Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Laggies
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, some sexual material and teen partying
Release Date:
October 31, 2014

 

Begin Again
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:

Release Date:
July 2, 2014

Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language throughout, some sexual content and brief violence
Release Date:
October 24, 2014

 

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

John Wick
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong and bloody violence throughout, language and brief drug use
Release Date:
October 24, 2014

 

Earth to Echo
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and peril, and mild language
Release Date:
July 3, 2014

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:2002

Okay, it’s “Star Wars,” everyone. So don’t be surprised if the plot is murky, the dialogue is stiff, and the performances look like the only direction the actors received was “Look over there! When we put in the effects, it’s going to be something really scary!” Instead, go in looking for expertly staged action sequences and eye-popping special effects, and you’ll be very happy.

Yes, the dialogue is so wooden that you can use it for batting practice. I’m not even going to try to give examples – it would be even more painful to type them than it was to hear the actors say them. And if you want to enjoy the movie, I advise you to do what I did and not think too hard about the plot, something about parts of the big galactic alliance crumbling as some bad guys are trying to secede from the union. Just sit back and let your eyes feast on the wonderfully imaginative visuals — the glowing colors, the fantastic creatures, and the marvelous technology.

Natalie Portman returns as Padme Amidala, now promoted from Queen to Senator. Anakin Skywalker has now grown up into a very talented but impatient and sulky teenager and is played by Canadian actor Hayden Christensen, who did a much better job as a sulky teenager in “Life as a House.” Both are in important jobs that require them to forego romantic entanglements, but while they are hiding out in a remote and idyllic part of her planet together they feel a powerful attraction. Anakin thinks that his mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi is unfairly holding him back and that things in general move too slowly. If only he were in charge….

When Anakin dreams that his mother is in trouble he returns to his home planet of Tatooine to rescue her. But he arrives in time only to say goodbye to her and return her body to her husband and step-son at the below-ground home Luke Skywalker will live in when we meet him in what is now Episode 4. Meanwhile, Obi-Wan is on a mission to see whether an army of clones will help the Federation protect itself from insurgents.

Fans of the series will enjoy the way this movie puts some of the puzzle pieces together and introduces us to characters who will become more important later on, like bounty hunter Bobba Fett and Luke’s Uncle Owen. And there is some real acting by Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan, who manages to suggest that he just might turn into Alec Guinness by Episode 4 and by horror movie veteran Christopher Lee as the very evil Count Dooku. But mostly, it is just a chance to enjoy the fabulously inventive visual and action effects.

Parents should know that like the other “Star Wars” movies, there is a lot of peril and violence, though it is not explicit or graphic. A massive slaughter is described, but not shown. There are onscreen deaths, including a parent and a friend who intercepts an assassin. There are some sweet kisses.

Families who see this movie should talk about the temptations of dictatorship and why Anakin and Padme have different views about the ability and integrity of politicians. They may also enjoy talking about which of the technologies used by the characters in the movie they would enjoy, and which technologies we have now that might be of interest to the characters.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the other movies in the series, and might also like to see some of the parodies, like “Spaceballs.”

Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2002

Hurray for “Spy Kids 2,” this summer’s most imaginatively joyous adventure.

Carmen and Juni Cortez are back, now full-time operatives of the spy organization OSS and its new kids unit. As the movie opens, the Preident’s young daughter (“The Grinch’s” Taylor Mumson) is visiting the Troublemaker Theme Park. The rides may be hilariously terrifying (the park’s owner wisely puts up an umbrella as they walk by the one named “The Vomiter”), but the President’s daughter is too cross about her father’s failure to appear to be interested. When she goes on the Juggler ride, she climbs out on a ledge and refuses to come down until he keeps his promise. And it turns out that she has taken the President’s Transmooker! The Juggler ledge will not support the weight of the Secret Service agents. Time for some spies who just happen to be kids!

Carmen and Juni are on the case, but so are their top competition, the Giggles siblings, Gertie (Emily Osment, sister of the star of “The Sixth Sense”) and Gary (Matt O’Leary).

Then, at a big party in honor of the OSS, the Giggles kids’ father is appointed director under very mysterious circumstances. All of the adults are knocked out by drugged champagne and that all-important Transmooker is stolen again. The Giggles kids are assigned to get it back, but the Cortez kids substitute themselves and are off to a mysterious island in a super-dooper dragonfly-shaped submarine.

