Family Filmgoer: ‘A Thousand Words,’ ‘John Carter,’ ‘Friends With Kids’ and more
By Jane Horwitz,
A Thousand Words. The film is okay for most teens, although parents of middle-schoolers might object to the sexual slang and other crude language. The film does touch on a major issue — how today’s fast-moving world can make people lose touch with their inner lives. Jack McCall is a slick literary agent. He’s married and has a young son, but he’s too manically motormouthed to notice that his family craves his attention. A popular guru, Dr. Sinja, whose book Jack wants to sell, sees right through him. A tree from Dr. Sinja’s garden pops up in Jack’s yard. Every time Jack utters a word, the tree loses a leaf. Dr. Sinja warns Jack that when the tree’s last 1,000 leaves are gone, Jack will die. Jack must communicate without speaking to preserve his life.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Murphy’s character uses a lot of midrange sexual slang and crude language. His wife tries to seduce him in a hotel, where he’s caught in the hallway in his undies. His assistant talks nongraphically about his own kinky sexual longings and videos he and a co-worker made.
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. The charm of the cast and the whimsy of the story make this an enjoyable little movie that high-schoolers 15 and older might find refreshingly different. Dr. Alfred Jones is a shy fisheries expert. Harriet works for a wealthy, spiritually inclined Yemeni sheik who loves salmon fishing and wants to bring that sport to Yemen. Dr. Jones thinks the idea is ludicrous, but he’s drawn in by Harriet and then ordered to get involved by the British prime minister’s hilariously cynical press secretary.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The film features one comical, semi-explicit sexual situation and a couple other steamy but non-explicit encounters. The prospect of divorce is a sub-theme, as is a report of Harriet’s military boyfriend missing in action. The script includes rare profanity, and some characters drink.
John Carter. This tale of a 19th-century American on Mars should transport teens who love science fiction and fantastical fables. John Carter is a Confederate veteran of the Civil War. He escapes capture by Army officers, who want him to help fight the Apache. In a cave, he finds an amulet that transports him to Mars, or Barsoom, as its inhabitants call it. Carter is captured by the leader of the tall, green Tharks and learns that a civil war is raging there. He eventually befriends the Tharks and tries to arrange an alliance with the humanoid Heliumites, led by Tardos Mors and his beautiful daughter, Dejah Thoris. Carter must save her and Mars/Barsoom.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The film includes battle scenes and other mayhem. The fighting hints at severed limbs. Flashbacks to Carter’s 19th-century life on Earth imply that his wife burned to death after an attack on their cabin. Hard-fisted fights take place when he’s forcibly conscripted by the U.S. Army. There is mild sexual innuendo.
21 Jump Street. Teens 17 and older might not know the 1987-91 television series that sent Johnny Depp on the road to stardom. However, they’ll probably be carried along by the go-for-broke high energy of this irreverent and hilarious update. The film is too foully profane for under-17s. The nerdy Schmidt and the handsome, brainless Jenko were opposites in high school. They become pals and partners at the police academy, making up for each other’s weaknesses, they hope. They’re reassigned to 21 Jump Street, a special unit run by a profane captain who sends them undercover into a high school to find the source of a new drug. Schmidt and Jenko get caught up in the school’s social whirl, but this time Schmidt’s the cool guy and Jenko’s the loser.
THE BOTTOM LINE: The dialogue is unceasingly profane and the sexual slang and innuendo highly explicit. The movie has at least one sexual situation — a high-school-age threesome with nudity, although non-explicit. Scenes of gun violence, car chases and explosions do not result in graphic injuries. There is toilet humor.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home. College kids 17 and older will probably take to this low-tech, off-center tale of two adult brothers and their mom, all living unhappily in Baton Rouge and looking for their lives to turn around. Jeff lives in his mother Sharon’s basement, unemployed, smoking pot and pondering the deeper meanings of the 2002 movie “Signs.” When he gets a wrong-number call meant for someone named “Kevin,” Jeff starts following everyone he encounters with that name. It gets him mugged in a bad neighborhood. His brother Pat is married to Linda, but they don’t communicate. Sharon has an anonymous desk job and suddenly starts to receive instant messages from a “secret admirer” in the office. These seemingly disparate situations cleverly bring the three family members closer.
THE BOTTOM LINE: In addition to Jeff’s marijuana use, the movie shows characters drinking. The dialogue is quite profane, with multiple uses of the F-word.
Friends With Kids. The crass sexual language and profanity in this comedy makes “Friends with Kids” an indie film geared to college students and beyond. Writer/director/co-star Jennifer Westfeldt profiles a group of educated, upscale Manhattanites whose relationships change after having children. Best buddies Jason and Julie decide to have a baby together and share equally in the child’s upbringing. Their married pals think they’re crazy. Julie’s true feelings for Jason eventually get in the way, and Jason can’t stop his pattern of short-lived relationships.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Except for a glimpse at a porn video, which does have nudity and graphic situations, the encounters among characters are not explicit but are explicitly discussed. There is gross baby-poop humor.
Horwitz is a freelance writer.