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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Grandma
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some drug use
Release Date:
August 21, 2015

 

Iris
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some strong language
Release Date:
May 1, 2015

We Are Your Friends
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language throughout, drug use, sexual content and some nudity
Release Date:
August 28, 2015

 

Aloha
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some language including suggestive comments
Release Date:
May 30, 2015

Z for Zachariah
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for a scene of sexuality, partial nudity, and brief strong language
Release Date:
August 28, 2015

 

Big Game
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and some language
Release Date:
June 26, 2015

New in Theaters

grade:
B+

Grandma

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some drug use
Release Date:
August 21, 2015
grade:
B-

We Are Your Friends

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language throughout, drug use, sexual content and some nudity
Release Date:
August 28, 2015
grade:
B+

Z for Zachariah

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for a scene of sexuality, partial nudity, and brief strong language
Release Date:
August 28, 2015

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New to DVD

pick of the week
grade:
B+

Iris

Lowest Recommended Age:
Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some strong language
Release Date:
May 1, 2015
grade:
B

Aloha

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some language including suggestive comments
Release Date:
May 30, 2015
grade:
B

Big Game

Lowest Recommended Age:
Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and some language
Release Date:
June 26, 2015

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Blood and Chocolate

posted by jmiller
C-
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for violence/terror, some sexuality and substance abuse.
Movie Release Date:2007
DVD Release Date:2007
C-
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for violence/terror, some sexuality and substance abuse.
Movie Release Date: 2007
DVD Release Date: 2007

There was enthusiastic applause in the theater when the name of author Annette Curtis Klause appeared in the opening credits. The book, about a teenage girl in Maryland whose werewolf issues serve as a metaphor for the sometimes-disturbing forces in adolescence, has a devoted following. But by the time the movie ended, there were only a few half-hearted claps from that same part of the theater. And the book’s fans were not the only ones who were disappointed.


The movie version’s lead is a little older (she seems to be out of school, with a job in a chocolate shop) and the location has been moved to Romania, for no particular reason.

Vivian (“ER”‘s Agnes Bruckner is a lone wolf, so to speak, regarded with some suspicion by the rest of the pack, and some jealousy, too. There’s some yadda yadda about a prophecy and her being chosen and “these are the ways of our people,” but it boils down to the fact that the leader of the pack, so to speak (Olivier Martinez, oily as always) has picked her to be his new she-wolf. Apparently, they have solved the whole seven-year-itch thing by giving the Big Bad Wolf the chance to select a new mate every seven years. But Vivian is different. The wolf pack loves to find a human to chase and kill, but she just loves to run because it makes her feel free.

Vivian meets Aiden, a human (Hugh Dancy), a graphic novelist with his own backstory, and soon he has her feeling hungry like a wolf, but only metaphorically. A couple of montages later (trying on clothes for the big date, running through fountains, looking up at the sky, all to some faux-indie music),


But wolves have strong feelings about their territory. They don’t like Vivian’s relationship with Aiden. When a confrontation with Vivian’s cousin ends in his being killed (by Aiden’s silver pendant), the young couple has to find a way to trust each other and create their own destiny.


There are a few nice touches — a falling red ribbon, an abandoned historic church, Vivian’s exuberant race through the streets. But the dialogue is weighted with dull claptrap about prophecies and “these are the ways of our people” and howlers like, “If you cared a Goddamn thing about me, you’d have left me before we even met,” the transformation scenes have no special vibrance, and Vivian’s existential angst just seems petulant. This wolf story is toothless.

Parents should know that this movie has intense and explicit peril and violence for a PG-13, including close-up shots of cuts and wounds, and fights with guns, knives, and very sharp teeth. Many characters are injured and killed. Characters use some strong language and drink and one deals drugs. There are some sexual references and there is brief non-sexual nudity.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Vivian felt responsible for her parents’ death. How did Aidan’s family background help him to understand her situation? What will happen to them? Are the wolf people cursed or blessed? Why?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy An American Werewolf in London, The Lost Boys, Sleepwalkers, and Wolf.

Smokin’ Aces

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some nudity and drug use.
Movie Release Date:2007
DVD Release Date:2007
C
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some nudity and drug use.
Movie Release Date: 2007
DVD Release Date: 2007

This is a flashy, nasty, hyper-violent story about a lot of people who are very, very interested in a snitch, magician and five time entertainer-of-the-year Buddy “Aces” Israel (Jeremy Piven).

