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

 

Begin Again
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:

Release Date:
July 2, 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

 

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

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

 

Earth to Echo
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and peril, and mild language
Release Date:
July 3, 2014

Rush Hour 2

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

Less a sequel than a remake of the first “Rush Hour,” this version sets itself up to be the next “Lethal Weapon” franchise by meticulously repeating all of the elements of the first one. Those elements are: one motor mouth LA cop named Carter (Chris Tucker), one stoic kick-boxing Hong Kong cop named Lee (Jackie Chan), and a microscopic plot that moves the story along without distracting audiences or the performers too much from the fights, explosions, and wisecracks.

The problem with any sequel to a movie like this is that once we have already spent one movie getting the characters to respect and trust one another, it is difficult to create much dramatic tension. The plot is just as thin as the first one, but inherently less compelling. In “Rush Hour,” the plot centered on an adorable kidnapped child; in this one it is something about counterfeit money. Tucker’s comic riffs and Chan’s balletic fight scenes are mildly entertaining, but have a synthetic feel.

The high points include a fight staged in a massage parlor and the pyrotechnic contributions of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s” Zhang Ziyi. She doesn’t float through the air this time, but she has the same defiant pout. Her screen presence is electric, even in Mandarin. Don Cheadle shows up for a brief scene that reminds us of what real acting looks like. The best part of the movie is the outtakes shown during the final credits, which give us an even better sense of the chemistry between Chan and Tucker than the movie does. Maybe “Rush Hour 3″ will be all outtakes – that would be a sure hit.

Parents should know that the movie has a lot of action violence and comic peril. That means that the fight scenes are not very graphic. In almost cartoon-style fashion, characters get beat up badly and then are shown in the next scene without any wounds. School-age kids who see this movie may get unrealistic ideas about the consequences of fighting. The movie also has some strong language, sexual innuendo, and a massage parlor scene in which Tucker is allowed to choose from an array of girls and selects several of them.

Families who see this movie should talk about how we decide whom to trust and the risks that undercover operatives must take. They may also want to talk about the challenges of making friends with people from other cultures and the way that Carter and Lee tease each other about the differences between blacks and Asians.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the original and some of Chan’s other movies, like Shanghai Noon.

Runaway Bride

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:1999

In the all-time best romantic comedy ever, “The Philadelphia Story,” Jimmy Stewart says, “The prettiest sight in this fine pretty world is the privileged class enjoying its privileges.” Not really — the prettiest sight in this fine pretty world is movies like that one, and like “The Runaway Bride.” When people say “they don’t make movies like that anymore,” this is the kind of movie they mean. It is a welcome tribute to the kind of 1930’s screwball romantic comedies starring William Powell and Myrna Loy (“Libeled Lady”), Melvyn Douglas and Irene Dunne (“Theodora Goes Wild”), or Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (“Carefree”), and the most delightful romantic confection of the summer.

The stars and director of “Pretty Woman” have reunited and the result is far better than the original, which relied heavily on star power to lend gloss to a story with some bitter undertones. This time, Richard Gere plays Ike Graham, a cynical columnist for USA Today who writes a quick angry column about a small-town woman who has left three grooms at the altar. That woman is Maggie Carpenter (Julia Roberts). When she writes the paper to point out 15 inaccuracies, he is fired by his editor and former wife (Rita Wilson). So, he goes to investigate Maggie, thinking that he can sell a story about her that will vindicate him and restore his career.

Maggie is getting ready to try another wedding, this time with a local high school coach named Bob. Ike ingratiates himself with the people in Maggie’s Maryland home town, so picturesque that it could have been painted by Norman Rockwell. Maggie’s father (Paul Dooley) obligingly loans Ike the home videos of Maggie’s three previous attempts at making it all the way up the aisle, with a Greatful Dead fan, a scientist, and a man who, following their break-up, became a priest. At first, Ike hopes for another last-minute bolt from the ceremony to make his story, but as he gets to know Maggie, he begins to hope that she won’t go through with it so that he can be fiance number five.

Roberts and Gere create real screen magic together. They are clearly very comfortable with each other and with Garry Marshall, the director (who appears onscreen briefly in a baseball game). Gere displays a previously unsuspected light comic talent that is utterly disarming. Roberts just gets better and better; like the character she plays, she is learning to rise above her “excessively flirtatious energy.” The indispensable Joan Cusack, this generation’s Eve Arden, plays Maggie’s best friend, utterly supportive despite having to live through four different bridesmaid’s dresses. And three cheers for adding a small but genuine dose of psychological insight to give a little bit of substance to the story. Both Ike and Maggie have to learn something about themselves before they can move forward together.

The best moment in “Pretty Women” was when Gere asked Roberts what the fairy tale princess does when the prince rescues her, and she replies, “She rescues him right back.” That theme is carried over into this movie (along with the “tell off the boutique salespeople” scene and actors Hector Elizondo and Larry Miller). Families can use this film to initiate conversations on the importance of being a full person yourself before you are capable of making a commitment to anyone else.

Parents should know that the PG rating comes from brief sexual references (please, someone, no more grandmothers making lusty comments as a source of humor — that was tired back on the TV show “Phyllis”). Also, Maggie’s father has a severe drinking problem which appears to be solved when she develops the courage to confront him about it. Families who enjoy this film should try renting some of the classic romantic comedies listed above, along with “My Man Godfrey,” “Bringing Up Baby,” and “Holiday.”

