Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

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

Swept Away

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

Imagine the potential: a gritty, innovative director remakes a provocative film about gender and class and the clash of diametrically opposed individuals when the tables are turned on their situation. Mix in sexual tension, deserted Ionian islands and two attractive co-stars and you could have a beach bonfire, lighting up the night with fire and sparks.

In this case, there is no spark to start the fire and the only thing “swept away” is the one hour and thirty-three minutes spent watching. What a waste of potential. Guy Ritchie, whose previous films include such witty works as “Snatch” (who will ever trust a pig farmer again?) and “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, directs this updated version of Lina Wertmüller’s love story “Swept Away” (1974).

Ultra-rich, bored, and spiteful Amber Leighton (Madonna) grudgingly boards an insufficiently luxurious private boat from Greece to Italy. She is accompanied by her stone-faced husband (Bruce Greenwood), who seems vaguely amused by his wife’s tantrums. Also in tow are two other couples serving as a mildly debauched background for Amber’s anomie. On the boat, crew member Giuseppe (Adriano Giannini) is a former fisherman who cannot adapt to his new role pampering rich Americans. For him, Amber especially personifies all things evil about capitalism: the same cold, superficial, profit-driven selfishness that robbed him of his means to survive by killing off his “fishes”. Giuseppe, with his “Nature Man” beard, soon becomes the target of Amber’s derision, while she is the subject of his disgust and, after seeing her muscular beauty sunbathing, perverse attraction.

Through a series of mishaps, Amber and Giuseppe find themselves stranded on a deserted island where the tables are turned. Amber must rely on Giuseppe’s fishing abilities to survive and he is far from a willing provider. In exchange for food, Amber must become his servant – washing his clothes, kissing his feet, responding to his slaps with “yes, Master” – a situation in which she finds that (you guessed it) she actually loves him just as he loves her.

Adriano Giannini, whose father (Giancarlo Giannini) played the same character of Giuseppe in the original, glowers convincingly onscreen, but it is a generally wooden Madonna who adds the one spark to this otherwise soggy fare during her fantasy dance sequence.

Parents should know that this movie contains strong language, some violence and a near-rape. Amber’s verbal domination of Giuseppe on the boat is disturbing but his physical domination of her on the island is completely unsuitable for younger children (and many adults).

Families who see this movie should talk about the power politics in relationships. How is the power dynamic of domination and submission affected by situations beyond the characters’ control? How does money influence the actions of the different characters?

Families who enjoyed this film might consider other movies where the central character is forced to make a journey of self-discovery when survival is on the line (movies such as “Castaway,” “The Admirable Crichton,” “The Little Hut,” or “Lord of the Flies”) or a comic treatment of a similar plot with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell in “Overboard.” However, for those who wish to see romantic sparks fly when opposites clash, skip this movie altogether and watch “African Queen” again.

Sweet Home Alabama

posted by rkumar
B-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:PG-13 for some language and sexual references
Movie Release Date:2002
DVD Release Date:2002

It’s official. Reese Witherspoon is the new Meg Ryan.

That means Witherspoon has the charm, sparkle, and impeccable comic timing to keep an entire movie afloat and make it look effortless. She makes watching it seem effortless, too. That’s a good thing, because it takes every bit of her talent and all-around adorability to keep it aloft, considering the considerable weight of its uncertain script. Without her, even the enticing premise and an exceptionally able supporting cast would sink under the weight of a plot that somehow manages to be both predictable and disjointed (I’d bet a bucket of popcorn that there was some serious recutting along the way).

Witherspoon plays Melanie Carmichael, a fashion designer just breaking through to the big time with her first solo show. Not only is it a huge success, but she also gets a swooningly romantic marriage proposal from a gorgeous, thoughtful, supportive man who adores her – and who happens to be the son of the mayor of New York (Candice Bergen).

It’s the 21st century Cinderella dream come true, except for one hitch — literally. Way back when she was just Melanie Cooter of Pigeon Creek, Alabama, she got herself hitched to her childhood sweetheart, and now she needs to get herself unhitched so that she can be free to marry Prince Charming.

So, she goes back home for the first time in seven years, and she finds out that you can take the girl out of Pigeon Creek, but you can’t take Pigeon Creek out of the girl. Her accent comes back, and, more disconcertingly, so do some of her feelings for her husband, Jake (Josh Lucas).

