Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Lucy
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R For strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality
Release Date:
July 25, 2014

 

Noah
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content
Release Date:
March 28, 2014

And So It Goes
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some sexual references and drug elements
Release Date:
July 25, 2014

 

Finding Vivian Maier
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
April 11, 2014

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

 

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

National Velvet

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:All Ages
MPAA Rating:G
Movie Release Date:1944

Plot: Mi Taylor (Mickey Rooney) arrives in a small English town and meets Velvet (Elizabeth Taylor) just as she and her sisters have been let out of school for the summer. They like each other immediately, and she is delighted to learn that the reason he has come to her town is that he found her mother’s name in the address book belonging to his late father. He does not know what their relationship was, or what he hopes to find from her, but he has no other place to go.
At the dinner, Mi is tentative, not sure himself whether he is looking for a friend or an easy mark. That night, as Mrs. Brown goes over that day’s books and puts away the cash from their butcher shop, she and Mr. Brown talk about giving Mi a job. Mr. Brown is reluctant, saying they don’t need him, and that he seems to have a “sharpness” about him, but she insists. After Velvet tells him he is going to stay, he sneaks back into the house to return their money, which he had stolen.
The horse Velvet loves most is owned by a man who, angry and frustrated at his inability to control it, decides to sell it by lottery. Velvet wins and renames the horse Pi. He won’t pull the butcher shop cart, but he can jump a fence as high as the most treacherous hazard in England’s biggest horse race, the Grand National. So Velvet decides that he must be in that race, to have a chance to be the very best he can be, the very best there is.
They hire a jockey by mail, but Velvet knows the horse must be ridden by someone who loves him, and would rather not have him race at all than have a jockey who does not believe he can win. Just as Mi is about to volunteer, Velvet decides that she will ride the Pi, even if they could have had the best jockey in the world, even if they will get in trouble because girls are not allowed to race. She rides the Pi, and he wins. But they are both disqualified because she is a girl.
They come back home in triumph, knowing that they won what was important to them. Though they were not allowed to keep the title or the prize money, all charges have been dropped, and they won’t get into trouble for violating the rules. Mr. Brown is excited by all of the offers for appearances and endorsements, but Velvet knows that it would not be best for the Pi and that it is time to move on. So does Mi, who takes his knapsack and says good-bye to Mr. and Mrs. Brown. When Velvet hears that he has left, she asks if she can tell him about his father, who was Mrs. Brown’s coach, and how much he meant to her in achieving her dream. Mrs. Brown consents, and Velvet races after him, just catching up to him as the movie ends.
Discussion: “National Velvet” taps into one of the oldest, deepest dreams, the dream of horses. Every child dreams of controlling these huge, powerful, loyal creatures, of flying over hurdles on their backs, of earning their devotion and of being devoted to them in return. And then there is the dream of racing, as Velvet says in this movie, until you burst your heart, and then until you burst it again, and then until you burst it twice as much as before, until the two of you explode past the finish line ahead of everyone else.
This is the story of dreams themselves, wise and foolish, big and small, realized and impossible, and about the way all of these dreams change those who are lucky enough to dream them. It is about the importance of faith — Velvet’s faith in herself and in the Pi and in her dream, and her family’s faith in her and in Mi — and the importance of that belief and support in making the dream come true. Mi says, “You bit off a big piece of dream for yourself, Velvet.” But in one of the sweetest scenes ever filmed, Mrs. Brown takes out the 100 gold pieces she won for swimming the Channel, and gives them to Velvet. There were a thousand times the family could have used that money, but she was saving it for a dream as big as her own once was. She tells Velvet, “I too believe that everyone should have a chance at a breathtaking piece of folly once in his life.”
“National Velvet” is also a rare movie that deals with what happens after the dream comes true. It sometimes seems that half the movies that are made, and well over half of the movies that are made for children, end with the hero or heroine triumphantly standing in the winner’s circle, holding the trophy overhead as the music swells and the credits roll. One of the things I like best about this movie is that it puts the dream in perspective. After they win the race, Mr. Brown is delighted with all of the offers for appearances and endorsements for Velvet and her horse. Instead of arguing with him, Mrs. Brown asks Velvet how she feels about it. Velvet thinks it might be fun for her, but says that she would never put the Pi through all of the foolishness that would be required. Velvet and her friend Mi and those around them take what they have learned from the dream and go on with their lives, something worth discussing in this era when any achievement, good or bad, becomes a miniseries.
