Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

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

Town and Country

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

Part Woody Allen-style mid-life crisis movie, part old-fashioned, door-slamming bedroom farce, part “let’s laugh as rich folks mess everything up while we enjoy looking at their beautiful homes and clothes,” and possibly part therapy session for leading man Warren Beatty, this movie is ultimately mystifying.

Beatty plays architect Porter Stoddard, who seems to have it all. He has a beautiful wife, Ellie (previous co-star and onetime Beatty girlfriend Diane Keaton), who is successful in her own career as a decorator, and he has beautiful homes in Manhattan and the Hamptons. He has two attractive children, and if he is not entirely thrilled with their romantic partners (one does not speak English and one has a tongue stud), his attitude toward them is one of benign neglect. The Stoddards have just celebrated their 25th anniversary in Paris with their very best friends, Griffin (Gary Shandling) and Mona (previous co-star and onetime Beatty girlfriend Goldie Hawn).

But things are about to fall apart. Mona discovers Griffin checking into a bed and breakfast with a redhead, and she leaves him. Porter begins to wonder what he has been missing in 25 years of monogomy, and has a one-night stand with a cellist (Nastassja Kinski), has sex with Mona, and has almost-affairs with two other women, all of whom end up in the same ladies’ room at a black-tie event. There are many, many near-misses, which are supposed to be funny but are merely painful, before Ellie finds out, which is even more painful.

Porter has a near-affair with Eugenie (Andie MacDowell), a woman who thinks her stuffed animals are real and likes to have them simulate having sex. She takes him to meet her wealthy parents (Charlton Heston and Marian Seldes). Her mother crashes into things with her motorized wheelchair, screeching at Heston about his sexual inadequecy in the most explicit terms outside of a porn film, and Heston comes after Porter with a rifle for trifling with his little girl.

Rumors of problems have plagued this movie for at least two years, and some incoherence and inconsistency may be evidence that it has been recut. It is momentarily fun to watch these actors in these settings, and especially welcome to see a movie featuring stars over 25. But the characters never engage us. Ellie and Porter both seem so self-absorbed that it is hard to care whether they stay together or not, and there is something grotesque about the way the charmless Porter is immediately adored by every young, beautiful woman who sees him. Jenna Elfman is wasted in a small role, though she does look great dressed as Marilyn Monroe. There are some funny moments, but overall the movie will appeal most to those who are in the demographic of its performers and not much even to them.

Parents should know that the movie includes extremely explicit sexual references, sexual situations, brief nudity, and very strong language. A character has problems telling the people close to him that he is gay. The subject of the movie is adultery and some, but not all, characters pay a price for infidelity.

Audiences who see the movie should talk about their views on fidelity and resisting temptation.

Audiences who like this movie will also like “A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy,” written and directed by Woody Allen.

Thomas and the Magic Railroad

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Preschool
Movie Release Date:2000

The beloved PBS series about the little blue train and his friends moves to the big screen with a story that will please its many fans, though they might find it a little hard to follow. Even adults may scratch their heads at the plot, which has to do with the train and human characters finding a lost train hidden in Muffle Mountain, finding some magic gold dust somewhere on the magic island of Sodor and defeating the mean bully deisel train, all while finding courage, magic, and a sense of responsibility within themselves.

Series regulars Didi Cohn and Russell Means appear briefly, but they’ve brought in some real Hollywood talent for the main characters to add star quality. Alec Baldwin plays the conductor, Peter Fonda the sad man who is trying to get Lady, the missing train, back in shape, and Mara Wilson (“Matilda”) as his grand-daughter. All three give great, sincere performances that help make the story seem real. And the producers wisely stay away from high-tech special effects so that the trains look just as they do in television.

Thomas and the Conductor are faced with a lot of challenges. The big deisel train with the wicked looking pinchers is a bully who wants to take over. The only one who can stop him is a train called Lady, who has been missing for many years. The conductor is running out of the special gold dust that enables him to go back and forth between Shining Time Station and the Island of Sodor. He goes to his surfboard-loving cousin Junior for help, and Junior uses up the last of the dust. Meanwhile, Lily and Patch try to help Lily’s grandfather, who has a secret that just might help.

