Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

To start off these new posts, I decided to talk a little bit about the upcoming film Where the Wild Things Are. I have always enjoyed this book, because I have a very vivid imagination. This book always seemed to speak to the creativity and imagination in each child. Also, if you get the chance, read the book again and pay close attention to the illustrations. As the book progresses (and the events get wilder and more adventurous), the pictures get progressively larger until they fill the entire page. It's almost like Max's imagination is running away from him--

As for the film, it is an adaptation of that same book. This is no small feat, considering that the entire book can be read in a matter of minutes. It is directed by Spike Jonze, who is known more for his music videos and off-beat films such as Being John Malkovich and Adaptation. The film is slated for release in October 2009, but that may be subject to change. The LA Times reported a string of problems associated with the the film that the director was trying to resolve.

Having just seen the trailer, I can say that I am pretty impressed so far. I was worried that the book was going to take the route of The Cat in the Hat and similar movies. It appears that the film is going to try and take on some poignancy dealing with Max's family, and I hope that character development and story don't take a backseat to special effects and action sequences. Watch the trailer at, and let me know what you guys think--

New Posts soon

Okay, I've been stewing around about different things to do with this blog, even though it has been almost a year since I posted anything. I still want it to be about movies, particularly movies for children and families. So in these next couple of weeks, I am going to be posting more information about upcoming children's movies, interviews, and personal observations and feelings about past, present, and upcoming films. Rather than focusing on negative things and films to avoid (that should be a parental responsibility), I decided to talk about things in a more optimistic sense. Instead of just writing a bad review about a film, I am going to try and find what was valuable about a given movie. This may include past films that people are already familiar with, or even movies that some people have never heard of. As I do this, please leave any comments you guys have about whether the info is helpful or not.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Movie Reviews and How to Use Them

Okay, today I'm going to talk about how you can use movie reviews to judge a film's appropriateness. In my previous post, I talked about Kids-in-Mind, and how this website can help you judge a film's content. Before you look at a film and think it's okay just because there's little or no objectionable content, don't forget to check the reviews. The reviews can give you an idea about the attitude and themes of the movie, which may not show up in a content review. For instance, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire received a 3.6.3 from Kids-in-Mind. The Bourne Ultimatum received a similar content rating of 3.6.4. According to the content, The Bourne Ultimatum has just a little bit more language than Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. So does that make it appropriate for children?

This is where critic reviews come in handy. Rotten Tomatoes is a website that offers a collection of several hundred critics, allowing you to access a variety of reviews very quickly. Here's what I like to do: after reading a content analysis from Kids-in-Mind, I generally head over to Rotten Tomatoes and read several reviews about the movie to see what the critics have to say. Using the above examples, you can read that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is "an action film for children," and also "exciting and faster-paced...visually, it is by far the most splendid." On the other hand, The Bourne Ultimatum is described by critics as "faster, grittier and more brutal," "crunchingly violent," as well as containing "larynx-crushing martial arts." Even though the levels of violence receive the same rating, the attitude behind these two films is wildly different. While Harry Potter contains fantasy violence (some of which is used for humorous purposes), The Bourne Ultimatum contains realistic violence. Using the reviews, gain as much information as you can before making a final decision about whether to see a movie or not.

You can learn a lot just from the headlines of various reviews. "Heartwarming," "Splendid," "Charming," may clue you in to the tone of the film. Watch the trailer for the movie if you can, and see if those words seem to match the trailer--does it really look "heartwarming?" Other words used by the critics can tip you off about things you may want to think twice about: "Provocative," "Disturbing," "Brutal," "Gritty," "Obscene," "Sensuous," etc. Still read the reviews before you make your final decision--these are simply things that I have found to be useful.

And on that note, my next post will be a small review of WALL-E, Pixar's latest film.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Okay, I thought I'd tell you all about the website called Kids in Mind. Have you ever been watching a movie, either by yourself or with your family, and found the content objectionable? The MPAA ratings are so unreliable that you can't judge a film's content based on the "age appropriateness" ratings. Filmmakers know how to push the envelope, putting in enough content to give a film an "R" rating, or holding back just enough to keep it a PG-13. Some films have initially been rated "R," only to have the rating adjusted back to a PG-13 simply because the filmmakers appealed the rating (Anger Management is one example). Kids-in-Mind helps remedy that problem. It is designed to help you learn about the content of any film, and it is updated every Friday to include the newest releases. Here is the way the website works. Rather than rely on the MPAA ratings (G, PG, PG-13, and R), this site gives you three numbers that represent (in order) the amount of sex, violence/gore, and language in a film. Not only that, you can get a description of why a film received that rating. For instance, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull received 1.7.4, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix received 2.6.1. If you click on the movie titles, you will receive brief descriptions of the scenes of violence and the amount of language used in the film. This website has been pretty reliable in balancing out the amount of sex/violence/language with the graphic content of those categories. The best way to use this site is to compare it with a films that you've seen. Look at films that you found acceptable, and then also look at films that you felt were objectionable. This will give you an idea of how to use the ratings to judge films for you and your family. Read the "Help & FAQ" section of the Kids-in-Mind website to learn more about their mission statement. They have been around since 1992, and have the largest database of content reviews available.

Another website that is also useful is ScreenIt. This site is basically the same as Kids-in-Mind, but there are also categories that include Disturbing Images, Jump Scenes (scary sequences in a film), Drug Content, and a few others. However, I find the website very clunky to navigate, and it is bogged down with ads. You can't access the latest reviews unless you are a paid subscriber, and it can be difficult to find an older film.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Walden Media

I started this blog to be able to inform people about movies. And not just any movies--my goal is inform people about movies that would be more appropriate for families. However, I want everyone to understand that I am not the judge for what you should watch with your family--you are. I intend to recommend movies, as well as provide information about various tools and websites that can help you learn more about movies. I look forward to hearing your comments on the blog itself, the information I am providing, and if you find it useful or not.

For starters, I decided to introduce you all to Walden Media. If the name sounds familiar, it's because they have produced quite a few family films recently. Just to name a few: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian; The Bridge to Terabithia; Holes; How to Eat Fried Worms; and Because of Winn Dixie. Walden Media is also producing the upcoming City of Ember.

If you haven't noticed yet, these films are all based on children's books. I had the opportunity to attend a forum with Micheal Flaherty, President of Walden Media. He stressed that the purpose of Walden Media isn't to make tons of money--they are trying to empower children through literacy and enlightenment. Their films tend to inspire and teach lessons without being polemics. Check out their website at You can learn about each of their films, books they have published, and the mission of Walden Media.