New in theaters this week, we have an animated sequel nobody really asked for and a remarkable memoir brought to life by some A-listers. It’s clear who the audience is for the former, but what do you need to be on the lookout for in the latter, which is rated PG-13? Read on for Christy’s assessment on both, plus a couple of new releases on DVD.
NOW IN THEATERS
Rating: PG-13, for mature thematic content involving family dysfunction, and for some language and smoking.
Jeannette Walls’ best-selling memoir about her horrific youth is now a feature film, and director and co-writer Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12) doesn’t shy away from showing us the squalor, poverty, and hunger she and her siblings endured. The film flashes back and forth between Jeannette’s life as an up-and-coming New York journalist in 1989 (when Brie Larson plays her) and her uncertain childhood (when Ella Anderson plays her). The kids’ alcoholic father (Woody Harrelson) and flighty artist mother (Naomi Watts) wanted the family to live off the grid, which meant multiple moves from town to town, no school and — often — no food. Jeannette frequently suffers physical and mental abuse. In one scene, she severely burns herself on the stove because her mother can’t be bothered to feed her; in another, she nearly drowns in a public pool when her father throws her into the deep end to teach her how to swim. All of these perils are in the name of making her (and the other kids) stronger, of giving them independence and character. But it’s harrowing to watch. The film also includes scenes of abandonment and neglect, as well as a moment when the father encourages teenage Jeannette to visit the apartment of an older man who tries to sexually assault her. Ultimately, The Glass Castle is about forgiveness and redemption, but it’s a long and painful haul to get there. I’d say this is suitable for mature tweens and older.
Rating: PG, for action and some rude humor.
It may be hard to believe, but the world now has a second Nut Job movie. I can’t imagine who was clamoring for this, but here it is anyway. In this sequel to the 2014 animated original, Surly the squirrel (voiced once again by Will Arnett) and his pals must find a new place to pillage for food once the nut shop blows up and the greedy mayor (Bobby Moynihan) decides to turn their neighborhood park into a cheap amusement park for profit. The various furry creatures (voiced once again by Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph, Tom Kenny, and Jeff Dunham) wind up in danger when they try to take on giant pieces of construction equipment. The mayor is super evil, but mostly in a clownish way. And his daughter is shrieky and destructive, but she gets what’s coming to her for her awful behavior. There’s also a bit of romance between Precious, the pug Rudolph voices, and a French bulldog named Frankie (Bobby Cannavale), but it’s sweet and chaste. Fine for all ages, even though it’s not very good.
NEW ON DVD
Rating: PG, for some rude humor.
Kids around 7 or 8 and older will be fine here, especially if they’re already fans of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. The fourth film in the franchise, inspired by Jeff Kinney’s wildly popular books, finds middle-schooler Greg (Jason Drucker, leading an all-new cast) climbing in the minivan with his family to celebrate their Meemaw’s 90th birthday. Madcap hilarity and hackneyed road-trip hijinks theoretically ensue. The Long Haul earned a PG rating “for some rude humor,” and there’s actually quite a bit of it throughout. Scatological gags involving pee, poop and amusement park puke abound. It’s not offensive, but it’s also not terribly funny. Returning director David Bowers, who co-wrote the script with Kinney himself, stops everything to recreate a lengthy and loving homage to the iconic shower scene from Psycho, a reference you may have to explain to your kids afterward. Also, Greg gains Internet infamy (and subsequent shame) as the star of a gross-out meme. And he and big-brother Rodrick (Charlie Wright) lie to their parents (Alicia Silverstone and Tom Everett Scott) by reprogramming the GPS to get closer to a video game convention. Eventually, though, The Long Haul is about perseverance, forgiveness and family togetherness. It’s also not nearly as good as the first three films.
Rating: PG-13, for sequences of violence and action, some suggestive content and brief strong language.
This messy, noisy King Arthur origin story should be suitable for viewers around 12 or 13 and older. Director and co-writer Guy Ritchie mashes up the visual verve and verbal brio of his early gangster movies like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch with the massive action sequences and glossy CGI that are standard for summer blockbusters. At the center of all the sound and fury is Charlie Hunnam as Arthur, who rises from the obscurity of the streets to take his rightful place as king. There’s a ton of violence: fistfights, explosions, mass destruction and giant, marauding elephants. The usual. People kill each other — it’s an epic power struggle, after all. Because this is a Ritchie movie, there’s plenty of colorful dialogue and language. And a flashback to Arthur’s scrappy childhood reveals he was raised in a brothel.