Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


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Annie
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some mild language and rude humor
Release Date:
December 19, 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

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action, some rude humor and brief language
Release Date:
December 19, 2014

 

Magic in the Moonlight
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for a brief suggestive comment, and smoking throughout
Release Date:
August 1, 2014

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for extended sequences of intense fantasy action violence, and frightening images
Release Date:
December 19, 2014

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence
Release Date:
August 8, 2014

Osmosis Jones

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

The Farelly brothers, whose “There’s Something About Mary” plumbed new depths of bodily function humor (and ended up on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 funniest movies) have plumbed new depths of internal plumbing in “Osmosis Jones.” It’s a PG-rated, mostly animated movie about a very hip white blood cell (voice of Chris Rock) and a cold capsule (voice of David Hyde Pierce) who fight a nasty virus (voice of Laurence Fishburne) to save the scrofulous body of zoo attendant Frank (Bill Murray).

The live action story, starring Murray with Elena Franklin as his daughter, Shane, Chris Elliott as his friend and a brief, effervescent appearance by Molly Shannon as Shane’s teacher, takes up about a quarter of the screen time. The rest takes place inside Frank’s body, cleverly conceived as a swarming metropolis with white cell cops fighting off everything from gingivitis to intestinal unpleasantness. The details — and many of the jokes — may be a little hard to follow for anyone who does not have a working knowledge of anatomy. But the basic story line of a cop who likes to do things his way paired up with a straight-arrow, by-the-books partner joining forces against a lethal bad guy is standard movie stuff, and, as usual, it works pretty well.

Parents should know that the PG rating is deceptive. The ratings board does not take cartoon violence very seriously, but some kids may be upset that characters they care about are in peril and some characters die or come very close. More than that, the movie is extremely gross, with both tension and jokes relating to every kind of bodily fluid, excretion, and function. If you see this movie, pass by the snack bar, as you will not be in the mood to eat a bucket of popcorn or anything else. Parents should also know that the movie features a child whose mother has died and who is terribly worried about losing her father, who seems bent on suicide by junk food. Some children will be upset by the way that the child has to assume the role of parent.

Families who see this movie will want to talk about how we keep our bodies strong enough to fight off infection and viruses, and the challenge of deciding between things that feel good now and those that feel good later. How does that relate to the choice between the two candidates for mayor?

What does Osmosis mean about “being too careful?” Talk about the news broadcasts that the characters inside of Frank watch. If there was one going on inside you, what would it say? Think about how well your family does on taking care of yourselves and what you can do to do better. Believe me, you won’t be stopping for fast food on the way home from this one — you may even be inspired to eat your broccoli.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Fantastic Voyage,” an exciting adventure inside a human body, and “The Iron Giant,” by the same animators. Both are outstanding family movies.

Ordinary People

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:1980

Plot: Conrad Jarrett (Timothy Hutton) has returned home after four months in a mental hospital. He tried to kill himself following a tragic boating accident with his brother, Bucky, who drowned. He is trying to find a way to fit in, both at home and at school. His father, Calvin (Donald Sutherland), tries to reach out to him, but is afraid of saying the wrong thing, and is shy about his own emotions. His mother, Beth (Mary Tyler Moore), is uncomfortable with emotions and with anything else that might be “messy” or hard to control.

After some hesitation, Conrad seeks out Dr. Berger (Judd Hirsch), a psychiatrist recommended to him when he left the hospital, telling him that he is seeking “control.” Berger warns him that control is tough to achieve, but says he will do what he can. He advises Conrad to start from the outside, work on his actions and let the feelings follow.

Conrad begins to reach out to a sympathetic girl at school, Jeannine (Elizabeth McGovern). He makes contact with Karen (Dinah Manoff), a friend from his hospital stay, who seems to have “control,” to be busy with friends and activities and sure of herself. He is devastated when he tries to call her again, and hears that she has killed herself. He calls Berger in the middle of the night, and insists on seeing him. He relinquishes what he thinks of as “control” to confess to Berger — and himself — that he can’t forgive himself for surviving when his brother died, that he feels guilty and unworthy.

