Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Tusk
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some disturbing violence/gore, language and sexual content
Release Date:
September 19, 2014

 

The Fault in Our Stars
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language
Release Date:
June 6, 2014

This is Where I Leave You
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, sexual content and some drug use
Release Date:
September 19, 2014

 

Think Like a Man Too
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for crude sexual content including references, partial nudity, language and drug material
Release Date:
June 20, 2014

The Maze Runner
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images
Release Date:
September 19, 2014

 

Godzilla
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence
Release Date:
May 16, 2014

Anger Management

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:PG-13
Movie Release Date:2003

There are two odd couples in this movie. One is the traditional pairing of two opposite characters just for the fun of seeing the sparks (and the inevitable “I learned so much from you!” conclusion). In this case, one character is a deeply repressed executive assistant who designs clothing for overweight cats (Adam Sandler as Dave) and the other is a decidedly un-repressed therapist specializing in anger management (Jack Nicholson as Dr. Buddy Rydell).

But just as mismatched as this odd couple are the two competing scripts. First is the original script credited to first-timer David Dorfman. The second “script” adds in the core elements of any Sandler film, contributed by producer-star Adam Sandler, including many pre-adolescent jokes about body parts and their functions and a lot of references to 80′s pop culture. The result is an uneven blend of pretty low humor and REALLY low humor on the theme of utter humiliation. It is only barely saved by the sheer pleasure of watching Jack Nicholson.

“Anger Management” is a variation on every odd couple movie ever made, but especially “Analyze This,” which also paired an Oscar-winning mega-star best known for drama with an alumnus of Saturday Night Live and sketch/stand-up comedy, making the comedian the straight man and letting the distinguished actor go wild. It would be funnier to hear Nicholson sing “West Side Story’s” “I Feel Pretty” if it wasn’t the same song that we heard De Niro sing in the sequel, “Analyze That.” But it’s still pretty funny.

Adam Sandler plays the same part he has in all of his movies — an engaging if immature man with anger management issues. As he often does, Nicholson plays a guy who just might do anything at any moment. Both play off of the way that we know them. Sandler uses our image of him so he won’t have to do anything new but Nicholson uses his so that he can play with it and even surprise us.

Dave is sentenced to anger management after a misunderstanding on an airplane and ends up in Dr. Rydell’s therapy group. After another misunderstanding, he is sentenced to a full-time program that has Dr. Rydell moving in with him, going to work with him, and taking him on a road trip to Boston. Rydell forces Dave to confront a childhood bully and pick up a pretty girl. He even persuades Dave to break up with his loyal girlfriend, Linda (Marisa Tomei). All of this is intended to get Dave to acknowledge his real feelings.

Parents should know that this movie is extremely raunchy for a PG-13, with constant jokes about penis size, plus jokes about lesbian porn stars who enjoy three-way sex, a drag queen prostitute, a mentally ill girl, masturbation, premature ejaculation, flatulence, and prison rape. It has comic violence. Characters drink and smoke.

Families who see this movie should talk about some of Dr. Rydell’s comments, especially when he says that there are two kinds of anger, explosive and implosive and that sarcasm is anger’s ugly cousin. How do the people in your family handle their anger? It might also be interesting to talk about Sandler’s attraction or compulsion to explore these themes. It’s hard to escape the sense that he is working through some of his own issues with this material. I hope so. It would be nice to see him move on — or grow up.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Analyze This,” “What About Bob?” and “Honeymoon in Vegas.”

A Mighty Wind

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2003

The scorchingly funny guys behind “Spinal Tap,” “Waiting for Guffman” and “Best in Show” have produced a kinder, gentler film that is still very, very funny.

Once again, this is a “mockumentary” about a very diverse but earnest and enthusiastic group of people who share a passion that involves performing in front of an audience. This time, the story is set in the world of aging folk musicians. “PBN” (a stand-in for PBS) is going to broadcast a special concert in memory of Irving Steinbloom, a man who was instrumental in the careers of 60′s folk musicians. The groups who will participate are a trio called The Folksmen (Spinal Tap alums Christoper Guest, who also co-wrote and directed, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer), a once-married duo called Mitch and Mickey (co-screenwriter Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara) and the relentlessly perky Main Street Singers — now called the New Main Street Singers because only one of the original group is still participating. This return to the spotlight after so many years creates all kinds of traumas and challenges.

Guest movies always get better on the second viewing, and this one may need three as its best moments are its subtlest, like the fabulously constructed songs that are just one tweak away from the music of the Hootnanny-era, where suburban kids sang folk songs written by slaves and hobos so they could feel more “authentic.”

There are wonderfully choice moments. I loved the riffs by Fred Willard about his brief stint on a sit-com and Ed Begley, Jr.’s Yiddish-peppered discussion of putting the broadcast deal together. Steinbloom’s son (Bob Balaban) is so obssessed with the details of the event that he literally can’t see the forest for the trees — he interrupts the live broadcast to warn the audience in the theater to be careful not to get scratched by the twigs in the floral arrangements. The reconstruction of the historical material is devilishly meticulous, well worth hitting the pause button when it comes to video and DVD.

