Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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The November Man
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong violence including a sexual assault, language, sexuality/nudity and brief drug use
Release Date:
August 27, 2014

 

Adventure Planet
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Not rated
Release Date:

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

 

Blended
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and language.
Release Date:
May 23, 2014

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

 

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some scary images and mild peril
Release Date:
May 9, 2014

All About the Benjamins

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:R
Movie Release Date:2002

“All About the Benjamins” is to Ice Cube what “Crossroads” is to Britney Spears, a vanity vehicle designed by a star who has very little sense of how people like the characters in the movie (or the people in the audience) behave in real life. This is like a smudgy copy of a copy, bits and pieces of other movies put together so that the star can pretend to shoot and throw a couple of punches.

Ice Cube, who produced the movie, apparently decided that he would enjoy playing a bounty hunter, and not just any bounty hunter but one who (yawn) doesn’t get along with his boss and refuses to take on a partner.

And who does he chase down but the jive-talking con man (Mike Epps). Then they both get mixed up with $20 million in stolen diamonds and an even more valuable missing lottery ticket.

All of this is just an excuse for showing off with some smart-alecky comments and shoot-outs. Ice Cube and Epps are able performers with a nice rapport, but they can’t do much with this lackluster plot, like the umpteenth re-tread of a reject from the “Beverly Hills Cop” series.

Parents should know that this movie has extremely bad language and very violent shoot-outs. A man is shot point blank in the arm and later tortured. A stun gun is applied to a man’s crotch. There are sexual references and situations, including overheard sex. Characters drink and there is a joking reference to drug use.

Families who see this movie should talk about why it was important for Bucum and Reggie to learn to trust each other and what they did to earn each other’s trust. Do you agree that it “sounds like a female” to talk about feelings? What do you think they will do next?

Families who enjoy this movie should see Ice Cube’s fine performance in Boyz N the Hood.

All About Eve

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
MPAA Rating:N/A
Movie Release Date:1950

Margo Channing (Bette Davis), a Broadway diva beginning to show her age, meets the young fan who stands outside the theater after every performance (Anne Baxter as Eve Harrington). Taken by her devotion, humility, and hard luck story, Margo gives Eve a job as a gofer/secretary. At first, she is delighted, but later comes to realize that Eve is ruthless and will stop at nothing to steal Margo’s career — not to mention her fiancé (Gary Merrill as director Bill Simpson). Eve manipulates Margo’s friends and colleagues, becomes her understudy, and finally, after scheming to keep her away from the theater, goes on in her place, after arranging for critics to be at her performance. She takes the starring role in a new production that would have been Margo’s, and wins an award for it. But by then, Margo and her friends are back together, Eve is tied to a critic who is as ambitiously manipulative as she is, and as the movie ends, she too meets a devoted young fan who could be another Eve.

This movie, with one of the most literate scripts ever written (by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who also directed) is not just the finest backstage drama ever filmed, but also a compelling parable of ambition and loyalty. Bette Davis is brilliant as Margo, bringing both the ferocity and the vulnerability of Margo to life. No one can forget her at the beginning of her party: “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” She is the first to notice that Eve is not what she seems, but her friends assume it is just petty jealousy, and it only makes them want to protect Eve. That is just what Eve needs to get them to do what she wants, and it almost results in the break-up not only of Margo and Bill, but also of their best friends, playwright Lloyd Richards and his wife Karen. Ultimately, the loyalty of all four friends keeps them together. And ultimately, Eve is reigned in by someone who is her equal, acidic columnist Addison De Witt (a silky George Saunders).

This is a good movie to use to discuss how to determine what actions are appropriate to realize ambition. Compare it to movies like “Rudy” also about the achievement of a dream. It is not the dream that differs here as much as how it is achieved. Eve lies and has no compunctions about creating misery for others, while Rudy is scrupulous about meeting every requirement and doing everything with honor and integrity. Indeed, that is part of his dream; without that, it would not mean anything. “National Velvet” is another example. Velvet bends some rules (mostly by competing in a race in which girls are not allowed to ride), and relies on faith a good deal, but has enormous integrity in defining her dream and in her treatment of others.