He’s about to turn state’s evidence against his long-time cronies in the mob. The FBI is particularly interested in mob boss Primo Sparazza (Joseph Ruskin), and Buddy is the only evidence they have.

So, that means a lot of people are very, very interested in Buddy, now holed up in a penthouse suite in Lake Tahoe after jumping bail, waiting to hear from his lawyer about an immunity deal. Interested parties include the FBI, the bail bondsman, who hires three former cops to get Buddy back, Buddy’s own entourage, who suspect he may be giving them up to protect himself, those mobsters mentioned earlier, and several different paid assassins, some in teams and some alone, who are competing for the very generous price the bad guys are offering.


The assorted hitmen (and women) include the trigger-happy punkish Tremor brothers, a master of disguise, a mysterious guy known only as “the Swede,” an emotionless assassin who once chewed off his own fingertips so he could not be identified by fingerprints, and a ambitious black lesbian couple very happy about the chance to show what they can do with their first big-time opportunity.


The interactions between each and all of these characters create the opportunity for some stylish set-pieces, dynamically shot (in both senses of the word) and energetically acted by big stars having fun in small roles. Ben Affleck (cop turned bounty hunter), Chris Pine (most coherent of the growling Tremors, especially when he’s speaking lines of forgiveness from someone he just killed), Jason Bateman (as a lawyer so scuzzy you’ll want to take a bath in antibiotics after watching him), rap star Common (Buddy’s straight-talking sidekick), Mathew Fox (unrecognizable as head of hotel security), and especially multi-Grammy-award winner Alicia Keyes and Hustle and Flow star Taraji P. Henson (the all-woman team) all have fun with their brief showy moments, shooting off colorful dialogue and very big guns.


But the twists of plot and piles of bodies go way over the top. People have just got to stop trying to be Tarantino. I know he makes it look easy, but being audacious and understated at the same time in the middle of balletic bloodbaths is not enough.


Parents should know that this is an exceptionally violent film, with extreme, intense, and especially graphic violence and injuries and many, many injuries and deaths. Characters use extremely strong language, drink, smoke, and use drugs. Most of the characters are criminals, including mobsters and hired killers. There are extremely explicit sexual references and non-explicit situations with some nudity and references to prostitutes, orgies, and homosexuality. The characters are a veritable Benneton ad of diversity, so to the extent that it is a positive sign that the killers include women, minorities, and gay characters, it is worth mentioning.


Families who see this film should talk about Messner’s final decision. Was he right? What were some of his alternatives? Who is this movie designed for? How can you tell?


Audiences who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Layer Cake, Pulp Fiction, and Lucky Number Slevin (all very violent and explicit).

Catch and Release

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sexual content, language and some drug use.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2007
C
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual content, language and some drug use.
Movie Release Date: 2006
DVD Release Date: 2007

For the first time, screenwriter Susannah Grant not only writes but directs with this messy romantic weepie about a woman whose fiance is killed just before the wedding.


Grant is known for writing movies with strong female characters, from Disney’s Pocahontas to Julia Roberts’ starring title roles in Charlotte’s Web and Erin Brocovich. But she is less certain as a director, and the result is an uneven tone and a rickety structure. It might still be watchable except for the more serious problem, a fundamental failure to understand that the characters are far less adorable than the movie needs them to be. Even after reported substantial cuts and reworking, our patience and affection runs out long before the movie is over.


Jennifer Garner is Gray, who ends up at a funeral on what was supposed to have been her wedding day. The presents are in piles, the cake is in the freezer. The flowers and people are there, but they are funeral flowers and the people are sad and shell-shocked. Gray hides out in the bathtub, pulling the shower curtain around her for some privacy. So she is stuck there when her fiance’s friend Fritz (Timothy Olyphant of HBO’s “Deadwood”) stumbles in with the caterer and a joint for a quickie against the sink.


See what I mean about less charming than the movie thinks they are? Later on, in what is clearly intended to be a moment of adorable vulnerability, Gray confides her flaws and quirks to a group of friends and they include stealing library books, having had sex once with another woman, and enjoying natural disasters with lots of casualties.


All of this comes about as Gray finds out that her fiance (oddly named Grady) had not told her everything about himself. There’s a matter of a substantial bank account she never knew about. And another woman. With a child.

