Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Annie
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some mild language and rude humor
Release Date:
December 19, 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

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action, some rude humor and brief language
Release Date:
December 19, 2014

 

Magic in the Moonlight
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for a brief suggestive comment, and smoking throughout
Release Date:
August 1, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
Release Date:
December 19, 2014

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
Release Date:
August 8, 2014

America’s Heart and Soul

posted by rkumar
A
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:PG
Movie Release Date:2004
DVD Release Date:June 29, 2011

Celebrate America with this glorious love letter to our wonderful country.  If Norman Rockwell made a movie, this would be it. If “America the Beautiful” was a movie, this would be it. If America had a home move, this would be it. And if we ever needed a reminder of of what can be proud of, what we aspire to, what we stand for — this is it.

 

It’s a big, beautiful love letter to America from film-maker Louis Schwartzberg. Over the years, as he traveled the country to film stock footage for his company, he met people and heard stories he wanted to put on screen. At a moment when America is finding it hard to remember a reason to feel proud, this movie is a powerful reminder. It’s one that parents should share with children to inspire them to think about their own stories and their own dreams.

YouTube Preview Image

 

So, yes, it begins with a cowboy and his horse. And there is a black lady singing gospel, with parishioners in fearsomely elegant hats nodding along. And a Native American who saves a wounded eagle. And a blind mountain climber. And a dairy farmer who moonlights in community theater, currently starring in a musical version of Dracula. And a guy who works in a car wash and moonlights in a rock band with his truckdriver brother. And the ex-convict who became captain of America’s Olympic boxing team. And steelworkers worried about losing jobs overseas. And a guy who blows stuff up just for the fun of it. Welcome to America.

 

The photography is stunning, the camera swooping over glorious vistas of trees and mountains and zooming in on the details of a car covered with bobbleheads or the indoor slide in the home built by Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s.

 

The movie does not pretend to be comprehensive or dispositive. It’s just a kalideoscope of images and impressions that come back to some basic themes, the ones that really are at the heart and soul of America: family, music, sports, freedom, laughter, passion for expressing ourselves, community, work, passion for our dreams, food, and…vehicles.

 

Yes, Americans love our modes of transportation, from the cowboy with his horse to the man who says, “I began by painting a rooster on the door of my car and gradually added more objects and now I have an identity.” Then there’s the first woman national aerobatic champion who likes to make her airplane do things no one ever thought it could and the fastest bike messenger in the country.

 

Each of the stories is touching, funny, thrilling, inspiring, or all of the above at the same time. Yes, it’s corny, but corny isn’t necessarily less smart than cynicism. And sometimes we need a little corn to remind us that even in a troubling and complicated time, we can still feel proud of our shared dream of freedom and freedom to dream.

 

Parents should know that the movie has a reference to alcoholism and loss and some moments of peril and emotion.

 

Families who see this movie should talk about which of the people in it they would most like to meet. What do you think about the distinction between a laborer, a craftsman, and an artist? Many of the people in the movie talked about passing on what they had learned. How do you do that in your family?

 

Families may want to try to find out more about some of the people in the movie like Michael Bennett, the Bandaloop Cliff Dancers, The New Birth Brass Band and, of course Ben and Jerry’s! If you were going to advise Schwartzberg on his next film, what would you tell him to include? Families should take their video cameras and try to get the people they know to tell their stories.

 

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Spellbound. Those interested in more offbeat portrayals of Americans will also enjoy Sherman’s March and Trekkies.

 

Stepford Wives

posted by rkumar
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2004

The women’s movement of the 1970’s was one of the most seismic social movements in U.S. history because it affected every single household. It was about more than equal pay for equal work; it was about re-thinking every asumption about the family structure. There was a lot of talk about consciousness-raising and the personal being political, “click” moments, and Ms. Magazine. And the author of Rosemary’s Baby, which brought gothic horror into modern life, responded with another thriller that tapped into the zeitgeist, 1975’s The Stepford Wives.

