Saturday, June 23, 2012

Brave



Rated PG for some scary action and rude humor
Starring Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, and Emma Thompson
Running time:  100 minutes

First, let my say from the get-go:  Parents, make note that this is NOT a G rated movie!  There are scary scenes that can definitely frighten younger and/or sensitive children.  I saw at least two families leave the movie theater because their children were scared by the large, loud, angry bears.

There, I got that warning out  of the way.  Now, let's talk about the movie.  Did I enjoy it?

No.

Did my thirteen year-old daughter enjoy it?

No.

Did my eighteen year-old, Pixar-loving son enjoy it?

No.

In fact, if I hadn't been writing this review, I might have left before the movie was over.  It just isn't up to Pixar standards -- not by a LONG SHOT.

In summary, Merida is the daughter of Fergus, King of the Scottish clans. She's a feisty, active girl whose personality and desires don't match those befitting a princess.  Her mother, Elinor, is a strong queen and steadfast in her determination to groom Merida toward the fate of marrying a boy from one of the other clans - a fate (surprise, surprise) that Merida fights, by seeking the help of a witch to "change" her mother and thus change the direction of her own destiny. Unfortunately, the change is quite literal, and Elinor is transformed into a monstrously large, black bear. Merida must face her own pride and mend the horrible mistake she has made before the spell becomes permanent and she loses her mother forever. Does this happen? Yes. (surprise, surprise)

Now, it's not the predictability that makes Brave a yawner of a movie (literally - I yawned several times).  Most good kids movies - especially Disney and Pixar films - are predictable.  But it's the characters and the execution of the storytelling that make those movies shine and compels us to buy the DVD as soon as it's released (and watch it over and over again).  The characters in Brave are flat and stereotyped. There isn't one character, not even Merida that really tugs at the heart strings or makes you wish you knew them.  As for the storytelling - that is where I am especially disappointed.  The premise of a young, strong girl successfully fighting and overcoming obstacles while coming to a deeper understanding of being true to her roots, is a fantastic plot. We need more movies with strong female character role-models for girls and that is why I was so excited about Brave.  Sadly, for me, Pixar just didn't pull it off.  Not this time.

That being said, I saw some people in the theater who seemed to enjoy the movie.  If you saw Brave and thought it was worth seeing, please leave a comment and share your opinions.

My recommendation though:  if you want to see a good movie, rent any of the Toy Story movies or Up.  You'll have a much better time.  As for me, I'm going to pretend Brave didn't happen and hope that Pixar raises their standards back up for their next release.

Reviewed by Karen Cantwell

Friday, June 8, 2012

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted



Rated PG for mild action, rude humor
Starring Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith, David Schwimmer
Running time:  85 minutes

The Zoosters are back and funnier than ever!  Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Gelman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer) plus the usual sidekicks, the Penguins, the Monkeys, King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen) and Maurice (Cedric the Entertainer) are up to their usual hilarious hijinks.  We all really, really, really liked this movie!

This was some fine summer entertainment especially when you take advantage of the $6.00 ticket prices before 12 noon at AMC.  My 5 year-old daughter, visiting Nana and I opted for the non-3D version mostly because of the added cost but also because my girl ends up taking the glasses off halfway through the movie.  I could see how 3D could add to the experience with its adrenaline-raising car chases and gravity-defying circus performances if you’re willing to fork over the extra cash.

Those loveable lost zoo animals are still trying to get back home to New York City.  This time their adventures take them there via Monte Carlo, Rome and London after they team up with a has-been circus while on the run from French animal control captain, Chantel DuBois.  She is a very crafty, hilariously pear-shaped villainess who hunts down Alex with iron will purpose just so she can add his stuffed head to her wall collection.

Meanwhile, Alex is shaping the circus into a Cirque-du-Soleil-worthy show, and some new characters are introduced: a cranky Russian tiger, Vitaly (Bryan Cranston) who once performed impossible feats, a beautiful jaguar, Gia (Jessica Chastain) who catches Alex’s eye and they end up performing beautiful trapeze acts together, and a slightly-below IQ average, sea lion ringmaster, Stefano (Martin Short) who just wants to have the greatest show on earth.  But to me the most amusing was the romance between King Julien (that silly little lemur) and the tricycle-riding circus bear.  You’ll be LOL’ing a lot with those two.

This is a movie that can be enjoyed by all.  Your little ones, your tweens and teenagers, the visiting cousins and family.  I sat next to a solo teenager and behind some college-looking kids, and we all laughed together while the younger ones giggled right along with us.  There was even applause at the credits and that, I think, says it all.  It was fabulous fun, so move it (ha, ha…get it?) to the theater for this summer must-see!

Reviewed by Beth Balberchak


Go to MovieTickets.com to find theaters and showtimes.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Crooked Arrows Shoots and Scores!




Drama
Rated PG-13‎
Starring Brandon Routh, Gil Birmingham, Crystall Allen, Chelsea Ricketts, Alexandra East
Running Time: 105 minutes

A mixed-blood Native American, Joe Logan, eager to modernize his reservation, must first prove himself to his father, the traditionalist Tribal Chairman, by rediscovering his spirit. He is tasked with coaching the reservation's high school lacrosse team which competes against the better equipped and better trained players of the elite Prep School League.

I have to premise this review by saying my son has played lacrosse for three years, and the more I learn about the sport, the more I love it. High-action agility combine with amazing stick skills and just enough physicality to make things interesting.

So when my son’s league sent around the Crooked Arrows trailer, I knew it was a “must-see.”

Lacrosse originated with the Native Americans near 1200 AD. The film centers on a down-on-their-luck reservation lacrosse team and the man roped into being their coach, a former lacrosse star himself who has turned away from the game to help run a casino.
Unfortunately, there are quite a few sports movie cliches here, and many of you can probably guess what happens, so I will not focus on the plot details. However, the lacrosse action scenes and the overriding Native American spirituality theme pushed aside my writerly cynic.

It is really a movie about not only honoring lacrosse’s Native American roots, but our roots as a country as well. About the Native Americans taking back their game and, as a result, getting respect back for their people, respect that is long overdue.

The movie is rated PG-13, which is spot-on. There are only a few iffy lines, but one has to do with a female body part, so I would recommend it for any child who has already had “the talk.” Otherwise, most families aged 11 and up would probably enjoy this feel-good sports movie.

In the film, one of the tribal elders tells the story of the crooked arrows. Each is different and does not fly straight or follow the same path, but eventually all find their own way. It’s really a valuable lesson, whether in life or on the lacrosse field.

Reviewed by Karen Wojcik Berner


CLICK HERE to find showtimes at Movie Tickets.com

Monday, May 28, 2012

Men in Black III

Men In Black III
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, and Emma Thompson
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence, and brief suggestive content

Agent J (Will Smith) has to go back in time to prevent the murder of his partner Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones in 2012; Josh Brolin in 1969) at the hands of a time travelling alien.

Men in Black pretty much made the comic action movie genre. And they haven’t beaten us to death with sequels and reboots regardless of how much the public asked for them. They had a great idea and they stuck with it, not playing with the formula too much. Men in Black was great, MiB2 was flawed, MiB3 is, in my opinion, the best of the bunch.

