Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Horrible Bosses 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong crude sexual content and language throughout
Release Date:
November 26, 2104

 

The Giver
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for a mature thematic image and some sci-fi action/violence
Release Date:
August 15, 2014

Penguins of Madagascar
Lowest Recommended Age: All Ages
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor
Release Date:
November 26, 2014

 

The Expendables 3
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for violence including intense sustained gun battles and fight scenes, and for language
Release Date:
August 15, 2014

Little Hope Was Arson
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Not Rated
Release Date:
November 21, 2014

 

The November Man
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong violence including a sexual assault, language, sexuality/nudity and brief drug use
Release Date:
August 27, 2014

Stuck on You

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

The Farrelly brothers (There’s Something About Mary, Me, Myself and Irene, Shallow Hal) have shifted the mix a bit with their latest movie. There is still plenty of outrageous physical humor, but with more sweetness than slapstick. And they’ve even added a new element we haven’t seen from them before — subtlety.

Okay, someone’s head slams into a post before the credit sequence is over. And many of the jokes come from the challenges of the main characters’ physical condition. But not all the jokes are head-bonkers in the center of the screen. Some of the funniest moments come from off in the corners of the frame including sly, even understated, satire about show business.

Matt Damon and Greg Kinner play Bob and Walt Tenor, conjoined twins who own a small restaurant on Martha’s Vinyard. Bob is the shy one who is carrying on an email romance with a girl in California. Walt is the outgoing ladies’ man who wants to be an actor. Following a triumph in his production of “Tru,” the one-man show about Truman Capote, he tells Bob he wants to go to Los Angeles to try to make it as an actor. Soon they are installed in the Rising Star apartments and Walt is meeting with agents and going on auditions.

They run into a couple of celebrities, including Cher(!) and Meryl Streep(!!). Cher decides that the best thing she can do to get out of a contract to star in an idiotic television series about a lawyer/investigator team called “Honey and the Beeze,” is to exercise her right to select her leading man by insisting on Walt. Meanwhile, Bob has finally met his email-pal in person, but has kept the special nature of his relationship with Walt a secret.

Damon and Kinnear give full-scale performances and make their characters both hilarious and touching. Their relationship, especially the way they support each other physically and emotionally, is a delight. Eva Mendes is adorable as the starlet whose reaction to finding them joined at the abdomen is to ask where they had it done. Whatever “work” Cher has had done has removed some of the expression from her face, but she is game and seems to enjoy spoofing her diva image. Streep is just a hoot, especially in her last scene. Be sure to stay through the end credits for a moving speech by one of the disabled actors who appears in the movie, describing what the experience has meant to him.

Parents should know that this movie has material that would certainly have received an R rating if it had not been in a comedy. Characters use very strong language (several s-words) and there are very explicit sexual references and (off-camera) situations, including pornography and a description of masturbation. Characters drink and smoke and one gets drunk. There is comic peril and fighting. Although a theme of the movie is tolerance, the word “fag” is used as an affectionate insult to someone who is not gay.

Families who see this movie should talk about why this story might have special appeal to a team of film-makers who are brothers. What are the ways that Walt and Bob support each other?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the other films by the Farrellys (very mature material). High school and adult audiences will appreciate a very different film starring Streep and Cher, Silkwood.

Something’s Gotta Give

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

This delightful romantic comedy is the ultimate middle-age woman’s fantasy — not the part about being romanced by Keanu Reeves and Jack Nicholson, just the part about being Diane Keaton.

Keaton plays Erica, a successful playwright with a beautiful house in the Hamptons. She is self-sufficient, or, as Harry (Nicholson) says, she is flinty, impervious, and formidable. Harry, who only dates women under 30, is seeing Erica’s daughter Marin (Amanda Peet). But as they start to have sex for the first time, at Erica’s house, Harry has a minor heart attack. And when he gets out of the hospital but is not able to go back home, he ends up moving in with Erica. She turns out to be the kind of flinty that sets off some sparks, not just with Harry but also with Julian (Keanu Reeves), his doctor.

Erica and Harry have a lot in common, beyond being from the same generation and needing reading glasses. They both stay up very late and sleep very little. They both hide their sensitive souls and protect their vulnerable hearts.

The characters may use cell phones and instant messaging, but at its big, gooey heart, this is a very old-fashioned romantic comedy with a traditional boy meets girl (well, man meet’s girl’s mother)/boy looses girl, boy, well, you know the rest, including that romantic comedy staple: boy makes a painful apology. In this case, many of them.

