Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Wish I Was Here
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some sexual content
Release Date:
July 18, 2014

 

Heaven is for Real
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic material including some medical situations
Release Date:
April 16, 2014

Boyhood
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language including sexual references, and for teen drug and alcohol use
Release Date:
July 18, 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

Planes: Fire & Rescue
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for action and some peril
Release Date:
July 18, 2014

 

Transcendence
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

Happy Accidents

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2000

There’s a line in “Splash” that I thought of when I watched this movie. Tom Hanks plays a sweet guy who falls in love with a girl who turns out to be a mermaid. Utterly deflated when he finds out the truth, he says, “I don’t understand. All my life I’ve been waiting for someone, and when I find her — she’s a fish!”

The charm of that comment is that it is a metaphor for the way many people feel when they fall in love and have to grapple with the high-wire balancing act between intimacy and independence. That is certainly true of Ruby (Marisa Tomei) in “Happy Accidents.” She and her friends keep a box of pictures of former boyfriends (called “The Ex Files”), as they try to sort through the weirdos and creeps. They tell themselves that they aren’t even looking for Prince Charming anymore, just someone who is not too crazy and will be nice to them.

Ruby meets Sam Deed (Vincent D’Onofrio) and at first he seems too good to be true. He may have some quirks, like being scared of dogs, taking sea-sickness medicine on land, and being oddly unfamiliar with some of the basic facts of daily life. He is sweet and tender and crazy about Ruby, and that seems enough for a while, until she has that Tom Hanks moment. Sam’s not a fish, but he’s something almost as outlandish. He is a time traveller, born 400 years from now, when Iowa is on the ocean, and he has come back in time to be with Ruby because he saw her picture in an antique store.

Is he crazy? Is he sick? Is he really from the future? And, most important, does that mean he can’t be her boyfriend?

This is a tangy romantic comedy that plays sly games of its own with time as the story unfolds. While it is not quite up to the writer/director’s previous “Next Stop Wonderland,” it is a charming love story and a lot of fun. Tomei and D’Onofrio are terrific, as are Holland Taylor as Ruby’s therapist, Tovah Feldshuh as her mother, and Anthony Michael Hall as himself.

Parents should know that the movie has very strong language, sexual references and situations (not explicit), drinking (including references to alcoholism), smoking, and drug use. A character is in peril and there is a scary accident.

Families who see this movie should talk about how we look at the risks of falling in love and how to get close to someone without losing ourselves.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Next Stop Wonderland and When Harry Met Sally.

Hamlet

posted by rkumar
F
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2000

This is a dreadful movie. Shakespeare is multi-facted enough to stand up to almost every possible kind of interpretation and adaptation. Almost. This version, using much of the original language but set in modern-day New York, is so poorly produced and directed that there would be serious doubt that the cast speaks English if it were not made up of such well- known and accomplished actors. So we have to blame the director since most of the time, it sounds as though they are repeating nonsense syllables that they have memorized. Diane Venora as Gertrude and Liev Shreiber as Laertes are the only ones who have moments of connection to the material. What we get from the others instead is tricks of juxtaposition, Elizabethan language amidst 21st century technology.

Remember the “to be or not to be” speech? Ethan Hawke, who wears an idiotic knitted ski cap through much of the movie and mopes around like a teenager who has been grounded, recites that speech while walking through the aisles at Blockbuster. He leaves the “get thee to a nunnery” speech for Ophelia on her answering machine. Polonius (Bill Murray) soliloquizes to a security camera. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern report back to Gertrude and Claudius by speakerphone and Hamlet lets them know he’s coming home by fax. And the play “to catch the conscience of the king” is a video Hamlet screens for his horrified family.

Teen fans of the performers who want to see this movie should go. Even in a monotone, the language and story are worthwhile, and it may inspire them to look at one of the better versions (especially those starring Mel Gibson and Laurence Olivier) on video. Families whose teenagers see this movie should talk about how to respond to injustice, the importance of communication, and how different performers and different times lead to different interpretations of the classics.

Families who enjoy this movie should see some of the other filmed versions, including the ones with Mel Gibson, Kenneth Branaugh, and Laurence Olivier.

Guys and Dolls

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:1955

Plot: The story takes place among the small-time underworld characters of New York. Nathan Detroit (Frank Sinatra) runs a “floating crap game” (held in a different place each time) that provides entertainment and bankrolls for many members of the community. His problem is that he can’t find a place to have the next game. The only place available wants $1000 up front, and he does not have it. Furthermore, his (very) long- term fianceé, Adelaide (Vivian Blaine), a showgirl, is so distressed over his failure to marry her that she has developed a psychosomatic cold.

Trying to get the money he needs, Nathan makes a bet with Sky (as in willing to bet sky-high) Masterson (Marlon Brando). After Brando brags that he can get any “doll” to go out with him, Nathan challenges him to ask Sarah Brown (Jean Simmons), the local mission worker. Sky persuades Sarah to go to Havana for dinner, and, after he spikes her drink with liquor, they have a wonderful time, and she starts to fall in love with him.