It is good for kids? This is a true PG13 movie, in my opinion. The beginning is the most packed with 12 and under inappropriateness. There is a woman in a skimpy, tight outfit; some sexually suggestive dialogue and some really over-the-top kissing (the tongues start outside the mouths). You would avoid that if you don’t take your child in until the first five minutes are over. That sadly prevents you from the setup for the whole movie though.

The main concern for the 12 and unders is the violence. There is a lot more violence in this MiB than in the two previous. I don’t want to give anything about the bad guy but his ‘power’ yields a much more conventional style of alien and human death.

And, of course, as his goal is murdering Agent K before K has a chance to catch and imprison him there is the stressor of a beloved human character dying.

I won’t get into the moral implications of aliens dying being okay and human dying being not okay. I don’t need to for this movie. The screenwriter (Etan Cohen) manages the stunning feat of making this an exciting action movie with several morals tied in that make you think. Nothing is heavy handed and he even manages the whole time travel paradox issue nicely.

You really need to decide for yourself if this is okay for your 12 and under. It is a fine line, I think. I definitely would not recommend this movie for any child under 8 no matter how sophisticated. There are moments that would be scary for children as the bad guy is different than the previous bad guys in the MiB franchise. I guess the 14 year time span between the first movie and this latest offering has changed the scope of what moviegoers expect from their villains. Plus when you’re taking about assassinating the best MiB agent ever it needs to be worthy foe.

For movie goers aged 13 and older, I highly recommend this movie. The theater was packed at the 4:30 showing we attended. We were there 20 minutes before the show started and had to sit in the second row. Second row, people. With 20 minutes to show time. The second row shouldn’t even exist. I needed a neck rub when we were done. But that’s our fault. The one quibble that I can blame the studio for … 30 minutes of previews. That is way too many. By the time they were over we were out of popcorn and I had vowed not to go see any of the movies, I was so annoyed. All that said, this is officially my favorite Men in Black. It was funny, it was exciting, it was entertaining, the plot kept you thinking, and it was touching. Yeah, I said touching. Oh and Josh Brolin needs to win several awards for his dead on portrayal of the younger Agent K. Like a Nobel prize and the World Series. He’s THAT good.

Reviewed by Aimee Hix


Want to see movie times for Men in Black III?
  CLICK HERE for MovieTickets.com

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Real Steel




Rated PG-13 for some violence, intense action and brief language
Starring Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly and Dakota Goyo
Running time: 127 minutes

I’m a huge Hugh Jackman fan, so I had high expectations for this film especially after the previous reviews on how great it was.  I couldn’t wait to see what the hype was all about, and if Hugh was flexing his muscles a lot in the movie…even better!  I hate to say it, but I was disappointed. 

Now, I really dislike giving a bad review.  I’m pretty easy to please, so I can generally find a happy spot in most books and movies.  There were some happy spots in Real Steel for me, sure.  The computer-generated robots and animatronics were quite impressive, earning a nomination in this year’s Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects.  The music was pretty darn fantastic too…if you like rock, which I do.

Our story starts out with Charlie (Hugh Jackman), a washed-up pugilist-turned-robot boxer-slash-gambler, just trying to make a living out on the boxing circuit.  The year is 2020 and these high-tech robots have replaced humans in this dangerous sport. 

His son, Max (Dakota Goyo), is dumped on his doorstep and Charlie is suddenly forced into parenthood.  It becomes obvious that he is severely lacking in parenting skills.  Heck, Charlie can barely take care of himself!  But soon, they are bonding over robots since Max is conveniently a boxing and video game enthusiast. 

Max acquires a bot named Atom that was a sparring robot, and now he’s the one who is betting big and over-confident that Atom will win, but this time you believe it.  With Charlie, you didn’t.

As I was watching the music montage scene of Max and Atom becoming acquainted, I thought what 11 year-old boy wouldn’t want a “real” life-size toy robot to play with except this toy can pick up Dumpsters. 

Evangeline Lilly plays Bailey, an ex-girlfriend who helps Charlie build his robots, and nudges him to step up and be a father to Max but it’s so obvious that Charlie has some growing up to do on his own.

Atom’s success takes them to the top with a few run-ins with some antagonists along the way, of course.  Charlie’s shining moment comes when he’s ultimately fighting in the championship because Atom malfunctions and shadows Charlie’s boxing moves. But, I didn’t feel it, the teary-feel-good glory moment that I was supposed to as we watch Charlie’s long-awaited time in the spotlight despite the inspirational music and happy crying from Bailey and Max.

There is some fine acting in this film.  The boy who plays Max is first rate, and we know Evangeline Lilly and Hugh Jackman are masters in their own realm (television and stage).  There’s violence, obviously, and one cuss word of the sh- - variety.  I think older boys (husbands, too) would enjoy this movie for its high-tech special effects, but there is a gritty undertone to it when Charlie’s on the illegal circuit and all the seedy gambling is going on.

I guess ultimately this story was about father-son love and the movie hits that happy spot satisfactorily. But if there’s a Real Steel 2 it wouldn’t hurt for Charlie to have a little more character growth, and it’d be nice if he took his shirt off too.

Reviewed by Beth Balberchak


Friday, May 18, 2012

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

Sadly, this is not the best week for family-friendly films.  Here's what we've got:



Battleship
Rated PG-13
Starring Alexander Skarsgard, Brooklyn Decker, and Liam Neeson

A fleet of ships is forced to do battle with an armada of unknown origins in order to discover and thwart their destructive goals. (IMdB)

Currently, it is receiving a 6.3 out of ten rating from critics and users on IMdB. The trailer doesn't excite me. I'm not likely to see this one.  If any Flixy Mom readers see Battleship and would like to give their opinion in a review, feel free to post it here!  It's greatly appreciated.
_______

Now, the good news is, there are some hotly anticipated films about to release in the next couple of weeks!

YAY!

They are:




That's right!  Will and Tommy Lee are back in 

Men in Black 3
Rated PG-13
This one also stars Josh Brolin as a young Agent K (TL Jones)
Opens in theaters Friday, May 25th

And if that wasn't cool enough, there is also this one:




Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
Rated PG
Starring the usual funny zoo crew: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, Jada Pinkett Smith, David Schwimmer
Opening in theaters on Friday, June 8th

It is often my experience that the entertainment value of sequels starts to dwindle somewhere around #2, but Madagascar 2, in my opinion, was just as good, if not better than the first, and the trailers for this third installment look promising.  Fingers crossed.

Well, that's it for the next couple of weeks anyway in terms of movies to theaters.  In the meantime, we will be reviewing some fun (or not so fun?) DVD releases for you.  Tomorrow, join us for a review of Real Steel.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Avengers



Rated PG-13
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, and Scarlet Johansson Running time: 142 minutes

I had the opportunity to see this highly anticipated film over the weekend, and it was well worth the ticket price!!

This movie is two and a half hours of action. I suspect because they have so many main characters to introduce to the audience and to each other they jump right into the story without a slow build, or even really needing one. We meet the villain within the first five minutes, and an action sequence ensues. So, if you don't know anything about this movie it is the culmination of the movies Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America, which began in 2008 and finished up in 2011 dropping hints that yes, there will indeed be a movie tying them all together. In this movie Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America and S.H.I.E.L.D agents Black Widow and Hawkeye are brought together when the earth is attacked by Loki, the God of Mischief, and his army of aliens(the Chitauri).

