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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Tomorrowland
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language
Release Date:
May 22, 2015

 

American Sniper
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
R for strong and disturbing war violence, and language throughout including some sexual references
Release Date:
January 16, 2015

I'll See You in My Dreams
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sexual material, drug use and brief strong language
Release Date:
May 22, 2015

 

Strange Magic
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and scary images
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images
Release Date:
May 15, 2015

 

Mortdecai
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some language and sexual material
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

New in Theaters

grade:
B+

Tomorrowland

Lowest Recommended Age:
4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language
Release Date:
May 22, 2015
grade:
B+

I'll See You in My Dreams

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sexual material, drug use and brief strong language
Release Date:
May 22, 2015
grade:
B+

Mad Max: Fury Road

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images
Release Date:
May 15, 2015

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New to DVD

pick of the week
grade:
B+

American Sniper

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
R for strong and disturbing war violence, and language throughout including some sexual references
Release Date:
January 16, 2015
grade:
C

Strange Magic

Lowest Recommended Age:
Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and scary images
Release Date:
January 23, 2015
grade:
D

Mortdecai

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some language and sexual material
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

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Elektra

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2005
C+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date: 2005

To paraphrase the most famous line from A League of Their Own, “there’s no crying in comic book movies.” At least there shouldn’t be, not by the superhero, anyway. But this is a comic book movie that feels like it might have been made for the Lifetime channel. With costumes by Victoria’s Secret.

Yes, there is kick-boxing. Stuff blows up. There is faux-meaningful comic book dialogue like “This ends here.” And there are some cool special effects. But there’s too much focus on Elektra’s past and feelings and not enough focus on making the rest of the good or bad guys interesting.

Jennifer Garner plays Elektra, a highly successful assassin for hire who has flashbacks that remind her of her demanding father and loving but doomed mother. When her new targets turn out to be a father and daughter who had befriended her, she decides to save them instead. She feels protective toward them because they have a strong father-daughter bond, something she longed for with her own father. And because the girl reminds her of herself. And because the father is played by the smoulderingly attractive Goran Visnjic.

This puts her at odds with a diabolical group of bad guys known as The Hand, including Typhoid (a woman whose poisonous breath causes instant death), Tattoo (a man whose intricate tattoos of fierce creatures come alive to spy or attack), and Kinko (he isn’t there to make copies).

There are some good action sequences, the best borrowing from the far-better Hong Kong films. Garner is toned and that midriff-baring costume makes her look more like Comic Book Barbie than like a killer. But she is also toned down. We get almost no chance to see those marvelous dimples or even any facial expressions other than “tortured” and “resolute.”

Parents should know that the movie features extensive and graphic (for PG-13) comic book-style violence with a lot of martial arts fights. Many characters are killed. There are brief grisly images. Characters use some strong language (s-word, etc.).

Families who see this movie should talk about Elektra’s answer to Abby’s question about why she does what she does. Why did she have to leave her training? What will she do next?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy X-Men and its sequel, Batman, and Spider-Man and its sequels.

Coach Carter

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2005
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date: 2005

We all love movies about underdog teams that come from behind because they (1) learn the importance of teamwork, (2) learn the importance of discipline and of respect for themselves and each other, (3) are galvanized by an inspiring leader, or, even better, (4) all of the above.

This movie, based on a true story, takes it a step further. Coach Ken Carter (Samuel L. Jackson), a star athlete himself in an inner-city California high school returns to coach the team. He insists that each member of the team sign a contract that includes wearing jacket and tie on game days, attending all classes and sitting in the front row in each one, and maintaining a higher grade point average than the minimum required for participation in sports. He wanted more for the young men than a winning season. Coach Carter wanted them to have a winning life, and that means that they had to have grades that would get them into college. In his view, student athletes were students first, athletes second.

This seems simple and straightforward enough unless you are a sports fan. Or unless you are the kind of person who calls himself a “realist” and thinks these kids are not worth trying to save. Their principal falls into that category. She figures that they are not going to graduate anyway, so the best she can do is give them one great experience they can hold onto for the rest of their lives. But Coach Carter wants more. And he wants them to want more.

He brings them together as a team, turning them from playas into players.

