Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

If I Stay
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and some sexual material
Release Date:
August 22, 2014

 

The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action/violence
Release Date:
May 2, 2014

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:
August 22, 2014

 

Bears
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
G
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

When the Game Stands Tall
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for thematic material, a scene of violence, and brief smoking
Release Date:
August 22, 2014

 

Need for Speed
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of reckless street racing, disturbing crash scenes, nudity and crude language
Release Date:
March 14, 2014

Amistad

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:R
Movie Release Date:1997

Plot: In 1839, a group of Africans sold into slavery were being transported to the United States on a Spanish ship. Off the coast of Cuba, they escaped from their shackles and attacked the crew, leaving two crew members alive to take them back to Africa. The Spanish sailors tricked the Africans and sailed up the coast of the United States until an American naval ship off the coast of Connecticut captures them. The Africans were brought into court to determine their fate. They were claimed as property (“like livestock”) by both the Spanish crew and by the American captors.

Roger Baldwin (Matthew McConaughey), a property lawyer persuades abolitionists Theodore Joadson (Morgan Freeman) and Lewis Tappan (Stellan Skarsgård) that he has a theory that will help the Africans. He argues that it is not a property case at all. The law provides that only the child of slaves can be a slave. Since the Africans were not born slaves they are free, and their actions were merely self-defense in aid of restoring their freedom. If Baldwin can prove that they were born as free people in Africa, and not, as their captors alleged, slaves in the West Indies, they would not be considered property; they would be considered human beings.

The trial attracts the attention of President Martin Van Buren (Nigel Hawthorne), who is in the midst of a campaign for re-election and very aware that he will need the support of Southern voters to win. He is under additional pressure from the eleven-year-old queen of Spain, Isabella II, and her ambassador, who raise claims on behalf of the Spanish fleet. When the judge and jury appear sympathetic to the Africans, Van Buren arranges for a new judge to hear the case without a jury.

Meanwhile, the Africans try to understand what is going on around them. Baldwin and Joadson are able to find a man who speaks Mende, the language of Cinqué (Djimon Hounsou) and some of the other Africans. They win in court and the government appeals. Former President John Quincy Adams (Anthony Hopkins) represents them before the U.S. Supreme Court, where seven of the nine Justices are slaveholders. In a moving and eloquent argument, he persuades the Justices (with one dissenter) that the Africans were free, and that if they had been white, they would have been called heroes for rebelling against those who tried to take that freedom away.

Discussion: Adams explains that in court the one with the best story wins. Indeed, we hear many different stories in the course of the movie as each character tries to explain why his view is the right one. In the first courtroom scene we hear several different “stories” about what should happen to the Africans. All of those stories assume that the Africans are property; the only question is whose property they are. Interestingly, as “property,” they can not be charged with murder or theft. One cannot be both property and capable of forming criminal intent. The only issue before the court is where the Africans will go.

As Baldwin begins to tell Joadson and Tappan his “story” of the case, we see them slowly becoming aware of what had always been obvious to us. The Africans cannot be property. They were free, in which case their actions were not only honorable but heroic, in the same category as America’s founding fathers, our own “story” about who we are as Americans. Despite the attempts of Van Buren to subvert the legal system established just decades before, the essential commitment to freedom is so much a part of the story that, at least in this one brief moment, justice triumphed. Adams, the son of the second President, made that his story.

Questions for Kids:

· Why was it important to prove where the Africans were from?

· What was Calhoun’s justification for slavery?

· Why does Tappan say that the death of the Africans may help the cause of abolition more than their freedom?

· Why does Spielberg organize his story this way, taking the audience from the confrontation to the courtroom and only later providing the background about the capture of the Africans?

· What does it mean that there is no Mende word for “should”?

Connections: Chief Justice Storey is portrayed by real-life former Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun.

America’s Sweethearts

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:PG-13
Movie Release Date:2001

It sounds like it can’t miss — a delicious situation created by a guy who knows how to write jokes, with an all-star cast. But it does miss. Billy Crystal, who wrote the script with Peter Tolan, delivers wisecracks, but he gives us television sitcom-like “onesa” characters (i.e., “one’s a spoiled diva, one’s a preening Spanish lover type”) whose behavior seems prompted by whatever suits the scene rather than any kind of emotional truth — and that, after all, is as central to the success of a comedy as it is to a drama.