Director Joss Whedon brings the heroes together beautifully, giving equal time to each hero, and never alters the personalities the characters had in their own movies, but allows them to come together into one group that has bonded by the end of the movie. Joss generously gives us Iron Man vs. Thor, Thor vs. Hulk and Black Widow vs. Hawkeye for anyone who ever wondered just who would win if... which, admittedly I've wondered. Besides the action I actually laughed out loud several times, there are a lot of great one-liners delivered by the heroes and the villain. The end sequence was one of the best fight scenes I've ever seen in a superhero film. They show you a close up of these heroes fighting, and then off to another scene of another hero saving civilians, and then they pan back and you can see a main battle happening in the center of the city, while off to the top left is that fight you were just watching close up of your heroes fighting, and down on the ground is that hero saving the civilians. It was amazing, sweeping view of a battle. All in all the movie is good from beginning to the rewarding/satisfying ending, and be sure to stay until after the credits role for a hidden scene.

This movie is rated PG-13, and now for the big question: is this superhero movie okay for a child under 13? Well, I'd say yes. How young, that's up to you. As I mentioned at the beginning, this movie is two and a half hours of action aka violence. Most of the violence in the movie is focused on aliens, (who look like monsters), which makes it hard to feel a lot of empathy for them, and they seem pretty cartoony. The fights are quick and there's no blood in any of the alien fights. Although, there are several gun fights earlier in the film, and about four of what I'd call actual graphic scenes. These include two stabbings of actual named characters; Loki removing someone's eyeball, although they pan away from this, so the horror of it is just implied. There is one scene where someone's entrails are hanging out of their body, though it's quick and it's from the back. There is a death of a named character. There is also mild language.

So, major thumbs up for this film. It's a really fun, action-packed blockbuster that actually took some time to get to know who these superheroes are.

Reviewed by Dawn McCullough-White



Want to find a theater near you showing The Avengers? Visit www.MovieTickets.com

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Rated PG for mild action and mildly rude humor
Starring: Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman, David Tenant, and Imelda Staunton
Running Time: 88 minutes


YAWN! I was so disappointed in this movie. The trailers made it seem so funny, but alas, me hearties, it was nothing of the sort. There were some mild chuckles here and there, but even the children weren't guffawing at the "jokes" and, frankly, I've noticed it takes very little to get the wee set to rollicking laughter.

The theater crowd was mostly 10 and under with my daughter being the oldest. One set of incredibly redue people brought a baby. Not a tiny thing in arms, sleeping so their older child could enjoy the movie, but the two of them and an 8 month who cried and yelled off and on for the first half of the show. Not that it really detracted from the enjoyment. Of which, I may have mentioned, there was very little.

It wasn't a bad movie by any stretch, just pallid. And we LOVE pirates, normally.

There was a mildly "suggestive" comment early on about scantily clad mermaids and an "action" scene toward the very end. Nothing to concern yourself with as the remark in in passing and definitely over the heads of the younger audience members.

Most concerning is the historical rewrite of Charles Darwin as a love-struck fool and Queen Victoria as an evil *bleep* (rhymes with witch). Both real life personages deserved better than to be maligned for . . . cinematic flotsam.

There was a moral, but it was too muddled and also over the head of the target audience. Teasing and hurtful comments are made to the star, The Pirate Captain, who takes them to heart and makes bad choices as a result. Despite his poor treatment of friend and crew members, all's well that ends well, and all that.

Save your money.

Reviewed by Aimee Hix

Friday, April 20, 2012

In Theaters This Weekend

YAY! We have two movies opening today that are rated G! It's a miracle! Our two G movies this week are documentaries that a definitely family movie fare.


Chimpanzee
Rated G
Narrated by Tim Allen
Running time: 78 minutes


This Disney documentary follows life of Oscar, an orphaned chimpanzee. So far, Chimpanzee is receiving mixed reviews, but it looks like something I would enjoy, so I plan to see and review this one.



To the Arctic
Rated G
Narrated by Meryl Streep
Running time: 40 minutes


A journey into the lives of a mother polar bear and her two seven-month-old cubs as they navigate the changing Arctic wilderness they call home. (IMDb)



Darling Companion
Rated PG
Starring Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline, and Dianne Wiest


I love this cast and director (Lawrence Kasdan), but the description on IMDb makes me wonder: "The story of a woman who loves her dog more than her husband. And then her husband loses the dog."

Hmm. Really? Also, it is not receiving favorable early reviews on IMDb. According to Moviefone, Darling Companion is currently under limited release, so moviegoers may have trouble finding it in their local theaters.


Want to see if any of these movies are playing at your local theater? CLICK HERE for Movietickets.com.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol


Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence
Starring Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, and Paula Patton
Running time: 133 minutes


DISLAIMER: I am a hard-core Mission: Impossible fan. I loved the original TV show and have attended opening night of all four movies. In my mind, there isn't a bad flick in the bunch. Oops! I spoiled the review. Well, a bit maybe. Let's start over . . .

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol released in theaters on December 18th, 2011 and just made its way to DVD on Tuesday, which is why I chose to write the review at this time. In this fourth installment of the MI series, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team (Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, and Paula Patton) are faced with the responsibility of saving the world from global nuclear war. It's the ultimate mission that is made more "impossible" since they have been disavowed and lack support of their agency or government. Will they succeed? Hey, it's a movie, and we know logically, that the MI team won't let the world be destroyed, but I will say that director, Brad Bird did a stunning job of keeping the audience biting their fingernails to the very bitter end. From the bombing of the Kremlin to the breath-taking, vertigo-inducing scenes atop the world's tallest building in Dubai, to the last-second stop-the-missile-from-exploding as it flies over the San Francisco Bay, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is action-packed, suspenseful, and funny (thanks to the talented Simon Pegg).

The PG-13 rating is very appropriate, and quite honestly, I would even be willing to say that some families may feel comfortable taking children a year or two under the age of 13. The rating is for "sequences of intense action and violence," but I didn't think that the action or violence were too intense. There is a fight scene between two females, but personally, I enjoyed seeing two strong women duke it out in an action movie! Who says women can't fight? There are a couple of curse words, and in one scene, we get to see team member, Jane Carter (Paula Patton) in a bustier, but the moment is brief and the action at that point is more important that what she is or isn't wearing.

Most people are saying that this is the best Mission: Impossible movie yet, and I will readily agree. If you are an action-movie loving family with tweens and/or teens looking for real entertainment, give this one a try. And if you get the DVD with the extra features, be sure to watch them! To see how they filmed the sequences on the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, is . . . well, just watch and see what you think!

Reviewed by Karen Cantwell



Want to rent this movie on DVD? CLICK HERE for Netflix.

Did you see Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol? If so, leave a comment and tell us what you thought. We love to hear from Flixy Mom readers!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Megamind - Soon-to-be Your New Favorite Animated Movie!


Rated PG for action and some language
Starring Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey, David Cross, Jonah Hill
Running time: 95 minutes


I say that Megamind will be your new favorite movie because it’s just that good. I believe it’s as good as The Incredibles, Toy Story and a few other fabulously famous animated films. The script is incredibly clever, the cast is phenomenal even the soundtrack rocks! That being said I’m an adult (obviously) and I wonder if my child or other people’s children feel the same way? I’m beginning to believe after participating in Flixy Mom that my new preferred movie genre is animated children’s movies because I’m enjoying myself quite thoroughly.

