Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Tusk
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some disturbing violence/gore, language and sexual content
Release Date:
September 19, 2014

 

The Fault in Our Stars
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language
Release Date:
June 6, 2014

This is Where I Leave You
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language, sexual content and some drug use
Release Date:
September 19, 2014

 

Think Like a Man Too
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for crude sexual content including references, partial nudity, language and drug material
Release Date:
June 20, 2014

The Maze Runner
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, including some disturbing images
Release Date:
September 19, 2014

 

Godzilla
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence
Release Date:
May 16, 2014

The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Preschool
MPAA Rating:G
Movie Release Date:1999

When Elmo’s favorite friend, his beloved blanket, is tossed into Oscar’s trash can, Elmo goes in after it, only to find himself transported to Grouchland, where grouches cut off the flowers and keep the stems and you get put in jail if you ask for help.

The Sesame Street characters all go to Grouchland to try to find Elmo, but by then Elmo is on his way to get his blanket back from mean Mr. Huxley (Mandy Patinkin), who takes everything he sees and has a big machine to stamp “MINE” on everything he takes.

Fans of Sesame Street will love this movie, which has all of the Sesame Street trademarks — subtle puns for the parents, delightful silliness for the kids, and gentle lessons about cooperation, loyalty, sharing, and believing in yourself for everyone, all told with their characteristic warmth, good humor, and kindness. Even Oscar the Grouch admits that Elmo is his friend. And at the few moments of mild tension, Ernie and Bert appear to reassure kids that everything is all right.

Patinkin and Vanessa Williams (as the Trash Queen) provide some star power, but the real stars are the Muppets (whose colors and textures are wonderful on the big screen), and the audience — who are invited to participate in the movie at crucial moments.

Families will want to discuss their own “special” toys and other transition objects, and why it can be hard to share sometimes. Some children may be concerned that Elmo does not seem to have any parents, and may need some reassurance. And it can be a lot of fun to spend a couple of hours pretending the whole family is in Grouchland!

Tarzan

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:1999

Disneys latest animated epic owes as much to The Lion King and the tale of the ugly duckling than to the Johnny Weissmuller live-action series or the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels. Like The Lion King, it begins with a brief introduction to the world of the African jungle. Two sets of mothers and fathers care for their babies. One set of parents is human, shipwrecked and making a new home for themselves in a tree. The other parents are gorillas, raising their baby in the gorilla community. When the baby boys parents and the gorillas baby are killed by a tiger, the gorilla mother adopts the human baby and raises him as her own. Her mate, the leader of the gorillas, agrees reluctantly, but insists that the boy is an outsider, who can never be one of them. The boy, called Tarzan by his gorilla mother, is hurt by this, and tries to fit in.

Superstar

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:1999

Even fans of the Mary Katherine Gallagher skits on Saturday Night Live will find this movie overlong at 82 minutes. It is one thing for a 30-something woman to play the part of a high school girl in a skit, but another to watch her try to act the part of a high school girl in a movie, even one as plotless as this one.

Mary Katherine (Molly Shannon) has one dream — she wants to be passionately kissed. While she waits, she practices on whatever is available, including a tree and a stop sign. Ultimately, she becomes a little more specific in her dream. She wants to be kissed by high school dream date Sky (Will Farrell, also from Saturday Night Live). And she decides that since he is going steady with pretty cheerleader Evian (Elaine Hendrix, repeating her meanie role from “The Parent Trap”) the only way to get his attention is to become a superstar. And she thinks she can do that by winning the Catholic Teen Magazine VD Awareness Talent Contest. Other attempts at humor include a boy with obsessive-compulsive disorder, a television falling on a dog, an Irish step-dancing tragedy, and repeated falling down and showing of the world’s whitest cotton underpants.

Younger teens will get a kick out of the naughty words and slapstick humor and may even relate to Mary Katherine’s struggle to become someone who is admired while staying true to herself. Any older folks who wander in by mistake may enjoy some references to old movies, especially Made-for-TV classics like “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble.” And families might take this opportunity to talk about the careless cruelty and need to conform of many high school students, and Mary Katherine’s growing understanding that “you have to be your own rainbow” and that what matters is what she thinks about herself, not what Sky thinks about her. But parents should know that there are a number of raunchy references and a portrayal of Mary Katherine’s vision of Jesus that may be offensive to some viewers.

Stuart Little

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Preschool
Movie Release Date:1999

E.B. White’s story of a family whose son happens to be a mouse is lovingly Hollywood-ized. In other words, it bears very little relationship to the book but has a lot of great special effects. Fans of the book will do well to stay at home and re-read it, but families looking for some good action scenes, appealing characters, and a wise-cracking cat will enjoy it very much.

Mr. and Mrs. Little (Hugh Laurie and Geena Davis) drop son George (Jonathan Lipnicki) off at school on their way to the orphanage to adopt a child. They fall in love with Stuart (voice of Michael J. Fox), who is charming, insightful, unselfish — and a mouse. Despite warnings against “inter-species” adoption, they bring him home.

George is disappointed. He does not see how Stuart will ever be able to play with him. And maybe he is a little more jealous than he was expecting. He insists, “He’s not my brother — he’s a mouse!”

But that is nothing compared to the ferocious resentment of another member of the Little family — Snowball the cat. Snowball (hilariously voiced by Nathan Lane) is furious at being told that “we don’t eat family members,” and humiliated at having a mouse as “an owner.” He plots to get rid of Stuart.

Stuart manages to surmount the literally enormous obstacles of a world way out of proportion. He even wins over George, after he demonstrates his courage and loyalty in a boat race in Central Park. But he still feels an emptiness inside, and wonders about his birth parents.

Then two mice show up claiming to be his birth parents. Stuart realizes that the Littles are his real family. “You don’t have to look alike. You don’t even have to like each other.” Your family are the people who stick with you. His home is where they are.

This is a terrific family movie. Stuart, created entirely through computer graphics, is perfectly integrated into the live action. And I do mean action — the boat race and chase sequences are among the most exciting on screen this year. The script by the screenwriter/director of “The Sixth Sense” does not talk down to kids and has some genuine insights about sibling rivalry, the fear of failure, and family.

It is worth noting that this movie had by far the most enthusiastic audience reaction of any I saw this year, with shrieks of joy when Snowball went into the trash can and cheers at the boat race and chase scenes. I have to admit, I felt like cheering myself.

Parents should know that the movie is rated PG for brief mild language and scenes of peril.

Adoptive and foster families may want to think carefully about whether the themes will be upsetting or reassuring to their children. They should prepare adopted or foster children before they see the movie. They can emphasize the way that the Littles selected Stuart because they could tell he was right for them, and they should make it clear (if appropriate) that they would never let anyone take their children away. Like Stuart, they can explain that they recognize that families are people who stick up for each other. In the movie, it was not just Stuart who learned that lesson — the Littles also learned that they were wrong in thinking that Stuart would be happier with mice than with people.

All families who see this movie should talk about what makes people feel that they “fit in,” about jealousy and the way it makes us think that hurting others will help us feel better (but it doesn’t), and the importance of Mr. Little’s advice about trying — and George’s success in reminding him about it at the right moment.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy another movie based on a book by E.B. White, “Charlotte’s Web.”

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Tusk
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