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

Shanghai Knights

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

There are no surprises in “Shanghai Knights,” but that’s only because it delivers exactly what we came to see: a cheerfully anachronistic buddy/action/comedy movie starring Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson. Every few minutes it throws in either a classic pop standard, an impossibly agile fight scene, some offbeat surfer cowboy comments, some fish out of water humor, or some combination of all of the above. In other words, it’s everything that made their last movie, “Shanghai Noon” a hit, except that it’s set in London.

Chan and Wilson reprise their roles as serious Chinese Imperial Guard turned sheriff Chon Wang (say it out loud) and amiable bandit turned waiter/giglo Roy O’Bannon. In case anyone bothered to remember the details of the last film, the princess and the treasure the heroes won at the happy end are swiftly dispatched and Roy and Chon are off to London to avenge the murder of Chon’s father and retrieve the great seal that has been stolen from the emperor of China. They arrive just as the celebration of Queen Victoria’s 50 years on the throne is about to begin. Chon’s sister Lin (Fann Wong) is in jail for attempting to kill Rathbone (Aiden Gillen),the Queen’s favorite cousin. Our heroes have to get Lin out of jail, get back the seal, and stop the plots to kill off the nine people between Rathbone and the crown and usurp the emperor of China.

This leaves plenty of time for comedy in encounters with policemen, prostitutes, Jack the Ripper, a street urchin/pickpocket, and a newfangled contraption called the automobile that has a run-in (literally) with an old-fangled contraption called Stonehenge.

The action scenes are ably staged, especially a marvelous battle with Keystone Cops-style policemen in a revolving door, a fight in a fruit market, and some masterful acrobatics with that most British of props, the umbrella. The comedy is more uneven, though Wilson’s way with a line is always deliciously offbeat. Newcomer (to the US) Wong has a dazzling smile and a lethal kick, always a good combination to have on hand.

Parents should know that the movie has some raunchy humor, including scenes in brothels. There is a nude pillow fight (nothing shown) and there are some brief sexual situations. Roy, who happily makes a living having sex with women for money at the beginning of the film, turns down an offer to have sex when he falls in love with Lin, even though he does not know how she feels about him. Characters smoke and drink with a lot of enjoyment. They also cheat, lie, and steal without any remorse. As with all Chan movies, there is a lot of action violence and peril, but only the bad guys get seriously hurt.

Families who see this movie should talk about the puzzle box Wang’s father sent him, and why it was important to show patience before receiving the message. Why was that particular message so important to him? They may want to find out more about Charlie Chaplin, Jack the Ripper, Queen Victoria, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his famous creations, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Shanghai Noon and Rush Hour. They should be sure to watch some of Chan’s earlier Hong Kong movies like Legend of the Drunken Master which show him at his prime. And they should see some of the movies that this one pays sly tribute to, from Singin’ in the Rain to Safety Last.

Darkness Falls

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

There is almost nothing positive to say about “Darkness Falls,” the new slapped-together horror movie hitting theaters. It’s filmed so poorly that it is almost impossible to see. The editing is so bad that what you can see comes at you too fast to follow. The acting is laughably amateurish. And the story is so idiotic that it makes the cheesiest of basic cable look intelligent.

The film starts with a prologue about an old woman who inhabited the town of Darkness Falls back in the days before color film existed. This woman loved children, but two missing kids were thought to have died in her care. So, the town hanged her, only to then realize that they were mistaken. As she died, she cursed the town by saying she would visit children on the night they lost their last baby tooth. If they saw her, she would hunt them and their loved ones. This earned her the nickname, “The Tooth Fairy.”

From that charming premise, we see Kyle Walsh who, as a young boy, saw the Tooth Fairy. She kills his mother, but the Tooth Fairy can’t stand the light, so young Kyle is saved by hiding in the brightly-lit bathroom. Flash-forward to the present. Kyle is a flashlight-obsessed psychotic living in Las Vegas. He is drawn back to Darkness Falls, because Michael, the brother of his childhood sweetheart, has also seen the Tooth Fairy and is being stalked by her wicked ways.

