Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language throughout, some sexual content and brief violence
Release Date:
October 24, 2014

 

Moms' Night Out
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action
Release Date:
May 9, 2014

John Wick
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong and bloody violence throughout, language and brief drug use
Release Date:
October 24, 2014

 

Earth to Echo
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and peril, and mild language
Release Date:
July 3, 2014

23 Blast
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some teen drinking
Release Date:
October 24, 2014

 

Snowpiercer
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for violence, language and drug content
Release Date:
July 2, 2014

Tears of the Sun

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

This movie feels like a script written for John Wayne that someone finally got around to filming 40 years later without any sense that times have changed. There are some good action sequences, but it is shamelessly one-sided and has cheesy wooden dialogue and even cheesier and numbingly predictable plot developments. This movie has every cliché except one — instead of a peppery commanding officer barking “That’s an order!” into a scratchy communications device, we get the underused Tom Skerritt pretty much telling his team to do whatever they think is best. Yeah, I’m sure that happens all the time.

Bruce Willis plays Lt. A.K. Waters, a guy who completes his missions. The latest is the rescue of an American (by marriage) doctor who runs a clinic in Nigeria that is in the path of rebel forces. The doctor is the kind you only see in movies or bodice-ripper novels — a beautiful woman whose shirt is always getting ripped in just the fetchingly right place while her make-up stays perfect, a spitfire who stamps her foot and tosses her fetchingly tousled hair and slaps A.K.’s cheek but later has to tell him that she now understands what an honorable and brave guy he really was all along.

Meanwhile, we get to see A.K. say, “I broke my own rule. I gave a ****.” For his own survival, he had shut down his emotions. But the beautiful doctor and the ravaged people taught him that what he should do is ignore his orders and put the lives of his men at risk. He and his men go into a town where the bad guys have already killed almost everyone and just mow the bad guys down with machine guns. He puts his men at risk. Many are killed and the others are severly wounded. He defies American diplomatic policy going back to the Monroe Doctrine. But the point of the movie seems to be that this is unqualifiedly a good thing and that in fact it is the job of a Navy Lieutenant to determine what our foreign policy should be and then just carry it out. There is no sense of the complexity of American intervention into a tragic civil conflict and no sense of the consequences of his choices.

A.K. may have learned to care, but that does not appear to be true of Willis. He does all right with the weary, man-of-the-world, let-me-handle-this moments. But, for example, when he is called upon to give a stirring “be a man” pep talk to a shaken Nigerian who has just seen everyone he cares about killed, the best he can do is bark, “Cowboy the **** up!” Monica Bellucci may be as talented as her press reports claim, but there is no way to tell that from her kittenish performance here.

Parents should know that the movie has very strong language, including racial epithets, intense peril, execution of non-military citizens, and brutal battle violence. Many characters are wounded or killed. A woman is mutilated.

Families who see this movie should talk about how countries decide whether to intervene in other countries’ fights. Does the movie intentionally comment on the current international situation? How well does or doesn’t it make its case? Why did A.K. stop caring and when did he start again?

Families who enjoy this movie will also appreciate “Platoon” and “Apocalypse Now.”

Cradle 2 the Grave

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

This slapdash mess of an explosion movie wastes the talents of its cast and can’t even slow down to let us enjoy the fight scenes. I don’t care if the plot doesn’t make sense to me, but I like to have it make sense to the people who are in the movie. No such luck. At least two times, characters avoid having to deal with trivialities like analyzing clues or explaining how they know where they are supposed to go next. They squint their eyes and say, “I just know.”

I just know, too. They have to go to wherever so that we can check off one more on the list of things someone thought would be cool in an action movie. Strip club? Check. Tank crashing into a building? Check. Race through city streets and up stairways in all-terrain vehicles? Check. Blowing up a helicopter? Check. Escaping from a blowing-up helicopter? Check. Letting us get an inside-the throat perspective when a character gets and explosive devise shoved into his mouth, so we can see him blow up from the inside? Check. Making any sense, including any dramatic tension, letting us watch any individual fight scene for more than a short-attention-span-theater-style 20 seconds? Nah.