The movie spends too much time reuniting Melanie with people from her past. There’s a lot of “Melanie? Is that you, girl?” It also spends much too much time introducing us to all kinds of adorable cracker stereotypes without much payoff. It wastes time on a tired plot twist about Melanie’s exaggeration of her family’s social standing that even the movie’s characters seem bored with. But Witherspoon is such an unquenchably winning presence and such a fine actress that I defy anyone to watch it without smiling.

A terrific soundtrack also helps, with a cover of the irresistible title tune and delicious songs by country greats. Lucas and Dempsey are both dreamy enough that even movie-savvy viewers may find it hard to pick the winner. Director Andy Tennant (“Ever After”) delivers a romantic comedy that should be able to hold a strong position at the box office until the next Julia Roberts movie comes along.

Parents should know that the movie has brief strong language, gay characters (one out, one closeted) who are positively portrayed, and references to an out of wedlock teen pregnancy. Melanie gets drunk (and gets sick). Drinking, vandalism and minor crimes are portrayed as evidence of a free spirit.

Families who see this movie should talk about why people are tempted to lie about their past, and how they would respond if they found out someone they cared about had lied to them. What does Melanie mean when she says “I figured if I was pointing at you, no one would see through me.” What didn’t she want them to see? What is Melanie likely to do next?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy, “The Runaway Bride” and “Never Been Kissed.” They should also check out the wonderful classic with a similar plot, “I Know Where I’m Going.”

Stuart Little 2

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2002

Stuart Little 2 is a sweet family movie with excellent voice talent and special effects. Fans of the first one will enjoy it and it is one of the best family movies of the summer.

It takes place where the last one left off, with Stuart (charmingly voiced by Michael J. Fox) living in New York with his parents (Hugh Laurie and Geena Davis), big brother George (Jonathan Lipnicki, seeming a little bored with making kid movies) and a new baby sister. The lives of the Little family are already somewhat tumultuous, with the new baby, George making new friends, and Mrs. Little loving but often a bit overprotective.

Stuart finds meets a lovely little bird named Margalo (voiced by Melanie Griffith) with an injured wing, and he takes her into his home. They quickly become close, but soon we find out that she’s not who she makes herself out to be and although she cares very much about Stuart and his family she has to leave unexpectedly.

Stuart doesn’t understand and enlists the Littles’ grumpy cat Snowbell (Nathan Lane, spouting off comedy that wouldn’t feel out of place coming from Rodney Dangerfield) to help him find her. In the meantime, George covers up for Stuart by lying to his parents (who come across as particularly clueless) and Stuart and Snowbell encounter many obstacles on their journey, but (spoiler warning!) it all works out in the end.

Thus the story, a very watered down version of the second half of the classic book, is nothing to write home about, but it’s a safe bet that fans of the first one will enjoy it. The meticulous computer animation is still something to marvel at, with all the animated animals being realistic down to the last hair and feather. Also, Steve Zahn shines in a small role, and whoever cast James Woods as the villainous Falcon must’ve seen Disney’s Hercules and realized that nobody can beat him as a bad guy.

Families should know that this film has barely enough toilet humor to get a PG so that kids won’t think it’s a dumb G-rated film. There is some peril, but everyone but the bad guy comes out of it without any injury.

Families who see this should talk about if it’s ok to lie in order to keep a promise, especially if the promise is particularly dangerous.

Families who like this movie should catch the original if they haven’t already, as well as Shrek and the Toy Story films.

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:1999

It may not be as great as you hoped, but it is not as bad as you feared. In fact, it exactly has the same strengths and weaknesses as the original three, plus breathtakingly spectacular visual design and special effects.

Those strengths are, in addition to the computer graphics and design, sensational action sequences, including a “Ben Hur”-like race, battle scenes, and some fancy fighting with the Jedi’s favorite weapon, the light sabers. The young queen is strong and courageous. This chapter has made a small step forward by including two black characters, though Samuel L. Jackson has little to do. The weaknesses are cardboardy characters with emotionless line readings (one actor in the three previous movies said that Lucas’ direction to actors consisted of “Look over there! We’ll add in the effects later.”) The director appears to have been more concerned with making his computer characters seem alive than his human ones. The grown-up actors seem constrained by their participation in a legend and the younger actors seem as though they are floundering. Han Solo is sorely missed. So is Chewbacca. Instead of a Wookie, we get a floppy-eared klutz. (In fairness, his slapstick antics, including stepping in monster poop, were greeted with squeals of appreciation by the kids in the audience.)