Calvin begins to realize that Beth’s unwillingness to connect to her own emotions or anyone else’s is suffocating the family. They had had the appearance of closeness, but the tragedy revealed how superficial it was. Their relationship unravels quickly, and she leaves, as Cal and Conrad begin to share their feelings.

Discussion: This is a movie about emotional honesty, about the courage and emotional vocabulary that are necessary for the connections and intimacy we need to be able to survive challenges like the tragedy faced by this family. Berger says, “If you can’t feel pain, then you’re not going to feel anything else, either.” The characters represent a wide variety of approaches and abilities to emotional openness and “control.” Conrad and Calvin are both groping their way toward a better understanding of themselves and others and the ability to communicate.

Beth does not want to try. She is by no means an ogre. Indeed, it is clear that the director and writer of the movie feel sorry for her. She has chosen emptiness she can control rather than “messy” feelings. Beth preferred Bucky to Conrad because Bucky’s easy confidence did not place any emotional demands on her. Conrad says, “I can’t talk to her! The way she looks at me! She hates me!” What Conrad feels as rejection is really Beth’s fear that his sensitivity and vulnerability will put demands on her that she can’t or won’t be able to respond to. She can’t bear the thought that she might somehow be responsible for Conrad’s pain, while Calvin is willing to confront that issue in order to be able to help Conrad.

Jeannine at first pulls back from Conrad’s attempt to connect with her by telling her the truth about himself, but then apologizes. She wants to understand him; it was just that at first she did not know how to respond, so retreated into the more comfortable and familiar environment of joking around. In contrast, Karen, who seems to have so much “control” and goes to elaborate pains to persuade Conrad that she is doing fine, is unable to cope.

Teenagers may know of someone who has attempted suicide, or of someone who has been successful. This movie provides an opportunity to discuss what led Conrad and Karen to consider it, how the perspective of a person about his own worth is very different from that of those around him, and what the other options are for people who are deeply depressed. Questions for Kids:

· Why is control so important to Conrad? Is it important to Beth and Calvin, too?

· What do you think of Berger’s advice about starting from the outside?

· How does Berger help Conrad? How does Jeannine help him?

· Why does he quit the swim team? Why doesn’t he tell his parents?

· How do you feel about Beth? Do you dislike her or feel sorry for her or both? Why is it so hard for her to give her husband and son what they feel they need?

Connections: This film received Oscars for Best Picture, Screenplay, and Supporting Actor (Timothy Hutton). It also popularized the lovely “Canon” by Pachelbel. Viewers of “Nick at Nite” will recognize Mary Tyler Moore from “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

Orange County

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

There is some irony in the fact that this movie is about a boy who is trying to escape from the cartoonishly dysfunctional adults in his life, when in reality it is the adults in the lives of the people behind the movie who got it made and contribute the only tolerable moments.

“Orange County” stars the children of two Oscar-winners (Tom Hanks’ son Colin and Sissy Spacek’s daughter Schuyler Fisk) and is directed by Jake Kasden, son of screenwriter-director Lawrence Kasden (“The Big Chill,” “The Empire Strikes Back”). Hanks plays Shaun Brumder, a high school senior whose mother (Catherine O’Hara) is a drunk, father (John Lithgow) is too busy making deals to pay any attention to him, and brother Lance (Jack Black) is drugged out and “constantly recovering from the night before.” Shaun also has an airheaded bimbo stepmother, a wheelchair-bound stepfather, and two stoned surfer buddies. And he has a sweet, animal-loving girlfriend named Ashley (Fisk).