But most of all, “National Velvet” is the story of a loving family. It is very different in many ways from the families that the American children of today know — for example, the mother and father are so reserved that they call each other “Mr. and Mrs. Brown” until the very last scene. But it is a wonderful starting point for a discussion of the ways that families of all kinds can teach and support each other.
One of the key themes of the movie is the faith that the characters have (and don’t have) in themselves and in each other. Mr. Brown is reluctant to accept Mi at first, with good reason. As Mrs. Brown says, it would be surprising for someone who had lived on the streets not to have a “sharpness about him.” But, she persuades Mr. Brown to give him a chance: “What’s the meaning of goodness if there isn’t a little badness to overcome?” Mi does steal their money, but when he learns of their faith in him, their offer of a job and a place to stay and Velvet’s acceptance of him as a friend, he puts it back. Later, when he has a chance to steal much more money from the family, he thinks about it, but decides that he can’t, because “she trusts me.”
Velvet’s faith in both Mi and the Pi is at the center of the movie. She accepts them both immediately and irrevocably, though both are mistrusted by others. She does not believe Mi when he says he doesn’t like horses, and when he says he is only interested in the race for the money. She knows that he feels as passionately for the Pi as she does, though he cannot say it.
Velvet also has faith in the future. She is certain that she will win the lottery for the horse she loves. When she tells everyone she will win, a suspicious neighbor suggests that she may have cheated by arranging for her father to pick her number in the drawing. She explains that she didn’t bother with that, she just worked it out with God. Mr. Brown responds to the neighbor’s accusation by having him do the drawing, and of course Velvet does win (after there is no holder of the first number picked). When the jockey they have hired by mail to ride the Pi in the race shows them that he not only does not believe that the Pi can win, he does not even care, Velvet knows that it would be wrong to let him ride her horse. Just like Mi and Velvet herself, the Pi deserves someone who believes in him.
Mr. and Mrs. Brown show their trust by risking letting Mi and their children make mistakes. “She has it in her to do the right thing,” Mrs. Brown says of Velvet, and lets her decide how to respond to the offers that come in after she wins the race. Mrs. Brown also lets Velvet run to school after being up all night caring for the horse. When Mr. Brown objects, she reassures him that Velvet will be back — it’s Saturday, and there is no school. But she let her go because “I like that part of her that wants to go to school after a night caring for the horse.”
Mrs. Brown not only lets Mi stay with the family, but she entrusts him to take her 100 gold pieces to London. Mr. Brown is certain he will steal it instead. But as the train pulls away, you can see Velvet reflected in the window of the train car. This symbolizes the way the image of Velvet, and her faith in him, stays with Mi, and prevents him from taking the advice of his friends who get him drunk and encourage him to steal the money. As they leave for the race, Velvet says to Mrs. Brown, “You’ll be proud of The Pi, mother.” Mrs. Brown says, “I want to be proud of you.” And she is.
Throughout the movie, Mr. and Mrs. Brown balance a spacious acceptance of their children’s passions with a firm set of values and a fairly strict set of rules. Velvet is permitted to pretend to ride in bed only one night a week, and only for fifteen minutes. At his first dinner with the family, Mi is reprimanded sharply by Mr. Brown (Donald Crisp) for feeding the dog at the table (“It will turn him into a beggar,” is a pointed comment made to the young man who has arrived at their door and may have some hope of being helped). But as we see during the course of the scene, each member of the family, including Mr. Brown, sneaks food to the dog when the others aren’t looking.
Similarly, Velvet is constantly reminded by everyone to wear her braces. When Mi does this, on the way to the race, it shows how much he has accepted the family’s set of priorities and the responsibility of caring for its members. In this case, though, he lets her take the braces out until the race is over. Like Mr. and Mrs. Brown, he knows when to suspend the rules. Mrs. Brown won’t tell Mi how much his father meant to her until he leaves them. As long as he had no faith in himself, that information would be no more than a way to get something from the Brown family. But once he no longer felt “soft and yellow inside,” he could accept it as a heritage to build on.

