Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Annie
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some mild language and rude humor
Release Date:
December 19, 2014

 

The Maze Runner
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images
Release Date:
September 19, 2014

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action, some rude humor and brief language
Release Date:
December 19, 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

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
Release Date:
December 19, 2014

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
Release Date:
August 8, 2014

Star Trek: Nemesis

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2002

Star Trek has a language and following all its own. For those who are not devotees of the series, the way the characters speak often needs to be decoded, causing the viewer to spend more time trying to figure out what the characters are saying rather then why. After a while, if the story doesn’t make itself clear somehow, the viewer loses interest.

This is important to remember during the latest installment of the ever going “Star Trek” franchise, “Star Trek: Nemesis.” The story follows the “Next Generation” crew and their captain, Jean-Luc Picard (the always wonderful Patrick Stewart). A clone of Picard’s younger self, Shinzon, has somehow overtaken the Romulan senate and wants to make peace. Picard and his crew don’t trust this sneaky “clone,” and are suspicious of his origins and what they portend. Of course, treachery is afoot and the crew must stop the Romulans before they destroy or conquer, well, pretty much everything.

The series has had its up and down moments, ranging from excellent, (“The Wrath of Kahn”), to overly silly (“Star Trek V”). It has also had its share of “we’re running low on new ideas,” and “Nemesis” skirts the edges of that territory.

The film does have a few good action sequences, and some solid acting from Stewart, Brett Spiner as the android Data, and Tom Hardy as Shinzon. Hardy’s performance carries the movie in many of its otherwise sub-par scenes, and he and Stewart give the dialogue a lot of help. But the film is too muddled in “Trek talk” and way too overdramatic at times. Its conclusion is not just easy to predict, but laughable. “Star Trek: Nemesis” is not a bad film, but one that will most likely only leave the ever-devoted “Trekkers” as the only completely-satisfied customers.

Parents should know the film contains some violence, most of it sci-fi oriented. Lots of laser beam shooting occurs, almost all of it bloodless. The villain cuts his hand at one point and gives the bloody knife to Data. The beginning contains a rather intense and scary sequence in which a Romulan places a disk in the senate which lets out “spores” that land on the Romulans. These “spores” make the aliens begin to wither away, and then turn them to stone. One then crashes on the floor. There is also a quite surprising and graphic love scene in which two senior officers who have recently married begin to sleep together. During the scene, Commander Troy begins to see Shinzon instead of her husband, and struggles to get him away from her.

Families who see this film should discuss the many positive messages in the film. “Star Trek” has always been about gaining peace, and unlike many movies now, one gets the sense the crew does try to use the least amount of violence necessary to accomplish this mission. Parents may want to discuss why this is, and point out Picard’s constant reluctance to fight. Parents also should discuss the idea of forgiveness preached in the film. Why does it bother Picard so that this clone reminds him of his former self? Another discussion topic may be how we deal with loss, since a major character does meet his end in this film. Why do Picard and his crew toast their fallen comrade and hide their grief?

Families who enjoyed this movie will also like “Star Trek: First Contact,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” and “Minority Report.”

The Hot Chick

posted by rkumar
F
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2002

Even by the low standards of Saturday Night Live-alumni movies, and by the even lower standards of Adam Sandler-produced movies, “The Hot Chick” is simply excruciating. It is loathsome, offensive, vile, and, even worse, it is not funny. To add insult to injury, it is also much too long.

This is yet another body-switching movie. There is a pointless introductory scene in which an ancient princess uses some enchanted earrings to switch bodies with a servant girl so that she can get out of an arranged marriage. Cut to the present day where Rob Schneider plays a petty thief who switches bodies with a bitchy blonde high school princess named Jessica (Rachel McAdams), after she steals the earrings from a store specializing in ancient artifacts.

The rest of the movie is about Jessica (now played by Schneider) trying to get back into her old body. Along the way, we are subjected to horrifyingly awful jokes about the different ways men and women go to the bathroom, a cross-dressing child, priest molestation of young boys, the thief (now in Jessica’s body) having to buy tampons, bulimia, places to hide marijuana, parents of different races, homosexuality, and incest.

There is a lot of blame to go around here – from producer Adam Sandler (who appears in dreadlocks long enough to make the same joke about marijuana three different times in another one of his stupid silly voices) to star and co-writer Rob Schneider (who, bi-racial himself, should be especially ashamed of the racist stereotyping of a Korean woman and her bi-racial daughter), to director Tom Brady, who brings out the worst in his cast and has no sense of comic timing whatsoever. But we have to reserve a special blame category for the MPAA, which gave this horrendously crude and vulgar film a PG-13 rating, when its content is closer to NC-17.

Parents should know that the movie includes extremely explicit and offensive humor in just about every category. A father complains to his daughter (not knowing it is his daughter) that his wife won’t give him oral sex (making this the second movie this season with such a parent-child conversation, after “8 Mile”). A mother grabs the person she thinks is their gardener (not knowing it is her daughter) and kisses him passionately. A child is a cross-dresser. Teenagers drink at a bar and a character talks about places to “hide weed.” There are jokes that are racist and homophobic.