It starts out with a bang as Megamind’s (Will Ferrell) planet gets sucked into a blackhole but not before his parents send him out in a small spaceship( just like Superman’s Mommy and Daddy once did). He lands in a prison yard to be cared for and raised by the convicts and taught the criminal side of life. He also creates wonderfully clever inventions and ultimately turns into: Incredibly Handsome and Criminal Genius and Master of all Villainy. A twin spaceship that was also sent out from the doomed planet lands in the lap of a wealthy family, and thus the battle between Megamind and his nemesis, Metro Man (Brad Pitt) begins.

Metro Man with his superhero strength frequently wins the fight against his rival while also winning the hearts of the people of Metro City (which Megamind mistakenly pronounces Metrocity like “atrocity”). One day Megamind finally succeeds in defeating Metro Man using nosy reporter, Roxanne Ritchi (Tiny Fey) as bait. She has been used as bait so often she jokes that she has a frequent kidnapping card.

Megamind basks in his victory with Minion (David Cross), who is a fish that has robot body, until he realizes that he’s a villain with no hero. He decides to create a new hero by fashioning Metro Man’s super powers from his dandruff DNA and accidently injects them into Hal, Roxanne’s weirdo slacker cameraman.

Megamind disguises himself as a Marlon Brando-lookalike-mentor (love that nod to Superman’s Dad, Jor-el in the Christopher Reeve flick) to teach Hal to be a hero so that he will have someone to battle once again. But Hal is not good which is a perquisite for most superheroes, and goes rogue and becomes Tighten who wants only one thing…Roxanne.

Roxanne, however, is falling for Bernard who is actually Megamind in disguise. He has invented a ray gun that dehydrates humans into small cubes so that he can then replicate himself into that person. Megamind/Bernard is falling for Roxanne in return, and when Minion tells him, “the bad guy doesn’t get the girl,” Megamind responds, “maybe I don’t want to be the bad guy anymore.” And, that’s the major turning point for him especially when he loses Minion as a friend.

Roxanne and Megamind team up to stop Tighten from ruining Metro City and ultimately he becomes the hero to prove himself to Roxanne. I love that Megamind goes on the greatest hero’s journey of all and turns from evil overload into white knight.

I’m not sure my five-year-old was as enthusiastic about this movie as I was. She did watch it with me twice so I can say that she liked it that much. I think older children will appreciate the humor and the action better than smaller children. As for the rating, for the life of me I cannot think what the questionable language in this film could be?

It’s a great story about a super hero and a super villain with a dream cast. (Will Ferrell is a god!) Go and check it out from the library or your nearest box now.



Want to rent Megamind today? CLICK HERE for Netflix.

Did you see Megamind? Leave a comment with your own mini-review! We love to hear from Flixy Mom readers!

Friday, April 13, 2012

In Theaters This Weekend

I'm sorry to report that this week's movie release line-up is sadly lacking in family-friendly films. Again. Sigh. And looking ahead even through the summer, the pickings look pretty sad for films that both parents and children would enjoy. This is something I don't understand from a business point of view - G rated movies gross big bucks for Hollywood, so why don't they make more of them? I'm still stewing over the fact that The Lorax was rated PG. (growl)

Okay, I will get off my soap box and let you know what MIGHT be interesting this week for families:



The Three Stooges
Rated PG
Starring Sean Hayes, Diamantopoulos, Will Sasso

Left on a nun's doorstep, Larry, Curly and Moe grow up finger-poking, nyuk-nyuking and woo-woo-wooing their way to uncharted levels of knuckleheaded misadventure. Out to save their childhood home, only The Three Stooges could become embroiled in an oddball murder plot...while also stumbling into starring in a phenomenally successful TV reality show. (from Movieweb.com)

Now, I only post this because it's rated PG. Personally, I have SERIOUS doubts about this movie. But then again, that's because I never liked the original Three Stooges. The only things that The Three Stooges has in its favor are 1) The Farrelly brothers (directors) and 2) Sean Hayes. If anyone sees this and loves it, let me know! I'll eat my words.




Lockout
Rated PG-13
Starring Guy Pearce, Maggie Grace, and Peter Stormare

Falsely convicted ex- government agent Snow (Guy Pearce) must rescue the President’s daughter (Maggie Grace) from an outer space maximum security prison after it is taken over by violent inmates. (from Movieweb.com)

Lockout is receiving excellent early buzz on IMDb and I like Guy Pearce (LA Confidential), so this could be an interesting entertainment choice for myself and my teen boys. We'll see . . .




Touchback
Rated PG-13
Starring Kurt Russell, Brian Presley, and Melanie Lynskey

On the game winning play of the biggest game of his life, the best High School Football player in the nation injures his knee and destroys his dreams of a college and professional career. But fifteen years later, he receives the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to go back and change history. (from IMDb)

Touchback is getting some decent early reviews at IMDb, basically confirming what my predictions about this movie: that it would be a well-acted (Kurt Russell always manages good performances), fairly predictable feel-good movie. Evidently though, there is a twist, that bites into that predictability just a bit. Hmmm . . . maybe I'll go see it just to see what that twist might be . . .

Want to get movie times for these (or other) movies? CLICK HERE for MovieTickets.com.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Green Lantern


Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action
Starring Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, and Peter Sarsgaard
Running Time: 114 minutes


“In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil's might,
Beware my power... Green Lantern's light.”


This film offers up the message of the power of goodness and courage in the face of adversity, overcoming our fear and believing in ourselves. This is what Hal Jordan, as Green Lantern has to do. I enjoyed this movie a lot, Ryan Reynolds makes a perfect Green Lantern (he looks just like Hal Jordan in the comics). The movie is pretty simple, it's Green Lantern's origin story. He is the first human to become part of the Green Lantern Corps, which is the intergalactic military/police force via DC Comics. He is taken to Oa, the world the corps is located on and goes through training, and then as is apparently the theme of the movie (although I'm not sure if this is true of the comics) he quits, as he's quit every other job or relationship he's ever had because he's afraid. Hal must summon up the courage to defeat an alien enemy (Parallax) who is trying to destroy earth. There is a good blend of action, some humor and romance in the film.

And now for the bad news- it is another superhero movie NOT for a young child. My son was so excited to see Green Lantern when he learned it was coming out, but I'm glad I previewed it first. It had some alien scenes that were a bit dark and scary.

The movie opens with a fight between the Green Lantern Corps and, Parallax, an alien that literally sucks their souls out of their bodies. Later on in the movie we have a man going through a hideous, and painful metamorphosis into a scary, big-headed villain, then an alien blob-monster attacks the earth, upturning a school bus full of children.

There is implied sex at the very beginning, and a couple swear words.

So, to sum up. Thumbs up as a pretty good action superhero film for an adult, absolute NO for a young child.

Reviewed by Dawn McCullough-White

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mirror Mirror


Starring: Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer and Nathan Lane
Rated PG for some action and some slightly grownup humor
Running Time: 106 minutes,


Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? Well, this is definitely the fairest version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves that I’ve seen.