Writer/director Nancy Meyers (What Women Want) is as organized and in her own way as formidable as her main character and the movie is solidly constructed, which is both good and bad. Meyers is a little too mistrustful of her audience. Just in case we might miss something, Erica wears a lot of white and Harry wears a lot of black and when they go walking on the beach, Erica picks up only the white stones until Harry gives her a black one. They wear each other’s glasses. We get it, we get it, they are learning to see through each other’s eyes.

Meyers is also a little too lazy. Though there are plenty of laugh lines, in at least two scenes where the audience wants and deserves to hear the conversation between the characters, she cheats us by playing a song instead of giving us any dialogue. The movie is overly plotted and too long but still manages to leave us feeling that we did not find out enough about Marin, Julian, and one of the movie’s most appealing characters, Erica’s sister (Frances McDormand).

But Keaton and Nicholson are just so much fun to watch that none of that really matters very much. They say that after age 40 all of us get the faces we deserve, and Diane Keaton deserves and gets a very nice face indeed (also a magnificent figure, in a completely unnecessary but highly impressive brief nude scene). This is her best performance since Annie Hall, very smart, wickedly wise, and extremely funny. Nicholson holds nothing back and clearly has a lot of fun spoofing his own reputation. Would-be actors should spend hours just studying the crying scenes in this movie. That’s a very tricky business, especially in a comedy, and these pros manage superbly. Reeves is sweet, sincere, and sexy, Peet brings a great deal to an under-written character, and McDormand is so good that you will wish for another movie just about her character.

Parents should know that this movie is at the R-end of the PG-13 range, with very strong language, brief full frontal nudity and a bare behind, and explicit sexual references and situations. There are jokes about Viagra and menopause. Characters smoke and drink and one gets tipsy. There are some tense situations.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Harry, Marin, and Erica have walled themselves off from romantic involvement and why that changes. How do Julian’s feelings about Erica help her accept her feelings about Harry? Did her ex-husband’s new relationship affect her feelings? Do you think that the movie’s writer/director Nancy Meyers was doing in real life what Erica does in the movie, writing what she wished would happen? What makes you think so?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy other movies with similar themes (and similar wonderful performances by mature actresses), 40 Carats with Liv Ullman and Cactus Flower with Ingrid Bergman. And everyone should listen to the magnificent Johnny Mercer song about that inspired this movie’s title, originally heard in the Fred Astaire movie, Daddy Long-Legs.

Girl with a Pearl Earring

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

A portrait by Johannes Vermeer inspired a best-selling novel by Tracy Chevalier, who imagined the relationship between the artist and his subject, not as a Shakespeare in Love-style romance but as a commentary on artistic imperatives and the creative process and the way we look at things. And power and money and sex.

Chevalier imagined that the girl in the painting was Griet (Scarlett Johansson), the daughter of a man who worked in the famous Delft tileworks until he was blinded in an accident. So she is hired out as a maid to the chaotic Vermeer household, where everything depends on the productivity of an artist who works very slowly and the whims of a patron who may be more interested in the model than the paintings.

Griet barely speaks. She wears the nun-like head covering of the era that hides her hair. She does what she is told and keeps to herself. But she notices things. She knows that she should not wash the windows in Vermeer’s studio because it will change the look of the light he is trying to capture. She knows that a prop should be moved to improve the composition of the painting. Vermeer (Colin Firth), not a person of words either, responds to the way she responds to the art. He asks her to help him mix his paints. He shows her how he uses a camera obscura to capture the images.

Vermeer’s patron, Van Ruijven (Tom Wilkinson), is drawn to Griet, too, but not for the way she responds but the way she does not respond. It is her reserve that captures his interest. And since his interest is vital to the survival of the Vermeer family, Vermeer’s steely mother-in-law (Judy Parfitt) will do anything she can to keep him happy.

The movie superbly captures the shadows and lights of Vermeer’s Delft. Johannson’s face is as complex and haunting as the portrait of the anonymous girl she portrays. She is a marvel of delicate expression. When she must lick her lovely full lips she tells us volumes about Griet’s conflicts and longings. When at last she removes her headdress and we see her hair it is almost unbearably intimate and erotic.

But the movie is less successful at addressing some of the issues it raises about the other members of the household, including the clashes of art and commerce, sex and power, master and servant, parent and child. Griet’s resolution of her situation is clumsily handled, almost an afterthought. Perhaps the ultimate clash is between book and movie. Vermeer himself would understand the way that the images overpower the ideas. At the end, after being teased and seduced, we are at last allowed to gaze on the famous portrait itself, still more fascinating and more complete than any attempt to build upon it.

