Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Black or White
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 on appeal for brief strong language, thematic material involving drug use and drinking, and for a fight
Release Date:
January 30, 2015

 

The Book of Life
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action, rude humor, some thematic elements and brief scary images
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

Black Sea
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language throughout, some graphic images and violence
Release Date:
January 30, 2015

 

The Judge
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language including some sexual references
Release Date:
October 10, 2014

Strange Magic
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and scary images
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

 

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

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

posted by rkumar
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for rude and sexual humor, and language.
Movie Release Date:2004

Think Bad News Bears crossed with Happy Gilmore. Except with dodgeball, which means many, many opportunities for humorous slams to the head, chest, and crotch. That pretty much sums it up.

Pete (Vince Vaughn) is about to lose his gym, the comfy hang-out “Average Joe’s,” to White (Ben Stiller), the owner of the uber-exercise facility known as Globo Gym (slogan: “We’re better than you are!”) To save the gym, he needs $50,000 in 30 days. And that just happens to be the purse for the winner of the big dodgeball tournament that one of Average Joe’s regulars finds in the pages of his Obscure Sports Quarterly magazine.

So Pete and his gang of misfits decide to take their shot. The group includes Justin (Justin Long of television’s “Ed”), Stephen Root (Office Space), and Steve the Pirate (Alan Tudyk), a guy who refers to himself in the third person and thinks he is a pirate. After winning the qualifying regional title on a technicality, they are approached by the world’s greatest dodgeball coach (Rip Torn), who reminds them that “dodgeball is a sport of violence, exclusion, and degradation” and in just three weeks turns them into a lean, mean, fighting machine. Or at least into a group that can duck when a wrench is thrown their way. And they pick up a new team member who can throw very, very hard.

Then it’s off to the big game, with preliminary skirmishes before facing the Globo team, men-mountains who all have names like “Laser” and “Taser” plus a unibrowed woman with very bad teeth.

All of this is just an excuse for pure silliness — lots of balls slamming into lots of people, some funny surprise cameo appearances, Ben Stiller’s clueless bully persona, and insult humor. Gary Cole and Jason Bateman have some good moments as sportscasters and Hank Azaria is fun to watch in an old instructional film the team uses to learn how to play. Most of the laughs are less in the “wow, that’s funny category” than in the “I can’t believe they tried that” category, as when a uniform mix-up has the Average Joes appearing at a match in bondage gear, but there aren’t many real clunkers. Pete’s slacker demeanor never gives Vaughn a chance to make use of his greatest asset, the slightly ADD vibe he showed to such advantage in Swingers and Clay Pigeons. And Christine Taylor (Stiller’s real-life wife) deserves better than a role that is essentially the same one she played in Zoolander. But it all moves pretty quickly and is over before it wears out its welcome.

Parents should know that the movie has some very mature material for a PG-13 including explicit sexual humor with jokes about adultery, group sex, pornography, genital size, bondage, and homosexuality along with some very strong language including many double entrendres featuring the word “balls.” Characters drink frequently, including drinking to dull pain. The coach taunts the team by calling them “ladies.”

Families who see this movie should talk about some of their own experience in feeling like an underdog. What should Pete have done when White made him an offer? Families should also talk about perseverance, and the comment made by one character that “if a person never quits after the going gets rough, they won’t have anything to regret for the rest of their lives.”

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy Happy Gilmore, Zoolander, and, for older audiences, Old School (rated R). They can also check out this site for more information about different ways to play dodgeball (also called bombardment) or some of the news stories about efforts to ban the game at schools because of its violence and susceptibility to abuse and bullying.

The Clearing

posted by rkumar
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2004

Why would such a murky movie be called “The Clearing?”

Robert Redford plays Wayne, a very successful businessman who lives in a beautiful house with Eileen, his loving if somewhat reserved wife (Helen Mirren). When he does not show up for a dinner with friends he did not particularly want to see, at first she is annoyed and embarrassed. But then she is worried. She files a missing person report. And then she hears from the kidnappers.

Wayne has been abducted by Arnold (Willem Dafoe), who is frog-marching him to the top of a mountain, but won’t tell him why or what will happen to him.

Wayne is known for his skills at communication and negotiation. Can he use them to persuade Arnold to let him go?

At home, Eileen waits as the FBI tries to find Wayne and get him home. Her daughter and her son (Alessandro Nivola) with his wife and baby join her to wait.

And that’s about it. There are glimpses and hints of more. The adult daughter seems to be retreating, sleeping in her mother’s bed and curling into the fetal position, barely speaking. Eileen insists on celebrating her grandson’s first birthday. Why do we learn that after Wayne sold his business, his next venture failed?

Either these were intended to provide some subtle atmosphere and complexity to a straightforward story or (more likely) they relate to plot points that may have been diminished by last-minute cuts after unsatisfactory test screenings. They are more distracting than evocative.

But Mirren’s performance almost makes it worthwhile. She is strong and vulnerable at the same time. Her Eileen is richly complex, whether trying on clothes or confronting Wayne’s mistress. She makes us feel Wayne’s ache at the thought of losing her and adds depth and resonance to the movie that makes us feel its other failures even more sharply.

