Left Behind: The Movie

Posted on December 13, 2002 at 5:17 am

C+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: Some drinking and smoking
Violence/ Scariness: Characters in peril, some killed, disappearance of millions of people
Diversity Issues: Inter-racial characters with mutual trust and respect, strong black character
Date Released to Theaters: 2001

Left Behind” tries hard to succeed as parable and as thriller. It is based not just on the first in a series of best-selling books, but also on the Biblical Book of Revelations, and is is made by people who care as much about teaching their views of the Word of God as they do about making an exciting movie. They do an impressive job.

Kirk Cameron (of television’s “Growing Pains”) plays Buck Williams, a television news correspondent with a big story. An Israeli scientist has discovered a way to feed the world with a special grain that is plentiful, hardy, and inexpensive. He wants to make it available to everyone. But there are powerful and wealthy people who do not want that to happen.

Williams takes an airplane flight piloted by Rayford Steele (Bradford Johnson). Flight attendant Hattie Durham (Chelsea Noble), a friend of Buck’s and Rayford’s mistress, is also on board.

All of a sudden, up in the sky, dozens of passengers simply disappear, leaving their clothes behind. It is even more terrifying down below. Millions of people, as many as a third of all the people on earth, have vanished. Everything is in chaos. No one seems to know what is going on.

Rayford rushes home and finds that the only one left is his daughter, Chloe (Janaya Stephens). His wife and son are gone, leaving only their clothes behind.

Buck and Rayford try to find out what has happened. They get some answers from a minister, who tells them that the people who are gone are the true believers. They are with God, and the rest are left behind.

A minister named Nicolae Carpathia (Gordon Currie) appears to be the pawn of powerful industrialists who want to take advantage of the hysteria to control the food supply. But Nicolae has other plans.

The movie’s script, acting, and production values are not up to the standards of mainstream Hollywood theatrical productions, but it is filmed with a lot of sincerity. Many families, especially those who have a hard time finding movies they are comfortable sharing with their children, will find this to be a worthwhile thriller for older children and a starting point for some important conversations.

Parents should know that the movie has a great deal of violence, including a murder that may be shocking to some people. The disappearance of millions of people and apocalyptic theme is genuinely disturbing, and may be very upsetting to some audiences. There is no bad language, but there are mild references to an extramarital affair.

Families who see this movie should be prepared to talk about its roots in traditional Christian doctrine, and to talk about their own views of faith, God, and heaven. They should also talk about those characters who are deceived by others, and what makes that possible. Why do Buck and Hattie see Nicolae so differently?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Prince of Egupt.

Related Tags:

 

Movies

Osmosis Jones

Posted on December 13, 2002 at 5:17 am

C+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
Profanity: Strong for a PG
Alcohol/ Drugs: Scenes in bar
Violence/ Scariness: Comic peril, characters killed, one apparent sad death
Diversity Issues: A comic theme of the movie, multi-racial cast, strong female characters
Date Released to Theaters: 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.

Related Tags:

 

Movies

Rush Hour 2

Posted on December 13, 2002 at 5:17 am

C+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
Profanity: Some strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Mild
Violence/ Scariness: Lots of action violence, not too gory; characters in peril, some killed
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movie, inter-racial partnership
Date Released to Theaters: 2001

Less a sequel than a remake of the first “Rush Hour,” this version sets itself up to be the next “Lethal Weapon” franchise by meticulously repeating all of the elements of the first one. Those elements are: one motor mouth LA cop named Carter (Chris Tucker), one stoic kick-boxing Hong Kong cop named Lee (Jackie Chan), and a microscopic plot that moves the story along without distracting audiences or the performers too much from the fights, explosions, and wisecracks.

The problem with any sequel to a movie like this is that once we have already spent one movie getting the characters to respect and trust one another, it is difficult to create much dramatic tension. The plot is just as thin as the first one, but inherently less compelling. In “Rush Hour,” the plot centered on an adorable kidnapped child; in this one it is something about counterfeit money. Tucker’s comic riffs and Chan’s balletic fight scenes are mildly entertaining, but have a synthetic feel.