Families who like this movie should see the far better “Tootsie” and “All of Me.”

Equilibrium

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2002

Equilibrium is set in the joyless state of Libria. It is a society built on peace at all costs. In a bid to make the outbreak of war impossible in this post-nuclear apocalypse, early Twenty First Century, all human emotions are outlawed. Any material, such as books or artworks, that might cause people to feel sensations is destroyed, as are those who engage in their production, dissemination or appreciation. Human instincts are kept in check through the regular taking of the drug Prozium. Prozium enables people to give up their own spouses and parents for execution by the state for engaging in “sense crimes”, without guilt or sorrow.

The protectors of this violent peace are the “clerics”. They are highly trained to detect anyone failing to take their Prozium doses and destroy members of the underground who allow themselves to partake in feeling. John Preston (Christian Bale) is a leading cleric, ruthless in tracking down and eradicating sense criminals. He feels nothing about destroying those closest to him. However, after a potent meeting with underground member, Mary (Emily Watson), and a missed dose of Prozium, Preston too begins to allow himself to have feelings.

So, the once emotionless, calculating cleric sets about his task of bringing down the system from the inside. In a world based upon suspicion and a near psychic perception of those who illegally retain their sensations and sensitivities this is fraught with danger. On a number of occasions Preston is almost caught out by his own newly found, emotion-driven folly and the sharpness of his new partner, Brandt (Taye Diggs). Fortunately, Preston is saved by writer/director Kurt Wimmer’s unwillingness to let logic or consistency get in the way of his story.

Equilibrium draws heavily from George Orwell’s classic, 1984. Wimmer substitutes “Big Brother” for “Father” whose voice and features are projected across Libria on enormous television screens, constantly reminding people of the dangers of the natural human state and the devastation it had led to in earlier, less sophisticated societies. Where Orwell has “thought police”, Wimmer has “sense police”. States in Orwell’s world subdue their populations by the need to maintain their war efforts, while Libria’s justifies the abuse of its people through the notion of sustaining peace.

There are a number of interesting issues that Equilibrium sets up to address. In discussions with children these could easily be drawn out, but the film itself descends into a predictable and formulaic shoot-em-up sci-fi action movie. The ninja-based gun fighting style used by the clerics verges on the balletic, but for any admirer of this film genre, they will have witnessed almost identical scenes in The Matrix.

Ultimately, Preston, emotion and beauty win over the dour, controlling Librian state. Rather than straightforward tales of good over evil, the subject of this film means that one is led to question these opposing concepts. Peace is surely good, but then in this case evil derives from an all-consuming quest for peace, which itself breeds violence. Notions of the importance of love, loyalty and joy abound, but glory is also associated with violence and destruction. Equilibrium raises all these issues, and more, for those willing to look into them. Unfortunately, and somewhat ironically, the style of the film encourages one to switch off sense awareness and subtle thinking.

Parents should know that the film is violent. The opening scenes show a sense police raid, involving much shooting and death. The closing scenes are of greater violence, big explosions and more death. In between there is intermittent violence and death. Despite this, Equilibrium is not unusually violent movie for this kind of movie and the deaths are not gory. Some younger children might be upset by the sense police’s arrest and abduction of Preston’s wife in front of her young family.

Families who enjoyed this movie may also like: “Minority Report,” “Matrix,” and “Clockwork Orange.” They might also want to read some classic dystopian literature, like Huxley’s Brave New World or 1984.

Muppets From Space

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Preschool
MPAA Rating:G
Movie Release Date:1999
DVD Release Date:2000

Like all Muppet movies, this latest entry has plenty of jokes to keep the parents happy while the kids are enjoying the story. This time, the story focuses on a question that has intrigued Muppet fans for years: exactly what IS Gonzo? Gonzo feels alone and outcast, even in the midst of the busy Muppet group house. He dreams that Noah refuses to let him on the ark because there is only one of him, and Noah wants only pairs. But then he begins receiving messages and learns that he is an alien, and that his alien family is coming to meet him.

There is a problem, though. Edgar Singer (Jeffrey Tambor of television’s “Larry Sanders Show”), who works at a mysterious government office that tracks aliens, captures Gonzo and orders a scientist to remove his brain for study. Gonzo’s pal Rizzo the Rat is put in a cage with lab rats. Kermit, Miss Piggy, Animal, and the others set out to rescue them.

The movie has sly references to just about every space movie classic, from “The Day the Earth Stood Still” to “Independence Day” and “Men in Black” (plus “The Shawshank Redemption”), cameos from stars including Andie MacDowell, Ray Liotta, and David Arquette, and a bouncy score of rock classics. While the score draws from performers like James Brown, The Commodores and Sly and the Family Stone, the human performers are overwhelmingly white, a mistake also too often committed by the sci-fi movies so lovingly parodied. With that caveat, and with the further warning that this may not be the Muppets’ all-time best, it is a very pleasant way to spend a quick 90 minutes, and the best movie of the summer for families with younger children.

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posted 5:59:13pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
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Little Orphan Annie: From Comic Strip to Radio, Broadway, Television, and Two Movies
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