01 April 2013

Quickie Movie Reviews for March 2013

Rated: Not Rated
Starring: Sean Astin, Elijah Alexander, and Kenton Duty
Released: November 6, 2012 (DVD) 
Amazing Love: The Story of Hosea: Sort of a Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie for an older audience, this movie tells two stories: one about some Christian teens who are in need of God's help but don't realize it, and the Biblical story of Hosea.  The film takes liberties with the Old Testament account, and Sean Astin's character even admits that as he shares it with the teens, but the core story is still intact.  Though Amazing Love has a great message, the ending may be a bit too pat and Hollywood-ish for some viewers.
As far as content concerns go, this movie is not for young children; not only is Hosea's wife a prostitute, like the Bible says, but many of the themes and implications would simply confuse little kids.  The MPAA would have likely given it "PG for thematic elements".

Score: 3.75/5
Rated: Not Rated
Starring: Dan Kruse, Emilie Jo Tisdale, and Terry Jernigan
Release Date: 2000
Escape from Hell: This movie strongly reminded me of the Bill Myers novel Threshold, which also features an experiment that causes a young man to literally experience hell.  On the one hand, the acting was great, the plot engrossing, and the movie makes clear that eternal punishment is no joke.  However, the ethics of the film's characters are questionable, and the special effects make this look like something made around the time of the original Star Wars trilogy.
What content concerns are there? As you'd expect, the scenes of hell are freaky, and one man has a rather freaky nightmare about it which literally makes him ill.  Also, the lead actress spends most of her time in an off the shoulder top, and the male protagonist has his shirt unbuttoned for much of the film.  I would not recommend this movie for kids at all.

Score: 3.5/5
Rated: TV-G
Starring: Kellie Martin, Brady Smith, and LeVar Burton
Released: July 16, 2010 (NBC premiere) / October 18, 2010 (DVD)
The Jensen Project: Made as part of a joint venture between Wal-Mart and Proctor & Gamble, The Jensen Project features an ensemble cast, a great plot, clean content, and some sub-par special effects.  Though nowhere near as bad as what you're likely to see on Mystery Science Theater 3000, the production values could have been a bit better.  As for content, though there is no profanity or sex, some of what the MPAA would call "action violence" is present.  Also, a scene where a man's heart rate is increased to unsafe levels might scare some kids, and seeing a doctor remove a gummy worm from a boy's nose could be unsettling to a few viewers.  Still, Wallyworld and P&G wanted to make a "family movie," and they pretty much did.

Score: 3.75/5
Rated: G
Starring: Debi Derryberry, Patrick Stewart, and Martin Short
Released: December 21, 2001 (theatrical) / July 2, 2002 (DVD) 
Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: I don't usually do Nickelodeon animation, but I like most of the Pixar and Blue Sky films, and iCarly and VICTORiOUS enthralled me in a way that no shows had done since Disney Channel's Lizzie McGuire and That's So Raven, so, when I saw this on the cheap at my local thrift store, I bought it.  What did I think? Well, the animation was great, and there were some hilarious moments.  Unfortunately, some of it was just plain silly, and the writers relied too much on bathroom humor, though the target audience for this movie will likely laugh at loud at such jokes.  Unless you're a fan of other Nickelodeon cartoons such as SpongeBob Squarepants, CatDog, or Rocket Power--and, no, I am not--then you likely should find something else to watch.  It's definitely not as bad as other flicks I've had the displeasure of sitting through. (C Me Dance? The Black Hole? Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit? Yeah, they make mediocre fare like Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius look like Spider-Man 2 or Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars, two of my favorites.)
Parents might be concerned about some of the scary content and intensity, both of which seem a bit much for a "G" film.

Score: 2.8/5
Rated: Not Rated
Starring: Chris Krstevski, Eric "Kuno" Maliepaard, Troy Payne, and Gretchen the car
Released: July 6, 2010 (DVD)
The Road Trip U.S.A.: An hour long documentary that chronicles the cross country voyage of by three Christian guys.  Along the way, they share Jesus with everyone they meet, visit numerous tourists attractions, act crazy...and one of them even finds love.  I'm not much for documentaries, just because they tell true stories; I prefer movies and books that are fictional, if only because they serve as an escape from the real world.  Still, this video journal of a modern-day Paul and Silas is funny, touching, and all around enjoyable viewing...though only once.
When it comes to content, most of it is mildly objectionable.  Shirtless guys and brief glimpses of women in swimsuits, along with three bleeped profanities, won't likely bother most viewers.  However, seeing some kids on the street smoke and talk about drinking was a bit unsettling, though the guys use it as an opportunity to share Jesus with them.  Also, since the Christian guys are still college-age, they engage in some dangerous immature acts such as taunting crocodiles that weren't really necessary to even show.

Score: 3.25/5
Rated: Not Rated
Starring: Elisha Cuthbert, Timothy Busfield, and Gabrielle Boni
Released: January 17, 1999 (Showtime premiere) / November 23, 1999 (VHS)
Time at the Top: A Showtime original movie that later became a Blockbuster exclusive rental, Time at the Top is an above-average family movie about a teenage girl who accidentally discovers a way to travel through time.  Some of you may be thinking, Showtime...making something family-friendly? They did, though; it's pretty much as cute and innocent as Cadet Kelly or High School Musical.  Though Susan Shawson, the protagonist, was mostly a nice girl, I did have a problem with her character: After she accidentally let the family from 1881's cat out in modern times, she lied to the young boy when he saw his kitty.  Instead of admitting her mistake, she simply covered it up.  Other than that, I can think of no complaints, though I doubt anyone will likely watch this again and again.
Were there content concerns? Yes...but very little.  About two or three profanities and one scene where a little girl's shirt rises up, showing her midriff.  The most serious moral problem was actually before the movie; a preview for a "PG-13" romantic comedy appeared on the VHS edition I watched, and the content showed why it got that rating.  Discerning viewers should fast forward through the trailers.

Score: 3.5/5
Rated: TV-G
Starring: Selena Gomez, Jennifer Stone, and Jake T. Austin
Released: March 15, 2013 (Disney Channel Premiere)
The Wizards Return: Alex Vs. Alex: After Alex becomes the family wizard, she uses a spell to cast out all her bad traits...only to create an evil Alex that attempts to take over the world and destroy all the mortals with the help of evil wizard Dominic.  Though I haven't seen that many episodes of Wizards of Waverly Place--I know; what kind of Disney Channel fan am I?--I still enjoyed this one and understood it well enough to follow it.  The content is as clean as one would expect anything from the Mouse network to be: no profanity, violence that is mild at worst, barely anything even resembling sexual content, and no drug or alcohol use, though there is a scene that involves stomping on grapes.  Selena Gomez shines in her dual role of good Alex and evil Alex; to me, that alone made it worth watching.  The fact that Jennifer Stone gets a lot of screen time is just icing on the cake.

Score: 4.25/5

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