Movie Mom

Movie Mom

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Lucy
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R For strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality
Release Date:
July 25, 2014

 

Heaven is for Real
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic material including some medical situations
Release Date:
April 16, 2014

And So It Goes
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some sexual references and drug elements
Release Date:
July 25, 2014

 

Sabotage
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R For strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use
Release Date:
March 28, 2014

Wish I Was Here
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some sexual content
Release Date:
July 18, 2014

 

Transcendence
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 Score

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2001

Movies are made for heist stories. Great robberies can be fun to watch on stage or read about in a book, but movies provide an immediacy and economy of narrative that no other form of story-telling can touch. Give us something worth a lot of money, whether it is money, jewels, or a secret formula, put it somplace hard to break into, whether it is a museum, a bank, or an enemy compound, and an anti-hero to root for, and we’re ready to enjoy.

The pattern may be familia, but it is reliable. Set out the task and explain the obstacles, come up with clever ways to get around the obstacles, then show us the heist itself, throwing in a few unexpected challenges and some even more clever on-the-spot problem-solving, add in some colorful characters with a few twists and turns in their relationships, and we will settle back and enjoy.

“The Score” benefits from this formula almost as much as it benefits from its Mount Rushmore of acting power. The story might not have much that’s new, but it is still fun to see a thief look at an intimidating new safe utterly undaunted, explaining that “If somebody can build it, somebody can unbuild it.” The movie’s real luster comes from stars Marlon Bando, Robert DeNiro, Edward Norton, and Angela Bassett, who are thrilling to watch under any circumstances. You can’t help wishing, though, to see them under other circumstances. I’ll be the rehearsals for some of these scenes were more fun to watch than the scenes themselves.

DeNiro plays Nick, a careful thief who plans meticulously, keeps his cool when the unexpected occurs, and lives by two rules: work alone and never rob in the city you live in. He is willing to think about breaking those rules when Max, his long-time fence Brando) offers him a job so big that he can retire and live happily ever after with the woman he adores (Bassett) and the jazz club he owns.

The job will require working with Jack (Norton), who came up with idea (stealing a priceless gold scepter studded with jewels) and who has done all of the prep work (posing as a retarded man to get a janitor’s job in the building, getting access to all of the technical specifications for the security system), but who does not know how to crack the safe. If they are going to do this job, Nick and Jack will have to work together.

There are not many surprises here. Of course Nick and Jack will have some trouble learning to work together. They will have to rely on a mother-ridden computer nerd to get the key access codes. Nick and his girlfriend will have a disagreement about this “one last job.” And there will be both honor and dishonor among the thieves. This would be a B movie without the world-class talent on screen, but even they can’t lift it to more than a B-plus. It is fun to watch them spark each other, though, and for my money, Norton (who does have the showiest role) takes the prize.

Parents should know that the movie is rated R for language, brief drug use, sexual references, and a brief, non-expliit sexual situation. The heroes of the movie are all theives, and there is no suggestion that there is anything wrong or even any harm in stealing an historic treasure.

Families who see this movie should talk about the conversation Nick and Jack have about taking risks, and how their views differ. They may also want to talk about how Nick was firm about his rules until enough money was offered to change his mind.

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy some heist movie classics, like “Topkapi,” “The Great Train Robbery,” and “The Lavender Hill Mob.”

The Scarlet and the Black

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:1983

Plot: Gregory Peck plays Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty in this true story of WWII Rome. The Vatican had diplomatic neutrality, so that no one within its borders could be arrested. O’Flaherty used the Vatican as a base of operations to save thousands of Allied POWs, in a long, elaborate, and deadly game of cat and mouse with German Colonel Herbert Kappler (Christopher Plummer).

As Italy is falling to the Allies, Kappler knows the war is over. He seeks out O’Flaherty, his bitterest enemy, to ask a favor: to draw on the same resources he used to help the POWs escape to get Kappler’s family to Switzerland. Kappler does not find out until he is being interrogated by the Allies that his family is safe, and he protects O’Flaherty from charges of collaboration by refusing to give any information about his operation, even though it would have shortened his sentence.