“America’s Sweethearts” are two beloved screen idols whose films together have thrilled audiences and filled studio bank accounts. But she (Catherine Zeta Jones as Gwen) has fallen for someone else and he (John Cusack as Eddie) has had a nervous breakdown. Now their last film together is about to be released, and the studio is desperate for them to bring all of their star power as a couple to the press junket. Since the studio head has not actually seen the movie, all he has to stir up support from the press is Gwen and Eddie. And the person responsible for making it all work is Lee (Crystal), a publicist so dedicated that he says if her heard that his mother died, he would spin the news by saying how much she would have loved the movie.

A few insider digs at Hollywood and the press, repeated behavior with no apparent motivation, and some extended vulgar humor keep derailing this movie every time Roberts’ 1000-watt smile or one of the other star turns comes close to making it work.

Parents should know that the movie is raunchier than many PG-13s, with intended humor coming from an (inaccurate) accusation of public masturbation and from insults about another man’s genital size. The movie has strong language and sexual references and situations, and some comic violence. Characters drink and use (and possibly abuse) prescription drugs. A mental breakdown is treated as a comic development, mere self-indulgence rather than a legitimate illness.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Notting Hill” and “The Runaway Bride.” They might also like to see some classic earlier comedies about Hollywood, like “Sullivan’s Travels,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” and “Bombshell.”

American Pie 2

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

Teenagers will want to see this movie because it is raunchy and gross. But like the original, the gross and raunchy moments, though frequent, are less important than the movie’s core sensibility, which is sweetly old-fashioned.

Let me be very clear. It very, very, raunchy and very, very, gross, with references to every kind of humiliation, sexual act, and bodily function. No one will call it wholesome. However, in the end, almost every sexual encounter is in a context of respect and sincere affection.

When we left Jim (Jason Biggs) and his pals at the end of the first movie, they had just achieved their ambition of having sex by graduation. This movie begins a year later, as they are finishing their first year in college and reuniting for what they hope will be a wild summer. They rent a house on the beach, put a keg on the porch, and do everything they can to entice bikini-clad ladies to join them. They talk a lot about how much crazy fun they want to have, but they do very little about it. Oz (Chris Klein) is devoted to his girlfriend (Mena Suvari), who is in Europe for the summer. Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) is still dreaming about his night with Stifler’s mother (Jennifer Coolidge), and spends the summer preparing to see her again by learning about tantric sex. Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), who could not bring himself to say “I love you” to his girlfriend (Tara Reid) in the first movie, is surprised to find that he is hurt and even a little lost after she has moved on. Jim, who was never able to get together with exchange student Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth) in the first movie, is overjoyed to hear that she will be coming to visit him at the end of the summer. His top priority is to become more expert in bed, so he visits the “band camp geek” he had sex with on graduation night to get some pointers.

Only Stifler (Seann William Scott) continues to act like an unrestrained id, and even so, the closest he gets to having sex is when two women trick him into kissing Jim by promising to have sex with each other and let him watch. As in the first movie, it ends with one big night in which each of the characters more or less gets what he was looking for.

This is not a particularly good movie, but it is not a particularly bad one, either. I give it credit for treating its female characters like real people comfortable with their own sexuality, practically revolutionary for movies of this genre. I also give it credit for completely avoiding the usual sitcom-style painfully artificial mix-ups and misunderstandings. And there are some very funny moments, especially those featuring Eugene Levy as Jim’s magnificently unhip but understanding and loving father.

Parents should know that the movie features dozens of gross and raunchy moments, with references to anal sex, oral sex, tantric sex, masturbation, homosexuality, and bathroom humor. Characters engage in underage drinking, including trying to get girls drunk so that they will agree to sex. The atmosphere and dialogue may be completely irresponsible, but the behavior is not. As in the first, all major characters are white, which adds to the artificiality of the settings.

Any parent whose teenager sees this movie should see it, too, so that you can have some sense of the messages he or she is getting about making sexual choices, and have the opportunity to comment. You can begin by agreeing that Jim’s dad is dorky, and then talk about how a non-dorky parent (if there is such a thing) might approach these issues.

Families should talk about the way that Jim’s dad is completely supportive, even when Jim humiliates himself by mistaking superglue for lubricant and has to be rushed to the hospital. Jim’s dad does not criticize him for what is clearly a humiliating experience. He just reassures Jim that he loves him and is proud of him. Families might also want to talk about how people cope with the feeling that they do not know what they are doing and must be making terrible mistakes when they first become sexually involved, and the importance of selecting sexual partners with whom they can share truly intimate moments. And they will want to discuss teen drinking and other substance abuse issues as well.

