This week, Christy looks at an early Christmas-themed ensemble comedy and a based-on-true-events story about a miraculous rescue. Then, on DVD, we’ve got a big blockbuster franchise sequel and a smaller drama about Sherlock Holmes. Read on for details.
NEW IN THEATERS
Rating: PG-13, for thematic elements, language and some sexuality.
It’s your obligatory wacky Christmas comedy, complete with family dysfunction, shopping mall mishaps, a truly awkward dinner and plenty of cutaways to an adorable dog. Matriarch Charlotte Cooper (Diane Keaton) just wants one last perfect Christmas before she and her husband, Sam (John Goodman), announce to the family that they’re separating after 40 years of marriage. But as it turns out from the various supporting characters’ subplots, everyone else’s life is just as much of a mess. There’s some randy and raunchy humor here (including old-lady flatulence) and a bit of language. Charlotte’s sister (Marisa Tomei) gets arrested for shoplifting. A teenage boy frequently makes out in public with his new girlfriend. The littlest girl comes up with a catch phrase that includes a vulgar word for penis. And the eldest member of the family (Alan Arkin) has a dramatic health scare. I’d say this is fine for kids around age 8 and older. I brought my 6-year-old son to the screening and he wasn’t scarred.
Rating: PG-13, for a disaster sequence and some language.
This drama tells the true story of the 33 Chilean men who were trapped underground for 69 days in 2010 when the gold mine where they worked collapsed. It focuses on their fight to survive as well as the government’s efforts to rescue them and their family members’ struggles to maintain hope. Antonio Banderas, Lou Diamond Phillips and Rodrigo Santoro are among the film’s stars, alongside a wildly miscast Juliette Binoche as an empanada peddler. Much of the imagery of the actual collapse is intense, as giant chunks of rock come tumbling down around the miners, giving them little room to run for safety. It’s dark and cramped in there, and the men get edgy with each other as they face starvation and possible death. (Spoiler: They all make it out alive, hence the title.) Above ground, there’s a subplot involving one of the miners who has both a wife and a mistress, with each woman insisting he loves her best. But The 33 is also a story of hope, faith, teamwork and perseverance, so it could be worthwhile for the younger members of your family to watch for that reason. This is probably fine for kids around 8 or 9 and older.
NEW ON DVD
Rating: PG-13, for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and gunplay throughout, partial nudity and brief strong language.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the Terminator franchise. It’s been around for a while. So if you’ve seen any of the four previous films — or you’re generally familiar with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s action oeuvre — then you should have a pretty good idea of what’s in store here. Massive amounts of gunfire, crushing fistfights, dangerous chases, post-apocalyptic terror, explosions and some brief (and chastely shot) nudity during the time-travel segments. Oh, and of course, the constant threat of the world ending. This time, Schwarzenegger returns to the role that made him a superstar in 1984’s original Terminator. But because of some time-travel glitches, he’s the good guy from the get-go. In the year 2029, rebellion leader John Connor (Jason Clarke) sends his right-hand man, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), back in time to protect his mother, Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke). But Schwarzenegger’s Terminator already is there, functioning as a father figure she affectionately calls Pops. Besides the wall-to-wall violence, the general tone of Alan Taylor’s film is quite dark, and the overlapping time-travel streams can get confusing. Plus, at two hours, it could be too long for young viewers. This is probably OK for kids around age 12 and older — but the first two Terminator movies are better choices.
Rating: PG, for thematic elements, some disturbing images and incidental smoking.
This is a different take on the legacy of Sherlock Holmes, focusing on his later years in his remote farmhouse by the sea. Director Bill Condon’s film finds the world-famous detective (Ian McKellen), at age 93, struggling to recall the details of the case that ended up being his last. He has just returned from post-World War II Japan with a plant whose healing powers he hopes will restore his mental acuity, but he continues to deteriorate. Also living in the house are Holmes’ housekeeper (Laura Linney) and her young son (Milo Parker). Holmes reflects upon this final investigation, which involved the makings of a murder plot. While in Japan, he visited the remnants of Hiroshima and witnessed the devastating impact the bomb had on the city’s survivors. And the boy, whose inquisitive nature makes him a keen companion for Holmes, winds up in serious physical danger when he helps tend to the detective’s prized bees. There’s also just the scary nature of the creeping effects of dementia. It’s rated PG, though, so for the most part it’s fine for kids around age 8 and older.