“All About Eve” won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (George Sanders), Best Screenplay, Best Direction, and Best Costume Design. There have been many other fine movies that offer a glimpse of life backstage. A very serious one is The Country Girl with Grace Kelly married to alcoholic former star Bing Crosby but falling in love with director William Holden. Some of the more light- hearted backstage movies include, “Mother Wore Tights,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “Footlight Serenade,” “Royal Wedding,” “Footlight Parade,” “Kiss Me Kate” and “The Barkleys of Broadway.”

Joseph L. Mankiewicz and his brother Herman (co-author of “Citizen Kane”) were responsible for many of the finest scripts ever produced. And that is Marilyn Monroe in one of her earliest appearances, as “Miss Caswell.”

It might be fun for kids to talk about the theater, and how it differs from movies. Take them to a local production, or get a book of plays for children from the library and help them produce one.

Ali

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

Will Smith delivers a knock-out punch as Muhammed Ali in this outstanding film that follows the champ from his first heavyweight title to the “Rumble in the Jungle” when he won the title again by defeating George Foreman in Zaire.

Smith is a great choice to play Ali. Both have pretty faces and easy charm that mask the ferocity and fury that it takes to make it all the way to the top. Ali never trained harder for a fight than Smith did for this role, spending two years packing on muscle and throwing — and receiving — real punches in the ring. Smith perfectly captures Ali’s Kentucky drawl. Like his fighting style, it can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. Director Michael Mann strikes just the right balance between the personal and the political, setting Ali’s struggles in the context of the racial conflicts of his era but never losing sight of the fact that it is one man’s story.

Ali repeatedly tells those around him that he will be the champ his own way, and we see him try to figure out what that way will be. He won’t be the white man’s idea of a “good Negro,” like Joe Louis. He will become a Muslim, let Elijah Muhammed’s son be his manager and even shun his friend Malcolm X when told to. But he knows that they need him more than he needs them, and he will be a Muslim his way, too. He will be more faithful to his refusal to fight than he will be to any of the women in his life. And he will use the force of his personality — more powerful than any punch — to go the distance and get the title. No one can stop him.

Even limited to only 10 years in Ali’s life, the story spills out of the screen, with achingly brief glimpses of some of the key characters in Ali’s life. This is a double loss, because these small roles are played by some of the most brilliant – and under-used actors — working today, including Jeffrey Wright as Ali’s photographer, LeVar Burton glimpsed briefly as Martin Luther King, Joe Morton as Ali’s lawyer, and Giancarlo Esposito as Ali’s father. John Voight struggles under far too much rubber make-up but makes a fine impression as Howard Cosell, the sportscaster who was Ali’s favorite straight man and one of his truest friends. Mario van Peebles is quietly magnetic as Malcolm X, and Ron Silver marshals his intensity just right as trainer Angelo Dundee. Mykelti Williamson is jubilantly entertaining as Don King.

Mann, as always, gives us brilliantly revealing moments. Before a fight, Dundee quietly loads his pockets with first aid equipment, knowing that the brilliantly healthy and fit fighter will soon be needing it between rounds. And in one of the most heartbreaking movie moments of the year, Ali hugs the just-defeated Jerry Quarry. That moment even more devastating for those aware of Quarry’s ultimate fate – he became severely impaired from injuries sustained in boxing matches and died at age 53. It is impossible to watch the movie without thinking of Ali’s own injuries and feeling the loss of the resplendently vigorous champ he once was.

Parents should know that in addition to brutal fight scenes, the movie includes a character who is a drug addict, drinking and smoking, a sexual situation and sexual references (including adultery) and some strong language. The issue of racial and religious intolerance is forthrightly presented.

Families who see this movie should talk about the conflict Ali faced when he was drafted. How did he decide what to do? How did he stay true to himself? What was the biggest challenge? When his wife told him not to trust the fight promoters who “talk black, act white, and think green,” who was right?

