Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

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

 

Neighbors
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for pervasive language, strong crude and sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use throughout
Release Date:
May 9, 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

 

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

Dick

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:1999

The better you remember the early 70′s, the more you will enjoy this very funny movie. It purports to reveal the “Deep Throat” who gave the Washington Post the inside information that led to President Nixon’s resignation. And come to think of it, in many ways this makes more sense than what we’ve been led to believe is the real story. According to this film, the downfall of the Nixon administration was caused by two 15-year- old girls who are so dim that H.R. Haldeman (Dave Foley) says, “I’ve met yams who have more going on upstairs than those two.”

Besty (Kirsten Dunst) and Arlene (Michelle Williams) are bubble-headed best friends who accidentally see a burgler breaking into the Watergate when they sneak out to mail in an entry to the “Why I should win a date with Bobby Sherman” contest at Tiger Beat magazine. The next day, they spot the same man (Harry Sherer as Gordon Liddy) while they are on a White House tour. Worried that they might tell someone, President Richard Nixon (Dan Hedaya) tries to co-opt them by appointing them “official White House dog walkers” and “secret teen advisors.”

At first the girls are thrilled, and they believe the President when he tells them that the massive shredding of documents they stumbled upon is for his hobby of paper mache. Arlene even develops a crush on “Dick” and is swooningly recording an Olivia Newton John song for him when she accidentally erases 18 1/2 minutes from one of his tapes. When she hears on the tape that he is not what he seemed, the two girls decide to talk to the Washington Post reporters and end up turning over the key evidence in a parking garage.

Boomer parents who lived through the 1970′s will enjoy this visit to the worst hair and clothes decade of the century. It is a clever tweak on the “Forrest Gump” concept, as the two girls turn out to be responsible for many of the best-remembered historical details of the era. “Satuday Night Live” and “Kids From the Hall” regulars appear as the people Woodward and Bernstein called “the President’s Men” (plus Rosemary Woods) and as Woodward and Bernstein themselves. All are terrific, and the under- appreciated Saul Rubinek is a stand-out as Henry Kissinger, far smarter than the people around him but so needy that he will try to persuade even the girls to agree with him. And Dan Hedaya, the only man in America with a five-o’clock shadow heavier than that of the real Richard Nixon, is sensational, needy, paranoid, and, in an hilarious dream sequence, positively endearing.

Some teens will enjoy it, even without a grounding in the history, but they will enjoy it more if they watch “All the President’s Men” first (Bruce McCulloch does a fine job parodying not just Carl Bernstein but also Dustin Hoffman playing Carl Bernstein). Parents should know that the explitives are not deleted and there is some very strong language, including puns relating to the President’s first name and a whispered explanation of the original meaning of “Deep Throat.” Betsy’s brother is a heavy drug user who is perpetually stoned, and some of his marijuana makes its way into the cookies the girls make for the President. Families will want to discuss the real events underlying the Watergate scandal and the impact it has had on the way we see the Presidency and the way the media covers the Presidents.

Video tip: This movie is reminiscient of the best movie ever about two girls with a crush on an impossible object: “The World of Henry Orient.” A funny and insightful glimpse into the stage of life where we rehearse our emotions by fixing on the unattainable, it is well worth watching. I noticed that “Dick” shares one important prop with “Henry Orient,” the super-modern one-piece telephone, and suspected that it was an homage to a classic film.

Deterrence

posted by rkumar
B
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language and violence
Movie Release Date:2000

Teens may think that it does not really matter who gets elected President. Or, they may think that the important issues in this year’s election are the domestic controversies that attract most of the coverage, like abortion and gun control. This movie gives teens a chance to think about the importance of a candidate’s character and judgment, and to imagine how they might respond if presented with the direst circumstances.

The movie is set in 2007. Iraq has invaded Kuwait and President Emerson has to respond quickly. At first, his advisers worry about how his response will affect the campaign. Then, when Emerson tells the Iraqis that he will use a nuclear weapon to destroy Baghdad, his advisers worry about survival.

One of the movie’s strengths is its grounding in recent history, including the bombing of Hiroshima, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Operation Desert Storm. The movie begins with news footage of Presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to Bill Clinton explaining, as they send troops into battle, that what they are doing will save lives and promote peace.

Like his predecessors, President Emerson must decide how to respond to aggression that affects the US indirectly – for the moment. But unlike his predecessors, he does not have the luxury of time. In the past, it took days to move troops around, and diplomats used that time to negotiate. But there is no time for diplomacy when both sides have nuclear bombs and one refuses to back down.

Emerson has a couple of additional complications. Like Gerald Ford, he was appointed Vice President and then became President unexpectedly. He has never been elected to national office, and is concerned that he does not have the broad support of the voters. The threat from Iraq comes in the middle of his first campaign for the Presidency. And Emerson is Jewish. The Iraqi diplomat refuses to negotiate with him because of his religion. And he worries that aggressive action will be seen by Americans as unnecessary, risky, and more based on concerns about Israel than about the US and world peace.

Talk to teens about how Presidents have made these decisions in the past, those that were successful, those that failed, and those that are still being debated. Ask them whose advice they would listen to, if they were in Emerson’s position, and what they would do if they did not have his Hollywood-style convenient resolution. What kind of qualities should a President have, and how are those qualities revealed in campaigns? What do they think about the way Emerson accepted the consequences of his decision?

