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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

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New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Tomorrowland
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language
Release Date:
May 22, 2015

 

American Sniper
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
R for strong and disturbing war violence, and language throughout including some sexual references
Release Date:
January 16, 2015

I'll See You in My Dreams
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sexual material, drug use and brief strong language
Release Date:
May 22, 2015

 

Strange Magic
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and scary images
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images
Release Date:
May 15, 2015

 

Mortdecai
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some language and sexual material
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

New in Theaters

grade:
B+

Tomorrowland

Lowest Recommended Age:
4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language
Release Date:
May 22, 2015
grade:
B+

I'll See You in My Dreams

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sexual material, drug use and brief strong language
Release Date:
May 22, 2015
grade:
B+

Mad Max: Fury Road

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images
Release Date:
May 15, 2015

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New to DVD

pick of the week
grade:
B+

American Sniper

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
R for strong and disturbing war violence, and language throughout including some sexual references
Release Date:
January 16, 2015
grade:
C

Strange Magic

Lowest Recommended Age:
Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and scary images
Release Date:
January 23, 2015
grade:
D

Mortdecai

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some language and sexual material
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

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George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead

posted by rkumar
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2005
B-
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date: 2005

A groaning buffet table of cannibalistic carnage and cheesy dialogue, “Land of the Dead” unevenly masks its stale plot elements with campy winks and a dash of humor. The extreme carnivore’s ultimate popcorn genre, the zombie flick, is back in the trustworthy hands of legendary cult-movie director, George Romero, although some might not recognize his touch, cloaked as it is in a big fat budget. This movie is not for sensitive audiences of any age: as a litmus test, if you ever felt queasy hearing a friend describe a medical procedure, this movie is not for you.

Inured to the now-predictable threat of zombies, a city has walled itself off, protected on three sides by water and the fourth by electric fences. Hired scavengers led by Riley (Simon Baker) and Cholo (John Leguizamo) foray into surrounding towns in armored trucks to scavenge food and medical supplies while distracting the zombies with fireworks. Back in the city, all-powerful Mr. Kaufman (Dennis Hopper) runs the city as a three-class system with the “haves” shopping and amusing themselves in a central tower named “Fiddler’s Green” (wink), the “have-nots” providing services (wink-wink) and amusements to the “haves” and the security teams who protect the perimeter.

Riley and slow-talking burn-victim, Charlie (Robert Joy), observe a handful of zombies in one town who demonstrate some basic intelligence and communication, lead by “Big Daddy” (Eugene Clark). A confrontation between Cholo and Mr. Kaufman results in Fiddler’s Green being held hostage as these new, “thinking” zombies advance on the city. The last twenty minutes brings an explosion of gore, violence and frantic races by the living to escape an array of gruesome deaths. The penultimate scene is so hokey that getting eaten alive by the undead suddenly might not seem so bad, however, for the most part the movie feels exactly like a summer screamer should feel – mindless, gross and perversely fun.

Romero is the Godfather of zombie flicks, having made his name with the horror classic Night of the Living Dead (1968) and its more popular sequel Dawn of the Dead(1978). Clearly someone who appreciates scabs, scars, ingestion of body parts, and things that make others say “ewwwww”, Romero gleefully turns the camera to zombies tearing the flesh off bones or pawing through a corpse’s chest cavity to extract the juiciest organs. Parents should know that there is more butchery here –- of the walking undead and of the ill-used living—then in most abattoirs. Explicit depictions of human flesh being consumed make this inappropriate fare even for many mature viewers.

While the undead zombies are predictable in their behavior, the living exhibit all sorts of reprehensible behavior. Characters kill for financial and political gain. The most dependable and loyal character is mocked and called names, and those who cheat or lie die horrible deaths. There is a brief scene of two women kissing, of a barroom stripper topless, and of a character caged for the amusement of onlookers. Parents should be aware that there is frequent and strong profanity as well as several slurs on ethnicity and intelligence. Some characters drink and smoke.

Families who watch this film might want to discuss the political allusions to revolution as well as to several current events. How are the immoral punished and how are the people who keep their word rewarded? They might want to laugh together at all the nicknames people go by and what they would call themselves if they lived in a b-movie such as this one.

Families who enjoy this genre of movie might consider other Romero zombie flicks, keeping in mind that the special effects now look quite dated, or 28 Days Later, a grittier and more intelligent movie (with zombies who move very quickly). Similarly, they will want to check out Shaun of the Dead or Army of Darkness, both of which have a strong measure of humor caged for the amusement of onlookers. Both, of course, have intense and graphic violence and other mature material.

Many thanks to guest critic AME.