Parents should know that there is some mature material including references to substance abuse, homosexuality, pornography, and a sex-change operation. Characters use some strong language.

Families who see this movie should talk about the unusual way that Guest and Levy work. They set out the broad outlines of the story and then invite their actors to improvise their parts. How does that make the final version of the movie different from most? Families should also talk about the performers who inspired this movie, like the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and Joan Baez. What was it that brought folk music to the forefront in the early 1960′s?

Families who enjoy this movie should see the other Guest films, especially on DVD where they can have the added pleasure of seeing them a second time with the commentary by Guest and Levy. They might also try to see “Festival,” a 1967 documentary featuring Joan Baez, Peter, Paul, and Mary, and Bob Dylan.

The Haint

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

“The Haint” is an intriguing Southern ghost story very reminiscent of Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology and Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood, with eclectic, memorable characters, and an overall creepiness throughout the play that doesn’t take away from some very funny moments. What makes “The Haint” stand out is that it is all performed by one man -— co-playwright Troy Mink.

Mink never once changes costume throughout the show; rather he relies on his expressive face and astounding vocal range to convey the characters. All the characters are talking to some documentary makers who have come to Midway, Tennessee, to discuss Bloody Mary, a woman who killed her cheating lover and then herself (and told people before she was going to do it) and now has become the focus of a great tourist attraction to Midway. Mink eventually plays 13 characters; from a strange town simpleton to a humble mayor to an effeminate spiritualist through interviews from the filmmakers, a climactic séance, and the tourists’ mixed reactions.

Mink is incredible. His understated performances are so varied that they have to be spoken of as plural. He never showboats or caricatures. He doesn’t even have to make his voice artifically high to convey a woman, but I would have believed it was a women talking had my eyes been shut.

On the DVD extras, Mink speaks without a southern accent, making his sustained and convincing onstage accent even more impressive.

Unsurprisingly, he based some of the characters on people he knew, but fortunately he never stoops to mocking them; no matter how dense or unlikable they are, he believes their every word and shows it.

“The Haint” itself never gets terrifying, but is always creepy, from the story of the ghost to the quirky characters and the onstage darkness, including a few moments completely in the dark. It’s always believable; we never see the ghost and the peculiar characters are realistic. Plus, anyone who’s been to Salem, Massachusetts knows how towns can exploit their scary history as a tourist attraction. It’s cleverly written, and by the end the viewers know they’ve witnessed more than another ghost story.

The Haint is also very funny. Maybe it’s easier to laugh when there’s a threat of something scary happening, but there are some genuinely comic moments that could’ve been in a comedy, like a tourist who tells the filmmakers what a terrible place it is for children before carelessly telling her child, “Come on, let’s get some coffee.” That kind of twisted, blink and you miss it humor is scattered throughout the show, but your eyes and ears as so focused on Mink that you’ll likely catch it and enjoy it all too.

The Haint contains brief foul language and scariness.

A Man Apart

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2003

This is a dumb guy with nothing to lose explosion movie, which is forgiveable, but it is a pretentious, manipulative, and incompetent dumb explosion movie, which is not.

Vin Diesel plays a DEA cop who makes a big arrest — a cocaine kingpin. The minute we see him make that call to his beautiful adoring wife, we know what’s coming next. But no, first we have to live through a syrupy scene on the beach at sunset and then, yep, the bad guys come after Sean, and he gets shot and his wife is killed. So, ho hum, he’s out long enough to grow a goatee and then this time it’s personal yadda yadda, and we still have 3/4 of the movie for Sean to go after whoever did it.

The usual conventions are in place — the strip club scene, the “you need some time off, give me your badge” scene, the humorous interlude with the small-time drug dealer, the partner who first says he won’t go along on a boneheadly rogue mission but then shows up at the crucial moment, and of course the many, many, many moments of hitting, shooting, and blowing things up. But none of the scenes have any life, originality, or conviction. And there is this irritating effort at making it all seem more meaningful, with voiceovers that just sound silly, even with Diesel’s gravelly voice.

Parents should know that the movie is very, very violent, with a lot of firepower and many characters killed, including a woman and child. Policemen violate the civil rights of suspects, including beating them. Characters drink, smoke, and deal in drugs. They use very strong language, and a child’s use of a swear word is supposed to be humorous. When a character tries to insult Sean by suggesting he is gay for turning down a lap dance, Sean gets infuriated. Black and white characters are deeply loyal to each other. Most of the drug dealers and criminals are black or Latino.

Families who see this movie should talk about the dilemma posed to Sean’s partner, Demetrius (Larenz Tate, in the movie’s best performance). Demetrius must do what he thinks is right or what Sean wants him to do. Sean says at one point that “that’s not my fault if somebody gets out of line.” Families should discuss his failure to accept responsibility for his actions (and the police department’s casual attitude toward his many violations of law and procedure).

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy better films with Diesel, including “Pitch Black” or “Boiler Room.”

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Tusk
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