The high points include a fight staged in a massage parlor and the pyrotechnic contributions of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s” Zhang Ziyi. She doesn’t float through the air this time, but she has the same defiant pout. Her screen presence is electric, even in Mandarin. Don Cheadle shows up for a brief scene that reminds us of what real acting looks like. The best part of the movie is the outtakes shown during the final credits, which give us an even better sense of the chemistry between Chan and Tucker than the movie does. Maybe “Rush Hour 3” will be all outtakes – that would be a sure hit.

Parents should know that the movie has a lot of action violence and comic peril. That means that the fight scenes are not very graphic. In almost cartoon-style fashion, characters get beat up badly and then are shown in the next scene without any wounds. School-age kids who see this movie may get unrealistic ideas about the consequences of fighting. The movie also has some strong language, sexual innuendo, and a massage parlor scene in which Tucker is allowed to choose from an array of girls and selects several of them.

Families who see this movie should talk about how we decide whom to trust and the risks that undercover operatives must take. They may also want to talk about the challenges of making friends with people from other cultures and the way that Carter and Lee tease each other about the differences between blacks and Asians.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the original and some of Chan’s other movies, like Shanghai Noon.

Related Tags:

 

Movies

Some Like it Hot

Posted on December 13, 2002 at 5:17 am

A+
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: Sugar drinks when she is unhappy
Violence/ Scariness: Off-screen gangland slaying, characters in peril
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movie
Date Released to Theaters: 1959

Plot: In the first moments of the movie, what appears to be a hearse turns out to be carrying bootleg liquor, and we are prepared for a movie in which nothing will be what it seems and nothing will be treated very seriously. It is the 1920s, during Prohibition, and Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) are two musicians who play in a speakeasy. When they accidentally witness the St. Valentine’s Day massacre of a group of bootleggers by Spats Columbo (George Raft) and his mob, they have to hide out. So they accept a job with a band on its way to Florida — an all- girl band — and they dress as women, calling themselves “Josephine” and “Daphne.”

On the train, they meet the rest of the band, including lead singer Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe). Both men are very attracted to her. She quickly becomes friends with “Daphne” and they have a late-night pajama party. But when they get to Florida, Joe adopts yet another disguise, this time as a wealthy bachelor. Meanwhile, Osgood (Joe E. Brown), a real wealthy bachelor, is interested in “Daphne.” Joe gets “Daphne” to distract Osgood so he can use Osgood’s yacht for a date with Sugar.

Meanwhile, Spats and his gang arrive at the hotel for a conference with other gang leaders that results in even more bloodshed. Joe realizes that he does not want to mislead Sugar anymore and sends her a diamond bracelet (from Osgood) and a farewell note. But, seeing her sadness, he is overcome and kisses her, forgetting that he is dressed as Josephine. She runs after them, and joins Joe, Jerry, and Osgood as they escape on Osgood’s boat.

Discussion: This is one of the wildest farces ever filmed, but it has a lot of heart as well, with brilliant performances by all three stars. Monroe is heartbreakingly vulnerable as Sugar, explaining that she always gets “the fuzzy end of the lollypop.” Joe must become someone else in order to learn the truth about Sugar (who would never have confided in a man) and about himself (as he sees the consequences of his exploitive behavior and feels what it is like to have men try to force their attentions on him). Jerry, hilariously, turns out to be as suggestible as a woman as he was as a man. As himself, he ends up going along with whatever Joe tells him. In women’s clothes, he starts to think of himself as a woman. The scene where he tells Joe he and Osgood are engaged is a classic.

Questions for Kids:

· How does Joe change, and what makes him change?

· What does he learn from being dressed as a woman?

· How do Joe and Jerry react differently to dressing as women?

· How does Sugar behave differently with “Junior” and “Josephine”?