Romeo Must Die

posted by rkumar
F
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2000

Hong Kong action star Jet Li (“Lethal Weapon 4″) and R&B artist Aliyah are a hip-hop Romeo and Juliet in this tired tale of rival gangters. Fans of martial arts will do well to wait for it to come out on video, so they can fast-forward through all the meaningless exposition and endless shots of people giving mean and meaningful looks at each other and get to the good stuff.

Delroy Lindo is Isaak O’Day, a gangster who dreams of going legit, “making deals in country clubs instad of pool halls.” He loves his children, Colin (D.B. Woodside) and Trish (Aliyah) deeply and wants to protect them. But Colin wants to “be a man,” and for him that means taking matters into his own hands.

Kai Sung (Russell Wong) is the leader of the rival gang. Like O’Day, he has a son who wants to be a player. He and O’Day are trying to get the deeds to the shoreline property in their districts, to turn it over to a sleezy developer who is competing for a football franchise. We know he’s sleezy because he keeps saying fake profound things in an arrogant way, like,” golf is a game of finesse, not power, much like life,” and “If I say there is caviar on the mountain, you just bring some crackers.”

When Sung’s son is killed, his brother Han (Jet Li) breaks out of a Hong Kong prison to come to the US to avenge his death. He meets Trish, and they find that they have more in common with each other than with their sides in the fight.

There are some nice fight scenes, though it seems an insult to Jet Li’s extraordinary talent to trick them up with computer graphics. If we want to see people suspended in the air while they kick each other, we can rent “The Matrix.” Little flashes of x-ray shots of bones being crunched are an interesting touch. When you’re fast-forwarding the video, be sure to stop and see it.

Parents should know that the movie has very strong violence, some girl/girl kissing, drug use, and that it is really dumb. (I especially love the ending, with Han and Trish wandering out of the house with all the dead people, the police completely ignoring them.) Families who see the movie may want to talk about racism and the way that children prove their independence, or maybe just how such bad movies get made.

Rock Star

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

There is logic, there is movie logic, and then there is the kind of “throw some big musical numbers and some good-looking stars on the screen and no one will notice that it makes no sense whatsoever — just look at ‘Flashdance'” logic. “Rock Star” is in that last category, and while it is not as preposterously entertaining as “Flashdance,” it is still has moments of guilty pleasure.

The story goes back to “Cinderella,” or at least to “Rocky,” with a little bit from Pinocchio. Chris (Mark Wahlberg) a 1980’s metal band’s biggest fan, gets picked out of obscurity to become the band’s new lead singer, only to find that dreams are not always what they seem from the outside. The equivalent of Pinocchio’s visit to the place where boys get turned into donkeys is Chris’s life of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, with increasingly more of the former. But before you can say “This would make a great episode of ‘Behind the Music,'” he sees the error of his ways, and finds the girl who loved him all along. I think he even invents grunge, the next new music craze, because he somehow goes from shrieking hard rock in leather pants to playing anquished ballads in a Seattle coffee house. Then there’s the clinch and the fade-out, followed by the movie’s most entertaining scenes, the out-takes shown during the credits.

The movie’s biggest problem is that it cannot make up its mind whether it wants to be a satire or play it straight. It tweaks the rock star worldview now and then, but no one could ever send up metal bands better than that masterpiece mockumentary, “This is Spinal Tap,” and they do not even try. That leaves us with an umimaginative rise-and-fall story that never really captures our hearts or even our attention. At least that makes it easier to ignore major lapses in the storyline.

Wahlberg enjoys himself onscreen, but it is impossible not to compare this to his performance in the vastly more complex and intelligent “Boogie Nights,” another movie about a naive young man who is brought into a world of debauchery and corruption. Jennifer Anniston is woefully underused in a standard-issue “good woman who stands by her man and holds on to her values” role that gives her only a few brief opportunities to show her crackerjack timing and ability to give snap to anything within 50 miles of a comeback. It is nice to see the musicians played by real-life guitarists Zakk Wylde and Brian Vander Ark, bassist Jeff Pilson and drummer Jason Bonham.

Parents should know that the movie is rated R for very strong language, nudity, explicit sexual situations (including group sex and bisexual encounters), and abuse of every kind of licit and illicit substance (even hotel room furniture). Many characters give the finger. There is an explicit close-up of a very unhygienic nipple-piercing. A gay character is insulted and fired from his job. The overall message is that the sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll lifestyle is empty and destructive, but not unappealing, for a short time anyway. Interestingly, there is some suggestion that it is a cynical marketing strategy, though that appears to be rationalization. One nice shift from the usual format for this kind of movie is that Chris has parents who are entirely loving and supportive of his passion for metal, and genuinely enjoy the music themselves.

Families who see this movie should talk about how some people limit themselves to dreaming that they can be exactly like someone else, instead of thinking about dreams that allow them to be most themselves. Why was it so easy for Chris to lose his way, while Emily saw that it was wrong? Why was it important for her to have her own life and career? What do we learn about Chris from the way he gets back on stage after his fall? What does he learn about himself? Do you agree with the comment that “we all owe somebody an apology along the way?”

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy This Is Spinal Tap (Special Edition) (mature material). They also might like to compare the Steel Dragons’s song “Anything Goes” to a classic song by the same name by Cole Porter.

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Laggies
Lynn Shelton is known for writing and directing small, intimate, independent films with a lot of improvised dialogue ("Humpday,""My Sister's Sister," "Touchy Feely"), often using the same small group of actors. With "Laggies," she moves seamlessly to working with a more conventional screenplay, writ

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

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