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

 

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

 

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some scary images and mild peril
Release Date:
May 9, 2014

Serendipity

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

This romantic confection has all the weight of a soap bubble, but it has all the sheen and charm of one, too.

Serendipity is (1) a “happy accident” and (2) a New York restaurant that serves sweet, frozen goodies. It is #1 that brings our couple together, as both try to buy a pair of black cashmere gloves at Bloomingdale’s, and #2 where romantic sparks fly when she (“Pearl Harbor’s” Kate Beckinsale as Sarah) takes him (“High Fidelity’s” John Cusack as Jonathan) there to thank him for letting her have the gloves.

There is a strong romantic connection, but both are involved with other people, so they part, with two romantic note-in-a-bottle opportunitites for fate to bring them back together. He writes his name and number on a five dollar bill, which she puts back into circulation. And she writes her name and number in a copy of “Love in the Time of Cholera,” which she sells to a used book store.

Years later, as both are about to get married, they are still drawn to each other. So we’re in “Sleepless in Seattle”/”When Harry Met Sally” land, watching them just miss each other a dozen times until the happily-ever-after ending.

Cusack and Beckinsale are just right, giving a small touch of bittersweet reality to the fairy tale. Sarah’s insistence on letting fate determine the outcome could make her seem arbitrary and foolish, but Beckinsale shows us that it is just the result of Sarah’s struggle to overcome a deep romanticism. Cusack, always superb in showing us that same struggle (if you haven’t seen “Say Anything,” rent it this weekend) makes Jonathan’s quest to find Sarah genuninely touching.

The script wobbles at times. The respective fiancés are neither interesting enough to merit their screen time or awful enough to make us feel comfortable about seeing them get dumped. And the near-misses get a little overdone. Adept performances by sidekicks Molly Shannon and Jeremy Piven and by Eugene Levy as a persnickety Bloomingdale’s salesman provide buoyancy. And New York City itself, photographed with twinkling lights and floating snowflakes by cinematographer John de Borman, who shows us the city as a dreamy wonderland. That’s an especially warming, if poignant vision these days.

Parents should know that the movie has smoking and drinking (including excessive drinking). A brief sexual situation is inexplicit and played for comedy. There is mild language. A gay character is portrayed sympathetically and without stereotypes. All lead characters are white and middle or upper class.

Families who see this movie should talk about how we decide to take emotional risks, including the risk of appearing like a “jackass,” and how we decide when to act and when to gamble on fate. They might also like to talk about whether there is such a thing as a soulmate, and how to recognize one.

Families who enjoy this movie should also see “And Now My Love” (some mature material, in French with subtitles), about a couple who do not meet until the movie’s last minutes. We see their entire lives, going back to the girl’s grandparents, so that we recognize how perfect they are for each other even before they do. Another charming movie along those lines is Next Stop Wonderland starring Hope Davis. And check out the movie’s website, which has a cute quiz to help you find a serendipitous match.

See Spot Run

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

What were they thinking? This movie is rated-PG and heavily marketed to kids. But in the first ten minutes, the title character, a dog trained by the FBI to catch criminals, bites off a bad guy’s testicle. We then see the man in the hospital as the doctor explains that it was a good thing that he only had to replace one, um, body part with a metal sphere, because if he had to replace both, they would clang when he walked. Darned if he isn’t clanging and speaking in falsetto by the end of the movie. This is family entertainment?

The movie also features an extended sequence featuring the main character sliding around in dog poop and losing his boxers. Are you laughing yet?

David Arquette plays Gordon, a mailman who has an entire arsenal to help him get through a route that includes a number of houses with “beware of dog” signs. He lives like a happy — if hapless – slob with his roommate Benny (Anthony Anderson). But he longs for his pretty neighbor Stephanie (Leslie Bibb), a single mom. When her sitter is late, he agrees to watch her son James (Angus T. Jones) for a few minutes so she can make her plane. But the few minutes turn into days as the sitter becomes ill and the mother can’t get home. Gordon introduces James to the pleasures of junk food and hair mousse. Then Agent 11, the FBI’s top dog, runs into Gordon’s mail truck to escape mob assassins. James – now called Jimmy — dubs him “Spot” and falls in love.

At first, Gordon and Jimmy think there is something wrong with Spot because he will not play. When Spot retrieves a woman’s purse from a mugger, they misunderstand and think he attacked the man. They refer to Spot as “broke” and “retarded.” Then, like James, Agent 11 gets a new life with his new name, one in which fun is a top priority.

The mob killers are still chasing Spot, and the FBI is chasing them. Stephanie is trying to get back to rescue James. Everyone arrives at once, and it is time for Agent 11 to go back to work. Or is it?

We could use some family movies along the lines of Disney’s “Ugly Dachshund” and “That Darn Cat” in the 1960’s – romance, mild adventure, pets, not overly complex or subtle but fun for everyone. But this movie can’t even manage the dumb comedy level, even by the low standards of the genre. It does not require suspension of disbelief – it requires abandonment of basic principles of logic, consistency, and cause and effect. For example, it is summer time. Stephanie is on a business trip wearing a light summer suit (with a miniskirt, of course, but her legs are one of the movie’s strongest assets, so I won’t complain). So of course the only reason they can come up with to prevent her from making it home is that the planes are cancelled due to snow?

It is too dumb for anyone over 8 and too vulgar for anyone under 12. Come to think of it, it is too dumb and too vulgar for anyone of any age. They should change the name to “Don’t See Spot Run.”

