Rating: PG-13, for sci-fi action violence, and language.
There’s a great movie to be made out of the Fantastic Four, but sadly this isn’t it. This film shows us how Reed Richards and his team acquired their superpowers, though we saw essentially the same story in 2005, just with a different cast. In this iteration, the story focuses a little bit more on Reed Richards (Miles Teller), but except for Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan), none of the rest the characters are particularly well-developed. To be fair, the first half of the film isn’t all that bad (if unoriginal), but it’s after the team gets their powers that the film falls apart. There’s too much exposition about what characters are doing off-screen, instead of actually showing us what those characters do, and iconic villain Doctor Doom ends up being pretty cartoonish in execution. This is also a surprisingly gory movie; once Doom comes into power, we see him embark on a rampant killing spree with a fair amount of blood on screen, making this a movie firmly planted on the more mature end of the PG-13 spectrum. If your kids are begging you to see this movie, distract them with the 2005 version. It’s a better film and a lot more kid-friendly.
Rating: PG, for rude humor.
The latest film from Aardman Animation is a sweet and surprisingly smart movie about a mischievous sheep who has an unexpected adventure in the the big city. You may recognize Shaun; he (and his flock) have been featured in a UK TV series for the last few years, and that series is a spinoff that was created after Shaun made his debut in the Wallace & Gromit movie A Close Shave. In his first feature, Shaun gets bored with the daily routine of life on the farm, and comes up with a plan to sneak away from the farmer and take a day off. That leads to an accident that sends the farmer off to the big city, leaving Shaun and his flock to fend for themselves, and chaos ensues. So Shaun and his flock go to the city to find the now-amnesiac farmer, while avoiding the clutches of an animal control officer. The entire story is told without any discernible dialogue so it’s pretty easy for the little kids to follow, but the jokes are smart enough that adults should enjoy the film, too. I’m frankly surprised that this movie didn’t get a G rating; the extent of the “rude humor” is a couple of fart jokes.
Rating: PG-13, for thematic material, brief drug content, sexuality and language.
Meryl Streep plays a never-was rock singer who returns home to the midwest to help her daughter and see her estranged children. There’s a solid supporting cast here, including Kevin Kline as Ricki’s ex-husband, Rick Springfield as Ricki’s guitarist and sometime paramour, and Meryl’s daughter Mamie Gummer as Ricki’s daughter. This is a decent enough movie, but it’s probably not essential Meryl Streep; she’s certainly having fun as a slightly batty rocker, but the movie never dives very deep. Ricki’s now-grown kids feel like she abandoned them to pursue her career, and she hasn’t done much to stay in their lives, but the movie doesn’t evoke all that much drama from Ricki’s decisions. It’s a good bet that younger kids simply won’t be interested this story, and for that matter, it’s hard to imagine many teens will be interested in this one either. But if your budding Streep completist wants to see this film, you’ll want to be aware that Ricki, her ex-husband, and their adult daughter smoke pot in one scene. Ricki and her guitarist talk about past trysts and you see them in bed under sheets, but there’s no on-screen sex scene. And there’s a fair amount of swearing too.