Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language throughout, some sexual content and brief violence
Release Date:
October 24, 2014

 

Moms' Night Out
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild thematic elements and some action
Release Date:
May 9, 2014

John Wick
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong and bloody violence throughout, language and brief drug use
Release Date:
October 24, 2014

 

Earth to Echo
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and peril, and mild language
Release Date:
July 3, 2014

23 Blast
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some teen drinking
Release Date:
October 24, 2014

 

Snowpiercer
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for violence, language and drug content
Release Date:
July 2, 2014

King Solomon’s Mines

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:1950

Elizabeth Curtis (Deborah Kerr) hires the best “white hunter” in Africa (Stewart Granger as dashing Allan Quartermain) to help her find her husband, who was lost searching for the legendary King Solomon’s diamond mines. At first, he refuses, saying that women have no place on safari. When she offers twenty times his usual fee, he accepts, but he remains skeptical about her motives and about her ability to survive the trip. In the traditional “road movie” fashion, they develop respect and affection through their adventures. This is the best of the many versions of the classic adventure novel by H. Rider Haggard. The story (and the performances) are a bit creaky, but it is an old-fashioned technicolor spectacular, with breathtaking and Oscar-winning cinematography. Filmed on location in Kenya, and the then- Tangynika and Belgian Congo, the out-takes from this movie were used in several other movies, including the otherwise poor 1977 remake. The footage of the landscapes and of the animals is strikingly clear and vivid, especially an unforgettable shot of a just-uncurling brand-new baby alligator and the scenes of the Watusi dancing. NOTE: Some children may be disturbed by the violence, and others may be upset by the scene in which Elizabeth Curtis admits that she did not love her husband, and that she is seeking him out of guilt rather than devotion.

Keeping the Faith

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2000

Keeping the Faith” is a romantic comedy for grown-ups, witty, thoughtful, sweet and funny. Always respectful of the sincerity and commitment of its two clergy lead characters and the serious issues they must resolve, it allows us to laugh with them at their struggles to live up to their ideals.

Jake (Ben Stiller) and Brian (Edward Norton, who also directed), have been best friends since grade school. Now in their early 30’s, they are still the closest of friends, with a lot in common — Jake is a rabbi and Brian is a priest. They provide a lot of support for one another as they both try to combine “an old world God with a new age spin,” and fill the seats of the sanctuaries with people, and fill the hearts of those people with the joy of worship. They joke that they are “like those young cops who shake things up – ‘the God Squad.’’

Their other best friend was Anna, who moved away in 8th grade. When she calls to say that she is coming to town, they are thrilled. Though they suspect that she will no longer “be 88 pounds and listen to Leif Garrett,” they are dazzled by her transformation into a brilliant, leggy, blonde played by Jenna Elfman.

Amid a classic romantic triangle – well maybe a square, if you include God, or the restrictions imposed on clergy – the movie has some good things to say about the importance of maintaining tradition (“it’s comforting to people”) while trying to connect to people in changing times. And it has some insight into relationships (one character says, “It takes at least 10 years to get to know yourself well enough to stop being a total idiot”), and the way we make decisions about the future (another character explains that it is “a choice you keep making again and again and again”). Some things are more complicated than we think they are, and others are simpler. The trick is to be able to tell them apart.

It’s a dream cast. If Edward Norton and Ben Stiller really were a priest and a rabbi, converts would be lined up around the block. Anne Bancroft is terrific as Jake’s mother, and Eli Wallach and director Milos Foreman are fine as the older rabbi and priest who step in to provide some guidance.

It may not appeal to too many teens, but families of those who do see it should take it as an opportunity to discuss their own views of religion and intermarriage. They may also want to discuss whether it is possible, honest, or wise to enter into a sexual relationship with the intention of not becoming romantically involved, and the complications of failing to be honest with others, or with yourself.

Parents should know that there is a joke about an 8th grade “shoplifting club,” a character responds to heartbreak by getting very drunk and behaving boorishly, a priest confronts conflicts about celibacy, and there are many sexual references, including fairly explicit sex viewed by the characters through a window.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “You’ve Got Mail” and the movie it was based on, “The Shop Around the Corner.

Kate & Leopold

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2001

As I watched this movie, I thought about how important the hair is in Meg Ryan movies. Those adorable tousled curls in “City of Angels.” The feisty but vulnerable and equally adorable hairdo in “You’ve Got Mail.” The very serious and hardly adorable at all hairdo in “Courage Under Fire.” And now, in a movie where we need some seriously cute hair, I am sorry to say that it is an unfortunate jaggedy sort of thing that doesn’t work at all.

This is a movie about a modern-day New York woman with no illusions (just a few years ago, she would have been called a “career girl”) who meets up with a 19th century Duke, a guy who has never seen modern technology but who stands up when she leaves the dinner table. It is a perfectly pleasant date movie with a cute premise and attractive stars, but it never quite works because (1) it is very predictable and (2) it is not very believable. Oh, I believe that a 19th century duke could travel through time. I just don’t know how he would fall in love with Meg Ryan in that hairdo.

The hair would not matter quite so much if the movie gave us anything else to work with. Ryan’s character, Kate, is just so brittle and charmless that it takes every smidgen of Ryan’s considerable adorableness quotient and every smidgen of Hugh Jackman’s considerable acting ability to help us believe that Leopold (Jackman’s character) is swept away by her. They make it work, but just barely.

