Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Fury
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout
Release Date:
October 17, 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

St. Vincent
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 For mature thematic material including sexual content, alcohol and tobacco use, and for language
Release Date:
October 17, 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

Dear White People
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, sexual content and drug use
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

 

Mr. Peabody & Sherman
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some mild action and brief rude humor
Release Date:
March 7, 2014

Jumanji

posted by rkumar
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:1995

People sometimes say that in Hollywood the real art form is the deal, and movies like this make it believable. You can just see a group of people in expensive suits sitting around a table dreaming this up — “Let’s take a brilliant children’s book (with about one paragraph of text) and add some really neat new computerized special effects. And, I know! Let’s get Robin Williams! It doesn’t matter that there are no adults in the book. He’s great at the box office.” The problem is that each of those parts is fine, but all together the movie is inconsistent and disjointed, sometimes disturbingly so.

In 1969, Alan Parrish, the child of a wealthy family, finds a mysterious board game, buried centuries before. He is sucked inside, to emerge 26 years later (as Robin Williams, who is wasted in this role), when the game is found again by two other children. These two children have moved into the old Parrish estate with their aunt, who plans to turn it into a Bed and Breakfast. They live with their aunt, because their parents have been killed.

Alan finds the girl he played with (now grown up, as he is, and played by the terrific Bonnie Hunt), and the game begins again. As each player rolls, some huge and destructive jungle curse descends, a lion, monkeys, bats, a monsoon, poisonous plants, a British hunter (who behaves more like the Terminator), a stampede of rhinos and zebras. But they must complete the game in order to get everything back to normal.

The “Jurassic Park” style computerized special effects are very good, director Joe Johnston (of “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”) keeps things moving, and everyone lives happily ever after in a final scene that clears everything up a bit too hastily (leaving the children I was with asking a lot of questions).

“Jumanji” can be fun for kids who won’t be scared by the chaos and animals or bothered by plot elements like a little boy lost in the jungle for 26 years, a father who seems harsh and unloving, or orphaned children. But expect to talk with them about it afterward.

National Security

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

“National Security” is another in a string of indistinguishable dumb action comedies that would all run together in the mind of anyone unfortunate enough to watch them if they were not so instantly forgettable.

It is clearly modeled after classic action comedies like “Beverly Hills Cop,” but this one is less a movie than a three-minute coming attraction with 90 extra minutes of padding. Situations that can be set up in an instant are given drawn-out explanations that test the attention spans of even the most committed fans of the movie’s performers. It’s the basic buddy set-up: two security guards team up to find some bad guys.

As in all buddy films, the buddies have issues they have to resolve with each other before they can resolve the issues they have together. In the sorry history of Hollywood “meet cute” set-ups, this one is particularly weak. Police academy reject Earl (Martin Lawrence) is trying to retrieve the keys he locked in his car when police officer Hank (Steve Zahn), thinking he is trying to steal the car, asks him what he is doing. Earl’s hostile response leads Hank to begin to arrest him. Earl, already agitated, gets even more upset when a bee flies toward him. A bystander making a family movie films what looks like Hank brutally beating Earl, when all Hank is doing is trying to get rid of the bee. Like the Rodney King video, it sparks a public outcry for justice, and Hank does hard time in prison for six months.

They meet up again when the same bad guys Hank saw kill his partner show up in the warehouse Earl is guarding. They have to learn to work together and trust each other in order to save the day.

Director Dennis Dugan and his two stars seem to be making three different movies. Zahn and Lawrence have no chemistry and they careen listlessly between dull banter and dull chases and explosions. Dugan, the director of Adam Sandler movies like “Big Daddy,” has no feeling for action sequences. The only interesting moment comes when they hide something in the garage of Hank’s ex-girlfriend.

The movie wastes two exceptionally talented performers. Lawrence occasionally gets a chance to give a short riff that creates a bright spot, but Zahn seems as bummed to be in the movie as the audience was to watch it.

Parents should know that the movie has a great deal of violence, some strong language, and a kinky sex scene involving handcuffs.

Families who see this movie should talk about Earl’s views on race and how he has to rethink his own prejudices when he takes Hank’s ex-girlfriend for the maid.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the far better “Beverly Hills Cop” and “48 Hours” (both with mature material.

A Guy Thing

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

If you made a copy of a copy of a copy of “Meet the Parents” and then ran it through one of those script-generating software programs advertised in the back of movie magazines, you might come out with something like “A Guy Thing,” a completely inept attempted screwball comedy without a single memorable moment.

Jason Lee plays Paul, a guy so risk-averse that he gives the “groom” hat at his bachelor party to his best man, so that the dancing “tiki girls” in grass skirts won’t pay any attention to him. Yet somehow he wakes up the next morning, hung over, with one of those dancing girls (Julia Stiles) in his bed. Oh, no – his fiancée (Selma Blair) is coming over and the girl can’t find her underpants. He manages to get her out of his apartment and hide the panties, but then it turns out that she is his fiancée’s cousin Becky, so she keeps turning up at all the family events. There is much faux humor about Paul pretending to have a massive gastro-intestinal disorder, getting an itchy STD and having to get some medication which is discussed loudly in the pharmacy as his future mother-in-law is standing there; the steroid rage of Becky’s ex-fiancé, an evidence-planting cop; a rehearsal dinner spiked with pot; and some dirty pictures found by a young boy that end up stuck together, not with glue.

