Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Annie
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some mild language and rude humor
Release Date:
December 19, 2014

 

The Maze Runner
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images
Release Date:
September 19, 2014

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action, some rude humor and brief language
Release Date:
December 19, 2014

 

Magic in the Moonlight
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for a brief suggestive comment, and smoking throughout
Release Date:
August 1, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
Release Date:
December 19, 2014

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
Release Date:
August 8, 2014

My Boss’s Daughter

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

In “My Boss’s Daughter,” Tom (Ashton Kutcher) and Lisa (Tara Reid) bond over hating the same movie. I predict that everyone unfortunate enough to see this atrocity will similarly bond over the experience as only fellow disaster survivors can.

It isn’t just that it is stupid. It isn’t just that it is offensive. It isn’t just that it is not funny. It is all of the above plus an appalling use of talented people like Terence Stamp (who has his pants pulled down to show his naked rear end and gets his face covered with gutter sludge and pelted with beer bottles), Michael Madsen (who responds when Tom threatens him with a gun by peeing on him and then on just about everything else), Molly Shannon (who has to wear hot pants and call a black man “colored”), and David Zucker (of Airplane) who directed the whole mess and then put his real name on it. If ever there was a legitimate reason to hide behind “Alan Smithee,” the legendary pseudonym of directors humiliated by the end result, this is it. In fact, everyone associated with this movie should appear under a pseudonym, and that includes Carmen Electra.

Tom is a shy clerk at a publishing firm who has trouble asserting himself and expressing anger. He wants to get a job in the creative department but is so intimidated by the tyrannical CEO, Jack Taylor (Stamp), that he has never had the nerve to apply for it. To complicate things further, Tom has a crush on Jack’s daughter, Lisa (Tara Reid), but is too shy to let her know.

Tom thinks that Lisa has asked him on a date, but in reality, she has asked him to pet-sit her father’s owl, OJ, so she can go to a party with her boyfriend. Jack warns Tom that if anything goes wrong, he will not just be fired but painfully killed. This of course means that everything will go wrong.

The set-up is just fine (think of The Cat in the Hat and many wonderful screwball comedies). The problem is that not one thing that happens in the next hour onscreen is interesting, funny, or original. It is just one long cringe-inducing disgust-fest.

Just to show you that I am not being overly picky or politically sensitive, let me provide some examples of what is intended to pass for humor in this miserable waste of time:

1. The owl is named after OJ Simpson (“The murderer?” “No, the football player!”) So, when the owl flies out of the house and Tom yells, “OJ’s loose!” bystanders scream and scatter.

2. A girl’s bleeding head wound is played for laughs as Tom frantically tries to keep her sticky, gooey blood from getting on Jack’s furniture. Ultimately, she leans back against a bag of Cheetos, many of which stick to the wound when she gets up.

3. A character calls another character “Jew!” for no particular reason except random insult (neither character is Jewish) and this is supposed to be funny. It is also supposed to be funny when one character asks another “Are you retarded?” Other jokes about gays, blacks, a blind quadriplegic, attempted suicide, an apparent seizure, and rape are similarly humor-free. So are jokes about the piece of Evander Holyfield’s ear that Mike Tyson bit off. Funny? Uh, no!

In fact, if you made a list of every single thing in the world that is not funny, you’d have this movie.

Parents should know that the movie is disgusting and offensive, with racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic jokes, sexual situations and references, strong language, drinking, and drug dealing. There is comic peril and violence, including an apparent seizure after ingesting a sedative and alcohol. Characters are threatened with guns and a gun is fired.

Families who see this movie should talk about what Jack learned about being a parent and whether anyone in this movie learned anything about how to pick better material in the future.

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy the much better Airplane.

Out of Time

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

The opening credits of this film shimmer at you to a jazz score, letting you know that you are in for an old-fashioned noir film, and that a very tangled web of betrayal, greed, and murder lies ahead.

At first, everything about Chief of Police Matthias Whitlock (Denzel Washington), from the crisply pressed white shirt and dark shorts of his uniform to the purposeful way he walks down the street checking to see whether all the doors are locked, tells us that he is extremely careful, meticulously honest, and highly professional. His best friend, the part-time medical examiner (John Billingsly as Shay), may joke wistfully about borrowing some of the cash in the evidence safe, but Matt is very clear about who he is and how far he will go.

But then he answers a call from Ann Harrison (Sanaa Lathan) about a prowler, and we see that he is willing to go very far indeed when it comes to her. They are having an affair that no one else knows about, especially Ann’s abusive husband (Dean Cain as Chris) and Matt’s estranged wife (Eva Mendes as Alex). He tells Ann a small lie about Alex. And then, when Ann is diagnosed with cancer and needs an experimental treatment, borrowing that money from the evidence safe begins to seem like a possibility. The sharp uniform and close shave are gone. Matt wears a loose Hawaiian shirt and looks increasingly unraveled.

