Movie Mom

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

Enemy at the Gates

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

It is 1942 and Stalingrad is “a city on the Volga where the fate of the world is being decided.” Hitler is trying to do what Napoleon could not and has sent his troops to invade the Soviet Union.

The Germans have enormous strength, and the Russians are overmatched. Soviet officers hand guns to every other soldier, telling them, “When the one with the rifle gets killed, the one following picks up the rifle and shoots.” The Germans establish a stronghold and the Russian soldiers are badly shaken. A new commanding officer, Nikita Krushchev (Bob Hoskins), terrorizes one of the senior officers into killing himself and asks for suggestions on how to build the morale of his soldiers. A young political officer named Danilov (Joseph Fiennes of “Shakespeare in Love”) makes a suggestion — “give them hope.” He has seen a soldier kill five Germans, each with a single shot. He urges Krushchev to “give them heroes.”

The soldier is Vassily Zaitsev (Jude Law), an uneducated boy from the Urals with an extraordinary talent for hitting his target. Danilov’s propaganda makes Zaitsev a legend. And that makes him a target for the Germans, who dispatch their own legendary sniper, Terminator-style, to go after him. When that legend arrives (Ed Harris as Major Koenig), he can research Zaitsev by reading Danilov’s circulars about Zaitsev. Danilov sees Koenig’s arrival as a chance for bigger and better propaganda. Koenig is a nobleman, so that now there is a class war to add to the story.

But everything Danilov does to make Zaitsev a hero and an asset to the Soviets makes him more vulnerable to discovery and attack by the Germans. Things get even more complicaged when Danilov and Zaitsev fall for the same girl, a tough soldier named Tania (Rachel Weisz of “The Mummy”).

This is a thinking person’s historical epic, so impressively ambitious in taking on issues and ideas that you have to cut it some slack when it does not manage them all as skillfully as it hopes to. The story of the German siege of Leningrad is worth a movie in itself. The cat and mouse game between Koenig and Zaitsev is like something out of a classic western, more much about strategy, courage, ingenuity, and patience as about sharpshooting. The issue of using one individual’s story to manipulate the masses plays out fascinatingly throughout the movie. It is reminiscent of “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence’s” famous line, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” If the love triangle is the weakest part of the movie, that is only because the rest of it is so strong.

All four stars are excellent, especially Law’s guileless integrity and Harris’ variation — a sort of guile-full integrity. When the two men face off against each other, it is clear that they understand each other in a way that no one else ever can.

Parents should know that this is a very tense and violent movie, with graphic battle scenes and piles of dead bodies. Characters are in constant peril and many are killed, including a child. There is a brief but fairly explicit sexual encounter with brief nudity. The characters use strong language, drink, and smoke.

Families who see this movie should talk about the effect that fame has on people. At first, Zaitsev innocently enjoys the attention, though he never lets it go to his head. Later he says, “I can’t carry that weight any more. I want to fight as a regular soldier.” Was what Danilov did necessary? Was it fair to Zaitsev? Did it do what it was intended to? How was that similar to what the Germans did to Koenig? (Think about the scene where he turns in his dogtags)? Why did Tania chose the one she loves? Think about what it says about the real Zaitsev at the end of the movie — does the movie do to the real Zaitsev what Danilov did to the fictional one?

Families who enjoy this movie should read more about the invasion of the Soviet Union, a key turning point in WWII. Younger members of the family might like to hear what happened to the commanding officer, Nikita Krushchev, whom baby boomers may remember best for banging the table with his shoe at the U.N. Families who enjoy this movie should also see “Doctor Zhivago.”

Edison, the Man

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:1940

“Plot: The movie begins with a dinner in 1929 honoring the “”Golden Jubilee of Light,”” the anniversary of the invention of the electric light bulb. But the guest of honor has not yet left home. He is being interviewed by two high school students, telling them that success is ninety-nine percent perspiration and one percent inspiration, and that the most valuable thing in the world is time, because all the money in the world won’t buy one minute of it.