To the extent that the movie is about anything, it is about this: a lot of different people want some fancy black diamonds, so everyone steals them from everyone else and then all the international rogue nations get together and bid on them commodities-style, though they show so little understanding of commodity pricing that they would be wiped out faster than pets.com and they are far more civilized than commodities traders, too. Then there are some more fights. Then they have the nerve to set things up for a sequel.

DMX showed some charisma and promise in “Exit Wounds,” the last film by this director, but he does not have enough to do here. His character — high-tech superstar thief who preys on bad guys by day/loving daddy who prays with his adorable and spunky daughter by night — just does not work. The delicious Gabrielle Union (“Deliver us from Eva”) is wasted as kick-boxing arm candy who is even forced to do a strip tease to provide a distraction while her boyfriend is tossing the room next store. Jet Li looks like he’d rather be someplace else. Tom Arnold and Anthony Andersen provide some flashes of humor.

The plot is not just murky, which is forgiveable; it is manipulative, which is not. It is shameless to have the little girl kidnapped by the bad guys to make us see how truly evil they are and make us feel some commitment to the outcome. It is even more shameless to have the black diamonds turn out to be a power source for super-destructive weapons. But what is really unforgiveable here is the waste of the movie’s primary asset, Jet Li’s ability to fight, by filming the scenes so poorly that we don’t really get a good look at what he can do.

Parents should know that the movie is extremely violent, with a lot of intense peril, many character deaths, and graphic wounds. A little girl is in peril and bound and gagged. Characters use extremely bad language, including racial epithets, but the group of good guys is racially diverse. Characters drink and smoke. A character pretends to be gay in order to distract a gay security guard, and there are some mild stereotypes.

Families who see this movie should talk about how a movie like this may be seen differently now, when the world seems poised on the brink of war, then it might have when the script was written.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “The Transporter.”

Bringing Down the House

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

This movie falls squarely in what I call the “Cat in the Hat” genre, one of the most popular and enduring movie themes, in which a straight-laced person (A) who plays by the rules has his or her life turned upside down by someone (B) who represents uncertainty, vitality, and taking risks. After A complains about how B is irresponsible and how B is messing everything up, there is always a scene in which A tells B, “I learned/got so much more from you than you ever did from me! This is the best day of my life!”

In this variation, Steve Martin plays Peter, a lawyer who works too hard. He is separated from his wife and cancels a long-planned vacation with his children because he is under a lot of pressure to land a wealthy and very proper new client (Joan Plowright). He meets a woman on the internet and makes a date with her, thinking she is a pretty blonde lawyer. But it turns out to be Charlene (Queen Latifah, who also produced), a convicted felon who wants him to help her clear her record. She not only knows how to torture him into helping her — she enjoys it. And while he is fuming on the outside, it is clear that at some level, he is enjoying it, too.

This is Steve Martin’s best film in years. The character and situations are made for him. Queen Latifah is sensational — warm, funny, and sexy and utterly charming. Audiences will wish she would come over and bring down their houses. The script loses its way several times, particularly with a tasteless plot line about Peter’s racist society party girl of a sister-in-law. A catfight scene does not work at all (except for the Tae-Bo joke). Don’t think about the plot too much, because most of it makes no sense at all. But this is still a better-than-average comedy that works very well much of the time. Queen Latifah’s wonderfully radiant star quality, Steve Martin’s comic grace and Eugene Levy’s masterful turn as Peter’s besotted partner do bring down the house.

Parents should know that the movie has some very strong material for a PG-13, including explicit sexual references and a graphic apparent sexual situation, very strong language, a lot of drinking, and drug humor (it is supposed to be very funny that a very dignified elderly lady gets stoned on marijuana). A young teenage girl sneaks out with a boy and finds it more than she can handle when he takes her to a party where people are drinking and doing drugs and he tries to force her to have sex. It is supposed to be funny that Peter’s son reads a dirty magazine (that belongs to Peter) and that Peter’s sister-in-law is essentially a paid girlfriend for very elderly rich men. Some people may be offended by some of the racist language and stereotypes, but the movie is clear that it is offensive and stupid to be bigoted and cowardly and foolish to be silent when those views are expressed.

