Movie Mom

Movie Mom

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The Wrecking Crew
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for language, thematic elements and smoking images
Release Date:
March 27. 2015

 

Unbroken
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for war violence including intense sequences of brutality, and for brief language
Release Date:
December 25, 2014

Home
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor
Release Date:
March 27, 2015

 

Into the Woods
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic elements, fantasy action and peril, and some suggestive material
Release Date:
December 25, 2014

Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Secret Ocean 3D
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
March 20, 2015

 

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
Release Date:
December 19, 2014

The Lake House

posted by jmiller
B
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for some language and a disturbing image.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

In honor of Sandra Bullock’s best all-time movie opening with “The Proposal,” this week’s DVD pick is another Bullock favorite.

Movie romances must have two things: an obstacle to keep the apart and a reason to root for them to get together. This has both. Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock have so much chemistry (perhaps based in part on our fond memories of Speed) that we can feel it even though this story gives them only one real scene together. And the obstacle is a nice one. They live in two different time zones. And by that I don’t mean EST and PST. They both live in CST — they’re in Chicago. I mean that Alex (Reeves) is an architect living 2004 and Kate (Bullock) is a doctor living in 2006.

Yeah. Don’t try to think it through too thoroughly. Just go with it. The tenderness of the story just might make it worthwhile.


Alex and Kate are connected by the title residence. It is a house on the lake, and by that I mean ON the lake. It is on stilts, made all of glass. The view is breathtaking but it is isolated. Kate moves out, leaving a note for the new occupant about forwarding her mail. But he is confused. As he moves in, no one has lived there for years. She refers to pawprints and a box that he can’t see. And the date on her note is two years in the future.


It seems the mailbox is a time/space continuum wormhole. Or maybe it is enchanted. The movie does not waste any time with explanations. It just shows us Kate and Alex, revealing themselves to each other through their letters and to us through their interactions with their friends, family, and colleagues. We see them grow toward each other, the very distance and strangness of the connection creating a place for each of them to thaw a part of them that has been isolated and frozen. We realize how — and why — destiny is bringing them together, and when it does, it is sweet and satisfying.


Bullock lowers the pilot light on her usual twinkle and allows herself to be vulnerable and even a little aloof. Reeves turns up the pilot light a little bit, giving us more than his usual blankness, letting us feel how much he wants to be with Kate and what he is willing to do to make it happen. If the two elements are there, a romantic story has an essential rightness that makes is possible, even a pleasure, to let ourselves believe in it. So, don’t ask whether there could be a house made of glass on top of a lake or whether Kate kept driving back to the mailbox. Just enjoy it.

Parents should know that characters drink (scenes in a bar). A boyfriend and girlfriend break up when she kisses someone else. A character is hit by a bus (offscreen) and dies and there is another sad death. Characters use some mild language.

Families who see this film should talk about how the lake house was a metaphor for Kate and Alex, giving them a view of great beauty but separating them from it.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy other time-travel fantasies like Frequency and Somewhere In Time and another kind of story about love through letters, 84 Charing Cross Road. They will also enjoy Portrait of Jennie and the book that inspired it by Robert Nathan. And they will enjoy Jane Austen’s wonderful book Persuasion and the excellent movie version
.

Peaceful Warrior

posted by jmiller
C-
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sensuality, sex references and accident scenes.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties

posted by jmiller
C-
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for some off-color elements.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

This is lowest common denominator movie-making. Why not, it’s based on a lowest-common denominator comic strip.


Garfield’s lighter-than-air comic strip is utterly generic because its motivating force is not art or comedy but commerce; the less distinctive the character or situations, the better suited to appearing on everything from greeting cards and car air freshener to pizza and slot machines. Garfield is not a cat; he is a brand, as this excellent article in Slate explains.


Thus, we have this sequel, like the first movie, designed to work appeal to as broad an audience as possible in and outside the US. So the focus is on crude jokes that are universally understood and not much attention is paid to details like the fact that the title recalls Charles Dickens’ “Tale of Two Cities” but the plot is taken from Mark Twain’s “The Prince and the Pauper.” Or that some of the animals are animated and some are real; some can talk and some cannot.


Garfield (the computer animated cat with the voice of Bill Murray) and Odie (an actual dog with no human voice) stow away when their owner, Jon (Breckin Meyer) flies to London to propose to his girlfriend, Liz (Jennifer Love Hewitt), a vet. Garfield changes places with his look-alike, a fat orange tabby named Prince (the very plummy voice of Tim Curry) who is even more pampered than he is. When Dargis (Billy Connelly) tries to get rid of Prince so he can inherit a huge estate, he is in for double trouble.


It’s all obvious and synthetic, derivative to the point of plagiarism (there is a “mirror” scene lifted from both Duck Soup and “I Love Lucy”), but those who are happy just to see animals talk and bad guys get hit in the crotch will find some mild enjoyment.

