Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Black or White
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 on appeal for brief strong language, thematic material involving drug use and drinking, and for a fight
Release Date:
January 30, 2015

 

The Book of Life
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action, rude humor, some thematic elements and brief scary images
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

Black Sea
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language throughout, some graphic images and violence
Release Date:
January 30, 2015

 

The Judge
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language including some sexual references
Release Date:
October 10, 2014

Strange Magic
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and scary images
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

 

Fury
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong sequences of war violence, some grisly images, and language throughout
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

The Princess Bride

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:1987

This witty modern fairy tale by William Goldman (screenwriter of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “All the President’s Men”) is resoundingly satisfying. The most beautiful woman in the world (Robin Wright) is engaged to the cruel Prince (Chris Sarandon) but kidnapped by a huge man with enormous strength (Andre the Giant), a master swordsman (Mandy Patinkin), and an evil genius (Wallace Shawn), until she is rescued by a mysterious masked man who must defeat them all, and then escape with her through the treacherous Fire Swamp. But then she is captured again by the Prince, until honor, courage, and true love prevail.

The book by Goldman is even better, and lots of fun to read aloud, though I admit that when I read it to my children I skipped his asides, which are better appreciated by adults.

The Powerpuff Girls Movie

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2002

The Powerpuff Girls’ first feature-length movie may be a treat for the fans of the show, but its non-stop excitement and sense of humor is going to win over just about anyone. Move over Pokemon, there are some new rulers of the animated action scene.

The big city of Townsville is overrun by crime, and the lonely but always good-hearted Professor Utonium decides to make some daughters out of sugar, spice, and everything nice. But his troublesome lab monkey Jojo knocks some mysterious “chemical X” into the concoction and the girls come out having seemingly endless superpowers, in addition to being the nicest girls he could ask for. He names them Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup, and they all have different, distinct personalities.

They show their sugar and their spice — and their superpowers on their first day of school when a game of tag goes terribly wrong and destroys much of the town. The people of Townsville are furious at the girls, who are ashamed and outcast. When Jojo tells them he has a plan to save the town, they agree to help. But they are deceived. It turns out his plan is to take over earth with oppressed apes, with Jojo becoming Mojo Jojo, king of the planet of the apes. At first chaos ensues and it looks like Mojo Jojo will in fact reign, but the girls use their powers to take on the apes in a spectacular battle to save the city and finally prove to the people that they’re actually good girls.

The Powerpuff Girls are more fun than many recent films and most of today’s animated superheroes. It was funny, exciting, and involving. Mojo Jojo is voiced by Roger L. Jackson, the phone voice of the killer in all three Scream movies, and the apes are the most colorful animated villains since Yellow Submarine and the most fearsome gang of monkeys since The Wizard of Oz. And of course, the older audience is targeted in some of the jokes as well, including two characters who talk in Van Halen lyrics and references to the original Planet of the Apes.

Parents should know that this film has lots of destructive cartoon violence, as well as some brief bathroom humor.

Families who see this film should talk about what they would do if they had superpowers — or if they could make up their own animated characters.

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy The Powerpuff Girls DVD Powerpack and The Powerpuff Girls Meet the Beat-alls, in which the entire dialogue is taken from Beatles songs.

The New Guy

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

“The New Guy” is a waste of talent. This high school epic, supposedly about one boy’s path to true cool is so half-baked and uncool that it’s embarrassing. It is also another case of the MPAA giving a PG-13 rating to a comedy that has material that would get an R in a drama.

Chickenesque D.J. Qualls, this generation’s Don Knotts, plays Dizzy, a funk-loving dork stranded at the bottom of the school pecking order with his pals, played by Parry Shen, the magnificent Zooey Deschanel (“Big Trouble” and “Almost Famous”) and Jeord Mixon. After an opening-day incident where Dizzy is injured in an unlikely and spectacular and deeply personal way, he decides he must escape. Deciding to get expelled, his antics at first only merit a diagnosis of Tourette’s syndrome and some stupefying medication. Now drug-addled as well, his behavior escalates until he gets thrown in jail. There his meets the mentor he’s been needing: Eddie Griffin, playing an inmate who’s cultivated a fierce facade to survive the comic rigors of movie-prison life.