Herbie: Fully Loaded

posted by rkumar
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2005
B
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date: 2005

Lindsay Lohan tries for three for three with another remake of a Disney classic, following The Parent Trap and Freaky Friday with an updated version of The Love Bug, but this one doesn’t quite make it across the finish line.

Herbie (the VW bug who thinks he is a race car) is as cute as ever, and gives by far the most endearing and convincing performance in the film. But the rest of the story is formulaic and tired, with retro effects that are dull rather than nostalgic and a soundtrack of oldies as uninspired as a K-Tel “Hits of the 70’s” compilation.

This time, Herbie’s driver is Maggie (Lohan), who has just graduated from college (arriving at the ceremony via skateboard, cap and gown over tiny miniskirt). Before she goes to New York to start a job at ESPN, she goes home to visit her dad (Michael Keaton as Ray, Sr.) and brother (Breckin Meyer as Ray, Jr.), NASCAR racers whose poor performance has lost them sponsors. Maggie picks Herbie out of a junkyard — well, she may think so, but in reality, Herbie picks Maggie. The glove compartment pops open and there is a note inside, explaining that Herbie will help solve her problems. “Great,” she says, “A fortune cookie on wheels.”

And we’re off to the races, literally, as Herbie drives Maggie and her chldhood friend Kevin (Justin Long), who happens to be a mechanic, to an event featuring reigning NASCAR champ Trip Murphy (Matt Dillon). When Herbie beats Trip’s car in an impromptu street race, Maggie and Kevin decide to get him ready for the big time.

This is a special effects slapstick movie, and on that level it works pretty well and will amuse little kids. But whoever decided to give a “story by” credit should be sued for false advertising, as there is no story here whatsoever, just a tired formula sent around a tired track. Lohan and Keaton achieve sincerity, but without any sense of character or conviction. Long and Cheryl Hines (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”) are wasted in parts that are nothing but filler in between races and pratfalls. But that’s better than the clutter from pointless cameos by NASCAR drivers who deliver lines with the stiffness of shirt cardboard. We love Herbie because he has a heart and soul. We don’t love this movie because it has no idea how to find either one.

Parents should know that the movie has some mild cartoon-style peril, including car crashes and a demolition derby, but no one is seriously hurt. There is a reference to a past crash that led to some injuries. There is a very sweet kiss and a mild reference to peeking when someone changes clothes. Characters use very mild (“swear to God”) and briefly crude language.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Ray had different views on letting his son and daughter race. How did Ray feel when he found out that Maggie lied. How did Herbie feel when Maggie talked about driving Trip’s car?

Families who enjoy this movie willl also enjoy the original Herbie movies and they might also enjoy some of the other stories about anthropomorphic automobiles, from Knight Rider to “My Mother the Car” and Stephen King’s very scary Christine.

Families who appreciate the race sequences will enjoy learning more about NASCAR and about women race car drivers like Danica Patrick and Shirley Muldowney, whose life was portrayed in Heart Like a Wheel. Teens and adults may enjoy reading Turn Signals are the Facial Expressions of Automobiles, which shows us how the way cars are designed is in part a reflection of our willingness to see them as having emotions.

Rebound

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2005
C+
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date: 2005

It’s called “Rebound,” but it’s more like “Retread.” This is right off the conveyer belt of underdog-team-of-kids-matched-with hot-headed-and-self-centered-coaches-used-to-sliding-by movies.

That means it is yet another in the endless series of movies about scrappy little sports teams made up of losers and klutzes who overcome a complete lack of talent in one quick montage to learn the meaning of teamwork and beat the meanies who think they’re all that.

Begin with the requisite arrogant guy who has forgotten his love of the game. That would be Martin Lawrence as Roy, a college basketball coach who sends a recorded pep talk to the team so that he can do a photo shoot while they’re at the game. He’s all about the endorsements and the high life and losing his temper at the refs. When he accidentally kills another team’s mascot, the college basketball association suspends him. He has to prove that he can behave himself, but no college team will take him.

Cue the losers and klutzes. Roy ends up in the literally minor leagues, back at the middle school he attended, coaching a team that has only one good player, a kid who conveniently has a beautiful single mother. They’ve never won a game. No one can remember the last time they scored. And that team on the way to the state championship is coached by an arrogant bully. Where could this be leading?

It’s not very good, but it’s relatively painless. There are a couple of genuinely funny moments. Megan Mullally of television’s “Will and Grace” brings her acid delivery and impeccable timing to the role of the principal. When she sees a nationally-known sports figure come into her office, she is sure she knows why he is there. “Community service?” she asks. “We get a lot of athletes in here that way.” Two girls provide a sort of Statler and Waldorf-style commentary on the team’s performance. Roy comes up with a sweet compliment and some better-than-average advice to his team and has a nice chemistry with the kids.

