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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Vacation
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:

Release Date:
July 29, 2015

 

Home
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor
Release Date:
March 27, 2015

Southpaw
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language throughout, and some violence
Release Date:
July 25, 2105

 

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some language and suggestive comments
Release Date:
March 6, 2015

Paper Towns
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some language, drinking, sexuality and partial nudity -- all involving teens
Release Date:
July 25, 2015

 

The Longest Ride
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some sexuality, partial nudity, and some war and sports action
Release Date:
April 10, 2015

New in Theaters

grade:
D

Vacation

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Release Date:
July 29, 2015
grade:
B

Southpaw

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language throughout, and some violence
Release Date:
July 25, 2105
grade:
B+

Paper Towns

Lowest Recommended Age:
Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some language, drinking, sexuality and partial nudity -- all involving teens
Release Date:
July 25, 2015

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New to DVD

pick of the week
grade:
B+

Home

Lowest Recommended Age:
Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for mild action and some rude humor
Release Date:
March 27, 2015
grade:
B+

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some language and suggestive comments
Release Date:
March 6, 2015
grade:
C

The Longest Ride

Lowest Recommended Age:
High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some sexuality, partial nudity, and some war and sports action
Release Date:
April 10, 2015

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Racing Stripes

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:2005
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date: 2005

A zebra who thinks he is a racehorse takes on the thoroughbreds in the best live action talking-animal movie since the beloved Babe.

Horse trainer turned farmer Nolan Walsh (Bruce Greenwood) finds a baby zebra and brings him home. For his daughter, Channing (Hayden Panittiere), it is love at first sight. She cares for the little zebra tenderly and when we pick up the story three years later, Stripes is a cherished part of the farm family.

But Stripes (voice of Frankie Muniz), who has never seen another zebra, thinks he is a racehorse, like the beautiful thoroughbreds he sees at the race course next door, owned by snooty Carla (the acid-voiced Wendie Malick).

His friends on the farm include an experienced pony named Tucker (voice of Dustin Hoffman), a goat (voice of Whoopi Goldberg), a pelican far from the sea (voice of Joe Pantalino) named Goose, and two flies, Scuzz (voice of David Spade) and Buzz (voice of Steve Harvey). The race horses jeer at him, but Stripes trains by trying to outrun the mail truck and dreams of winning a real race. A sympathetic filly named Sandy (voice of Mandy Moore) provides encouragement. The animals find a way to let Channing know that Stripes is fast enough to race and wants to ride him, but Nolan, whose wife died in a racing accident, does not want Channing to compete.

The human performers are just fine, especially the underrated Greenwood. He is too often relegated to bad-guy roles (Double Jeopardy), but he shows real warmth and screen presence here. Up-and-coming young Panittiere (A Bug’s Life, Remember the Titans) makes us believe in her devotion to her father and the dream of racing she shares with Stripes. But the movie is all about the animals and the voice talents and computer-aided “acting” make the characters very real and very appealing. The humor may overdo the doo-doo, but there are sweet and funny moments as Stripes tries to follow his dream and learns the importance of friends.

Parents should know that the movie has some mild language including insults like “idiot,” “blow sunshine up your tail,” and “kick your butt.” A bad word is amusingly cut off by an animal’s “baaa.” There is some crude humor, much of it involving animal poop (which most children will find very funny). An animal parent is very harsh to his child. There is a scary fall and some off-camera violence, but no one is hurt. Some viewers may be concerned about the storyline concerning the death of Channing’s mother in a racing accident.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Stripes was so unhappy to find out he was not a horse. Why did Clara and Nolan have different ideas about what was important? Why do some people think “different is scary?” What does it mean to say “You can put your boots in the oven but that doesn’t make them biscuits?” What made Nolan change his mind about letting Channing race? They should also talk about the importance of both skill and discipline, and both ability and heart. What can you tell about the way families can resolve differences by the way Nolan and Channing talk to each other?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Babe, Milo and Otis, Fly Away Home, Charlotte’s Web, and the two greatest horse movies of all time, National Velvet and The Black Stallion.

Are We There Yet?

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date:2005
C+
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
Movie Release Date: 2005

Robert Benchley once wrote, “There are two kinds of travel, first class and with children.” But the longest, naggiest, car-sickiest travel with children cannot be any more tedious than this weak and dragged-out generic fluff that wastes the talents of four performers who should know better.

There are about three good minutes of material in this film, all of which appear in the trailer. To put it in terms appropriate for the subject matter, the film has some long, dull stretches between rest stops. The movie is not as amusing as a good game of license plate bingo.