This is very much not a retelling of the traditional story (as told by Disney not Grimm). We get a queen, Snow White’s banishment and hiding with the Seven Dwarves and a Prince. That’s about it. The story diverges and morphs into a tale of girl power. WOO HOO!

As the mom of a 10 year old girl, I am happy to see such movies being made. Disney princesses are lovely, but fairly useless if you want a strong, real role model for your daughter. This movie not only tweeks the notion of the pretty princess in need of rescue but let’s you know they’re doing it with a tongue-in-cheek comment from the prince who sees Snow as an equal. Not a damsel in distress, but at different times an opponent and partner.

This movie is gorgeous. The settings, the clothes, the people are all gorgeous and it’s got several morals wrapped up into the tale. All are mainly different takes on the one of the oldest tropes: Looks can be deceiving.

We enjoyed it and the other moviegoers seemed to as well. The theater was an interesting mix. There was an older couple with no children to young teen girls with their moms to groups of very young children with several moms. We were only one of two families with both the mom and the dad.

The PG rating might be too low. There are several instances in which the handsome prince is divested of his shirt and some romantic innuendo. The innuendo is played carefully so that children my daughter’s age and younger aren’t aware of it but it was a little squirmy for me with stuff akin to daytime soaps playing sitting in front of eight 5 year olds.

At the very end of the movie is a scene with a forest beast that had been mentioned previously in the movie. It seemed like it should be a scary scene but I heard a lot of giggling so clearly the children were not worried about the fate of the characters.

The shirtless scenes, while I found them unnecessary, are less revealing than what a child will see at the pool or the beach. The women are all fully covered even in nightclothes or “undergarments” such as when the queen is being corseted.

At one hour and forty-five minutes it isn’t too long and there was not much of coming and going so clearly it held the interest of even the smaller children.

This is definitely a family friendly film that I recommend and really does provide an excellent heroine who thinks of others, is brave, is kind and follows her heart not just to her Prince but to a purpose.

Reviewed by Aimee Hix

Want to see show times for Mirror Mirror? CLICK HERE for MovieTickets.com

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Hunger Games - May the odds be ever in your favor.





Rated PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images - all involving teens

Runtime:

Starring:  Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth



I remember first seeing The Hunger Games series floating around the book reviewing blogs and most of the reviews were great.  But, the cover and back blurb didn't really catch my attention, so I put them off.

That is until Christmas of 2010 rolled around.  I thought my eleven-year-old daughter might enjoy the books, so I ordered them up for a Christmas gift.

Curiosity got the better of me and I thought I'd just skim the first book to make sure it was appropriate for an eleven-year-old.  I had all three books read within a few days.  I've been wanting to read the series again, but time just hasn't permitted.

I thought it only fair to the readers of this review that I come clean about thoroughly enjoying the books and actually counting the days until the movie release.  This, I believe, colors my opinion.

The main story is about a future where the U.S. has fallen on very hard times and the states no longer exist.  Instead of states we now have a Capitol and twelve districts.  Katniss Everdeen, our heroine, hails from district twelve.


The Capitol, as a way to keep the districts under control, hosts The Hunger Games every year. The Hunger Games are a brutal, fight to the death competition in which 24 tributes strive to be the last one alive. As if the games weren't horrendous enough, the competitors are chosen from the district's children between the ages of twelve and eighteen.

When Primrose, Katniss's twelve-year-old sister, is chosen, Katniss does the only thing she can do to protect her.  She volunteers as district twelve's female tribute.


 After watching several movies based on books over the years I have decided the only way to enjoy a movie made from a book is to watch the movie as if the book did not exist.

I will admit, I wasn't able to do that with this movie because I didn't need to.  However, I may have taken something entirely different away with me from the movie had I not read the books first.

Of course there is a lot left out and a few changes that were made, but I didn't feel that any of that hurt the overall story.  I knew what had happened behind the scenes (because I'd read the books) but I think the movie could be just as enjoyable if you hadn't read the books.

The rating, PG-13, is quite appropriate as there is quite a lot of violence.  The story, after all, is about teenagers being forced to compete to the death. I brought my eleven-year-old daughter to this one and would allow her to watch it again, and again.

This is one I would definitely recommend for older family members. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

In Theaters This Weekend

Rated PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images - all involving teens

It appears that movie studios were smart enough not to even attempt a release the same weekend as The Hunger Games, so this is your one (possibly) family movie option this weekend. Although for many, I'm sure the jury is out as to how family friendly this movie really is. We WILL be reviewing The Hunger Games within the next few days, so stay tuned, and feel free to comment with your opinion if you see it before we do!



In the meantime, there were some FUN DVD releases this week and last:


Rated PG

Read our review HERE





Rated PG




Rated PG

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Despicable Me


Rated PG for rude humor and mild action
Starring Steve Carell, Jason Segal, and Russel Brand
Running time: 95 minutes


I originally saw Despicable Me in theaters with my three kids (ages 17, 15, and 12 at the time) when it was released. All three kids and I LOVED it. Since then, I have easily been entertained by this funny and sweet movie another ten to fifteen times. I'm not exaggerating.

A quick recap of the story: Gru (Steve Carell) is an evil villain who is feeling like his career might be on the downswing when someone begins stealing major world monuments and man-made wonders. Determined not to be outdone, he and his cohort, Dr. Nefario (Russell Brand) decide they will steal the moon. The problem is, to steal the moon, he needs a shrink ray - the only one of which known to exist, is in the hands of the new villain on the block, Vector (Jason Segal), who has an impenetrable fortress. But Gru is no dummy. He has a plan: adopt three cookie-selling orphans who have a delivery to make at Vector's compound and essentially walk right in with the aid of this innocent girls and his evil cookie robots. The plan works like a dream, but what he doesn't count on is growing to love the three orphan girls. That's right - Gru is a bad guy with a big ol' soft, squishy heart. Will the melting of his tough exterior spoil his ability to steal the moon? You gotta watch and see.

Despicable Me is a winner of a family movie for many reasons, but the biggest is Steve Carell, who plays Gru with what you think might be a Russian accent, and with that magical Steve Carell touch. You never really hate Gru - how can you? He drives a funny car and has strange little minions with names like Dave, Jerry, and Bob. And while you know this story will be predictable, that Gru will succumb to goodness and will exchange his role of evil villain for that of lovable father, it doesn't matter. The script, animation, and voice-over acting are so exceptional, that you're connected from the opening sequence to the very last scene.

The rating is PG for rude humor and mild action. I believe the rude humor cited must be the word "fart," which occurs in a particularly humorous scene when Gru tells this hard-at-hearing Dr. Nefario that he asked for a "dart gun" not a "fart gun." Of course, most kids love the word "fart" so if you're not bothered by it yourself, I think that's the extent of your rude humor. And the "mild action" is nothing disturbing, even to very young children.

Fun, fun, fun, and more fun, is how I would describe Despicable Me, so if you haven't seen it yet, get that DVD, rent it from Netflix, or see if you can find it on cable, because you and your kids won't be disappointed. Especially since they are coming out with a sequel July of 2013.

