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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Grandma
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some drug use
Release Date:
August 21, 2015

 

Iris
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some strong language
Release Date:
May 1, 2015

We Are Your Friends
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language throughout, drug use, sexual content and some nudity
Release Date:
August 28, 2015

 

Aloha
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some language including suggestive comments
Release Date:
May 30, 2015

Z for Zachariah
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for a scene of sexuality, partial nudity, and brief strong language
Release Date:
August 28, 2015

 

Big Game
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and some language
Release Date:
June 26, 2015

New in Theaters

grade:
B+

Grandma

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some drug use
Release Date:
August 21, 2015
grade:
B-

We Are Your Friends

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language throughout, drug use, sexual content and some nudity
Release Date:
August 28, 2015
grade:
B+

Z for Zachariah

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for a scene of sexuality, partial nudity, and brief strong language
Release Date:
August 28, 2015

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New to DVD

pick of the week
grade:
B+

Iris

Lowest Recommended Age:
Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some strong language
Release Date:
May 1, 2015
grade:
B

Aloha

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some language including suggestive comments
Release Date:
May 30, 2015
grade:
B

Big Game

Lowest Recommended Age:
Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action and violence, and some language
Release Date:
June 26, 2015

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Failure to Launch

posted by jmiller
B
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for sexual content, partial nudity and language.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006
B
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sexual content, partial nudity and language.
Movie Release Date: 2006
DVD Release Date: 2006

Trip (Matthew McConaughey) is a 35-year-old boat broker who happily resides in an assisted living facility where he is served fresh pancakes and bacon with warmed syrup and all of his clothes are cleaned, neatly folded, and placed on his bed. All aspects of his domestic arrangements are handled cheerfully by a devoted staff of two who are dedicated to his happiness and on call 24/7. They are his parents.


Mom (Kathy Bates) and Dad (Terry Bradshaw) love their son. They do everything for him, just as they always have. He even uses them to break up relationships with girls who get that look, the one that shows they’re thinking about making plans for the future. He brings them home, and when they see that he still lives with his folks, they can’t find the door fast enough.


Trip has all the pleasures of being a grown-up and none of the responsibilities. He has two friends who also live with their parents who go rock-climbing and paint-balling with him and lots of dates. But his parents, much as they love him, would like some time for themselves. They hire Paula (Sarah Jessica Parker), an “interventionist” recommended by friends.


She crisply informs them that she will proceed according to a well-established formula designed to show Trip that he is ready to take on the responsibilities of adulthood. She will pretend to like what he likes, give him the opportunity to comfort her and to teach her something, earn the support of his friends, and voila — he will be ready for a delayed but successful launch.


But Trip turns out to be very different from the usual Trekkers and gear-heads she is used to coaxing into the world. Confidence and social skills are not the problem. What she finds out will leave her in need of an intervention herself.


This is a bright and bouncy date movie with some sharp lines and even sharper performances, especially from Bates and Bradshaw. The movie works a little too hard to convince us that just because Trip lives at home does not mean he isn’t completely manly — he is constantly shown climbing rocks, racing, shooting, sailing, or with his shirt off. And a recurring theme of animal bites (no kidding) really doesn’t work. The movie underuses the marvelous Zooey Deschanel in an underwritten “best friend” role. The big climactic scene is over-the-top, even within the romantic comedy genre. Both leads are a little too old for their parts (Deschanel would have been a more appealing Paula), but the energy and wisecracks keep us interested and the appeal of the characters and performers keep us involved. The movie’s take-off is as precarious as that of its main character, but the launch is successful.

Parents should know that the movie has some strong language (swearing, one f-word), non-sexual nudity (bare tush), and sexual references and non-explicit situations. Characters drink and one drinks frequently, possibly to excess. There is comic peril and violence, including spills and animal bites.


Families who see this movie should talk about how parents can teach their children to be independent. Why was it hard for Kit to let herself be happy?


Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Agatha Christie stories about Parker Pyne, who is often called in to solve the kinds of problems Paula tackles in this film.

Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story

posted by jmiller
B
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language and sexual content.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006
B
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and sexual content.
Movie Release Date: 2006
DVD Release Date: 2006

When in the depths of winter the dregs of the cinematic year limp into theaters, some audiences long for the more cerebral fare of spring or fall. “Haven’t we seen this plot before?” becomes a common refrain and a movie like “Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story” feels like a sunny spring day come early, even if its unflattering brightness is not appealing to all.


This is a movie about making a movie based on an un-filmable book; however, the audience needs to know nothing about “The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman” the novel by Laurence Sterne (published in volumes from 1759 to 1767) to appreciate the film. Just as Clueless was a faithful to the tone and themes of Jane Austen’s Emma although the language and setting were utterly altered, “Tristram Shandy” the movie captures the ambition, isolation and vulnerability of the book’s eponymous center through the actor portraying him.


