Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Wish I Was Here
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some sexual content
Release Date:
July 18, 2014

 

Heaven is for Real
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic material including some medical situations
Release Date:
April 16, 2014

Boyhood
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language including sexual references, and for teen drug and alcohol use
Release Date:
July 18, 2014

 

Sabotage
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R For strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use
Release Date:
March 28, 2014

Planes: Fire & Rescue
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for action and some peril
Release Date:
July 18, 2014

 

Transcendence
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

Road Trip

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2000

In fairness to the intended audience for this movie, the following review was written by my 16-year-old, who wanted to give it more stars: Road Trip, a raunchy comedy in the style of Detroit Rock City and American Pie, is a laugh out loud movie that’s good to see with friends if you’re a teenager (probably guys will like it more than girls.) while parents will avoid it for its vulgar humor and its parents-just-don’t understand star Tom Green.

Road Trip starts at Ithaca University with Barry (Green) practicing his typical bother-everyone sense of humor to possible future students he’s touring (he tells them he’s attended Ithaca for the past eight years and makes up stories about the buildings) and eventually gets them caught up in a story about his friends, where trouble starts when Josh (Seann William Scott) cheats on his girlfriend since he was five (Rachel Blanchard) with the girl he really likes, Beth (Amy Smart) and not only is his video camera accidentally left on but his friend accidentally mails it to his girlfriend in Austin. So he and three friends set off on an 1,800 mile epic road trip on which they blow up their car, constantly run out of money and regain it in various ways, meet all sorts of crazy people, (blacks who think its funny to put a KKK mask in Kyle’s backpack and pretend they found it, suspiciously blind lady, and Barry’s parents, the Manilows, to name a few) and learn their respective lessons about standing up to your parents, getting girls, friendship, etc.

Throughout the movie they shoot back to Barry, who stays on campus because he wants to feed Josh’s snake while he’s gone. His attempts to get it to eat a mouse, sing folk songs and help Beth find Josh (“He went to Austin. It’s in Massachusetts.” “You mean Boston?” “Yeah.”) had the audience laughing harder than anything else. Throughout the movie he seems to be just thrown in to make it funnier until the ending where he unwittingly saves the day. Although the entire cast is very good and Green is not the main character, it’s really his movie.

Contains foul language, crude humor, nudity, sexual situations, and a character who does drugs to hide his sensitivity.

Parents should know that the version on video includes even raunchier scenes deleted before theatrical release in order to get an R rating. The unrated version released on the video would have been likely to receive an NC-17 rating from the MPAA and parents might want to view it themselves before allowing their children or teenagers to watch it, even if they saw it in the theater.

Riding in Cars With Boys

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2001

Like the life of its subject matter, there is a lot that is wrong with this movie, but there is also something right enough for a bittersweet happy ending.

Drew Barrymore stars in the true story of Beverly Donofrio, whose dreams of going to NYU and becoming a writer seemed impossible when she became pregnant at age 15. Beverly was the daughter of a policeman (James Woods) and a homemaker (Lorraine Bracco). When she became pregnant by a sweet but irresponsible drop-out (Steve Zahn as Ray), her parents insisted that they get married. They spent the next seven years on welfare. As the movie begins, Beverly has written her life story. She and her son, now in college, have a wintery journey of reconciliation as they seek out Ray to get him to sign a release so that the book can be published. The story alternates between that snowy car ride and flashbacks to the past that led up to it.

The commercials for this movie make it look like an up-beat story with a lot of cute sit-com-y moments, but it is not. Bev is not a good mother. She is so angry at Ray, her son Jason, and her parents that her behavior is often selfish and bitter. If an actress less irresistible than Barrymore were in the role, we would stop caring whether she ever got to college. The script makes some odd choices in showing us too many scenes of Bev’s despair and nothing about what she did that finally pulled her life together. Jason’s romantic involvement seems to tie up too many loose ends to be authentic. Director Penny Marshall bangs too hard on the cultural signifiers of each era Bev lives through. Her music choices are uncharacteristically pedestrian, with nothing that hasn’t been used dozens of times before. I hereby propose punishment of a week in movie-maker prison for the next person who puts “I Feel Good” in a movie. It is the most over-used song in movie history.

But the movie gets four stars just for Barrymore’s performance as she shows us Bev at 15, 20, and 35. Zahn, always a marvelous actor in comedy or drama, gives a performance of great generosity and heart. There are also great moments from Brittany Murphy, as Bev’s friend Fay, and Woods as Bev’s dad.

Parents should know that the movie has non-explicit teenage sex and pregnancy. Characters drink, smoke, and use drugs, including use of a hallucinogenic drug while watching a child and heroin addiction. A character sells drugs, and Bev and Fay briefly become involved in helping him. There is a painful scene of withdrawal. All of this is presented in a realistic manner with realistic consequences that should help teenagers understand the seriousness of this behavior. There is also some strong language.

Families who see this movie should talk about how families support members who have made bad choices and the importance of accepting responsibility for your mistakes. What did Bev’s family do wrong? What did they do right? Why was she able to achieve her dream? What did Jason do to make her see things differently? What do you think about Ray’s comment that the best thing he could do for Jason was to leave him?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Diner (some mature material).

Return to Never Land

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

This pleasant but forgettable sequel to Disney’s “Peter Pan” is not just not up to the original animated feature. It is not even up to the standard set by the vintage Pluto cartoon (“Pluto’s Fledgling,” from 1957) that precedes it.