Under his tutelage, Dizzy is transformed into the punky Gil. At a new school, on the other side of town, Gil uses his newfound abilities to spout decade-old pseudo-Ebonic aphorisms and publicly beat the local bully. His badboy status confirmed, he begins to restructure the social hierarchy of the new place. Eventually, he’s forced to confront the fact that Gil is just an invention, and also forced by the lame script to win the heart of the school bully’s sexy girlfriend, as portrayed by Eliza Dushku.

It is painful to see some of today’s most talented young actors wasted in this dreck. They’re given very little to work with in the script. The writer and director have sadly bought into the same limited mindset about popularity and conformity that they are purportedly skewering.

The most troubling aspect of “The New Guy” might be strained impressions D.J. Qualls calls upon in his quest for status. It’s intrinsically funny to watch the gawkiest white guy on the planet attempt to imitate macho black posturing (especially when the source of this posturing is the chihuahua-like Eddie Griffin). But so much of it goes on for so long that posturing begins to seem a little like caricature. And it’s precisely this behavior, the epitome of imitative uncool, which is supposed to secure “Gil’s” status.

Parents should know that this film contains a lot of sexual talk, a little sexual activity (offscreen), and a mutilating injury that is supposed to be funny. Dizzy/Gil overdoses on medication, crashes a motorcycle, and sets his father’s head on fire (by accident, for comic effect). The slapstick of the film is pretty violent, and there are frequent kicks to the groin. One character is described as a “slut” and likes to have sex in public. Another pages a friend on a store intercom, reporting a “pair of lost testicles.”

Families who see this movie should talk about who the arbiters of social status are in real high schools, and what qualities determine a person’s status. What are the advantages of popularity? What are the consequences (advantages?) of being unpopular? Is social status fixed, or changeable? Does any of this really matter after high school?

Families who enjoyed this film might want to catch D.J. Qualls’ breakout role in “Roadtrip”, or give Eddie Griffin some space for his comedy in “Double Take”, alongside the underutilized Orlando Jones.

The Master of Disguise

posted by rkumar
F
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2002

This misbegotten mess of a movie is a terrible disappointment for fans of Dana Carvey. It is also a disappointment for fans of comedy and fans of movies.

It really is hard to imagine how the talented Carvey can have taken what sounded like a can’t-miss premise and missed so completely. Carvey’s genius for impressions is utterly wasted. So is his charm. So is his time. So is ours.

Carvey plays Pistachio Disguisey (are you laughing yet?), the youngest in a family with magical powers to transform themselves. His father (James Brolin) never told him of the family’s secret because he wanted to protect him. So little Pistachio does not know why he has a Tourette-like compulsion to imitate everyone he sees. When his parents are captured by bad guy Devlin Bowman (Brent Spiner), who suffers from intestinal distress whenever he tries his evil laugh (now are you laughing?), and it is up to Pistachio to save the day. Pistachio’s grandfather (Harold Gould) arrives to give him a few quick lessons in transformation and self-defense.

Weak references to classics like “The Exorcist,” “Star Wars,” “Jaws,” and “A Hard Day’s Night” will have no meaning to the kids who are the intended audience. The “Star Wars” references are more rip-off than satire; Disguiseys get their power from Energyco, so much like “the force” that it even has a dark side. Audience members old enough to recognize Jesse Ventura, Jessica Simpson, and Bo Derek might enjoy their brief cameos. But even at less than 70 minutes, the movie feels endless, with an extended post-credit sequence that just adds insult to injury.

Parents should know that the movie is too vulgar for a PG rating and too dumb for audiences of any age. Pistachio is fascinated with women who have large rear ends and he makes crude jokes when a character serves appetizers (“do you have a little wiener and tiny nuts?”). He disguises himself as a cow patty. And slapping an opponent while yelling “Who’s your daddy?” is supposedly a way of showing manliness and competence. Pistachio himself is a annoyingly disturbing character, an odd child-man with an inexplicable accent and an unforgivable haircut.

Families who see this movie should talk about how being able to imitate someone requires very careful observation.

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy Jerry Lewis playing eight characters in The Family Jewels.

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