Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Horrible Bosses 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong crude sexual content and language throughout
Release Date:
November 26, 2104

 

The Giver
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for a mature thematic image and some sci-fi action/violence
Release Date:
August 15, 2014

Penguins of Madagascar
Lowest Recommended Age: All Ages
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor
Release Date:
November 26, 2014

 

The Expendables 3
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for violence including intense sustained gun battles and fight scenes, and for language
Release Date:
August 15, 2014

Little Hope Was Arson
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Not Rated
Release Date:
November 21, 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

Head of State

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

Chris Rock makes an appealing Presidential candidate in “Head of State,” a comedy about Mays Gilliam, a Washington D.C. alderman who is thrown into the race after a plane crash kills the candidates for President and Vice President just weeks before the election. The idea is to use Mays as a placeholder so that one of the party regulars can be the candidate in 2008. At first, Mays does what he is told by the party’s handlers. He wears a suit and tie and speaks in meaningless platitudes. Then he decides to be himself and speak from his heart and the voters begin to respond.

Yes, it’s a little bit “Rocky” and a little bit “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” And it’s more than a little bit Chris Rock’s stand-up routine. But his stand-up is pretty funny, and a lot funnier than his previous movies. This one, directed and co-written by Rock, is a real-life version of the story it tells. Rock is breaking away from what he had been told to do to succeed in Hollywood (Make a movie with Anthony Hopkins? Remake “Heaven Can Wait?” Try to act? I don’t think so.) and just being himself, which makes this a nice way to spend 90 minutes.

The joke success to failure rate is above average, as Rock goes after men, women, whites, blacks, voters, and just about everyone and everything else. Even the opening credits are a goof. Thankfully, the movie avoids the easy “white people with no soul get taught how it’s done by black people” clichés. When Mays appears at a fancy party for upper-class campaign contributors (all white) they not only already know how to do the electric slide; they are pretty good at it, even if they don’t know that “the roof is on fire” is just a metaphor. I loved it when Mays abandoned his generic campaign ads and conservative suits in favor of gangsta-flava’d music-video-style spots (the slogan was MG2K4) and threads.

It’s a shame to waste Robin Givens by making her character a one-note shrieking harpy, and Rock cannot act at all (I have never seen anyone so uncomfortable in a kissing scene), but he does get some able support from Lynn Whitfield and Dylan Baker as political advisors and Tamala Jones as the sweet girl he’d like as his first lady.

Parents should know that there is some raw humor that may be troubling or offensive to some audience members. A woman breaks up with her fiancé by telling him that he is bad in bed and “I’ve had better sex with guys who have spina bifida.” A beautiful woman on the candidate’s staff is a prostitute hired to be available so that there will not be any sex scandals (though Mays turns her down). There are jokes about drinking and drugs (though Mays refuses to accept campaign contributions from a man who markets malt liquor to minors). There is a lot of hitting and slapping that is supposed to be comic and jokes about assassination attempts.

Families who see this movie should talk about why what Mays says is so appealing to voters. His diagnoses of the problems may be right, but does he offer any solutions? When are we likely to have a black President, and who is it likely to be? What does it mean to “dress for the job you want?” Was it true that the options Mays had were limited because he had to represent the entire black race the way a white candidate would not? Why was Lisa’s advice to “run your race” so important?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Kevin Kline in “Dave” and Robert Redford in “The Candidate.” They might also enjoy James Garner and Jack Lemmon in “My Fellow Americans.” Mature audiences will enjoy Rock’s appearance as a forgotten apostle in “Dogma” and as a hit man in “Nurse Betty.”

Phone Booth

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

Even the most paranoid fantasies have to make sense at some level, and this one just doesn’t.

The premise is all right. Colin Farrell plays Stu, whose job is Hollywood’s favorite indicator of utter corruption — he’s a publicist. We meet him walking down the street, his intern trotting beside him, handing him pre-dialed cell phones so he can keep up a continuous loop of shmoozing, badgering, lying, and manipulating his various clients, sources, and outlets — including a pretty would-be actress named Pam (Katie Holmes), a tasty prospect for both business and pleasure.

But Stu doesn’t want to call Pam from the cell phone because his wife sees the bills. So he stops in the last phone booth in Manhattan, which turns out to be a very big mistake.

The phone rings, and Stu answers. The man on the other end (Kiefer Sutherland) tells him that he has a rifle pointed at Stu, and that he will shoot him if he hangs up or tells anyone about it. He seems to know all about Stu, his wife Kelly (Rhada Mitchell), and Pam. When a pimp comes after Stu because his girls want to use the phone, the sniper shoots him, and the police, led by Captain Ramey (Forrest Whitaker), think Stu did it. Stu is surrounded by police with guns pointed at him, both Pam and Kelly are there, and the sniper will not let him get off the phone.

This film is based on a short student film and was shot in just 12 days. It’s a Hollywood film that is trying for the vibe — and the indie cred — of a smaller film. Just as “The Blair Witch Project” made its liability (no money) into an asset (making it look as though the footage was from a student film), this movie tries to have Stu’s confinement in the phone booth shape both the story and its impact. While it does create a lot of tension and Farrell and Whitaker are always great to watch, the movie feels manipulative and padded. The “Who do you think you are?” sign behind Stu and the “I’ll never lie again and will show the proper respect” climax are heavy-handed and pretentious and the attempted twist at the end is heavy-handed and predictable. Farrell, usually impeccable with American accents, completely misses in his attempt to sound like an upwardly mobile guy from the Bronx.

Parents should know that the movie has extreme and intense peril and violence. Characters are killed without provocation and there are references to other murders. Characters smoke and use very strong language and there are references to adultery (or the wish to commit adultery).

Families who see this movie should talk about what the characters are likely to do next. How will Stu change?

Families who enjoy this movie might also enjoy some other phone-centered thrillers like “Sorry Wrong Number” and “Dial M for Murder” and a brilliant movie about the relationship between a corrupt publicist and an even more corrupt columnist, “The Sweet Smell of Success.”

View from the Top

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

It’s hard to imagine what attracted such a high-powered cast to this this forgettable little movie about a small-town girl with a dream. It’s almost a “Far From Heaven”-style tribute to the movies we like to think of as being from a simpler era, but there is no ironic distance and no attempt to re-invent the genre for another era. It’s like an episode of “That Girl” you might come across on the TV Land network.

Gwenyth Paltrow plays Donna, the daughter of a much-married former showgirl who lives in a small town in Nevada. She dreams of a bigger world, and is looking forward to moving to Tucson with her boyfriend. But he breaks up with her in a birthday card (he explains that they don’t sell breaking up cards). She thinks she will be stuck there forever until she sees Sally Watson (Candice Bergen), the most famous flight attendant in the world, on television. Now Donna’s dream has direction.

She gets a job as a flight attendant on a commuter airline for gamblers. But she wants more — she wants to do first class on international flights, like Sally. So she applies to Royal Airlines.

Will there be setbacks for her to be plucky about? Will there be a dreamboat to make it hard to take that job when it does come through? Will there be comic relief in the form of a quippy gay guy and a teacher with high standards and an eye problem? Oh, so you’ve seen this movie before? Me, too.

This is a cotton candy movie, and it melts away into sticky nothing almost before you can taste the sugar. There are some mildly funny moments and the performances are fine, but they don’t make up for its lack of anything particularly engaging in its characters or story. The coming attraction has all the best moments and the credit sequence outtakes have more vitality than the rest of the movie.

Parents should know that the movie has some strong language and sexual references. A character gives the finger. There is a reference to circumcision and there are jokes about a character’s “talent” for hickeys.

Families who see this movie should talk about how Donna came to believe that she was capable of more than she had been told. How can families help their members believe in themselves and their dreams?

Families who enjoy this movie may also enjoy some of the movies that inspired it, like “Come Fly With Me” and “Three Coins in a Fountain.”

Dreamcatcher

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

It’s not Stephen King’s best book, and it is far from the best screenplay produced by either Lawrence Kasden (“Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “The Big Chill”) or William Goldman (“The Princess Bride,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”). It is mishmash, covering favorite King themes like the loyalty of childhood friends, the isolation of a snow-covered cabin in the woods, extra-sensory abilities, a fatalistic determinism, the devastating impact of one person who snaps, and extra-terrestrials. There’s even a sort of Wizard of Oz-ish “you had the power in you all along” theme. It may not work as a whole for anyone, but there is something in it to scare the bejeebers out of just about everyone.

Beaver (Jason Lee), Henry (Thomas Jane), Jonesy (Damian Lewis), and Pete (Timothy Olyphant) are boyhood friends who share a secret connection that we only learn about gradually through flashbacks. A good deed resulted in their being given special power to “know things.” Every year, they go away together to a cabin in the woods. On this trip, strange things happen. The animals all leave the forest. A government helicopter calls down to tell them they are quarantined. A man staggers out of the woods, disoriented and subject to intense intestinal distress. A woman, almost frozen to death, is also disoriented and subject to intense intestinal distress. Strange red patches appear on the faces of both, and then really strange things start to happen. It turns out that all of this is due to an alien invasion, and this is not the kind of friendly ET with whom you would want a close encounter.

And that’s not all that’s scary. There is a team of government specialists led by Colonel Kurtz (note the Heart of Darkness reference) who use words like “contain” and “perimeter” that mean “wipe out everyone who has had any possible contact with the aliens. Better to slaughter innocent people than to risk additional exposure.” He seems to be walking the tightrope between genius and insanity, and we’re not sure if he’s a necessary evil or a more dangerous threat than the extraterrestrials.

So, that leaves us just about every kind and category of scariness, a catalog of terror, including yuckiness (remember that intestinal distress? snake-like aliens with big teeth exit the body out the alimentary canal), gore (buckets of blood, grisly injuries and deaths), tension (what’s behind that door?), creepiness, intense peril, is-that-you-or-is-it-the-alien-using-your-body moments, and good, old-fashioned jump-out-at-you surprises.

King (and Kasdan and Goldman) have a knack for creating likable characters with conversations we like to overhear, and the four main actors are all exceptionally appealing. The art direction and cinematography are top-notch, especially the first-rate visualization of Jonesy’s “memory warehouse,” the place where, as he explains, now that he is older, he can’t add anything without taking something out.

The weaker parts of the movie are the section about the secret defense department operation led by Kurtz. Even the masterful Freeman can’t quite make that character work, and the attempt to create a parallel between the peril created by the outside force and the peril from within does not work, either. There is a very, very silly moment when Henry’s particular form of ESP requires him to use a gun as a telephone. When that same gun turns out to have a homing device implanted, both Henry and Kurtz are using the gun to communicate and track someone.

Lewis can’t quite manage the second personality that takes him over, and by the way, even though movie villains usually have English accents, isn’t that something of a stretch when the bad guy is not only not from England, but not from Earth? Still, as I watched this movie, I noticed that the audience reaction sounded like they were on a roller-coaster ride, a good sign in a scary movie. It’s not a classic like “Carrie” or “The Shining,” but it is a nicely done scarefest, and achieves its modest ambitions.

Parents should know that the movie is intensely scary, and violent, as noted above. Characters use very strong language and make explicit and graphic sexual references. One character abuses alcohol, and many drink and smoke.

Families who see this movie should talk about disabled people, and why some people go out of their way to pick on them while others appreciate their gifts. What made the four boys so loyal to each other? How do we know when a person like Kurtz has gone too far, and at that point, who can stop him? He makes a Jeremy Bentham-like argument that the ends justify the means. Under what circumstances is that the case?

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy some of the best Stephen King novels and movies, including “Carrie” and “The Shining.”

Previous Posts

Horrible Bosses 2
Maybe it's just the proximity to the horrible "Dumb and Dumber To," but the cheerily offensive "Horrible Bosses 2" made me laugh. Full warning -- it begins with an elaborate sight gag as our hapless he

posted 5:58:28pm Nov. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Penguins of Madagascar
The most adorable characters from the first three animated "Madagascar" movies were the penguins, the seldom right but never in doubt leader Skipper (Tom McGrath), the often right but never listened to

posted 5:17:32pm Nov. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Coming Soon: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, the Miniseries
Susanna Clarke's novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is one of those delicious stories that transports the reader to another world, so enthralling that it is difficult to leave. The setting is historical, England in 1806, as the Napoleonic Wars are being fought on land and at sea. Most peopl

posted 3:58:53pm Nov. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Trailer: Jurassic World with Christ Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/RFinNxS5KN4?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 3:53:04pm Nov. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Listen In as Betty Jo Tucker, A.J. Hakari and I Discuss the December Movie Releases
Thanks to Betty Jo Tucker for inviting me back on her show -- this afternoon we will be discussing the big holiday season releases, including "Unbroken," "Inherent Vice," and "Into the Woods."

posted 6:38:57am Nov. 25, 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.