Many of the team members are struggling with other pressures, from a pregnant girlfriend (played by pop star Ashanti) to the money and excitement of street crime. Carter shows them that the biggest obstacle is their own fear of trying for more than they have. “Starting today, you will act like winners, play like winners, and, most of all, you will be winners.”

Some of the players drop out. They have no interest in school or rules. But some stay in, and the team begins to win. In most movies, there would be one setback as they lose to their cross-town rivals (the kids from the snooty school), and then they would pull themselves together for a rousing defeat of that same team for the state championship. But this movie is different.

On January 4, 1999, the players arrived at the gym to find it padlocked. Carter discovered that they were not living up to their contracts. While a few were attending class and meeting or exceeding the required grade point average, most were not. And Carter would not let them play until all of them were caught up with their schoolwork and made good on all of their promises.

The response by the school and the parents was outrage. Carter was threatened and a brick was thrown through his store window. It became a national news story and the focus of debate.

For Carter, this was not about a winning season. It was about a winning life. He wanted his team to qualify for college scholarships. And he wanted them to learn discipline, teamwork, and self-respect.

Jackson is terrific, as always, and his talent to mesmerize an audience makes him a great choice to play a coach who can give hope to people who gave up a long time ago. Just the way he says, “Sir,” insisting and inspiring his team to call him “Sir” as well, tells you everything about his character and his relationship to the players. The young cast members are more sure of themselves shooting hoops than they are showing emotion, but Jackson holds the screen so well that he gives them extra focus and presence.

Parents should know that the film has some mature material for a PG-13, including an out of wedlock teen pregnancy and a discussion of abortion. There is some strong language, but the movie includes a very worthwhile discussion of the n-word and whether it is appropriate for African-Americans to use a word that would make them angry if used by a white person. The film is frank about the kinds of violence inner-city neighborhoods are subjected to, including shooting. A character is killed. There is some material relating to drug-dealing.

Families who see this film should talk about the movie’s focus on the use of language and dress to show respect. They might want to learn about the real Coach Carter, who was honored by being asked to carry the Olympic flame. Why did Carter’s son want to transfer? All families should talk about the passage quoted from Marianne Williamson (often incorrectly attributed to Nelson Mandela): “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy other movies about inspirational teachers, from To Sir with Love and Up the Down Staircase to Hoosiers, Lean on Me and Stand and Deliver, and other movies about high school sports teams like Remember the Titans and Friday Night Lights. And every family should watch the brilliant documentary, Hoop Dreams, the story of two high school students from the poorest neighborhood whose skill on the basketball court leads to new opportunities and tough choices.

Racing Stripes

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2005
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date: 2005

A zebra who thinks he is a racehorse takes on the thoroughbreds in the best live action talking-animal movie since the beloved Babe.

Horse trainer turned farmer Nolan Walsh (Bruce Greenwood) finds a baby zebra and brings him home. For his daughter, Channing (Hayden Panittiere), it is love at first sight. She cares for the little zebra tenderly and when we pick up the story three years later, Stripes is a cherished part of the farm family.

But Stripes (voice of Frankie Muniz), who has never seen another zebra, thinks he is a racehorse, like the beautiful thoroughbreds he sees at the race course next door, owned by snooty Carla (the acid-voiced Wendie Malick).

His friends on the farm include an experienced pony named Tucker (voice of Dustin Hoffman), a goat (voice of Whoopi Goldberg), a pelican far from the sea (voice of Joe Pantalino) named Goose, and two flies, Scuzz (voice of David Spade) and Buzz (voice of Steve Harvey). The race horses jeer at him, but Stripes trains by trying to outrun the mail truck and dreams of winning a real race. A sympathetic filly named Sandy (voice of Mandy Moore) provides encouragement. The animals find a way to let Channing know that Stripes is fast enough to race and wants to ride him, but Nolan, whose wife died in a racing accident, does not want Channing to compete.

The human performers are just fine, especially the underrated Greenwood. He is too often relegated to bad-guy roles (Double Jeopardy), but he shows real warmth and screen presence here. Up-and-coming young Panittiere (A Bug’s Life, Remember the Titans) makes us believe in her devotion to her father and the dream of racing she shares with Stripes. But the movie is all about the animals and the voice talents and computer-aided “acting” make the characters very real and very appealing. The humor may overdo the doo-doo, but there are sweet and funny moments as Stripes tries to follow his dream and learns the importance of friends.

