Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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The Drop
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some strong violence and pervasive language
Release Date:
September 12, 2014

 

The Fault in Our Stars
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language
Release Date:
June 6, 2014

Dolphin Tale 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some mild thematic elements
Release Date:
September 12, 2014

 

Think Like a Man Too
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for crude sexual content including references, partial nudity, language and drug material
Release Date:
June 20, 2014

The One I Love
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, some sexuality and drug use
Release Date:
September 5, 2014

 

Godzilla
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence
Release Date:
May 16, 2014

Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2001

Style and substance are well-suited in this 3-D computer animation story about a 6th grade whiz kid who can build a satellite communications system out of a toaster and create a robot dog that when told to “play dead” blows itself up and then puts itself back together.

Jimmy has created gadgets for every purpose, from a combination planetary-mobile/bedmaker to bouncing bubble transportation device and a girl-eating plant. When other kids bring toys for show and tell, Jimmy Neutron brings a shrinking ray. The kids at school laugh at him and tease him about being short, except for his friends, Carl (overweight and asthmatic) and Shane (a passionate fan of some action heroes called Ultra Lords). Jimmy does not get along very well with a very smart girl named Cindy or a tough kid named Nick. When their parents forbid them to go to a theme park on a school night, Jimmy and his friends sneak. The next morning, their parents are gone, leaving mysteriously identical notes saying that they’ve gone to Florida. At first, the kids are thrilled. But after a day of doing everything they are not allowed to do — going up the down escalator, letting the cold air out of the refrigerator, wearing clothes that don’t match, making messes, and eating lots of candy, the kids are scared and lonely. Some slimy green aliens encased in egg-shaped flying capsules kidnap all the kids’ parents so they can feed them to a monster shaped like a chicken with three eyes. Jimmy builds rockets to take them all into space, rescues the kids when they are captured and put in the dungeon, frees the parents, and arranges their escape.

The animation is done by computer. Instead of going for the more lifelike textures of the Pixar movies, this has the intentionally stylized feel of a computer game. That fits the story’s tone, somewhere between the “Tomorrowland” 1950’s ideal of the future and today’s world of cell phones and headphones. Jimmy’s spaceship and the alien planet owe more to Flash Gordon and the Jetsons than to contemporary rocket science and astronomy.

The music, too, has songs that will be familiar to parents (The Ramones and The Go-Go’s) along with today’s teen dreams (N’Sync, The Backstreet Boys, and Aaron Carter).

Parents should know that the movie, while rated G, may be too scary for younger kids. It also has some crude bodily function jokes which were a big hit with the kids at the screening I attended. I asked a bunch of them after the movie what they liked best, and all agreed that it was the scene with all the burping. The movie has some smart female characters, including Jimmy’s mechanic mother, and kids of different races are friends and support each other.

The movie drags a bit in the middle, and adults may find themselves checking their watches. But most kids, especially those from 8-12, will find it fun, if forgettable.

Families who see the movie should talk about what makes kids make fun of each other for being different. If the parents in your family disappeared for a day, which rules would your children break? How does Jimmy learn from his mistakes?

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy the Toy Story movies.

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back

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

Hard-core Kevin Smith fans (I don’t think there are any other kind) will find this just the movie they were waiting for. It’s a love letter to his characters and to his fans, a sort of movie equivalent to the holiday greetings the Beatles used to send out to members of their fan club. “Jay and Silent Bob” is filled the cheery vulgarity, sweet sprit, deliriously crackpot dialogue, and cornucopia of arcane references to pop culture and to Smith’s view askew world. In other words, it is the ultimate culmination of Smith’s oeuvre. It either clears the decks and enables him to move on to something new, or it just paves the way for another round of Red Hook-based, self-referential little gems.

What this means is that if you don’t already know who Jay and Silent Bob are, see Smith’s other movies before you see this one. This movie is a sort of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” (or The Wind Done Gone) of Smith’s previous movies. He has taken two tangential characters who have appeared in all of the other films and given them their own movie.

Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (played by screenwriter/director Smith) are two small-time drug dealers who spend their lives hanging out in front of the convenience store that provided the setting for Smith’s fist film, “Clerks.” In his third film, “Chasing Amy,” it turned out that they were the inspiration for the offbeat superhero stars of a successful comic book created by the lead characters (played by Ben Affleck and Jason Lee).