Reviewed by Karen Cantwell



Find Despicable Me on Netflix


Friday, March 16, 2012

Captain America


Rated PG for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action
Starring Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, and Samuel L. Jackson
Running time: 124 minutes


My son, who is 5 yrs old, and I really enjoy superheroes. Superhero cartoons, superhero action figures, superhero online games, so when a new superhero movie comes out we're both really excited to see it. Of course that's tricky when you have a child so young. Some of the superhero films that come out with are great for kids, others are just too violent, too dark and even though I love them I know my son would never be able to handle them. Just like any movie really, but when superheroes are marketed both to children and adults it's hard to know which ones could possibly be seen by a child.

A whole group of new superhero films had their debuts in 2011, and I've let my son see the ones I thought he could handle, now that we've gone through nearly every film I thought would be kid friendly I started to go back and reevaluate the ones I'd said “no” to, just in case... in case maybe I was wrong. I just watched Captain America again the other day, and now I remember why I had passed on the idea of allowing my 5 yr old to view it. It's mainly due to the amount of violence in the film.

The movie is about Captain America's origin and takes place in a flashback to the 1940s era. Without giving up the entire plot, he's a test subject who gains super powers, a war hero in WWII and takes on his arch enemy the Red Skull. The cast of supporting actors include Hugo Weaving and Tommy Lee Jones, and they are both great in their roles. I imagined this story to be exciting for a child because Captain America seems pretty squeaky clean- an all-American hero, who saves the lives of soldiers and civilians. I imagined even having the opportunity to explain a little bit about WWII to my son... but then the amount of violence basically killed those plans.

Violence in the movie- fist fights, Red Skull murders a old man in cold blood, a murder of a Dr., woman shoots driver in head, a man commits suicide, a disintegration ray used to kill multiple people, Red Skull rips off his face/mask to reveal the skull underneath, and finally a man is chopped to bits when he falls through a propeller blade.

There are also points of time that is spent on strategic war talk which I think would have really bored my son , and some moderate swearing.

For myself I found it to be a pretty enjoyable film that will tie into the May 4 release of the Avengers movie, but not a movie for a 5 yr old.


Reviewed by Dawn McCullough-White


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Season of the Witch - Which Witch is Which?





Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, violence and disturbing content
Runtime: 95 min
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Stephen Campbell Moore, Claire Foy


I was drawn to this movie because it stars Nicolas Cage and I’m a fan. If I were reviewing this strictly for an adult audience I’d recommend it.  Especially since I was able to watch this one on Netflix direct streaming. 

What I’ve finally boiled it down to is the choice of the parent.  After my initial viewing I wouldn’t let my eleven year old watch it but now that it has set for a few days I might be persuaded to give in. But she would be warned that I think it might be too scary for her. 

We have a rule in our house. Scary movies are not off limits just because they are scary. But if you want to watch it and get scared, don’t come running to me in the middle of the night. 

The movie didn’t have any horrible language that I noticed and no bare bodies or inappropriate behavior in that area, so my only cautions are the potential to cause nightmares and the story does have a religious theme and doesn’t always portray the Christians in a good light.

The opening scene scared me and I’m a little bit older than thirteen. Of course, it’s not a slasher movie and the story was good.  However, the story itself is a bit scary – it wasn’t just the special effects that were frightening.

The movie begins with the hanging of suspected witches. Later that evening a priest returns to read passages over the witches to assure they cannot return from the dead.  This does not turn out so well for the priest.

Then the story moves onto the Crusades and shows a pair of soldiers, Behmen (Nicolas Cage) and Felson (Ron Perlman) going around and waging war in the name of God.  That is, until Nicholas Cage decides this might not be the right thing to do.

The two desert God’s army only to be later captured and put into a dungeon. They are promised freedom if they will help escort a witch accused of causing the Black Plague to a distant monastery. Once there, she is to get a fair trial, which is all Behmen (Nicolas Cage) wants, fairness.

Will the band get the accused witch to the monastery and if they do, will she still get a fair trial?

That is what I expected of the story but it took a bit of a turn near the end and I enjoyed the ride. Just use caution when deciding to allow someone under fifteen to watch this one.


Reviewed by JC Phelps

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lilo & Stitch: Hang Ten with this Disney Favorite


Rated PG for mild sci-fi action
Starring David Sanders, Daveigh Chase, Tia Carrere, David Ogden Stiers, Ving Rhames
Running time: 85 minutes


My daughter and I sat down to enjoy this 2002 Disney flick one rainy afternoon. Her interest piqued after seeing the Stitch character at Disney on Ice a few weeks ago so I surprised her with the DVD after checking it out from the library.

Without giving spoilers, the basic plot is that Stitch (Chris Sanders), a failed genetic experiment from an alien planet that destroys everything it touches, is exiled to an asteroid, but finds himself on one of the islands of Hawai’i instead. He’s captured, and Lilo (Daveigh Chase) and her sister adopt him from the pound where he is taken because the authorities don’t know what the heck to do with him. Lilo, a scrappy, undisciplined and virtual outcast, lives with her sister, Nani (Tia Carrere), after the death of their parents, and well, they’re having a tough time of it. Inevitably. Nani tries to paint a picture of domestic and familial bliss for the social worker (Ving Rhames) who has the one of the best character names ever (Cobra Bubbles), but he’s not fooled. Stitch’s basic nature is destruction so Lilo and Nani suffer greatly when he comes home with them. Granted, they were already suffering before he arrived, and he became a convenient scapegoat to point the finger at, but we’ll just overlook that shall we?

There are some big lessons to learn here on family. The old heartstrings get a workout when foster care looks imminent and when Lilo gets bullied at school then prays for real friends at bedtime later. My daughter asked me to turn off the movie at one point (she said Stitch was a little mean and scary) but persevered through to the end.

Stitch is not your typical cuddly Disney character, but Lilo is quite loveable, and you can’t help but root for her and Nani to get it together and be a true family. From the Elvis karaoke to the cool surfing scenes, the story is fun even for adults. Give it a try next time you’re at the library or adding titles to your queue. And, here’s a direct quote from my five-year-old, “I didn’t like it at first, but then I loved it!” Now, if that doesn’t persuade you…

Reviewed by Beth Balberchak


Friday, March 9, 2012

In Theaters This Weekend

We'll be posting new reviews this weekend for Season of the Witch and The Sound of Music, but today we wanted to let parents know what is releasing in theaters today, Friday, March 9th:

Potential Family Fare:

John Carter - PG-13
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen - PG-13
Thousand Words - PG-13

Sorry, no G or PG releases that I can find!

Adult Fare:

Friends with Kids - R
_________


John Carter is Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action. So far, on IMDb, it is receiving a rating of 6.8 out of 10.

IMDb's description: Transplanted to Mars, a Civil War vet discovers a lush planet inhabited by 12-foot tall barbarians. Finding himself a prisoner of these creatures, he escapes, only to encounter a princess who is in desperate need of a savior.



Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, starring Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor, is Rated PG-13 for some violence and sexual content, and brief language. I saw the trailer for this movie and it looks like a movie I would really enjoy, but not sure kids will find it entertaining. IMDb's current rates at 7.2 out of 10. I plan to see this one and review for Flixy Mom readers.

IMDb's description: A fisheries expert is approached by a consultant to help realize a sheik's vision of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to the desert and embarks on an upstream journey of faith and fish to prove the impossible possible.



Thousand Words, Starring Eddie Murphy, is Rated PG-13 for sexual situations including dialogue, language and some drug-related humor. So far, this one isn't faring well in early reviews.