Parents should know that the movie has brief strong language and some violence. Characters drink and smoke. There are sexual references, including adultery. There are very tense scenes that may be upsetting to some audience members.

Families who see this movie should talk about the choices made by Wayne and Eileen. If you had the chance to write a note like the one Wayne writes to Eileen, what would it say? (For some similar examples in movies, see The Ox-Bow Incident and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.)

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Three Days of the Condor.

The Notebook

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2004

I was really hoping for this year’s Bridges of Madison County, a big-budget production that turned a mediocre weepie book into a better-than-mediocre weepie movie. I held my handkerchief in my hand, but no tears came. Instead, the full-scale Hollywood treatment just emphasizes the inadequacy of the source material. Exquisite cinematography, appealing themes, and some real-deal movie stars are not enough to make this syrupy saga worth watching.

A man comes to read to a woman in a nursing home. It is a story about a summer romance between Allie (Rachel McAdams), the daughter of wealthy parents, and Noah (Ryan Gosling) a poor boy. A montage later, they are crazy about each other. But her parents suddenly decide they have to break up and they send her to school up north. He writes to her every day. She never responds.

Then he goes off to fight in World War II and she falls in love with a handsome wounded officer named Lon (James Marsden) and agrees to marry him. But she sees Noah’s picture in the newspaper. He is restoring the house he once told her he would make into a home for the two of them, which of course requires another montage. Even though she has all but forgotten him and is perfectly happy being engaged to Lon, she has to see Noah once more. And after she sees him, she has to decide which man is the one she really loves.

As this story is read aloud, the woman in the nursing home listens attentively, occasionally almost seeming to recognize some of it. This couple’s relationship to the people in the story will not come as a surprise to anyone.

But the real problem with the film is that the details and dialogue are so crashingly clumsy that they bring any momentum in the movie to a screeching halt. Noah sees Allie and is immediately smitten. So far, so good. He climbs up a moving ferris wheel to ask her out, even though she is riding it with her boyfriend. Okay. But then she responds by pulling down his pants. Huh? He finally persuades her to go out on a date with him, basically by nagging her, and then the big moment on the date when they realize how perfect they are for each other comes when he persuades her to lie down in the middle of the street with him.

Later there is the exchange with her fiance, when she realizes that something is missing in her life but somehow doesn’t want to admit that what is missing is Noah. So she charges into Lon’s office in the middle of a meeting to tell him that she once used to want to paint but somehow has stopped painting. He responds supportively and reasonably, if unmemorably, “Well, paint!”

And what is the deal with Allie’s mother? Her parents seem fine with the romance with Noah at first until one late night makes them think that it is all too serious and she has to be sent away. Then, when Allie goes back to see Noah, her mother comes to get her and tries to show her that she should go back to Lon by driving past her own lost love for a longing gaze.

We never believe in Allie’s feelings for Noah or Lon, partly because none of them ever come alive as characters. It’s all description, not depiction. We do care about the couple in the nursing home, but the connection to the other story is never strong enough to keep our attention.

Gosling is one of the most talented actors of his generation, but he flounders in this role. Garner, Rowlands, Sam Shepherd as Noah’s father and Joan Allen as Allie’s mother give the material much more than it deserves, and director Nick Cassavettes clearly wants this film to be a love letter to Rowlands, his mother. She is luminous, and we do believe she could inspire great love. Too bad it’s not in a great movie.

Parents should know that the movie has explicit sexual references and situations for a PG-13. A teenage couple agree to have sex, but then she becomes very flustered and anxious. An engaged girl has sex with a man who is not her fiance. Characters drink and smoke. The movie has brief battle violence, some graphic injuries, and some poignant deaths. The themes of the movie may be upsetting to some viewers.

Families who see this movie should talk about the way that diseases like Alzheimer’s affect the family and how they can best respond. They should also talk about how we know who we are meant to be with and who we should listen to as we think about making that choice. A character in this movie says, “I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul and for me that has been enough.” Is that enough for you?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy A Walk to Remember and Message in a Bottle, based on books by the same author, Nicholas Sparks.

The Stepford Wives

posted by rkumar
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2004

The women’s movement of the 1970’s was one of the most seismic social movements in U.S. history because it affected every single household. It was about more than equal pay for equal work; it was about re-thinking every asumption about the family structure. There was a lot of talk about consciousness-raising and the personal being political, “click” moments, and Ms. Magazine. And the author of Rosemary’s Baby, which brought gothic horror into modern life, responded with another thriller that tapped into the zeitgeist, 1975’s The Stepford Wives.

I guess it says a lot about how far we’ve come (or haven’t come) that the remake, just a little over a quarter-century later, is a comedy.