Parents should know that the movie has some crude humor, including bathroom jokes and a dog biting a character in the crotch. There are some rude schoolyard terms and there is some comic peril and violence, including characters being threatened with a gun and a crossbow, but no one is hurt.


Families who see this movie should talk about why Prince and Garfield are so important to their owners. And they should make some lasagna!


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the original and the many books of Garfield cartoons.

Cars

posted by jmiller
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated G
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006

Look closely at the little flying bugs buzzing and bumping in the hot light of the desert. They are, of course, Bugs: VW Bugs with wings. In the world of this story, all of the characters are cars and all of the world around them is car-iffic. Even the buttes of Monument Valley — excuse me, I mean Ornament Valley — are shaped like car features.


It has all of the flawless technical facility we have come to rely on from Pixar, but this time the story does not quite match the wow-factor of the visuals. The result is perfectly entertaining but it does not have the power of Finding Nemo or The Incredibles. Those films tapped into profound themes about the way parents and children interact with the big, scary outside world where danger and adventure are. “Cars” has a standard story about friendship and standard characters — the veteran, the upstart, the comic bumpkin who knows things that the city slicker still has to learn, and the story sags a bit in the middle. As far as the script goes, “Cars” is a little bit pedestrian.


It starts with the biggest race of the year. All eyes are on three competitors — the reigning champion (voiced by race car veteran Richard Petty), perennial runner-up Chick Hicks (voice of Michael Keaton), and the rookie, Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson), who takes pride in being a loner. A three-way tie means there has to be another race, one of the biggest ever, to take place a week later, in California.


Lightning is in a hurry to get to there early so he can ingratiate himself with the champion’s sponsor, but he gets sidetracked and ends up in a little town called Radiator Springs, far from the interstate highway. He gets into trouble and the local judge (voice of Paul Newman) sentences him to repairing the road before he can leave. With the help of a sweet-natured tow truck named Tow Mater (voice of Larry the Cable Guy) and a spirited blue Porsche with a law degree who runs the local motel (voice of Bonnie Hunt), Lighting learns some lessons about friendship, cooperation, and even about racing and what it really means to win.


Pixar, as always, creates a thrillingly imaginative but always believeable world with eye-filling details. We believe these are cars, but we also believe they are characters. They have all of the properties of steel and paint and rubber but all of the expressiveness of human eyes and mouths and even noses. Wilson’s slacker surf bum voice is just right for Lightning and Newman gives Doc warmth and wisdom. But the story and characters are not as engrossing as the visuals. The script has a too-many-cooks feeling and it’s about fifteen minutes too long, ten of which is mostly Larry the Cable Guy. And there’s something a little hollow in the endorsement of homespun, non-commercial values in a film so relentlessly marketed, its endorsement of low-tech delivered through technology that is many degrees of separation from paintbrush and cel. Pixar’s lesser effort still beats most of what plays in theaters, but we realize during the credit sequence that it has more heart and humor than the movie that came before it.

Parents should know that there is some brief G-rated crude language and mild crude humor and vandalism. Characters are in peril and there is some mild violence, but no one gets hurt.


Families who see this movie should talk about how different ways of saying “yeah, okay” can mean different things. Why did Lightning think he liked to do things by himself? Doc and Sally had different reasons for coming to Radiator Springs. What were they? Families who see this film should also talk about their favorite car trips and where they would like to go on the next one. They can find out more about Route 66 here or here.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the other Pixar films, including A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 1 and 2, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, and The Incredibles. They will also enjoy other family movies featuring cars, including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the Herbie movies, starting with The Love Bug, and The Great Race.

Previous Posts

Trailer: Paper Towns with Nat Wolff
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/w4olpTxktM4?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 8:00:09am Mar. 27, 2015 | read full post »

The Wrecking Crew
Maybe you like Frank Sinatra and your friend likes the Mamas and Papas. Maybe you've argued about who is better, the Beach Boys or Simon and Garfunkel, or maybe you prefer Elvis. Each of those monumen

posted 9:48:37pm Mar. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Home
"Home" is a cute and colorful movie about an alien invasion with an important safety tip concerning one of the most destructive forces in the universe, something devastating to every known life form.

posted 5:59:44pm Mar. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Ebertfest 2015
Passes are on sale for Ebertfest 2015!  I'll be there!  From Chaz Ebert's blog: We are opening with Jean-Luc Godard's silent opus in 3D, "Adieu Au Langage" ("Goodbye To Language"). Some have complained that you were against 3D films, but we know that you were against 3D when it was used onl

posted 3:49:39pm Mar. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Apps for Movie Fans
Geek Dad has a great list of apps for movie lovers, including MoviePass, which gives you unlimited movie tickets for one set fee.  I'd add Flixter from Rotten Tomatoes and of course my favorite, IMDB.

posted 12:15:35pm Mar. 26, 2015 | read full post »


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