Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Love is Strange
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language
Release Date:
08/22/2014

 

Moms' Night Out
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action
Release Date:
May 9, 2014

The November Man
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong violence including a sexual assault, language, sexuality/nudity and brief drug use
Release Date:
August 27, 2014

 

Draft Day
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 on appeal for brief strong language and sexual references
Release Date:
April 11, 2014

If I Stay
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some sexual material
Release Date:
August 22, 2014

 

Blended
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and language.
Release Date:
May 23, 2014

The Master of Disguise

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

This misbegotten mess of a movie is a terrible disappointment for fans of Dana Carvey. It is also a disappointment for fans of comedy and fans of movies.

It really is hard to imagine how the talented Carvey can have taken what sounded like a can’t-miss premise and missed so completely. Carvey’s genius for impressions is utterly wasted. So is his charm. So is his time. So is ours.

Carvey plays Pistachio Disguisey (are you laughing yet?), the youngest in a family with magical powers to transform themselves. His father (James Brolin) never told him of the family’s secret because he wanted to protect him. So little Pistachio does not know why he has a Tourette-like compulsion to imitate everyone he sees. When his parents are captured by bad guy Devlin Bowman (Brent Spiner), who suffers from intestinal distress whenever he tries his evil laugh (now are you laughing?), and it is up to Pistachio to save the day. Pistachio’s grandfather (Harold Gould) arrives to give him a few quick lessons in transformation and self-defense.

Weak references to classics like “The Exorcist,” “Star Wars,” “Jaws,” and “A Hard Day’s Night” will have no meaning to the kids who are the intended audience. The “Star Wars” references are more rip-off than satire; Disguiseys get their power from Energyco, so much like “the force” that it even has a dark side. Audience members old enough to recognize Jesse Ventura, Jessica Simpson, and Bo Derek might enjoy their brief cameos. But even at less than 70 minutes, the movie feels endless, with an extended post-credit sequence that just adds insult to injury.

Parents should know that the movie is too vulgar for a PG rating and too dumb for audiences of any age. Pistachio is fascinated with women who have large rear ends and he makes crude jokes when a character serves appetizers (“do you have a little wiener and tiny nuts?”). He disguises himself as a cow patty. And slapping an opponent while yelling “Who’s your daddy?” is supposedly a way of showing manliness and competence. Pistachio himself is a annoyingly disturbing character, an odd child-man with an inexplicable accent and an unforgivable haircut.

Families who see this movie should talk about how being able to imitate someone requires very careful observation.

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy Jerry Lewis playing eight characters in The Family Jewels.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:2002

Don’t settle back in your seat and wait for a rehash of the first three-hour epic in the “Lord of the Rings” series to remind you who everyone is and where we left off a year ago. Even with another three hours, director Peter Jackson does not have a second to spare to get you up to speed. Every moment of chapter two is packed full with the same breathtaking audacity and scope of the first one, plus three times as much action.

There will be two kinds of audiences for this film. The Tolkien devotees will be looking for their own particular visions brought to life. Those who are new to the stories will just be looking for an epic with a heroic quest and a lot of action (and a little romance). Both should come away very satisfied.

It seems a little chicken to say that so much goes on in this movie that it is hard to summarize, when Jackson has managed to pull off the vastly greater challenge of realizing it on screen. But so much goes on in this movie! And everything goes on at once, as Jackson’s extraordinary pacing (like the book) cuts back and forth between stories, leaving the characters in the direst peril while we look in on the other group we left in the direst peril just moments before.

In the first episode, Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) is apparently the only creature pure in heart enough to possess an ancient ring that calls to the worst in everyone else who comes near it. The ring has almost unlimited power, and those who wish to inflict evil on the world will do anything to get it. A small group accompanies Frodo on his quest to return the ring to the place where it was made, the only place it can be destroyed. At the end of “The Fellowship of the Ring,” the group has been splintered, some dead, captured, or waylaid. Frodo and his trusted friend Sam (Sean Astin) set off together.

“The Two Towers” picks up each of the members of the remaining fellowship and cuts back and forth between their adventures. Frodo and Sam find a twisted creature called Gollum who himself embodies the book’s struggle between good and evil. Once utterly corrupted by his attempts to steal the ring, the remaining good within him begins to awaken under Frodo’s kindness, but that may not be reliable enough for him to become the faithful guide they need.