Like Body Heat, this is a throwback to the noir classics, in which an ordinary man is drawn into disaster. Matt (and the audience) may think at first that he has done the wrong thing for the right reasons, but then small lies lead to big ones, and trusting the wrong people leads to disaster.

The holes in the plot (including the traditional “going to a remote location to meet the bad guy all by yourself without telling anyone where you are going”) are outweighed by the specifics of the story and the people who tell it. The movie makes nice sly use of the cliche that white people think that all black people look alike. Having Alex as the homicide detective assigned to the case is a fine twist, as their strained personal relationship makes her overcompensate in deferring to him professionally, delaying or discounting what would otherwise be her inclination to question his actions and statements.

Most important, there is Washington himself, one of the all-time most mesmerizing and appealing screen stars. This role takes full advantage of all of Washington’s greatest strengths, especially his ability to get and keep us on his side and his brilliance in conveying a character who keeps a great deal secret from those around him, but not from the audience. Lathan and Mendes are both exceptionally fine, and Cain is nicely creepy and menacing. The real find here, though, is Billingsly, whose gives his line readings a deliciously offbeat spin, making him far more than the standard wisecracking sidekick.

Parents should know that the movie includes some steamy sexual situations that are right up at the limit of the PG-13 rating. Characters use some strong language. Characters drink and smoke, one to excess. Violence includes gunplay, death from a fall, and a brief shot of charred dead bodies. Inter-racial relationships and marriages are refreshingly portrayed as commonplace, one of the movie’s strengths.

Families who see this movie should talk about where Matt’s turning point was and whether he would have been more likely to tell the truth if not for his complicated relationship with Alex. How believeable do you think the ultimate conclusion is?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Body Heat and The Postman Always Rings Twice.

Open Range

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

“Open Range” is an old-fashioned western that takes its time, but by the end of the movie the cattle, the characters, and the audience are all where they need to be.

That is, assuming that there is an audience for a western that is not post-modern, ironic, or elegaic. Given the distance from the era of the big westerns and the current feelings of global and economic fragility, it may be time for some cowboy heroes again.

After all, there is no better icon of the American spirit than the cowboy. When we think of emblematic American figures, we don’t think of those guys in the powdered wigs and silk breeches arguing about the Bill of Rights. We think of the guy on the horse, pausing to look off into the horizon as he crosses the prairie, the rugged individual in search of manifest destiny with his own deeply felt sense of justice and freedom. It is impossible not to be stirred by the sight of men on sun-dappled horses cantering across the prairie under an endless blue sky.

That does not mean that these characters are not complex or that they don’t deal with complex issues. One thing this movie does well is showing us the way individuals struggle with the past and try to set a course for the future in a land where new physical and social structures are being created by people who came out west to get away from both. As one says, “A man can get lost out here. Forget that there’s people and things that ain’t as simple as this.”

Stories set in the old west are like those set in a submarine; they fascinate us because they take a group of people with no access to established civilization and give them a conflict to resolve.

Boss (Robert Duvall) and Charley (Kevin Costner, who also directed) are decent men who respect the decency in each other. They have worked together for ten years, driving cattle across the prairie. They do not know much of the details of each other’s pasts, but they know everything about each other’s character, and that suits them. Also working for Boss are Mose (Abraham Benrubi of television’s “ER”) and Button (Diego Luna), a teenager he took in as a young orphan.

They come to an area they have been through before, but something has changed. A man named Baxter (Michael Gambon) now owns the land and most of the town, and he does not want cattle grazing on his land. The law is no help — Baxter owns the whole town, including the sheriff. The nearest federal marshall is too far away to arrive in time to make a difference. Boss, Charley, and Baxter will have to sort it out themselves. When Baxter’s men come after Mose and Button, Boss and Charley have to respond, not for their cattle or their fortunes, but because they cannot allow anyone to bully them. They believe that “There’s some things that gnaw at a man worse than dying,” but must still think carefully about past choices and regrets in calibrating a response.

Members of the town are drawn into the conflict, including stable manager (Michael Jeter) and a doctor with a strong, brave sister (Annette Benning). Ultimately, there is a terrible conflict, but one that has been honestly earned by the characters and the story-tellers. The same can be said of the ultimate resolution.

Costner the director does well by his actors, particularly Duvall, and the shoot-out is tense and kinetic. The dialogue feels authentically old without being stilted. Today’s audiences may get squirmy in the slow early stretches, but those who are patient will be rewarded with a respectful saga that pays tribute to America’s past as a foundation for its future.