Discussion: This movie presents us with an assortment of characters who each try to do what they believe is best to protect the values they care about. O’Flaherty and his colleagues decide that all they can do is rescue and protect; they cannot undertake or even aid anti-German activities like espionage or sabotage. A fellow priest who does become involved in these activities is captured and executed. Kappler genuinely loves his family, and loves Rome. His sense of honor is clear in the sacrifice he makes to protect O’Flaherty. He is brutal only in capitulation to the orders of his superiors. The Pope preserves what politicians call “deniability” by not permitting himself to know much about what O’Flaherty is doing. Though he warns that he will not be able to protect him when the Germans come, the Pope refuses to turn him over to them. The British emissary says that he cannot help, even though the men are his own soldiers, explaining that “My strictest duty is to do nothing which might compromise the neutrality of the Vatican State or His Holiness the Pope.” His aide, however, is one of the most important participants in O’Flaherty’s efforts. This is an outstanding story of true personal moral courage and redemption, with a conclusion that is deeply moving.

Questions for Kids:

· Were O’Flaherty and Kappler alike in any ways? How?

· Why wouldn’t O’Flaherty do more to fight the Germans?

· Why did O’Flaherty help Kappler’s family?

· Were you surprised by the ending?

Connections: Plummer appeared as a man who fled from the Nazis in “The Sound of Music,” another true story, and Peck appeared as a Nazi in the fantasy “The Boys From Brazil.” O’Flaherty’s decision to help the prisoners but not to enter into the fight is similar to that made by Jess in “Friendly Persuasion.”

The Royal Tenenbaums

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2001

Just about everything is a little off-kilter in this quirky story about a wildly dysfunctional family.

A prologue tells us that Royal (Gene Hackman) and Etheline (Anjelica Houston) had three children, all of whom were so prodigiously accomplished while still in grade school that they were the subject of books, including one by their mother.

It seems that they lived their lives backward, though. As children, they easily surpassed adults with their astonishing achievements in the arts (Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) was a playwright), sports (Richie (Luke Wilson) was a tennis champion), and business (Chas (Ben Stiller) was a financial wizard). But as adults, they have reverted to childhood, and either can’t or won’t perform anymore. One by one, they return home, moving into their old bedrooms. And then Royal, long estranged from the family, tells Etheline that he, too, wants to come home, to make his peace with the family before he dies of cancer.

The result is a crackpot blending of J.D. Salinger’s stories about the gifted Glass children, the classic Kaufmann-Hart play “You Can’t Take it With You,” and a made-for-TV movie called “The Gathering,” in which a tough old rich guy played by Ed Asner visits his long-estranged but never- divorced wife, played by Maureen Stapleton, and asks her to persuade their grown children to come together for Christmas.

But this is very far from the glossy but conventional “Gathering.” It takes place in a whacked-out fantasy version of New York City, where hotels employ uniformed elevator operators, decrepit taxis literally labeled “Gypsy Cab” show up whenever someone needs to go somewhere and there is a YMCA on “375th Street.” The production design is brilliant, especially the house (the children’s bedrooms are magnificent) and the hotel.

Director Wes Anderson and actor Owen Wilson (who plays the Tenenbaum’s neighbor, Eli) wrote the screenplay, and like their previous collaborations, “Bottle Rocket” and “Rushmore,” this movie defies categorization, combining elements of satire, fantasy, comedy, tragedy, farce, and drama. That’s a combination that will make some audiences uncomfortable, but will seem to others to be the best possible way – maybe the only possible way — to truly convey a story of family conflict. The result is messy, even outrageous, but reflecting a singularity of vision that is welcome in a mainstream studio film starring three Oscar-winners.