Ice Cube plays Nick, a playa who thinks his life is mighty fine until he catches a look at the luscious Suzanne (Nia Long), who works across the street from his Portland, Oregon sports memorabilia shop. He tries to resist when he finds out that she has two children, but when he rescues her on a rainy night after her car breaks down and she knows the stats on his favorite player, Satchel Paige, he’s a goner. Even though he does not like children, he will do anything to get close to her.

Suzanne needs someone to take her children to Vancouver on New Year’s Eve, and after they get into trouble at the airport and miss the train, Nick has to drive them in his beloved and pristine new SUV. When I say you know where this is going, I don’t mean Vancouver.

Yes, everything goes wrong, from an encounter with a kick-boxing deer to projectile vomit. And those are the funny parts, or they are supposed to be, anyway.

Even worse are the touching parts, or the parts that are supposed to be. Nick and the kids have to find some way to like each other, right? Isn’t that the whole point of a road movie, that point at which the people who don’t know each other or know each other and don’t like each other develop some (usually-grudging) respect for one another and begin to bond? This aspect of the movie is not just unimaginative and tedious; it is so insincere and condescending that it is affirmatively unpleasant. And then, to add insult to injury, the movie indulges in that most unjustifiable of offenses — the mini-retrospective flashback of purported highlights to re-remind us of how hollow it all really is.

It’s a shame to see the beautiful and talented Nia Long, most recently so impressive in her brief role in Alfie given so little to do — and forced to sport such an awful hairdo. Ice Cube seems to enjoy his interaction with his young co-stars but never seems fully engaged. Even with the voice of Tracey Morgan, the talking Satchel Paige bobblehead is tiresome. The performer who comes across the best is Aleisha Allen (of School of Rock), who has a fresh and appealing presence.

Parents should know that the movie has quite a bit of crude humor and some strong language for a PG. There is a lot of comic cartoon-style violence, including hits in the crotch, played for comedy. Some viewers may be upset by brief shots of a dead deer. And some may be disturbed by the portrayal of absent fathers.

Families who see this movie should talk about why Kevin and Lindsey tried to sabotage her dates and what made Nick begin to feel some sympathy and respect for the children. They may also want to talk about some of their own car trips and what kinds of things families can do to make sure that the trips are enjoyable for everyone. Families should also take a look at Satchel Paige‘s famous rules for staying young:

Avoid fried meats which angry up the blood. If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.

Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move.

Go very light on the vices, such as carrying on in society — the social ramble ain’t restful.

Avoid running at all times.

And don’t look back — something might be gaining on you.

Families with older children who enjoy this movie will also enjoy seeing Nia Long in Big Mama’s House, Aleisha Allen in School of Rock and Ice Cube in Barbershop (all PG-13). Mature audiences will enjoy seeing him in the R-rated Three Kings and Boyz N the Hood.

White Noise

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2005
C+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date: 2005

Remember in Poltergeist when the little blonde girl was talking to the television broadcasting only that snowy nothingness they used to show when there was nothing on the air back in the days before 24/7 programming? And then she turned to her mother and said in her sweet little-girl voice, “They’re here!” Well, there was more deliciously creepy terror in that one moment than in all of “White Noise,” a barkingly dumb would-be thriller about the dead communicating with the living through…appliances.

Michael Keaton plays Jonathan Rivers, blissfully married to such a completely beautiful and perfect and loving (and newly pregnant) woman (Chandra West) that you know she’ll be toast within fifteen minutes after we meet her. Sure enough, after a half-heard “I love you” as she drives away and an incomplete voicemail, she disappears. Her body is found sometime later and it appears that after a car crash, she was severely wounded and unable to save herself after falling into the river.

Jonathan notices that a man has been following him. The man says he has been receiving messages from Jonathan’s wife. At first, Jonathan does not believe him, but then, well it would be a pretty short movie if he was not convinced quickly so that the real story can get going — about how he starts to get messages from people who aren’t actually dead yet and how all of this meddling with powers he does not understand is deeply upsetting to, well, the powers he does not understand.

Okay, so the story is not the point. This is all about the thrill ride. The problem is that it’s just not that thrilling.

Every would-be surprise is telegraphed in advance with the most venerable and uninspired of movie cliches, everything that has been done to, um, death over and over and over and then successfully parodied and ridiculed to death in movies from Scream to Scary Movie.

The camera closes in tight on someone, so we know something is happening just outside the frame. The music builds and we know something bad is about to happen. Someone promises not to leave and then he does and…something bad happens. And of course the secret hideout is all drippy exposed beams and sputtering lights. Yawn.