The book is a knotty, meandering yarn with copious digressions and post-modern flourishes like blank or black pages before there was a “modern” to be “post”. Framing his novel as a faithful autobiography, Sterne told the story of a man who could not figure out how to tell his own life story, hence a tale that jumps about from Tristram to his father to his uncle and ends up months before Tristram’s birth. The movie likewise jumps from Tristram (Steve Coogan) to Tristram’s father (Coogan, again) to Steve Coogan (Coogan), an actor trying to capture a character from a book he has never bothered to read. Coogan the actor plays Coogan the actor as he argues with the child playing Shandy as a child about how to perform his role.


Although it starts out as a brawny, mid-eighteenth century farce, the movie finds its pace in the modern day as “co-lead actors” Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon (playing Tristram’s Uncle Toby) position themselves on the set with a natural humor and intimacy while they jostle for position in the story and in the movie.

Coogan throws a passive-aggressive snit about the height of his shoes while Brydon frets about the yellowness of his teeth. The attractive assistant, Jennie (Naomie Harris), who refers with passion to German Realism cinema and rails against the banality of battle scenes, evokes admiration and pompousness from Coogan, who is basking in any attention that she shines upon him. His flirtations are mildly curtailed when his girlfriend, Jenny (Kelly McDonald) and their baby show up for a brief visit.


The movie follows hurdles (will they get the funds they need to finish the film?) and distractions (is that inquisitive journalist going to reveal Coogan’s naughty shenanigans?) with a constantly moving camera, adding to the driven pace of the film and contrasting with its many moments of waiting and stillness. Because Coogan’s character is shown warts and all in his many shades of neediness, some audiences will not be bothered whether he lands on his feet, but his intelligent performance –well-framed by those of Brydon and McDonald— will win over those looking for the nuance and humor of this underappreciated British actor.


The overlapping story circles of the book, the actors and the production process for the movie could have made for a confusing mess, but in director Michael Winterbottom’s able hands the tempo, wit and robustness of the performances make the film feel alive if occasionally a bit overly precocious. Although it does not follow the book closely enough for time-constrained college kids to use it as a short cut to reading all nine volumes, this “Cock and Bull Story” will be the real Tristram Shandy for many.


Parents should know that there are mature themes throughout this movie and that the relationships between characters are complicated and dynamic. There is male and child nudity, a traumatic accident to a boy resulting in circumcision, a depiction of childbirth, an enormous model womb, and implicit sex between committed couples. Characters drink socially and refer to infidelity, unusual sex and impotence. Characters drink and refer to drug use. Strong language including British slang is used.


Families that see this movie might want to talk about the different characters depicted in the 18th century and how they mirror –- or not -— the actors who portray them. Does Coogan’s character develop over the length of the movie? If you think he changes, where do these changes come from?


Families that enjoy this movie might want to watch some other multi-layered movies about filming stories that correspond to the lives of the actors, such as The French Lieutenant’s Woman and Adaptation and other movies about making movies like State and Main, The Stunt Man, Sweet Liberty, and Day for Night. They will also enjoy Coogan’s performances in 24 Hour Party People (also directed by Winterbottom) and Coffee and Cigarettes.


Thanks to guest critic AME.

Date Movie

posted by jmiller
C
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated PG-13 for continuous crude and sexual humor, including language.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006
C
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for continuous crude and sexual humor, including language.
Movie Release Date: 2006
DVD Release Date: 2006

I counted references to 23 movies in this 80-minute film, not including Girls Gone Wild and “The Bachelor,” or about one every three and a half minutes. Throw in a couple of songs and a dozen or so celebrity shout-outs and you’d hardly notice that there is not actually a script here if the whole thing wasn’t just so slack and uninspired.

Instead of a screenplay, it has a year’s worth of “In Touch Magazine” (the one “Will and Grace” calls “Cheaple”) thrown into a blender with some crotch humor and a joke about beating up a homeless man as a way to spend a romantic evening.


Julia (Alyson Hannigan) is the overweight and insecure daughter of a Greek/Indian/Japanese family. Her father (Eddie Griffin) wants her to marry someone from the same heritage, but she loves cute dimpled doctor Grant (Adam Campbell) with a cute English accent even though his parents are American. She gets help from date doctor Hitch (Tony Cox) but there is a crisis when Grant’s gorgeous ex-fiancee re-enters the picture. What will happen? Well, we’ll stumble through a lot of shout-outs to movies and celebrities on the way to finding out.


I feel a little bad about repeating myself here, but since it doesn’t seem to bother the people behind these things — or, as they say in the ads, “two of the six writers of Scary Movie — I don’t have any other options. As long as they keep making these movies I’m going to have to keep pointing out that SIMPLY REFERRING TO ANOTHER MOVIE IS NOT THE SAME THING AS ACTUALLY MAKING A JOKE ABOUT IT. Sorry to shout, but now I feel so much better.