In the latest installment, Jay and Silent Bob find out that there is going to be a movie based on the comic book, and they go to Hollywood to stop the production. Along the way, they run into the Scooby-Doo gang, a minivan of gorgeous girls and a guy with a guitar who say that they are on their way to protest animal testing, just about every character from the previous four movies, and many of today’s hottest young stars, happy to show everyone that they are not taking themselves too seriously.

This is the kind of movie that has Ben Affleck say, “Who would pay to see a movie about Jay and Silent Bob?” and then turn toward the camera to give those of us who did a knowing wink. Everyone on screen makes fun of the movie, the characters, and themselves. Smith fans will have a lot of fun — and even more when the DVD comes out and they can add another layer of arcania and in-jokes.

Parents should know that, like all of Smith’s movies, this has the strongest possible vulgarity and profanity, including drug use and very explicit sexual references. Smith has been criticized by gay activists for some homophobic dialogue and has already agreed to pay a fine and put explanatory language in the credits. He notes, however, that the comments are made by people who are not intended in any way to be role models, and that these comments are just one example of behavior that makes this very clear. One female character does point out to the completely clueless Jay that women do not like to be called “bitches.” It is obvious though, that Jay is ignorant, not mean-spirited. Indeed, despite his nonstop monologue of vulgarity, it is clear that Jay is really very sweet, even tender-hearted. And a brief flashback shows us that the only reason he talks that way is that he never heard anything better from his mother.

Families who see this movie should talk about how the real-life Jason Mewes might feel being turned into the movie’s Jay, and how Smith, who puts such rich dialogue into the mouths of other characters, created a silent character for himself. They should also look at Smith’s View Askew web pages to get more insight into the world of Smith and his characters.

Families who enjoy this movie should see Smith’s other films. They might also like to get a glimpse of Jay and Silent Bob in the otherwise stupid “Scary Movie”.

I Love You Again

posted by rkumar
A
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:1940

Prissy, stingy Larry Wilson (William Powell) bores everyone aboard ship on his way back to the United States from a business trip. When Ryan, a fellow passenger, falls overboard, Larry is accidentally knocked overboard trying to save him. Hit on the head, he comes to as George Carey, a smooth con man whose last memory is of a train ride nine years before, when someone stole the money he was taking to bet on a fight. He has no recollection of his life as Larry, in a small town called Habersville. When he finds “Larry’s” bank book with a substantial balance, he and Ryan decide to visit Habersville to get as much of it as they can.

At the dock, they are met by Larry’s wife, Kay (Myrna Loy). Carey is smitten with her, but she has come to get him to agree to a divorce. They go back to Habersville together, where Carey and Ryan plan an elaborate swindle, with the help of Carey’s former partner, Duke. Constantly confronted with people and questions he cannot remember, Carey manages to fake his way through, even on a hilarious hike with a Scout-like troop of boys. Kay begins to warm to him, and, when she finds out the truth from Ryan, she remains loyal. Carey tries to call off the swindle, and when that does not work, resolves everything with his last con job, happily looking forward to staying in Habersville with Kay.

Powell and Loy appeared in more films together than any screen couple since the silents, and this delightful romantic comedy is one of their best films. Carey’s horror as he finds out more and more about his life as “Larry” is balanced by Powell with smooth maneuvering to keep everyone from finding out that he can’t remember anything about his life in Habersville. Loy is, as always, “the perfect wife,” witty, wise and loyal — she sees the essence of the truth and is adorably charmed by it.

Amnesia of this kind occurs only in the movies (and in soap operas). Even though it makes no sense medically, it does make sense dramatically. When Carey was hit on the head in a robbery nine years before, he became Larry, the boring businessman. It had to be because, at some level, a part of him wanted a “respectable life.” At the end, he is neither Carey nor Larry, but a synthesis of both, ready to stay in Habersville with Kay and live happily ever after. Kay’s motives are also justified. She married a bore like Larry because, as she says, she saw something exciting behind his eyes. She was the only one who glimpsed Carey inside of the stiff and proper Larry. And she also sees Carey at his best. When she says he is noble and honest, she turns out to be right.

Questions for Kids:

· What does Carey do to convince everyone that he is Larry, and that he remembers his life in Habersville?

· When is he closest to being found out, and how does he handle it?

