Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Fury
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout
Release Date:
October 17, 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

St. Vincent
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 For mature thematic material including sexual content, alcohol and tobacco use, and for language
Release Date:
October 17, 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

Dear White People
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, sexual content and drug use
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

 

Mr. Peabody & Sherman
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some mild action and brief rude humor
Release Date:
March 7, 2014

The Curse of the Jade Scorpion

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

Woody Allen pays loving tribute to movies like “Double Indemnity” and “The Big Sleep” with this delicious comedy for grown-ups about a 1940’s insurance investigator who, under hypnosis becomes a brilliant jewel thief.

Allen is C.W. Briggs, an old-fashioned guy who likes things the way they are, which means solving crimes through tips and hunches and having his files right where he — but no one else — can find what he needs. The boss, Mr. Magruder (Dan Ackroyd) has brought in an efficiency expert, Betty Ann Fitzgerald (Helen Hunt). C.W. and Betty Ann clash immediately, despising each other on sight. But then, at a colleague’s birthday celebration in a nightclub, they are both hypnotized by Voltan the magician, who has them believing that they are deeply in love. That ends when the trance is over, but Voltan plants post-hypnotic directions that make C.W. and Betty Ann obey his commands whenever he says the trigger words. Voltan calls C.W., says the magic word, and C.W., in a trance, goes off to break into the homes of his firm’s clients and steal their jewels.

Criminal and romantic mix-ups follow as C.W. and Betty Ann run into each other in all kinds of compromising positions and discover that even the most skilled hypnotist cannot make someone do or feel anything unless there is some basis in reality.

This is the lightest of light comedies, silly but sophisticated, especially by comparison to the gross-out humor of just about every other comedy released this summer. It’s unapologetically pitched at people old enough to understand a reference to Mussolini and appreciate Charlize Theron’s dead-on take on all those spoiled rich femmes fatales played by Lauren Bacall and Gail Patrick. Allen’s quirky casting (starting with himself as the leading man) may not work for some audiences, but it can be fun to watch. Hunt is particularly fine as a woman who is not as sure of herself and her choices as she would like to be.

This story is reminiscent of Allen’s segment in “New York Stories.” In that short film, a nightclub magician makes the Allen character’s secret desire come true by making his smothering mother disappear, only to become his not-so-secret nightmare when she reappears as a looming image in the sky, so that everyone in Manhattan can hear her noodging. In this movie, we again have a nightclub performer who makes some real magic with unexpected romantic consequences. Possibly, Allen is trying to say something about connections between love and magic, guilt and freedom, or heart and brain, or perhaps he is just following the advice of the aliens who visit him in “Stardust Memories” and tell him that if he wants to help humanity he should make funnier movies.

Parents should know that in keeping with the period setting, characters smoke and drink a great deal, including drinking to numb emotional pain and drinking to excess. There are sexual references, including adultery and a character who makes it clear that she sleeps around and offers herself to C.W., but there are no explicit sexual situations. Characters discuss C.W.’s old-fashioned sexism and Betty Ann’s difficulties in being accepted as a professional woman.

Families who see this movie should talk about what they might do – and what they would not do – if they were hypnotized. Betty Ann trusts both Magruder and C.W., one rightly and one wrongly. How does she decide whom to trust and how does she deal with the consequences of her choices? Is there anyone you would trust despite all appearances? Is there anyone who would trust you? What would be different if the movie were set in 2001?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Allen’s “Manhattan Murder Mystery” and “Sleeper” and the movies that inspired this one like “The Maltese Falcon” and “The Big Sleep” (some mature material in all of them).

The Court Jester

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:NR
Movie Release Date:1956
DVD Release Date:1999

“Life could not better be” than the pure cinematic joy of this movie from the first frame to the last.  Danny Kaye has his best role as Hawkins, a follower of the Black Fox, a Robin Hood- style rebel who hopes to put the infant royal heir on the throne in place of the usurper.

Hawkins is assigned to entertain the troops and watch over the baby, who has the royal birthmark on his rear.  He wishes for more exciting assignments like those given to Jean (Glynis Johns), a smart, courageous, and tough Captain of the rebel forces.  Hawkins loves her but has not been able to tell her.

Hawkins finally gets his chance for a more active role when he gets to disguise himself as Giacomo, the King’s new jester, to get access to the palace. He does not know that the real Giacomo is also undercover – in reality, he is an assassin brought in to murder the usurper in favor of another usurper, Sir Ravenhurst (go-to bad guy who is good with a sword Basil Rathbone).  Hawkins finds himself in the midst of intrigue, hypnotized into wooing the Princess (Angela Lansbury) by her lady in waiting (Mildred Natwick), and ordered by Sir Ravenhurst to kill those who stand between him and the throne.