National Lampoon’s Van Wilder

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

It would take more time to list all of the things that were awful about this odious movie than it would be to watch it again. I’d rather not do either one.

This is a movie about a purportedly loveable slacker named Van Wilder (Ryan Reynolds) who has been the big man on campus for seven years. His father (Tim Matheson) pulls the financial plug, and Van has to find a way to pay his tuition so that he can stay on for more of what he loves about college – parties.

So, like any enterprising young man, he starts up a business: Topless Tutors. It is wildly successful until the strip club owner decides he wants his dancers back. Van finally finds his true calling in life –- he’s a party planner with a specialty in debauchery, sort of Martha Stewart crossed with Hugh Hefner.

Meanwhile, intrepid campus reporter Gwen (Tara Reid) decides to write about Van. Despite the fact that she has a pre-med frat-president boyfriend, she finds herself drawn to him. And despite the fact that Van has spent seven years being benevolent but distant, he finds himself being drawn to her.

Around this slight plot contrivance are strewn many gross attempts at humor involving bodily functions and excretions, both human and animal. They include a prank involving ingestion of dog semen inside éclair filling, getting children drunk (and having them barf), and feeding an extremely powerful laxative to someone just before an exam with no bathroom breaks. It is also supposed to be funny that what appears to be oral sex is just a woman measuring Van for a pair of pants while sucking on a lollypop and that Van is forced to have sex with an elderly woman who wears a wig. Are you laughing yet?

There is a half-hearted attempt to portray Van as all right at heart because he raises money for campus causes and befriends people that others might think of as losers. The movie tries to have fun including cast members from classic teen comedies like Animal House, Revenge of the Nerds, Risky Business, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and American Pie, but all it does is serve to remind us of how much better those movies were. (I admit that I had not anticipated ever using some of those movies in the same sentence as the word “better.”)

The script is unforgivably sloppy, with dialogue that sounds like people who don’t know very much English made it up on the spot. It does have many vivid and imaginative euphemisms for female body parts and oral sex.

Parents should know that this movie has the grossest and most disgusting humor imaginable, involving every possible bodily function. There are extended jokes about the size of a dog’s testicles. Characters drink to excess. Van’s beneficence includes getting compliant girls for boys who would otherwise not have anyone to have sex with.

Audiences looking for a better movie in this genre should check out the closest thing to a classic it has produced: National Lampoon’s Animal House.

My Life as a Dog

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:1987

Plot: Ingemar is a twelve year old boy growing up in 1950s Sweden who goes to live with his aunt and uncle in Smaland while his mother is dying of tuberculosis. In the small town of Smaland he meets an assortment of eccentric and delightful characters who help him adjust to his new life without his mother, brother, and his beloved dog Sickan (he has never known his father).

He meets an athletic girl who loves to box, but who also develops a crush on Ingemar. Berit, the most beautiful woman in town, befriends Ingemar asks him to chaperon her when she models for the town artist. Ulla and Gunar, his aunt and uncle, adopt Ingemar and help him find family and normalcy during a traumatic period in his life.

Discussion: Told from the perspective of the child, this is an affecting and authentic portrayal of a young boy’s attempt to understand the adult world. The director shows us Ingemar’s world through a child’s eyes, so that the smallest events and the largest are presented as equally important. He does not know enough to be able to distinguish ordinary behavior from eccentricity, or to fully understand why a nude model would want a young boy as a chaperone or why a dying man would be so interested in underwear catalogues. His acceptance of everyone he meets is part of his appeal.

Ingemar does not have enough experience of the world to be able to understand what his mother’s symptoms mean, or to wonder if she will die. Because no one told him how ill she was, he blames himself for her death. He does not have the opportunity to express his grief, which adds to his feeling of disorientation and his identification with a dog who is circling the globe in a space capsule. The only comfort he (and the audience) have is the sense that his ability to form relationships with the new people in his life will be a source of strength and happiness to him in the future.