Families who enjoy this movie should see the first one, and should compare them to the 1980′s equivalent (the “Porky’s” series) and the 1960′s equivalent (the “Beach Party” series).

American Outlaws

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:PG-13
Movie Release Date:2001

American Outlaws” is a rock and roll western for the MTV era. It may be a little on the dumb and cheesy side, but it does not take itself or its characters too seriously and it has enough cute cowboys, shoot-outs, and romance to remind us how much we’ve missed seeing westerns.

Once we abandon any pretense of historical accuracy, we can settle back and enjoy the story — more of a fable — about the infamous Jesse James and the James-Younger gang. According to this movie, Jesse James was just misunderstood. All he wanted was to come back from the Civil War and farm his land. But those reliable western meanies, the railroad men, want that land and will do anything to get it. According to this version, James and his brother Frank joined with their cousins, the Younger brothers, were not bad guys at all. They were something of a 19th century Robin Hood, robbing from the railroads to give to the people who have lost their land.

There are some good action scenes and solid production values. The script is unimpressive. What makes the movie work as well as it does is the performance of Irish actor Colin Farrell, whose critically acclaimed but little seen performance in “Tigerland” built up a lot of anticipation for his first starring role in a major American film. He more than lives up to that promise, giving Jesse James a charm and all-American open-heartedness that make it easy for us to accept him as the hero. And this movie really is about the outlaw as rock star. People seem positively honored to be robbed by them, and the man who is charged with capturing him says admiringly, “If I was to design the perfect outlaw band, this is the gang I’d create,” and “I’d just as soon kill you, Jesse, but chasing you takes up too much of my time.”

Parents should know that the movie features a great deal of western-style violence, including a Civil War battle scene with many injuries and deaths. There are several shoot-outs and major characters are killed, including a parent. The main characters are robbers who kill when they must to get away with the money. They seem to believe that since the money belongs to the railroad, it is all right, even righteous, to steal it. They enjoy their fame as outlaws and even write to the newspapers to make sure that their story is properly told. There is some strong cowboy language, including mild references to prostitutes. A young woman makes it clear that she will not have sex with the man she loves until they are married. A scene takes place in a saloon, and a boy takes a drink.

Families who see this movie should talk about how the movie makes us root for the robbers. Would it be possible to tell this story from a different point of view? Families should do some research on the real Jesse James. There is a lot of information on the Internet, and http://www.crimelibrary.com/americana/jesse/ is a good place to start. Why is he such a fascinating and romantic figure, more than a century after his death?

There have been at least a dozen movies about Jesse James, including two starring his son, Jesse James, Jr., two starring WWII hero Audie Murphy, two with “The Lone Ranger’s” Clayton Moore, one with Rob Lowe from television’s “The West Wing,” one with Oscar-winner Robert Duvall, and even one starring Harris Yulin, who plays the mean railroad guy in this version. Kids may also be familiar with the WWF character called “Road Dogg Jesse James.” Families who enjoy this movie might enjoy seeing some other takes on the James-Younger gang. They will also enjoy two other modern westerns with action, romance, and humor, “Silverado” and “Cat Ballou.

Previous Posts

Yes, Handwriting Still Matters -- Here's How to Teach Kids Cursive
Schools are eliminating curricula to teach cursive writing, based on the assumption that what matters is keyboarding skills. But studies show that writing by hand helps you process and learn more

posted 1:51:59pm Aug. 23, 2014 | read full post »

Taylor Swift Shakes it Off
Taylor Swift, who can be seen in "The Giver," debuts her first pop album with this adorable video. [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/nfWlot6h_JM" frameborder="0"] There have been some online discussions about whether Swift is racially insensitive or even racist.  T

posted 3:54:09pm Aug. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Yes, Another "Happy" Video, But You Will Love This One, I Promise
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3KSKS3TTbc#t=239[/youtube] Produced by a team of Deaf campers & staff from Deaf Film Camp 2014 at Camp Mark Seven.

posted 11:35:09am Aug. 22, 2014 | read full post »

An R Rating for Being Gay?
"Love is Strange," a tender, beautifully written and performed love story about a three decade relationship, stars John Lithgow and Alfred Molina.  The MPAA has given the movie an R rating even though there is nothing in the film that normally triggers an R in the categories of language, violence,

posted 10:00:58am Aug. 22, 2014 | read full post »

If I Stay
Hamlet asked it best. "To be, or not to be: That is the question." We struggle through, worrying about whether someone likes us or whether we will be accepted at the school of our choice

posted 6:00:09pm Aug. 21, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.