To be more specific: mere exaggeration does not count as a joke, no matter how big you make your Jennifer Lopez-equivalent’s fanny or how long the cat spends on the toilet or changing the name Focker to Fonckyerdoder. Referring to the fact that perhaps Britney Spears is not entirely satisfied with the marriage or that Michael Jackson is very interested in making friends with children is not the same thing as being funny. Making a parody of a parody does not make it exponentially funnier. Making fun of the fact that you are making fun of it doesn’t either. A joke requires perspective and insight. Most important, it requires something fresh and surprising. Not much of that here. And if it is not a crime to fail to take advantage of the comic talents of Alyson Hannigan, Fred Willard, and Jennifer Coolidge, it should be, and they should call out the comedy police here to arrest the “2 of the 6 writers of Scary Movie” for felony unfunniness.


Parents should know that this movie has a lot of very crude and disgusting humor and some strong language for a PG-13, including the n-word. There is comic violence, including shooting and punching, and sexual references and non-explicit situations.


Families who see this movie should talk about the movies it parodies and what assumptions it challenges. Why is it funny to make fun of movies we originally enjoyed?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Scary Movie (much raunchier material).

Freedomland

posted by jmiller
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:High School
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language and some violent content.
Movie Release Date:2006
DVD Release Date:2006
C+
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating: Rated R for language and some violent content.
Movie Release Date: 2006
DVD Release Date: 2006

This movie’s inability to live up to its potential is nearly as epic as its misleading title. In other hands, “Freedomland” might have played a jazz-like riff of personal loss and moving vignettes against the 4/4 beat of racial injustice and a community searching for peace. As it is the metronome pace clicks between black and white simplifications; further marred by jarring monologues and an out of place score.


The performances are fine and there are individual moments of insight and power, especially a monologue by “The Sopranos'” Edie Falco as the mother of a missing child. And it deserves credit for its willingness to take on issues of race and poverty and personal responsibility that most studio movies use only for shock value if they address them at all. But the uncertain transfer from novel to screenplay is ultimately so off-key that moments intended to be touching elicited laughter from the audience in the theater.


When single-mom Brenda Martin (Julianne Moore), pale as a moonbeam, wanders in a daze to a community emergency room. Her bloodied hands and story of being carjacked by a young black man in a hooded sweatshirt bring her to the attention of the police and in particular to good cop, Lorenzo Council (Samuel L. Jackson). Brenda is not easy in her role as accuser.

She drifts in and out of focus as she struggles with evident shock and uncertainty about being the center of attention. Lorenzo gently tries lead her into a place where she can help the investigation, though he is not sure he trusts her. But he wants to find her son and as tensions build he wants to end the mounting frustration of the nearby projects, locked-down until someone confesses to the crime.


Brenda is unusual because she lives in the white community but works in the projects, where her son is the only white child in the classroom. She does not feel at home in either community. Her family made her feel incompetent. Some of the people in the projects think of her kindly, but as racial tensions mount, she is quickly assigned to the enemy camp.


Both the neighboring black and communities are policed by heavy-handed cops. One of them is Brenda’s brother Danny (Ron Eldard), furious and frustrated and with no compunctions about abandoning the rules to find out what is going on. He and some of he other white cops seem happy to provoke and then beat the young black men suspected of a range of tenuous offences.

Brenda, a pre-school assistant who works with the kids of the projects, is both in and out of the community just as Lorenzo is neither one place nor another in his role as cop and self-styled father-figure. Both Moore and Jackson turn in fine performances although they cannot surmount the awkwardness of their dialogue or the artificiality of their scripted actions. Ultimately it feels like one of those “ripped from the headline” “Law and Order” episodes that provide faux insights into superficial renditions of stories that are ripped-off from the headlines instead of being based on the reality.


The firm, steady presence of Karen Collucci (Falco), a leader of a volunteer group that looks for lost children gives a glimpse of what an interesting movie this could have been if it had not faltered under director Joe Roth’s self-conscious ambitions, as admirable as those ambitions are. The title refers to an abandoned juvenile facility Karen brings Brenda to so they can look for her son, its name an ironic reminder of the absence of freedom all of the characters face.


The jarring notes that these actors are asked to play distract the ear from the bittersweet melody this movie could have been and its conclusion is awkward and disappointingly unsupported.


Parents should know that this movie deals with mature themes and issues including racial injustice, parental neglect, spousal abuse, child endangerment, accusations based on race, police brutality, and race riots ignited by mutual distrust. There are references to the sexuality of a lonely woman, an oblique reference to rape, discussion of infidelity and to an inter-racial affair. Characters use strong language and frequent expletives, including the n-word. A character refers to a drug addiction, to using drugs and another is arrested for possession. There is near-constant peril as a community builds toward rioting and as cops try to beat out confessions. A character discusses losing her child and another is visibly wrecked by the death of her child.


Families who see this movie might wish to discuss the relationship between Lorenzo and his son and how it highlights his relationships with others. Also, several characters describe the source of their actions as something that comes from beyond them, such as Lorenzo’s religious faith, what is the driver of their actions and how do they make sense of their choices? Lorenzo and Karen resspond to tragedies and devastating failures by finding a way to help others. Is there a time that approach worked for you or someone you know?


Families that enjoy this movie might want to see other movies that wrestle with racial issues and police involvement in community crimes such as Crash. They also might wish to see Clockers or The Wanderers, also based on books by Richard Price.


Thanks to guest critic AME.

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