Parents should know that even though the movie is rated G, there is some violence and peril, though no one is hurt. It is also mildly troubling that the female characters are so passive — when Lily gets off at the wrong stop, she just sits there and waits for someone to help her, and Lady, the only female train and the only train that is supposed to be powerful enough to defeat the diesel, never confronts the bully. She just runs away from him.

The movie does give families a lot of important issues to discuss. First is the requirement of “the three R’s” — the conductor and the trains must all be responsible, reliable, and “really useful.” Families should talk about what that means and see if all members of the family can give examples of how each tries to accomplish those goals. Thomas says that “little engines can do big things,” and children should talk about what they can do to help others. Talk with them about what makes some people want to act like bullies. Make sure they notice how the foolish deisel says that he does not make mistakes, insisting that “I meant to do that!” whenever something goes wrong. And point out how Thomas encourages his friends, reminding Percy that he is really brave, and how important that kind of help can be. Lady says that “helping each other brings the magic to life in all of us.”

Some children may be concerned when Lily gets on the wrong train and does not know how to find her grandfather when she gets off. Families should talk about what a child should do if separated from parents, how to find someone who can help and how important it is to be able to tell the police your name, address, and telephone number. Some children may be upset by the references to Lily’s grandmother who died, and parents may get some questions about that.

Children who enjoy this movie will love the many Thomas the Tank Engine videos, especially Thomas and Friends: Spills and Chills… and Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends – The….

Thirteen Days

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2000

For once the tag line has it just right: “You’ll never know how close we came.”

It may seem like a movie script, but it really happened. American planes took photos of Soviet missiles in Cuba, a “massively destabilizing move.” If they had been armed, they could have wiped out most of the mainland US population in five minutes. President John F. Kennedy had written a book while he was in college about the failure of England to respond to German aggression when it still might have been possible to prevent World War II. But he had also made his own mistake — a bad one — by responding too aggressively at the Bay of Pigs. Advisors like Dean Acheson and the military urged him to bomb the sites. But Adlai Stevenson says, “One of us in the room should be a coward,” and he asks the President to come up with a diplomatic solution. Kennedy knows better than to fight the last war, but he is not sure how to fight the next one.

There is no time spent on introductions or exposition, giving the story a sense of immediacy and urgency. It will leave audiences reminding themselves that we are still here, so it must have turned out all right. The President and his advisors argue about what to do (“Bombing them sure would feel good!”), interrupted by “just as usual” events to avoid letting the press or the Soviets suspect that anything was going on. When President Kennedy tells Chicago Mayor Daley that he “wouldn’t miss this event for the world,” we appreciate the literal meaning of his words.

Producer Kevin Costner plays a real person, Kennedy staffer Kenny O’Donnell, but the character combines the roles and actions of several people and essentially exists to help tell the story as efficiently as possible. Most of the time, he blends in with a large, capable cast of character actors (though he seems to make himself too important in a pep talk scene and at the end there is a sort of “Three Musketeers” shot that seems inappropriate).

Parents should know that the movie features brief strong language. Most of the movie is very tense, and a character is killed.

This is an outstanding movie, with much for families to talk about. Parents and grandparents should tell children any memories they may have of the Cuban missile crisis. They should talk about what we do when we have hard choices to make — President Kennedy and his brother, his closest advisor, listen to advice from experts, but, as the President says, “There is something immoral about abandoning your own judgment.” At the end of the day, he realizes that “there’s no wise old men; there’s just us.” Why does Kenny O’Donnell say that the only word in politics is “loyalty?” Why did the Soviets send a message through a reporter instead of using diplomatic channels? Why was it important for Adlai Stevenson to make a strong statement at the UN? Why did they ignore the second letter from Kruschev? How did that change things? What must someone do in order to direct soldiers to take actions that may get them killed? Who told the truth and who lied? Why?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Air Force One” and some of the books and documentaries about President Kennedy and his brother, Robert Kennedy. DVD note: This first release from Infinifilm demonstrates shows us why the DVD technology was developed. It is packed with extras that are genuinely thrilling, from commentary by the real-life participants to a copy of the shooting script. Families with DVD players should consider this treasure for their permanent collection.

