Popcorn Parents - Family Movie Reviews

Movie Tuesday: Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay (R)

First, we're moving Movie Monday to Tuesday, thanks to the time needed to write and edit the reviews. We lose the alliteration, but gain quality.

Second, when we started movie reviews, there was a long debate about whether to review R-rated movies. Movies rated R should limit their viewership to those over 17 or, for kids 16 and under, to those who are accompanied by a parent. We eventually decided to review those R-rated movies that were being marketed to or would be of interest to older teenagers--so while we wouldn't, for example, review "Glory," we would have reviewed "Superbad."
Considering there was a group of boys that looked about 13 at the 2:10 show I attended, it seems like we overestimated the age of teenagers that might be interested in "Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay."
Note: In the interest of letting parents know the movie's content in as much detail as possible, plot spoilers follow after the jump.

Movie Tuesday: Iron Man (PG-13)

Coming in to the sure-to-be-blockbuster Iron Man, I had very little knowledge beforehand of the story. After doing a bit of research of the Marvel comics, I became quite familiar with the character of Iron Man but was curious to find out whether the movie would do the vintage comic character justice. I'd rather not ruin the story line for those persistent movie goers and comic fans, but the movie, directed Jon Favreau, focused highly upon the development of Iron Man and his journey for good. 

Movie Tuesday: Speed Racer (PG)

Speed Racer

Directed by The Wachowski Brothers (Andy, Larry)

Starring Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Matthew Fox, Paulie Litt

Opens May 9, 2008

Screened May 11, 2008

Rated PG



Child’s play is littered with toys, but driven by imagination. Kids are picky about their playthings, to be sure, but they’re also experts at rewriting the “rules” of the game. Any parent who has watched their child play gleefully inside the cardboard box that accompanied their brand new $200 toy set has learned (or remembered) a fundamental axiom of play: You may want a toy because it can do something—light up, transform, pee—but you play with a toy because it can do anything.

Movie Monday: Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda is the story of a panda named Po (voice of Jack Black), whose father, Mr. Ping (voice of James Hong) runs a noodle shop and anticipates that his son will follow in his footsteps. Po, however, secretly yearns to join the “Furious Five,” which includes characters named Monkey (Jackie Chan), Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) and Crane (David Cross), in kung fu combat.

The entire village climbs seemingly endless stairs to the ancient temple where the kung fu warriors train, to learn who will be chosen by Oogway (Randall Duk Kim), master of the ancient temple, to be the Dragon Warrior and gain the secret power of the Dragon Scroll.

Po barely makes it up the stairs only to have the gates of the temple closed before he can reach them; he eventually catapults himself into the center of the temple square and is, of course, chosen as the dragon warrior, much to the dismay of the Furious Five. Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), who trained the Furious Five, at first tries to drive away Po, but Oogway assures Shifu that Po is destined to be Dragon Warrior, then dies, leaving Shifu determined to train Po. 

Meanwhile, the evil Tai Lung (Ian McShane) escapes from the supposedly inescapable prison, the Furious Five sets out to defeat Tai Lung and instead are themselves defeated. Po discovers that there is no secret contained in the Dragon Scroll; the power is to believe in himself. Armed with this newfound knowledge, he confronts and, of course, defeats Tai Lung.

Some of the images produced for this movie are truly beautiful, and certain scenes have positive messages, such as Shifu’s decision to build on Po’s strengths and Po’s determination to never give up. The Furious Five comes to accept Po by the end of the story, and the main characters all have moments of self-realization. 

Sadly, the underlying themes of this story include constant references to Po being fat and suggest that his incompetence is a direct result of his size. The movie is filled with violent action scenes, both as slapstick attempts at humor and during the fight scenes. While most of the fighting is restricted to the Furious Five, Po, Shifu, and Tai Lung, during one scene Tai Lung lays waste to the entire contingent of guards posted at the prison. 

Tai Lung’s glowing yellow eyes are a little spooky for some kids, and many of the scenes are, if not scary, at least startling (especially at the volume of sound encountered in the typical movie theater!) The movie ends on a positive note, and contains very little offensive language (at most, you’ll hear the word  “stupid” and “idiot.”)>While not particularly good or funny, the movie is harmless.

By Suzanne Frazier

Movie Tuesday: WALL-E (G)

Movie Tuesday – WALL-E


by Jared Peterson


WALL-E is the latest computer-animated film from Pixar, the talented folks who made

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