IMDb's Description: After stretching the truth on a deal with a spiritual guru, literary agent Jack McCall finds a Bodhi tree on his property. Its appearance holds a valuable lesson on the consequences of every word we speak.




Friends with Kids, starring Kristin Wiig, John Hamm, and Adam Scott (among others), is Rated R for sexual content and language. IMDb reviews are coming in at 6.2 out of 10. I love this cast, but this is definitely an adult-night-out kind of movie. Leave the kids at home!

IMDb's Description: Two best friends decide to have a child together while keeping their relationship platonic, so they can avoid the toll kids can take on romantic relationships.

To find movie times at your local theater, CLICK HERE FOR MOVIETICKETS.COM.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Lorax


Rated PG for mild, brief language
Starring Zac Efron, Ed Helms, Danny DeVito, Taylor Swift
Running Time: 86 minutes



Today we have a special treat at Flixy Mom - three of our reviewers are sharing their opinions of this latest animated film based on the popular Dr. Seuss book.

Synopsis:

Ted (Zac Efron), a teenage boy living in the plastic town of Thneedville, has a crush on Audrey. To impress her, he goes in search of a real tree, since none exist in Thneedville. His search leads him to the Once-ler (Ed Helms) who tells Ted the story of The Lorax (Danny DeVito) and why the trees disappeared. It turns out that the Once-ler, in his younger years, got too greedy for his own good, and cut down all of the trees to make money, leaving the landscape dry and the air thin. Disappointed, The Lorax sends the animals in search of a better place to live and leaves a cryptic message for the Once-ler: Unless. After sharing his sad tale to Ted, the Once-ler suddenly realizes after all of these years, what the Lorax meant by, “Unless”: Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better. It's not. Still in possession of one last tree seed, the Once-ler gives it to Ted, who cares a whole lot, and . . . well, you can probably guess the rest.


Reviewer, JC Phelps says:

Just getting to this movie was an adventure. As we drove to the theater we saw a bald eagle in the ditch eating from some poor deer that didn’t make it across the road. Then, we stood in line for close to fifteen minutes to find that the showing we wanted to see was sold out and all they had available were 3D tickets for half an hour later.

So, we got to see The Lorax in 3D! This was a new experience for me. It has been years since I even attempted to watch anything in 3D. It never really did much for me except give me a headache but the strides they have made in this technology are amazing and worth the extra money we had to shell out. My four-year-old didn’t want to keep her glasses on until we traded and I realized she’d completely smudged hers and that was why she complained about not being able to see. I ended up wearing the orange kids glasses for the rest of the movie. (Fine by me – orange is my favorite color!)

Dr. Seuss has always been one of my favorites. He’s a little odd, but that’s what makes him fun. His odd little rhymes and strange little creatures hold a very special place in my heart.
The strange little creatures were all present in The Lorax but they cut out most of his cutesy rhymes that make it wholly a Dr. Seuss adventure.

The Lorax was published back in 1971 and is all about the environment. The movie is the same and follows the story of the book very closely. It just shows the story more than tells it. For example, this scene from the book was almost exact in the movie but the words were not there.

“Now all that was left 'neath the bad-smelling sky
was my big empty factory...the Lorax...
and I.
The Lorax said nothing
just gave me a glance.
Just gave me a very sad, sad backward glance.
He lifted himself by the seat of his pants
and I'll never forget the grim look on his face
as he hoisted himself and took leave of this place
through a hole in the smog without leaving a trace
and all that the Lorax left here in this mess was a small pile of rocks with one word.
UNLESS”

Because these words weren’t actually spoken in the movie, the word UNLESS printed on the rock seemed a bit vague to me. That was until this little ditty was brought out:

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.”

This was actually spoken and also quoted on screen at the end of the movie.
Being a Dr. Seuss creation, The Lorax is perfect for full family viewing and I strongly recommend going to see this one in 3D! It’s a great experience, even without the wonderfully written rhyming style we know from Dr. Seuss.

UNLESS…


Reviewer, Karen Cantwell says:


My 13 year-old daughter saw The Lorax before I did. When I asked her if she enjoyed it, she didn’t hesitate to say that she was disappointed. “It wasn’t very funny and it’s really more for little kids.”

Sadly, I agree. For me, The Lorax just didn’t cut it. Now, maybe four and five year-olds will really like this movie. There were some very young children in the theater when I viewed it, and they didn’t seem bored. I was bored. There were cute teddy bears and some adorable goldfish, but the writing was bland, the characterization flat, the humor even flatter, and the music unmemorable. And I don't enjoy being critical, so that was a hard sentence for me to write.

The environmental message was lost on me since it was presented with the subtlety of an atomic jack hammer, and that’s the really unfortunate part of all of this. Because truly, beyond the environmental issue (an important one, don’t get me wrong) is the universal truth of Dr. Seuss’ line: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing’s going to get better. It’s not.” I don’t feel the simple beauty of what that means came through in this movie. At least it didn’t for me – not in a way that touched my heart the way the book did.

The PG rating is for "mild, brief language." My question here is: REALLY??? In a movie based on a Dr. Seuss book??? REALLY? Why??? Why, Hollywood, why??? Now, I'll admit, I didn't hear and bad language. My daughter says she heard the word "damn" once. Still, I ask: Why???? Was it really necessary? (Karen steps off her soap box and brushes herself off, but steam continues to escape from her ears . . .)

For me, The Lorax wasn’t worth the money, but again, I have older children. Two other reviewers here enjoyed the movie and so did their children, so I may be an anomaly. If you have younger kids, it may well be worth it for a nice day out to the movies (and you may actually like it more than I did), but if your children are past the age of 8, I’d recommend waiting until it’s on cable. In the meantime, go watch Horton Hears a Who! I really LOVED that movie!


Reviewer, Beth Balberchak says:

The Lorax was never my favorite Dr. Seuss book, I’ll admit. Give me Go, Dog, Go or The Cat in the Hat(to read to my daughter, of course) and I’m perfectly happy. I’ll also go on record admitting that some of his books are just downright wordy, and tongue-twisty and hard-to-read aloud! There, I’ve said it. I hope the Classic Children’s Fiction Police don’t come to get me.

That being said, my expectations to see The Lorax-0 (in IMAX 3D, no less) were low. First, I have to gripe about the previews being so dang loud that my daughter was cowering in her seat covering her ears. Why do they have to blare these at us? Do they think to torture us into coming to their theater? Sigh.

The movie started with a song. We love songs, my girl and I, but I started anticipating boredom throughout the film’s opening as we took a ride around the whimsy that is a Dr. Seuss-inspired town. I was quickly proved wrong.

It started out innocently enough with Ted (Zac Efron) trying to impress a girl, Audrey (Taylor Swift) by plotting to find her a real tree. Now, this is hard to come by in Thneedville, a walled city controlled by Mr. O’Hare who greedily sells canned air to the unsuspecting citizens.
Ted escapes the city, and finds the Once-ler who tells the story of the Lorax (Danny DeVito) and his own part in raping and ravaging the forest of truffula trees into the wasteland of destruction it is today.

I think Danny DeVito was perfectly cast as the Lorax. Zac and Taylor did excellent jobs. Betty White is hilarious as Grammy who kicks butt with her cane and bulldozer-driving.