Connections: Other movies with male characters disguising themselves as women include the venerable “Charlie’s Aunt,” filmed seven times, including a musical version with Ray Bolger, and “Tootsie,” with Dustin Hoffman (rated PG, but with mature themes). Curtis and Lemmon also appeared together in “The Great Race.” George Raft engagingly spoofs his tough guy performances in 1930s gangster movies, even repeating his coin- flipping habit from “Scarface.”

Related Tags:

 

Movies

The Cat’s Meow

Posted on December 13, 2002 at 5:17 am

B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
Profanity: Some strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Illegal alcohol, smoking, drug reference
Violence/ Scariness: Shooting
Diversity Issues: All characters white
Date Released to Theaters: 2002

Peter Bogdanovich is still in love with the movies.

He has paid tribute to classic movies sucessfully (“Paper Moon,” “The Last Picture Show,” “What’s Up Doc?”) and unsuccessfully (“At Long Last Love”). At his best, he is able to not just salute, but evoke the mood and spirit of Hollywood’s golden era of innoocence and magic. At his worst, he is so caught up in his fantasies of the good old days that he becomes overly obscure and self-referential. This movie shows him at both extremes.

Once upon a time, the richest man in America was William Randolph Hearst. If anyone thinks of him today, it is either as the man who inspired “Ctizen Kane” or the grandfather of Patty Hearst, kidnapped heiress and actress in offbeat John Waters movies.

Think of Hearst as Bill Gates crossed with Michael Eisner (the head of ABC/Disney). Hearst was the wealthiest man in the United States and his newspapers were the primary source of information and enertainment for most Americans. He never divorced his wife, but he had a love affair with silent screen actress Marion Davies for 37 years.

Hearst was more powerful than anyone can ever be again because he controlled the newspapers and the newspapers were the only source of news. If he wanted a story told a particular way — or not told at all — that is what happened. When one of Hollywood’s biggest names, Thomas Ince (the man who created the Western) died after a visit to Hearst’s yacht, it was officially recorded and reported in Hearst’s newspapers as “natural causes.” Rumors, or as Bogdanovich says, “whispers” continued to circulate, and this movie tells the story that is whispered most often.

The movie is a loving recreation of the era with impeccable performances by Eddie Izzard as Charlie Chaplin and Joanna Lumley (of “Absolutely Fabulous”) as sensational novelist Elinor Glyn. Izzard has one of the most difficult challenges an actor can face — portraying someone whose face and manner are so well documented that they will be familiar to many viewers. Those who do think they know Chaplin know the character he portrayed, or perhaps the brilliant, Oscar-nominated performance by Robert Downey, Jr. in the epic biographical film. Izzard evokes Chaplin; he does not impersonate him. And he gives us a portrait of Chaplin that is rich, complex, and intimate. We see the genius, the charm, the discipline in some things and lack of discipline in others, the neediness, and the self-awareness. Lumley’s delivers devastating commentary with scrumptious bite, timed down to the nanosecond. Edward Hermann as Hearst and Kirsten Dunst (of “Spider-Man”) as Davies are also memorable.

Bogdanovich’s mistake is in thinking that everyone is naturally as fascinated with the story and the era as he is, and so he does not have to do any work to draw the audience into the story. For that reason, it all comes across as a little too precious and distant.

Parents should know that adultery is a theme of the movie and frequently discussed. A character is shot, possibly accidentally. Characters smoke, drink (illegally) and briefly use drugs. The movie has strong language and sexual situations (not explicit).

Families who see this movie should talk about how the 1920’s differ from current times – and how they were the same. Who is most like Hearst today? Why was Davies so important to Hearst? Why was she so important to Chaplin? What was important to her?

For more about Marion Davies, take a look at Captured on Film – the True Story of Marion Davies. If you are ever in the vicinity, don’t miss a visit to San Simeon, Hearst’s preposterously lavish mansion in the mountains, where Hearst and Davies presided over celebrity gatherings that included just about everyone in Hollywood.

Related Tags:

 

Movies
THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2018, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at Rogerebert.com, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik