Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Guardians of the Galaxy
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language
Release Date:
August 1, 2014

 

Noah
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content
Release Date:
March 28, 2014

Get on Up
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sexual content, drug use, some strong language, and violent situations
Release Date:
August 1, 2014

 

Finding Vivian Maier
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
April 11, 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

 

Sabotage
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R For strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use
Release Date:
March 28, 2014

Josie and the Pussycats

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

There is a moment in last year’s “The Tao of Steve” in which Donal Logue charms Greer Goodman – and the audience, too – with his appreciation for the 1970’s cartoon series “Josie and the Pussycats,” based on characters from Archie Comics. That moment has more understanding of the series appeal and vastly more entertainment value than this vapid live-action update about the three girls from Riverdale who know how to rock.

One bad sign was the decision to release the movie as a PG-13. There is a way to put a little post-modern edge on a cheesy series from the childhood of today’s 20-somethings – see “The Brady Bunch.” But that requires a wit and complexity that is far beyond the folks who put this together. Their idea of making it appealing to teenagers is to have one character explain that she is there “because I’m in the comic book!” and to make the band’s name into a double entendre.

Josie (Rachel Leigh Cook), Val (Rosario Dawson), and Melanie (Tara Reid) are an all-for-one and one-for-all band, playing the Riverdale bowling alley and dreaming of the big time. They are discovered by record producer Wyatt Frame (Alan Cummings), who signs them without even hearing them play. It turns out that it does not matter what they sound like. Wyatt and his boss, Fiona (Parker Posey) use pop music only as a cover for their plan of total world domination. They have perfected a system of subliminal messages that force teenagers to buy whatever they tell them to.

The half-hearted lesson about the importance of thinking for yourself and the evils of the military-industrial complex are smirkingly undercut with the greatest cacophony of product placement in the history of the movies. There are issues of Vogue with less advertising than we have to watch in this movie.

There are a couple of funny jokes, especially when Fiona explains what happens to pop stars who don’t go along with her plans (they end up on VH1’s “Behind the Music”) and when Tara Reid’s real-life fiancé, MTV-hunk Carson Daly, chases her around a set trying to kill her. Posey and Cummings are always watchable. And the music is surprisingly good, well-produced and catchy. But the Pussycats are dreary, especially the lackluster Cook. We know Reid can do better, but with the thankless task of appearing as a girl so dumb that she sings “If You’re Happy and You Know It” in the shower, dropping the soap every time she claps her hands, she has an impossible task.

If they had not found it necessary to add in some rough language to secure the PG-13 rating, the ideal audience for this movie would be that neglected category of 7-12 year old girls, who might find it fun to see Barbie dolls come to life and who might find the message of loyalty and independence empowering. But the language gives it a sour overtone that makes it inappropriate for that group as well.

Families who see this movie should talk about why teenagers seem to want to conform, and how they can make sure that they decide what they like and don’t like and want and don’t want based on what is right for them and not on what the rest of the group is doing. They should also talk about the messages we all get about what to buy and how we respond to them.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Viva Rock Vegas,” another live-action version of a classic cartoon series, also featuring Cummings.

Joe Somebody

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2001

Did anyone even read this script before deciding to make the movie?

Did anyone even write it, or was it just made up on the spot by 10 year olds?

This is a movie about a man named Joe (Tim Allen) who is slapped in the face by a bully (Patrick Warburton) in an altercation at the parking lot at work. His daughter, who has come with him for “Take Your Daughters to Work Day,” sees her father get hit, and sees his humiliation afterward. He is so depressed that he sits at home in his bloody shirt for three days, until Meg (Julie Bowen), the office “wellness” coordinator, comes over and asks him what he wants. A lightbulb goes on over his head — aha! What he wants is to challenge the bully to a rematch. As soon as word gets out, he is suddenly Mr. Popularity around the office. So, all he has to do is spend three weeks taking fighting lessons from a former star of low-budget action movies, and he’ll be all set.

So the message of this movie is that being popular and being willing and able to beat someone up are what really matter. On the way to the final confrontation there is a lot of comic violence (including two below-the-belt injuries that are supposed to be funny). Despite his commitment to his daughter, he seems completely insensitive to the impact of his actions on her. And there is also something very icky about the way that Joe’s ex-wife becomes attracted to him again when she sees how newly tough he is, so she puts on a sexy red teddy and tries to sneak into his house to get back together with him. To make it worse, it is their daughter who stops her, in a strange scene that makes it clear that any parenting in that relationship is going to the mother, not from the mother.

Attractive and talented performers are completely wasted in this movie. Despite a couple of nice moments between Meg and Joe, and the use of the truly magnificent Eva Cassidy song “Songbird,” it is an almost unalloyed disappointment.

Parents should know that the movie has very strong language for a PG, including many words they would not want their children to use. Joe smokes a cigar as an emblem of machismo. Characters drink and there is a scene in a bar. The entire theme of fighting back is very poorly handled. And some kids will be upset by the neglect of Joe’s child.

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy some of Allen’s other movies much more. Try The Santa Clause and one of my all-time favorites, Galaxy Quest.

Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2001

Style and substance are well-suited in this 3-D computer animation story about a 6th grade whiz kid who can build a satellite communications system out of a toaster and create a robot dog that when told to “play dead” blows itself up and then puts itself back together.

Jimmy has created gadgets for every purpose, from a combination planetary-mobile/bedmaker to bouncing bubble transportation device and a girl-eating plant. When other kids bring toys for show and tell, Jimmy Neutron brings a shrinking ray. The kids at school laugh at him and tease him about being short, except for his friends, Carl (overweight and asthmatic) and Shane (a passionate fan of some action heroes called Ultra Lords). Jimmy does not get along very well with a very smart girl named Cindy or a tough kid named Nick. When their parents forbid them to go to a theme park on a school night, Jimmy and his friends sneak. The next morning, their parents are gone, leaving mysteriously identical notes saying that they’ve gone to Florida. At first, the kids are thrilled. But after a day of doing everything they are not allowed to do — going up the down escalator, letting the cold air out of the refrigerator, wearing clothes that don’t match, making messes, and eating lots of candy, the kids are scared and lonely. Some slimy green aliens encased in egg-shaped flying capsules kidnap all the kids’ parents so they can feed them to a monster shaped like a chicken with three eyes. Jimmy builds rockets to take them all into space, rescues the kids when they are captured and put in the dungeon, frees the parents, and arranges their escape.

The animation is done by computer. Instead of going for the more lifelike textures of the Pixar movies, this has the intentionally stylized feel of a computer game. That fits the story’s tone, somewhere between the “Tomorrowland” 1950’s ideal of the future and today’s world of cell phones and headphones. Jimmy’s spaceship and the alien planet owe more to Flash Gordon and the Jetsons than to contemporary rocket science and astronomy.

The music, too, has songs that will be familiar to parents (The Ramones and The Go-Go’s) along with today’s teen dreams (N’Sync, The Backstreet Boys, and Aaron Carter).

Parents should know that the movie, while rated G, may be too scary for younger kids. It also has some crude bodily function jokes which were a big hit with the kids at the screening I attended. I asked a bunch of them after the movie what they liked best, and all agreed that it was the scene with all the burping. The movie has some smart female characters, including Jimmy’s mechanic mother, and kids of different races are friends and support each other.

The movie drags a bit in the middle, and adults may find themselves checking their watches. But most kids, especially those from 8-12, will find it fun, if forgettable.

Families who see the movie should talk about what makes kids make fun of each other for being different. If the parents in your family disappeared for a day, which rules would your children break? How does Jimmy learn from his mistakes?