The Yearling

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:1946

Plot: This quiet, thoughtful, visually striking adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings covers a year in the life of the Baxter family, post-Civil War settlers in remote Florida. The focus is on Jody (Claude Jarman, Jr.), 12, a dreamy boy who loves animals and wishes he could have a pet, “something for my own, something to follow me.” Pa Baxter (Gregory Peck) is warm and understanding. Ma (Jane Wyman) seems harsh and rigid, but only because she has been so devastated by the loss of three children that she feels she has to contain her feelings, that if she allows herself to be vulnerable she will not be able to stand the pain.

The only other boy Jody knows is a frail boy named Fodderwing, who lives nearby. Jody loves to visit him, to hear his imaginative tales and play with his pets. Over Ma’s objections, Pa insists that Jody be allowed to have a young deer as a pet, and Jody goes to Fodderwing to ask him to name the deer. Fodderwing has died, but his father tells Jody he once said that if he had a deer, he would name it Flag, and that is the name Jody chooses. Jody loves Flag, and does everything he can to keep him, even building a high fence to keep Flag out of the corn crop, which is essential to the family’s livelihood. But Flag cannot stop eating the crop and has to be destroyed. Ma shoots him, and then Jody has to put him out of his misery.

Jody runs away, but returns. His father notes approvingly that Jody “takes [the loss] for his share and goes on,” and tells Ma that “He’s done come back different. He’s taken the punishment. He ain’t a yearling no more.”

Discussion: This is a classic story of loss, not just of a beloved pet, but of the innocence and freedom of childhood that Flag symbolizes. Pa says to Jody: “Every man wants life to be a fine thing, and easy. Well, it’s fine, son, powerful fine. But it ain’t easy. I want life to be easier for you than it was for me….A man’s heart aches seeing his young ‘uns face the world knowing that they got to have their insides tore out the way his was tore.” All parents want to protect their children this way. And yet, all parents realize that having one’s “insides tore out” is a necessary part of growing up, that no one ever learns how to make responsible choices without these painful experiences. Pa tells Jody that life is “gettin’, losin’, gettin’, losin’.”

In the last moment of the film, as in the book, the boy and the deer run off together in Jody’s imagination. In part, this means that Jody’s innocence is gone with the deer. But it also means that a precious part of his spirit, the part that loved the deer so deeply, will be with him always, and will be a part of everything that he does.

Questions for Kids:

· Who is “the yearling?”

· What do you think of Pa’s strategy for trading his dog for a gun? What did he mean when he later said that his words were straight, but his intentions were crooked?

· What do Jody’s friends Fodderwing and Oliver tell you about him?

· Why was it hard for Ma to show affection? How can you tell?

· How was Jody different when he came back home?

Connections: Mature teenagers may be interested in “Cross Creek,” a fictionalized account of Rawlings’ life, including the writing of The Yearling, and “Gal Young ‘Un,” a film based on one of her short stories, about an exploitive husband his wife and his girlfriend.

Activities: Middle school kids will enjoy the book.

Previous Posts

Believe Me
Will Bakke has followed his two thought-provoking documentaries on faith with a remarkably smart, funny, brave, and heartfelt first feature film that explores religion and values without ever falling

posted 11:06:16am Sep. 30, 2014 | read full post »

Gone Girl's Rosamund Pike
Rosamund Pike delivers a stunning breakthrough performance in this week's "Gone Girl." She's been a favorite of mine for a long time, for her elegant voice and precise acting choices. It's a good

posted 8:00:23am Sep. 30, 2014 | read full post »

Telling Time in "All That Jazz"
One of my favorite writers provides insights into one of my favorite (if flawed) movies -- Matt Zoller Seitz created a beautiful video essay about Bob Fosse's autobiographical "All That Jazz" for the Criterion Edition, and then they were unable to use it due to rights problems with the movie clips h

posted 3:19:48pm Sep. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Tomorrow on PBS: The Makers: Comedy
Be sure to tune in to PBS tomorrow night for what is sure to be one of the highlights from one of the all-time best series on PBS: "The Makers," the story of women in America.  Tomorrow's episode is about women in comedy. [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHxHMgSF7UI[/youtube]

posted 8:00:45am Sep. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Tomorrow on HBO: "The Fifty Year Argument" -- Scorsese on The New York Review of Books
Once upon a time, there was no internet. And instead of bloggers and pundits and tweets we had something called public intellectuals, people who read widely, thought deeply, and wrote long, passionate, carefully reasoned, thoroughly documented and beautifully written articles about the important is

posted 3:59:26pm Sep. 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.