Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Love is Strange
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language
Release Date:
08/22/2014

 

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

The November Man
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong violence including a sexual assault, language, sexuality/nudity and brief drug use
Release Date:
August 27, 2014

 

Draft Day
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 on appeal for brief strong language and sexual references
Release Date:
April 11, 2014

If I Stay
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some sexual material
Release Date:
August 22, 2014

 

Blended
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and language.
Release Date:
May 23, 2014

Exit Wounds

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

Steven Seagal is definitely in “Fat Elvis” mode in this color-by-numbers honest-cop against corruption story. He’s got Wayne Newton-style black hair and a William Shatner-style sucked-in paunch, and I suspect that at least some of the cuts in the fight scenes were added to give him some time to catch his breath.

No surprises here at all. Seagal plays a break-the-rules cop who takes on a whole team of commandos to save the Vice President and then gets dressed down by his commanding officer (“You don’t follow orders! You’re unmanageable!”) and assigned to the toughest precinct in town as punishment. He even gets put on traffic duty and sent to anger management class by the gorgeous precinct commander. But somehow, wherever he goes, trouble finds him, and people we think are good guys turn out to be bad and people we think are bad guys turn out to be good. Yawn.

Seagal has aged since his “Under Siege” days, and he now does more shooting than kicking. The movie tries to help him out with a lot of support from talented co-stars. Rapper DMX has a very strong screen presence, though it wavers when he has to say more than a dozen words at a time. It is always a pleasure to see Isaiah Washington, who deserves a leading role the next time around. Michael Jai White makes the most of his brief time on screen. Tom Arnold and Anthony Anderson (quickly becoming the movies’ favorite fat funny sidekick) are there to provide comic relief. Their raunchy improvised dialogue that accompanies the credits is one of the movie’s high points. The low point is certainly the plot, which has logic holes big enough for Seagal, Arnold, and Anderson to jump through, followed by the dialogue, which is pretty much cut and pasted from a dozen other scripts of this genre. The title is just a menacing term that has nothing whatsoever to do with the story, further evidence that no one involved really cares very much about this movie.

Parents should know that the movie is very violent, with graphic injuries and the death of at least one major character. There is also the obligatory nightclub scene with erotic topless dancers smearing something all over each other. Characters use strong language and there is even stronger language in the soundtrack, including repeated use of the n-word. On the positive side, there are strong, loyal, brave women and minority characters.

Families who see this movie should talk about real-life cases of police corruption and the temptations presented to people who risk their lives for low pay and little thanks. They may also want to talk about how we decide whom we will trust, and what happens when that trust is violated, and about “anger management” and how it works.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Gone in 60 Seconds” and “Romeo Must Die,” as well as Seagal’s best film, “Under Siege.”

Evolution

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

Despite what the advertising campaign tries to sell you, this is not another “Ghostbusters.” It may have the same director, but remember that he is also responsible for turkeys like “Father’s Day.” It tries for the same mix of scary stuff, special effects, and comedy, but without Bill Murray, the Sigourney Weaver possession, and the giant marshmallow guy, it never really takes off.

There are some good moments, though, as Ira (David Duchovney, doing a nice tweak on his “X-Files” character) and Harry (Orlando Jones, quickly becoming one of the screen’s most reliable comic talents), two community college professors, discover that a mysterious meteor is covered with one-celled alien creatures who can accomplish evolutionary development in days that took millions of years on earth. They try to keep it to themselves, hoping for fame and fortune (“Is the Nobel Prize paid in installments?” asks Harry). But the government steps in and takes over. A nasty general and a beautiful doctor named Allison (Julianne Moore, whose entire part seems to consist of tripping) are now in charge. One-time ghostbuster Dan Ackroyd stops by as the governor who is willing to nuke his state to get rid of the aliens. With the help of a would-be fireman (Seann William Scott) and some overweight students with dandruff-free hair, Ira and Harry manage to save the world.

There are moments of inspired silliness — I loved seeing Duchovney and Jones singing “Play That Funky Music White Boy” and Scott singing “You Are So Beautiful.” Jones gives so much zest to weak material that one longs to see him in something better. But neither the sci-fi nor the comedy are strong enough to sustain the movie. No one expects or even wants a movie like this to make sense, but it is so sloppy (a biology professor is teaching the periodic table? Is that last scene hours or days after the one before it?) that it is actually distracting. And even the good guys are not that good, caring more about credit and getting out of Arizona than about science or protecting people from the aliens. It is interesting how often someone in the movie tells someone else to focus — that would have been good advice for the director and screenwriter. And please, please, please, can we find another song to use the next time we want to show chaos and desctruction? Rob Zombie has become the rock and roll equivalent of the previously inescapable Carmina Burana.

Parents should know that the movie has some strong language and very raunchy toilet humor, with two extended sequences featuring rectal probes. There is sexual humor and mild sexual situations. Characters drink and smoke. Characters are in sci-fi peril, mostly comic. Guns and shooting are equated with manliness. A woman shoplifts and another holds up a sign that says “I can’t die a virgin.” Female and black characters are smart, brave, and accomplished, and inter-racial colleagues have a strong friendship. But there is an unpleasant joke about how all a female character needs is “a good humping,” and, to make things worse, she overhears the comment and is insulted not because it is sexist but because it implies that she is not sexual.

Families who see this movie should talk about evolution and natural selection, and about how Ira got in to trouble and how he reacted to it. Why didn’t he care more about his job? What would happen if aliens did come to Earth?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Ghostbusters and Men in Black (Collector’s Series) and might want to try the old sci-fi classic, The Blob starring Steve McQueen.