Meanwhile, Frodo’s Hobbit friends Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd) are caught up with Treebeard and the Ents (tree creatures of enormous size). Also meanwhile, the human warrior Aragorn and dwarf dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) try to get help from King Theoden (Bernard Hill), who has been enchanted into befuddlement so that they can fight the vicious Uruk-hai throng of White Wizard villain Saruman (Christopher Lee).

The first movie had a lot of thundering hoofs and meaningful looks and introduction of characters and portents of doom. This one flings us from cliffhanger to (literal) cliffhanger, with mighty legions hurtling into battle. Every moment on screen is filled with masterfully handled detail. The vast New Zealand landscapes are a perfect realization of Tolkien’s middle earth. The vast armies of hulking monsters stretch back for miles. Every button and belt buckle seems both new and eternal. Gollum, computer animated but based on the movements of actor Andy Serkis (who also provided the voice), is as real as any of the humans. The human actors hold their own, giving gravity and heart to the effects and panoramas. The only drag on the proceedings is Aragon’s love triangle, which feels like something between a distraction and a place-holder.

Parents should know that this movie is non-stop, very intense action, with extremely violent battle scenes and intense peril.

Families who see this movie should talk about the many representations of the war between good and evil. King Theoden comes back. Gollum may be coming back. Where else do you see the dualities expressed? What does it mean to say that Saruman has “a mind of metal and wheels and no longer cares for growing things?” At several points, characters have to decide when to fight and when to give up or retreat. What do they consider in making that decision? What should they consider? Why is it important to Gollum that Frodo calls him by his old name? Why do Sam and Frodo wonder if they will ever be included in songs or tales?

Families who enjoy this movie should see the original Fellowship of the Ring. They will also enjoy the wonderful BBC radio audiotapes of the entire series.

The King’s Guard

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2000

This very uneven film has a strong cast and an ambitious story, but it falters in execution.

Top actors Eric Roberts, Ron Perlman, and Lesley-Anne Down appear in supporting roles, while the leads are taken by young unknowns. The story seems directed at younger audiences, but there is much more violence than movies for that age group. The costumes and settings are fine, but the sound and cinematography show the limited budget.

Princess Gwendolyn (Ashley Jones) is being escorted by the King’s guards to meet the man she has promised to marry. At first, she is not impresswed with handsome Captain Jim Reynolds (Trevor St. John), but when they are attacked by traitors and thieves, she learns to respect and then love him.

Female characters are strong and capable, a nice change from the usual damsel in distress. There are some clever plot twists and some exciting swordfights. But the violence is surprisingly brutal, which may be upsetting for younger viewers.

The Kid Stays in the Picture

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

The Kid Stays in the Picture is a fascinating True Hollywood Story-esque look on the tumultuous life of Robert Evans, a prolific Hollywood producer who had it all, lost it all, regained most of, all while living a life filled with sex, drugs, and movie stars.

This film is based on Robert Evans’ autobiography, so he narrates in the first person, starting by being discovered by Norma Shearer to play a bit role in James Cagney’s Man of a Thousand Faces. He take parts in some minor films, including a hilariously campy horror flick, but what sticks out to him is when after a take on the set of The Sun Also Rises, film legend Daryl F. Zanuck states, “The kid (Evans) stays in the picture!” Evans works his way up to becoming head of production of Paramount Pictures during the making of hits like Rosemary’s Baby and Love Story, but the studio really takes off with the making of The Godfather. Evans gives us an intimate look at the making of now classic movies, as well as his marriages and dates with beautiful women, and his struggles to stay on top before his cocaine bust and downfall.

It’s truly a gripping story, and Evans is very lucky to have gotten his career back on track. Film fans are going to have a field day with this one with the clips of classic films and the stories about Hollywood legends.

Parents should know that there’s some very strong language, including slurs about Roman Polanski, who is Polish. There’s some non-graphic sexual references and drug use, which is amended by an amusing all-star sing-a-long called Get High on Yourself! arranged by Evans. And of course, there are some violent clips of the R-rated movies Evans produced, including the most famous scene in Chinatown.

Families should ask what significance the title has, other than what Daryl Zanuck said years ago. They can also discuss what would happen if certain events that almost didn’t work out actually failed; can anyone imagine Francis Ford Coppola not directing The Godfather? Anyone who sees this film should enjoy seeing the aforementioned modern-day classics that Evans worked on.

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