The original has terrific songs (“You Can Fly,” “Never Smile at a Crocodile”) and one of my all-time favorite movie moments, as Peter, Wendy, Michael, and John soar around Big Ben and look down on Victorian London. This version manages a couple of magical moments, especially the opening credit sequence and Captain Hook’s pirate ship flying through London, but the music, performances, animation, and story are strictly at the straight-to-video level.

Wendy has grown up, and is married with two children, Jane and Daniel. She loves to tell them stories about Peter Pan and Captain Hook. But World War II is underway, and London is blasted by bombs. Wendy’s husband leaves for the war, telling Jane to take care of her mother and brother. Jane is strong and brave, leading Nana 2 through London in the midst of an attack. But she can’t let herself believe in Peter Pan or fairies, because that would make it even harder to bear the loss and destruction – and the fear. So she gives her little brother socks for his birthday (a size large, so he will have room to grow), and is given to crisp pronouncements like, “I’ve no time for fun and games” and “I don’t know why you fill his head with silly stories.”

Just before Jane and Daniel are going to be sent away to the countryside, where it is safer, Jane is kidnapped by Captain Hook. He thinks that if he captures Wendy, Peter Pan will come to save her. Because he lives in Never Land, he does not realize that Wendy has grown up. But then, neither does Peter, who does come to rescue her, and is just as happy when it turns out to be Jane. But she does not want to stay with the Lost Boys, even when they make her a Lost Girl. Before Jane can go home, though, she will have to learn to believe in “faith, trust, and pixie dust.”

For a story about the power of imagination, the movie is especially lackluster. The original story’s crocodile has been replaced by an octopus for no particular reason, and the action sequences are replays of the first version. The sexism and racism of the original are excised – Jane rescues Peter in this one. But that is not enough to make up for a script that even at under 90 minutes, is just too long. Of all the changes, though, I think the one that would most upset James M. Barrie, the very British man who created Peter Pan, is probably hearing Peter speak with an American accent and even use baseball slang.

Some of Disney’s recent follow-ups have been quite good, especially the sequels to “The Little Mermaid” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” with theater-quality voice talent and animation and some bright new songs. It is hard to figure out the reasoning that had both of those movies go straight to video and give this one a theatrical release.

Parents should know that while the movie is rated G, there is some peril, much comic but some a little scary. Children may want to know more about the Blitz (the movie never tells us who it is that is dropping bombs on London, we briefly see children being sent away from their families by train, and we can’t tell from the end if the war is over or not).

Families who see this movie should talk about “faith, trust, and pixie dust,” and how even children have to be brave and helpful during difficult times. Some children may make a connection between the Blitz and the terrorist attacks.

Families who enjoy this movie should watch the original, one of Disney’s best. They will also enjoy another Disney classic, like “Peter Pan” written in Victorian times and filmed in the 1950’s, “Alice in Wonderland.”

Return to Me

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:2000

No surprises here, but it is a pleasant date-movie, a romance that tries hard to transcend its gimmick and just about succeeds. Let’s get the gimmick out of the way first – guy has girl (architect Bob — David Duchovney — married to beautiful Elizabeth — zookeeper Joely Richardson). Then guy loses girl in a car accident, guy meets new girl named Grace (Minnie Driver) who doesn’t want to tell him that she had a heart transplant, guy finds out that the heart came from his late wife, and everyone gets over it and gets on with living happily ever after.

I know, I know, it is a very creaky premise. At least it isn’t one of those movies that drags out the telling part and then just as she is about to spill the beans he finds out anyway and it takes another half hour to straighten it all out. And at least there is no maudlin “Chicken Soup for the Soul”-type stuff about how this is the gift his late wife brought to him or anything like that. Grace tells Bob as soon as she finds out and it does not take him too long to figure out that he loves her anyway, and if it just happens that the big clinch happens in Italy, where he was always trying to take Elizabeth, we won’t make too big a thing of it.

We know where it is all going from the first five minutes. So we can sit back and enjoy the ride, in the capable hands of director/co-star/co- scriptwriter Bonnie Hunt. Hunt, a terrific character actress (Renée Zellweger’s sister in “Jerry Maguire” and Tom Hanks’ wife in “The Green Mile”) lets the couple’s friends and family add a lot of life and depth to the story. They give Bob and Grace more personality and interest, sort of character by association.

Grace lives with her grandfather (Carroll O’Connor), owner of an Irish-Italian restaurant that is home to a community so adorable and loving that they could be birds and cherubs perching on the finger of an animated Disney heroine. Her friend Megan (director Hunt) is living in happy domestic chaos with her husband (James Belushi) and four children. Bob’s friend Charlie (David Alan Grier) is there to fix him up with Ms. Wrong, so that he can have a reason to go to Grace’s grandfather’s restaurant and leave behind the 21st century equivalent of a glass slipper – his cell phone.

Everyone has to cope with the risks of letting others see us clearly. It is not just major secrets like heart transplants that people are afraid to share with others. Families who see this movie should talk about how people decide how much of themselves to share, about how people cope with loss that seems devastatingly overwhelming, and about Grace’s grandfather’s comment that “It is the character that’s the strongest that God gives the most challenges to.” Before Grace goes out with Bob for the first time, Megan advises her not to shave her legs, as insurance against “going too far.” This is a rare movie in which the couple does not go to bed together almost immediately, partly because of Grace’s sensitivity about her scar, and possibly also because Bob needs to take things slowly, too. Some families will want to talk about how couples make decisions about the risks of physical intimacy as well as emotional. And families should also talk about the loving way the people in this movie care for each other and enjoy each other.

Parents should know that though the movie is rated PG, there are a few strong words, including some used by children, and some mild sexual references.

Families who enjoy this movie will also like “Sleepless in Seattle.”

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