When they get back, however, she finds that the crap game was held in the mission, and feels betrayed. In order to persuade her that his intentions are honorable, Sky rolls the dice in the crap game against the “souls” of the other players, and when he wins, they must all go to a meeting at the mission, the two couples get married, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Discussion: This musical classic, based on the stories of Damon Runyon, is a lot of fun, despite the fact that two of the leads are not singers and none of them can dance. But Brando and Simmons do surprisingly well, especially in the scenes set in Havana, and the movie is brash and splashy enough to be thoroughly entertaining.

Themes worth discussing include honesty in relationships and in competition (Harry the Horse cheats and threatens the other players) and how people decide whether to align themselves with (or between) the two extremes presented by the mission workers and the grifters and gamblers. Questions for Kids:

· Adelaide says she has developed a cold from waiting for Nathan to marry her.

· How do people get physically sick from unhappiness or worry?

· What is the meaning of Sky’s father’s advice about the deck of cards? Is that good advice?

· Who changes the most in this movie? How can you tell?

Connections: Other movies based on Runyon’s colorful characters include “Little Miss Marker” (three versions, one called “Sorrowful Jones,” but the best one has the original title and stars Shirley Temple), “Lady for a Day” (remade with Bette Davis as “Pocketful of Miracles”), “The Lemon Drop Kid” (also filmed twice, with the Bob Hope version the better one), and a very sad movie starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda called “The Big Street.”

Activities: Kids who like this movie may enjoy reading (or having read aloud to them) some of Damon Runyon’s stories, especially “Butch Minds the Baby.”

Gosford Park

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

Has there ever been a life as blessed as that of the wealthy English country house owner of the 1930’s?

Imagine being able to toss off casual commands to a huge staff who are there to anticipate every thing the master wants and have it ready before he realizes he wants it. And imagine living in a magnificent house with a safe full of silver and jewels, breakfast in bed, and lots of room for everyone you know to come and spend the weekend.

Pretty good, as long as you’re on the upstairs side of the equation. This movie, a cross between “Upstairs Downstairs,” an Agatha Christie murder mystery, and a game of Clue, uses the pre-WWII country house as an ideal setting for intrigue, romance, ambition, betrayal, and revenge. And it is also a cautionary tale about class, secrets, money, sex, and love.

Lady Constance (Maggie Smith) represents the last of the old way. She unhesitatingly accepts her position in the class hierarchy, despite the minor inconvenience of having to humble herself by asking for more money from a cousin who represents the new. He is a relative by marriage named Sir William(Michael Gambon). His money may be vulgar because it is newly made and his manners may be vulgar because his wealth permits them to be, but just about everyone in the house wants something from him.

The servants, so regimented that they are called by the names of their masters and seated according to the ranks of those they serve, also show the range from those too bound by respect for tradition or lack of imagination to think of something else, to those who cling to the structure so that they do not have to think about anything else, and those who are just beginning to be aware that the world is going to present them with alternatives they could never have dreamed of.

The household includes Sir William’s bored and bitter wife (Kristin Scott Thomas), their daughter, with eyes like sqashed poppies, terrified of having a secret discovered and with no one to confide in but her maid, a brother-in-law desperate for Sir William to back a business deal, and a distant relative who is the only real-life historical character in the movie, early screen idol Ivor Novello (Jeremy Northam), who brings a Hollywood producer to take notes on the place for a Charlie Chan movie. As Novello literally sings for his supper, entertaining the guests one evening, you can see the future. Those who ignore him (most of the guests) will soon fade, but those who love his music (most of the household staff) will soon take over when World War II transforms the economy and class system of Britain more radically than any event of the previous 300 years.

When asked about his relatives, Novello says that he “earns (his) living by impersonating them.” He is only one of many characters who explore the divide between upstairs and downstairs. There are sexual encounters, largely enjoyed by both parties. And a character who arrives in one category is revealed to be in the other.

As in his best movies, Altman masterfully handles a dozen overlapping and intersecting storylines. Somewhere in the midst, there is a murder, but its resolution is incidental to the many other revelations and confrontations.

The Oscar-winning script is superb, but the movie is mostly a banquet of magnificent performances by most of England’s finest performers. It is worth watching a second or third time, just to enjoy Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren, Clive Owen, Emily Watson, Alan Bates, Scott Thomas, Gambon, and Northam. Ryan Phillipe and Bob Balaban (who co-produced) do very well as the Americans.

Parents should know that the movie has sexual references and situations (briefly graphic), including adultery and homosexuality, and an attempted molestation. There is some strong language and a character is murdered.

Families who see this movie should talk about how each of the different characters fits into the overall story. Which do they sympathize with the most? Which do they dislike the most? Who in the film actually cares about Sir William? Why? Why was it so important for Mrs. Wilson to be the “perfect servant?” What will happen to each of the characters in 10 years?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Altman’s M*A*S*H and Nashville. They may also want to try Masterpiece Theater’s Upstairs Downstairs.”

DVD note: The Collector’s edition DVD has outstanding extras, including commentary by the director, production designer, producer, and screenwriter, deleted scenes and a Q&A session with the film-makers. Strongly recommended.

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