Leading up to December 25th, Christy gives us the lowdown on three very different new releases in theaters, as well as a couple of potentially family-friendly rentals. Read on for details.
NEW IN THEATERS
Rating: PG-13, for thematic elements, crude and suggestive content, and for language.
Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, who co-starred in the mismatched buddy-cop comedy The Other Guys, reteam here five years later. But this time, they’re enemies as they compete for the affections of the woman they love and her children. Ferrell is the mild-mannered and stable stepdad; Wahlberg is the motorcycle-riding wild man who returns to the picture to win back his ex-wife (Linda Cardellini) and their two kids. The movie tries to straddle the line between raunchy humor for the adults in the audience with silly slapstick and sentimentality for the kids. But in the end, it is indeed rated PG-13. It features bits about infertility, sex and penis size, quite a bit of language and a ton of crass physical humor, mostly involving Ferrell’s character injuring himself while trying to be cool like Wahlberg’s. (Although there’s also a cheerleader at a basketball game who gets bonked on the head and knocked flat.) Probably OK for tweens and up.
Rating: PG-13, for thematic material including some disturbing images, and language.
Will Smith stars in this drama based on the real-life events that led to the National Football League taking the threat of head trauma to its players more seriously. Smith plays Dr. Bennet Omalu, the Nigeria-born, Pittsburgh-based pathologist who noticed severe damage in the brain tissue of several former NFL players who died young and often of suicide. There’s some language here, mainly from Omalu’s boss, the coroner (Albert Brooks). But there’s also the frequently disturbing sight of these men who’ve grown so disheveled and mentally debilitated, they’re a menace to themselves and others. It’s also probably a topic that’s too complicated for older kids. Additionally, Omalu and his pregnant wife (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) suffer the devastating loss of a child. This is probably fine for older, mature tweens and up.
Rating: PG-13, for brief strong language.
Director and co-writer David O. Russell re–teams with the stars of his Silver Linings Playbook – Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro – to tell the true story of the woman who invented the Miracle Mop. Lawrence stars as Joy Mangano, the struggling single mom who built an entrepreneurial empire by selling her products on television’s QVC. There’s some language here as Joy finds she must stand up for herself both in the face of businessmen trying to steal from her and her own faithless family members. The subject matter and situations here will probably be too complicated for most kids, but they’re harmless. And Lawrence, in a showy role as a smart, determined woman who consistently fights to protect her ideas and her brand, presents a character who’s a fine role model for young viewers – especially young women. This is probably suitable for kids around age 10 and older.
NEW ON DVD
Rating: PG, for fantasy action violence, language and some thematic material.
It’s rare that a film’s title actually invites the kind of reviews it’s going to receive, but such is the sad case of Pan. Director Joe Wright has given us an elaborate Peter Pan origin story, but despite the fanciful imagery, the movie as a whole is actually a slog. Levi Miller stars as young Peter, whose mother (Amanda Seyfried) leaves him at the doorstep of a London orphanage at the film’s start. Years later, during World War II, he’s stuck in this squalid place with dozens of other boys – until the night Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman) swoops by on his flying pirate ship to scoop them all up to do his bidding. The story has something to do with the kids being forced to work as miners, digging for pixie dust to keep Blackbeard eternally young. But Peter just happens to be The Chosen One spoken of in a prophecy, so he’s got bigger things in store. He also has to meet up with the man who will become Captain Hook (Garrett Hedlund, doing a Harrison Ford impression circa 1980) and Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara), whose tribe he must free. It’s very complicated and not much fun. Some of the early orphanage imagery is bleak, but once we’re in Neverland, Blackbeard and his cronies aren’t terribly enjoyable to look at, either. Far better films are deserving of your home-viewing time over the holidays.
Rating: PG-13, for brief strong language, some sexual content and historical smoking.
Tobey Maguire stars as the famously brilliant (and notoriously paranoid) chess champion Bobby Fischer. Director Edward Zwick’s film focuses on his matches against his rival, Russian champion Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber), which reflected U.S.-Soviet tension at the height of the Cold War. There’s quite a bit of language here; Fischer frequently went on rants, which included anti-Semitic sentiment. There’s also the suggestion that he lost his virginity to a flirty young woman he met at a motel, but all you see is the two of them lying in bed together afterward. And everyone smokes all the time. It was the ‘70s, after all. This might be a little boring for younger viewers at nearly two hours; plus, two people engaging in such an internal, cerebral battle isn’t necessarily the most thrilling activity to watch. But if you have kids in your house who are interested in chess, they might enjoy this and will probably even learn something.