This is a step down for everyone associated with it, including director Chris Koch, who made a promising debut with “Snow Day,” and Lee, Blair, and Stiles, who show no energy whatsoever. One reason the script seems so much like “Meet the Parents” is that the story is by the same writer, though even four screenwriters could not manage to come up with a single memorable line of dialogue, character to care about, believable motivation, or genuinely funny moment. Every joke and plot development is telegraphed so ham-handedly that it is instantly anticlimactic. There are sit-coms on the WB that have more laughs before the first commercial than this movie has in 90 minutes.

Parents should know that the movie has gross humor and very mature material for a PG-13, including graphic references to a sexually transmitted disease, masturbation, drugs, and adultery. Characters use very strong language and there is social drinking to excess, at one point resulting in the encounter that triggers the plot. A character is beat up and arrested for possession of cocaine. There is also such a weird sort of homophobic vibe to some of the jokes that for one mad moment I actually thought the big pay-off was that Paul was going to turn out to be gay.

Families who see this movie should talk about the way Paul and Becky think about fears and what his behavior and attraction to Becky should tell him about his plan to marry his boss’ daughter.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Meet the Parents” (raunchy and very crude humor) and some of the classic screwball comedies like “Bringing Up Baby” and “My Man Godfrey.”

Kangaroo Jack

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

“Kangaroo Jack” is not just a very bad movie. It is a very bad movie that shows how inadequately the MPAA rating system handles the kinds of materials that are of concern to parents. This movie received a PG rating despite “humor” about topics that include masturbation, homosexuality, drinking and drunkenness, epilepsy, murder, grabbing a woman’s breasts, the famous case where a dingo (wild Australian dog) ate a baby, a hit ordered by a mob boss on his stepson, and the ever-popular camel flatulence.

Jerry O’Connell plays Charlie, the hairdresser stepson of Sal, a Brooklyn mob boss (Christopher Walken, slumming). His best friend is Louis (Anthony Anderson), who constantly wheedles him into all kinds of messes by reminding him of the time he saved Charlie’s life when they were both eight years old.

Charlie and Louis accidentally lead the police to a mob stash of stolen goods. Sal tells them that he would have them killed, but because of Charlie’s mother, he is giving them another chance. He sends them to Australia with $50,000 cash, to be delivered to “Mr. Smith.”

Charlie and Louis hit a kangaroo with their jeep, and, thinking it is dead, dress it up in Louis’ jacket to take pictures. But it hops away with the jacket – and the $50,000, which is in the pocket. The rest of the movie is about Charlie and Anthony chasing the kangaroo while they are being chased by Mr. Smith and the mob guys from back home.

It is impossible to imagine that the people associated with this movie have ever seen or even been children because there is so much that is either of no interest to children or likely to upset them. The reference to the 1980 Lindy Chamberlin murder case in which a mother said that a dingo took her baby is just one example. Today’s children will not have any idea what that refers to and the idea that a wild dog killed a baby may be very upsetting to them. There are a number of homophobic suggestions that Charlie is or might be seen as gay because he is a hairdresser, “jokes” that are inappropriate for any age but especially unsavory in a movie made for children. The same goes for the epilepsy “jokes” that arise out of an attempt by Louis to indicate how pretty a girl is by making odd sounds and gestures. And I do not think there are many kids – or parents – who will find it especially funny when the vocabulary-building mobster confuses the words “plethora” and “anathema.” The movie was originally filmed as a PG-13 or R but was reconfigured as a PG after test audiences said it was awful. It still is.

The action sequences are poorly staged, the jokes are staged even more poorly, the montages to rock music have no energy, and the acting ranges from mediocre to dreadful. Estella Warren, who plays the love interest, cannot act. The best performance is unquestionably that of the computer folks who designed the CGI kangaroo. Two positive notes are the long and and loyal inter-racial friendship and a strong, independent, brave, and capable woman.

Parents should know that the advertising campaign is seriously misleading in terms of the movie’s appropriateness for children. The ads suggest that the funny talking and rapping kangaroo is a large part of the movie, but as in last year’s “Snow Dogs,” it is a brief highlight that appears only in a fantasy sequence. As noted above, the movie has a great deal of material parents might consider inappropriate for children, including peril, violence and gunplay, a stepfather who orders his stepson killed, drinking to excess seen as impressive, drinking portrayed as a way to cope with problems, violence, potty humor, and a co-ed swim in underwear that leads to kissing. There is a sexist joke and the black character is portrayed in “sidekick” terms with no interest in having any kind of independent life or relationships. The “happy” ending is somewhat sour as the only character who had been doing something to contribute to improving the world appears to have abandoned that completely for a life of hedonistic pleasure.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Louis thought that the only reason Charlie stayed with him was because he saved Charlie’s life. Why does Charlie blame himself for his mother’s marrying Sal? What should Charlie have done differently?

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy “Crocodile Dundee” (some mature material) and “Zebra in the Kitchen.”

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