Hawkins disguises himself as Giacomo, the King’s new jester, to get access to the palace. He finds himself in the midst of intrigue, hypnotized into wooing the Princess (Angela Lansbury) by her lady in waiting (Mildred Natwick), and hired by Sir Ravenhurst (Basil Rathbone) to kill those who stand between him and the throne. Jean is captured by the King’s soldiers, who have been told to round up the prettiest “wenches” in the kingdom. And Hawkins has to do battle with a huge knight named Sir Griswold. Although he has trouble remembering that the pellet with the poison is in the pestle with the vessel, the good guys triumph and the baby with the birthmark is returned to the throne.

YouTube Preview Image

Every scene in this film is a gem.  Perhaps the best-remembered is the hilarious exchange about the pellet with the poison and the vessel with the pestle.  Just as good is the battle with a huge knight named Sir Griswold, where Hawkins’ armor is magnetized by lightning. And it is worth pointing out the scene in which Jean and Hawkins confess their love for one another. He asks shyly if she could love a man who was not a fighter, and she explains that tenderness and kindness are important to her. They are each proud of the other the way they are, almost revolutionary for a movie of that era.

This is Danny Kaye’s best movie, and one of the funniest comedies ever, with a plot that is both exciting and hilarious.  Terrific family fun.

Questions for Kids:

· How is this movie like “The Adventures of Robin Hood” and “Ivanhoe”? How is it different?

· Why did the soldiers cheat on Hawkins’ tests for becoming a knight?

· Why did courts have jesters? Whose job is most like that today?

Connections: Kids who enjoy this movie will also enjoy some of Danny Kaye’s other comedies, especially “The Inspector General” and “Knock on Wood.” Kaye also played the title role in “Hans Christian Andersen.” They might also enjoy seeing him perform with Bing Crosby in “White Christmas” and play the more dramatic role of coronet-player Red Nichols in “The Five Pennies.”

Basil Rathbone’s performance here, especially in the sword fight, is reminiscent of his appearances in “The Adventures of Robin Hood” and “The Mark of Zorro.” Glynis Johns played Mrs. Banks, the mother, in “Mary Poppins.” Angela Lansbury played Velvet’s older sister in “National Velvet” and Mrs. Price in “Bedknobs and Broomsticks,” as well as Jessica Fletcher in television’s “Murder, She Wrote.”

The Count of Monte Cristo

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

Two things that almost always capture our attention in movies are watching someone learning something and watching someone getting revenge. Both are in “The Count of Monte Cristo” in abundance, and once again, in this 15th filmed version of the Alexandre Dumas novel, this most resilient of stories has been made into another thoroughly enjoyable movie.

James Caviezel (“Frequency”) plays Edmund Dantes, an honest sailor who has a devoted girlfriend named Mercedes (Dagmara Dominczyk) and a lifelong friend, Fernand (Guy Pearce of “Memento” and “LA Confidential”). When he is promoted to captain and can afford to marry Mercedes, he thinks all of his dreams have come true. But Fernand, overcome with jealousy, betrays Edmund, and Villefort (James Frain), a corrupt magistrate, sentences him to life imprisonment. His friends and family are told that he has been executed.

After years of brutal abuse, Edmund meets another prisoner (Richard Harris), who teaches him to read and swordfight. They plan an escape, but his friend dies, and Edmund escapes alone, with a map showing the location of a treasure on the island of Monte Cristo. He meets up with pirates and ultimately finds the treasure, enabling him to return in a new persona, the Count of Monte Cristo, where he will prove that “revenge is a dish that is best eaten cold.”

The script falters, with some clunky dialogue and a Hollywood-ized ending that Dumas fans will find overly convenient. But the performances (especially Pearce, descending from pettiness to decadence and complete corruption), the swordplay, the splendor, and the story, featuring what is probably literature’s all-time best revenge fantasy are old-time-movie satisfying and lots of fun.

Parents should know that the movie features PG-13-style peril and swordfights and characters are wounded and killed. Edmund is beaten in prison by a sepulchral warden who clearly enjoys torturing the prisoners. Though it is not explicitly shown, we hear screams and we see his extensive scars. A character attempts suicide and there is a suggestion that suicide is an honorable way to respond to discovery of dishonor. There is a non-explicit sexual situation, references to adultery and a child conceived out of wedlock. Omitted from the movie are the book’s depiction of character’s use of opium and a concubine.

