Movie Mom

Movie Mom

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The Drop
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some strong violence and pervasive language
Release Date:
September 12, 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

Dolphin Tale 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some mild thematic elements
Release Date:
September 12, 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 One I Love
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, some sexuality and drug use
Release Date:
September 5, 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

The Witches

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:1990

Plot: Luke hears about witches from his grandmother (Mai Zetterling). She says they have to wear gloves to hide their claw-like hands and shoes that fit their square feet without toes, and that they are bald and scratch under their wigs. They have a purple gleam in their eyes. They are evil and they steal children, who are never seen again.

Luke’s parents are killed, and his grandmother takes him to England. When she is diagnosed with mild diabetes, the doctor advises a vacation, so they go to Cornwall. As it happens, a convention of all the witches in England is staying in the same hotel, posing as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Their leader is slinky, black-clad Eva Ernst (Anjelica Huston). Luke overhears her telling the witches to wipe out all the children in England by turning them into mice, and he watches as she demonstrates by giving a potion to a greedy child named Bruno, transforming him into a mouse. The witches find Luke, and after a chase, capture him and turn him into a mouse. With the help of his grandmother, he steals some of the potion, and puts it into the soup to be served to the witches, who are all turned to mice, except for Eva’s assistant. Luke manages to get Eva’s trunkful of money, along with her notebook listing the addresses of all the witches in America, and he and his grandmother plan to go after them.

Discussion: This story has a genuinely twisted flavor that some children will love and others will find disturbing. Luke is exceptionally brave and enjoys being a mouse (in the movie, he is changed back, but in the book, he stays a mouse). Children may be upset not only by the witches, but by the death (offscreen) of Luke’s parents, and by his seeming indifference to it.

Questions for Kids:

The Tuxedo

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2002

Four words I didn’t plan on saying: Bring back Chris Tucker!

The bad guy in the movie may be evil, but he doesn’t do nearly as much damage to Jackie Chan as the script does. It’s a cute idea, miserably executed.

Chan plays Jimmy Tong, a guy who knows nothing about kick-boxing (“Everyone in China is not Bruce Lee,” he tells a friend) but drives very, very fast. He ends up as a chauffeur for a James Bond-style spy named Clark Devlin (Jason Issacs, as cool as a vodka martini). When the spy is injured, Jimmy puts on Devlin’s tuxedo, a high-tech wonder that gives its wearer the power to defy gravity, sing and dance to soul music, and, oh yes, fight.

Devlin’s new partner is Del (Jennifer Love Hewitt), a newbie out to prove herself. She thinks Jimmy is Devlin, so the two of them go off to save the world from a deranged wacko who wants to control the world’s drinkable water supply. There is too much time spent doing everything except what Chan is really good at, and when we finally get down to the fight scenes, they are nowhere near his usual standard, except for one brief moment when, wearing only the tuxedo pants and not the jacket, only his legs “know” how to fight.

The plot is even dumber than most of these things (oh yeah, I always schedule a huge formal party at my house the same night I plan to put my plan for total world domination into play), the attempts at humor are far below average, and there is no spark at all between Chan and Hewitt. The usual outtakes at the end show us one supposedly funny moment that perhaps reveals more of the reason for the lack of chemistry on screen than they intended. The movie is too gross for kids and too uninteresting for anyone else.

Parents should know that the movie has crude humor and gross violence. There are some vulgar sexual references. Characters drink and smoke (there is an anti-smoking joke). Del uses her cleavage to get past a security guard and both spies pretend to romance people to find out what they are hiding.

Families who see this movie should talk about the different kinds of courage. Jimmy is very brave about some things but not about others. What are you brave about? What do you find harder to be brave about?

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy Chan’s much better films, including “Rush Hour” and “Shanghai Noon,” and especially his early Hong Kong work on movies like “Drunken Master” and “Miracles.”

The Truth About Charlie

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

I can’t figure out how a studio decided to take “Charade,” one of the world’s most delectable movies, and remake it without a single one of the ingredients that made it great. The dreamy theme song by Henry Mancini is gone, except for a dozen brief, quiet bars almost lost amidst the screeching, thumping soundtrack. The witty dialogue is gone, except for a couple of quips. They left out one of the best last lines in the history of movies. But, worst of all, the star power is gone, too. This movie has some attractive and talented actors. But I think I can state without fear of contradiction that Mark Wahlberg is no Cary Grant. And he should stay away from berets.