But I’m not done with the not-as-cute-as-they-think-they-are cast of characters. Gray cannot afford the home she was going to share with Grady, so she moves into his old room with his old friends Dennis (Sam Jaeger) and Sam (Kevin Smith, no longer Silent and trying to be the new Jack Black). So apparently Grady had that secret bank account and could manage that dream house they were going to live in but was still in a group house? Well, let’s not dwell on that because it’s the only way to get Gray into all those cute situations with the intended-to-be-adorable arrested development crew. And, just to make it all even more cozy, Fritz, the highly successful but not really happy LA commercial director moves in, too. And then, just to make it even more of a sit-com set-up, Grady’s other girlfriend (I know! Let’s make her all into psychic energy and massages and stuff!) and her wild child of a son. Won’t that be cute and touching? Nope.


Reportedly cut down from an unwieldy running time, it feels like a jigsaw puzzle with a few pieces missing — that forms a picture that wasn’t worth waiting for. Perhaps it’s all that fishing, but even the usually endearing Garner looks a little piscatory — those lips, you know.

Parents should know that this movie has some mature material including a very sad loss, a possible suicide attempt, issues of betrayal, and paternity testing. Characters drink, smoke marijuana, and take prescription tranquilizers (mixing with alcohol). There are sexual references and situations, including casual sex and references to being unfaithful. Characters use some strong and crude language.


Families who see this movie should talk about why the people in Grady’s life saw him so differently. Who knew him best? Would you have liked him? Why wasn’t he more honest with Gray?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the book Shine On, Bright and Dangerous Object by Laurie Colwin and the movies Moonlight and Valentino and Moonlight Mile.

The Hitcher

posted by jmiller
F+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for strong bloody violence, terror and language.
Movie Release Date:2007
DVD Release Date:2007
F+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for strong bloody violence, terror and language.
Movie Release Date: 2007
DVD Release Date: 2007

John Ryder returns in this remake of the 1986 horror
film, and this time he has his eyes (and knives, and guns, and fleet
of constantly-changing automobiles-turned-weapons) on not the young
man driving but the young woman in the passenger’s seat. Those who
have seen the original will know the drill: Ryder (originally played
by Rutger Hauer and now by Sean Bean) is a deranged roadster who
follows his target down the long, winding roads of desert highways,
plowing through innocent people and framing his mark for the
resulting murders in an unexplained chase.


The premise sounds simple enough, and indeed it is:
“Don’t pick up strangers.” Unfortunately for this film, the
lesson is one that needs no further explanation, certainly not in the
form of gratuitously violent and frustratingly sub-par filmmaking.

Primarily a music video
director known for his long list of musical clients, Dave Meyers has
shown talent in previous work, but seems to have approached “The
Hitcher” as a formulaic hit for the MTV crowd, foregoing any
sophisticated terror techniques in favor of canned dialogue and
predictable hunt-escape maneuvers. While there are a number of
startling, jolt-inducing moments, by far the most shocking moments
are each time one of the two main characters has a choice to make and
without fail picks the only-in-a-movie worst possible option. There are a few
redeeming moments, most of which involve the skilled pairing of music
and action (especially notable in a car chase), but one
could get all of the benefit of similar skill in Meyers’ music videos, thus
avoiding the unnecessary carnage that litters this dead-end project.


Parents should know that this film is exceptionally
gory, with many deaths including profusely bleeding stab wounds, a
very graphic throat-splitting, and a scene in which a living person
is shown tied between two trucks and torn apart. Granted, they are in
a difficult situation from the beginning, but for purposes of keeping the thin plot going the two main characters,
Grace and Jim (Sophia Bush and Zachary Knighton), make disastrously
poor choices throughout the film, including being belligerent with
police officers instead of complying with protocol and then sharing
their story.


Families who see this film should talk about what might
have gone differently had Jim and Grace cooperated with the police
officers; although they were suspects, the two young students could
have appreciated that the officers were following protocol, and
instead of resisting could have talked calmly with the police to
clarify the situation. Parents should also discuss road safety with
teenagers and decide
on procedures to follow in specific situations (what to do, for
example, if they see someone standing on the road with a broken-down
car).


Families who enjoy this film might also enjoy the original and the very
similar film Joy Ride, in which three young people are pursued by a
blood-thirsty trucker (played by Steve Zahn). They should also see how a brilliant director handles a similar story in the made-for-television Duel, the first feature directed by Steven Spielberg.

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