so deeply tied up in the idea of permanence that she does not stop to think about whether Carl is the one she should be committed to. Carmen’s grandfather explains that she needs to do what he did in exposing himself to a little of the rattlesnake’s poison in order to become immune. She learns that the distinctions between stupid and brave, crazy and lucky, sick and well, committed and uncommitted, are not as clear as she thought. She says, “For a long time I was telling a joke that nobody got.” Finally, she tells Carl that “I’m still committed, but not to you.”

Families should know that the movie is rated R for language and sexual references. Carl’s artist neighbor makes sexual overtures to Joline that include suggestive caressing of a life-size doll he made of Joline. Carmen’s former boyfriend is abusive and threatening. Jay lives with a lesbian couple and occasionally has sex with one of them, which makes the other one jealous and possessive. There is also a brief but weird brother-sister kiss.

Families who see the movie should discuss the challenge of maintaining a balance between supporting the person you love and enabling destructive or self-destructive behavior. They may also want to talk about Joline’s terms, “spiritual wheelchair” and “spiritual coma,” and the metaphor of the rattlesnake poison.

Collateral Damage

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

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Gordy, a fireman whose wife and son are killed when a bomb goes off in a terrorist attack. As he becomes convinced that the government will not do anything to bring justice to the man responsible, a Colombian nicknamed “The Wolf,” Gordon decides to get justice for himself, by finding The Wolf and killing him.

The original release of this movie was delayed following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. It may still be too soon – in fact, it may never be possible to be as casual about fictional terrorism again. The movie is too close to reality to be able to enjoy it as pure entertainment and too far from reality to be able to get any feeling of satisfaction from it.

It is very formulaic. Arnold is told of the insurmountable obstacles. He surmounts them. Finally, he arrives in the secret lair of the bad guy. We see how bad a guy the bad guy really is, to make us feel even better about what lies ahead of him. Arnold is very clever and utterly unstoppable. Many explosions later, we get to what comes as close as possible to a happy ending.

The best parts of the movie are the brief appearances by John Turturro as a Canadian mechanic and John Leguizamo as a charming cocaine producer. The decision not to allow Gordon to carry a weapon provides for some moments of creativity in the plot. But Arnold is getting too old for this kind of thing, and, given our recent experiences, audiences may feel that they are, too.

Parents should know that the movie is very violent, with extreme peril. Many characters are killed, including a child. A character is killed by having a poisonous snake forced down his throat. A character’s ear is bitten off and spit out. The movie has strong language, and references to drug trade. The jitters of a character who appears to have had an overdose of cocaine are supposed to be funny.

The movie tries to make a connection between Gordon and The Wolf. Both are formerly gentle and loving men who became killers after losing children. The Wolf even asks Gordon how they are different. Gordon replies, “Because I am just going to kill you.” Families who see this movie should talk about the impulse for revenge and how to determine the best way to respond to terrorism. Were any of The Wolf’s claims legitimate, even if his tactics were not? Do all conflicts create “collateral damage?”

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the best of this genre, including Die Hard and Under Siege.


posted by rkumar
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2002

This special effects action comedy is fun for kids and fairly painless for adults. More important, it is a rare film directed at kids from 4th-8th grade, that most neglected of movie audiences. Not surprisingly, it is produced by Nickelodeon, the cable channel dedicated to just that group.

Zak (Jesse Bradford), the son of a loving but preoccupied scientist, accidentally takes a top-secret device, thinking it is a watch. It turns out to be a mechanism for speeding up the metabolic rate of whoever is touching it so that they see the world around them as almost frozen. To the rest of the world, they are moving to fast to be seen. At first, Zak uses it to impress a pretty girl (Paula Garces as Francesca) and together they have fun with some pranks and pay-backs. But then the bad guys come after them, and Zak and Francesca have to save the world.