· How does he con Duke into letting him out of the swindle?

· What do you think will happen after Duke leaves with the money?

· Will Carey be at all like Larry in the future? How?

Connections: As in “The Music Man,” this is a story about a con man who comes to a small town and is redeemed by love. Another movie with a funny scene involving a counterfeit Scout leader is “It’s a Wonderful World,” with Jimmy Stewart and Claudette Colbert, and also directed by W.S. Van Dyke. A romantic drama about amnesia is “Random Harvest,” in which Greer Garson marries Ronald Coleman, who has forgotten his past, and loses him when he remembers it.

Any of the Powell and Loy movies are a pleasure to watch, especially “The Thin Man” series and “Libeled Lady.” Harkspur, Jr. is played by Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer of “Our Gang.”

I Know Where I’m Going

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:1946

Plot: As a baby, as a five year old, as a school girl, and as a young woman, Joan Webster (Wendy Hiller) always knows exactly what she wants. And whether it is “real silk stockings” instead of synthetic or dinner in an elegant restaurant instead of an evening at the movies, she insists on getting it. As the movie begins, she tells her father she is about to marry one of the richest men in England, and that she is leaving that night for his island off the coast of Scotland. At each step of the trip, one of her fiancé’s employees is there to make sure things go smoothly, but once she gets to Scotland the fog is so thick she cannot take the boat to the island. That night she wishes for a wind to blow away the fog, and the next morning she finds that she has been too successful — the wind is so strong that no boats can get to the island. Stuck where she is, she meets some of the people from the community, including Torquil MacNeil (Roger Livesey), a Naval officer home on leave.

“People are very poor around here,” she comments to Catriona, a local woman who is a close friend of Torquil’s. “Not poor, they just haven’t got any money.” “Same thing.” “No, it isn’t.” While waiting for the wind to die down, Joan has a chance to see something of the life she would have as the wife of Sir Robert Bellinger. She meets his bridge- playing friends and hears of his plans to install a swimming pool on the Kiloran estate he is renting. (It turns out that he is renting it from Torquil, who is the Laird of Kiloran.) She visits a castle where Torquil’s ancestors lived, and where it is said that any Laird of Kiloran who goes inside will be cursed. She goes to the 60th wedding anniversary party of a local couple, still very much in love.

Even though it is still not safe to take the boats out, she is desperate to leave, telling Torquil, “I’m not safe here…I’m on the brink of losing everything I’ve ever wanted since I could want anything.” She pays a young man to take her out in the boat, and Torquil goes along. The boat almost sinks, and she loses the bridal gown she had planned to be married in. When it is finally safe to go, Joan and Torquil say goodbye. He asks her to have the bagpipes play for him some day, and she asks him for a kiss. They part, but she returns with three bagpipe players and joins him in the castle, where it turns out the curse provides that any Laird of Kiloran who enters will never leave it a free man. “He shall be chained to a woman until the end of his days and he shall die in his chains.”

Discussion: Like “I Love You Again,” this movie falls into the category of “the life I didn’t know I wanted.” Joan thinks she knows what she wants and where she is going, but she is given the gift of a chance to see the alternatives. She learns that, while the people from the community miss having money, there are other things they care about more. And she learns that she can fall in love with someone who is is going in a very different direction from her ideas of “where I’m going.”

This movie provides a good starting point for a discussion of how we make decisions about what we want out of life, how we pursue those goals, and what we do when we are presented either with obstacles or with new information. And it is a good starting point for a discussion of what is important, and how we determine what is important to us.

Questions for Kids:

· The title of this movie is taken from a famous old folk song. Why did the filmmakers choose it? Why did they insist on an exclamation point at the end?

· Does Joan know where she is going? When does she know? Where is she going?

· What makes Joan change her mind? What do you think her life will be like?

· What is the meaning of the “terrible curse”?

Connections: The little girl who seems so much more mature than her parents is played by then-child actress Petula Clark, who became a pop star in the 1960s (“Downtown”) and appeared in the musical version of “Goodbye Mr. Chips.”

Activities: The bagpipe plays an important role in this movie. Children might enjoy hearing more bagpipe music, especially if they can see it performed live. Look up the Hebrides, where this movie takes place, in an atlas or encyclopedia. Find out if your area has any legends like the ones described in the movie.

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