Families who see this movie should talk about Charlene’s advice to Peter on how to communicate with his teenage daughter. They should also talk about how the adults in their family try to maintain a balance between work and family and how to best communicate to family members that they are the top priority.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy a sweet British movie with a similar plot, “Molly and Me,” as well as the best of all “Cat in the Hat” genre movies, “Bringing Up Baby.”

Old School

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

After a long, long series of gross-out slob would-be comedies that thought it was enough to be disgusting, it is a relief if not always a pleasure to see one that has some very funny moments. Yes, it is morally bankrupt and completely politically incorrect. But what can I say, I laughed.

Think of “Old School” as the reunion of the gang from Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds. Three 30-year-old men, feeling squashed by responsibilities (represented by women), end up turning a house into a fraternity with all of the fun of torturing pledges, throwing wild parties, and essentially relinquishing all trappings of civilization.

In even the best of this genre, there is about a five-to-one joke ratio of failures to successes. It really isn’t very funny when a character finds out after the fact that the young lady he had sex with while drunk was not just a high school student, but the daughter of his boss; when a character calls out “earmuffs” to his six year old son so that the boy will cover his ears when his father is about to use bad language; when a character’s wife asks for a divorce just weeks after their marriage; or when an elderly character is so struck by the sight of slicked-up topless girls waiting to wrestle him that he keels over dead. But over and over, Will Farrell and Vince Vaughn throw themselves so completely into the material that they make it work much more often than it deserves.

Parents should know that this movie has a great deal of very mature and sometimes offensive material. There are homophobic references, a stereotyped Jewish character (wearing a “chai” necklace) shows up for group sex, characters drink to excess, and have casual sex. There are references to group sex and to other activities like wrestling with topless girls covered in KY jelly. There is a “fun” blow-up doll. A group of women hire a man to teach them how to give oral sex and we see them practicing on vegetables. The fraternity is welcoming to men of all races and ages and — aside from some hazing of the pledges — the men are all very supportive of each other. One character who seems most bent on abandoning all rules turns down sex with a young women because he will not cheat on his wife.

Families who see this movie should talk about whether people need to feel that their responsibilities are suffocating when they become adults.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Animal House, Revenge of the Nerds, and a more serious treatment of some of these themes, Lord of the Flies.

Previous Posts

Does PG-13 Mean Anything Anymore?
The Washington Post has an article about a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, "Parental Desensitization to Violence and Sex in Movies," with some disturbing conclusions about parents' ability to make good decisions about the impact some media may have on their children. This is not

posted 8:00:58am Oct. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Is E-Reading to Kids the Same as Analog Reading?
The New York Times asks, Is E-Reading to Your Toddler Story Time, or Simply Screen Time? In a 2013 study, researchers found that children ages 3 to 5 whose parents read to them from an electronic book had lower reading comprehension than children whose parents used traditional books. Part of th

posted 8:00:40am Oct. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Todd and Jedd Wider about the Bullying Documentary "Mentor"
Producers Todd and Jedd Wider generously took time to answer my questions about their documentary, "Mentor," the story of two teenagers who committed suicide following relentless bullying. The film, which received Honorable Mention for Best Documentary Feature at the 2014 Woodstock Film Festival th

posted 3:56:57pm Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Clip: Tinkerbell and the Legend of the NeverBeast
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ApzHJhZz2JQ" frameborder="0"] The latest in Disney's animated Tinkerbell series adds Ginnifer Goodwin to the cast. Coming in March of 2015, it explores the ancient myth of a mysterious creature whose distant roar sparks the curiosity

posted 1:23:59pm Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: "Avatar" Villain Stephen Lang on Playing a Good Guy Coach in "23 Blast"
Stephen Lang is best known for playing the villain in "Avatar." But in "23 Blast," based on the real-life story of Travis Freeman, a high school football player who lost his vision but stayed on the team, Lang plays a good guy, the coach who encouraged and supported him. I talked to Lang about actin

posted 5:56:30am Oct. 24, 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.