FAMILY CONNECTIONS: Two excellent movies released in 1964 raised the prospect of a mistakenly fired nuclear weapon. The better remembered of the two is the classic comedy “Dr. Strangelove.” But the dramatic version, “Fail-Safe,” is also worth watching.

Dark Victory

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:1939

Judith Traherne (Bette Davis) is an impetuous and headstrong heiress who lives life with furious energy. Her life revolves around parties and horses. She sees Dr. Frederick Steele (George Brent) for her headaches and dizzy spells, and he tells her she has a brain tumor. He operates, and she believes she is cured. Her soul is cured as well, because she and the doctor have fallen in love, and for the first time she feels genuine happiness and peace.

She learns that Frederick and her friends have kept the truth from her; her prognosis is negative, and she has very little time left. She breaks the engagement, telling Frederick he only wants to marry her out of pity. At first, she returns to her old life, trying to bury her fears and loneliness in a frenzy of parties. But she is terribly sad, and when Michael, her stableman (Humphrey Bogart) tells her that she should allow herself to see that Frederick really loves her, and take whatever happiness she can, in whatever time she has left, she knows he is right.

She marries Frederick, and has blissful months with him on his farm in Vermont before she dies, having had a lifetime of love and happiness in their time together.

This classic melodrama is also almost an encyclopedia of emotions. At first, Judith is in denial about her illness and about her feelings. She shows displaced anger when she breaks her engagement to Frederick. Most important to discuss with kids, though, is that she makes a classic mistake of confusing pleasure and happiness. The contrast between her frantic efforts to find distraction through parties (“horses, hats, and food”) and fast living, and the peace and joy of her time in Vermont with love and meaningful work (okay, it’s her husband’s meaningful work, but this was the 1930s) is exceptionally well portrayed by Davis and by director Goulding. This is one of the most important emotional distinctions for kids to learn, especially teenagers.

Families who see this movie should talk about questions like these: Why is it so hard for Judith to find happiness, even before she learns she is sick? How can you tell that she does not understand herself very well? Why does she break her engagement with Frederick? What does Michael tell her that makes her change her mind? Why doesn’t she tell Frederick that she is close to the end, sending him away instead?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “The Big Lie,” another romantic drama with Davis and Brent.

Curse of the Cat People

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:1944

Plot: Despite the title (insisted on by the studio following the producer’s very successful — and scary — “The Cat People”), this is a gentle story of a lonely and sensitive girl and her “friend,” who may be imaginary or may be the ghost of her father’s first wife. Amy (Ann Carter) is a dreamy kindergartener, not very clear about what is real and what is fantasy, and “a very sensitive and delicately adjusted child,” according to her teacher. Her father Oliver (Kent Smith), still in great pain from his first wife’s tragic death, is very protective, and worries about her “losing herself in a dream world.” When no one shows up for her birthday party, it turns out that Amy “mailed” the invitations in a tree, believing that it was a magic mailbox, as her father had whimsically told her years before. The party goes on with her parents and Edward, their Jamaican houseman. When she blows out the candles, she wishes to be a “good girl like Daddy wants me to be.” The next day, after the other girls refuse to play with her, she finds a spooky old house, where a voice speaks to her and invites her inside. A handkerchief falls from an upstairs window, containing a ring for Amy. She wishes on the ring for a friend, and later says she got her wish, and that her friend sang to her. Amy goes back to the spooky house and meets Julia Farren (Julia Dean), an elderly woman who was once an actress, and who insists that the other woman in the house is not her daughter, but her caretaker. Amy sees a photograph of Irena, her father’s first wife, and recognizes her as her “friend.” Irena promises to stay “as long as you want me” but tells Amy never to tell anyone about her. But when Amy sees a picture of Irena and her father together, she tells him. He spanks her for lying, and Irena tells Amy “now you must send me away.” Amy leaves the house in a snowstorm, looking for Irena. When she knocks on the Farren’s door, Mrs. Farren says she has to hide. Her daughter, bitterly jealous of the affection her mother denies her but lavishes on Amy, has said she will kill Amy if she ever comes back. Mrs. Farren collapses trying to take Amy upstairs. Barbara is furious. But Irena appears, her image flickering over Barbara, and Amy calls out “My friend!” and embraces her. Barbara, softening, hugs her back, as her parents arrive. “Amy, from now on, you and I are going to be friends,” her father tells her, and this time he says that he, too, sees Irena. Discussion: This movie is not for everyone, but children who can identify with Amy will like it, and may be able to talk about themselves in talking about her. Oliver worries that Amy’s dreams will lead to madness, as he believes they did for Irena. Amy just wants someone who will be her friend, and has a hard time connecting to other children. The counterpoint is Mrs. Farren, whose delusion that her child is dead is deeply upsetting to her daughter, in her own way as needy for friendship as Amy is. This movie does a good job of showing how Amy and her parents worry about each other, and that parents make mistakes. Amy blames herself when her parents argue about her, and you may want to make it clear that children are not responsible for family conflicts. Children may be concerned about Mrs. Farren’s delusions, and how upsetting they are for her daughter. They should know that most old people are fine, but that some have an illness that makes them forgetful.

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