The plot is reminiscent of Yeats’ “The Second Coming:” it is a time when “the best lack all conviction and the worst are filled with passionate intensity.” While the Senate is deadlocked by bureaucrats and the Trade Federation is imposing heavy tariffs. As the movie begins, they have blockaded the planet of Naboo, inhabited on land by the followers of Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman) and undersea by the floppy- eared, pidgen-English-speaking Gungans. Two Jedi knights (Liam Neeson as Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn and Ewen McGregor trying to sound like Alec McGuiness as Obi-Wan Kenobi) arrive to negotiate, but the Federation invades the planet. With Gungan Jar Jar Binks, they rescue the Queen, to take her to make the case for her people before the Senate.

Their spaceship must stop for repairs and fuel, and they end up on Tatooine, the same planet where we first met Luke Skywalker, back in Chapter IV. The group meets Anakin Skywalker, destined to become not only father to Luke and Leia, but also Darth Vader. At this point, though, he is a cute kid with a bowl haircut, mechanical talent, very fast reflexes, and a walloping lot of The Force. He is building the future C3PO and a flying car called a podracer in his spare time. Anakin and his mother are slaves, owned by junk dealer Watto, who looks like a bug and hovers like a hummingbird. Watto will not accept their money, so they make a bet on a podrace, with Anakin’s freedom on the line, too. Anakin flies his own podracer, and soon they are all on their way.

The queen appears before the Senate to ask for support and Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi appear before the Jedi Council to ask that Anakin be trained as a Jedi. The Queen is able to initiate a vote of no confidence, but the results are inconclusive. And the Jedi Council turns down Anakin.

They return to Naboo, where they persuade the Gungan to join them in fighting the Federation, including the scary-looking and mysterious Darth Maul. While our heroes are successful, there is plenty of foreshadowing about the villains in the next two chapters.

Parents should know that the level of violence is about the same as in the other movies — lots of shooting and explosions, and no blood. Many of the bad guys are robots. They get blown up but don’t really “die.” One of the main characters is killed, and a bad guy is sliced in half. Some kids (and some adults!) will wonder about the references to Anakin’s never having had a father and having been somehow immaculately conceived at the sub-cellular level.

Despite the addition of two black characters (and what is that captain’s name again?), the movie is still heavily white Anglo-Saxon, with some of the bad guys and comic characters using Asian or Caribbean accents. Kids under 12 who have somehow missed the original trilogy may find that viewing it will help them to get familiar with the characters and with concepts like The Force before seeing this one.

Previous Posts

Wild's Cheryl Strayed Has a New Advice Podcast
Before Wild, Cheryl Strayed was the pseudonymous "Dear Sugar" advice columnist for The Rumpus. Her columns were collected in Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. Writer Steve Almond (Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America) also wrote as Dear Su

posted 3:59:40pm Dec. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Actors Of Color Discuss Racial Stereotypes In Hollywood
Film Courage produced this excellent and very compelling film with actors of color talking about the challenges they face in Hollywood. If we did a better job of representing diversity in film, we would not just tell better stories and tell stories better, we would make better progress toward under

posted 8:00:49am Dec. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Annie
The story of the plucky little Depression-era orphan with the curly red hair has been not just re-booted but re-imagined into the world of rent-a-bikes, viral videos, DNA tests, YOLO, corpora

posted 5:59:13pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Fans of the first two "Night at the Museum" films will like this one because it is pretty much the same film. They go to another museum, this time the British Museum in London, and the exhibi

posted 5:23:46pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Listen to People's Lives: David Plotz's Working Podcast
Former Slate editor David Plotz, now at Atlas Obscura, says that he is a big fan of Studs Terkel's classic book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. He has paid tribute to that great work in the best possible way, by updating it with his podcast seri

posted 3:59:23pm Dec. 18, 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.