Movie Mom

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Believe Me
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:

Release Date:
September 26, 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

Tracks
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some partial nudity, disturbing images and brief strong language
Release Date:
September 26, 2014

 

Transformers: Age of Extinction
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, language and brief innuendo
Release Date:
June 27, 2014

The Boxtrolls
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for action, some peril and mild rude humor
Release Date:
September 26, 2014

 

Neighbors
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for pervasive language, strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use throughout
Release Date:
May 9, 2014

The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course

posted by rkumar
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2002

“The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course” is basically a 70-minute version of the show with an additional 20 minutes of an instantly forgettable premise that barely rises to the level of the term “plot.” That said, the results are often amusing and make for one of this summer’s more entertaining family films.

The disposable story is about American special agents being sent to retrieve an essential US satellite beacon that fell to earth in Australia—and was accidentally swallowed by a crocodile. Of course, Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, believes that they’re poachers and tries to save the crocodile. There’s also a grouchy farmer (“Babe’s” Magda Szubanski) who is sick of the crocodile eating her cows and is devising creative but unsuccessful ways to lure it in and kill it. But the film mainly consists of what the television show’s fans want to see — Steve, his wife Terri and their loyal (and very brave!) dog risking their lives with Gila monsters, venomous snakes, bird-eating spiders, kangaroos, and inevitably, crocodiles.

Fans of Irwin’s “Crocodile Hunter” show on Animal Planet will love this movie, while those uninterested will know to avoid it. For those who are entertained by exotic animals, it is undeniably a lot of fun. There’s never a dull moment when Irwin fearlessly goes after some wild animal that could kill him in a heartbeat, and his instantly recognizable lingo, upbeat personality, and obvious affection for the creatures give him a lot of appeal, a sort of real-life Hagrid from “Harry Potter.” While the plot is strictly from the slush pile, it never meanders. It is by no means a great piece of cinema, but it is a worthwhile introduction to another world and not a bad place to spend an hour and a half for anyone just looking for fun and adventure.

Parents should know that this film contains some violence and bathroom humor, mainly from the animals but a little from the adult characters. The Irwins do put their lives on the line to work with these animals. They also rub their hands in animal excrement and parents should warn their kids not to try this at home, even with the less dangerous creatures they’ll run into near their homes.

Families who watch this movie should discuss whether it’s worth risking your life to get a glimpse at some remarkable creatures and how to make sure that we preserve endangered species.

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy the Crocodile Hunter television show and should check out the first Crocodile Dundee film but stay away from the sequels.

The Country Bears

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

Less story than product placement, “The Country Bears” may go down in history as the first movie ever based on a theme park attraction. I hope it goes down as the last. Much as I enjoy the ride, I don’t want to see “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Movie”* or “The Tiki Room Birds on Broadway.”

Disney World’s robot bear performances may just have a better plot than this movie, which is basically “The Blues Brothers” with fur. Yes, it’s the old story about getting the band back together.

The movie begins with some wit and style – a wood-burning credit sequence and “Behind the Music”-style clips about the beloved band’s rise and fall. Their last series of concerts was called the “Hiber-Nation” tour.

But then it disintegrates into a dumb story about a bear adopted by humans (voice of Haley Joel Osment as “Beary”) who runs away from home because he feels different. The Country Bears Hall is about to be torn down by wicked Reed Thimple (Christopher Walken). Beary decides that the only way to raise the money to keep it standing is to get the band back together. That sets up the rest of the movie as we meet up with a series of indistinguishable bears and watch Beary remind them of what they used to mean to each other.

Some surprising guest appearances by Elton John, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Don Henley, and Queen Latifah (Raitt and Henley contribute singing voices) and some lively musical numbers by Disney label artists provide bright spots. But the in-between doses of silliness and syrup just dragged. The kids in the audience loved the scene with the policemen caught in the car wash, though.

Parents should know that although the movie is rated G and has none of the usual parental concerns, they should be sensitive to some of the issues in the movie that may trouble children. Beary runs away, and his parents are frantic about his safety, but he does not let them know where he is and does not seem to miss them for most of the movie. Beary’s human parents don’t tell him the truth about his adoption. He is told about his origins very cruelly by his jealous brother. Some parents will regret having their children see a character “play” music on his armpit if it sparks some attempts at imitation.

Families who see this movie should talk about how everyone feels different from the rest of the world at times, and how we make connections with those who are and who are not like us.

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy The Muppet Movie and The Muppets Take Manhattan.

*I was kidding when I wrote this, but it turns out that a Pirates of the Caribbean movie did happen and, as you may know, it was terrific..

The Bourne Identity

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

“The Bourne Identity” does not have much in the way of plot or characters, but it is a better-than-average guns, gadgets, and chases in interesting locations movie.

