Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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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

 

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

St. Vincent
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 For mature thematic material including sexual content, alcohol and tobacco use, and for language
Release Date:
October 17, 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

Dear White People
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, sexual content and drug use
Release Date:
October 17, 2014

 

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

Impostor

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

Even an outstanding cast, some good special effects, and an intriguing idea from a first-rate writer can’t save this sci-fi thriller from a poor script and unimaginative direction. The studio’s lack of confidence and its troubled history is evident in its long-delayed release and obvious cuts to take it from an R to a PG-13.

Gary Sinise, who also co-produced, plays Spencer Olham, a brilliant scientist who has created a devastating weapon to be used in a war against genetically superior aliens. After a romantic weekend in the country with his beautiful doctor wife, Maya (Madeleine Stowe), and on the night he is to greet the head of the global government (Lindsay Crouse).

But an inspector named Hathaway (Vincent D’Onofrio) tells Olham that the plans have changed. Hathaway has intercepted an alien message showing that Olham has been killed and replaced by an alien cyborg construction that so perfectly replicates Olham’s memories and thoughts that even he does not know that he is no longer alive and himself.

If this sounds vaguely like “Blade Runner,” that is because both are based on stories by pioneering visionary sci-fi author Philip K. Dick. Like “Blade Runner,” this story envisions a world in which identity is so blurred that even we do not know who we are.

Unfortunately, though it tries to impersonate a much better movie, its ideas are lost among pedestrian chase scenes, and even a twist at the end cannot make it compelling.

Parents should know that the movie has peril and intense violence, including injury and death for key characters, including parents of young children. We see injured people, including battle victims and a young girl. Characters use strong language. A character is drugged, which makes him hallucinate. There is a very mild sexual situation involving a loving married couple and a brief non-explicit shot of a nursing mother.

Early in the movie, Olham quotes Einstein’s famous comment that “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” Olham is referring to the human capacity to create weapons of mass destruction and mentions J. Robert Oppenheimer, who helped create the bomb that ended the war and demolished the two Japanese cities and tens of thousands of civilians. Families who see this movie might want to learn more about Oppenheimer and his trial for treason and discuss some of the conflicts scientists face.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the vastly superior Blade Runner – The Director’s Cut and may also enjoy other dystopic visions of the future from “Metropolis” to “Judge Dredd.”

Ice Age

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:Rated PG for mild peril
Movie Release Date:2002

Ice Age” is a clever, funny, and touching story of an unlikely trio of animals who band together to return a human baby to his family.

The story is set when glaciers covered much of the earth, 20,000 years ago. As all of the other animals migrate south in search of food, three characters are moving in the opposite direction. They are a wooly mammoth named Manny (voice of Ray Romano), a sloth named Sid (John Leguizamo), and a saber tooth tiger named Diego (Denis Leary). In classic road movie fashion, they don’t like or trust each other very much at the beginning and the journey becomes a psychological one as they share experiences and confidences that make them see each other – and themselves – very differently.

This does not reach the level of Shrek for wit, there is no romance to keep the grown-ups happy, and the plot has no surprises. But it is told with terrific energy, imagination, visual invention, and humor and it moves along very quickly. Interestingly, the three lead voices are provided by performers who began as stand-up comics rather than actors. Their voices are edgy and distinctive, perfectly matched with their characters.

The computer animation is truly magnificent, from the majestic ice-covered mountains to the acorn treasure toted around by a hilarious squirrel who shows up over and over again in the travels of our heroes. The texture of the fur and feathers, the glint of the sun on ice, and soft sparkle of the snowflakes falling at night are perfectly rendered. The pristine settings convey a sense of vastness and promise that will make grown-up viewers pause to think about whether civilization has been all that civilized. All ages will enjoy the facial expressions, body language and — I have to say it — performances of the ice age mammals, so vivid and so true that you may forget that they are pixels, not people.

Parents should know that the characters face peril several times throughout the movie, and it may be upsetting for younger children. The mother of a young child is killed (off-screen) saving the child’s life. Another character recalls the death of his family. While it is fairly mild on the “Bambi” scale, the issues of human hunting of animals, animal predators, and extinction are raised. A character makes a skeptical comment about “mating for life.” There is some mild diaper humor.

Families who see this movie should talk about what Manny says about members of a herd being willing to risk their lives for each other. Why was it so important for Manny to return the baby, even though the humans had hunted his herd? How did that help to heal some of Manny’s sadness? Why did Diego change his mind about Manny? Why did Manny change his mind about Sid? Was it because of something Sid did or because of something Manny learned about himself, or both? What is different about the way that Diego and Manny react to human attacks?

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy learning more about the real Ice Age, and should visit a local natural history museum or look at this virtual tour from the Smithsonian Institution’s museum in Washington. They should take a look at the real cave paintings from that era to see paintings of mammoths and saber tooth tigers by people who really saw them. Families with younger children will also enjoy the “Land Before Time” series of videos and Disney’s “Dinosaur.

Houseboat

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:1958

Plot: Diplomat Tom Winston (Cary Grant) returns to Washington, D.C. following the death of his estranged wife. His three children, David, Robert, and Elizabeth, have been staying with his wife’s sister, Caroline (Martha Hyer). They are hurt and resentful. He takes them to an outdoor orchestra concert, and Robert wanders off and meets Cinzia (Sophia Loren), the daughter of a visiting conductor. She has also wandered off, in search of adventure and companionship. When she brings Robert back, Tom sees that Robert likes her, and impulsively offers her a job as a housekeeper. She agrees, because traveling with her father has been boring and lonely.