That’s basically the story, a terrible combination of “The Blair Witch Project,” “The Ring,” and every bad horror cliché in the book. “Darkness Falls” is one of the new breed of horror movies, ones that are not very gory so they can secure a PG-13 rating. To qualify for a PG-13, they emphasize suspense rather than gore. This makes sense for talented filmmakers, but the makers of “Darkness Falls” fail so mierably that their attempts are both boring and painful. The terrible acting, the awful pacing, and laughable special effects make the horror of watching this movie all too unintentional.

Parents should know that the film contains countless sequences of children in jeopardy, not to mention many (mostly bloodless) onscreen deaths. It also features some kissing between two rather young children, as well as the unpleasant sight of young kids ripping out their last baby teeth. There are jump-out-at-you surprises, suspenseful fake-outs, and also numerous scenes in which the Tooth Fairy appears and lets out a high-pitched scream.

Families who see this movie should discuss why people should not jump to conclusions about others, such as the way the townspeople did about the old woman. Why is she terrorizing the children? They should also discuss why kids should not forcibly remove their teeth.

Families who enjoyed this movie should seek out last year’s “The Ring” and John Carpenter’s horror classic, “Halloween.”

James and the Giant Peach

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:PG
Movie Release Date:1996
DVD Release Date:2010

This movie may be too scary for kids under six, but older children and their families, particularly fans of the Roald Dahl book, will love this spectacular musical fantasy from Tim Burton and Henry Selick (“The Nightmare Before Christmas”).
James has a blissful life with loving parents until they are both killed by a rhinoceros. He then goes to live with his horribly mean aunts, until a mysterious stranger brings him a bag of magical crocodile tongues.
James trips and spills them on the ground, near a tree that then grows a giant peach. When James climbs inside, he meets a collection of human-sized insects, including the lovely Polish-accented spider (voice of Susan Sarandon) and violin-playing grasshopper (voice of Simon Callow). The peach takes off, and, tethered to 300 seagulls and flies to New York.
Exquisite stop-motion claymation, computer animation, and special effects combine to create real movie magic and an instant classic.
Kids who love Dahl will also enjoy the films of his other books, “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Witches” and Children will also enjoy Dahl’s “Matilda,” another story of a child overcoming cruel adults.

Jumanji

posted by rkumar
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:1995

People sometimes say that in Hollywood the real art form is the deal, and movies like this make it believable. You can just see a group of people in expensive suits sitting around a table dreaming this up — “Let’s take a brilliant children’s book (with about one paragraph of text) and add some really neat new computerized special effects. And, I know! Let’s get Robin Williams! It doesn’t matter that there are no adults in the book. He’s great at the box office.” The problem is that each of those parts is fine, but all together the movie is inconsistent and disjointed, sometimes disturbingly so.

In 1969, Alan Parrish, the child of a wealthy family, finds a mysterious board game, buried centuries before. He is sucked inside, to emerge 26 years later (as Robin Williams, who is wasted in this role), when the game is found again by two other children. These two children have moved into the old Parrish estate with their aunt, who plans to turn it into a Bed and Breakfast. They live with their aunt, because their parents have been killed.

Alan finds the girl he played with (now grown up, as he is, and played by the terrific Bonnie Hunt), and the game begins again. As each player rolls, some huge and destructive jungle curse descends, a lion, monkeys, bats, a monsoon, poisonous plants, a British hunter (who behaves more like the Terminator), a stampede of rhinos and zebras. But they must complete the game in order to get everything back to normal.

The “Jurassic Park” style computerized special effects are very good, director Joe Johnston (of “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”) keeps things moving, and everyone lives happily ever after in a final scene that clears everything up a bit too hastily (leaving the children I was with asking a lot of questions).

“Jumanji” can be fun for kids who won’t be scared by the chaos and animals or bothered by plot elements like a little boy lost in the jungle for 26 years, a father who seems harsh and unloving, or orphaned children. But expect to talk with them about it afterward.

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