This isn’t an especially bad movie. It just isn’t an especially good one. Keaton’s underwritten part doesn’t give him much to do beyond barking at the television and looking bereft, but West makes a lovely impression in her brief role as his late wife. She is supposed to be a writer whose latest book is called “The Eternal Wait.” As I checked my watch to see how much longer the movie was going to go on, I felt that could have been the title of the movie.

Parents should know that the movie is a thriller with an overall theme that may be disturbing to some family members. There are brief grisly images and references to violence and some scary (but well within PG-13-range) surprises. A character attempts suicide and others are killed, including one who is shot. There is brief strong language and brief drinking. The movie contains a reference to “an earthquake in India” that may be upsetting due to current events. And according to this movie, only white, middle class people communicate with each other after death.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy other ghost stories like Ghost, The Sixth Sense, Poltergeist. Dragonfly and The Mothman Prophecies have similar themes but are not as effective. They might also want to learn more about EVP.

In Good Company

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2004
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date: 2004

“Synergy!” says Carter Duryea (Topher Grace). That’s the answer to his two most pressing questions: (1) What idea can he pull out of a hat to help him meet the very ambitious financial goals set for him in his new job, despite the fact that he knows nothing about it? and (2) How can he convince anyone — including himself — that he knows what he is doing?

Carter is 26 years old and his life fits him like a suit he hasn’t grown into yet. He has a sleekly elegant wife (Selma Blair), a sleekly elegant apartment with a lot of shiny new wedding presents, and, in honor of his new job, a sleekly elegant new sportcar, which he bashes as he drives it off the lot.

He works for a bunch of financial hotshots who play corporations like chess pieces. The latest acquisition is a publisher, and Carter is put in charge of the advertising sales division of a sports magazine (think Sports Illustrated). He’s taking over from Dan (Dennis Quaid), an old school type who has always put decency, loyalty, and integrity first. Well, that policy is quickly out the door, and so are some of Dan’s salesmen.

Dan would like to leave with them, but he can’t. He needs the job badly. His daughter Alex (Scarlett Johansson) is switching to NYU from the less expensive state school. He has another daughter who will be going to college in a few years. And his wife Ann (Marg Helgenberger) is pregnant. His prospects for getting another job that would pay for all of that are poor at his age and in this market.

When they meet, as Carter is moving into what had been Dan’s office, the first thing they do is ask each other’s age. Carter points out that it is weird that Dan is older than his father, showing his panic, his cluelessness, and also his artlessness, candor, and openness. Carter is a smart kid, smart enough to figure out that Dan is more of what he wants to be than the slash-and-burn corporate titan he has been running after as though he was a rock star.

Carter thinks of himself as someone who can sell anything, but he can’t sell his wife on staying with him and he knows nothing about ad sales. Other than some B-school theories and the passion to do well, he does not have much to contribute.

Dan’s essential decency, combined with his sense of what is necessary for survival, leads him to reach out to Carter. And when Carter makes a shameless ploy to be invited over for dinner, Dan brings him home. Carter sees all that Dan has and for once he stops selling. He tells Alex that for some reason, she is the only one he feels he has to tell the truth to. And they begin a romance.

The script feels patched together and some of those patched-together pieces feel very stale — the corporate raider element of the plot is about 15 years out of date. There is nothing wrong with making the movie about the journeys taken by both Dan and Carter, but it doesn’t quite manage to do that; instead it seems to equivocate, itself not clear on who the movie is about. The seams show worst with the ending, which is particularly artificial. But there is a lot of compensation in exceptionally warm and fully-realized performances by all of the principals. Quaid makes Dan feel complete and lived-in, and, with Helgenberger, he makes his marriage feel real and lived-in as well. Grace is one of today’s most promising young actors, and he makes what could easily have been a shallow character into something special, showing us Carter’s strength, intelligence, and ability as well as his longing and insecurity. The relationships they put on the screen are far greater than what was on the page — now that’s synergy. These are people who are very good company indeed.

Parents should know that the film has some explicit sexual references and situations for a PG-13, though there is no nudity. Characters use strong language, drink, and smoke. Some viewers may be disturbed by the economic upheavals and lay-offs.

Families who see this movie should talk about some of their own experiences in the workplace with difficult supervisors or pressure to meet agressive financial goals. Some family members may want to learn a little bit more about the pressures that create opportunities for those, like Teddy K, to exploit employees and investors for their own benefit.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy About a Boy, by the same director, and The Rookie, with another of the many fine performances by Quaid.

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