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for language and mild thematic elements
Movie Release Date:1982
DVD Release Date:October 8, 2012

“E.T’s” 30th anniversary is being celebrated with a gorgeous new re-issue and I have one to give away.  To enter, send me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com with E.T in the subject line and tell me your favorite movie alien.  Don’t forget your address!  (US addresses only.)  I’ll pick one winner at random on October 14.  Good luck!

A young boy named Elliott (Henry Thomas) finds an extraterrestrial who has been left behind when his expedition of alien botanists had to depart quickly to avoid detection. He brings E.T. home, finding through their connection a way to begin to heal his sense of loss at his father’s absence.

E.T. loves Elliott, but begins to weaken in the Earth’s atmosphere and needs to go home. With the help of Elliott and the neighborhood children, he sends a message to his friends. But before they can come for him, he is captured by government scientists. E.T.’s connection with Elliott is so strong Elliott becomes very ill, too. But both recover, and the children return E.T. to the spaceship, after E.T. reminds Elliott that they will always be together in their hearts.

This is an outstanding family movie, with themes of loyalty, friendship, trust, and caring. One of the most purely magical scenes in the history of film is when Elliott’s bicycle lifts off up into the sky.

Parents should know that the movie has scenes of peril that may be too intense for younger children. An apparent death is also upsetting. There is brief very strong language for a PG movie. This film was justifiably criticized for its almost complete absence of non-white characters.

DVD extras: Making of documentary, cast reunion, archives, trailer, behind-the-scenes footage, etc. Families who see this movie should talk about the way that the adults and the kids see things differently, and have a hard time understanding each other’s perspective. One reason is that they don’t try to share their feelings with each other. Could Elliott have talked to his mother about E.T.?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and they should try some Reese’s Pieces! They might also want to check out the classic movie E.T. catches a glimpse of, “The Quiet Man.”

Enigma

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

One of the most important contributions to the Allied victory in World War II was a code-breaking operation that was so secret it was not revealed until 30 years later. Their deciphering of the Enigma code developed by the Germans shortened the war by as much as a year.

This is the story of the people who worked at a huge and historic estate called Bletchley to unlock the unlockable. They had to solve a puzzle considered impenetrable because it was so complex that it could never have been decoded by the human brain. What the Germans never anticipated was that the British would think up the beginnings of the modern day computer and develop a “thinking machine” to sort through billions of complex computations and find the equivalent of a needle buried in one of millions of haystacks.

The essentials of the story are true, but the characters in the movie are fictional. As he did with “Shakespeare in Love,” screenwriter/playwright Tom Stoppard brilliantly interweaves the real and the imaginary to illuminate not only his characters’ era but our own.

The central figure in this story is Tom Jericho (Dougray Scott), a brilliant mathematician with a stunning grasp of numerical relationships. His grasp of human relationships is a little shaky, however. When we first meet him, he is returning to Bletchley after a breakdown. He was shattered by a brief, overwhelming affair with Claire (Saffron Burrows), a co-worker who seduced and then abandoned him. His superiors do not want him back, but he may be their best hope for breaking the German’s new code, the Shark, before a group of U-boats meet up with American convoys carrying desperately needed supplies.

The reason the Germans are using a new code is that they found out that the British had broken the Enigma. Meanwhile, Claire has disappeared. Figuring out where she is and whether there is a connection between her disappearance and the leak to the Germans is a puzzle that is as important to Tom as decoding the Shark.

He teams up with Claire’s roommate Hester (Kate Winslet) to find out what happened to Claire. As they search for clues, they are watched by Wigram (Jeremy Northern), a sleek secret agent investigating Tom and his team to see if one of them is a traitor.

Stoppard is fascinated with puzzles, wordplay, secrets, and stories within stories, all of which lend themselves very well to the Bletchley code-breakers. The movie brilliantly depicts the desperate atmosphere and heart-breaking dedication of the people who knew that their success – or failure – could do more to determine the outcome of the war than a thousand soldiers with guns.

The performances are excellent, particularly Northern, whose single syllable on entering Tom’s room, “Bliss!” gives us his character’s history from tony prep school through too many compromises. He is a man who has had to sacrifice what he once thought of as honor to serve a greater cause, has had to betray in order to be loyal, and has had to keep too many secrets. Winslet’s only failing is her entirely unsuccessful effort to look dowdy. But she and Scott are marvelous at showing us something we seldom see in movies, really smart people using their intelligence.

Parents should know that the movie has some sexual references and situations (brief nudity). Claire seduces just about every man she meets. There are some very tense scenes, including graphic images of slaughtered bodies in a mass grave.

The movie raises a number of moral dilemmas that are well worth discussion. When it becomes clear that there is no way to save the American supply ships in time, the code-breakers debate whether it is right to use what they know about the ships’ positions to help them calculate the keys to break the code. What are the best arguments for each side? Who was right? The characters lie and there are a number of betrayals in the movie – more than some members of the audience may be able to sort through on the first viewing – and it is worth talking about how people decide whom to trust and how much evidence they need before they change their minds.

Families who enjoy this movie should read about the real key figure at Bletchley, the truly enigmatic Alan Turing. His artificial intelligence test is still the standard used today.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy reading Between Silk and Cyanide, a wonderfully entertaining memoir by Leo Marks, who worked on creating codes during this era. (Fans of 84 Charing Cross Road will enjoy the fact that Leo Marks is the son of man who owned the bookstore at that address.) The complicated issues of uneasy alliances and tragic choices are explored in Kurt Vonnegut’s classic novel, Mother Night. You can also see an exciting but highly fictionalized version of the capture of the Enigma machine (in real life, it was the Brits, not the Americans) in U-571.

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