Shaun’s dream is to go to Stanford because his idol, Marcus Skinner, teaches there. But when his addled college counselor (Lily Tomlin) sends the wrong transcript, he is rejected. So Shaun, Lance, and Ashley drive up to Stanford to meet with the director of admissions (Harold Ramis) to try to persuade him to let Shaun in. Unfortunately, they accidentally feed him some of Lance’s drugs and burn down the Admissions office. Funny, huh? But after a few moments with his idol, Shaun, like Dorothy, learns that there’s no place like home.

This is the kind of movie that begins with a comic death in a surfing accident, followed by a funeral at which female mourners wear black bikinis. Drugs and drunkenness are supposed to be so inherently funny that no actual jokes have to accompany them. Then there are the wildly un-funny moments involving forgetting to give a sick man his medicine and then having a lot of things hit him on the head.

Since the very beginning of time, movies have featured sensitive teenagers who wanted to be writers and were not understood by the people around them. It’s an obvious theme because movies are written by people who all started out that way, so it is an experience they know well and feel deeply. Besides, writing the story gives them some ability to pay back those who helped or subbed them. But in this movie, our hero shows no evidence of being sensitive or a writer. His opening letter to his idol is ungrammatical and mundane – it sounds like a fan letter to O-Town from an 11-year-old. It may seem like a detail that does not matter in a silly comedy, but in fact it is details like this that separate a string of pratfalls from a story. Even in a comedy, there have to be believeable characters you root for, and that never happens here.

Hanks and Fisk, as the ostensible force of sanity at the heart of the movie, don’t get much of a chance to prove themselves as actors, but they seem to have some presence. Black, as always, even with terrible material, is a joy to watch. The top talent in small roles, including O’Hara, Lithgow, Tomlin, and Ramis, as well as Chevy Chase, Ben Stiller, and especially Kevin Kline, are like the oases in the movie’s desert. Kline, who seems to be on loan from another movie, has a very nice scene with Hanks, and shows us how a real actor can create a complete character with just a few words in a script and a few moments onscreen.

Parents should know that despite the PG-13 rating there is a lot of material that they may consider inappropriate for teenagers. Abuse of alcohol and drugs is portrayed as normal and funny. While on drugs, a character drives dangerously, has casual sex, and sets a building on fire, also intended to be comic. Another character is accidentally given drugs, which is supposed to be funny. A character pretends to be asleep so that he can watch a couple have sex. Some kids may also find the horrendous parenting – or the fact that the dysfunctional parents decide to reunite — upsetting. One of the “good guys’ blackmails a friend by threatening to expose her sluttish behavior.

Families who see this movie should talk about what really goes into applying to college and how people respond to terrible family situations.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy How I Got into College.

On the Waterfront

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:1954

Plot: Based on a true story (with a less satisfying conclusion), this is the story of the men who had the courage to stand up to the corrupt longshoreman’s union. The union is controlled by Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb). He and his men decide who will work each day, which means that they get paid off by the men and by the ship-owners who rely on the union to unload their goods. “Everything moves in and out, we take our cut,” Johnny brags. One of Johnny’s top aides is Charley Malloy (Rod Steiger), whose brother Terry (Marlon Brando), a former prize-fighter, is treated almost like a mascot by Johnny. He gives Terry errands to run and makes sure he gets the easiest and most lucrative work assignments. Terry keeps pigeons, on the roof of his apartment building, and is a hero to the local boys.

As the movie begins, Joey Doyle, who dared to speak out about the corruption, is killed by Johnny’s thugs. Terry had unwittingly helped to set Joey up, and he is distressed. “Too much Marquess of Queensberry, it softens him up,” Charley explains, telling Johnny that Terry’s exposure to the rules of fair fighting in boxing have made him idealistic. Joey’s sister Edie (Eva Marie Saint) tells local priest Father Barry (Karl Malden) that he has to get out of the church to help them; “Saints don’t hide in churches.” Father Barry invites the longshoremen to the church, to talk about what is going on. Charley tells Terry to go to the meeting to keep tabs on who is being disloyal. At the meeting, one man explains that “everyone on the dock is D&D–deaf and dumb.” Everyone knows that if he speaks out, or even notices too much, he will not be allowed to work; he may even be killed, as Joey was. Thugs break up the meeting. Terry escapes with Edie. Dugan (Pat Henning) agrees to talk, and Father Berry agrees to support him. But Dugan is killed, too.