I guess it says a lot about how far we’ve come (or haven’t come) that the remake, just a little over a quarter-century later, is a comedy.

Nicole Kidman plays Joanna, a powerhouse television network executive who is responsible for popular battle-of-the-sexes shows like “Balance of Power,” hosted by Meredith Viera and a reality show called “I Can Do Better.” When the outcome of one show leads to tragedy, Joanna is fired, and she and her husband Walter (Matthew Broderick), a mid-level executive at the same television network who quit in solidarity, move to the idyllic gated community of Stepford, Connecticut.

But everything seems just a little bit too perfect, from the row of shiny SUVs to the huge homes with spotless furnishings in impeccable good taste. And the women are all Barbie-doll-like “perfect sex kitten bimbos” who seem to glide into a room, wait on their husbands with adoring smiles, go to aerobics in full make-up and high heels and whose idea of the ideal book club subject is the Golden Treasury of Christmas Keepsakes and Collectibles. Serenely presiding over them all is Claire Wellington (Glenn Close in a deft performance).

Joanna’s only confidantes are two other new arrivals, an outspoken author named Bobbi (Bette Midler) and a caustic gay man named Roger (Roger Bart). Joanna is appalled. But then she wonders if maybe she is missing something. All of those Stepford husbands seem very happy, while Walter is ready to leave her, because “Your attitude makes people want to kill you.” She thinks he might be right when he tells her that “Only castrating Manhattan career bitches wear black!”

So, with the same drive and energy she once gave to developing television shows, she gets to work, making zillions of cupcakes and checking up on one of her neighbors who seemed to have had some sort of seizure at a Stepford party. “We need to be supportive. That’s how people behave outside of Manhattan.” Joanna thought she saw sparks coming from the neighbor’s ears, but Roger reassures her that it was just cheap jewelry.

Joanna does her best to try to fit in, but when Bobbi and Roger are completely transformed, she decides to find out what is going on in that mysterious Stepford men’s club.

It’s less a movie than a string of jokes (including a very funny one about AOL), and it loses some momentum in the middle when it seems unsure of its point of view. When Joanna suddenly seems to remember that she has children and she cares about them, it is not clear whether this is just another comic contrivance or an attempt to create some sort of character growth. A surprising twist at the end helps to add a little zest. And the idea that a generation later, some women might consider escaping their “over-stressed/over-burdened/under-loved” lives to return to a simpler world of domestic perfection (one could almost imagine a pre-insider trading Martha Stewart presiding over a Stepford wives Garden Club meeting) is an idea that deserves some exploration. Maybe by the next time they remake this story, the Stepford wife will be the one who has figured out how to make it all balance.

Parents should know that the movie has strong material for a PG-13, including vulgar humor, very explicit sexual references and an overheard sexual situation and comic violence. Characters drink, smoke, joke about psychotropic prescription drugs and Viagra, and use some bad language. There are some very nasty characters plotting some very nasty things. The main characters are all white and the movie has some comic stereotyping, but a strength of the movie is its portrayal of a gay couple who are accepted by the community.

Families who see this movie should talk about why a thriller plot from 29 years ago makes more sense as a comedy today. How are both inspired by the conflicting pressures on both men and women? What do you think about what the movie has to say about defining success and happiness? About perfection not really working?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Death Becomes Her, How to Murder Your Wife, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and of course the original The Stepford Wives. But forget about the dumb made-for-television sequel, 1980’s Revenge of the Stepford Wives.

The Chronicles of Riddick

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2004

Pitch Black was an outer space horror film about a group stranded on a planet with some very scary creatures. One member of the group was Riddick (Vin Diesel), a convict being transported to prison. His ability to see in the dark made him the group’s best hope for survival.

In this vastly less ambitious sequel of sorts, Riddick (Deisel again) is once more the best hope for survival, this time of just about everyone.