Parents should know that the movie has intense shoot-out violence and characters are killed, but most of the violence is closer to a PG-13 than an R. There is some strong language, including a brief reference to a whore. Characters drink and smoke.

Families who see this movie should talk about how conflicts get resolved in an isolated setting like this one. Why was it important for Boss and Charley to tell each other their names and some of their histories? What does it mean not to take a man’s confidence lightly? How did Baxter, Boss, and Charley justify their choices? It also might be worth discussing Balzac’s famous view that “Behind every great fortune is a crime.” Where are the descendants of Baxter and Charley today?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy loving tributes to the classic westerns, Silverado, also starring Costner, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. And every family should watch some of the classics, including Red River, The Searchers, High Noon, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Shane, and the best of the shoot-out at the OK Corral movies, My Darling Clementine, starring Henry Fonda, Walter Brennan, and Victor Mature.

Freddy vs. Jason

posted by rkumar

I hope needless to say, this extremely violent movie is only for the hard-core fans of the genre who are old enough not to be traumatized by it. Since I do not think I can be fair to these movies, this guest review was provided by the son of the Movie Mom, a 19-year-old fan of slasher movies who wanted me to give the movie an A-. Here’s what he had to say:

I was lucky enough to catch KISS in concert two days before I saw Freddy vs. Jason. Like KISS, the Freddy (“Nightmare on Elm Street”) and Jason (“Friday the 13th”) series have lasted for decades, are loved by ardent cult followings, and are hated by pretty much everyone else, especially parents and critics. The newest addition to the series will meet or surpass the expectations of the fans, while the heretics, I mean, deriders, will know to avoid it.

What is there to say about “Freddy vs. Jason?” The plot is ridiculous, and even if it made any sense it would be too pointless and too complicated to put down into a review. It’s just an excuse to have two of the scariest guys in movie history fight each other. Besides, the fans won’t want the key elements given away, and the plot isn’t what the naysayers want to hear about anyway. What both care about is the carnage.

It sure isn’t the characters or performances. Outside of the title characters, the cast is uninteresting, even interchangable; they’re only there to get killed anyway. Save for the classically trained Robert Englund, who reprises his role as the diabolical Freddy Krueger, there are no memorable performances, just busty, pouty-lipped girls in revealing clothing and stereotyped, drunk high school guys who scream and run and get gutted like fish. The highlights are definitely Freddy (of Nightmare on Elm Street fame) and Jason (of Friday the 13th fame), who kindly keep the audience from enduring the dumb teenagers for long, and join to engage in possibly the best movie fight you’re going to see all year, which is what we came to see. Cool, huh?

If you ask anyone why they love or hate these movies, they’d both probably answer with something like the above paragraph.

Freddy vs. Jason makes for a more interesting contrast than, say, Freddy vs. Chucky or Jason vs. Michael Myers would make, mainly because of the killers’ personalities. Whether you prefer killers like Jason who brood mutely while hulking towards you with a cleaver or killers like Freddy, a wild-eyed, deranged, wisecracking, sharp-fingered bloodthirsty hillbilly, no one will be left unsatisfied. The crowd I saw it with laughed, occasionally shrieked, and applauded, especially whenever Freddy cackled while slaughtering someone or Jason disembodied a victim. They obviously loved it, as will probably anyone who pays to see it. So much, in fact, that they’ll see the inevitable sequel. Sure, the chances of it even being considered for an Oscar nomination are even less than those of KISS ever getting a Grammy, but whether it’s a guilty pleasure or the film you’ve been anticipating ever since you first read about it on Wes Craven’s website, Freddy vs. Jason delivers.

Parents should know that the movie contains lots of nudity and some sex, lots of foul language, and characters who drink and do drugs. There is also an ambiguous date rape and a brief racial slur towards the only black character in the entire movie. Oh yeah, people are gutted, stabbed, impaled, torn apart, sliced open, burned, crushed, and killed in just about any way that produces lots of gushing blood. But if it’s any consolation to conservative parents, all the kids who engage in stupid behavior pay for it pretty heavily.

Families who see this movie should discuss the enduring appeal of slasher films, particularly the consistent theme that teens who have sex or use drugs get horribly killed. They may also want to talk about the impact a film like this has compared to more realistically portrayed violence as in “Saving Private Ryan.”

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the others in the series as well as the clever and convention-challenging Scream.

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posted 5:59:13pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Fans of the first two "Night at the Museum" films will like this one because it is pretty much the same film. They go to another museum, this time the British Museum in London, and the exhibi

posted 5:23:46pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

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Little Orphan Annie: From Comic Strip to Radio, Broadway, Television, and Two Movies
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