Parents should know that the movie has some mild language as well as offensive terms like “retarded,” the testicle and dog poop “humor” mentioned above, and scenes of mild comic violence (lots of property destruction, no one hurt). A man who inhales helium speaks in a squeaky voice. Some families may be concerned about Benny telling Gordon that he should not get involved with a woman who has a child. And some will object to the anti-intellectualism of the movie, which seems to promote an irresponsible all play and no work point of view.

On the positive side, the interracial friendship between Gordon and Benny is very nice. They tease each other, but they count on each other, and Benny proudly tells a group of rival break-dancers that Gordon is his best friend. Gordon and Jimmy talk about how to cope with not having one or both parents. And the end of the movie, in which Gordon makes his commitment to Jimmy clear, is also well done. This, however, is not enough to make the movie worthwhile.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Agent Murdoch was so attached to the dog and what he thought about when Jimmy asked if he could keep him. Why did Gordon live the way he did? How will he be different now?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Beethoven.”

Scary Movie 2

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

The credits for “Scary Movie 2″ show seven different screenwriters, which means an average of 1.3 good jokes per writer. But hey, if you thought that this movie would have witty repartee, you never saw the first one.

Though a slight improvement over the original, “Scary Movie 2″ is the same hour and a half of easy, dumb humor: insults, pop culture references, political incorrectness, and bodily fluids, gallons and gallons and gallons of bodily fluids.

I’d like to point out for what I am sure will not be the last time that it is not enough to simply insult someone or make a politically incorrect comment or drown someone in excretions. That’s the easy part. The tricky part, and the worthwhile part, is to make those things funny, and this movie misses so often that its hits seem almost inadvertent. So what we have is a lot of fake and lazy attempts at humor. They may have the rhythm and cadence of jokes, but there is nothing really funny inside. On the other hand, the movie is so cheerfully unassuming about being in the worst possible taste that it is hard to be bothered by it.

What passes for a plot begins with a brief parody of “The Exorcist,” with James Woods in the Max von Sydow role as the title character. This is the highlight of the movie, especially when Veronica Cartwright, in the Ellen Burstyn role, segues from singing “Hello Dolly” with her friends to a rousing chorus of “Shake Ya Azz.” But it ends with tragedy, and we skip ahead to a year later, when a professor (Tim Curry) and his wheelchair-bound assistant take some students to the mansion where it took place, for some paranormal experiments. The rest of the movie is just an avalanche of parodies of everything and anything, from Monica Lewinsky’s dress to “The Weakest Link,” and violations of every possible standard of good taste. Not one but two handicapped characters are played for laughs (with extended comic use of a withered hand), and, as was once said about the infinitely better movie, “The Loved One,” there is something to offend everyone. Woods and Tori Spelling(!) should get good sport Oscars, but the other cast members are mostly forgettable.

Parents should know that this movie is filled with explicit, graphic and offensive humor about every possible kind of sexual act, and that it contains material that would easily get an NC-17 rating in a drama. Peril is mostly comic, but at least two characters are killed and there are some jump-out-at-you surprises. As one would expect in a movie written, produced, and directed by black performers, there are some pointed and valid references to the stereotypical portrayal of black characters in Hollywood films, and the female characters are (in a comic context) brave and capable. However, the movie can be seen as sexist and homophobic, while at the same time parodying sexism and homophobia.

Families who see this movie should talk about the process and role of parody and satire in helping us to see what we take for granted in a new way. How does this movie affect the audience’s ability to enjoy standard thrillers? If they break their promise again and come out with another sequel, what will that one find to make fun of?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the movies that inspired it, including What Lies Beneath and Scream.

Say It Isn’t So

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

Audiences who have been wondering when we were going to get a great comedy about incest can keep wondering. “Say it Isn’t So” is a mediocre comedy about incest, a pale retread from the producers (but not the writers or director) of “There’s Something About Mary.” They are clearly trying here for the same results, but miscasting and going once too often to the well of “I can’t believe they did that” get in the way. Its primary appeal will be on video, to excited middle schoolers who think they are cool for watching an R-rated movie and can’t tell the difference between gross, outrageous, and funny.

Sweet Gilly Noble (Chris Klein) meets up with the world’s worst hairdresser, Jo Wingfield (Heather Graham) and they fall in love and become engaged. But then Gilly finds out that the birth parents he has been looking for are none other than the Wingfields, Valdene (Sally Field!) and Walter (Richard Jenkins), Jo’s parents. So, the lovers part, and Jo returns to her old boyfriend, rich, handsome, charming Jack Mitchelson (Eddie Cibrian). A year later, as Jack and Jo are about to get married, Gilly finds out that he is not Jo’s brother, and he races off to get her the message before the wedding.

All of this is just an excuse for jokes involving amputated limbs, bikini waxes, paralysis, pierced nipples, bestiality, a town named “Beaver,” a guy with his arm stuck in a cow’s rear end, and, of course, lots of incest humor. The few bright spots feature Orlando Jones as Gilly’s one friend (an amputee pilot).

Parents should know that this movie contains extremely strong language, many sexual references and situations, and a lot of gross-out material. There is brief nudity and drug humor, and characters smoke and drink. Most parents will not find this movie suitable for children or teenagers.

Families who do see this movie should talk about what to do when someone you care for is about to marry someone you think is a bad choice, and about how a highly dysfunctional family like the Wingfields could produce a sweet daughter like Jo.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy There’s Something About Mary(very mature material).

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