The movie has some nice moments by a first-rate group of sidekicks and supporting actors, including Breckin Meyer as Kate’s actor brother (the lessons he gets from Leopold on how to approach the woman he has a crush on are delightful), Natasha Lyonne as Kate’s assistant, “West Wing’s” Bradley Whitford as Kate’s boss, and Liev Schrieber as Kate’s neighbor.

Parents should know that the movie has brief strong language and a joke about modern-day pooper-scooper laws. Characters drink and smoke. A supervisor’s behavior could be considered predatory, even sexual harassment.

Families who see this movie should talk about how bad experiences can make some people cynical. Why is Kate’s job important in telling us something about her and about the themes of the movie? If you could go back in time, where would you go and who would you like to meet? Which customs of olden days would you like to bring back?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (which Kate describes to Leopold) and, of course, a carriage ride through the park!

Jurassic Park III

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2001

It may seem odd to speak of a made-to-be-blockbuster as unpretentious, but the aspirations of “Jurassic Park III” are remarkably — almost endearingly — modest. It does not waste time with chaos theory mumbo-jumbo or dumb “dinosaurs come to America” plot twists like the second episode, “The Lost World.” It just gets right down to business in 90 quick minutes of little people being chased by great big scary things, with just enough plot and character to provide breathing space and a reason to care who survives. It is not art, but it is fun

Instead of Steven Spielberg, director of record-breaking parts one and two, “Jurassic Park III” is directed by Joe Johnston, who showed a sure hand with little people being chased by great big scary things in “Honey I Shrunk the Kids.” We can never be astonished by the CGI technology again the way we were by the first one, and this chapter does not waste much time on grand themes of hubris in playing God with DNA.

There are few surprises. Two good things to have when fighting smart dinosaurs are opposable thumbs and a cell phone. When a man’s ex-wife says that he never takes chances, you know what’s coming, and you will probably be able to guess as we meet each character which ones will survive to the end of the movie. But the script it has clever moments, including some sly digs at “The Lost World.” There is a delicious variation on “Peter Pan’s” crocodile that once swallowed a clock, so Captain Hook can always hear ticking when he is approaching. And there is a nice “Blair Witch” moment when some characters find a video camera dropped by another character and replay the footage to see what happened to him.

Sam Neill, as the first episode’s paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant returns, now assisted by Billy (Alessandro Nivola). They are tricked onto the island by the Kirbys (William H. Macy and Tea Leoni). They are searching for their son, who fell onto the island when he was parasailing.

The dinosaurs are bigger and better than ever. This time, they swim, they fly, and they fight each other. They appear to play a sort of kick-the-can with the downed plane’s cabin. They also work together to trap the humans, so it is a war of brains, not just brawn.

Parents should know that, like the others, this movie is nonstop action and violence. There are jump-out-at-you surprises and some gross-out moments. Characters are in extreme peril and several are killed, but the movie is careful not to get rid of anyone we really care about. Some children will nevertheless find it very upsetting, especially because one of the characters is a child. But the child is brave, smart, and resilient, which some kids will find very satisfying. I also want to caution parents that this movie features what I call the “Parent Trap problem,” divorced parents who reunite and live happily ever after at the end of the movie. Families who are dealing with divorce may find this a scarier prospect than the dinosaurs.

Families who see this movie should talk about Dr. Grant’s comment that “Some of the worst things imaginable are done with the best intentions.” He also talks about the difference between astronomers and astronauts. Is he right in saying that the difference is between imagining and seeing?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the first two episodes (the first vastly better than the second, in my opinion). If they would like to see some friendlier dinosaurs, they might like to try “Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend” or “The Land Before Time.”

Previous Posts

Does PG-13 Mean Anything Anymore?
The Washington Post has an article about a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, "Parental Desensitization to Violence and Sex in Movies," with some disturbing conclusions about parents' ability to make good decisions about the impact some media may have on their children. This is not

posted 8:00:58am Oct. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Is E-Reading to Kids the Same as Analog Reading?
The New York Times asks, Is E-Reading to Your Toddler Story Time, or Simply Screen Time? In a 2013 study, researchers found that children ages 3 to 5 whose parents read to them from an electronic book had lower reading comprehension than children whose parents used traditional books. Part of th

posted 8:00:40am Oct. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Todd and Jedd Wider about the Bullying Documentary "Mentor"
Producers Todd and Jedd Wider generously took time to answer my questions about their documentary, "Mentor," the story of two teenagers who committed suicide following relentless bullying. The film, which received Honorable Mention for Best Documentary Feature at the 2014 Woodstock Film Festival th

posted 3:56:57pm Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Clip: Tinkerbell and the Legend of the NeverBeast
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ApzHJhZz2JQ" frameborder="0"] The latest in Disney's animated Tinkerbell series adds Ginnifer Goodwin to the cast. Coming in March of 2015, it explores the ancient myth of a mysterious creature whose distant roar sparks the curiosity

posted 1:23:59pm Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: "Avatar" Villain Stephen Lang on Playing a Good Guy Coach in "23 Blast"
Stephen Lang is best known for playing the villain in "Avatar." But in "23 Blast," based on the real-life story of Travis Freeman, a high school football player who lost his vision but stayed on the team, Lang plays a good guy, the coach who encouraged and supported him. I talked to Lang about actin

posted 5:56:30am Oct. 24, 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.