The plot is a throw-back to the old Disney classics like “The Shaggy Dog” (also with a pretty teenage girl named Francesca) and “The Absent-Minded Professor.” Director Jonathan Frakes (of “Star Trek”) ably handles the sci-fi aspect with special effects that truly are special. We see water droplets suspended in air and a bee floating over a flower. The movie zips along quickly and has a lively pop soundtrack.

Parents should know that there is mild peril, though the guns only shoot ice bullets (to shock the system out of hyper-time) and no one is hurt. Francesca wears some revealing outfits, but she and Zak share only a couple of kisses. The movie features multi-ethnic good and bad guys and Francesca is strong, smart, and brave.

Families who see the movie should talk about the problems of developing technologies that can get into the wrong hands and the problems of balancing commitments to work and family.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy The Rocketeer.

Citizen Kane

posted by rkumar
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:1941

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) dies, alone in Xanadu, his enormous mansion. His last word is the mysterious “Rosebud.” A newsreel gives us the highlights of his life, the wealthy young man who became an influential newspaper magnate and political candidate, who married first the niece of the President and then, after a scandal that led to the end of his political career, a singer. As the lights come up in a screening room, an editor says, “It’s not enough to tell us what a man did. You have to tell us who he was.” One of the reporters, Jerry Thompson, goes off to find out who Kane really was.

He meets with five different figures who were important in Kane’s life to try to understand the small mystery of Kane’s last word and the larger mystery of the man who was capable of both integrity and corruption, and who seemed to have no sense of peace or happiness.

Thompson begins by reading the journals of millionaire Walter Parks Thatcher (George Coulouris), now dead, the trustee who oversaw Kane’s early years. He explains that Kane’s mother (Agnes Moorehead) was a landlady who became wealthy when a prospector who had not paid his bill left her the deed to his mine. The mine turned out to be one of the world’s richest sources of silver. Mrs. Kane believed that her son would do better if Thatcher, a bank executive, took charge of his education and upbringing. She wanted him far away from his bully of a father.

Kane was a rebellious charge, and as soon as he reached his majority, he bought a failing newspaper, which he used to criticize Thatcher and the rest of the financial elite.

Next, Thompson speaks to Mr. Bernstein (Everett Sloane), who worked with Kane at the newspaper. He talks of Kane’s high ideals, and his devotion to the individual struggling against the powerful. He also speaks of Kane’s first marriage and its disintegration (shown in a stunning series of scenes set at breakfasts over the years).

He then talks to Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotton), once Kane’s best friend and the drama critic for Kane’s newspaper, who tells him of Kane’s second marriage, to Susan Alexander (Dorothy Commingore), a nightclub singer. Kane was determined to make her a success as an opera singer. When Leland wrote a bad review of her performance, Kane finished writing it for him, printed it, and then fired him.

Thompson visits Susan Alexander, now an alcoholic. She tells him about the isolation of her life with Kane, and her decision to leave him. Neither she nor the butler at Xanadu is able to tell Thompson anything about “Rosebud.”

The viewer, however, is permitted to solve the smaller mystery of Rosebud, but the answer only proves that there are never any simple answers to the complexity of the human spirit.

Kids who watch this movie can never know how revolutionary it was. Every one of its dozens of innovations, from the flashback structure to the use of sets with ceilings for additional authenticity, has become all but standard. No problem–there is time enough for them to study these aspects of the film’s brilliance if they decide to learn more about film history and criticism. For their first viewing of this brilliant work, (and for purposes of a family discussion) just let them focus on the story, the dialogue, and the characters, which remain as compelling and contemporary as they were more than 50 years ago.

Like Willie Stark in “All the King’s Men,” Kane begins as a populist and dies corrupt and alone, and we cannot help but hope for some explanation of how that happened, as Thompson does. Importantly, both Kane and Stark were based on real-life figures. Kane, of course, was based on William Randolph Hearst, the almost-impossibly wealthy heir to the largest gold and silver mine owner in America, who became a powerful publishing magnate. Kane might also have been based on Welles, only 25 years old when he co-wrote, directed and starred in this film, who then spent the rest of his life coming up with one excuse or another for why he never came close to that level of achievement again.