On the island, they have to keep ahead of all kinds of strange creatures and ahead of the Giggles kids, who catch up quickly. It turns out that a scientist (Steve Bucscemi) has been using the island to do genetic experiments (his spider monkey is a monkey top with eight spider legs and his slizzard is part snake, part lizard) and has created a cloaking device to keep people from discovering what he is doing. It is the cloaking device — and its critical piece, the Transmooker — that all the spies are after.

The spy kids have some wonderful new gadgets, but one of the movie’s wisest choices is to make the Transmooker turn off anything that works with electicity, so the kids have to solve most of their problems with the two things that do work, their brains and the last gift from their gadget-master, Uncle Machete — a rubber band. He tells them that it has “999 uses, and you have to figure out which one to use.”

Like the first one, this is fresh, funny, exciting, and brilliantly inventive. The OSS party scene is simply marvelous, as a cordon of Secret Service agents move from side to side in perfect formation to allow the President’s daughter to have enough space for her ballet dance. It was sheer inspiration to bring in another generation of spies, with the magnificent Ricardo Montalban and Holland Taylor as Ingrid Cortez’s parents, far more terrifying for Gregorio than the most powerful of bad guys. The story sags slightly toward the middle, and the part with Cheech Marin (who has appeared in all of the movies made by screenwriter/director Robert Rodriguez) seems awkward and unfinished, as though some scenes are missing. It is still by far the best family movie of the summer. I just hope they make another one every year.

Parents should know that there is some brief gross-out humor (most kids will love it) and some tense peril (no one gets hurt). Everything that appears very scary at first turns out to be friendly and cooperative. As in the first, the movie is outstanding in showing women and Latinos in key roles.

Families who see this movie should talk about the President’s daughter’s feelings about not getting enough attention from her father. What do you think about Juni’s advice to her? What do you think will happen? We see three different families in the movie. How are they different? How do you think Gary’s view that “a good spy makes no binding connections wth family or friends” makes him feel as a son? As a spy? If that is your rule, how do you know who to trust and how do you know what is right?

How have Carmen and Juni changed since the first movie? Why was it hard for Ingrid’s parents to accept Gregorio? What should he do about that? How do both Carmen and Juni and their parents show their need to be independent?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the original and Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. They will also enjoy the “Cover Me” television show, based on the adventures of some real- life spy kids and their parents. They might like to look at the website of the CIA, which was originally called the OSS.

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2002

Many kids will enjoy this traditionally animated story about a brave wild mustang in the 19th century American west, but parents may find it overlong even at a running time of less than 90 minutes. Parents should also know that there are some scary scenes and that the story may be hard for younger children to follow because the horse characters do not talk.

Spirit is born (in a discreet G-rated scene) to a loving mare and grows up in a paradise of mountains and plains, with plenty to eat and drink and freedom to run as far as he can dream. He becomes the leader of the pack of horses, and watches out for his group to keep them safe from predators. His curiosity leads him to investigate a campsite, and he is captured by cavalry soldiers. A brutal commander tries to break him, but even starvation does not make him submit.

Spirit escapes with an Indian boy named Little Creek and they grow to care for each other. Spirit also cares for Little Creek’s pretty palomino, Rain. But Spirit still will not let anyone ride him. Little Creek sends Spirit back to his home, but he is captured again and has many more adventures before returning to his family.

There are some lovely and powerful images of horses racing through endless stretches of grass, mountains, and rivers. The scary scenes are very vivid, especially the fire and a railroad engine knocked off its tracks that comes tumbling downhill. But the story moves slowly, especially during the dreary Bryan Adams songs. The narration (by Matt Damon) is more poetic than descriptive, so younger kids will benefit from some discussion about the story before they get to the theater.

Parents should know that the movie may be too scary for younger kids. The soldiers use guns and treat Spirit harshly, applying whips and spurs. The blacksmith makes an unsuccessful attempt to brand him. Characters are in peril and it appears that one has been killed. There is a fire and a chase scene.

The Native American boy is portrayed as brave, compassionate, and honorable. Some families may be concerned that all of the white males are portrayed as brutal and insensitive.

Families should talk about the different ways that the Colonel and Little Creek have of trying to teach Spirit to carry a rider. Do different parents have different ways of teaching children? What ways work best? What made Spirit different from the other horses, those of his family and those he met on his travels? Families of older children might want to talk about the triumph and tragedy of the Westward Expansion in the 19th century.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the two greatest horse movies ever made: The Black Stallion and National Velvet.

Spirited Away

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2002
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Laggies
Lynn Shelton is known for writing and directing small, intimate, independent films with a lot of improvised dialogue ("Humpday,""My Sister's Sister," "Touchy Feely"), often using the same small group of actors. With "Laggies," she moves seamlessly to working with a more conventional screenplay, writ

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