Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Laggies
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, some sexual material and teen partying
Release Date:
October 31, 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

Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language throughout, some sexual content and brief violence
Release Date:
October 24, 2014

 

Begin Again
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:

Release Date:
July 2, 2014

John Wick
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong and bloody violence throughout, language and brief drug use
Release Date:
October 24, 2014

 

Wish I Was Here
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some sexual content
Release Date:
July 18, 2014

The Mummy Returns

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

It may still be spring outdoors, but this is the first summer movie of the year. Grab some popcorn and settle in for some old-fashioned movie fun, the best in this genre since the gold standard of adventure movies, the Indiana Jones series.

Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz return as Rick and Evie O’Connell, now married and the parents of eight-year-old Alex (Freddie Boath). John Hannah returns as Evie’s lazy, greedy, but sharp-shooting brother, and Oded Fehr is also back, though now reduced to sidekick.

The Mummy (Arnold Vosloo) and his girlfriend Anck-Su-Namun (Patricia Velazquez) are back, too, and up to all of their old sand-sucking, kick-boxing tricks. This time, the Mummy has to defeat the Scorpion King (wrestling star The Rock) to get control of his army and take over the world. In order to find and wake him, they need a special Scorpion-King-finding bracelet, which happens to be stuck on the wrist of Alex O’Connell. But don’t worry about the plot. It really doesn’t matter how or why mummies and bad guys are chasing them; all we need to know is that they are, and that Rick and Evie have to find a way to rescue Alex, send the mummies back where they came from, and save the world from being utterly destroyed. Fortunately, there’s always just enough time for a kiss or a wisecrack — sometimes both — before entering into the fray.

The special effects are sensational, and the fight scenes are well staged and very exciting. One of the movie’s great strengths is the art direction. It brilliantly creates the mood, helped along by a period-sounding score. It is a shame that The Rock is onscreen for such a short time. He makes a real impression in the prologue, but does not reappear until the end, when he is part-Rock, part-scorpion. Fortunately, the team behind the movie is now preparing an entire sequel just about his character.

Families should know that the movie is very violent, but mostly in comic-book terms. Most of the damage is done to mummies and other non-humans. There are some scary surprises and ghoulish images. There are also very mild sexual references and some revealing costumes.

Families who see this movie should visit local museums to see some of their Egyptian treasures and talk about how views on archeological digs have changed since the era in which it is set, and about current controversies over the ownership of antiquities. They may also enjoy imagining being the reincarnation of historical figures.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the first in the series as well as “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

The Mothman Prophecies

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

I really tried to go with this attempt at a creepy thriller, but found it impossible to be either creeped or thrilled.

Richard Gere stars as John Klein, a star Washington Post political reporter who thinks his life is going just right when, following a car accident, he finds out that his wife (radiant Debra Messing) has a rare brain tumor. After her death, he sees some odd, angel-like drawings that she made in the hospital.

Two years later, he suddenly finds himself in the midst of all kinds of nutty stuff, mostly in a small town in West Virginia on the Ohio River. For one thing, he ends up in the town even though it was 400 miles from where he was driving and there is no way he could have covered that much road in 90 minutes. For another, when his car fails and he goes to a nearby house to ask for help, the man in the house (Will Patton) holds him at gunpoint, saying that John has been there three nights in a row.

A skeptical policewoman named Connie (Laura Linney) tells John of the odd happennings in town, including sightings of a winged creature with red eyes who looks sort of like the drawings John’s wife did. So John tells the Post he is working on a story and settles in at the local hotel to investigate.

After that, it is all spooky noises and creepy camera angles. Director Mark Pellington, whose “Arlington Road” had the scariest conclusion of any movie released in the 1990’s, knows how to handle suspense and when to throw in some “boo!”-ish surprises. But the happenings themselves are so un-compelling that it hardly seems worthwhile. Maybe it is because they decided to be true to whatever really happened (though they had no problem moving the time of the story up more than 30 years to take placein the present). But even the Mothman at his most ominous just didn’t seem that scary to me. The spookiest thing he does is call John on the phone and tell him that he hid his watch in his shoe and he misses his wife. And the best officer Connie can do when all this happens is wail, “I hate this!”

Another problem is the way that, after all that business with having voiceprints done on the Mothman’s recordings and having the sightings substantiated by many different people, the movie hedges its bets at the end by telling us that it all might be a post-traumatic manifestation of John’s grief over losing his wife or guilt over thinking about letting her go so that he can move on. It’s possible that both are true — that it was the grief that made John available to otherworldly messages and that he decides to walk away from it. But that still leaves us with a big “so what?”

Parents should know that, though it is not very graphic or gory, the movie is a psychological thriller that may be deeply upsetting to some people. There is a car crash and a tragic accident with many deaths. Another death could be suicide. There is a brief non-graphic sexual situation, and brief strong language.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy The Sixth Sense, Poltergeist, and Flatliners. And they might like to keep an eye out for a documentary about the strange happenings in Point Pleasant, Special Investigations: Mothman.