As we see in flashback, Kane was taken from his parents when he was six, and raised by the bank, or by Thatcher, who was close to the same thing. This created an emotional neediness and a deeply conflicted view of money and power that is one factor in his downfall. As soon as he had control over his money, Kane bought the newspaper, perhaps for the same reason Welles went to to work for a Hollywood studio; he said it was “the greatest electric train set any boy ever had.” A rebel by nature (as we see when he hits Thatcher with his sled, and in his glee in getting the staff to remake the paper over and over), he enjoys what H.L. Menchen referred to as the purpose of a newspaper: “To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Afflicting the comfortable is great fun for him, especially comfortable people like Thatcher and his colleagues and his wife’s uncle, the President of the United States.

Like Stark, though, Kane’s taste of power makes him feel that the rules do not apply to him. He begins to feel that the ends justify the means. He does not just want to sway the electorate in favor of the candidate of his choice; he wants to be that candidate. As we see in a striking scene, with Kane in front of the enormous poster of his face, he loves the adulation of the crowd.

But as we also see, he is drawn to Susan Alexander (whom he meets as he is on his way to sit among his late mother’s effects) because she responds to the private Kane, the one who can wiggle his ears and make hand shadows. When he finds that he cannot have both Susan and public acclaim, he makes the critically wrong choice to try to make her into a publicly acceptable figure, an opera star. Leland writes an honest review (after getting drunk for courage). Kane’s last shred of integrity requires him to print the review, but he cannot bear to face Leland again.

Indeed, he cannot bear to face anyone. He retreats to Kanadu, where Susan Alexander spends her night working on jigsaw puzzles. She cannot bear it any more either and finally leaves him; he hardly notices, except to become even more isolated. That private self which she responded to, and which once mattered so much to him, has become as completely inaccessible as the little house inside the snow globe that crashes to the floor when he dies.

Families who see this movie should talk about what they think of Kane’s pledge on the first page of the newspaper. How do the scenes at the breakfast table tell you what is going on in Kane’s first marriage? Why do you think he said “Rosebud?” Who if anyone in the movie is satisfired with his or her life? How can you tell? Why does Kane change?

Fans of Phoebe Tyler on television’s “All My Children” will enjoy seeing a young Ruth Warrick as Kane’s first wife.

It is hard to say who is the more interesting real-life character, William Randolph Hearst or Orson Welles. There are many biographies of both, and they are fascinating reading for families to enjoy. The biographies of Hearst detail his reaction to this movie. His efforts to use his newspapers to discourage people to see the movie were just what Kane himself might have done. Everyone should make an effort to see San Simeon, the model of Xanadu, now open to the public in California.

There are also volumes of material about this movie, probably the most honored ever to be produced in Hollywood, and always at or near the top of critics’ surveys on the best film ever made.

Previous Posts

Tribute: Hurricane Carter
Rubin "Hurricane" Carter died at home at age 76.  A prize fighter who was wrongly convicted of murder and released after serving 19 years in prison, he devoted the rest of his life to helping others. Denzel Washington portrayed Carter in the movie The Hurricane. [youtube]

posted 11:28:53am Apr. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Celebrate Easter!

posted 7:00:48am Apr. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Trailer: Chef
Jon Favreau follows his big-budget special effects movies ("Iron Man," "Cowboys and Aliens") with a return to his small, indie roots ("Swingers") as director/writer/star of the scrumptious-looking "Chef."  (WARNING: Some strong language) [youtube][/yout

posted 8:00:51am Apr. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Have a Blessed Easter: Movies for the Family
My gallery of Easter movies includes "Ben Hur," several different movie versions of the life of Jesus, a couple of choices just for kids, and a classic musical named for a classic song, Irving Berlin's "Easter Parade." There's something for every family celebrating this weekend. [youtube]https://

posted 8:00:44am Apr. 19, 2014 | read full post »

A Dramatic Commercial for TNT
I love this commercial for TNT! [youtube][/youtube]

posted 8:33:40am Apr. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.