Families who enjoy this movie should be sure to watch the brilliant Oscar-winning documentary When We Were Kings to see what really went on in the Rumble in the Jungle. Smith’s performance is brilliant, but it can never match the real-life champ’s inimitable style. Of some additional interest is Ali’s performance as himself in a mediocre film called “The Greatest.”

There are many outstanding boxing films, including Rocky, Raging Bull, (for mature audiences only), Golden Boy, Requiem for a Heavyweight,and Body and Soul (with John Garfield and a rare screen performance by stage actor Canada Lee).

Aladdin

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

One of the best of the contemporary Disney releases, this classic tale of the magic lamp benefits tremendously from the energy and humor of Robin Williams as the genie. Only the Disney animators could find a way to keep up with Williams’ pop culture Cuisinart of a brain, and the big blue genie is a marvel of rapid-fire images and associations, deliciously irreverent, a nice surprise in a Disney film.

Aladdin, a “street rat,” meets the beautiful Princess Jasmine, when she sneaks out to wander through the city. Jasmine refuses all of the men who want to marry her to get the throne and wants to find out more about the world outside the castle walls. Evil Jafar, the trusted advisor to the Caliph, sends Aladdin to get the magic lamp. The genie appears and offers Aladdin three wishes. Aladdin promises he will use the third wish to free the genie, and then wishes to be a prince, so he can court Jasmine.

But Jafar, too, wants Jasmine, and the kingdom she will inherit. Aladdin has to find a way to free the King from Jafar’s control using his own powers. And he has to find a way to feel comfortable enough about himself to allow Jasmine to know who he really is.

The songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman are tuneful, sparkling, and exceptionally clever. After Ashman’s death, lyrics for three songs were written by Tim Rice of “The Lion King” and “Jesus Christ, Superstar,” including those for the Oscar-winning song, “A Whole New World.”

Families who see this movie should discuss these questions: Why didn’t Aladdin want to tell Jasmine the truth? Why did Jasmine’s father trust Jafar? If you had three wishes, what would they be?

Disney issued two made-for-video sequels, “The Return of Jafar” and “Aladdin and the King of Thieves” (only the second one featuring Williams), both very entertaining. Parents may have concerns about some aspects of the story in the second. Aladdin behaves in an honorable and accountable fashion, there is a fairly happy resolution of the relationship between Aladdin and his father, Kaseem, and Kaseem acknowledges that the relationship with his son is “the ultimate treasure.” However, Kaseem’s original desertion of Aladdin and his mother and his failure to care for Aladdin after his mother’s death are never really justified or apologized for; nor does he ever address or repent for his his lifelong career as a thief. Kaseem seems unconcerned when the outlaws insist that Aladdin pass the test for becoming one of them, a fight to the death, and almost casually approves. He leaves the outlaws to drown when their ship sinks. And at the end, he rides off with Iago the parrot (again voiced by the wickedly funny Gilbert Gottfried), apparently to return to a life of crime. Parents should be prepared for questions, and may want to initiate discussion of how Aladdin might feel about his father and why he has decided to make different choices in his own life.

Previous Posts

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posted 10:57:58am Aug. 27, 2014 | read full post »

Trailer: Thunder and the House of Magic
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posted 8:00:02am Aug. 27, 2014 | read full post »

Anatomy of Every Movie Ever
This is hilarious and, I have to say, accurate.  Thank you, John Atkinson of Wrong Hands!

posted 3:59:37pm Aug. 26, 2014 | read full post »

Cozi Zuehlsdorff's New Song for "Dolphin Tale 2" -- "Brave Souls"
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posted 12:23:08pm Aug. 26, 2014 | read full post »

Adventure Planet
Jane Lynch, Danny Glover, Brooke Shields, Bailee Madison, and Drake Bell provide the voices for "Adventure Planet," an animated adventure for the whole family out today on DVD.  Norva and Jo

posted 5:00:18am Aug. 26, 2014 | read full post »


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