Movie Mom

Movie Mom

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Tusk
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some disturbing violence/gore, language and sexual content
Release Date:
September 19, 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

This is Where I Leave You
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, sexual content and some drug use
Release Date:
September 19, 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 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

 

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

Field of Dreams

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:1989

Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner), who grew up in New York and went to college at Berkeley, stands in the middle of his first Iowa corn crop and hears a voice say, “If you build it, he will come.” He begins to understand that this means he must plow under the corn crop and build a baseball field so that Shoeless Joe Jackson, barred from baseball since 1919 and dead for years, can play on it. Ray and his wife (Amy Madigan) know this is a crazy thing to do, but they do it. And “Shoeless”Joe Jackson does show up, with his teamates. Jackson had been the hero of Ray’s father, a former minor leaguer, with whom Ray had never been able to connect.

The voice speaks again: “Ease his pain.” Ray comes to understand that this refers to an iconoclastic author of the 1960s named Terrence Mann (James Earl Jones), now a recluse. Ray finds him, and together they hear the voice say “Go the distance.” This leads them back in time to find an elderly doctor (Burt Lancaster), who had a brief career in baseball but never got a chance at bat in a major league game. On their way back to the farm, they find him again, as a young man, and together, they go home, just as the farm is about to be foreclosed. The doctor gets his chance at bat. Mann gets to tell another story. And Ray gets a second chance to do what he regrets not doing as a teenager, to play catch with his father.

Discussion: The themes of this movie are dreams, family, and baseball. There are echoes of Ray’s father throughout the movie. It begins with Ray’s description of growing up, using his refusal to play baseball as his teenage rebellion, and as a way to test his father’s love. Ray tells Mann that his father’s name was used for a character in one of Mann’s books. Ray builds the field to bring back Shoeless Joe, his father’s hero, the hero Ray accused of being corrupt because he knew that would hurt his father. And of course at the end, it turns out that the dream all along was not bringing back the greats of baseball, but of a reconciliation with his father that was not possible before he died. “I only saw him when he was worn down by life,” Ray says. His own understanding and maturity are what enable him to see his father as he really was, even before he reappears on the baseball field. Ray asks his father, “Is there a heaven?” and his father answers, “Oh yeah. It’s the place dreams come true.”

Family discussion: Why doesn’t Annie’s brother Mark see the baseball players at first? Why is he able to see them later? · What did Ray mean when he talked about how he needed to insult his father’s hero when he was a teenager? · How do you know when to follow a dream that seems crazy or foolish?

If you like this, try: Find out more about Shoeless Joe Jackson and the famous “Black Socks” scandal. “Eight Men Out,” with D. B. Sweeney as Jackson, tells this story sympathetically. The Ken Burns PBS documentary about the history of baseball also has a video devoted to the story. See also baseball history movies “Bingo Long” and “Sandlot” (both also starring Jones) and “A League of Their Own.” And listen to James Earl Jones as the voice for Darth Vader in “Star Wars.”

Ferngully… The Last Rainforest

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:G
Movie Release Date:1992

An evil and destructive spirit named Hexxus (voice of Tim Curry) is imprisoned in a tree by Magi, the leader of the fairies, who believes that all humans have been destroyed. Many years later, as Magi is teaching Crysta, her apprentice (voice of Samantha Mathis), they find that the humans have returned, and are cutting down all the trees. Crysta shrinks one of the humans, a young man named Zak, to save him from being hit by a falling tree, and teaches him about the importance of preserving the forest.

Highlights include Robin Williams as the aptly named “Batty Koda,” and gravel-voiced rapper Ton Loc as a Goanna lizard singing “If I’m Goanna Eat Somebody, It Might as Well Be You.”

There are some very scary moments and the magic characters may distract kids from the lesson about environmental conservation, but it does provide a good opportunity for discussions that may help in increasing sensitivity to environmental concerns.

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.

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