Questions for Kids:

· Why does Ingemar always say it’s important to “compare”? Why do you think that Ingemar compares himself to Laika the space dog?

· Why does Ingemar tell us that he wishes he told his mom everything? Does he blame himself for not having told her everything?

· Why doesn’t anyone tell Ingemar that Sickan is dead? Do you think that waiting to tell him made it easier or harder to deal with when he did learn the truth?

Mystery Men

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:1999

This semi-successful attempt at a post-modern comic-book style story that has it both ways, archly commenting on superhero sagas while actually giving us a new and cooler version of one at the same time. That is an all but impossible task, and “Mystery Men” comes closer than many, with its sensational production design and cast members who know how to nail dialogue with just the right spin of irony (“Maybe you’d better put on some shorts,” says Jeaneane Garofolo as The Bowler to the Invisible Boy who has just become visible, “if you want to keep fighting evil today.”).

Champion City is just about idyllic now that its superhero, Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) has thoroughly vanquished all the bad guys. But without bad guys, Captain Amazing’s visibility — and his corporate endorsements — are declining. He arranges for the release of an old arch- enemy, Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush), so that they can battle again. Things do not go as he planned, however, and Frankenstein captures him. A group of secondary superheroes with quirky powers come to his rescue, including the Blue Rajah (Hank Azaria), who throws forks and spoons (but never knives); Mr. Furious (Ben Stiller), whose anger gives him strength; The Bowler (Jeaneane Garofolo), who has a powerful bowling ball with her father’s skull inside); Invisible Boy (Kel Martin), who can’t disappear if anyone is looking; The Shoveler (William H. Macy), who shovels very, very well; and The Spleen (Paul Reubens), who has killer flatulence. Guided by the Delphic Sphinx (Wes Studi), they learn the importance of self-esteem and teamwork, as though they had wandered into some “Mighty Ducks” movie.

Parents should know that much of the humor will be above the heads of most teens, and that what is left tends to be potty humor. Furthermore, though the violence is comic book style, three characters are incinerated in a scary manner. Almost as scary is the way that no one seems to care about that very much, even though one of them is one of the good guys. It is nice to see a female superhero (despite the title), and Garofolo’s Bowler is first among equals in self-possession, maturity, and ability. Families should discuss individual abilities, and what superpowers each member of the family would most like to have.

Previous Posts

Behind the Scenes Clip: Adam Levine in "Begin Again"
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/RhZTVijgpb8?rel=0" frameborder="0"] I have one copy of the wonderful soundtrack to give away!  Send me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com with Levine in the subject line and tell me your favorite song of the summer.  Don't forget your

posted 3:59:43pm Jul. 30, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Thunder Levin of "Sharknado" and "Sharknado 2"
One of the highlights of Comic-Con was the chance to catch up with Thunder Levin, screenwriter of the sensation, "Sharknado" and the sequel, "Sharknado 2," which premieres tonight on Syfy.  The original was remarkable for its over-the-top storyline and even more for the Twitter-nado it inspired.  

posted 7:37:17am Jul. 30, 2014 | read full post »

Contest Winner -- "Earth to Echo's" GoPro Camera
Thanks to all who entered!  This contest had far more entries than any other I've ever run.  Congratulations to the lucky winner! WINNER OF THE GOPRO CAMERA: Susan D. Burkburnett, TX  

posted 11:54:55pm Jul. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Intuition -- A Short Film from Danielle Lurie
I love this short film from Danielle Lurie about a young woman who needs to learn to listen to her heart, with a wonderful performance by Montse Muñoz. [vimeo]https://vimeo.com/101953117[/vimeo]

posted 10:09:01am Jul. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Joseph Nasser of "Amber Alert: Terror on the Highway"
Reserve Police Officer Joseph Nasser produced Amber Alert: Terror on the Highway to help raise awareness of the Amber Alert system. It stars Tom Berenger as a man on the edge, making a dead rush for Mexico and kidnapping two young girls along the way. He is hotly pursued by police chief Martha Geig

posted 8:00:33am Jul. 28, 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.