Terry and Edie fall in love. Johnny tells Charley to make sure that Terry does not tell the crime commission about his activities, because if he lets Terry tells the truth, everyone will do it, and he’ll be “just another fellow.” At first Charley resists, but Johnny makes it clear that if Charley can’t stop Terry, Johnny will get someone else to take care of him. So Charley finds Terry, and they talk, in the back seat of a cab. Terry tells Charley that he hates being a bum, that Charley should have looked out for him, and not made him take a dive in the boxing ring, a “one-way ticket to palookaville.” Charley lets Terry go, and then Charley is killed by Johnny’s thugs. Terry is overcome with grief, and swears he will get Johnny. Father Berry persuades him that the way to do it is to testify, and Terry does, while Johnny stares at him from across the room.

No one will talk to Terry. The boys who once worshipped him kill all of his pigeons. Down on the dock, at first Johnny wins, putting everyone to work except for Terry. When Terry calls him out, they have a furious battle, as the longshoremen watch. Terry is badly hurt. When Johnny tells them to go back to work, they refuse, saying they are waiting for Terry to lead them to work. Father Berry whispers to Terry that “Johnny’s laying odds you won’t get up.” Father Berry and Edie help him up, and he walks slowly to the dock. Johnny shouts, but everyone ignores him.

Discussion: This movie contrasts two conflicting ways of looking at the world and especially at responsibility. Edie and Father Berry see a world in which people have an obligation to protect and support each other. Johnny sees the world as a place where what matters is taking as much as you can. Terry is somewhere in the middle, with his kindness to the Golden Warriors and his pigeons on one side and his willingness to take what Johnny’s way of life has to offer on the other. Then Joey is killed, and Terry meets Edie.

In part, Terry falls in love not just with Edie, but with the vision of another life that Edie represents. At first, when she asks, “Shouldn’t everybody care about everybody else?” he calls her a “fruitcake” and says that his philosophy of life is “Do it to him before he does it to you…Everybody’s got a racket.” He tells her, “I’d like to help, but there’s nothing I can do.” Like Edie, Terry is inspired to fight back by the death of his brother. When he tells Charley “You should have looked after me,” he is acknowledging the obligation brothers have for each other. He should have looked out for Charley, too.

After Terry testifies, Edie tells him to leave town, asking, “Are they taking chances for you?” Terry tells her that he’s not a bum, and that means he must stay. Fighting Johnny, Terry finds a way out of “palookaville.”

This movie also raises some important issues about the nature of power. At the beginning, Johnny seems very powerful, and power matters more to him than money. But it is clear that the choices he makes to protect that power, more than any action taken by anyone else, are the beginning of the end. As he orders people killed, even Charley, his own close associate, he begins to appear desperate. The men who will kick back a few dollars and stay “D&D” about corruption will not stand for that level of violence and uncertainty.

Questions for Kids:

· Joey’s jacket is worn by three different characters in this movie. What do you think that means?

· Why do you think the director does not let you hear the conversation when Terry tells Edie about his role in Joey’s death?

· Edie admits that she is in love with Terry, but still wants him to leave. Why? What do you think of Edie’s ideas about what makes people “mean and difficult?” Do you think that applies to Johnny?

· How does Johnny get power? How does he lose it?

· If Johnny had not killed Charley, would Terry have testified against him?

Connections: The music is by Leonard Bernstein, composer of “West Side Story” and many others. This movie won eight Oscars, including best picture, best director, best actress, and best screenplay. Steiger, Malden, and Cobb were all nominated as well.

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