But the movie wastes too much time with silly diversions like an extra character added just to give Lawrence a chance to dress up and a useless detour about whether Roy will go back to coaching a college team. And even by the standards of this category, it overdoes the crude humor. It doesn’t just try to make barfing a source of humor and it doesn’t just do so repeatedly; it actually has the barfing character named “Ralph.”

Parents should know that the movie has some gross-out humor (barfing, crotch injuury) and brief strong language (“damn”). Some family members will be concerned about Roy’s rudeness and lack of consideration, even though the movie is clear that he is happier when he learns better behavior.

Families who see this movie should talk about what lessons each of the players learned from Roy and what lessons he learned from them. Why did he forget what was important to him about the game when he was coaching college students? Do you agree that teamwork beats out talent? Do you agree that “courage is just well-concealed fear?” Can you think of an example? They might want to talk about some of their own experiences with team sports.

Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy some of the underdog classics about kids’ teams, including The Sandlot, Air Bud, and The Bad News Bears (very strong language and some mature material), which is being remade with Billy Bob Thornton.

The Perfect Man

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:2005
D
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date: 2005

The word “perfect” should not be used anywhere near this disappointing and downright icky would-be romantic comedy, in which a teenage girl creates a fake online boyfriend to cheer up her lonely mother.

Jeane (Heather Locklear) is a gifted baker and a loving parent but who is foolish about men. Every time one of the losers dumps her, she leaves town, taking her daughters with her, most recently settling in Brooklyn. Holly (Hillary Duff, looking raccoon-ish in much too much dark eyeliner and wearing pants that reveal much too much lower midriff) is tired of moving and can’t bear to see her mother in another bad relationship. When Jean begins to date a Styx-loving bread baker, Holly decides her mother needs a “perfect man,” even if she has to make one up.

It begins with an orchid and a note, but soon escalates to emails, instant messages, and a phone call. Holly gets guidance from her friend’s handsome Uncle Ben (Chris Noth). Jean begins to fall in love with a man who is perfect in every respect except for not actually existing.

Even by the suspended-disbelief standards of fluff like this film, the story quickly tips over into the uncomfortable category of severe dysfunction that is made even more unnerving because this behavior exists in a movie world that has no idea of the boundaries that are being violated.

It’s bad enough that Holly is continuously untruthful and manipulative. She violates her mother’s trust, taking advantage of her greatest vulnerability. She is careless and selfish. Her plots are portrayed as charming and well-intentioned, but they cause real damage to feelings and to property and she never accepts responsibility for what she has done.

And the ick factor keeps intruding. A boy who likes Holly (the likeable Ben Feldman as Adam) becomes a part of the plot when Holly makes him get on the phone with Jean. Instead of “breaking up” with her, as Holly told him to, he says to Jean what he would like to say to Holly. Gazing at a photo of Holly, he says lovey-dovey things to her mother. Ewww. Later, things are reversed and Jean sends instant messages to Adam, who thinks he is getting them from Holly. Ewwwwww.

There is something unsavory about the idea of a daughter romancing her mother by proxy. The script’s complete cluelessness about that key point creates its own boundary issues and it goes from charming to creepy very quickly. The creepiest thing about it is that it does not realize how creepy it is.

Locklear is, as always, a warm and inviting presence (though never persuasive as a woman who is desperate for a boyfriend), and Duff, as always, can deliver at most three different expressions — shy, wistful, and uncertain but determined. “Queer Eye’s” Carson Kressley is on hand for some warmed-over wisecracks delivered without any of his trademark tszujing. In fact, the movie, far from “perfect,” is an entirely tszuj-free zone.

Parents should know that while this movie does not have the usual triggers for an MPAA rating of higher than PG, it does have some behavior that will be of concern to some families, especially the complete lack of boundaries, Holly’s constant lying and manipulation (portrayed as light-hearted and well-intentioned, but causing real damage to emotions and property). There are some mild language issues — for example, Holly is referred to as a “skin virgin” because she has no tattoos or piercings. Holly wears skimpy and revealing clothing. A strength of the movie is the positive portrayal of a gay character, but it is undercut with some stereotyped humor.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Jean had such bad judgment about the men in her life. What would have been a better way for Holly to help her mother?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Duff’s other films, including The Lizzie Maguire Movie and and A Cinderella Story. They will also enjoy a WWII-era film called Dear Ruth, about a teenage girl who writes to a soldier, pretending to be her older sister, and Dear Frankie, about a mother who writes letters to her young son, pretending they come from his father. Families might also like to listen to some Styx classics. Look closely at the lead singer in the Styx tribute band in the movie, by the way. It is none other than real-life Styx-er Dennis DeYoung.

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