Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Love is Strange
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language
Release Date:
08/22/2014

 

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

The November Man
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong violence including a sexual assault, language, sexuality/nudity and brief drug use
Release Date:
August 27, 2014

 

Draft Day
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 on appeal for brief strong language and sexual references
Release Date:
April 11, 2014

If I Stay
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some sexual material
Release Date:
August 22, 2014

 

Blended
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and language.
Release Date:
May 23, 2014

Swordfish

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2001

If attitude and very cool explosions were enough to make a movie worthwhile, then this one would win an Oscar. But movies generally require something along the lines of characters and plot, and there this movie lets us down.

John Travolta plays a mysterious bad guy named Gabriel Shear who will do anything to get what he wants. In this case, he wants the greatest hacker in the world, Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman), to help him steal a lot of money from a bank. We first see Gabriel talking about what’s wrong with Hollywood movies and describing his objections to “Dog Day Afternoon” (coincidentally the same movie Travolta quoted in “Saturday Night Fever”). It becomes apparent that this is not just some random conversation over drinks. We are in the middle of a very ugly hostage situation, far more menacing than the one in “Dog Day Afternoon.” He doesn’t just have the hostages strapped up in explosives. He has them strapped up in explosives and ball bearings, so that when one person explodes we will get to see the rain of spheres operating like a mini-minefield.

Then a flashback: Ginger (Halle Berry) finds Stanley working as a maintenance man at an oil rig, under probation that will send him to jail immediately if he touches a computer keyboard. She tells Stanley that her employer will pay $100,000 just to meet him, and Stanley, who wants to regain custody of his plucky daughter from his druggie porn star wife, accepts. They meet in the kind of nightclub/house of decadence that Hollywood types think that non-Hollywood types will think is cool. Gabriel gives Stanley a rather unusual test — 60 seconds to break into a Defense Department computer system while a gun is at his head and a woman is otherwise distracting him under the desk.

Many explosions and shoot-outs and car chases (plus a look at Halle Berry topless) later, we are back at the hostage scene, and ready for some very predictable twists and turns and a bus hanging from a helicopter before the unsurprising ending.

The dialogue is supposed to be hip and sardonic, but it is just third-rate Tarantino. When the Berry character says that her name is Ginger, the best they can do is have Stanley make a “Gilligan’s Island” joke. Generally speaking, when the characters in a movie laugh at a joke, the audience does not. The movie tries for a vibe that is cool, amoral, and ambiguous, but what it gets is a vibe that is manipulative and insincere. Really — they could not figure out a way to make us care about Stanley without making his daughter have a stepfather who makes porn movies and a mother who is too drugged out to pick her up from school on time? They throw in a little Jeremy Bentham-esque dialogue about the greatest good for the greatest number, but are we really supposed to be glad that national security is being carried out by a rogue cop who thinks he is above the rules? It’s like giving the codes to the atom bomb to Leona Helmsley.

Jackman and Berry do their best with criminally underwritten parts, but Travolta never makes us believe that his character has two dimensions, much less three. All that’s left are the explosions and chases which are well handled, but we care so little about the outcome that they barely matter.

Parents should know that this is a true R movie with very strong language, nudity, sexual references and situations (including using a woman like property and ordering her to service Stanley sexually in front of other people), and a lot of violence. Many people are killed and there is an extended close-up of a grisly corpse.

Families who see this movie should talk about the Bentham-esque conundrum posed by Gabriel. If you could wipe out cancer by killing one child, would you do it? Should Stanley have violated his parole and broken the law in order to get his daughter back? How is what he did when Ginger was being threatened make him different from Gabriel?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Face-Off” with Travolta and Nicolas Cage and “X-Men” with Jackman and Berry.

Super Troopers

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2001

Toward the end of this movie, a character explains the difference between the pranks he and his friends play and those devised by a colleague. “Our shenanigans are cheeky and fun. His are cruel and tragic.” It’s a relief to hear that the people behind this movie recognize that distinction in theory, even if they are not always able to do so in practice.

“Super Troopers” feels like the kind of movie five college buddies who didn’t want to go to law school would dream up after a weeklong marathon of smoking dope and watching John Landis movies. In fact, that’s pretty much how it came about. Five recent Colgate graduates who created a comedy group called Broken Lizard wrote and star in it and one of them directed it. The result is a sort of “Animal House” crossed with Cheech and Chong with a touch of the 70′s Erik Estrada television show “ChiPs.” It is a slob comedy story of the rivalry between a group of Vermont highway patrolmen and the local police. Budget cuts are looming, so it escalates from taunts and practical jokes to a struggle over turf and then to a struggle for survival.

The members of Broken Lizard play the troupers, whose idea of “cheeky” hijinks includes making bets about how many times one of them can use the word “meow” while giving a motorist a speeding ticket or donning a hippie wig and racing the other troupers to the Canadian border.

In classic college fashion, drugs, alcohol, humiliation, and sex provide most of the subjects for humor. For example, it is supposed to be funny when a college student swallows two bags of marijuana and mushrooms, a character told to create a distraction concocts an elaborate prop to make it look like he is having sex with a bear, a character is hosed down naked and subjected to a fake delousing done with powdered sugar, and a German couple in a stolen Porsche offer sexual favors to get out of trouble — an offer that is happily accepted.