Parents should know that the movie has sexual references and situations and powerful erotic images.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Griet makes the choices she does and how in real life the painting made centuries earlier inspired the imagination of a writer to come up with this story. They might also like to talk about how this movie demonstrates that subtle glimpses can have more emotional and erotic power than our over-saturated media culture might expect. How did the film-makers use light and shapes to help create the sense of the world of Vermeer’s paintings?

Mature audiences who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Shakespeare in Love. They might also like to see some of the other films about artists, including Lust for Life and Surviving Picasso.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2003

Take a moment to breathe a sigh of relief and satisfaction before this movie begins. You’re in good hands. And enjoy that breath because it may be your last for the next three hours.

One of the most ambitious projects in the history of film-making comes to a heart-poundingly thrilling conclusion in “Return of the King,” the last episode in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy directed by Peter Jackson.

The second installment opened in the middle of the action, but this one begins with a flashback. It’s not there to repeat anything we’ve seen before — there’s no time for that. This glimpse of the past is just to tell us something more about Gollum, the twisted, tortured creature who is supposed to be leading Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) to Mount Doom. It is also there to tell us more about the power of that ring to make anyone willing to give up all he has to possess it.

After that very brief prologue, we are back where we left off, a literal cliff-hanger. Frodo, Sam, and Golum are crossing the stark peaks on the way to the volcano in the heart of Mount Doom. That is where the ring was forged and the only place where it can be destroyed. Meanwhile, the other remaining members of the Fellowship of the Ring prepare for battle with the forces led by Sauron.

As with the first two chapters, Peter Jackson’s rendition of the J.R.R. Tolkien classics is astonishingly inventive and new and yet so clearly right that it seems as though it always existed inside us. Every detail is just right, from the leaf-shaped clasps on the rough wool cloaks to the huge mumakils, mastodon-like creatures carrying Haradim warriors in vast contraptions that look like masted schooners.

And from the struggles of three very small creatures to stay alive as they scale sheer rock to the huge battles with hundreds of thousands of warriors, Jackson makes every moment vivid, exciting, and moving, filling every frame with wonders. That means not just Middle earth citadels, a giant spider, a battering ram that is an ironwork boar filled with fire, and thousands of phantom combatants, but also smaller moments of equal power. Sam and Gollum each try to make Frodo mistrust the other. The steward eats alone at his table, bright red juice dripping down his chin, as his son leads men into a doomed battle.

There are villains, grotesque and powerrful, weak and greedy. And there are heroes, loyal, brave, devoted, honorable. Told that death is certain and there is small chance of success, one replies, “What are we waiting for?” Who needs to breathe when there is all this to see?

The tone is epic and majestic, the battles brilliantly staged, the vistas magnificently conceived. But it is still all about the story. Characters learn and deepen. Even little Pippin and Merry go from cute comic relief to genuine heroes.

There is so much going on that some characters feel like not much more than cameo guest appearances, especially Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Galadriel (Cate Blanchette). And the post-ending endings, after more than three hours, may seem a bit too much. But this is still an epic to satisfy the most devoted fans of the books and viewers who are new to Middle Earth. In its own way, it is as thrilling an adventure in story-telling on film as the quest it portrays.

Parents should know that the movie has intense battle violence, graphic for a PG-13. Characters are injured and killed. While there is no modern-day profanity, characters use some strong language. A strength of the movie is the way its diverse characters learn to trust each other and work together. Some critics have accused the original books of racism, with dark-skinned, slant-eyed bad guys fighting pale-skinned good guys. But there is no evidence of any such intent, even unconscious, in Tolkien’s work or in this movie.

Families who see this movie should talk about what it was that made Frodo more resistant to the evil pull of the ring than anyone else. How are Frodo and Aragorn alike and how are they different? Why did Frodo and Sam make different choices at the end? What is the answer to the question, “Why should we ride to the aid of those who did not come to ours?” Why? What is the role of choice and what is the role of fate in this story? Why can’t Gandalf just use his powers to make sure the good guys win? Who surprised you by doing more than you thought they could? Who surprised themselves?

Families who enjoy this movie might want to look at pictures of some of the real-life creatures that inspired those in this story, including pterodactyls and mastodons. And every family will enjoy reading aloud the entire trilogy, or listening to it on the superb BBC audio edition.

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