East is East

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

George (Om Puri), who is Pakistani, marries Ella (Linda Bassett) and they settle down in Manchester to have seven children and run a fish and chips shop called George’s English Chippy.

As the movie opens in 1971, George returns unexpectedly from the mosque just as Ella and the children are marching in a church parade. George stops to watch, not seeing his family scurry down a side street. It is important to George that his children adopt the religion and customs of Pakistan, and it becomes even more urgent for him as events make him feel helpless and threatened. First, his oldest son, Nazir objects to an arranged marriage and bolts in the middle of the wedding ceremony. Second, it seems that in all the family chaos, they have neglected to have their youngest son circumcised. They belatedly take care of that, and the pain and humiliation lead the child to hide inside his parka, the hood covering his head and much of his face 24 hours a day. Third, India is at war with Pakistan, and George’s fear of the loss of his homeland and culture makes him even more concerned about passing on that culture to his children.

Ella will not let the children criticize their father. They go to the mosque, grudgingly, but they feel like Brits and only one of the seven wants to live according to Pakistani traditions. The others want the freedom of Western culture — to go to discos, study art, play soccer, eat pork sausage, and date whomever they want. They may feel English, but they look Pakistani, and George fears that the culture they want will never accept them. His neighbors support a politician named Enoch Powell who is calling for repatriation of foreigners. But George and the neighbor do not know that their children are romantically involved.

George becomes more rigid. He arranges marriages for two other sons, without consulting his wife. Finally, he becomes abusive, his frustration exploding into violence against his family.

This award-winning movie is based on the experiences of its author. The family moments, beautifully performed by the entire cast, have a tragi-comic authenticity. When George’s rage finally shatters the family’s fragile compromises, the movie struggles to recover.

Parents should know that the movie has very strong language, bathroom scenes, explicit sexual references, including depiction of male and female genitals, sexual situations, and severe wife and child abuse.

Families who see the movie should talk about the cultural heritages that are important to them and how they balance that with the pressure to assimilate. They should also talk about how husbands and wives from different backgrounds create a home that respects both of them, and how people sometimes live with compromises that may seem intolerable to others. Families who like this movie will also like “Mississippi Masala,” about a romance between an Indian woman and a black man.

Dumbo

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:1941

The stork delivers babies to the circus animals, including Mrs. Jumbo’s baby, an elephant with enormous ears. The other elephants laugh at him and call him Dumbo, but Mrs. Jumbo loves him very much. When Dumbo is mistreated, she is furious and raises such a fuss that she is locked up. Dumbo is made part of the clown act, which embarasses him very much. He is a big hit and, celebrating his good fortune, accidentally drinks champagne and becomes tipsy. The next morning, he wakes up in a tree, with no idea how he got there. It turns out that he flew! He becomes the star of the circus, with his proud mother beside him.

The themes in this movie include tolerance of differences and the importance of believing in yourself. It also provides a good opportunity to encourage empathy by asking kids how they would feel if everyone laughed at them the way the animals laugh at Dumbo, and how important it is to Dumbo to have a friend like Timothy.

Parents should note that while respecting individual differences is a theme of the movie, the crows who sing “When I See an Elephant Fly” would be considered racist by today’s standards. One of them is named “Jim Crow” and they speak with “Amos ‘n Andy”-style accents, but clearly they are not intended to be insulting. Families who see this movie should talk about that depiction, as well as these questions: Why does Timothy tell Dumbo he needs the feather to fly? How does he learn that he does not need it? Why do the other elephants laugh at Dumbo’s ears? How does that make him feel? Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy some stories with related themes. The circus train, Casey, Jr., puffs “I think I can” as it goes up the hill, just like “The Little Engine That Could.” Compare this story to “How the Elephant Got Its Trunk,” by Rudyard Kipling (read by Jack Nicholson in the wonderful Rabbit Ears production), in which another elephant finds his larger-than expected feature first ridiculed and then envied by the other elephants. Kids may also enjoy comparing this to “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “The Ugly Duckling,” and other stories about differences that make characters special.

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