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy the Toy Story movies.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

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

Hard-core Kevin Smith fans (I don’t think there are any other kind) will find this just the movie they were waiting for. It’s a love letter to his characters and to his fans, a sort of movie equivalent to the holiday greetings the Beatles used to send out to members of their fan club. “Jay and Silent Bob” is filled the cheery vulgarity, sweet sprit, deliriously crackpot dialogue, and cornucopia of arcane references to pop culture and to Smith’s view askew world. In other words, it is the ultimate culmination of Smith’s oeuvre. It either clears the decks and enables him to move on to something new, or it just paves the way for another round of Red Hook-based, self-referential little gems.

What this means is that if you don’t already know who Jay and Silent Bob are, see Smith’s other movies before you see this one. This movie is a sort of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” (or The Wind Done Gone) of Smith’s previous movies. He has taken two tangential characters who have appeared in all of the other films and given them their own movie.

Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (played by screenwriter/director Smith) are two small-time drug dealers who spend their lives hanging out in front of the convenience store that provided the setting for Smith’s fist film, “Clerks.” In his third film, “Chasing Amy,” it turned out that they were the inspiration for the offbeat superhero stars of a successful comic book created by the lead characters (played by Ben Affleck and Jason Lee).

In the latest installment, Jay and Silent Bob find out that there is going to be a movie based on the comic book, and they go to Hollywood to stop the production. Along the way, they run into the Scooby-Doo gang, a minivan of gorgeous girls and a guy with a guitar who say that they are on their way to protest animal testing, just about every character from the previous four movies, and many of today’s hottest young stars, happy to show everyone that they are not taking themselves too seriously.

This is the kind of movie that has Ben Affleck say, “Who would pay to see a movie about Jay and Silent Bob?” and then turn toward the camera to give those of us who did a knowing wink. Everyone on screen makes fun of the movie, the characters, and themselves. Smith fans will have a lot of fun — and even more when the DVD comes out and they can add another layer of arcania and in-jokes.

Parents should know that, like all of Smith’s movies, this has the strongest possible vulgarity and profanity, including drug use and very explicit sexual references. Smith has been criticized by gay activists for some homophobic dialogue and has already agreed to pay a fine and put explanatory language in the credits. He notes, however, that the comments are made by people who are not intended in any way to be role models, and that these comments are just one example of behavior that makes this very clear. One female character does point out to the completely clueless Jay that women do not like to be called “bitches.” It is obvious though, that Jay is ignorant, not mean-spirited. Indeed, despite his nonstop monologue of vulgarity, it is clear that Jay is really very sweet, even tender-hearted. And a brief flashback shows us that the only reason he talks that way is that he never heard anything better from his mother.

Families who see this movie should talk about how the real-life Jason Mewes might feel being turned into the movie’s Jay, and how Smith, who puts such rich dialogue into the mouths of other characters, created a silent character for himself. They should also look at Smith’s View Askew web pages to get more insight into the world of Smith and his characters.

Families who enjoy this movie should see Smith’s other films. They might also like to get a glimpse of Jay and Silent Bob in the otherwise stupid “Scary Movie”.

Previous Posts

Guardians of the Galaxy
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posted 5:59:33pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Get on Up
There are a lot of challenges in taking on the life story of James Brown, known variously as the Hardest Working Man in Show Business, the Godfather of Soul, Mr. Dynamite and others with vari

posted 5:59:21pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Magic in the Moonlight
Woody Allen's 44th film is an amuse bouche without a meal, a dollop of whipped cream without the dessert underneath.  In last year's film, "Blue Jasmine," the strength of the performances (especially Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett) and the resonance of its Bernie Madoff-ish crossed with "Streetcar Nam

posted 5:58:31pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Exclusive Clip: Behind the Scenes on "Calvary"
Brendan Gleeson gives a magnificent performance as a warm-hearted priest in a sad and damaged world in "Calvary," opening next week across the country.  Here's an exclusive peek behind the scenes, featuring Gleeson and Director of the Pauline Center for Media Studies Sister Rose Pacatte. [iframe

posted 3:45:01pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »

Tonight: The Last of Our Pre-Code Series, Jean Harlow in "Red Headed Woman"
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posted 3:37:33pm Jul. 31, 2014 | read full post »


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