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

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.

American Pie

posted by Nell Minow
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for strong sexuality, crude sexual dialogue, language and drinking, all involving teens.
Movie Release Date:1999
DVD Release Date:2000

This is a movie about teenagers who promise each other that they will have sex before the night of the prom, and then do whatever they can to make it happen. It is one of the raunchiest and most explicit movies ever released by a major studio. The title, for example, refers to an apple pie that the main character masturbates in. A girl explains that she used her flute to masturbate. A boy ejaculates into a glass of beer. Boys hide a camera so they can broadcast pictures of a girl changing her clothes over the internet. A little boy hides in a closet so he can see teens have sex.

Parents whose kids see this movie may want to see it themselves, so they can give kids their own ideas about the appropriate ways to make responsible choices about sex, showing respect for themselves and their partners.

Welcome to Collinwood

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

White Oleander

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

Like all Oprah-selected books, White Oleander is the story of a girl who has to overcome the most severe trauma and abuse. The book’s language was both vivid and lyrical, making the terrible events more epic than sordid. The movie tries to achieve the same standard, going for prestige drama over soap opera. But even the an exquisite performance by Michelle Pfeiffer and powerhouse appearances by Robin Wright Penn and newcomer Alison Lohman cannot keep the endless series of tragedies from melodrama.

Pfeiffer plays Ingrid, an artist who prides herself on her strength and independence. She murders her lover with poison from white oleander blossoms, and is sent to prison, leaving her daughter Astrid (Lohman) to a series of foster homes. First, she lives with Starr (Wright Penn), a former topless dancer who has found Jesus and is trying to hold on to her own rebellious daughter. Starr is kind to Astrid until she begins to see her as a rival for the attentions of her live-in boyfriend. Astrid protests that she has no designs on the boyfriend, but she cannot resist his attention and they become involved. Jealousy and insecurity cause Starr to begin drinking again and in a drunken rage she shoots Astrid.

Astrid’s other foster homes include Claire (Renée Zellweger), a weepy actress with a distant husband, and Rena (Svetlana Efremova), a money-hungry Russian who presides like Fagin over a ragtag group of orphans. In between, she stays at an institution, where she is beat up by tough girls but befriended by a sensitive boy named Paul (“Almost Famous” star Patrick Fugit).

Each setting provides Astrid with a new identity to try and a new opportunity to be hurt. Through it all, she visits her mother in prison, and it becomes clear that the woman who killed the man who tried to leave her would also do anything – and destroy anyone — to hold on to her daughter. Whenever Astrid seems happy or at home, Ingrid finds a way to poison her environment. Finally, Astrid is so determined not to allow herself to be vulnerable again that when she has a chance for a home with a kind, loving couple, she insists instead on going with Rena, where she is sure not to be disappointed again. She even turns away from Paul. Finally, though, she learns that even then she is reacting to Ingrid, and that to be fully her own person she must find her own way to intimacy and expression.

A Jungian analysis might suggest that the story is a metaphor for the inevitable separation in all mother-daughter relations. All of the mother figures, including not just Ingrid, Starr, Clare, and Rena but also the foster mother Astrid rejects and the social worker responsible for placing her are like one mother splintered into many extreme versions, as though reflected through a prism. All children find their mother to be many things, from the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving figure of their earliest memories to the extremely demanding and ultimately rejecting caricature she can appear to a teenager struggling to know herself.

Parents should know that the movie includes brutality of a modern-era Dickensian quality. Astrid is seduced by one foster parent and shot by another. A third commits suicide. Astrid is subjected to physical and emotional abuse. Ingrid murders her lover. There are non-explicit sexual situations and references. Characters drink, smoke, and use drugs. Characters use strong language and mock religious faith.

Families who see this movie should talk about how Astrid changes her appearance and manner to reflect each of her “homes,” while Ingrid seems almost untouched by her surroundings.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the book. They may also like to see some other classic dramas of difficult mother/daughter relations, like “Terms of Endearment” and “One True Thing.”

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