The film starts off with a theme that is much more common in films than in real life: amnesia. A shipping vessel just happens to pick up an unconscious man (Matt Damon) out of the sea. The Italian crew also just happen to speak English and just happen to have a medic who removes bullets and a strange information capsule from the man’s back. When he awakes, he is angry, desperate, and doesn’t know who he is. He is dropped off in Europe and tries to work his way to finding his identity, only to be suddenly attacked by people from his past life. He successfully fights them off and pays a woman (“Run Lola Run’s” Franka Potente) to drive him to safety, but at every angle there’s another danger, and the film picks up as the plot unravels, with Damon eventually discovering his name (or one of his names) is be Jason Bourne and researching his past to find out why people are trying to kill him. It’s formulaic but stylish, clever, and fun.

Franka Potente is always fun to watch, and bad guy Chris Cooper (American Beauty) remains one of Hollywood’s finest character actors, but as credible an actor as Matt Damon is, he makes a rather unconvincing action hero. His boyish looks don’t help him when he’s beating people up or jumping off buildings, and his ability to stay clean and perfectly shaven after days without having any chance to wash himself is pretty questionable. One can’t help but think that Hugh Jackman or Pierce Brosnan would have flawlessly executed the role, and seeing the terrific Clive Owen shine in a small role only makes you see how perfect he’d be in the title role. But I guess they needed an American hero.

Parents should know that the movie has lots of cartoonish but sometimes graphic violence and some bad language in English and German. There is a mild and non-explicit sexual situation.

Families who see this movie should talk about how we can ensure accountability for covert operations and how Jason and Marie decided to trust each other.

People who enjoy this film will also like the 007 and Mission: Impossible series.

The Banger Sisters

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

The considerable pleasures of watching Oscar-winners Susan Sarandon, Goldie Hawn, and Geoffrey Rush displaying all of their combined charm and talent are repeatedly tripped up by a lame script that wastes not just its stars but also an enticing premise.

Hawn plays Suzette, an aging free spirit who never quite left the 60’s. She is still working as a bartender in a club and sees herself as the same girl who dropped out of high school to go to concerts and have sex with musicians. But the rock stars who perform there and the club manager are not impressed. She loses her job. So, she decides to find her one-time best pal, Vinnie (Susan Sarandon). But Vinnie is now Lavinia, the very proper of two teen-agers and wife of a lawyer with political ambitions, and she has done her best to eradicate any vestige of her wild youth, even from her own memory. One is all about sensation and the moment and the other is all about being careful and fitting in.

Hawn is marvelous as Suzette, who could be an older version of the Penny Lane character played by her daughter, Kate Hudson, in “Almost Famous.” Hawn shows us not just Suzette’s spirit but also her vulnerability. Suzette has had sex for every possible reason except intimacy. She has given sexual favors to get close to rock stars and to show herself and others that she is a wild and amazing person. When she offers herself to Harry (Rush), a man she met on the road, just to get a place to stay, we see that she has almost completely lost the notion of herself as precious. But then, when she runs into Vinnie’s daughter Hannah (“Traffic’s” Erika Christensen), having a bad acid trip at her high school graduation party, we also see that she can respond to the preciousness of other people. She cares for Hannah tenderly, causing Harry – and the audience – to see that she is more than a careless party girl.

At first, Vinnie is horrified to see Suzette, and offers her $5000 to go away. But Suzette won’t take it. As desperate as she is for money, she finds that she wants friendship even more. And then, as Vinnie discovers that despite her best efforts, she has not been able to protect her daughters from taking risks, she begins to long for that part of herself that was adventuresome and colorful.

Sarandon and Rush are also marvelous, giving Vinnie and Harry vastly more interest than the script does. They are so good that the idiotic arbitrariness of the script doesn’t leap off the screen the way it should. For example, Harry is horrified by his bus trip because two flies landed on his hand and had sex (I know, that was my reaction, too – huh??). So, what does he do? He abandons the bus to ride in Suzette’s skuzzy beat-up car. A character has a loaded gun, a teenager uses drugs and has sex with a possibly untrustworthy boyfriend, another teenager drives without a license and hits a parked car – these are all events that seem to be thrown into the plot so that characters can react to them and then are just abandoned. Characters completely change their minds for no reason.

Families should know that the movie has very strong language, sexual situations and explicit references that include teen sex, a variety of sexual acts, and photographic souvenirs of sexual encounters. Characters drink and use drugs, including teenagers. Sex, drugs, and rock and roll are portrayed as emblems of liberation and a fulfilling life. A character says he plans to shoot his father.

Families who see this movie should talk about how Suzette and Vinnie were changed by their reunion. How will Vinnie’s relationship with her family change? Families should also talk about how much of her past Vinnie should have discussed with her daughters and what they think she was doing well or badly as a mother of teenagers. Parents may want to use this movie to talk about their own choices as teens and how that affected the messages they tried to send their children. Vinnie’s daughter says “You’re allowed to fail; I’m not.” Vinnie says, “I’m just trying to keep you safe.” Harry also wants to be safe. How much risk and how much failure should parents expect or allow from their kids? What does your family think of Suzette’s view that people who love each other fight and argue, and she wants to have someone to argue with. And parents should make sure that their children know the difference between Jim Morrison and Van Morrison!

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Almost Famous” and another movie about two middle-aged women who reunite after going in very different directions, “The Turning Point.”

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