Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Believe Me
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:

Release Date:
September 26, 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

Tracks
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some partial nudity, disturbing images and brief strong language
Release Date:
September 26, 2014

 

Transformers: Age of Extinction
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language and brief innuendo
Release Date:
June 27, 2014

The Boxtrolls
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for action, some peril and mild rude humor
Release Date:
September 26, 2014

 

Neighbors
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for pervasive language, strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use throughout
Release Date:
May 9, 2014

Bend It Like Beckham

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

Spunky and easy to watch, this feel-good movie bridges the distance between old country and new with the deft touch of a David Beckham [British soccer star] penalty kick. For any girl whose athletic endeavors were ever questioned by conservative parents, “Bend it Like Beckham” is a color-drenched fairy tale where you know from the opening credits that the story will end in the “happily ever after” category for our plucky heroine. Yes, this sunny little movie is about second generation Indian families in England striving to maintain traditions that kids, more British than Indian, find increasingly irrelevant. However, no matter what your cultural background, the central theme that you should follow your bliss no matter what the hurdle is universal.

For those who like such comparisons, you might think “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” meets “Footloose” with soccer instead of dancing. Jess (Parminder K. Nagra), doe-eyed and almost unbelievably well balanced, is a young Sikh woman awaiting her A-level [college entry exams] results in the suburbs of London, near Heathrow Airport. She is the obedient daughter of her tradition minded parents who have mapped her life’s flight path from law degree to Indian husband to perfecting her ability to cook ‘aloo gobi’. They have also allowed her to develop her natural soccer playing talents by turning a blind eye to her practices in the park with her best friend, Tony (Ameet Chana).

Jess’ life is about to change as her older sister, Pinky (Archie Panjabi), launches the family into a tizzy of wedding preparations for her on-again, off-again nuptials. Since Pinky is soon to leave the house, it is time, think their parents, that Jess settle down, give up soccer for studies and find a serious Indian boyfriend. Just as her parents are telling Jess to curb her sports pursuits, she is offered the opportunity to take her playing to the next level. Jess is spotted playing in the park by Jules (Keira Knightley) a kindred spirit who is a founding member of the all-women’s soccer club, the Hounslow Harriers. The Harriers, independent young women completely dedicated to their sport, represent everything that Jess would like to be in the world beyond the loving community of her family. What follows are the first rebellious steps into adulthood for the otherwise model teen, Jess, as she gains confidence and independence on the field, while discretely stepping out of her parent’s protective boundaries.

Some of the characters are two-dimensional and border on archetypes if not stereotypes, including Jules’ super-feminine English mum (Juliet Stevenson) who frets about her daughter’s tomboy “sportiness” and Jess’ mum (Shaheen Khan) who is more concerned about Jess’ cooking abilities than her happiness, however, they are both played with a light, comic touch. For cameo fans, Jess’ father is Bollywood superstar Anupam Kher and the Captain of the Hounslow Harriers is Shaznay Lewis, the lead singer for the Brit pop group, All-Saints.

While the story might not seem strikingly original, the color-drenched tones of the movie, the over-lit action scenes and the genuine appeal of the characters, especially Jess, make this film a welcome repast, engaging and entertaining from the first moment to the last. Even if the answers seem a bit pat, it is nice to think that complicated relationships and challenges can be resolved with the proper communications and the ability to make nice, round chappatis.

Parents should know that there is an implied sexual situation between a couple committed to marrying each other. Jess makes it clear that she will not sleep with a man until she is in a serious relationship, however some of her acquaintances refer in passing to their own more casual dalliances. A friend comes out to Jess in a very delicate way, while there is a parental misunderstanding about another character’s sexual orientation.

Several of the under 21-year-old characters do have a beer or a glass of wine, however they drink responsibly and are of legal age in the UK/Germany, where the scenes take place.

Parents should know that Jess hides her soccer playing from her family and lies to protect her secret. While she eventually learns that lying to her family about something so important to her is something she cannot do, for most of the movie she deliberately goes against her parents’ will and rebels against their decisions.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Jess feels she cannot talk to her family about her love of sports and how she defends her subterfuge. When discussing with Joe why her parents do not want her to play soccer, Jess says that it takes her away from everything they know. What finally makes Jess realize that she must talk to her parents about the matter? How does her father’s cricket experience impact his view of Jess’ soccer playing? What might be the common bond between Irish Joe and Indian Jess?

Families who enjoy this movie might like to see “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” (2002), which shares a similarly ebullient approach to cultural differences. For those who enjoyed the South Asian elements of this movie, “Monsoon Wedding” (2002) is a lovely tableau of an Indian family preparing for a celebration (mature material). For those interested in the soccer theme, “The Cup” is a lighthearted look at a Buddhist monastery where the young novices are intent on watching the World Cup. Families who enjoyed the first-love element of this film might wish to see the Scottish coming-of-age gem, “Gregory’s Girl” (1981), or the Australian first-crush and cultural clash flick “Flirting” (1990).

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.

Previous Posts

Believe Me
Will Bakke has followed his two thought-provoking documentaries on faith with a remarkably smart, funny, brave, and heartfelt first feature film that explores religion and values without ever falling

posted 11:06:16am Sep. 30, 2014 | read full post »

Gone Girl's Rosamund Pike
Rosamund Pike delivers a stunning breakthrough performance in this week's "Gone Girl." She's been a favorite of mine for a long time, for her elegant voice and precise acting choices. It's a good

posted 8:00:23am Sep. 30, 2014 | read full post »

Telling Time in "All That Jazz"
One of my favorite writers provides insights into one of my favorite (if flawed) movies -- Matt Zoller Seitz created a beautiful video essay about Bob Fosse's autobiographical "All That Jazz" for the Criterion Edition, and then they were unable to use it due to rights problems with the movie clips h

posted 3:19:48pm Sep. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Tomorrow on PBS: The Makers: Comedy
Be sure to tune in to PBS tomorrow night for what is sure to be one of the highlights from one of the all-time best series on PBS: "The Makers," the story of women in America.  Tomorrow's episode is about women in comedy. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHxHMgSF7UI[/youtube]

posted 8:00:45am Sep. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Tomorrow on HBO: "The Fifty Year Argument" -- Scorsese on The New York Review of Books
Once upon a time, there was no internet. And instead of bloggers and pundits and tweets we had something called public intellectuals, people who read widely, thought deeply, and wrote long, passionate, carefully reasoned, thoroughly documented and beautifully written articles about the important is

posted 3:59:26pm Sep. 28, 2014 | read full post »


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