Families who see this movie should talk about what made Fernand turn from Edmund’s friend into his enemy. Why did it make Fernand angry that Edmund was “happier with his whistle than (he) was with his pony?” How do we see that Edmund is at first too trusting and then not trusting enough? What does it mean to say, “treason is a matter of dates?” What does it mean to say, “perhaps the thoughts of revenge are serving God’s purpose of keeping you alive?” Or that “neglect becomes our ally?” How did hope change Edmund’s attitude during his beatings? Why does he want to hold on to his hatred? How does Edmund determine the revenge that will be most painful for each of his foes?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “The Three Musketeers,” also based on a Dumas novel. There are even more versions of that story on film than there are of this one, but the 1948 (starring Gene Kelly) and 1973 (directed by Richard Lester) versions are the best.

The Contender

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

The Contender” isn’t authentic. It isn’t even credible. It falls just short of preposterous. Now that we have that out of the way, let me say that it is thought-provoking and thoroughly enjoyable.

The Vice President has died and the President (Jeff Bridges) has to appoint a new one, someone who will underscore his legacy and secure swift confirmation from the Senate. He bypasses the popular Governor Hathaway (William Peterson) in favor of a Senator from Ohio named Laine Hansen (Joan Allen).

As the phone rings, the President on the other end waiting to invite her to the White House, Laine is having an enthusiastic sexual encounter. But it isn’t too spicy after all — it’s with her husband.

Laine, a Democrat, has a lot of support, even from her former-governor father, a Republican. But she has some powerful enemies, including the conservative Congressman Shelly Runyon (Gary Oldman), a Hathaway supporter, who has managed to make himself chairman of the confirmation committee. And when allegations that Laine had sexual relations with several boys at a college fraternity party surface, he leaks them to a Drudge-like website and asks her to respond. Laine refuses, saying that she will not discuss her private life and that there is a double standard because no man would have been asked to respond to such a question.

It is a lot of fun to watch the Washington wheels turn and the spinners spin. Writer-director Rod Lurie (“Deterrence”) has been around Washington enough to get the characters and the vocabulary right. Echoes of the Clarence Thomas and Clinton impeachment hearings give the story some sizzle. Director and stars give the story their best shot, and it moves along briskly. Allen and Bridges give Oscar-quality performances, and supporting players like Sam Elliott, Christian Slater and newcomer Kathryn Morris add depth and sparkle. Oldman, who also co-produced, is almost unrecognizable under a Pappy-Yokum-style hairpiece. He manages the right mix of menace and fervor. If the final turns are a bit Capra-esque, it is still hard to fault the movie for wanting Laine to end up happily, because by then we do, too.

Parents should know that the movie has frank discussions about the allegations against Laine, flashbacks to the fraternity party, and a clothed but explicit sex scene. People use strong language.

Families who see this movie should talk about how much it is fair to expect politicians to reveal to us and how much it is fair to expect from them. They may also want to talk about the challenge presented to Laine back in college and how she responded and whether she is right in saying that a double standard was applied. Families should talk about Laine’s comment that principles are most important when things get tough.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the two all-time best movies about politics, “The Best Man” and “Advise and Consent,” both starring Henry Fonda. They may also like the more recent “The Seduction of Joe Tynan.

Previous Posts

Interview: Ted Melfi of "St. Vincent"
Writer/director Ted Melfi got Bill Murray to appear in his first film by calling him. Murray does not have an agent or a manager. He has an 800 number. And Melfi left message after message until Murray finally called back and asked Melfi to pick him up at the airport. Apparently his pitch skills (an

posted 12:55:48pm Oct. 19, 2014 | read full post »

What Do Critics Think About Watching Film That Is Not What the Makers Intended?
Thanks to Indiewire for including me in their survey of critics about how important it is to watch a movie as it was filmed. If it was made on film stock, is it unfair to the artists' vision to watch a digital version? Here was my answer: [caption id="attachment_30587" align="alignright" widt

posted 8:00:39am Oct. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Classic Movie Scenes in Legos
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/kbB61_urAlg?rel=0" frameborder="0"] From Morgan Spence

posted 3:59:35pm Oct. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Rio Director and Pixar Artist Collaborate on a New Film: Timeless
Pixar artist Armand Baltazar has a forthcoming three-book children’s series called Timeless, about a world in which all time periods come together, and all nows are at the same time. A boy and fr

posted 3:59:01pm Oct. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Contest: Scholastic's Halloween DVD
Get ready for Halloween with Scholastic's "Day of the Dead" DVD, featuring four spooky (but not too scary) tales. In the title story, by Bob Barner and narrated by Rita Moreno, two children celebrat

posted 8:00:51am Oct. 17, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.