As explained to us in numbing sci-fi blah blah crisply delivered with impeccable diction by Oscar-winner Dame Judi Dench, an evil race called the Necromongers is capturing planets as it moves toward its interplanetary version of something between Mecca and Valhalla. They offer the inhabitants of each planet two choices — surrender or death — and they don’t really care which one they pick. The leader of the Necromongers, Lord Marshal (Colm Feore) has been told that he will be killed by a member of the Furia race, so he has ordered all of them killed. But one remains — Riddick — and as soon as he says, “It’s not my fight,” you know he’ll be opening up a can of whup-ass on just about everyone pretty soon or it would be a pretty short movie.

It almost makes it as a brainless popcorn summer explosion movie. The movie’s graphics are very striking, especially the neo-fascist baroque of the Necromonger’s massive weapons, armor, machinery, and monuments and the enormous underground prison on a planet with temperature swings of hundreds of degrees. It’s nice to see someone thinking up advanced technology that is not computer based. Instead of digital read-outs there are some fascinating mechanical contraptions. There are also some good action sequences and some cool special effects.

But the script is a dumbed-down version of The Matrix, complete with characters who are hooked into soul-destroying machinery through their necks, with a little bit of The Wizard of Oz and (heaven help us) Battlefield Earth thrown in for bad measure. The names are so unimaginatively obvious they border on parody, with the angry race called the Furia and the hot planet called Crematoria. The dialogue is dreadful, both the faux portentious exposition (“They are a plague that now sweeps through the worlds of man leaving behind a trail of dead planets and towering icons, monuments to their unholy crusade”) and the faux tough-guy talk (“Sister, they don’t know what to do with just one of me.”) Thandie Newton plays the Lady Macbeth-style scheming wife of one of Lord Marshal’s henchmen with a space-age mullet. She looks lovely but gives a ludicrously over-the-top performance, swinging her hips until they almost smack into the walls on both sides as she walks. And the big finish is just a little too convenient.

Parents should know that the movie has intense and graphic violence for a PG-13, including people getting fried in intense heat and a lot of fighting. Characters are in constant peril and many are killed. There are a few four-letter words. A character speaks of being forced into prostitution. A strength of the movie is the diverse characters on both sides and the way it makes clear that the good guys stand for tolerance.

Families who see this movie should talk about the inspiration for some of the movie’s terms like Necromonger and Crematoria and some of its themes, patched together from sources like the Bible (especially the story of Moses and the Pharoah) and Shakespeare (especially Macbeth). They may also discover parallels between the conflicts in the movie and some historical conflicts between totalitarian regimes and those who fight for freedom.

Families who enjoy this movie might enjoy the Star Wars series and the R-rated Pitch Black, which introduced the Riddick character. They will also enjoy the R-rated The Matrix and its sequels. And they might enjoy the space-movie parody Spaceballs, which has more in common with this movie than one might think.

Before Sunset

posted by rkumar
A
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2004

Fair warning: five minutes into this film the critic checked out of my head and the fan took over. It may not be great art and it won’t work for everyone, but it kept me smiling all day.

Nine years ago, in Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise, two young people met on a train and impetuously agreed to spent a day together in Vienna. Jesse (Ethan Hawke), an American student on his last day in Europe, and Celine (Julie Delpy), a French student on her way back to Paris, talked as though they had known each other forever. Or maybe it is better to say that they talked as though they knew they would never see each other again — with complete openness.

In Fear of Flying, Erica Jong famously wrote of the fantasy “zipless” sexual encounter, an almost magical connection with no psychic, physical, or logistical clumsiness to impede it. Perhaps, though, the idea of a “zipless” emotional encounter is even more compelling. In Before Sunrise the talk is a sort of nonstop jazz improvization of such dizzying open-heartedness and intimacy that it is one of the most heart-wrenchingly romantic and truly sexy films ever made, at least for those who consider great talk the ultimate in exquisite seduction. When the stars and directors re-united to allow us to see the characters nine years later, it was like getting a chance to catch up with people we have genuinely missed and wondered about.

And so we have Before Sunset. Jesse has now written a book about what remains the most vivid encounter of his life, and he comes to Paris for a book-signing. Celine is there. And once again, he has a plane to catch and they have just a few hours to walk through a European city and talk and talk and talk.