This is in the middle range for bad taste comedies, in both the bad taste and comedy categories. There are a lot of gross jokes that are cheerfully politically incorrect (even one about television cartoons made in Afganistan -”Afganimation”) but not as offensive as some of what is out there. They are not as stupid as some of what we’ve seen in recent movies, but they are not terrifically funny either. It falls somewhere between “American Pie” and Tom Green.

No one in Broken Lizard has what anyone might deem star quality — in those uniforms, they look more like they are auditioning for a local franchise for the Village People than like anyone who might know how to hold a radar gun on a speeding 18-wheeler. But director Jay Chandrasekhar and one or two of the others clearly have fun on screen and it occasionally reaches the audience.

Parents should know that the movie is mostly sex, alcohol, and drug humor, including depiction of masturbation, exhibitionism, bestiality and implied group sex. An unmarried couple has a child to whom both are clearly devoted. There are several depictions of a vulgar drawing of a cartoon character. Some law enforcement officials are shown as corrupt or stupid. Others, both male and female, black and white, are shown as high-spirited but loyal and honest. One strength of the movie is its positive portrayal of inter-racial relationships.

Families who see this movie should talk about what it might feel like to fear losing a job you like and how friendships develop among people who work together.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Caddyshack and the Police Academy and Naked Gun movies.

Sunrise at Campobello

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:1960

“Plot: This is the story of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Ralph Bellamy), from the time he became disabled by polio to his comeback into mainstream politics, as he introduced candidate Al Smith to the Democratic convention of 1928.

Discussion: Franklin, a man of unquenchable vigor, was forced to reconsider his future when his legs became paralyzed. His close friend and political advisor, Louis Howe (Hume Cronyn) tells him he has two choices, to become a “”country squire”” and write books, or to get up and get back into politics. His mother urges him not to overdo: “”I don’t want to see you hurt.””

Sugar and Spice

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2001

The title may be “Sugar and Spice,” but the content is closer to snips and snails and puppy dog tails in this supposedly cute story of a pregnant teenage cheerleader and her friends who rob a bank. Lisa (Marla Soloff) a bitter rival of the cheerleaders, narrates the movie. In the first few minutes, she calls a male cheerleader a “fag” and accuses the cheerleaders of being so close they must be “lesbos.” She says the girls are so close to each other they even get their periods together and we get to see them share a box of tampons, passing it to each other under the stalls.

The movie begins by helpfully assigning each member of the cheerleading squad one characteristic, to help us keep them straight. There is “the rebel,” “the brain,” “the mastermind,” etc. The girls have nothing in common other than cheerleading, and yet are completely devoted to each other. As one of them says, “you’re the only family I have.” Parents are hopelessly out of touch or otherwise useless.

The movie wastes the talents of some able performers, and it is almost painful to see this lively and energetic cast struggle with the lazy grubbiness of the script. When the best the director can do to add energy to a scene is to play Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part II” (the successor to “I Feel Good” and “Bad to the Bone” as the most overused soundtrack song), you know they’ve run out of ideas and just don’t care anymore.

Diane Weston (Marley Shelton) is the head cheerleader, relentlessly peppy and optimistic. She and the new quarterback, Jack Bartlett (James Marsden), fall in love. Their parents are thrilled when they say plan to get married, until they explain that it will have to wait until after the baby is born. Their parents kick them out, and Diane and Jack have to find jobs and a place to live. Diane decides that they will have to rob a bank to get the money they need for the baby, and the other girls agree to help. The girls rent movies with robbery scenes to get ideas and then go in with “Betty Doll” masks and what they think are non-working guns.

Parents should know that the dialogue is very graphic and raunchy. A typical comment from one of the girls is, “Just hoping we can finish this up before menopause sets in.” One of the girls says she is not a virgin anymore because she had an orgasm while riding a horse at church camp. Another says that a picture of Jesus “made me hot.” There is an explicit scene of an animal giving birth. The plot centers on a pregnant teenager. (She and the father are devoted to each other and to preparing for the baby.) Another of the cheerleaders is surprised that she is not the first to get pregnant — her mother has the same reaction. One parent is in jail because she shot her husband for having sex with someone else while she was in labor. The girls buy guns and rob a bank with no adverse consequences.

Families who see this movie should talk about the way that Diane shows responsibility, leadership, and organization. She is relentlessly optimistic but practical. When she sees the broken pieces they recieve from the gun dealer, she chirps, “I see a craft project!” The girls show a great deal of loyalty and resourcefulness. Unfortunately, these efforts are directed at robbing a bank, with no sense of any adverse consequences for the people whose money they are stealing. Diane does not feel that she can confide in Jack about their plans. What does that say about their relationship? Why does she feel that only she is capable of doing what she believes is necessary to help her baby? What other alternatives did she have? Parents may want to talk about how families should react if a teenager becomes pregnant. The movie’s final twist shows another moral compromise that families may want to discuss as well.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the somewhat less raunchy “Bring it On.”

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