Parents should know that the movie has some mild language including insults like “idiot,” “blow sunshine up your tail,” and “kick your butt.” A bad word is amusingly cut off by an animal’s “baaa.” There is some crude humor, much of it involving animal poop (which most children will find very funny). An animal parent is very harsh to his child. There is a scary fall and some off-camera violence, but no one is hurt. Some viewers may be concerned about the storyline concerning the death of Channing’s mother in a racing accident.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Stripes was so unhappy to find out he was not a horse. Why did Clara and Nolan have different ideas about what was important? Why do some people think “different is scary?” What does it mean to say “You can put your boots in the oven but that doesn’t make them biscuits?” What made Nolan change his mind about letting Channing race? They should also talk about the importance of both skill and discipline, and both ability and heart. What can you tell about the way families can resolve differences by the way Nolan and Channing talk to each other?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Babe, Milo and Otis, Fly Away Home, Charlotte’s Web, and the two greatest horse movies of all time, National Velvet and The Black Stallion.

Are We There Yet?

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:2005
C+
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date: 2005

Robert Benchley once wrote, “There are two kinds of travel, first class and with children.” But the longest, naggiest, car-sickiest travel with children cannot be any more tedious than this weak and dragged-out generic fluff that wastes the talents of four performers who should know better.

There are about three good minutes of material in this film, all of which appear in the trailer. To put it in terms appropriate for the subject matter, the film has some long, dull stretches between rest stops. The movie is not as amusing as a good game of license plate bingo.

Ice Cube plays Nick, a playa who thinks his life is mighty fine until he catches a look at the luscious Suzanne (Nia Long), who works across the street from his Portland, Oregon sports memorabilia shop. He tries to resist when he finds out that she has two children, but when he rescues her on a rainy night after her car breaks down and she knows the stats on his favorite player, Satchel Paige, he’s a goner. Even though he does not like children, he will do anything to get close to her.

Suzanne needs someone to take her children to Vancouver on New Year’s Eve, and after they get into trouble at the airport and miss the train, Nick has to drive them in his beloved and pristine new SUV. When I say you know where this is going, I don’t mean Vancouver.

Yes, everything goes wrong, from an encounter with a kick-boxing deer to projectile vomit. And those are the funny parts, or they are supposed to be, anyway.

Even worse are the touching parts, or the parts that are supposed to be. Nick and the kids have to find some way to like each other, right? Isn’t that the whole point of a road movie, that point at which the people who don’t know each other or know each other and don’t like each other develop some (usually-grudging) respect for one another and begin to bond? This aspect of the movie is not just unimaginative and tedious; it is so insincere and condescending that it is affirmatively unpleasant. And then, to add insult to injury, the movie indulges in that most unjustifiable of offenses — the mini-retrospective flashback of purported highlights to re-remind us of how hollow it all really is.

It’s a shame to see the beautiful and talented Nia Long, most recently so impressive in her brief role in Alfie given so little to do — and forced to sport such an awful hairdo. Ice Cube seems to enjoy his interaction with his young co-stars but never seems fully engaged. Even with the voice of Tracey Morgan, the talking Satchel Paige bobblehead is tiresome. The performer who comes across the best is Aleisha Allen (of School of Rock), who has a fresh and appealing presence.

Parents should know that the movie has quite a bit of crude humor and some strong language for a PG. There is a lot of comic cartoon-style violence, including hits in the crotch, played for comedy. Some viewers may be upset by brief shots of a dead deer. And some may be disturbed by the portrayal of absent fathers.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Kevin and Lindsey tried to sabotage her dates and what made Nick begin to feel some sympathy and respect for the children. They may also want to talk about some of their own car trips and what kinds of things families can do to make sure that the trips are enjoyable for everyone. Families should also take a look at Satchel Paige‘s famous rules for staying young:

Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood. If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.

Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move.

Go very light on the vices, such as carrying on in society — the social ramble ain’t restful.

Avoid running at all times.

And don’t look back — something might be gaining on you.

Families with older children who enjoy this movie will also enjoy seeing Nia Long in Big Mama’s House, Aleisha Allen in School of Rock and Ice Cube in Barbershop (all PG-13). Mature audiences will enjoy seeing him in the R-rated Three Kings and Boyz N the Hood.

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