The cute factor is high in the latest film from Disney’s Disneynature branch, which releases a family-friendly documentary nearly every year around Earth Day. This time, the cameras follow a community of macaque monkeys living in the jungle in Sri Lanka. Among them are Raja, the alpha male; a trio of regal females known as the Sisterhood; and the story’s heroine, Maya, a lowborn who becomes a mother and unlikely leader. Children will delight in their playful antics, and they won’t notice that some of them clearly have been staged, including a siege on a kid’s birthday party when the monkeys venture into a nearby town. But because this is a Disney movie, there is peril, too. A monitor lizard preys on them as they seek food in a lily pond. And when a rival band of monkeys fights them for control of the rock that’s been their longtime home, there are casualties — but nothing nearly so brutal as the zebra attack in African Cats. Also: Maya’s baby, Kip, is kidnapped briefly, but the two are reunited. This is totally fine for all ages.
If you love your children, you will not take them to see the painfully unfunny Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2. Sure, it’s harmless. Nothing truly violent happens. There’s no language, no sexual innuendo. But even Kevin James’ slapsticky shtick as a portly security guard won’t draw many laughs — and you’ll be annoyed that you wasted your time and money. Six years after the inexplicably massive hit that was the original Paul Blart: Mall Cop, James is back in the title role. This time, he travels to Las Vegas for a security officers’ convention. There, he inadvertently thwarts a major art heist at the Wynn Las Vegas resort (for which the movie is essentially one, long infomercial). Paul’s teenage daughter (Raini Rodriguez) briefly finds herself in peril when she discovers the scheme, and some of the bad guys carry guns. (The majority of the fighting takes place with non-lethal weaponry, however.) But before they ever leave town, Paul’s mother is run over and killed by a milk truck in quick, cartoonish fashion at the film’s start. Hilarious! Avoid this movie with every fiber in your being.
Rating: PG-13, for thematic elements and brief strong language.
The story of Margaret Keane, whose kitschy paintings of waifs with enormous, sad eyes drew a large following in the 1960s, is probably suitable for kids around age 10 and up, especially those with an interest in art. Amy Adams stars as Margaret, whose grandstanding husband, Walter (Christoph Waltz), took credit for her work for years — with her meek permission — and became a megalomaniacal celebrity. But as his fame grew, so did his alcoholism and his temper. He drunkenly puts Margaret and her daughter in danger when he sets fire to her art studio. There is also some language in director Tim Burton’s film and a tiny bit of violence: a bar brawl that’s played for laughs. Eventually, though, Big Eyes does have a message of female empowerment, as Margaret finds the courage to stand up to Walter and claim credit for her work.