The Miracle Worker

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:1962

Today is the 142nd anniversary of the birth of one of the most extraordinary teachers in American history, Annie Sullivan, who gave a little blind and deaf girl the power of language. William Gibson, who wrote two plays about the teacher and her student, says that when people refer to “The Miracle Worker” as “the play about Helen Keller,” he replies, “If it was about her, it would be called ‘The Miracle Workee.'” Sullivan, herself visually impaired, was first in her class at the Perkins School for the Blind. When she went to work for the Keller family she was just 21 years old. And Keller, who was blind and deaf due to an illness when she was 19 months old. When Sullivan arrived, Keller was almost completely wild, without any ability to communicate or any understanding that communication beyond grabbing and hitting was possible.

Every family should watch the extraordinary film about what happened next, and read more about Keller, who, with Sullivan’s help, graduated from Radcliffe magna cum laude and became an author and a world figure.

Ann Bancroft and Patty Duke won Oscars for their performances as Sullivan and Keller, repeating their Broadway roles and Duke later played Sullivan in a made-for-television adaptation. In this scene, after months of teaching Keller to fingerspell words, Sullivan is finally able to show her that language will give her the ability to communicate, with a new world of relationships, feelings, and learning. No teacher ever bestowed a greater gift.

Monday After the Miracle is Gibson’s sequel to the play, and Keller’s own book is called The Story of My Life. There is a photobiography of Sullivan called Helen’s Eyes.

The Mexican

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2001

Two of the biggest stars in Hollywood took pay cuts to appear in what is essentially a quirky independent movie — with two of the biggrest stars in Hollywood. Even though Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts are both top-notch acting talents who do not get enough credit for taking risks (Pitt’s performance in “12 Monkeys” was one of the best of the decade), in this movie their star power overwhelms not just their acting but the movie’s story as well. The effect is like trying to juggle a bowling ball with a dozen eggs. Fortunately, when things get out of kilter or the plot begins to sag, there is all that star power to keep us happy and give us something to enjoy until it gets going again. If the movie has a lot of pieces that don’t quite fit together, at least they are all high-quality pieces. It may be something of a mess, but it is an interesting mess to watch.

Pitt and Roberts play Jerry and Samantha, a couple whose romantic relationship is complicated enough when Jerry is called on to perform one last errand for a mob boss. He has to go to Mexico to get a valuable antique gun called “The Mexican” from a man named Beck and bring them both back with him. Jerry tries to explain to Samantha that given a choice between letting down the mob and letting down his girlfriend, the fact that only one of those options involves death has to factor into the calculus. Samantha, who is a big fan of the women’s magazine school of relationships and who reads books like “Men Who Can’t Love” with a highlighter in her hand, tosses Jerry’s clothes out the window and sets off to pursue her dream of becoming a croupier in Las Vegas.

The mob guys know that Jerry’s focus and competence cannot be counted on without a little added incentive, so they arrange for Samantha to be kidnapped by a hitman named Leroy (James Gandolfini of HBO’s “The Sopranos”).

Gandolfini is just plan brilliant in the role, and the scenes between Leroy and Samantha are the best part of the movie. He explains that he is “here to regulate funkiness” and she tells him that he has “trust issues.” Soon they are giving each other relationship advice in between shoot-outs. Meanwhile, Jerry, who tends to “Forrest Gump through life,” is chasing after the gun, with intermittent success.

We want Jerry and Sam to get together, but the movie becomes less interesting when they do. Even a surprise cameo from another big star does not help us through a final act that involves the loss of characters we have come to care about. Jerry and Samantha react and behave in ways that we are not used to seeing characters played by big stars behave. Pitt and Roberts give it all they have, but the script does not have enough weight to help make that behavior consistent with what we know of the characters.

Parents should know that the movie is very violent, with a lot of shooting, graphic injuries, and the deaths of important characters. A woman commits suicide when her lover is killed. Characters drink and smoke and one character is drunk. There are mild sexual references, including a homosexual relationship. Some of the Mexican characters could be considered stereotypes, but then so could some of the American characters.

Families who see this movie should talk about how people work out the complexities of relationships and why it is that so many of the characters care more about relationships than about money or the life and death situations all around them. Leroy may have more than most people to worry about when he thinks about what a romantic prospect will think about what he does and who he is, but that is always a concern for anyone contemplating an intimate relationship. The idea that “the past doesn’t matter — it’s the future that counts” is a beguiling one — is it true? Under what circumstances? Leroy talks about being “surrounded by lonliness and finality,” and about how the people who die having loved are different from those who die alone. This is worth discussing, along with the way that Sam and Jerry begin to think about their relationship as being special enough so that they cannot walk away from it.

Families may also want to talk about the way that Jerry’s friend justifies participating in criminal acts by compartmentalizing, explaining that he is just doing his “portion.”

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Raising Arizona.”

Previous Posts

Laggies
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posted 5:58:04pm Oct. 30, 2014 | read full post »

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Disney's Headless Horseman, Sung by Bing Crosby
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List: My Favorite Movie Ghosts
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posted 8:00:42am Oct. 30, 2014 | read full post »

List: Sam Rockwell
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