Nicole Kidman plays Joanna, a powerhouse television network executive who is responsible for popular battle-of-the-sexes shows like “Balance of Power,” hosted by Meredith Viera and a reality show called “I Can Do Better.” When the outcome of one show leads to tragedy, Joanna is fired, and she and her husband Walter (Matthew Broderick), a mid-level executive at the same television network who quit in solidarity, move to the idyllic gated community of Stepford, Connecticut.

But everything seems just a little bit too perfect, from the row of shiny SUVs to the huge homes with spotless furnishings in impeccable good taste. And the women are all Barbie-doll-like “perfect sex kitten bimbos” who seem to glide into a room, wait on their husbands with adoring smiles, go to aerobics in full make-up and high heels and whose idea of the ideal book club subject is the Golden Treasury of Christmas Keepsakes and Collectibles. Serenely presiding over them all is Claire Wellington (Glenn Close in a deft performance).

Joanna’s only confidantes are two other new arrivals, an outspoken author named Bobbi (Bette Midler) and a caustic gay man named Roger (Roger Bart). Joanna is appalled. But then she wonders if maybe she is missing something. All of those Stepford husbands seem very happy, while Walter is ready to leave her, because “Your attitude makes people want to kill you.” She thinks he might be right when he tells her that “Only castrating Manhattan career bitches wear black!” The woman whose identity was so inextricably linked to her success on the job that being fired precipitated a nervous breakdown wonders if there might be something more balanced and satisfying in creating a happy home.

So, with the same drive and energy she once gave to developing television shows, she gets to work, making zillions of cupcakes and checking up on one of her neighbors who seemed to have had some sort of seizure at a Stepford party. “We need to be supportive. That’s how people behave outside of Manhattan.” Joanna thought she saw sparks coming from the neighbor’s ears, but Roger reassures her that it was just cheap jewelry.

Joanna does her best to try to fit in, but when Bobbi and Roger are completely transformed, she decides to find out what is going on in that mysterious Stepford men’s club.

It’s less a movie than a string of jokes (including a very funny one about AOL), and it loses some momentum in the middle when it seems unsure of its point of view. When Joanna suddenly seems to remember that she has children and she cares about them, it is not clear whether this is just another comic contrivance or an attempt to create some sort of character growth. A surprising twist at the end helps to add a little zest. And the idea that a generation later, some women might consider escaping their “over-stressed/over-burdened/under-loved” lives to return to a simpler world of domestic perfection (one could almost imagine a pre-insider trading Martha Stewart presiding over a Stepford wives Garden Club meeting) is an idea that deserves some exploration. Maybe by the next time they remake this story, the Stepford wife will be the one who has figured out how to make it all balance.

Parents should know that the movie has strong material for a PG-13, including vulgar humor, very explicit sexual references and an overheard sexual situation and comic violence. Characters drink, smoke, joke about shock therapy, psychotropic prescription drugs and Viagra, and use some bad language. There are some very nasty characters plotting some very nasty things. The main characters are all white and the movie has some comic stereotyping, but a strength of the movie is its portrayal of a gay couple who are accepted by the community.

Families who see this movie should talk about why a thriller plot from 29 years ago makes more sense as a comedy today. How are both inspired by the conflicting pressures on both men and women? What do you think about what the movie has to say about defining success and happiness? About perfection not really working?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Death Becomes Her, How to Murder Your Wife, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and of course the original The Stepford Wives. But forget about the dumb made-for-television sequel, 1980’s Revenge of the Stepford Wives.

Previous Posts

Three Views on the Challenges Women Face in the Film Industry
It is wonderful that directors like Ava DuVernay, Angelina Jolie, and Gina Prince-Bythewood gave us superb films in 2014.  But it is an indicator of the challenges still faced by women filmmakers that none of them was nominated for a major directing award. The Alliance of Women Film Journalists

posted 3:38:46pm Jan. 31, 2015 | read full post »

Snickers Wins the Super Bowl!
The real competition at the Super Bowl is for the commercials, right? This Snickers ad is a hoot. [iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rqbomTIWCZ8?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 8:00:02am Jan. 31, 2015 | read full post »

How Did Ca Plane Pour Moi End Up in So Many Movies?
How did a 1977 song in French by the Belgian singer Plastic Bertrand become a go-to for 21st century American movie soundtracks, from big studio films to quirky indies? "Ça Plane Pour Moi" has appeared in Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" and last week's "We'll Never Have Paris," from

posted 3:40:03pm Jan. 30, 2015 | read full post »

The Kitten Bowl 2015: You Can Win A Set of Kitten Cards
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/5sO4NoaF89Y?rel=0" frameborder="0"] The most-anticipated sporting event of the weekend -- in some circles anyway, is this year's Kitten Bowl, Su-Purr Sunday, February 1 (12/11c) only on Hallmark Channel! [caption id="attachment_3263

posted 12:00:45pm Jan. 30, 2015 | read full post »

Una Gran Noticia! Disney's First Latina Princess
The Disney princesses have their first Latina member! Princess Elena of Avalor will make her debut in the Disney Channel series "Sofia the First" before starring in her own series on the Disney channel.

posted 9:19:37am Jan. 30, 2015 | 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.