David causes an accident that destroys their home, so the only place they can live is an old houseboat owned by Angelo, a handyman (Harry Guardino). They settle in there with Cinzia. It turns out she can neither cook nor do laundry, but the children adore her, and Tom warms to her too. With her help, he reaches out to his children, and they reach out to him.

Caroline tells Tom that her marriage is ending, and that she has always loved him. On the way to a country club dance, a tipsy male friend of Caroline’s swats Cinzia on her rear end and she tosses wine in his face. Caroline, annoyed at Tom for sticking up for Cinzia (and jealous), leaves for the dance without him. Tom invites Cinzia to the dance, and she accepts, despite her promise to go fishing with David. At the dance, Tom proposes to Caroline, but then, as he dances with Cinzia, he realizes that she is the one he loves, and that she loves him, too.

At first, the children are terribly upset and feel betrayed by both of them. Cinzia, unwilling to make them unhappy, runs back to her father, apologizing, “I’ve learned many things, including how hard it is to be a father.” Tom finds her there, but she refuses to go back with him. “Your children are your friends again, and that is the most important thing.” He tells her that being their friend is not the most important thing; being their father is. They get married. And the children, at the last minute, join in.

Discussion: This is a warm romantic comedy that is exceptionally perceptive and sensitive about the feelings of the children. It does a nice job of showing that David’s truculence and petty theft are due to his feelings of vulnerability and loss. In one scene, Tom at first tries to show David how to fish, then, when David says that he feels incompetent, Tom asks him for advice, and they are able to talk for the first time about his mother’s death. Tom shows David that nothing is ever really lost, and David is able to let Tom know that he fears losing Tom, too. After this talk, David feels safer, and confesses to Angelo that he took Angelo’s knife. (Angelo is very understanding.) Robert’s reaction to the loss of his mother is to withdraw, playing mournfully on his harmonica as his only means of expression. Elizabeth reacts by sleeping in her father’s room every night, and becomes very upset when she learns that will not be possible after he and Cinzia get married.

This is also a rare movie that deals honestly with the issue of children’s reaction to remarriage. Even though they love Cinzia, the children do not like sharing her with Tom, or sharing Tom with her. Children who have been in this situation will be grateful for the opportunity to see that they are not alone.

Questions for Kids:

· How do each of the children show that they are hurt and sad? How do each of them show when they are beginning to feel better?

· What can you tell about Caroline’s feelings when she gives the dress to Cinzia?

· Why does Cinzia tell Angelo the story about the necklace, and why does it make him leave without her?

· Was Cinzia wrong to leave for the dance when she had promised to go fishing with David?

Connections: This movie has two lovely songs, “Almost in Your Arms” (nominated for an Oscar) and “Bing Bang Boom.”

Activities: Just about every child plays some kind of call and response game like the “Yes Sir, You Sir” game Tom plays with his children. There is one that begins “Who Took the Cookies From the Cookie Jar?” Another one is called “Concentration,” and involves a series of claps accompanying the listing of items in selected categories. See if your children know any. If so, play one with them. If not, teach them one. Take them to an outdoor concert, like the one in the movie (the site of the concert in the movie is now the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.). Try playing the harmonica.

Hollywood Ending

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

Woody Allen’s films seem to get whispier and more ephemeral every year. For all its small pleasures “Hollywood Ending” is so light it nearly floats off the screen.

Allen plays Val, a movie director who is brilliant but so neurotic that no one will work with him. His ex-wife, Ellie (Tea Leoni) arranges for him to have one last chance to direct — a movie set in New York that seems perfect for him. Her new boyfriend Hal (Treat Williams) is reluctant to trust Val with a $60 million movie, but he goes along with it because Ellie wants Val to do it, and he trusts her to keep Val under control.

The problem is that Val is so neurotic that just before the film is supposed to begin shooting, he develops hysterical blindness. His agent, Al (real-life movie director Mark Rydell) persuades him that blindness is no reason not to go ahead and make the movie.

So, Val shoots the movie. The only people who know the truth are Al and a Chinese student hired to translate for the cameraman, who does not speak English. Despite the fact that the director never looks anyone in the eye and his directions make no sense, everyone keeps talkng about his artistic “vision” and his leading lady tells him that she loves the way he looks at her.

Various mix-ups and pratfalls later, the movie turns out to be a $60 million mess, but there is indeed a Hollywood ending and almost everyone lives happily ever after.

Allen gets a lot of credit for poking fun at his own reputation, and there are a couple of movie industry jokes that will be funny for anyone who watches “Entertainment Tonight” or reads “People.” The movie has some great lines and some funny scenes, especially when Val and Ellie get together for their first business meeting and it keeps exploding into recrimination about their divorce. “Will and Grace’s” Deborah Messing is delicious as Val’s airhead girlfriend, who does leg stretches while she talks on the phone and whose only response to hearing that he is breaking up with her is, “Am I still in the movie?”

Overall, though, the movie feels a little tired. Not one character is as distinctive as any of Anne Hall’s family members or the robots in “Sleeper.” This is middle of the road Woody Allen — a pleasant diversion for his fans, but it won’t make any new ones.

Parents should know that the move has some sexual references and situations, including adultery. There is some strong language and a reference to drug use.

Families who see this movie should talk about why people sometimes put up obstacles to realizing their dreams. What made Val decide to reconcile with his son? Why wasn’t it possible earlier? Why did Woody Allen name the male characters Val, Al, and Hal?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Curse of the Jade Scorpion,” “Sleeper,” and “Take the Money and Run.”

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