Families should know that the movie has very mature material including a graphic and bloody suicide attempt, sexual references and situations (brief nudity, brief shot of gay embrace, adultery and a possible romance between adopted siblings) and painful issues of betrayal and deception. There are references to a tragic death. An adopted child is made to feel like an outsider. A character has a serious drug abuse problem. Some people may find the light-hearted treatment of these issues offensive.

Families who see this movie should talk about whether its wild exaggeration of family communication problems can be of help to families who are struggling to connect to each other. What can parents do to give gifted children the stimulation and support they need without making them feel isolated from friends and family? Eli says to Royal “I always wanted to be a Tenenbaum,” and Royal responds, “So did I.” What does that mean? Why did such accomplished children become such fragile adults? Why did Chas react to his wife’s death by becoming obsessed with safety?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Rushmore.” Every family should see the Best Picture Oscar-winning “You Can’t Take it With You,” starring Jimmy Stewart.

The Road to El Dorado

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2000

Dreamworks SKG steps up to the Disney gold standard with this sensationally entertaining animated adventure. Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branaugh provide the voices for Miguel and Tulio, two loveable rogues who go off to the new world in search of excitement and gold. Contrary to the way most animated films are made, the producers put the two actors in the same room to record their dialogue, and it paid off. Kline and Branaugh, both classically trained and both masters of improvisation, brought humor and spontaneity to the relationship of the two characters that adds life and electricity to a medium that can often seem too staid. Think Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid crossed with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. It is no coincidence that the “Road to” title and one of the best gags in the movie pay loving tribute to the Hope/Crosby series. The animation is terrific. The biggest challenge — making the character’s faces expressive without being caricatures — is especially well done. El Dorado itself is suitably magical, and the scenes with humor and tension are epertly handled, especially a high stakes basketball-style game and the climactic escape. Aside from the lackluster Elton John/Tim Rice score, this is an outstanding family movie.

The movie is set in 1519, as Cortes is planning “to conquer the new world for Spain, for glory and for gold.” Miguel and Tulio accidentally stow away, along with their one possession, a map to El Dorado, the legendary land of gold. They escape Cortes in a rowboat (taking a clever horse along with them!) and land on a coast that looks just like the one in their map. They follow the map to the city of gold, to be welcomed as gods by the friendly chief (voice of Edward James Olmos) and his less friendly priest Tzekel-Kan (voice of Armand Assante). They are also welcomed by Chell (voice of Rosie Perez), who knows they are con men, but promises to help them if they will take her with them when they go.

As they struggle to behave like gods, Miguel and Tulio begin to care about what happens to the people of El Dorado, first from the power- hungry Tzekel-Kan and then from Cortes, who plans to plunder the city. Their friendly rivalry begins to get hostile as Miguel thinks of staying behind and Tulio and Chell fall in love. The final conflict forces them to find out what their priorities really are.

Families who watch this movie together should talk about how the characters decide what is important to them and how they decide what to do. When Miguel and Tulio think they are dying, they thank each other for their friendship and talk about what they most wanted in life –- adventure, gold, being remembered. How do their actions later on reflect these goals? Tulio says, “You know that voice that tells people to quit when they’re ahead? Miguel, you don’t have one.” What does that mean? Why does Miguel take risks that Tulio thinks are not wise? Talk about Tzekel-Kan’s view of people as disgusting and his statement that “people will not respect you unless they fear you.” Why does he think that? How does thinking that make him behave differently? Keep in mind that Tulio and Miguel are small-time con men, and ask kids if they think the end was fair, and whether Tulio and Miguel will continue to cheat people in the future. Kids with a lot of patience might enjoy trying to replicate the domino stunt in the movie, and older kids will enjoy learning more about Cortes and talking about the history of colonization.

Parents should know that this is not a Disney movie. It is rated PG for a couple of mild words, some brief nudity and suggestiveness, and some tense moments. Some families may object to Cortes’ reference to the disciples or to his calling Tzekel-Kan a “lying heathen.”

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy the spectacular animated movie “The Thief and the Cobbler” and the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby classic, “The Road to Bali.”

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