One might want to hate the Once-ler for destroying the beautiful, cotton-candy, sherbet-colored forest and banishing the adorable forest creatures to find a new home. But, he was just trying to make his way in this fortune-seeking world with his thneed invention and ultimately, be accepted by his (idiotic) family as well.

When the last tree goes down, he finally looks around at the apocalyptic-like landscape and sees his mistake. I think he ultimately redeems himself by giving Ted the truffula seed.
I love this movie’s deeper messages about fighting corporate greed and protecting our natural resources despite industrialization. I love how the citizens didn’t need to start up their own Occupy Thneedville to fight Mr. O’Hare. They just planted a tree. I think Theodor Seuss Geisel said it right and was quoted at the end of the movie, “Unless someone like you…cares a whole awful lot…nothing is going to get better…It’s not.”

From the wild and fun 3D ride down the whitewater rapids to the loveable characters, I thought The Loraxwas an enjoyable family movie. My daughter’s quote, “I loved it!” And, I did too. Now, where can I get a thneed?

__________

So, there you go! Two thumbs up and one thumbs down from Flixy Mom.

If you want to see where The Lorax is playing in your area, CLICK HERE FOR MOVIE TICKETS.COM.

And if you enjoy our reviews, please tell other parents!

Best wishes,

The team at FlixyMom.com

Friday, March 2, 2012

Rio


Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, and George Lopez
Rated G
Running time 96 minutes


As a baby, a blue macaw is stolen from Rio de Janeiro by rare bird smugglers, but is rescued by a young girl in America when his cage falls from the truck transporting him. The girl, Linda (Leslie Mann) grows up with her new best friend, Blu (Jesse Eisenberg). When a Brazilian ornithologist arrives on the scene, asking Linda to return Blu to Rio for mating purposes, this truly adorable story really begins.

Jewel (Anne Hathaway) is Blu’s intended mate, but she is only interested in escaping, which she manages to do with Blu in tow. The problem: Blu can’t fly. The adventure revolves around the events of reuniting Blu and Linda safely.

There are bad guys in this story of course, in the form of bird smugglers, but also some really fun sidekicks with some priceless lines. The music and musical numbers are very entertaining as well.

I watched Rio with my thirteen year-old daughter, and couldn’t believe, once the movie got going, that we hadn’t watched it sooner. In fact, since our first viewing, we’ve seen it two more times – we especially enjoy the opening scene when Blu is a baby. The animation is tremendous, and you just want to scoop up little Blu and ruffle his cute baby feathers.

Did we enjoy Rio? Yes! Do we think other families would enjoy Rio? Yes!

So I mentioned this theme of mating – it is handled so vaguely, that I don’t think parents of young children will get questions that they can’t easily answer. There is a bad-guy cockatoo that could scare some younger members of the family (five and under maybe?), but I will recommend Rio for full family viewing. It is sweet, funny (some really fine laugh-out-loud moments), fun, and entirely entertaining.

So truly, if you haven’t seen it yet, and you’re looking for a fun flick for family movie night, try Rio. You won’t be disappointed.

Reviewed by Karen Cantwell

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Woman in Black



Rated: PG-13 for thematic material and violence/disturbing images
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer, David Burke, Shaun Dooley
Running Time: 1hr, 35 min.


“During afternoon tea, there’s a shift in the air.
A bone-trembling chill that tells you she’s there.
There are those who believe the whole town is cursed.
But the house in the marsh is by far the worst.
What she wants is unknown, but she always comes back.
The specter of darkness.
The woman in black.”


— The Woman in Black trailer, ©2011 CBS Films

My heart was still pounding for a good several minutes after the movie ended.

Daniel Radcliffe stars as a widowed solicitor sent to a remote village in northern England to settle the estate of a recently deceased woman. The townspeople want nothing to do with him once they find out his business there. But why?

Just as he begins to unravel the mystery, tragedy strikes, and the village is forced to acknowledge its terrible fate.

This is a good, old-fashioned Gothic ghost story. Abandoned old mansion. Mysterious deaths. Creepy shadows. The PG-13 rating is spot on. We brought our 12-year-old son, but that is because he is used to scary, Gothic stuff, and we are an Edgar Allan Poe/Tim Burton/Halloween-throughout-the-year sort of family.

There were definitely some tense moments and several things that could haunt a younger child’s psyche for quite some time and cause nightmares. The reason the woman in black comes back to the village could be pretty scary for younger children.

I would say leave the young ones at home, but, by all means, bring your 12+ kids if they enjoy a good scare, and have a frightfully good time.

I know I did.



Reviewed by Karen Berner

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Secret World of Arrietty - Borrowed from Japan

 


Rated: G
Runtime: 94 minutes
Starring: Bridgit Mendler, Will Arnett, David Henrie, Carol Burnett 

I thought I knew all I needed to know about this movie before I brought the kids.  Well, I was wrong. 

What I did know:  
It was cute and fun for all of us and it was based on the book, The Borrowers, by Mary Norton. 

What I didn't know:  
This animated version was first released in Japan in 2010.  And Mary Norton also wrote The Magic Bed Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons and it's sequel, Bonfires and Broomsticks.  If there are any Disney fans out there you'll probably already know that these two books became the basis for the movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks (one of my all time favorites, by the way.)  

The story:  
Borrowers are very small versions of people that live under our houses and come out at night to "borrow" items we will never miss such as a cube of sugar or small lost items.  A little goes a long way for these tiny people.  If a Borrower is seen by a human being (they call us Beings) then they must pack up and move because a Being's curiosity is never satisfied.

It just happens that Arrietty is now fourteen and about to embark on her first Borrow.  She is seen by a new member of the household, Shawn.  He has been brought to the country to be kept quiet and still before a life threatening heart surgery.  

The family decides they must move but a lot happens as they start planning and readying themselves to find a new home. Arrietty's father is slightly injured while scouting for a new home and is brought back by another Borrower.  There is hope there are more Borrowers to be found out in the wide world - which happens to be even more wide because of their size.

I brought my eleven-year-old and four-year-old and other than one trip to the bathroom, they were both very still and engrossed in the movie.

The very first things I noticed in this movie were the sounds after Arrietty is introduced.  They are all as if you are hearing through her ears.  Imagine hearing a being many times your size walking past you.

The animation is different than that of movies like Kung Fu Panda.  The colors are a bit more muted but the scenes were gorgeously depicted.  Though all animation is art, this is so rich it's worth the trip to the theater just to see the beauty of it.  

There wasn't a lot of action or humor so I was a bit surprised that the film held the attention of the four-year-old for more than half-way through before she had to make a trip out and about.  Yes, the trip to the bathroom was a ruse.  We refilled popcorn and pop and never did use the restroom.  Faker.

Of course, the biggest action scene took place while we were roaming the halls of the theater.

Afterward, when I asked the girls what they thought of the movie, they both said they loved it.  But I think the excitement of actually going to the movie was more exciting than the movie itself.

Though not full of action, thick with suspense or laugh out loud funny this is a definite yes for full family viewing.  There is plenty to keep all ages entertained for the hour and a half it takes to watch.  I did not bring along my two-year-old for fear of missing most of the movie, but this could have easily been one she would have sat through.

Reviewed by JC Phelps