And once again, it is pure pleasure to share that with them. There is still a powerful connection between Jesse and Celine and it still makes a powerful connection with the audience. It is not so much what they say. Though they talk about big issues — relationships, finding meaning in life, God, sex, regrets, romance vs. cynicism — their insights are not especially fresh or well-expressed. But Hawke and Delpy (who wrote the script with director Linklater) understand the rhythms of conversations between two people who use words less to enlighten than to draw each other closer, words for flirtation and seduction, rapturously romantic. Sometimes they use what they say to hide. Notice how often they say something teasing or slightly askew to get a laugh and to protect themselves from risking too much openness. But sometimes it is to reveal.

All of this unfolds in real time with a driver standing by to take Jesse to the airport, leaving them and us a bit breathless. Their journey as they walk through a garden, hop on a boat, and get into the back seat of the limo is a journey of the heart and spirit you will want to take with them.

Because they helped to develop and co-wrote the script, Hawke and Delpy inhabit the characters fully, with performances of great sensitivity and vulnerability. We are pulled toward them as they are pulled toward each other. They don’t have the buoyant optimism of their first meeting. They are both a bit more fragile, but that means they are more aware of the preciousness and importance of what they hope to find in each other.

If you are looking for action or plot twists or something with guns and explosions, ignore my recommendation. But if you would rather listen to good talk between people who make talk into an art, you will find much to delight and charm you.

Parents should know that the movie has very explicit sexual references, including adultery, as well as drinking and smoking.

Families who see this movie should talk about what might have happened if Jesse and Celine had stayed together in Vienna. Would they have been ready for a relationship when they were younger? What do you think it is that draws them to each other? If Linklater, Hawke, and Delpy get together in another nine years for another film, what will it be about?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Before Sunrise and the brief scene featuring Jesse and Celine in Linklater’s animated film, Waking Life. They will also enjoy the classic French romances A Man and a Woman and And Now My Love. Linklater’s other films include Dazed and Confused and the hit comedy School of Rock. For a thoughtful discussion of this fascinating director, check out this website. The songs of the late Nina Simone are well worth a listen.

Previous Posts

What Happened to All the Great Quotable Movie Lines?
Michael Cieply has a fascinating piece in the New York Times about the movie lines we love to quote and why there don't seem to be any new ones. Look through all of the top ten lists of the year, and see if you can think of one quotable line from any of them. That doesn't mean they aren't well wri

posted 3:58:57pm Dec. 20, 2014 | read full post »

George Clooney and the Cast of Downton Abbey
You don't have to be a fan of "Downton Abbey" (or "Mr. Selfridge") to love this hilarious spoof, with guest appearances by Jeremy Piven, George Clooney and the Absolutely Fabulous Joanna Lumley. [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ryo7fqdmcGQ?rel=0" frameborder="0"] [

posted 1:43:50pm Dec. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Ask Amy Says: A Book on Every Bed
I love to remind people about Amy Dickinson's wonderful "Book on Every Bed" proposal: Here’s how it happens: You take a book (it can be new or a favorite from your own childhood). You wrap it. On Christmas Eve (or whatever holiday you celebrate), you leave the book in a place where Santa is

posted 12:00:42pm Dec. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Matthew Llewellyn, Composer for Wally Lamb's "Wishin' and Hopin'"
Wishin' and Hopin' is Lifetime movie airing December 21, 2014, based on the novel by Wally Lamb. It stars Molly Ringwald and Meat Loaf with narration by Chevy Chase. Composer Matthew Llewellyn was kind enough to answer my questions about creating a score for this nostalgic holiday story. How d

posted 9:40:56am Dec. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Wild's Cheryl Strayed Has a New Advice Podcast
Before Wild, Cheryl Strayed was the pseudonymous "Dear Sugar" advice columnist for The Rumpus. Her columns were collected in Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. Writer Steve Almond (Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America) also wrote as Dear Su

posted 3:59:40pm Dec. 19, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.