Family Filmgoer reviews ‘Epic,’ ‘Fast & Furious 6,’ ‘Before Midnight,’ ‘Frances Ha’ and ‘The Hangover Part III’

May 30, 2013
6 and older6

Epic (PG). There’s enough visual beauty and wit in this 3-D animated fable to keep kids 6 and older entertained. Still, the film feels occasionally fidget-worthy at one hour and 42 minutes. A strongminded 17-year-old named M.K. comes to live with her estranged dad, Prof. Bomba, after the apparent (implied, not discussed) death of her mom. Kind but absentminded, Bomba is obsessed with his research. He is convinced that tiny people live in the woods. The people there are Leafmen. They and all the lesser forest creatures around them have a whole civilization. Queen Tara and her realm are threatened by Mandrake, evil leader of the Boggans, who want to destroy the forest. Leafmen warriors fly on armored hummingbirds to fight the Boggans. M.K. gets caught in the middle of a battle. She shrinks to Leafmen size and is befriended by Queen Tara and the brave Ronin.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The aerial bow-and-arrow battles between Boggans and Leafmen on their hummingbird fighter jets get a bit harrowing, and at least one tiny character dies. One scene, involving a huge squall of flying bats, made a toddler behind the Family Filmgoer cry briefly. When the tiny M.K. and her Leafmen pals visit the world of her dad’s house, you worry they’ll get squashed.

PG-13

Fast & Furious 6. If car chases and tough-talking heroes give high school action fans a kick, then “Fast & Furious 6” won’t disappoint. The level of violence and implied death and destruction of innocents make the film problematic for middle-schoolers. Dom, Brian and Brian’s love, Mia, are living abroad as fugitives. U.S. agent Hobbs promises pardons for all if they help catch a rogue agent, Shaw, who has attacked military convoys in search of a lethal computer chip. Hobbs thinks Dom and his team are the only ones who can catch Shaw and his crew. When Dom learns that his former love, Letty, is working for Shaw, he agrees to help in hopes he can bring her back into the fold.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The mayhem includes bone-cracking fights and implications of torture, much heavy-caliber gun violence and a car-tank-helicopter chase that crushes vehicles on a public highway. We don’t see any bystanders get hurt so the PG-13 rating stays. The script features occasional midrange profanity and rude gestures, as well as mild sexual innuendo.

R

Before Midnight. High-schoolers 16 and older, especially if they have a romantic streak, love languages and long to travel, may find this love story/travelogue a good break from summer-movie mayhem. American writer Jesse and French eco-activist Celine met on a European train in “Before Sunrise.” A decade later, they reconnected in “Before Sunset.” They entered into a committed, tempestuous relationship that nearly falls apart nine years after that in “Before Midnight.” They now have twin daughters, and Jesse has a son from his first marriage. The movie opens as he bids the boy farewell. Jesse’s obvious sadness triggers an argument between him and Celine: Should they move back to the States to be near his son? Should they finally marry? Should they stay together at all?

THE BOTTOM LINE: The dialogue includes some strong profanity and fairly steamy sexual language. There is one sexual situation with partial nudity.

Frances Ha. This atmospheric indie comedy will appeal to thoughtful, whimsy-loving college-bound kids 17 and older because it’s all about “finding yourself.” Within the goofiness that envelopes the title character lurks a serious issue: The risk of refusing to recognize your true talents and spending too many years struggling in the wrong job. The same goes for childish refusal to let relationships evolve. Frances is a perpetual apprentice, both professionally and in life. She’s a part-timer with a dance troupe and expects to be made a full company member. It’s clear that won’t happen, yet she hangs on. She loses a boyfriend because she’s so loyal to Sophie, her college pal and longtime roomie. When Sophie moves out, Frances moves around as everyone’s third roommate. What seemed charming about her at first becomes worrisome.

The bottom line: Exceedingly graphic sexual language earns the R, along with strong profanity and more muted sexual innuendo.

The Hangover Part III. This installment, while still adults-only, is a caper with lots more about Alan’s mental illness. Alan is the loose cannon to his pals Phil, Stu and Doug. Off his meds, Alan’s behavior goes beyond inappropriate. After his dad dies, Alan’s family and his pals decide to stage an intervention. Phil, Stu and Doug start to take him to a treatment center in Arizona, but they’re abducted. A gangster wants them to find Mr. Chow, who has stolen gold from him.

The bottom line: Lethal, if relatively bloodless, gun violence occurs. There is intensely crude sexual language, very strong profanity and strong sexual innuendo. Characters use drugs. There are topless women and frontal male nude scenes.

Horwitz is a freelance writer.
Read her previous reviews at
On Parenting
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