Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Horrible Bosses 2
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong crude sexual content and language throughout
Release Date:
November 26, 2104

 

The Giver
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for a mature thematic image and some sci-fi action/violence
Release Date:
August 15, 2014

Penguins of Madagascar
Lowest Recommended Age: All Ages
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor
Release Date:
November 26, 2014

 

The Expendables 3
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for violence including intense sustained gun battles and fight scenes, and for language
Release Date:
August 15, 2014

Little Hope Was Arson
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Not Rated
Release Date:
November 21, 2014

 

The November Man
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for strong violence including a sexual assault, language, sexuality/nudity and brief drug use
Release Date:
August 27, 2014

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

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

Something more than a video game but something less than a movie, “Tomb Raider” has some great action sequences and the ever-watchable Angelina Jolie. What it does not have is much of a plot, interesting characters, or a reason to care about the outcome. A clumsy salute to “Raiders of the Lost Ark” is just a reminder of how much better that movie is. At least when you are playing the game you have points to keep you going. Here, all you have is a dreary old “cryptic letter from long-dead father” and “mean lawyer from some mysterious coven wants to take over the world by controlling time” story, and the movie sags whenever the action stops.

Lady Lara Croft (Jolie) is something of a cross between Indiana Jones, Batman, and Barbie. She lives in a huge old mansion with an Alfred-style butler and a computer geek (Noah Taylor) who helps her with technology, except when she doesn’t let him – as he meticulously documents each screw he removes from an antique clock she interrupts by smashing it apart. The planets are about to align for the first time in 5000 years, which means that she has just days to collect the two pieces of a triangle that controls time from ruins on opposite sides of the globe. Meanwhile, the bad guys want it, too, and will do anything to try and stop her.

The action sequences are fine, especially one that shifts from Lara’s lyrical, acrobatic session on a bungee cord in her cavernous living room to a full-scale, window-smashing invasion by a small army of masked intruders. I also liked the icy ruins in Siberia. Jolie has the kickboxing skills and the acting chops to deliver what people who go to this movie want to see (she even walks in character, moving like a great panther), but the screenwriter and director let her down when it comes to the boringly generic bad guys and the missing-father motivation. I guess it is too much to expect the people behind this kind of movie to attempt to create a real character or know very much about women, but even by those standards, this movie gets it so wrong that it interferes with our connection to Lara. She is so tough that she shrugs off the near destruction of her home, but she is willing to risk her live to save a man who has done nothing but betray her. She responds to her butler’s “A lady should be modest” by dropping her towel, but her appearance in a dress and hat is considered to be some kind of progress. Lara always looks a little relieved when she gets a chance to fight, and we agree with her.

Parents should know that in addition to the extensive action sequences with characters in peril and many deaths (mostly anonymous minions), there are a couple of bad words and some implied nudity.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Lara is such a loner, and whether she has any interest in the history or art of the treasures she raids from tombs. They may want to discuss some of the conflicts between people who see antiquities as art for universities and museums and those who consider them sacred items that should never be moved. If you had the chance to stop time and see one person who has died, who would it be?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the Indiana Jones trilogy and the director’s previous “Con Air.”

Lady and the Tramp

posted by rkumar
A+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:NR
Movie Release Date:1955
DVD Release Date:February 6, 2012

Perfectly timed for Valentine’s Day, Disney’s romantic animated classic “Lady and the Tramp” is out this week for the first time in a Diamond DBD/Blu-Ray combo.

Lady is the pampered cocker spaniel of a couple she knows as “Jim Dear” and “Darling.” Her best friends are Jock (a Scottie) and Trusty (a basset hound who has no sense of smell). They ignore a stray named Tramp. When Darling has a baby, Lady is apprehensive, but Jim Dear and Darling assure her that she is still important to them. The couple has to go away, though, and Aunt Sarah arrives, with her nasty Siamese cats, to care for the baby. The cats make a mess of the living room and Lady gets the blame. Aunt Sarah puts Lady in a muzzle, and Lady, hurt and humiliated, runs away.

She meets Tramp, who finds a way to get the muzzle off with the help of an obliging beaver (Stan Freberg). Then Tramp takes Lady out on the town, ending with a romantic spaghetti dinner at Tony’s restaurant. The next morning, on her way home, she is captured by the dogcatcher. At the pound, she hears from Peg (Peggy Lee) that Tramp is a rogue with many lady friends, and she is disillusioned.

Aunt Sarah gets Lady and takes her home, banishing her to the doghouse. But with Tramp’s help Lady gets inside to save the baby from a rat. The crib is knocked over, and Aunt Sarah blames Tramp. She calls the dogcatcher to take him away. Just in time, Jim Dear and Darling return, and understand what has happened. With the help of Jock and Trusty, they get Tramp back. Trusty is hurt, but not badly, and he and Jock go to visit on Christmas to see Lady and Tramp and meet their new puppies.

This is one of Disney’s best animated films, with an appealing story and memorable music by Peggy Lee and Sonny Burke. Kids with new (or expected) siblings may like to talk about Lady’s concerns about the new baby. The way the story is told from the dogs’ perspective may be of interest to younger kids, who are just learning that not everyone sees the same things exactly the same way. And many kids will identify with Lady’s sense of frustration when the adored Siamese cats frame her for destroying the living room.

Parents should know that there are some tense moments and mild peril.

Family Discussion:  Why does Lady think her owners’ names are “Jim Dear” and “Darling?”  Why was Lady worried about what would happen when the baby came?  How did Lady feel when Aunt Sarah blamed her for what the cats did? Why didn’t Lady like Tramp at first? What made her change her mind?

Activities: Make up a story about what might happen with the puppies after the movie ends. And have a spaghetti dinner!

If you like this, try: other Disney animated classics like “Pinocchio” and “101 Dalmatians”

K-PAX

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

“K-Pax” has a couple of daunting movie cliché obstacles to overcome: the only-in-movies “land of cute crazy people” setting and the always popular “patient heals the doctor” theme. Despite all of that and an unwise decision to tie things up too neatly at the end, the film manages to make it work, thanks to outstanding work by stars Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges and a script that is warm, witty, and genuine.

Spacey plays Prot, who is committed to a mental hospital when he says that he is from another planet called K-Pax and that he traveled to Earth on a beam of light. He begins treatment with Dr. Mark Powell (Jeff Bridges). When Mark hesitates to categorize Prot as delusional, one of the other doctors asks, “What’s your diagnosis, jet lag?” To believe Prot’s claims would require abandoning fundamental beliefs about time and space. But his story is so complete – and so enticing – that Mark is determined to find out the truth, more for his own sake than for any therapeutic benefit to Prot.

Mark is not the only one enthralled by Prot’s stories of his home planet, K-Pax. Mark’s astronomer brother-in-law, despite his commitment as a scientist to rational empiricism, is so intrigued by Prot’s answers to his questions that all he can say is, “I don’t know what I believe. I only know what I saw.” Prot’s fellow patients begin to clamor to go back to K-Pax with him. It is not because anything he says makes K-Pax especially appealing – according to Prot, reproduction on K-Pax is uncomfortable, there is no such thing as family, and they don’t have anything as delicious as our produce – but because Prot himself is so appealing. There are indications that he may not be human: in addition to his extraordinary knowledge of astronomy, he has a superhuman sensitivity to ultra-violet light and seems impervious to anti-psychotic medications. But the most important evidence that he is not human could be that he is just too pleasant to be from Earth. He greets everyone by name and he really listens. He is not distracted by conventional beliefs and looks at the world as an outsider, which gives him great insight. Patients believe he can heal them, and Mark almost begins to believe it, too. When Mark’s boss asks him “why choose this one to save?” Mark replies, “I don’t know. Maybe he chose me.”

Director Softley has a delicate touch. Sunlight splintered by a prism, a child’s ruby slippers, Spacey is outstanding, as always, resisting the temptation to make Prot too adorable. The subtlety and grace of his performance are astonishing. Bridges does a fine job as the doctor, and his scenes with Spacey make the movie.

Parents should know that the movie has brief strong language, social drinking, and references to teen pregnancy, rape, and murder. There is a terrible crime, mostly offscreen, but we see bodies and blood. A child is briefly in mild peril. Patients and medical staff of different races and both genders work together in an atmosphere of professional respect.

Families who see this movie should talk about how people react to unthinkable tragedy and how being an outsider can give someone insights that others miss. Why did everyone want to go to K-Pax? Why do we see the reflections of Prot and Mark merge before they ever speak to each other? Why did Prot say that we have within us the power to heal ourselves? What did that mean about his own need to heal? Why do both the Mark and the sheriff say that they do not want to know the truth? Some families may want to talk about Mark’s unprofessional (and unrealistic) behavior in treating Prot.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy seeing Bridges as an alien in Starman, Richard Dreyfuss as a man drawn to follow a spaceship in Close Encounters of the Third Kind…, and that greatest of alien/human friendship stories, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial They will also enjoy John Travolta as a man who mysteriously becomes super-intelligent in Phenomenon, Barbra Streisand as a patient who teachers her psychiatrist about something beyond the rational world in the musical On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. And they might like to see James Stewart’s acclaimed performance in Harvey a gentle comedy about a man who believes his best friend is a six-foot-tall rabbit with magical powers, and Captain Newman, M.D. about a dedicated WWII-era army psychiatrist (Gregory Peck).

Kiss of the Dragon

posted by rkumar
D
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2001

Jet Li is always a pleasure to watch, even in this silly story about a Chinese spy befriended by an American prostitute on a mission in Paris.

No longer the pretty boy in the equally silly but more romantic “Romeo Must Die,” this time, in a story he created, Li lets us see some chicken pox scars on his face and he lets us see him get knocked down a few times, too.

But don’t confuse that with realism. This is still a ridiculous fantasy story about an evil policeman named Richard (Tchéky Karyo) who seems to be behind most of the crime in Europe. Richard runs prostitutes and deals in drugs. And when the Chinese government sends a representative to help investigate drug traffic into China, Richard kills his Chinese contact and frames the representative, whom he insists on calling “Johnny.”

All of this is, of course, just a thin excuse for extensive and sometimes inventive fight scenes, featuring lots of punching and kicking and also injury and death by grenade (which blows a guy in half), laundry irons (applied to faces), automatic weapons, chopsticks to the throat, a billiard ball to the head, and some tiny acupuncture pins with devastating effects. My favorite encounter was when Li, chasing through the police station, locks himself inside a room only to turn around and discover that he is facing an entire class of cops who are in a karate class.

Parents should know that the movie is extremely violent and very graphic, with many gross, bloody deaths and behavior that is reckless to the point of insanity. Richard makes Al Capone look like a consensus-builder. Even most movie bad guys are not as out of control as Richard, who wildly shoots automatic weapons into crowds of civilians. Li made headlines the week before the film was released by recommending that parents not allow their children to see the movie, which is rated R for extreme and graphic violence, drug use, and sexual references and situations. This is good advice.

Families who do see the movie should talk about how Jessica, an American girl from North Dakota, made the foolish choices that left her a heroin-addicted prostitute and kept her away from her daughter. What other options did she have? What will happen to her after the movie ends?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Jet Li in Romeo Must Die and Lethal Weapon.

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