If we were to erase every memory of the original, this movie would simply be a pedestrian and mildly weird standard romantic thriller, below average but not unwatchable. Thandie Newton plays Regina Lampert, a British woman living in Paris. Three months earlier she impulsively married a wealthy Swiss art dealer but has resolved to get a divorce because she feels it was a mistake. Before she can tell him, she arrives home to find their apartment empty and gutted. He liquidated everything they had and left without leaving a message. She learns that he has been killed. And then she learns that he was not Swiss and not an art dealer. He had stolen some money while on a military operation for the United States. The money has disappeared, and the people he first stole it with and then stole it from want it back. And so does the U.S. Government.

Josh Peters (Wahlberg) arrives just as she is feeling like a damsel in distress and he befriends her. At first, she relies on him, but then she finds out that he has not been honest with her, so she has to use her own judgment and courage to decide who to trust and to solve the mystery.

Director Jonathan Demme undercuts the suspense with clumsy exposition and poorly handled characterization. Wahlberg looks puffy and unhappy and has no chemistry with Newton. And there are some surreal moments (possibly tributes to the French New Wave films of the 1960’s) that do not work at all. Josh plays a CD by French legend Charles Aznavour for Regina and all of a sudden, Aznavour is in the room, singing. A strange nightclub scene brings all of the characters together in a mad tango. The credit sequence also takes some of the characters in a playful direction that has no connection to the mood of the rest of the movie.

Parents should know that the movie includes nudity, an adulterous sexual situation, extreme peril and violence, strong language, and drinking and smoking. There is an off-camera but vivid search of a dead body. Regina responds to the stress of having to identify her late husband and being questioned by the police by getting drunk.

Families who see this movie should talk about how Regina decides whom to trust.

All fans of mystery and romance should see the classic “Charade” with Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, and Walter Matthau, and, if possible, they should also watch the DVD with delightfully witty commentary by the director and screenwriter. Families will also enjoy the companion movie, “Arabesque,” with Gregory Peck and Sophia Loren.

The Transporter

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

Pure popcorn pleasure, this is a heady combination that is half testosterone, half attitude, and all action. “The Transporter” really delivers.

Don’t pay much attention to the plot – no one connected to the movie does. Just pay attention to the chases and explosions, staged with style by Corey Yuen, a veteran Hong Kong actor/director and co-written by Luc Besson, whose wildly imaginative visuals ignited “The Fifth Element” and other films.

Together, they have produced a straight shot of movie adrenaline. Jason Statham (best known for his appearances in tough-guy movies “Snatch” and “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels”), plays Frank, a former military man who now serves as a “transporter.” He will deliver anything from one place to another, as long as his price and conditions are met. The price is high. The conditions are these: no names on either side, no changes to the deal once it’s set, and no looking into the package. The movie kicks off with a heart-thumping chase scene as Frank transports three bank robbers and their swag (though he won’t budge until they get rid of a fourth robber who wasn’t part of the deal). We see that Frank is both a meticulous planner and fearless under pressure, whether he is being chased by dozens of cops or penetratingly questioned by just one smart one.

Then Frank takes on another job and for once he breaks one of the rules. He looks in the package he is transporting and finds a young woman named Lai (Shu Qi). If he hesitates about delivering her to her destination, it is only briefly, because he takes her to the drop-off and accepts another job from the man who receives her. It is only when that package turns out to be a bomb intended to kill Frank that he returns to retrieve Li and extract some revenge.

Frank starts to care which side he’s on and he starts to care about Li, then thinks he can’t trust her, then learns he really can. No surprises with the story – this is straight out of screenwriting 101. But there are some very cool surprises in the chases and explosions as Frank and Li take on the bad guys and the bad guys chase after them.

Statham is a fine action hero, handling kick-boxing and dialogue with wit, grace, and style. Qi, who learned English (or some English, anyway) to take on the role, has a fresh, appealing presence, and François Berléand is superb as the policeman caught between suspecting Frank and admiring him. The bad guys played by Matt Schulze and Ric Young are not as interesting as they could be, but the movie moves so fast you won’t have much time to think about it.

Parents should know that the movie features intense, non-stop peril and action violence, with massive destruction of property. Many people are killed. Characters drink and smoke and use very strong language. In the coming attraction and commercial, Lai tells Frank he is in “deep trouble.” The word in the movie is not “trouble.”

Families who see this movie should talk about how Frank appears once to have been an idealist; what made him decide not to try to work to make things better any more? Why did the policeman let Frank go after the bad guys instead of sending the cops? What do you think Frank and Lai will do next? What makes this chase and explosion movie better than so many others?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Snatch” and “The Fifth Element” as well as Hong Kong kick-boxing classics like “A Better Tomorrow” and “Once Upon a Time in China” (all very violent).

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